[From the NEWS section of the Holy Trinity Parish web site]


Archbishop Prepared to Make Staffing Changes

Changes have been made in the liturgies at Holy Trinity -- and more changes may be on the way. This is the result of a series of meetings between the Pastor and Archdiocesan officials that stem, at least in part, from incidents in January of this year. During the Octave of Christian Unity, two Protestant pastors -- the Rev. LeeAnn Schray of Georgetown Lutheran Church and the Rev. Margaret Graham of St. John's Episcopal Church&endash;were invited to preach at Sunday liturgies at Holy Trinity.

They also received and distributed communion at those liturgies. These acts were in direct opposition to Church rules. Fr. Lawrence Madden, SJ, informed Archdiocesan officials of these events and apologized to the Cardinal. Afterward, he was asked to appear at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center on three occasions, twice his conversations with Auxiliary Bishop William Lori, the Archdiocesan Vicar General, and the Chancellor of the Archdiocese Msgr. Bernard Gerhardt were tape recorded and later transcribed. Also present at those meetings was Jesuit Fr. Clement Petrik, representing the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus. Transcripts of their meetings, which Bishop Lori describes as "structured conversations," were not made available to Holy Trinity News.

On the agenda at the meetings were topics ranging from the parish's practice of allowing lay men and women to preside and preach at non-Eucharistic liturgies such as Evening Prayer; the use of inclusive language in the liturgies, both in the Lectionary and in the presider's prayers during the Mass; the issue of inter-communion with non-Catholics; and staffing at the parish.

In June, Fr. Madden received a nine-page letter from Cardinal Hickey outlining changes His Eminence has directed be made at Holy Trinity. Fr. Madden declined to make that letter available to Holy Trinity News, but in reporting on it at the Parish Council Meeting of June 10 said it begins with praise for Holy Trinity as "a vital and vibrant parish community" and recognition of its "many strengths in the areas of liturgy, music, preaching, social concerns and education of adults and young people." But then the letter, parts of which were read at the Parish-Wide Discernment Meeting on June 14, goes on to say that Holy Trinity is not "an experimental parish." The Cardinal writes that he does not "sanction an 'elastic' approach to Church discipline, namely, small incremental violations of Church discipline that aim at a gradual shift in Church praxis."

In the letter, the Cardinal accepts the public apology issued by Frs. Madden, McCarren and Peduti (the apology appeared in the Holy Trinity Parish Bulletin) for allowing the non-Catholic clerics to receive and distribute communion in January. "We have to be very careful," Fr. Madden told the Council, "about inviting non-Catholics to preach." In a later interview, Fr. Madden said that "there are only certain situations where we may do so."

Fr. Madden also told the Council that, "we must observe the current Lectionary." When asked if this meant the use of inclusive language at parish liturgies was forbidden, he said that it was It had been the practice at Holy Trinity for the parish staff to mail to lectors their readings in advance. These translations were prepared by Margaret Costello, Director of Liturgy at Holy Trinity and were based, in part, on the Canadian Lectionary which uses inclusive language. This practice has stopped. Ms. Costello says some lectors have decided to resign their ministry rather than return to reading from the Lectionary currently approved for use in the United States. "I'm very disturbed," says Margie Legowski, who reads at the Liturgy on Sunday evening. "My first reaction was 'I can't read anymore.' Words are powerful and images are important."

Monica Corrado says she's happy there will be a return to non-inclusive language in the liturgies at Holy Trinity. "I actually prefer it." She goes on to say that some musical texts have been altered in a way that has made them unsingable. "I've had a hard time singing the changed "he" if artistically "he" fits. I think this will allow us to maintain the integrity of the piece." And as for texts from the Lectionary, Ms. Corrado says "When Jesus talked of God he talked of 'Father.'"

Fr. Madden told the Council at its meeting in June that members of the laity would no longer be permitted to preach at any liturgy at Holy Trinity, including Vespers. While this practice is not forbidden by universal Church law, it is being forbidden locally by the Cardinal. Fr. Madden told the Council, "it's our bishop's interpretation of Church legislation."

There are several canons in the Code of Canon Law that address preaching. Canon 766 states: Lay persons can be admitted to preach in a church or oratory if it is necessary in certain circumstances or if it is useful in particular cases according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops and with due regard for can. 767, §1.

Canon 767, §1 reads: Among the forms of preaching the homily is preëminent; it is a part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or to a deacon; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian living are to be expounded from the sacred text throughout the course of the liturgical year.

In an interview, Fr. Madden said that "lay preaching is broadly practiced in dioceses across the United States. We had been following the interpretation [of Canons 766-767] put forward by the Canon Law Society of America" that would permit lay preaching "when necessity requires it or when usefulness urges it, even in the context of the Eucharistic celebration.' Bishop Lori reminded us that there has been an authoritative interpretation of those canons which forbids such preaching."

Kim Lamberty is one of the members of the laity who has preached at Holy Trinity. She describes being saddened by these developments. "The opportunities to preach and preside are precious -- and I'm grateful to have had them. Believe it or not, some of us might have something to say. The fact that those opportunities have been taken away from us [is] very sad. I guess we're being told we don't have anything to say."

During the Saturday morning Parish-Wide Prayer and Discernment meeting [see story p. 2] in June, parishioner Paula McCabe offered this observation to the assembled group: "We have been comforted by the inclusive language and lay ministry in this parish. Maybe now we need to feel the pain the rest of the church is feeling."

Margaret Costello agreed: "I think the challenge now is to feel that pain. If you had shown me this letter a year ago I'd say my resignation would have been on Larry's desk in a minute. [Today] I'd feel like a scum to walk away and say 'Thanks -- it was fun while it lasted.'" Instead of walking away, Ms. Costello thinks she's up to the challenge being presented to the staff, clergy and laity of the parish, and she's happy there's a dialogue already begun. "I'm very grateful that the Saturday morning sessions are happening. This is a real time for creativity for us. If certain doors are being closed we have to ask where the Spirit is leading us." Cardinal Hickey wrote "It is good to know that a group of fifty or so parishioners are meeting to discuss some of the difficulties which have surfaced. I ask [Fr. Madden] to provide this group with sound pastoral leadership and lead them truly 'to think with the Church.'"

"I'm profoundly sorry," said a longtime parishioner who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal. "We don't need to rejoice that [the Archdiocesan officials] decided not to be vengeful and to punish the parish." This parishioner wondered what the response of other members of the laity would be to the changes in the parish. "There has to be a way to resist what we think is corrupt and against the Holy Spirit. Unless we resist somehow, we're not accepting our responsibility as Christians and as Catholics. Patriarchy is evil."

In his letter to Fr. Madden, Cardinal Hickey writes, "Dissent is neither an authentic theological source nor a font of spirituality. Parish leadership at all levels has a serious obligation to help form people in the authentic faith of the Church -- not in various theological theories or enthusiasms."

Were the former practices at Holy Trinity the result of acting on theological theories or enthusiasms? Bishop Lori, who conducted the meetings with Fr. Madden, did not return repeated telephone calls to his office asking for an interview. Fr. Madden thinks what was being done at Holy Trinity was important. "I think inclusive language -- especially on the horizontal level where the English language has changed -- is very important. To use 'men' when you mean 'men and women' [is] extremely awkward. And to use only a masculine appellation for God, to refer to God in terms of "His" when there might be better translations, is awkward." Using inclusive language in this 'vertical' dimension, according to Fr. Madden, "opens up the broader attributes of God."

He continued, "I think Lay Preaching was important because we have so many gifted lay people and it was a way for us to hear women preach. Women often have a unique perspective on the Christian life and it's important we hear it." Asked how that might continue in the parish, Fr. Madden says "Right now, I'm not sure. We have to be creative in finding other settings where this kind of witness from lay men and women can continue. And we have to hope that our people will come to it -- because we can't have it at the EucharistÉ or at other services that are viewed as the official liturgy of the Church."

During the last parish-wide discernment meeting, one parishioner put it bluntly: "We're being asked to marry obedience with creativity. We need to find a way to be creatively obedient."

It is clear from the Cardinal's letter that Fr. Madden's job and those of the lay and clerical staff of the parish are on the line. A parish visitation will be scheduled for Bishop Lori in the Fall. In the course of this visitation, he plans to inquire about Fr. Madden's effort to correct&endash;in the words of the Cardinal's letter -- "doctrinal, disciplinary and pastoral problems" in the parish. Following that visitation, Cardinal Hickey will determine the "future pastoral needs, both clerical and lay, of the parish." If the problems the Cardinal has cited are not corrected by the Fall, he writes that he is "prepared to bring about necessary changes."

This article appears without a byline, not to protect the identity of the writer, but to protest the manner in which certain facts were withheld from it prior to publication.