Mother Angelica Vs. Cardinal Mahony : LUSENET : Catholic Pages Forum : One Thread

What is or was the issue and what is the outcome. I think it all took place back in November of 97 but I just heard about it.

-- Anonymous, April 08, 1998



The issue was that Cardinal Mahoney issued a pastoral letter to the Archdiocese of LA about Sunday Mass which was very long and spoke about how he wanted to see Mass celebrated there. It wasn't your "Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" type of document. It was more along the lines of Kumbaya from what I here.

Mother Angelica spoke about it on one of her shows and criticised the document sharply, particularly in that it doesn't have much to say on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. She said something along the lines of "If I were a member of the Archdiocese of LA, my obedience to this document would be nil, and I hope yours would be too".

Cardinal Mahoney got very upset by this. He pointed out that he said (in a footnote) that everything was to be read subject to existing Church teaching, so it cannot be taken to question or deny the Real Presence by the absence of discussion of it. He also alleged that Mother Angelica was in serious breach of canon law by inciting the faithful to disobey their bishop. He demanded that she apologise on air for her earlier statements.

Mother Angelica did that, but then spent an hour explaining why she thought the document was deficient.

This got Cardinal Mahoney even more upset, and he threatened to take the matter up with the Vatican.

That was the last I heard until last week when I read a news report quoting the Cardinal as saying that the way he likes to deal with his adversaries is to "smother them with love". The question was asked in the context of the spat with Mother Angelica.

God bless, Paul McLachlan

-- Anonymous, April 10, 1998

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++++++++++++"Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant" ++++++++++++++++++++++

Like the rest of the countless devoted followers of Mother Angelica and E.W.T.N. (The Eternal Word Television Network), I followed with interest and a bit of dismay the most recent events involving Mother and a bitter Cardinal from California. Mother Angelica has always been one to speak her mind, and that is just what she did when she questioned an ambiguously worded pastoral letter from the Cardinal on the Eucharist. In the letter, the Cardinal seems to intimate that the bread and wine remains just that--bread and wine, even after the Consecration. Mother Angelica's complaint is that the pastoral letter focuses on assembly--the concentration on assembly by the people in the Church rather than the Eucharist. "You and I are not the Eucharist, you and I are poor sinners," she told the Cardinal. She stated that she felt the letter was unclear on what the Church teaches about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. In fact, Mother complained, the only time the term 'transubstantiation' was even used was in a very small footnote (who reads those things, anyway?).

The Cardinal was furious at the fact that Mother openly questioned his pastoral letter during her monologue of her "Mother Angelica Live" cable television show. Not only did he issue her a terse demand for a public retraction, but he also threatened legal action by taking counsel with canon and civil lawyers. The Cardinal cited a quote from Canon Law to support his insistence that Mother Angelica had no right to speak critically of his pastoral letter. The Cardinal did not mention, however, another important Canon Law (C.L. 212) which addresses the "right, indeed at times the duty" of the faithful to manifest to the sacred pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church, and to "make these views known to all of Christ's faithful". Isn't this what Mother Angelica was doing? Mother Angelica's network has always been a beacon of truth during these very foggy, confusing times for the Catholic Church.

Mother issued the public apology on a later show, but not before pointing out to the Cardinal the various points from the pastoral letter which she found to be so confusing. This did not satisfy the Cardinal, who then issued another insistence that she issue a further public apology and 'retraction', going so far as to specify even that he expected her to air this public statement on 'four different occasions', and that it ought to be written by her own local Bishop. He further insisted that the 'retraction' must not have any further comment or commentary...Shakespeare sure comes to mind: "Me thinks he doth protest too much!"

