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Advice on what to do about Liturgical Abuse

Different people have different advice on what to do about liturgical abuse. It may or may not be in your power or personality to do what people suggest in the articles and videos described and linked below. If some of these actions are not things you can do, you can always pray, ask others to pray, and make acts of reparation to God.  

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf has several articles on his blog about how to write to the Vatican, bishops and priests. You can find the list here:

https://wdtprs.com/?s=tips+for+writing

The main article is Tips for writing to the Vatican, bishops and priests (2008). Fr. Z's 5 bullet points include what you should and should NOT do when you write. He says: "In summary, be brief, send evidence, leave out the obvious, don’t vent." The names and addresses in the article are out of date. For up to date information, see https://www.catholic-hierarchy.org

Holy Water Guns, Clown Dances During Communion, and other odd Abuses at the Altar  from "The Father Leo Show" on YouTube, March 13, 2024. 

"Father Leo Patalinghug is a priest member of a community of consecrated life, Voluntas Dei (The Will of God)," according to the bio on his website, Plating Grace. In the video, Fr. Leo watches some videos of liturgical "silliness." He makes the distinction that Divine Liturgy is about the work of God, while the "silliness" is a work of humans. At the end of the video (about 23:36), he gives advice on what to do about liturgical abuse. A summary: 

  1. Don't get angry. Make critical distinctions about the liturgy. See the video to learn about them.

  2. Make an accounting of what you find "challenging."

  3. Make an appointment with the priest. 

  4. Don't try to pick a fight with your priest. Try to bring about understanding. 

  5. Ask him, why do we do these things? Where is this found in our prayer books, in the Sacramentary, for example? And if it's not there, then ask, why are we doing it? See the video for more keys to bringing about understanding. 

  6. If the priest persist, then Fr. Leo encouraged you to send a letter accounting these things to your Bishop or Vicar General. "Do it with a real sense of humility and concerns," Father advises. The point is also not to get the priest in trouble, he says. Don't be arrogant. It is to be truly fraternal correction. 

 

How to Correct Liturgical Abuse By Leo Bruno, Dec. 15, 1995, Adoremus.

In the article, Mr. Bruno goes step by step in how he and others worked to remove an inclusive-language Lectionary and Sacramentary from his parish. His steps are:

  1. Become involved in your local parish.

  2. "Verify that your suspicion is correct, and seek advice."

  3. "Put your concerns in writing." He outlines the principles to use to write your letter. If you can't write or you need to defend your position in a group, he suggests you use the same principles.

  4. "Official Church documentation is the key." (His link is broken. See Resources.)

  5. Be patient.

  6. "Try to work with one major issue at a time, and stick with it to conclusion." Fight one battle at a time, he suggests.

  7. Don't forget to thank people and compliment them for following Church teaching. He recommends, "Don’t fight battles that burn bridges. Keep the door open for the next opportunity."  

How and When to Report Liturgical Abuse  A video from Catholic Answers.

In this 4 1/2 minute video, Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P., answers a question from an anonymous radio caller. He recommends first that the caller bring the issue up to the pastor, as it would save him embarrassment. He suggests coming at the subject by saying, "I don't understand." He noted that the priest could get very upset, "but that's OK", he says, "The Lord is worth it." He concludes, "Be as non-threatening as possible and asking his help." 

cope

How to Cope with Liturgical Abuse  by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

This article is a transcript of a talk given by Fr. Hardon. It is copyright 1998. It took place before the Church issued Redemptionis Sacramentum in 2004. Father's main concern is to find a valid Mass to fulfill one's Sunday obligation.

 

His discussion of the cause of liturgical abuse may be helpful in educating yourself and others about the Mass and the Eucharist. "... behind the abuses of the Eucharistic liturgy is a widespread undermining of revealed truth about the true meaning of the Blessed Sacrament." He went on to say, "So many people nowadays are speaking about Eucharistic celebration. So few are ever talking about the Sacrifice of the Mass. In the 16th century when Martin Luther and John Calvin broke with the Catholic Church, the first thing they did was to change the Catholic vocabulary. Instead of the Mass it became – this is the 16th century – the liturgy, or Eucharist, or Holy Communion, and that is what is happening today. In other words, there is no substitute for understanding the Holy Eucharist as the Sacrifice of the Mass which is, we believe, a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. The Holy Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle, in the plainest language I can use, is Jesus Christ."

Contemplative Conflict - Navigating Pastoral Friction Regarding Humble Reception of the Eucharist

A video by Dan Burke on Facebook

The plan proposed by Mr. Burke could be applied to any sensitive topic with which you need to communicate with your priest. Dan proposes that you pray and fast for the priest for a month. Every day, fast from something. See the priest and love him as God loves him. Also, a few times during the month, sent a note to the priest about something you appreciate in him. Watch the video for more.

Burke

Bad Habits: Can we correct liturgical abuse in religious communities? by Father Vincent Capuano, S.J., Feb 15, 2006, Adoremus

Lay people often attend parishes administered by religious order priests. This articles' comprehensive discussion of the challenges faced by religious orders can help one understand the larger picture of liturgical abuse, and possibly, that you don't have the power to correct it.

 

Question 6 discusses what will and will not work to correct liturgical abuse. Fr. Capuano writes, "Exhortation will not work. Because religious orders have members with a plurality of theological and liturgical viewpoints, it is virtually impossible to achieve a consensus. Exhortation will not have much effect, especially when superiors don’t think liturgical norms are important. "

 

As far as what might work, he writes, "[...] the Church should account for such a tendency [to sin] and establish a system of transparency, accountability, checks and balances. It is not sufficient to write pretty documents." He calls for clear guidelines with teeth. "For example, protecting the identity and rights of individual religious who file complaints would be a start. Then establish a system of checks and balances that promotes transparency and honesty in liturgical practice. Think of it as a type of whistle-blower’s act."

 

Fr. Capuano concludes, "The first step in reform is identifying and naming the evil spirit. The first places where we need to look for him are in our own hearts and in our own communities." 

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