Skip to comments.Father Zigrang suspended by Bishop Joseph Fiorenza
Posted on 07/15/2004 6:17:56 PM PDT by AskStPhilomena
Catholics exhibit fidelity to the Tradition of Holy Mother Church in many ways. Each of us has a distinctive, unrepeatable immortal soul that has personal characteristics of its own not shared by anyone else. Not even identical twins are the same in every respect. This plurality of souls in the Mystical Bride of Christ is reflected in the many different communities of men and women religious that have developed over the Churchs history. Each community has its own charism and mission. Ideally, each community of men and women religious should be totally faithful to everything contained in the Deposit of Faith and expressed and protected in the authentic Tradition of the Church. The means of expressing this fidelity, however, will vary from community to community.
What is true of communities of men and women religious is true also of us all, including our priests. Some priests have the patience of Saint Francis de Sales or Saint John Bosco, meek and mild, able to handle the rough seas that beset Holy Mother Church and/or themselves personally with perfect equanimity. Other priests have had the bluntness of St. John Mary Vianney and St. Padre Pio, mincing no words in their sermons about the necessity of rooting out sin and the possibility of going to Hell for all eternity. Both St. John Mary Vianney and St. Padre Pio were devoted to their role as an alter Christus in the confessional, using that hospital of Divine Mercy to administer the infinite merits of Our Lords Most Precious Blood to bring sacramental absolution to those to whom they had preached in blunt terms.
In addition to fidelity, though, there are different ways of expressing courage in the midst of persecutions and sufferings. Some Catholics stood up quite directly to the unjust and illicit dictates of the English Parliament, which had been passed at the urging of King Henry VIII, at the time of the Protestant Revolt in England. Others kept their silence for as long as was possible, as was the case with Saint Thomas More, who discharged his mind publicly only after he had been found guilty on the basis of perjured testimony of denying the supremacy of the king as the head of the Church in England. Some priests in the Elizabethan period, such as St. Edmund Campion, almost dared officials to arrest them as they went to different locales to offer Holy Mass or as they took groups to the Tower of London. Other priests went quietly from house to house to offer the Traditional Mass underground as both the civil and ecclesiastical authorities in England used every sort of pressure imaginable to convince holdout Romans to go over to Protestantism and worship in the precusor liturgy of our own Novus Ordo Missae. Still other newly ordained priests came over from France, knowing that they might be able to offer only one Mass in England before they were arrested and executed.
The same thing occurred in France 255 years after the arrest and execution of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More. Some priests simply stood up to the agents of the French Revolution. Others, such as Blessed Father William Chaminade, donned disguises as they went from place to place, much as Blessed Padre Miguel Augustin Pro did in Mexico prior to his execution at the hands of the Masonic revolutionaries in Mexico on November 23, 1927. Ignatius Cardinal Kung, then the Bishop of Shanghai, China, was hauled before a dog-track stadium in his see city in 1956 before thousands of spectators. The Red Chinese authorities expected him to denounce the pope and thus to save himself from arrest. The brave bishop exclaimed the same thing as Blessed Padre Miguel Augustin Pro, Long live Christ the King, and was hauled off to spend over thirty years in prison before being released. Oh, yes, there are so many ways for priests to demonstrate their fidelity and courage in the midst of persecutions and sufferings.
Well, many bishops and priests who are faithful to the fullness of the Churchs authentic Tradition have been subjected to a unspeakable form of persecution in the past thirty-five to forty years: treachery from within the highest quarters of the Church herself. Men who have held fast to that which was believed always, everywhere and by everyone prior for over 1,900 years found themselves termed as disobedient, schismatic, heretical, and disloyal for their resisting novelties that bore no resemblance to Catholicism and a great deal of resemblance to the very things that were fomented by Martin Luther and John Calvin and Thomas Cranmer, things for which Catholics half a millennium ago shed their blood rather than accept. Many priests who have tried to remain faithful to Tradition within the framework of a diocesan or archdiocesan structure have been sent to psychiatric hospitals or penalized by being removed from their pastorates or by being denied pastorates altogether. Others, though, have faced more severe penalties.
