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.