An Illinois priest who was forced out of his parish by his bishop for improvising prayers during Mass has had his suspension reversed by the Vatican.
The Vatican decided in favor of the Rev. William Rowe on one of three counts, saying Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville, Ill., had not followed the proper procedure.
The Vatican's reversal means he can celebrate Mass in another diocese, Rowe said, as long as he has the local bishop's approval. Others, however, disputed that interpretation of the decree.
In a letter that accompanied the document, Monsignor Antonio Neri, an undersecretary of the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, said Rowe could only return to celebrating Mass “when you shall have acknowledged your error and formally promise to dispose yourself to adhere to the rights and rubrics of the sacred liturgy set down by the lawful ecclesiastical authorities.”
The Vatican sided with the bishop on two counts: upholding his removal from the parish, and agreeing with the bishop's withdrawal of the priest's "faculties" — or his license to practice ministry under church law.