McBrien: a study of the progressivist mind

From the ultra-dissenting National Catholic Reporter comes this sustained whine from Richard McBrien, still at the University of Notre Shame in Indiana.

In this piece McBrien "anonymizes" correspondence he received from someone, which is fair enough.  But not to this ridiculous degree. 

Keep in mind the writer’s penchant for dyspeptic dissent when assessing the veracity of his correspondent’s claims.

Read carefully for a good lesson on how the radical progressivists see the world… see the truly normal Catholic.

My emphases and comments.

The grieving church
By Richard McBrien
Created Apr 27, 2009

I received an e-mail recently from a lay pastoral associate, whose ministerial focus is on adult education and who possesses a graduate degree from a Catholic university. I have his permission to cite a portion of our exchange.

I have suppressed some of the details lest his pastor identify the source and seek to jeopardize the pastoral associate’s job.  [Apparently that pastor is a bad man!]

The e-mail came from a large suburban parish in which the pastor has [watch this] apparently done everything that he can to remove most traces of the reforms initiated by the Second Vatican Council.

The pastor has done away with all contemporary music at Mass, and has restored pre-conciliar devotions along with auricular confession. He even gives the impression that confession is the greatest of the sacraments.  [He is basing this on someone’s report about an impression?]

[So… McBrien contends that Vatican II promoted "contemporary music" at Mass – and we know that he means the usual poorly played commercial-jingle stuff that "contemporary groups" tend to play in "large suburban parishes".  Also, Vatican II did away with pre-Conciliar "devotions".   I suppose that means, for example, recitation of the Rosary before Mass or perhaps Stations of the Cross on Fridays of Lent, or a devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help or maybe even Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  McBrien thinks that "auricular confession" is also something pre-Conciliar and that Vatican II did away with it also.  I would say to Richard McBrien… what are your proofs for the claims that Vatican II did away with those things?  In what document of the Council are these things eliminated?]

Perhaps there is some misunderstanding here because the Council of Trent, back in the 16th century, made clear that the greatest of the seven sacraments is the Eucharist[He is basing this on someone else’s report about an impression.  Furthermore, I’ll bet that if we could contact that priest, he would have a sounder understanding of the importance of the Eucharist and its relationship with the sacrament of reconciliation than McBrien.]

Under the pastor’s control, ["control" is a liberal code word.  Control is bad… but only when people who don’t agree with you are in control.] the parish has no youth ministry, no parish council, nor any other consultative body. [Really?  Perhaps it is merely that this person in that parish wasn’t invited to serve?]  According to my correspondent, “consultative is not in his vocabulary.”  [Perhaps the pastor is simply not asking for his opinion?] He also gave vocal support to the minority of U.S. Catholic bishops who proclaimed in effect that “Catholics could burn in hell” if they voted Democratic in the recent presidential election[First, I suspect that the pastor did not actually name either political party.  But liberal brains are wired differently.  When you say things like, "Catholic Universities must not give honors to pro-abortion politicians" a special chemical reaction takes place and they hear – I am not making this up – they actually hear you to say, "Vote Republican".  When a liberal hears you say "The right to be born and live is a fundamental human right", that switch in their heads make them hear, "It’s okay to ignore the poor!"   This is the only possible explanation.  In charity we simply cannot believe they are too stupid to hear the actual words.  We cannot believe they would just lie.  Therefore, it must be a special liberal chemical reaction in their brain when certain sound vibrations contact their eardrums.]

My correspondent reported that other members of the parish staff are hurting “terribly.”  [Remember, long with the chemical change problem, for liberals emotions trump everything.  You must nevernever… even risk hurting someone’s feelings.  Therefore, you must never, for example, suggest that Vatican II did not actually get rid of auricular confession. That suggests that people… well… people might sin!  That’s hurtful because it might make someone feel less than self-actualized.  Very bad.   Just repeat to these people over and over, "You’re okay just the way you are!" and they ever helpful "I’m there for you!"] Indeed, they share the feelings of the woman who darted out of church recently during the homily – in tears.

She informed the pastoral associate that she could no longer handle the situation, and that she had to leave the parish. She said that all that she ever hears from the pulpit is what sinners the parishioners are, and why it is so necessary for them to “go to Confession.”  [Who wants to guess what the topic of the sermon, or that comment was about.  Could it have been … lemme see… contraception?  Also, did you note how far afield we are getting now?  McBrien is reporting what someone else reported about what someone else reported about what someone said in a sermon.  Yes, friends.  It takes special skills to do this.]

That particular Sunday, with the old-fashioned church music, all the statues covered in purple as they were before Vatican II, and the usual severe words in the homily, the pressure was simply too much for her to bear[Okay… so… it was LENT.  And the priest was talking about the need to go to confession and confess sins.  He might have actually mentioned some sins common to our age.   WHAT AN OUTRAGE! Jesus would never use severe words or hard sayings!  At this point you are probably saying "But Father! But Father!  Surely McBrien is now having a joke with everyone.  Really!  After all, even the recent Ordo for the Church’s liturgical year states that statues can be covered from the 5th Sunday of Lent.  There is nothing wrong with ‘old-fashioned’ music…. just what is that, anyway?  Something written in the 19th century? Surely, Father, McBrien is kidding around now.   No, friends.  He is serious.  For this sort of person, anything but complete rupture with the Church’s pre-Conciliar tradition is simply too much to be borne.]

The woman [we have this third hand … what was that old childhood game… telephone?] poured out her frustrations, saying that the pastor had taken the parish back to a church that she knows nothing about [If she didn’t know anything about it, then how did she get the idea that what he was doing was wrong?] and in a manner that showed no understanding of others’ feelings.

At the end of his first e-mail, my correspondent asked, “Are we expected just to get used to it?”  [Here is the BIG QUESTION.  When the partisans of the "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture" took over and made overnight changes to everything, weren’t people simply expected to "get used to it"?  Now that the shoe is on the other foot, they think that is unfair?]

In my reply, I wrote: “No, you are not simply to ‘get used to it’. Parishioners need to go elsewhere, like the woman who left Mass in tears.”  [This reminds me of the "Bitter Pill" and their bashing of Fr. Finigan.]

I continued: “If there are no parishes or other worshipping communities in the vicinity where the pastoral leadership is healthy rather than driven by a narrow ideology, [If you want narrow ideology, find a liberal.  They are, by definition and the root of the word "liberal", people with whom you are free to agree.] then one simply has to ‘take a vacation’ from the church until the skies finally clear and we are bathed in sunlight once again.”  ["Take a vacation from the church"…. did I just read that McBrien is, in public, telling people that if they don’t like the pastor or what he says, they should not go to Mass?  Not go to confession?  Not get married in the Church?  I think that is what he said.  Would this fit the definition of scandal?]

In response, the pastoral associate noted that “the number of our parish families who are already on vacation from the church is amazing. It hurts to see it.”  [Yes… that indeed should hurt anyone who has even half his heart with Holy Mother Church.]

“It’s new territory, dealing with people grieving for their church,” he wrote.  [ROFL!  What about all the people who for decades who saw their Church and her flock devastated by changes having nothing to do with the Council or authentic conciliar reforms? This is risible beyond words.]

The lead article in America magazine’s 100th anniversary issue (4/13/09) is by a Dominican who is justly admired the world over. It is Timothy Radcliffe’s [LOL!] “The Shape of the Church to Come.”

What follows here is a continued commentary on the problem of the “grieving church” and not meant as a criticism of Timothy Radcliffe’s fine article in which he deplores the polarization that is “deeply wounding and inhibits the flourishing of the church.”

However, [pay attention!] he does identify this polarization as consisting of self-defined “traditionalist” Catholics in open conflict with self-defined “progressive” Catholics[Which is exactly what McBrien and his lot are striving to perpetuate.  People in the same camp as Pope Benedict are striving to heal that division.]

My experience with the worldwide Catholic church is surely much more limited than Timothy Radcliffe’s, and I would defer to his experience [again, pay attention!] if indeed he has come across a significant number of Catholics who actually identify themselves as “progressive.” On the other hand, [watch this] I know of countless numbers of Catholics who proudly call themselves “traditional” or “orthodox.

The pastor in the true story above surely would regard himself as “orthodox,” but the woman who left the church in tears would never have defined herself as a “progressive” Catholic. That adjective would mean nothing to her.  [… ?!? … How on earth could he know that about her?  Because that is the only way what happened can be interpreted properly according to his world-view.  I will drill into this below.]
She and other Catholics like her grieve simply for the loss of their church, a church renewed and reformed by Vatican II[A fantasy about what the "reformed Church of Vatican II" is about, pal.  But that has little or nothing to do with the actual documents of the Council.]

It is not polarization but the pastor of the story and many like him who are responsible for the grieving church[In the end, he descends to mere bullying.  But we will get into what he is really saying, below.]

Fr. McBrien is [still] the Crowley-O’Brien professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.

Here we need a little lesson. 

First, the technique.  McBrien and his lot set up false premises and then, through them, attempt to lead to lead your through the looking glass.

There are many such false premises in the above.  For example, McBrien asserts weird things about what the Council did away with.  Auricular confession is pre-Conciliar.  The Council did away with auricular confession. The pastor as reinstituted auricular confession.  The pastor is against the Council.  That sort of BS blah blah.

