Three sorry Augustinians and a violation of canon law

Three sorry Augustinians and a violation of canon law

This past Easter, three Irish Augustinian priests concelebrated Mass with a priest of the Anglican Church of Ireland in Drogheda to commemorate the 1916 Easter Uprising. Of course, Catholic priests can’t and shouldn’t concelebrate Mass with non-Catholic priests because we are not in communion with one another. Oops, did they think no one would notice?

Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh, primate of Ireland, conducted an investigation and has issued a statement that basically says that the Augustinian province and three priests apologized for their actions.

The three Augustinians involved - Fr Richard Goode, Fr Ignatius O’Donovan and Fr Noel Hession - having reflected on the seriousness of their actions, have written to the Archbishop of Armagh, Archbishop Seán Brady; to the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto; and to Fr Robert Prevost, the Prior General of the Augustinian Order, who is resident in Rome.  Their letter apologises unreservedly for the ill-considered celebration and gives an absolute commitment as to future conduct in matters liturgical.

And that’s that? What about the repercussions of the event? Is someone going explain to Irish Catholics why this was a bad thing?

Goode, O’Donovan, and Hession must have known what they were doing was a violation of canon law and Church teaching. Are there any penalties? Is someone going to address the root causes of this violation? Or is it all going to be swept under the rug.

Perhaps this is all being dealt with privately, out of the public eye, but since this was a very public act of defiance using the Church’s public act of worship shouldn’t the resolution be similarly public?

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  • How can one, without being heretical support the Augustinians on this.  It is long since time for the the C of I, and the Roman Catholics to get into communion.  Who is going to pressure Rome and the Irish C of I Hierarchy if the Augustinians don’t? 

    How much progress has Rome and the Q of E made in the last 500 years towards communion? How about some common sense to get Rome to behave with a bit of Charity towards our Irish Brothers AND our Irish Brothers with a bit of Charity towards Rome.


  • since this was a very public act of defiance using the Church’s public act of worship shouldn’t the resolution be similarly public?

    Hmm:  maybe public penance?  Well, at least Abp. Brady issued a public statement.

    The priests apologized, and they gave “an absolute commitment” to the primate, to the head of the order, and to the nuncio about future liturgical compliance.  This involvement of the local episcopate, the Pope, and the Augustinian order expresses that this was taken as a very serious disciplinary matter.  That’s enough for me.

    Are there any penalties?

    If the purpose of penalties is to bring about repentance, then the threat of penalties seems to have had the right effect.

    JBP writes: It is long since time for the […] C of I, and the Roman Catholics to get into communion.

    Ecclesial and sacramental communion are the fruit of having common faith: if someday the C of I comes to believe all the doctrine that the Catholic Church believes is divinely revealed—the doctrine which the Catholic Church holds is indispensable for believers—then full communion will follow.

  • RC,

    If it was easy as having a stated common faith, it would have been done long ago.  There needs to be some pleasant type of push to get the resepctive hierarchies into gear.


  • In Ireland it is more than just a matter of what one believes for unity to come about. “By your religion, your politics are known” has long been an aphorism of Irish life – as it still is for the most part in Northern Ireland.

    But even in the South of my youth, C of I, Presbyterians and Methodists were viewed as representing the remnants of British Rule – despite the fact that there were prominent non-Catholics devoted to the cause of Irish Independence. While Archbishop John Charles McQuaide of Dublin was alive, Catholics were forbidden to attend Trinity College Dublin (a bastion of the British Establishment), for example.

    Much has changed in the past 40 years, but there is still a long way to go – longer in Northern Ireland than in the Republic.

  • GOR,

    Aren’t the Protestant radicals typically Pentecostals, Covenantars, or Presbyterian rather than COI?

    If finding communion actually takes 500 years, then we need to find another method of ecunemism.


  • JBP, maybe you don’t understand what I’m referring to here: there are numerous divinely revealed truths of the Catholic faith which the C of I doesn’t appear to affirm: the doctrine of transubstantiation, for example. 

    The C of I website says this of the Eucharistic elements:

    …there is a change in the significance they have for worshippers. Through them the life of the risen and glorified Christ is communicated and received by faith. Thus, following consecration, they are considered as Christ’s sacramental body and blood.

    That view doesn’t express any change in the elements themselves, but only in how believers regard them. 

    Of the C of I’s general stance, the website has this:

    The Church of Ireland is Protestant, or Reformed, because it affirms ‘its constant witness against all those innovations in doctrine and worship, whereby the Primitive Faith hath been from time to time defaced or overlaid.’

    “Innovations” in that statement refers, of course, to the Catholic doctrines which Irish Anglicans historically do not hold.

    Alas, some provinces of the Anglican Communion has been moving farther from the Catholic faith in recent years; I don’t expect that they will ever reform themselves back to Catholic unity.

  • JPB

    You’re probably thinking of people like the Rev. Ian Paisley in Northern Ireland. There are radicals of all stripes and religious affiliations – Catholic as well as Protestant – over there.

    In my younger days there we didn’t distinguish much between the different religions. If you weren’t Catholic, you were ‘Protestant’ – period (or a ‘Proddy’ in the common parlance of the time).

    The Church of Ireland as I remember it was more on the lines of ‘Low Church’ Anglicanism – as distinct from ‘High Church’ or ‘Anglo-Catholic’ (as they like to call themselves), in England. So they would be farther away from Roman Catholicism in terms of doctrine, sacraments, rituals, etc.

    That was what surprised me the most (apart from the Augustinians’ disobedience…) about the ‘concelebration’ – that a C of I minister participated in it…

  • JBP, if individual Anglicans, ministers, or congregations want to come to Catholic unity and accept the Catholic faith, including the authority of the Pope, tell ‘em to call the local bishop, and he’ll welcome them gladly.  I will too. 

    However, a concelebration between Catholic priests and ministers of a non-Catholic ecclesial community is essentially an act of denial or self-deception.  The parties desire to share the most sacred Christian mystery, the sacrament of love, unity, and communion in Christ; but they do not truly have full communion of faith and life.  (If they did, they’d all be Catholics in union with Rome.) 

    Thus their attempt to celebrate the sacrament is contradicted by the actual situation of the parties.  Instead of being a step toward unity, such a concelebration becomes a step away from the truth of the current painful situation.