Must a Priest Always Obey His Bishop?

Must a Priest Always Obey His Bishop?

Never has there been so much talk of the importance of obedience to the Bishop in the Church, coinciding with the widespread disobedience of the Bishops to papal instructions, especially on the Mass, and to key papal documents on the Mass such as Quo Primum.

In the video interview, Fr Gruner spells out the limits of a priest’s obligation to his bishop if he is denied the right to offer the traditional Mass.

Personally, I cannot imagine that there are many, if any, priests who do not know (and even agree with) Fr Gruner’s comments in the above short video clip. So, where are all the “disobedient” clergy in Scotland? England? Wales?

Comments (23)

  • Jacinta

    I think priests are like other people in their workplace- they don’t want to get on the wrong side of the boss!

    Now that we have Pope Francis and he’s obviously not fond of the traditional Mass, I can’t see many Scots priests bothering to learn it and make themselves unpopular with the bishop. I think I’m right in saying that the only reason the priest in Sacred Heart says the Una Voce Mass is because Archbishop Tartaglia asked him to take over when Fr Dunn went on sabbatical and that would be to prevent people going to the SSPX Masses.

    January 2, 2014 at 1:59 pm
    • Petrus


      You are probably right about Monsignor Paul Conroy, the PP at Sacred Heart. I’ve heard it said that he’s insistent that both masses are equal.

      In the case of a bishop forbiding a priest from saying the Mass, a truly Catholic priest would ignore this unjust order.

      January 2, 2014 at 3:35 pm
      • Petrus

        Of course a priest doesn’t need his biahop’s permission so technically the bishop cannot withold permission.

        January 2, 2014 at 3:40 pm
    • Vianney

      I thought that the Sunday mass at the Sacred Heart was celebrated by Canon Boyle and that Fr Dunn celebrated a weekday Mass. From what I have heard the congregation at the Bridgeton Mass is very small. I was also told that Fr Dunn now has a new parish, does anyone know if this is true?

      January 2, 2014 at 11:02 pm
      • Petrus


        No. The new parish priest of Sacred Heart, Monsignor Conroy, now celebrates the Sunday Mass. As far as I know, there are no weekday Masses.

        January 3, 2014 at 7:01 am
      • gabriel syme


        Petrus is right that it is Monsignor Conroy who does the Sacred Heart Sunday mass. Prior to him, it was Fr Dunn, who I understand is still on sabbatical.

        I met Fr Dunn at the Catholic Truth Conference last summer, but have never been to Sacred Heart or heard of the Canon Boyle you mention.

        I don’t think there are weekday latin masses at Sacred Heart (but am open to correction!),

        Other than the SSPX, the only regular midweek latin masses I know of in Glasgow are at Immaculate Heart of Mary (Fr Morris).

        January 5, 2014 at 12:35 pm
      • editor


        Fr Dunn is still enjoying his Sabbatical. And while Mons. Conroy agreed to take on the Sunday TLM, he refused to continue the weekday Mass offered by Fr Dunn.

        January 5, 2014 at 4:57 pm
  • catholicconvert1

    Of course no Priest should obey his Bishop in this day and age. Should a Priest in Germany obey his Bishops when they want to permit divorced, remarried and adulterous Catholics receive Communion, when this is a cause of scandal among the faithful, and when it treats Sacred Scripture, tradition and the Sacred Magisterium which such cavalier and blatant disregard? I know this thread is generally pertaining to the Mass, but it all links in.

    As for obeying a Bishop when the Bishop refuses to permit the celebration of the TLM, all logic should dictate to the Priest’s conscience that he must be prepared to stand up to his superiors, as Archbishop Lefebvre did in 1970, and challenge the Bishop’s ‘authority’. If a Priest is denied the inalienable right to say the TLM, then the Priest does not have a leg to stand on. The Priest should shove the documents: Quo Primum, Sacrosanctum Concilium (issued by the Council so very beloved by the Modernists), the Indult of 1989 and the Motu Proprio issued by the most beloved Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum in 2007 under their noses.

    If the Bishops continue with their unreasonable and unfounded intransigence and their, God forgive me for saying this, ignorance, then the Priest must be prepared, like Fr Leonard Feeney and Archbishop Lefebvre, to have their faculties removed, or at worst be excommunicated (as far as the term goes, because some excommunications are invalid- like those in 1988). A Priest must be prepared to say Mass according to the traditional rite in their loyal parishioner’s garages or basements if need be.

    In short, no. A Priest must never obey his Bishop if the Bishop is causing public scandal or disobeying the teachings and traditions of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, as God is their judge.

    January 2, 2014 at 3:44 pm
  • bededog

    If Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio says it is not necessary to seek permission to celebrate the Tridentine Mass then a priest does not need to have his Bishop’s permission to say it. How can what Pope Francis is saying about the Tridentine Mass negate Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio? Is the Motu Proprio still standing?

    January 2, 2014 at 5:39 pm
    • editor


      “Is Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio still standing”?

      Well, if Motu Proprios have a human bone in their body, Summorum Pontificum will be flat on its back trying to recover from the “Francis Phenomenon”.

      Seriously, since there have been several statements of (mock) assurance from Vatican sources that Pope Francis has no intention of undermining SP, Franciscan scandal notwithstanding, we can take it for granted that SP is still in force.

      January 2, 2014 at 6:35 pm
  • fintan1944

    If a priest considers an instruction from his bishop to be wrong, there are procedures set down to achieve a canonical settlement. ‘Civil Disobedience’ is no way foreword. Getting ones self excommunicated does no good at all. As far as I am aware, all excommunications in 1988 were valid. Now that SSPX have declined reconciliation as offered by our Pope Emeritus, perhaps those excommunications should be reactivated.

