Just how tone deaf is the National Schismatic Reporter?

Just how tone deaf is the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap)?

Classly as ever, on the eve the conclave they suggest:


No matter from what part of the world he hails, no matter what his theological or ecclesiastical pedigree, the best thing the new pope could do is to reclaim the Petrine ministry for what it is: [And now, ladies and gentlemen, the NSR is going to tell you what the Petrine ministry is.] Let him be the bishop of Rome, the first among equals. [Does that sound Catholic to you?  Okay, that was a trick question.] Our pick for new pope would be the man who embraces the Vatican II call for collegiality and acts on it. [I direct the editors of the NSR back to Vatican II’s document Lumen gentium, which pretty much blows their bizarre notions of who the Bishop of Rome is out of the waters of history and back into the loopy mind of Richard McBrien where they came from.] The new pope should re-empower national bishops’ conferences, decentralize power, and allow national conferences to develop local agendas tailored to local needs.  [I direct the editors to the document Apostolis suos which… oh forget it. They don’t read over there.]

Finally, the new pope should empower and use the greatest untapped resource the church has: laity. Never in the history of the church has it had a better educated and professionally trained laity. Why don’t we put them to work? [I guess that, since the staff of NSR lives in Kansas City,across the river from the SSPX hub of the USA, they must be going only to SSPX parishes.  Where, pray tell, in the world have they been?  Go to any parish in the USA and you see lay people everywhere doing everything.  Come to think of it, the SSPX has a healthier view of the laity, because it hasn’t fallen into the pernicious, arrogant, condescending clericalism that the NSR embraces.  When you start saying that lay people have to do what clerics do, you insult the vocation of the laity and lay people themselves, as if they don’t have dignity of their own without clerics giving them more.  PAH!] Through the use of regularly held local, national and international synods, laypeople could have a true say in the life of the church, including electing pastors and bishops.  [They aren’t Catholic.]

You have to ask yourself: Why don’t they just go join some congregationalist group, or maybe unitarian.   At best, it is time for the Anglican Church to issue Romanorum coetibus.

Poor John Allen.  Would that there were some Catholic weekly out there who could offer him what he would need to make the jump.

BTW… people are starting to notice the little snake. Heh heh.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Now if only someone who worked at the NcSR would accidentally put this up on their website.

  2. catholicmidwest says:

    The National Catholic Reporter is stuck in the old paradigm along with a lot of individual Catholics; for them the old paradigm was very compelling and for some of them it still is; they can’t get past it. But the world has moved on and so has the Church herself.

    This is one of the reasons the media is so confounded by the reports that are coming out of Rome this week. They do not follow the pattern of alliances that the media expects. There are so-called conservatives aligning with so-called progressives into blocs that are difficult to understand unless you have a new “script.” Note that some of the MSM have actually gotten the services of people like John Allen and Fr. Barron to try to help them; the MSM is at a loss to explain what’s going on, and even they realize it. The issues that face the Church are now completely different than they were then; the challenges are also different.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    Same old nonsense. I would love to know the average age of their readership.

  4. cyrillist says:

    So John Allen is unhappy with his present employer? This is more than speculation?

  5. jflare says:

    If I want to see anything related to “collegiality” coming from the next pope, it’d be that he give each national bishop’s conference a timetable for when he needs to see competent documentation showing how they’re no-kidding following Catholic teaching. I’m REALLY weary of hearing about what the USCCB has been up to. They don’t seem to me to “get it”.

    I’d like to see MANY more bishops act with authority in their own diocese/archdiocese to clean up the madness that has broken out. That’s about the only “collegiality” I have much interest in.

    If I want anything from the next pope, it’s this: Require all bishops to set a timetable by when EACH of their priests and seminarians will be required to have received instruction in the traditional Mass. Yes, it’ll be inconvenient for lots of folks and resources will need to be re-aligned. SO BE IT. We’ve had Summorum Pontificum for close to 6 years now, but you’d never know it to walk into the average parish here in the ‘States.

    We can’t expect anyone, lay or cleric, to even hint at transforming the world if we don’t have a routine challenge to deepen our faith or provoke us to be holy.
    ..And sad to say, the Novus Ordo simply hasn’t been getting it done. It’s too easy to “creatively interpret” the rubrics to mean what you want.
    We need a little bit more of the rigidity of the traditional rite.

