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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oratory Shmoratory

(Picture of a real oratory provided for a reality check.)

There has been some question in the comboxes about Monaghan's original intent regarding Ave Maria Town's parish status vs. oratory designation.

Some had thought that the original plan was that Ave Maria Town would become a Catholic parish just like every other Catholic community in the world. So what gives with the parish versus oratory thing?

Well, this is all about power, independence and being somewhat unaccountable to the Church.

The primary Canonical difference between "parish" and an "oratory" is the following:

Can. 515 §1. A parish is a certain community of the Christian faithful stably constituted in a particular church, whose pastoral care is entrusted to a pastor (parochus) as its proper pastor (pastor) under the authority of the diocesan bishop.

Can. 1223 By the term oratory is understood a place for divine worship designated by permission of the ordinary for the benefit of some community or group of the faithful who gather in it and to which other members of the faithful can also come with the consent of the competent superior.

So why is the thingy in the center of Ave Maria called an "oratory" rather than a "parish"? And why is Healy claiming the Canonical status of "Private Association of the Christian Faithful"?

The crux of the issue is that of control.

A parish is under the direct authority of the local bishop. In a parish, it is the bishop and he alone who has responsibility for the spiritual welfare of the community. Only he can appoint a priest to be stationed there. Only he can administer the sacrament of Confirmation. The parish is a juridic person or canonical right, but of a very clear character - in submission and under the direct authority of the bishop.

This is not the case with an oratory.

First of all, an oratory exists to serve the speical religious needs of a particular community of the faithful. Ordinarily, this means a community with a special charism or spirituality that is recognized by the church and being so recognized an oratory is canonical designation that says, this church building exists to serve the very unique spiritual needs of this recognized community of faithful. And although its establishment must be granted by the bishop, the bishop DOES NOT HAVE ANY FURTHER AUTHORITY BEYOND OVERSIGHT AND THE NUCLEAR OPTION OF REMOVING RECOGNITION.

The rules that govern the appointment of the Oratory Rector, or Spiritual Director have to do with the statutes and by-laws of the community of the faithful (which have been submitted and approved by the Bishop), NOT THE BISHOP!

So, by Ave Maria seeking to claim the designation of Private Association of the Christian Faithful, they are claiming that the community at Ave Maria fits the purposes of canon 298:
associations the Christian faithful, whether clerics, lay persons, or clerics and lay persons together, strive in a common endeavor to foster a more perfect life, to promote public worship or Christian doctrine, or to exercise other works of the apostolate such as initiatives of evangelization, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with a Christian spirit.

So basically, what Healy is claiming is that the residents of Ave Maria Town/University have freely joined an association whose purposes are outlined above and have done so by means of a private agreement amongst themselves. He is also claiming that this private association has been recognized by the Church, which means that it has statutes for its self-governance (can. 299) and these have been reviewed by the previous bishop.

Now understand what is being said.
Not that the university has statutes, not that the town has governance statutes, but that a unique Christian Community of the Faithful that has a particular charism has statues that have been submitted to the church for review and have been approved and so they have need for an oratory to serve their spiritual needs.

For a point of reference, the People of Praise Community is a REAL Private Association of Christian Faithful recognized by the Catholic Church, as are the Marian Servants of Divine Providance. Both of these communities have a particular charism and apostolic life that is governed by objective statutes that have been submitted to and recognized by the Catholic Church under canon law.
Ave Maria is a speculative real estate venture with an educational and "Catholic" twist that is trying to abuse canon law to wrest spiritual control away from the local ordinary. There is no "Private Association of the Christian Faithful" at Ave Maria, it is a real estate development and as such, the Catholic people living there should be considered under the parish structure.

Obviously, Healy's claims are a complete crock of shite'n noodle.

If Ave Maria received the canonical designation of Private Association of the Christian Faithful, then there would be a file in the canonist's office with a copy of the association's statutes. Now these statutes generally describe the particular charism, spirituality, apostolic work that is unique to the Community. They are examined for orthodoxy both in spirituality and in their governance structure. Why? Because the Church is our Holy Mother and She has a responsibility to protect her children from nut cases who think they can remake the Church in their own image.

What Healy and Monaghan are seeking is the ability to call Ave Maria "Catholic" which they explicity can not do under can. 300. And they are seeking all the power and autonomy of a "private association of the Christian faithful" which includes the power to appoint their own rector and spiritual director and do what they like without really any accountability to anyone.

In short, the "oratory" and "private association of the Christian faithful" language is about Ave Maria's attempt to give Tom Monaghan the power of a bishop in this kingdom made in his own image.

The post above about Fessio should confirm in spirit what a close look at canon law bears out about the objective at Ave Maria.

It is all pretty twisted stuff.
And now for your moment of light humor:

St. Scratchy McCracken of the Shite'n Noodle (An "Oratory" in the Dissenting "Catholic" Tradition)

King, Supreme Bishop and Grand Master of the St. Scratchy McCracken of the Shite'n Noodle "Oratory" in his Ave Maria kingdom.