Fr. Blake: “What we have failed to do is prepare our people for any battle over this issue.”

Eagle SquadronOne dimension of the international kulturkampf is the promotion of unnatural unions as if they were “marriages” and the introduction of legislation to force these unions to be recognized as such, even in the face of reason.  After legislation is passed, pressure will be put on ministers of religion to perform ceremonies, rent out halls or churches, etc., with the aim of inflicting penalties on the ministers – when they refuse to violate their consciences and religious liberty – and churches under the banner of discrimination or hate-crime.

The targeting by a lesbian activist and entrapment of a good priest in the Archdiocese of Washington DC is but one example of what we will see often in the future.

We see in my native state of Minnesota that there is up for a vote an amendment to the state constitution which would defend a proper definition of marriage.  The Catholic bishops in Minnesota are actively supporting the amendment.  Protests have already begun on Sundays in front of the Archdiocesan chancery.  As the weather gets warmer, I suspect a real freak-show of protests will begin at the chancery and cathedral.  Intimidation is their tool.

For the kulturkampf to succeed, marriage has to be destroyed.

The kulturkampf is farther advanced in England that it is in the USA, though we are cathching up quickly.  It is instructive to read the insights of good priests in England about what in the American electoral campaign season have been dubbed the “social issues”.

My friend Fr. Ray Black, the great p.p. of St. Mary Magdalen in the troubled sea-side town of Brighton, has a good piece on his blog today.  What I find of special note is the concept of persistence and follow-up by our bishops concerning the attacks we experiencing.

nailed to the mastFor example, the Minnesota Catholic Conference has effectively nailed its colors to the mast concerning the defense of marriage amendment.  If they stay true and on course, even if they lose the fight they will retain their moral capital.  If they go wobbly or become shy when the enemy sweeps our decks with grape and chain, they’re finished as a moral voice in the public square.

With that as a preamble, here is Fr. Blake, with my emphases and comments:

I published the Archbishops of Southwark and Westminster letter on the redefinition of Marriage without comment. I received the hardcopy of their letter the following day in the post. My secretary assured me it came without a covering letter, in my diocese no-one has said whether it should be read at all Masses or was simply sent for my personal information.

Some people have suggested it is too late and too weak. I’m not too sure about that, but certainly it is perhaps correct to ask whether the Church here really has the heart for a fight. In our effort to get out of the “Catholic ghetto” and to be regarded as “English” rather than an immigrant church, we have downplayed our Catholic identity, possibly to such a level that many Catholics have little understanding of anything distinct about our religion, or if they do they have rejected it. [Which calls to mind the damage then-candidate John F. Kennedy did to religion in the public square.  HERE.]

The majority of Catholics, the official figure is 90%, despite (or in spite of) all the money and energy the Church invests in our schools, do not practice the faith. Neither could we ever dare suggest that Catholics are less likely to cohabit, divorce, abort or contracept, nor are the vast majority of Catholic parents more open to children, than their non-Catholic neighbours, the statistics do not show any difference.

In the latter half of the 20th century abortion and contraception have been issues that have troubled individuals but hardly seem to be a major concern in England and Wales. [I am not sure, but I suspect that Fr. Blakes’ use of the pairing “England and Wales” suggest the Bishops Conference of England and Wales.  I may be wrong.] Co-habitation and divorce seem to be even less of a concern, everywhere these issues are left to a woolly “pastoral solution”, everything depends on the personal convictions of the individual priest. [Not on a unified solid front and message presented by all the bishops together with their priests.]

After members of Catholic Voices have spun the Bishops 2003 statement on Civil Partnership, I am confused by what their Lordships intended to say, I used to think their teaching was clear but maybe not. Milo Mindbender and Co are the official unofficial keepers of the Catholic Voice in E&W but only seem to make the feint voice even more distant and give the real God appointed Voices of the Church [bishops] a barricade to hide behind. I digress. Even so, anyone but a fool would have realised that the introduction of such partnerships would lead inevitably to the situation we now face. What we have failed to do is prepare our people for any battle over this issue.

I am not part of the dioceses of Southwark or Westminster and lacking any clear direction I will present this letter on Sunday but frankly I think my people are ill prepared to receive it and having received it, I am not sure what they are expected to do with it.

[NB] My anxiety is that this letter will be all. That there is no further plan. As an opening salvo it was good but what about the barrage to follow, will it? Or was that all?

