From the Pastor: The Rest of the Bishop’s Letter
Last week I typed out the first part of Bishop Parkes’ letter regarding the two-year dispensation granted to the three parishes in the diocese where the Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated. (Read it on our website if you missed it.) This week I will give you the rest of the letter, which part begins explaining what we are asked to do during those two years. Once again, I have made no edits or corrections to the text with the exception of leaving out our Bishop’s actual signature. It is unbecoming of a priest, after all, to engage in forging his Bishop’s signature!
Specifically, the Holy See presented the motu proprio’s provisions which those granted the dispensation should keep in mind, namely,
You should see the dispensation as a pastorally sensitive response to the spiritual needs of the faithful who are attached to the pre-conciliar liturgy. The favor also allows time for deeper reflection on how to proceed celebrating the antecedent liturgy in manner that is respectfully obedient to the Holy Father’s supreme authority in shepherding the liturgical life of the entire Church. As Diocesan Bishop and the one responsible for moderating the liturgical life of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, I look forward to cooperating with you and your parishioners in finding the way forward with prudence.
With every best wish and a promise of a remembrance in prayer, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Gregory Parkes
Bishop Of St. Petersburg
At this point, the letter being ended, I return to my own words. I asked you last week to do two things to show the Bishop that we appreciate the work he does as our Bishop and, specifically, what he has done for our parish. In case you missed it, let me repeat this request by copying (below his address) what I wrote.
Envelopes can be addressed to:
The Most Reverend Gregory Parkes
Bishop of St. Petersburg
PO Box 40200
St. Petersburg, FL 33743-0200.
The salutation on the letters may be either, “Your Excellency” or “Dear Bishop”.
Now I want to ask you for a favor. Bishop Parkes is not completely convinced that we fully support him. He would like to know that we not just grudgingly support him, but fully support him as he does us. I can think of a few things that might help convince him. Number one: Money talks. Loudly sometimes! The Bishop’s Catholic Ministry Appeal is a good place to start. If you have not yet donated to this year’s appeal (we only have 15% participation so far), please do so now. I had told him earlier that it was hard to convince people to give if they were unsure of the parish being kept open. Now we know we will be here for at least two more years. There is now no reason we cannot meet our goal in both years. Number two: Prayers. Now is a great time to send the Bishop a personal letter thanking him for his support and pledging your prayers for him. 900 personal notes (have each child send a separate card too!) sent individually will capture his attention far more than all of the spiritual bouquets we have sent him in the past, which arrive in one single package. Thank you for following through on this!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Good News from Bishop Parkes!
I had a meeting with Bishop Parkes this week. Since you read the title of this article, you already know that he had good news for us. There is a push from Rome to end the Traditional Latin Mass throughout the world and the Bishops have been instructed to see to it that that happens. They were given an opportunity to keep the TLMs going, however, for the spiritual good of their flock, if they could present a good case for doing so. Bishop Parkes made such a request and received a response. Below is the first part of a letter dated August 9, 2023 that he wrote to me regarding the response he received. I have made no edits or corrections to the text.
Dear Father Palka,
Permit me to extend my cordial greeting to you and the faithful of Epiphany of our Lord Parish. With this letter, I can convey the response of the Holy See to my request of March 15, 2023, for a dispensation from certain prescripts of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes.
You will remember I informed you of my petition to the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments asking the three parishes in our Diocese who celebrate the Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 to be allowed to continue doing so. In my request, I presented the spiritual and pastoral reasons the dispensation would foster the harmony and communion of the Diocese and the communities celebrating the antecedent liturgy.
On July 20, 2023, the Dicastery issued its response and granted the requested dispensations for two years. The decree also allowed the Diocese to revisit the pastoral conditions which motivated the March 2023 request after the two years period expires. The Holy See will permit a request to extend the dispensation if the pastoral and spiritual reasons remain and suggest the dispensation’s renewal.
The Dicastery’s response was a gracious and generous. In fact, it is more generous than I expected, given that, as far as I am aware, other dioceses have not received dispensations for more than a year. It is obvious that they were sensitive to the pastoral and spiritual reasons articulated in my request. It is hoped that the faithful of Epiphany Parish will understand the pastoral concern for them that led me to request the dispensation and the generosity of the Holy See’s response. Please encourage parishioners to be grateful that the Dicastery granted this favor on Pope Francis’s behalf.
The Dicastery did propose some issues of pastoral leadership that should guide you and your community in planning for the future. These issues also advise you regarding the likely criteria the Holy See will use in evaluating whether to renew the dispensation after two years. I expect, as Pastor, you will pay close attention to these issues as you inform parishioners of the decision and proceed over the next two years.
It is here that I break from his letter. I should be able to publish the rest of the letter next week. Not all Bishops have been as supportive of their own people as Bishop Parkes has been and continues to be. He has a true shepherd’s heart and wants to allow us to continue using the 1962 Missal and liturgical rites as we have been doing ever since his predecessor established this parish as “Tampa’s Center for the Traditional Latin Mass” in 2015.
