QUAERITUR: Can we be godparents to the child of followers of the SSPX?

From a reader:

My husband and I have been asked to be Godparents to the son of friends of ours who are  members of a Pius X church. It is my understanding that the Society has not yet reached full communion with Rome. Does this prohibit us from accepting the role of Godparents?

This is a tough one.

On the one hand, you would be committing, at their invitation, to be involved with the religious formation of a child (especially should they die) raised at a chapel without manifest union with the Church’s legitimate pastors.  Do you want to participate in reinforcing any erroneous positions they might have?

On the other hand, Rome is clearly showing more favor toward the SSPX in recent times.  If Rome can be open and cooperative in big matters, perhaps in smaller matters we can have some flexibility.

On another hand, think about where the baptism would be registered.  Sure that is a book keeping issue, but it doesn’t mean nothing.

Yet another hand considered, I understand that there are some instances in which SSPX priests have had recourse to legitimate authority for faculties for certain things.  Again, if that is true, then perhaps some flexibility is possible in this matter.

From a wholly other hand, the lay followers of the SSPX haven’t (because they follow the SSPX) incurred any canonical penalties.  They might have incurred penalties for other reasons, but I doubt it.  And the issue of canonical penalties really would pertain to the sponsors/godparents, not the parents.

A different hand considered, it may be that this SSPX family isn’t “hardcore” and merely wants sound liturgy and doctrine without having a nutty about how Rome and the Pope have to convert, etc.

Various hands suggest I also wonder about the validity of the marriage of the couple who follow the SSPX.  Priests of the SSPX don’t have faculties to witness marriages, and so it can be argued that the marriages are not valid because of lack of proper form.  The 1983 CIC says in Can. 1108  §1. Only those marriages are valid which are contracted before the local ordinary, pastor, or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who assist, and before two witnesses according to the rules expressed in the following canons and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in cann. 144, 1112, §1, 1116, and 1127, §§1-2.  We don’t want to argue that the SSPXers aren’t Catholic and, therefore, they aren’t bound by Catholic form of marriage.   Unless we want to say they aren’t Catholic (we don’t) form pertains to them as well.  The couple – who probably wouldn’t be at fault here – might be well-advised, if they were married by an SSPX priest, to seek a sanatio in radice (retroactive convalidation) from the local diocese. [Lest anyone zealous to defend the SSPX at any cost think that this is an invitation to argue that SSPX marriages are valid, think again.  That is the stuff of a separate entry.]

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you will object. “You are being too picky!  After all, in some Novus Ordo parishes they do things so strange that the baptism might actually be invalid.  But you are picking on the SSPX.  Whose baptism is more likely to be following the books?”

I bet if we look at any of the materials the SSPX publishes, they will say that the role of the godparent is important and it incurs responsibilities.  It is a serious thing to accept.  Therefore, I think it is appropriate to be picky about this question.

In this case, and having consulted a canonist, I have to say….


… I can’t think of a canonical reason why you can’t be.

I can think of some prudential reasons why it would not be a good idea.

To have a definitive answer, write to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.

I hope we get this unity thing worked out soon.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. mgarstin says:

    Yeah, definitely a difficult situation, but that is sound advice on the matter for sure. I hope the Vatican does something soon too, they have left people in the dark on a lot of questions for decades now.

  2. LouiseA says:

    Instead of the tortuous reasoning process of “one the one hand, on the other hand, but on the other hand, and on yet another hand” , the status of the SSPX is actually beautifully simple for hundreds of thousands of people:

    “We are what you once were.
    We believe what you once believed.
    We worship as you once worshiped.
    If you were right then, we are right now.
    If we are wrong now, you were wrong then.”

    [Clever. But it is more complex than that.]

  3. James Joseph says:

    It would seem to me that a Catholic in communion with the Bishop of Rome can be a God-parent to any human being given the Fullness of Faith they partake in. This is only a gut inclination knowing that our sovereign duty as officers in the army of God is mission accomplishment and troop welfare (getting souls to attain the highest good and praying on their behalf)

  4. Geoffrey says:

    What a mess! I am surprised the Holy See never formally addressed the issue of lay members/followers of the SSPX. It did say that it was okay to attend their Masses out of devotion, as opposed to adhering to the schism (or irregularity, whatever you want to call it), but no other sacrament was mentioned.

    Is there any word on how the doctrinal discussions are going?

