Now that the Bishop of Fort Worth has weighed in (and is now being maligned), after much prayer, I feel that I should break the silence.
First off, I love the students at Fisher More College (FMC). I love them so much. It was heartbreaking for me to leave FMC. Last summer (2013) was very difficult for me. I also love the Latin Mass and write about it often on my blog and talk about it publicly (my family belongs to a FSSP parish – Mater Dei parish in Irving, Texas).
For the record, I resigned as Chancellor of the College at the beginning of June of 2013—only days after our seventh baby was born. I had no job prospects and no income. I did it for the sake of conscience. I felt it would be a danger to my soul to remain at Fisher More College.
I resigned when moral, theological, and financial discrepancies came to light regarding the presidency of Michael King. I was an ex officio member of the Board so I knew what others did not. From May to early June of 2013, five of the eight College Board Members also resigned for two reasons:
1) Mr. King refused to disassociate himself from the public statements of faculty member Dr. Dudley that claimed in his Year of Faith lecture that Catholic professors have the duty to teach young people that Vatican 2 is not a valid Council (he also endorsed other “resistance” positions regarding the Novus Ordo, John Paul II, etc.)
2) Mr. King, after selling the original FMC campus to Texas Christian University for millions of dollars, had imprudently entered into a real estate deal that financially crippled Fisher More College.
Much of the politicization around the “Latin Mass and FMC” is Mr. King’s careful attempt to distract attention away from his financial misdealing at FMC. The college is currently teetering on bankruptcy and this latest entanglement with the bishop will lead to a public statement: “Fisher More closed down because the new bishop of Fort Worth persecuted the Latin Mass!” when in reality the College is failing because Mr. King entered into a dubious real estate deal that washed out college’s endowment AND all the proceeds from the sale of the original campus.
How did a College sell its extremely valuable campus to TCU for several millions dollars in 2012 only to announce at Christmas 2013 that it might be closing without an immediate fund raising campaign through Rorate Caeli?
Rorate Caeli has just released their sensational “exclusive” report on how the new Bishop of Fort Worth is persecuting the traditional Latin Mass in the person of Michael King. They included the (private) letter of Bishop Olson to Michael King and offered their speculation.
This controversy created by Rorate Caeli with the help of Michael King’s letter is not about the Latin Mass or Summorum Pontificum.*
FMC hosted a public repudiation of Vatican 2 and the Ordinary Form of the Mass in April of 2013 that was so offensive that my wife and I walked out of it before it’s conclusion. That did not do much to heal the breach with the local diocese or presbyterate and it contributed to the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) discontinuing their support and presence at FMC. The current FMC website advertises that the FSSP provides a chaplain, but this is not true.
At the same time, Michael King estranged himself from the diocese of Fort Worth by not allowing the Ordinary Form (as stipulated by the previous ordinary Bishop Vann of Fort Worth). He also contracted an irregular/suspended priest without faculties, and hired “trad resistance” faculty while there was no bishop in Fort Worth to check these developments. Mr. King was able to create a community in his image (he affectionately referred to himself the “father” of this community) during the episcopal inter-regnum of the diocese of Fort Worth.
Clearly, a bishop's intervention was inevitable. The current controversy really has nothing to do with the Latin Mass per se. The Latin Mass is at the center because Michael King is politicizing the Latin Mass in his favor, knowing that “bishops vs the Latin Mass” is red meat for some traditionalist blogs.
Bishop Olson says in the letter that he is doing this for Michael King's "soul." The bishop understands that this is a personal intervention – and not an attack on Fisher More College or its students or the Latin Mass.
It's a serious pastoral problem. Mr. King no doubt leaked Bp Olson’s letter via one of his few supporters to build sympathy before the inevitable financial collapse that will expose his mishandling of Fisher More College. Mr. King, more than anything, would like to blame the inevitable collapse of FMC (within only weeks or months) on the bishop’s “persecution of the Latin Mass.”
Hold your peace. Watch for how it unfolds, and most of all pray for the students that are still dutifully studying and praying. There are some GREAT students at Fisher More College.
As one who loves and prays the Latin Mass, please don’t curse or blame Bishop Olson for this one. He is a new bishop who inherited a TOUGH pastoral problem. Pray for him. And if you love the Latin Mass, don’t be so quick to judge the bishops or cite canon law. Sometimes there are things behind the scenes that you don’t know.
1 Cor 11:1-2 If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
*Regarding Summorum Pontificum in this situation. It doesn’t apply here since the college chapel does not have a priest requesting to say the Latin Mass and the chapel therefore falls under the direct pastoral control of the bishop. It’s the case of a layman (Michael King) asking for it. Those accusing Bishop Olson of breaking canon law or despising Summorum Pontificum should be more careful. Moreover, be assured that Bishop Olson supports the FSSP in his diocese and has nothing against the Extraordinary Form.
It seems that there may be at least two things behind the bishop's action.
1. The College hosted Father Nicholas Gruner; of course, so did Una Voce New York so I guess they're next...
2. From this article in CFN "Fisher More recently became a fully Traditional Catholic College, wherein they pledged loyalty to the Catholic faith of all time, to the Latin Tridentine Mass, and to openly recognize the damage caused by the Second Vatican Council and its new orientation."
Reading between the lines, Father Gruner may have said Mass there without permission of the bishop. While most priests have universal faculties as priests, the situation involving Father Gruner may not be clear-cut, and this writer is certainly not qualified to comment one way or another. More concerning though is the quote in #2 above as those words "faith of all time" are words frequently used by the Society of St. Pius X.
The Fathers of Mercy were to preach a Lenten mission and their own web page indicates that they are served by the FSSP. If this is not the case then which priests are celebrating the liturgy?
The fear now must be that with the unfortunate harshness of tone of the letter, it may just push them right into the arms of the SSPX. Surely, this is not what the bishop wants.
On a whole, this seems to be badly handled by everyone, including the bishop who should have taken a more "pastoral" approach; but to ban the Mass? That was just plain wrong.
Creative Miniority Report has a post here featuring a statement from the College regarding Father Gruner's appearance as well a list of all the priests that celebrated Mass there, including many from the FSSP and even Father Samuel Weber. Clearly, there is more to this than we know and while the bishop may have had some issues, the action of banning the Extraordinary Form liturgy is a significant problem and is far from a pastoral solution.
Original story from Rorate Caeli Blog: