Where Fr. Z Shines

I was critical of him the other day, so it’s only fair to say that I think this is an oasis of sanity in a desert of what he calls “spittle-flecked nutties”. He has some sensible counsel for people prone to infer the Apocalypse from Francis’ actions.

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  • Laura Lowder

    I agree with you.

  • freddy

    Fr. Z.’s exhortations to “go to Confession” and his articles about that sacrament have been immeasurably helpful to me, and I will always be prayerfully grateful to him for that.

  • Dan C

    “Liberals and progressivists seem to be able to set aside some of their differences to band together to create a larger force and lobby.  Together with the effects of Original Sin and the help of the Devil, their ability to work together is one of the reasons why they usually win.  They still control most of the structures and entities in the Church.  The Biological Solution is working on them, but slowly.  It works on all of us, by the way.”

    Clear culture war rhetoric.

    Outside the demonization of his opponents as being from the Devil, which I find highly offensive, his reckoning of history is off.

    As far as liberals controlling structures, one can ask the Pope, a man from South America, how much support he received during the dark days if the 1980’s and 1990’s from the Vatican as a US supported government persecuted his brother priests and lay people. Or how much Vatican support his order got during the 1980’s before priests and lay were murdered at UCA in 1989.

    Philadelphia has seen Bevilacqua, Rigali, and now Chaput. Raymond Burke has influenced episcopal appointments for a while in the US. Dolan is in NYC, Lori in Baltimore. We have Wuerl and Francis as leading US Cardinals. There are no Weaklands or Bernadins.

    Claiming liberal ascendance in the Church is like the conservatives claiming they were persecuted in the US and had no power in 2002. Nothing but propaganda.

    • RelapsedCatholic

      Such arrogance would be insulting if it wasn’t so amusing. Next he is going to complain about vernacular Bibles and how terrible it is that the lay people can read them.

    • Survivor

      Having survived the liberal hell of seminarian/religious religious life in the 80’s & 90’s, I find your claim that there were no “liberals controlling structures” naive and uninformed.
      The seminary & religious formation system in that era was rife with heterodoxy, sexual libertines & abusers who preyed upon young seminarians.

      The men who strove to be orthodox were identified, persecuted & outcast. The Liberal Inquisition overseen by these men (and women) outpaced any 16th century Spanish auto da fe.

      • Dan C

        I have heard plenty of seminarians who were liberal discuss an oppressive conservative culture during formation, also, from that era.

        I make note of a time period in which lay, bishops, and priests were murdered and tortured while the Vatican and its emissaries were willfully blind and silent. (This includes JP2 and Joseph Ratzinger.)

        Additionally, my note is a current notation about contemporary personnel- I maintain that listening to Fr. Z discuss the “liberal oppression” he faces would be like listening to Karl Rove discuss liberal overlords in 2002. I just can’t buy it, considering the choices episcopal choices in the US for the last 15 years, and the outsized role of Raymond Burke in these choices.

        Fr. Z and his disciples have problems. I suspect these are of their own willful device.

        • Athelstane

          I have heard plenty of seminarians who were liberal discuss an oppressive conservative culture during formation, also, from that era.

          On what planet?

          I just can’t buy it, considering the choices episcopal choices in the US for the last 15 years, and the outsized role of Raymond Burke in these choices.

          Cardinal Burke has only been a member of the Congregation for Bishops since late 2009. He has an impact *now* on U.S. appointments, but it’s very recent. Certainly nothing that had anything to do with the problems that plagued U.S, seminaries like St. John Vianney or St. Mary’s (a.k.a., “the Pink Palace”) in the 80’s and 90’s. Or the bishops and chanceries that oversaw them.

      • Javier

        And, they are appointing their replacements. Progress is slow

  • Katherine

    Fr. Z sounds like a man in crisis mode.

    • Scott W.

      Without elaboration, I don’t know that this means.

  • John Barnes

    Curious how many of the people who are angry about the decision have ever lived in religious life. I have, and these types of issues can cause deep fractures in religious communities, and those fractures can do irreparable harm to an order’s mission and community life (and for the most part, community life isn’t ancillary to an order’s identity and mission — it’s central). There’s a reason why many orders have off-shoots and off-shoots from the off-shoots, etc. The Franciscans seem particularly prone to this.