  5. Supertradmum says:

    The other problem, connected with this, would be when the child is old enough to receive the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Confession. As far as I know, none of the Confessions are valid in the SSPX, or at least unless they are under some strange agreement with the local ordinary, who alone has the power to allow the Sacrament of Penance to be conferred by a priest in his diocese. What would the god-parents do then? They would have to abstain from coming to any celebration, or avoid giving a card or gift for that Sacrament, which is not really a sacrament.

    I would defer, as we are not sure what the future may bring. Also, some SSPX communities with which I am familiar may not come into the Church, if invited. What then, for your god-child, who may be in that situation?

  6. cpaulitz says:

    Father, this is a good explanation.

    One thing that did trouble me was this: “Do you want to participate in reinforcing any erroneous positions they might have?”

    Now, if you were to substitute an “independent” chapel in place of SSPX, I would be more apt to agree with you. I’ve not only been to a chapel like that, but considered baptizing my child in one, pre-Summorum Pontificum, since there was no way I was going to settle for a new-rite baptism.

    Some, some independent chapels without a bishop over them do fall into grave error.

    However, I’d like to know more from you about what error the SSPX officially teaches, in your opinion, that these parents would be reinforcing? [That’s not the topic of this entry.]

  7. GregH says:

    I love the SSPX…I can’t wait until the Pope simply declares them in full union and the flood gates are opened for their vocations. Even now, they have 91 semanarians in the US which will grow astronomically if full union is achieved.

    Henry Edwards,

    I hope you are fervently praying for full union!!!

    Greg Hessel in Arlington Diocese

  8. momoften says:

    praying for resolution of the SSPX….the question may be though….as the parents asked someone who is clearly not SSPX, would they object to that child being raised in the true Catholic Church? If they didn’t would it be problem?

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    Greg: I hope you are fervently praying for full union!!!

    As some here in Tennessee might say . . . Why not jest git onto it ‘n gitr done?

  10. LaudemGloriae says:

    I have the utmost affection and respect for the SSPX, but … I could not accept the role of Godparent. If Vatican talks break down and if formal schism develops you would be in an impossible position. The SSPX controvery is a thing for wise and prayerful adults to discern for themselves and their families. I wouldn’t personally want to interfer in that particularly as it concerns a minor child.

    Here’s a conundrum … the SSPX recommends conditional Baptism (Penance, Eucharist, Confirmation, etc) for those who join their chapels. If there is doubt concerning the validity of sacaments outside of their community, how then would we know if the proposed Godparents from outside the community are themselves validly baptised in order to be Godparents?

  11. Jerry says:

    @LouiseA – The situation is only “beautifully simple” when over-simplifies it. The difference between then and now is that then was in union with the authority of the Church; now is in defiance of it.

  12. ttucker says:

    Well said, Jerry. Furthermore, I suspect the SSPX belives some things that never were taught by the Magisterium, although they have been taught by certain people within the Catholic Church. Example? One would be that adherents of other religions cannot obtain the bliss of Heaven.

  13. GregH says:

    Henry Edwards,

    Amen to that brother!

    Greg Hessel in Arlington Diocese

  14. LouiseA says:


    The authorities in the Church tried to enforce these rules for nearly 40 years:

    1) offering (or even learning) the TLM was not allowed. You had to get an “indult” to offer the TLM from 1970 until 1988!
    2) criticism of Vatican II was not allowed.

    If priests and faithful couldn’t abide by those 2 rules, then they were persecuted and accused of not being “in union”. The SSPX has maintained all along that the above 2 parameters defining “union” with the Church were incorrect.

    With the advent of the Motu Proprio, the first point (no TLM allowed) has finally been officially discarded. The second point (no criticism of Vat II allowed) is being discarded currently as the authorities in Rome are permitting the SSPX to present their criticisms of the Vat II documents.

    The definition of “in union” continues to evolve. The current definition seems to have morphed into this: to be in union you must profess that Vatican II is a “hermeneutic of continuity” with Tradition. Who’s to say that the authorities won’t also discard this latest definition in the next 5 or 10 years?

    Therefore it seems perfectly reasonable and correct and prudent for the SSPX to simply wait for the definition of “in union” to come full circle again. Truth doesn’t change. If it was true then, it must be true now.

    It really IS beautifully simple. [No. It isn’t.]

  15. tzard says:

    If they have asked you to be Godparents, they must have a high regard of your faith and the ability to teach that to their children. If the parents have that regard, knowing your position with regard to Rome, perhaps that is a reason enough that it would be OK to accept their invitation to be Godparents?

