A Michael Voris video, a WDTPRS POLL

I saw a filmette by Michael Voris related to the issue of eulogies and funerals and lack of adherence to Catholic teaching and scandal and the frustration of priests, etc.


Here is a little poll just to get a sense of whether or not you substantially agree with Voris or if you think he is out to lunch on this point.  NB: On this point.  I am not asking whether you like him or agree with him in general, but rather on the point he is actually making in his video.

Chose your best answer (anyone can vote) and then leave a comment in the combox (if you are registered here).

Is Vorris substantially right or wrong about this?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, POLLS and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. RichR says:

    When you take the extraordinary grace of final repentance and apply it universally, then it becomes ordinary and assumed. The result is a solemn canonization at the funeral if the deceased showed barely a hint of interest in reconciliation.

    The greatest of saints feared their own deaths. Are we any holier than they?

  2. cblanch says:

    Voris is dead on once again. I continue to pray while we move closer to the biological solution.

  3. 40 years or so ago, William F. Buckley, Jr. made a similar point about the scandal of priests and bishops sending confusing messages in regards to abortion:

    It is very difficult for a Catholic fundamentalist to go on about Murder, while his Cardinal is photographed speaking amiably to the leader of the Assembly that passed the abortion bill a few months before. How would it have appeared if, let us say, Cardinal Spellman of New York had been seen shaking hands and chatting amiably with Martin Bormann? The answer is that Cardinal Spellman would have avoided doing any such thing. And that Cardinal Cooke’s willingness to traffic with legislators from New York who voted for the abortion bill seems to suggest that New York Catholics must regard permissive abortion policies as something less than the kind of thing that inspires mutinous relations between the subject and the state.

  4. irishgirl says:

    Amen! Michael Voris hit the nail on the head, as he always does. I voted for Number 5 in the poll.
    Whenever I read the obits in my local paper, there are more and more mentions of ‘celebrations of life’.
    When I come to die, I don’t want a ‘celebration’ of my miserable life in this earthly exile; I want an honest-to-God Requeim Mass, as well as prayers so I can get out of Purgatory and into heaven.
    In other words, ‘Don’t canonize me at my funeral Mass-pray for me instead.’

  5. EWTN Rocks says:

    Miss Anita Moore, good point (and good quote). Confusing messages always make a difficult situation all the more confusing.

  6. contrarian says:

    I actually thought that Voris understated the problem. :)

    The good priest from the letter makes an interesting point. He says that the Vatican has all of these huge issues and controversies to deal with, that his own issue might ‘seem slight in comparison.’

    But it’s precisely these run-of-the-mill liturgical issues that need to be addressed, dare I say first and foremost. It is analogous to the Broken Windows crime-fighting strategy.

  7. James Joseph says:

    I listened to this fella yammer on for something like 6-straight-hours about the Faith. In that a setting I was blown away by total lack of pretentiousness. These snippets from the web don’t really do the guy justice. Rushing to the point, I can say that I have never heard a single person (except perhaps C.S. Lewis) in my entire life give a better understanding of the affliction to homosexuality by reconciling it with abandonment on the Cross. Either this man is crazy in love with other peoples souls or he’s a charlatan.

    Regarding love and funerals: There is nothing so loving as surrendering oneself to the ancient rites crafted by the love of the saints. The dilemma I see isn’t so much as what can we do condescend our liturgy as to what can we do to posit stifled hearts to become enamoured with prayer, the Sacrifice, and Hope.


  8. Patti Day says:

    My vote was among the 70+ percent who say Vortex was dead on. I feel like the church got this way because of my apathy. What can I do?

    Pray, yes I do. That puts it in God’s hands. Surely I could do something for my part.

  9. mzanghetti says:

    I copied the words from the comment above because I thought they said it perfectly:

    “When I come to die, I don’t want a ‘celebration’ of my miserable life in this earthly exile; I want an honest-to-God Requeim Mass, as well as prayers so I can get out of Purgatory and into heaven.”

    I don’t particularly like Michael Voris, I think he tends to overreact to alot of things, but he is right on about this!

  10. Joe in Canada says:

    I voted right on. It gets worse for the priest, esp. diocesan priests, when bishops send circular letters denouncing these abuses and telling the priests not to do them, yet the bishops do them publicly.

  11. ecs says:

    Michael Voris is dead on accurate. What has always amazed me about this abdication by Church leaders is that funerals should be a uniquie opportunity for teaching and evangelization as well as prayer and reflection. A reminder to all those in attendance who are still living that your time too will come. That mortality is a fact and heaven, hell and purgatory is a reality. The person in the coffin is already dead, I have never understood what the benefit is to anyone of turning the Requiem Mass into a eulogy or a “celebration” of the dead person’s life. Save the celebration for the gathering at the bar afterwards. The Mass is a time for prayer and reflection on the Truths of the faith. And to “celebrate” during Holy Mass a person’s life who was in a state of mortal public sin is indeed scandalous.

  12. Del says:

    I voted #4, “Pretty Close.”

    I live in a good diocese where our brave bishop recently nixed a local Catholic liberal politician from delivering a eulogy during her father’s funeral Mass. The secular newspaper attacked our bishop and his decision, of course.

    In this piece, I wish that Voris, instead of attacking ALL bishops for being weak, had shared some heroic examples of good bishops.

  13. KevinSymonds says:

    In the Rule of St. Benedict, Benedict frowns upon looking outside of the community to have needs met. Sad that priests feel they have to go to organizations like Real Catholic TV to have their needs met….


  14. Andy Milam says:

    On this issue, Michael Voris hits the nail on the head.

    Recently, I was MC to funeral of a prominent Democratic leader, in which former President Clinton attended. The Mass itself was very reverent and very orthodox. But the former President was allowed to get up and eulogize this politician. There were several other eulogies given (after Holy Communion), but nevertheless, it was inappropriate. The local news was in attendance and I suspect that “Slick Willy” was allowed to speak because of that, as well as the other politicians….

    There was only so much I could do, being the MC. I didn’t have the authority to override the pastor, although I did make it known to him (in a private setting) that I disagreed. That is my function as an MC as well….to offer counsel when necessary to the celebrant to keep him on track. I knew that I would not win the battle, but I also knew that saying something privately was appropriate. The pastor knows that there is at least one person in his parish who knows better and doesn’t have a problem telling him. I never have and I never will.

    But the story I related above speaks to what Voris was going on about…I personally think he is dead on.

  15. shane says:

    Yes! I have criticised Michael Vorris in the past but on this he is absolutely spot on!

  16. priests wife says:

    Faithful priests should realize that baptisms, weddings and funerals are filled with people who are ‘forced’ to be there— I say, take advantage of this! Be ‘pastoral,’ but use the opportunity to evangelize and teach

  17. tealady24 says:

    Well, there’s your problem, “high-ranking clergy and bishops.” These “leaders” of our Church are so imbued in their fluffy lifestyles, and mixing in with high-ranking politicians and celebrities, who would want to get real about one’s faith and really practice it as it should be! The Ted Kennedy funeral was a great example of kingly Catholic pomp and circumstance at its best; this man was openly in favor of abortion and gay rights, yet they might as well have declared his funeral a national holiday!
    As a life-long Catholic, I have had my ups and downs with the Church. There were years I didn’t go to mass, but most of my life has been lived within the faith. And that faith is something I have found ON MY OWN! That is what any thinking adult needs to do in these times; no one and no institution will really set you on the right path. Conversion is self-made. When you enter into that conversion, and the light truly goes on, and you see your faith for all it really is, it is a beautiful thing to behold! Too many people are content to be that cultural catholic; after all, isn’t it so important to be popular on facebook and twitter et. al, and how do we do that but by agreeing with all the issues of the day, whether they are endemic to our Catholic faith or not? It sounds good, it looks good, and everyone else is doing it, so it must be good!
    I like Michael Voris and his site and his audio clips; I think he’s right on with all the issues that face us as Catholics. Real practicing Catholics. That is not an easy lifestyle. But with good thinking like his, and like yours Fr. Z., we will get there.
    And with a little help from our friends, Jesus and his mother.

  18. Andrew says:

    I understand his point and I don’t disagree, but I don’t think it is useful or even fair to speak of a universal abdication of duty on the part of Bishops. There are many nominal catholics out there who need to be evangelized. The Church is often used by such folks as a public forum: a place available for public gatherings with a hint of religiosity. Priests who understand this might want to use such events as opportunities to confront these mobs and to frustrate them. Tell’m “let the dead bury their dead”. It will do them some good. Let the guy in tight pants with a golden ear ring and a ton of gel in his hair who smells like a prostitute figure out why Fr. X is “such a mean guy”.

