Let us, as a starting point, assume the best of intentions of all those involved in the developments at Blackfen.
So let us assume that Fr Finigan was rewarded for his successes there by being promoted to a more responsible and possibly more challenging role in Margate,
Let us assume that the bishops, Archbishop Smith, who is familiar with the history there, and Bishop Lynch, who has the immediate local responsibility, sought out and appointed a replacement for Fr Finigan who would build on his work there, and ensure the continued mutual enrichment between the OF and the EF, as promoted by our Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVl.
Let us assume that Fr Fisher arrived with the intention of carrying out the bishops' plan to the best of his abilities
Given those assumptions, something has gone seriously wrong.
Of course we all make mistakes, and it may be (though no reports have reached me to this effect) that some people were so upset by the initial changes Fr Fisher made, that they reacted badly, prompting his reaction, the results of which I have already blogged about.
Be that as it may, it would seem that the bishops' hopes, based on the assumptions above, are not being realised; so perhaps now would be the time for Fr Fisher to confer with them about the best way forward.
Of course, I realise that not all will share my assumptions above; my point is that, even given the most positive assumptions I can make, something has still gone seriously wrong.
It may be, of course, that the bishops' analysis of the situation was different, and, for whatever noble reason, they had asked Fr Fisher to go in and put the parish on a different footing. If that were the case, it was clearly a more difficult brief, requiring high levels of tact and pastoral concern, in order to bring about desired change with the greatest chance of success. But surely in that case, Fr Fisher would have proceeded with a little more circumspection and slightly less haste, and above all would have sought to build some kind of relationship with those affected, so as to be able to explain what was being done and why.
If that were the plan, it has equally not worked: for I cannot believe the bishops wanted grown men reduced to tears, families and in particular children and young people, alienated, and large numbers of people shocked and scandalised by the reports emerging from the parish. So perhaps now would be the time for Fr Fisher to confer with them about the best way forward.
In fact, whatever may have been the intentions of the bishops and the new parish priest, it seems that things have reached a point where the bishops, as the shepherds of their flock, need to use their good offices to help get things back on track.
In terms of latest news, I have heard that yesterday's EF Mass was replaced by an OF Mass, as there was nobody available to serve the EF, but there were people prepared to serve the OF.
I have not yet heard what has happened this morning.
Fourth Sunday of Lent – 26 March 2017 (N.O. and E.F.) - We are grateful to Abbot Richard Purcell OCSO and Father Malachy Thompson OCSO for allowing us to publish this Gospel Reflection for Laetare Sunday. http:/...
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