Baltimore, Nov. 9, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Baltimore's Archbishop Edwin O'Brien has removed a pastor who invited a female Episcopalian priest to join him in celebrating a funeral Mass, the Baltimore Sun reports.
Father Martin was removed from his parish assignment at a meeting with archdiocesan officials on November 8. The priest, whose unorthodox liturgical practices had prompted several prior complaints, said that the Episcopalian priest had not participated in the Consecration during the October funeral liturgy, although he had invited her to read the Gospel. There were conflicting reports on whether or not the Episcopalian cleric had received Communion; Father Martin said that he could not recall administering the Eucharist to her.
On the orders of the archbishop, Father Martin resigned his parish assignment and issued an apology for "bringing scandal to the Church," the Sun reports. A spokesman for the Baltimore archdiocese explained that the pastor's removal was called for because "he has repeatedly violated Church teaching."
Father Martin was serving as pastor of three different parishes in south Baltimore, where he had worked for 5 years. His removal comes just 6 weeks after Archbishop O'Brien was installed as head of the Baltimore archdiocese.
There was a time—fairly recently, in fact—in which Fr Martin would have been allowed to continue his antics unmolested, and in which the wrath of the bishop would have been directed not against the scandalous priest, but against any of the lay faithful who dared complain about such cavalier abuse of the liturgy.
However, Melancholicus ventures to think that the wind is definitely shifting. During the pontificate of John Paul II, even the most heinous liturgical abuses often went unpunished. But now, perhaps sensing the change of priorities in Rome, and how seriously Pope Benedict XVI treats the proper celebration of the liturgical mysteries, the bishops are beginning, in their own small way, to clean house.
Melancholicus knows nothing about Archbishop O’Brien, but his grace is definitely to be lauded for taking swift action in this instance. Perhaps such will deter other middle-aged clerics, animated with zeal for the ‘spirit of Vatican II’, from concelebrating with protestant ministers, or otherwise hijacking the sacred liturgy for the sake of their own pet follies.
For the times they are a-changin’.