Angelus Press, which is run by the Society of Saint Pius X, put out a book earlier this year, Priest, Where is Thy Mass? Mass, Where is Thy Priest?, which discussed the stories of seventeen priests who had decided to offer only the Traditional Latin Mass and to never again offer the Novus Ordo Missae. One of those priests is my good friend, Father Stephen Zigrang, who offered the Traditional Latin Mass in his [now] former parish of Saint Andrew Church in Channelview, Texas, on June 28-29, 2003, telling his parishioners that he would never again offer the new Mass.
As I reported extensively at this time last year, Father Zigrang was placed on a sixty day leave-of-absence by the Bishop of Galveston-Houston, the Most Reverend Joseph Fiorenza, and told to seek psychological counseling, preferably from Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. Father Zigrang took his two month leave of absence, making a retreat at Saint Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, in early August of last year, returning to the Houston area to take up residence in the Societys Queen of Angels Chapel in Dickinson, Texas. Bishop Fiorenza met with Father Zigrang in early September, seeming at the time to let him stay for a year with the Society while the diocese continued to pay his health insurance premiums. Within days of that early September meeting, however, Fiorenza was threatening to suspend Father Zigrang by the beginning of October if he did not vacate Queen of Angels and return to a diocesan assignment.
October of 2003 came and went. Father Zigrang heard no word from Bishop Fiorenza or the chancery office until he received the following letter, dated Jun 10, 2004:
Dear Father Zigrang:
Once more I appeal to you to cease your association with the Society of St. Pius X and return to your responsibilities as a priest of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston
Your continued association with a schismatic group which has severed communion with the Holy Father is confusing and a scandal to many of Christs faithful. You are well aware that without appropriate jurisdiction the marriages witnessed and confessions heard by the priests of the St. Society of St. Paul X are invalid and people are being lead to believe otherwise. You are also aware that the Holy See has asked the faithful not to attend Masses celebrated in the Chapels of the Society of St. Pius X.
I plead with you to return by July 1, 2004, to the presbyterate of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston and receive a priestly assignment from me. This letter serves as a penal precept (c. 1319) and is a final canonical warning (c. 1347.1). If I do not hear from you by June 30, 2004, I will impose a just penalty for disobeying a legitimate precept (c. 1371.2). The just penalty may include suspension (c. 133.1), nn 1-2: prohibition of all acts of the power of orders and governance.
I offer this final warning after consultation with the Holy See and will proceed to impose a penalty if you persist in disobedience to a legitimate precept. It is my fervent hope and constant prayer that you not remain out of union with the Holy Father.
Fraternally in Christ,
Joseph A. Fiorenza, Bishop of Galveston-Houston
Reverend R. Troy Gately, Vice Chancellor
Overlooking Bishop Fiorenzas John Kerry-like gaffe in terming the Society of Saint Pius X the St. Society of St. Paul X, the letter reproduced above makes the erroneous assertion that the Society of Saint Pius X is in schism and that they are not in communion with the Holy Father. A series of articles in The Remnant has dealt with this very issue at great length. Fiorenzas contentions that the marriages witnessed and the confessions heard by the Society of Saint Pius X are invalid also flies in the face of the fact that the Holy See regularized the Society of Saint John Mary Vianney in Campos, Brazil, without demanding the convalidation of the marriages their priests had witnesses nor asking that confessions be re-heard. The glaring inconsistency of the canonical rhetoric of Vatican functionaries and their actual practices continues to be lost on Bishop Fiorenza.
Father Zigrang did not respond to Bishop Fiorenzas June 10 letter. He received another letter, dated July 2, 2004, the contents of which are so explosive as to contain implications for the state of the Church far beyond the case of Father Zigrang and far beyond the boundaries of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston:
Dear Father Zigrang:
With great sadness I inform you that, effective immediately, you are suspended from the celebration of all sacraments, the exercise of governance and all rights attached to the office of pastor (Canon 1333.1, nn 1-2-3).