It would be good to think that following its publication on Sunday the bishops and leading clergy will be on every television and radio station, that they will write their own letters to every and any newspaper that just might publish them, that they might even start to use modern technology. [Just try to imagine such a drastic move!] After years of fudge and drift it, which has not only left Catholics in ignorance and confused [the ad intra diminesion] but has had an impact on wider society [the ad extra] it is time that we had clear teaching on sex, on homosexuality, on marriage, on the duties and responsibilities of Catholic politicians, Catholic Institutions and above all the Clergy to uphold the Church’s teaching.

Fr Richard [Aladics] has a good post on the Public Dimensions of Marriage.

As I read that, I felt much as I imagine some American men felt as the Battle of Britain was heating up and who went to England to join the RAF’s Eagle Squadrons.   My brother priests, my friends, are having a hard time of over there and I feel for them.  Mind you, the fight has been joined in the USA as well and it is heating up very quickly.  We here can learn from what they have been up to, or not up to, there.

Fr. Blake made a good distinction toward the end of his piece, which I want to spin out a bit.

Tepid leadership, worship and instruction has over time produced Catholics who don’t know who they are and who, when introduced to something genuinely Catholic and clear (liturgical worship, basic catechism, moral preaching) become confused, disoriented, and even hostile.  In turn, Catholics have little to say in the public square concerning the great questions of our day.  They have little to say or, what is worse, they actively take the wrong side.

We need a renewal of our Catholic identity.  If we don’t know who we are as Catholics (this is the question considered from within the Church, ad intra) then we won’t have anything of value to contribute in the public square (ad extra), which is the point of Our Lord’s great commission to Holy Church and all her members.

I am convinced that to spark, support, and sustain an effort to revitalize our Catholic identity, we must have a revitalization of our liturgical worship.  If we do not have solid, clear, dignified, faithful, transcendent liturgical worship, all our efforts, in regard to raising a new generation of Catholics in our Faith or recovering those who have fallen away or who were only slightly formed to begin with, will fail.

Fr. Blake gets this.  A quick look at his blog will reveal what he has been up to in restoring his parish church and organizing events for the parish’s anniversary.  Take a look at what he has going on.

WDTPRS kudos to Fr. Blake


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Serviam1 says:

    Fr. Z,

    Your the man!..and to continue the Eagle squadron analogy…This is ‘why we fight’, against overwhelming odds…

    “What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour. ”

    Prime Minister Winston Churchill,
    Speech to the House of Commons, 18 June 1940.

  2. David says:

    I certainly agree that we need a renewal of our liturgy. At least as important, we need a renewed vigor and moral courage from our priests to address these issues from the pulpit. I have been a Catholic for 18 years now and in all that time, I can recall only 1 priest who spoke in line with the teachings of our Church on the moral issues of our day, who held up the saints as worthy of emulation, discussed Catholic (small “t”) traditions, Catholic spirituality, emphasized the necessity of the sacraments. Most priests seem to not want to make waves. We hear a lot about “love” but not a lot about our works. In fact, it was quite a few years after being Catholic that I realized, through my own study, that we we “do” actually matters (faith and works, right).

    It’s the “doing” that has been de-emphasized, not only by our society but, intentionally or unintentionally, by our priests.

  3. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Keeping in mind that wars must be fought with weapons appropriate for the combat, may I suggest the following.

    1) Begin, individually, the daily recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet for our bishops.
    2) Encourage priests to hold public (outdoor) processions, even if only on Church property. Ideally, take two nearby parishes, and process between them. Once Father’s willing to consider the idea, stir up your fellow Catholics to attend.
    3) Pray the Rosary – or even just one decade – daily for the conversion of our country.
    4) Go to confession, and offer your confession in reparation for the “public crimes of nations”, as one prayer puts it.
    5) Pray to St. Michael.
    6) Engage in writing letters to newspapers and such.
    7) To the extent that your state in life allows, begin the rebuilding of American society now: teachers and parents have the chance to influence young minds, hearts and souls for the rebuilding which will, eventually, be possible.

    God bless,


  4. scotus says:

    I think that this article- by an atheist – really deserves wide coverage. It vividly exposes the real agenda behind the campaign for ‘gay marriage’.
    Sorry the link is so long. Please make it shorter. I tried to but did not succeed. I made ‘this article’ into a hyperlink in a Word document but it did not seem to copy into the comments box.

