Father Z Is Not the Enemy

Father John Zuhlsdorf

For weeks—no, for months—I’ve been watching from the dark corners as Catholic bloggers disparage and demean and dismiss fellow blogger Father John Zuhlsdorf (Father Z).  “Who is he?” some have demanded to know.  “Why doesn’t he have any parish responsibilities?”

And what sport it is to assault an enemy of faith and reason, to fluff one’s feathers at the mere mention of his name!  But the thing is, Father Z is not the enemy.

HE IS A CATHOLIC PRIEST in good standing, who seeks to spread the Gospel using the tools available in the modern era.  He is a fellow laborer in the vineyard, and a fellow pilgrim on the road to heaven.  He is NOT the enemy, even if he is more conservative (or less conservative) than you are.

In the greater blogosphere, some have been critical of Padre Z for leading a cruise during Lent.  But wait:  The popular Catholic Answers cruise is scheduled during Advent, another penitential season; and supporters will appreciate the off-season rates and the opportunity to grow in faith during this spiritual season.

The Telegraph’s Damian Thompson has accused Zuhlsdorf of “atrocious anti-gay bigotry” for his report regarding the brutal murder of Mary Stachowicz by a homosexual man with whom she had worked.  Of course, the local ordinary Bishop Thomas Paprocki himself, noting the particulars of the case, had called Stachowicz a “martyr for the faith.”

Sam Rocha wrote a piece this week, criticizing Father Z for likening the Bishops gathered at World Youth Day to the Nazi’s.  The thing is, that may have drawn hits and popularized Sam in some corners; but I knew, as I’m sure Sam knew, that that’s not the point that Father Z was trying to make.

I have not always been a fan of WDTPRS, Father Z’s popular blog.  At least in the past, his caustic criticism of left-leaning Catholics or his snide reference to the “National Catholic Fishwrap” has sometimes made me wince.  I have never doubted, though, that his intent is to foster the good of the Church; and for that, he earns my respect.  Also, because he is a priest, a spiritual father who has forfeited the right to a family of his own, to an intimate relationship with a loving spouse, in order to help people attain heaven—well, for that, too, I am deeply grateful.

In 2011 the Abbey Roads blog took a different approach from Sam’s:  They called for prayers for Fr. Zuhlsdorf, noting that “he really is a good, faithful priest who works generously for the Church and the salvation of souls.”

“Father Z” has consistently ranked at or near the top in the About.com Catholic Blogger competition.  The British magazine New Statesman listed his site as one of the top ten Christian blogs in the world.

I, too, have wondered about just what he does, aside from his writing.  I found the answer in a post on his own blog.  He writes:

I am a priest in good standing in the Suburbicarian Diocese of Velletri-Segni in Italy.  This is one of the little ancient dioceses encircling Rome, thus “Suburbicarian”.  My name appears on my diocese’s website in the list of diocesan priests…. I have no asterisk by my name.  I have faculties to say Holy Mass (can. 903), to preach (can. 764), and to receive sacramental confessions (can. 969.1).

I am living, with the knowledge and consent of my bishop and his predecessor, outside my diocese and in the United States.  I am working on my doctoral thesis, working on the internet, writing as a columnist for different publications, and giving talks at conferences and other events.

I am not engaged in any official external apostolate where I live.  I have no assignment.  I haven’t sought anything on top of what I now do.  I can barely make headway on my thesis as it is!  (It’s about the figure of David as an exemplum of civic virtues between Augustine and Ambrose, by the way, for the Augustinianum.) Since I am not functioning publicly in any way as a priest within the diocese where I live, I do not need the faculties of the diocese and therefore I have not sought them.  I have been in the diocese with the knowledge of the last two bishops of the place.  I don’t know what the present bishop knows. I haven’t been in touch.  [Since I posted this, the situation is changed.  I have full faculties of the diocese and I am publicly functioning in various capacities.]

Read the rest of his personal story here.  It’s an interesting tale:  He converted from Lutheranism while in college, and was ordained to the priesthood by Pope John Paul II in 1991.

In the 17th century, the Archbishop of Split (Spalato), Marco Antonio de Dominis, is reported to have said “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”  Good advice for the modern age, as well.

 

  • oeb25

    He personally, can be okay. But there is a certain subset of gay men who jump on any woman who is not barefoot and pregnant – they mock women and make fun of them, and Fr. Z. tolerates them and doesn’t call them on their crap.

    • Jon Fermin

      can you cite any examples to support that?

      • oeb25

        I can remember one post in particular. Every so often the subject of altar girls comes up –[or women doing anything but the ironing.] On one post a man said that there was a girl who served mass at his church who “walked like a troglodite” then he said “though she probably has a physical disability.” Did Z. call him to task on it? Are you kidding. He didn’t even “notice.” And yet when he was called out on it, he claimed that he didn’t have time to police everything. Mind he STILL didn’t call the offender to task. Most of the men on there are okay. But undeniably, there is a certain subset of men who obviously are misogynistic. From my work with theatre people (a fair number of whom are gay) one of them told me once that some gay men have a REAL aversion to women, and accuse (oddly enough) the ones they don’t like of being dykes, etc. Once one has been in the company of that subset of gays you do notice the gay men who fall in that category, and the way they talk about women in general. Whether he realizes it or not, Fr. Z. has a coterie of “light in the loafers – and really hates women” to boot types on there. It’s vicious, and nasty, and he never calls them on their BS.

        • Jon Fermin

          I am unsure how this is any sign of proof, it seems circumstantial at best. Can you offer anything more specific or provide a link to the post in question?

          • oeb25

            This is just ONE small example. Search “eucharistic ministers” and “altar girls” in general on his blog — this always smokes them out. Any women voicing the slightest kick back over anti-female posts get the full red-edit treatment from Fr. Z. — any male who belittles women will almost always get the blind eye from Fr. Z.

            The link to the post in question:

            http://wdtprs.com/blog/2011/08/should-the-infamous-altar-girl-decision-be-reversed-wm-oddie-opines-wdtprs-polls-included/

            Look for “walks” or “T. Rex” and ask yourself if it would have been TOLERATED for an altar boy to be “giggled at” for walking “funny” even though it was suspected by the writer that she had physical difficulties.

            I guess they would have REALLY had some good barrel laughs over the retarded teenaged girl who very nicely used to regularly serve daily mass at St. Therese in San Diego.

            My own comments on this were, NATURALLY deleted by God-Almighty Z. As no male mocking females can be questioned.

            and this is a relatively mild example. As I say look for posts regards “wimmin EMs” it’s not hard to find condescending “who do they think they are” replies with NO red-lning by Z.

          • Jon Fermin

            granted while that the commenter’s line about walking like a T rex was unnecessary, there is a liturgical case that can be made for all male altar servers and tightening the reigns on extraordinary eucharistic ministers. for the purposes of altar servers, it serves to encourage priestly vocations and acts as preparation for learning the parts of the liturgy in a way that helps in their practice. as there are no women priests, all male altar servers make sense within a liturgical context. it’s our society’s misunderstanding of “participation” in the mass that gives the impression that if the laity are in the pews they are doing nothing. this coupled with political correctness fueled the catalyst for female altar servers. Those who are in the pews are entering into the highest form of prayer in the church, they are receiving Christ in the eucharist. Is this not enough? in reality, given what Fr. Z’s original post was about, this change has had a negative effect on vocations as less boys are being introduced to the mass according to this understanding. as for “wimmin EMs” here the term “wimmin” is a reference to feminists who changed the spelling of woman because it had the word man in it. these sorts of people view the world through the lens of some all-encompassing patriarchal power struggle and fail to grasp the liturgical and theological sense of the priest and why extraordinary eucharistic ministers should be just that: out of the ordinary. because of this, what really should be understood from a liturgical sense is unnecessarily roped into gender politics.

        • wyllow

          Are you implying that Father Z is gay?

    • Richard A

      oeb25, I think I’d appreciate a link to one of Fr. Z’s blogs illustrating that.

      Several years ago – it’s too hard to slog through the archives to find it right now – Fr. Zuhlsdorf offered a long post in response to being copied on an email a traditionalist Catholic in Canada had sent to his bishop. The bishop had refused a request to make the Extraordinary Form available in the diocese, and the email was filled with harsh criticism and personal condemnation of the bishop because of his decision. Father reposted the email, without identifying the writer personally, and offered the following.
      1) an incident in his own life, working in one of the dicasteries in Rome, when he’d drafted a similar letter to a bishop, for the cardinal’s signature. The cardinal, whom he described as one of the holiest men he’s ever met, asked for a redraft with the explanation, “Sometimes it’s best to try the way of love.”
      2) a recommendation to everyone in similar situations not ever to email or write one’s bishop is those terms.
      3) consider not emailing or writing at all.
      4) based on the observation that the email did not manifest either the love of Christ, nor respect for the authority of the bishop. Note: this would have been a bishop with whom Fr. Z would personally have disagreed (and with good reason).

      Halfway through the many responses, the original emailer posted that he had sent a follow-up to his bishop apologizing for the first note, and stating his intention to confess his lack of charity toward the bishop at his earliest opportunity. Not something I’ve ever run across at the National Catholic Fishwrap.

      Traditionalist Catholics, like Fr. Z, believe the Church’s teaching and strive to live as if they believe it, even the very traditional teaching of Christian love and respect for the bishop. He is a polemicist and is frequently harsh in his condemnation of heresy and schism, but is actually quite considerate of the person (not always the person’s views, which is a different thing). And he does urge his readers not to judge the person.

    • athelstane

      … gay men who jump on any woman who is not barefoot and pregnant…

      Who are you talking about?

  • Amy

    A thoughtful post.

  • James Patton

    I think that with proper guidance, Father Zuhisdorf can become part of the solution instead of one of the many problems. “Take-overs happen when something is not working. Think about the LCWR. (No, I am not drawing a moral equivalence.)” – Father Z

  • SamRocha

    I think it should be noted that the “different approach” of Abbey Roads that Kathy is citing here is a post from 8/8/2011, totally unrelated (and two years removed) from what I wrote. And, furthermore, I never declared Fr. Z to be an enemy, nor have I made any of the questions asked in the intro — that accusation is a red herring. If one reads my post carefully, you will find that I even agree with Fr. Z provisionally, and take issue with only one aspect, based on his own claims. Lastly, Fr. Z removed the things I took issue with, which I see as a good thing on his part and an acknowledgment that my specific critique was not wholly negligible.