    January 2, 2014 at 5:48 pm
    • Petrus

      They weren’t valid. Pope Benedict indicated that when he lifted them without condition. It was unconditional. That only happens when the original excommunications were invalid.

      Now, let’s be sensible. What would they have been excommunicated for? Ordaining a bishop without a papal mandate? Well, when the Faith is in crisis a bishop can ordain another bishop for the good of the Church. If Archbishop Lefebvre hadn’t ordained the four bishops and fought on the Traditional Mass would have died out. There would have been no continuing SSPX, no FSSP and no Summorum Pontificum.

      Perhaps they bishops could have been excommunicated for schism? Not so. The Vatican has said repeatedly that there was no formal schism.

      Anyway, what a laugh when liberals get all canonical about Traditionalists when it comes to excommunications, but Canon Law is conveniently set aside when dealing with outright heretics like Monsignor Basil Loftus and Fr Timothy Radcliffe. Five hundred years ago both would have been burned at the stake! They also conveniently set aside Canon Law when it comes to Canon 915 – forbidding public sinners fom receiving Holy Communion. “How judgemental ” they cry, but they themselves have no trouble passing judgement on Traditionalists. That’s what I call hypocrisy!

      January 2, 2014 at 6:12 pm
      • editor


        Well said. Remind me to give you a pay rise…Next year 🙂

        January 2, 2014 at 10:49 pm
    • editor

      Fintan 1944,

      Oh please. You obviously haven’t met any priests with a legitimate grievance. Let them try to use the “procedures set down to achieve a canonical settlement” and they find themselves labelled “troublemakers” and looking at a spell on the clerical equivalent of a “funny farm.”

      January 2, 2014 at 6:31 pm
    • Crouchback

      Re activated ….??

      Excommunication is a sanction of the Churches Law, it is not a light bulb that can be switched on and off whenever it suits.

      If it’s excommunication you’re after let’s start with Archbishop Cushley, Archbishop Lefebvre ordained four bishops and they have opened seminaries all over the planet, with a new build seminary in America under construction right now, or it might already be opened.

      How many seminaries have the Scottish hierarchy destroyed since Vatican II..??

      Excommunication might be the making of Archbishop Cushley, something’s got to give him some back bone……because the church in Scotland is in a proper tail spin… seminaries, aged corps of priests…..soon to be CORPSES…of priests with hardly any younger men in training…..and
      Pope Francis the Disastrous talking nonsense, at great length

      Not looking good…is it…??

      January 5, 2014 at 11:28 pm
  • fintan1944

    Seeing as I was ordained in 1968 I can assure you I have encountered quite a few!

    January 2, 2014 at 9:52 pm
    • editor


      Very interesting. I am amazed, then, that you would harbour any shred of belief in modernist bishops behaving justly towards any priest who shows a glimmer of attachment to traditional Catholicism. They’re terrific with any priest causing scandal – we have a case here in Glasgow where a priest hit the headlines in the most scandalous circumstances and is now doing the rounds as a hero-figure, addressing audiences here, there and everywhere, while at the slightest excuse a “traditional” leaning priest is treated rather shabbily, she said in what undoubtedly ranks as the biggest euphemism of the year (so far, at least!)

      As for “re-activating” the (unjust and illicit) excommunications of the SSPX bishops – shame on you.

      Ordained in 1968 would be some sort of excuse, of course, since the rot was setting in nicely then, but if you’ve been following this blog alone, never mind reading up on the nature of schism, then you’ve really got no excuse whatsoever for arguing that the SSPX is remotely in schism.

      The Scottish bishops, on the other hand – they are definitely in de facto schism. Without a doubt.

      Yet, what’s the bet you won’t want them to be excommunicated? Especially if you’re one yourself 🙂

      January 2, 2014 at 10:46 pm
    • Crouchback

      Hi Fintan…1944…year you were born I take it, that makes you in your 70th year..??

      What is the average age of priests in your diocese, and how many seminarians are there in training for the number of parishes

      Only asking.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:34 pm
      • editor


        Better not to ask. I think it’s important to respect the privacy of priests who blog here. If they wish to divulge information about their diocese etc. that’s fine but I don’t think we should ask.

        Fintan1944 – Crouchback is the limit, but his heart’s in the right place. 🙂

        January 5, 2014 at 11:48 pm
  • Miles Immaculatae

    I once read a Neo-Catholic say that every soldier must obey higher orders or otherwise there would be mayhem, which was then analogised to the Church. I feel it’s a ludicrously false analogy. On British Vanguard class submarines the first officer carries a pistol. In the eventuality that the captain becomes insane or renegade then the first officer incapacitates him, should he refuse to stand down and attempt an un-authorised nuclear strike. Furthermore, Nuremberg set a precedent whereby combatants rarely have grounds to defence if they contravened the protocols of the Geneva convention because they were ordered to do so.

    January 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm
    • Lily

      I never could understand why soldiers had to obey without question. It never made any sense to me. God never expects us to suspend our intelligence, surely?

      January 4, 2014 at 4:21 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        Well I suppose they’re not meant to. Far more dangerous is the neo-Catholic demand that we should suspend our reason. If we are morally coerced to believe matters of faith which contravene the principle of non contradiction it inevitably destroys faith. That is why being a neo-Catholic is so dangerous to faith, it is a precarious position which puts one at risk of apostatising.

        January 5, 2014 at 4:19 am
  • Miles Immaculatae

    Magisterial positivists and legal positivists are good descriptions for Neo-Catholics I feel.

    January 2, 2014 at 11:19 pm

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