Fishwrap’s Winters responds

Over the National Schismatic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters has responded to something I wrote HERE.

Winters is mostly wrong about things, but he occasionally right and, when he is, I have happily said so here.

Winters opens with a little snark – fair enough – and then gets into it:

Zulhsdorf [sic] then opines, “Let’s see how the editors of the National Schismatic Reporter (akaFishwrap) and The Bitter Pill (aka The Bitter Pill… er um… The Tablet)  report on this one… if they mention anything about it all.” Well, I am not an editor, but I do write for both NCR and for the Tablet, so I will take the bait.

I’m reminded of the story of Paddy the Irishman who sees a crowd around two guys beating the tar out of each in the street.  When he pushes through the onlookers he shouts, “Is this a private fight or can anyone join?”

The rest of Winter’s response is actually not as dreadful as you might expect, though I sense that, after stating that “I do not think a catholic can, in good conscience, support abortion…” his “… but we can have many and varied positions on how to confront the evil of abortion, always alert to the fact that in the political realm, sometimes politicians pay lip service to a goal” is pretty much an appeal to the sort of seamless-garment approach used by some to excuse those who shove unborn under the bus for the sake of various social justice goals.

I’ll also give him points for writing:

I see this in my own life as I have gradually shed those attitudes and beliefs that were in contradiction with the Church’s faith. I have come to understand that when my initial perspectives are at odds with the Church, I should give the benefit of the doubt to the Church.

Would I have preferred “religious assent” or “submission of mind and will” rather than just “benefit of the doubt”?  Sure.  Still, if this is the direction he’s heading, I’m all for it.  As you might expect there’s also a ‘but’ involved immediately after.  Coming from a writer for the non-Catholic weekly Fishwrap, this is not bad.

Bottom line: I wrote. Winters responded.  That’s a start.

BTW… if you do go over there, be sure to check out the comments under Winter’s piece.  They’re a hoot!

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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33 Responses to Fishwrap’s Winters responds

  1. PostCatholic says:

    It’s like watching conjoined twins have a fistfight over who gets the last cupcake.

    [You wrote that over there, too. No longer interesting.]

  2. jflare says:

    I did, indeed, take a look at some of the comments there. I’ll give him this much credit: his “preferred readers” do back him as much there as we here. That’s sort-of sad though: Some of this readers seem to actually believe they’re living out the faith quite well. I believe one person even obliquely accuses you, Fr Z, of being a Pharisee. Geez. [An oldie but a goodie!]
    In my comment, I noted that I hadn’t read much by him in the past two years that seemed to me to reflect actual Catholic teaching. Politics maybe, but not Catholic teaching.
    He had me floored when he commented about keeping his struggles to himself though.
    Most of his articles have struck me as being public displays of personal struggle against the “monstrous” Church.
    It’ll be interesting to see what he or his “preferred readers” say or do next.

  3. feargalmac says:

    Ah now Father Z. As an Irish Paddy, I’m more likely to weigh up the situation and either run, or try to stop the fight.

    By the way, I take no offence.

  4. Kathleen10 says:

    feargalmac, ah but not all Irish trod your path my dear. Me own Dah, his father a “Corker”, very much enjoyed the exchanging of fisticuffs, and was responsible for a many a donnybrook. He used to sit in back of my mother at the theater, and when a young man sat down near her, poor woman, my father would tap him on the shoulder and asked him to “step outside”. They did not discuss the film.
    “Fighting Irish” is not for nothing, for good and bad.

  5. robtbrown says:

    PostCatholic says:

    It’s like watching conjoined twins have a fistfight over who gets the last cupcake.
    .
    PreCatholic,

    I thought cupcake were as the main concerns of the Universalist Unitarians.

  6. benedetta says:

    It’s tempting to consider that schismatic or dissenting leaning folks of any stripe are only concerned with pushing political ends and lack faith altogether. But of course that’s not true although they do seem to have difficulty genuinely accepting the goodness of Holy Mother Church and prefer to regard her at arm’s length and with exaggerated skepticism.

  7. frjim4321 says:

    I thought our Reverend Blogmaster was pretty fair here.

    Winters is not my favorite, and I find that he makes some dramatic leaps, logic-wise.

    I find very few of the comments on the NCR blog very thoughtful . . . it’s a food fight mainly.

  8. PostCatholic says:

    I thought cupcake were as the main concerns of the Universalist Unitarians.

    How so? Our usual jokes center on the fact that the fellowship hour is sometimes planned with vigor better put toward the worship services–i.e., coffee. You know, three religious centers burn, priest saves the Host, rabbi saves the Torah, UU minister saves the coffee pot.”Coffee, coffee, coffee, praise the strength of coffee! Early in the morn we rise with thoughts of thee. Served fresh or reheated, dark by thee defeated, brewed black by perk or drip or instantly.” [LOL] But if you have a cupcake proposal I’d be happy to discuss it with you over coffee.