    • DN

      She mentions that it was in 2011.

      • SamRocha

        Understood, and good for her, but that alone should reveal the rather loose comparison she is trying to make, all other things notwithstanding.

  • KyPerson

    I like Father Z. He can be a bit bombastic, but I’d rather talk to him than some of the uber feminist nuns I met at my least retreat.

  • Michael Humpherys

    If I may make a few points. You are right to point out that Fr. Z is not the enemy and is a fellow brother (and father) in Christ. However, he is not beyond charitable admonishing, as a spiritual work of mercy.

    The Lent cruise seemed to be at best imprudent. Also, it is true that one cannot hold that the Advent cruise is permissible while the Lenten one is not on the basis of the penitential season. However, the Lenten cruise is more imprudent in that Lent is a more penitential season than Advent.

    Nor can Fr. Z be absolved in virtue of his fame anymore than Fr. Corapi could. I don’t like Fr. Z’s blog for the same reasons you mention, and I have known seminarians and other men who tend to be more uncharitable for reading Fr. Z rather than more. My impression is that Fr. Z’s popularity comes from his willingness to say caustically and forcefully what people want to hear and are often silenced from saying.

    Now, Fr. Z has gone through a great deal of trials, especially in answering his call to the priesthood. It is good to praise and acknowledge the good he has done. However, we must be ever cautious of cults of personality. Priests with great fame are in particular danger as they are already assaulted by the devil (our true enemy) for their priesthood. We must pray for all of our priests and sometimes charitably admonish them when they get off the rails.

  • haggis95

    I enjoy reading Fr. Z;’s columns – mostly – but he is inconsistent: Yesterday, in light of a recent issue, he was calling all Catholics to get along, and especially for traditionally minded Catholics to put aside their bitterness and to be charitable and generous in the support of their parish. Yet today he calls out a fellow priest, a Jesuit, in rather disrespectful language. “First, Reese is playing the drama queen to his base. ”

    I’m sick of Catholics being snide and disrespectful to other Catholics.

    • Shawn

      I’m sorry, but Fr. Reese leads souls away from Christ, which is obvious from what Fr. Z posted and by doing quick google search of his writings. It’s time for Catholics to wake up.

      • Antisthenes

        Q.E.D.

  • http://thebodyguardtob.wordpress.com/ Jim Russell

    Kathy–many many thanks for supplying an important reminder regarding Catholic *unity*, which is of course one of the Four Marks of the Church, although in some cases you would not know it, based on the smell of gunpowder from the circular firing squad that too-often is the Catholic blogosphere.
    Each time a Catholic blogger chooses to “other” (verb form here) a fellow Catholic, whether directly or in passing, by calling them names, saying “something is wrong with you” if you believe X and not Y, we fail as Catholics and as bloggers.
    And it’s not an easy task at all, particularly for anyone who tends to write defensively and not dispassionately. But I see the goal of complete and genuine respect for every *person* in the Catholic blogosphere as the only truly valid means of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this new medium.
    This genuine respect for the dignity of every human person means we cannot and should not “other” *anyone* publicly. Unfortunately, it’s hard to urge people toward this truth because we open ourselves to accusations of “othering” the “otherers”, ironically–we may seem to be claiming “holier-than-thou” moral superiority. But that’s a risk worth taking for the sake of encouraging Catholic unity, in my view.
    Pope Francis’ “who am I to judge” sentiment from this week seems timely, though. We need to ask why Catholic bloggers are often so quick to sacrifice unity (and charity) by “othering” those who are not only our teammates but are our very brothers and sisters in Christ.
    Thanks again, and God bless you.

  • http://www.bringustolife.blogspot.com/ Scott Woltze

    The deeper point seems to be that there’s enormous division in the Church, and anxiety about where the Church is headed. Fr. Z just happens to be a lightning rod for those problems right now. Maybe some Fr. Z fatigue has set in, maybe he’s just a target because he’s been successful and particularly tied to the hopes of the last papacy. As for “Abbey Roads”, best…blog…evah!

  • David Philippart

    Asking who a priest is, and whether or not he has parish responsibilities, hardly seems like “disparaging,” “demeaning,” or “dismissing” some one. Calling the National Catholic Reporter the “National schismatic Reporter,” saying that Father Reese, SJ is “playing the drama queen,” writing that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious “seek[s] to set aside the defined teaching of the Church and simply affirm their own desires” ARE disparaging, demeaning and dismissing of other Catholics in good canonical standing. These are Father Zuhlsdorf’s own words. You are right: Father Zuhlsdorf is not the enemy. But neither are the Catholics at the NCR, the LCWR, Father Reese, or any of the others that Fr. Zuhlsdorf routinely disparages, demeans, or dismisses. Not to mention that the name-calling is so inappropriate for a priest of Jesus Christ.

    • ElizD

      huh? “National Catholic Reporter” is afoul of canon law in several different ways, as their local bishop has pointed out, and said that it should not advertise itself as being a Catholic publication. http://catholickey.org/2013/01/25/the-bishops-role-in-fostering-the-mission-of-the-catholic-media/ They are using the name Catholic without the permission required by canon law, as a past bishop there first censured them for decades ago. It is a dissent publication, which from its very first issue was opposing Humanae Vitae. They are editorially in favor of “women priests”, homosexual behavior, etc. These are not Catholic beliefs; NCR specifically opposes Catholic beliefs in various matters.

