NCR has another little nutty

Poor thingsWould they like some cheese with that whine?

The hermeneutic of dysfunction
Mar. 05, 2010
An NCR Editorial

It doesn’t take an expert church observer to understand that those who want to diminish the effect of the Second Vatican Council [They say this only because things are no longer going their way.] have come upon an easy sound-bite solution: [Patronizing.] Put Catholics in one of two “hermeneutics” boxes. Under that scheme, Catholics embody either the hermeneutic of discontinuity, applied to those who believe significant change occurred at the council, or the hermeneutic of continuity, those who hold that the council was merely an affirmation of what went before, but dressed up for the 20th century.  [The editor of NCR is blatantly attacking Pope Benedict XVI.  Note that the editor who wrote this is the one who is simplistic.  He is the one putting people into the tidy boxes.]

It’s a “you’re for us or against us” strategy of dealing with the complexities and messiness of church reform. While a quick way to tidy the boundaries and square the edges, the strategy does a disservice to serious consideration of the council and it masks deeper problems within the community.  [And yet just the other day John Allen published an interview with Msgr. Marini in which it was established that Pope Benedict isn’t imposing anything.  Instead, he is proposing.  What bothers this dissident is that people are turning to what Pope Benedict is offering and rejecting the old liberal narrative.]

There’s simply been too much reform, too much theology advanced, too much demographic change, too much practice that’s worlds different from 45 years ago to suddenly claim that little has actually changed. [That is a shot at Msgr. Marini.  But the dissident editor has chosen to misread what Msgr. Marini said.]

[Now watch this!  Now it is the bishops turn!] Yet this is precisely what some bishops are attempting [But do not worry, Komrades!  They will fail in their attempt to undermine the will of the people!] to do by setting up unrealistically rigid divisions as a way to simplify the discussion, and in the process, reassert their authority. [Imagine the temerity of the bishops!  Reassert authority!  No.. no…  liberal dissidents run things around here.] It is a convenient tactic for bishops [And anyone who uses "tactics" is baaaad.] who find themselves overseeing a troubled church from an episcopal vantage point from which credibility and authority have been steadily draining in recent decades.  [You see?  Bishops are unworthy of out support!]

Gaining control over the liturgy and attempting to send the faithful on a forced march back to some ill-defined simpler and purer period of the past is for some a way to combat the twin ills of modernity and secularization, which they blame for much of Catholicism’s contemporary troubles.  [Oh how stupid and unenlightened those people are.  Only liberals are sophisticated and nuanced.  But "forced march"?  PUHLEEZE!  What about the Baton Death March liberals sent the faithful on when they imposed an artificially constructed liturgy on a faithful who never asked for it?]

While bishops’ suspicions of the wider culture [Sounds like something a modernist would say.] certainly carry weight, [What a concession…. "Oh… what was that?  Did the bishop say something?"] placing all the blame on outside forces misses what many priests and laypeople assess as a more pressing matter inside the Catholic community. [This is just a little slight of hand, folks. Watch where this goes.] One might label it the hermeneutic of dysfunction, [Ooooo!] an analysis that would center on a leadership layer in the Catholic church that keeps unraveling but refuses to see itself as any part of the problem[How predictable.  It gets better…] The sex abuse crisis, now spreading through Ireland and Germany, is the most obvious symptom of the deeper problems of the hierarchical culture. [There shouldn’t be a strong hierarchy in the Church.  See?  All the problems would go away if only we had a weak hierarchy.  If only we were… ANGLICANS!] It is a culture in desperate need of introspection and renewal.  [So this is the default position for liberals.   They trot the sex thing out when bishops do something they don’t like.  When the bishops come out with something about solar panels or whales or immigration reform, they don’t mention the sex abuse thing.]

[And if you doubted that this was an attack on Pope Benedict…] It is unlikely that Pope Benedict XVI, in using competing hermeneutics as a way to explain what he saw as a problem in implementing the council, intended to reduce the entire council experience and its aftermath into two all-inclusive and opposed choices.  [I suppose they can claim they are not attacking the Pope by saying "Well… it’s not the Pope himself, you see.  It’s his groupies who are too unnuanced to understand that we should give some weight his model, but – in the final analysis – not let it make must difference.]