    The serious point I was making is that Rev. Zuhlsdorf and Mr. Winters are on the same Pope’s team, even if they’re perhaps a bit far apart on the bench. The rhetoric (especially by Winters’ commenters) loses sight of this basic fact. [I am not convinced that Mr. Winters and I are on the "same team", as you put it. I think we are probably on quite different teams.]

  9. frjim4321 says:

    The serious point I was making is that Rev. Zuhlsdorf and Mr. Winters are on the same Pope’s team, even if they’re perhaps a bit far apart on the bench. The rhetoric (especially by Winters’ commenters) loses sight of this basic fact.

    Well, it would be worthwhile to distinguish between Winters and the commenters.

  10. TNCath says:

    I will have to give Mr. Winters credit for being at least honest. He is certainly more honest than anything Fr. Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., on praytellblog.com has to say. I’ll take Winters over Fr. Anthony anytime. Winters may disagree as a loyal opposition , but Fr. Anthony’s agenda as a cleric is much more dangerous.

    I will, however, have to bring up this important point from this excerpt: “I do not think a catholic can, in good conscience, support abortion.”

    Should there not be a (sic) after the word “catholic” as it should be capitalized?

  11. Southern Catholic says:

    A few of the commentators call Winters the National Schismatic Reporter’s “token conservative.”

    LOL

  12. jflare says:

    “The serious point I was making is that Rev. Zuhlsdorf and Mr. Winters are on the same Pope’s team, even if they’re perhaps a bit far apart on the bench.”

    If Fr Z and Mr. Winters are on the same Pope’s team, I think Mr. Winters may ultimately be fairly disappointed. Pope Francis won’t likely be the political advocate that Winters may wish. Whatever Winters may say about his lack of political motivation, he’s long struck me as being closer to being Catholic because he SAYS he’s Catholic. His views seem frequently unwilling to reflect actual Catholic teaching.

  13. BLB Oregon says:

    He apparently has a blog he calls “Distinctly Catholic”, but when I saw that by his byline, I honestly thought they had a self-rating system over there where the various contributors put the adjective that described their flavor of Catholic somewhere on a thermometer. I was very curious to see where “Distinctly” would be placed on the scale of “Catholic”. Oh, well.

    That’s a widely-read publication, and he’s writing in favor of shedding “those attitudes and beliefs that were in contradiction with the Church’s faith”. He also wrote that he thought it a bad idea to try to convince anyone else away from what the Church teaches. Good for him, and I mean it. I hope they keep that one on, and hire some more like him. One never knows, but he’s a step in the right direction.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    What I find disheartening in all of this, and one person in the comments said it for me, is that you, Fr. Z., and I and many others who hold with the orthodoxy of the Church and desperately see the dissolution of lex orandi lex credendi via relativism, are labeled a “cult” Church. I heard this years ago from a radical left priest in the Davenport Diocese, who was lamenting the rise of the “sons of Mother Angelica”, desperately disappointed as he was at the new sems coming in, as early as 1997 when a new breed of thinking, trad priests were on the rise and that the worst post-Vat II ideals were going to fall into the shadows, eventually. Still has not happened, of course, as we all would wish.

    Winters and his ilk push many of us aside into this group of new orders, such as the FSSPs and the lay movement towards the TLM as threats to their cozy “modernist church”, which is built on the protestant ideals of anyone can believe anything they want as long as we love each other.

    Phooey!

    This continual pitting of doctrinal as against pastoral theology is SO boring but continues in discussions, even, sadly, in seminaries.

    Well, I am glad you are been recognized and I hope you influence this man who has a spark of faith in him as seen in the article.

    [Rem acu tetigisti. Yes, they constantly pit "pastoral" (which they generally mispronounce as "pas-tór-e-al" against - take your pick - doctrinal, legalistic, intellectual, rubrical, judgmental... etc.]

  15. JonPatrick says:

    I would venture to say that is is more true that Mr. Winters and Post Catholic are on the same team. The beliefs of both Protestants and Cafeteria Catholics flow from the idea that each individual gets to decide for themselves what is right or wrong. Relativism is the curse that plagues both the Catholic Church today as well as the various flavors of Protestantism and their derivatives such as Unitarianism.