      • David Philippart

        And this justifies the name-calling how? Even if you perceive the people at the NCR as your enemies, is name-calling justified? Bishop Finn does cite the canons of the law that he sees the paper as violating. But when was the decree issued excommunicating or even censuring the Catholics involved?

        • athelstane

          The people of NCR *are* our enemies.

          By their own admission.

          It’s long past time to treat them as such.

          And that will require something a lot sterner than mocking them in a blog.

          • David Philippart

            I’d welcome the proof that the people at NCR have admitted that they are any one’s enemies. Prove that their intentions are anything other than challenging the church to be its best. And I agree: Treating someone as an enemy does require something other than mocking them in a blog, using pseudonyms. If one is a baptized Catholic, one responds to one’s enemies with forgiveness and love. “Love your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you.”

          • athelstane

            Yes, Christ commanded that we “love []our enemies.” But he did not say that they cease being our enemies. Christ did not lack for searing condemnations of those in the wrong, even including St. Peter himself.

      • pjm

        Philippart is a contributor to U.S.Catholic Magazine, another crappy, dissenting rag that claims to be Catholic, but is anything but.

        • David Philippart

          Proof that US Catholic is not Catholic?

          • pjm

            Phillip Blosser at Catholic Answers, writes:

            “Here is a list of things I learned from reading this issue (Oct., 2001) of U.S. Catholic:
            Historic Catholic teaching is oppressive, ignorant, arrogant, and outmoded at best; its chants and rituals, its distinction between clergy and laity, its all-male priesthood are residual vestiges of an authoritarian, patriarchal past.
            Apologists for orthodoxy are by definition “mean-spirited.”
            The Church is fallible and can err.
            The Church’s biblical doctrines of original sin must be demythologized and translated into a contemporary idiom compatible with the reigning dogmas of public opinion that pass for science.
            Catholics who are pro-life and anti-contraception aren’t to be taken seriously.
            The heart of the Catholic faith has to do with meeting social “needs” (such as the needs of some women to be ordained), celebrating diversity (such as “womanist” theology and non-Western religions), defending the environment (by opposing global warming, using geothermal heat pumps, et cetera), and, above all, following the democratic “spirit” of the laity.

            http://archive.catholic.com/thisrock/2002/0205fea5.asp

          • David Philippart

            Not at all how I understand what’s written in this issue. This is a pretty skewed interpretation. If all this is true, why wasn’t the Claretian priest who is editor notified, corrected, punished by his legitimate superiors–either in the order or in the archdiocese of residence? The cardinal archbishop of Chicago once did object to an article in US Catholic, and the Claretian priest editor responded accordingly. No censure, no condemnation of the magazine as a whole, no order to stop publishing, no advice from legitimate authority to the faithful to stop reading the magazine. Or do you know better than the superior general and cardinal archbishop?

          • pjm

            I would hope that U.S. Catholic is independent of the authority of the local archbishop, otherwise shame on him for not shutting this dissident rag down. Of course, nothing coming out of Chicago surprises me anymore.

            More evidence:
            http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/reviews/view.cfm?recnum=1521

    • athelstane

      As ElizD notes, it’s an open question (at best) whether the editors of the National Catholic Reporter are Catholics in good standing (a few of their writers are non-Catholics). The paper has been repeatedly condemned by bishops of that diocese going back to 1968. NCR openly dissents from numerous Church teachings (most particularly on sexual teachings, but on plenty others besides), often in caustic terms.

      We can quibble about the right way to respond to such dissent. But no one should be under any illusions about what the staff of the NCR really stands for: It’s not what the Church teaches.

      • David Philippart

        No, it is not an open question. Unless you can produce the official canonical decree by the legitimate authority that has excommunicated the editors of the NCR or placed them under interdict of even formally censured them, they are Catholics in good standing. This is not a matter of opinion, but a fact of the law. While Bishop Finn has criticized the paper and lamented its use of the name “Catholic,” he has not initiated formal canonical procedures that change the status of the Catholics involved. And until he does so, it is calumny to suggest otherwise. And you may quibble about Father Zuhlsdorf’s erroneous name-calling–the people at the NCR are not in schism, which is a formal canonical state–I maintain that the name-calling is ugly, uncharitable, and unworthy of an ordained priest of Jesus Christ.

        • Mark

          I find resorting to “the law” in an attempted defense of the catholicity of NCR to be hilariously ironic. Sorry, David, but your cries about the unfairness of “name-calling” don’t amount to a defense of anything. A “canonical decree” of excommunication is not necessary to prove that one is not a “Catholic in good standing.” It does not take “formal canonical procedures” to prove that someone is not Catholic. Let me give you a concrete example: NCR’s Books Editor, Jamie Manson, is admittedly a Presbyterian and a member of the Women’s Ordination Conference. It says so right on her website.

          http://jamiemanson.com/About_Me.html

          http://ncronline.org/contact-national-catholic-reporter#directory

          Again, it doesn’t take a “canonical decree” to declare that Ms. Manson is not Catholic. We can be charitable enough to take the staff at their word when they tell us they are not, whether it is by label (Presbyterian), dogma (Women’s Ordination) or obedience (maintaining the name “Catholic” against the wishes of the diocese).

