Update: Fr. Martin Fox

There was a bit of a dustup recently in the blogosphere, at Pray Tell and elsewhere, around Fr. Martin Fox’s sharp criticism of his brother priests in the AUSCP. I’m told that the authorities in the Cincinnati archdiocese were made aware of the entire online “dialogue.” And now the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has announced that Fr. Fox has been appointed to full time parish ministry and relieved of his duties in the Office of Priestly Formation. Fr. Fox has told his new parishioners that the archbishop responded to his request for full time parish ministry.

This isn’t the time to re-open the “dialogue” or criticize Fr. Fox further. Pray Tell wishes him well in his new assignment.

awr

Share:

25 comments

  1. Well: I know nothing of this Fr Fox except what I’ve referenced from above. But, it seems to me that it wasn’t too long ago that we witnessed quite a few unkind and unseemly words about the same youthful priests with whom Fr Fox is contemporary. I recall that on this blog (as well as plenty of other places) there were/are not denigrancies sufficient in derisive contempt of cassock-wearing seminarians, postulants, and young priests whose ‘conservative’ nature displeases their rebellious elders. Obviously, then, these ‘older priests’ are quite capable of ‘dishing it out’, but, they can’t take it. They really wreaked havoc on our liturgical and musical heritage, nor, whenever they have the chance, are they finished doing so. Having said all that, I really don’t think that the perhaps-more-liturgically-sane young ones should engage in the same libellous behaviour of which we have all been victims for the past fifty years. No one, not a single one of us, has any claim to being ‘holier than thou’.

  2. MJO, it seems to me that you are living in some kind of time warp in which you are doomed to keep watching old episodes of Star Trek. My experience of the last 50 years differs greatly from yours. Whether they have been the worst or the best of times they have defined the lion’s share of my life in Christ. It’s been a struggle and it has been glorious. The Body of Christ is so much better off for having reclaimed a sacramental ecclesiology in which all of God’s priestly people share responsibility for the mission of the church. I pray that Pope Francis will make it more difficult for those who wish to reimpose on us the rule of priests who think of themselves as more holier than thou. I don’t know Fr. Fox and I wish him well, but he acted mostly like an arrogant ass in his posts on PTB.

    1. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #2:
      People in similar situations can often have very different experiences. Often those promoting liturgical reform were very unkind to those who were not on board with it even if they were otherwise very nice to those who were.

    2. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #2:
      Allow me to state again my gratitude for VII and the blessings that are in its dower. With what you have stated I agree wholly. Had VII not happened, and, had not the Anglican church stubbornly gone its way of further separation from the other two ‘branches’ of Catholicism, I and a host of others shouldn’t likely be Roman Catholic today. Where we part, I think, is assuming that the sacramental ecclesiology of which you speak implies the liturgical chaos and musical ruin which quite a few now-elder priests imposed most grievously upon it. We are, perhaps, hopefully, now beginning to realise that we can (as some of us have known all along) have this sacramental ecclesiology AND a liturgical and musical praxis grown organically from that of our heritage rather than the bolshevistic terror that turned our masses into sacro-pop-rock-etc. glees. Not a single bit of the cheap liturgy which has been visited upon us for fifty years was even thought or dreamed of by the fathers of Vatican II, nor hinted at in the council’s documents, nor suggested by the rubrics of the Novus Ordo, nor GIRM.

      1. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #9:
        On the other hand, some of us might say the turmoil of the past fifty years was more due to resistance to conciliar reform–just like any other major council.

        When you speak of musical ruin, I recall the stories of my elders: Low Mass after Low Mass whipped through in 20 minutes, saccharine hymnody, reliance on rubrics rather than a deep spirituality. Many of the problems of modern liturgy strike me as pockets of resistance from the past more than post-conciliar development.

  3. “This isn’t the time to re-open the “dialogue” or criticize Fr. Fox further”

    This is a good reminder.

    Speaking generally, I will comment that I have seen in others, as well as myself, that when work and/or ministry does not align with gifts and abilities, or when other concerns intrude in life, that we can see emotional aspects in our lives erode. Perhaps this happens from time to time among internet commentators.

    I have known a few priests who seemed unsuited at first to ministry, but who cooperated with God’s grace in a most fruitful way.

    “No one, not a single one of us, has any claim to being ‘holier than thou’.”

    MJO, likewise “more orthodox than thou.”

  4. I find it ironic that daring to criticizing the agenda of the AUSCP generation is regarded here as a sufficient reason for Fr. Fox’s removal.

    I’m a seminary contemporary (1965-75) of the AUSCP priests and a fellow grey-haired geezer. Time and again during those years, I saw clergy from their (my) generation openly revolt against their pastors, mock them as dinosaurs, provoke conflict between old and young, and generally, scheme to marginalize or exile older priests who did not march under the banner of “the spirit of Vatican II.”

