Wherein Fr. Z rants

Our Lord promised us that Hell would not prevail against the Church.

He did not promise that Hell would not prevail in the USA, or in your town or parish.

Today we are seeing a shrinking of Holy Church in many places.  The rise of relativism and secularism, and the decades-long devastation of our Catholic identity due to poor catechesis, deficient shepherding, and unworthy worship have taken their toll.

We need the New Evangelization that Pope Benedict has called for.  We need it desperately.  We are duty bound to carry out the Lord’s “great commission”.  We are bound in charity to be concerned for the souls of our loved ones and strangers who are at risk of the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell.

If we are going to be a minority, then let us be what Pope Benedict called a “creative minority”.  We must keep putting bricks back together, one brick at a time if it need be so.

When we have to deal with a bad wound, sometimes we have to cut things off in order to save the rest.  St. Augustine, when speaking about Christ as medicus, the Physician, used the image of the medicine of his day, the early 5th century.  When it comes to the pain of being corrected, the suffering we must endure when we convert or reform our lives and which Christ allows us to have for our own good, Augustine said, “the doctor doesn’t stop cutting just because the patient screams for him to stop.”

Many parishes are facing hard choices.  They can’t keep their doors open because they don’t have adequate income.  It’s a hard fact: parishes need YOUR money to stay open.  Another hard fact: many Catholics think that everything should be free.

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are about to gripe, “Dioceses and parishes are incompetent when it comes to money!  I don’t want to give my hard earned money to these nitwits!  I don’t want to give my money so that it can go to pay off lawyers because of evil priests and bishops who hurt children!  If I give money, I want to know that it is going to something… good!”

You have my sympathy.  But what is the alternative?  Cut off giving and therefore cripple the Church’s ability to keep the doors of institutions open?

We are in a pickle, friends.

We have to keep our parishes open.  We have to support our priests.  We have to promote vocations.  We absolutely need our parishes to remain open so that we have access to the sacraments, without which we cannot be who we are supposed to be.

Sadly, to keep some parishes some, we will have to close others.  How very sad.  We have squandered the gifts and hard work and loving sacrifices of our forebears who, often in their true material poverty scrimped and saved and gave to the Church to build those parishes, and schools and hospitals.

When I think about all the money wasted on ridiculous and sometimes even evil wreckvations of churches I SEE RED.  When I think of the money thrown away because of the wickedness of priests I feel rage and sorrow and shame rise in my gorge.

Today I read this story about what Archbishop Chaput has to do in the once mighty Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

From CNA:

Archbishop Chaput urges ‘deep changes’ in Philadelphia archdiocese

Philadelphia, Pa., Sep 8, 2012 / 08:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Celebrating the first anniversary of his role as head of the Philadelphia archdiocese, Archbishop Charles J. Archbishop Chaput is calling for “deep changes” in how the local Church thinks, behaves, and is organized.

“We can no longer allow ourselves the complacency of the past. ‘The way things have always been’ needs to become ‘the way things need to be’ if we have any hope of preaching Jesus Christ to the world around us,” Archbishop Chaput writes, signaling the ongoing reformation of his archdiocese.

“The task of renewal will require deep changes in the thinking, behaviors, structures, procedures and organizational life of the archdiocese,” he says in a Sept. 8 letter to the faithful of the archdiocese.


The archdiocese has been profoundly affected by a sexual abuse scandal since 2005 and has had serious budget problems in recent years. The archdiocese faces a projected deficit of $6 million for the 2012 fiscal year.

In addition, many of the parishes in the archdiocese are struggling. “Many of those parishes simply can’t be sustained,” Archbishop Chaput says in his letter, pointing to the possibility of further parish closings and mergers.


Refresh Your Supply

Sound familiar?

In a great Italian novel, Il gattopardo (The Leopard), about the changing of the times in Sicily during the forced unification of Italy in the 1800’s, the son of the Duke, Tancredi, tells the old man,

“Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga com’è, bisogna che tutto cambi … If we want everything to remain as it is, then it is necessary that everything change.”

The key to any renewal of Holy Church where we live is the revitalization of our worship of Almighty God.