  5. JohnE says:
    “To paraphrase Vatican II, Benedict understands the Church can only have a profound ad-extra effect upon the world if it lives its ad-intra life more intensely and faithfully. Far from being a retreat into a ghetto, it’s about helping Catholics to, as the first Pope said, “be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1 Peter 3:15).”

  6. wmeyer says:

    This should work:

  7. Kerry says:

    So the rainbow brigades are at the Chancery on Sundays, eh? Well, perhaps I will pay them a visit and ask why ‘hate’ is wrong, and tell them that that’s just their opinion, and maybe it works for them, and they have a right to their opinion, as everyone must find their own truth, but hatred of sin is just OK with me.

  8. rodin says:

    Many thanks for this post; it echoes my sentiments exactly. Thanks also for the links to “Mad as Hell.” More thanks to those who posted links to the letter with address to the Apostolic Nuncio and the address to Father Guarnizo.

    Back to the subject, it is not unreasonable to wonder how the Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Washington will manage to lead in the “New Evangilization” if he does not get with the program. He has failed miserably to stand up to satanic forces. This issue could have been a great sounding board for the Diocese in the battle that has only just begun and he has capitulated to the enemy. But can one expect better from the Diocese that has failed to discipline kathlick politicians who so blatantly support abortion? Indeed, even Cardinal Dolan has expressed his rejection of public bans on reception of Communion for pro-choice kathlick politicians. Must the laity join our Pope in leading the “princes” of the Church in the New Evangilization?

  9. Andrew says:

    Meantime … in Hungary (where?) a new constitution went into effect this year (2012) which states that marriage is between a man and a woman and that human life is legally protected from conception to natural death. And the European Union is throwing a fit.

  10. Matt R says:

    Fr Z,

    If I understand correctly, Fr Blake’s reference to England and Wales together was because the two nations have, until the National Assembly was established for Wales, been considered one and the same in regards to the application of common law. (The Nat Assembly doesn’t have autonomy in anything close to every respect. It’s not analogous to a state legislature here.) This naturally led to the establishment of a Bishops’ Conference for England and Wales when the Church was emancipated in the British Empire. Scotland follows a civil law tradition lifted from the French I believe, and the Northern Irish do things more in step with England, though not always…so with the differences in laws, along come cultural differences.
    Good post.

  11. Maynardus says:

    One element of Catholic Identity which is sometimes overlooked is UNITY. I just re-read Joseph Pearce’s excellent “Literary Converts”; he visible doctrinal unity amongst bishops, priests, religious, and the laity – contrasted with the lowest-common-denominator pluralism of the Anglicans – was an important “proof” to many of these (pre-conciliar) converts of the authenticity of the Church. How many of them would say the same thing today?

    I experienced this myself prior to my re-version to the Faith some 20 years ago. I certainly wasn’t in any position to defend the Faith or even to properly form my own conscience since there was always a priest (or the writings of some celebrity thelogian) who would tell me what I wanted to hear. Unity is more than simply claiming to belong to a body with the name “Catholic”, and I beieve that this superficial “unity” has done as much damage as anything else to our loss of Catholic Identity…

  12. cwillia1 says:

    It is time to revisit first principles. The state does not create marriage nor does it define marriage. Natural marriage is accomplished by a man and a woman making certain commitments to each other. While the state has some right to regulate these commitments, at some point it is possible for the state’s definition of civil marriage to deviate so far from the nature of marriage that civil marriage becomes nothing more than an optional legal framework for a personal relationship between two people. We are at that point. There are people who are cohabiting without benefit of civil marriage who are truly married and there are people who are legally married are simply cohabiting. The political and cultural battle over same-sex “marriage” comes down to the question of whether the state will foster and protect true marriage or whether the state will undermine it. But this is not a political battle alone. There is a cultural battle that is far more important and ultimately determinative.

  13. Kathleen10 says:

    We had a visiting priest from another state at our parish two weeks ago. It was during the week of “Jesus and the Lepers” reading, and the point this older priest wished to make was not to “isolate people because of their sexual orientation”. I slumped in my pew. I had my two nephews with me and was unhappy because they are surely indoctrinated regularly in their schools about tolerance, diversity, and the other buzz words schools can’t stop repeating on and on and on…

    I mentioned it to my nephew’s CCD teacher who raved about the priest…and got the usual response, a “diverting strategy” to keep things light and positive…
    hey I want light! I want positive! But what’s that saying about Rome burning while somebody fiddles?