          • David Philippart

            Yes, it does. Canonical standing is a technical status determined according to the law by legitimate authority–which you do not have. Attempting to throw other members of the faithful out of the church when you lack the authority to do so, and yes, name-calling, are unbecoming of Catholics, let alone Catholics who are ordained priests of Jesus Christ. It does nothing to build up the body of Christ, and it turns people away from the gospel. Ms. Manson does not say that she is a Presbyterian; in fact, she does not say what her affiliation is. There is no evidence whatsoever that those who work at the NCR are impeded from the sacraments. You do not get to sit in judgment over the state of their souls or ecclesial status.

        • athelstane

          Hello David,

          No, there has been no attempt to excommunicate the editors of NCR (and I regret that). If they’re excommunicate, it’s latae sententiae.

          But the condemnations of NCR are on the record, beginning with Bishop Helmsing (no one’s idea of a traditionalist) in 1968: “NOW, AS a last resort, I am forced as bishop to issue a condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter for its disregard and denial of the most sacred values of our Catholic faith. Within recent months the National Catholic Reporter has expressed itself in belittling the basic truths expressed in the Creed of Pope Paul VI; it has made itself a platform for the airing of heretical views on the Church and its divinely constituted structure, as taught by the First and Second Vatican Councils. Vehemently to be reprobated was the airing in recent editions of an attack on the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the virgin birth of Christ, by one of its contributors.” You can read all of it here: http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=00Cofv

          Since then, NCR has scandalized the faithful by vigorously dissenting from Church teaching on women’s ordination, homosexuality, contraception, abortion…the list goes on and on and on and on. Helmsing demanded that they remove the word “Catholic” from their title. They refused.

          I don’t care for name-calling as a rule, but when the target is someone as tendentiously relentless in their tearing down of the faith while claiming the Catholic label, my sympathy vanishes, as St. Thomas More’s did with Luther (you might be edified to read some of the things he said about him). Official excommunications, of course, would be better. Unfortunately, most bishops today lack the courage of their forebears.

          • David Philippart

            I acknowledge that the NCR has been condemned and criticized by bishops, who nonetheless, thus far have refrained from taking any action that changes the canonical status of the individuals involved. (And they have the authority to do so.) I do not agree that the NCR tears down the faithful by raising questions and generating discussion. I find my faith strengthened, never threatened, by asking questions and by the arguing for the development of doctrine. And I am not edified by St. Thomas More’s personal attacks on Martin Luther (whose canonical status was determined by legitimate authority, by the way). In fact, I lament them–as I lament the murder of More himself at the hands of other Christians. There is no justification for Christians to treat any other human being with disdain or disrespect, let alone another person who is baptized.

          • athelstane

            I do not agree that the NCR tears down the faithful by raising questions and generating discussion.

            With all due respect, this is profoundly disingenuous of you, David. NCR does far more than just “raising questions.” They answer many of those questions, and the answers are completely at odds with those of the Church. In the last several months alone they published a staff editorial insisting that the Church is wrong not to ordain women. Not “raising questions.” They have answers, and they demand that the Church overturn its teachings to conform to those answers.

            There are ways to hold healthy discussions about Church teaching. What the NCR is doing is not that. They have an agenda. And they want the Church to conform to that agenda.

          • David Philippart

            I am not being disingenuous. I profoundly disagree with you.

          • athelstane

            I am not being disingenuous. I profoundly disagree with you.

            And, apparently, you profoundly disagree with the Church.

            At least be honest about that. Is that so much to ask?

          • David Philippart

            I do not profoundly disagree with the Church. I disagree with you. Is it so much to ask that you stop assuming that you can read someone else’s soul? That you acknowledge that you have no authority whatsoever to exclude any one from the Church? Unless you are a pastor or bishop of course, in which case perhaps you should identify yourself!

          • somnipod

            Old aging hippies at NCR will disappear soon enough. We just need to wait a few years, and continue to pray the nuns will get off the bus and back into their habits.

        • Paul

          “Unless you can produce the official canonical decree by the legitimate authority that has excommunicated the editors of the NCR or placed them under interdict of even formally censured them, they are Catholics in good standing. This is not a matter of opinion, but a fact of the law.”

          I hope that you are not a canonist, as this is a manifestly incorrect conclusion of law.

          • David Philippart

            Fine. Prove to me how a Catholic is determined to be not in good canonical standing.

          • David Philippart

            Specifically, who has the authority to declare a member of the faithful as not being in good canonical standing?

          • thecommentator

            The declaration IS NOT necessary. Have you ever heard about excomunication latae sententiae?

          • Ann Margaret Lewis

            Correct. One excommunicates oneself when one persistently denies or acts against Church teaching. It seems the NCR does this quite frequently (that’s what latae sententiae is, David). One does not need a formal canonical statement of this as one does it to oneself. Please research the term and come back when you have a clue.

          • MarkJ

            In case someone is looking for a reference . . . Canon Law is here:
            http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_INDEX.HTM
            You can use the excellent alphabetical search to find things quickly (such as “heresy”). I have a link on my desktop–right next to the links to the Bible and the Catechism–and I use them whenever I have a question about my faith.

            Here is the canon folks are referring to . . .

