Battle in Thiberville - Parishioners fight for their traditional Priest.
Here is a google translation of an article in "La Vie"  :

Thiberville is a pretty village in the Normandy countryside with timbered houses make up a picture postcard. Yet his name is now synonymous with war without thank you among the one hand, the priest in office so far, Father Francis Michael, 60 years, supported by his flock, and the other authorities of the diocese of Evreux .

In case of cancellation decided by Bishop Christian Nourrichard, the one who presided over the destinies of the parish for 23 years. She is the culmination of a conflict that has lasted three years between the diocese and the priest. Announced December 29, the revocation has led to exceptional mobilization at the 10am Mass on Sunday of the Epiphany, for which the bishop announced his arrival in order to account for its decision.

The church was the scene of a violent confrontation led by parishioners packed more than 400 in the parish church, and apparently joined by outsiders determined to do battle. Very motivated, they welcomed Nourrichard Bishop and his staff (his chancellor, Father Jean-Pierre Decraene and the parish priest of Our Lady of Charenton, Jean Vivien), with boos and insults.

"Liar!", "Whited sepulcher". In the crowd, yelling - but very aggressive minority - mingled with the voices of other parishioners trying to restore calm, but totally overwhelmed by an unquenchable broncos ... Come celebrate the Eucharist, Bishop Nourrichard hardly able to utter more than a few sentences because of the atmosphere of riot and screams punctuating his information, namely the dismissal of the priest, and the attachment of Thiberville the parish community Our Lady of Charenton. One of the laity took the microphone to denounce the "real argument" behind the decision of the bishop, "Father Michel is traditional sensibility," adding that it was the victim of "hatred in the diocese.

The priest removed then took the floor to protest and support the words of his prayer: "I am not your cure a canonical point of view, but one can not help but in my heart and my soul to be your pastor. "

The situation degenerated, Bishop Nourrichard invites those who want to leave. The church is empty in the greatest confusion. Some people move to verbally Bishop. A lady interposed: "Let the bishop alone, it is the delegate of the Pope!". Finally, the communion is given a score of people remained in the church, visibly affected. Half an hour later in the nearby village of Bournainville, the bishop and his staff will present themselves to say mass, but may not enter a church crowded by the followers of Father Michael.

The insurgency is the product of a long crisis that has been able to find a negotiated solution despite the efforts of the diocese. Shortly after his installation in the diocese of Evreux in 2006, Bishop Nourrichard tackle the normalization of the situation thibervillaise, whose pastor, Father Francis Michael, refused to comply with new rules of the reorganization of parishes decided in the '2000. These stipulate that a priest is appointed usually for a limited period (9 years maximum), a bell can not claim to have a priest of their own, as was the custom formerly. Rules found in most French dioceses, where, faced with dwindling forces priests, old churches are being recast and redrawn in favor of new parishes of magnitude wide, where pooling of forces and teamwork are the watchwords for both priests and laity.

In this spirit, the diocese has put in place for the parishioners, one share, pegging the area nearest parish, Our Lady of Charenton (whose epicenter is the town of Bernay). To Father Michael, on the other hand, the current revocation is the product of long negotiations that led to failure. The original idea was for Father Michael to continue his ministry in another parish while the replacement for Thiberville.

In fact, Father Francis Michael was moving in that it is too long (23 years) parish priest. "After refusing the nomination, and despite a further commitment from him to accept a new appointment, he finally said yes to a new position, then withdraw," said Father Jean Vivien, who is now his replacement.

Clearly, Father Michael, which some observers describe as a leader with a strong spiritual scale, but easily influenced and manipulative, he "outplayed" the diocesan authorities. The priest refused all proposals of the diocese as he considers it totally inadmissible. At the end of argument, the bishop has decided to take a firm decision and dismiss the priest.

On the merits, the Diocese criticizes Father Michael and his followers to operate in autarky and in the refusal of the diocesan synergy, and wallow in the claims of his parishioners who want to be treated separately in Diocese of keeping "their" priest.

Another issue reported in the mass of January 3 might be strictly ideological, even if Bishop Nourrichard facing the parishioners duly explained that this factor was unrelated to his decision. Wearing the cassock of the priest Thiberville work to a focus on traditional Catholicism fervent piety and popular religion. His model is the Cure of Ars "which remained in his parish for 40 years," said he to the environment to meet those who accuse him of being there for too long.

In parallel to the liturgy after the council, said that Paul VI, he celebrates every Sunday evening as the extraordinary form of Roman rite, namely the Missal of John XXIII. Father Francis Michael embodies what experts call liturgy "Reform of the Reform," according to the formula introduced by Cardinal Ratzinger, who described the pope's Mass ideal: namely, the rite of Paul VI but reinterpreted in a Tridentine or traditional sense, if not the letter, but at least in spirit.