Here is another, subtler thing to watch for when reading this sort of rubbish.

Liberals, progressivists, leftists – call them what you will, it doesn’t matter – do not want to allow "maps".  What do I mean by "maps"?

They don’t want to concede that there are real splits, divisions in the Church along certain lines.  This is because they don’t want to concede that there is an reasonable alternative view, and alternative to their own view which you are simply required to accept.

McBrien is the sort of liberal, usually in their 60’s or 70’s, who won’t admit that there is on the map of the Church an extreme fringe on the far left, radical progressivists. 

Of course he doesn’t want to admit that: that is where he is

In his piece, above, he doesn’t want to admit that there are really any "progressives" out there.  There are self-defined conservative, but surely not any progressivists.

For McBrien there is the huge mushy mass of Catholics and there is a radical right wing fringe, a small minority.  They are cranks, not important… unless they get control of something. 

For McBrien, Pope Benedict is one of these cranks.  But Benedict has control.  Anyone on Pope Benedict’s side of things, anyone who wants continuity with our liturgical tradition and body of doctrine before the Council, is a dangerous crank. 

And since for progressivists, numbers really matter (they authentic their positions with polling data), it is important that there be very few right-wing cranks.  Liberals think that majorities verify their positions.  Thus, they refuse to allow on their maps of the Church that too much ground be conceded to tradition.

There is another type of liberal, more reasonable, who will concede that there is also a liberal far left fringe, also very small, also not so important.  They are not as dangerous as conservatives if they get control of anything.  The progressive extremists are not cranks in the sense that conservatives are cranks.  But there remains, even in this vision, the huge mushy mass of those who are not on the fringe.  They don’t like that their maps should include much other than what they fantasize: almost everyone agrees with us and those who don’t really are normal.

But that doesn’t describe McBrien.  He is a liberal of the first group, not this more reasonable second.

McBrien would reject that there are two poles. That would concede too much ground that he thinks by divine right belongs to his party.  It is a psychological thing, a necessary trope, an unavoidable lens.  They can’t help it.  There is no no real division in the normal Church.  Instead, a nutty fringe is trying to hijack the Church.  Ratzinger and his curia and his followers have control.  They are the lone aberrant fringe to be resisted.  For McBrien, the real Church, the normal Church includes fringe progressivists but excludes tradition. 

Progressivist = mainstream. 

The Church is a huge mass of lay people with "sane" clergy, "tame" priests who have embraced what clearer thinking people know is really the agenda of a radical progressivist fringe.

For McBrien some few hurtful traditional wackos are out there and everyone else is normal.  We mustn’t allow the true and normal Church the – we are church – to be victimized by the mean-spirited.  That is why you can simply take a vacation.  In the face of loss of control to the extremists (read: conservatives) it is okay not to go to Church for the sacraments.  Remember, for McBrien there are no liberal extremists.  Thus, whatever is done by progressivists, no matter how discontinuity and rupture they inflict, is still "normal".

Go back and read McBrien’s comments about the "minority of U.S. Catholic bishops".  Reread his comments that there are self defined conservatives but not progressives.  Read his recommendation that if you can’t find a parish which doesn’t lay mean-spirited guilt trips about sin on you during Lent, then it is better to avoid going to Church.

The McBrien Catholics can legitimately "grieve" for a Church they think has been hijacked.  It is not even in their world-view that people could legitimately grieve for a Church they saw as hijacked and led in bondage away from our Catholic tradition.  McBrien’s Catholics have legitimate standing in the Church, not anyone else.

I think we have to say that there is another paradigm.  There are also those who see that the Church is polarized into three basic groups, a traditional conservative right, a center, and a progressivist liberal left.  However, this group thinks that right and the left are far larger than mere fringe groups.  This group understands that there is a serious polarization between these groups and the polarization is getting deeper.  This is an impossible paradigm for the progressivists because it cedes too much ground to an alternative on the traditional side.  For liberals, conservatives are always cranks and when they have power they are dangerous.  Instead, a more reasonable view, while seeing the polarization, does not see they right as being made up merely of SSPSers or people who want Latin, etc.  They are often simply people who are far closer to what they mainstream really ought to be: they want reverent Catholic worship by the book and clear teaching delivered in charity, and joyful engagement in works of mercy.  They are also tired of being pushed around by liberals.

Take this little scholion to heart and learn to examine what the progressivists are trying to feed you.  Find their false premises and keep in mind their world view, their psychological framework.  They are dying out, but they still have positions of influence.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Andy K. says:

    Y’know, I guess it ISN’T that surprising that a university that has this man as a professor would also invite the uber-pro-abortion Pres. Obama to their commencement.

  2. When the partisans of the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” took over and made overnight changes to everything, weren’t people simply expected to “get used to it”? Now that the shoe is on the other foot, they think that is unfair?

    I’m not altogether sure the shoe is on the other foot, in that the traditionalists aren’t trying to force things down the progressives’ throats to the extent it was done the other way around when all this discontinuity started. The traditionalists are the ones taking the brick-by-brick approach; the progressives in the ’60s and ’70s just got out the dynamite and the wrecking balls.

    But a little pin prick is all it takes to get people on Mc’Brien’s side of the argument to squeal like stuck pigs.

  3. As to this oppressive pastor, I’d like to give him a big vote of thanks.

  4. McBrien and his ilk are a scandal! They need to go through a course on Vatican II and all the teachings of the Church, put together and run by the Vatican and made to sign a declaration of faith. If they refuse, they should be defrocked.

  5. Brad says:

    Fr. Z:

    How bout trying to arrange a meeting with McBrien to talk about these things in person? You never know, he may be willing to visit and have a conversation. Seems like that would do a lot for peacemaking between the two sides.

  6. Ray from MN says:

    Why does the word “heretic” never get used any more?

  7. chironomo says:


    This, along with Cardinal Mahoney’s “17 Points” speech gives me the “impression” that there is considerable fear growing amongst the left. Fear of… what…being Catholic?

  8. therese b says:

    To quote the sublime Margaret Thatcher “They are frit”. If you don’t understand Lincolnshire dialect, this means they are running scared. Can you imagine such an article having to be written 5 years ago, when the likes of O’Brien and radcliffe went their merry way unopposed?
    Your fisking is excellent as always. They really so follow the same template – all these Tabletista types. Same vocab. Same injured tone…..

  9. priest up north says:

    Fr. Z.,

    Indeed they are “dying out,” and will not go down without a fight. This display reminds me of an article a few years back called “Young Fogeys.” I wish I could remember what periodical published it. It was a whining against young priests and their “strictness.” We must just continue to pray for these who are of “discontinuity and rupture,” and pray for our own charity and perservance as the battle rages on…

  10. therese b says:

    NB, Fr Z

    Please could you put “progressivist” in inverted commas. You are the progressive – they are the dinosaurs thrashing about in the tarpit.

  11. Paul Haley says:

    …”then one simply has to ‘take a vacation’ from the church until the skies finally clear and we are bathed in sunlight once again.”

    ROTFL. This would truly be funny if it were not scandalous at the same time. Egads, it boggles the mind.

  12. Brian Crane says:

    Serious question: does Fr. McBrien actually try to invite disciplinary action upon himself, as it might make him some sort of progressivist martyr? How else to explain his implication that auricular confesssion is so 40 years ago?

  13. Allan says:

    But Father! But Father! (always wanted to say that) You forget already! –

    First they ignore you.
    Then you ridicule you.
    Then they attack you.

    They are ATTACKING! That means you (we) are winning!

    See? This is good news!

  14. The world is continuing to work overtime against the Holy Church. I especially appreciate the part where you point out that there are some who thrive on divisions within the Church. Also, in my field, progressivism is defining a problem and using prior knowledge. The problem is, from my prior knowledge, not all parties are putting Christ as the center of the Church in the first place.

  15. Gary says:

    The lead picture of McBrien in civilian clothes speaks volumes. Did this man ever truly believe in the Church?

  16. Tricia says:

    Three things come to mind:
    1. We must pray for Fr. O’Brien. He has really strayed.
    2. We must pray for that obviously upset woman; that she finds the truth in her “search.” She may have absolutely no formation in her faith. She maybe clueless as to what the TRUTH really is.
    3. We must pray for the pastor named; may he be fortified in his truly being a shepherd. (I personally would love to join that parish!)

  17. JohnE says:

    “He even gives the impression that confession is the greatest of the sacraments.”

    The Eucharist is the greatest sacrament for those in communion with the Church. If you’re a pro-abortion “Catholic”, the Eucharist is not your greatest sacrament until you’ve been to confession.

  18. Gary says:

    “How bout trying to arrange a meeting with McBrien to talk about these things in person? You never know, he may be willing to visit and have a conversation. Seems like that would do a lot for peacemaking between the two sides.”

    I’ve learned the hard way–these types never truly want to debate the topic or concede any point. Any conversation with them is like talking to a recording device that merely ignores you and repeats the same thing over and over and over again. For all their “open-mindedness”, liberals are very narrow-minded.

