More logorrhea from the Boston Globe & James Carroll

James Carroll of The Boston Globe seeks to enlighten us about Pope Benedict’s Good Friday prayer for Jews.

My emphases and comments.

Reviving an old insult to the Jews

By James Carroll  |  February 18, 2008

AS THE priest began his sermon, he had trouble with the sound system, and muttered, "There’s something wrong with this microphone." To which the congregation automatically replied, "And also with you." 

That joke, told to me by a priest, takes off from the ritual exchange between priest and Mass-goers: "The Lord be with you," answered by "And also with you." It assumes a certain level of communication between clergy and congregation – the use of a common language.  [Use of a badly translation, you mean.  "Et cvm spiritu tuo" does not mean in English "And also with you"… but the joke was good.]

The second most important change to take place in the Catholic Church in my lifetime was the substitution of vernacular tongues for Latin in the Mass. When it is the whole people saying, "And also with you," instead of a solitary altar boy reciting "Et cum spiritu tuo," nothing less than the democratic principle is being affirmed.  [No.  This has nothing to do with "democratic principles".  The liturgy is about the worship of God.] The liturgy is not the private property of the clergy, with the laity mere observers. [This man does not have the slightest idea of what "active participation" really means.] Instead, this worship is an action of the entire community, one of whom is the priest, who serves as its facilitator. [Rubbish… the priest is NOT a "facilitator", the priest is a priest.  A "facilitator" makes it sound a) as if he is not essential for Mass and b) might be sort of a protestant minister, whose presence is needful because of what he does rather than who he is.]  From a seemingly incidental shift in language followed profound theological adjustments, as well as the start of a new structure of authority.  [This is what P. Marini’s book exposes.  The real reason why they fought for vernacular translations was really about getting power into the hands of local bishops conferences.  So, it was ecclesiological.]

The Latin Mass is at issue again, with the Vatican having last week formally reauthorized  [So… Mr. Carroll obvious failed to do any homework before indulging in this word-flux.] the so-called Tridentine Mass, a Latin ritual the rubrics of which were set by the Council of Trent in the 16th century. [Noo… the Tridentine reform of the liturgy occured after the Council was over.] Any open-minded person can affirm a diversity of practices in a worldwide organization [Umm… it is a little more than that.   Again, you can see that this is at root an ecclesiological problem.  Christ is not in this man’s view of the Church.] like the Catholic Church, and, as the classic musical compositions show, there was a stark beauty to the ancient liturgy. [For this guy, the Church’s liturgical tradition is rather like a show, or concert, or museum piece.]  But more is at stake in this return of Latin than mere aesthetics. [True.] Those pushing for a reauthorization of the Tridentine Mass [EXcuse me, but that is already done now.] want to roll back the whole Catholic reform, from nascent democracy to the theological affirmation of Judaism.  [This beggers belief.  I wonder if this fellow has actually read the documents of the Second Vatican Council or ever spoken to someone who desires the older form of Mass.]

The first significant vote that the fathers of the reforming Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) took concerned the use of Latin. [What a laugh!  The first significant vote the Council Fathers was to cut the Church’s moorings by rejecting the Schemata.  The first mention of the Latin language by the Council was to say that the use of the Latin language was to be preserved in the Latin rites (SC 36,1).] The Council of Trent had emphasized Latin precisely because the Protestants had repudiated it, especially in biblical texts.  [I seem to remember that the Bible is mainly in Hebrew and Greek.  Also, the Council of Trent, in the acta not the decrees, foresaw the possibility of vernacular liturgy but knew the time wasn’t right.] The Reformation was defined by nothing so much as the capture of sacred texts and worship by the vernacular [Is there something wrong with that sentence?] – Luther’s German, Tyndale’s English. [I think the Reformation was nothing so much as the assertion of private judment (like Carroll?) over that of the Church.] So conservatives at Vatican II knew what was at stake in the proposal to abandon Latin. But when the document on the liturgy was put before the council, including approval of the use of the vernacular, the vote in favor was 1,922 to 11.  [See above.   Latin was to be preserved.  That is what the Council Father’s voted for.] One theologian said, "This day will go down in history as the end of the Counter-Reformation." Pope John XXIII, watching the proceedings in his apartment on closed-circuit television, said simply, "Now begins my council."  [IF that happened, if the Pope who wrote Veterum sapientiae said that, I believe he may have been happy that a document passed by a vote, rather than one detail of a document was passed.]

