The pace of news coming out from around the Boston Archdiocese is such that BCI is struggling to keep up.
On a local parish level, Msgr Garrity at St. Catherine in Norwood has given us plenty of material to write about in the future, but Fr. John Unni at St. Cecilia still wins for most headline news this year. As if the $20M renovation at St. Cecilia in Boston was not bad enough, followed by the scandal and national PR nightmare created by Fr. Unni, Terry Donilon, and the archdiocese this past summer over plans by Unni to celebrate a Gay Pride Mass, now, in the parish bulletin, he has published a critique of The New Roman Missal. The critique is entitled, “Missal Defense, Learning to Live with Change.”
The Boston Archdiocese website says the following about the New Roman Missal:
With the implementation of the new Roman Missal, every Priest Celebrant is being challenged to pray with language that is not familiar and which will require preparation and reflection. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document Sing to the Lord states: “No other factor affects the Liturgy as much as the attitude, style, and bearing of the priest celebrant.”
How does Fr. Unni, who, coincidentally, happens to be a golfing buddy of Chancellor Jim McDonough, react to the statement that no other factor affects the Liturgy as much as the attitude of the priest celebrant? With a column in his bulletin written by an anonymous priest who said the introduction of the New Roman Missal is looming like “a date with a root canal.”
We first saw word of this at The Tenth Crusade. If you go to page 16 of the most recent parish bulletin at St. Cecilia you will find a piece written by “Fr. Nonomen,” a parish priest who writes for Commonweal pseudonymously in order to protect the privacy of his parishioners.
Now, BCI is in no position to criticize someone else for writing under a pseudonym; however, that said, we would hardly expect a priest to publish a BCI column in their bulletin. In this case, it is the opinion of BCI that for Fr. Unni to publish any column by any author–especially an anonyous one–in his bulletin critical of the New Roman Missal is bordering on sacreligious.
Here are a few excerpts from the piece (click on the graphic below to zoom):
First Sunday of Advent is looming like a date with a root canal…the new missal is intended to steer us back toward a more traditional liturgy. Those who welcome such a move look forward, as one commentator put it, to “a new sense of dignity and decorum,” promoted through “reforms such as an altar orientation toward the East, kneeling for Communion, and better and more dignifiedvestments and furnishings.”
As a priest who does not welcome these changes, I’m under pressure. No, I’m not having trouble choosing which laminated in-pew response card to install. I am wondering, for instance, how to reconcile a parish staff grumpy about the changes with a largely unsuspecting parish populace. Or what to do when attempting to explain this Trojan horse of a translation and the pointed agenda it may be hosting. In short, how does one make a sale when it’s tough to believe in the product?…So, how to proceed? Do I and other likeminded priests simply refuse to comply?”
The column is bizarre. Seems spectacularly unhelpful in the opinion of BCI. The music director at St. Cecilia even collaborated with the Boston Archdiocese to record musical parts for the new Mass settings for use by parish musicians across the archdiocese. Does the music director embrace the new missal while the pastor does not?
If Fr. Unni disagrees–publicly so–with the New Roman Missal, it is troubling that Cardinal O’Malley, his priest secretary Fr. Jonathan Gaspar (Co-Director of Worship and Spiritual Life for the Archdiocese), and Unni’s bishop, Robert Hennessey, are all doing nothing to bring Unni in line with the program . Does Fr. Unni realize he is leading his parishioners astray by publishing this? Does no one in the archdiocesan leadership realize there is a wee bit of a problem in this beautiful Back Bay church?
A reader wrote via email a few days ago, “Putting this type of article in a parish bulletin is unprofessional, provocative, and inflammatory. How can lay Catholics be expected to be open to these changes when their priest is poisoning the well?”
BCI agrees with what this reader wrote. We hope and pray that the leadership of the Boston Archdiocese will take steps to lead this pastor and the parishioners at St. Cecilia to a place where they enthusiastically embrace Church teachings and the New Roman Missal. What do you think?