Dividing Catholics into competing camps and trying to short-circuit the reforms of Vatican II [Msgr. Marini was right.  The person who wrote this doesn’t understand Vatican II.] deflect attention from the troubles of the hierarchical culture. [So, it is all about those in authority deflecting attention from themselves?  B as in B.  S as in S.] But the deeper problems of accountability and transparency won’t disappear.  [No one talks about accountability when the bishops are trying to raise money for Haiti.  Do they talk about transparency with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development?]


Sweet dreams, NCR.

You are going dowwwwwwn.

I hope my friend John Allen has been looking for another publication.  He is too good to stick with these people.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  1. SonofMonica says:

    NCR and its “editorials” are a joke. You can almost do a mad lib with the liberal diatribes that come out of that “Catholic” news source. I don’t even visit the site anymore. I always come away shaking my head at the lack of historical knowledge and the lack of critical thinking skills of its columnists.

  2. The Egyptian says:

    As the biological solution slowly takes it course they go screaming to their end, may God have mercy on them for they know not what they do.

  3. jasoncpetty says:

    Looks like someone had a whaaburger with a side of cries for dinner.

  4. edwardo3 says:

    As a person who was born and grew up in the immediate aftermath of the council, I am growing ever so tired of these aging hippies and blatant heretics who have only ever wanted to make the Church over in their own image. To say that the bishops and others who come from a hermenutic of continuity approach blame outside forces for the problems in the church is total, complete, absolute B.S. The world is not the problem and it never has been, the problem is, and alwasy has been people in the Church abdicating and abusing their authority.

  5. jaykay says:

    The eternal solipsism of the spotless liberal mind! Pointing at the mote in the eye of the Hierarchy and ignoring their own entrenched authoritarian mindset viz: “my way or the highway”. Ever try to “dialogue” with with one of them? The opening gambit is usually an ill-concealed sneer followed by a ton of patronisation. Well all right, maybe not all of them, but that’s not remotely as close to a sweeping generalisation as what is employed in the NCR drivel above.

    But as Fr. Z points out, if this is the best they can do then they *are* in trouble as an intellectual force. Busted flush might be an appropriate expression, although in truth they never amounted to more than a pair of 2s in the first place

  6. Magpie says:

    ”Sweet dreams, NCR.

    You are going doooown.”

    Classic Fr Z!

  7. TNCath says:

    I am amazed at how, albeit ironically, history is repeating itself. In the wake of Vatican II, for years The Wanderer was criticized for being reactionary, unbending, and uncharitable. However, the shoe is now on the other foot. The NCR is now the voice of the reactionary, change-resistent forces of the Church. These aging reactionaries, who long for a self-defined liturgical exporession as trendy as the mullett, are about to complain themselves into irrelevance. Deo gratias!

  8. Luke says:

    The sex abuse crisis, now spreading through Ireland and Germany?? What? As though it’s a virus that only affects Catholic Priests–how foolish. But an important part of any subversive battle cry. It sounds like so many tin cups being run across the bars of a prison cell by restless prisoners. Little do they know that the prison is of their own making.

    The problem I see with progressives like this is that they are ignorant of Sacred Scripture. And therefore ignorant of Christ. What is difficult to grasp in the words, “I hand on to you what was handed on to me (kathoce paradidomee)” from 1 Cor 11:2.

  9. Brian Day says:

    This reminds me of the cliché, “Would you like some cheese with that whine?”

  10. LarryD says:

    To a simple faithful Catholic as myself, Matthew 25 seems to describe a sort of hermeneutic of continuity (the sheep) vs a hermeneutic of rupture (the goats). So if the NCR hates “neat little boxes”, perhaps they ought to take it up with Christ. Just sayin’…

  11. jaykay says:

    “The sex abuse crisis, *now spreading through* Ireland and Germany…”

    Shows how up-to-date they are. The actual crisis here in Ireland has been around and has been known and reported for years. They are confusing the reaction to the release of the latest, and unfortunately worst, in a series of reports. Their point that there was a cover-up and that it was a symptom of a malfunctioning hierarchical culture (as if this doesn’t exist in many other spheres of life) is valid enough. However one wonders whether they have made the necessary connection that the replacement of an authority system with huggy-wuggy hand-holding pain-feeling decentralised consensus would surely have enabled abusers to perpetrate even more crimes?

    And, erm, I know it’s impolite to ask but, ahem, wasn’t it also the case that abuses flourished equally in uber-liberal strongholds where presumably the baaaad ol’ “hierarchical culture” had been abandoned in favour of the latest model du jour?