This action is taken after appropriate canonical warnings (canon 1347) and failure to obey my specific directive that you cease the affiliation with the schismatic Society of St. Pius X and accept an assignment to serve as a priest of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston (Canon 1371.2).
I want to repeat what I have said to you in person and in the written canonical warnings, that I prayerfully urge you to not break communion with the Holy Father and cease to be associated with the schism which rejects the liciety of the Novus Ordo Mass, often affirmed by Pope John Paul II. This schism also calls into question the teachings of the Second Vatican Council regarding ecumenism and the enduring validity of the Old Testament covenant God established with the people of Israel.
Your return to full union with the Church and to the acceptance of an assignment to priestly ministry in the Diocese of Galveston-Houston will be joyfully received as an answer to prayer. May the Holy Spirit lead and guide you to renew the promise of obedience you made on the day of your ordination.
Fraternally in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza Bishop of Galveston-Houston
Reverend Monsignor Frank H. Rossi Chancellor
cc: His Eminence, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Commissio Ecclesia Dei
Bishop Fiorenzas July 2, 2004, letter is riddled with errors.
First, The Society of Saint Pius X does not reject the liciety of the Novus Ordo Missae. Its founder, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, criticized the nature of the Novus Ordo and pointed out its inherent harm. That is far different from saying that the Novus Ordo is always and in all instances invalid. Is Bishop Fiorenza claiming that any criticism of the Novus Ordo and efforts to demonstrate how it is a radical departure from Tradition are schismatic acts? Is Father Romano Thommasi, for example, to be taken to task for writing scholarly articles, based on the very minutes of the Consilium, about how Archbishop Annibale Bugnini lied about the true origin of the some constituent elements of the Novus Ordo?
Second, the Society is not, as noted above, in schism, at least not as that phrase was defined by the First Vatican Council. The Society recognizes that the See of Peter is occupied at present by Pope John Paul II. Its priests pray for the Holy Father and for the local bishop in the Canon of the Mass. The Society can be said to be disobedient to the Holy Fathers unjust edicts and commands. The Society of Saint Pius X is not in schism.
Third, Bishop Fiorenza seems to be stating that ecumenism is a de fide dogma of the Catholic Church from which no Catholic may legitimately dissent. If this is his contention, it is he who is grave error. Ecumenism is a pastoral novelty that was specifically condemned by every Pope prior to 1958. Pope Pius XI did so with particular eloquence in Mortalium Animos in 1928. Novelties that are not consonant with the authentic Tradition of the Church bind no one under penalty of sin, no less binds a priest under penalty of canonical suspension. A rejection of ecumenism constitutes in no way a schismatic act.
Fourth, Bishop Fiorenzas assertion that the Old Testament covenant God established with the people of Israel is enduringly valid is itself heretical. No human being can be saved by a belief in the Mosaic Covenant, which was superceded in its entirety when the curtain was torn in two in the Temple on Good Friday at the moment Our Lord had breathed His last on the Holy Cross. It is a fundamental act of fidelity to the truths of the Holy Faith to resist and to denounce the heretical contention, made in person by Bishop Fiorenza to Father Zigrang last year, that Jews are saved by the Mosaic Covenant. Were the Apostles, including the first pope, Saint Peter, wrong to try to convert the Jews? Was Our Lord joking when He said that a person had no life in him if he did not eat of His Body and drink of His Blood?
Fifth, Bishop Fiorenza has failed repeatedly to take into account Father Zigrangs aboslute rights under Quo Primum to offer the Immemorial Mass of Tradition without any episcopal approval:
Furthermore, by these presents [this law], in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever order or by whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us.
We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is to be forced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full forcenotwithstanding the previous constitutions and decrees of the Holy See, as well as any general or special constitutions or edicts of provincial or synodal councils, and notwithstanding the practice and custom of the aforesaid churches, established by long and immemoial prescriptionexcept, however, if of more than two hundred years standing. Therefore, no one whosoever is permitted to alter this letter or heedlessly to venture to go contrary to this notice of Our permission., statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Should anyone, however, presume to commit such an act, he should know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.
