March 26, 2018

This was originally a posting of exchanges that took place on my public Facebook page, in a thread regarding Ross Douthat and his book, To Change the Church. A friend of mine was criticizing (with great vigor!) my critique of Ross Douthat from two years ago: long before his book came out. He objected to my posting his words here, so I have removed them and will now briefly paraphrase (in brackets) his objections, that I counter-respond to. Ross Douthat’s words will be in blue.



[I was accused of completely missing (and hence, misrepresenting) the point of Douthat’s 2015 Erasmus Lecture that was reprinted in First Things in January 2016]

There is no question that in the past quotation, Douthat bashed Vatican II itself: precisely in the manner that reactionaries do. I didn’t intend to engage in an in-depth critique of that. I am simply documenting it, as something most Catholics understand to be self-evidently wrong.

Whether it is an “injustice” or not. I have documented the fact that a Protestant reviewer wrote the statement: “I don’t think Douthat could’ve written a better apologetic for Protestant arguments against the papacy.” It sure gave this Protestant comfort in his Protestant belief in the non-necessary, arbitrary nature of the papacy itself. We are causing the weak to stumble, in other words.

I think that’s very troubling that his book is being perceived (rightly or wrongly) in that way. And to me it’s perfectly understandable, because in these respects he is thinking precisely like Protestants do: something I’ve noted that reactionaries do, for over 20 years now.

[My friend said that I didn’t adequately consult context]


I did quote him a great deal when I critiqued him two years ago. Plenty of context . . .



[It was said that I egregiously misinterpreted Douthat’s article in First Things, and that I merely quickly ran through it to quote-mine, and that I was engaged in sloppy, shoddy research]

Fine. Now please show me how it is not the case that Douthat has attacked Vatican II in its essence. If indeed, I’m being so “sloppy” (which is entirely possible), at least I am doing it in defense of the Holy Father, and not tearing him down every day.

On pp. 98-99 [of his new book, To Change the Church], Douthat wrote about Pope Francis’ alleged teaching on marriage and family:

For a pope to contradict his predecessors so flagrantly, to break with a tradition so deeply rooted and recently reaffirmed, was supposed to be literally impossible — precluded by the nature of papal infallibility, prevented by the action of the Holy Spirit, and unimaginable given the premises that conservative Catholics brought to these debates. Indeed, if a pope could bless communion for some adulterers using premises explicitly rejected by his immediate predecessors, it would suggest that the Orthodox and Anglicans were closer to the mark in their view of church authority than the Catholics — that the pope might be a fine symbol of unity, but that as the last word on faith and morals his authority had been rather exaggerated for at least a thousand years.

This is a lie; therefore it bashed Pope Francis. He has never countenanced giving Holy Communion to unrepentant adulterers, and the “hard cases” he has brought up are no different from what Pope Benedict said. Therefore, it’s a lie that he is “using premises explicitly rejected by his immediate predecessors.”

There is no contradiction; no break in tradition. Douthat falsely thinks so because he is operating on false premises, and is thinking like reactionaries, who think that all popes since 1958 have been contradicting previous tradition. That’s why they are now starting to up their attacks on Benedict: previously their darling. They’re beginning to adjust their thoughts to an even more radical mindset: akin to the sedevacantists.

Hence, it is alarming that Douthat and Lawler attack Vatican II directly, because it is indicative that they are on the slippery slope of reactionaryism.

I’ve been studying the reactionaries and debating them for over twenty years. That’s how I can make such remarks about them, and why I see similarities in the pope-bashers. I can’t unknow what I know from long years of experience.

[I was told that Douthat did not directly attack Vatican II; he was merely recounting the disastrous implementation of it over fifty years]



You have criticized my critique of Douthat’s Jan. 2016 First Things article.


Okay; here are the facts of the matter. Because it’s a bogus, silly charge, I have to take my time counting up words, to overthrow it.

Douthat’s article was 5302 words. I cited 1348 of those words, or 25% of the whole, in my reply article. These 1348 words comprised 30% of my own article, which was 4498 words.

That is hardly quote-mining or ignoring context: to cite 25% of an opponent’s 5300-word article: 6 pages out of 24. I quoted from his article the equivalent of one of my 1000-word articles for National Catholic Register + 348 more words. That’s a typical Armstrong color-coded back-and-forth dialogue format (very well-known to my readers): of which I have posted many hundreds: tons of my opponent’s words with a link to their piece for full context. Many times I will cite all my opponent’s words, but at over 5000 words, that wasn’t possible.

I called no one a heretic. That’s absolutely asinine, and proves that you obviously don’t read my words very carefully, or understand them. And here you are railing against my alleged sloppiness!? I don’t call reactionaries heretics (I call them Catholics, which is why I deliberately included “Catholic” in my coined term, “radical Catholic reactionary”). Nor do I call reactionaries schismatics (many others do). Occasionally I call them quasi-schismatics. I don’t call SSPX heretics. I call them schismatics (though some disagree that they are). I call sedevacantists heretics. And that may be technically incorrect, if you ask a canonist. I don’t claim certainty for that.

Nor do I call Lawler and Douthat heretics or schismatics or even reactionaries. I call them orthodox Catholics and say that they are thinking like reactionaries in two key respects (Vatican II-bashing and pope-bashing). I was quite deferential and kind to Lawler, I think, in our short interactions before he decided to split: far more charitable by any measure than his rather acerbic attitude in his interactions with me.

The key portion I cited in disagreement was this:

Conservative Catholics need to come to terms with certain essential failures of Vatican II. (italicized in his original).

He then goes on to chronicle all the nonsense that followed the council, the “spirit of Vatican II” etc. Everyone understands that. I don’t object to that analysis because it’s a truism and unarguable.

But he does blame the council itself (unlike what you claim he was arguing). He wrote, shortly afterwards:

[A] major part of Vatican II’s mission was to equip the Church to evangelize the modern world, and that five decades is long enough to say that in this ambition the council mostly failed. Since the close of the council, we’ve seen fifty years of Catholic civil war and institutional collapse in the world’s most modern (and once, most Catholic) societies, fifty years in which only Africa looks like a successful Catholic mission territory, while in Asia and Latin America the Church has been lapped and lapped again by Protestants. The new evangelization exists as an undercurrent, at best, in Catholic life; the dominant reality is not new growth, but permanent crisis.

This doesn’t mean the council was a failure in its entirety, or that arch-traditionalists are right to condemn it as heretical, or (as more moderate traditionalists would argue) that the council itself was primarily to blame for everything that followed. The experience of every other Christian confession suggests that some version of the same civil war and institutional crisis would have arrived with or without the council.

But we need to recognize, finally, that for all its future-oriented rhetoric, Vatican II’s clearest achievements were mostly backward-looking. [my bolded emphases]

He nuances it, as he well should, but it is still the case that he is blaming in some measure VCII itself. This is wrong. It doesn’t even make logical sense. The Council called for more evangelization and lay participation in many ways, and engaging the modern world in terms it can understand.

He says the council “failed” in this ambition. But it no more failed than Jesus did when He said to love others as He loved us. The council gave the good and true advice and we failed to put it into practice. We are to blame, not the council, and not Jesus when He commands difficult things that we never live up to.

But Douthat clearly blames the council, because he says it wasn’t “a failure in its entirety” by which it follows that he thinks it failed in part. And he says it had essential failures.” I’m saying it didn’t fail at all. Again, we failed, as is always the case. A council can’t fail in giving good and wise and helpful advice. Only people can fail at implementing same. The only way a council can fail is in teaching false doctrine (or in a lesser way, by giving crappy, bad advice), and we believe that ecumenical councils could never bind Catholics to falsehood. Vatican II taught the most about conciliar infallibility of any council.

As I showed in another [Facebook] post today, noting reactionary site One Peter Five‘s review of the book: it shows that Douthat played the “ambiguity” card in the book, which is straight out of the reactionary playbook. Here is Maike Hicksons’ statement, with several Douthat citations:

While further discussing the council, Douthat shows how ambiguities were deliberately placed into its documents – “because the Council had many authors, and because many of those authors were themselves uncertain about what could be changed” (p. 23) – so that in some way, two different readings, the liberal as well as the conservative, were “in some sense intended by Vatican II.” With regard to the topic of religious liberty, for example, “there seemed to be a plainly-revised teaching, but even where there wasn’t there was a new language, and the apparent retirement of older phrases and rhetoric and forms.” Importantly, the author adds: “And this linguistic shift inevitably suggested a new teaching, to those who wished to have one, even as it stopped short of offering one outright.” [italicized word was, it appears, in Douthat’s book]

That’s going after the council itself, on a much more subtle level. As I stated in the other post:

It wanted to have it both ways; it was two-faced, equivocal (in plain English: dishonest, and in the end, anti-traditional; in conflict with past Catholic tradition).

Critics of Pope Francis are now saying exactly the same thing about him: he’s sneaky, “jesuitical’; won’t say what he really means; if he expresses something orthodox, it’s a mere fooler to keep the people hoodwinked, etc., etc. What goes around, comes around.

Douthat is thinking in a flawed way about an ecumenical council as well as a pope. He’s doing it, and so is Lawler (which I have documented as well), so it is quite proper that I would point out these striking, alarming similarities.

His thought may have evolved in the last two years (further right: towards the reactionaries), but there it is. He’s saying that the council deliberately intended to be capable of being read in both orthodox and heterodox ways.

That’s how the reactionaries have talked since 1965. And if you had studied them like I have, you would know that (and perhaps you do). Therefore, you could hardly deny that Douthat (in the book excerpts cited by Hickson) was thinking as they think (and not like Pope John Paul II or Benedict XVI would think) in this respect.

I am thankful to you for giving me this opportunity to cite even more of Douthat’s reasoning and make my existing argument much stronger than it was.

It’s possible that I am reading too much into some of his criticisms of Vatican II, which is why I will keep a close eye on further developments, but I believe that it’s also true that he has a different view than the last two popes, and that is worrying. Given such a choice, I go with the popes, not Douthat. They know a lot more than he does, and they have the charism that he doesn’t have.

[For a continuance of this discussion with others, including Karl Keating (very vigorous exchanges indeed!), see my Facebook cross-posting of it]


Photo credit: Vatican II: November 1962. Photo posted by “manhhal” (5-14-16) [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]


March 24, 2018

Is Douthat’s book of strong criticism of Pope Francis a good or bad thing?

This occurred on my public Facebook page. Karl’s words will be in blue.


Dave, I presume you haven’t read Douthat’s book. I haven’t either. It isn’t due to be released until Tuesday of next week. Yet you haven’t hesitated to condemned the book, sight unseen. 

You seem to be relying on two things: first and foremost, a kneejerk reaction to anything critical of Pope Francis. You call Douthat’s book “pathetic” without having read a word of it. It well may be “pathetic,” though I would find that unlikely, given Douthat’s high level of writing and care in wordsmithing otherwise. 

Second, you have condemned the book based on a review by Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter. [see the link] Since when have you been putting stock in his opinions and representations–are you even familiar with much of his (very liberal and heterodox) writing?–and since when are you using the “Reporter” as a trusted source? 

Winters complains that Douthat doesn’t provide as many citations as he would like. He complains that Douthat quotes “articles mostly from Edward Pentin, Sandro Magister and John Allen.” This is rich! For years John Allen was NCR’s top reporter, until he went off to set up his own gig, originally under the auspices of the Boston Globe. Allen, despite his personal liberal predilections, is a fine reporter, but he seems to have committed the ultimate sin, in Winters’ eyes, of jumping ship, and so Allen becomes one with Edward Pentin.

That’s the kind of thinking Winters exhibits in his review. Once I read Douthat’s book, I expect to find what Winters claims to have almost no relation to what Douthat actually has written. Winters, it seems obvious to me, is cherry-picking–and not out of high journalistic principle. 

You’re doing something similar with your uncritical acceptance of Winters’ condemnation. In calling Douthat’s book “severely flawed,” even though you haven’t seen it yet, you diminish your own credibility as an analyzer. You’ve been throwing around words such as “garbage” with abandon, not just regarding Douthat’s book but others too. Such words aren’t the words of critical thinking but of kneejerk reaction. 

I expect better from you.


But he still hasn’t read the book [referring to me, talking to someone else]. Since when has it become okay to “review” books one hasn’t even seen?

Hi Karl,

I will not waste my time reading Douthat’s book, like I did reading Lawler’s. He and you and his wife were all carping at me to read it (I hadn’t even planned to), or else I couldn’t say a word about it. Well, I did read it, then wrote five lengthy reviews [one / two / three / four / five], with crickets from Phil, his wife, you, and everyone else: not one substantive reply to my critiques. Then I wrote the distilled Amazon review (by far the most substantial critical review there) and further articles. Crickets all around.

Nor did I review it before I read it (as I was repeatedly falsely accused of doing). I merely noted that Phil had two characteristics of the three that typify reactionaries (pope-bashing and Vatican II-bashing). Initially, I was going by direct quotes from the Introduction that you provided in your review, and was commenting on those only.

The same is the case with Douthat, as I showed today (I wrote about him two years ago). And it’s true that at least one prominent Protestant said about the book, “I don’t think Douthat could’ve written a better apologetic for Protestant arguments against the papacy.”

So I won’t read this trash, but I did read Lawler’s book, and you or anyone else is more than welcome to actually interact with my specific arguments against it.

I noted that his remarks about Allen and CWR were off. I don’t agree with everything he says, just as you say you don’t agree with everything Lawler says, or every argument he makes, just because you positively reviewed his book. Touche!

[here are my relevant remarks, made in the same thread:

I don’t think Catholic World Report is “lunatic fringe” but apart from that odd categorization, obligatory politically liberal digs at Trump and The Wanderer, and a few other things here and there, it’s worth recommending, . . .

I thought that was weird, too [Allen being considered anti-Francis] . But we’re in a sad age of hyper-polarization and cliquishness, and sometimes people get carried away, knowing who’s who anymore.

Even an unplugged clock is right twice a day . . . [referring to National Catholic Reporter]

Well, we have to take what we can get, warts and all. There are so few good critiques of the fashionable garbage now proliferating, and more and more venues won’t publish them. So we get a partially flawed, name-calling analysis of a severely flawed book in a far-from-perfect flawed venue. But it’s better to have it than not.]

I am using very strong, prophetic-type language with regard to our present situation and the pope, because it is extremely serious and dangerous, and people need to be warned. It also makes me very angry (I would say it is righteous indignation) at how stupid Catholics are being, and how the devil is winning such an easy victory, dividing us all over the place.

There is a time and a place for such warranted rhetoric, and plenty of biblical examples of it. On occasion I use such language and polemics: when I think it is justified and necessary.

But I’m not just ranting and raving with no substance. I’m providing plenty of substance, in my reviews of Lawler, on various aspects of reactionary connection to the current mess (such as their current attacks on pope Benedict) and now in this article I did today on Douthat.

That substance can be interacted with and refuted (if it is faulty). But no one (who is critical of Pope Francis) is willing to do so. You are capable of it, but thus far, you have chosen not to, since our discussions about Lawler in January [one / two], where you made a few substantive replies, but not many.

I expect better from you, too: some actual rational counter-replies to substantive, specific arguments that I am making.

[further related comments made by me in that thread and a second Facebook thread]:

God help us from our stupidity.

Malcolm Muggeridge famously wrote about “The Great Liberal Death Wish” many years ago: analyzing how liberalism inevitably self-destructs under the weight of its innumerable false premises. Now we have “The Great Catholic Death Wish.” The only thing saving us from the present madness and idiocy and a dreadful self-inflicted suicide of the Church is God’s promise of indefectibility.