            Can. 1364 §1: Without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 194, §1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication; in addition, a cleric can be punished with the penalties mentioned in ⇒ can. 1336, §1, nn. 1, 2, and 3.

            Sometimes the Latin words need their own Google search. This is a good example. Wikipedia describes “latae sententiae” as . . . a Latin phrase, meaning “sentence (already) passed” . . . and Google Translate maps this phrase from Latin to English as “the sentence passed”. Notice the past tense.

            So, Mr. Philippart, you (and the likes of NCR) have already been excommunicated based on the same law you heretically refer to so often. I strongly encourage you to schedule a meeting with your bishop as soon as possible to make a valid confession and make a plan to become a Catholic in good standing again. Your eternal soul depends on your expedience in this matter!

          • Paul

            With respect, that’s not how it works.

            You made a claim invoking canon law and yet providing no canonical authority in support of your assertion. What is freely asserted can be freely denied. If you wish to convince others of the correctness of your position, you ought to provide the proof that Catholics are “in good standing” unless they have been excommunicated, placed under the interdict, or censured through “the official canonical decree by the legitimate authority.”

            That is, if you really want to. Such a proof would be rather off topic. But if that’s something you want to do, the proof should probably address canons 171, 316, 915, 1007, and 1184. It may also be worthwhile to explore the difference between sin and crime and the extent to which both categories affect in a canonical sense the ability of a Catholic to participate in the life of the Church.

          • David Philippart

            Thank you–this is very helpful. I will follow up on your suggestions for further study.

            I would like to speak accurately and precisely, and I value your opinion.

            Is it accurate to say this?

            A member of the Christian faithful (who is not a sacred pastor or who lacks the proper office) has no authority to determine the canonical status of another member of the Christian faithful.

            Again, thank you.

    • somnipod

      All of these statements are true. How is the National Catholic Reporter” not schismatic? Take a look at the definition and the garbage they crank out over there (and here on Patheos) and decide if its schismatic….

  • stefanie

    Although I have not registered as a blog commentator there (because I may get eaten alive by my more-clever and devout fellow Catholics), I absolutely love Father Z for his honesty, his knowledge of Catholic history, his love of Latin which I am slowly beginning to grasp, his passion for Holy Mother Church and for the priesthood, his interest in ham radio, his TEOWTAWKI references. Through him, I’ve learned more about the traditions of the Church than I would through any other blogger. And I enjoy driving around in my popemobile on which are “Thank you, Pope Benedict” car magnets courtesy of Father Z’s swag store. He — and many Catholic bloggers — are in my daily Lauds prayers (as are you, Kathy).
    I’ve been a reader of his blog for awhile now and honestly, have gotten to the point, where I KNOW when this or that blog post will cause heads to explode (to use Elizabeth Scalia’s recent terminology re postWYD Papa Francisco). His posters are fairly predicable in their responses and to me, it’s all great Catholic fun.

  • Bill Foley

    The problem that I have with Father Z’s blog is that it is a sounding board for those who disdain the ordinary form of the Mass, Vatican II, Blessed John Paul the Greatest, ecumenical efforts, etc., and he never seems to correct these people.

    • athelstane

      Blog comboxes draw all sorts, and usually the more passionate sorts. I learned long ago not to judge bloggers too much by who posts in them.

      Perhaps it’s all relative. There are certainly traddie blogs out there with readership that has a very critical attitude toward the Pauline Missal (Ordinary Form). Fr. Z’s combox, with rare exceptions, seems much milder than that on the whole. Most prefer the TLM to some real degree, but don’t seem Pavlovian about the OF.

      …Blessed John Paul the Greatest

      You know, when I first read this, I was beginning to think you were tugging on on our shirts a little.

      • somnipod

        “Traddie” Sounds like this is the new term for liberal Obama-voting “Catholics” out there?

        • Guest

          Traddie = Traditionalist. Not a liberal Obama voter.

    • Gordis85

      One of the main reasons I have pretty much stopped visiting his blog. I no longer can tolerate his mostly negative/critical commentary with regards to Pope Francis. Always, about what he says, does, wears, does not do, does not say. So biased in his opinions as I bet he would never once say anything negative about Papa Emerito Benedict. (I am happy Papa Benedict gets along fine with Papa Francis).

      I am well aware of the many struggles and divisions the Church has so rather than visit sour naysayer websites, give me Father Robert Barron anytime or the fine Priests from EWTN. From them, I have learned much, loved the Church more, as a result, and follow Papa Francis with much more understanding and appreciation for who he is and for what he says.

    • oeb25

      BINGO, Bill. If anyone voices the slightest concern about the traddies they get the full “red marker” treatment. But boy the traddies pistol whip people who normally attend the ordinary form of Mass, and he will smile beatifically and never call them to task.

      • somnipod

        eob, and Bill Foley – Whats a “traddie” – You mean a Catholic thats not pro Gay-Marriage or pro-abortion? If someione loves the extraordinary form of the mass, does that make us “traddies”? How are those numbers in the “New Mass”?

  • Patrick Coffin

    Strictly in the interest of accuracy, our upcoming cruise is scheduled for early November (catholicanswerscruise.com). Advent begins December 1. ’tis all.