This is, as you see, better news than he expected. Without a long-term assurance, though, I still cannot justify doing all of the work and fundraising for a much-needed new church building and classrooms. But I am much happier with a two-year agreement than a negative decree closing us down! Now I want to ask you for a favor. Bishop Parkes is not completely convinced that we fully support him. He would like to know that we not just grudgingly support him, but fully support him as he does us. I can think of a few things that might help convince him. Number one: Money talks. Loudly sometimes! The Bishop’s Catholic Ministry Appeal is a good place to start. If you have not yet donated to this year’s appeal (we only have 15% participation so far), please do so now. I had told him earlier that it was hard to convince people to give if they were unsure of the parish being kept open. Now we know we will be here for at least two more years. There is now no reason we cannot meet our goal in both years. Number two: Prayers. Now is a great time to send the Bishop a personal letter thanking him for his support and pledging your prayers for him. 900 personal notes (have each child send a separate card too!) sent individually will capture his attention far more than all of the spiritual bouquets we have sent him in the past, which arrive in one single package. Thank you for following through on this!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Creation With Evolution?
I recently came across this article about two Catholic arguments regarding how man and other living creatures on Earth were created. I believe it is worth passing on to you. Read this shortened version of it closely if you dare. Credit to William Briggs, https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/47573/
There are two basic positions, which are held by many, but which here I name by their well known champions.
Fr. Chad Ripperger:
…every essence is immediately created by God and could not be caused by any created substance [like a species]. The essential reason for this is that to create a substance requires the ability to bridge the gap between nothing and something. The gap between nothing and something that is being actualized requires an infinite power since the ontological distance between nothing and something is infinite….
Some theistic evolutionists hold that evolution is just a natural process used by God to bring about the various forms of life up to and including the bodies of the first human beings. Other theistic evolutionists hold that evolution is a case of constant miracles being used to bring about the various forms of life culminating in man.
As to those who hold it is a natural process, they introduce God into the issue to provide what might be lacking in the order of nature, such as the order that one finds in the universe, which may not be accounted for by purely natural causes and this introduces the above philosophical difficulty where only God can create a substance as well as a whole host of other difficulties…
If God is used to supply on the side [via evolution] of the principle of sufficient reason, it ends up violating the principle of economy because God must intervene to supply the sufficient reason at each step. This indicates that it is not strictly a natural process but requires the introduction of God into each step to be able to achieve the next higher species in the evolutionary process. This violates the principle of economy because what is ultimately being stated is that nature does not suffice in order to produce each individual species on its own. This is a true enough principle but theistic evolution requires God to be involved in each individual step since the laws of nature do not suffice.
At each step, therefore, God must suspend the laws of nature and add what is lacking in the order of nature. The definition of a miracle is: “something occurring aside the whole created nature”. Theistic evolution, whether it states that it is a natural process, which is really just a covert way of introducing constant miracles, or asserts outright that miracles are constantly necessary for the process, violates the principle of economy.
It violates the principle of economy because it posits a number of causes, in this case God intervening as a cause on repeated occasions, without a sufficient reason. In this sense, God creating directly all of the individual species including man in a short period of time without a large number of secondary causes more perfectly fulfills the principle of economy than any theory of evolution, theistic evolution included.
Mike Flynn & Kenneth Kemp
The Flynn-Kemp proposal is this. Suppose evolutionary processes gave rise to a population of several thousand creatures of this non-rational but genetically and physiologically “human” sort. Suppose further that God infused rational souls into two of these creatures, thereby giving them our distinctive intellectual and volitional powers and making them truly human. Call this pair “Adam” and “Eve.” Adam and Eve have descendents, and God infuses into each of them rational souls of their own, so that they too are human in the strict metaphysical sense. Suppose that some of these descendents interbreed with creatures of the non-rational but genetically and physiologically “human” sort. The offspring that result would also have rational souls since they have Adam and Eve as ancestors (even if they also have non-rational creatures as ancestors). This interbreeding carries on for some time, but eventually the population of non-rational but genetically and physiologically “human” creatures dies out [or is snuffed out], leaving only those creatures who are human in the strict metaphysical sense.
On this scenario, the modern human population has the genes it does because it is descended from this group of several thousand individuals, initially only two of whom had rational or human souls. But only those later individuals who had this pair among their ancestors (even if they also had as ancestors members of the original group which did not have human souls) have descendents living today. In that sense, every modern human is both descended from an original population of several thousand and from an original pair. There is no contradiction, because the claim that modern humans are descended from an original pair does not entail that they received all their genes from that pair alone.
So, which of these, if either, makes sense to you? Can their differences be reconciled? Briggs thinks so. Check out his article if you wish to go a little deeper.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka