'Leaving in sorrow,' former Roman Catholics start new church in Hickory, N.C.

The first reading comes from the Book of Kings, with an angel nudging an exhausted and distraught Elijah, telling him to get up and leave.

The Rev. Tom Sanford and his congregation have done just that.

Sanford left the Catholic priesthood more than a quarter century ago. But now he’s back behind the altar. He’s pastor of a new spiritual community, born out of his frustration with what he believes is the philosophical backsliding of the Catholic Church.

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10 comments on “'Leaving in sorrow,' former Roman Catholics start new church in Hickory, N.C.

  1. Terry Tee says:

    There is lots that I could comment on, including the supeme irony of naming their congregation after a pope. However, I want to correct just one thing – the journalist’s assertion that this is ‘not really a Mass’. That was not what the diocesan spokesperson said. In Catholic terms, as in a great deal of Anglican understanding, this would be a valid but illicit Mass: an actual eucharist, but one that is not in keeping with the rules of the Church.

  2. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    No, I am pretty sure this would not be a valid Mass. A valid mass has to be conducted by a valid priest, which in this case, this man is not.

    According to the Canons of the Catholic Church on the Eucharist:
    [i] Can. 900 ß1 The only minister who, in the person of Christ, can bring into being the sacrament of the Eucharist, is a validly ordained priest.
    ß2 Any priest who is not debarred by canon law may lawfully celebrate the Eucharist, provided the provisions of the following canons are observed. [/i]

    Therefore, as this man has been lawfully debarred from the priesthood for a good number of years, therefore he is not operating in the person of Christ and it is therefore not a valid Eucharist.

  3. Catholic Mom says:

    “Yet Sanford and his flock say there’s a larger point beyond their small numbers: They have left the Catholic Church to become better Catholics.”

    Unfortunately, they had to destroy the village in order to save it. File under: More Catholic Than the Pope (left-wing version)

  4. High_Church says:

    Typical American baby boomer, whose philosophy is “I know best” and who would not more submit to authority if Christ himself stood before him. So he leaves the priesthood because, like many American Christians, he won’t submit to the authority of the Church to prohibit such action and then he starts his own church and calls it Catholic because he won’t submit to authority. There seems to be a trend here. And I suppose, I should call this trend American, because after all Lucifer and Adam before us, likewise fell in rebellion against God’s love and authority. However, what marks a Christian is our ability to admit our rebellion and place our trust in Christ’s obedience. A concept apparently foreign to Mr. Sanford.

  5. Ad Orientem says:

    Owing to their acceptance of Augustin’s dualistic approach to the nature of the Church, Roman Catholics believe it is possible to have “valid” sacraments outside of the canonical Church. This is not generally accepted by the Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox Churches. See the comment box discussion of this issue [url=http://absnospin.blogspot.com/2010/02/some-orthodox-views-on-catholic-church.html]here[/url].

  6. driver8 says:

    Good to see this used as a springboard for an Orthodox dig at the Catholics…

  7. Ad Orientem says:

    Given that others were debating the question of this ex-priest’s ability to offer valid mass I don’t think that my comment was a springboard. The topic was already opened.

  8. Charles52 says:

    So many inaccuracies, so little time. Someone should send that article to Get Religion!

    It’s interesting that a handful of people leaving the Roman Catholic Church merit a long article (even if poorly written), while 60 people entering the Church doesn’t get any sort of article, at least in the local paper.

    This is a pattern in American media, whether the subject is gays, abortion, or historic Christianity.

  9. Terry Tee says:

    I’m kinda surprised at the discussion above. Archer simply proves my point in citing Canon Law – the Mass is valid (the man was, it seems, ordained) but not lawful. I am baffled that he should think the texts say otherwise. As for Ad Orientem’s little sally, let me just say that I was indeed quoting Roman Catholic teaching. As for the Orthodox viewpoint, Dorothy Parker comes to mind: ‘Those who like that sort of a thing will like that sort of a thing.’

  10. Charles52 says:

    I meant to note also the irony of a schismatic parish named for Blessed John XXIII, who famously claimed for the RCC the title of MATER ET MAGISTRA – Mother and Teacher.

    You also have to wonder if these people have read the actual documents of the Second Vatican Council, or rely on “the spirit of Vatican Two” to guide them.