At the summit of the hierarchy of all our relationships is God.  The virtue of Religion, related to Justice, obliges us to give God what is His due.  This is done by us, collectively, in our liturgical worship.  Justice and Religion help us to order all other relationships in our lives.  If we get our worship wrong, many other things in our lives will go off the rails.

We need a Marshall Plan to rebuild our Catholic identity.  A renewal of our liturgical worship is a sine qua non for any project for a New Evangelization.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Thank you for this honest assessment. I know several Catholic families right now where the parents, who are about my age or younger, say they do NOT want their girl to be a nun or their son to be a priest. This is plain selfishness and owing to contraception and making the family business an idol.

    My dad for years was on the parish finance committee for free. He has great skills in auditing. He did not get paid for helping the parish balance its books, which it did.

    Where are those Catholic men now who are not volunteering? When I talk to singles who go to Church, they tell me they are not involved in the choir, the finances, or any evangelization. They give me excuses, like time. Yet, they go running daily and see their friends and use the Internet a lot.

    If the parish is the base community, one must work at it. Community just “doesn’t happen”.

    Again, it is all about commitment vs. the me generations. If singles say they get nothing out of the Church, I say, what are you putting in? Simple. Rant away. We need it.

  2. acardnal says:

    Well said Fr. Z.

    We are ALL called to be faithful, holy and pure.

    Save the Liturgy, Save the World.

  3. Rellis says:

    Fewer, stronger parishes is a good thing provided it’s done in a rational way. I hate to use a consumer analogy, but would you rather have 4 disgusting fast food joints on your block, or one big one which is kept up immaculately? I’d rather have the latter.

    In my home diocese of Providence, there are approximately 150 parishes. Nominally, there are about 600,000 Catholics (4000 Catholics per parish). In fact, only about 200,000 of those Catholics regularly practice their faith (this according to a recent diocesan head count at parishes). That means that these 150 parishes are, in fact, only serving 1333 Catholics per parish.

    In order to bring the notional (4000 Catholics per parish) up to the actual, what’s implied is a parish paring of two-thirds (100 parishes). While that might be hard, I can’t see how the diocese can cut any fewer than 50 or so parishes over the next decade or so. In most cases, this can be done by combining former ethnic parishes in close proximity to one another.

    But it must be done. This is a corporate restructuring, and we’ll be stronger on the other side. Let’s get it started and get it done, ASAP. A stronger Church awaits.

    From there, the vocations boom and big traditional families can maybe once again build up the parishes.

  4. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    That was no rant; that was reasonable, and right.

  5. acardnal says:

    Supertradmum: I agree with your sentiments. I would only add to the list of “other activities of the uninvolved” is that a number would rather be a pet owner than a father or mother. No time for children (souls for heaven) but plenty of time for dogs.

  6. LisaP. says:

    This is heartbreaking.

    Our parish is lower in funding. We have an absolutely beautiful mission church in an outlying area that has been closed for lack of funding to make it safe. At the same time, the parish is pushing a huge move to build a new central church, tearing down or selling the old one. This building is fine, has served for decades, and is never full on Sundays. No where near. We don’t need a new, round-ish, modern church. We need to keep our missions open. So, what do we do when they money you give will not be spent to keep churches open? We wind up giving the bare minimum we feel would be necessary for keeping the doors open for the sacraments, if everyone donated that much, and use our money (what we have) to do what we think is right and good in our life as a whole. We do not tithe. We are conflicted about this, but we don’t know what else to do. It’s not just that the money is wasted, it is potentially spent on things that are counter to a good parish life.

    Chaput is a force of nature, I suspect if he can fix the diocese then he will see people giving again, eventually, and maybe eventually any churches he has to close he will be able to open again.

  7. chantgirl says:

    If we’ve got to cut, can we keep the beautiful, Catholic-looking churches and sell the Protestant-looking ones to Protestants?

    Supertradmum- I would love nothing more than for my little ones to become priests or nuns. In fact, I sometimes feel that I missed a call to the religious life and would not mind if God took that unquenched desire and passed it to my children. In fact I have felt called lately to intercede for the purity of my children, that they might be able to enter whatever vocation God calls them to with unwounded and unfettered hearts.

  8. St. Rafael says:

    First, nothing will change in the closing of parishes and the shortage of priests until the clergy of the Catholic Church admit to themselves the biggest problem: the Novus Ordo was a mistake. That they shouldn’t have changed the Mass and that it has been a total disaster.

    The second biggest problem is that we have the worst generation of bishops in the history of the Catholic Church. They are worse than the 95% who denied Christ’s divinity during the Arian crisis. This current generation has reached news levels of corruption and incompetency. Many of them don’t have the faith and some are actual devils. The episcopacy of the Church needs a massive cleaning out through resignation, removal, and retirement.

    Appointments of bishops must be taken out of the hands of the congregation of bishops and papal nuncios for a time, while the Pope makes emergency appointments. The new bishops of the Church need to come from the few truly holy men in the priesthood that are spread out and hidden in every corner of most dioceses.

    [It’ll be interesting to see who agrees.]

  9. “A renewal of our liturgical worship is a sine qua non for any project for a New Evangelization.”

    Few of here at WDTPRS doubt this axiom. But few of our appointed successors of the apostles and sworn guardians of Faith and Church appear to see renewal of liturgy as the key to their success as bishops. How could it be that we are right and they are wrong?

  10. iPadre says:

    The more problems I see in the Church, the more I see the necessity of the Holy Father’s reform of the Sacred Liturgy. My early Liturgy professor often said: “Liturgy is morality”. The very heart of or Faith and the heart that keeps the whole world sane is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When the Liturgical life of the Church is strong, Catholics are devoted to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, evil is conqured. A New Evangelization based on programs will fail. It will only come about with a new Liturgical movement, based on everything coming from Pope Benedict XVI. Long live Benedict XVI!!!

  11. aragonjohn7 says:

    A M E N ! ! !


  12. Trisagion says:

    The quote from Il Gattopardo is exactly the sense ofBlessed John Henry Newman’ famous dictum from An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine: “In another, higher world it may be otherwise, but here below, to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

  13. Henry Edwards: How could it be that we are right and they are wrong?

    Really good question.

    First, I think more new bishops today are thinking in terms of a renewal of worship. They are not burdened by the baggage of those heady halcyon days when the “spirit of Vatican II” meant, essentially, iconoclasm and indifferentism.

    Second, I think bishops are distracted by many and pressing cares. Their administrative burdens are horrific, their schedules are jammed, their energies are maxed out.

    What I hope will happen is that something of this will penetrate through to the true core of their shepherd hearts and, even if they are not so interested (for whatever reason) themselves in liturgy, they will at least charge another to work on a new sort of renewal in their name. Optimal? No. The bishop himself should be the very first one to be doing it. But bishops are over-burdened. It is easy to understand how so many cares pull them away from what is, in the longer term, arguably more central to their pastoral mandate.

    We gripe about bishops here on the blog sometimes, but I genuinely feel for these guys.

  14. Girgadis says:

    I live in a parish where the old guard has made known loud and clear their disdain for the Traditional Latin Mass and the number of the faithful it brings to our Church each week. I do my best to defend the pastor and silence the critics. Sadly, so many regard our church as nothing more than a social club for their cultural rites of passage rather than a sacred place of worship where the sacraments are dispensed and the Lord dwells in the tabernacle. Some of these venomous people have even threatened to withhold financial support for the parish until the TLM is either suspended or moved to an hour they consider suitable, namely Sunday evening. I am not exaggerating. I will wager a bet that if Archbishop Chaput puts our parish on the chopping block, the cultural Catholics will yell the loudest.

    God forbid there is ever an appeal for increased generosity or for some special need. The same folks who feed money without care to a one-armed casino bandit react to such requests by complaining loudly about it, usually right before Mass begins when at least some Catholics are trying to pray and prepare for the Sacred Mysteries. The merits of sacrificial giving are lost on these folks.

    When Archbishop Chaput announced school closings earlier in the year, there was a flurry of fundraising activity that resulted in some being kept open. At first, all kinds of insults were leveled at him about how he should close rectories and sell off treasures in the Vatican, but no one suggested that if those protesting actually bothered to show up at Mass each week and give at least minimal support, there’d be no need for him to take such sad but necessary action.

    I found the parish bulletin that announced my oldest child’s baptism 24 years ago. There were four morning weekday Masses at the time, Monday through Saturday plus Sunday’s schedule. Today, we have one sparsely attended daily Mass . It is a sobering indication of how far removed some have placed God from their lives.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    I feel for these guys too, as they had nasty seminary training which had fallen into modernism long before Vatican II. Vatican II and the problems after were a result of the protestantization of the seminaries, re. Scripture studies, Christology and Ecclesiology.

    As to this generation of bishops being the worst, absolutely not.

    All but one of the bishops, and that was St. John Fisher, went over to Henry VIII’s new church, taking the Oath and the Act of Succession, thereby excommunicating themselves in England and Wales. This led directly to the weakness of the Roman Catholic Church is England and the real establishment of the Anglican Church. If those bishops would have held firm, Henry could not have taken over the Church and history would have left Thomas Cramner whistling in the dark.

    And, what of the bishops who left for Luther? The map of Catholic nations was changed by their apostasies. No, and we probably “have not seen nothun’yet”.

  16. Supertradmum says:

    sorry is should be in

    and chantgirl, have your children do the thirty day consecration to Mary of St. Louis de Montfort. I did this with my son when he was ten and it does create a window for the graces connected to purity of mind and body.

  17. St Rafael, I agree with you, the more I notice the situation coming to play.

  18. Jack Hughes says:

    @St Rafal

    Point 1 – The Novus Ordo itself when celebrated properly is ok, the real problem lies in Catholic culture; a very liberal lady from my parish remembers two pre V2 priests who competed with each other to see who could say the old rite the fastest. Much as you’d like to blame everything on V2 and the Novus Ordo i’m afriad its not possible, I know of a Traditional Priest who was brought into the Church by a wonderful Novus Ordo Mass, and whilst I prefer the TLM I know of several Priests who say the NO very revenrently indeed.

    Point 2, does anyone remember when Catholics gave more than a 50p (roughly 25 cents) per family to the collection basket? because as far as I can see a culture of giving has all but evaporated, on average each person at the TLM at my Church gives roughly £4 to the collection whereas the average person at the NO gives something like 50p

    Point 3 – going back to what supertradmom said, a good Priest friend of mine once told me about Catholic parents actively disuading their children from a vocation; to remedy this I propose that Priests get friars and sisters (from good places obviously) to come and give talk to what little youth remains in our Church, as corney as it sounds we need to market the Priesthood and religious life in a way that actually works i.e. not hiphop style. but throught he lives of the saints

    Point 4 a great way of cutting costs would be to remove idiotic commities (read catholic campaign for human development) get rid of Bishops councils alltogethers.

    My rant over

  19. Bea says:

    Henry Edwards says:
    8 September 2012 at 12:55 pm
    “A renewal of our liturgical worship is a sine qua non for any project for a New Evangelization.”

    It depends on what you understand as “renewal” If it means going back to the time-honored TLM, I’ll agree if renewal means more changes: No Way.

    St. Rafael says:
    8 September 2012 at 12:53 pm
    First, nothing will change in the closing of parishes and the shortage of priests until the clergy of the Catholic Church admit to themselves the biggest problem: the Novus Ordo was a mistake. That they shouldn’t have changed the Mass and that it has been a total disaster.

    The second biggest problem is that we have the worst generation of bishops in the history of the Catholic Church. They are worse than the 95% who denied Christ’s divinity during the Arian crisis. This current generation has reached news levels of corruption and incompetency. Many of them don’t have the faith and some are actual devils. The episcopacy of the Church needs a massive cleaning out through resignation, removal, and retirement.

    Appointments of bishops must be taken out of the hands of the congregation of bishops and papal nuncios for a time, while the Pope makes emergency appointments. The new bishops of the Church need to come from the few truly holy men in the priesthood that are spread out and hidden in every corner of most dioceses.

    [It’ll be interesting to see who agrees.]

    Well, I agree on the last/third paragraph. There are many good, holy, suffering priests who would make wonderful bishops because through all this turmoil they have kept the Faith and suffered for it at the hands of their bishops or preferred obscure parishes where they may save the souls of those entrusted to them. THESE are the kinds of bishops we need. We must pray that they will be found out and brought out to lead us in Faith through these tough times. We must also pray for discernment that
    we recognize them and not try to impose our thoughts and attitudes on them but follow them obediently.

    As to the first paragraph, we don’t know why God has allowed it. There is The Passive and The Active Will of God. Perhaps we needed a shake-up to appreciate the Holy Mass. Perhaps this was a means of conversion for Protestants, who knows, only God Knows, but He DID allow it to happen.

    The second paragraph: We are living it; and it seems to be the worst. I am sure that other crisis that past generations lived through, thought that THEY were living in the worst generation. God did not promise that we would not have crisis, on the contrary if we follow Him, we will have much to suffer.
    “If they hate you, know that they hated me first” John 15:18

    Thank you Fr. Z for bringing up this “Rant” It is nice to be able to air what a few of us cry-for in our corner of the world.
    Funny, I just made a typo (last word above) and wrote; “word” instead of “world” Interesting food for meditation. “HIS “WORD” AGAINST THE WORLD” Take the “L” (Hell) out of one word and you have the other.
    Time to go pray and meditate on this and so much more.

  20. Gail F says:

    Rellis: Economies of scale do not always apply. A couple of years ago our city was going to close a lot of small libraries and concentrate on larger regional ones, but public outcry changed that plan. Larger, nicer libraries people had to drive longer distances to were not as useful to our city as smaller ones closer to people’s homes and schools. Churches are the same way.

    It’s a dilemma, and because there is not only one cause there is not only one solution. But any pastor or bishop that turns away committed people who also contribute monetarily is nuts. I have a neighbor who started an annual 40 Hours devotion at a former parish. She left that parish after the new pastor said it was too old-fashioned — even though the collection in the weekend after it was the largest of the year EVERY YEAR. That pastor should have his head examined. People liked it, it was once a year for goodness’ sake, and it brought in revenue. Why people do the things they do constantly eludes me.

  21. jeff says:

    Our family don’t put anything in the plate at our parish. We wire it directly to the nearest TLM parish–600 kms away.

  22. BobP says:

    What would have happened had not Bugnini been hired to reform the Mass?

  23. mamajen says:

    You are completely right (of course), Father, and it is very hard. I am very good at complaining, but I am not so good at getting off my duff and doing something to effect change. My area has seen some of the worst of it for the past 10 years. We had a pastor removed due to past sexual abuse. We finally got a permanent replacement (who was wonderful) only to have the diocese consolidate parishes, remove said pastor and give us a different one who now takes care of two large parishes instead of one. Our parishes struggle to keep up the buildings and pay the bills, yet we are assessed large amounts for diocesan social programs. With all the instability and upheaval it has been really difficult to give a care anymore.

    It dawned on me recently, as I was sitting perturbed at yet another careless altar server who can’t stand still, pay attention or act in a respectful manner, that I could do something if I really wanted to. I could offer to help (together with my husband) to start a good training program for altar servers and make sure that there are always altar servers scheduled. I’m sure our priest is so busy with the two parishes that he just does the best he can. Maybe it will go over like a lead balloon, but I’ve never even tried to help improve anything, only grumbled about it and considered going to a parish I like better.

  24. albinus1 says:

    The quote from Il Gattopardo is exactly the sense ofBlessed John Henry Newman’ famous dictum from An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine: “In another, higher world it may be otherwise, but here below, to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

    Chesterton makes much the same point in, I believe, Orthodoxy. IIRC, he uses the example of a white fence post: If you have a white fence post and you leave it alone, eventually it will fade and decay. If you want to keep it, you have to keep it in repair and repaint it regularly, and maybe even replace it from time to time. So, he says (I’m quoting from memory, so please forgive any lapses), “In order to keep the old white post, you have to have a new white post.”

  25. frjim4321 says:

    Hopefully if he plans on closures or consolidation of parishes he will get some competent canonical advice and avoid the mistakes that have been made elsewhere.

