Surprise at being quoted by an unexpected publication

Here’s a a surprise that came at me the other day.  The folks who put out the SSPX newsletter in the USA asked for permission to reproduce one of my blog posts.  Remember that post on 10 Points about prospective priests?  It seems that the editor of the SSPX letter thought it worthwhile and positive.  I had no idea what they were going to do with it, but I am happy to cooperate with and talk with those who give me a sense that they have good will and will be fair-minded.

Here are the 10 Points again.  Keep in mind that in my original blog post, I said that a religious priest friend of mine sent them to me.  They aren’t mine by composition, except where I edited a couple in a minor way, but I did embrace them.

1. Prospective priests (Religious or Diocesan) are not looking primarily for community life, as we live it. They are looking for a Church-related mission that they believe in.
2. Prospective priests want to know what the Pope teaches, not what the U.N. teaches.
3. Prospective priests do not want to sit around with older “veterans” and listen to the latter whine about the Pope, Rome and the bishops.
4. Prospective priests are not in favor of women’s ordination. Period.
5. Prospective priests do not want to attend Masses that resemble hootenannies, Quaker meetings, or Presbyterian services.
6. Prospective priests are not ashamed of the Pro-life movement, they’re for it.
7. Prospective priests do not want to hear their brothers mock the Pope and gripe about liturgical norms.
8. Prospective priests do not want to study at theological unions/seminaries that are embarrassed by Catholic teaching.
9. Prospective priests know that Vatican II was not the only, or even the most important, Ecumenical Council.
10. Prospective priests are not embarrassed by Marian devotion, and are seen praying the Rosary.

Here is what the the SSPXers wrote with my emphases and comments:

“Father Z” [Fr. John Zuhlsdorf] is a far cry from the neo-modernist pastors and prelates who are still suffering from the traumatizing effects of the revolution of Vatican II. [I suspect that not all the readers of the SSPX newsletter will agree.  But go on…] His insights into contemporary priestly formation are literally rejuvenating.

New blood is running through the Church’s veins. There is now being formed a generation of seminarians and young priests whose outlook on the Church has raised neither taboos nor barricades around the “wonders of the Conciliar Church.” [Keep in mind that the formation has shifted a great deal in seminaries because both the seminarians have become more conservative and, necessarily, as the old guard passes the “formators” have too.] They are observers of a humiliated Church. [That is reading into a bit, but … go on…] They are simply trying to understand how we got where we are. They are objective, open to all sides, but they will not take some things for granted! Maybe now is the time for open dialogue. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

The “10 commandments” [Hmmm… I was being descriptive rather than prescriptive, but I can’t help but agree that seminarians should want to know what the Pope teaches, should have a Marian devotion, etc.] of the modern day seminarian give a profile of the future Church quite distinct from what we have seen since the 1960’s. These men are serious about their spiritual and doctrinal training. They want to worship God, not man. And they are attached to Rome, not to Americanist leaders whom they judge to be virtually schismatic. [I don’t think I used the phrase “virtually schismatic”.] If this is not light at the end of the tunnel, it certainly shows signs of hope in an otherwise dark age in both the Church and world.  [A positive ring.]

To finish, we may invite these promising seminarians—and “Fr. Z”—to read about the history of the changes in the Church in the 20th century. Vatican II merely opened the floodgates to a false liturgical movement and a watered-down doctrinal teaching. Compare the New Catechism to that of Trent; contrast the Old Mass to the New; read the writings of the pre-conciliar Popes in addition to those who came after the Council. [Not to mention during the Council.  Right?] See if the Society of St. Pius X is justified in claiming that there is a discontinuity. Against the facts, there is no argument…  [Openness goes two ways, of course. The SSPX has to be open to the idea that on many points of their concerns, there is adequate continuity and then starting moving towards greater obedience towards the Roman Pontiff.]

The USA District thanks Fr. Zuhlsdorf for his consent to publish this commentary about his blog post cited below.  [I didn’t consent to their commentary.  But I consented to the reproduction of the 10 Points.]

