Rorate Caeli

Suspension by Bishop? - Parish priests on "strike"
- Bishop defends himself

La Stampa (in Italian) reported on Monday on the possible persecution of parish priests who want to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass by their Bishop, in the Diocese of Novara, Italy.

The event has been summarized by Catholic World News (we thank the several readers who have sent the link):

Italian bishop suspends priests for insisting on Latin Mass

Rome, Nov. 26, 2007 ( - Bishop Renato Corti of Novara, Itay, has suspended 3 priests who refused to celebrate Mass on Sunday, according to the newspaper La Stampa.

Fathers Alberto Secci, Stefano Coggiola and Marco Pizzocchi refused to celebrate Sunday Masses after Bishop Corti said that they could not exclusively celebrate the traditional Latin Mass.

In Father Alberto Secci’s parish, parishioners insisted that they would only attend a traditional Latin Mass celebrated by Father Secci. Six hundred people signed a petition in support of their parish priest.

Father Stefano Coggiola’s parishioners were reportedly divided over their pastor’s decision. While one group supported the priest’s decision, another complained that their children did not like the Mass celebrated in Latin.

Actually, the La Stampa report does not say that they were suspended, but that they "suspended" themselves ("il è autosospeso") - that they went "on strike" ("sciopero") because they were ordered to celebrate the Latin Mass only once every Sunday and only in the afternoon, even though most faithful in their parishes prefer the Traditional Mass (this was the "interpretative" decision of their Bishop which motivated their protest). The episcopal Vicar for the region managed to send priests to celebrate the New Mass in Italian (for a very small number of faithful).

The Bishop of Novara, Renato Corti, defended his actions in an article published today (in Italian) in the semi-official daily of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Avvenire.

The need for a clarification document becomes each day greater as Bishops raise the stakes in their dispute with the Pope. The position of priests who wish to celebrate the Traditional Mass exclusively - not "as a matter of principle", but because they love it more - or primarily must be as protected as that of the majority of priests who do not wish to celebrate it at all.

It is true that Bishops must manage the parishes and communities in their dioceses according to the liturgical inclinations of the faithful: that is, it is understandable that a priest may be transferred from a Parish church to another activity in the diocese if he is the only priest in the Parish and does not wish to celebrate the New Mass - but he cannot be suspended or suffer any kind of punishment for the use of his right to celebrate the Traditional Mass, which "was never abrogated".