MANILA, Nov. 15, 2011?A Catholic prelate has forbidden a group of priests belonging to a schismatic community to exercise their ministry in his ecclesiastical territory.
Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla prohibited the priests of the Society of St. Pius X from exercising their ministry in the archdiocese saying they lack the canonical status to do so.
In an open letter to the SSPX local superior Fr. Francois Laisney, Capalla said that SSPX priests cannot exercise their ministry in the archdiocese “without genuine authorization or approval from [him] as archbishop and local ordinary.”
“…You cannot exercise legitimately your priestly right to minister in our Church territory or Diocese. And the reason – which perhaps you failed to explain to our people – is the grave error in doctrine committed by your Society against the authority of the Pope and the Vatican Council, a serious offense and crime against the unity of the Church, our unfortunate schism,” Capalla said.
The religious community of the SSPX was organized by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1969. It has rejected the ordinary form of the Mass as approved by the Second Vatican Council and continued to celebrate the liturgy in the traditional form.
Capalla’s letter was in response to an earlier open letter sent by the SSPX and published by a local daily criticizing the prelate for forbidding the priests from exercising their priestly ministry in the archdiocese.
“No amount of reasoning, like the perceived necessity, the appeal to the people, the “salvation of souls,” the Good Samaritan metaphor, can confer ordinary jurisdiction or grant authorization to you except the local bishop. And you cannot apply one canonical provision and violate another in your argumentation,” Capalla’s letter further said.
The priests have been administering baptisms and solemnizing marriages without permission, according to Capalla.
He said he was also told that some of the faithful who have attended the Mass celebrated by the SSPX are confused and asked why the priest is not facing the people.
Capalla told Laisney that their illegitimate ministry is misleading the local community.
“As official shepherd of the local flock I cannot help saying that you are trespassing our private domain, sneaking into our fold and snatching away like wolves in sheep’s clothing our innocent sheep (Mt 7:15),” the letter stated.
Acknowledging the “lapses and questionable practices and behaviour in the liturgical, pastoral, and moral lives” of the clergy and lay faithful in the Catholic Church, Capalla said the archdiocese is doing its best to correct them.
“We are not ignoring them. They make us humble and conscious of God’s mercy and forgiveness, and encourage us to struggle for authenticity and credibility,” he said.
He further stated that the Archdiocesan Liturgical Center of Davao, in proper time will organize the faithful “to celebrate the Missa Extraordinaria in Latin with propriety and dignity when needed.” (CBCPNews)