  19. Racjax says:

    Oh, I was waiting for your treatise, Father Z! And you did not disappoint! The Los Angeles diocesean paper publishes his column and there are always people writing in praising McBrien. The response this time will be interesting. WHY are these people like McBrien allowed to continuously act out like this? WHEN are they going to be publicly pulled up? But it certainly is showing the smoke that has permeated our Church and schools.

  20. LCB says:

    When a columnist advocates taking a “vacation” from the Church, a very serious question is ‘begged’:

    Why would ANY diocese continue to carry this column?

  21. LCB says:

    At times like this I always like to note, Fr. McBrien is not a CSC priest (the order that runs Notre Dame), he is a secular priest from an east coast diocese.

    Just remember, there was a time in the not-so-distant past when this man was the CHAIR of the ND Theology Department.

  22. Dennis DeVito says:

    where is this parish Fr. Mc Brien speaks of? it sounds like the kind of parish i would like to join

  23. ckdexterhaven says:

    I sure hope he’s talking about my priest! The priest at my parish has been here for about a year and a half, and in that time, has instituted Perpetual Adoration, the wait for confession is at least an hour, Fr. X has ruffled some feathers, but just this Saturday, 13 babies were baptized. Which is quite the miracle, b/c the priest before had liturgical dancers, the tabernacle was in the back of the church.

    Fr. Z, muchas gracias for describing the way the ultra liberals think. I’ve had a couple of priests who (I think out of pride?) couldn’t bring themselves to support pro-life candidates, because they would be advocating voting for a Republican. I think some of these folks SO identify with the Democrat party, that the voice in their head chants “Republicans hate the poor, Republicans hate the poor”. “Democrat good, Republican bad”. Whoever this priest is, don’t forget to pray for him, b/c he’s going to need it.

    But in all honesty, it’s probably difficult for a lib like McBrien. He came up in the 60’s, was against the ‘establishment”, and now he IS the establishment that we’re overturning… brick by brick!

  24. John Enright says:

    Father, why even bother with McBrien and his minions. He’s passe at best, and probably serves as a good example of everything I don’t believe in. Like Teddy Kennedy, when McBrien says something substantive, I almost immediately know that the opposite is true.

  25. RJM says:

    Continue to pray for Fr. McBrien, and others who share his outlook. It is incredibly frustrating to encounter their ideas and also sobering to think about how many of the faithful they may have led astray. But, no human being falls outside of the reach of God’s grace. The angels rejoice more over one sinner returning to the fold than over ninety-nine righteous persons who have no need of repentance. Never doubt the power of prayer–as evidenced by the recent SSPX rosary crusades!

  26. stb says:

    Wow, I do not know what to say…

    This is almost surreal. The Church in US is in a deep trouble if people like this hold theology appointments at Catholic universities.

  27. magdalene says:

    Egads, I just did that auricular confession ‘thing’ today too!

    My hoodwinked liberal relatives in a once notorious ‘liberal’ diocese also say confession went out with Vatican II. They say this because they were told this from the pulpit… And they were mad when the new bishop would not allow ‘sister’ to read the gospel and give the homily and had the ‘sacramental minister’ do it. And I would have to say that these folks would say WE are the greatest of the sacraments. I have had priests there tell me that I am the Sacrament.

    It is all so sad. Obviously one cannot protest the heretical and long held stance of Fr. McBrien as we know this would and has fallen on deaf ears. I just pity those who fall for his tripe.

  28. AJP says:

    The commentors on the NCR site are what really leave an impression on me.
    While McBrien’s stuff is nothing new, I am always amazed by the raw contempt
    the commentors display towards the pope, the bishops, and laity like us.
    I’m also struck by the strawman view the commentors have of the majority of
    “traditionalists.” They think we’re all uneducated, unintelligent, and
    completely closed minded and incapable of indepedent thought. Whereas any
    time spent on the orthodox side of the blogosphere indicates how inaccurate
    this picture is. At least in my experience, orthodox Catholics (especially
    the younger ones) are as well educated, if not a bit more so, than the general
    population. Traditionalism, even in its most extreme sede-vacantist forms,
    goes hand in hand with enthusiasm for Thomistic philosophy, Aristotelian logic, the
    Latin language, a mind-bogglingly large amount of history (often obscure
    matters that aren’t taught in school but must be learned on one’s own),
    and an impressive familiarity with dozens of papal encyclicals and
    Church documents. None of this indicates below average intelligence – rather
    quite the opposite.

    A significant proportion of orthodox Catholics, traditionalist or not, are
    converts from other faiths or none at all, which really blows a hole in the
    assertion that orthodox Catholics are close minded and sheltered from different
    viewpoints. Closed minded people don’t, in fact cannot, change religions
    or worldviews as adults.

    Finally anyone who has ever read a WDTPRS combox when the topic is a bishop
    like Mahoney or a priest like McBrien knows that orthodox Catholics are
    far from a mindless bunch of pay, pray, and obey sheep when it comes to the
    “institutional Church.”

    I guess McBrien and the NCR commenters really don’t spend much time reading
    our blogs, our articles, our theologians, and such. For all their bravado
    about being open minded, they are deeply ignorant about other Catholics with
    other points of view. Whereas orthodox Catholics (in my experience) are
    usually well acquianted with the heterodox wing of the Church and know the
    major viewpoints, figures, theologians, nuns, religious orders, even the infamous parishes
    like St. Joan’s in MPLS and St. Mary’s in Australia. Conversely, how many
    NCR readers do you think would know St. Agnes from St. John
    Cantius from Blackfen?

    Maybe the astounding ignorance on their side is a good thing, as far as
    orthodoxy is concerned. In a conflict, whether it’s military, political,
    or social in nature, the worst thing you can do is underestimate your opponent.
    So things do not look good for the long term success of the heterodox.

  29. Ted Krasnicki says:

    I do not like the use of the term “progressive” as it is applied to Catholicism, since I could never figure out what these are progressing to. They rather seem regressive, often trying to bring Paganism back as a religion. Rather, I like Romano Amerio’s term “Secondary Christianity” (in his “Iota Unum”), where Chrstianity comes second in importance to the prevailing secular culture. The prevailing culture in other words comes first, and Christianity is modified to fit in. Perhaps the term “Secondary Catholic” would be more appropriate in McBrien’s case considering how the contemporary world sets the agenda for his beliefs.

  30. TNCath says:

    If Father McBrien weren’t so dangerous, I would say that he has become a caricature of himself, much like Father Andrew Greeley or Father Hans Kung. Nonetheless, I find him more dangerous than Fathers Greeley and Kung simply because he is STILL exercising a degree of influence at Notre Dame. The mind games he plays to manipulate his readers, his hackneyed positions and his silly, almost mawkish appeal to the emotions of his readers still has takers out there. It really makes you wonder who really takes him seriously? Sad, just sad.

  31. Stephen says:

    How else would one go to Confession but auricular-ly???

  32. Legisperitus says:

    The statutes were covered in purple, eh? Doesn’t he think that’s preferable to letting people actually see such obviously pre-V2 fixtures?

  33. Pes says:

    “Progressive” all too often means “functionally atheist.” Hardly a progression.

  34. MargaretMN says:

    “Grief” was what I felt when for years I went to whatever the local parish was near where I was was living and got an eyeful and an earful of what McBrien is selling as the true church. The only way to console myself was to remember that the Mass is still the Mass and a priest is always a priest, no matter what other nonsense they are peddling under cover of the Church. Voting with your feet works both ways and around here, it’s not hard to see where the Churches are growing and where they are not. He also has a lot of nerve criticizing the nameless Priest for the re-institution confession in his parish. The “spirit of Vatican II” folks damaged that sacrament tremendously and have a lot to answer for. They robbed an entire generation of Catholics of grace and, arguably undermined society as a whole (not just Catholics)by banishing the confessional or turning it into therapy.

  35. Clement says:

    Father McBrien is so passe.

    Most Catholics know that, and listen to him as they would listen to a game show host exhort, “Say the magic woid and win a hundred dollars!”.

    Incidently Father, the anti-spam woid was “pray 4 priests.”
    I just said a rosary for all of you, including Rev McBrien.

  36. Br Aloysius says:

    Perhaps Z and his seemingly hugh cheering section for B XVI should obtain a copy of the little known White Paper from the Pontifical Biblical Commission (1990?) bearing his endorsement and which is Titled “The Jewish People and Their Scriptures” in which it is declared that the Jewish people do not have to convert to the Catholic Faith in order to be saved. He, B XVI, also states that their continued wait for the coming of their non-christian messiah is reasonable. The list of Popes who have stated, restated and confirmed the clear position of the Church with respect to the requirements for salvation is much too long to display here but the words of Eugene IV could be attributed to all of them – “All those outside the Holy Roman Catholic Church, including pagans, Jews, heretics and schismatics can have no share whatever in life eternal but will go into the fire of hell prepared for the devil and his demons”. He has written more than 50 books throughout his priesthood and every one of them contains heresy. I’ll save my hoorahs for someone more deserving, Thanks.

  37. JimB says:

    McBrien is emblematic of the tired theses that would have one believe that giant puppets and great bowls of incense carried in procession by barefooted female liturgical dancers (sometimes “nuns” from dissident orders) are preferable to covered statutes, latin prayers, and the traditional elements associated with Catholic worship for centuries. To this extent, priests like McBrien and his ilk have perverted the true spirit of Vatican II. Can anyone seriously imagine Pope John XXIII approving of some of the progressivist nonsense that often degrades the liturgy today?