Thank you Lord! Without that, we’d turn into Anglicans within five years, at the rate things are going. Even the hapless, ever-evolving, believe-in-less-stuff-all-the-time Anglicans aren’t stupid enough to countenance daily bashing of the Archbishop of Canterbury or Queen Elizabeth. Only we are dumb enough to engage in such self-evident ludicrosities against our own leader.


There is no question that in the past quotation, Douthat bashed Vatican II itself: precisely in the manner that reactionaries do.

I didn’t intend to engage in an in-depth critique of that. I am simply documenting it, as something most Catholics understand to be self-evidently wrong.


I have documented the fact that a Protestant reviewer wrote the statement: “I don’t think Douthat could’ve written a better apologetic for Protestant arguments against the papacy.”

I think that’s very troubling that his book is being perceived (rightly or wrongly) in that way. And to me it’s perfectly understandable, because in these respects he is thinking precisely like Protestants do: something I’ve noted that reactionaries do, for over 20 years now.

With all the incessant pope-bashing going on, it sure gives them comfort in their Protestant belief in the non-necessary, arbitrary nature of the papacy itself. We are causing the weak to stumble, in other words.


In the end, what it amounts to is a Protestant / dissident Catholic / quasi-schismatic reactionary ecclesiology.


They want to blame the thing itself in both cases (VCII, Amoris Laetitia), rather than the actual distortion: which is liberals’ distorted interpretation of both.

It’s one thing to say that Blessed Pope Paul VI was and Pope Francis is, too lax in correcting these distortions (I would tend to agree in both cases), but that’s not what is going on.

It’s direct attacks on VCII and AL as heterodox, which both Lawler and Douthat have done. Thus they follow the same fallacious, erroneous spirit in condemning AL, and Pope Francis with it.


Photo credit: A Protestant Allegory (The four evangelists stoning the pope, together with hypocrisy and avarice), by Girolamo da Treviso the Younger (1508-1544). The painting was commissioned by King Henry VIII of England and was hanging at Hampton Court Palace at his death in 1547. [Wikimedia Commons /  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license]


March 24, 2018

It’s Ross Douthat who is being used as a puppet of the devil, not Pope Francis.

There are many “blessings” that flow from the current slew of best-selling pope-bashing books: Phil Lawler’s Lost Shepherd (see my many articles on that) and Ross Douthat’s  To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism, that I specifically address now:

1) They help to undermine the faith of the average Catholic (whether they think logically or consistently about it or not) in Catholic ecclesiology, the institution of the papacy, infallibility, and indefectibility. Thus (mark my words) they will lead to many abandoning the Church.

2) They undermine the traditional characteristic of reverence and deference towards the pope, as the leader of the Church, which follows scriptural injunctions concerning honor and respect towards rulers and leaders.

3) By undermining the papacy, indirectly, other Catholic doctrines also become implicated. The relatively unsophisticated Catholic in the pews (and pubs) starts to question things, because he or she hears the false rumors that even the pope has done so.

4) They make a laughingstock out of the Catholic Church, since even non-Catholics know that the pope (and his office) ought not be treated with such contempt; and it is a disgraceful, utterly unseemly outward display to the watching world. As such, it works against people seriously considering becoming Catholics.

5) And it confirms Protestants and Orthodox in their mistaken views that the papacy is unbiblical, and a non-necessary office in the first place.

The first thing Martin Luther did when he decided to go his own way and revolt against the Catholic Church was attack the pope. And he did so with lies, talk of the “antichrist” and scurrilous mocking illustrations. This approach remains a key trait of anti-Catholic rhetoric, lies, and polemics to this day. The last thing I did before yielding up my own strong evangelical Protestantism and bowing to the wisdom of the ages in the Catholic Church, was fight ferociously against papal infallibility, as I have written about in great detail.

The latter is very close to the heart of any educated Protestant, because it is utterly contrary to their rule of faith: sola Scriptura.  In that view, Scripture Alone is the infallible source of faith. That means that tradition and popes are not infallible. This is why Luther, early on, in his debates (in 1519), went after infallibility. He knew it was a central issue.

The devil’s victory today is that he has Catholics inside the Church doing the work traditionally reserved for non-Catholic critics (i.e., they are “useful idiots”). He just sits back and enjoys himself to no end, watching the stupidity and gullibility of Catholics, and laughing and mocking us to scorn. Now we have the pathetic spectacle of millions of Catholics judging and lying about the pope, gossiping about him and trashing him on a regular basis.

And so, as I confidently predicted, now we are seeing Protestants rejoice in these pope-bashing books, and noting that they back up their own claims of skepticism towards the very office of the papacy. Evangelical Protestant Collin Hansen, editorial director for The Gospel Coalition, wrote an article, entitled, “What If Pope Francis Isn’t Catholic?” (3-20-18), which was a review of sorts, of Douthat’s To Change the Church. It’s actually a fairly well-argued, measured, temperate piece (far more so than 90% of the pope-bashing trash that we are getting today from fellow Catholics).

He’s simply being a consistent evangelical. It’s the Catholics who are being inconsistent and hypocritical, and thinking much like evangelicals. If I were reading the same pope-bashing stuff in 1990, when I was seriously considering conversion, and railing against papal and conciliar infallibility as self-evident absurdities, I would have had a field day with it: stuffing it into my Catholic friends’ faces. It would have been my Exhibit #1 in the group discussions in my home that led to my conversion.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have even become a Catholic (at least not in that year). After all, I was so stubborn that it took Cardinal Newman’s ultra-sophisticated historical arguments about development of doctrine to bring me to my senses and admit defeat in debate.

So what does evangelical Hansen conclude, in reading such a book? Here is how he sums it up:

Not that he intended to do so, but I don’t think Douthat could’ve written a better apologetic for Protestant arguments against the papacy.

There you go, folks. This is supposed to be something that will edify Catholics and persuade Protestants to join us? It will have exactly the opposite effect. Even if the arguments in it were true and factually correct (they are not), it would have the same effect. But it’s all the more tragic that it will cause such skepticism and abandonment, being a pack of lies about the Holy Father. Here is how Hansen describes the outrageous premises of Douthat’s volume:

What if Pope Francis isn’t Catholic? What if he aims to overturn centuries of dogma? What if he plans to stack the College of Cardinals with liberal allies who will ensure his revolution can’t soon be reversed? What if he banishes his conservative critics to the church’s periphery? Who, then, will enforce the teaching on sexuality and marriage preserved against Western cultural trends by the late Pope John Paul II and self-titled Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI? Indeed, how can the vicar of Christ so confidently dismiss the words of Christ on marriage and adultery from the Gospels?

Yeah, what if? And what if none of these charges are true, as I and many others have, I think, shown again and again? What then? How would we get the genie back in the bottle? How would we unscramble that egg? It would be the perfect Satanic storm. I critiqued Douthat’s own severe flaws in thinking a little over two years ago, before this book was ever heard of.

At that time, Douthat said that “Francis is not a theological liberal.” He was mostly critiquing his economic and social views (it’s the typical regrettable either/or dichotomy between the Church’s doctrinal and social teaching), and contending that he was too lax against the liberals in the Church.

Douthat lacked faith in the indefectibility of the Church already by then, and he bashed Vatican II, which is the second of the three hallmarks of the radical reactionary Catholic (the other two being pope-bashing and ordinary form / Pauline Mass-bashing). Thus, the stage was set for his current no-holds-barred attack against the pope. He wrote:

Conservative Catholics need to come to terms with certain essential failures of Vatican II. For two generations now, conservatives in the Church have felt a need to rescue the real council, the orthodox council, from what Pope Benedict called “the council of the media.” . . . the council as experienced by most Catholics was the “council of the media,” the “spirit of Vatican II” council, and that the faithful’s experience of a council and its aftermath is a large part of its historical reality, no matter how much we might wish it to be otherwise. But its deliberations simply took place too soon to address the problems that broke across Catholicism and Christianity with the sexual revolution and that still preoccupy us now. Which is not to say that what the Church needs right now is a Council of Trent, exactly. The recent Synod on the Family suggests that, if attempted, the outcome would be either empty or disastrous.

In other words, he is thinking like a reactionary in two of three key respects. That’s the backdrop of his papal bashing now. I replied to this paragraph in my paper about him:

What has occurred is no more the failure of the council itself, than it is a failure of Pope Francis when the media and popular secular culture distort his view on a given subject. This is not an essential failure of Vatican II. Douthat seems particularly confused on this point: throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The misguided liberal “spirit of Vatican II” only proves that people delude themselves about the magisterium, and try to spin and distort it to the public. The fault for that lies on those who do it, not the council. Is this not utterly obvious?

I’ve documented how Phil Lawler was also starting to attack Vatican II itself. I’ve also demonstrated the heavy influence of past reactionary thinking in the signatories of the Filial Correction of the pope. Lawler — just like Douthat — questioned the authority of an ecumenical council (Vatican II). He did this in an article at his Catholic Culture site, dated 23 August 2017:

Did the problems that arose after Vatican II come solely because the Council’s teachings were ignored, or improperly applied? Or were there difficulties with the documents themselves? Were there enough ambiguities in the Council’s teaching to create confusion? If so, were the ambiguities intentional—the result of compromises by the Council fathers?

. . . the proponents of change can cite specific passages from Council documents in support of their plans. So are those passages being misinterpreted. Are they taken out of context? Or are there troublesome elements of the Council’s teaching, with which we should now grapple honestly? One thing is certain: we will not solve the problem by pretending that it does not exist.

This is classic reactionary thinking, folks. I know that, because I have studied the reactionary mindset closely for over twenty years. I have a major web page devoted to it (probably the most extensive from any orthodox Catholic), and have written not just one, but two books on the topic.

I’m doing my job as a Catholic apologist: studying serious errors within the Catholic milieu and warning people about them; showing how and why they are wrong. This sort of lack-of-faith, gossipy, fear-mongering mentality lies behind a great deal (not all) the current pope-bashing. The chain of thought, from one error to another, is clear as day.

Remember, Protestants deny that ecumenical councils are infallible, too, so once again, the pope-bashers exhibit another key trait of both radical reactionary, liberal Catholic, and Protestant thought: ecumenical councils can be questioned, and their results distorted and co-opted in plans to pervert their actual objective meanings (precisely what is being done now to the papal document Amoris Laetitia also). Hansen continues:

Douthat also repeatedly warns Francis against trying to remake the Catholic Church in the Protestant image. But conservative Protestants, at least, would actually recognize and support many of Douthat’s claims, . . .

How utterly ironic that statement is! It’s clearly Douthat who is thinking like Protestants and Catholic reactionaries (notorious for thinking like Protestants). After all, he is deliberately undercutting / questioning / bashing the authority of both a pope and an ecumenical council: both things that Protestants characteristically (and at least self-consistently) do. Luther attacked the pope and he attacked councils as self-contradictory (they “can and do err”: so said he at the Diet of Worms in 1521); therefore untrustworthy.

I noted sixteen days ago on my Facebook page that Protestants were being emboldened by Lawler’s book in the same way (“Thanks, Phil Lawler. Now the Anti-Catholic Protestants Are Taking Notice of Your Book and Mocking the Church as a Result”). This time it was the guy who runs the website, “excatholic4christ.” He wrote:

For centuries, Roman Catholics have proudly boasted to Protestants that their church alone was guided by the infallible “Vicar of Christ” and that the Holy Spirit would prevent any pope from leading the church into doctrinal error. . . .

This book is an absolutely incredible resource for evangelicals like myself who scrutinize the Roman Catholic church and have been observing this ongoing “Amoris” controversy. I read the entire book in only two sittings. We have not witnessed a similar crisis in our lifetime, as conservative Catholic clerics and lay leaders are absolutely bewildered by their pope and advising the laity to disobey him. My prayer is that this crisis will lead many Catholics to question the false claims once routinely made about their pope and the other man-made traditions of their church and to seek out the unchangeable Savior who offers them the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

I also wrote about (on 2-22-18) how former Catholic Rod Dreher loves Phil Lawler’s book, too. Of course he does! It confirms his decision to leave the Catholic Church!

Douthat and Lawler precisely parrot Luther, dissident Catholics, and reactionary Catholics. And that’s why their books (not even getting to their innumerable errors and fallacies) are so outrageous and spiritually (even morally) dangerous to the flock, and to non-Catholics as well. Avoid them — and the gossip and trash-talk that invariably surrounds them, in comboxes and cocktail parties — like the plague, and warn others to do so as well.


Photo credit: Photograph by Kallistii (5-7-14) [Pixabay / CC0 Creative Commons license]



March 2, 2016

Newsflash!: God Continues to Supernaturally Guide His Church, Despite Manifest Sins & Shortcomings of Men


Socrates Teaching Pericles (1780), by Nicolas Guibal (1725-1784) [Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 France license]

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Socrates is the single largest non-Christian influence on my thinking and apologetics methodology. My love of back-and-forth dialogue and massive use of it as a teaching tool ultimately stems from him (with honorable mention to Peter Kreeft as well). Socrates taught by example, the technique of relentless examination of the premises of one’s dialogical opponents. That’s a lot of what I do: at least in dialogue. I like to call it “going for the jugular”: in a dialogical / gentlemanly discussion sense.

For the premises that one assumes are utilized as the foundation for larger theories and “grand opinions.” If the premises are wrong, so are the theories built upon those foundations of sand. And folks are often unaware of their own false premises, so that they all of a sudden introduce them (usually unconsciously) into a stream of reasoning. Quite often, readers don’t realize that the false premise was “smuggled in.” It itself has to be analyzed, as to whether it is true or false. If a false premise is assumed without proper scrutiny, then the person making a particular argument is building upon sand. His argument doesn’t follow. It’s fallacious, or at least insufficiently grounded in logic and (perhaps also) fact.

This approach will explain much of what I state below in reply to Catholic writer Ross Douthat’s much-discussed article, “A Crisis of Conservative Catholicism” (First Things, January 2016). His words will be in blue.

Given the endless debates about what the current pontiff actually believes, it should be stressed that Francis is not a theological liberal as we understand the term in the United States. He is too supernaturalist, too pietistic, too much of a moral conservative, too Catholic for that.

This is true, and it’s good that Ross says this, but he seems to forget what he says here, later on, as we shall see.

However, his economic views are a little more radical and a lot more strongly felt than those of his immediate predecessors, he plainly feels that the Church under John Paul and Benedict laid too much stress on issues like abortion and marriage and not enough on poverty, immigration, and the environment,

Yes. All of this can be (and I think is) true, without the Holy Father being a theological liberal (nor an “indifferentist” on abortion and marriage). The Catholic Church allows a wide latitude of economic positions, and a third way which isn’t totally consistent with either capitalism or socialism. Ross acknowledges this himself later in the article, so it is not at issue. This “third way” critiques the manifest excesses of the former, and the manifest failures of the invariably secularized versions of the latter. Catholic social teaching is really a thing in and of itself. I myself (full disclosure) am a distributist: an economic way of thinking popularized by G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, directly based on Catholic social teaching (particularly that of Pope Leo XIII).

Pope Francis is no more necessarily “liberal” than Chesterton and Belloc were, simply by virtue of speaking about economic issues in a way that sounds a bit “foreign” to [materialist / corporate] capitalist American ears. And it’s simple enough to find similar economic / social sentiments, in his two predecessors. This is nothing all that new. The emphasis is greater (granted), but not the essence of the socio-economic thinking.

and he has sympathy for liberal proposals—particularly concerning divorce and remarriage—that seem to promise to bring more people back to the sacraments and full participation in the faith.

That is an assumption (or premise) not sufficiently established. At the moment, we are waiting to see what he says in his pronouncement about the Synod on the Family. There are plenty of indications that he will uphold the existing moral tradition and restriction of reception of Holy Communion as it is now.

Put those tendencies together, and you have a pontificate that—in words, deeds, and appointments—has reopened doors that seemed to be closed since 1978, offering liberal Catholicism a second chance, a new springtime of the sort that seemed hard to imagine just a few short years ago.

