As some of you already know, on January 7th of of this year, the Diocese of Manchester issued a public decree regarding the Saint Benedict Center community of Richmond, New Hampshire. The draconian decree consists of fifteen “precepts and obligations” imposed upon the members of the Saint Benedict Center.
In no small terms, the demands imposed upon the Saint Benedict Center place its survival and all its good works in grave existential jeopardy.
Since January 7th, the Most Holy Mass has been forbidden to be offered on the Center’s premises by any priest, even one with habitual faculties. Per the decree’s requirements, the Blessed Sacrament has been removed from the tabernacle. Additionally, a painful goodbye was said to the wonderful man who, with Bishop Libasci’s prior permission, dutifully served as our resident priest and confessor during the preceding several months, the Reverend John Earl.
The Diocese’s prohibition of the celebration of any Sacraments on our premises has been devastating to all who revere the daily celebration of the Sacraments and the Church’s liturgy as among the most cherished things in life. This is true not only of our Brothers and Sisters, but also of our dedicated and supportive lay faithful, including large families who regularly attended Mass here on Sundays and weekdays.
Our community life has been all but destroyed.
In addition to the imposition of the draconian Precept, it has to be said that a campaign was immediately deployed against us by some in the Press who apparently long for the day when our little community is snuffed out of existence.
Our community for decades has been known for assisting in making known the dogma of the Church, “Extra ecclesiam nulla salus,” “Outside the Church there is no salvation.” This teaching of the Church is neither easily understood nor accepted by a number of souls who find it harsh and lacking in “mercy.” To the contrary: All too many in this day and age “reduce[s] to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation,” as Pope Ven. Pius XII taught decades ago in Humani Generis.
In order to make even more clear its complete conformity with the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church, the Saint Benedict Center has uploaded to its website a Statement of Doctrinal Beliefs. This document was carefully written in consultation with theological and canonical experts to ensure that the Center remains in full compliance with the demands of the official doctrine and the law of the Church.
While none at the Center ever presume to speak in the name, or with the authority, of the Church, the lay faithful of the Center at the same time do not hesitate to work hard to exercise their right to make known to all men and women the salvific necessity of Christ and His One True Church as taught repeatedly over the centuries by her Magisterium (cf. can. 211 CIC).
The Precept issued this past January was a bolt out of the blue. It does not at all reflect the high level of cooperation the members of the Center exercised with ecclesiastical authorities during the preceding decade. For reasons that those members have yet to understand, Saint Benedict Center now finds itself suffering under a draconian Precept that it respectfully asserts was erroneously and unjustly imposed.
According to the canon law of the Church, the decree of January 7th is not a “definitive” decree or “adjudged matter.” Upon notice of the decree being given, fourteen members of Saint Benedict Center directly adversely affected by the Precept duly presented hierarchical recourse before the Bishop and then the competent dicasteries of the Holy See in Rome. As a result, the fourteen recurrents now eagerly await from the Holy See a just outcome of the canonical process seeking redress and succor. As the wheels of justice turn slowly in Rome, readers need to know that the nature of these canonical proceedings require some time to pass before a just and definitive resolution may be obtained.
To defend their rights and the truth of the matter, the members of the Saint Benedict Center have engaged the services of expert canon lawyers who have been diligently working on the case. In addition, they have retained expert civil attorneys, since it unfortunately appears necessary to defend the Center’s good name and interests in the forum of the civil courts.
The Brothers and Sisters of the Saint Benedict Center know that they are in God’s good hands. They are completely resigned to serving His Holy Will. At the same time, in the midst of the increasing confusion all around us, a canonical process serves to clarify legitimate rights and obligations on the part of all parties while a civil process seeks to guarantee the free exercise of rights guaranteed under the American Constitution and state statute.
The Saint Benedict Center community, both consecrated members and lay faithful at large, have suffered and continue to suffer a great deal during this ordeal in ways that are too numerous to detail. We ask for the fervent prayers of our many good friends and benefactors, that we may be able to shoulder this heavy Cross for the greater good and exaltation of Holy Mother Church and the salvation of souls.
We ask all of our friends to pray especially to Saint Joseph, Protector of the Universal Church, Patron of the Diocese of Manchester, our good heavenly Patron, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Intemerata, who was so fearless in the face of so much suffering and adversity.
The Saint Benedict Center now finds itself hard pressed to keep up with significant financial burdens necessary to defend its rights, its charism, and even its good name and those of its members in the canonical and civil fora. The retention of expert canon and civil lawyers and the costs needed to overcome this plight are very expensive.
A group of devoted supporters called “the Friends of Saint Benedict Center” has formed to raise badly needed funds. Any and all contributions made via the crowdfunding platform called “Funding Morality” are tax-deductible to the extent provided for by federal law.
For any help that you or those you know can offer to support us through these tribulations, we are most grateful.
Asking for your fervent prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her chaste spouse St. Joseph, Patron of the Church Universal outside of which there is no salvation,
Most devotedly yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Brother André Marie, M.I.C.M.