And so it did. The Eucharist was no longer understood only as a "sacrifice," enacted on an altar by the priest, with the laity present as mere spectators. [IT NEVER WAS UNDESTOOD ONLY AS THAT!] It was a meal, like the Last Supper, to be shared in by all. [Let’s consult St. Thomas Aquinas’s hymn on Holy Thursday in which Eucharist is described also as a meal, at which many of those who consume the Eucharist will be damned for lack of discernment.  No doubt St. Thomas (+1274) was pleased to have the insights of the Mr. Carol’s version of the Council Fathers.] The altar was refashioned as a banquet table and moved away from the far wall of the church, into the center of the community – "facing the people."  [Find that in the Second Vatican documents, please?]

Great questions were at stake. Could any thing in Catholic life or belief change, or was the Church changeless? Historical consciousness itself was at issue. It was as if Jesus were remembered by conservatives as speaking Latin, when, of course, he spoke Aramaic.  [So?]

The most important change in Catholic belief involved recovering the memory that Jesus was a Jew, and that his preaching was an affirmation, not a repudiation, of Jewish belief. Vatican II’s high point was the declaration "Nostra Aetate,"  [Perhaps the most moronic thing he has written so far… a not inconsiderable accomplishment.  Nostra aetate was merely a Decree, having really far less authority than an Apostolic Constitution.  It is a side show.] which condemned the idea that Jews could be blamed for the murder of Jesus, and affirmed the permanence of God’s Covenant with Israel. The "replacement" theology by which the church was understood as "superseding" Judaism was no more. [B as in B, S as in S.] Corollary to this was a rejection of the traditional Christian goal of converting Jews to Jesus. The new liturgy of Vatican II dropped all such prayers.  [Are we seriously to believe, because this man writes this in the Globe… owned, if I am not mistaken by the New York Times, that Jews are saved apart from Christ and that the mission Christ gave the Church no longer applies today?  Let us not forget that the Good Friday prayer for the Jews (both the old and the new) come straight out of St. Paul to the Romans, which I think is still a part of the New Testament.]

But the Latin Mass published by the Vatican last year [last year… if this year is 1963…] resuscitated the conversion insult, praying on Good Friday that God "lift the veil" from "Jewish blindness." Catholics [very few] and Jews both objected. In last week’s formal promulgation of the Latin Mass, [Incredible.] the Vatican stepped back from that extreme language, but Catholics are still to pray that God "enlighten" the hearts of Jews "so that they recognize Jesus Christ, Savior of all mankind." This is a drastic retreat from the most important theological development of the modern era. [HA HA HA!]  Something is wrong with that development, now say Vatican reactionaries. To which the people reply, "No. What’s wrong is you."

James Carroll’s column appears regularly in the Globe. 

What a dreadful person.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jean-Luc Delacroix says:

    “The Reformation was defined by nothing so much as the capture of sacred texts and worship by the vernacular [Is there something wrong with that sentence?]”

    …there’s a lot wrong with that sentence theologically and so forth…as far as I can tell however the only bit of clumsy syntax is the use of “worship by” rather than “worship in”

    Slightly OT here, but as long as we are heading into a semiotic direction…I keep thinking about that whole power issue thing the “Spirit of Vat II”/Baby Boom generation is obsessed with. It’s all about personal “me”-centered gratification, rather than shared responsibility. There’s a certain baby-boomer running for president right now who’s every third word is either I, me or mine. “I want” “I can” “I’ll be” ‘My record” and so on. Wonder what Walker Percy would have made of that?