Now we see Ross jumping to conclusions based on false premises. Nothing in what he said three entries back is “liberal” or destructive of Catholic tradition. Nor is it proven that the pope is some kind of liberal regarding divorced people receiving Holy Communion. Yet Ross  leaps from those things to the wild assumption that he is “offering liberal Catholicism a second chance, a new springtime . . .” He has done no such thing. It’s been projected onto him, no doubt, in the current virtual hysteria of people obsessed with every utterance that the pope makes (especially orally, in interviews). But there is no hard evidence of this; no proof that any doctrine of the Church has been subverted by this pope.

There is plenty of evidence and data, on the other hand, that he is perfectly orthodox. My friend, Dan Marcum, documented this from his own words, in 24 different areas. But of course, the current hysteria has gotten so bad that radical Catholic reactionaries like, for example, Steve Skojec, of One Peter Five infamy, simply say (as he in fact did recently) that the pope says orthodox things merely to fool people, so he can diabolically, cynically advance his true agenda: a radical heterodoxy and modernism / liberalism. See how that sort of conspiratorialism works? Orthodox statements by the pope “prove” not that he is orthodox, but that he is a bald-faced liar pretending to be orthodox, so he can fool folks.

The recent Synod on the Family and the many arguments swirling around its deliberations have been dominated by ideas that many conservatives thought had been put to rest by John Paul II, from sociological updatings of gospel faith to visions of an essentially Anglicanized Catholicism. Didn’t we win these arguments already? The answer is yes—but not as permanently as conservative Catholics had sometimes thought.

This is nothing new or alarming, either. Of course, you have dissenting, heterodox voices in a synod, just as we saw during Vatican II and every ecumenical council, going back to Nicaea in 325 AD. The shocking thing is not that it exists (which is tragic, but not shocking), but rather, that anyone is surprised by it. Anyone who is, certainly doesn’t know much Catholic history, or the history of councils. Nor do they know the Bible very well. The Galatians and Corinthians, whom Paul wrote to, will quickly disabuse anyone of the foolish notion that the early Church was any different, in terms of sin or scandal, than the Church is today.

All that matters is the dogmatic or magisterial result of such councils and synods. Vatican II was orthodox. So far, this synod appears to be as well. If the pope issues a strong reiteration of tradition again, in his summary proclamation, then the “official orthodoxy” of the synod will be a done deal. If he doesn’t do so, then I agree, we have a problem.

Douthat acts (very much like purely secular minds do) as if there is no place or function of the Holy Spirit at all, in such synods. It’s all about the machinations of men, and factions, and Machiavellian maneuvering of the liberals. They do do that, assuredly, but they have not been successful in overturning a single Catholic doctrine thus far (all through history). Surely that is significant. But if one looks at things with merely a secular, sociological eye, and neglects God’s supernatural protection of His Church (which ultimately gets into the issue of indefectibility), then all they will see is the bad stuff (i.e., among men). Hence, they will assume a doom-and-gloom outlook, rather than a faithful, optimistic one: through the “eyes of faith.” This is where we are at today, with widespread daily, hand-wringing apocalypticism and (increasingly) conspiratorialism regarding Pope Francis, minus any compelling proof that the End is Near.

Seminaries really have changed dramatically since the ’70s, there really is a John Paul II and Benedict generation of younger priests, and the hierarchy is markedly more conservative than it was in the later years of Paul VI. Moreover, I do not think that most of the cardinals voting for Jorge Bergoglio thought that they were voting to reopen the Communion-and-remarriage debate, let alone that their votes were any kind of deliberate rejection of the magisterium of the ­previous two popes.

This is all true.

The fact remains that all of the bishops who have agitated for changing the Church’s doctrine—or, as they claim, the Church’s discipline—on marriage and the sacraments were appointed by the last two popes. 

This is very troubling, but not altogether surprising, either. There is laxity and shortcomings among bishops, just as there are among Catholics, generally speaking. Almost the entire collective of western bishops, after all, became Arians in the 4th and 5th centuries, and the East literally almost apostatized to the heresies of Arianism, Monophysitism, or Monotheletism, in those centuries and for a time after. Then there was a huge debate about iconoclasm in the East after that (8th and 9th centuries). All the bishops but one in England during Butcher Henry VIII forsook the faith, save one (St. John Fisher). For that, his beheaded body was treated as follows, by the wicked tyrant:

. . . stripped and left on the scaffold until the evening, when it was taken on pikes and thrown naked into a rough grave in the churchyard of All Hallows’ Barking, also known as All Hallows-by-the-Tower. There was no funeral prayer. A fortnight later, his body was laid beside that of Sir Thomas More in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower of London. Fisher’s head was stuck upon a pole on London Bridge but its ruddy and lifelike appearance excited so much attention that, after a fortnight, it was thrown into the Thames, its place being taken by that of Sir Thomas More, whose martyrdom, also at Tower Hill, occurred on 6 July. [Wikipedia]

St. John Fisher certainly paid a price for being an obedient Catholic bishop. Many bishops today don’t want to pay any price, I guess, if it means going against the grain of more liberal colleagues. It’s a problem in government, in business, in just about any human group, and in the Church. James Hitchcock famously wrote about it, in his article, “Conservative Bishops, Liberal Results” (Catholic World Report, May 1995). But the results are not on the doctrinal level. I agree that we need massive reform on the parish, school, and seminary institutional level (how to do that is an entirely different matter and discussion), but what I’m defending is the existing doctrines and dogmas of Holy Mother Church. They have not been changed.

And the fact remains that while the majority of bishops do seem loyal in principle to the magisterium of John Paul II, there has been no shortage of episcopal enthusiasm for an ­essentially ­Hegelian understanding of the development of ­doctrine.

Whether these bishops (and which ones) are “essentially ­Hegelian” as regards development of doctrine would have to be closely analyzed. I highly doubt it. Many people misunderstand the very nature of development of doctrine, and so I’m certainly not prepared to take Douthat’s bald assertion as any sort of proof that this is actually the case among many bishops. That has to be proven, not merely asserted. And that’s part of the problem with “negative analyses” of these sorts. It’s easy to string along a huge  list of “bad stuff” (as is being done with the pope), but it’s quite another thing to demonstrate each negative assertion. So the long dirty laundry lists may give the appearance of strength, but the list is only as god as each item on the list is proven: with hard facts.

A “spirit of Vatican II” vision for the Church does indeed have many of the weaknesses that conservatives have spent the last few decades pointing out, and the fate of the Protestant Mainline does indeed suggest that a full Hegelianism is the royal road to institutional suicide. But the promise of some kind of reconciliation between Catholicism and contemporary liberal modernity, sexual modernity especially, has a persistent, entirely understandable appeal, which is why theological liberalism is rediscovered as often as it seems to wane. And the Church exists within a larger cultural matrix that persistently regards a liberalized, Protestantized Catholicism as the coming thing, the inevitable next step for the Church, a prophecy that need not be fulfilled to shape the way that millions of Catholics think about their faith.

Once again, God is never mentioned in this equation: as if He plays no role at all. In fact, God is only mentioned twice in the entire article, and only in a passing, rhetorical sense. The Holy Spirit is never mentioned at all. How can this be, in an article that purports to deeply analyze the state of the Church? Is it merely a man-made institution, like the post office or the IRS? Does not the faithful Catholic (which Douthat is) believe that God guides and protects His One True Church, despite all the nonsense and foibles and compromises and sins of men?

I would contend that it is quite obvious (virtually unarguable) that He does do so, seeing what has happened within Protestantism, and seeing that we have maintained our doctrine pure and incorrupt for 2,000 years. Why should it be any different now? How is it that we still have, for example, the prohibition of contraception in place, despite all, despite even Blessed Pope Paul VI’s advisors, almost to a man, telling him he should change what is unchangeable dogma? Everyone else has caved: even the Orthodox, but not us. Why? Well, pure and simple: it’s the Holy Spirit’s protection. Yet that crucial, game-changing, all-important factor is utterly neglected in this article. Certainly, contraception is far more controversial than the divorced and “remarried” receiving communion, yet it’s not going anywhere (being infallible teaching). There is no evidence whatsoever that the Catholic Church is about to “go Episcopalian.” Many individual Catholics (even bishops, God help us) assuredly think like that, yet the doctrines remain in place.

Pope Francis has, as I see it, a Humanae Vitae “moment” coming up, with all these liberal compromisers and half-Protestants agitating for change:as he prepares his final statement on the Synod. Will he give in to them, or will he uphold constant tradition? We’ll see, won’t we? But that battle is about to be concluded one way or another, very soon.

So conservative Catholics need to recalibrate their expectations. The idea that there would be a “bio­logical solution” to the post–Vatican II divisions in the Church—in which liberal Catholics have small families, fail to raise them in the faith, and gradually go extinct—looks too simplistic. Liberal Catholicism will be with us for generations yet to come.

I’m not nearly that pessimistic. The quintessential liberals still have a ways to go to all die out. These things change slowly. All we need to do is have lots of kids (and homeschooling helps a lot, too), and raise them as good Catholic disciples of Jesus and things will be great. Demographics is destiny. The problem is that “conservative” or orthodox Catholics, who agree with Humanae Vitae and the Gospel of Life, have hardly any more children than those in the larger secular society do.

The Church has been through many dire, decadent, disgraceful periods (read your Church history folks!), and a revival always improved them in the next century. We’re only 16 years into this new century. Unless Jesus comes first, a profound revival is virtually certain in this century, given what we know about past Church history. Just in the last 250 years, we had the French-led, so-called “Enlightenment” and French Revolution try to bury the Church. Marxism and Communism tried the same, with the same result. The Nazis (slow learners, I guess) also attempted to do it. Where are they all now?

Now we have to deal with modernism, which really kicked up in larger Christian circles by the mid-19th century, and in Catholic circles since the mid-20th. It’s compounded by rampant, conquer-all secularism and the sexual revolution, and now radical jihadists. These are huge foes, but if we beat the others (and former ones such as the Arians, Donatists, Marcionites, Cathari, Albigensians, Hussites, Gnostics, Roman pagans, barbarians, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Vikings, the first Muslims, the later Turks, and the Protestant revolutionaries [insofar as they disagreed with us]), we will also defeat these. It’ll take a while.

But then, finally, there is a form of liberal Catholicism that envisions a Catholicism too much like the present Protestant Mainline or the deteriorating Anglican Communion to be recognized as Catholic. This form has revolutionary ambitions, it proceeds from premises that owe more to a brief era in twentieth-century theology than to the full inheritance of the Church, and its theological vision and Catholic orthodoxy are not ultimately compatible. Indeed, they are locked in a conflict that’s as serious as the Church’s struggle with Arianism or Gnosticism (and resembles those conflicts on specific theological points as well).

I heartily agree.

It may be that this conflict has only just begun. And it may be that as with previous conflicts in church history, it will eventually be serious enough to end in real schism, a permanent parting of the ways.

And it may be that the Holy Spirit (remember Him?) will defeat it, just as He has defeated all the other wicked false doctrines and dangerous  ideas all through Church history. People may leave the Church (that has always be the case), but the Church has never, and will not ever, leave the truth that it has been commissioned to protect and cherish and proclaim far and wide.

Note that this is not the same as saying that the pope can actually fall into heresy, or teach it ex cathedra as doctrine. But a glance at Catholic history indicates that even if they are preserved from the gravest errors, popes are not necessarily the heroic protagonists in major theological conflicts. In many cases, we remember councils and saints rather than popes—Nicea and Trent, Athanasius and Ignatius. Rome tends to move late and not always effectually at first, and in some cases (the unfortunate Pope ­Honorius being only the starkest example), the ­papacy has conspicuously failed to be either wise or courageous when orthodoxy is on the line. And ­occasionally we even get Avignons and anti-popes as well!

That’s correct. But in our current era, we have a long string of heroic popes who resisted the leading wicked societal forces of their times: Pope Leo XIII against secular liberal ideas and capitalism gone awry, Pope St. Pius X against modernism, Popes Pius XI and Ven. Pope XII against the Nazis, Blessed Pope Paul VI against contraception (the sexual revolution), Pope St. John Paul II against the culture of death, and Soviet Communism. That’s the trend. We can talk about the bad popes (indeed, I have written about it), but they are always “way back” in history.

That’s not to say that an exception may not come around, but the trend is overwhelmingly against it, and Pope Francis has not been shown to be a “bad pope” at all. If he is a critic against materialistic and capitalistic excesses (if that is to be his legacy), he will be not all that different from Pope Leo XIII in the eyes of history. We just have a more difficult time hearing and accepting his teachings because we are so far compromised with the idols of our secular and hyper-materialistic, and sex-obsessed society.

Here conservatives should take cautionary instruction from the liberal ultramontanism suddenly flourishing around Francis. We have lately been informed that the pope is singlehandedly developing doctrine with his comments on the death penalty;

This is untrue. Capital punishment is not intrinsically evil; nor has the Church prohibited nations to exercise it (Romans 13 gives them the “power of the sword”). Thus it is not a doctrinal issue per se. What the Church is doing is suggesting that it is not as necessary and to voluntarily oppose it, as part of a larger Culture of Life. So no changing of doctrine is involved here, and what the pope is saying is perfectly consistent with what his two predecessors had also developed.

we’ve heard accounts of bishops at the synod discussing how the pope can allegedly “twist the hands of God” or show the mercy of Moses (as opposed to Jesus) on marriage and divorce;

Who cares what individual bishops at a synod say? That’s not the magisterium; nor are even their combined declarations in bishops’ conferences or in synods and councils. It’s only magisterial when they agree with the pope to promulgate something.

and we have prominent Jesuits acting shocked, shocked that conservative cardinals might ever dare to differ with the pope.

Then they are plain dumb.

It’s easy to mock this sudden enthusiasm for papal authority. But a conservative Catholicism that became too quick to play the “magisterium” card as a substitute for sustained argument must acknowledge that it’s being hoisted on its own petard.

I’m not among these people being hoisted, because I’ve understood from my conversion in 1990 (having been mostly influenced by Cardinal Newman), that he wrote about the role of laypeople in history: particularly regarding Arianism in the 4th century over against bishops and sometimes personally wavering popes. Once again, learning from history is key to how we view things in the Church now.

In thinking through these issues, it seems to me that the revival of 1970s-era debates is evidence that conservative Catholics need a more robust theory of the development of doctrine. Or, perhaps more aptly, they need a clearer theory of how development of doctrine applies to developments that have occurred since John Henry Newman wrote his famous essay. Of which, as liberal Catholics love to point out, there have been a great many: not only the explicit shifts that came in with Vatican II, on religious liberty especially, but the various debates where the range of acceptable Catholic viewpoints has clearly shifted in one direction or another over the last century. A few examples might include the possibility of universal salvation, the precise moral status of the death penalty, whether slavery and torture are intrinsic evils, as well as the question of supersessionism and the Church’s relationship to the Jews. One could ­multiply examples.

I’m always in favor of more understanding of development of doctrine. It’s what made me a Catholic, and is my very favorite theological topic. But Douthat, while calling for more understanding, seems to be confused as to what doctrinal development is. Religious liberty issues are not doctrinal, but rather, ways in which we can variously view falsehood and heresy and the people holding to them. What we understand much better now is that people may hold false views, but not in bad faith. In the Middle Ages it was usually casually assumed that anyone holding to heresy was completely personally responsible, and in no sense a victim; only a wicked perpetrator of what they themselves (so it was thought) believe to be deliberate evil. As a partial result of a much better understanding of that, authentic ecumenism has rapidly developed since World War II and Vatican II.

Universal salvation has not been taught in any magisterial doctrine. It’s not developing at all, because it’s a heresy. The Bible rejects it. There has merely been thinking about how much we may hope that all men are saved: in effect, no different from the notion of universal atonement, or the desire of God that all be saved. But since men have free will, not all will be. Some will reject God’s grace.