  6. B16_Fan says:

    Somehow they just keep reminding me of that movie…. “Dumb & Dumber.” I am really looking forward to their reaction when they once again don’t get someone like Kung as Pope. Haven’t seen a really good “spittle flecked nutty” lately and they are overdue. :-)

  7. tilden says:

    I hope the next pope will disband all national conferences. The German Episcopal Conference decision on abortifacients is just the latest example that such conferences are far from infallible and will lead whole nations astray.

  8. Dr. K says:

    Poor John Allen. Would that there were some Catholic weekly out there who could offer him what he would need to make the jump.

    The moment he leaves will be the moment I believe he doesn’t subscribe to their positions.

  9. JonPatrick says:

    Liberals always love to talk about “empowerment” yet their organizations always among the most undemocratic, since they generally “know what’s best” for everyone. Pah! As Fr. Z says.

  10. catholicmidwest says:

    There are some interesting features of human psychology that are operating here.
    -Sizing up the situation in the 60-70s, the conventional wisdom came to a certain set of categories that seemed to describe temporal reality at that point in time. Those are the categories preserved at NCR, as though in amber, for us to view now. Everything they see is still viewed through this lens of “amber,” as it were. The problem is that any concrete situation a) changes, and b) fails to be completely captured in any set of snapshots or paradigms. This is why we pass on from one thing to another and cultures change, even though truths don’t.
    -In a personal version of this, people tend to carry a “snapshot” of the world as viewed in their 18th year (or so) around with them for a lifetime. It can be very difficult to shake, and many people never do. Some people enshrine it and live by it, going so far as to keep it around in their attitudes and personal belongings for a lifetime. It can, at times, indicate dramatic immaturity or failure to grow. And this can happen spiritually as much as it can happen psychologically.
    -Many people make the mistake of confusing temporal appearances with truths. Note that I’m not taking a thoroughly Platonic view here, but rather simply remarking that we don’t always know what the relationship between truths and appearances are. It’s a philosophical problem. We do know that Divine Revelation is truth. We struggle with the rest, in all honesty.

  11. “Empower the laity” oh goodness, clearly they haven’t been to a parish in the diocese of Boise…

  12. Eriugena says:

    Why not Pope with a capital P? And Bishop with a capital B? They even spell Vatican II with a capital II! I hope one of the first acts of Pius XIII is to excommunicate the board of directors (did you see what I did there?) of the national schismatic reporter (and again?).

  13. Mark R says:

    They don’t become anglicans or unitarians because they would be perceived as declasse’. One of the best adverts I heard for the Catholic Church came from a Lutheran minister I overheard, that at a Catholic service all classes are represented, unlike the mostly middle class Lutherans. I hope the NCR folk more fully embrace their Catholic faith eventually, rather than leave the Church. Their paper sucks, and unfortunately is used by other news outlets as a paper of record for the RCC because of its name.

  14. Tradster says:

    “Empower the laity” is liberal code for even more females in the sanctuary and positions of parish power and influence. As if they aren’t already all over the liturgy like fleas on a dog!

  15. majuscule says:

    catholicmidwest– preserved in amber, right on.

    Also– “people tend to carry a ‘snapshot’ of the world as viewed in their 18th year (or so) around with them for a lifetime.”

    So true of me in many ways…thanks for bringing that to my attention.

    At least with all my stuff from that year you have brought back the memory to me that Mass was still ad orientem at that time!

  16. acardnal says:

    The NSR said, “Never in the history of the church has it had a better educated and professionally trained laity.”

    What a joke! I could quiz any lay person to name the 7 Spiritual or Corporal Works of Mercy, or the Precepts of the Church or the four Cardinal Virtues, etc., and it’s very,very, very unlikely anyone – including the DRE – would answer correctly.

  17. inexcels says:

    The NSR is like an ongoing joke and they’re the only ones who aren’t in on it.

  18. LarryW2LJ says:


    Exactly their point. If they had meant catechized, they would have said “catechized”.

    The NSR could not possibly care less what the Catechism actually says.