    We are woefully unprepared for battle. Most Catholics I know are what one neighbor called them to me, wearing a big smile “barely Catholic”. This actually made her happy. The churches are emptying where I live, faith is not lived in the public sphere, and the amount of apparent hatred of the Church and especially priests, bishops and religious is painful. I went to my grownup nephew’s new business to help out the other day, and had to endure his partner absolutely committing blasphemy after blasphemy, telling terrible jokes, making insulting remarks, all about the Catholic Church. He is my nephew’s partner, so I defended strongly but didn’t leave.
    I told him the next time I came back I was bringing holy water because it would cause the demons to flee and I wanted to see him fly out the door.

    No, the bishops are finding themselves in a pickle. Having done so little to defend the faith, they may now find themselves with not many left to support them in the assaults that are here, and will definitely come in the near future. Blood is in the water, and the sharks are ready. Chris had good suggestions for what we can all do.

  14. ContraMundum says:

    For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

  15. pm125 says:

    Jesus asked us to stay awake because we won’t know the hour.
    Remember Him above all. Then, take care of the kids and the elderly.

  16. Johnno says:

    Given the rise of immorality, anti-Catholicism, and the steady drumbeat into socialism, and the reduction of human rights and even the reduction of the human being himself to just a life only worth what it can contribute to the state as the Communists would have it all, and the complete embarrassing affair that is the Catholic Church today in disciplining and shepherding its own members, and the widespread apostasy that infects 90% of the Church.

    Some are praising Cardinal Ratzinger’s foresight to see the Church growing smaller… ummm not to dismiss his way of stating it… but Ratzinger was repeating what has always been… Even before that there are the types of Scripture, for example of the Flood and only a few saved on board the Ark, of only the few who remained with Christ during His crucifixion, and of several others in both the Old and New Testaments that have led to the Church Fathers and saints to conclude overwhelmingly that of the total number of Catholics, the majority are damned and that there was ever always going to be only a small number of the real faithful in the end.

    Even C.S. Lewis commented on the reduction of Church attendance and claims that Christianity was growing less. However Lewis saw rightfully that Christianity didn’t decrease, rather only those mock-Christians who didn’t really believe in their faith and only attended Mass out of social obligation were the ones who’d left once the social pressure had faded. The number of the actual faithful has remained consistent and they’re still there. Our Lord saw it before he did and warned us long ago by sending His mother to us at Fatima. Everything here today is unfolding precisely how we were warned it would. We need Our Lord’s divine assistance. Yes, we should all do our parts, but we also need to place our pride in our human ways and politics aside and just trust in Him for once! He knows what He’s doing! The Pope can get the ball rolling by finally ordering the bishops, whose duty it is to obey him, to actually obey him! And start by together obeying our Lord’s wish to consecrate Russia, symbolic or literally the source of these errors, and consecrate it clearly and definitively to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. Ratzinger who’d read the 3rd secret, had further revealed on his last trip to Fatima as Pope Benedict XVI through the Italian press that there is more to the secret than what was revealed in the vision we were given in 2000, [Link to that, please?] beyond the vision, where it speaks of the persecution of the Church, its corruption from within, and of further things to come that we must prepare for. The Church itself is to undergo its own Passion. Are we brave enough to walk all the way to Calvary?

    “Beyond the great vision of the suffering of the Pope, which we can in substance refer to John Paul II, are indicated future realities of the Church which are little by little developing and revealing themselves. Thus, it is true that beyond the moment indicated in the vision, it is spoken, it is seen, the necesity of a passion of the Church that naturally is reflected in the person of the Pope; but the Pope is in the Church, and therefore the sufferings of the Church are what is announced… As for the novelty that we can discover today in this message, it is that attacks on the Pope an the Church do not come only from outside, but the sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church, from sins that exist in the Church. This has always been known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way: that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from enemies outside, but arises from sin in the Church.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, May 11 2010, to reporters on the topic of what significance Fatima has for us today and whether it referred to sufferings of a future Pope and the sex abuse scandal.