  26. Marie S. says:

    I attended my Diocese’s first (annual, I hope) conference on liturgy today, with the theme ‘Preparing the Banquet’. Our Bishop had his ad limina visit earlier this year, and was impressed with the new focus on liturgy and evangelization as well as the upcoming year of faith. At the conference, there were breakout sessions on the various ministries in liturgy available to lay members (lector/reader, EMHC, usher/greeter, art/environment, music, RCIA), but the heart was the talks by Bishop Vasquez, a good young priest, and our vicar general, as well as a review of Deus Caritas Est by our Diocese Director of Social Concerns.

    Bishop Vasquez talked about the rising tide of secularism, and how it is the power of liturgy that will help us withstand the assault. The young priest talked about our witness in the world through living the Christian life, strengthened by the Eucharist, and how we never know who we may touch with our example. Our vicar general talked about the liturgy and Word and Eucharist transforming us, both in our ministry within the church and in the world. He also talked about how we lay members are also responsible to encourage vocations, at home, at church and in the world.

    Good stuff.

    Agree with commenters above on the lack of involvement by singles, and add everyone else to that mix, especially retired people. One of my co-parishioners at the conference, a Brit, mentioned Malcom Muggeridge’s pre-conversion comment: “If I believed what you Catholics believed, I’d crawl on my hands and knees to receive the Eucharist.” If we really believe the church is what it says it is, how can we not give it whatever it needs (time, talent and $$) to serve the people of God?

    Re: vocations. I don’t have children myself, so my dream is that one day God will use my service (RCIA, bible study, etc.) to draw someone to choose the religious life.

  27. St. Rafael says:

    There have been many crises in the history of the Church with the four biggest being the Arian apostasy, Great schism of 1054, Protestant revolution, and Modernism of the 20th/21st centuries.

    The reason I believe this is the worst is because as Pius X taught, Modernism is the synthesis of all heresies. Modernism is the worst heresy. It ecompasses all the old heresies. Modernism is worse than Protestantism. While the heretical bishops left the Church in places like England, the Modernists do not leave the Church. They stay in the Church and bring their destruction from within. They destroy souls from within while holding on to their offices and jurisdiction.

  28. mamajen says:

    @St. Rafael

    The modernists wouldn’t go, and SSPX wouldn’t stay. It’s always frustrating to me how the good traditional Catholics, even the ones who do stay, tend to group together and isolate themselves rather than working to improve the parishes that really need them. We need the same passion and determination that modernists have.

  29. chantgirl says:

    mamajen- before moving to the Oratory we currently attend, my family attended the EF at a local parish. When the regime changed downtown, the EF was no longer kindly looked upon and our local parish ended it, even though we had a stable group and were financially supporting the parish. Since there was an oratory in town, it was suggested that all of the people who wanted the EF could just go there. I had wanted to sing with the oratory choir long before I actually did because there was an EF in a local parish, and I wanted to support a local parish trying to offer the EF by singing for them. Once the rug was pulled out from under us, we went to the only other place we could find the EF. My theory is that some bishops want to gather all the TLMers into one dedicated parish so that parishioners at regular parishes are not exposed to it. I asked our former pastor how the two rites would mutually enrich one another if they never even crossed paths in parishes, but I think his hands were tied. Many people we attend Mass with would probably love to have a parish close to them with the EF.

    As to the singles not contributing, I have to wonder if most of them have just left the Church for all practical purposes even though they may still call themselves Catholic. We may see them again when they get married or have kids.

  30. ByzCath08 says:

    Our priest does not talk much about contributions, but the last time he did he spoke on the spiritual benefits of tithing and how we need to get back to that practice. Americans spend more than $45 billion on pets, spends billions on the latest gadgets from Apple, and the list goes on and on. Imagine what good our Catholic churches could do in society if we really focused on giving the first 10% back to God. I will not judge anyone for the amount that they contribute to their parish churches, but we all need to look at our priorities and work on getting them in line.

  31. mysticalrose says:

    While I understand the need for parish closures, I wish that there was some way for the good Bishop to assess the orthodoxy of the parishes that are slated for closure! In the case of Philadelphia, some smaller, yet solidly orthodox parishes, are forced to merge with larger, much more liberal parishes. This is true for the schools as well. I think it is a pretty grave act to expose parishioners, particularly children, to heresy through these mergers. I know that Archbishop Chaput is a holy man with a difficult situation on his hands. Yet still, I do wish he could find out a bit more about the parishes slated for closure — beyond merely the financial bottom-line.

