Monday, March 3, 2014

On Bishop Olson and Fisher More College

I wasn't sure if I was going to blog about this today or not, but there is a situation here in the Diocese of Fort Worth that others are blogging about; since I have heard a few things myself about this situation, it seems like a good idea to discuss it here.

As several blogs have mentioned (including Rorate Coeli, but I don't link to them on general principles), Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth has ordered the tiny Catholic college called Fisher More to stop holding the Extraordinary Form Mass in the college chapel.  Father Z discusses the matter here, and Creative Minority Report here (both sites include the bishop's actual letter to the college).  I commend Father Z, especially, for urging caution in jumping to conclusions about this.

The local blogger at A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics has more:
As commenter Skeinster noted, there are problems at Fisher-More.  Problems so severe, I privately regretted having supported their fundraising drive last fall (I had heard inklings at the time I gave that support, but came to know much, much more shortly thereafter).

A lot of people who live outside Texas, and even many within the state who reside outside the Metroplex, do not know how close together Dallas and Fort Worth are.  It’s only about a half hour drive from downtown Dallas to downtown Fort Worth.  As such, our local Traditional Latin Mass community shares a lot of people between the two cities.  And, the priests of our FSSP parish provide a TLM in the Fort Worth Diocese on Sundays.  Some priests from our parish have taught classes at Fisher-More.

But they have stopped doing so.  In fact, many long-time faculty have left Fisher-More.  This is not solely related to their financial woes.  In fact, it has to do with really severe problems with the college’s administration, and in particular, the college president Michael King referenced.
I know many exceedingly good traditional Catholic families who have (or, I should stress, had) children at Fisher-More.  I know some folks who have taught there. I know some who are still employed there.  All are unfailingly stalwart supporters of the great Tradition of our Faith and all recognize the hideous crisis now afflicting the Church.  But many – most – have increasingly grave concerns regarding Fisher-More and especially the direction Michael King is taking the college.

Well-known traditional Catholic academic Taylor Marshall left Fisher-More last summer over these same concerns.

These concerns center on Mr. King taking an increasingly severe stand regarding the Council and the changes that have occurred in the Church in the past 50 years.  I am not privy to all the details – perhaps some of those who are could chime in – but the level of excoriation for the Church and Her leaders has reached a state that even many good, traditional Catholics are scandalized by the rhetoric.  And, from what I have been told by many, no dissent from Mr. King’s “direction” is tolerated. Those that voice doubts or express concerns are dismissed, virtually on the spot.  This applies to both faculty and staff. As such, the college has lost many longtime faculty and administrators and even the college’s founder has been sidelined. Again, I have had all this confirmed to me by numerous sources.  Many students – very solid, traditional Catholic students – have left the university as it seems to be heading towards such extremism the students fear scandal if they continue their studies.
Read the rest here.

For what it's worth, the blogger (who goes by the nickname "Tantumergo") is not saying anything I haven't already heard.   I have also heard--but have not confirmed--that a sizable (for such a small college) group of SSPX students and families are involved with Fisher More, and that sedevacantist speakers have been invited to the campus; please note: this is simply an unconfirmed allegation at this point, but since it supports the theory many have that Bishop Olson's actions here--admittedly serious ones--are being prompted by a serious situation in the first place I don't mind mentioning it.  If it is proven to be false I will gladly update the post to clarify.

In some senses I do find it hard to comment on this, as I also have some experience with Bishop Olson when he was the pastor of my former parish, and I know those experiences may color my interpretations of his actions as our new bishop.  That said, the one thing I do not believe for a moment is that Bishop Olson is some kind of enemy of tradition.  For now, I trust that this action was taken for good reasons, and that we may even learn more about those reasons in due time.

UPDATE: A local homeschool group received an email back on Feb. 17 indicating that Mass would not be celebrated at the Fisher More chapel "effective immediately."  Further exchanges between members of the homeschool group led to the disclosure that the FSSP priest who had been saying Mass on campus had been recalled by his superiors with no other priest being assigned to the chapel.  So whatever the problem is at Fisher More, it certainly didn't start with the bishop's letter.