  38. Philadelphia Lawyer says:

    These “progressives” do not believe that religious affiliation is very important. They certainly do not believe in the teachings of the Church. Moreover, there is a very nice Episcopal Church, USA which would be very happy to have them. It is already everything that they want the Catholic Church to be. So why do they remain in the Catholic Church? To subvert it. They wish to morally neuter the Church and transform it into nothing more than one big social service agency.
    One thing is encouraging about these “progressives,” many of whom teach at our big, nominally Catholic universities. They do not inspire vocations. They are very good at leading young people away from the Church, but they do not inspire vocations at all.
    I know a guy from my parish that went off to seminary recently. Who inspired his vocation? Well, I know he was a devoted EWTN viewer. I’d also bet money that he did not attend one of those Catholic (in name only) universities.

  39. MD says:

    Umm, I could not find ‘take a vacation’ covered in the appropriate Code of Canon Law section?

  40. Fr. Jim says:

    It is interesting that McBrien was not concerned when orthodox Catholics left Mass in tears. When they felt their Church had been taken away. When they were not “consulted.” In fact he was probably angry that they fled to other parishes and would have told them to get with the program. Such hypocrisy.

  41. McBrien obviously knows nothing about what the Second Vatican Council said about Sacred Music. He follows the normal pattern of liberals, hiding behind hear-say stories of alleged atrocities, rather than putting forth a real argument. McBrien needs to grow up.

  42. Maynardus says:

    What rubbish! There will (apparently) always be McBriens in our midst, but it is amazing that even a few diocesan weeklies still pay to print his whines. The NCR is a different story, they’re mostly birds of a feather with McB.

    What, one wonders, is the *point* of the Catholic Faith in his view?

  43. Dennis says:

    ==He is a wonderful presider and preacher, and I attended many masses at CUA with him, but I am surprised that he rates auricular confession as least preferred. I think it is well established that Form III of the Rite of Penance is for emergencies, and both I and II include auricular confession of sin.==

  44. Tybourne says:

    I agree with the person who questioned the use of the word ‘progressive’ in relation to Fr McBrien and his ilk. Also, avoidance of the terms ‘liberal’, ‘traditional’, ‘right’ and ‘left’ in relation to the Church would be preferable IMHO. Such political terms point us away from seeing the Church in Her true light as the Mystical Body of Christ and suggest an obsession with power. What is wrong with the terms ‘orthodox’ and ‘heterodox’?

    I agree with the substance of your argument, but the tone of your commentary and of others’ responses here smack of Schadenfreude, I’m sad to say. For example, you say: “McBrien and his lot are striving to perpetuate [polarization]. People in the same camp as Pope Benedict are striving to heal that division.” Yet, by using terms such as ‘progressive’, ‘traditional’, by speaking of a ‘map’ of the Church, as if She were a mere political territory and by omitting the priestly titles of Frs McBrien and Radcliffe you yourself perpetuate such divisions. In controversy I urge you to follow the Ven. J.H.Cardinal Newman and let Prudence be your guide and discretion and Charity be the marks of your discourse. Newman’s responses to Kingsley’s and Achilli’s attacks in the Apologia are both vehement and measured. Yet, we should remember that neither Kingsely nor Achilli were brothers in communion with the Priesthood of Christ at the time when Newman was writing.

  45. Nicknackpaddywack says:

    Your in-text commentary on this one is hilarious, Fr. Z. I enjoyed this and had a good laugh. Fortunately, even a died in the wool pessimist about the RC Church such as yours truly, has to admit that the crazier strand of post-conciliar thinking as represented by McBrien has run its course. They are obviously intellectually bankrupt, and I don’t think anybody important could take this kind of editorializing seriously anymore. So funny.

  46. Rob says:

    McBrien’s downgrading of Confession reminds me of an exchange of e-mails I had with a local priest a couple weeks ago. In his parish, children do not make first Confession before first Communion. I wrote explaining that it is Canon Law that they must (and is also mentioned in our Catechism), but he said that the Canon is out of touch with the intentions of Vatican II, and called me a “liturgy police.”

    I await the day that we are rid of all these “Spirit of Vatican II” priests.

  47. Fr. Kowalski says:

    In all charity to Father McBrien [with whom I disagree it seems on just about every aspect of Catholicism having had to use his textbook by the same name in the college seminary I attended back in the 80’s], I’m amazed that he is STILL spouting the same stuff he has for the last thirty years. My only consolation comes from the image in the scriptures that speaks of every person’s life like a flower that blossoms in the morning and by the evening withers, fades and is gone. Father McBrien is getting older [as are we all] and will in time approach his final destination. I pray that he’s ready for the journey. I pray that we all are.

  48. Boko says:

    Your “still” said it all. Genius.

  49. Br Aloysius says:

    If orthodoxy were relative McBrien would be an apostle compared to Benedict XVI.

  50. Emilio III says:

    Br Aloysius, you’re probably right, assuming the apostle in question is Judas.

  51. Nicknackpaddywack says:

    oops. I meant “dyed-in-the-wool.” Where did that expression come from anyway?

  52. Patrick says:

    McBrien is a wonderful theologian , if you like speculative theologians that have a high opinion of themselves and a rather judgemental opinion of others.

    The parish he treats so harshly sounds like just the place I would be at peace. In fact, it sounds alot like my present parish, all except for the purple shrouded images. None of the statues are reachable by anything short of a very long ladder, and the previous pastors were not as traditional as our present incumbent. (No purple shrouds available).

    The other difference is that all the easily offended left months or years ago, leaving us horribly chauvinistic and hidebound genuflectors and users of sacramentals to worship in peace and harmony.

    Don’t you just love Father Faber’s hymns? We sing them quite often. Oh well, back under my pre Vat2 rock I go.

  53. Widukind says:

    Why wait until the sun shines again???

    The fact is that the sun is shining, but McBrien et alia ad naseum have yet to open the curtains of their perfectly smug and chic houses, because that environment is far too familiar and comfortable to them. When one has a perfect world why bother to notice what is going on outside?
    Having dealt with fellow priests who are much for McBrien and like him, is perhaps the most difficult thing I have had to face, as well as the most disheartening and humiliating. These smiley “open minded” and panache socialites would never concede to fairness or even to a remote possibility that anyone else may have a whiff of the truth. Their attack is an ad hominem to the jugular,with a laughing, derisive sneer to the addled “looser” who musters but a gritty response, spewing out the dust he has bit. There is but one game in town and it is theirs. There is nary a hope of consideration. What perhaps is the worst, is their ability to lie to superiors without a qualm, and to manipulate circumstances to their own agenda. Such is the “Janus anus” (the two-faced arse hole)who undermines a serious matter by dissembling and justifies it by stating “At least I covered my own ass!” Yes, this was announced to me by a fellow pastor, who styles himself a darling progressive, an iconoclastic prophet, a sophisticated, erudite theologue. And, who yet accused me of playing games.
    The comments made by McBrien in his article have awoken in my heart such memories of the dispicable double standard of self-professed dialogues. Please forgive me for giving expression to these hurts, but at times it is opportune to release the bitterness upon sympathetic ears. What perhaps is even sadder is the gullablity of the faithful in accepting the dribble rained upon them. The ignorance of the faithful is yet another factor in this struggle….

  54. Hans says:

    by omitting the priestly titles of Frs McBrien and Radcliffe you yourself perpetuate such divisions.

    It could be reasonably argued, Tybourne, that Fr. Z. is only doing Fr. McBrien the courtesy of addressing him in the manner which he seems to prefer. The byline, after all, is “By Richard McBrien“.

  55. Mafeking says:

    I think this is more simple than left and right, progressivist and traditional. It’s sheep and goats, and we know who the goats are.

  56. Mafeking says:

    I think this is more simple than left and right, progressivist and traditional. It’s sheep and goats, an age old problem.

  57. plisto says:

    Just wondering why all those “progressive catholics” want to be catholics, of all the denominations there are, they could easily find (or set up!) one to back up their “progressive” views about most everything.
    So why the label “catholic”, if they don’t want to have anything to do with tradition?
    We have to pray more and make more sacrifices. Christ loves everyone, but not everyone loves Him!

  58. English Catholic says:

    Perhaps I’m betraying my European perspective here, but I don’t even know what a ‘lay pastoral associate’ is!
    Is it some sort of Protestant thing?

  59. Andrew, medievalist says:

    Premise A: To be orthodox means to think with the Catholic Church.
    Premise B: People who think with the Church are Catholic.
    Conclusion: To be orthodox is to be Catholic.

    Of course people readily identify themselves as orthodox but not progressive. One would expend a great deal of intellectual energy to reconcile Catholicity and heterodox. In fact, aren’t there several million Christians who have proudly borne the name “Orthodox” since 1054?

  60. Sharon says:

    Pontifical Biblical Commission (1990?) bearing his endorsement and which is Titled “The Jewish People and Their Scriptures” in which it is declared that the Jewish people do not have to convert to the Catholic Faith in order to be saved. He, B XVI, also states that their continued wait for the coming of their non-christian messiah is reasonable.

