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The courtesy of Mr Apthorp's letters to the Brisbane hierarchy would not seem to have been rewarded by any significant action on the part of those responsible.
Since there has been no perceptible response to the documents from Rome, such as Redemptionis Sacramentum, attempting to correct the errors which are almost universal in the archdiocese, our spiritual guides are hardly going to correct the activities reported by eyewitnesses among the laity.
Indeed, one advice, a number of years ago, was that to be taken seriously, one had to gather real evidence of abuses in the sacraments. When this was done in regard to illicit general absolutions there were cries of 'spies'.
Vatican II's liturgy document makes clear that no priest, on his own authority, may change anything in the Mass. Can a priest claim not to know what the Church requires of him? Hardly, since a significant number of laymen know about these abuses.
One might expect that any bishop, whenever he receives well- documented reports of abuses, would be outraged and act immediately to determine if there is any substance to the reports.
Yet in the Brisbane archdiocese it is difficult to find an abuse-free Mass. The words are constantly changed. 'Lamb of God' becomes 'bread of life' and 'Pray brethren ...' refers to 'gifts' instead of 'sacrifice'. Extraordinary ministers of Communion receive the Blessed Sacrament at the same time as the priest, and perform the ablutions at the end of Mass, while the priest remains seated.
And while extraordinary ministers were introduced to assist priests when there were large numbers at Mass, we now find them still used with congregations of fewer than 20.
Then we have the lack of vestments with chasubles out of favour with many. A priest once told me that the only way to get certain priests into chasubles would be for the Pope to ban them.
Abuses such as these are the norm in this archdiocese. Some are found almost everywhere while others vary from place to place.
Finally, how can priests who openly disregard lawful liturgical instructions expect us laymen to obey them? How can they present themselves as teachers of the faith?
In the short term, it seems likely that more of the same can be expected, however hopeful one might remain about the longer term.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 21 No 2 (March 2008), p. 14
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