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Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia (RCDEA) Downham Market
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Fr Oswald Baker - Latin Mass

This is a collection of documentation about Fr Baker during a period of his differences with his Bishops about the Church's approach to Latin Mass. This includes correspondence, newspaper clippings and published material.

Fr Baker served as a curate at Luton, High Wycombe and Wymondham, Norfolk, before going to Downham Market in 1949. When the New Mass came out in 1969, Fr. Baker refused to say it and continued to offer exclusively the Tridentine Latin Mass as codified by Pope St. Pius V in 1570.

In 1975 Father Baker was suspended by Bishop Charles Grant. Bishop Grant told Fr. Baker not to say Mass in his Church, so Fr. Baker said Mass in his Presbytery instead. With the help of donations a house was purchased for his presbytery and chapel, at 48 Bexwell Road, Downham Market, named the "St. Pius V Chapel". He said Mass there until his death in 2004.
In 1984 he explained that the present Pope was "no more a Catholic than Ian Paisley - and no more a pope than Billy Graham". He added that "the new Mass is a sacrilegious parody of the true Mass: it is sinful to take part in it."

Baker, Oswald Charles Rev (1915-2004)

Petition

Page 1: Petition text: loss of daily Mass and related devotions following proposed re-alignment of parish boundaries; much fund-raising done for the Church; Rural nature of Downham Market parish would make it difficult for a priest based at Swaffham. Hence request the Bishop reverse the decision affecting Downham parish
Page 2: 1 copy of petition names - column 1 35 names; column 2 32 names

Correspondent

Sr Bede to Correspondent: Downham Market & Fr Baker; validity of New Rite

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.

Barker, Marion Tess OSB

Fr Baker to Bishop Clark: Expects to stay at Downham

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.

Baker, Oswald Charles Rev (1915-2004)

Decree: Administrative removal of Fr Baker as Parish Priest

Fr Baker's ministry is harmful being direct and open disobedience of the Holy See. A review of the documents sent by Fr Baker were considered by the Synodal Examiner and the Pro-Synodal Examiner as not a sufficient answer and his ministry was harmful. Fr Baker had refused to resign and hence the Bishop is removing him from his office as Parish Priest at Downham Market. He has to hand over to Father Sketch.

Grant, Charles Alexander Rev LCL BA (1906-1989)

Bishop Grant to Fr Baker: Consequences of the Decree

Detailing the immediate consequences of the Decree sent on 20 November:

  1. not entitled to live in the Parish house - must be vacated without delay - contact the Bishop for support arrangements
  2. not entitled to use the Church - will not evict Fr Baker but will not tolerate him remaining
  3. not entitled to administer parochial funds - make arrangements to settle up
  4. not entitled to officiate at marriages - any married by you will be in an invalid marriage
  5. if celebrating mass in disobedience must make this clear to those attending and handle monies appropriately

Grant, Charles Alexander Rev LCL BA (1906-1989)

Bishop Grant to Press Association: Report in the Daily Telegraph

Quoting from an article in the Daily Telegraph which the Bishop indicates could mislead a reader with some untruths about Fr Sketch. Writing because "this and similar one-sided reports cause distress..." "... you will instruct your staff to present both sides of the picture, and not accept uncritically the propaganda of an interested party in the controversy."

Grant, Charles Alexander Rev LCL BA (1906-1989)

Bishop Grant to Downham Market Congregation

Compliments slip: Bishop Secretary: "Tony Sketch will arrange to deliver the enclosed - less the carbon - to all Downham Market parishioners when he distributes his invitations to the real Mass."
Page 1: letter to the congregation at Downham Market - explaining, now that the legal procedure is over, the sorrow he feels in acting against Fr Baker. Obedience to the Holy Father means accepting the changes away from the Tridentine Mass. Expects support for Fr Sketch. Notes of explanation included.
Page 2-3: Notes headed: "1. Your present position"; "2. The Missal of Pope Paul VI"; "3. The Bishop's dealings with Fr Baker"

Grant, Charles Alexander Rev LCL BA (1906-1989)

Fr Baker: Downham Market Statement

Being discredited by the Bishop for a love of the same Mass that the Bishop professes. Repudiate charge of being disobedient as he is following his conscience. Challenges the four area covered by the Bishop's secretary (Fr Morgan). Ludicrous allegation that Fr Baker's ministry is harmful - much support, sympathy and encouragement received. Will continue to offer Mass in Downham Market.

Baker, Oswald Charles Rev (1915-2004)

Bishop to Correspondent: Effort to build bridges; Refusal to accept renewed mission of the Church

Every effort, long hours and many miles involved in finding bridges to attempt to persuade Fr Baker to enjoy the privacy of the Downham Market presbytery. Bishop has for many months been on TV and in print trying to explain what is at stake. "... not just a question of a liturgical rite; it is a refusal to accept the renewed mission of the Church ..."

Clark, Alan Charles Rev DD (1919-2002)

Fr Baker to Bishop Lindsay: My reasoning at fault?; Trying to do God's Will

Invited to offer the traditional Mass at Newcastle on 8 August. Telling the Bishop through courtesy following his admonition in the Catholic Press. Questions whether his reasoning can be found by the Bishop to be at fault. Offers Fr Wathen's "The Great Sacrilege" as an non-refutable authority. Fr Baker is trying to do God's Will - not defiant to authority but does not agree with the requirement for blind and unquestioning obedience.

Baker, Oswald Charles Rev (1915-2004)

Bishop Lindsay to Fr Baker: No approval for Mass in Newcastle; An educated conscience?

The proposed Mass has no ecclesiastical authority - Fr Baker has not sought leave to offer Mass. Despite Fr Baker's defence of following his conscience he has overlooked the duty to educate his conscience - cites a few examples. Bishop says the Fr Baker is neglecting the guidance of Vatican II, the Pope, Bishop Grant and Bishop Clark. Even if you cannot accept these, consider deeply before leaving Downham Market to share your personal difficulties in other dioceses.

Lindsay, Hugh Rev (1927-2009)

Bishop Lindsay to Bishop Clark: Fr Baker and Tridentine Mass Centre in Newcastle

Fr Baker celebrated Mass without approval in the old rite without permission, preached without faculties and heard confession in an unsatisfactory conditions. He is reported as saying "Since the Vatican Council there have been two churches, one of which is the modern one with new doctrines, new morality, and new liturgy. They can't excommunicate me for that Church because I have never been a member of it. But I intend to remain loyal to the real Church." He has been on radio and television and has caused us considerable embarrassment. Can you persuade him to remain in Downham Market; he intends to return in the next month?

Lindsay, Hugh Rev (1927-2009)

Press cuttings - Fr Baker and Tridentine Mass

Photocopies of local press coverage about Fr Baker inaugurating a Tridentine Mass centre in Newcastle.
page 1: Article: Rebel priest to celebrate Latin Mass; Article: Booted out but unrepentant; letter: Oath of Loyalty
page 2/3: article: Old faith alive in the North
page 3: article: A choice of Masses today
page 4: article: North Catholics defy their Bishop

Various

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