Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando is going to lead a Mass of Reparation linked to Notre Dame’s invitation to Obama. This whole thing has truly gone into an alternate universe. The mass is May 3 at 6:00 p.m. in the Cathedral of St. James in downtown Orlando. The announcement says:

As Catholics we are aware of the many shortcomings and transgressions committed against the dignity and sacredness of human life in our world. That is why it is inconceivable that Notre Dame University, a Catholic institution of higher learning, should receive and honor anyone who promotes policies that are contradictory to who we are as a people of faith.

As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI stated in his visit to the U.S. last year in reference to Catholic university presidents, “to justify positions that contradict the faith and teaching of the church would obstruct or even betray the university’s identity and mission.” …

Come and pray with Bishop Wenski for all of our transgressions against the Gospel of Life.

Reparation is the making amends for a wrong done or for an offense against God. By his death on the cross, the Son of God offered his life out of love for the Father to make reparation for our sinful disobedience (CCC #614).

We are obliged to make reparation for personal sins against justice and truth (CCC #2412 and #2487).  

So…what are they making reparation for? Or are they using a mass to point the finger of blame? Amy Welborn tries to put a positive spin on it:

If this were, indeed (as some might read it), a Mass in Reparation for the Sins of Notre Dame..that would be inappropriate and kind of strange. But it seems (seems – I’m just guessing) as if what has happened here is an examination of conscience of sorts.

I’d guess it’s more than that, more like what the announcement says, and indeed kind of strange. As Amy notes, Bishop Wenski is no Burkean Romanist, by any stretch. It also seems clear that there are any number of moments to hold a mass of this sort. And I of course also wonder whether such a mass has been held regarding the abuse crisis.

Apart from the politics of this, ecclesial and political, perhaps others can illuminate the proper use and rationale of a Mass of Reparation. This does seem inappropriate as it feeds divisions when there is no clear judgment that Notre Dame has committed such serious sin.

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