  19. shane says:

    Miss Anita Moore, O.P., that passage you quote testifies to changing language. It’s hard to imagine anyone today using the term ‘Catholic fundamentalist’ in a positive sense.

  20. MarkH says:

    Public funerals of celebrities is a delicate issue pastorally. You cannot water down the faith and imply universal salvation but at the same time you have the opportunity to reach a lot of people who will never set foot in a church, and hard-hearted condemnation will not bring them any closer to Jesus. It’s not really about the deceased any more, but about those at the funeral: will they respond to the offer of salvation?

    At the parish level, the key is to work with the family from the beginning of the funeral arrangements. I try to communicate the three-part process: the Vigil, which is where the “celebration of life” eulogies are proper; the Mass of the Resurrection, which is only about the deceased and his being placed in the arms of Our Lord; the graveside service, where final farewells are made and our grief expressed. If you can make these distinctions among the rituals, you can keep the eulogies properly at the Vigil and graveside and reserve the Mass for its higher purpose. I find that bereaved families are grateful to receive gentle instruction in the funeral process and reach a deeper understanding of the faith – and most importantly, consolation – through the experience.

  21. LouiseA says:

    I chose “Pretty close – good job”. I found 3 flaws:

    1) He understated the horrible scandal of canonizing a deceased person who likely lost his/her soul. It harms souls immensely (destroys the sense of sin, and promotes indifferentism) when following the Commandments is totally irrelevant as long as the deceased was a “caring” person… such as Princess Diana and her compassion for land-mine victims. Ok, I know she wasn’t a Catholic, but if she was, I have no doubt that she would have been given a wonderful Catholic funeral and eulogized to high-heaven!

    2) He mentioned “bishops” as if ALL of them are part of the problem. I think he should have said “most bishops” because there ARE some good bishops who are trying to stop this eulogy business.

    3) I hope that the “Fr. Michael” is not the priest’s real name… if not, the poor priest will be retaliated against.

  22. benedetta says:

    Miss Anita Moore, OP that is an interesting quote. If one thinks of the model of nonviolent resistance in the face of evil and the examples of Martin Luther King or Gandhi, or if one considers someone such as Bonhoeffer, or the various priests and religious condemned whether to death camp or gulag, one could see that it would be scandalous, in a completely demoralizing sense, to witness a leader exhorting the faithful to resist and sacrifice willing to gladhand those who hold the keys to the chains of repression. Maybe our leaders in fact don’t immediately need the communion and the Eucharist, but first the confession and the reconciliation if they so desire to still partake of the sacraments of the Church, while pushing more and more the death of total innocents in the process.

    It’s also a very discouraging situation when our own priests, Bishops, Catholic leaders distract us with platitudes about the deceased’s life in lieu of prayer for the dead. Do they not believe in prayer, itself, about which a great portion of the catechism is devoted? It is so basic. If it wasn’t for the prayers of so many who knows what harm could come. If it weren’t for the prayers of many we wouldn’t be in such good shape such as we are. If it weren’t for the prayers of many I am not sure that the miracles would appear on their own so frequently. If we don’t believe in the point of the prayers at all or the sacraments, in grace, then skip the funeral Mass and just have a wake with a blessing at the burial….We all have many opportunities to get together and say good things about the deceased. But less so, organized opportunities to pray for the soul of the departed, and for our own.

  23. excruxspes says:

    It seems that may unfortunate pastoral decisions are made in the name of “being pastoral,” an over-accommodating reaction that allows for cheap grace for the hoped for payoff of planting a seed of conversion, or at least good PR. Of course, this payoff does not occur, and one is left telling what is essentially a lie for nothing, a possibly creating public scandal in the process. Instead, “being pastoral” needs to be seen and proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed with good judgment, charity and tact.

  24. To all concerned: As one who was copied on the original email, I can assure that “Fr. Michael” is not the priest’s real name.

  25. Mundabor says:

    I agree with every word.

    A clergyman who has spoken openly about this problem (besides, obviously, the author of this blog) is Monsignor Charles Pope on his own blog. I have written about him here: http://mundabor.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/the-monsignor-with-no-uncertain-trumpet/

    But these are rather the exceptions. The prevalent attitude seem to be to “celebrate” a salvation given – in purest Protestant fashion – for granted.


  26. MissOH says:

    Unfortunately, as long as there is this persistance that a funeral is a celebration of life, I think it will be too rare that at a funeral of note the congregation is reminded, in a pastoral way, of the last 4 things in any fashion. I have let people know, and I need to put it in writing, that when I die I want an EF funeral. I KNOW I need and will need prayers!

  27. colospgs says:

    I voted for number 1. I’m not so sure, Father Z, that I agree with Michael Voris on this point as much as I empathize with Father Michael on this point. It seems to me that Voris merely read the email, felt bad for the poor priest, and laid the blame on those above the priest. If you’re asking me if Voris should not have blamed the bishops for this situation, then I am left wondering “who, then?”

  28. Fr. Basil says:

    The Funeral Mass is a chance to plead for the soul of the deceased. It is NOT a prize for a pious life, still less is it a canonization.

    Therefore, it should not be treated like one.

    And who needs the prayers of the Church worse than one who flouted her teachings?

    Eulogies and celebrations of the deceased’s life should be reserved for the wake, mercy meal, or other occasions, not at the liturgical rites themselves.

  29. Jim says:

    Those percentages I see on the poll (90+%) at 4 and 5 gives me hope. I am happy :-)

  30. AGA says:

    I can’t stand Voris. I just don’t like seeing the laity making public judgments or pronouncements on anything to do with the Church. In my humble opinion laity should not even be allowed to study theology or even canon law. Just my two cents.

  31. Shellynna says:

    I voted “sort of,” which is usually the case with Michael Voris. He takes what could be a good point if presented with respect and humility, and then alienates all but his personal Truly True Believers through over-generalization, ad hominem, and presenting himself and his apostolate as the Truly True Answer to the problems in the Church.

    As for the point itself, it depends on the bishop. I live in a diocese not particularly known for its orthodoxy, but in which the bishop took a lot of heat when he disallowed a funeral Mass for a prominent Catholic homosexual who lived a life of public, flagrant immorality. The bishop offered to personally preside at a private memorial Mass for the man’s family, but (so far as I know) did not back down, despite a great deal of pressure, from his decision to disallow the funeral Mass.

    Like a previous commenter said, Voris could have spotlighted the heroic actions of some bishops and called on others to “go and do likewise.” Instead, he chose to tar them all with the same blackening brush.

  32. mike cliffson says:

    Eulogies were ONCE understood as an American innovation.This IS NOT intended as fingerpointing at you cousins – rather, for a short while perhaps antiAmerican bigotry held up the anglosphere adoption of the practice.
    CCC, we checked,after the first unedifying eulogy we heard, says no eulogies , at about the time they were spreading in UK Catholiciscm.(Irish Oz Nz etc since when?
    That is, no eulogies, period.For neither the outwardly saintliest nor the most flagrantly sinful.Not even for Mum.
    CC C gives guidelines on funeral sermons, twere better a priest should say how that it to put into practice: I suspect legit, but possible unwise for simplerminded nearlapsed relatives attnding, was a close friend´’s mother’s funeral sermon given by the priest who had NOT known her younger but had given her the sacraments over her last six bedridden years of agony, he said, obiter dicta, amid a wholly orthodox sermon on The christian meaning and understanding of death, precisely that he HAD not known her whole life, wasNOT privy to all that was between her and the Almighty, BUT that the great sufferings she had borne at the end would surely cancel agreat deal or all of Purgatory s, should purgatory be what she had coming.Nuanced. Also, giving meaning to sufffering, there were people attending whose stated opinion is the quality of life argument of putting people out of their misery. I dunno.
    Anyhow, one thing WE can do , as a forebear of mine did , is leave instructions for OURSELVES: NO eulogy, no “tributes” , OUR favourite church music.
    Here I slightly part company from “Fr Michael” above. Some hymns etc people cjhoose for their own funerals ARE dreadful.Objectively. But if it HAS ever been sung in catholic church , why not?
    Another thing, a good thing, would be to have some nihil obstats for music, and revive an index of music never, ever,ever, to be employed not only at funerals, but at weddings, mass, oranything to be the least bit associated with the Church.One can dream.. Ive got a little list…..
    BTW, I confess, Id like” Jerusalem” sung at my funeral..
    People do want a bit of chit chattery and secular remebrance , it’s natural. REVIVE WAKES, irish style. Faithful departed, boxed and nailed down with the LID ON, AT HOME, in your front parlour, NOT a funeral home-who’s it home to?: prayers, rosaries , booze, speeches, dancing, singing, family quarrels, shouting matches, more booze, more prayers, weeping, keening THE LOT .
    BEFORE a good catholic funeral mass and interment. I feel in favour of massed pipe bands, meself, whatever.