    “What we need to keep in mind is that this decree is more about a division in a religious community than it is about Summorum Pontificum,” Fr. Z said. He nailed it.

  • Sven2547

    Together with the effects of Original Sin and the help of the Devil, their ability to work together is one of the reasons why they usually win.

    THE DEVIL is working through people I disagree with politically!!!

    So pathetic.

    • Marguerite

      You don’t think the Devil is gladly doing what he can for those who think they can be both pro-choice and Catholic?

  • Javier

    Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot. To wit, the Franciscans were prohibited from offering the Ordinary Form without an indult

    • vox borealis

      The difference being, of course, that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, but one small order of the Franciscans—not all Franciscans—-make up just a tiny percentage of all clergy, so even if such a ruling were made, it would have practically zero impact on the lives of most CAtholics around the world. But for those laity, admittedly now a small percentage, who adhere to the older form of the mass, in some cases having to drive an hour or two to the nearest chapel or church that offers it…to this small percentage this particular decree might have a disproportional impact.

      • Javier

        I think there would be a lot of screaming if the reverse was done. This was part of their charism. Sort of like the Institute of Christ the King (more than the FSSP as others have suggested.)

        • vox borealis

          This was part of their charism.

          I’m not sure the point you’re making. Devotion to the EF was not originally part of the FFI charism, and its addition in 2008 to the “mandate” is what—it seems—started the ruckus. That said, devotion to the OF was never part of the Charism of the FFI, so it seems a little odd to *force* them all to use the OF except by special permission. Yet I don’t see the situation as congruous to a hypothetical scenario such as forcing the ICKSP to use the OF, or for that matter forcing all of the Franciscans to use the EF.

          • Javier

            I stand corrected on the FFI. BUT, you know, the ICKSP does offer the OF. Imagine if they were forbidden.

            • vox borealis

              Are you sure? I’ve been to their seminary in Italy many times, and know several in the order, and not a once have I ever seen the OF.

  • Stu

    Father Z routinely takes hits from Rorate Caeli, National Catholic Reporter and now Mark Shea.

    Sounds like he is doing something right.

    • chezami

      Oh for Pete’s sake. One complaint about an out of line gripe and all of a sudden I’m part of a horde of persecutors. Enough with the wagon circling, particular in a post where I am praising him for doing the right thing. He is not a living saint and he is not above all criticism. Heck. I *defended* him from the claim that he was comparing the bishops to Nazis. Sheesh.

      • Stu

        Yes, you are praising him after a rather bitter attack on his character instead of focusing on an issue where gentleman can respectfully disagree.

        I haven’t called him a “saint”, indicated that he is above criticism nor used the term “horde of persecutors.” Those are your terms,not mine.

        I have simply recognized that he takes flak from various different tribes of differing viewpoints and extremes.

        • chezami

          A priest with no discernible pastoral responsibilities ginning up a mob to accuse bishops of being bad shepherds is throwing stones from a glass house. A priest who has the chutzpah to go on a Caribbean cruise during Lent–and then ditch it to go hobnob in the even cooler environs of Rome for the papal election–is in no position to complain about bishops making merry at WYD. He was out of line. It is not Persecution of the Righteous to call him on it or express exasperation over this dumb contretemps. The reaction to this is *entirely* driven by the fact that it is a conservative Catholic Folk Hero getting criticized. No conservatives wrung their hands when people criticized Fr. Dick McBrien for his snarky comments about the unseemly popular piety of WYD a decade or so ago. But that’s because Dick McBrien is a *liberal* and so it’s fine to criticize him. But when it’s a conservative Folk Hero all of a sudden it’s “Touch not God’s Anointed.”

          • Stu

            Ginning up a mob? Throwing stones from a glass house? Really?

            Then back to the “going on a cruise during Lent” Really? That’s the issue here.

            And then your old standby vilification term, “conservative Catholic Folk Hero” that gets trotted out to…I don’t know…gin up your own mob?

            All because you disagree with him on an issue.

            Sad and bitter rhetoric. Bitter.

            Stay focused on the issues and not the people. Issues. You don’t need to call people names or tear down their character to make a point. Do you?

            And Father McBrien has nothing to do with this issue. Let’s leave him out.