And so, this poor, humble nun who has done nothing but serve God and His Church faithfully throughout her life, was chastised for speaking nothing less than the truth. It saddened me when no one in the ecclesiastical community came to her defense. For all the good she does and the countless conversions her books and television station have brought about, no bishops or cardinals stood in her defense. At least not publicly. And then it happened. Last week, one of the live broadcasts on EWTN was interrupted by Mother herself to announce a most amazing occurrence--a true miracle. Mother, who had been debilitated by a painful, crippling disorder and had worn braces on her legs and back for years, was suddenly and miraculously healed while praying the Rosary. Was it just a coincidence that this amazing and complete healing occurred just weeks after her skirmish with the bitter Cardinal? I don't think so. I know God's plans are never a result of coincidence. I believe it was God's way of saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" for speaking the truth with courage and conviction. She sat in humility and publicly apologized on national television, in obedience she stood up for the truth, and with joy she walked away healed!

-- Anonymous, April 25, 1998

This "bitter Cardinal" you speak of is a very intelligent, compassionate and kind man. I am aghast you would denigrate a bishop of our Church like this.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 1998

I would like to see a copy of the pastoral letter the cardinal wrote so that I can see for myself what started the controversy. If anyone would contribute that, I would appreciate it. As far as what I understand at this point, I will add this: Mother Angelica went through a great spiritual renovation in the last few years. She went from being a "modern" nun back to a very faithful and devoted traditionalist. I praise and bless her for that, because the Church so needs to return to it's roots in the Apostolic mission of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Mother is right about the Mass not being a place or time for people to just "get together" and have a party. The True Presence of the Holy Eucharist and the graces received through Holy Communion are the reason to be there. This is why it is so important to consecrate the Host in the Latin Mass, in the original words that have been passed down through the ages. If we were just supposed to "get together" and share some prayers and songs we might as well all be Protestants. It is this type of "compromise" that will finally destroy the Church Militant. It is the duty of all the Faithful to keep speaking the Truth that Our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostolic decendants gave us through divine inspiration. A pastoral letter is just that; it is not divinly inspired, it is one man's opinion and every man us subject to mistaken opinions. The only things we cannot and should not question are matters of dogma and doctrine, for these are things that are divinely inspired and given to us through the Holy Father in Rome.

As I said before, all humans are subject to error of opinion, but let us hope and pray that the Holy Spirit will give the grace of Wisdom to those who might lead the faithful astray out of a hardend heart and ego.

Faithfully, Martha Therese

-- Anonymous, May 04, 1998

In praise of Miss Hisington's letter re: Cardinal Mahoney

Thank you for your beautiful words of truth re Cardinal Mahoney's letter. If anyone would like to read portions of the letter with a critique by the wonderful experts of Adoremus it is available on their web site. Re Miss Ostlund's comments; You have been deceived. Study the faith and then decide. Catholicism is not an American Democratic invention. You are being led into confusion by priests, bishops and cardinals who are not in union with the Holy Father and the Magisterium.

-- Anonymous, May 24, 1998

re: Cardinal Mahoney

Thank you Thomas. I downloaded a copy of the original pastoral letter and read all thirty-some pages. It was frightening. Please pray for Cardinal Mahoney.

-- Anonymous, May 26, 1998

bishops and the magisterium

are there bishops and cardinals who are not in union with the magisterium or with the Holy Father? Who makes the decision whether a bishop or cardinal is "orthodox"? Should we disobey or disregard pastors, bishops, or other prelates who are not faithful to the Pope? How do we know whether or not we can trust our bishop to be faithful? I am very confused, I would think that if the Pope appoints a bishop he is considered to be a reliable shepherd until such a time that the Holy Father removes him from his see?

-- Anonymous, May 31, 1998

re: bishops and the magisterium

Sorry, Patrick, I wish it were true. Rely on the Pope and his communications as to what he wants us all to do. There are LOTS of bishops and priests who are not obedient to the magisterium and the Pope and we are all ultimately responsible for our own salvation. The only One you can really truly trust in the final analysis is Our Lord Jesus Christ who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

-- Anonymous, June 02, 1998

bishops and the magisterium

Dear Martha Therese I am still a bit confused by your answer. Who can make the decision whether a bishop (my bishop) is faithful to the magisterium or not? Am I free to disobey him when I think he is not following the magisterium? This is the issue, I guess, with Mother and the Cardinal, but I still don't know the answer. Can I ignore the directives of my bishop or do I have to wait until the Holy see removes him?


