Sunday, October 12, 2014

Rewriting the history of Blackfen

Fr Steven Fisher, Twitter profile picture: taken a few years ago.
Further to the previous commentary on the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary at Blackfen, it would appear an attempt is being made to present recent events in a rather surprising light.

Instead of ending his celebration of the Traditional Mass at the end of September, as he had promised, Fr Steven Fisher has carried on saying it at 10:30 on Sundays for the subsequent two Sundays. Having precipitated the resignations of the sacristan, Master of Ceremonies, and the entire choir, and told the congregation in general that they were thoroughly objectionable people, Fr Fisher is now saying (in the Newsletter: which is not online), that, given the strange decline in the number of people attending that Mass, he is going to ask the Parish Council, which he has appointed, to consider its future.

Fr Steven Fisher, an old Facebook profile picture, more recent.
The outcome, obviously, will be the same, but lest anyone wonder exactly why the congregation has declined, his statement that the Masses this week and last would not take place would be a sufficient explanation, even without any of the other considerations.

Lest we forget the sequence of events, Mulier Fortis, who is actually a member of the former Blackfen EF congregation, has taken the trouble to remind us.

Fr Steven Fisher, a still more recent FB profile picture.
There was a time, before the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, when it would happen from time to time for the Traditional Mass to be said, on the rare occasions it was said at all, by priests who thoroughly disliked the people who attended, and even the Traditional Mass itself, and would take a certain grim satisfaction from telling the unfortunate Faithful who had the temerity to be present that they should be elsewhere. (These priests had presumably been asked to say the Traditional Mass by a bishop seeking to make some provision to those who were asking for it.) There is also the phenomenon, which happily has always been rare, of priests who thought that they could do better than the liturgical tradition, and adapted the Traditional Mass to their personal preferences, shaped by their experience of the Novus Ordo. I have myself only encountered the former phenomenon a very few times, and the latter I know only from the experience of others. Neither is a happy situation. Priests who take this path are, obviously, not going to succeed in attracting people to their celebrations, and their experiments tend to be short lived. There is no need to mourn the passing of Masses said under these conditions. It is sad what has happened at Blackfen. But it is clearly better for the Faithful attached to the Traditional Mass who once received the sacraments there to go elsewhere, as they have indeed mostly done.

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  1. If the new priest wished to end the Vetus Ordo then the honest thing to do would be to stand up and say so. What has been done is to apparently contrive, in a somewhat obvious way, the dispersion of the Vetus ordo congregation and taking that as an excuse, the Mass is being discontinued. This is not very “nice”, and what is much more important, not very Catholic.

    If the priest has the support of his bishop, which seems likely, then the situation is grave since we have here an apparent plan to suppress a valid form of Mass of the Catholic Church, but in a devious way. This reflects badly on the bishop, but then with the reputation of bishops being what it is at present, few will be surprised.

    With respect Mr Chairman, simply accepting that people will go elsewhere is not right. The Vetus Ordo is a valid Mass of the Western Catholic Church, co-equal with the Novus Ordo in its various forms. Laity have the right to request that it continues and at a reasonable hour in line with what existed before.

    If that is not complied with in good faith by the parish priest, then this can be raised, as a formal procedure, with the bishop, then with the Nuncio and if necessary with the Vatican.

    Yes I know, it all seems such an effort, but then as already noted, there are some very strange forces at work in Christ’s Church these days, and we must all be on our guard.

    The Church is in a bit of a mess at present and does not appear to be getting any better. With behaviour such as this, it most certainly will not.

  2. Anonymous1:06 am

    That a priest would dress like that and publish a photograph of himself in such an impious pose, speaks a lot - and it's not good at all.

    As for Blackfen, it was all clearly planned and ruthlessly executed. Lord, have mercy.

  3. Devious? Our respected cardinals and bishops? Surely not.
    As for grown men drinking straight from a bottle, it always reminds me of infants at the feeding bottle. Mind you, we could be looking at the next bishop of A&B.

  4. Anonymous10:48 am

    I am repelled that some people seem to criticise the bishop without any evidence. I doubt that the bishop is to blame in this case.
    Could it be a case of a self-seeking publicist who may be a maverick priest?
    Usually such behaviour is common in very unhappy priests who are usually unsettled in their priesthood.

    1. I, too, am not happy with the conclusion that the Bishops were 'in on the plot'. Southwark has a habit of letting parish priests get on with it without too much interference (I guess that's why priests here of very different persuasions seem to rub along). It is quite likely that the new parish priest has decided to make his own mark and has done so - in a repellant manner - without the support of any diocesan machinations.

    2. Anonymous8:59 pm

      If Southwark 'has a habit of letting parish priests get on with it,' why was Fr. Finigan even moved?

    3. Well in that case, lets see the bishop discipine this new priest and restore the Uus Antiquior, a fully valid co-equal Mass of the Western Catholic church to the parish and the parishioners who have been so badly treated. In the event the new priest refuses, he could be displaced. There has been plenty of time.

      Now has he?

    4. Father I am aware of several question marks over a specific Bishop in Southwark. The Bishop in question most certainly has an agenda. I think that Dr. Shaw and the faithful of Blackfen have been remarkably charitable and balanced.

  5. Anonymous2:37 pm

    It is unlikely that a new priest would so behave so drastically, insulting all the faithful parishioners and disrupting the spiritual peace of the parish unless he had the support of superiors. Otherwise, he would be opening himself up to penalisation, even removal, by the bishop. For his behaviour demands a disciplinary action - for the good of his soul, and priestly vocation, and for the souls of the many be has scandalised.

    1. It is unusual for a newly inducted parish priest to suffer such an apparent crisis of communication and charity, but it's entirely likely that it has occurred independently of the Bishops. A parish priest is, practically speaking, the authority in his parish, and no matter the discomfort of the Diocese it is unlikely to interfere short of illegality or grave scandal. Which is not to say there will be no longer term consequences: organisations tend to remember this kind of thing, whatever the balancing strengths of the individual.

    2. On the third day of Fr. Fisher's tenure, he told a parishioner that these extra Masses would be stopped, and when she expressed regret at the removal of evening Masses he stated that he had had hours of meetings with Archbishop Smith and Bishop Lynch to discuss the direction the parish would be taking, and he declared that Blackfen was a Novus Ordo parish.


  6. I reckon that what was achieved was done with the blessing of the Bishops -- however I suspect that the brutal manner with which it was executed will have surprised and proabably dismayed them. Recent events in Blackfen have generated a lot of light and noise in the (social) media ... were the same thing to have happened over many months (or even years) it would have passed largely unnoticed. I'm willing to bet that a slow and silent death was what was planned for Blackfen, avoiding publicity. Instead they sent in a maverick with an ISIS-type approach to liturgy and pastoral care: own goal.

  7. LOL on Fr Finigan's first Sunday in Margate he stood up and said he had come to change nothing...and then proceeded to tell us some things he had already changed! Since then an enormous amount of change has taken place resulting in a large loss of parishioners both to the Parish and to the Church. If the Authorities wanted Black Fen 'smashed', why are they allowing what happened there to be duplicated in Margate?!!! Assuming they have any grasp of parishioners' feelings and control whatsoever of course!!