  2. Serafino says:

    If I am not mistaken, “Mr. Carroll” is an ex priest and one of the aging left over hippies from the 60’s. Mr. Carroll’s “same old, same old,” is nothing new to readers of the liberal Boston Globe. Needless to say, nothing he has to say is of any interest to me.

  3. Paul says:

    What absolute rubbish from the Boston Globe, thanks by the Father Z for the commentary. Even though stuff like this makes me awful, it at least shows that the Church is moving in the right direction. If the hippies of the 60’s are getting flustered about recent changes then the Holy Father must be 110% correct in what he is doing.

    Please Father, more of these; it is quite funny to see these ghastly liberals complaining so much as they realize that their view of the world is coming to an abrupt end.

  4. D Vincent says:

    James Carroll has made it abundantly clear over the course of his career that he is capable of doing neither history nor theology (see, for example, Prof. Thomas Noble’s review of his “Constantine’s Sword” in First Things: ; the book was also panned by Eamon Duffy in the NY Times Review of Books if I remember correctly).

    Though to some he gives the impression of an intellectual, there is no reason to consider him a serious thinker.

  5. I definately got quite a laugh from the opening line. The rest was rubbish!

  6. Maureen says:

    When it is the whole people saying, “And also with you,” instead of a solitary altar boy reciting “Et cum spiritu tuo,” nothing less than the democratic principle is being affirmed.

    Nooooo. I think democratic principles would demand the use of Greek, and division of the church into wmen’s seating and men’s seating, each organized according to tribe (demos). However, fortunately for us, we do not have the power to cast the ostrakon against our Kyrie Christos. So I’m pretty sure that democratic principles do not apply to worship.

    If Mr. Carroll would care to fund a tragedy trilogy and comedy to be presented to the entire city, and perhaps even lead the chorus line, I’m sure we could do _something_ Greek in the worship line. :)

  7. Maureen says:

    What I should have said was Kyrios, right? Kyrie’s some kind of vocative form?

    Maureen, who never studied Greek

  8. Thanks Fr. Z for putting a light in my day…It’s hard to imagine how this article got published.

    To Maureen: Yes, that’d be right, kyrie is a vocative form. (Studied some of the Greek for my Bible Studies).

  9. Brian Day says:

    Dan O,

    I’ll let you make your case for “uncharitable”, but given how badly the article was written, both in style and content, how else would you categorize this as anything but dreadful?

    How would you describe the author?

  10. Paul says:

    I really should stop reading the articles posted at this blog. My blood boils every time I do. The profound ignorance is unbearable.

  11. TJM says:

    Dan O, I think Father Z was being kind. I would have called him a “lying, vicious, left-wing loon that wouldn’t know the truth if it bit him in the —>”

  12. KK says:

    And newspapers wonder why they have no more readers. Honest people don’t mind dissenting opinions so long as the positions are not based on a complete fabrication. I will pray for this man and the readers who accept what he says at face value.

  13. TNCath says:

    “Dreadful” doesn’t even begin to describe this article. Mr. Carroll’s opinions are one thing, but his blatant factual errors are inexcusable as they further offend and confuse both Catholics as well as non-Catholics. What an unhappy person Mr. Carroll must be to spew such trash.

  14. D. Sp. says:

    Laudetur JS CHS!

    (At first – again [see my last comment on “more Second Confiteor thoughts”] – :please forgive me my bad English, because I am German.)

    Well, though I am critical concerning the new Good-friday-prayer, articles like this show , that the modernists are not pleased with the new prayer and bring me to think therefore: so it cant´t be so bad (the new prayer). As we also know some jewish commitees are not pleased.
    So, really, if all those, all the modernistical-öcumenical thinkers critisise the prayer to be too conservative, to pray too clearly for convertion of the Jews, it can really not be so bad.