-- Anonymous, June 14, 1998

Bishops, Magisterium, Liberals, Conservatives, Latin Mass and Jerry Mather as the Beaver!

I'm with you, Patrick - if the liberal catholics are not allowed to pick and choose what they're going to believe and follow, then the conservatives shouldn't be allowed to pick and choose either, and I too am troubled by the whole notion of someone deciding which bishop, priest, nun or whomever is doing the best job of following the heirarchy, that's kind of judgemental, isn't it? -- and anyway, who said the heirarchy should never have the dust blown off their robes? I know it's a theocracy and not a democracy, but I've never quite cottened to the idea that dialouge and dissent are not to be tolerated. I think Mother Angelica, for better or worse, got things cooking and people thinking, and that action is a lot healthier than having all of us stagnate and congeal like old fettucine alfredo as we follow blindly, questioning nothing. I think the Cardinal and Mother both have passion, and that is a good thing. Let this thing bubble...something will rise. I know "I" don't have the answer! :) I was intrigued to read that one of the respondants prefered the Latin Mass. I find the half/latin, half/english Mass that EWTN broadcasts to be really uplifting and inspiring, but I recently attended a "traditional" Latin Mass and wondered what the appeal was...the priest's back was turned away, the prayers were mumbled, no one got to join in and MAN, did I get a stiff penance when I went to communion in that parish! I will say, though that the people there were very reverent. And I left even more convinced that this church has survived for 2000 years by the grace of God and the Holy Spirit, and not by any priest, nun, magisterium, man, woman or tv sitcom star! God Bless all!

-- Anonymous, June 16, 1998


Dear Dana thanks very much, Dana, but I am not sure that we are in agreement. (And I am not uncomfortable that you or others don't agree with me. I don't pretend to have the corner on the truth--though I do think that the magisterium does,at least in matters of faith and morals.) But I am confused when I read Martha's comments that there "are LOTS of bishops and priests who are not obedient to the magisterium and the Pope..." I am sure that there are priests who are not faithful to the magisterium--and that grieves me--but I would be very reluctant to say that about a bishop. It seems to me that we have to give our duly appointed bishops obedience and respect as long as they are in authority over us. Am I wrong on this? Can Martha,or Mother, tell us who are the good bishops and who are the bad? Martha says "Rely on the Pope and his communications as to what he wants us all to do..." Well, I do want to obey the Pope--but is it obedience to the Pope to disobey the shepherd the Pope has appointed for us? I don't know, but I think a little bit of Martha's Protestant background is showing. I was listening today on NPR to a debate among Southern Baptists and they were fighting over interpreting the bible. There is only once source of authority, but boy everybody has his or her own interpretation. Well, I do think there is only one source of authority in the Church, and that is the Magisterium, i.e. the Pope and the bishops in communion with him. But I don't think we can afford to let everybody have his or her own interpretation of that Magisterium. Martha might trust her interpretation over her bishop's; and Mother Angelica obviously trusts her interpretation over the Cardinal's, but I am a coward and need to trust in the teaching office of my bishop to faithfully relay the universal magisterium. Patrick

-- Anonymous, June 16, 1998

Re Martha Therese Hisington's statement

Your letter is well stated; however, it sounds to me as though you don't believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist unless the words of consecration are Latin. This is definetly not the position of the Holy Church. Please let me know if I'm reading more into your message than you intended. God's peace!

-- Anonymous, May 29, 1998

re: to Bradley

Yes, Bradley, I prefer the Latin Mass, however I did not mean to imply that nothing else is valid. Unfortunately, most Novus Ordo masses change more than the language its in. Please refer also to the discussion thread regarding kneeling at communion and the one re:proper method of receiving communion. It is not the Holy Roman Catholic Church I have a problem with, it is the sinful way Her laws are being misinterpreted by willful people who DON'T want to obey. I am in allignment with the magesterium and obedient and faithful to HH Pope Paul II. Ok?

