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".


  1. Look for a possible schism in 2008. The de facto schismatic bishops are no doubt weighing such considerations as: percentage of the laity they can take with them, church property and diocesan financial assets. The only thing these modernists love more than heresy is money.

  2. Anonymous8:34 PM

    I hope not Pascendi, but perhaps schism is too strong a phrase- though the behaviour of some of the episcopate is certainly out of harmony with the Pope. Thank you Rorate Caeli for bring this story to our attention. Let us pray for a peaceful and just outcome.

  3. Anonymous9:30 PM

    Can. 1273 By virtue of his primacy of governance, the Roman Pontiff is the supreme administrator and steward of all ecclesiastical goods.
    Correct me, but doesn't it mean that "schismatic" bishop can't take property of church and diocesy with him?

  4. Anonymous10:01 PM

    This story seems to have less to do with these priests' insistence upon saying the TLM than with their refusal to say the Novus Ordo. I'm not sure how it plays out in canon law, but Summorum Pontificum doesn't appear to grant priests the right to refuse to say the Novus Ordo.

    I'm no expert in canon law, but it would seem reasonable that a bishop has the right to insist that his priests perform the sacraments according to the approved rubrics of the Latin rite.

    God knows that I'm no fan of the Novus Ordo - I wish it were immediately replaced with a reverent, faithful vernacular translation of the TLM - but I don't think priests (even traditional ones) should be making up their own rules.

  5. Anonymous10:10 PM

    Just a little word of thanks for your excellent analysis of all the important stories. Certainly the best on the web. I know you do this for no earthly reward, but be assured of a memento in this priest's Mass.

  6. Anonymous10:27 PM

    I'm not sure how it plays out in canon law, but Summorum Pontificum doesn't appear to grant priests the right to refuse to say the Novus Ordo.

    True, it doesn't grant that right. But what has been reported is that we have parishes where most parishioners want the traditional Latin Mass, but their bishop has just ordered their pastors to offer only one such Mass each Sunday, and only in the afternoon -- all morning Masses must be the new Mass, which very few of these parishioners want. So it isn't just that these priests are refusing to offer the new Mass -- it's that their bishop instructed them to stop attending to the spiritual needs of most of their parishioners.

  7. Anonymous10:41 PM

    I hope the Pope doesn't back down to this rable of dissident and disobedient aged Bishops. Best thing to do would be to sack the bishops.
    That goes for the Polish bishops too, who apparently are against the Tridentine Latin Mass.

  8. Anonymous11:10 PM

    Thank you Jordan Potter (I'm the same "anonymous" you were addressing).

    I agree that bishops should let pastors pastor. I don't think they ought to be micromanaging the specific number and distribution (let alone mass times) of TLMs vs. NOs. It seems to me that he really has little or no right to regulate the implementation of Summorum Pontificum.

    But I do think he has the right to demand that his priests say the Novus Ordo as long as it remains the "ordinary form" of the Latin Rite. And that seems to be what this article is really about. These priests seem not merely to be pressing for a morning TLM or an increased number of TLMs either on Sunday or during the week. They seem to be refusing to say the Novus Ordo altogether.

    That seems uncatholic to me. I wish I could wake up tomorrow and that the Novus Ordo would be the humble modification of the TLM that was envisioned by Vatican II. But until that time, it remains the valid, legitimate pile of slop that it is. Being valid and legitimate, how can priests refuse on principle to celebrate it?

  9. Anonymous11:42 PM

    To the last Anon:

    If the Catholic priest were to believe, as do many of his parishioners apparently, that the NO Mass, valid as it may be, is harmful to their souls, or at least not terribly beneficial, then a good and saintly Catholic priest would have every sensus Catholicus to refuse to celebrate it even if the Church allows for the Mass to be celebrated. Padre Pio was avowed never to celebrate the new Mass he heard rumors was being cooked.

    That is not to say that the NO is invalid. No, it is valid. But the prayerful incense it offers to God has proven to be much less pleasing than that of the Ancient Ordo. A Saintly priest would emphasize that which is more efficacious for the souls of his parishioners, and one can certainly not accuse them of being un-Catholic or insufficiently so for that.

    Anon Toronto

  10. Anonymous11:51 PM

    "Being valid and legitimate, how can priests refuse on principle to celebrate it?" (anonymous)

    Is this a proper way to address the problem and a properly phrased question ?
    I don't think so because :
    - trad. institutes have a special charism and don't have to celebrate NOM for example.
    - Eastern rites are valid and legitimate but nobdoy, even the Bp of Novara, would force his priests to say each of the various Eastern Divine Liturgies at least once per week in the afternoon ...