To bring things to a finer point: I firmly believe that the proposals to admit remarried Catholics to Communion without an annulment strike at the heart of how the Church has traditionally understood the sacraments, and threaten to unravel (as for some supporters, they are intended to unravel) the Church’s entire teaching on sexual ethics. I feel more certain about this than I am about the precise arguments in Humanae Vitae;

I agree. That’s why I have been predicting that the Holy Father will uphold this tradition and have his own “Humanae Vitae moment.” Stay tuned! I’ve been defending this pope all along (I’m a big fan of his), and am confident that he will heroically arise to the occasion.

Conservative Catholics need to come to terms with certain essential failures of Vatican II. For two generations now, conservatives in the Church have felt a need to rescue the real council, the orthodox council, from what Pope Benedict called “the council of the media.” . . . the council as experienced by most Catholics was the “council of the media,” the “spirit of Vatican II” council, and that the faithful’s experience of a council and its aftermath is a large part of its historical reality, no matter how much we might wish it to be otherwise.

What has occurred is no more the failure of the council itself, than it is a failure of Pope Francis when the media and popular secular culture distort his view on a given subject. This is not an essential failure of Vatican II. Douthat seems particularly confused on this point: throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The misguided liberal “spirit of Vatican II” only proves that people delude themselves about the magisterium, and try to spin and distort it to the public. The fault for that lies on those who do it, not the council. Is this not utterly obvious?

But its deliberations simply took place too soon to address the problems that broke across Catholicism and Christianity with the sexual revolution and that still preoccupy us now.

All the more reason to understand that it is not responsible (at all!) for those problems. The sexual revolution was just getting underway.

Which is not to say that what the Church needs right now is a Council of Trent, exactly. The recent Synod on the Family suggests that, if attempted, the outcome would be either empty or disastrous.

Again, the jury is still out on the Synod. What has already been proclaimed by it (sub-magisterial) was not heterodox. It matters not a whit what idiotic things may have been bandied about by liberal bishops; only the result is relevant (in terms of doctrine and dogma). We’re still waiting for the pope to release his Letter. Why is it viewed from the perspective that excludes the Holy Spirit’s protection? This has already arguably manifested itself, and will all the more gloriously if the pope strongly reiterates (as I fully expect him to) existing tradition on marital status and Holy Communion.

July 23, 2019

Paolo Pasqualucci (signer of three of the reactionary-dominated “corrections” of Pope Francis), a Catholic and retired professor of philosophy of the law at the University of Perugia, Italy, wrote “‘Points of Rupture’ of the Second Vatican Council with the Tradition of the Church – A Synopsis” (4-13-18), hosted by the infamous reactionary site, One Peter Five.

It’s an adaptation of the introduction to his book Unam Sanctam – A Study on Doctrinal Deviations in the Catholic Church of the 21st Century. Pasqualucci seeks to establish that Vatican II is massively contrary to received Catholic tradition. I took on a dozen of these points, in order to show how very weak these anti-Vatican II arguments really are, and how orthodox the Council is. Here are my twelve critiques:


Related Reading:

Dialogue on Vatican II: Its Relative Worth, Interpretation, and Application (with Patti Sheffield vs. Traditionalist David Palm) [9-15-13]
Photo credit: CNS photo / L’Osservatore Romano: 20 September 2012: Pope St. John XXIII leads the opening session of the Second Vatican Council in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 11, 1962 [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]
July 9, 2019

It seems to be fashionable now for reactionaries (with the utmost irony, for those familiar with their talking-points) to be “ambiguous” about their position as to the authority of Vatican II. Of course, it used to be taken for granted by all orthodox, tradition-accepting, observant, pious, devout Catholics, that an ecumenical council (in union with / ratified by a pope) carried sublime and binding authority. Not any more . . .

This ambiguity is seen in reactionary Taylor Marshall, author of the runaway reactionary bestseller, Infiltration. He tries (like a good postmodernist subjectivist) to play it both ways in his book: against Vatican II and also “for” it. He “talks out of both sides of his mouth.” And so I have encountered many of his followers (Marshallites, I call ’em) who will vociferously argue that he doesn’t reject Vatican II.

That’s quite odd, when one observes the theme over and over in book reviews on Amazon, of Vatican II-bashing, as I documented. This was certainly the impression that they (his devoted fans) had of the book. I have also shown (from his book) how Marshall is definitely against the Second Vatican Council, and regards it as modernist.

Lest anyone be confused (or deceived) about the general reactionary hostility against Vatican II among radical Catholic reactionaries, I offer this handy survey. You may not be aware of how far things have now degenerated. Even pope-bashers (but not reactionaries) like Phil Lawler (author of Lost Shepherd) have jumped on the bandwagon.

In an article dated 23 August 2017, Lawler the suggested the possibility of questioning Vatican II itself: not just a warped implementation of it by the so-called “progressive” dissidents. This is a second classic hallmark of the reactionary mindset. In particular, his recourse to “ambiguity” in VCII is right from the reactionary playbook. He wrote:

Did the problems that arose after Vatican II come solely because the Council’s teachings were ignored, or improperly applied? Or were there difficulties with the documents themselves? Were there enough ambiguities in the Council’s teaching to create confusion? If so, were the ambiguities intentional—the result of compromises by the Council fathers? . . .

More to the point, while it is certainly true that the “spirit of Vatican II” that is often cited in support of radical changes cannot be reconciled with the actual teachings of the Council, it is also true that the proponents of change can cite specific passages from Council documents in support of their plans. So are those passages being misinterpreted. Are they taken out of context? Or are there troublesome elements of the Council’s teaching, with which we should now grapple honestly? One thing is certain: we will not solve the problem by pretending that it does not exist.

The same is true of Ross Douthat, another pope-basher, and author of To Change the Church, whom I also don’t classify as a reactionary. He wrote in that book:

Conservative Catholics need to come to terms with certain essential failures of Vatican II. . . .

[A] major part of Vatican II’s mission was to equip the Church to evangelize the modern world, and that five decades is long enough to say that in this ambition the council mostly failed. . . .

This doesn’t mean the council was a failure in its entirety, or that arch-traditionalists are right to condemn it as heretical, or (as more moderate traditionalists would argue) that the council itself was primarily to blame for everything that followed. The experience of every other Christian confession suggests that some version of the same civil war and institutional crisis would have arrived with or without the council.

But we need to recognize, finally, that for all its future-oriented rhetoric, Vatican II’s clearest achievements were mostly backward-looking. [his italics, and my bolded emphases]

This shows that reactionary thinking is gradually creeping into even non-reactionary thought, among the pope-bashers, at any rate (whose numbers keep increasing). But once we get to the reactionaries, we see that it is outright disdain and “dissing” of the Council, in no uncertain terms (though usually not its technical validity, which is another game the reactionaries play — now classically expressed by Taylor Marshall — , so as to be “ambiguous” and have it both ways). I shall now take a look at four of the major reactionary venues and writers:

One Peter Five

1) The article, ” ‘Points of Rupture’ of the Second Vatican Council with the Tradition of the Church – A Synopsis” (4-13-18), by Paolo  Pasqualucci (signer of three of the endless reactionary-dominated “corrections” of Pope Francis), is almost the Vatican II-bashers “Bible”. It lists 26 of these points and seeks to establish, over and over, that Vatican II is contrary to received Catholic tradition. Here are some typical examples (line breaks indicate separate excerpts):

The attribution of the same faith in Christ to all Christians, including those “separated” from the Catholic Church, improperly equates the Catholic faith with the faith of schismatics and heretics.

This is an entirely new definition, which seems to extend the concept of the Church of Christ to also include all the heretics and schismatics, thus exposing itself to the accusation of heresy in the formal sense, . . .

The same Constitution Dei Verbum seems to eliminate the usual distinction between Tradition and Scripture (DV 9-10).

The concept of Tradition is never expressly defined; its relationship with Scripture is not made clear (DV 9), . . .

The new definition of episcopal collegiality in LG 22 does not seem reconcilable with the Tradition of the Church and undermines the right understanding of the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff.

Such a concept appears not to conform to the doctrine of the Church and is a harbinger of indifferentism and agnosticism.

Etc, etc., ad nauseam.

2) Steve Skojec, the Grand Poobah and Head Honcho of this pathetic Church-bashing site, joins right in with his straightforward slop, “‘That’s Not Who We Are Anymore’: Pre- and Post-Conciliar Catholicism Are Not the Same Religion” (10-2-18). The title can’t make the  view any more clear than it is, can it? And so he pontificates, citing equally radical Hilary White in agreement:

The fact that we don’t really yet have an official name for the New Paradigm (and probably won’t for another couple of centuries) has made it difficult to help clarify what I mean when I say that in effect, most regular novus ordo Mass-going Catholics don’t believe the same religious things as previous generations of Catholics believed. I’ve said it many times, and I’m not alone, that “Novusordoism isn’t Catholicism.” It’s become a bit of a catchphrase. I’ve also often used the term “New Paradigm” to refer to the creation of what is in essence, if not yet in name, the new thing created after Vatican II. I am gratified to see that the Pope’s closest collaborators are starting to promote this term themselves to describe it. Makes things easier.

How do we define it? We’ve talked about the “false floor” of the Novusordoist New Paradigm and the vast “lost city,” full of treasures, of the Catholic Faith that has been suppressed and buried since Vatican II that very very few Catholics know is down there.

3) David Martin writes in his article, “Was The Vatican II Revolution Real, Or Just a Misinterpretation?” (7-28-17):

It is often voiced by conservatives disheartened by the changes in the Catholic Church — changes that seem to have accelerated exponentially in recent years — that Vatican II was a good council, but that it was misinterpreted. If these good people were better informed as to what took place at the Council, they would never say any such thing. Vatican II indeed started with good intentions, but it was hijacked in the opening session by rebel bishops because the pope had planned the Council without their advice and against their designs. . . .

[T]he radical changes of today do not reflect a misinterpretation of Vatican II, but a true interpretation as intended by the liberal architects. The few good parts of the documents penned by the few good people were simply allowed and woven into the documents as religious cover to ensure the elicitation of Pope Paul’s signature, without which the progressivist plan would never succeed. To that end, it was more important to Vatican liberals that the documents appeared orthodox than liberal. . . .

Some still argue that the Vatican II documents contain no error but are simply ambiguous in their wording, but their argument hangs them, because ambiguity is the smoking gun of the devil and is the clearest evidence that the documents are jinxed. God is never ambiguous, but is always clear, direct, and juridical, so distorted documents which ‘speaketh out of two sides of the mouth’ are a dead give-away that God is not the Author thereof. . . .

Considering the notably unorthodox human dimension in drafting and approving the conciliar documents, how confident can we be that the council, on the whole, was a work of the Holy Spirit?

4) Brian Williams offers us the instant classic: “Time to Let Go of Vatican II” (2-2-18):

A growing number of the faithful have indeed moved on from post-conciliarism. Among many Catholics, particularly the young, the sentiment and conclusions of Fr. Hugh are being realized. Our point of reference and foundation is the Church’s history and tradition, not simply the most recent Council in the history of the Church.

The Remnant

1) Roberto de Mattei opines in “Church in Crisis: The Final Act of Vatican II” (1-5-19):

The essence of the Second Vatican Council was the triumph of pastoral theology over doctrine, the transformation of pastoral theology into a theology of praxis, the application of the philosophy of Marxist practice to the life of the Church. For the Communists, the true philosopher is not Karl Marx, the Revolution’s theorist, but Lenin who carried out the Revolution, proving Marx’s thought. For Neo-Modernists, the true theologian is not Karl Rahner, the principal ideologue of the revolution in the Church, but Pope Francis, who is fulfilling this revolution, putting Rahner’s thought into pastoral practice. There is no rupture, therefore, between the Second Vatican Council and Pope Francis, but historical continuity. Pope Francis represents Vatican II in action.

2) Robert Emmett Henry offers us the inestimable spiritual riches of “FORGET FRANCIS: Pope John Paul, the New Rosary, and the Revolutionary Tactics of Modernism” (11-28-18; originally 10-15-02):

Imperial Wizard of The Remnant Michael Matt penned the Introduction:

For the many “new recruits” to Tradition here in 2018, this article will be useful since it helps to place Pope Francis into the proper Modernist context of the Revolution of Vatican II. . . .

[T]he following article fits rather nicely into the Remnant’s larger effort to “get back to basics”, and to connect the dots from Francis to the Revolution of Vatican II for which he is the perfect, if unwitting, poster boy. Because, again, Francis isn’t the fundamental problem so much as its inevitable consequence. We’ve got to stop behaving as if what’s going on in Rome today is something new, because it’s not! We have to be honest about what led up to the Francis crisis, . . .

If you’re new to Tradition, this article may be challenging. But I encourage you to open your mind to the reality that Francis really is nothing more than the last straw. At best, he’s the cleanup batter, the bases having been loaded long before this befuddled old Modernist ever slouched into the batter’s box.

Henry himself takes potshots at “the Vatican II system of infantile rebellion against Church traditions”.

Rorate Caeli

1)  Fr. Pio Pace pontificates in his screed, “Paul VI: a ‘Pastoral’ canonization?” (10-13-18):

Perhaps Paul VI had remarkable and heroic virtues in his private and secret life. But, as Pope, he is the object of not little debate: he promulgated the most liberal texts of the Council (Gaudium et Spes, Unitatis Redintegratio, Nostra Aetate, Dignitatis Humanae); he led a liturgical reform that turned sacred liturgy upside down and inside out; and several other things, big and small, . . .

Paul VI fully embodies Vatican II. It is precisely for this reason that he has been chosen for canonization, as the Popes of the Council and post-Council, who have been canonized one after the other: John XXIII, John Paul II…

We must dare say it: by canonizing all Vatican II popes, it is Vatican II that is canonized. But, likewise, canonization itself is devalued when it becomes a sort of medal thrown on top of a casket. Maybe a council that was “pastoral” and not dogmatic is deserving of canonizations that are “pastoral” and not dogmatic.

LifeSite News

1) In “Why rebellion against Humanae Vitae is tied to Vatican II’s unclear teaching” (11-5-18), Fr. Serafino M. Lanzetta states:

The post-conciliar confusion and rebellion against Humanae Vitae are tied – although indirectly – to the magisterial uncertainty of Vatican II, especially in Gaudium et Spes. One cannot simply put the blame on the contrasting hermeneutics born during the receptive phase of the Council. It was the Council itself, with its doctrinal ambiguity on various points, that created the hermeneutical problem. From the very outset of the Council, the Fathers with their theologians faced such a problem.


My Defenses of Vatican II:

Dialogue on Vatican II: Its Relative Worth, Interpretation, and Application (with Patti Sheffield vs. Traditionalist David Palm) [9-15-13]



Photo credit: niekverlaan (8-19-14) [PixabayPixabay License]


May 31, 2019

This occurred on my Facebook page. Dave Kjeldgaard is a longtime Facebook friend. The discussion is occuring within the backdrop of my two critical articles from yesterday: Reactionary Infiltration of Taylor Marshall’s Book, Infiltration  and Anti-Vatican II Hysteria in Taylor Marshall’s Book Fan Club.  Dave’s words will be in blue.


I still think he is a solid Catholic who is human who makes mistakes, who is highly concerned with the state of the Church and remains an outstanding teacher.

It’s hard to see someone we respect start teaching goofy, wacky things . . . He’s not an outstanding teacher if he is leading people astray by lying about popes and crapping all over ecumenical councils of Holy Mother Church. That’s not orthodox Catholicism. It’s no better than the liberal dissidents like Hans Kung et al.

Dave, curious if you ever tried to reach out to him? Your criticism of Taylor Marshall seems like it’s personal. Name calling, mind reading, etc. Makes me think there is an underlying issue you have with him.

I’m responding publicly to public materials. I could try to send an e-mail, etc., but almost certainly nothing would come of it. I know how these things work. I’ve been through it a hundred times. I’m perfectly willing to talk with anyone. It takes two.

I’ve already heard reports from people with whom he was friendly, and it is now tense and distant. His likely response is indicated by already having blocked me from his Twitter. I have no personal issues at all, as I stated in my paper: none whatsoever. Zero, zilch. This is about defense of Holy Mother Church against calumnies.

You like him, and so you can’t see these things right now. You “don’t have eyes to see”: as the Bible says. You have to get beyond that. If something is wrong and contrary to the Church, you (and anyone else who is his “fan”) ought to oppose it, and not put man’s opinions and traditions of men against sacred tradition, protected by the Holy Spirit. Don’t be led astray. The Church is our Guide.

Lots of mind reading there. I don’t confuse his teaching from NSTI and his podcasts. I don’t agree with his opinion on B16 retirement, and some others. Your criticism of him seems like a hit piece in my opinion. Kind of Mark Shea-ish.

Glad to hear you disagree with him on some things. Start refuting my critique, if it is so bad. Give me some content (i.e., theology, ecclesiology). Just sitting there attacking me accomplishes nothing. All I’ve done is to critique the theological opinions he is rendering: all public ones.

The only “responses” I have received so far were two personal attacks from Taylor followers on my blog. One disparaged me as a “hippy” modernist from Detroit who used to be a Methodist. LOL Another was far more personally insulting and ridiculous. Really? And Taylor used to be an Anglican.

Yeah, we’re converts! He came in in 2006 and now wants to lecture popes and dismiss ecumenical councils. I was received in 1991 by Servant of God Fr. John A Hardon, SJ (of absolutely impeccable orthodoxy; he was the catechist for St. Teresa of Calcutta’s Missionaries of Charity), who warmly endorsed my first book three years later.

Go ask him if he’d want to do a dialogue with me. You’ll see what happens. I would be absolutely delighted to be wrong in my prediction.

We live in an age today where every criticism of ideas is immediately collapsed into a supposed personal attack. It’s the influence of postmodernist subjective mush. Now, assuredly a lot of personal attacks do take place online. But my critique of Taylor Marshall’s errors is not an example of that.

So you consider my comments to be an attack? Certainly not my intention.

“Your criticism of him seems like a hit piece in my opinion. Kind of Mark Shea-ish.”

You haven’t rendered even one constructive criticism of my many arguments. Feel free to do so!

That’s because I don’t have any criticisms of your argument. Just questioning your approach and tone.

Fair enough. And I respond by saying that my “tone” (whatever it is) about a fellow lay apologist is infinitely less harsh and objectionable than his against Holy Mother Church, an ecumenical council, three saint-popes, the Holy Mass (ordinary form), etc.: where all Catholics ought to be deferential and respectful.

I think he will respond charitably, respectfully, admit where he is wrong, and make corrections where necessary.

Great. I look forward to that. We’ll see how open he is to dialogue and possible correction. It’s one thing preaching to the adoring choir; quite another, dealing with a substantive critique from someone who is trained in his field to offer one.

“preaching to the adoring choir “: is that not directly out of the Mark Shea playbook? Geesh.

Not at all. “preaching to the choir” is a well-known proverb. “Adoring” is not out of line, seeing that we now have 776 customer reviews on Amazon, for a book that has been out exactly eight days. Have you ever seen such a thing before? I haven’t.

Phil Lawler’s similar pope-bashing book (Lost Shepherd) has been out for 15 months and it has 63 reviews. Ross Douthat’s similar book (To Change the Church) has been out almost exactly a year and it has 56. Even famous and Internet-savvy Karl Keating could muster up only 19 reviews for his Francis Feud: also out for a year now. But Taylor Marshall has 776 in eight days.

89% of ’em are 5 stars, 10% are 4 stars, exactly seven are three stars (0.9%), There are no one-star and two-star reviews. If that is not an “adoring” / “preaching to the choir” scenario, I don’t know what is.

It’s largely the same on his Twitter page and You Tube video comboxes: a bunch of cheerleading clones. That’s why I called him a “pied piper.” Yes, it’s sarcastic humor. But it clearly fits.

This is part of the danger of becoming a big celebrity in Catholic circles. Critical thought is thrown out the window, and a person in that situation only — or almost always — talks to people who agree with them. It’s extremely dangerous spiritually and theologically.

I’m the opposite. I am constantly in dialogue with folks who disagree with me. I’m not in a bubble with only a fan club. I’m constantly insulted; my income is a pitiful pittance . . . I’m in very little danger of these sorts of things.


Photo credit: 3dman_eu (11-11-11) [PixabayPixabay License]


May 30, 2019

Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within, by Dr. Taylor Marshall, is currently taking Amazon by storm. I wrote an analysis of it today in which I noted that the bashing of the Second Vatican Council was a prominent motif. Such a “spirit” (pun intended) is a prominent characteristic of radical Catholic reactionary thought. I have found, through the years, that much of the criticism directed towards this ecumenical council of Holy Mother Church falls prey to the good ol’ post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy. The Wikipedia entry on this erroneous and sloppy thinking describes it:

(Latin: “after this, therefore because of this”) is an informal fallacy that states “Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X.” . . . Post hoc is a particularly tempting error because correlation appears to suggest causality. The fallacy lies in a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors potentially responsible for the result that might rule out the connection. A simple example is “the rooster crows immediately before sunrise; therefore the rooster causes the sun to rise.”

I wrote just last month about Vatican II, along these lines, replying to someone who noted (like Taylor Marshall has — very Voris-like — in his book) that U.S. church membership has “been in decline since Vatican II”:

There was also this thing called “the 60s” and the sexual revolution . . . But people prefer to blame an orthodox ecumenical council. . . .

Liturgical abuses: absolutely. Fault of the council: no. And VCII said the Latin should be retained (too). It wasn’t in most places, but obviously that is counter to the wishes of the council, too. . . . Many parishes ignored that. Blame them, not the council. . . .

Yet it seems to get blamed for everything because people can’t figure out causation of complex issues and would rather sink to conspiratorialism. . . .

VCII did not change “no salvation outside the Church” in the least. It was Trent (following Augustine contra the Donatists 1100 years earlier) that declared that non-Catholic trinitarian baptism was a valid sacrament, and that those who received it were truly Christians and members of the Body of Christ.

Dr. Marshall undertook a clever campaign of amassing over 500 people (currently, 533 as I write) to endorse his book in reviews on Amazon. There is nothing wrong with this (it’s pure capitalism). But it does provide an opportunity to see what sort of outlook typifies those who are gung-ho about the book and “pied piper” Taylor Marshall’s recently acquired reactionary conspiratorialism.

I thought it would be instructive to survey these reviews to see what was written about Vatican II (which Cardinal Ratzinger in 1985 said had precisely the same authority as the Council of Trent):


1) Pope Paul VI and those whom he empowered did their best to destroy the traditions of the Catholic Church and thereby the Church itself.

2) Marshall does an excellent job pointing out the infiltrating major players: Freemasonry, the Enlightenment, communism, Jesuits, modernism, false ecumenism, and abandonment of Thomistic theological precision for theological ambiguity (which eventually led to weaponized ambiguity deliberately inserted into Vatican II documents). Satan, of course, is behind it all.

3) I will forever consider Michael Davies’s “Liturgical Time Bombs in Vatican II” to be my go-to “quick read” recommendation for those seeking to understand where this crisis began in terms of liturgy, doctrine, and Vatican II, . . .

4)  Dr. Marshall connects all the dots. From the Freemasons, to Modernism, Vatican II, the Norvos [sic] Ordo, Fatima, Pope Benedict’s resignation, and others, you will see how these dots all connect to show how all of this is the Devil’s work himself to destroy the Church.

5) Being a pre-Vatican II Catholic, I have watched with dismay as the Church I love has disintegrated into the wasteland that it is today. 6

6)  Vatican II was not Modernism’s beginning in our church, but rather its coming out party!7

7) There is a tendency to blame these conditions on Vatican II, and that sense is justified.

8) This book clearly explains the reasons for the convening of Vatican II and the organizations, people and anti Catholic forces behind its destructive and anti Catholic actions.

9) Dr. Marshall connects the ‘infiltration’ clues surrounding the Freemasons; Bella Dodd; warnings of Our Lady at Fatima & La Salette; the Vatican bank scandals; the Sankt Gallen Mafia; secret societies; Communism; Vatican II; the Sicilian Mafia; and more. In different ways, these man-made scandals contributed to the erosion of the Church’s moral authority and led to the dilution of the Liturgy over the past several decades.

10)   Vatican II, for example, did not give rise to Modernism in the Church, but it might be said that Modernism gave rise to many developments at Vatican II. . . . Modernism is now widely accepted among hierarchs, clergy, and laity. It, too, is rationally and theologically incompatible with historic Christianity. Yet, Dr. Marshall sees it on display at Vatican II.

11) This is an excellent overview of the situation within the Church and why the return to order must include the rejection of Vatican II and the rediscovery of the Roman Rite of the Mass.

12) He rightly points out that the current crisis in the Church IS modernism, and while Vatican II may have been a tipping point, the “Infiltration” started a long time ago.

13) Marshall finds that the infiltration of the Freemasons, humanists, and the modernistic “nouvelle” theologians (e.g., Karl Rahner, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Walter Kasper, Joseph Ratzinger, Edward Schillebeeckx, Johann Baptist Metz, etc.; 134-35) who introduced the Novus Ordo Mass and highly influenced the Second Vatican Council, led to the perversion of the “supernatural religion of the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ” of the Church into the “natural religion” that emphasizes the Human over the Divine (i.e., Satanism; 4).

14) Undoubtedly, many effects of Vatican II have been negative and have contributed to the current situation.

15) The poisonous fruits of Vatican II worked to make a religion more pleasing to man, not God, and we are reaping that rotten harvest right now.

16) Plots, intrigue, and evil manipulations are shown to shape the Second Vatican Council . . .

17) . . . changes in Vatican II that I feel weakened the Church.

18) . . . Vatican II where the enemies within the church clearly revealed themselves.

19) Dr. Marshall names, names and shows all of us that Vatican II was only one part of the devil’s plan to destroy the Church from within.

20) I once thought Vatican II was the catalyst for the infiltration of the Church but after reading this book, I know see that it was the victory lap.

21) . . . the Modernist revolution of Vatican II doctrinal confusion . . .

22)  Dr. Marshall explains this apparent reversal of policy towards these heresies as the result of Freemasons, Communists, and other liberal theologians as having infiltrated the Church in the years prior to the Vatican II Council. The Council was their Coming Out Party.

23) I made my first communion just prior to Vatican II and soon after that it seemed that almost everything I had been taught and believed was changing. Now I understand why.

24) Important events (the demise of the Papal States, the infiltration of the Church by Communists and Freemasons, the errors that were introduced at Vatican II by the modernists, . . .

25) Most people wouldn’t know that the freemasons are very active in Italy, reaching into Vatican 2 itself. . . . the bomb that was Vatican II . . .

26) Dr. Marshall provides a short explanation of the Nouvelle Theologie and its impact on the major players of Vatican II, as well as some of the problematic documents of that Council and why they matter.

27) [M]any are waking up and trying to understand how and why their Holy Church is in crisis. Taylor Marshall clears all that up with a concise walk through Catholic Church history displaying the true nature of how events and the rise of Freemasonry 300 years ago lead to the drastic changes of Vatican II.

28) It was shocking that at Vatican II, Protestant clergy were given the right to interfere in the making of those documents, clearly showing that the Catholic church was manipulated, subverted and Protestantized.

29) Chapter 19 is a detailed account of the theological ruin and infiltration of Vatican II . . .

30) Marshall argues that Vatican II was just the coming out party of 100 years of a slow and methodical infiltration of the Church’s ideology.

31) Marshall traces the polluted bloodline of Marxist-Modernist footmen, arrogantly maneuvering from within the Church to cast aside the richness, the beauty, and the Truth of the Tridentine Liturgy. These relentless conspirators in clerical camouflage understood the inherent strength of the Tridentine Liturgy and the downstream impact of concealing it away from the hearts of future generations—thus the poisonous results of Vatican II.

32) I have read numerous books on the current state of the Church, the issues with Vatican Council II, the freemasons, and the communist infiltration of the Church. But this book has put all of these issues together, with a timeline showing the interconnectedness that has led us to the current crisis.

33) This is a very relevant book for anyone who wants to understand the root-cause of the problems facing the Catholic Church today, would highly recommend. Dr. Marshall breaks down chronologically where the source of the problems began, how it manifested in Vatican II all the way through to the current Pontificate.

34)  I found the evidence of Vatican II procuring the decline of the Church and how that was the target goal in losing faithful Christians.

35) The transformation of Catholic doctrine and liturgy had its apotheosis in Vatican II.

36) Dr. Marshall explains why Vatican II ended up being the byproduct of a sophisticated and shrewd plan devised over a hundred and fifty years ago.

37) Dr. Taylor Marshall presents the conspiracy theory that the Roman Catholic Church has been infiltrated with thousands of priests, bishops and even popes with the nafarious [sic] intent of destroying this ancient institution. . . . This story has taken more than 150 years to unravel and has involved Freemasons, the Communist Party, The Italian mafia, Benito Mussilini [sic], Marian apparitions, The Second Vatican Council, Agatha Christie, thousands of priests, bishops and cardinals, some of whom were homosexuals and pedophiles, and 11 Popes.

38) [T]he author succintly [sic] described the ideas and people behind modernism and Nouvelle Theologie. As crucial as both these ideas were to the Second Vatican Council, I have never been able to find such a good and useful “short” summary as Dr. Marshall’s treatment here.

39) I also never thought about how dangerous Vatican II was . . .

40) Marshall sees only Archbishop Lefebvre as the one prophet to fully comprehend the magnitude of the changes brought about by Vatican II. Lefebvre became then the point man for the resistance to the Modernism and the infiltration of the Church — and he is recognized for his role more and more by even conservatives in the Novus Ordo.

41) Vatican II, which the author refers to as “modernism on display” did not make the Catholic Church a friendlier place and was actually harmful to the laity.

42) He shows us how this “Smoke of Satan” entered into Holy Mother Church with everything from Freemasonry, the Illuminati, Socialism, Communism, Homosexuality, and today’s Modernism. All of which left us vulnerable and the door wide open to the many “radical reforms” of Vatican II. His book also demonstrates with in depth detail the key players that shredded the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we’ve had for centuries into what we’re left with today. A Mass that may look similar, but is devoid of the supernatural Divine content of the Ages.

43) The average Catholic will now know . . . that we are not bound to accept/adhere to the documents or the “spirit” which came from that council.

44) Vatican II is the culmination of years of infiltration by men who often presented a facade of obedience to the magisterium, but were working actively behind the scenes to undermine it.

45) The book also makes clear why Vatican II is not the cause of Catholicism’s current crisis, but the result of a carefully worked out plan to take control of the Papacy and Church teachings.

46) One thing is clear: if the Church is going to defeat this satanic infiltration, it must reject all things Vatican II and this book does an excellent job of explaining why that is the case.

47)  My favorite section of Infiltration is the chapter on Vatican II and Novus Ordo Missae because Dr. Marshall provides important historical facts on the inception of Vatican II, the “engineers” of the document, and the challenge of Modernism.

48) He names names, cites sources, and lays out the map of the corruptive and evil influences that led to the confusion of Vatican Council II and its disastrous fall out.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (RSV) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.