It is apparently the case that Bishop Fiorenza received a green light, if you will, to act against Father Zigrang from Dario Cardinal Castrillion Hoyos, who is both the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and the President of Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, to whom a copy of the July 2, 2004, suspension letter was sent. Father Zigrang surmises that Bishop Fiorenza brought up the issue of his case during the bishops ad limina apostolorum visit in Rome recently. Father believes that Cardinal Hoyos wants to send a signal to priests who might be tempted to follow his lead that Rome will let bishops crack down on them without mercy and without so much as an acknowledgment that Quo Primum actually means what it says. Whether or not the specific schismatic acts Father Zigrang is alleged to have committed by being associated with the Society of Saint Pius X at Queen of Angels Church in Dickinson, Texas, were outlined to Cardinal Hoyos by Bishop Fiorenza remains to be seen.
Naturally, the grounds on which Bishop Fiorenza suspended Father Zigrang are beyond the sublime. As my dear wife Sharon noted, Doesnt Bishop Fiorenza have a better canon lawyer on his staff than the one who advised him on the grounds of suspending Father Zigrang. Indeed.
The very fact that Fiorenza could make these incredible claims and believes that he has a good chance of prevailing in Rome speaks volumes about the state of the Church in her human elements at present. Will Rome let the bishops govern unjustly and make erroneous assertions about schism as well as heretical claims (that a priest must accept that Jews are saved by the Mosaic Covenant and that ecumenism is a matter of de fide doctrine) with its full assent and approval? Will Rome countenance the same sort of misuse of power by local bishops upon traditional priests in the Twenty-first Century that was visited upon Romans by the civil state and the Anglican church in England from 1534 to 1729? The answers to these questions are probably self-evident. Putting them down in black and white, though, might help priests who are looking to Rome for some canonical protection for the Traditional Latin Mass to come to realize that they wait in vain for help from the Holy See, where the Vicar of Christ occupies himself at present with the writing of a book about existentialism!
There will be further updates on this matter as events warrant. Father Zigrang is weighing his options as to how to respond to the allegations contained in Bishop Fiorenzas letter of suspension, understanding that the answers provided by the Holy See will have implications of obviously tremendous gravity. Given the intellectual dishonesty that exists in Rome at present, Father Zigrangs case may only be decided on the technical grounds of obedience to his bishop, ignoring all of the other issues, including the rights of all priests under Quo Primum offer the Traditional Latin Mass without approval and their rights to never be forced to offer Holy Mass according to any other form.
To force Rome to act on what it might otherwise avoid, perhaps it might be wise for someone to bring a canonical denunciation of Bishop Fiorenza for his contentions about ecumenism and the enduring validity of the Mosaic Covenant, spelling out in chapter and verse how these things have been condemned in the history of the Church. Then again, Fiorenza could defend himself by simply pointing to the Pope himself, which is precisely why this matter has such grave implications. This matter is certain to be explored in great detail in the weeks and months ahead by competent canonists and by theologians who understand the authentic Tradition of the Catholic Church.
Father Zigrang noted the following in an e-mail to me dated July 14, 2004:
I examined canon 1371.2 (the canon that the Bishop says warrants my suspension), checking a good commentary, the disobedience of an Ordinary's legitimate precept may warrant a just penalty but not weighty enough to warrant a censure (e.g. suspension). I think this point may have been missed by the Bishop's hired canon lawyer, when the Bishop was weighing his options about what to do with one of his wayward priests. As I said to you before, the Bishop has a history of not suspending priests, even those who commit crimes beyond mere disobedience. Although lately I've been told he recently suspended a priest who attempted marriage with one of his parishioners. This was done about the time my suspension was in the works.
Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, pray for Father Zigrang.
Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for all priests in Father Zigrangs situation so that they will be aided by their seeking refuge in you in their time of persecution and trial.
Perhaps the moderators
can do a better job
by applying the same standard
consistently disruptive antics
and personal attacks
as they do to the posts
of those about whom
sinkspur so frequently complains
and has censored
Wrong. This is revisionist nonsense.
