Responding to a correspondent about situation at Downham Market. "I share your anxiety about Downham Market, and for some time now I have been endeavouring to find a viable solution to this unhappy problem." People with cars can drive to Oxburgh or Swaffham - but this is far from a happy solution.
A considerable reorganisation of parishes and pastoral responsibilities in the area of Dereham and Swaffham. Downham Market will become part of the Swaffham parish with Fr Peter Marsh as its first parish priest; it may be re-established as a parish in the future. Fr Baker must be living on a pittance now that RAF Marham has its own chaplain. Providing him with an overview of intentions which will not happen until arrangements have been made for Fr Baker.
Income in the parish has increased - so, not living on a "pittance". Willing to accept position as a curate so that the parish priest from Swaffham does not have to travel to Downham. His weekly visit to the convent in Swaffham means he could easily report to the PP. Changes would be detrimental to this parish. Suggest that any priest free to officiate do so at Oxburgh instead. Not impelled to move; willing to stay.
Receiving letters pleading for a change in diocesan decision - recently an extremely insulting one. No able to reply to all, asks Fr Baker to announce on Sunday that all letters received are not ignored but courtesy and Christian Charity should be reflected in letters
Went to Downham for the Mass and stayed a week. Why do you persecute a priest because he refuses to be a heretic? 5 years ago deviant behaviours (pop masses, dancing masses...) would have resulted in excommunication on the spot. Who is right Fr Baker, or those in a free for all. Copied to Cardinal Heenan, Apostolic Delegate, Bishop Grant
Suggest Canons Burditt and Frost and Frs Philpot and Wace for Commission on the division of the [Northampton] Diocese. Downham Market is an issue on which we must stand - "whatever the personal holiness of Ossie (and God alone is the Judge here), he is corrupting a holy thing - and this is the hidden evil." Unwavering leadership is required. Confront Ossie with the obedience he owes, and, that the Pope has formally specified the circumstances in which the rite may be celebrated. Tony Sketch should be given Downham market as his charge and say a publicised Mass there. PPs (Aldeburgh, Wymondham, Felixstowe and Ipswich) make change-over on October 7th.
Concerned about the saga concerning Downham Market. Great respect for Fr Sketch in the short time he has been with the parish he has cone a great deal. There are many who feel that Fr Sketch is well able to tackle the problem.
T E Burns (Editor) to Bishop Clark advising him that a piece on Downham Market will be in The Tablet Notebook that week. "Since writing it, I have discovered that Downham Market is also the headquarters of the Counter Reform goings on of the Abbe Nantes, etc. etc. so perhaps Fr Baker is something rather different from the 'exemplary and devoted priest' that I depicted." Mention that the CTS reissue of "Apostolicae Curea" is causing a convert some distress; the Bishop had written to him to say that such discussions should be available.
Requesting that he attends in Northampton to discuss the situation in Downham Market and that of Fr Baker. Having put the Bishop off at the last moment, the Bishop says that he expects Fr Baker to attend next week.
Acknowledges that he had read the Downham Market article and advised others to read it. The holiness of Fr Baker is for God to judge but his ministry leaves a lot to be desired; have tried to contain this because of the hurt and scandal its disclosure would cause; this assumption of holiness hurts other priests in the area. "It is appalling that Downham Market has associated itself with the Abbe of Nantes." Short discussion of Apostolicae Curae; leave off the offensive "final decision" from the front cover. The proceedings of Oxford was kept completely confidential but the last sentence of the press release is a "humble and abiding confidence in what we are doing."
Fr baker had issued detailed directives about what women could wear. The Bishop thought that a general directive might be more adequate - he had no idea of the lead up which horrifies him. "In many ways this miserable affair has only just begun" but your bishops are trying to find a solution compatible with Catholic faith - likely to be firm action.
Massive incoming post causes delay. Can debate the central point of the letter: the inadequacy of the New Order Mass compared to the Tridentine Mass. Vatican II debated extensively and profoundly and from there was promulgated the "Constitution of the Sacred Piturgy" in 1963 from which came the April 1969 Apostolic letter of Pope Paul. Fr Baker has known of the1970 Hierarchy directive and has deliberately put his Bishop in an impossible position but is following Canon Law; he could have acted summarily.
Laying out the issues which the Bishop had to consider along with the historic background and identifying the parts of relevant Canon Law, the Bishop invites Fr Baker to resign as Parish Priest in Downham Market
Rev K V Ensor's letter touched the Bishop deeply and precious to receive especially from an Evangelical Anglican. Shares the need not to tamper with doctrine under the rubric of spurious ecumenism. The doctrine of the RC Church is embodies in the New Order of Mass which is shared substantially with the Anglican Communion. The Church is not an abstraction; it is for the episcopate to discern what is to be done in the development of the Catholic faith.
Fr D Morgan (Bishop's Secretary) provides a copy of the letter from Bishop Grant to Fr Baker, to be hand delivered by Fr Hammond. The Bishop had hoped that time would heal (the Code does not provide for a time limit to Fr Baker to reply). However, anxious by the activities of Fr Peter Morgan and the pastoral situation seemed to offer a way out without a rumpus.
The root of the trouble at Downham Market is not the use of Latin but the disobedience of Fr Baker. Catholics not properly prepared for the changes, hence those being upset. Arbitrary experimentation by some priests have not helped - hence a longing for the old familiar Mass. The new rite has been established as valid and free form doctrinal error.