To this end, Father Michel famous French form of the ordinary Roman Rite after Vatican II, but turned toward the East. Hymns inevitable (Gloria, Sanctus, Credo) are sung in Latin. If he willingly gave communion to her knees, this does not prevent him from accepting give also the body of Christ to those who do not wish to kneel, and host of girls in the choir of the Church.

In this sense, the Father can be called a traditionalist. It meets the needs of traditional rituals. His church, covered with banners and statues, like a pilgrimage shrine of the nineteenth century, to the delight of local people committed to the brand of Catholicism in the former. Every Sunday, his Masses attract crowds, often from far away. And to the delight of merchants in this town who would, in the absence of the sacred peak, certainly deserted on Sundays and holidays.

However, it is also a factor that could weigh in the decision of the bishop, Father Michel has made no secret of his sympathy for the royalist cause, and regularly celebrates Mass in memory of the death of Louis XVI .

Pragmatic meet the spiritual needs of people, endowed with a pastoral sense, good preacher, Father Michael Francis is almost unanimous among his flock, whatever their social origin, age, level of commitment to the parish or seniority. His critics are a minority, although there are reports of serious conflicts between former close friends who turned against him. His fans, super-majority, have no qualms.

"The Trade Comm classics, rich and poor, it makes no difference," explains this very simple woman, who claims to have been cured of his illness by Father Michel. "We arrived at the area with my husband four years ago. We held a beautiful Mass for our 40 years of marriage, completely custom and tailored to our needs," says the wife of sixty years .

"It changed my life!" shows that farmer. Ear piercing, this girl's father said that Michael is irreplaceable: "He called all my family. It is extraordinary." The same praise is unanimous, particularly among 18-25 years, many during the insurrection of January 3. "It is part of our lives," says Danielle. The city fathers of Thiberville are also 100% behind the priest. "If there is no abbot, this will be the end of the town!" assures Mr. Love, the first deputy. At the Mass of December 3, 12 of the 13 mayors of the area which the Abbe Michel pastoral care had come to support their pastor.

And the future? The diocese of Evreux seems engaged in a conflict that will be hard and probably longer. From a canonical point of view, the bishop of Evreux is his right, and Father Michael was in the wrong because he promised obedience to the bishop of Evreux and its successors on the day of his ordination . His solidarity with opponents at the Mass of the Epiphany leaves few illusions about his willingness to talk with the bishop or his representatives. But from a tactical point of view, the position of the rebel priest and his flock remains high for three reasons.

First, the psycho-emotional component. Father Michel space with him, so overwhelming, and the support that they manifest it is sincere and visceral. Other factors come into play for example, revocation of cure is seen as an edict came from the center of the department, and shocked the rural population already buffeted by the changes of modernity that penalize rural areas.

The decision of Bishop Nourrichard does not only incomprehensible (they never change a winning team), but as a collective humiliation since the priest finds himself now without department. It appears as discarded. A situation that Catholics Thiberville interpret as punishment all the more unfair that the parish is very much alive, unlike the pole where the ecclesiastical diocese now connected, whose religious taxes fell by 45% between 2007 and 2008, the largest decrease of all sectors of the diocese.

Their new pastor, Jean Vivien, is the antithesis of the traditional sensitivity of Father Michel, increasing the resentment, even though the diocese has been careful to maintain the traditional Mass on Sunday, which will be called by another priest Diocese. "Father Vivien is not the man of the situation facing people injured and also attached to the traditional sensibility," says an observer as well.

Secondly, the factor statégie. Father Michael is strong support from several mayors of the township, including that of Mr. Guy Paris Mayor Thiberville who wishes to continue to the parsonage available to the priest revoked. This would mean that it could continue to reside there and to exercise his priestly life, as he has already announced. In this configuration, the ministry's new priest, Father Vivien, already considered an "enemy" for his distaste for the traditional option, seems to compromise.

It is not inconceivable that installs a dual liturgical and sacramental life, one official and one unofficial. Furthermore, the sinews of war - money - will not miss the priest, the faithful may decide to postpone their donations on the person of Father Michael and stop paying the alms tax.

Thirdly, the ideological dimension. Pragmatic, Father Francis Michael applied until today how clever the coexistence of two forms of the rite in its bell tower, embodying the spirit desired by Benedict XVI in his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in 2007, namely a mutual fertilization of two forms of the mass. Even if the diocese does not want to move the debate on ideological grounds, its opponents will not hesitate to assert that dimension to the Roman authorities. They have already initiated action to the Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Vatican.

The dismissal of Father Michel may well appear as a refusal to support diocesan synthesis of type "reform the reform" had implemented the Abbe Michel and is one of the axes of the pontificate.

Faced with the disobedience of Father Michael, the diocese has certainly to him the canon law and the support of a majority of the faithful of the Eure, but it is still difficult to say if will win this showdown Thiberville.


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Re: Battle in Thiberville - Parishioners fight for their traditional Priest. - by littlerose - 01-05-2010, 09:14 PM

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