BY ANNA ARCO
THE RENEWED use of the traditional Latin Mass has come under attack in the Kent parish where the prominent blogger priest Fr Timothy Finigan is based.
A group of about 20 parishioners at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, were unhappy that the parish priest, Fr Finigan, a Catholic Herald columnist, had reintroduced a traditional Latin Mass in his parish.
The group complained of a split, first to the bishops and later to the Tablet and last Thursday the weekly Catholic magazine sent its deputy editor, Elena Curti, to report on the situation.
Fr Finigan wrote on his blog: “I had thought that things had calmed down a bit, but last Thursday Elena Curti of the Tablet was waiting for me after Mass to speak to me about the ‘split’ in my parish.” According to Fr Finigan’s blog, the row began in late October when a parishioner emailed a number of other parishioners, Fr Finigan and both the Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark and the area Bishop Pat Lynch with complaints about the way liturgy was conducted in the parish.
One of the complaints was that the traditional Latin Mass caused a split in the parish, another that there was no consultation.
Mac McLernon, an active parishioner at Our Lady of the Rosary said: “To talk about a split in the parish is nonsense.” Only one of the three Sunday Masses celebrated in Blackfen is in the traditional older form of the Mass, the others are in the ordinary form of the rite. The 10.30 am Mass is a Missa Cantata in the older form, the other two are Novus Ordo, though one is celebrated facing east. According to Miss McLernon, this ad orientem Mass is always packed with teenagers.
Fr Finigan set up a Google group in order to make discussing the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum and the introduction of an extraordinary form Mass easier. During the preparations for Christmas Fr Finigan circulated a document attempting to help his parishioners understand the Liturgy as well as to counteract misunderstandings. After Christmas Bishop Lynch met parishioners unhappy with the changes as well as a small group who liked the older form and a neutral group who didn’t object to its presence in the parish.
Wendy Kane, a parishioner at Blackfen, was not formerly attached to the older form of the Roman Rite, but through “Fr Tim’s teaching and guidance” she said she had grown to love the Tridentine Mass. She was introduced to it almost two years ago, when Fr Finigan celebrated it every first Sunday of the month. Now, her seven-year-old twins are eager to serve at Mass of their own volition and her husband is being baptised into the Church this Easter.
She said: “The word ‘split’ in the parish has been used and I disagree with that. To my mind, a split conjures up an image of 5050, whereas I would say that there are several small groups. There are those like me and my family who have come to love this form of worship and then there is a small group who were attached to it before and few people who are fervently against it.
“I must say that these tend to be older members of the congregation. I don’t know what happened back when they got rid of the older form, but they are so opposed that they want the choice of the older form of the Mass to be removed altogether. It doesn’t affect the vast majority of parishioners.” She has written a letter of support for Fr Finigan to the Archbishop of Southwark.