  33. tzard says:

    I differ a bit – the problem of eulogies and the deformation from the purpose of a funeral is detrimental to the soul of the deceased primarily. Secondarily, it leads the faithful away from proper response to the death, as well as probably a proper ongoing attitude of sin and death in their own lives.

    Yet, the “letter” was more focused on famous people’s funerals and the scandal they cause. And the result of the difficulty the priest has in talking to his parishoners. I have no doubt that’s an issue and a difficulty, but is it the most important? I also take issue that the problem is primarily on the heads of bishops – I wonder why he doesn’t bring up that other fellow priests do things differently. The complaint might just as well be “Well, Father Jim let us do it at my uncle’s funeral, besides, this is what we want….”.

    “What’s the position of the Vatican?” Why, it’s “say the black and do the red” – what kind of question is that?

    As such, I wonder if the “letter” is really from a priest. It sounds more like a complaint from the laity, rather than one who actually experiences this issue. It could be, I just hear alarm bells in my head (or is it those pesky rocks rattling around?).

  34. Mrs. O says:

    Yes, I agreed he made the point that the problems in the dioceses lie with the Bishop. They are responsible for the clergy and what they do and don’t do.
    BUT, you can do something. In addition to praying for the priests and Bishop(s), write letters – and more letters – and more to the Holy See.
    And remembering you are accountable for yourself – once you have brought it to their attention they(Bishops) are the ones responsible for correcting it.

  35. Brooklyn says:

    AGA says:

    In my humble opinion laity should not even be allowed to study theology or even canon law.

    ???!!!! Wow, you really think the laity should be completely ignorant as to anything concerning Church law or spiritual matters? This was some sort of sarcasm, right? We were told by St. Paul to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:13). It’s pretty hard to do that if we live our lives in total ignorance of what is right and wrong. And with all the abuses that have occurred and are occurring in the Church, this is just like sending a soldier into war not only with no weapons to defend himself, but stark naked!

    I’m not able to watch this video because I’m at work and all videos are blocked from us. But I’ve watched Michael Voris enough to know that I have yet to disagree with anything I’ve heard him say. God bless this man for having the courage day after day to say the things that so desperately need to be said. Far too many priests push the notion that sin is not an issue and everyone is going to heaven. I long for the days when people actually cared about the souls of the deceased. I, too, am insisting on an EF Requiem Mass when I die, with the priest wearing black and everyone pleading on behalf of my poor soul. I know I’m going to need all the prayers I can get.

  36. lucy says:

    A few weeks back we had two funerals in one week within our little traditional community.

    The first was the husband of one of our parishioners who had died of cancer. They hadn’t registered at the parish where our traditional Mass is said, so they resorted to their home parish. The funeral was a celebration of life…….I left thinking he was already in heaven. Of course, I say that in jest. I asked my 13 year old homeschooled / Baltimore catechism trained daughter if she thought we ought to pray for his soul. She said, “Well, after listening at the Mass, I would think not, but being well catechised, of course I will.” So, this man’s extended family who probably rarely attends Mass at all now won’t even pray for his soul. What an incredible disservice to him.

    The second funeral that week was held at our parish where the traditional Mass is celebrated and half the time by FSSP priests. Our FSSP priest was asked to come and say this Mass for the second man who had died. It was such a different experience that I would not have known that we were attending a funeral. This priest laid it on the line and told the family we must not stop praying for this man until the Church herself proclaims him a saint. Only saints are known to be in Heaven.

    I worry for the soul of the priest who said the first Mass. He will be held accountable for his leading astray of so many Catholics.

    I’m with so many before me here who have said, “Give me a requiem Mass complete with requests for prayer for my soul.” And don’t forget to make your wishes known to your family.

  37. capebretoner says:

    I voted “Dead on”. I cannot remember attending one funeral in the past 20+ years that was not a canonization of the deceased. In some communities, a decade of the Rosary is prayed for the deceased at the funeral home prior to the Mass itself, which is nice, but in the end I don’t think people really understand why there is a funeral Mass in the first place anymore.

    Could that be why many are skipping the funeral Mass altogether in favour of a “celebration of life” at the funeral home? That seems common in this area lately, unfortunately.

  38. NoraLee9 says:

    Thank you Father for turning me on to Catholic TV. Heaven help us when we beg to differ with the PC police. I was sitting at breakfast in a diner Tuesday morning, reading the NY Daily News. I was quietly opining to my husband that maybe Dharun Rhavi, Tyler Clementi’s roommate, didn’t want a homosexual roommate, and that, kids being capable of extremely stupid things, did what he did. Furthermore, Clementi was cognoscent that he had been tapped in his room already once, and went back for another encounter anyway. The other fellow in the tape didn’t kill himself…. Obviously there was more going on in Clementi’s head. Another diner stood up, started screaming at me, and called me “uneducated.” I laughed it off, but hubby didn’t. He’s still mad at the guy.
    My point is that the PC police preach tolerance, but they don’t mean it. What they DO mean is tolerance for their tomfoolery. Heaven help you if you try to look at something from another point of view. I was not saying that what the Rhavi kid did was right. It wasn’t. Obviously these two needed new, more appropriate roommates, and certainly in a more alacritous fashion. But, on the other hand, parents aren’t sending their kids off to college to have unbridled sexual romps in the dorm rooms. I think acknowledgement needs to be made that there is plenty of blame to go around here. The whole thing is a tragedy, and sending the Rhavi kid to prison for 10 years isn’t going to bring Clementi back. And if you say this opinion too loud anywhere, you are likely to get your head handed to you. Probably the same thing with funerals. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

  39. robtbrown says:

    AGA says:

    I can’t stand Voris. I just don’t like seeing the laity making public judgments or pronouncements on anything to do with the Church. In my humble opinion laity should not even be allowed to study theology or even canon law. Just my two cents.

    Let’s see: We have a layman, who acc to you was not supposed to study theology–but did, pointing out the errors of priests and bishops, who were supposed to study theology–but apparently did not.

  40. AGA says:


    Don’t put words in my mouth, please. I don’t think the laity should be publicly preaching or passing judgment on Church matters. That’s far different than saying the laity should be ignorant. Just because you happen to like Vortis doesn’t make the concept of lay authority over Church matters fine and dandy. What about the guys you happen not to like? Are we just to tolerate the good along with the bad? The Church has much less authority to police the laity than It does the clergy. The Deposit of Faith belongs to the custody of the Church. Matters of Faith and Morals are under the sole jurisdiction of the Church. It’s a sin against Justice, it would seem to me, for some one to usurp that which by right belongs to someone else — in this case a lay theologian making public pronouncements on Faith and Morals, when public pronouncements having to do with the Deposit of Faith, by Divine Commandment, belong to the Church.

    Just as an aside, I really can’t stand the equating of theological education with growing in holiness or knowledge of spiritual matters, as you do in your first sentence. There’s very little evidence that education and holiness are related. Actually much more contrary evidence probably exists that a higher education, theological or otherwise, is as great a near occasion of sin against the virtue of Faith that one can endure.

    OK.. one more aside.. for every 1,000 lay dudes getting theological training how many can scrape a living for a family? How many are ultimately doing any good in a natural or even a supernatural sense for anybody? Get an MBA instead. Make some dough and support good and holy priests.

  41. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Contrarian, I agree. If the account of the pop star’s funeral is accurate, Mr. Voris was seriously understated.

  42. Brooklyn says:

    AGA – you wrote: In my humble opinion laity should not even be allowed to study theology or even canon law. If we cannot study something, that means we are going to be ignorant of it. Unless you believe we can somehow just breathe it in like we do air.

    Michael Voris merely expounds on Catholic orthodox teaching, and points out incidents that do not conform to it. If there were more priests like Father Z here, we wouldn’t have a need for someone like Voris. Unfortunately, too many priests don’t come anywhere close to preaching Catholic orthodoxy. I again repeat, thank God for Michael Voris.

    It is not matter of liking or not liking someone. This is about the salvation of souls. If people are not taught about heaven and hell, about sin, about the need for salvation, they are in danger of losing salvation. If priests are negligent in their duty to do this, they will be held responsible. I truly do fear for their souls.

    Not quite sure what you mean by “1,000 lay dudes getting theological training.” What has that got to do with supporting their families? And if Michael Voris is any indication of how much good they can do, then they seem to be doing a whole lot of good. There is nothing more important in this life than the salvation of souls.

  43. robtbrown says:


    As someone with various Pontifical degrees in theology and having taught theology in seminary (I was the only one there with a doctorate), I tend to think that theology should be a clerical discipline simply because it is, like the homily, a commentary on Scripture.