  16. Maria says:

    I can offer no advice but I will pray that Gods’ Will be done in whatever decision you take.

  17. JoAnna says:

    Louise – what, did the Vatican throw folks in jail for criticizing VII? Please. Given how many cafeteria Catholics ignore Church teaching and get off scot-free, I can’t see how you can make that claim in any seriousness.

  18. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    I think most of us on this site feel real sympathy for the SSPX, and that’s no sin. But you can’t be Catholic and not submit to the Pope, and you can’t submit to the Pope and disregard his laws and Councils. As far as I’m concerned, the SSPX are no more Catholic than are the Orthodox. And while their attachments to the old rites are inspiring, it’s not the rite that makes you Catholic. Go to their services in a spirit of ecumenism, but participating in their sacraments for any but a serious reason is a sin, and to agree to raise a child in their beliefs is an affront to the child.

    Personally, I hope that history will show Lefebvre to have been another Athanasius, but he may yet prove to be another Meletius of Lycopolis instead.

  19. LouiseA says:

    Where have you been? So many thousands of good priests and nuns have suffered “white martyrdom” for the past 40 years for trying to keep the Faith! How could you have missed this?

  20. LouiseA says:

    … and thousands of good faithful also.

  21. glvg says:

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the part about whether or not the parents’ marriage is valid. Even if it were determined later that the marriage was not valid (probably through no real fault of the couple, who certainly intended to be validly married), how should that be taken into account when considering the question of whether to be a godparent at the baptism of an infant? For example, if I were asked to be the godparent for an infant with a single (unmarried) mother, if I knew her circumstances, and she was a good Catholic (someone who may have made a mistake and repented, or, God forbid, a victim of violence), I would not hesitate to be a godparent. [That’s you. And you are very wonderful, I’m sure. But this is a factor that can be considered.]

  22. paulbailes says:

    Dear EoinOBolguidhir,

    When the Pope abuses his power and places souls at risk (eg claimed the TLM is suppressed when in fact it isn’t), then he shouldn’t be submitted to. And when your religious fraternity is similarly illegally suppressed (again at the risk of souls), then likewise.

    But, while you are submitting, you might care to check your “As far as I’m concerned, the SSPX are no more Catholic than are the Orthodox” with Benedict XVI’s take on the SSPX status as Catholic for sure. (Apologies that sounds snippy – I’m addressing a contradiction in what you write, nothing personal.)

    It’s crazy that the authorities continue to allow some suspicion of un-orthodoxy (small-‘o’) to hang over the head of the SSPX. The authorities made the trouble in the first place (see above for example), they have the power indeed responsibility to fix things.

    It really looks simple to me. Unless of course the authorities don’t want to admit their mistakes. (But kudos to Benedict XVI for admitting even if only implicitly that Paul VI’s suppression of the TLM was illicit.)

    God bless

  23. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    You know, there is a bright side to this, being the godparents …. If they are careful in how they interact with the child, they may be indirectly exposing the child to the True Church that isn’t schismatic, and perhaps when the child grows older, the Holy Spirit will giude the child’s mind and thoughts to question his/her surroundings from the godparents’ influence and natural growing up … and maybe seek to “go home” to the RCC.

  24. JARay says:

    On the feast of The Holy Innocents I attended (and sang) the Mass sung by Bishop Fellay. After the Mass he gave a talk (lasting about two hours) on the state of things between the SSPX and the Vatican. It was very, very interesting. He gave several instances of the shifting of conditions which were proposed to him for acceptance. He would be phoned at 11-30 pm by Cardinal Castrillon with yet another change in conditions for him to accept. Basically there is a lack of trust in the situation and Bishop Fellay gave his reasons for this lack of trust. He instanced an appeal by the Abbot of the only Trappist monastery in Germany for permission to go back to their old rule. The Pope gave his permission but six months later that Abbot had to get a friend to approach the Pope and ask him when he would make a decision on his request. The Pope immediately said that he had given his permission six months earlier but that permission was never passed on to the Abbot by the Holy Office. So who’s running the show? Who can be trusted?
    Bishop Fellay said that Cardinal Ratzinger had more power when he was just a Cardinal, than he has now that he is Benedict XVI.
    The bishop rounded off his talk by saying that the future is actually bright. He said that the Faith will be taught more ‘faithfully’ in say ten years time, than it is proclaimed right now. The young priests coming forward are much more inclined towards the traditions of the Church than the older generations of liberal “Spirit of Vatican II” types who are now approaching retirement.