“I have chills & am in tears doing research for my new book on Infiltration of the Catholic Church. THERE IS SO MUCH EVIL IN SANKT GALLEN. IT WILL ROCK THE CHURCH. Like Natcha Jaitt, I’m not suicidal. If anything happens to me it was a murder. Pray for me. Book due in May 2019.”

— Dr. Taylor Marshall, 3-6-19 on Twitter


Now, for the actual orthodox ecclesiological teaching of Holy Mother Church (over against reactionary, conspiratorial pied pipers), see the following articles on my blog, regarding the full orthodoxy and spiritually rich and more fully developed true content of the Second Vatican Council, the Mind of the Church, and the sublime authority of Holy Spirit-protected ecumenical councils:

Conciliar Infallibility: Summary from Church Documents [6-5-98]

May 30, 2019

Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within, by Dr. Taylor Marshall, is currently taking Amazon by storm:

Hardcover (5-31-19):

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

#1 in Christian Church History (Books)
#1 in Christian Institutions & Organizations (Books)
#1 in History of Religions

Kindle Version (5-23-19):

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #799 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

#1 in Catholicism (Kindle Store)
#1 in Religious Studies – Church & State
#2 in Church & State Religious Studies

It is mere recycled radical Catholic reactionary conspiratorialism: a sort of updated version of The Great Facade (2002; updated with a 2nd edition in 2015: in order to capitalize on the anti-Francis hysteria), by Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods. Marshall has been sinking more and more into the doom-and-gloom abyss of reactionary thinking for several years now.

I will be examining its blatant reactionary aspects and simply citing from the book (what might be called “sociological exposing of extremist elements”) and identifying plain and obvious examples of three of the four classic hallmarks of radical Catholic reactionary beliefs:

1) Pope-bashing (I will concentrate on bashing of popes other than Pope Francis).

2) Vatican II-bashing.

3) Pauline / New / “Novus Ordo” / ordinary form Mass-bashing.

[the fourth common element is ecumenism-bashing, which is also assuredly a strong motif in the book]

I’ve applied this same method of analysis / exposure to several of the “statements” against Pope Francis and books or articles that criticized Pope Francis and also other popes, Vatican II, and the New Mass:

“Nothing New”: Reactionary Attacks on Pope St. John Paul II [4-9-05; with tie-in endnote added on 3-2-18]

Peter Kwasniewski, Fr. Thomas Kocik and a Growing Chorus Disagree with Pope Benedict XVI Regarding the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite Mass (Or, Reports of the Death of the Reform of the Reform are Greatly Exaggerated)  [+ Part Two] [2-24-14]

Who’s Defending Pope Benedict’s  Summorum Pontificum Now? [2-26-14]

Michael Voris on Pope Benedict’s “Immoral” Resignation, Questionable Illness [12-15-15]

Radical Reactionary Affinities in “Filial Correction” Signatories [9-28-17]

Reactionary Influence: Correctio & June 2016 Criticism of the Pope [10-3-17; expanded on 1-24-18]

Phil Lawler’s Lost Shepherd: My One-Star Amazon Review [2-26-18]


Negative Reactionary Views of Popes Since 1958 [3-18-18]

Debate on Ross Douthat’s Critical Views of Vatican II [3-26-18]

Henry Sire of Dictator Pope Infamy: Reactionary Extremist [3-27-18]

Superstition About the “Preserved” High Altar at Notre Dame (And Continued Cynical, Highly Selective, “Pick and Choose” Acceptance of the Teaching of Pope Benedict XVI) [4-17-19]



In other words, to sum it up: “It ain’t just Pope Francis.” It’s radical Catholic reactionary conspiratorial / alarmist / fanatical thinking (to more or less degrees, depending on the document). That’s why — increasingly — those who attack Pope Francis also are frequently observed attacking Pope Benedict XVI, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope St. Paul VI, and Pope St. John XXIII (even sometimes Ven. Pope Pius XII, too), and/or Vatican II, and/or the ordinary form Mass.

Ironically, Taylor Marshall — in 2013 — defined “radical traditionalists” almost exactly the way I define the group I coined as “radical Catholic reactionaries” (which now, sadly, includes himself). Karl Keating wrote an article called “Hyperbolic Traditionalists” on the Catholic Answers site (9-1-13). He references Taylor Marshall:

The blogger was Taylor Marshall, and his blog post appeared on July 30. He listed nine attributes that he thought distinguished radical Traditionalists from regular Traditionalists. . . .

Marshall did identify things that commonly are found among radical Traditionalists: “the denial of the Jewish holocaust,” “the outright denial of Vatican II as a valid council,” “disdain for Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis,” and “the belief that Latin Mass Catholics are ‘A Team’ and Novus Ordo Catholics are ‘B Team.’”

Those attributes don’t amount to a definition of radical Traditionalism, but they are useful indicators.

My definition for years now has been that the radical Catholic reactionary has four hallmarks (listed not far above). I have noted that anti-Semitism is often found in these circles as well (here’s one notorious example, from Rorate Caeli), but I don’t include it as a virtually universal “hallmark.” The only other difference is that I don’t include denial of the validity of Vatican II in “Vatican II-bashing.” Almost all reactionaries uphold the validity of Vatican II, the New Mass, and popes since 1958. But they continually bash all of them.

Marshall lists three of the four above. It’s almost like he had been reading my own materials on the topic (which go back to 1997 online). We know that he has read and liked my writings because he said so (see the next section). Therefore, if we ever do directly interact on these topics, he knows full well where I am coming from with regard to my definitions for Catholic reactionaries. He held the position himself as recently as 2013.

Now he himself has espoused and engages in all four things. He has become what he was describing then, as a mainstream, legitimate traditionalist (very close to my own present position that I have held since I converted in 1990). Now he’s a radical Catholic reactionary. How very sad . . .


I’ve been studying and critiquing reactionary thinking since 1997 and have written two books about it (one / two) and have an extensive web page on the topic.

Now, before I offer my critique below, let me say that I don’t know Taylor Marshall personally, but I had been recommending his work till recently (we may have corresponded at some point; I don’t recall), when he decided to become a reactionary. Formerly, this is what he thought of my work:

Dave Armstrong’s book A Biblical Defense of Catholicism was one of the first Catholic apologetics books that I read when I was exploring Catholicism. Ever since then, I have continued to appreciate how he articulates the Catholic Faith through his blog and books. I still visit his site when I need a great quote or clarification regarding anything ranging from sacraments to sedevacantists. Dave is one of the best cyber-apologists out there.

That “endorsement” is posted on myLiterary Resume” right now and has been there for some time (it goes back at least as far as 21 August 2010, according to Internet Archive).

Also, Dr. Marshall thanked me (among many others), for my “friendship and encouragement along the way” in the Acknowledgments of his 2009 book, The Crucified Rabbi. He also placed a long sidebar ad for 15 books of mine that I was selling, on his website: at least as far back as 16 July 2009.

I appreciate the kind words. And of course, none of this is personal.


I.Pope-Bashing [Apart from Pope Francis] in Taylor Marshall’s Book, Infiltration

[the ePub version that I am utilizing contains no page numbers, but these can all be found in a word-search of one of the e-book versions; all words below in blue are from the book (line breaks indicating separate quotations). My criticisms and citations of others will be in regular black.


Venerable Pope Pius XII

Unfortunately, the second half of the pontificate of Pius XII is not as brilliant as the first half. In 1948, Pius XII appointed the controversial priest Father Annibale Bugnini to the Commission for Liturgical Reform.

Sadly, Pope Pius XII unwisely chose Father Annibale Bugnini to accomplish a “restoration” of something that never previously existed.

It’s difficult to understand why Pope Pius XII softened in his later years and how he was ostensibly manipulated by the likes of Father Bugnini. His friends and acquaintances noted a drastic change in his personality beginning in 1954, . . . 

Since 1946, Pope Pius XII had fallen under the influence of his chosen confessor and spiritual director, Augustine Cardinal Bea, S.J., . . . Cardinal Bea would reveal himself as a Modernist.

Pope St. John XXIII

[H]e proved to be one of the most revolutionary popes in Catholic history.

Pope John XXIII doubted the words of three children [at Fatima].

Not necessarily at all; he was referring to the Church with regard to Marian apparitions and was simply stating in this instance that the Church cannot formally endorse private revelations: an altogether uncontroversial notion. See, “Private Revelations” in Catholic Encyclopedia (1912): “When the Church approves private revelations, she declares only that there is nothing in them contrary faith or good morals, . . . no obligation is thereby imposed on the faithful to believe them.”

[T]here were only three acknowledged contemporary Catholic prophets or seers at the time of Pope John XXIII: the three children of Fatima. Did Pope John have them in mind when he condemned the “prophets of doom”?

In fact, it seems that Ratzinger eventually became one of the “prophets of doom” that John XXIII warned us about in his spirit of optimism.

Pope St. Paul VI

Most agree that . . . the pontificate of Paul VI brought monumental confusion to the Catholic Church.

Pope Paul VI’s eager enthusiasm for ecumenism is rooted in this document [Nostra aetatethat presupposes that false religions can and do lift the soul to “perfect liberation,” “supreme illumination,” and “submission to His inscrutable decrees.” Pope Leo XIII and Pope Saint Pius X would not have agreed with these theological assertions, . . . his thinking conformed to Freemasonic goals . . . 

Dr. Marshall has badly misquoted and misrepresented the conciliar document and foolishly pits previous popes against it. It’s not presupposing that everything it mentions with regard to other religions is true. Thus, when it mentions “perfect liberation” and “supreme illumination” it was describing what Buddhists believe about their own religion: not what Catholics think. This is like St. Paul evangelizing the Athenians: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. [23] For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:22-23, RSV). 

Likewise, the document refers to Muslims, who “take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees.” In other words, the observant Muslim seeks to submit to what he or she believes God (Allah in their conception) is telling them to do. It doesn’t follow at all that the Catholic conciliar document agrees with every jot and tittle (which would be indifferentism). Such a view is ludicrous, but is standard reactionary “anti-ecumenical” pablum. Nostra aetate makes it quite clear in the same section where it discussed Buddhism, that Catholicism remains the “fullness” of religious truth:

The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.

Thus, Nostra aetate did nothing other than what St. Paul did with the Athenians: it acknowledged true aspects while not denying false beliefs, and proclaimed the fullness of Christian revelation and theology. For more on the vastly misunderstood conciliar teaching on Islam, see my paper, Does Catholicism Equate Allah & Yahweh?

Bugnini was the chief architect of the Novus Ordo Mass, published in 1969 and 1970, and we shall thoroughly cover his influence over Pius XII and Paul VI in the pages to come. Suffice it here to state that Bugnini was an infiltrated priest and a Freemason.

It is difficult to understand how Pope Paul VI would lament the demonic infiltration of the Church while he promoted reforms that encouraged it: . . . 

The liturgical, theological, and philosophical changes of . . . Pope Paul VI were detrimental to the laity.

[T]he author Roger Peyrefitte . . . had written two books in which he claimed that Montini/Paul VI had maintained a long homosexual relationship with an Italian actor. The rumor of Paul VI’s secret homosexual relationship was spread in French and Italian print. The alleged homosexual partner of Paul VI was the Italian actor Paolo Carlini, . . . 

The “Paul VI was a sodomite” conspiracy theory has been bandied about in many reactionary books and websites. By including it, Dr. Marshall “proves” to the reactionaries that he is definitely one of them. It takes a lot of hubris and chutzpah, indeed, to accuse a pope who is a saint — the very one who wrote the magnificently heroic, tradition-affirming Humanae Vitae at that — , of ongoing sodomy with a secret lover. To even mention such filth is a disgrace and an outrage.

Meanwhile, three clerics exercised immense influence over the dying Pius XII: Bugnini, Montini [Paul VI], and the German Jesuit Augustin Bea. These three crypto-Modernists used the final three years of the pontificate to hatch their plot for a new style of pope, a new council, and new liturgy.

Montini had a dark side, as demonstrated by his friendship with Saul Alinsky.

Alinsky wrote to a friend as follows: “No, I don’t know who the next Pope will be, but if it’s to be Montini, the drinks will be on me for years to come.” In other words, the author of the Rules for Radicals could think of no better “radical” pope than Montini. But Montini was not the only radical cardinal undermining the final days of ailing Pope Pius XII.

Pope St. John Paul II

On 28 October 1986, John Paul II invoked and hosted the Assisi World Day of Prayer for Peace. . . . This was the first time a pope prayed with members of other religions and sat with them on equal standing.

But this is a distortion of what actually happened. Here is an account from one who helped plan this gathering and who was present (William F. Murphy):

How does a Christian whose prayer is “through Jesus Christ” pray with those who do not recognize Christ as lord and savior? How does a Jew pray with those who do not belong to the covenant of the chosen people? What of Buddhists and their approach to prayer? . . . 

The pope himself resolved this major issue. Apprised of the objections of Christians and non-Christians alike, Pope John Paul II first expressed his understanding of the objections’ legitimacy. Then he offered a formula that proved to be of immense help in clarifying what was and was not intended by the prayer for peace. The pope proposed that we were not gathering “to pray together,” but we were gathering “to be together to pray.” The prayer to be offered would be neither syncretist nor reductionist. Each group or delegation would offer prayer in accord with and reflective of its particular prayer tradition. Only the adherents of each religious group would be actively involved in their respective prayer. . . . 

[T]he religious leaders, with members of their own faith, dispersed to select sites in Assisi to pray and reflect in accord with their tradition. . . . Assisi is so rich in beautiful places for meeting that it was easy to find appropriate sites for each religious group.

The Christians assembled in the cathedral church of the Diocese of Assisi. There the pope, flanked by the representative of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople and by Archbishop Robert Runcie of Canterbury, led a service of prayer, hymns and reflection. (“Remembering Assisi After 20 Years”America, 10-23-06)

Catholic writer Mark Shea wrote about the second ecumenical gathering in Assisi (1993), in 2002 (an article I compiled, and host on my blog):

During the 40s, of course, Jews were housed in Catholic facilities, including the Vatican. They were permitted to pray there. Was this also a shocking betrayal of the uniqueness of the faith and a capitulation to indifferentism? If not, why not? If Jews can pray on Church property without it meaning “we’re really saying the same thing” why can’t the delegates to Assisi? – especially after the Pope explicitly says repeatedly, “We’re not praying together and we’re not really saying the same thing?” What’s so magical about being on Church property after a disclaimer like that?

I’m still having trouble figuring out the actual problem.

Yeah, so am I . . . 

The very article in the New York Times (10-28-86) that Dr. Marshall cites (footnote 128) with regard to another “scandal” that he recounts (see the next section) confirms that prayer together did not take place:

Scattered among Romanesque churches, Baroque chapels and Medieval palaces, the participants formed 12 groups this morning so that each faith could pray separately. . . . 

At no time did all of the participants pray together. Instead, the Pope coined the phrase ”being together to pray,” to describe how they were united here while worshipping separately.

Welcoming the religious leaders this morning, John Paul said, ”The fact that we have come here does not imply any intention of seeking a religious consensus among ourselves or of negotiating our faith convictions.”

Most scandalous of all was that the Tibetan Buddhist delegation led by the Dali Lama were allowed to place an idol of Buddha on top of a Catholic tabernacle in the Chapel of San Pietro, as reported by the New York Times. To this idol they burned incense within a Catholic church with permission from the pope.

. . . John Paul II’s participating in and encouraging pagan idolatry in a Catholic basilica . . . 

The act itself was substantiated by the same article above:

[T]he Buddhists, led by the Dalai Lama, quickly converted the altar of the Church of San Pietro by placing a small statute of the Buddha atop the tabernacle and setting prayer scrolls and incense burners around it.