    I reckon the presence of a group of faithful asking for the "ordinary form" is a real question and the Bishop has to address their need. On the other hand, I don't think it's his duty to decide when the Mass is scheduled in a specific parish.
    This bishop is obviously keeping the 1984-1988 regime and not respecting article 5 of the present motu proprio. Plus the rights of a parish pastor.

    The Bp of Novara should do like some French bishops who are deputing a group of priests to celebrate TLM. There he would send a different priest every Sunday to minister the NOers because they are, apparently, the minority in these parishes.

    Once again, PCED won't be able to hide and stay mute very long. Anti-Roman bishops are turning up the heat to challenge the papal authority week after week.

  11. Anonymous1:22 AM

    The question seems to be this: can a qualified priest of the Roman rite refuse to say an approved form of the Roman rite when parishoners request it? This goes for both those attached either the Missal of John XXIII or Paul VI.

    To put it another way:

    1. Can the priest refuse to say the N.O.?

    2. Can the priest implement the TLM to such an extent as to force those who are cold or neutral to it to attend it?

    1. Can a qualified priest refuse to say the TLM?

    2. Can a qualified priest implement the N.O. in such a way as to force parishioners who want the TLM to attend it?


  12. Anonymous,
    Good point. However, schismatic bishops care not for Canon Law any more than Cramner did - so they would take as much as the civil law in each given country would grant them.

    If I am not mistaken, at least within the United States, there may be precedent based on congregation size, as to who gets the property. Apparently litigation is underway vis-a-vis the communities who wish to break away from the main ultra-liberal Anglican sect.

  13. Let's think the opposite. And if a modern priest says that he doesnt know how to celebrate the Latin Mass? Ok, thats because the new seminaries dont teach how to celebrate the TLM. And if we then offer to him a kind of "course" to teach him how to celebrate. Do you really think that they would start to celebrate the latin mass? Im pretty sure that he would not even go to that course...And if the TLM had never been abrogated, could we say that he is refusing to celebrate a mass that is "another expression of the SAME ROMAN RITE" as our Pope said, or in other words, that he is taking over the "same sin" of these italian priests?

    Yes! Of course we could.

    So this bishop used his own law, and not the church one. As the same way that a traditional priest refuses to celebrate the NOM, a modern priest could refuse to celebrate the TLM (an the excuses of no knowledge is such silly as could be the traditional priests ones)

    And there is no difference between the rites...ok, one is extraordinary and another one is ordinary...

    But thats no sense of comparing...if they are now valid rites, they must have the same importance...

    Thats why is very important that the Pope write a new document. To solve this contraditory thing that I have signed...

    And soon, he will change the NOM too...on turtle steps...but he will...

    Vladimir Sesar
    Sao Paulo - Brazil

  14. Anonymous12:42 PM

    I think American, Austrian, German, Swiss, French, Spanish, Portugese, Hungarian, Slovenian, Croatian and other traditional"ist" Roman Catholic clergy ánd especially lay faithful should write or contact these three priests to support their great resistance against the false liturgy, and to promote Roman Catholic Tradition. Also politely write to their bishop to revoke his biased decrees.

    Please do so. Do not let these priests into the cold!

    Yes, the schism was already there in the minds between the modernists and the real Catholics, but now it is becoming obvious. A hard development, but necessary to purify our Roman Catholic Church.

  15. Anonymous12:46 PM

    Poohooh, the children do not like the Traditional Latin Mass. Probably merely because of the fact that their very own parents gossip and demonize their good traditional Parish Priest at their home. Children imitate parents, and I have only seen even little children fascinated by the splendour of the senses and the words in the Traditional Roman Mass.

    And sometimes children just have to be disciplined to do something they "do not want, whaaa!"

    I guess these mothers who cry about the TLM and against it, also do not give their children vegetables to eat, and also that their children are not ordered to clean up their bedrooms themselves?

    Come on, guys. Do some effort, and even the youngest will get pleased with the TLM.

  16. Anonymous1:43 PM

    For something that was supposed to foster unity and reconciliation at the heart of the church Summorum Pontificum is proving very devisive indeed.

    Perhaps Benedict needs to the humility to re-think this one and not just base his decisions on the erroneous opinions of vociferous minority pressure groups.

  17. Anonymous1:59 PM

    But I do think he has the right to demand that his priests say the Novus Ordo as long as it remains the "ordinary form" of the Latin Rite. And that seems to be what this article is really about.

    No, that's obviously not what the article is really about -- though it's an interesting question in its own right. Priests of the Roman Rite celebrate Mass according to the Roman Rite, which juridically has two forms, an ordinary one and an extraordinary one. In these parishes, most parishioners want the extraordinary form, but their bishop has not merely ordered their pastors to celebrate the ordinary form at least once every Sunday, but to celebrate the extraordinary form no more than once every Sunday and only in the afternoon. The bishop is clearly trying to marginalise the majority of the Catholics in these parishes, and to keep the extraordinary form marginalised in his diocese. His action makes no pastoral sense and is uncharitable and foolish, even if he has the letter of the law on his side.

