CV NEWS FEED // The bishop of the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky issued a letter explaining why he removed the faculties of two priests who celebrate the traditional Latin Mass in his diocese.
Parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in the diocese of Covington learned this week that Bishop John Iffert removed the faculties of their pastor Fr. Sean Kopczynski and Fr. Shannon Collins. Eric Sammons, executive director of Crisis Magazine, shared the full letter from Bishop Iffert on social media.
Both priests are from the Missionaries of St. John the Baptist (MSJB), an apostolate started in Kentucky that, according to the MSJB website, uses the liturgical books of 1962 “in an effort to provide a spiritual home for those who have an attraction and attachment for the liturgy, devotion, and catechesis normative before the Second Vatican Council.”
“My sincere prayers for peace and unity among us,” Iffert began in his January 17 letter to the parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes. “I write to inform you that I have requested the resignation of Rev. Shannon Collins, MSJB as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. I have also removed Rev. Sean Kopczynski, MSJB as Parochial Vicar.”
“For some time now, I had serious concerns about the parish’s pastoral leadership,” Iffert wrote.
“I attempted to resolve those concerns in conversation and fraternal correction with these priests, who are brothers and sons to me.”
“Regretfully I have been unable to do so,” Iffert explained:
I take this action after becoming aware that Fr. Collins had preached in the parish that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as celebrated in the current Roman Catholic liturgy, is “irrelevant,” preserves “literally nothing of the old,” and that the reform of the liturgy was motivated by hatred towards traditional Catholics and the ancient liturgies of Rome.
“Both Father Collins and Father Kopczynski maintain these errors and refuse the opportunity to renounce them,” Iffert continued. “This disqualifies them from being granted permission to publicly celebrate the Sacraments using the 1962 Missale Romanum and from leading a personal parish like Our Lady of Lourdes.”
Iffert added, “I did not take this action lightly. I consulted with the Vicar General, the Deans, the Judicial Vicar, and brother bishops before determining the action I must take in this situation.”
According to LifeSite News, Collins previously “refused to concelebrate a Novus Ordo Mass with Iffert.” Iffert’s predecessor Bishop Roger Foys retired in 2021.
“Our Lady of Lourdes was established as a ‘quasi-parish’ reserved for the exclusive celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in 2016,” LifeSite reported:
In 2017, Foys conducted a dedication ceremony of the property. In 2018, he elevated it to the status of “personal parish,” writing in a public statement that “its members have distinguished themselves by their piety, generosity, and love for the Lord and His Church.”
In his January 17 letter, Iffert also wrote that he “[intends] to provide for the pastoral and liturgical care of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and hope to continue this ministry in the Diocese of Covington,” but currently faces “obstacles” to do so.
“The Board of the Missionaries of St. John the Baptist own the current church building,” Iffert explained:
The Missionaries of St. John the Baptist consider it the chapel of their public association. They are no longer willing to permit the Diocese or Our Lady of Lourdes Parish to use the building. I am seeking an appropriate location for the parish liturgies.
Iffert asked the parishioners to “Please be aware that I have removed Father Collins’ and Father Kopczynski’s faculties, to teach, preach, or celebrate the Sacraments of the Church for the time being,” adding that the priests “are to conduct no public ministry.”
“They may celebrate a private Mass for themselves, immediate family members, and members of the Missionaries of St. John the Baptist,” Iffert wrote. “They are not permitted to celebrate the Mass publicly. Please do not ask them to violate this restriction.”
“You are in my constant prayer as I work to resolve these difficulties and provide faithful and true pastoral leadership for Our Lady of Lourdes Parish,” Iffert concluded:
I recognize and thank you for the sincerity of your faith and the strength of your love for Christ and His Church. That love should always lead us to walk together with the Lord in a spirit of communion, humility, and respect for one another. Let us pray for one another and for the unity of the Church.