Three days ago Asian Journal ran the story "What will happen to the Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado?" Simbang Gabi is a novena celebrated by the Filipino community in preparation for the birth Christ, leading up to the Missa del Gallo on Christmas Eve. Mass is traditionally celebrated before the crack of dawn, and Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado Masses in NYC have been traditionally celebrated in the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue. This year, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan has weighed in, disapproving of Masses for the Filipino community being celebrated outside a sacred worship place. Today's NY Times also provided coverage of this development in Corey Kilgannon's piece, For Filipinos, an Abrupt Directive Alters a Christmas Ritual. Archdiocesan spokesperson Joseph Zwilling 's input:
"Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said the archdiocese informed the Filipino clergy that holding a formal Mass in a nonsacred space like the consulate was against “not simply the politics of the Archdiocese, but the teachings of the church, and it applies to the Filipino community as much as anyone else.”"
As a former Our Lady of Vilnius parishioner, I have become a connoisseur of Archdiocesan press statements. Here are my questions:
- What canon is violated?
- Why now after 25 years of tradition and 2 Christmas seasons with Archbishop Dolan at the helm of the archdiocese?
- Is the purported lack of canonical correctness the cause of the cancellation, or is there a "back story"?
- Where is New York City's local canonical police precinct so laity can phone in a "911" when canon law is violated by the clerical hierarchy?
For the brave who want to research this themselves the canonical code is available on the Our Lady's Warriors site. Otherwise, maybe the consultants at the St. Joseph Foundation might want to field this one.