But the article does not confirm that Pope St. John Paul II gave them “permission” to do such a thing. Nor does Dr. Marshall provide any documented evidence that the latter happened. Tom Nash, writing at the Catholic Answers website (4-14-17) explained: “the placement was done once by Buddhists in 1986, who did not realize the inappropriateness of the gesture, which they did not repeat.” As far as we can tell, it wasn’t authorized by Pope John Paul II or any other Catholic official.

To claim that he did do so, and without any proof or evidence, is highly irresponsible, to put it mildly. I have now spent a good chunk of time perusing many articles on the incident (almost all by reactionaries) and I can’t find any proof that the pope approved of it. Until such proof is produced, I think it is unethical to accuse a saint-pope of sanctioning an outrage such as this. That is believing the worst of someone, not the best, as we are taught in the Bible.

Dr. Marshall (again not providing any ironclad proof at all), wrote about this incident on his Twitter page, in March 2019:

In 1986, the valid pope allowed the Dalai Lama to place an idol of Buddha on top of a Catholic tabernacle in the Basilica at Assisi. That’s messed up. Lefebvre was operating in a state of ecclesiastical emergency.

The idol of Buddha by Dalai Lama on tabernacle was reported by New York Times with specificity. I give full report of it with more details in my new book “Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy Catholicism from Within”

Lefebvre himself pointed to Assisi 1986 as JP2 allowing Dalai Lama to worship on an altar in a Catholic Church, but not SSPX. Lefebvre thought JP2 had double standards against those that desired the old Mass. Why does Dalai Lama get free access to altar but not Traditionalists?

That’s how the 2 events are related and Lefebvre explicitly connected the 2 events when he consecrated the 4 bishops in 1988.

At least in Lefebvre’s account, the 2 events were directly related and go together: “If Pope says Dalai Lama can use an altar but Latin Mass priest cannot, then we can’t trust the Pope on this matter.”

Yes John Paul II allowed Dalai Lama to place idol of Buddha ON TOP of a tabernacle in Assis in 1986. It’s sacrilegious and led Lefebvre to make his decision in 1988

[someone provided the explanation that I have above]

So when JP2 gave a chapel and altar to Dalai Lama to use for worship, did he somehow assume that the Dalai Lama was going to say Mass in there? Really? What else would a Buddhist do?

His pontificate is clearly conflicted, . . . the Freemasons sought to create (beginning in the mid-1800s) a climate among youth, seminarians, and young priests who grew up breathing the air of ecumenism, indifference to religious disagreements, and a mission for world brotherhood. John Paul II is the first pope who moved freely in these ideals . . . he drank deeply of Vatican II, but he still retained the piety of a Catholic.

Some are convinced that John Paul II was not who we thought him to be.

Moreover, Dr. Marshall wrote on his Twitter page on 31 January 2019: “We need to admit that Paul VI and John Paul II pontificates had deep problems.”

In his video, “Pope Benedict’s Resignation: An Analysis” (2-13-19), Dr. Marshall opines about Pope John Paul the Great:
I want to be able to say, oh John Paul II was galvanizing a more conservative [trend or norm], but maybe he wasn’t, and that’s just part of the hard red pill on John Paul II and Ratzinger; and maybe this whole crisis is for us all to just wipe the sleep out of our eyes and be like, “oh my goodness!”: it’s been bad since the 60s, or it’s been bad since the 40s, or . . . it’s been bad since the 1800s, in Rome. (38:58-39:30)

Pope Benedict XVI

Why did Pope Benedict XVI resign the papacy on 28 February 2013?

Why should it be a mystery and be talked about as fodder for more conspiracies, when he himself explained exactly why? Why is that not good enough? Is he lying through his teeth? He wrote in his letter of resignation:

After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.  . . . in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

Case closed. A revered pope has clarified his own personal situation. We need not invoke the Freemasons, the mafia, dissident Churchmen, or some other nefarious or conspiratorial scheme (such as it being “immoral” and “abandoning the flock to wolves”: as Dr. Marshall’s reactionary buddy Michael Voris asserted in one of his countless videos).

Dr. Marshall, thumbing his nose at the Pope Emeritus’ own explanation, suggested the real reason in a description of one of his podcasts: “Archbishop Viganò [blew] the whistle on the Vatican Bank in 2009-2010 and . . . it escalated into Benedict’s resignation in 2013.” 

And why did lightning strike the Vatican that very night [that Pope Benedict resigned]?
It’s quite tough to prove either a conspiracy or spectacular divine intervention and alleged “sign” (via lightning) concerning goings-on in the Vatican. So why not stick to natural explanations? According to an expert on lightning striking buildings, St. Peter’s Basilica is “an extremely large structure. . . . it certainly towers over its surroundings, which means that lightning is more likely to hit it than any of the surrounding buildings.”
The writer of this BBC article added: “So it seems that given the nature of St Peter’s as a building, and the meteorological conditions around Rome on that day, the likelihood of the Basilica being hit was in fact quite high.” (“What is the chance of lightning striking St Peter’s?”, 3-2-13)
We’ve come to a sad state of affairs when a secular BBC article makes much more sense than an educated Catholic sometimes-apologist with a Ph.D., who would rather suggest a miraculous lightning strike and sign from God Almighty in Rome because a pope resigned (which is not unprecedented), rather than a simple, quite plausible natural explanation. This reminds me of the absurd superstitious bloviations about the modern table altar vs. the medieval high altar in Notre-Dame after the fire there, which I wrote about. Things like this make Catholics a laughingstock to the watching world.
[T]here is an apparent rupture between recent papacies and previous papacies and councils . . . 
In his video, “Pope Benedict’s Resignation: An Analysis” (2-13-19), Dr. Marshall provides his bottom-line opinion of Pope Benedict, and it’s not a pretty sight:
The longer I’m Catholic, the longer I’m removed from Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate, the more I worry, . . . I’m concerned about this, that Benedict — that Ratzinger’s — appreciation and affection for “tradition” [gestures with hands: “quotation marks”] or traditionalism, is more aesthetic, that is, it’s more into the beauty and the sentiment than it is the actual doctrine / dogma.  (starting at 7:37 through to 8:08)
This backs up what I’ve been saying for six years now: traditionalists and the more extreme reactionaries like Taylor Marshall, are turning more and more against Pope Benedict (and popes since 1958) as time goes on. They used to love him. He was their darling; he was the cat’s meow. But then he resigned. Now (after years of increasing bitterness and resentment) he is being accused of not even being doctrinally orthodox: that’s how I interpret this bilge.

So, of course, Taylor — with all of 13 years’ experience as a Catholic (he was received in 2006) — is smarter than the pope / more Catholic than the pope. He knows his theology; Pope Benedict does not, and simply — you see — likes the “smells and bells” and facing the altar and Latin and fancy vestments. This sort of flatulent rhetoric is arrogant beyond comprehension. And the people saying it seem to not have the slightest comprehension that it is. It’s as natural as breathing to them, to treat a pope (and a very brilliant theologian at that) in this condescending, patronizing fashion.

II. Vatican II-Bashing

Most agree that the Second Vatican Council . . . brought monumental confusion to the Catholic Church.

Nothing binding came from Vatican II. . . . By a divine miracle, the pope of Vatican II taught that Vatican II contained no extraordinary dogma and did not carry the mark of infallibility — meaning the documents of Vatican II are fallible and may contain error. Unlike the previous twenty ecumenical councils, the pope placed an asterisk next to Vatican II.

This is sheer nonsense (though it is standard, textbook reactionary boilerplate). Pope Benedict XVI explained why it is, when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger:

It must be stated that Vatican II is upheld by the same authority as Vatican I and the Council of Trent, namely, the Pope and the College of Bishops in communion with him, and that also with regard to its contents, Vatican II is in the strictest continuity with both previous councils and incorporates their texts word for word in decisive points . . .

Whoever accepts Vatican II, as it has clearly expressed and understood itself, at the same time accepts the whole binding tradition of the Catholic Church, particularly also the two previous councils . . . It is likewise impossible to decide in favor of Trent and Vatican I but against Vatican II. Whoever denies Vatican II denies the authority that upholds the other two councils and thereby detaches them from their foundation. And this applies to the so-called ‘traditionalism,’ also in its extreme forms. Every partisan choice destroys the whole (the very history of the Church) which can exist only as an indivisible unity.

To defend the true tradition of the Church today means to defend the Council. It is our fault if we have at times provided a pretext (to the ‘right’ and ‘left’ alike) to view Vatican II as a ‘break’ and an abandonment of the tradition. There is, instead, a continuity that allows neither a return to the past nor a flight forward, neither anachronistic longings nor unjustified impatience. We must remain faithful to the today of the Church, not the yesterday or tomorrow. And this today of the Church is the documents of Vatican II, without reservations that amputate them and without arbitrariness that distorts them . . .

I see no future for a position that, out of principle, stubbornly renounces Vatican II. In fact in itself it is an illogical position. The point of departure for this tendency is, in fact, the strictest fidelity to the teaching particularly of Pius IX and Pius X and, still more fundamentally, of Vatican I and its definition of papal primacy. But why only popes up to Pius XII and not beyond? Is perhaps obedience to the Holy See divisible according to years or according to the nearness of a teaching to one’s own already-established convictions? (The Ratzinger Report, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1985, 28-29, 31)

The naive optimism of Vatican II . . . 

The liturgical, theological, and philosophical changes of Vatican II . . . were detrimental to the laity.

. . . the modernizing and liberalizing tendencies in doctrine, politics, and liturgy of Vatican II.

Maritain proposed a “new form” of Christendom, rooted in his philosophical, political, and religious pluralism. In brief, it was a prototype for the ideals and goals of Vatican II.

The engineers of Vatican II were Karl Rahner, Edward Schillebeeckx, Hans Küng, Henri de Lubac, and Yves Congar. All five men were held under suspicion of Modernism under Pius XII. Karl Rahner, S.J. had a greater influence than any other on the theology Vatican II — so much so that one might say that Vatican II is simply Rahnerianism.

Rahner was charged with reframing the doctrine of the Church for modern times, and the result was the Rahnerian document Lumen gentium. Rahner introduced a new ecclesiology in which the Church of Christ is not the Catholic Church but rather “subsists in the Catholic Church.” This seems to contradict the teaching of Pope Pius XII in his 1943 encyclical Mystici Corporis . . . 

More sheer nonsense. I cite the Wikipedia article,Subsistit in:

According to some, to say the Church of Christ “subsists in” the Catholic Church introduces a distinction between the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church. Catholic teaching had traditionally, until then, stated unequivocally that “the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing”, as Pope Pius XII expressed it in his 1950 encyclical Humani generis, 27). The teaching of Pope Pius XII on the identity of the Mystical Body and the Catholic Church in Mystici corporis was solemn, theologically integrated, but not new.

A supposed reversal of Mystici corporis by the Ecumenical Council, which incorporated virtually all teachings of Pius XII in over 250 references without caveats, would have not only been a rejection of a major teaching of the late Pontiff. It would have raised serious questions regarding the reliability and nature of Papal teachings on such essential topics like the Church. It would have also constituted a major attack on the most recent encyclical teachings of the then reigning Pope Paul VI, who had just issued his inaugural encyclical Ecclesiam suam, on “The Church”. Paul VI quoted Mystici corporis from Pius XII verbatim: . . . 

Therefore, the Church states that the phrase “subsists in” of Vatican II does not undermine the preceding manner of expressing the identity of the “Church of Christ” and the “Catholic Church”, since, as John XXIII said when he opened Vatican II, “The Council… wishes to transmit Catholic doctrine, whole and entire, without alteration or deviation” (speech of 11 October 1962).

Pope Paul VI when promulgating the Constitution, said the same. 

[Footnote:  “There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach.” (Speech at the promulgation of the Constitution on the Church and the Decrees on the Eastern Churches and Ecumenism): 11-21-64]

The Council teaches that Christ “established… here on earth” a single Church “as an entity with visible delineation… constituted and organized in the world as a society”, a Church that has “a social structure” that “serves the spirit of Christ” in a way somewhat similar to how “the assumed nature, inseparably united to him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation”. It is this concrete visible organized Church, endowed with a social structure, that the Council says “subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.” [Lumen gentium, 8]

In another document promulgated on the same day (21 November 1964) as Lumen gentium, the Council did in fact refer to “the Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ” (Decree Orientalium ecclesiarum, 2). Here the traditional conventional expression “is” is used, whose clarity can be used to interpret the potential ambiguity of the other phrase.

It is also to the Catholic Church, not to some supposed distinct “Church of Christ”, that has been entrusted “the fullness of grace and of truth” that gives value to the other Churches and communities that the Holy Spirit uses as instruments of salvation, [Unitatis redintegratio, 3] though the Church of Christ is not said to subsist in any of them.

In fact, the Council combined the two terms “Church of Christ” and “Catholic Church” into a single term, “Christ’s Catholic Church” in its Decree on Ecumenism, promulgated at the same time as its Constitution on the Church. [Unitatis redintegratio, 3] ]

Rahner . . . even posits that Christ is the one who is saved: “We are saved because this man who is one of us has been saved by God, . . ..” Sadly, this flimsy theology is the backdrop for Vatican II and Lumen gentium.

I agree that this is flimsy — indeed, blasphemous — theology, from Karl Rahner. I disagree that it is the “backdrop” of, or can explain either Lumen gentium or orthodox Vatican II theology. Like most people who have no case to be made, but have only innuendo and gossipy empty polemics, Dr. Marshall doesn’t show us exactly why he accepts these supposed connections, or why his estimation is to be believed. He simply asserts the outrageous thing and then moves on quickly to yet more conspiratorialism, which seems to make up the bulk of (maybe even constitute the very essence of) of this outlandish book.

Devout Catholics often defend Vatican II by saying that it was “hijacked,” and that is certainly the case, but the question is when, and by whom. As will become clear, Pope John XXIII, and his favorites, Bugnini, Bea, and Montini [Pope St. Paul VI], had already set the optimistic new order, or novus ordo, agenda.

While he [Pope John Paul II] supported the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, he was generally seen as doctrinally conservative, . . . 

As if being a “Vatican II adherent” is supposedly the same as not being doctrinally conservative (as if there is some inherent conflict) . . . 

. . . the Modernist tendency since the late 1950s . . . 

[W]hy not confess that the spirit of Vatican II is none other than the Holy Spirit? The Modernist truly believes that the new liturgy, the new code of canon law, the new theology, and the new popes are superior to those of the previous nineteen hundred years. Why not rejoice to live in the age of the New Pentecost? Most serious and informed Catholics cannot swallow this pill. Catholicism is a perennial religion, and by its nature it cannot change or contradict itself.

. . . the problems of infiltration, Modernism, Vatican II, . . . 

. . . the effeminacy of the post-conciliar liturgy and doctrine, . . . ecclesial chaos.

[T]here are traditional priests and laity who subscribe to the “recognize and resist” position by attending the 1962 Latin Mass at diocesan parishes or at parishes served by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, the Institute of Christ the King, or other canonically approved bodies. In these circles, there are frank discussions and debates about problems with certain phrases or documents of the Second Vatican Council and subsequent papal statements.

The “recognize and resist” position goes back to the 1960s in the persons of Cardinal Ottaviani and Archbishop Lefebvre. They and others recognized that the pope and bishops of their time were valid, but that they had fallen into error on several topics. . . . This position of “recognize and resist” applies to Vatican II as well. . . . Since Vatican II did not bear the mark of infallibility or the extraordinary magisterium, a Catholic can claim without impiety that the Council may have contained mistakes.

The Catholic Church has been infiltrated all the way to the top.

He called the Second Vatican Council to session in 1962, opening the Church up to dramatic changes, but the pontiff remained conservative in terms of doctrine.

