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