  19. JacobWall says:

    2 points:
    1. “Come to think of it, the SSPX has a healthier view of the laity” – actually, isn’t the fact that the SSPX enjoys its current presence greatly indebted to the active choice of a good deal of laity to attend their chapels, support them and send their sons to their seminaries? Of course, when the NSR says “empower the laity” they mean empowering only a small group of very progressive laity, and that those should form committees which can actively suppress any laity which does not fit nicely into their progressive mold. For some reason, I don’t think the NSR means that conservative or traditional laity should be empowered.

    2. If I understand history correctly, back in the “good old days” when the pope didn’t always the means to exercise his authority, it was much more common for rogue bishops to be excommunicated, and, if possible, forcibly replaced by an orthodox one? In fact, didn’t other orthodox bishops likewise take it upon themselves to oust the questionable ones, or at least excommunicate them?

    Just imagine the headline: “Bishop Morlino Excommunicates Bishop X; Morlino and Local Bishops Send 10 Strong Men to Forcibly Remove Rogue Bishop.”

    For some reason, I don’t think the NSR would be too happy with this model of collegiality from the past which they supposedly promote.

  20. lelnet says:

    If they love the role of the laity so very much, I have to wonder why they’re so silent when high-office American clerics spout off in the media on worldly subjects over which they have no competence and which are the proper role of those among the laity who _do_ have competence over them, such as physical science, criminology, macroeconomics, or medicine? Mightn’t it have something to do with the fact that, on _those_ subjects, their political allies pretty consistently have exclusive access to the bishops’ ears? (Whereas on subjects which are the proper domain of the clergy, the bishops can pretty safely be presumed to have their _own_ reasonably well-formed opinions, and not be in such need of constant input from folks who, while technically laity, live their entire adult lives inside the bureaucracy of the Church?)

  21. Bob B. says:

    Those pseudo-Catholics at the other place just don’t get it – they’re Episcopalians, at best (might be worth a vote).
    I, too, would like the bishops to act, but even O’Malley, Dolan and Wuerl haven’t taken the politicians to task – they’re just too political.
    @acardnal As for the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, etc, I had my 8th grade students (Catholic school) basically understanding the Quinque Viae and we also read The Keys of the Kingdom (by Cronin). This is when you bang heads with principals and diocesan administrators who have no clue of the richness of being Catholic and what an honor it is to be one!

  22. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Didn’t every monarch have a court jester to relieve him of the anxieties of governance? I don’t know if we have the most catechized laity, but they certainly are the most stressed out and anxiety laden laity if my pastoral work tells me anything.

    So, the good God has given us a modern Jester for comedic laughs and churchy slapstick in the form of the National Distorter. The more we take them seriously, the more we become like them–a pitiable and aged circus who are more to be humored and felt sorry for.

    Put yourselves in their shoes, just for a moment. The pseudo-church they have believed in, prayed for, and attempted to construct for decades is a pipe dream and fading caricature. The young do not follow them, their circulation plunges, their very jobs are on the line. With every passing year they have less and less to hold on to, and a dimmer and dimmer hope to look forward to.

  23. Matt R says:

    Well, I don’t exactly disagree with ‘first among equals’ in and of itself. The Bishop of Rome has no more sacramental authority than any other bishop, but he is the first among the Apostolic, specifically Petrine, sees. It’s the part about the expression of collegiality that needs work.

  24. JacobWall says:

    One of the most disappointing parts about John Allen Jr.’s work with the NSR is that when he offers information, interviews, etc. in other media sources, he is inevitably introduced as “Senior Correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter in Rome.” Besides the fact that this gives undue attention to the NSR, it also gives the (very false) impression to unsuspecting readers will find equally sound reporting as they just heard from John Allen. Even more worrying is that people may assume for some time that its a reliable source simply because of the quality of his reporting.

  25. thefeds says:

    Fr. Z, you’ve hit the nail on the proverbial (fish)head! Sounds like the crazies in KC have described perfectly the Anglican/Episcopalian mess. How long, oh Lord, until the AB of Canterbury releases Romanorum Coetibus?

  26. rollingrj says:

    In response to the title of this post, let’s just say they’d fail an audition to a schola.