Unfortunately, this is a sub-Catholic, liberalized, dissenting, “cafeteria Catholic” or “pick-and-choose” understanding of conciliar authority. Msgr. Fernando Ocariz Braña, the current Prelate of Opus Dei, provides us with an orthodox, fully Catholic view, in his article, “On Adhesion to the Second Vatican Council”(L’Osservatore Romano, 12-2-11; reprinted at Catholic Culture):

[I]t is not pointless to recall that the pastoral motivation of the Council does not mean that it was not doctrinal – since all pastoral activity is necessarily based on doctrine. But, above all, it is important to emphasise that precisely because doctrine is aimed at salvation, the teaching of doctrine is an integral part of all pastoral work. Furthermore, within the Documents of the Council it is obvious that there are many strictly doctrinal teachings: on Divine Revelation, on the Church, etc. As Blessed John Paul II wrote: “With the help of God, the Council Fathers in four years of work were able to produce a considerable collection of doctrinal statements and pastoral norms which were presented to the whole Church” (Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, 11 October 1992, Introduction).

Assent Owed to the Magisterium

The Second Vatican Council did not define any dogma, in the sense that it proposed no doctrine with a definitive act. However, even if the Magisterium proposes a teaching without directly invoking the charism of infallibility, it does not follow that such a teaching is therefore to be considered “fallible” – in the sense that what is proposed is somehow a “provisional doctrine” or just an “authoritative opinion”. Every authentic expression of the Magisterium must be received for what it truly is: a teaching given by Pastors who, in the apostolic succession, speak with the “charism of truth” (Dei Verbum, n. 8), “endowed with the authority of Christ” (Lumen Gentium, n. 25), “and by the light of the Holy Spirit” (ibid.).

This charism, this authority and this light were certainly present at the Second Vatican Council; to deny this to the entire episcopate gathered to teach the universal Church cum Petro and sub Petro, would be to deny something of the very essence of the Church (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, 24 June 1973, nn. 2-5).

Naturally not all the affirmations contained in the Conciliar documents have the same doctrinal value and therefore not all require the same degree of assent. . . . 

Those affirmations of the Second Vatican Council that recall truths of the faith naturally require the assent of theological faith, not because they were taught by this Council but because they have already been taught infallibly as such by the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. So also a full and definitive assent is required for the other doctrines set forth by the Second Vatican Council which have already been proposed by a previous definitive act of the Magisterium.

The Council’s other doctrinal teachings require of the faithful a degree of assent called “religious submission of will and intellect”. . . . 

A number of innovations of a doctrinal nature are to be found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council: on the sacramental nature of the episcopate, on episcopal collegiality, on religious freedom, etc. These innovations in matters concerning faith or morals, not proposed with a definitive act, still require religious submission of intellect and will, even though some of them were and still are the object of controversy with regard to their continuity with earlier magisterial teaching, or their compatibility with the tradition. In the face of such difficulties in understanding the continuity of certain Conciliar Teachings with the tradition, the Catholic attitude, having taken into account the unity of the Magisterium, is to seek a unitive interpretation in which the texts of the Second Vatican Council and the preceding Magisterial documents illuminate each other. Not only should the Second Vatican Council be interpreted in the light of previous Magisterial documents, but also some of these earlier magisterial documents can be understood better in the light of the Second Vatican Council. This is nothing new in the history of the Church. It should be remembered, for example, that the meaning of important concepts adopted in the First Council of Nicaea in the formulation of the Trinitarian and Christological faith (hypóstasis, ousía), were greatly clarified by later Councils.

The interpretation of the innovations taught by the Second Vatican Council must therefore reject, as Benedict XVI put it, “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture,” while it must affirm the “hermeneutic of reform, of renewal within continuity” (Discourse, 22 December 2005). These are innovations in the sense that they explain new aspects which have not previously been formulated by the Magisterium, but which do not doctrinally contradict previous Magisterial documents. This is so even though, in certain cases — for example, concerning religious freedom — these innovations imply very different consequences at the level of historical decisions concerning juridical and political applications of the teaching, especially given the changes in historical and social conditions. 

Likewise, Pope Benedict XVI elaborated upon (brilliantly as always) the same principles of Catholic in his famous talk (12-22-05) about “the hermeneutic of reform, of renewal within continuity”:

What has been the result of the Council? Was it well received? What, in the acceptance of the Council, was good and what was inadequate or mistaken? What still remains to be done? No one can deny that in vast areas of the Church the implementation of the Council has been somewhat difficult, . . . 

The question arises:  Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?

Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or – as we would say today – on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.

On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the “hermeneutic of reform”, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.

The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts. . . . 

The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. . . . 

The hermeneutic of discontinuity is countered by the hermeneutic of reform, as it was presented first by Pope John XXIII in his Speech inaugurating the Council on 11 October 1962 and later by Pope Paul VI in his Discourse for the Council’s conclusion on 7 December 1965.

Here I shall cite only John XXIII’s well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes “to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion”. And he continues:  “Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us…”. It is necessary that “adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness…” be presented in “faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another…”, retaining the same meaning and message (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p. 715). . . . 

The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.

The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, journeying on through time; she continues “her pilgrimage amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God”, proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes (cfLumen Gentiumn. 8). . . . 

[T]oday we can look with gratitude at the Second Vatican Council:  if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church. 

Lest there be any remaining doubt that Dr. Marshall is a very severe critic of Vatican II and does not think it was a good thing or a net gain for the Church, here are more comments of his from his video, “Pope Benedict XVI Speaks: I am no longer directly responsible” (4-12-19). It’s a discussion of Pope Benedict XVI’s recent essay, “The Church and the scandal of sexual abuse”:

[From 5:16 to 5:32]: You see this sort of, “yeah, everything went bad in the 60s, but Vatican II was still kind o’ really good, guys, right? Vatican II was still okay!” He’s still holding onto that.

[From 27:26 to 28:26]: He’s going to the 60s, and we’re thinkin’, “well, you know, Ratzinger, you were kind of involved in this big meeting in the 60s, that, uh, revolutionized the Catholic Church liturgically, philosophically, morally, and theologically” . . . moral theology was based entirely on the Bible [in Vatican II]? That was not Vatican II! [big smirk and condescending tone]. It was all consequentialism!”

III. Pauline / New / “Novus Ordo” / Ordinary Form Mass-Bashing

Most agree that . . . the Novus Ordo Mass. . . brought monumental confusion to the Catholic Church.

[T]he new Mass leaned toward Protestantism. This was not a baseless accusation. Six Protestant scholars had been invited to Vatican II to participate in discussions regarding ecumenism and liturgy . . . 

Bugnini was the chief architect of the Novus Ordo Mass, published in 1969 and 1970, and we shall thoroughly cover his influence over Pius XII and Paul VI in the pages to come. Suffice it here to state that Bugnini was an infiltrated priest and a Freemason.

Again on his Twitter page on 31 January 2019, Dr. Marshall pontificated:

We need to return to the Roman Rite pre Bugnini (pre 1955). It is literally killing us. We need to return to a Thomism. We need to return to the clear 1917 Code.


Related Reading:

Critical Reviews or Notices of Infiltration

“Infiltration: An idiot’s guide to the problems of the Church” (Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholic Culture, 5-31-19)

“Infiltration, innuendo, and the longing for certainty” (Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, The Catholic World Report, 5-31-19)

JD Flynn, Editor-in-Chief, Catholic News Agency and Canon Lawyer, Weighs in Against Taylor Marshall (Twitter, 5-31-19)

“Taylor Marshall’s ‘Infiltration'” (Fr. Dwight Longenecker, 6-1-19)

“So, This Catholic Convert Walks Into A Bar” (John Bruce, The Crisis And The Cold Case File, 6-2-19)

Infiltration: an unconvincing tale of the Church’s enemies (Joseph Shaw [reactionary], Catholic Herald, 6-13-19)

Book Review: Infiltration by Taylor Marshall (Phillip Campbell and Kevin Tierney [traditionalists], Unam Sanctam Catholicam, 6-27-19)

A Chapter-by-Chapter Refutation of Dr. Taylor Marshall’s Book, Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within (+ Part II / III / IV / V / VI / VII / VIII / IX / X) [Paul Hoffer, starting on 6-9-19]

My Articles



Photo credit: Gabriel12and (1-23-17): Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz Braña (b. 1944) [Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license]


December 24, 2018

There is a long back story here. I don’t want to bore readers with it, but briefly: Catholic apologist Karl Keating and I have disagreed from the outset as regards Phil Lawler’s book, Lost Shepherd (that is highly critical of Pope Francis). I first wrote about it almost exactly a year ago. Karl didn’t like that at all and I dialogued about it with both him and Phil and then with Karl alone.

In January 2018 I wrote five lengthy critiques of Lawler’s book, which I read from cover-to-cover (one / two / three / four / five): condensed into an eventual one-star Amazon review. I wrote several more times about the book through March 2018, and once in April. Karl later wrote that I was “monomaniacal about Lawler”: an absurdly exaggerated charge to which I responded on Facebook in July 2018.

In May or June 2018 I found out that Karl had mentioned me some 99 times in his book, The Francis Feud (without having informed me beforehand) and so (as one might expect) I wrote exactly one blog article in response to that on 6-2-18. He had cited me mostly or solely with regard to Lawler’s book, since I seem to have been the most vociferous critic of it.

I’ve been a friend or at least acquaintance of Karl since 1990 when I wrote to him during my time of considering Catholic conversion. He was kind and gracious enough to write a long letter back to me, and it considerably helped me. This background needs to be understood in order to fully understand the present apparent “feud” between Karl and I.

And my deep respect for him and for Catholic Answers also needs to be emphasized in this situation. As I wrote in my blog critique of his book:

Karl Keating (whom I have greatly admired for 28 years and always call “the father of modern Catholic apologetics”) . . . 

Karl has also said very nice things about my work (e.g., “He’s done much good for thousands of people”; “You’ve done yeoman work over the decades”), wanted to hire me to work for Catholic Answers in 2011 (he asked me in person at their office; I declined because we were taking care of my elderly mother in Michigan), even raised money for me in 2013, and published one of my books with Catholic Answers. I’ve been published in Catholic Answers Magazine [starting in 1993] seven times [one / two / three / four / five / six / seven], and have appeared on Catholic Answers Live twice [listen here: one / two].

I’ve also defended Catholic Answers many times when it was attacked: including when Michael Voris went after Keating because of [what Voris thought was excessive CA salaries] . . .

Moreover, in my blog review and to some extent in the deleted Amazon review (as limited space allowed), I acknowledged that Karl was fair to me in a broad sense in his book:

Although I could easily disagree with a hundred little things (I have neither time nor desire to do that), he did take pains to try to present my positions fairly and to cite me at great length and provide links, if readers seek more context. That’s way more than almost all dialogical opponents of mine (in cases of substantial disagreement) do.

I was not disrespectful of Karl in either piece, either. I profoundly disagreed with him. It’s two different things. It also should be known by readers that I wrote a very positive, 5-star Amazon review of Karl’s book on geocentrism in February 2015 and posted it on the first day of publication (at Karl’s request).

In December 2018 Karl appeared on a Catholic podcast, and talked about my Amazon review of his book, The Francis Feud  (without mentioning my name). Between that and his later comments on a mutual friend’s Facebook page (thread now removed), it became clear that Karl was profoundly offended by my writing a one-star Amazon review of his book.

And what bothered him was not so much the negative review itself (so he explained), but rather, my statement in my blog article that “I bought the book last night and was able to heavily skim the (considerable) parts devoted to me, . . .” That is: he was very offended by the fact that I hadn’t read the entire book before giving it a one star rating and putting up the review on the first day.

In the same Facebook thread I conceded that this was “wrong” on my part, and in order to rectify it, I went and upped the rating to three stars, changed the title, and modified half of one sentence that I thought was excessive. I am not aware of any reply to that. The last time I saw the intact thread it was unanswered. Then when I went back it was removed by the person (not Karl) who runs the page (I perfectly understand why and have no problem with that).

A few days ago I decided to go even further, and completely remove my Amazon review, while retaining my much more in-depth critical blog review (to which Karl has never replied at all), because I haven’t changed my mind at all about any of the actual substance: and because there are two sides to every story, and they should be heard for the sake of the fuller, more complete story: the “whole” truth.

Catholics, like all Christians, believe in forgiving someone who repents of wrongdoing and seeks forgiveness. I hope Karl extends that to me, because it’s the right thing to do, just as I conceded that he had a certain point about the review, which I acknowledged and thus changed it and eventually removed it.

I did the same thing a while back when Karl was offended by my passing remark in writing, that he was “taken in” by certain critical-of-the-pope reasoning. He asked me to remove that description because he thought it made him look bad. I was happy to do so. I then asked him in return to remove his description of some of my replies to Phil Lawler as “half-cocked” and he refused. Here is Karl’s full statement in context, in our first dialogue regarding Lawler’s book:

I’m quite disappointed at the way you have been handling this. You have let it appear that there is a personal element involved (as with your book), but mostly you have gone off half-cocked, have done a good man a bad turn, and have gotten not a few things just plain wrong.

You seem too wrapped up in the controversy personally. I suggest you move on to something else. Please take down the tendentious commentary, give private thought to what you have written, and send Phil an apology.

Readers may see how I responded, in the linked dialogue. But it was no more “personal” with Phil than it was with Karl, as I explained in the same dialogue: responding specifically to Phil:

Thanks for replying and for the generous offer to send me your book, which you know I will likely be critical of. Thank you. Let me assure you, first of all, that none of this is personal. I have admired your work for a long time and often linked to your articles and others at Catholic Culture. And I know that you guys have always positively reviewed my website in your ratings of sites. I have another apologist friend who cares little for Pope Francis, yet we remain best of friends. For me, disagreements are no reason to end a friendship.

But know that it is precisely out of existing profound respect for folks like you and Karl, that I am all the more distressed to see the positions you have arrived at, which I deeply, sincerely believe are erroneous.

I understand that Karl was extremely offended. To explain a bit: the main reason I didn’t read his entire book was that, frankly, I wasn’t that interested in it. I had been defending Pope Francis for five years, basically decided to stop writing about Pope Francis in April 2018 (as a matter of prudential time-management, since I have to write about many topics, as an apologist) and only made an exception because I was mentioned 99 times in Keating’s book.

To read the book at that particular time would feel (subjectively) something like how it would be to drink Lake Erie after having already swallowed Lake Huron (to use some Michigan references). But obviously, I have a “right” to present my side of things.  My main interest was (understandably) the portion where my name was repeatedly mentioned. I assumed that Karl’s arguments were basically the same ones he had presented to me in our own discussions. He cited my statements from those dialogues.

That said (in explanation, but not excuse), I now think it was wrong to post such a one-star review, not having read the whole book: even though I highly doubt that my opinion would change if I read the whole thing, because I had been so involved in all these “feuds” regarding Pope Francis for five years, including with Karl and Phil Lawler. I’ve also written negative blog reviews about contra-Francis books from Ross Douthat (again dialoguing and disagreeing with Karl) and Henry Sire: books besides Lawler’s book that were discussed in The Francis Feud.

I am acknowledging my share of the blame for whatever bad feelings exist, and have done all I can do to make it better: apologize and remove the review: that is, modify the thing that Karl has specifically said offended him. I’m his friend, and sometimes friends have honest and sincere disagreements, and sometimes, of course, they mess up, being imperfect, as we all are. Friends also fight at times, and the Bible states, famously, that “faithful are the wounds of a friend”.

I’ve done all I can do to make this situation better. If Karl has any other beef with me, I’m more than willing to hear about that (or those), too, and to do whatever I can to alleviate and resolve any unnecessary conflict. That’s what I try to do with anyone and everyone, and in my opinion it’s something all Christians are called to do.

God bless Karl and his very helpful, influential work on behalf of Holy Mother Church.


Photo credit: Amazon photo of the cover of the book, The Francis Feud (published by Rasselas House, 5-12-18), on the book’s purchase page.


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