  44. ecs says:

    AGA –

    I am very happy that you do not run the institutional Church. What a tyrannical church that would be. I am also very happy that the Church has never been led so far astray throughout its 2,000 year history to make your views a matter of canon law. I guess St. Thomas More, among others, should have just shut up back in the day as well. I guess Dietrich Von Hildebrand, popularly known as the 20th century’s doctor of the Church, should have just shut up. The anaologies are countless so I will just stop there.

    Thank God for lay men and women like Michael Voris. There is much need for courageous and knowledgeable people of every walk of life to fight for the Church and fill the void left by the abdication of the clerics.

  45. Dave N. says:

    Pretty close; I think he overgeneralizes about bishops. I think it’s a sad state of affairs when priests write to Michael Voris expecting that he will help rectify this.

  46. AGA says:

    I also think women in general should not speak in public about anything other than baking or perhaps mending clothes. (Read something along those lines in St. Paul’s letter to Timothy) Just throwing that out there since I have a feeling, based on your prose and argumentation style, that I’m debating a woman, my dear, Brooklyn.

  47. Brad says:

    I’ve given explicit instructions in my will so that not only my pagan family but the Catholics (sigh…it’s come to that) involved in my funeral will not turn my requiem Mass into an egotistical disaster and missed opportunity. The purpose is to pray for me by begging God to have mercy despite my sins and imperfections. I will need that. That is the entire point and is a fitting end to a mortal life. The priest who wrote to Voris called such a funereal act of mercy by a dead person’s survivors a “slight” thing. He clearly doesn’t believe it to be so, but like all of us, is so under pressure to regard it as “slight” that he has internalized and actually repeats that judgment and the resulting adjective, which comes from the devil, I might add. The demon is always behind any attempt to come between a soul and his God i.e. funeral rites.

  48. Robin says:

    AGA said:

    “Just as an aside, I really can’t stand the equating of theological education with growing in holiness or knowledge of spiritual matters, as you do in your first sentence. There’s very little evidence that education and holiness are related. Actually much more contrary evidence probably exists that a higher education, theological or otherwise, is as great a near occasion of sin against the virtue of Faith that one can endure.

    OK.. one more aside.. for every 1,000 lay dudes getting theological training how many can scrape a living for a family? How many are ultimately doing any good in a natural or even a supernatural sense for anybody?”

    1. It’s anecdotal of course, but as a stay-at-home mom with young children I spent 15 years studying Sacred Scripture. For you to suggest that this did not aid in, or inspire growth in holiness is ludicrous.

    2. I am now a lay “dudette” pursuing my Masters in Theology while working in RCIA. The nerve! I would not be doing EITHER if I didn’t think that I am doing any “good in a natural or even supernatural sense for anybody.” You certainly don’t work in a parish if you’re only interested in “making some dough.” Gag.

    3. Would you please cite the …”much more contrary evidence (that) probably exists that a higher education, theological or otherwise, is as great a near occasion of sin against the virtue of Faith that one can endure?” A few studies please?

    4. Michael Voris is saying what the vast majority of men who you think are qualified to speak on these matters…aren’t.

  49. campusdan says:

    In my opinion I am very thankful that Voris is actually saying something about the bad leadership of bishops and Church leaders, for far too long many good Catholics have been silent on these matters. And frankly have been bullied into silence by many.

    My own personal story is one that has experienced these liberal dissenting “catholics” at their “best”. I converted to the Catholic Faith about 11 years ago and was very blessed by Our Lord and the intersession of the Blessed Virgin to have good faithful teachers and some priests that prepared me for the ideological warfare with these dissenters in the Church.

    After high school I decided to go to a Catholic University where I could study theater and as well grow in my Catholic Faith. But when I got to the “Catholic” University all I was meet with was de-habitized nuns and renegade priests and professors. I found myself in very hostile territory, so hostile that I was kicked out of the sacramental preparation courses because I was holding up the bible and catechism and telling the catechumens that these are the two most important books for them to use as Catholics.

    Afterwards I went on to Seminary for three years where I had to consistently dumb down my excitement for the Catholic Faith or else it could pop up as a “formation issue”, where I was too much zeal (i.e. for Marian devotion) could get you out of the seminary whereas homosexuality would be seen as a theological virtue.

    After taking time off of the Seminary I have been through a few church jobs and I have yet work for someone who is totally competent in their abilities to express the Church’s teachings, especially on the liturgy. I have actually just quit a job because I was teaching morality and the for the entire semester we only taught self-help psychology and no catechism and no Church teachings and I was told that if I wanted to keep my job I would have to present what they wanted and only that, since I was such a renegade wanting to teach the Faith.

    So I am quite pleased that Mr. Voris is calling them out and hope that more of us continue to speak the Truth with Charity and with proper obedience. God Save the Church!

  50. DisturbedMary says:

    My brother died in December. He had a “funeral Mass” that was so odd I didn’t even realize that Mass had begun. There were many eulogies from the audience mostly about his personality (he got mixed reviews but everyone agreed that he was loving and lovable). The priest celebrant thought it ironic that he was saying the funeral Mass because he and my brother did not get along. Nothing was said about eternal life or the importance of praying for my brother.

  51. AGA says:

    I’m sorry, ECS, did I miss something?

    What good exactly DID the 20th Century’s “doctor” Von Hildabrand do for the Church?

    I remember the 20th Century as kind of a mess in general and theologically speaking, bringing about the greatest apostasy in history, alongside the auto-demolition of the Church. Good work Dr. H!!

    Maybe if he used his God-given intellect to study a hard science, he could have at least cured cancer or something.

  52. The Astronomer says:

    AGA says:

    I can’t stand Voris. I just don’t like seeing the laity making public judgments or pronouncements on anything to do with the Church. In my humble opinion laity should not even be allowed to study theology or even canon law. Just my two cents.

    Hmmm…I wonder if this extends to laity commenting on clergy proven guilty of abuse. And regarding the comment about laity “not being allowed to study theology,” what do you propose to do to enforce an obviously ludicrous statement?

  53. Prof. Basto says:

    When I try to vote “no, that shoudn’t happen”, the a message box appears directing me to choose a valid answer.

  54. The Astronomer says:

    I think I have fallen prey to commenting on a blog troll. (No disrespect intended, Fr. Z) When someone posts the following statements, I think I’ve been had and shouldn’t have risen to the bait.

    AGA says:

    I also think women in general should not speak in public about anything other than baking or perhaps mending clothes. (Read something along those lines in St. Paul’s letter to Timothy) Just throwing that out there since I have a feeling, based on your prose and argumentation style, that I’m debating a woman, my dear, Brooklyn.

    as well as THIS little gem:
    What good exactly DID the 20th Century’s “doctor” Von Hildabrand do for the Church?

  55. AGA says:

    What’s so ludicrous about it?

    Why would we allow people to attend medical schools who will not become doctors? Why would we allow people to train in the military sciences without prior admission into the armed forces? Why would we allow people to train as jumbo jet pilots when they have no intention of becoming bona fide jumbo jet pilots? Oh yeah, we did allow that.. and lower Manhattan was destroyed because of it.

    Certain knowledge belongs to certain professions. They “own” the right to teach that knowledge. This is one of the elements that makes a something a bona fide profession. The profession owns the right to teach the knowledge. A profession owns the right to admit others to be taught the knowledge. A profession owns the right to allow or disallow others to practice the craft or employ the knowledge. How much more so does the Church have not only the right, but the duty, to safeguard it’s theology and it’s clerical profession? Much more so than doctors, lawyers, and military officers. Yet every Tom, Dick, Harry and Homeschooling Mom gets to line up for their own Theology degree.

  56. Jbuntin says:

    I agree with what Michale Voris says here.

    When I was in RCIA our Priest told us a joke about a man who wanted to have a Funeral Mass said for his dog. He asked the priest 3 times and was turned down, with the priest explaining to him that the Church does not say Mass for dogs. The man then gave the Church a donation of $10,ooo.oo. The priest then said..”Why didn’t you tell me your dog was Catholic!”

    This was funny at the time, and was ment to be; but since I have been in the Church, this has been proven to be true more times than not.
    I just try to remember the parable of the wheat and the chaff. I hope when my life is over I’m wheat.

  57. Brad says:

    Campusdan, hi.

    “…I had to consistently dumb down my excitement for the Catholic Faith or else it could pop up as a “formation issue”, where I was too much zeal (i.e. for Marian devotion)…”

    It’s amazing, though unsurprising, how overt (truly overt) devotion to the Immaculate Conception always provokes such nasty reactions from some quarters. She certainly is the canary in the coal mine. Ave, Maria!

  58. ecs says:

    AGA –

    You are either a troll or a fool. Either way I feel incredibly foolish now for having responded to you and giving you the satisfaction.