  • ElizD

    I am surprised there is still any confusion about Fr Z’s status. He is in perfectly good standing as a priest. I live in Madison WI and Fr Z has faculties, and ever since this past Advent he now celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass regularly on Sunday mornings (he is the usual celebrant when he is in town) at the Cathedral Parish, which is my parish. And I attend that Mass and can say he is a really excellent homilist; his homilies are nothing like blog posts, they are quite
    simply excellent homilies that one learns from and is helped and edified by. There was at least one occasion when he celebrated the principal parish Mass, in the Novus Ordo of course, on a rare Sunday when both the rector and Bishop Morlino were away. I have seen him on various occasions concelebrating at ordinations, at Cathedral Holy Week Masses, attending benefit events, etc. Sometimes he has substituted for Mass for some of the parish priests if they are in need and ask him. He does give talks in the parishes sometimes if a pastor invites him to give a talk. Etc. I have found that he is an extremely kind and interesting person to talk to, which I have on various occasions, sometimes at some length.

  • t

    I love father Z, he say a lot of things people find it tough to hear. God Bless us all and especially The Z.

  • Alan Sides

    I think that cruise was with Michael Voris.
    Makes you wonder if he does his research.
    I’m still wondering what the pictures of communion in plastic cups was all about.

    • somnipod

      Alan, the “communion in plastic cups” was at World Youth Day. Liturgical abuses are a regular occurrence at those (see dancing bishops in Rio). The masses that were offered on the cruise were in the Extraordinary Form, more reverent than the widespread Novus Ordo Masses

      • Alan Sides

        Yes I know, I read the opinion piece. I’m wondering what it was all about because it didn’t have a point. Apparently you misunderstand what constitutes a liturgical abuse and assume you know what is most reverent which would entail reading the hearts and minds of others. Something only God can do. Either way, its poor form for a Priest to accept a freebie cruise earned in large part by blaspheming the Church. Not only is it scandalous to appear to support blasphemy, but its egotistical, vain and destructive of his own credibility. Which is why I wondered if he’d done his homework, Perhaps he didn’t know Voris made a habit of breaching the norms of licit theological dissent. If he did, it would be my guess that there is residual Lutheranism that’s more deep seated than meets the eye. I don’t know how else to explain being stroked enough by the overt scrupulosity of Voris, to jump ship and literally get on board with the detractions and calumnies of misguided militancy TV.

        • somnipod

          “Blaspheming the Church” – How so?
          “Licit Theological Dissent” – Where is dissent “licit” before it becomes schism?
          FYI – Church Militant is a real theological term. There is nothing “militant” about what Voris or Fr do or say. Everything is properly Catholic.

          • Alan Sides

            Dissent can be illicit before actual schism. Militantism is overtly misguided when its blasphemous and uncharitable. In other words, toxicly detached from the gospel. Its blasphemous when it meets the definition of blasphemy in tone and tenor. That is why much militant tv purporta is blasphemy and not properly catholic at all. This is why they were required to remove catholic from their name. One would think that would be humbling, however, like the fish wrap, its met with obstinance. Its such obstinance and tone that cause calumny and detraction to make licit dissent become illicit.

  • somnipod

    Father Z is a good man. I only wish we had more like him, instead of the “Church of Nice” which has caused a loss of faithful men in the Church (i.e see Fishwrap and LCWR schism)

  • wyllow

    There really is no comparing Lent to Advent. That was a complete fail.

  • Montenegro

    So you are saying you like the National Catholic Reporter? Jeepers, Patheos bloggers lose credibility with me by the minute…

    • Dale

      erm… huh? Where did you get the idea that Kathy Schiffer likes the National Catholic Reporter?

      Her only comment regarding the publication was that she was uncomfortable with Fr. Z’s name-calling. While I know this is part of his style which attracts readers, this kind of snarkiness also doesn’t sit well with others. It seems petty and childish, and unbecoming the dignity of a priest.

      I agree that the National Catholic Reporter is frequently at odds with Church teaching, and I wouldn’t turn to it as a primary source. However, the paper can be criticized (and dismissed) in a more dignified manner.

      Kathy, in her article, was defending Fr. Z against his attackers. Did you notice that?

      • Bruce

        I read Fr Z regularly, and his (almost ritualised) snarkiness towards NCR and some of the more progressive religious communities is a sign for me to skip to the next post. I read him for lots of other things, like:

        Catholic news (who’s been assigned where, obituaries, etc.).

        Commentary on said news.

        His interpretation / explanation of Papal announcements. He is a good counter-weight to the more flighty traditionalists, here. He is very respectful of Francis’ announcements, even if he was initially (respecfully) disappointed with some liturgical choices. This was in stark contrast to some of the mouth-foaming on other more traditional blogs. He has been heavily promoting the fast that the Holy Father has called for peace in Syria, for example.

        His non-alarmist commentary on relations with the SSPX, which is of interest to people like me who value the Extraordinary Form of the mass.

        Fr Z is not actually a traditionalist, in that he is happy to say the Ordinary Form of the mass, notwithstanding his strong attachment to the Extraordinary Form. In fact, his advice to his fellow clergy about celebrating the Ordinary Form well, which is deeply informed by the more ancient tradition, may be one of the more significant aspects of his work, if of less direct relevance to myself.

        God love you all.

  • Noreen Elizabeth Ringlein

    Pope Francis: “words can kill”

    (Vatican Radio) Where there is God there is no hatred, envy or jealousy, and there is no gossip that can kill.