  16. SimonDodd says:

    Jon, that’s a great line—”[t]he beliefs of both Protestants and Cafeteria Catholics flow from the idea that each individual gets to decide for themselves what is right or wrong”—and very true. I think that this is why one often (it seems) finds lawyers converting to Catholicism: Law is one of the few remaining disciplines in American public life in which people are forced to deal seriously with the idea of authority, with the reality that there are some rules that can be bent or argued around, but that there are nevertheless rules that another person has decided and that cannot be finessed or avoided. One must simply obey. That’s a tough concept for protestants to get to, it’s a tough concept for people whose assumptions are formed by big-L Liberalism to get to, and, because the American mindset is to a great extent the confluence of those two mighty rivers, it’s a tough concept for Americans to get to.

    I know what Winters means, too, when he writes: “I see this in my own life as I have gradually shed those attitudes and beliefs that were in contradiction with the Church’s faith. I have come to understand that when my initial perspectives are at odds with the Church, I should give the benefit of the doubt to the Church.” I agree with Father Z’s correction that “benefit of the doubt” isn’t really strong enough, but I understand what he means. When I converted, there were things that I didn’t like to which I had to submit. That’s part of the process, and while one would hope that it takes place before confirmation, I know that in fact it can take longer, especially with cradle Catholics who don’t inherently have the (dubious) “benefit” of a period of religious crisis in which they have to take a serious and very detailed look at their faith and what it means to be Catholic. I have friends who are still working through the ramifications of being a Catholic, and that’s fine. I understand that it takes time. One must, nevertheless, work through the ramifications.

  17. robtbrown says:

    PostCatholic says,

    The serious point I was making is that Rev. Zuhlsdorf and Mr. Winters are on the same Pope’s team, even if they’re perhaps a bit far apart on the bench. The rhetoric (especially by Winters’ commenters) loses sight of this basic fact.

    I have said here before that in leaving the seminary and the Church you seem to have taken with you a false idea of what the latter is.

    I do not know Mr Winters and am not a great reader of the NCR, like minded, or for that matter unlike minded newspapers. For me newspapers must either report the news well or have writers who can produce well turned phrases. John Allen suffices for the former–there are few who are capable of the latter.

    I have known Fr Z for some years, and to portray him merely as being on the Pope’s team is a mindless oversimplification, esp. considering he began studies for the priesthood already with an MA in Latin. Besides, anyone who has spent several years studying in Rome and leaves only with the hierarchy as their Roman experience has probably wasted his time. Certainly, the Pope and Vatican are a large part of it, but we’re talking about centuries of people who have been in Rome, incl. Julius Caesar, Cicero, Horatius, St Leo Magnus, St Augustine, and St Thomas Aquinas

  18. robtbrown says:

    JonPatrick says:

    I would venture to say that is is more true that Mr. Winters and Post Catholic are on the same team. The beliefs of both Protestants and Cafeteria Catholics flow from the idea that each individual gets to decide for themselves what is right or wrong.

    We all do get to decide for ourselves what is right or wrong, but that doesn’t mean our answer is correct. It’s like swimming: Everyone must himself do the swimming, but if he gets it wrong, he drowns.

  19. PostCatholic says:

    If it is true that “I would venture to say that is is more true that Mr. Winters and Post Catholic (sic, since everyone’s doing it…) are on the same team,”— that is to say, that the liberal side of your faith has strong beliefs of conscience that they’ve alienated themselves from Catholicism, they ought to leave. I think there are very large numbers of nominally Catholic Americans like that.

    Yes, robt, I oversimplified. It wasn’t a nuanced point I was making. Whe you say, “I have said here before that in leaving the seminary and the Church you seem to have taken with you a false idea of what the latter is,” my answer to that is I do not believe in objective truth or falsehood, and have preferred and accepted other definitions of church and ecclesiology. But this is becoming about me, which makes me uncomfortable and is one of those “rabbit holes” our reverend blogmaster warns about. Did you have something to say about cupcakes?

  20. frjim4321 says:

    “I will have to give Mr. Winters credit for being at least honest. He is certainly more honest than anything Fr. Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., on praytellblog.com has to say. I’ll take Winters over Fr. Anthony anytime. Winters may disagree as a loyal opposition , but Fr. Anthony’s agenda as a cleric is much more dangerous.” TNCath

    Apples and Oranges.

    The only reason Father Ruff is considered “dangerous” by some is (1) he knows what he is talking about, (2) he has the courage to say it, and (3) he has the support of his community, so he doesn’t have to fear retribution for speaking the truth. Yes, those three things indeed make him very dangerous to a small subset of traditionalists. [HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA ....]

  21. Scott W. says:

    I don’t want to give NCR any more hits. Also, consider Psalm 1: “Blessed be the man…”

  22. PostCatholic says:

    I am not convinced that Mr. Winters and I are on the “same team”, as you put it. I think we are probably on quite different teams.

    Perhaps someone should arrange a trade.