  59. AGA says:


    If you don’t realize how the study of theology is a near occasion of sin, then you probably shouldn’t be studying it.

    I’m not talking about reading your catechism, reading good holy books about the saints, and reading the Bible. We all need to do this.

    I’m talking about the formal study of theology.

    Greater minds than you or I, whom grew up in a stronger Catholic culture than you and I, have fallen into the gates of Hell after studying theology. Leave it to the professionals.

    One last comment. In “traditional” seminaries, seminaries need permission to go to Hell. That is, they need permission to read certain books in the “Hell” section of the library – the place where bad books are kept. The writings of Martin Luther or von Balthasar may be necessary to read as one studies theology, however, traditional seminarians need permission to read such things. Who gives you permission? Why would you risk your soul? In Medieval times there was a saying among holy monks that one bad book could destroy an entire monastery. If cloistered holy men and women can be brought asunder from one bad book in their midst, how much more in danger are we, the little ones, out here in the world?

  60. Ef-lover says:

    Voris is 100% correct

  61. Mundabor says:


    Voris also talks about courageous bishops whenever he can. Unfortunately, this is not very often.


  62. Centristian says:


    “As such, I wonder if the ‘letter’ is really from a priest. It sounds more like a complaint from the laity, rather than one who actually experiences this issue. It could be, I just hear alarm bells in my head (or is it those pesky rocks rattling around?).”

    I don’t doubt that the letter was written by a priest, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was written for the sole purpose of being featured on “Real Catholic TV”. I find it improbable that a priest would send an email to the host of an internet TV show to get an answer about what the Vatican says on the matter of bishops who set bad examples. Why didn’t he write to the (appropriate dicastery of the) Vatican to get the Vatican’s perspective? Or to his bishop, for that matter, to say, “Father, can we talk: I’m sorry to bother you, Sir, but I’m a bit concerned about a certain phenomenon that I am genuinely concerned is damaging the image of the Church.” Of course, he couldn’t turn to his bishop with a frankly expressed concern, because as we all know, his bishop is one of “the bishops”, that sinister force within the Church. I get the sense that some Catholics, including this priest and Mr. Voris, view all bishops as horned monsters with sharp claws who are out to destroy Christianity.

    What if we viewed bishops for what they (mostly) are: devout Catholic men who said “adsum” when called to Holy Orders and who were later elevated and given the fullness of the priesthood because they stood out in their priesthoods. These men aren’t the enemies of the Church, they are the very stuff of the Church. Catholics like Mr. Voris too often use the word “bishop” in an almost pejorative sense, as though it were synonymous with “villain”. I think it is dangerous to simply paint this central body and rank of the Christian hierarchy as generally irresponsible and worse. “The bishops” are our shepherds, not our enemies. They are Christ around whom we gather in the communities in which we live.

    I grant that mistakes are made by bishops (and by every other sort of person: policemen, senators, queens, cab drivers, hair stylists, internet television personalities…) and that some bishops are more imperfect than others. But, “the bishops”, as a whole, constitute a marvelous thing, not a sinister thing. These are the men who give unity to our local Church. They give us priests and bring us the sacraments. They confirm us in Faith; they pass along the teachings and traditions of the Apostles. They are apostles, in fact.

    If Mr. Voris had merely charged that there are bishops who seem to fail to provide a good example in certain situations, I could not disagree with him. There always have been, right from the very beginnings of the Church. But when he goes so far as to make the word “bishop” sound like a dirty word, he becomes a sensationalizing polemicist doing his best to rile all the Catholic “Madame Defarges” out there, and not so much a concerned and honest Catholic journalist.

    This attitude amongst some Catholics reminds me of a similar attitude that Americans have about Congress. All Americans utterly despise Congress…except for their own Congressmen. Likewise, there are Catholics who will look upon “the bishops” as an enemy force, yet who praise their own bishops to the skies. How is it that all of these wonderful individual bishops together form such a sinister whole?

    Yes, those bishops who do things in public that send out the wrong message should be held accountable for their actions (and they will be; have no fear), on the one hand. On the other hand, generalizing swipes taken at the very institution of the episcopacy, as if the whole rank were somehow flawed or even worse than flawed, is irresponsible and counter-productive. For this reason, I voted, “Just a bit: more wrong than right”.

  63. Banjo pickin girl says:

    There was a troll here. The remark about women and baking and mending was the real giveaway.

  64. ecs says:

    Centristian –

    In an ideal world your comments have merit. However, they seem a bit naive with regards to what the reality is in the present time. I for one sincerely wish I could look upon my bishop as a true shepard, but I cannot. I see more or less a careerist and a politician. A company man. Certainly a much needed improvement from the horrific disaster that was his predecessor, but still not much of a shepard. So I guess there is some improvement. Instead of having an outright enemy like his predecessor I just have a non-factor. But I do believe the only reason he is a non-factor is Summorum Pontificum. Without Summorum Pontificum he would likely have been an enemy as well, as was his predecessor. I suspect that the vast majority of the people who comment on this blog have had or have similar experiences.

  65. EWTN Rocks says:

    Banjo pickin girl,

    I saw that comment too – not very nice…

  66. teaguytom says:

    I believe Voris hits half on the nail on this one. He correctly puts blame on the bishops who don’t teach. We wouldn’t even need the Vortex if it wasn’t for confused people asking for guidance. The part that he doesn’t mention has to do with the Protestantizing of the Mass. The Ordinary form’s current version of the Mass of Christian Burial encourages the canonizing of the deceased. Wearing white, putting a white pall on the casket of adult deceased, no beeswax candles, even the changing of the name to Mass of Christian Burial has led to a protestant idea of funeral service. The EF Requiem is richly Catholic and by having the strict rules on celebrating the Requiem, coupled by the non-ecumenical Traditional Catholic prayers for the deceased, there is no room for eulogies that canonize the deceased.

    Would you rather have this?
    Or this?

  67. robtbrown says:

    AGA says:

    Just as an aside, I really can’t stand the equating of theological education with growing in holiness or knowledge of spiritual matters, as you do in your first sentence. There’s very little evidence that education and holiness are related. Actually much more contrary evidence probably exists that a higher education, theological or otherwise, is as great a near occasion of sin against the virtue of Faith that one can endure.

    I think we have different concepts of the nature of theology. I follow St Thomas, for whom theology is prayer because it is primarily speculative, i.e., it is oriented toward contemplating God–and thus wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and prudence (all virtues of the intellect) are produced. And so the better one knows theology, the better one knows God.

    On the other hand, you seem to think of theology as primarily practical or an academic exercise. Such an approach, which is inimical to the thought of St Thomas, eventually desiccates the sacred science. Consequently, it produces the likes of Counter Reformation theology, Ecumenical theology, Feminist theology, and Liberation theology.

    Some years ago I told my mentor at the Angelicum about a conversation I had with an American seminarian (not NAC): I said it didn’t make any sense for a student to spend hours every day speaking and listening about God in class, study, and conversation, then go on retreat and hear someone speak about God. The seminarian said that theology is not prayer. My mentor said, “Well, the way he does it, it probably isn’t prayer.”

    And in any comprehensive course in theology, no matter how basic, the contrary errors must be taken up, just as in the Summa Theologiae and in the Quaestiones Disputatae St Thomas takes up the Objections.

  68. AGA says:

    Obviously the laity need to learn that which is necessary for their salvation and also should learn enough to be effective apologists for the Faith, but should someone without the charism of Holy Orders study or teach dogmatic theology? Supernaturally, the laity lack the additional grace to sustain their faith as they read heretics and dissenters, and in general work their way through complex mysteries. Naturally speaking, they lack the formal religious structure that not only guides them during their studies, but governs them, under the vow of Holy Obedience, once they gain training in theology and go out to teach others.

    By the way, are there not some areas wherein the Church has specifically warned Catholics not to speculate or investigate any further? I’m speaking here about the mystery of Transubstantiation.

  69. Tim Ferguson says:

    By all means, we should ignore all those nasty lay theologians that “lack the additional grace to sustain their faith as they read heretics and dissenters” – people like St. Justin Martyr, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Therea of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, Jacques Maritain, St. Edith Stein. Instead, lets turn to clerical theologians like Tertullian, Arius, Martin Luther, Hans Kung, Karl Rahner, Bishop Morris.

    and don’t get me started on those horrid lay canonists, like oh… Gratian, who was the Father of the Science of Canon Law and whose work in canon law was the standard for nine hundred years until the 1917 Code.

    The grace of ordination is keyed toward sacramental reality, not towards intelligence, nor towards fortitude in faith.