    This
    was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily this morning as he
    celebrated Mass in the Casa Santa Marta after the summer break.

    Listen to Linda Bordoni’s report…

    The
    Pope first reflected on today’s liturgical reading which tells of the
    meeting between Jesus and the people of Nazareth as recounted by the
    Gospel according to Luke.

    The Pope noted that the people of
    Nazareth with whom he had grown up, admired Jesus, but at the same time
    expected great things from him: “they wanted a miracle” to be able to
    believe in Him. And when Jesus told them they were without faith, they
    were filled with fury, drove him out of the town, and led him to the
    brow of the hill to hurl him down headlong”.

    And Pope Francis
    reflected on the reading pointing out that a situation which had started
    off with admiration was to end with a crime: they wanted to kill Jesus.
    Because of jealousy and envy. This – he said – is not just something
    that happened two thousand years ago: “this kind of thing happens every
    day in our hearts, in our communities”. And he made the example of when
    somebody new enters a community, on the first day – he said – people
    speak well of him; on the second not so well; and from the third on
    gossip and badmouthing starts to spread and end up skinning him”.

    The
    Pope elaborated on the concept quoting from the first letter of St.
    John 3, 15 in which he says: “He who hates his brother is a murderer”.
    We are used to gossip – he continued – “but how many times our
    communities, even our families have become a hell in which we criminally
    kill our brother with words”.

    A community, a family – the Pope
    continued – can be destroyed by envy that sows evil in the heart and
    causes one to speak badly of the other”. In these days, Pope Francis
    said, days in which we are speaking so often of peace, we see the
    victims of arms, but we must also reflect on our daily arms:
    “badmouthing and gossip”. Every community – the Pope concluded – must
    live with the Lord and be “like heaven”.

    “So that there is peace
    in a community, in a family, in a country, in the world, we must be with
    the Lord. And where the Lord is, there is no envy, there is no
    criminality, there is no hatred, and there are no jealousies. There is
    brotherhood. Let this be our prayer to the Lord: never kill your
    neighbor with words”.

    Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/09/02/pope_francis:_%E2%80%9Cwords_can_kill%E2%80%9D/en1-724883
    of the Vatican Radio website

  • rds

    Sorry to say, Mr. Z is not a priest in “good standing.” In fact he is not a priest at all. He was “ordained” in the new rite, a rite that has the same deficiencies as the Anglican rite declared by the papal bull Apostolicae Curae to be “null and void.” Yes, his Latin and skills as a homilist are good, but that does not a priest make. If you haven’t yet seen his website, be sure to go there with credit card in hand. You’ll have more than enough opportunities to buy him expensive gifts (why should he buy them himself?) donate cash, pay for his prayers, etc., etc. Or better yet, find a real Catholic priest (ordained in the traditional Roman rite) who says the Mass of Pope Pius V (not John XXIII). Yes, believe it or not, the battle is not between liberals and conservatives, it’s between Catholics and non-Catholics. And – happy day – you’re find that the real priest (though poor himself) is more concerned with saving your soul than pocketing your money.

    • Athelstane

      In fact he is not a priest at all. He was “ordained” in the new rite, a rite that has the same deficiencies as the Anglican rite declared by the papal bull Apostolicae Curae to be “null and void.”

      I’m led to conclude from your remark here that you’re a sedevacantist.

  • Anton Seidl

    Reading all these blogs reaffirms my belief that we are no longer ONE Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Satan indeed entered the temple during the second council. We are a church divided. Those few of us traditional Catholic who are left today, will soon pass from the scene. Then there will be no more opposition; the church will be just another protestant congregation and all will be happy and sing Kumbayah!

  • fniper

    As always the hope of the Church lies in the passing of the faith from parent to child, not on those who thrust themselves into the fray with unknown motives.

  • Bob

    When I was in the seminary we had quite a few washouts. They wanted to be priests but couldn’t hack it academically or psychologically. After they were let go they’d try applying to a neighboring diocese only to get rejected. Then they’d apply to dioceses outside of the US or to one of your more extremely conservative religious orders who have a penchant for the Latin Mass, Ecclesiastical Heraldry and discussing how many tassels a Protonotary Apostolic has on his cassock’s sash.

    And not getting faculties from the local Ordinary because you’re ministry isn’t public? Weird. Granted, priests don’t usually ask for faculties when they’re visiting another diocese for a short time but when they live there for months? Something is up.

    I have seen lots of priests “in good standing” who are complete screw-ups shuttled around dioceses and religious orders because no one wants to deal with him.
    The term only means you can identify yourself as a priest, wear the garb and celebrate the sacraments. It’s not a testament to your abilities.

    I see Fr. Z regularized his position canonically. Good. But he’s got to see how his history might raise red flags. American ordained for Italian Diocese and then living and “kinda” serving in the US? Such canonical arrangements are sometimes done for cash you know!

  • A.T.

    This guy is not a priest.Anyone ordained/consecrated in the post June 1968 rite is invalid.This is why we attend a true catholic church that doesn’t acknowledge vatican 2 rites, sacraments,mass,etc..Our priest was ordained in the true rite and celebrates the 1946 mass.

  • https://twitter.com/Percy_Gryce Percy Gryce

    Kathy, you haven’t read much about Marco Antonio de Dominis, have you?


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