Prayers for Fr. Treco and St. Bede’s

I have hesitated to report on the case of Fr. Vaughn Treco, a priest ministering to the St. Bede the Venerable mission parish  of the Personal  Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

A man’s priesthood is at stake, as well as the viability of the community he has served.  There are issues of Catholic unity, of theology and canon law at play in a climate of confusion and anger in the wider Catholic Church.

Bishop Steven Lopes has temporarily suspended Fr. Treco for 60 days, and our  Ordinary-emeritus Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson has taken over as administrator of St. Bede’s.  He has already started celebrating the Sunday Mass there.

From all accounts I have heard, Fr. Treco is loved by members of his community and his fellow Ordinariate priests, and every effort is being made to help restore him, from the bishop on down.   That’s why I urge you to pray for him, his family and the community, as well as for our bishop and the Ordinariate that unity in the Catholic faith will prevail.   Here’s some background.

On  Christ the King Sunday, Fr. Vaughn Treco gave a homily that was published online by The Remnant Newspaper, a traditionalist site that promotes the idea that the Second Vatican Council represented a rupture in the Catholic Church.  More than 30,000 people have listened to this sermon on YouTube.  The transcript is here.

In it, Fr. Treco blames the Second Vatican Council for rupture in the Catholic Church, and accuses all the post-conciliar Popes of “in a way repeating Peter’s three-fold denial of Jesus Christ.”

He goes further, to  not only deny the magisterial teaching of the Second  Vatican Council, but also that of Popes after Pope Pius XII.   This is a public act of schism, with serious canonical penalties unless he recants.

Each of the current crises in the Catholic Church are the direct result of the refusal of the Conciliar Popes’ to submit to the Kingship of Jesus Christ!

  • The Church is where she is today because — in the Conciliar Popes — Peter chose to submit the Church’s teaching to the judgment of Modern Man, rather to the judgment of Christ the King!

 

This sermon and the fact that Bishop Steven  Lopes objected to its content and placed some restrictions on Fr. Treco have been the subject of online commentary on traditionalist blog sites and social media.

It is one thing to criticize how the Council was implemented; or to point out some ambiguities in texts, or to criticize some actions or words of various popes; it is quite another to dismiss the entire teaching of the Council in a “hermeneutic of reform in continuity” with the Tradition of the Church—which  Fr. Treco says in his sermon “can no longer be made in  integrity.”

As painful as this situation is for all concerned, it’s also a teaching moment and I hope we will see more thoughtful analysis that puts the Second Vatican Council in the proper perspective.   I have been contending for quite some time that because of the confusion in the Catholic Church now, where you have cardinal disputing cardinal, bishop disputing bishop, that people are looking for answers and the only people that seem to be providing solid food, as it were, are coming from traditionalist camps.   The “hermeneutic of continuity” apologists are largely absent from the conversation and consequently, in reaction to a modernist and progressivist interpretation that seems to have the ascendency, the faithful are being drawn to critiques that have their own dangers of leading people away from Catholic unity.

There’s another story behind the scenes at St. Bede’s.  It’s a small community, with maybe about 20 communicants on a given Sunday.  It was founded by former Episcopalians and Continuing Anglicans, who, from what some who have contacted me have told me, were grateful to be Catholic, appreciated being in Communion with the Pope and no longer being their own pope.  They were happy to leave the divisive battles over faith and morals they had experienced in the Anglican world behind them.   The community, however, began to attract traditionalists with no background of Anglican patrimony, who rejected the Second Vatican Council, and for the original members it seemed  divisiveness returned.  I have been told by a reliable source many of the original group have fled the parish because of the vocal presence of these dissidents.

If the Popes since Vatican II was called have no magisterial authority, than neither does Anglicanorum coetibus nor its section that says: §5 The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the Ordinariate.

If Fr. Treco is right, the Catechism of 1995 has no magisterial authority, neither does the Code of Canon Law revised after the Council.  As we start to unwind magisterial authority, where does it end? We become our own popes determining at which point in history we choose to believe any authority in the Church.

20 thoughts on “Prayers for Fr. Treco and St. Bede’s

  1. “The community, however, began to attract traditionalists with no background of Anglican patrimony, who rejected the Second Vatican Council, and for the original members it seemed divisiveness returned. I have been told by a reliable source many of the original group have fled the parish because of the vocal presence of these dissidents.”

    As I have commented here on previous occasions, this kind of dynamic is precisely why I think Msgr. Steenson was right on target with his prohibition of the TLM in Ordinariate communities, as is Bishop Lopes’ continued caution. Charged with growing such small congregations, it must be tempting to try to build a critical mass (no pun intended) by deliberately courting the traditionalist Catholic element, rather than taking the less expedient path of evangelizing our separated brethren and those who are far from God and the Church.

