Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dark Ages return in Baltimore? (updated)

Baltimore’s new Roman Catholic archbishop removed a priest who was pastor of three South Baltimore parishes for offenses that include officiating at a funeral Mass with an Episcopal priest, which violates canon law.

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien personally ordered the Rev. Ray Martin, who has led the Catholic Community of South Baltimore for five years, to resign from the three churches and sign a statement yesterday apologizing for “bringing scandal to the church.”

Martin led the funeral Mass on Oct. 15 for Locust Point activist Ann Shirley Doda at Our Lady of Good Counsel with several clergy, including the Rev. Annette Chappell, the pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Redemption in Locust Point, Martin said.

Sean Caine, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, said this was one example of repeated administrative and liturgical offenses Martin had committed in more than a year.

“Father Martin’s received advice and counsel on numerous occasions from the archdiocese, and he has repeatedly violated church teaching,” Caine said.

Chappell did not participate in the consecration of the Eucharist but read the Gospel at the service, Martin said. Someone at the service reported to the archdiocese that Martin gestured to Chappell to take Communion, though Martin said he did not recall doing so.

Only ordained priests and deacons may read the Gospel at Mass, and non-Catholics may not receive Communion.

“I think that canon laws exist to protect the church from extremism. I don’t find that this is such an extreme situation,” Martin said.

Joyce Bauerle, a longtime friend of Shirley Doda, said having Chappell at her friend’s funeral service was a beautiful, ecumenical tribute to a woman who battled the status quo.

“What, are we in the Dark Ages again? This is absolutely ridiculous,” Bauerle said.

Victor Doda, who now operates the family funeral home, said he learned of Martin’s fate after conducting a funeral with him. . . .

“This ruins my mother’s legacy,” he said. “My mother would be turning in her grave to know that a priest was being victimized like this.”

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