Establishing Dioceses and Parishes in Mission Lands

Q:  While doing some historical research, I found that my parish church which is 152 years old, when its foundations were laid, had belonged to the Apostolic Vicariate of [X] and the mission of [Y].  I understood these terms as “pre-diocesan” and “pre-parish.”  Is my understanding correct?

When I searched more on this, I found that there are other terms such as Apostolic administrations, prefectures and territorial prelates.  Can you please explain what these are? –Lahiru Continue reading

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Bishops Interfering in Parish Ministry, Part II

Q:  The bishop of [a diocese in the US] is giving an annual retreat which nearly every priest in the diocese must attend, leaving parishes without priests, daily Mass, and access to the sacraments for four days.  He stated that this is necessary because “Their priestly ministry blesses us in many ways. They have many responsibilities but first and foremost they must be men of prayer. Without the foundation of a prayer life and a relationship with the Lord, their ministry would become empty.”

But what could be more important in their ministry than for Catholics to have access to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments?  Is this legally allowed in Canon Law?  Thank you. –John Continue reading

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Bishops Interfering in Parish Ministry, Part I

Q: I am a priest in the Diocese of X….  Our bishop has told us pastors that we must all submit our schedule of Masses to his office for approval.  He has mandated a maximum number of Masses we pastors can schedule on Saturdays, on Sundays, and on weekdays.

Ostensibly this is for our good.  The bishop claims he doesn’t want us priests to be overworked … [because] there is a tremendous shortage of priests in our diocese.  Yet I know far better than my bishop what my parish needs.  I have been the pastor here for nearly a decade, during which time the bishop has visited us a grand total of five times, only for Confirmation, for just a couple of hours.

…If I know that my parishioners will fill three Sunday Masses at different times because that’s what works best for them, how can the bishop insist that I am only permitted to schedule two Sunday Masses because he cares about my health?  We also have a solid crowd at Saturday morning Mass, and another crowd at the Saturday evening vigil, but the bishop has informed me that I can’t have two Masses on Saturday because it’s too much for me.  Good heavens, I can always find a retired priest to help out if I need help….  I realize that I owe obedience to the bishop, but he is hindering effective ministry to the people of our diocese with these intrusive rules.  I will gladly tell him what I am doing if he asks, but why should I have to ask permission to do my job?  –Father F. Continue reading

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Incorrupt Bodies and Canonizing Saints

Q:  I know you wrote a book about canonizing saints … [and so] it would be helpful if you’d please weigh in on the issue of sainthood and incorrupt bodies.

I assume you’ve heard about the discovery of the incorrupt body of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster in Missouri (USA).  A bunch of women from our parish jumped on a bus and ran to see her body.  Now they are pontificating on her sainthood and already preparing verbal attacks on the Vatican and the Pope himself, if they don’t declare her a saint based on this miracle.

What’s the connection between somebody’s body being found to be incorrupt, and their canonization as a saint?  …[W]e have lots of saints whose bodies are not incorrupt, otherwise we wouldn’t have so many bone-relics of saints out there… –Craig Continue reading

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Preventing Desecration of the Eucharist

Q:  My diocese has seen a spate of attempted thefts of the Eucharist.  Usually this happens when someone receives the Host and tries to put It into his/her pocket.  Once, though, someone approached a deacon with money and tried to buy a Host!

We are all keeping a close eye out for strange behavior by people receiving Holy Communion, especially if they are not familiar to us.  Some of us are wondering if there is also some way to make restrictions in order to protect the Eucharist, without violating canonical rights.  For example, under these circumstances could a pastor refuse Communion to someone he doesn’t know?  Could a parish require everyone attending Mass to show identification when entering the church, and keep a list?  Most of our parishes already have security cameras, but they can’t catch everything, and anyway a camera can’t prevent a thief from leaving the church before anybody notices what s/he has done…. –Bella Continue reading

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