- The Washington Times - Friday, April 23, 2010

The Catholic bishop of Tulsa was tapped Thursday morning as a last-minute replacement to lead a massive Latin Mass slated for Saturday at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception after the original celebrant, a Colombian cardinal, stepped aside after being linked to the church’s clergy sex-abuse scandal.

Bishop Edward J. Slattery will preside at the ornate solemn high pontifical Mass - to be said in Latin - after Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, 80, was named in the French press accounts last week for lauding a French bishop who refused to cooperate with authorities to remove a pedophile priest from his duties back in 2001.

“I admire these people,” Bishop Slattery said Thursday of the organizing committee for the Mass, which has been three years in the planning.

“They are very good Catholics and so I felt, ‘If you need me to come, I’ll come.’ They know I have a history of liking our [Latin] liturgy,” the bishop said.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), an advocacy group for victims of clergy abuse, said it had no comment on the Slattery choice.

SNAP had publicly objected to plans to invite the Colombian cardinal, saying it showed insensitivity to the depth of the pain caused by the scandal. Organizers of the Mass, led by the Bethesda-based Paulus Institute, in turn said the protests against the cardinal were part of a larger attack on Pope Benedict XVI and the church as a whole.

Paulus Institute President Paul King said the decision to disinvite Cardinal Hoyos was made Tuesday night because of the thousands of extra dollars required in security costs in the event SNAP demonstrators picketed the Mass.

Was the cardinal disappointed? “I think so,” Mr. King said. “He is an interesting person and a devout person.”

The Tulsa bishop is best known among Latin Mass aficionados for encouraging a traditionalist monastery, Our Lady of the Annunciation Monastery of Clear Creek, to operate in his diocese.

Thousands of participants, including retired Washington Cardinal William Baum, are expected to attend and the Mass will be aired live on EWTN starting at 12:30 p.m. Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl will be in Atlanta on Saturday and will not attend.

“It’s a very special moment for the church, especially for the Fraternity of St. Peter,” Bishop Slattery said, referring to the priestly society that serves as ministers to the bishop during the Mass, “and for those Catholics who pray the traditional liturgy. We need the extraordinary form [of the liturgy] to not lose our roots.

The 69-year-old bishop was brought up learning the Latin Mass.

“I was raised on it,” he said “It’s all we knew.”

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