    Br Aloysius, I think I have found the document you mentioned but I couldn’t find Jewish people do not have to convert to the Catholic Faith in order to be saved. or their [Jewish people] continued wait for the coming of their non-christian messiah is reasonable Could you please tell me where in the document these two comments can be found?

    I couldn’t find Cardinal Ratzinger’s endorsement on the document.

  61. DN says:

    Sharon, good for you for checking up on his claim. Unfortunately, he’s proving himself to be a simple crank.

  62. Gail F says:

    Ha ha. I just turned in a paper about confession, in which I argued that people don’t go because they don’t feel sinful, and that they need better catechesis AND more symbols of humility in the liturgy. Commence weeping now. And last night my professor asked the class if we had all read Richard McBrien. Yes, I know the paper is not going to be well received. But I wrote it because it’s my opinion, and I based it on theology, and if I get a C so be it. I have done my best to study and understand the sort of theology that Fr. McBrien and the people who agree with him accept, and what they do and say does make sense given that base. But to me, it is not a theology that can last. It can add to other theology, but it can’t be a base, because when it comes right down to it this whole “we are church” stuff depends on US, and we human beings are just not all that dependable. That is not to downplay what people are capable of, or deny the possibility of inner life and sanctity. But if you are going to build a church on expecting every single Catholic to be a constant vessel of Christ in the world, or whatever, you are going to be disappointed. As Pope Benedict so rightly says, it will devolve into a church about ourselves.

  63. TMG says:

    Although liberals like Fr. McBrien are given free pass via the media to spread poisonous views on Catholicism to those Catholics gullible enough to swallow them, the internet has allowed a leveling of the playing field – a counterbalance – to occur to those views.

    Thankfully, traditional Catholic teaching such as here at Fr. Z’s blog and others, is being seen and heard once more. This is an uplifting time to be a Catholic but there’s still a long way to go to restore our Church and take it back from those 60s & 70s liberals whose destructive ideas have decimated it.

  64. Marcin says:

    McBrien: Indeed, they share the feelings of the woman who darted out of church recently during the homily – in tears.

    Couple of years ago, my wife darted out of some large suburban church in DC area, when the priest suddenly left the “altar area”, entered “music ministry area” taking possession of a guitar from the hands of some youngster and strumming started singing _Agnus Dei_ (yes, Latin, I’m not making it up).

    Who would share her feelings?

  65. Br Aloysius says:

    In response to Sharon and DN – You cannot possibility have read the document if you claim that it is not clearly expostulated by the PBC of which Ratzinger was the chairman that Judaism is a salvific confession. As far as Ratzinger’s endorsement is concerned, in a more concrete sense, he wrote the preface and added his signature to the document and in doing so declared it to be official Church teaching. Do yourself a favor and get to know the writings of this man whom you seem to wish to defend. The list of heretical positions that he has taken on almost all Catholic dogmas would require too much time and space here but if you are honest, and DN is clearly not since she has felt the need to resort to invective to make her pointless remark, you will read the position of the man from his own mouth.

  66. Pete the greek says:

    I think John XXIII would be very surprised if you told him the council he called for tossed out confession. Here are his words:

    “Our first need is for internal repentance; the detestation, that is, of sin, and the determination to make amends for it. This is the repentance shown by those who make a good Confession.

    the faithful must also be encouraged to do outward acts of penance, both to keep their bodies under the strict control of reason and faith, and to make amends for their own and other people’s sins.

    John XXIII, Paenitentiam Agere

  67. Br Aloysius says:

    Let me suggest to Sharon that she read the encyclical Mortalium Animos by Pope Pius II. Then research the joint liturgical service over which B XVI presided with the Chief Rabbi of Rome just two or three years ago. If you are truly interested in the subject you will do the work which I am not willing to do for you.

  68. I am not Spartacus says:

    Notre Dame employing Fr. McBrien to teach Theology would be like McDonald’s University employing Ingrid Newkirk to Teach Grilling.

    (McDonald’s would never hire her. It has integrity).

    Even after The Bishops asked him to make corrections in his execrable,“Catholicism,” the text is still heretical.

    To read a review of McBrien’s book is to remind yourself that Notre Dame is Calvary; a place where truth goes to die.

    And, of course, there is the matter of his infamous column in which he wrote that Jesus was ignorant, in error, and sexually tempted.

  69. Bravo Father Z. As a convert of just a couple of years ago, I am reminded that all this “Pre-concilar” drivel was an impediment to my coming into the Church. I was literally told (by a Deacon) that sincerity was a virtue that trumped all sin. I could participate in an abortion and still be fine – as long as I did it in the sincerity of my heart.

  70. Marcin says:

    Br. Aloysius,

    My cursory reading of the document “The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible” ( does not support any allegation of yours.

  71. Br Aloysius says:

    I apologize for having incorrectly attributed the encyclical Mortalium Animos to Pius II. It was in fact written by Pius XI. You may also wish to research the difference between material and formal heresy. His heresies are indeed formal since they are in direct and explicit contradiction to the De Fide declarations of his predecessors. The matter on which you are expressing an opinion is too important for the theological dilletant. Get serious.

  72. Br Aloysius says:

    This is getting very frustrating. If those of you who have now read “The Jewish People, etc” and can honestly say that in it one may find the defined teaching of the Church regarding the Jewish people then you are not sufficiently informed of the Dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church to engage in any level of discussion of this or any other issue in theology. I will continue to pray having come to the point of agreeing with him who says, ‘There is none so blind as he who will not see’.

  73. I am not Spartacus says:

    Br Aloysius. Stop.

    Your accusation Pope Benedict is a heretic is a charge so absurd that merely the weight of common sense applied to it causes it to sink to the lowest depths of Hell.

  74. Br Aloysius says:

    Not Spartacus – let me ask you how many of Ratzinger’s 50 plus books you have personally read?

  75. Thomas in MD says:

    How many of us have been driven from parishes by the abuses of liberal clergy? And how many times? GRRRR. O’Brien makes me sin against charity.

  76. I am not Spartacus says:

    Br. Aloysius. This thread is about Fr. McBrien. Please stop trying to hijack it.

    As I understand it, the man this link describes has pretty good knowledge of the texts you reference. I suggest you contact him and discuss your charges he is a heretic. (He sounds to me like he possesses the Theological qualifications you think necessary).

  77. Br Aloysius says:

    Not Spartacus – you are continuing to draw a very revealing picture of yourself. Begin to think about what you are saying. I have as much of a right to reference what I beleive to be pertinent and relavent as you do. If they offend you skip over my comments and you won’t be hijacked. And I don’t need your advice on how to proceed. Thanks just the same. [Very superior, aren’t you. I think this is done now.]

  78. Patronus says:

    I was really I wouldn’t have to be the 900th person to say this on this and other blogs, but equating Fr. McBrien with Notre Dame or the ND Theology program really is incredibly passe. Those who have been students at ND in the last decade and who have familiarity with the Theo Dept know that Fr. McBrien is effectively a non-issue on cmapus. He only makes the news (as is his goal) through his outrageous columns or TV appearances. The Theology Department and the campus at large are nothing like McBrien, who is way out there.

    As far as blaming ND for keeping him, tenure is a legal issue, so it’s not like they can just get rid of him anyway.

  79. quiet beginning says:

    Pascendi Dominici Gregis infallibly sums up that which has brought us to our current malaise:

  80. Joe says:

    Ok… we have a priest telling people not to go to Mass if it is too orthodox. Can he be excommunicated for this… finally?

  81. Norman says:

    Can some one please explain to me what Futurechurchers have against private confession? I’m asking honestly here. I’d really like to know. I think these people live in Cloud Fairyland if they believe that public confession is amenable to the modern person, because most people just will not unload honestly and fully in a public setting. Shouldn’t our goal be the full cleansing of souls, that is, if we are Catholics and believe in grace and sin and all that. One other concern with public confession is that it has the odor of Mao-era Cultural Revolution public self-criticism sessions.

  82. Kradcliffe says:

    Out of all of that, the thing that struck me the most was that he thinks there’s something wrong with the sacrament of confession. I assume he thinks reconciliation should be done as a large group thing with general absolution. I always thought that was done by desperate, maybe lazy, priests and enjoyed by people who were looking for a cop-out. I didn’t know that there was actually a POV *against* “auricular confession.”

    I talk regularly with a couple of far-left Catholics – one still goes to Mass but is a big supporter of CTA and similar groups. The other has left the Church for UU/Pagan. I’ve noticed that both of them see such things in terms of power. Receiving on the tongue is “being treated like a child.” Going to confession gives the priest too much power over them…. to them, it’s all a big power struggle. That’s why they want women to be ordained – they want to break down every barrier because the power that maintains the barrier is an affront to them. I think that’s weird. I can see wanting to do that out in the secular world, but I don’t see the point of a religion where I’m in control and I’m the ultimate authority.