Why do you and gbcdoj cut and paste so much--as if that gives what you say some weight? Two can play that game. For every one of your citations, I could name two. The bottom line is whether disobedience to Fiorenza was morally justified or not, given the present crisis in the Church. He felt it was. He could no longer say the N.O. in good conscience. What's really peculiar, though, is the fury aroused in bishops when they confront the ancient Mass. It's like waving a crucifix in front of Dracula.
Paul VI put me in the frame of mind that the schismatics regularly display. I thank God for one sensible Catholic who persuaded me not to leave Catholicism for the Eastern Orthodox Church. Lefebvrism was entirely too obvious and obviously a new and less worthy schism than Eastern Orthodoxy. I suffered through the papacy of Paul VI and John XXIII before him. They are long since dead and have received the judgment of God (Who alone may judge them as can no one on earth) whatever it may have been. I rejoice that God has sent us JP II.
Fr. Zigrang has apparently been driven over the edge by Bishop Fiorenza. Fr. Zigrang is probably not the first pries to have been driven over the edge by Fiorenza. Nonetheless, Fr. Zigrang is incardinated in Fiorenza's diocese and has no more business spitting upon the authority of his diocesan ordinary (even patheticos such as Fiorenza) than does another "traditionalist" icon: Fr. Gruner who never saw an order he would not violate as to where and how he is to practice his priesthood. We are a Church. We are THE Church. We are NOT an anarchy.
Perhaps you could do a better job of reading (see #175). Knock it off. Now.
Disobedience is obligatory if the faith is involved. There can be no compromise. No one can be complicit in destroying the Church.
That is precisely why actual Catholics reject Lefebvre, his scandal, his crimes and his legacy.
The Holy See is no more than the Vatican bureaucracy--which no longer is fully Catholic. That is just the truth. Many of its most important officials are cardinals and archbishops who are openly apostate, for instance. This means only some are truly Catholic and orthodox, while some are not. The Pope presides over both.
On the other hand, the true Church exists among those who practice the true faith. This is where the SSPX and other traditionalists come in--in fact, it is comprised of the entire traditionalist movement. They adhere to the doctrines and practices of the preconciliar Church and renounce the heresies that have engulfed the conciliar apparatus.
If Fellay's excommunication is ever lifted and he becomes a diocesan ordinary (which, absent repentance and penance, may God forbid) of the actual Roman Catholic Church, will you expect his priests to obey him? Will it depend on his intentions? Does the end justify the means?
All of these are condemned propositions right?
The ultimate authority is divine. Earthly authority is limited to protecting the deposit of faith, not creating a new religion. The fierce in-fighting on this site on these matters shows the line is being drawn between two religions, both claiming to be Catholic. One side is led by a Pontiff in love with novelties who disdains the teachings of his predecessors, the other adheres to the practices and teachings of popes, councils and saints that have been transmitted over a span of two thousand years. The two religions are irreconcilable. Only one is the true religion.
In this case, yes. Eternal salvation is at stake here. Blind obedience to a corrupt, non-Catholic, pedophile supporter bishop is not likely to get one to Heaven.
More nonsense about a holy man who single-handedly resisted a Pontiff determined to wreck the Church. The Archbishop did not break any vows of obedience by doing so, since such vows are not absolute but depend on the legitimacy of the papal command. In this case, the command not to consecrate was intended to finally and forever starve the ancient Mass of traditional priests. Lefebvre was obliged to disobey to save the Traditional Faith.
And dogmatically and infallibily. They are from the Syllabus of Errors promulgated by Bl. Pius IX.
I would argue that canonically the regularization of Campos back validated the acts (confessions and marriages that were formerly invalid becuase they were done in contradiction to Church law), not that the acts were valid from the beginning. That is the power of the keys of Peter.
So you say. So Marcel said. Neither of you exercises authority. What did the pope say????
There is such a thing as ecclesiastical abuse of power. All ordinaries are obliged to command legitimately. They may not command what would harm the faith or the Church or what would be detrimental to the salvation of souls. Many do just this. When they do, they must be disobeyed.