Bishop Says Priest Was Not ‘Fired’

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (CNS) – Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville said he did not “fire” a priest from his pastorate for using his own wording in some parts of the Mass but was obligated to correct the situation as shepherd of the diocese.

The bishop accepted the resignation of Father William Rowe, pastor of St. Mary parish in Mount Carmel for the past 17 years, after several meetings with the 72-year-old priest over the last five years failed to resolve the bishop’s concerns about how Father Rowe celebrated the Mass, especially after the implementation of the new Roman Missal in late November.

In a letter written while Bishop Braxton was in Rome for his periodic “ad limina” visit to report on the status of the diocese, the bishop said he had “only asked (Father Rowe) to do what the church asks me and every priest to do.”

“I regret very much that Father Rowe could not find in his heart the docility needed to put the clear mandate of the church above his personal likes and dislikes with regard to his vocation as an ordained minister of the church’s public worship in communion with the whole church,” he wrote.

Bishop Braxton said he had consulted with Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, about the matter, and neither the cardinal nor members of his staff were aware “of another instance in the entire English-speaking, Catholic world in which a priest has resigned from his pastorate rather than accepting the new translation of the Roman Missal.”

Father Rowe said he linked the Gospel, his homily and the prayers of the Mass together in language everyone could understand, even if it was not exactly the way they were written.

The priest said he offered to resign in October, 2011.