DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     May 28, 1998     vol. 9, no. 103

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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by Kathleen Howley

          SCRANTON, PA (CWNews.com) -- A new society of priests who offer the Traditional Latin Mass received canonical approval in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, on May 24.

          The group, the Society of St. John, has five young priests, including a 34-year-old superior general, and 10 seminarians. According to their founding document, they hope to build an "elite corps of men to serve the Church," with a focus on creating schools and evangelizing college students.

          Currently, members of the group operate St. Gregory's Academy in Elmhurst, Pennsylvania, a boys boarding school with about 60 students in grades 8 to 12.

          Father Daniel Fullerton, a member of the society, said the new group is the first organization of Catholic clergy founded in the United States devoted to restoring the solemn traditional Roman liturgy and reviving classical education.

          Bishop James C. Timlin read the decree establishing the society at a pontifical Latin Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter. About 650 people attended the Mass, mostly young families with children. Many of the women wore lace mantillas, traditional head coverings.

          Presiding at the Mass was a highly public move for a United States bishop to make, as the new group is devoted to the pre-Vatican II form of liturgy and was formed by four priests who last year left the Society of Pius X, an order founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in the 1970s in reaction to changes in the Mass. Ten years ago, John Paul II declared that Archbishop Lefebvre was excommunicated after he consecrated bishops without permission of the Vatican.

          Bishop Timlin read the formal decree approving the Society of St. John during the Mass. In it, he stated that he requested and received permission from Rome for the establishment of the group.

          In addition, Father Carlos Urrutigoity, superior general of the new order, addressed the congregation. "We stand on the shoulders of giants-- first, on the shoulders of Catholic tradition, but also on a millennia of great men who produced the greatest civilization this earth has seen," said Father Urrutigoity, 34. He said the group was one of the many new seeds being planted amid the confusion of the modern age.

          "The faithful have suffered through decades of commotion and confusion. But, suffering borne in humility and faith always bears fruits and our society is one of those fruits," he said.

          "Our struggle is not behind us but is ahead of us," he continued. "We commit our souls to the Church of the present, and to the future generations. We want to fight for you to make the road for you a bit easier."

          At a reception hosted by Bishop Timlin at his residence after the Mass, the bishop said in an interview that he did not see his support of the society as a controversial move, but simply a fulfillment of his duties.

          "We are the beneficiaries, to have these fine young priests among us. We are delighted to welcome them here, and to help them in any way we can," the bishop said.

          Afterwards, the bishop attended a larger reception with more than 500 people at St. Gregory's Academy.

          Many US bishops have been slow to grant permission for the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass, despite a 10-year-old decree by John Paul II mandating that the pre-Vatican II form of liturgy, specifically the missal of 1962, must be "widely and generously" available. In his motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, issued in 1988, the Pope said the desire to worship at the older form of Mass is a "rightful aspiration."

          Bishop Timlin has already welcomed three other new traditional groups to his diocese. One, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a group established 10 years ago by the pope, has outgrown the seminary it opened in a suburb of Scranton in 1993, and is planning to move to a larger facility in the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska.

          The second is an order of women religious founded three years ago in Scranton, the Oblates of Mary, Queen of Apostles. The sisters wear traditional habits, maintain the old ways of religious life, and attend the Latin Mass. Currently, the order has six women, including four novices. Bishop Timlin said he plans to receive their vows of profession at the cathedral in August during a Traditional Latin Mass.

          The third is an order of men, The Carmelite Recollects of the Sacred Heart, consisting of one priest and three brothers who began a traditional monastic community in the Scranton diocese four years ago.

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

May 28, 1998       volume 9, no. 103


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