  27. JARay says:

    I see that Dr. K says that the reason John Allen doesn’t move is because he subscribes to their policies. In other words, he has an agenda in what he reports. I saw one commenter on the Rorate blog describe him as a wolf in wolf’s clothing. In his comments before the last conclave he never suggested that Cardinal Ratzinger had any chance of election. He only promoted liberal Cardinals.

  28. Traductora says:

    If John Allen wanted to jump, he could. About 4 years ago, he gave an address – purely on his own, not as a representative of the NCR – to a major Catholic professional gathering held in my town, and I honestly couldn’t detect either a conservative or an objective note in anything he said. It was all “peace and justice and the Third World,” even though the conference had nothing to do with any of the above and was actually focused more on Catholic art and tradition than anything else.

    He’s a very good speaker because he’s a charming person (modest, unassuming, tells you stories about his childhood in Kansas) but I think his view of the papacy has always been a bit askew. The other thing is that poor John Allen, along with Cardinal Sodano, doesn’t realize how dated this “peace and justice” thing has become. When I heard Cdl Sodano, it was like a blast from the past.

  29. BLB Oregon says:

    Before the NCR starts coveting the systems that the Protestants have, maybe the NCR should stop to think about whether the grass is really greener on the other side of that fence?

  30. catholicmidwest says:

    Easy, because the Sodano “peace and justice” thing has reformulated and it’s on a different sliding scale now. It’s not the set of ideas that you remember from the last schema–the one immediately following Vatican II. You’ll notice that the alliances are quite different now, with what you might have called traditionalists and what you might have called progressives working together. This is going to be a fooler for quite a while. The die have been thrown up in the air and have come down differently now. The question now is “What is the mission of the Church?” and “What comes first – the works or the Word?” and “What is evangelism and should we be engaging in it?” and “If the answer is yes, who is the one to be evangelized?”

  31. catholicmidwest says:

    You have hit the nail on the head exactly. They don’t mind those things because they’re doing the same thing after Vatican II that they did before, only differently. That’s exactly the point.

  32. Pingback: The National Catholic Reporter v. Vatican II, Round 7,938 » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog

  33. catholicmidwest says:

    The joke, of course, is that even though they are doing the same exact things after Vatican II that they were doing before Vatican II, and calling it something else, they’re claiming that there was a clear break at Vatican II that more or less created something entirely new. And then they go and prove otherwise by their re-enacting their poorly educated childhoods in public. It’s quite a ludicrous display.

  34. Pingback: Voting Begins Again Tomorrow Morning at 6am U. S. Central - Big Pulpit

  35. mamajen says:

    I was reading an article on MSNBC about the “top 20 contenders” for pope. Yes, I know the premise of such an article is stupid to begin with, but it got even worse when I saw that they based all of the rankings on the opinions of The Fishwrap. It’s so annoying when little splinter groups are treated as the voice of the Catholic Church.

  36. RichR says:

    Why am I not surprised at the impertinence of the NSR in telling a Pope how to do his job?

    These people are so out of touch.

  37. acardnal says:

    Thank you Bob B. for being a real Catholic teacher! As you alluded to, 2000 years of Catholic patrimony and thought should be taught not ignored. The answers are there for those who seek.

  38. Imrahil says:

    I don’t mind the NCR telling a Pope how to do his job (I might do so myself on occasion)… everyone has a right to have an opinion. The real problem is their opinion is a false one… and not only that: it is also such a very confused one.

    Finally, the new pope should empower and use the greatest untapped resource the church has: laity. Never in the history of the church has it had a better educated and professionally trained laity. Why don’t we put them to work?
    Untapped? This time of history? You must be kidding. But let’s leave the criticism of this word out.