-- Anonymous, June 02, 1998


It is GRAVELY illicit to use any formula for Consecration other than the one printed in a translation of the rite of Mass that has been confirmed by the Holy See.

There is one form of the words of Concration in English that are to be used over the bread.

"Take this, all of you, and eat it: This is my Body, which will be given up for you"

There are two approved forms over the wine.

Take this, all of you, and drink from it: This is the cup of my Blood, The Blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all So that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

The second formula is the same as the above except it modifies the end: (this is used for masses with Children)

It will be shed for you and for all So that sins may be forgiven. Then he said to them: Do this in memory of me.

If the degree of depature on the wording is enough then you could end up with an Invalid Eucharist. Scary thought that some rogue priest out there can deprive you of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ because he thinks he has the right to say whatever he feels like over the bread and wine.

Your Brother in Christ

John Gibson

-- Anonymous, June 05, 1998

Thank you, John. I wish it were just a "rogue priest." I must relate a sad story. On Friday, June 5, my 27 year old nephew, Officer Christopher Lydon was killed in the line of his duties as a California Highway Patrolman. He was in pursuit of a drunk driver, lost control of his own vehicle at high speed, flipped over and was killed. I am one of three daughters and one sister and I are Catholic, the boy's mother is not. While I was at her home on Friday, I slipped out to go to the Catholic church one block away to pray a Rosary for Chris. I stopped at the office to get a Mass for him first, then went into the Sanctuary. THERE WERE NO KNEELERS IN THE WHOLE CHURCH. There was not even convenient room to kneel between the deeply padded pews. There were no holy pictures, no statues, the altar was pulled so far forward on the dais it was obvious that the priest must stand on the back side to say mass. In other words, it looked exactly like a Lutheran or any other protestant church.

I knelt on the bare floor in the asile, because there was no room for anything else, said my 15 decades and sadly left.

If there are no kneelers, John, how does the congregation kneel during the Eucharistic prayer? This is required by Church law, yet the church has been BUILT in such a way that makes following this rubric IMPOSSIBLE. How are we all being led to sin? In these ways. I wouldn't take the chance with my soul of going to a mass in that church. This is not the action of a "rogue priest", but a concerted effort on the part of apostatic and sinful people to interfere in our union with Christ. Please pray for the soul of my nephew, his mother and dad, and the Catholic Church. Martha Therese

-- Anonymous, June 08, 1998

>If there are no kneelers, John, how does the congregation kneel >during the Eucharistic prayer? This is required by Church law, yet >the church has been BUILT in such a way that makes following this >rubric IMPOSSIBLE. How are we all being led to sin? In these ways. I >wouldn't take the chance with my soul of going to a mass in >that church. This is not the action of a "rogue priest",but a >concerted effort on the part of apostatic and sinful people to >interfere in our union with Christ. Please pray for the soul of my >nephew, his mother and dad, and the Catholic Church. > Martha Therese


My prayers are with you. I will make sure that your intentions are also on a list that I am on for prayers.

In 200 years (If our Lord doesn't come before then) the history books will be written and talk about the "Great Western Herasy." I believe that we are in a battle and that there is a loss of faith to such a degree that many teaching go unsaid. We are too preoccupied with being "Pastoral" and not teaching the hard teaching of Christ.

As for Churches that are built without kneelers, I would suggest that people start going up to the front and kneeling there. It is time that we stopped being weenies (I include myself in this.)

We must realize that the Sacramentery of the Catholic Church has the force of Cannon law. Therefore we must educate ourselves on what liturgical law of the Church is and start making ourselves pains in the butt.

But as always we must do it in sincere love. We must refuse to be door mats. If this means that we work to get ourselves on parish councils, worship commissions, educational commissions, ect we must act like the stealth canidates of the 1980's where Conservative Christians ran for offices but did not mention the fact that they were conservative.