UPDATE 2: Reader Leslie Fain shares this Catholic World Report piece on this story--thanks, Leslie!


Viva Cristo Rey said...

I just don't understand why the Bishop would attack ONLY the TLM.

If problems at this school are that bad then ALL Masses should be suspended.

Bernard Fischer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara C. said...

Well, if they are on the verge of being schismatic traditionalists, then the odds are that they were only saying the TLM to begin with. Taking away their privilege to have the TLM requires that they either offer the NO or refuse to have Mass on campus at all.

The former attitude indicates that they may still have some sense left. The latter attitude goes to show that they are indeed being schismatic and should not be having Mass at all.

Viva Cristo Rey said... is not a privilege to have the TLM - it is Right!

Should Bishops take away the New Mass from left wing dissenters and force them to go to the TLM or no Mass at all....of course not.

Neither should this Bishop steal the rights of the faithful to the TLM.

Red Cardigan said...

Viva Christo Rey, I've published your comments so far. But you need to be careful here.

The Church has the authority over her liturgical rites and practices. The Extraordinary Form Mass may be provided according to Summorum Pontificum, but there are, in fact, limitations (for example, no bishop has to provide the E.F. to groups who reject his or the Church's authority or publicly declare the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite to be invalid, etc.). In addition, I'd encourage you to read what Fr. Z passed along re: whether the college chapel is, in fact, an oratory, over which the bishop has full control. And there are other obvious limitations to the "right" to the E.F.--what if no priest who is trained in that form of the Roman Rite is available to say that Mass, even for a stable group of the faithful who are requesting it?

The Mass, in either form of the Roman Rite or in any of the other lawful Rites in the Church, is a great and merciful gift of God. To speak of it as a "right" is to treat that gift like something to which we are somehow entitled, when not one of us is worthy of even the most carelessly celebrated example of any Rite you can think of, smacks of ingratitude.

Daddio said...

Fr Z has another update. I find, "These things took place when the Diocese of Fort Worth was vacant." particularly funny...

Viva Cristo Rey said...

Hi Red,

Yea, yea, I know....the liberal Bishops have the right to order us all around.

I just remember the "new order" mass I attended where the Priest talked about how he just wasn't to sure that God existed that was a lot of fun.

Sure slam the TLM all you really doesn't matter much any more.

John Stevens said...

Red Cardigan - some thoughts regarding your post at 7:50PM. Any group which rejects the bishop's authority or the validity of the Novus Ordo would not recognize any order from the bishop. Also, Summorum Pontificam states that if no priest is available for the EF a stable group can petition the bishop to provide one. If the bishop refuses then the group can petition Rome to help provide one. Therefore, I submit that these points in your comments are not valid. I know nothing about what is happening at the college. However, if they are schismatic they won't care what the bishop says. If not, the bishop seems to have exceeded his authority. Bishop Gracida has posted a negative commentary on blog regarding Bishop Olsen's decision. At first glance the bishops decision seems quite spiteful. How will denial of the Mass of the Ages be beneficial to the souls of those at the college? From a distance Bishop Olsen seems to have made a poor first impression.

Red Cardigan said...

I've come to the conclusion that posting the comments from the radical traditionalists is the best thing to do, unless they get downright abusive, because people need to see this stuff.

John, how are 2 dozen college students at a tiny college a "stable group?" And did you miss the update to my post--the FSSP priest who was saying Mass at this Church was *recalled by his order* before all this started. Now, maybe the FSSP are closet TLM haters who just want college kids to suffer, but that's pretty absurd.

Also, it was Fr. Z who heard from canon lawyers who said that if the school is an oratory then the bishop does have the right to restrict the E.F. there.

Barbara C. said...

The NO is the ordinary form of the Mass. And from what I understand, when the TLM was allowed again through the motu propio there were limitations put on it, such as a parish can not use it as its primary or only Mass form.

All of the bishops, priests, etc. at Vatican II instituted the NO for a reason. This isn't about "hating the TLM". I've heard it's a beautiful form, even though I've not yet had the opportunity to attend one. However, it is about being obedient to the Church, and the Church says that the NO is the preferred form.