  23. Hibernian Faitfhful says:

    “I see this in my own life as I have gradually shed those attitudes and beliefs that were in contradiction with the Church’s faith. I have come to understand that when my initial perspectives are at odds with the Church, I should give the benefit of the doubt to the Church.”

    I agree with Fr. Z re: better phrasing of this sentiment; but wow what a great start. This one lost sheep is making noise in the dark for the Shepard to find him and that is a great start. I will preay for Mr. Winters and I hope that he prays for me. This is a great thing to read in the Easter Season. Blessed be the Trinity and hopes that Mr. Winters opens his heart to the Truth!!!

  24. ALL: There is actually some good and interesting discussion going on here.

    Perhaps some of this rational approach can be applied in the combox under some of the other entries here (especially about Pope Francis).

  25. frjim4321 says:

    “ALL: There is actually some good and interesting discussion going on here.”

    Thank you!

  26. Hibernian Faitfhful says:

    I think that Fr. Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., needs to join the “Church” of anti-Catholic “Catholics” at GWU attacking the Cardinal Newman Society. His “theology” seems to be more inspired by Aleister Crowley’s belief that “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” – will take the Church founded by the Son of God. I do pray for apostates like Fr. Ruff, because I love them and what them to have the Joy of God’s Salvation and it pains me to see such ignorance, mendacity or both, aimed in purpose or effect to (try) to destroy the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, in someone with such promise.

  27. Hibernian Faitfhful says:

    frjim4321

    Sorry Fr. Ruff statements clearly DO NOT demonstrate that he knows what he is talking about. Yes he has the courage to say what he thinks and it is sad he has the support of his community; but it is not the Truth. Remember Lucifer had the courage to say and do what he thinks – that did not make him right. I want Fr. Ruff to speak Truth and not to ostracize him.

    To paraphrase Chesteron, I think that for Fr. Ruff the Truth of Catholic Church has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried. And his (and his community’s) failure to recognize his errors is a immortal spiritual danger to the souls that seek his guidance and that is my main concern.

  28. Ed the Roman says:

    …I do not believe in objective truth or falsehood, and have preferred and accepted other definitions of church and ecclesiology.

    I’ll warrant you believe in objective truth and falsehood when it comes to whether the electrical panel you are working on has been de-energized.

    Perhaps someone should arrange a trade.

    :-)

  29. GordonB says:

    I may have totally missed the point of the “Grand Inquisitor” in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamozov, but the “pastorial” approach encouraged by many of those associated with The Fishwrap, and The Bitter Pill, are like the grand inquisitor. The Inquisitor suggests that that under him, all mankind will live and die happily in ignorance. Though he leads them only to “death and destruction,” they will be happy along the way). The Grand Inquisitor, as identified in that particular section is a Jesuit. This is probably an oversimplification, as this piece is definitely tinged with a sort of anti-catholic bias, but its interesting in the context of extolling a process of keeping people ignorant of truth, in order to allow them to be “Happy” a/k/a the dumbing down of faith that underlies the Fishwrap and The Bitter Pill.

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  31. robtbrown says:

    FrJim4321 says,

    Yes, those three things indeed make (Fr Ruff) very dangerous to a small subset of traditionalists.

    At one mass attended by “a small subset of traditionalists” there are likely to be more small children than at all your weekend masses.

    Bonus sui diffusivum est.

  32. frjim4321 says:

    “At one mass attended by “a small subset of traditionalists” there are likely to be more small children than at all your weekend masses. ” rbtbrn

    LOL, not in these parts!

  33. jflare says:

    “‘At one mass attended by “a small subset of traditionalists” there are likely to be more small children than at all your weekend masses. ‘ rbtbrn

    LOL, not in these parts!”

    Sadly, I’m not convinced that this view precisely tosses robt’s argument quite the way it’s likely intended.
    I recall a conversation I had with a retired Air Force MSgt once; he’d obliquely admitted to having been raised vaguely Catholic, but definitely wasn’t practical at that time. Certainly he wasn’t taking his teens to Mass or anything else at church. He told me then that he figured that church primarily attracted more elderly people who were more concerned about death than most others, implying that while he might think about church after 55, he wasn’t concerned about it at 40 or 41.

    I also recall what I saw not long afterward at Mass: Most of the parish that I saw tended to be either over 55 or under 21. Or else they had families. In other words, most of the attendees at Mass fit the “worried about death” crowd the MSgt had talked about, or else had a family, so they were concerned, or else were too young to be able to refuse.

    Sadly, I still see a fair degree of this. If I look around the..building..during the average Mass at the average parish, I might see people over 55 well represented, along with the under-21′s, but I still see almost a non-existence of folks between 20 and 50.

    Hmmm. No wonder I’m still single! Too many of the ladies that I might consider courting..don’t show up for the main event (Mass)!