What makes me sleep better at night is the fact that Christ has said over and over that he will take care of those who do not do his will. In the Parable of the Wheat and the Tarres he said that they would grow together until the harvest and that the weeds would be thrown into the fire and the wheat will be gathered into barn.

In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Christ tell us that he will seperate them and look at the works that each one has done.

In the instructions to his Apostles he told them that those who lead the little children astray would be better for them to be tied to a stone and thrown into the ocean.

Many in the Church talk about the "inclusive Christ." Christ is all inclusive, he calls us all, but we must remember that we are called to Christ under his terms not ours. This is what has been forgotten in the Church, that we are under his rule, not ours.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ promised that the Gates of Death would not close against the Church built on the Rock of his choosing. That Rock is Peter (Petros=Rock in greek, Cephas=Rock in Aramaic Jn 1:47) Through the Succession of that Apostolic Ministry we now have John Paul II. We must cling to the rock, it is the high ground that we must go to in order to not be drowned.

We must remember that Christ is in Charge, always and forever. If we must put up with those who dissent, then we do it in love of Christ and offer up our suffering to him that he may make us worthy of Heaven.

Your Brother in Christ

John Gibson

-- Anonymous, June 14, 1998


In all the verbage, I might have missed the web page address for the Cardinal's original letter. I saw a posting thanking someone for the address...but not the addresss itself! Please post. I hate making statements based on insufficient information.

However, having no further information other than what has been posted, I feel strongly enough to mention the following:

1) Yes, all people have the right and the obligation to point out deviations from official church doctrine, whether made by fellow faithful or by anyone else in the Church.

2) That being said, there is also the concept of being polite and not embarassing a poor soul to death. What Mother Angelica should have done was speak privately with Cardinal Mahony, show him the 'error of his ways' and allow him to retract or rewrite the letter on his own initiative. Instead, the method Mother Angelica chose was a direct attack, a public embarassment (are we surprized then that a man of the cloth reacted strongly to this), and a direct violation of the bible.

I can't quote you chapter and verse but it does state somewhere that if your brother errs, it is your duty to bring that before him and give him the opportunity to change his ways. If he does not listen to you, bring in the family to speak with him. If he does not listen to them, THEN bring in the whole faith community.

3) If nothing else, Mother Angelica was just plain rude, stubborn, and ego-centric over this issue.

4) So was Cardinal Mahony.

Again, with the caveat that this is based solely on what was posted here and my personal interpretations thereof. And note that this footnote is in the same size font as the rest of the text! :-)

-- Anonymous, June 15, 1998

Mother Angelica is way cool!

Ester, I agree with you that neither Mahony or Mother Angelica handled this incident in the very best way (they are both hot headed - which is just a sign of their passion) but I have to credit Mother Angelica with getting me back to church. I was watching TV and surfing channels and there she was with the big habit and the big cross and the big mouth and I thought...well, this woman is crazy! The more I listened, the more I realized that she was just crazy in love with God. I think she is terrific, humble, humorous, admonishing, instructive, instinctive, explosive and thoroughly human. And yes, I still think she is crazy. Anyone who begins what she has begun armed with $200.00 and faith is nuts! And I thank God for her! :) Have a good one!

-- Anonymous, June 15, 1998


One small correction. EWTN was started with $100.00 dollars, not $200.00. I heard this first hand from the President of EWTN while I was a guest on one of the shows down there.

Another one of my favorite stories about it was that Mother wanted to start WEWN, the shortwave radio ministry. She was in rome, and a gentleman walked up to her and said "God told me that you needed money for a radio ministry" and he gave her check on the spot for a rather large amount (I believe it was $100,000.00).

Mother A has been able to do what the entire NCCB of North America could not. The NCCB poured 15 million dollars into a radio/Television concern and do not have one minute of air time to show for it.

Your Brother in Christ

John Gibson

-- Anonymous, June 15, 1998


The full text of Cardinal Mahony's pastoral letter is available for download at the following url:

An interesting POV document by Adoremus is available at

I hope this helps you find the text you're looking for.

Brendan Ross

-- Anonymous, June 16, 1998

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