The sad story of the possible closure of Holy Innocents parish in New York City -- the only church to have a daily traditional Latin Mass in one of the largest and most prominent cities in the world -- continues, with two new pieces in the New York Times.
Rorate previously covered this subject in April. The New York Times' primary article on Holy Innocents today does a commendable job here, and local religion reporter Sharon Otterman clearly put a lot of time into interviewing all sides and summarizing the issue for a larger audience:
Conservative Catholics, generally, have been concerned about where they fit in the church in the era of Pope Francis, with his less doctrinaire style. And many liturgical traditionalists, some of whom simply prefer the old liturgy and music, and others who want to roll back the changes of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, are closely watching the situation at Holy Innocents. They fear it may signal a return to a broader suppression of the Latin Mass after a period of being encouraged under Pope Benedict XVI.
At Holy Innocents, the Latin Mass helped bring a renaissance, parishioners said. The church, which dates back to 1869 and has about 300 registered parishioners, operates at a surplus, driven in part by generous collections and a thriving thrift shop in the basement, according to church documents. Attendance at Sunday Mass has nearly tripled since 2009, and the church recently paid $350,000 to restore a mural behind its high altar that was painted in the 1870s.
Some other dioceses dedicate a priest and a parish for the celebration of the Latin Mass. But in New York the laity have to organize traditional Masses themselves, seeking out volunteer priests “hither and thither as though we were seemingly still living in Reformation England or Cromwellian Ireland,” Father (Justin) Wylie said, calling it an “injustice.”
Regarding the Latin Mass, Mr. (Joseph) Zwilling (spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York) said that lay groups in the diocese were welcome to organize such Masses but that the diocese did not think a special parish needed to be assigned. He said it was premature to discuss what would happen to the parishioners of Holy Innocents until Cardinal Dolan, who is the archbishop of New York, made the final decisions on church closings in September.
The archdiocesan priest who officiated at the Latin Mass at Holy Innocents on a recent Sunday asked not to be identified for fear of retribution.
A second piece on the New York Times website also ran today concerning Father Wylie. Rorate reported on Father's termination earlier this month, which revealed, according to the director of priest personnel for the Archdiocese of New York, the dismissal came "directly from the cardinal's office."
Rorate has observed that so far there has been no public mention on what would be a win-win situation for Cardinal Dolan and the Archdiocese of New York: inviting the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter or the Institute of Christ the King to run Holy Innocents as a personal parish. The archdiocese's arguments on parish closings have been about priest shortages and finances, both of which become non-issues if the Fraternity or Institute are given custody of the parish.