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Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia (RCDEA) Norfolk
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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)

Bishop Clark to Correspondent: Unhappy problem

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.

Clark, Alan Charles Rev DD (1919-2002)

Newsletter - St Dominic's Downham Market

Redemptorist publication "Christian Encounter" - reverse page for local parish notes
Page 1 - printed, but proper of Mass crossed out
Page 2 - "Topic - Women's Dress in Church" - a description of the nature/style of dress for a woman at Mass.
"Strictly and exclusively the complete unchanged traditional Catholic Latin Mass of St Pius V at Downham Market"

Baker, Oswald Charles Rev (1915-2004)

Bishop Clark to Fr Baker: Reorganisation of parishes

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.

Clark, Alan Charles Rev DD (1919-2002)

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

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)

Correspondent to Bishop Clark: Challenging the Bishop's decision

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

Correspondent

News-cuttings - Fr Oswald Baker / Latin Rite

EDP 20-8-1975; letter; Status of Downham: RC protest
EDP 21-8-1975; article; Downham Catholics fight to keep traditional Mass; image of mother and daughter with petition for the Bishop
Daily Mail 25-8-1975; article; Pop goes Communion with paper cups and Co-op sliced / The Watchfield faithful get a taste of religion; 3 images - Sister Verity on drums / Bishop of Reading on stage / Communion in a paper cup
Guardian 25-8-1975; letters; Mass revolt of the Catholic Loyalists
Unknown 26-8-1975; letter; Traditional Mass?
Universe 29-8-1975; article; "Latin" priest supporters plan demo
The Times 29-8-1975; article; Bishop's warning on priest offering Mass in old form
Sunday Times 31-8-1975; article; Latin lovers in protest; image Fr Baker
Sunday Times 31-8-1975; article; Priest in Mass protest; 2 images - procession; Fr Baker
The Observer 31-8-1975; article; This rite is not wrong say 300 Catholics; image of Fr Baker
The Times 3-9-1975; letters; The Tridentine Mass
Catholic Herald 5-9-1975; letters; End wrangles of amateur liturgists
Catholic Herald 5-9-1975; article; Latin protest "cause of distress"; cartoon
EDP 8-9-1975; letters; Downham Mass
EDP 9-9-1975; article; Priest "refuses to see Bishop"
EDP 11-9-1975; letters; Downham Mass
EDP 11-9-1975; article; Downham priest asked to resign
Guardian 12-9-1975; article; Priest says he is hounded
The Universe 12-9-1975; article; Fr Baker won't meet Bishop Grant
The Times 12-9-1975; article; Canon law to be used to remove priest
The Guardian 13-9-1975; article; Latin mass takes to road
The Times 13-9-1975; letters; The traditional Mass
The Sunday Telegraph 14-9-1975; letters; Tridentine Mass and Anglican voluntary principle
The Guardian 14-9-1975; article; "Sensual" girls at Sunday mass
The Times 15-9-1975; article; Knives are out for Roman Catholic dissidents
EDP 17-9-1975; letters; Downham Mass
The Times 18-9-1975; letter; The traditional Mass
The Times 19-9-1975; article; Bishop's aim "to make new Mass available to all"
The Times 19-9-1975; article; Bringing the church to the people
EDP 19-9-1975; article; Bishop on his duty over the new mass
The Times 22-9-1975; letters; The traditional Mass
The Times 22-9-1975; letter; Catholic traditionalists
EDP 22-9-1975; letter Downham Mass
EDP 30-9-1975; letter Downham Mass
Sunday Express 31-8-1975; article; Catholics march to banned Mass
Unknown undated; letters; Downham Catholics and their Mass
The Sunday Times 31-8-1975; article; Latin lovers in protest
EDP 1-9-1975; article; Procession backs Downham priest; 2 images: procession; Fr Baker
The Telegraph 1-9-1975; "Liturgical bingo" of English Mass
Lynn News & Advertiser 2-9-1975; article; Catholics on the March / Downham Mass dispute grows; 2 images: procession; Fr Baker
EDP 2-9-1975; letter; Downham Mass
EDP 4-9-1975; letters; Downham Mass
EDP 6-9-1975; letter; Downham Mass
The Times 9-9-1975; re-typed by unknown; article; [Bishop Grant statement]
Catholic Herald 12-9-1975; article; Guarding against false gods
EDP 18-9-1975; letter; Downham Mass
The Guardian 20-9-1975; [photocopy] article; Church militant
EDP 23-9-1975; letter; Downham Mass
The Times 26-9-1975; letter; The traditional Mass
Catholic Herald 26-9-1975; article; Bishop Grant on Downham Market issue
Lynn News & Advertiser 10-10-1975; letters; In support of Fr Baker / And against..
The Telegraph 21-11-1975; [photocopy] article; Bad Marks for Latin
Evening News 30-6-1976; article; Rebel priest opens centre for Mass in city
The Journal 2-7-1976; article; Catholic Bishop hits at old Mass rebels; 2 images: Fr Baker; Bishop Clark
Cambridge Evening News 9-7-1976; letter;
EDP 17-7-1976; letter; Mass
EDP 19-7-1976; letter; In reply to Fr Baker
EDP 12-11-1976; article; Disused shop setting for Downham Mass
EDP 14-7-1976; letter; Mass: rebel priest "follows ruling"
EDP 15-11-1976; [reprint] article; Rebel Archbishop's "Woolies" mass; 2 images: Archbishop Lefebvre; Archbishop Lefebvre and Fr Baker

Various

Bishop Clark to Bp Grant: Diocese division; Downham Market; PP changeover

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.

Clark, Alan Charles Rev DD (1919-2002)

The Tablet editor to Bishop Clark: Downham Market piece

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.

The Tablet

Bishop Clark to Editor, Catholic Herald: Downham Market article; Apostolicae Curea

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."

Clark, Alan Charles Rev DD (1919-2002)

Bishop Clark to Correspondent: Dress Code at Downham Market

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.

Clark, Alan Charles Rev DD (1919-2002)

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