Rorate Caeli

BREAKING & EXCLUSIVE: Bishop Bans Fisher More College from offering Traditional Latin Mass to students

Stunning letter gives no reason, simply bans the Mass said daily for last three years at school for sake of "your own soul"

Canon Law Centre: Bishop has "unlawfully restricted the rights of the faithful"

An effect of new Pontificate? First the FI, now the youth in America

* Rorate analysis and commentary here & Twitter @RorateCaeli *


** Updates At Bottom of Post **

In a stunning and breathtaking letter, the Most Rev. Michael Olson, the newly-ordained bishop of the Fort Worth Diocese and the second-youngest bishop in the United States, has fully and totally banned the offering of the Traditional Latin Mass in the chapel of Fisher More College, where it has been offered for the last three years on a daily basis by chaplains all approved by his predecessor bishop according to the college. This blow comes after the students of the college raised $300,000 in about a week to keep the school open for the spring semester (see here). 

Rorate has exclusively obtained -- through a source who has requested anonymity -- a copy of the letter sent last week by the bishop after a personal meeting with the college's president, Michael King. Even more striking, the letter from Bishop Olson states that he's doing this "for your own soul," addressing Mr. King, apparently saying in some twisted way the offering of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form is a danger to Mr.King's soul

When asked by Rorate for a response to the letter from Bishop Olson, the school declined to comment.

Here is the letter from Bishop Olson to Mr. King: 

** CLICK HERE to donate to Fisher More College **

NB: The only option Bishop Olson offers to the students to assist at the Traditional Latin Mass is in a parish where it is offered only on Sundays, at 5:30 p.m. This parish in turn is the only place in the whole diocese where the TLM is now available under diocesan authority. 
Nothing in the morning on Sunday, nothing on Saturday, nothing during the week. Students who have traveled across the country to attend this school, surely due in part to its daily Traditional Mass and sacraments, should now simply have next to nothing, according to the bishop.

Rorate will be following this closely, and we not only permit, but urge other blogs and mainstream media to do the same. We will also be offering deeper analysis in the days and weeks to come. For now, some initial reactions:

1): We have already seen the clampdown, ordered by Pope Francis, on the Franciscans of the Immaculate (FI) and have covered it in depth. At least, with the FI, there were -- albeit ridiculous -- scenarios listed by Fr. Volpi about extremism in the order, giving them -- again, ridiculous -- reasons to ban the Traditional Mass, as if the Mass of the saints could cause negative extremism. However, in this letter, there are no scenarios like this -- it's just a complete ban on the Mass, a naked power grab by a young bishop who clearly has a lot to learn about the politics of abusing authority. Why not just ask them to offer the Novus Ordo along with the TLM? Not that they should have to, but he would have at least come off, to some, as a bit less heavy handed and somewhat more compassionate towards the students. We fully expect him to come up with some other "evidence" once he feels the heat this is sure to bring.

2): This is, along with the FI, another important test case, this time on the availability of the TLM in Catholic schools, already a severely under-served sector despite the best efforts of Pope Benedict and his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

3): This extremism, regrettably, involves a very young bishop (47) -- which just goes to show that younger prelates do not automatically represent a "biological solution" that will solve the problem of hierarchical opposition to Tradition or outright modernism. (This comes in the wake of the "example" given by the young and outspokenly modernist bishop Stephen Ackermann in Germany, with regards to sexual morality.)

4.): There are so many problems with Catholic higher education as presently available in hundreds of colleges and universities like Notre Dame and Georgetown, yet, what gets the sledgehammer from a bishop is one of the few loyal and orthodox colleges where the students simply want to live their faith and accept all the demands of that faith by the Church.

5.): We believe the outrage of this action will not only resonate with traditional Catholics, but conservative Catholics as well, who may not attend or even like the TLM but surely understand the direct wishes of Pope Benedict expressed in Summorum Pontificum regardless of whether schools were specifically named in the still-binding document. However, we fully expect some Catholics who purposely and poorly disguise themselves as orthodox to justify this case in regards to the action of Bishop Olson, and to dismiss the very obvious "Effect" of at least a perception of the new Pontificate that is taking root around the world and spreading rapidly among priests and prelates.

Creative Minority Report weighs in with further important points:

"I will also note that the Bishop made this decision just over 3 weeks into his tenure in the Diocese. Hardly enough time to address any underlying issues fairly with the college. As such, this seems directed at the TLM only.

"Whether beyond his authority under Summorum Pontificum or not, this draconian action with minimal justification directed at something so ancient and sacred, reverberates far beyond the confines of campus. This is reminiscent of other recent actions directed against the TLM with minimal justification and will likely be seen as very chilling by traditionalists within the Church, increasing that very dangerous sense of isolation."

Follow @RorateCaeli on Twitter for more commentary & developments

Rorate has also reached out to our long-time partners at the Canon Law Centre for their review of Bishop Olson's action. Their strong response follows:

CALL TO ACTION: Please, dear readers, blog about this grave injustice. Email this to your families and friends. Tweet it on Twitter, including retweeting our Tweets which you will see on the right-hand side of this page. Send it to the media. We must do everything in our power to spread the word and help this school and students regain their God-given patrimony. Don't think for a second this starts and stops with this college. If we don't act now, we will surely regret it later.

MEDIA: for your reporting purposes, you may accurately refer to Rorate Caeli as the most-read international traditional Catholic blog on the Internet.


-- Fisher More College has posted its first official response to today's news. Click here to read more.

-- As is typical, certain bloggers who don't like to do their homework, are suggesting the chaplains at Fisher More could have been SSPX or independent priests. A nominal amount of fact checking would have informed them that there were four chaplains, all in good standing. And all were personally approved by the previous bishop (or diocesan authority). Click here for a link to the list.

** We have reached out to Bishop Olson and the USCCB for official reaction. We will print their responses in full if they respond. **

[Opinion updates - Feb. 4: 1. Guest op-ed by Steve Skojec2. Op-ed: It's not about specific persons, it's about the grave precedent: Fr. Finnegan, Dr. Shaw, and the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae; 3. The example of Fréjus-Toulon, France: how a good bishop can bring about liturgical peace]

It did not take long for news to spread to Europe. Italy, Germany, Poland, France and others have already begun reporting. A couple of examples below:

Click here to read Corrispondenza Romana

Click here to read TradiNews