  25. cpaulitz says:

    I’m curious to know how some comments, mostly those that are “too traditional,” get great push back here but then those, which are purely moronic, like “As far as I’m concerned, the SSPX are no more Catholic than are the Orthodox,” go untouched?

    I hope silence on all of our parts doesn’t mean acceptance.

  26. michelelyl says:

    Here’s my take- my NO parish requires the following for the Holy Sacrament of Baptism: at least one parent of the child a validly baptized Catholic who desires the Sacrament for the child and will promise to raise the child as a Catholic; at least one Godparent a practical Catholic, validly Baptized, Confirmed and has received Holy Communion; the Godparent, if married, in a valid marriage; and both parent and Godparent must attend either a Baptism preparation class to instruct them on the duties of a Catholic Parent/Godparent, or presentation of a letter from their Catholic Pastor stating that they are eligible to be a Godparent and in good standing with the Church. We do require proof such as Baptism Certificates and Marriage Certificates, or a letter from the Pastor stating that they are married according to the form valid at the time of their marriage.
    Why would a SSPX Church require anything less? I am not sure these folks could meet the qualifications in good conscience. It’s not like a Lutheran Baptism, where Godparents only need be a ‘Christian’.

  27. On the one hand, you would be committing, at their invitation, to be involved with the religious formation of a child (especially should they die) raised at a chapel without manifest union with the Church’s legitimate pastors. Do you want to participate in reinforcing any erroneous positions they might have?

    This is the main point for me. I couldn’t commit to assuming a responsibility that automatically puts me at odds with the parents, and being a godparent would be a serious responsibility to me, not just a honorary designation. I would politely and respectfully decline, trying hard to avoid a heated discussion in the process. It just doesn’t make sense; I’d also be puzzled why SSPX followers would even consider a non-SSPX godparent because of the inherent contradiction in the whole idea.

  28. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    paulbailes: First, I am a big, big supporter of the SSPX, and I go as far in supporting them as obedience to the Magisterium allows.

    The Pope can licitly suppress the TLM any time he wants. It’s no different than the Quinonez Breviary. He can say whatever he wants to say about it, do whatever he wants to do about, and change anything he wants to change about it any time he wants to. It’s the ROMAN rite. He is the BISHOP OF ROME. To deny his ability to do this is say that there is no such thing as the papacy; then there is only the papacy as allowed by paulbailes. Next, the SSPX wasn’t illegally suppressed; it was a diocesan pious association on an experimental basis, whose permission to continue was time limited and not renewed by its ordinary. Finally, I said, “as far as I’m concerned, etc.” It was my opinion, and you haven’t demonstrated anything that would make me change it.

    I completely agree that they got the shaft royally while progressivist scuz were rewarded for corrupting the faith. That doesn’t change their disobedience. I love to hear Fellay speak; I hope the whole Church listens to him. I pray for him. But his deciding whether or not he will accept the Church’s terms is like a sinner deciding whether or not he will accept God’s terms. He can arrogate to himself the power to accept or decline the gracious offer as he likes, but he’s really only deciding if he’ll be damned or not. And as far as their faux obedience to the Pope goes, you can’t pick and choose councils. Either ecumenical councils are all fallible or all infallible. Either the Pope is fallible on matters of faith when speaking ex cathedra, or he is not.

    Perhaps you missed the excellent recent post on the Tornielli’s interview with Canizares: “Who gives the right to this or that traditionalist to say: “this is Tradition, Rome is getting it wrong”? Who gives them the authority to decide? Traditionalism, is not the Magisterium. Who gives the the right to throw Vatican II into the sea, sometimes with derision and distain? Perhaps recourse to the authority of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (may he rest in peace), presented now in a hagiographical way, as a holy father of the Church?”

  29. glvg says:

    [That’s you. And you are very wonderful, I’m sure. But this is a factor that can be considered.]

    Oh, for goodness sake, Father, I never said I think that I am “very wonderful.” I asked a question because I wanted to understand. What does the possible invalidity of the parents’ marriage have to do with the baptism of a child?

  30. Geoffrey says:

    “When the Pope abuses his power and places souls at risk (eg claimed the TLM is suppressed when in fact it isn’t), then he shouldn’t be submitted to.”