  83. TJM says:

    McBrien is like the Edsel, the Dodo Bird, very, very passe. From what I hear from Notre Dame, no one really takes him seriously anymore. He must
    grieve when he sees the Eucharistic PRocessions and TLMs at Notre Dame. Tom

  84. Kolbe says:

    My faithful pastor was just removed from our parish because of complaints to the Bishop that he is “too rigid.” The “horror” of it: for the first time in years we had all males participate in the foot washing on Holy Saturday, the first communicants were required to receive by mouth, the “rigid” pastor talks about hell and confession and “scares” the kids. I am sick about the removal of this holy man.

  85. Aaron Magnan says:

    “McBrien is reporting what someone else reported about what someone else reported about what someone said in a sermon. Yes, friends. It takes special skills to do this.”

    A small correction…you need to change it to “reporting what someone else reported about what someone else reported about what someone said in a sermon that has not been quoted and has been stripped down of its original tone and quality in order to prove the point that he is not polarizing by polarizing”.

  86. Father Z: Please correct me, but isn’t Fr. McBrien in disobedience to his Bishop in Connecticut in that he refuses to leave Notre Dame and return to his diocese? I understand this condition has obtained for years. Thank you. [I know nothing of this and it is irrelevant speculation.]

  87. James says:

    Fr. Z.,

    Why do you insist on mocking people? We get it – McBrien is a liberal. We get it – McBrien’s arguments are unsound. But mocking another person is simply uncharitable, and it makes your cause seem less valuable, and your intention becomes less efficacious. I for one are getting kind of tired of people like you and Tom Peters mocking and bashing people and then turning around and calling for unification and enlightened thinking about the liturgy within the Church. One does not find as a bedfellow to charity the act of mockery. [Okay… that’s a “no” vote, then. In the meantime I will go back and reread to see if I actually mocked his person or if I attacked his positions.]

    I’m sorry to sound so blunt, but the cause for which you (and I) strive can only be harmed by the continued cynical approach to these issues. I beg you to reconsider your use of this defense mechanism.

    And yes, I’m sure I can just stop reading your blog. Heard that from Peters too. That’s the easy way out, don’t you think? [Well… it is a pretty good one.]

  88. wsxyz says:

    Please be specific James. Exactly which of Fr. Z’s comments constitute “mocking”? [Nooo… I don’t think we have to feed this any energy. On review, I am not convinced his assessment is accurate.]

  89. Richard says:

    I once got into an discussion with Father McBrien about active participation in the liturgy. He asserted that for me to emphasize the importance of internal participation set up a dichotomy between internal and external participation which in a sense ignored the complementarity of the two. With this premise he seemed to evade any argument emphasizing internal participation in the liturgy. He also said my emphasis on internal participation undermined the role of the laity in the liturgy as promoted by Vatican II. When I went on about what Vatican II really had to say about the role of the laity in the Church, especially in regards to the evangelization of the world within the laity’s day to day life, he did not seem to have any response. This made me wonder whether his advocacy for Vatican II only went as far as it supported his argument.

  90. M. G. Hysell says:

    Fr John,

    The Directory on the Life and Ministry of Priests speaks numerously of “pastoral charity.” Your comments on Fr McBrien’s article shows the exact opposite. [I think I will disagree. I don’t disagree that the Directory speaks of that. I think my comments are proportioned to the subject. I note, however, your attempt to turn this around and put it on me. Let that not happen again, for it is a mere ruse.]

    How about giving people on the other side of the fence the benedit of the doubt once in a while? [I do! That is why I take what they write very seriously. In this case, I vigorously reject his positions and overall agenda. He does great harm to the Church and his scandalous ideas must be addressed head on.]

  91. Richard: [McBrien] asserted that for me to emphasize the importance of internal participation set up a dichotomy between internal and external participation which in a sense ignored the complementarity of the two.

    I think the problem comes from the impression that when we want to defend interiorly active participation people (who are less concerned with that) think that we don’t care about outwardly active participation.

    That is not the case!  The one leads to the other. 

    But one is more fundamental than the other.  You can do stuff outwardly all day long and not be truly participating.  If you are interiorly participating the outward expressions will naturally follow.

    This is why on the eve of the Council, a document of the Holy See described the reception of Communion in the state of grace as the highest form of active participation. 

    It starts with interior dispositions.  First, you must be baptized.  Second, you must be aware of what you are doing.  Third, you must be in the state of grace.  Then we get to a disposition which links the two ends of the spectrum: fourth, you must be physically disposed by fasting for the requisite length of time – a reflection of self-emptying.  Fifth, you must physical get up and then go forward.  Sixth, you actively receive rather than actively take.

    Also, this interior disposition, starting with baptism, permit the worshipper to be the voice and hands, etc. of the Lord Himself, who is the true Actor in the sacred liturgy.

    A healthy view of that interiorly active receptivity which is true active participation will understand (unless they are being obtuse) that it will always find outward expression in the ways the sacred liturgy indicate (e.g., saying the black, doing the red).

  92. Kimberly says:

    Where is this church, I wanna go!!! I find it strange that when I left the NO crying because of the horrible abuses, nobody cared.

  93. Richard says:

    Father, Thanks building on the idea I commented with. Good stuff.

  94. Richard says:

    By the way, what would the name of that document be which was released on the eve of the Council?

  95. Michael J says:

    Br Aloysius,

    What am I to make of a person who raises a very serious accusation but then refuses to back it up? Several here have read the document you cite, and could not find what you did.

    Why do you refuse to provide a direct quote?

  96. Jordanes says:

    Br Aloysius said: You cannot possibility have read the document if you claim that it is not clearly expostulated by the PBC of which Ratzinger was the chairman that Judaism is a salvific confession.

    On the contrary, one must wonder if you have really read the document if you claim it teaches that Judaism is salvific. I have read “The Jewish People and their Sacred Scripture in the Christian Bible” several times, and I know for a fact that it says nothing of what you claim. It’s clear that you failed to get your facts straight before presenting your opinions. If you have ever read that document, it must have been a few years ago since you’ve read or studied it, since you couldn’t remember the title or when it was published (2001, not 1990). Nowhere does it say the Jewish people do not have to convert to the Catholic faith in order to be saved.

    Nor, contrary to your claim, does the fact that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote and signed the document’s preface mean that he was declaring it to be official Church teaching. It is a PBC document, and ever since the PBC was reorganised after Vatican II its documents are NOT magisterial — for that, it would require the Pope to personally approve all of its contents and to sign his name to it, or to indicate that he had approved the CDF Prefect’s signature with the intent of making the matter binding doctrinally. Compare Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to “The Jewish People and their Sacred Scripture in the Christian Bible” and the huge difference between the two documents and the two signatures is blazingly clear. “The Jewish People and their Sacred Scripture in the Christian Bible” is a non-binding study prepared by expert Catholic exegetes to assist the Church in understanding an important matter, not a doctrinal declaration.

    Considering how incompetent you’ve shown yourself to be in this matter, I can’t see why anyone would want to take your other dreadful accusations against the Holy Father seriously. It’s likely the facts would not substantiate your accusations, just as they do not substantiate your false statements about “The Jewish People and their Sacred Scripture in the Christian Bible.”

    I apologise for pursuing this “rabbit hole,” but I felt compelled to respond to Br Aloysius’ counterfactual assertions.

  97. Norman says:

    … if the Futurechurchers distaste for private confession has to do with the idea that sin harms the full community of the Church, I would remind them that we all face individual judgment; we are not judged collectively as a whole or even by parish. We are also resurrected individually and bodily, we do not enter heaven as an undifferentiated mass. If the distaste stems from the idea that all sacraments which are suitable for communal celebration should be celebrated communally, I reply that confession is not well suited for communal celebration and communal celebration should only be practiced as a last resort.

    Is a disdain for private confession partially to blame for the restriction of access to the sacrament that we find today in so many parishes? The practice of personal confession is worth fighting for and I wish we could confront the issue head-on. Every so often I see Futurechurchers sneer at private confession and the broader Catholic community never confronts the issue as openly as I would like. Let’s have the debate, we have nothing to fear.

  98. Ms Jackie says:

    Please excuse my ignorance but what on earth is a Futurechurcher?

  99. James says:


    Let me see. First, when one “ROFL” in response to something someone said, one is openly mocking someone.

    And above all others : “McBrien is reporting what someone else reported about what someone else reported about what someone said in a sermon. Yes, friends. It takes special skills to do this.” If you can show how this is NOT mocking, then be my guest. [Actually… you are my guest, here. And I do not agree with your assessment.]

  100. Norman says:

    Futurechurch is a phrase coined by Damian Thompson of Holy Smoke fame for Church “progressives”. I like the phrase better than progressive or liberal because it captures the authoritarian flavor of peoplel like McBrien, and the term “progressive” can mislead politically left-leaning traditional Catholics into thinking they should and must be on the progressive side. Sorry my lingo was too opaque!

  101. Norman says:

    The progs seem to like the term just fine, as well, so I think it is fair to use: It should be followed by one of those TM trademark symbols, I supppose.

  102. Ben D. says:

    I’m a little surprised that more people aren’t raising hell here about the “auricular confession” line. I think my head is about to explode. Please correct me if I’m wrong but I always thought that there is no normally valid form of confession other than auricular.