    “One would be deceiving himself who thinks that the prophetic mission of Fatima is concluded.” [While I think there is indeed another part of the message we haven’t heard, what the Pope said there doesn’t refer to that possibility.]
    – Pope Benedict XVI – homily at Fatima on May 13, 2010

  17. chantgirl says:

    One of the issues that I worry about in regard to the direction that our culture is heading is that many faithful Catholics are already exhausted and jaded. The internal struggles of the Church have worn many people down as they’ve seen scandal after scandal, good priests left hanging in the wind at times by bishops, and Catholic politicians and professors mowing down the faith without so much as a peep from the hierarchy. I sense battle-fatigue, and the problem is that the tidal wave of EXTERNAL struggles for the Church has not even hit yet. I can imagine that faithful priests, unless they are brand new, are probably suffering from this weariness too. Lord, sustain us in hope! Priests, please do whatever you can to foster Catholic devotions that comfort and refresh us, and help us to feel a sense of unity in the face of the coming storm. We need Masses well said, music well done, rosaries and chaplets and forty hours and processions- all of the best and most beautiful of our heritage to rally around. Refresh us and perhaps when the tidal wave hits we will not be simply crushed but will push back and give resistance.

  18. Johnno says:

    A link to Pope Benedict XVI’s interview concerning Fatima and his full response is here:

    I’ll add this commentary here if you’re interested in light of what happened after Pope Benedict XVI spoke of these things and also of what went on before:
    It notes also:
    “Two days later, in his homily at Fatima, as reported by Vatican Information Service, Pope Benedict said, “We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic message is complete.”
    He went on to look forward to the 2017 centenary of Fatima, expressing his hope that “the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions” may “hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart, to the glory of the Blessed Trinity.”
    This last sentence is a clear indication that the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is not yet fulfilled…”

  19. catholicmidwest says:

    People now are incredibly arrogant. They all think that they are on a par with Aristotle. They’re not, and it’s shocking that I even have to say this. Most people are stuck at very low levels of moral development on well-verified and well-known instruments like Kohlberg’s scales. They simply are not capable of making moral judgments and must be told to obey. It’s the only thing large numbers of people understand.

    Kohlberg’s scales:
    Stage 1: It’s only bad if you get punished, act by act.
    Stage 2: Morality is a deal you make with someone else to escape punishment, which is a risk.
    Stage 3: Moral things are conventionally good. Social pressure defines what’s good and bad. Go along to get along.
    Stage 4: Good things are things that maintain the social order. The law and order view of good & evil. Rules define morality. Changing the rule can change something from being immoral to moral.
    Stage 5: Emergence of talk about freedom and decision, but only from a logical point of view using tokens for authority.
    Stage 6: The actual use of universal principles that start to speak of what human persons are. This is the actual use in personal moral decision-making, not just sloganeering or repeating what the person has heard. What distinguishes between Stages 5 & 6 is whether civil disobedience would be an actual issue. A stage 6 person would suffer for their moral decisions; a stage 5 person is far less likely to do that, but may talk about it.

    Most of the population is very low on these scales when they make their own moral decisions, around stages 2-4 even though they may repeat things that the minority at stage 5 say in public. Stage 6 is quite rare, as you may see if push comes to shove with this religious freedom issue.

    People need to be told VERY PLAINLY from the pulpit what the Church expects and what the Church will accept from them. No ifs, ands and buts. It will be the only thing more than half of them will ever comprehend. Seriously. Scientifically shown to be a fact.

    The good thing for Catholics is that the penitential cycle of going to confession after having lived and learning from repetition tends to teach moral development over a person’s lifetime, to the degree that the individual has the capacity to learn it.

    When it says in Scripture that we are made in the “image and likeness of God” it means a few things, among them that we have moral agency, we choose. It never says we are all as perfect as God in our choices while we are on this earth. We are not God.

  20. catholicmidwest says:

    What we are seeing over and over again in the media, in politics & in the culture right now are perfect examples of Stages 2-4 of Kohlberg’s moral development scale. Pick them out when you see them. It’s very instructive, sometimes humorous and sometimes downright shocking.

    As Catholics, we’re supposed to aspire to higher levels of moral behavior for the love of God, who is the ultimate Good. I’m going to repeat something, but for good reason: repeated CONFESSION is THE privileged means for learning moral development and advancing from one stage to the next, to the best of one’s ability . It’s something we all need to rise to the challenge of our own moral agency which is a gift from God, and our heritage as sons and daughters of God. This is serious business. It’s not a hobby; it’s not a game; it’s not a personal choice that we make from a menu.

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    At this point, it may not matter whether or not we have heart for the battle. The battle is here. I’ve been saying for years “Pay Now or Pay Later.” NOW, we MUST teach the Church’s teaching from the pulpits. NOW. The price goes up dramatically from here, if we don’t. If we wait any longer, the price will be much, much higher than the prospect of however many disgruntled contraceptors go out the door in a personal snit.

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