David L Alexander said...

"The NO is the ordinary form of the Mass. And from what I understand, when the TLM was allowed again through the motu propio there were limitations put on it, such as a parish can not use it as its primary or only Mass form."

There are no such limitations, or it would say so in the decree, and the FSSP would not administer parishes devoted to such.

However, one possible limitation stems from the fact that the College celebrates Mass at a private oratory, not a parish church. It is at the former that a bishop has more discretionary authority, which the motu proprio may or may not affect, a matter being taken up by canonists as this is written.

It should also be noted that the letter makes reference to issues left out of its contents, which, while being rather poor form as a means of issuing an order of restriction -- the receiver has the right to know the grounds, in writing -- suggests that other issues are at stake. Some of them are mentioned by Ms Cardigan. Others have been known for some time. The school's administration has made some rather imprudent decisions in the last couple of years, which have cost them dearly. That it persists in such matters may or may not have forced the bishop to take what could very well be the only expedient means at his disposal.

That's only a theory, but it's an educated guess. What is not a guess is that, if he didn't have their attention before, he does now.

Because when you have the nerve to require a third person to be present for a private conversation between a male and female student, both legally adults -- it's in the student handbook, and on the website; read it and weep -- there isn't much else you won't have the nerve to do.

Leslie Fain said...

Hi Erin,

My mother-in-law and a couple of family friends worked at FMC, and have since left the college. They love the Traditional Latin Mass and are all defending the bishop's actions. This blog post on Catholic World Report is pretty informative:

Leslie Fain

Red Cardigan said...

Thanks, Leslie! I find it interesting that plenty of people who have experience with the college are defending Bishop Olson, while most of those who are attacking are doing so based on the usual template of "Look, another bishop is suppressing the True Mass!" etc.

I'm going to update the main post to include the CWR piece. Thanks for sending it!

Cyril said...

Red Cardigans,

Cardinal Egan, a top-notch Canonist, commented on the meaning of "stable group" at length. Without defending the situation in Fort Worth, may it be said that a few dozen college students are indeed a "stable group" (coetus). If a few dozen parishioners were not enough to start something at your average parish next to nothing would be initiated--and these folks are protected and have a right to the EF, not something everyone has at their parish for X or Y to be set up as a nicety of the parish. Please, do your homework before you assess negatively what canon law permits.

IronDonkey said...

@Viva "Yea, yea, I know....the liberal Bishops have the right to order us all around."

Yes, they do, in some respects, whether you think they are liberal or not, and your irrelevant ramblings on bad things that some other priests have said at other times have nothing to do with anything.

You must realize that what you're saying and doing here makes no sense. It'd be like me telling you that the EF is evil because all traditionalists hate Jews. (For the hard of thinking, I am not saying that either of those statements are true.)

rosary said...

What is really interesting is why faculty are leaving the college in droves. . . .

Individuals in the metroplex have noticed this trend for quite sometime at Fisher More. . .

LarryD said...

Must be pretty nice to live in a diocese where there are no problems, for some of these other folks to spend time criticizing what's going on in Fort Worth.

Viva Cristo Rey said...

In the end what this comes down to is the modernists control of the church.....and hows that working out ya?

Worldwide over one billion abortions since 1980....sodomy the law of the land.....a majority of Catholics voted for a baby murder for President, a minority of Catholics actually believe in the Real Presence....only a small percent actually bother to go to Mass.


Lets all go back to sleep now(:

a02cd906-a3b1-11e3-a539-000bcdcb8a73 said...

Good gracious. Heaven for bid a school admit students from SSPX families. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES.

Viva Cristo Rey said...

Hi Red, you said above you will let the comments of the radical traditionalists go through so people can see how bad we are.

If you don't mind I would like to post one more then I'll stop annoying you.

