against Very Reverend Gerard Dowling
brought by John Lilburne
on 14 November 2000.
The case is introduced before the Judicial Vicar of the "Tribunal
of the Catholic Church, Victoria & Tasmania", Australia,
the Very Reverend Ian Waters.
The respondent is Very Reverend Gerard Dowling, Dean of Saint
Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, which is his domicile.
What is being petitioned? That the respondent receive a penalty
for infringing my rights by breaching the following canons:
I was instituted to the ministry of lector on 27 February 2000,
at Saint Patrick's Cathedral. I made it clear to the respondent
that I was an instituted reader and available to read at the
Cathedral. This was communicated in three letters and in an interview
with the respondent (on 10 August 2000). Despite my being available
and regularly attending Mass at the Cathedral I was not permitted
to read there (at all, since making myself available by my letter
of 4 July 2000). Instead the readings have been done by lay people
who had not being instituted to the ministry of lector. According
to the canon this should only occur when instituted lectors are
lacking - "deficientibus ministris". The respondent
did not reply until his letter of 25 October 2000, which made
it clear that he intended to continue with not allowing an institued
lector to read.
In not allowing me to read, the respondent "damaged unlawfully
the good reputation of another person"- myself. As part
of the Rite of Institution, Archbishop Pell had publicly prayed
that the institued lectors would be "faithful to the work
entrusted to them". Those who later saw me at the Cathedral,
but not reading, may draw the conclusion that I had not been
faithful to the ministry or that the ministry was somehow removed
as a penalty for some offense. If I had been allowed to read
I would have earned a good reputation from doing so, but this
was denied me.
I was also thus denied a "decent renumeration" despite
the expenses I incurred in "appropriate formation"
(required by Canon 231.1) and fulfilled by my studies at Catholic
The respondent failed to follow the liturgical books which call
for the use of instituted readers. As a participant in the liturgy
I have the right to have the sacraments celebrated according
to these books. Particular instructions from the liturgical books
that were not followed by the respondent were:
General Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, n 51: "The
reader's ministry, which is conferred through a liturgical rite,
must be held in respect. When there are instituted readers available,
they are to carry out their office at least on Sundays and major
feasts, especially at the principal Mass of the day."
Caeremoniale Episcoporum, n 31: "in celebrationibus,
quibus Episcopus praeest, decet lectores rite institutos legere
...". This has been translated as: "in celebrations
presided over by the bishop it is fitting that readers formally
instituted proclaim the readings".[Footnote 1: Ceremonial
of Bishops (Minnesota, Liturgical Press, 1989) page 25.]
General Instruction to the Roman Missal (1975 edition), n
66: "The reader has his own proper function in the eucharistic
celebration and should exercise this even though ministers of
a higher rank may be present."
In not allowing me to read, this breached the "freedom of
ecclesiastical ministry" which I have as an instituted reader
(in accordance with Canon 230.1).
I do not expect the fact that I am an instituted lector to be
contested, but if necessary, the testimony of witnesses or Cathedral
records could be obtained.
I do not expect the respondent to contest his responsibility
for deciding who reads at the Cathedral, but if necessary evidence
of this could be presented.
Attached are copies of the correspondence between the respondent
and myself, as evidence of the respondent's understanding of
the situation and his response to it.
14 November 2000.
1. Copy of John Lilburne's Letter of 4 July 2000.
2. Copy of John Lilburne's Letter of 14 September 2000.
3. Copy of John Lilburne's Letter of 13 October 2000.
4. Copy of Very Reverend Gerard Dowling's Letter of 25 October
Copyright J.R. Lilburne, revised 2 April 2001. Last
updated 3 July 2002.