REV. JAMES PARKER PASTOR OF HOLY CROSS PARISH
June 15 , 2021
My dear Faithful of the Parish of the Holy Cross,
As this Mass has ended, and I have invited all of you to “go in peace”, I wanted to communicate to you the faithful present, and all the parishioners of this Parish, that my term of appointment as your Pastor has not ended.
Why, you may ask, am I going into this detail regarding my appointment? Because all of you need to know and have a right to know that canon law, specifically canon 522 of the Code of Canon Law provides the following:
Can. 522 A pastor must possess stability and therefore is to be appointed for an indefinite period of time. The diocesan bishop can appoint him only for a specific period if the conference of bishops has permitted this by a decree.
This means that if a Bishop does not set forth in his letter of appointment of any pastor that his term is six years, then the universal law of the Church holds that the term of years is “indefinite”.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops clarified on September 24, 1984, with the recognition of the Holy See, that a bishop can appoint a pastor for six years, but it never said that a bishop can legislate 30 years in advance any six-year terms of appointment without the Bishop even making reference to such definite term in a specific letter of appointment of a pastor.
Canon 538 provides the following:
Can. 538 §1. A pastor ceases from office [inter alia] by lapse of time IF he had been appointed for a definite period according to the prescripts of particular law mentioned in can. 522.
When my service as your pastor began on July 1
of the Diocese of Rockford, the Most Reverend David J. Malloy, did not stipulate in his letter of appointment that my term would be six years. In fact, there was no stipulation whatsoever of any term of years. This fact has been confirmed to me in writing by Bishop Malloy himself in a letter
he sent to me dated June 8 , 2021.
2014, almost seven years ago, the Bishop
The key word here is “if” – “if” he had been appointed for a definite period of time. I, as your Pastor, was not.
When I communicated to you recently that today would be my last day as your pastor, it was following the orders given to me by Msgr. Steven Knox, the Vicar for Clergy, who in turn received his from the Bishop. Now, however, that I have read the provisions of the law itself, consulted with some of the world’s foremost experts in canon law based in Rome, and prayed earnestly for guidance from the Lord above, I have formed a decision in conscience that I am juridically and therefore morally obligated to remain as your pastor if and until the provisions of the law of the Church have been duly observed and determine otherwise.
Regarding Fr. Jared Twenty’s appointment by the Bishop as parochial administrator of this Parish beginning tomorrow, I refer to the following terms of canon 539 of the Code of Canon Law:
Can. 539 When a parish becomes vacant or when a pastor is prevented from exercising his pastoral function in the parish by reason of captivity, exile or banishment, incapacity or ill health, or some other cause, the diocesan bishop is to designate as soon as possible a parochial administrator, that is, a priest who takes the place of the pastor according to the norm of can. 540.
Since His Excellency the Bishop of Rockford has not legitimately appointed Fr. Twenty as parochial administrator of this Parish of the Holy Cross, I cannot and do not recognize his appointment as having any canonical effect. He is welcome to pray in the Church, but not attempt to usurp my ecclesiastical authority as your pastor and govern the Parish, its employees, or its parishioners, because his decree of appointment, once again, is predicated upon a vacancy of a parish that does not exist.
Please know that this decision on my part to observe the law of the Church rather than the illegitimate fiat of my diocesan Bishop was not taken lightly. All of those who know me, know that I am the last person on Earth who wishes to have a disagreement with anyone, least of all that which concerns my sacred ministry to you.
Please, in your spontaneous expressions and communications of any support towards me, always, always, remain respectful and prayerful towards all ecclesiastical authorities.
Please pray for our Bishop, that he may exercise his episcopal ministry in this matter in conformity with the law of the Church.
Please pray, my dear faithful, for me, your true pastor of this Parish of the Holy Cross, so that I may bear a cross that indeed has not been sought, but instead imposed upon me to carry for as long and as far as the Lord and His Church will decide.
Thank you. May God bless you, always.
(Rev.) James Parker
Pastor of Holy Cross Parish