    Even in the extremely rare cases where general absolution is permitted, isn’t it the case that its validity depends on the individual penitent’s intention to confess the normal, that is, auricular way when possible? (assuming here of course that the penitent needs sacramental absolution at all)

    What on earth can it mean to complain about a priest “restoring auricular confession”? And in what Catholic parish would it need to be “restored” in the first place? Were individual confessions not heard in that parish from 1965 until the current pastor took office?

  103. Br Aloysius says:

    to Michael J – I will not give a direct quote because my memory is not good enough to risk misquoting by a word or two and you can imagine the deluge of vituperation to which I would be subjected by people who are not opposed to lying. Like those who say that they have read this document in a matter of a few minutes when it deals with a subject that requires careful reading. Your cursory perusals are obviously inadequate to find the substance of this scandalous document. I do not have my copy in my posession at the moment but you may be certain that I will do nothing else until I have recovered it and then you will get it with both barrels. I would bet a steak dinner at a good restaurant that you have not even read it because if you had, even cursorily, you would see the departure from the De Fide teaching of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. I think that many of you are basing your doubts on what you perceive to be horrendous unreality that could not possibly be true. If you have read it and are still unable to see the heresy it contains then you are either ignorant of the dogmas of the Church or you are not very bright. But even an imbecile could see the apostacy presented in this document. I give you my solemn promise that I will return with the appropriate substantiation. When I read it – not once only but several times because at the time I could not beleive that such a document could come out of the Vatican, I immediately shared it with others that I knew would want to see it. I will either get mine back or I will purchase another. But you will be hearing from me again and soon. I promise.

  104. Br Aloysius says:

    Jordanes – I never claimed that the document was infallible but coming from the Prefect of the Congregation of the Holy Office it is intended to familiarize the faithful with the current mind of the Church, therefore, a powerful document. You are mouthy and wordy [?!?] but you said nothing other than to present your personal opinion of me which doesn’t shed any light on the problem. But I assure you, you and I will join battle in the very near future. [I don’t think so.] My only regret is that it will not be face to face the way honest men offer insult when they feel compelled to. [Apparently my previous communication was unheeded.]

  105. Latekate says:

    Razor sharp analysis of the “progressive” POV of Fr. O’Brien. I love it when people actually READ and think about what is actually being said in these touchy feely leftist diatribes against tradition, orthodoxy, absolutes, etc.
    The attacks on you, Fr. Z. are also typical leftist “debate” tactics. You are mean, “mocking”, uncharitable, etc. I don’t see anyone refuting the points you have made. There is nothing sinful or uncharitable about pointing out untruths and intellectual dishonesty…in fact, it is a great compliment to pay such close attention to the words of another.

  106. Gabriel Austin says:

    Interstingly, Fr. McBrien’s CATHOLICISM which was roundly criticised by the NCCB has been re-issued with a preface by the former president of Notre Dame, Fr. Hesburgh. Talk about spitting in the eye of the bishops!

  107. Fr. James Weldon says:

    My parishioners tell me,
    “Father, can we put the communion rail back in the church?”
    “Father, you’re not going to let girls start serving are you?”
    “Father, I went to a meeting at the local protestant church and they debated for hours about everything. I like our church. You tell us what to do, and we get busy and accomplish something.”
    “Father, why on earth did the bishops move the Ascension to a Sunday. They must think we are lazy.”

  108. I am not Spartacus says:

    Why do you insist on mocking people? We get it – McBrien is a liberal. We get it – McBrien’s arguments are unsound. But mocking another person is simply uncharitable, and it makes your cause seem less valuable, and your intention becomes less efficacious

    I happen to love the new reality the Catholic Church has men like Fr. Z.

    One of the problems we Catholics in America have had is that we have had so few men, especially Priests and Bishops, courageous, bold,orthodox, masculine, and charitable enough, to publicly oppose the innumerable inanities of men like McBrien.

    For nearly four score years, men like McBrien have had free reign to poison the pellucid waters of Truth from which we all are supposed to draw strength, sustenance, and salvation.

    In my world, if some fool is peeing in the water supply, I don’t criticise my brother if he correctly identifies the polluter as a progressive prevaricator while in the process of identifying the man as a polluter. In my world, we all ought cooperate in opposing Priests who poison the Ecclesial Well.

    James. McBrien has been around a long time promoting his progressive Ecclesiological and Theological Projects and you have had ample opportunity to put pen to paper, or use a computer, to defend The Faith so I am sure you could post for us to read a sample of how, in the past, you have charitably and publicly opposed McBrien’s various errors.

  109. MarkF says:

    There is another great article on NCR’s website where you can glimpse the real story even through the fog of the radical writer’s agenda. They ran a story about Bishop Finn coming to Kansas City and the changes he instituted. You can google it and find it. The parts that stuck with me are where the writer claimed that that “rigid” bishop Finn went through their curriculum and kept saying (horror of horrors) that “this is not in the catechism.” Hmmmm. Why didn’t they TELL us what the bishop was complaining about? Maybe because what they were teaching really wasn’t in the catechsim? They complained that what he was doing violated the “history of the diocese,” i.e., was reinstituting solid Catholic doctrine at the expense of local dissent. The other part, and a big bone of contention was that the bishop overhauled their “award winning” lay education program, a program that cost the diocese over $5,000 PER PERSON to train and maintain! We all know how these awards work. Dissenters give awards to dissenters, and thereby anything they do is blessed.

    On a more serious note, there is a larger issue over what to do with the generations who were raised with poor catechesis and who will be uncomfortable with the restoration of the Church. I really don’t have a firm answer to this, but I suspect it will have to be worked out individually. But lets face it. Some people, the real radicals will scream the loudest and will walk away. We can’t do much about that. We can’t be afraid of that. But we also have to accept that some of the best and most Christian people out there have different tastes in music and liturgy than we do.

    One last ironic point. Ever notice that the dissenters always claim that the traditionalist are hung up on words and formulas, that the spirit is more important than getting the dry details of the Mass right? They portray traditionalists as being hide bound, controlling grouches who care more about precise, usually Latin words, and that they are free and humane. OK, watch what happens to them when you ask them to get the words of the Mass right. It’s funny how they stubbornly cling to their words (Creator, redeemer and spirit) for people who supposedly don’t put a lot of stock in dry formulas.

  110. MarkF says:

    Here’s my take on the idea that talking about personal sin is a bad thing. I assume that it started out before Vatican II and I’ll assume that as with many things, there really was a problem there that the Council tried to remedy. I assume from what little I know about the Church back in the 1950’s that there were many people who were leading decent and moral lives, who prayed the rosary and heard without complaint about the dangers of sin in their lives. But perhaps these people, though not outright sinners, were rather complacent or even blind to the poor in their cities and especially to the grave sin of segregation and racism in America. Perhaps it is true that the Church was filled with complacent people who went along with racism. I accept that there was a certain complacency and indifference to our social problems.

    Then after the council, something happened that equated the good things that the Church did – the rosary, an emphasis on personal holiness and personal sin, confession, the timeless liturgy – with that very complacency and indifference. Perhaps some people were wound all up in their own lives at the expense of the larger social problems. The reformers, who later I suspect changed into dissenters saw it as hypocrisy to constantly pray the rosary and go to Mass but to do nothing about racism and poverty in America. And I’ll grant them that point as far as it goes. But what is missed in this is that these people lead decent lives…they raised their kids in the faith, the stayed married, they loved God and his Church, they knew right from wrong.

    So, in the name of ending hypocrisy, the dissenters came in turned things upside down. This article shows how far that went. We’re told that to be concerned with our own holiness is hypocrisy because the real problem with the world lies elsewhere, global warming, corporate greed, those damn Republicans down the street, etc. Do you see where this leads? The faithful are now ENCOURAGED to hypocrites, all in the name of ending hypocrisy! We’re not to be concerned about OUR OWN sins but with the sins of others – those nasty companies who pollute, those nasty people who don’t think like we do, those nasty people who want Latin back in Church.

    There is hypocrisy all around us, but there is a difference. Perhaps some in the past and some traditionalists today are more concerned about their own life and their own sins than in the problems of the society around them. But at least with a sincere traditionalist, we’re open to the idea of personal repentance, personal responsibility and personal conversion. At least the traditionalist believe in marriage, believes in prayer, believes in simple decency.

    I really don’t mean to say that the more contemporary minded Catholics don’t love their kids and are total heathens. I really don’t believe that. But there is a strain in the Church as a whole, and there are many openly dissenting leaders out there who ignore personal holiness, prayer, and decent family life in name of social activism. And look at where we are! There is a trend out there that says that it’s wrong to tell the young not to have their life revolve around sex, wrong to believe (and worse to speak) that homosexual acts are sinful, wrong to teach that contraception is the quiet cause of the breakdown of society…all of these things are wrong and HYPOCRITICAL and the real problem of society is that our food is not locally grown, or is not grown in an economically renewable way, or is not grown using fair trade, or causes global warming.

    We’ve got a society at large that knows no sin except the sins of others. And all of this was done in the name of ending hypocrisy.

  111. Nan says:

    MarkF, Bishop Finn is in good company; my Archbishop has been called a spiritual bully.

  112. Jason says:

    Reading this article reminds me of a documentry that covered Pope Paul VI. They had a liberal ND “catholic” expert (for all I know it was the same guy from this article) who said Paul was a good pope who missed the chance to be great when he “banned” contraception.