          • Sam Schmitt

            I though the point of Fr. Z’s post was that we Catholics should stop clawing at each other . . . .

          • vox borealis

            priest with no discernible pastoral responsibilities

            What difference does it make if he has discernible pastoral responsibilities? Does that affect the rightness or wrongness of his critique? Does it make him not a “real priest” or something?

            For what it’s worth, here is a “real priest” who laments the bishops behaving in a silly, undignified manner: http://marymagdalen.blogspot.ca/2013/07/embarrassing.html

            • chezami

              It matters because if he is going to gripe about shepherds failing to shepherd, he should try it himself just as he should not stand on the deck of his Lenten Caribbean Cruise ship to declaim about the unseemliness of bishops making merry at WYD. It’s not super complicated.

              • vox borealis

                It matters because if he is going to gripe about shepherds failing to shepherd, he should try it himself just as he should not stand on the deck of his Lenten Caribbean Cruise ship to declaim about the unseemliness of bishops making merry at WYD. It’s not super complicated.

                This strikes me as a pretty strained argument. I found the display fairly unseemly…by your logic I can’t say anything because I’m not a bishop or a “real priest”? Now, I didn’t get all worked up about it. In fact, I simply ignored it, like I do most of the time when the bishops act like clowns. Now, if one looks at the update to Fr. Z’s post, he points out that the merry-making bishops were in fact rehearsing for some pre-liturgy booty-shaking. The kid of thing that really turns me off, but whatever, I guess the kids like it or something. We’ll know in ten years the impact it has on their adherence to the faith.

                Now, what any of this has to do with Fr. Z’s Lenten Cruise is a little baffling to me. Am I to infer that Fr. Z’s unseemliness (if that is what we make of it) somehow crosses out the bishops’?

          • Athelstane

            I was a little concerned there, Mark.

            You made through an entire blog post about Fr. Z without adding the qualifier, “a priest with no discernible pastoral responsibilities.”

            But you’ve corrected the oversight in the combox. I feel that balance is restored to the universe.

          • Javier

            You are so right, Mark. I love reading his blog but concluded long ago that he is an agent of influence. His “pastoral responsibility” lies in keeping traddies of all kinds firmly attached to the GOP. There is a priest shortage I hear. How is the man able to live on a farm in Wisconsin and blog all day? If we find a money trail, we should follow it. He is a paid chameleon. No wonder he gets on so well with Voris. That poor soul makes a living agitating the trads who are starving for red meat and yet he is merely a reporter. The majority of my family are trads of the indult persuasion and they live in and around Detroit. They have NEVER seen Michael Voris at the Grotto or St. Joe’s. There are unconfirmed reports that he assists at one of the most liberal parishes in the area. When I go back, I’m going to snap of photo of him distributing Communion.

            • Javier

              Don’t forget MV started off as a mainstream anti-DaVini Code wannabe apologist. He promoted Opus Dei and TOB. He saw a vacuum left by Corapi. As for Fr. Z check out his sidebar sometime. It’s a treasure trove of neo-con/GOP Catholicism

      • One complaint about an out of line gripe? That’s all you’ve said about Fr. Z?
        To quote the Miz:
        Nobody is saying the man is above reproach, but the idea that your going off on him was just a one time performance is pretty laughable.
        You don’t like him. You think he is a mixed bag, and think he should go take on some real pastoral responsibilities. All that is fair and well. Yet the idea this was just “one complaint”…. okay everyone sees where this is going.

        • chezami

          Don’t be silly. Unclench.

  • Will

    A major point of his blog is that, brick by brick (or preferably faster), the Church should go back to only the Latin Mass of the early 1960’s. I do not agree with that.

    • chezami

      Me neither. And it’s deluionsal to think it will happen. But at least he reined in the lunatic with this post.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      I think that’s a pretty bad mischaracterization of his blog.

      • Will

        I did not say it was the only subject on the blog. What is a good characterization of his blog?

        • Andy, Bad Person

          It is focused on a restoration of the sacred in the liturgy, and his focus, yes, is on the preconciliar Mass, but he intends for it to inform the new Mass. He’s not stupid; he knows the Novus Ordo is here to stay.

          Sprinkle that with some Republican rah-rah-ing, fancy cooking, and a remarkable amount of expensive travel for someone without a parish that has been working on his dissertation for, like forever, and you’ve pretty much got all of Fr. Z’s material.

          “Going back to only the Latin Mass of the 1960’s,” though, isn’t even close.

          • vox borealis

            It is focused on a restoration of the sacred in the liturgy,

            Yes, that is the main thrust of the blog, especially since the new translation of the ordinary form basically put an end to his original intent (accurately translating the mass and comparing it to the woeful ICEL translations of the 1970s). Fr. Z. talks much about the necessity of restoring a distinct Catholic identity, which he sees tied inevitably to liturgy and belief (lex credendi, lex orandi and all that). He stresses the “hermeneutic of continuity” and envisions the Extraordinary Form and Ordinary Form mutually enriching each other as a way to stress and reflect the continuity of tradition. In this, he is right in line with pope emeritus Benedict XVI, and in no way delusional.

          • Stu

            I think the “expensive travel” bit isn’t accurate. Given the places I have been with the Navy, one could call that “expensive travel” but it wasn’t out of my pocket and it was work related. Yet still I got to see some far off and remote places. He travels as part of his job. Given his status, he does have to fend for himself in making a living and often that means trips to do speaking and such that other pay for.

            • Katherine

              He’s a rich boy and likes haute food and wine

          • Will

            I do like the bird pictures. People define sacred differently.

    • Yeah as others said, you really don’t read Fr. Z’s blog do you? He provides commentaries on the Ordinary Form just as much. When he says “brick by brick”, he is referring to liturgical reform in general, and how a good liturgical reform is required for a good overall church reform.
      Something St. Francis of Assisi was pretty hardcore on btw.

    • Athelstane

      Why not?

      Is it because of the Latin?

    • Javier

      That is so false. His blog exists to keep people with views like that on the reservation. The GOP Catholic reservation. All it takes, is to blow some incense their way.

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    I had seen a brief blurb about this yesterday, so I appreciate a more in depth piece explaining exactly what happened and some of the why. Is there really a strong indication that Pope Francis has anything against the Extraordinary form of the mass, or is that just some folks borrowing trouble over the different personalites and styles of FI and B XVI?

    • Guest

      You probably will not see an more in-depth piece explaining the details. As one who is pretty close to the details, I can tell you that

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        Fr. Z’s piece helped it make a lot more sense than the first, very brief, piece I read.

    • the rein man

      You probably will not see an in-depth piece explaining the details any time soon. But as one who is close to the details I can tell you that TLM is being presented as the centerpiece of the issues, but it is, in reality, a secondary issue that is being used to cover for many other things. I don’t know what Pope Francis thinks about the EF, but to use this ordeal to speculate that he wants to end it is a position that can only be taken through malice or ignorance.

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        I recall seeing many worries about it just after his election, but there are no EF masses in our area, so I was curious about the seriousness and validity of the concerns. I didn’t know if this was some sort of indication or not when I first read about it, so I’m glad Fr. Z explained it more. I know the EF mass is very near and dear to the hearts of many now, and would not like to see it closed off due to misunderstandings. I’d love an opportunity to attend one someday.

  • Newp Ort

    Does it make me a bad catholic if this is all a bit “inside baseball” for me?

    • Stu

      No. I’m sure there are plenty of other things that make you a bad catholic.

      (I’m joking.)

      • Dbom


      • Newp Ort

        I LOL’d. Sadly it’s true!

        • Stu

          We probably have the same list for ourselves.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Nobody does inside baseball like Catholics do. It’s one of the great things about our Church.

      What disturbs me about the internet, though, is that even when things get nasty (and I contribute to that), there was a time when we could still sit down at Mass and just be Catholic together, even with That Evil Guy Over There.

      I still like to think that, even after ripping into fellow Catholics, that I can still see them as a brother or sister in the Church, and chalk the rest up to disagreements.

    • It’s written on a blog. Almost all blog commentary is inside baseball, of absolute zero relevance to any Catholic, and mostly exists to fuel the egos of the writers, this one included.

      • Newp Ort

        Oh, you have a blog?

  • Here’s what I’ve always wondered. When we praise someone we don’t like, why do we always have to proclaim what a jerk they are, except for this one time when they agree with me? I wish I could say that I never did this, but we always do. Why is that?