    But – though this was my opinion since I first heard about the new prayer: that it is not that bad, or better: that it could be worse – there now comes a great “but”:

    There remains a big problem, that also many of you bloggers and You, Rev. Fa., do not stress enough: the eschatological turningpoint at the end. Well, you will/might say know: we know about this, but that is no real problem. But – pah! that i s a real problem ( see also my comment to rev. Fa Z´s article of 6th of Feb “WDTPRS: The new Good Friday prayer….”). Because ( as I also wrote there) the point at the end of the prayer seems to be clearly eschatologic. Well, some persons did state, that it would not be: but this does not convince me. You have to put some good arguments for it, because the traditional interpretation is eschatologic!
    Therefor the interpretation of M. Rev. Card. Kasper is not so far-fetched, it is an self-suggesting interpretation.
    And if so, then it is wrong what You, rev. Fa, or other commentators always say, that the new prayer says essentially the same like the old. No, there is an essential, most important loss: the praying for all the Jews living now/actually.

    So, if you can´t proof that there can be an other non-eschatological reading (and please, better arguments, not only stating!)for the new and if on the other hand the old did have this non-eschatological meaning, then the new is not essentially the same prayer, but for contrast lacks of a very important point – and then – am really sorry, please believe me, but I see no other conclusion – I would really like to: we have to reject it.

    What about that (and though You might think you have an answer, then please enter in a real argumentation but dont just ignore the problem, do not take it to light – I wonder that you took it so sofar, till now. I can´t understand that. It´s a heavy/great problem!)?

    laudetur JS & Ma

  15. Padraig says:

    Dear Father,

    The article is dreadful, but the person is not. The person is the image and likeness of God. So perhaps you might rewrite: What a dreadful article.

  16. Fr Martin Fox says:

    For a reader from near Boston, inclined to write a letter to the editor, Fr. Z has given you some very useful information. After all, the Globe presumably wants its readers to think Carroll is providing some valuable, historically accurate, insights on this whole matter. Therefore, pointing out his several egregious errors on that very point would be both very effective and very on-point as a letter to the editor.

  17. Michael says:

    Contra Mr. Carroll (may God have mercy upon him and bring him to Jesus), the funny thing is that I find it a lot HARDER to engage in participatio actuosa on any level in the NO as now commonly celebrated than I do at the TLM. I put this up to the kind of lock-step Stalinist approach (“democracy” imposed from above) that liturgy has taken, and all that accompanies it. I mean, who can sing along with a cantor who is busy making slight modifications in her rhythm and showing off her soprano vibrato to show us how talented she is. And who wants to sing treacly, unworshipful, and frankly un-Christian texts like “Gather Us In.” Also, the music and style of celebration are quite often an obstacle to worship, and make it very difficult to have the proper interior disposition at mass, not to mention some of the texts, especially the so-called prayers of the faithful. At times I just do not say the response to the petition, because I am not sure that the content of the prayers are in any way pleasing to Almighty God. There have been far too many times when I was so put off and upset that I figured it was better not to receive communion. These are all problems I do not encounter at the TLM. Nor do I find that congregations at the NO are more engaged and worshipful. Often enough people do not sing along. They just sit or stand there, go up and receive communion, and bolt out the door quickly thereafter. Those who stay for the last hymn often applaud the cantor afterward (someting not generally justified by the quality of her performance), and clapping, as the Holy Father reminds us in his “Spirit of the Liturgy”, is a sure sign that the true spirit of the liturgy is absent. Like all attempts by ideologues to impose what they think is best on the rest of us, Mr. Carroll’s style of enforced liturgy has in fact been disastrous.

  18. The first thing I ever read by James Carroll was an article in The New Yorker back in the 1990s about Pius XII’s “silence” on the Jews. It was very long on “bla bla bla” and dep thots very short on facts and any actual thought. Looks like he’s gotten even worse.

    Yes, he’s an ex-priest. ‘Nuff said.

  19. David2 says:

    An ex-priest. And, if the review of “Constantine’s Sword” is to be believed, a notorious heretic. He is a dreadful man, because his work (such as “Constantine’s Sword”) undermines the Holy Catholic Faith. How else can one describe a man who argues that the Catholic faith is a vicious fraud?

  20. Thomas says:

    God help us from the rampant ignorance and/or maliciousness that is around. In any case, it would be lovely if the media actually researched things honestly more often, but that may require a huge overhaul. What surer sign, though, that the enemies of the TLM are really panicking?

