The Scandals at St. Gertrude the Great

West Chester, Ohio

The Full Documented Story


January 6, 2010

Theological Bumps in the Night

The Editors

Is attending Mass at St. Albert the Great
really a Mortal Sin?

One is sometimes tempted to ask where these clergy went to seminary.  Or even if they did.  It is hard to imagine how the claim that it is a mortal sin to attend Holy Mass celebrated by Father Markus Ramolla can be made in all seriousness by an ordained priest.  Perhaps we should expect a retraction on behalf of the younger priest to be made by one of the senior clergy at SGG.  But judging on past experience, the latter will be perfectly happy to allow such theological gibberish to go unchecked -- after all, what's one more falsehood floating around out there in the SGG suburbs? 

Most of us have frightening memories from childhood when bullies or malicious adults used to try to keep us in our place with threatening visions of the bogeyman. They never told us what the spectre looked like or from where it came. They simply abused our childish trust and took advantage of our fears to keep us from questioning them. The bogeyman existed just because they said so. In this crisis of his own making, Bishop Dolan, his clergy, and his cronies have dreamed up an even scarier bugbear in their tall tale that assistance at Father Ramolla’s Mass constitutes a mortal sin. 

Note that they have never cited specific authors: they just make the assertion and assume we’ll all be spooked into compliance. Now we know that the catalog of mortal sins is extensive, but we also know that you can’t label something a mortal sin simply because you don’t approve. Theological principles, not peevish imagination, determine whether an act is mortally sinful. Since Bishop Dolan and his partisans won’t disclose the basis for their charge, we’ll try to discover it for ourselves.  Then we’ll see whether their threat is based on Catholic substance or is a mere hobgoblin spawned from a mean-spirited imagination.

Moral theology teaches that one of the requisite conditions for determining mortal sin is grave matter. The general principle for considering a sin mortal is the introduction of a serious disorder with respect to God, society, oneself, and one’s neighbor. Rebellion against legitimate authority and all things that promote discord among the divers social orders of citizens are two of the sins that introduce a grave loss to society. In addition, sins opposed to charity and justice (v.g., hatred of one’s neighbor, detraction, and calumny) are also mortal.

Now, on this page (Editorial : A Cry for Redress) we have clearly shown that under the circumstances of this crisis, it was licit to expose publicly Bishop Dolan’s grave faults. Moreover, we have established that Father never calumniated the pastor. One of Bishop Dolan’s clergy has charged that there was calumny in letter dated November 4, 2009 (Letter from Father Ramolla to Bishop Dolan at the time of his dismissal). However, as anyone can see, Father was simply fraternally correcting the pastor who had made calumnious insinuations against Father.  As to any charge of rebellion and troublemaking, we remind everyone that Bishop Dolan terminated Father (Letter from Bishop Dolan to School Parents about the Dismissal of Father Ramolla); Father left the premises in complete compliance with the “Status Agreement” (Editorial - Regarding the "Perpetual Agreement" between Bishop Dolan and Father Ramolla), and Bishop Sanborn’s one-line November 7 memorandum of termination to Father is dispositive that the seminary rector concurred with Father’s change of status.

We must now bring up a far more important point. Even if there were a theological basis to their risible assertion, we could still attend the Mass of a validly ordained, sedevacantist without incurring sin ourselves. Long ago, the Council of Trent settled the matter. The grace of the sacrament has nothing to do with the merits of the minister, and we may assist at the Mass of any Roman Catholic priest not in union with Joseph Ratzinger. In the same way, we find no fault with those who continue to receive the sacraments from Bishop Dolan, a man who rebelled against what was believed at the time to be “legitimate authority,” who has been divisively litigious throughout his priestly career, and who is the author of this crisis and the current persecution of any parishioner who disagrees with him.

The bottom line here is this: Before we listen to clergy who permitted so many injustices to continue at St. Gertrude the Great School, we will search our own naturally and supernaturally educated Christian conscience. And we will continue to assist at Father Ramolla’s Mass.