Church Crisis absolutely scandalous, admit priest and bishop

Debate over Traditional Latin Mass may cause rift in Catholic Church

Photo by Irene Chaney

A massive split may occur within the Catholic Church later this year after confidential polls taken at the Vatican suggest that some cardinals are "patently unhappy" with Pope Benedict's decision to revive the pre-1962 "Latin Mass" as an Extraordinary Rite.

Waterford priest Father Luke Regan, 47, feels uneasy about reintroducing the Tridentine Mass - which is now an option available to priests - as he feels that it is antiquated.

"We want to shake things up a bit in the church," Regan explains. "Fancy robes, fancy candles and fancy Gregorian chants do not an interesting Mass make. I want to focus on the local news and events from the pulpit. Last Sunday, I wanted to talk about the young fellas travelling up to Roscommon for the hurling and winning their game, but Father Casey, the PP, told me in no uncertain terms that I was not allowed to make any reference to any children in my sermon - ever - because I wouldn't have the time to re-enact the Lord's last meal."

Benedict’s 2007 reforms undermine certain elements of Pope Paul VI’s almost universally popular Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and overturn decisions made at the Second Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965.

Photo by Irene Chaney
"It's absolutely scandalous that we're focusing on these Tridentine Latin Masses, when we ought to be looking at how to give the church more of a community feel," claims Fr. Regan. "The only thing I miss about the old Mass is the lack of altar boys. There are fewer people in the pews of a Sunday, as can be expected as society becomes more and more secular. But it's very odd to me that there are no altar boys, because I can go back twenty odd years when I had just left the seminary and say that there used to be altar boys. The kids these days don't want anything to do with the Church."

Father Regan returned to Ireland this year after spending two decades working in an orphanage in Nepal. He found his ascetic existence spiritually rewarding, and he claims that his conscious decision to have limited contact with the outside world was completely refreshing.

"These days, you have technology this and technology that," he says. "I was thirty miles from the nearest pay phone in Nepal, and then you'd need Tibetan coins to operate it, because it was over the way. And I absolutely loved it, so I did. I wrote to my parents once a week, but I returned to Ireland five years into my orphanage work, to bury first my mother - and then Lord rest him - my father - within weeks of each other. Lord rest them both."

Photo by Irene Chaney

Father Regan returned to Nepal after his father's death "from a broken heart, Lord rest him". His Nepalese home was effectively a hole hewn into a massive rock in the Himalayan foothills. He continued to live under the rock for a further fifteen years, until the Church deemed it necessary to call him back to Ireland due to the priest shortage. When asked what he thinks is needed for church reform, his focus is on the children.

"I've seen a touch of the exotic in Nepal. Nothing too special. But I was inspired to write to Dublin Zoo to see if they'd send down a pair of flamingoes to brighten things up.
Photo by quixxxie2000

"You know, a flamingo on either side of the altar might draw a few more children and wildlife enthusiasts in on a Sunday. We need to bring the kids back into the folds of the church. A lot of people will say they don't appreciate the formalising influence His Holiness has brought from Rome, and it's quite clear that the children don't either. I meet people in the streets, and when I talk about my love of the kids, I often get a very negative, hostile and aggressive response. This Latin Tridentine stuff is obviously having a massive knock-on effect on the popularity of the Church, because there are no kids any more. Where are all the children gone from the Church?"

A massive rupture in the Vatican over the Latin Mass could occur within weeks, observers claim, with a number of bishops expressing unease at the formality of Benedict’s changes. Meanwhile, Father Regan is still trying to make things eye catching on his home turf.

"Dublin Zoo wrote back to me in the end, asking me what grounds I had for keeping flamingoes. My grounds, I told them, my grounds are trying to bring a bit of cheer, a bit of nature, a bit of the wild, and a touch of the exotic, into the church. Then they wrote back with a letter of clarification. I had to write back then to explain that the bishop wouldn't object to a couple of flamingoes on his land."
Photo by quixxxie2000

While some bishops are more sanguine about the changes, others are more aggressive in their rejection of the antiquated ways of the church. Father Regan's bishop - who readily agreed to provide a home for the flamingoes, if they need one - spoke on condition of anonymity.

"If some conservative priest wants to say his Latin Tridentine Masses on any consecrated ground in my diocese, I'll simply ship him off to a parish beyond my jurisdiction, where he can do whatever he likes with his backwards rituals. It's absolutely scandalous."