    Fr. Fox’s comments, even in their redacted form (the original post has disappeared), are nothing at all compared to the revolutionary agitprop that the AUSCP generation cranked out against their clerical elders, week and and week out, during the post-Vatican II era.

    Fr. Fox’s exile tells me that the AUSCP generation, for all its 60s blather about “speaking truth to power,” has no toleration whatsoever when a priest with a more traditional take on the Church dares to “speak truth” back.

    1. @Father Anthony Cekada – comment #9:
      No. The issue isn’t criticizing AUSCP or anyone else. The issue is doing so with basic respect and decency. Big difference, that.

      And however much wrong (you think) was done 4 or 50 years ago by progressives, that is hardly (for Christians) a justification for reactionaries doing wrong today. Christians aren’t about getting even, and two wrongs don’t make a right.

      awr

  5. It appears this was effective a month ago, according to his blog. He had a 15-month tenure heading that office.

  6. @ Fr. Ruff – Comment #6

    “No. The issue isn’t criticizing AUSCP or anyone else. The issue is doing so with basic respect and decency. Big difference, that. … two wrongs don’t make a right.”

    It depends on who gets to define “basic respect and decency.”

    When the professedly progressive of the AUSCP generation hold the levers of ecclesiastical power, their understanding of these concepts tends to be, shall we say, somewhat narrow — rather like the Burkes or the Bruzkewieczes of this world they love to criticize.

    And I do not, of course, believe that two wrongs make a right. I’m merely pointing out what I think is the hypocrisy of my contemporaries.

  7. I was thinking that a collection of comments posted in Pray Tell would be a useful source to document certain attitudes. Any hope of finding them in one place.
    I was ordained in 1974 and there were comments that I must say really got to me. They were about how necessary for progress would be the deaths of the Vatican II priests who would be replaced by John Paul ii priests. I thought of all the priests who left the priesthood and then I said who of those making such comments really care if a priest stayed with it all those years. The fools stayed on and the smart ones realized they were not wanted so….

  8. I’ve met Fr. Fox, and he is a wonderful fellow, jovial and thoughtful, intellectually curious, always open to learning more. He reads everything and keeps on the path to improvement always. He is also a compassionate and hard-working priest with a good mind and an ebullient spirit. Anyone who attempts to paint him as a reactionary doesn’t know him, clearly.

  9. Fr Fox revised his post, and he displayed integrity and honesty in preserving the old post so that there was no cover-up. He made an error, he acknowledged it, he corrected it. I have sinned online at least as much as he has.

    I pray that his new assignment at Holy Cross – Immaculata parish is rewarding for Fr Fox and for the parish community.

  10. Virtually everyone I know of who went to Catholic school before the council had to sing the ordinary everyday at Mass, usually the Mass of the Angels. It was a product of the liturgical movement’s emphasis on participation.

    There was a lot of bad liturgy before the council, but it seems progress was being made in many places. We should have been able to build on that progress and have mostly sung liturgies today, but instead most Catholics seem dumbfounded when they need to sing a simple Amen or any of the dialogues, and I’ve never heard the Credo sung in English outside the Byzantine liturgy. I sometimes wonder if part of the problem is that OF has so much more that needs to be sung to make it a true sung Mass.

  11. “… we wondered why Roman Catholics opted for quitars and what was paraded as ‘folk music’”

    It was better than silent, twenty-minute Low Masses.

    Seriously, it must have been a number of factors to bury the so-called tradition of chant if it never took root after the Council. The vernacular took very deep root very soon. What hymn-singing tradition there was favored over plainsong done very poorly. Modern Western ears favor musical accompaniment. Lack of support for music schools and music formation. Folk music disappeared rather quickly in a lot of places. But the guitar has a degree of staying power because it is a portable instrument, unlike the pipe organ, and is suitable for accompanying children in song.

    There are reasons why things are as they are: lamentable or otherwise. But the insistence on caricature and insult isn’t a search for the truth, nor is it telling us of anything except the bitterness of some Catholics.

  12. “It was better than silent, twenty-minute Low Masses.”

    Let’s compare like with like Todd, a licitly celebrated low Mass is not “silent”. A Mass with such fake “folk” music is not, illicit.

    Furthermore, it’s not only 20 minute low Masses that were replaced by such, but Sung and Solemn Masses celebrated with GreGregorian chant or modern sacred music.

  13. Hello Fr. Ruff,

    Like you, I wish Fr. Fox well in his new assignment – which may well prove more personally satisfying than his diocesan duties.

    But there seems to be an unspoken implication drawn that Fr. Fox’s comments here in the blogosphere contributed to his change of duties. I’d be curious to know if that is, in fact, the case, or whether it is an unrelated coincidence. It’s interesting to see that Bishop Binzer has taken over the Priestly Formation position.