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    • “As I have commented here on previous occasions, this kind of dynamic is precisely why I think Msgr. Steenson was right on target with his prohibition of the TLM in Ordinariate communities, as is Bishop Lopes’ continued caution.”

      You may think it prudent, but as a matter of Church law, it’s not possible to reconcile with either the letter or the spirit of Summorum Pontificum: it applies to *all* Latin Rite priests. That the CDF has declined to force a change of policy on the part of the POCSP doesn’t change that fact.

      Secondly, the natural implication of your claim is that the traditional Roman Rite itself is somehow intrisinsically bound up with some kind of schismatic mentality or actions. There are thousands of Latin Rite priests in North America,most of them diocesan, celebrating the Old Mass on a regular basis giving the lie to that proposition.

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  2. I’d like to point out that the traditionalist -but not sedevacantist- analysis is one that easily explains the appearances. The hermaneutic of continuity requires much more work to present it credibly, because the appearances in the Church in the West are so scandalous in the broadest sense of that word. Those of us who have been Catholic longer have endured many shocks and disappointments, and just when we had hope, Benedict resigned. From our point of view some Anglicans just coming into the Church see it with rosy colored glasses. They are so glad to be in communion with the Pope that they will not look too hard at the problems with the behavior and teachings of the current pope. For those who look hard at the Church in the US and Europe, at the kind of bishops the pope is appointing, it takes great faith in the Church not to see some kind of rupture, some kind of defection to modernity. It takes great faith in the Church through the sweep of history, all the heresies embraced by many bishops, all the greed, corruption, lust for power, even murder done by popes and bishops, yet still producing saints and saving souls, to believe the crises of the present day will not swamp her either. For me it is easy to see where Fr. Treco is coming from. I hope he and Msgr. Steenson can spend many hours talking through this and praying together, until Fr. Treco finds a place of faith and hope despite realism about the predicament of the Church in these days.

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    • Thank you for this measured response. Fr. Treco is to be commended for enumerating the the precipitous decline in the Church during the last 50 years, but it very difficult to lay absolute blame on the Second Vatican Council and the conciliar and post- conciliar popes. It is not possible to see the results of this period had their been no Council. The closest one can come is to look at the state of the Orthodox Churches, which had no such Council and its aftermath. Are the Orthodox Churches better off for not going through such a Council? This a question. Perhaps someone can shed light on a comparison.
      There is no question that a lot has gone off track during these last 50years and one cannot see a concerted effort across the whole Church to put her on track again.
      I pray that Fr. Teco and Bishop Lopes can work on this difficulty to the satisfaction of all.

      Liked by 3 people

      • <<>>

        It is a good question. The Eastern churches (and here I mean the Chalcedonian-Orthodox of the Greco-Russian horizon, the Coptic/Syriac/Ethiopian/Indian Orientals, and the Armenian Churches of the East) have preserved their liturgies. Pure and simple. However, that does not mean these churches have not been affected in other ways. I personally interact with some Syriac, Coptic, and Eastern Orthodox friends, and they will all admit that with the 20th century, massive changes toward more liberal policies have been effected. This is one of the reasons why, even though it is not as widely reported, the Eastern Orthodox underwent many separatist movements such as the Holy Synod of Resistance (old vs new calendarists). There is a pretty violent schism going on between the Indian Oriental Orthodox (between those loyal to the Patriarch of Alexandria and those who are considered Autokephalous). One of the problems that occurred in the 1920s and 1930s was the problem of Ecumenism. As many already know, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagorus, and Pope St. Paul VI, both lifted the excommunications which took place in 1054. Yes, I realize this was not a full healing to the schism, but it sure was a peeling back of the first layer of the onion. Well, many conservatives in the East separated from Athenagorus and his successors, and today are even separated from all the 14 autokephalous bodies. They sometimes refer to themselves as the “true Orthodox” church, as opposed to “World Orthodoxy”. This would be analogous to Sedevacantism in Catholicism.

        If you want more historical background from these “true Orthodox” authors, I recommend the two books below:

        Against false Union by Alexander Kalimiros

        and

        Struggle against Ecumenism by Holy Transfiguration monastery

        Also, for the the Eastern Orthodox condemnation of the Death penalty as contrary to the gospel, see the following resources for Ecclesial statements:

        https://incommunion.org/capital-punishment/

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  3. I really cannot understand why any priest would see this kind of material as suitable for a Homily. That he would then seek to make this non-Homily public in the way that he did shows very poor judgement. In any case, Father Treco’s analysis is inconsistent with his standing as a Catholic priest. What else could Bishop Lopes do but suspend this man and try to get him to understand why he is wrong.