  32. It is a difficult pill to swallow, but decades before taking to the Chair of St. Peter, Joseph Ratzinger saw already that the Church’s future as an institution would be radically different from what it had been accustomed to:

    From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge—a Church that has lost much. It will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. It will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices it built in its palmy days. As the number of its adherents diminishes, so will it lose many of its social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of its individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry, and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Alongside this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly.

    The Church will be a more spiritualized Church, not presuming upon a political mantle, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost it much valuable energy. It will make it poor and cause it to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. (…). But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. (…) It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that it was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming, and be seen as humanity’s home where they will find life and hope beyond death.
    (From Faith and the Future, 1970/1971)

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  33. Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam says:

    I agree with this article. I also agree with St. Rafael. St. Rafael doesn’t go quite far enough however;. To call it only “modernism” is something of a misnomer, isn’t it? (Taken from http://www.vatican.va website–Humanum Genus of Pope Leo XIII)
    “For as soon as the constitution and the spirit of the masonic sect were clearly discovered by manifest signs of its actions, by the investigation of its causes, by publication of its laws, and of its rites and commentaries, with the addition often of the personal testimony of those who were in the secret, this apostolic see denounced the sect of the Freemasons, and publicly declared its constitution, as contrary to law and right, to be pernicious no less to Christiandom than to the State; and it forbade any one to enter the society, under the penalties which the Church is wont to inflict upon exceptionally guilty persons. The sectaries, indignant at this, thinking to elude or to weaken the force of these decrees, partly by contempt of them, and partly by calumny, accused the sovereign Pontiffs who had passed them either of exceeding the bounds of moderation in their decrees or of decreeing what was not just. This was the manner in which they endeavoured to elude the authority and the weight of the apostolic constitutions of Clement XII and Benedict XIV, as well as of Pius VII and Pius IX….In consequence, the sect of Freemasons grew with a rapidity beyond conception in the course of a century and a half, until it came to be able, by means of fraud or of audacity, to gain such entrance into every rank of the State as to seem to be almost its ruling power. This swift and formidable advance has brought upon the Church, upon the power of princes, upon the public well-being, precisely that grievous harm which Our predecessors had long before foreseen.”
    So the Church we fondly recall is in eclipse and that is just the way it’s got to be because the bishops and the popes didn’t do what they were supposed to do out of human respect. It’s pretty simple. Now it’s up to those left behind to pick up the pieces. I attend a Ukrainian Catholic parish because the N.O. is not a Mass (lex orandi, lex credendi) and I volunteer every week and I can tell you it’s the same core of volunteers every week. And it’s mainly American born volunteers. The Ukrainians are mainly first generation (read sovietized) and think everything related to the church is free (even though we have a huge mortgage on the building we occupy). The reason is the Ukrainians come from a place where the State is the Church and the Church is the State. Does anyone see any similarities here?

  34. PostCatholic says:

    ” In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of its individual members. ”

    That is a very interesting couple of sentences. It is good to know that Benedict is well-read in theologians outside of Catholicism and synthesizing them when possible with Catholic Tradition when possible. I wish I’d read it 24 years ago when I was entering seminary. But then, I wouldn’t have had the context, I suppose. In any event, the passage above confirms to me that Benedict is a keen intellect.

  35. Kathleen10 says:

    But Father, not to beat a point to death. I shall not rant, I shall keep this short.
    The scandals seem to have led to the increasing attack on the Church, and open animosity toward Church, and now, even God Himself. Atheist’s are out like trout, and brag about it!
    Does it not seem as if we ought to know how our beloved Church is “de-selecting” men not fit for the priesthood? How can we journey on, not knowing whether the ugly root of the problem has been cut? Not at ALL in order to involve and empower the laity, God forbid, but only to provide assurances which might help some who are concerned about why we ended up where we are, and that Mother Church seriously intends for us not to go back there.

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