  • Athelstane

    1. The Nazi picture, even with his adamant qualifiers, really was ill-advised. The associations are just too incendiary.

    2. The larger point remains: Brazilian bishops managed to make themselves objects of ridicule – an instance of very poor judgment, even if it falls well short of the Arian Crisis. But then it’s not like most Brazilian bishops haven’t been adept at behavior that invites ridicule. There are many reasons why many Brazilian Catholics are opting for Pentecostalism, and one of them is bad leadership in the Church in Brazil. This isn’t going to bring them back.

    I increasingly think that it would be healthier for many Catholics, and not just traditionalists, to pay a lot less attention to Church-wide things like this, the Pope’s doings included, especially if it raises their blood pressure. That would remove a lot of the raison d’etre for many Catholic bloggers, of course; and I know it’s futile to recommend it (I struggle myself). Chesterton’s remark about what’s wrong with the world leaps to mind.

    If you witness your own bishop doing something silly like this, it may be appropriate to speak up (politely).

  • oregon nurse

    Fr Z is a divider and polarizer at a time when we need to come together. And face it, he just doesn’t come across as very nice guy. I think he has a lot in common with Corapi in his rather independent lifestyle, his tone, and his love of his own voice and celebrity. I wonder how much he keeps in mind that the enemy likes to build up people into a cult of celebrity and then turn them to his own purposes.

    • Javier

      Spot on Oregon.

      Where does he get his money?? Why is his sidebar all GOP approved? He is an Agent of Influence. Ignore the crackpot in the intro http://youtu.be/u-5spgGaNOg?t=8m

      • vox borealis

        Why is his sidebar all GOP approved?

        Huh? How do you figure that? I mean, he has links to the Acton Institute and Hugh Hewitt in the list of blogs he follows, but he also has links to Mark Shea and Jimmy Akin. His link to Rush Limbaugh might be GOP approved, but are the dozens of links to priest-bloggers also so approved? Are you referring to his ad for the Wyoming Catholic College?

        • Culver White

          Are you suggesting Acton isn’t GOP approved? There’s another organisation led by an idle priest during a priest shortage.

          • vox borealis

            I’m not saying that. I *am* saying that only a handful of things on the sidebar are ‘GOP approved,” while at the same time there are decidedly un-GOP-approved things, like the link to this blog. The idea that Fr. Z. is in the employ of the Republican party, as evidenced from his blog’s…sidebar…is tinfoil hat material.

    • A J MacDonald Jr

      Jesus was a divider.

      • TheLeast

        Love the economy of prose, AJ! Hear, hear.

    • TheLeast

      This “come together” trope is an extremely trite and banal formulation employed by mountebanks of the (typically) Leftist persuasion to shout down and marginalize criticism of their objectionable positions and practices. It’s no coincidence that “Oregon catholic” uses Obama-style jargon to demonize Fr. Z….

  • A J MacDonald Jr

    Another step by the Vatican in the wrong direction? I’m sure there are more important things the Holy See could be “fixing”, are there not? It’s funny how the more Catholic peoples become the less the Vatican seems to approve. Same goes for most of the US Churches. Christ and his followers appear to be very unwelcome guests in our Church. Our Church seems to be more interested in conforming herself and her members to the world than in conforming herself and her members to Christ. I guess the peoples who prefer to follow the 2,000 year traditions of the Church aren’t “with it” anymore. Both the world and the Church hate them.

  • Victor

    Thanks for bringing up that Father Z went on a Catholic themed cruise. Imagine that! Going on a cruise! Since when did he deserve such privilige! Now I am feeling very bad and guilty. I sent my kids to a Catholic summer camp. Yes, there will be rosaries and Cathecism. However, there will also be stuff that kids consider fun such as Capture the flag, canoeing, archery, etc. You make a great point that this camp may be too luxurious and that we are becoming hypocrites. My daughter is coming home today and to compensate I may send her to the basement to scrub and clean all weekend. My son is scheduled to go next week and I am considering pulling him out lest he becomes a hypocrite like Father Z.

    • chezami

      During Lent. And he’s dissing the bishops for 30 seconds of jollitty at WYD?