  21. cordelia says:

    James Carroll–just seeing his name makes me angry. He’s done so much damage to the faith of so many.

  22. WFW says:

    I read the review of the book posted by D Vincent and all I can say is “wow.” He’s as bad as Episcopal Bishop John Spong! His views, unfortunately, although less developed, are held by many who promote the “social gospel” movement. I think one of the most telling phrases from Carroll’s article is that “[t]he Eucharist was no longer understood only as a “sacrifice.” This has been a great problem with the Paul VI mass because the sacrifical aspects of the Eucharist were eliminated or at least greatly obscured. The mass is no longer an intersection of time and space where we as participants were caught up in the heavenly liturgy. It still happens, to be sure, but one would be hard pressed to see it in an average parish church on any given day.

  23. truthfinder says:

    So, Fr. Z,
    Are you arguing that the use of the vernacular is a form clericalism? Interesting thought if it is.

  24. Ed says:

    This article reminds me of another at Ignatius Insight also posted this day. That post refered to an editorial written by a college student who decided that she liked the idea of being a “cafeteria Catholic” (which is to say, a non-Catholic who claims to be a Catholic, right?). “Maybe one day I’ll find a church that makes me want to go to mass,” she writes, but as for now, she’s prefer the beach.

    I see libertines who claim to be Catholic everywhere I go. It’s one thing, I agree, to be ignorant–I have my own sordid past–but to have the knowledge, to know what the Church actually teaches, and then to ignore it and claim to have authentic Catholic teaching (actually, the autonomy of the individual interpretation sounds more like solid Southern Baptist doctrine…) infuriates me. I teach Catholic theology, and even if I did have a crisis of conscience over a Church teaching, do you know what I would teach? The deposit of faith. Why? Because I’m willing to admit that 2000 years of Christian teaching may actually have more experience with a topic than I.

    To know that people read rubbish like this and swallow it down makes me ill. The Church offers the love of Christ, and some folks, I guess, would just rather have a post-it note that says Jesus Hearts Me.

    Grr. To vespers. God grant me peace!

  25. Kiran says:

    Actually, the exchange that the article begins with demonstrates rather well the fact that having the liturgy in the vernacular with the priest facing the people tends to lead to people making mechanical responses. Also, at the moment, the ritual is property of clergy and liturgists by and large. At one point in time, it was much more commonly something that was both shared by and constitutive of the City of God.

    Also, one would have to be pretty naive (which a lot of Catholics in the 1960s from all accounts were) to believe that there is such a thing as an inconsequential shift in ritual practice.

    Luther wanted to preserve Latin in many ways, even if, like Archbishop Lefebvre, he wanted to have some vernacular elements. (Point is not a dig at Archbishop Lefebvre by the way.) The Catholics had a translation of the Bible into English as well, Mr. Carroll. And this influenced greatly the standard Protestant translation, which followed.

    And now the Mass is understood as not a sacrifice at all by most Catholics.

    Ha ha ha just about sums it up.

  26. truthfinder: Are you arguing that the use of the vernacular is a form clericalism? Interesting thought if it is.

    I am not sure what I wrote that gave you that impression. Can you expand on that?

  27. Faith says:

    Not only is James Carroll an ex priest but a priest who said the Mass in Latin.

  28. Barbara says:

    It seems to me that liberals are always pushing for “democracy” in the church. The only instance of “the people” voting in the new testament is where Pontius Pilate offered the election of who “the people” wanted to serve. Barabas, for the worldly, and Christ for the otherworldly…..then they voted on the referendum on what to do about Christ.

    “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

    That was democracy-in-action in the bible.

  29. Rellis says:

    Maybe he’s just been poorly-catechized. Charity, everyone. Someone should reach out to him and let him know that he doesn’t know much.