  70. mike cliffson says:

    Is Voris right?
    Im an ignoremus, and a simpleton,as well as agreat sinner, but I do know Iwant to get to heaven myself , and meet even my enemies there. To which end the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ , through The sacraments of holy mother church and the help of the communion of the faithful will, I fear, be essential in my (and most) case(s).
    Paganized sendoffs wont do the job, send the wrong message about repentance to the living, and disencorage prayer for the dead and the holy souls in purgatory . They also seem to be agin the catechism.
    Is Voris wrong to hold responsible, for seeming breaches in the rules of the church continuing, those who that responsabilty hath? Is he right to raise the issue? Would the issue arise without catholics, let us hope innocently if ignorantly,expecting, nay demanding, a pagan funeral? I think that was father’s question.

  71. trentondeak says:

    I’m not generally a fan of Voris, mostly because I usually feel that he includes only things that he can use to make his point, and I didn’t particularly find this video useful. Now, I’m never invited to state funerals or those of celebrities, and definitiely not the 2 funerals the priest referenced in his email, so I don’t know the specifics of them. That said, a funeral homily should not be a eulogy; rather it should focus on how our faith helps us understand grief in light of Christ’s life, and especially the hope that his resurrection gives us. Eulogies, per se, should be given at the wake, or perhaps a brief eulogy after communion may sometimes be appropriate. All funerals also give us an opportunity to evangelize, and this should never be passed over.

    Catholic politicians in republics have an extremely difficult row to hoe. All Catholic politicians have an obligation to be pro-life, of course. But “being at odds” with Catholic teaching is sometimes a bit subjective, say in matters where social justice is concerned and personal judgment does play some role. The email doesn’t really offer us any clues as to how the politician may have been “at odds” with the Church.

    What’s the right pastoral response to people whose public lives are questionable? I’m not sure that I have the whole answer. The grieving family and friends do need to be evangelized with compassion (as do we all), and they deserve the ministry of the Church, but if the deceased was known to be opposed to the inviolable tenets of the faith, then the priest or bishop should plan carefully how he will handle the funeral itself. And, there’s no way that a homily or eulogy that praises homosexuality or being pro-abortion has a place at any Catholic funeral or wake. Perhaps part of the answer is to make sure that those clergy who perform funerals have the proper formation to understand what a funeral homily is, and how to prepare one.

  72. AGA says:


    Nice straw man argument.

    Where did St. Therese study by the way?

    You actually prove my point. The greatest saints don’t wear caps and gowns and have letters after their names. [Ummm… huh? How on earth, literally on earth, do you know that?]

    Any way.. try making an argument. Here’s how you start. Take a point that I made, then counter it through logic. How about the need for any profession, especially the greatest of professions, the Study of God, to safeguard access to and practice of its arts? Talk about that.

  73. David Homoney says:

    He is spot on here. I do have a nit to pick here with some of you though. This was not the place for the talking about the few, in the West very few, bishops that are good. That sadly is not the norm. Michael will talk about them when he can and does, but the Vortex isn’t the place for it. Some of you don’t seem to get the point of the Vortex. It is an op-ed about the issues we faces in the Church.

    Anyhow in this case he is again spot on. This is why I pray for our priests, including the good Father here, that they may have the strength to do their jobs. God Bless our Priests.

  74. Mr Voris is not only right, it is worse than either he or his correspondent suggests.

    “Even ‘conservative’ bishops are not above practically canonizing a departed priest, even as the latter’s confreres in concelebration will go back to their parishes, and tell Mr and Mrs Dick and Jane McGillicuddy, that their dear sweet Aunt Minnie McGillicuddy will NOT have her praises sung while HE’S in charge.”


  75. HyacinthClare says:

    What exactly is a “troll”? I know what I think of AGA, but I don’t know the term.

  76. Tim Ferguson says:


    Your point is that the greatest saints don’t wear caps and gowns and have letters after their names?

    Then by all means we’re in agreement. Wholeheartedly. No quibble whatsoever.

    Silly me for thinking that your argument was something that you wrote. Something like, “laity should not even be allowed to study theology or even canon law.”

    Presuming that that was your argument, (since it was what you wrote, I tend to be pretty simple and unaccustomed to reading minds through the pixels, especially since you later say, “I really can’t stand the equating of theological education with growing in holiness or knowledge of spiritual matters.” which, if your point was that sanctity and academic prowess don’t necessarily go hand in hand, makes it even more odd that you would want to ban – contrary to the clear teachings of the Church – lay folk from studying theology and canon law), I countered it with a list of lay folk who have studied – and taught – theology and canon law. Some of them are saints, some doctors of the Church, one just plain awesome lay theologians. I could give you more if you want.

    Lets just take one of your points to make it simple. You say lay persons shouldn’t study canon law. Truth be told, I take personal umbrage at that because I’m a layman with a degree in canon law. Myself aside, some of the finest canonists I have known alive today are laymen. Dr. Ed Peters comes immediately to mind. Historically, there’s my example of Gratian, above. And Francesco Pacelli, brother of Pope Pius XII, dean of the Rotal Advocates, instrumental in the Lateran treaty and close advisor of Pius XI. Then there’s Johannes Andreas of Bologna, perhaps the greatest canonist of the late middle ages, and his daughter, Novella, who lectured behind a screen so that students would not be distracted by her beauty but focus on her insights (so the legend goes).

    Why do you think the Church should be deprived of the insights and learning and work of these great canonists?

    Oh, and St. Therese, she studied in her Carmel. Learning theology is an important part of religious formation.

  77. bookworm says:

    I present once again this commentary by my local bishop as an example of how to do it right:


    Note his use of the occasion (a popular local official, who was Catholic, committing suicide) to succinctly proclaim Church teaching on the sanctity of life, our duty to be stewards (not “owners”) of our bodily lives, the purpose of funeral rites, and the need to pray for God’s mercy on the deceased.

  78. AGA says:

    Gratian was a religious under a vow and subject accordingly to the Church. Although yes the sacrament of Holy Orders gives special charisms for work within the Church, my larger point was that the vow of obedience to a religious superior was the key and central necessity for service within the Church as a theologian or canon lawyer. (Let’s stipulate for the sake of the argument that when I say laity, I mean the colloquial sense, not the technical definition.) I see no problem with lay involvement with Church finance, legal treaties between states (in the mold of Francesco Pacelli’s work), medical care within the Vatican, etc…

    No matter how much a mess the Church may be in, no matter how many apostate clergy-theologians you want to list, the answer will never be increased lay involvement. That’s playing into the Revolutionaries hands.

    By the way, I think it very dangerous when we think ourselves great and important for the life of the Church. God needs not your great canonical or theological works. Just having that motivation automatically would exclude one from any true and real contribution in the Church, since God only uses the humble. Hence, only professed religious should be working in the Church.

    St. Therese never became a formal “lettered” theologian, yet she became a doctor of the Church. My point is that all the Homeschooling Moms and Shiftless Young Catholic Men out there yearning for their Masters in Theology would be better off following the Way of the Little Flower and doing small things faithfully. And then go start a business, employ folks, feed the poor, support the Church, and make a big Catholic family. I’ve actually met married Catholics (conservative Catholics) who are practicing Natural Family Planning and avoiding pregnancy because one or the other or both are working on theology degrees. So that once they are complete they can be of “service” to the Church. The Devil is laughing all the way.

  79. PostCatholic says:

    The letter, I think, is a fake, or at least Voris has been had by someone embellishing the record. (Though if he’s lying, it wouldn’t be the first time.)

    There’s only one recent state funeral in Ireland. It was for Dr. Garret Fitzgerald, former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, and it held on Sunday afternoon in South Dublin. The last state funeral was in 2008 for the former Uachtaran (President) Patrick Hillery.

    The details of the funeral can be read on the Irish Times newspaper site: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0523/1224297547486.html. Consipicuous by its absence in a very detailed article is any mention of a eulogy.

  80. Tim Ferguson says:

    There’s no evidence that Gratian was a religious, and the weight of historical evidence is against it. Even if he were, you don’t address Dr. Peters, Johannes Andreas, Novella…

    You may think that a vow is essential for service in the Church (which would thereby not only exclude laity, but also diocesan priests, who make no vow, unless, like “laity” you mean “vow” not in the technical but colloquial sense, and if your unwilling to use terms with precision, you’re going to “win” every argument you get in, since you can keep changing your distinctions), but your opinion is clearly in contrast to the constant and consistent teaching of the Church.

    You cite examples of lay people studying theology to the detriment of their proper vocations (moving the argument from canon law to theology in a nice rhetorical sleight of hand), two paragraphs after you state that examples of apostate clergy don’t prove a point. If I agree to that, will you agree that your anecdotes don’t prove a point either? Just because some lay people who study theology (or canon law) do so improperly does not prove AT ALL that NO lay people should study theology (or canon law) – or teach it, write, practice and disseminate what they’ve learned through the internet – subject, just like the clergy, to their baptismal promise and obligation to subject themselves to the authority and scrutiny of the magisterium.

