Rorate Caeli

The "Unique Expression of the Roman Rite" in the Wild: New Zealand Priest Ad-libbing Eucharistic Prayer

Recently a priest in New Zealand offered a NOM where he completely ad-libbed the Eucharistic Prayer at the funeral Mass for a religious Sister of Mercy. This happened in the Palmerston North diocese, which, in a moment of supreme irony, recently had its only diocesan TLM (apart from the SSPX) suppressed by the modernist Cardinal John Dew and retired bishop Peter Cullinane. The Roman Rite was canceled, and in its place, the "unique..." something or other is allowed to express itself.

The Funeral Directors site livestreamed the service here. The relevant section has been extracted and posted at my YouTube channel for permanent record:

Some more background:

The Palmerston North diocese in New Zealand has been and is the most modernist and liberal of the six. Founded in 1980, its first bishop, +Peter Cullinane, nicknamed "Protestant Pete," ran it into the ground. Like most New Zealand dioceses, Palmerston North has zero home-grown vocations. +Cullinane banned kneeling at Mass, instructed the removal of the Stations of the Cross from all parishes, allowed females to give homilies, promoted 3rd-Rite confession (i.e., general absolution), promoted contraception for those who fornicate, etc. -- you get the picture.

He retired in 2012 and was replaced by +Charles Drennan. +Drennan was subsequently asked to resign in 2019 by Pope Francis because of sexual contact with an 18-year old woman, quite the public scandal in New Zealand at the time. The diocese remained without a bishop until just last Saturday, September 30, 2023, when Bishop John Adams, a Catholic priest from outside the diocese was consecrated. By all reports a good man and a good priest, he now faces the difficult task of putting life into a stillborn diocese for the first time.

However, in the period when +Drennan was essentially deposed, Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington (just south of Palmerston North) was appointed the Apostolic Administrator; and he and the retired +Cullinane 'managed' things, until a new bishop could be found. In that time, +Dew and +Cullinane, leaping on the opportunity that Traditionis Custodes gave them, cruelly cancelled the only Latin Mass in the Palmerston North diocese (apart from the SSPX). The Latin Mass had been quietly offered each Sunday by a humble parish priest for years, with a steady congregation of about 50, mostly in a small town called Ashhurst. It had started in 2009; the last Mass was December 2022. So after 12 years, it was no more.

In stark contrast to that single reverent traditional diocesan Mass are the numerous unfaithful, irreverent, sloppy, and abusive Novus Ordo Masses celebrated in both of the dioceses of these two TLM-crushing Prelates. This off-the-charts funeral Mass, offered in the Palmerston North Diocese, was celebrated by a diocesan priest from the Wellington Archdiocese by the name of Fr Eddie Condra. It took place on Wednesday, September 13, 2023.

In keeping with 50+ years of precedent, it is likely that nothing will happen to this priest for these abuses. Meanwhile, the TLM was suppressed by two prelates in cold, calcualted, uncompromising way. That, it seems, is what a "synodal" church is meant to look like, one that has given up clericalism forever.

A possible objection - and a reply

When I posted this video a few days ago of an NZ priest doing his lameduck unisex spontaneously-generated Teilhardian Eucharistic Prayer, a bent-out-of-shape commenter objected that I should not post something that represents only (he claims) "1%" of Novus Ordo Masses, and that I should instead post examples of "reverent Novus Ordos." It's not the first time I've seen this objection, as you may imagine. Here's how I replied:

The Novus Ordo is an engine of abuses. Always has been. For 50+ years.

Its architects wanted a liturgy that would be more spontaneous and adaptable. Bugnini says as much in his big fat book. They all thought that extemporaneous prayer was more authentic and early-Church-like. That's why they give the priest lots of options and rubrics like "in these or similar words."

Now, when well-intentioned Fr. Tradly comes along and decides to do the Novus Ordo "in the most traditional way," it is still his own personal accomplishment, not the result of following humbly the strict rubrics and texts in front of him. If he chooses the Roman Canon, chant, ad orientem, communion at the rail, etc., all this is his own conglomerate of choices from the smorgasbord of the modern multiplex rite. This is a real spiritual danger. It is still "his Mass" in a way that the TLM is never any priest's "Mass." (The analogy to the missals is exact: the Roman Rite is not "Pius V's rite," but the Novus Ordo is certainly "Paul VI's rite.")

So, in the Novus Ordo, and by its very principles, the problem of a permanent lack of an objective, unarguable standard remains. It's every man for himself, every parish, diocese, country for itself...

Paul VI, who saddled the Church with this crisis, complained about ongoing liturgical abuse. Nothing changed.

John Paul II complained about liturgical abuse, even apologizing for it (as he apologized for lots of things). He lifted a finger or two, but only a little bit changed, and only here or there.

Benedict XVI complained about liturgical abuse. He actually did something meaningful: he liberalized the old Roman rite so that it would be that objective standard, with a knock-on effect in the Novus Ordo sphere. And THAT is primarily why things were beginning to improve in the Novus Ordo world: the "gravitational pull" of the old rite, predominantly for the younger clergy. 

(I talk about that dynamic here: "Why Restricting the TLM Harms Every Parish Mass.")

Of course, this is why Francis, who also complains about liturgical abuse but who will certainly not lift a finger about it because he himself engages in it and, more basically, because he appears not to hold the Catholic Faith in its handed-down form, felt he had to put an end to this retrograde old Roman lex orandi once and for all. It was all too effectively pulling the new rite—and especially the new-rite clergy—back to the old rite, and with it, the traditional lex credendi and lex vivendi. Mustn't have that! Not in this synodal era!

For, when Fr. Tradly learns the TLM and grows to love it, he can't help but realize (as one wag put it): "I could order Pizza A, with all the toppings; or I could order Pizza B with no toppings, and then laboriously add them one at a time until it looks like Pizza A." And at this point Father is now torn between his love for what he knows to be intrinsically superior, and his duty (as he sees it) to continue offering a defective product of now-exploded mid-20th-century ideologies. (I go into that dilemma in my articles "Two Disobediences Compared" and "Not Abandoning the Flock—Not Abandoning the Truth.")

Welp, as they say, that's quite a pickle. And, we might add, 99% of Novus Ordo Masses are marred by egregious abuses that are not legally-positivistically defined as abuses, but are still abuses in the sight of God and man, for all the bad effects they have had and will always have: versus populum celebration; communion in the hand, standing in a bus-ticket queue; the traffic of unvested lay "ministers" between nave and sanctuary; the relentless banality of non-sacred music; the total non-presence of the native language of the Latin rite; etc. and so forth. No shopwork can repair this defective vehicle.

So, no, I don't buy this business about "only 1% are abusive to this extent." This is to miss the point entirely. The question is about the stark alternative between a form of liturgy handed down and received, whole and entire, as a rule of faith and law of life; and a form of liturgy wilfully fabricated, violently imposed, and savagely destructive of credal, devotional, and moral ecosystems. The former is a healing and elevating presence wherever it exists; the latter remains a monument of rupture however it exists. 

Until the rupture is healed by the full restoration of the traditional rite and the phasing-out of the modern rite, there is no solution to the "liturgy wars"—only more or less temporary truces.