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  4. While one may certainly disagree with father’s homily, there is nothing schismatic in it. He did not “deny the magisterium ” of the conciliar popes, he criticized their non binding statements and personal actions which he sees as in conflict with Catholic tradition and/or the Gospel. Many other faithful Catholics have done the same. God bless. Welcome home

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  5. From the commentary: “In it, Fr. Treco blames the Second Vatican Council for rupture in the Catholic Church, and accuses all the post-conciliar Popes of “in a way repeating Peter’s three-fold denial of Jesus Christ.”

    He goes further, to not only deny the magisterial teaching of the Second Vatican Council, but also that of Popes after Pope Pius XII. This is a public act of schism, with serious canonical penalties unless he recants.

    Each of the current crises in the Catholic Church are the direct result of the refusal of the Conciliar Popes’ to submit to the Kingship of Jesus Christ!

    The Church is where she is today because — in the Conciliar Popes — Peter chose to submit the Church’s teaching to the judgment of Modern Man, rather to the judgment of Christ the King!”

    Nothing can be clearer in this repudiation of magisterial teaching. The Bishop is clearly correct and I hope that Fr Treco will allow himself to come into dialogue with whatever theologian the Bishop sees fit to appoint. I am sure Father is a good priest, and there is much in the Church to cause serious concern. But a homily is the place for proclaiming personal speculative opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Deborah,

    At any rate, it has to be said that you have at least made the effort to try explain just what aspects of Fr Treco’s homily are “contrary to the teaching of the Church,” and how. Which is more than Bishop Lopes has done over the past month.

    I think there’s at least a moral obligation, if not a canonical one, connected with his teaching office as bishop, to actually do that for the faithful of St Bede the Venerable and the Ordinariate at large. You could even call it a teaching moment.

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  7. Pingback: Prayers for Fr. Treco and St. Bede’s – Lily'sfyi

  8. Most priests and bishops believe that there is a rupture of VII with the past and have so taught for 50 years. John Paul II and Benedict labored mightily to establish a hermeneutic of continuity, a hermeneutic which has not been followed in the Vatican of today. And one lowly priest is censured, suspended, and perhaps excommunicated for saying that there is a rupture of style and emphasis between VII and the past? ??? Why doesn’t someone censure the tens of thousands of priests who reject the past completely? One other thing: there can be no question of a rejection of the magisterium of Vatican II. Paul VI explicitly stated in his note to the documents that there was nothing magisterially authoritative in them, other than whatever was restated of the Church’s traditional teaching. So the good priest is being accused of an impossibility. There is no “doctrine of Vatican II.” I lived and studied and know and love Vatican II, but it is what it is. And it has great ambiguities and lacks and emphases that were topical and pastoral for the time, at best. I fear the good priest is being pilloried for rhetoric which falls well short of schism or heresy.

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    • Mary Ann,

      You wrote: Most priests and bishops believe that there is a rupture of VII with the past and have so taught for 50 years.

      Most???

      I don’t know any Catholic priests and bishops who believe that — and I know quite a few. You seem to be parroting the line of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), which remains in a state of schism because it advocates doctrinal positions that are heretical.

      You wrote: Paul VI explicitly stated in his note to the documents that there was nothing magisterially authoritative in them…

      That statement is not an accurate characterization of the note to which you refer.

      Catholic doctrine holds that dogmatic constitutions promulgated by an ecumenical council are intrinsically infallible in their entirety by their very nature. The dogmatic constitutions Dei verbum on divine revelation and Lumen gentium on the church are within this umbrella.

      Now, the question is whether either of these documents articulated any new doctrine. In reply to that question, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, denying a rupture, replied, “No, but what was implicit is now explicit.” This is fully consistent with the statement in the papal note to which you allude.

      A, yeah, white man speak with forked tongue….

      But where the lack of explicit statement left an opportunity for misunderstanding before the promulgation of these documents, the promulgation of these documents clearly removed that opportunity. Now, members of the Catholic Church cannot hold any doctrinal position that is contrary to what’s stated in either of these documents — which is where Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre went wrong.

      Norm.

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      • I wasn’t clear. See my later post. As to dogmatic constitutions, they summed up what was always the case. Nothing new.

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      • I wasn’t clear. See my later post. As to dogmatic constitutions, they summed up what was always the case, with new emphases.

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  9. To put it succinctly: He is accused of saying there is a rupture of VII with the past, which is what almost every single bishop and priest I know says also, only they like the rupture. He doesn’t. Benedict and John Paul said we had to find a way to see the continuity of VII with the past. If we have to work at the hermeneutic of continuity, if it is so hard, and if it is denied by the present pope’s advisors, then we have a problem. And that’s what Father was talking about.

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