Ad-libbing Ill. priest retracts resignation

by Brian Roewe

NCR environment correspondent

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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Belleville News-Democrat are reporting Fr. William Rowe, the ad-libbing priest who refused to follow the strict translation of the Roman missal, has sent a letter to Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville, Ill., retracting his resignation.

According to the reports, Rowe, priest at St. Mary's parish in Mt. Carmel, Ill., for 17 years, had sent his letter of resignation to Braxton in October, with the bishop waiting until early February to accept it.

The News-Democrat report cites Rowe saying Canon 538 makes his resignation void, since Braxton waited more than three months to act on his resignation.

For reference, Canon 538 reads:

§1. A pastor ceases from office by removal or transfer carried out by the diocesan bishop according to the norm of law, by resignation made by the pastor himself for a just cause and accepted by the same bishop for validity, and by lapse of time if he had been appointed for a definite period according to the prescripts of particular law mentioned in can. 522.

§2. A pastor who is a member of a religious institute or is incardinated in a society of apostolic life is removed according to the norm of can. 682, §2.

§3. When a pastor has completed seventy-Five years of age, he is requested to submit his resignation from office to the diocesan bishop who is to decide to accept or defer it after he has considered all the circumstances of the person and place. Attentive to the norms established by the conference of bishops, the diocesan bishop must provide suitable support and housing for a retired pastor.

Rowe told the Belleville newspaper he hopes his letter to the bishop will lead to more dialogue, but he will offer his resignation again if Braxton requests it.

For NCR's previous coverage on Rowe, click here.

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