    Ah, how many heretics and schismatics have said something similar in regards to other Church doctrine’s and/or disciplines over the centuries (and recent decades)? “Where Peter is, there is the Church.”

    And I don’t recall any papal document saying that what is now called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite was specifically suppressed. It sort of just “happened”. Venerable Pope John Paul the Great himself ordered a commission of cardinals to investigate this very question.

  31. paulbailes says:

    Dear EoinOBolguidhir, thanks for kind reply.

    Re “The Pope can licitly suppress the TLM any time he wants” … maybe … but Benedict XVI in SP pointed out that that TLM was not in fact suppressed in 1969; claims, directives and actions to the contrary (ie that the TLM had been suppressed) thereby being revealed as illicit (as the SSPX has continually maintained) and thus worthy of disobedience.

    Again re your “as far as I’m concerned, etc.” (ie that the SSPX are just like the orthodox), that’s clearly not the view of the Vatican (as well-documented here in WDTPRS).

    Re “you can’t pick and choose councils” … but Vatican II forces us to, with its prima facie contradiction of earlier teaching of the Church (which is why the Vatican and the SSPX are currently in discussion)

    Re Bp. Fellay’s “deciding whether or not he will accept the Church’s terms is like a sinner deciding whether or not he will accept God’s terms”, I wouldn’t put the Almighty on the same level as the bureaucrats who’ve (as we evidently agree, at least collectively) mistreated the SSPX over the years.

    Re the suppression of the SSPX, I beg to differ with you. The bishop of Fribourg acted to suppress the SSPX; Abp. Lefebvre duly submitted an appeal but it wasn’t even heard! Is that legal?

    Finally, I’m glad that you are a “big, big supporter of the SSPX”, but forgive me – you seem to be a very critical, even hostile, supporter.


  32. JARay says:

    There is much that I could add to what I posted above but I will try to be brief.
    There is not one single doctrine of the Church which the SSPX do not subscribe to. They are faithfully Catholic, they support the Pope, they offered him bouquets of thousands of rosaries. Vatican II did not make any new doctrines, it reinforced some of the previous ones but there was nothing new. It was always intended to be simply a pastoral Council. John XXIII publicly declared that that was his aim, so to talk about the infallible declarations of Vatican II is a nonsense because there weren’t any except those that previous Councils had declared and the SSPX subscribe to all of those.
    The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter was shafted by the bishops of France and Bishop Fellay is not going to allow any at the Vatican to do the same to the SSPX. There are numbers there who are trying to do just that.
    At a gathering of young priests in Italy arranged by the SSPX they were asked just what these young priests were looking for from the SSPX and the reply was astounding. They were looking for a sound exposition of the doctrines of the Church! Several at the Council saw it as a hermeneutic of rupture, a new beginning. But now, what is spoken of is a hermeneutic of continuity. It must be seen in the light of the continuity of tradition! So is it a rupture or a continuity? It cannot be both because they are contradictory.

  33. Sixupman says:

    Pray for the souls of the likes of Fr. Oswald Baker RIP, persecuted by their bishops (UK) because they sought to adhere to the vows they took at the time of ordination – but stuck in the cleft stick of Obedience to their superiors. Not the Pope, because the local ordinaries adopted manifest changes in advance of fait a accomplis acceptance of such changes post-events.

    The UK hierarchies ignore the BXVI with the concealment, from the laity, of papal documents. Certainly actual experience with the Scottish hierarchy of their teatment of Traditional orders, does not engender trust. +Fellay’s curent problem is the possibility of a de jure split within SSPX with the +Williamson faction, [Since neither Bp. Fellay or Williamson are bishops of sees, they do not have the use of the “+” with their names.]
    who appears not to have the best interests of The Society at heart, but pleads silver-tongued innocence. It is also a fact that splits from Rome inevitably end with further fragmentation – that is historical fact.

    Regarding the baptism issue, the one problem which could arise is if some modernist nutter parish priest refused to acknowledge it as valid. [I can well imagine this. On the other hand, yesterday I saw literature which suggested that if people had their children baptized with the newer rites, they should go to a traditionalist priest privately and repeat the ceremony in the older rite, excluding only the baptism with water.]
    Yet the same cheeky chap will tell me to go to the local CofE in lieu of obligation of Sunday and Holyday Obligations. I find arguments concerning the faculties, properly attested, of SSPX clergy facile – that is in the light of that we the pew fodder face every day in their diocesan churches, much of which certainly aint Catholicism, confirmed by Msgr. Perle, [Perl]
    and, such as the “Gay Masses” enacted, I eschew the term Celebrated in such respect, in London.

