Schism at the closing of a church in the Boston Diocese

Here is the news story: Their fight lost, members of closed Scituate church start their own.

I sympathize with any Catholics suffering because their beloved parish church has been closed by the diocese. But the shortage of priests, falling attendance, and financial problems have forced the closure of many churches, in many diocese. It is one thing to fight to keep a parish church open, within its diocese. But to respond by departing from the Roman Catholic Church, in order to start your own church, is the grave sin of schism.

“It didn’t take long for the Friends, led by Maryellen and Jon Rogers, to establish a new church, which is meeting at the Satuit Lodge of Freemasons in Scituate, while they plan a capital campaign for their own church building.”

“Here’s how Maryellen Rogers describes it: ‘We are an ecumenical Catholic church, we are still valid practicing Catholics, part of the universal Catholic Church, not the Roman Catholic Church. So if you join our church community, you would see a welcoming Catholic experience but you would not be supporting the Roman Catholic Church or the Archdiocese of Boston.’ “

A few points of doctrine and discipline.

1. Freemasonry is condemned by the Church, by name under the old Code, and by description under the new Code of Canon Law.

2. The Rogers and the group led by them are schismatics, since they have chosen to depart from communion with the Roman Pontiff and the Church of which he is the head. They are each and all automatically excommunicated under Canon Law for the sin of schism.

3. The universal Church subsists in the Roman Catholic Church. Baptized non-Catholic Christians are indeed members, though their membership is harmed and limited by their chosen separation from the Pope and the Bishops who are in communion with him. There is no such thing as an “ecumenical Catholic church” which would somehow be not the Roman Catholic Church. And there is no “universal Catholic Church” apart from the Roman Catholic Church.

4. Their community is in a state of formal schism, and, based on the quote above, also in a state of formal heresy. Their claims about the structure and nature of the Church are heretical. So their group is not a genuine Catholic community, nor can they offer a “Catholic experience”.

5. The Rogers are laypersons. So their community is led by persons who are not ordained. It is no different from one of many other stand-alone Protestant congregations.

The whole Catholic Church worldwide will soon be plagued by many more such schisms, small and large. For pride goeth before a fall.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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4 Responses to Schism at the closing of a church in the Boston Diocese

  1. Mary says:

    This is very sad news The sign in the picture of the article says Catholic Mass, Communion Service, so do they have a priest? If so, can he say mass and would the consecration be valid? I just want to have a better understanding of the situation, especially if more of this is likely to happen in the near future. Thank you.

    • Ron Conte says:

      A schismatic and/or heretical priest can validly consecrate the Eucharist, as long as the usual conditions for validity are met. However, if the heresy pertains to the doctrine of the Eucharist, his attempted consecration might not be valid. The Mass is illicit when said by a heretic or schismatic priest. That group is not offering a valid Catholic Mass. I don’t know if they have a schismatic priest saying Mass for them.

  2. Sunimal Fernando says:

    Shortage of Priests in Boston ? Pray for Boston and its Roman Catholics. We are Roman Catholics in Sri Lanka in very few %.(Below island India and a developing country).Some of our priests are like living saints with high discipline. So we try to go to church on every Sunday and receive communion. Praise the Lord. Ron said “The whole Catholic Church worldwide will soon be plagued by many more such schisms, small and large”. Ron, Are you from USA? Our Pope is now in Sweden and try for unity with Lutherans. So Universal Church will be in similar type.

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