  30. jaykay says:

    I thought it encapsulated a certain mindset in its reference to the Priest as “facilitator”. I mean, the view certain people have of the liturgy and worship of God. The fact is that they don’t seem to see the liturgy as worship of God, rather as some sort of an exercise in self-affirmation. Honestly…”facilitator”. Yeeeuch. It makes the Mass sound like some boring, banal little “empowerment workshop” affair in a soulless motel room in an out-of-town business park. That’s what that mindset has produced. The numbing mediocrity of it all…

  31. truthfinder says:

    Sorry, I probably used the wrong word, but you said that “The real reason why they fought for vernacular translations was really about getting power into the hands of local
    bishops conference.” This would suggest that the liturgy became bishop’s

  32. Veritas says:

    Father Z, how about a letter to the editor!! This man needs a correction and you’re just the man to do it. He’s ranted long enough…come on, Father! Your cheering section awaits your response.

  33. TJM says:

    Rellis, you’re being charitable. However, Carroll is malignant. If you have ever read his “rants” about the Catholic Church he displays a shocking
    lack of civility and has no regard for the truth or the facts because they get in the way of his liberal agenda. Tom

  34. Thomas says:

    James Carroll is either willfully deceitful or an idiot. I suspect it’s a combination of the two.

  35. Daniel Muller says:

    AS THE priest began his sermon, he had trouble with the sound system, and muttered, “There’s something wrong with this microphone.” To which the congregation automatically replied, “And also with you.”

    Oh my. Does Mr. Carroll even attend Mass anymore? What congregation ever says “And also with you” during a “sermon?” The hoary joke starts at the beginning of Holy Mass when the priest makes the sign of the cross, and then realizes that the microphone is not working. Or, perhaps in a sanitized version (less the vulgarity “m****ph**e”), he mentions that he is a little hoarse.

  36. Shane says:

    Father, you have touched on my geatest difficulty with traditional Catholicism. As an orthodox young man who intends on entering the priesthood, I recognize much of the beauty and reverence of the former rites of the Latin Church. However, I also recognize Christ’s call to discernment of fruits. It seems so often that amongst orthodox Catholics, those who support the use of the traditional rites have a disproportionate tendency to make comments such as “What a dreadful person.”

    While a person’s ideas may indeed be dreadful, is not in keeping with Christian Love to say such a thing about the person expressing those ideas, and the disproportion I have mentioned makes it very difficult for myself to embrace the old rites of the Church. Discernment cautions me against it.

    A Liturgy with all the reverence and all the beauty in all the world is entirely meaningless if it does not ultimately conform a person to the Image of Christ, and following the greatest commandment means nothing if we don’t also follow the second greatest.

    Please know that I mean no disrespect. I simply wish to help you to recognize how statements like that harm your support of the Liturgy of Pius V immensely.

    God bless

  37. David2 says:


    In response to someone who begged Pope St Pius X to “go soft” on the Modernists, he retorted: “Kindness is for fools! They want them to be treated with oil, soap, and caresses. But they ought to be beaten with fists! In a duel you don’t count or measure the blows, you strike as you can! War is not made with charity, it is a struggle, a duel. If Our Lord were not terrible He would not have given an example in this too. See how He treated the Philistines; the sowers of error; the wolves in sheep’s clothing; the traitors in the temple. He scourged them with whips!”

    But then what would Pius X know? He’s only a Saint in Heaven, after all….

  38. Shane says:


    Thanks for your reply.

    First, please note that not everything that the saints did was saintly. I could give you a few examples from St. Francis of Assisi’s life that would scandalize many. The saints sinned sometimes, too. They were also mistaken on occassion, even the most learned of them like Thomas Aquinas.

    However, really the bigger issue is that there is a substantial difference between the quotation you have provided and that to which I am referring to. One describes the unrelenting manner in which one ought to battle a heretic’s teachings. The other makes a negative statement about the ontological worth of a human person.

    Now it may be that a person’s teachings, words, or actions are loathsome, and it may be that such a person ought to be combatted with any number of unrelenting means, but it is not so that a person can even in and of himself be loathsome. As Padraig pointed out above, this writer has been made in the image of God and has a nearly transcendental dignity, regardless of how he chooses to use his existence.

    God bless

Comments are closed.