    The hierachies are agin SSPX and the other Orders on the psychological basis that such had the courage to adhere to the Magisterium, whilst they sold their heritage for a mess of potage!

  34. surgedomine says:

    It is fascinating the amount of comments generated when Fr. Z mentions the SSPX.

  35. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    JARay: “The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter was shafted by the bishops of France…” Please expound. [NO! Please DON’T, since that isn’t helpful for this discussion.]

  36. surge: It is fascinating the amount of comments generated when Fr. Z mentions the SSPX.

    Most of them not particularly relevant to the topic.

  37. catholicmidwest says:

    JoAnna, you said, “what, did the Vatican throw folks in jail for criticizing VII?”
    Are you kidding? Not civil jail, but white martyrdom for decades. Where have you been?

    I’m not SSPX. I’m not even particularly an iron-clad Trad. I attend regular parish liturgies. BUT…….

    It is a fact that you can contracept, never go to confession, always get in the Holy Communion line, utter blatant lies about the Church in the pages of the newspaper, even teach bold-faced lies about her teachings in her very buildings, BUT you cannot question Vatican II unless you want to be treated like a pariah. It is also guaranteed that every time an important issue comes up, you will be subjected to a diatribe based on Vatican II–never any other ecumenical councils, only Vatican II.

    Anybody who enters the Church by conversion learns this really, really, really fast. The treatment you will receive if you don’t learn this is not at all good. And for converts, it’s sometimes a case of just keeping your mouth shut and suffering through the RCIA and all the rest of it to get in. Once you’re in, you can’t always say what you think, but you can believe it. You can believe what the Church has always taught and they can’t stop you.

    Back to the topic. I’d say that based on the fact that even a layperson can baptise in extremis, a N.O. baptism is adequate if the church says it is. Even better at a traditional Catholic parish. I’m not sure I’d affiliate a child formally with some SSPX parishes in case they really bolt later as some come back toward acceptance, which I believe is going to happen eventually. It’s just too much uncertainty for a little kid. You have to think of the child.

  38. irishgirl says:

    I keep praying that the talks between Rome and the SSPX will bear fruit-the fruit of reconciliation.
    That’s all I can do.

  39. pfreddys says:

    You make an side-remark about the “bookeeping” of the baptism. I have known many people who were baptised and/or confirmed in an independent chapel who when it came time for them to get married in a regular parish setting went through absolute nightmares of documentation and interrogation about those sacraments. It is something to consider for the future.

  40. JoAnna says:

    CatholicMidwest, I am a convert. I’ve never experienced anything like you describe.

    There’s also a large difference between criticizing Vatican II and denying the validity of Vatican II. I have a feeling that most SSPXers or Trads who felt discriminated against did the latter as opposed to the former.

  41. catholicmidwest says:

    I have seen & heard it, repeatedly, in print, verbally and even in homilies. You don’t need to deny the validity of Vatican II to be clubbed over the head with it.

  42. catholicmidwest says:

    I’m fairly well-read and have many protestant clergy in my family, as well as a broad background of religious experience, so I wasn’t naive about religious questions as I approached the Catholic Church. I also attended Catholic school as a child before I was ever Catholic, so I understood what I was doing and what was at stake as I approached her.

    Nevertheless, it didn’t take me long to realize that, even though I needed to be Catholic because I believed and therefore had a responsibility, RCIA was a wasteland and not representative of the historical and lived experience of Catholicism upon which I was about to embark. I endured RCIA to get in. That’s the ridiculous and ugly truth of it. I had to lay low, keep my mouth shut and endure it. But I knew that I could be fully Catholic as soon as I was in and no dissident could stop me. I was right and here I am more than 25 years later. I’ve learned a lot in that 25 years, and one of the things I learned very, very quickly was to talk about Vatican II as little as possible or bear the consequences. Catholics are still “shocky” on that topic more than 45 years later. You can still get the “deer in the headlights-anger/confusion- flash” look from a sizable number of Catholics after all this time. No matter what Vatican II was from a theoretical, pastoral or theological point of view, it & the events surrounding it were institutional traumas of the first order as well. Get some old period books (1960-1980) and peruse them, if you want a shock or a laugh, depending on your point of view. They can be pretty entertaining if you can take that sort of thing and really want to know what happened.

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