A nice surprise.  I am rather used to being vilified by liberals, but also by some of the really hard-core traditionalists, too.  It is nice to see that someone in the SSPX thought my offering had some merit.  I don’t remember seeing anything like that from the other end of the spectrum.  Sad.  Maybe I’m wrong.  In any event, as I said before, I am happy to cooperate with and talk with those who give me a sense that they have good will and will be fair-minded.

And bring on the open, fair-minded dialogue!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Just Too Cool, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. JPEG says:

    Great post on the Society Website, Fr. Zuhlsdorf! [It isn’t really my post, is it.]
    I especially like number 9.

    9. Prospective priests know that Vatican II was not the only, or even the most important, Ecumenical Council.

    We are praying for your 2 special intentions. God Bless.

  2. tealady24 says:

    Stick with #10, you’ll never go wrong.

    I’m glad to see there is hope.

  3. Jack Hughes says:

    Dear Father

    Can you clarify what you mean when you say “Prospective priests (Religious or Diocesan) are not looking primarily for community life, as we live it. They are looking for a Church-related mission that they believe in” ?

    I visited the Fathers of Mercy last October on one of their “Come and See” weekends and although they are fine Priests the lack of communal worship really put me off, Yes the Raison d’être of the Priesthood and Religious life is the salvation of souls but I realised that the life of a itenerant Priest spending weeks at a time, operating independantlyfrom the generalete was not for me.

    On the other hand my spiritual director suggeted the F.S.S.R on Papa Stronsey and I have to say that the strong communal prayer life along with the Traditional Mass is a big plus as is the Strong Communal worship offered by the Norbertine Cannons in St Michael’s Abbey, Calinfornia.

  4. lucy says:

    Great list !!

    I’m always at a loss at how to describe to someone open to hearing about the traditional side of things how I feel about Vatican II. I usually say something to this effect:

    I don’t disagree with Vatican II per se, but I think that many folks with an agenda hijacked the whole event and time period.

    I need something better to day. I’m not going to read all the documents from Vatican II, so I need someone well-versed in said documents to tell me what’s what. What should I say ?

  5. flyfree432 says:

    If the SSPX’ers consider you liberal I don’t want to know what I am.

  6. Chrysologus says:

    Well, speaking as someone who you would presumably consider liberal, although I don’t have a newsletter in which to reproduce something you’ve written, Father, I will say that I appreciate your compare-and-contrast translations, with explanations, of the Roman Missal. [Thanks!]

  7. flyfree432 says:

    VII is not the most important but it is the most recent and is relevant to our lives. It is a council of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and is infallible.

  8. Mike says:

    Fr. Z, this is very fine news.

    In my NO parish, a new priest–recently ordained–while not signalling he likes the TLM–is talking about the redemptive meaning of suffering, the JOY of carrying our own crosses with the Lord at our side…this is not the voice of the 1970s…thank God!

  9. hugonis says:

    The Left may not be trying to republish anything of yours, but the Fishwrap did call you “the mysterious ‘Father Z!'”

  10. Geoffrey says:

    I am actually quite surprised the SSPX re-posted this list, especially considering nos. 3 and 7. Any time I have read something by the SSPX, they are usually whining about and mocking “the Pope, Rome, and the bishops”, etc.

  11. The Cobbler says:

    “Can you clarify what you mean when you say “Prospective priests (Religious or Diocesan) are not looking primarily for community life, as we live it. They are looking for a Church-related mission that they believe in” ?”
    I’m not Father, but I am talking more than I should today anyway, so for what it’s worth I assumed “as we live it” meant more golf outings and less communal prayer.

  12. jflare says:

    While this does show some encouraging signs, I think it does still suggest that it’ll be awhile before SSPX can reconcile with Rome. They don’t assault Vatican II or other concerns brutally in the manner they have before, but neither do they acknowledge the virtue of that same Council, nor the efforts to adhere to what the Council actually taught. I can even understand some of the accusation against permissive prelates, but they still go too far.

    In general, the overall tone still seems insistent that they, SSPX, hold the keys and the Truth, and the Rome needs to come to terms with them. For all the virtue of traditional practice they promote, I don’t think we can yet conform their point of view with Vatican I.