  12. Desertfalcon says:

    That the climate has changed and Vatican II is no longer viewed by many of those at the tiller as something that anything can be read into is what causes their “nutty”. Watching them is like watching the worm trying to get off the hook. :)

  13. I was reading this the other day at the behest of NLM. But you are right on as usual Father. I do not like NCR for one bit…that’s why I read these blogs, L’Osservatore Romano and the other NCR.

    And Columbia…but that is a secret Knights of Columbus magazine. Don’t tell.

  14. Matthew in Vancouver says:

    Father, would you really want your fish wrapped in that newspaper? I’m not even sure the paper is good for that.

  15. medievalist says:

    “There’s simply been too much reform, too much theology advanced, too much demographic change, too much practice that’s worlds different from 45 years ago to suddenly claim that little has actually changed.”

    Compare to a bus heading off a cliff: “There’s simply been too many tire changes, too many engine inspections, too many different riders, too much new technology from 45 years ago to suddenly claim that little has actually changed.”

    On the contrary, we can claim that little has changed. The bus is still heading off the cliff despite its various makeovers. Facing the reality of the cliff we can, indeed, choose to turn the bus around and head back to the fork in the road from whence we took a wrong turn.

    Of course, funny how the “we’re too far along to change now” argument didn’t work in 1962 after nearly two millenia of successful reform, theology, demographic change, and practice, but we’re supposed to buy into that argument now.

  16. Magpie says:


    Father Brian Darcy is one of the leading dissident priests in Ireland. I think he must be a regular reader of the fishwrap NCR – coming out with the same rubbish – take a look at this tripe in the trashy newspaper he writes in each Sunday:


  17. Denis says:

    NCR’s editorials are so ineffable.

  18. TJerome says:

    I have a new slogan for NCR: ALWAYS FIGHTING THE LAST WAR!

    I can’t imagine they attract many new subscribers. Much of what they write about is so passe to younger Catholics.

  19. Fr Martin Fox says:

    I’ve posted several comments over there on two threads…this series is so dishonest, yet so transparent.

    It is actually very encouraging. They are up in arms; they are going to war against what they see happening–they did a five-day series…take that, you reform2 troublemakers!

    That crowd is so desperate to control the narrative, they realize they’re losing control of it, that’s the thing.

    And then the comments are absolutely priceless…sad too.

  20. TJerome says:

    Father Fox, amen. The same point could be made with respect to the “mainstream media” (also liberal). The more they know people are on to them, the crazier they react. I doubt NCR will be around much longer. Their base is rapidly approaching nursing home time. They can petition the bishop for an indult Mass using the current ICEL translations because they can claim they’re too old to change.

  21. lofstrr says:

    At what point, I wonder, does NCR finally cut to the chase and simply start redistributing Chick tracks?

  22. PeonyMoss says:

    Poor NCR indeed! I saw they had a booth at a Eucharistic Congress hosted by the Archdiocese of Washington with big stacks of free samples — and no takers. Nobody was even approaching the booth. They couldn’t even give their cutting-edge “voice of the people” mag away!

    Meanwhile, across the aisle, the nice man from Magnificat had a line of people waiting for their sample issue — he was opening box after box, each one emptied in two minutes.

  23. Two words: anathama. sit.

    Ok, maybe not – but when is someone with a miter on his head going to shoot these people down? Sure, they’re aging and dying, but they’re still causing trouble. I think it would save us some trouble if the bishops would revoke their permission to carry the title “Catholic”, which they certainly AREN’T. But, I suppose it would just give them one more thing to whine about.

    Parce nobis, Domine!

  24. Midwest St. Michael says:

    *Sweet dreams, NCR. You are going doooown.*

    This fits something Fr. Benedict Groeschel is wont to say about the looney left, Fr. Z.:

    “They are too busy re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic – without realizing that water is pouring into the port-holes.”

    Classics, both!

  25. TJerome says:

    PeonyMoss, I guess Catholics showed up at the Eucharistic Congress.

    Faithful Catholic, the bishop of Kansas City decades ago tried to strip them of the title Catholic but I believe some civil court ruled in the NCR’s favor. However, there was nothing that would have stopped the good bishop from excommunicating the NCR editorial board and staff.

  26. edwardo3 says:

    I’ve heard it and said it many times, “Liberalism is not only a sin, it is also a mental disorder.”

  27. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Fr. Z wrote:

    What about the Baton Death March liberals sent the faithful on when they imposed an artificially constructed liturgy on a faithful who never asked for it?

    Padre, I believe you meant to say the “Bataan Death March”.

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