    If I can be permitted another anecdotal argument in support of my position – if I were to poll the lay theologians and canonists and the clerical theologians and canonists I know, I suspect that fidelity and obedience to the hierarchy would be statistically more prevalent among the degreed laity than among the degreed clergy (though, to be fair, I would say that if I excluded from both groups those who are over the age of 55, the rate of fidelity and obedience would be much higher and more consistent)

  81. shane says:

    PostCatholic yes, I suspected it was Garret Fitzgerald the priest is referring to, as does Fr O’Leary: http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/05/an-irish-priest-fr-michael-is-so-annoyed-at-the-state-funeral-for-garret-fitzgerald-that-he-writes-to-the-absurd-michael-vo.html

    Fr Enda McDonagh, liberal moral theologian and a lifelong friend of Garret’s, was the chief celebrant. You probably know him from your time at Maynooth.

  82. As a Catholic convert from Protestantism, all I can say is this: I was wrestling with points of Catholic doctrine verses Protestant doctrine when Ted Kennedy died. That whole fiasco set me firmly entrenched in Protestantism for another year. And whenever the Catholic side of me would start to win the theological debate, the Protestant side would counter, “But remember Ted Kennedy’s funeral!” BTW – I am Catholic now, thanks in no small part to the Solemn High Mass at the National Shrine. The words and actions of one “high-ranking churchmen” can do a lot of good and undo a lot of confusion!

  83. AGA says:

    No amount of lay involvement in Church business is good for the Church. I’d rather have a Church filled with bad clergy with no lay involvement, then one filled with legions of orthodox laity filling Church posts.

    That Gratian was not religious seems a crazy statement to make.

    The entire university system was designed by and for the use of the clergy and religious. The laity (in the colloquial sense) didn’t go to university. When we put on cap and gowns in our high schools and colleges, we are aping clerical dress and academic traditions born out of the Church.

    Ok.. but to my original argument:

    1) The Church owns the Deposit of Faith and all the rights and privileges associated with that.

    2) If a lay man or woman is formally trained in theology, he or she enters an office of the Church. The awarding of a Master of Theology, if not in a formal sense, nonetheless carries with it a teaching office.

    3) As a canon lawyer, does the Church have equal ability to control and police lay theologians as She can ordained or religious theologians?

    4) If the ability to control or police the actions of lay theologians is lesser then isn’t that in itself reason to exclude lay theological training?

    Like I referenced earlier, the professions existing outside the Church do not allow any Tom, Dick, and Harry to study within their ranks. It seems to me that everything is out of whack. It should be much easier to go to medical school than go to theology school.

  84. Enoch the Sleestak says:

    I do think eulogies are inappropriate for funerals. Maybe Voris or Fr. Michael is right, and funeral masses for prominent politicians are especially scandalous and therefore the best place to crack down, but, from what I’ve seen, this is done for all types of people. I think perhaps we don’t notice it when it’s done at those few funerals we personally attend, that is, the funerals of those to whom we are close and for whom we are grieving. It’s much easier to both notice and object to this admittedly tacky practice when it occurs at a funeral of a politician we did not personally know, or even strongly opposed. Perhaps planners both ecclesiastic and lay could provide a time apart from the funeral mass when eulogies and the like would be more appropriate.

  85. Tim Ferguson says:

    I’d rather have a Church filled with bad clergy with no lay involvement, then one filled with legions of orthodox laity filling Church posts.

    Okay, my fault, I engaged in a bit of argumentation with a troll. My apologies, Fr. Z, I shall refrain in the future so as to avoid such absurdities in your living room.

  86. THREEHEARTS says:

    First, I guess the percentages tell you something Fr Z. Could you share what you think with us? Second as a good priest told me, a priest that at his funeral you could not get into the street outside the Church let alone the Church. Here is what he said, “When I put my hands into his and swear to obey him, no matter what I think or know the wrongness of what I am ordered, I still have to do it. The punishment as I have found is despicable” Get rid of the stupid and sinful oath and get back to the pre-vatican 2 oath. This is the only answer. Also I remind you of the catechism, complicity in sin bit, If a Bishop anywhere in the world and to the knowledge of local or even the college of bishops does a sinful act and not one bishop says no way, this is sinful, are all the bishops in a state of sin through complicity in that sin, or is the catechism wrong or can they rationalize their actions and gloss them ovedt to us. Not to God by the way.

  87. Shellynna says:

    The sub-argument of AGA contra mundum has been entertaining, but I wonder if his initial assertion that laity shouldn’t be making pronouncements about Church matters applies to himself. If not, then he is acting a bit hypocritically. If so, then perhaps he should stop it already.

    It is rank clericalism to assert that only priests and consecrated male religious (since I’m sure he’d say the nuns should be busy baking and mending) can study theology and have anything to say on Church matters. Hildegard of Bingen was well-regarded for her knowledge, Catherine of Siena advised popes (and was illiterate until Jesus himself taught her to read). In the 20th-century, we’ve been blessed with the insights of G. K. Chesterton, Frank Sheed, and Caryll Houselander.

    Without the laity, both men and women, the Church would look pretty silly, as Bl. John Henry Newman pointed out. I tend to agree with the point that perhaps laity need to be more discerning as to whether to pursue higher degrees when they are already married and have a family to establish and provide for, but poor discernment isn’t the sole problem of laypeople. Priests and religious can be bad at it too.

  88. AGA says:

    Why am I troll? (Thanks for the name calling by the way)

    A Church filled with bad clergy is the historic Catholic Catholic. Deo gratias.

    A Church filled with offices held by legions of orthodox laity is called Protestantism.

    You could have progressed the debate by offering your canonical insight into the Church’s ability, or lack thereof, to discipline lay theologians. Can the Church protect the Deposit of Faith with armies of lay theologians running amuck?

  89. OK, at the risk of being declared the caboose of AGA’s fundamentalist train, I do have to agree with AGA to the extent the issue is the public chastisement of our bishops by we, the sheep. I do not think that we should just give a free pass to something that is unfaithful to God and stains His Bride just because that something is an act, error or omission by the Church’s “professionals” (as AGA characterizes them). But I don’t at all feel comfortable with a video generally denoucing the faithfulness and will of bishops because God has given our bishops a certain grace of state in their vocation. A bishop is God’s man for that moment and place in time. That he is subject to sin, doubt, weakness and the peer pressure of a Godless culture, should in my view prompt us to pray harder for him and encourage him all the more to stay (or get) faithful, defend the teachings of the Church, and provide an example to all God’s children. But if we get into the habit (no pun intended) of bashing a bishop for what we don’t like in how he exercises his priestly functions (as contrasted with violations of civil or criminal law, which is a whole ‘nuther thing), then we empower ourselves at the expense of his credibility as a shepherd calling lost sheep and tending to his flock. More importantly, we lose what is divine in all our relationships in the Church and, specifically, we deny Jesus in our bishop as alter Christus (“another Christ”) for the benefit of souls. So pray for your bishop, pull him aside quietly for a talk if you are so inclined and able, support what is good and right in his ministry, but don’t go into self-indulgent public bashing mode as if he was Homer Simpson and you’re Bart….

  90. chironomo says:

    Yes… funerals at an average American parish are perhaps the most problematic of events. On one hand… you’re dealing with the family and loved ones of someone who is…. well, DEAD. There are serious pastoral issues here, and this coming from someone who is generally loathe to use the word “pastoral”. But that doesn’t mean that there can’t be adherence to the faith. As Mr. Voris points out, it is CONSISTENCY that is the key. The problem is when something is allowed once, it becomes very difficult pastorally (in the most accurate sense of that word) to prohibit it in the future. Once allowed, the issue going forward can no longer be a question of WHAT is allowed, but WHO it is allowed for (friend of the Pastor, contributor, local celebrity).

    This is why I have always advocated, and still advocate, that even very specific details about liturgical practice need to be codified… whether universally for the whole church, or for smaller regions, cultures, etc… and enforced. The question I always have to ask when confronted by inquiries (I had one today even..) is “what can I point to as a definitive statement to say that this is not allowed.

  91. catholicmidwest says:

    He nailed it again. 100% dead on.

  92. Banjo pickin girl says:

    hyacinthclare: The term “troll” is from fishing, not mythology. It refers to someone who in a blog throws out outrageous statements (the bait) hoping to cause a heated argument.

  93. PostCatholic says:

    Hmm. Yes, I do remember him. He’d be quite old now, but then again so was Garret Fitzgerald.

