Saturday, March 18, 2006

Is your Latin Mass schismatic?

Some years ago, I had never been to a traditional Latin Mass. I remember my Mom sharing her memories of it very fondly. She really appreciated the Latin Mass when we lived in Germany and didn't understand the language. When she attended the Mass, she felt at home since she finally understood what they were saying!!So I looked up on the internet for a place in Colorado Springs that offered a Latin Mass. To be clear, I believe the current editio typica of the Roman Missal is valid and it is the liturgy I grew up with and enjoy the most. However, I wanted to experience more of the beautiful Catholic tradition. So I found the following fraternal order in town that offered the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal:

Servants of the Holy Family

I wrote them an email asking which Roman Missal they use, so that I could obtain it and do some study before attending the Mass. I want to know what's going on, so that I can better appreciate it. I also asked if they were part of the diocese of Colorado Springs.

Fr. Simons, S.S.F., wrote me back:
Dear David,

We are not part of the diocese of Colorado Springs, but we are in union with Rome. You are welcome to attend our Mass. If you would like to call for details I would be happy to speak with you. [phone number given] [emphasis added]

We look forward to hearing from you.

Father Kevin D. Simons, S.S.F.
I was fully intending upon calling and finding out more details when a little voice inside thought they may actually be schismatic and yet telling me they are not. So, I wrote the Diocese of Colorado Springs to ask about this fraternal order and their status with Rome. This is what the diocese wrote to me:
The Servants of the Holy Family are not in communion with the Diocese of Colorado Springs (and the Roman Catholic Church at large), although they claim to be.

The Immaculate Conception Latin Mass Community IS, however, a community recognized as part of our diocese. It is led by a priest of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter [FSSP], Fr. Fritschen, and is dedicated to the Latin Mass of 1962 Roman Missal. They were given permission by the Holy See to say the Mass according to the 1962 Missal on a regular basis.

If you wish to contact Fr. Thoma Fritschen, his number is [provided] he will be happy to forward additional informtation to you upon request.

This disturbed me. So I went to the library and looked at the Official Catholic Directory (2003) to look up whether Fr. Simons was listed or whether the Servants of the Holy Family or S.S.F. were listed. They were not. I did, however, find that Fr. Fritschen and the F.S.S.P. were listed.I wrote back Fr. Simons and told him that two things disturbed me. The fact that they are not listed in the Official Catholic Directory and that the Diocese claimed they are NOT in communion with Rome. I assured him that I believed there are at least two sides to every argument, so I asked him why they believed they were in communion with Rome. I suggested that if they were truly in communion, they may want to provide a letter showing that fact to the Diocese of Colorado Springs and submit their fraternal order and names to be published in the Official Catholic Directory.

I told him that I would be contacting Fr. Fritschen and participating in the next Latin Mass with him. I invited Fr. Simons to join us if he wished.

Suffice it to say, Fr. Simons was not very pleased. He said:
Dear David,

I did not know when I wrote to you that I would be asked to defend my status in the Church. The bishop's office is lying to you, but of course, you believe them rather than us, or else you would not have written to them.

Fr. Simons
Now why would the Bishop's office be lying? They certainly are not suppressing the Latin Mass, as it is offered daily in the diocese. It seemed quite clear to me that Fr. Simons is part of a schismatic movement and it was he that was lying to me about their status with Rome. Why would they need to lie to me to trick me into joining them?I wrote back to Fr. Simons:
Fr Simons,

I meant no offense. I merely want to attend a Latin Mass that is not in schism with the Holy See. I'm confident that Bishop Sheridan is in communion with Rome. Whether the Servants of the Holy Family are or not is none of my concern. You don't have to defend yourself to me at all. I just wanted to let you know of my intentions and why. Whether or not you include your fraternal order and your name in the Official Catholic Directory is entirely up to you.

God bless,

For those wanting to attend a Latin Mass that is not in schism with the Catholic Church, I suggest you do a little research first. The Official Catholic Directory is very handy. By all means, contact your diocese. They may not be part of the diocese (eg. Franciscans), but they ought to be in communion with the diocese. If they are not in communion with the diocese then there's something wrong.

Bottomline: Not all those who say they are in communion with Rome actually are.

God bless,


"Lord, in my zeal for the love of truth, let me not forget the truth about love"
-- St. Thomas Aquinas