Taylor Marshall weighs in on FMC

Dr. Taylor Marshall has broken his silence to share his reasons for leaving Fisher More College and to weigh-in on Bishop Olson’s recent decision to forbid celebration of the traditional Mass in the college’s chapel.

In a FaceBook post today, Dr. Marshall offers the following allegations as indicative of the “serious pastoral problems” at FMC:

1. Mr. King, president of FMC, refused to disassociate himself from a faculty member who made public statements suggesting that Vatican II is invalid.

2. Financial mismanagement on the part of Mr. King.

3. FMC hosted a “public repudiation of Vatican II and the Ordinary Form.”

4. Mr. King would not allow the so-called “Ordinary Form” to be celebrated at the college.

5. Mr. King “contracted an irregular / suspended” priest.

Let’s review each one with some common sense observations and questions, of which there are many.

1. Does Dr. Marshall mean to say “disassociate the college and its curriculum?” If not, this sounds like a private matter. If so, it would make sense that the bishop would feel compelled to act. Even the SSPX recognizes Vatican II as valid in that it met the canonical requirements of an ecumenical council, even as its text suffers from any number of serious flaws.

Assuming that he did mean “the college” and not just Mr. King personally, one cannot help but consider the various “Catholic” colleges throughout the nation that routinely teach flat out heresy and yet suffer no censure whatsoever. I digress.

2. Internal financial considerations are institutional matters for trustees and board members to address.

3. What is meant by “repudiation” of the Council and the Novus Ordo? If it means questioning validity, that invites the bishop’s attention. If it means pointing out very real and serious flaws in each, that’s another story.

4. Apart from someone demanding a celebration of the Novus Ordo in the college chapel, this lack of permission would not be known. Given the nature of the college, this causes one to wonder who has been requesting it and why.  Was someone doing so to intentionally agitate matters? Too many questions remain.

5.  How does Dr. Marshall know that the “contracted priest” in question is suspended? Was he contracted to teach and lecture, or to celebrate the sacraments? Again, more questions remain than answers.

Getting to the crux of the matter, Dr. Marshall makes a mistake when he concludes:

Regarding Summorum Pontificum in this situation. It doesn’t apply here since the college chapel does not have a priest requesting to say the Latin Mass and the chapel therefore falls under the direct pastoral control of the bishop.

There is no need whatsoever for a priest to “request the Latin Mass.” It is enough simply for a priest to wish to offer it. Period. That’s the entire point of Summorum Pontificum.

As for the chapel falling under the bishop’s pastoral control, fine, but based upon Summorum Pontificum, or more properly speaking, the Instruction Universae Ecclesia, that control only allows for him to restrict the traditional Mass under the following condition:

The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church. (Article 19)

It would seem to me that the worst case scenario at Fisher More, based on all that has been shared, is that Bishop Olson has reason to suspect that Mr. King and at least one of his faculty members is “against the validity of the forma ordinaria and/or the Roman Pontiff.”

A reasonable reading of Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesia would seem to indicate that this alone is not enough to deprive the entire college community of the traditional Mass; rather, it would seem fairly obvious that the intent of UE 19 concerns groups that are organized in opposition to papal authority and the validity of the forma ordinaria. Otherwise, we must believe that one rotten apple is enough to put an end to the traditional Mass in any given community. Clearly, that’s not what the instruction is encouraging.

That being the case, a more prudent action on Bishop Olson’s part would have been to request in writing a statement from the college as to its official position as an institution, while addressing any remaining problems with specific individuals directly. Taking the traditional Mass away is a severe action, not an initial step.

As it stands, Bishop Olson is depriving the entire college community of a celebration of the Roman Rite that is rightfully theirs as faithful Catholics. It is difficult to reconcile this action with the appropriate esteem for the traditional liturgy that we rightly expect of our bishops, as opposed to merely tolerating it on a limited basis.

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