    I guess if you’re going to have a funeral, and your clergy is going to officiate and gets the only open-comment portion of the service (a homily), you’ll have yourselves to blame for what the clergy says. There are very few people in public service who espouse views 100% in accord with the Catholic Church. Should a funeral be a time to list off the demerits?

  94. TKS says:

    I have already written my obit, although I may have 30 years left, just for this reason. I wrote at the end, ‘In lieu of flowers, please pray for the repose of my soul”, and then quoted “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they might be loosed from their sins” (2 Macc. 12:46). My non-practicing (at this time) kids will go nuts when they see it but I pray they will not change it.

  95. robtbrown says:

    AGA says:

    Obviously the laity need to learn that which is necessary for their salvation and also should learn enough to be effective apologists for the Faith,


    To restate what I wrote above: Theology exists primarily so that one may come to know (contemplate) God. Secondarily, theology is ordered toward the salvation of man. Both are open to anyone, regardless of whether they’re clerics or not. For various reasons, some are more inclined to theology than others.

    but should someone without the charism of Holy Orders study or teach dogmatic theology?

    1. I have little use for the word “charism”. Too vague.

    2. Why use the word “should” (or “must”)? It’s better to say that it is appropriate that theology be taught by clerics.

    Supernaturally, the laity lack the additional grace to sustain their faith as they read heretics and dissenters, and in general work their way through complex mysteries.

    Disagree that the laity lack the grace to understand theology.

    Naturally speaking, they lack the formal religious structure that not only guides them during their studies, but governs them, under the vow of Holy Obedience, once they gain training in theology and go out to teach others.

    I agree that clerics have a certain life that is conducive toward theology by being oriented more toward spiritual matters than material ones.

    What vow of obedience?

    By the way, are there not some areas wherein the Church has specifically warned Catholics not to speculate or investigate any further? I’m speaking here about the mystery of Transubstantiation.

    I think we must distinguish the relation between dogma and theological speculation.

    1. In so far as Transubstantiation is dogma, no theological speculation can ever contradict it (which would be heresy). Such is the principle of negative governance. IMHO, this is a directive to the intellect rather than to the will.

    2. The approach of St Thomas goes beyond that. It begins with the notion that Transubstantiation is the Truth. Thus, any speculation is intended to understand better the dogma and to apply it in various ways (cf. my comments a few days ago, in which I referred to St Thomas, on the ontological understanding of how the mass is a Sacrifice.

    3. A third approach is used by the Equivocal Doctor, Karl Rahner, who thought all dogmatic propositions are historically conditioned.

  96. robtbrown says:

    PostCatholic says:

    I guess if you’re going to have a funeral, and your clergy is going to officiate and gets the only open-comment portion of the service (a homily), you’ll have yourselves to blame for what the clergy says. There are very few people in public service who espouse views 100% in accord with the Catholic Church. Should a funeral be a time to list off the demerits?

    No, but it also should not be a time to list the merits. The homily should primarily concern itself with matters of faith and morals–any anecdote of the life of the deceased should be an example of the lived faith.

    If people want to reminisce about the deceased, let them do it at a reception after the burial.

  97. AGA:
    Wikipedia defines the word troll as “… someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

    I think that that is precisely what you have attempted to do here. So much for ‘name calling’, you troll.

    As regards your repeated claim that lay men and women should not learn or teach theology, I draw your attention to the Code of Canon Law, Canon 229:

    “Can. 229 §1. Lay persons are bound by the obligation and possess the right to acquire knowledge of Christian doctrine appropriate to the capacity and condition of each in order for them to be able to live according to this doctrine, announce it themselves, defend it if necessary, and take their part in exercising the apostolate.

    Ҥ2. They also possess the right to acquire that fuller knowledge of the sacred sciences which are taught in ecclesiastical universities and faculties or in institutes of religious sciences, by attending classes there and pursuing academic degrees.

    “§3. If the prescripts regarding the requisite suitability have been observed, they are also qualified to receive from legitimate ecclesiastical authority a mandate to teach the sacred sciences.” (emphasis added)

    It would appear, then, troll, that your argument is with the Church, and Her canon law. If you wish to act in open defiance of Her, and to teach contrary to Her laws, I believe that that is called both heresy and schism. I would suggest that you go somewhere other than a Catholic weblog to do so.

    Now, returning to the actual and original topic of discussion, Canon 1184 §1. says : Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals: . . .3/ other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.” I note, though, that §2 also says “If any doubt occurs, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment must be followed.”

    One wonders whether, in the case of the gay rockstar whose funeral was nonetheless committed in a Catholic church, whether this canon was considered, or the ordinary consulted.

    And finally, while it does not bear the weight of canon law, my understanding is that it has long been a part of Catholic liturgical law that eulogies of the deceased are not to take place in the course of funeral sermons.

  98. AGA says:

    Ok.. I’ll concede some of my comments were trollish, but that wasn’t my intent.
    I have never been able to watch Vortis. I can’t stand him, regardless of how thoroughly orthodox he may or may not be. I’d rather live in a Church chock full of bad bishops, and live obediently under them, than live in a Church full of cottage-industry lay apologists, lay leaders, lay ministers, etc. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it!

  99. De gustibus, AGA.

    Unfortunately for us all, I believe we have a situation today where it seems that lay catholic theologians appear to be more knowledgeable in matters of the Faith than many clergy, including bishops, who are supposed to be our teachers.

  100. catholicmidwest says:

    Don’t feed the trolls. It only makes them fatter and more repulsive.

  101. benedetta says:

    AGA, Wow I missed some action on this thread. I think what you are pining for was already tried by the Shakers.

  102. Random Friar says:

    He’s usually comes off as a little harsh, but in this one his tone (not his content!) is more reserved. On this one, I would give it a 10+ out of 5. Every time I see one of those “celebrations of life,” I sadly sigh.

  103. benedetta says:

    AGA Also in thinking through your envisioning for our Church and your inflammatory comments, as far as I am aware these mythical Homeschooling Moms are not in fact attending schools of theology in any great numbers at this time. Maybe you have data. Would a Homeschooling Mom be welcomed at a given school of theology? I wonder.

    Nonetheless, in your envisioning and proposal, in a Church composed of male celibate clergy, I am concerned that our numbers would thus dwindle out and the Church would thus be unable to live out the obligation accepted to in Christ’s great commission. Suppose for the sake of your argument that we have a Church populated by male celibate clergy with, young people still remaining. If you prohibit your clergy from pressing into service the odd Homeschooling Mom for catechesis (as I understand happen, for practical reasons), then we make it incumbent upon Father (and we have scores of them) to teach the young people. According to your plan, Father would impart the catechism with mixed age groups and levels of comprehension to prepare for sacramental reception along the lines of a one-room school house. AGA, it’s a lovely dream you have, I must say. And I do think it is happening in just this way in some places and it could be a great thing for all of us. I can picture it, the older ones gaining in patience, retaining more and more innocence in order to refrain from scandalizing younger ones with their worldly ways, the little ones, doing what they do, growing in maturity and self-discipline, all soaking in the wisdom of Father as a model. The Homeschooling Moms, freed up to complete the week’s mending, perhaps a hand-me down, perhaps a recent score from Goodwill, whatever the needs, trade recipes, and with other mothers (and we would likely include, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers as well?) in the church before the Blessed Sacrament, time to pray the rosary together on behalf of the whole Church. What a dream, AGA. I commend you. I presume you are a layperson. Dreams such as the one you have were started by laypersons, you know…St. Francis of Assisi is just one that immediately leaps to mind. All it takes is one spark…

  104. webpoppy8 says:

    I sincerely think that many people – laity, clergy, and religious – are not admitting that they are too intimidated and afraid to confront the problems. Not to excuse them, but complicity doesn’t really fit, and neither does cowardice. It’s more to the point of “I can’t live my life in a war zone. I can’t fight day and night. I need relief!” I disagree, but sympathetically I really believe this is what many otherwise faithful Catholics back themselves into.

  105. benedetta says:

    webpoppy8, I agree but that situation implies that leaders in the Church whether lay or clergy, religious must step up efforts to extend support to these “warriors”. It is tough to come to the knowledge that it is a war zone, and among those who are aware it is not a conclusion reached lightly, or happily, or even willingly. Possibly though war zone captures it or other images such as internment camp or death march or purge fit better when all of the facts are considered. War zone implies some resistance which has power, or voice, even a little to fight back. And in some places this is simply not the case even within the Church. (So much for the liberal tolerance). It certainly is stressful to have to acknowledge the reality but even so one can take what courage is needed through the faith’s still timeless and universally accepted doctrines, though unknown in certain places, and, realize that to assent to struggle in the steps of the Lord is ultimately so much better and more worthwhile for one’s life in comparison with living in a denial out of fear, stress, paralysis or exhaustion and just pursue having a good old time anyway.

Comments are closed.