    1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #18:
      Richard,
      It seems likely, based on a bit of behind-the-scenes info I’ve heard, that there was a connection, but I don’t know for sure so I don’t want to claim that as a fact.

      awr

  14. Todd Flowerday : “… we wondered why Roman Catholics opted for quitars and what was paraded as ‘folk music’” It was better than silent, twenty-minute Low Masses.

    But not better than silent, 40 minute low Masses. At least if you mean “silent” as in “silent Canon.”

  15. “Modern Western ears favor musical accompaniment.”

    And modern use of Gregorian chant was often accompanied.

    “But the guitar has a degree of staying power because it is a portable instrument, unlike the pipe organ, and is suitable for accompanying children in song.”

    The organ is also suitable for accompanying children in song.

    “But the insistence on caricature and insult isn’t a search for the truth, nor is it telling us of anything except the bitterness of some Catholics.”

    Who’s banging on about “silent” low Masses? That’s caricature.

  16. My first post was ad hominem and censured for good reason. Jonathan expressed my sentiments in a much better way and without invective towards any person.

    “Silent” or softly spoken Low Mass is not, in my opinion, a historical aberration or sanctioned abuse. Rather, Low Mass has evolved as the austere and contemplative “face” of the Western liturgical tradition. The sung liturgy exists to praise the triune God and his sacramental presence with joyful external expression. The said liturgy emphasizes a concentrated and sustained contemplation of this same mystery. Both expressions require a lifetime to adequately understand, albeit through quite different methods.

    In Low Mass, the gestures of the priest are unadorned and thus amplified. I need not hear the priest say Dominus vobiscum; I see the priest’s turn and unfolding hands. I need not hear the Canon to follow its progress; I merely watch the priest’s right arm move in the circular motion of blessing. The performative and spoken aspects of the Mass collapse into one another. There is no need to separate the two aspects but merely observe their complementary interaction.

    At Low Mass, there is no need to speak and be heard as if we do not exist except only because we can speak and hear. Rather, Low Mass offers an opportunity to transcend spoken dialogue. When speech subsides, human weakness often appears with an unavoidable presence. An awareness of sin is frightening, but sometimes easier to encounter in a stark relief.

    One of the most well known examples from the life of the Curé de Ars comes to mind. The saint once asked for the thoughts of a man in contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament. “I look at Him, and He looks at me.”

  17. ” … but Sung and Solemn Masses celebrated with Gregorian chant or modern sacred music.”

    Not in my experience.

    “The organ is also suitable for accompanying children in song.”

    Sure it is. But pipe organs are not portable.

    “Who’s banging on about “silent” low Masses? That’s caricature.”

    No it’s not. If I had said all pre-conciliar Low Masses were silent, then that would be caricature. But I’m speaking of the active participation of the people, and the inclusion of music so as to sing the Mass. I’m suggesting that so-called folk Masses replaced liturgical options bereft of good music and ritual. And that’s not including thousands of new parishes that never had any chant tradition at all.

    The time for Paul Ford’s BFW was at least a hundred years ago. Or 400. But the institution, to their impoverishment–and ours–wasn’t ready for it.

  18. “Silent” or softly spoken Low Mass is not, in my opinion, a historical aberration or sanctioned abuse.

    It is an abuse. And I say that as a supporter of the availability of the old rite Low Mass and for a continued place for it. Large portions of the Low Mass are to be said in a clear or intelligible voice, from The Celebration of Mass by J.B. O’Connell (1964):

    Those parts of the Mass which are to be recited aloud are said in a voice which the rubrics describe as clara, or intellegibilis, a tone that will enable the celebrant to be clearly heard by those attending Mass, apart from any extrinsic impediment such as noise or the great size of the church. Naturally, this clear voice will vary in intensity according to circumstances; it will be louder if the priest is celebrating Mass in a large church and for a large congregation, softer in a small chapel with but few present, who are close to the celebrant. … But the voice should always be sufficiently loud and clear to enable, under ordinary conditions, those who are present to hear without difficulty what is being said.

    These parts include the greetings, orations, blessing, readings, Gloria, etc. etc.

    In Low Mass, the gestures of the priest are unadorned and thus amplified. I need not hear the priest say Dominus vobiscum;

    But you should, “under ordinary conditions.” If not, they’re doing it wrong.

  19. Having served more than my share of the old pre-/trans-V2 “Low Masses” I’d disagree with the rather consistent harangue that they were an abuse. The rapidity of the Mass was, from my perspective, a response to our social reality: the majority of attendees were on their way to work, had limited time and, like me, were still on hold for breakfast!

    The Masses at which I served were celebrated with no ornamentation, and swiftly-spoken Latin (and responses), but reverently so. And so far as I know, God attended every one of those Masses just as well as the later Folk Masses where I sang and played flute in the Youth Choir.

Comments are closed.