    That was the argument. Because the pope didn’t give in to humans having sex like animals, he wasn’t a great pope. Strange way to define greatness. But I don’t know many people who consider ND to be a bastion of orthodoxy.

  113. Mark (VA) says:

    This article mentions that the pastor has “no parish council, nor any other consultative body”

    In my experience with progressive Catholics, eliminating these favorite tools of their control is truly playing hardball. When control slips out of their hands, we should turn a deaf ear to their wailing chorus.

    Sounds like this courageous pastor is willing to sacrifice for his flock, sheep and goats alike, and is very effective in taking them back to the Church and Christ.

  114. MarkF says:


    Take heart…the radical dissenters are on the run. Look at the Pew statistics…they don’t go to Mass, they just make a lot of noise. Their leaders, Fr. McBrien, Sr. Joan Chittister, etc. are all aging. Can you name a prominent dissenting priest or nun who is under sixty?

    So what’s my point? The time is now for us to evangelize. Sign up to teach CCD. Join the Legion of Mary to go door to door. Vatican II called for true lay empowerment, so lets do it, in line with the Church and filled with love. Blogging has its place but one on one evangelization is the spiritual gold mine.

    Look at the world around us and not at these dissenters. The world is hungering for the Gospel. People are fed up with materialism, with vulgar entertainment, with divorce and selfishness. People are longing for the quieter, simpler life that the Church provides. My experience with this is limited but I’ve learned that some of the worst sinners are the most ripe for conversion. They know what sin is and what it does. Of particular interest to me is to reach out to the homosexual community. Many of them are aching for release from this. Another group ripe for conversion are the masses of Catholic who left the Church for Protestant groups. The Protestants are often great Christians, but they don’t have the Eucharist or devotion to the Blessed Mother. There is a hunger there in them too.

    The odd thing is that the one group of people who have the hardest hearts are self-described “liberal” Christians.

  115. Gail F says:

    Norman: You wrote “Can some one please explain to me what Futurechurchers have against private confession? I’m asking honestly here. I’d really like to know.” Here’s the answer: They don’t think that most people really sin enough to need to confess it, that most people can get by with private prayer or the prayers for mercy at mass. To them, the real sins are big, societal sins like racism, slavery, not taking care of the environment, war, etc. This is why they are so concerned with “social justice,” or what they like to CALL “social justice.” I just finished a course for lay people that taught me this in great detail. Taught at a seminary. By a diocesan official. Everyday Catholics are all supposed to be Spirit-filled mirrors of Christ for each other. And if we would all just grasp this then the world would be transformed. If you know of anywhere this is true, then I would sure like to hear it.

  116. Valerio says:

    Please explain why must and should we give extensive comment about what a Church hater from a non-Catholic University, quoting, or so he says, further Church haters fron a probably fictitious scenario. And all this to be found in a virulently anti Catholic publication such as the National Catholic (sure) Reporter. Thank you for your reposte, but I really would not dignify the ranting of such people with a response.
    Let us rather pray for them.

  117. Rose says:

    McBrien must be an embarrassment even to Notre Dame.

  118. Lamantin says:

    reading the commenst has driven me to greater depths of despair for my country and my fellow “Roman Catholics”.

    WHy don’t they just leave and go protestant? The Episopalians need bodies, as they can’t hve children anymore.

    Pray for the Church…

  119. Lamantin says:

    I meant the comments on the McBrien’s article, not here…

  120. Old Bob says:

    Hi, everybody. I’m posting just to thank Fr. Z. for all his writings. For the record, I’m 65, learned Latin in choir and as an altar boy in grade school, had two years of Latin in high school, from which I graduated before Vatican II began. I think what Fr. Z. has written about Fr. McBrien and his ilk is right on target, because I saw all this begin when I was in college in the 1960’s. God bless Fr. Z. and all of you.

  121. Hans says:

    WHy don’t they just leave and go protestant?

    My impression, Lamantin, is that it’s a power thing. They want, consciously or unconsciously (I will try to be as fair as Fr. Z was), to increase their power. Remember, for instance, that most of the arguments for the ordination of women (at least the ones I heard) were on the basis of who has ‘power’ in the Church. It never helped to point out that the parish pastor might have a good deal of authority, but he can’t make anybody do anything, so in fact he has no ‘power’. Likewise with Bishops and the Pope. All they have is moral suasion.

    So if someone, consciously or unconsciously, is trying to increase his power, why wouldn’t he become Protestant, who are in the majority in the U.S.? Because they are splintered and, as you point out, those who would be amenable to them are shrinking. Catholics are the only religious group large enough and united enough to provide an adequate power base.

    Besides, some of them actually believe this stuff and think they are rescuing the Church from 1962 or so years of T/tradition.

  122. Sharon says:

    Pontifical Biblical Commission (1990?) bearing his endorsement and which is Titled “The Jewish People and Their Scriptures” in which it is declared that the Jewish people do not have to convert to the Catholic Faith in order to be saved. He, B XVI, also states that their continued wait for the coming of their non-christian messiah is reasonable.

    Br Aloysius, I think I have found the document you mentioned but I couldn’t find Jewish people do not have to convert to the Catholic Faith in order to be saved. or their [Jewish people] continued wait for the coming of their non-christian messiah is reasonable Could you please tell me where in the document these two comments can be found?

    I couldn’t find Cardinal Ratzinger’s endorsement on the document.

    Br Aloysius, you made the claim – now back it up by telling me where in the document I can find what you allege it says.

  123. ckdexterhaven says:

    This reminds me, Folks, if you have a priest at your parish who is trying to right the wrongs of the 60’s, then pray for him. I can only imagine the attacks that the devil comes up with to discourage these courageous men.

  124. Jordanes says:

    Sharon, Cardinal Ratzinger’s endorsement of the document is his writing and signing its preface. Everything else Br Aloysius claimed about the document has been shown to be false.

  125. jdaly says:

    McBrien’s article speaks for itself. He is publicly advocating mortal sin. I hope I’m not the only one email Bishop D’Arcy’s office. You can find his secretary’s email addresses here:

  126. M. G. Hysell says:

    Fr Z,

    You have not given McBrien the benedit of the doubt. I’m hardly a fan of his, and I especially disagree with his Christology.

    But for those of us who actually work in parishes and are exposed to chancery dealings, the plight his correspondent wrote about are real occurences where ordinary pastoral workers become the Girardian scapegoats of the Ottavianian cabal. [Puhleese] Your clique is rampant with meanness, cruelty, mocking, and un-Christian behaviour. [“clique”? You sound just like them. But when you intend to be this insulting, you lose your privilege of posting here. Bye.] I don’t like the progressivists any more than you do, but reducing the dialogue to actively creating polarity is not the way to go. St Paul, I would remind you, lumped fornication and drunkenness with the sins of rivalry and party spirit.

  127. Jeff Pinyan says:

    “If there are no parishes or other worshipping communities […] then one simply has to ‘take a vacation’ from the church”

    Is McBrien implicitly grouping Catholic parishes and non-Catholic “worshipping [sic] communities” into the same single “church [sic]”? It wouldn’t surprise me if he is. Then again, he could simply be adopting the modern lingo which prefers “Catholic faith community” over “parish”.

  128. Hans says:

    A parish is historically tied to a specific territory, so I suspect, Jeff, that he is referring to places like houses of religious orders or monasteries that have chapels open to the public but not formal territorial parishes. Many (most?) university Newman Centers are also not parishes, strictly speaking, for the same reason.

    Though you also could be correct.

  129. John says:

    i’m a progessive Catholic. when i tell people that they make assumptions that they shouldn’t, because that word has been hijacked. they immediately start talking about ‘change’. i’m talking about ‘progress’. i’m for the Church making progress in and against the world. that kind of progress simply means success. how can you move forward in your mission, if you change the mission? that’s the problem with the libs, they lost sight of the reason Jesus sent his disciples into the world. if we want to make headway in healing the division, we have to reclaim that label. we should all be progressives.

    it is not hard to understand the mcbriens of this world (and the less venimous allies.) VII had the purpose of making a comtempoary exposition of the faith, so that the modern world could be engaged in more modern terms. What went wrong? The modern world. seems to me that not many Catholics had ever really read any Church document before, and all of the sudden the council documents were in book form, flying into the hands of the ignorant masses. instead of saying,’wow, i didn’t know that about the Church,’ they said, ‘wow, this is new stuff.’ few are often able to admit ignorance. they read “reform” and said, ‘change, i’ll give you change.’ and change is what we got. hence, you have the mcbriens, who denied their ignorance so long ago, they can’t remember when things went so wrong. the Council Fathers forgot that sometimes you have to teach about learning.

    back when you used to get a free pack of matches when you bought a pack of cigarettes, i used to laugh when they put the warning on them “close cover before striking” (and put the striking strip on the back.) you think, ‘well, how stupid can people be?’ the problem with the match makers (people that make packs of matches) was that they didn’t realize that people stupid enough to burn down the house also don’t read the warnings. fact is, you just can’t save some people from themselves, or the people that live in the house with them. mcbrien et al. set fire to the Church long ago. stupid people…

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