While we are banning the TLM....we are celebrating sodomy days at Catholic churches. (you can have your sodomy days...I'll keep the TLM)

The Cathedral of St Paul in Boston held a Transgender Day

Last November the Gay Lobby celebrated Transgender Day which included churches. Among the churches that participated most of them were individual Episcopalians; and then there were individual churches of various denomonations as well as non-denominational churches which included the Cathedral of St. Paul in Boston.
Boston, Massachusetts
Trans* Day of Remembrance
Sunday, November 17th, 2013 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
The Cathedral of St Paul, 138 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02111

Cardinal Seán 's Patrick O'Malley, OFM is one of the C8 Francisco, who in previous years had been confronted by some parishioners for planning progays events.
As you can see in the link these events are well organized, so it is no surprise the Gay Lobby now promotes transsexuality workshops sponsored by the Catholic church of St. Lucy and All Saints Catholic Church “Understanding Transgender” and “Becoming an Effective Ally for Trans Rights.”
This is the same bishop that persecutes the Latin Mass in Boston where he said a "final decision had been made, the matter was closed, and there would be no further discussion with me".
Not to mention the incident of Father Jorge Garcia who gave communion in Buenos Aires Argentina Basilica to the Famous Transgender Florence Trinidad and other homosexual couples.

Frederick Dempsey said...

To abuse the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by using it as a weapon, is despicable. It is a bully bishop whose first order of business in the first month on the job is to attack a 25-kid college.

Maggie D said...

I used to be good friends with an ex-student at Fisher More. According to him, the environment there is toxic (and this is coming from a person who, to me, is rather too traditionalist for my liking, and I love the TLM). The student body is tiny (and, as far as I could tell, shrinking), the faculty was also. Moreover, I doubt the financial situation there was tenable--they were offering full tuition to students who "looked like a good fit". This is not mere hearsay--this is why my former friend went there. He was offered full tuition, and since his family puts a great deal of importance on graduating with minimal debt, he went there. He no longer does, however.

Deirdre Mundy said...

David---- oooh. Requiring a chaperone for all mixed-sex conversations borders on... cultish, IMO.

It's like the Cathilic 'colleges' with lists of banned books and movies. If your students are too immature to read the Thorn Birds without losing their faith in God (faith in the idea that 'best seller= good ' is another issue!), maybe they're too innature for college!

Deirdre Mundy said...

immature.I stink at one-handed typing!

Returnee said...

It appears the true, underlying crux of the matter for this blogger is the reported "trad resistance" and sedevacantist leanings of the president of Fisher-More and not the back and forth regarding the N.O. or the "E.F." which, as when Luther divided the house, can never be reconciled since they are in diametric opposition-despite what any modernist bishop (even the one in Rome) will tell you; and foregoing the real discussion regarding the fact that the NO translated into Latin is not the Mass or that the presbyter uttering the words of the NO in Latin, if he is not properly ordained, is not a priest who can properly offer the unbloody sacrifice. However, I like the 'hard of thinking' comment--it sounds familiar; reminds me of Alan Watt from cutting through the matrix.

Returnee said...


ThereseRita said...

You know, I grew up with TLM & I still like it but quit going, reading about it or supporting it specifically for the reason illustrated by this thread. The acrimony/bitterness/rigidity of at least the most vocal in the movement are a red flag to me. No thanks.

David L Alexander said...

"David---- oooh. Requiring a chaperone for all mixed-sex conversations borders on... cultish, IMO."

Yes, it IS cultish. And probably also a violation of canonical rights, or at the very least, any sense of human dignity. It's called "the rule of three." Somebody never learned from what happened at Magdalen College, did they?

Fr. Frank said...

Er, St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston is the EPISCOPALIAN cathedral. But please don't let minor facts like this interfere with making your point.

Fr. Frank said...

For your information, Viva, St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston is the EPISCOPALIAN cathedral. The Catholic cathedral is Holy Cross. But don't let the minor error of getting what religion hosted Train Day *wrong* deter you from calumniating our Catholic bishops in general, and the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston in particular. A retraction and apology would be classy, but I'm not holding my breath.

Fr. Frank said...

Dang auto-correct! "Train Day" should be "Tranny Day." Also, sorry for the double post.

Janusius Sancto said...

Just rounding out the record. Sometimes we want to believe something is true in order to avoid dealing with the alternatives.