    Maybe within a few years?

  13. Flyfree- Vat II isn’t infallible in and of itself. First off for it to be infallible something would have had to be defined as De Fide in either Faith or morals- nothing was that wasn’t already. Second even Pope Paul VI said it wasn’t infallible (read below). Granted it is ordinary magestrarium and has authority (yes more than a local bishop- as much as a pope) but it just isn’t infallible except where it aligns with tradition and previous Catholic teaching. Ordinary Magistrarium is a fancy way of saying you should obey because it was taught to my great great great great grandfather to his son who taught it to his son to his son who taught my father who taught me. If you aren’t going to obey it then you have to very respectfully and tactfully prove that someone in the grapevine got the wrong message (or in this case teaching). However you still better be careful in the meantime about disrespecting all those grandfathers. It isn’t the best explanation but even if a bishop or pope is teaching under ordinary magistrarium they should be highly respected even if they are wrong. They should be obeyed until one knows what is being taught is heresy, etc. The higher the authority the more circumspect one has to be about questioning it. However, if the message he is teaching is the same one as the first grandfather you had better listen and obey.

    There are other quotes to support this but this is only a combox. Father Zuhlsdorf please correct me if am wrong.

    ‘In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statement of dogmas that would be endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the supreme ordinary Magisterium. This ordinary Magisterium, which is so obviously official, has to be accepted with docility, and sincerity by all the faithful, in accordance with the mind of the Council on the nature and aims of the individual documents.” Pope Paul VI[…660112_it.html General Audience of 12 January 1966

  14. albizzi says:

    Sed libera nos,
    You explained the issue better than I can:
    1/ VATII council isn’t infallible
    2/ Obey the Magisterium: Yes, of course, like our fathers and grand fathers did themselves. That’s not a Paul VI’s nor a VATII’s teaching
    3/ Therefore, anyone mays disregard this council as if it never existed while being a good catholic faithful.
    4/Quote of Pope Paul VI: “…in accordance with the mind of the Council…”. Hmm… this “mind of the Council” opened the gates to all sort of interpretations, abuses and fantasies we got since.
    Who will ever give a strict, unambiguous, and immutable definition of that “mind of the Council”. I was eagerly waiting for it from the Magisterium for 40 years.

  15. Andy Milam says:

    @ Fr. Z;

    Those 10 points sure remind me of a list that Monsignor Bandas put out regarding the changes immediately following Vatican Council II. Especially the points about “hootnannies…”

    Great post!

  16. Centristian says:

    Fr. Z: “In any event, as I said before, I am happy to cooperate with and talk with those who give me a sense that they have good will and will be fair-minded.”

    And I think, Father, you would be a good influence on some of them. For as often as I give the Society of St. Pius X a hard time I would be dishonest if I denied that they number any men of good will who haven’t altogether gone off the rails. There are such men in the SSPX. Many of them will eventually leave it. In the meantime, they would certainly benefit from the writings and good example of an orthodox, traditionalist priest who has managed to be what he is while at the same time being loyal to and in full (and ostensible) communion with Peter and the official hierarchy. “If this priest can do both, why not me?” some may be asking themselves even now. They apparently follow your blog, after all.

    They often have guest speakers at the seminary in Winona. You’d be a good one.

  17. Joe in Canada says:

    Well done Father!
    Regarding the SSPX comment about merely opening floodgates to a ‘false liturgical movement’, can you recommend any books or sources about that? Not so much about abuses since the Council, but about the sources of liturgical reform before the Council that could have been wrong, or could have been the source of abuse.

  18. Gail F says:

    Lucy: I’m afraid I can’t help you with a source outlining the documents of Vatican II (although I know there are some good ones around). I had to read all the documents for classes; they are not as many or as long as you think. In fact, some of them are pretty short. The whole collection I had to buy was just in one fat book — not anything like a library of books. If you need to be brought up to speed quickly, then look for some books about Vatican II. But don’t be afraid to read them. It’s worth it!

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