    Another anonymous said: Perhaps Benedict needs to the humility to re-think this one and not just base his decisions on the erroneous opinions of vociferous minority pressure groups.

    There's absolutely no evidence that he based this correct and Catholic decision upon the opinions, erroneous or not, of vociferous minority pressure groups. You should start reading some of the Pope's writings on liturgy -- then you will see that this has got nothing to do with pressure from vociferous groups.

    Besides, who says division is always a bad thing? The Lord we serve came with a sword, not to bring the "peace" that the world gives, the kind of peace you would favor, in which the majority crush the minority.

  18. Anonymous4:12 PM

    To Anonymous who refered to the NMO as a "legitimate pile of slop that it is." If you were a Priest, would you feel comfortable offering a "legitimate pile of slop" to God just because it is valid? And what does that say of the Church Authority who validated "a legitimate pile of slop" as the Catholic Mass which is the highest form of worship known to man?

  19. Anonymous4:34 PM

    I happen not to be a very traditional minded Catholic, but honestly this discussion board need not go through the same pile of angst as happens in many other blogs: valid, invalid, the True versus the apparent pile slip slop prayers. That really is unnecessary.

    As a person that would not like to see the NO go completely nor do I have anything but love for the TLM, I think I'd have less of an ideological standpoint on this subject when I say:

    That if the so called new Vatican II attitude of being 'pastoral' were to be fully realized and applied, it follows that the Bishop should have just increased the number of TLMs in the parish.

    The Bishop could have made it much easier on everyone if he'd just allow the TLM to grow wherever it is desired. Is that not the same excuse they're giving to trads when they say that 'their' Novus Ordo is way more popular and hence no need for the TLM? Really there should be no hassle, no need to require priests to inform anyone whether or not they love the NO or the TLM or if they want to celebrate any one rite exclusively.

    It's just pretty obvious that the parish wanted the TLM, so rather than get thoroughly ideological about it, any good Bishop should better figure out a perfectly Catholic solution to a Catholic obligation which is evidently assisting at Mass on Sunday. The TLM is, surprise surprise a Catholic rite, so why make it harder on Catholics to attend a valid rite of their choice. Now, a good bishop should make this obligation easier not harder.

    Personally, while I don't like the idea of some priests insisting on saying only the TLM ever, this really is a small problem compared to leaving Catholic faithful mass-less on a Sunday. If parishioners would find it less comfortable or more anxious about having to celebrate a NO, so be it, let them have their TLM in peace!

    Evidently, he's not a pastor in the 'spirit of Vatican II' either, if what this news report says is true. This is a matter of charity, nothing to do with TLM or NOM.


  20. Anonymous5:53 PM

    One solution to all this would be for the Pope to state, very strongly, and very plainly, that BOTH rites are valid, and that BOTH are the norm. So that if a parish wants to have mostly TLM, there is nothing wrong with it. Or if priests want to say just the TLM, that is fine too.
    All this accomodation for the Novus Ordo, and still trying to put it up as the NORM is ridiculous, considering how few really want it. And that was probably true from the very beginning.
    No one wanted it. And that's why we have such a crisis in the Church today. Something that no one wanted was forced on the Church, and unfortunatly is being kept in place by its aging devotees.

  21. Anonymous6:56 PM

    There appear to be several camps of believers in the Church today. One group will do whatever the priest tells them to do "because he is the priest." These are people who consider the credentials of the speaker to be more important than the substance of his message. Another group are those who believe that the Church should be all about saving souls and glorifying God. So-called "traditionalists" belong in this camp because they will simply not accept anything short of the traditional Mass and sacraments and a parish that functions in a way that is conducive to living the traditional Catholic life. They would rather travel far and wide to find a diocesan or independent traditional chapel, or stay home than accept what they see as a new religion imposed from above by modernist heretics (ala the church of Mahony, McBrien, Martini, Weakland, Gumbleton, etc.). Like them or not, they believe just as our Catholic forefathers did. They live the Catholic life as popes, cardinals, bishops and priests have taught them for centuries ... up to the present confused generation. Given the choice of accepting orders from legitimate authority demanding that they do what they know is harmful to their faith OR following the practices that they know are good for them spiritually in spite of the displeasure this causes to their lawful superiors, they choose the latter. This will one day be seen for what it is ... heroic. But today these people are marginalized as ideologues and cranks. The last group, the most contemptible of all Catholics, are the mindless rabble who couldn't care less, one way or the other, what the priest says or does. They pick and choose what they will do or believe and make no attempt to learn the truths of the Faith. We can only pray that these lukewarm fools will come to their senses before eternity comes upon them.
    So there is very little hope to bring all these people together. Traditional Catholic principles will always be at odds with the errors of modernism which hold sway in the majority of parishes throughout the world today. Conversion will be necessary and that will require Divine grace which we can all pray for.
    But, you may ask, what about "Christian charity?" What about it? The greatest charity the traditionalists can show the modernists is to continue to demand nothing less than everything to be returned to the way it should be. Truth should never be asked to live in harmony with error. Those who love the truth must not "go along to get along" as this always leads to lukewarmness. And lukewarmness leads, eventually to spiritual death.
    Until the Church comes to its senses and embraces the liturgical and spiritual life of its past in a true reform, the best way to maintain "peace," if desired, is to give the traditionalists their own bishops and priests, to effectively create of them a new "traditional" rite in the Church, similiar to the Ukrainian Byzantine and other Eastern rites. Thus modern priests will not have to carry the "burden" of learning Latin and offering the Mass "mumbling to the wall in a language neither they nor their people can understand."

  22. Anonymous5:08 AM

    why would anyone think that being catholic is equal to being at peace? didn't our Lord tell us that he brings division?

    anything that is truly holy, good and of God will bring division, because it is not like us. 11 apostles were put to death over our faith.

    why do we think it should be any easier for us? if they persecuted Christ, they will persecute those who love and uphold our holy faith and traditions.

  23. Anonymous8:48 AM

    The Tridentine Mass has never been abrogated. Neither has the decree Quo Primum. This decree states that at no time can a priest be forced to say mass other than as prescribed in the missal in which it is contained. It does not say that a priest can't say a different form of mass if he is willing. Anathemas were attached by St. Pius V for those who countermanded his decree regardless of their heirarchical rank at any time, binding it IN PERPETUITY!

  24. Anonymous8:21 PM

    I am the anon who referred to the NO as a "legitimate pile of slop that it is."

    If I were a priest, I would put my "duty" above my "comfort" and say the Mass for the good of the Church and the salvation of souls, to avoid the scandal of priests taking the liturgy into their own hands.

    What does it say about those responsible for implementing the NO? Bad stuff. No doubt about it, but God guides the Church through good and bad alike. God has his own wisdom and reasoning in allowing the Church to approve the NO and that ought to be respected.

    If a priest belongs to a special order or has otherwise been given dispensation (such as St. Padre Pio may have been given), obviously that exempts them from their duty to offer the NO. It's a completely different circumstance than simply taking the matter into one's own hands.

    Jordan Potter- thank you. This is a more difficult situation (canonically) than I surmised. I thought the priests were altogether refusing to say the NO on principle. It seems to me that the local bishop is overstepping the bounds of his authority and seeking to undermine the spirit and intention of SP. By the same token, it's hard to say whether he is contradicting the letter of SP, which - as far as the law is concerned - is decisive.

    It seems to me that the priests ought to temporarily follow their bishop's instructions while actively seeking a more just permanent solution from Ecclesia Dei.

  25. Anonymous8:01 PM

    Evidently the previous poster is more knowledgeable than Pope Benedict who declared that the Tridentine Mass was never abrogated. Since the 1962 revision of the Tridentine Missal (as every other revision since 1570) is prefaced with Quo Primum it would not remain if it were invalid.

  26. Anonymous9:58 AM

    In regard to the previous poster:

    This happens to be a forum for the exchange of various perspectives, not merely your own. Your perspectives are at odds with the late Rev. Gommar DePauw. He was a cannon laywer and one of the periti in his field at the Council of Vatican II. He was the earliest cleric in the U.S. to organize a resistance against the machinations of that council's implementations in the sixties and founded the Catholic Traditionalist Movement on Long Island, NY. He maintained that the Old Mass was never abrogated because Pope Paul VI did not follow cannon law as it was required for abrogation. In other words his 1969 abrogation didn't occur. Was he a Tradionalist dignified enough to hold a position different than your own?

    You deny saying that the Tridentine Mass was abrogated. Yet you wrote that it was never completely abrogated. That is not what Pope Benedict said.

    If you believe that Quo Primum is invalid, what official document made it so? Please don't state the 1969 instition of the new mass. If it didn't cut it for the Tridentine Mass, it didn"t cut it for Quo Primum either. Rev. DePauw would liked to have known it.

  27. This "Never COMPLETELY abrogated" fallacy will not be allowed here. The Church has suffered enough for this.

    It was "nunquam abrogatam": that is it. Let Peter have the final word.