    I can tell you what the laity wants. Altogether they want the opinions smashed which they consider wrong opinions, and they’re right in wishing to have that (yet only right in getting it if their opinions are correct, of course).
    Some have the plain agenda to abrogate some commandments within the realm of morality, to rather do what pleases them. This, also, is a respectable wish (rather more respectable than NCR-like confusion); only it is a wish that sometimes cannot be fulfilled; and on being better informed they might see so too. (*It can be fulfilled iff the moral rule was no such thing in the first place, as much of the confusion revolving around alcohol and smoking seems to be.) But all of the laity prefer “no, this is impossible” to any answer save perhaps “yes, granted”. The NCR-types only have confusion in between to offer.
    None wish to be put to work. We have enough troubles with the work we do for a living, or even the leasure we also do for living. The very least thing we wish for is to be put to work by the command of progressist types, a command that – compared with the so much disagreed-with commandments circa sextum – has a much less convincing deduction from either Divine Revelation or Natural Law.

    As to local agendas: If it were the Church’s job to develop agendas at all, the NCR might have a point. This is not the case. For freedom you have been freed. Some things are certain, and then they are certain in all the world (taking into account some need of local implementation which works just fine presently). On the rest, it is in dubiis libertas – but not for the diocese, much less for the bishops’ conference, but for the individual Christian.

  39. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I think that if Fr. Z finds John Allen to be a solid guy, that’s all I need to vouch for him. And it seems to me that most criticisms of him or his intentions stem from who his employer is, which is not all that fair. No one has pointed out anything unCatholic about his work in all these posts. I find his articles to be thoughtful and sound in doctrine, whether or not I always agree with him.

  40. Father P says:

    The problem with stories like this and others is that it looks to “conventional wisdom” rather than to the facts.

    For example:

    That the laity have no voice in the Church — except for the laity who have been appointed to the various Vatican discastries as experts by Benedict XVI

    That women have never had any power in the Church — except for the Abbesses of the Middle Ages or Theresa of Avila or Catherine of Siena

    That the Church’s teaching on contraception and abortion is the cause of the spread of AIDS and a growth in population — except in Uganda which (more or less) endores the Church’s teaching

    That the Church endorsed slavery — except for the Popes who condemned it

    That the current accusations against Cardinal O’Brien prove the Church has done nothing to respond to or curb the abuse or minors — even though the “current” reports report an incident from about 30 years ago

    That we might see the Church finally elect a Pope from Africa — so long as you don’t count the ones the Church already elected

    (and just to be fair and balanced)

    That prior to the liturgical reform the liturgy was always celebrated in a reverent and beautiful way by priests who followed the rubrics — except in the places where it wasn’t by priests who didn’t

    That the abuse of minors is one of the “fruits” of the “spirit of Vatican II” — except for those cases that occured prior to Vatican II

    One of the things we will all miss from Benedict XVI is that his vision for the Church was enlightened by not only a clear theological, Scriptural, and liturgical sense but also was deeply grounded in the history of the Church. As I remember one commentator saying back in April 2005 something like: Unlike the various extremes in the Church whose vision of “reformation” is based on idealizing or demonizing the Church “before the Council” and by that they mean the “church of the ’50’s — the 1950’s”, Joseph Ratzinger’s “conservative” theological and liturgical vision includes the Church of the 21st Century and the “church of the 50’s — that is, AD 50”

  41. PostCatholic says:

    Why don’t they just go join some congregationalist (sic) group, or maybe unitarian (sic)?

    Your refugees are gladly and lovingly—and frequently—received by we Unitarian Universalists. Thank you for the encouragement to them.

  42. hilltop says:

    Fr Z asks:
    Why don’t they just go join some congregationalist group, or maybe unitarian.
    Answer: Beacause “they” enjoy the title “Catholic”. Why give that up?
    Where is the Bishop who originally allowed a media organ the use of the honorific “Catholic”?
    Where is the Bishop today that continues to allow Fishwrap’s use of the same honorific?

  43. Gail F says:

    Gee, sounds like they want the Catholic Church to split up into a bunch of little “churches” that all decide for themselves what they want to do based on some sort of voting, sometimes in geographic groups, kind of like… wait… oh yeah. The world already HAS that.

  44. netokor says:

    Hilltop, you’re exactly right. Without its malicious use of a Catholic identity, fishwrap is finished. Who pays attention to Unitarians? Or any other denominations? The secular world is obsessed with the Holy Catholic Church. It is unable to grow indifferent toward the Papacy. I wonder why….

  45. Gratias says:

    The bishops’ conferences should not exist. A few good bishops working independently can make a huge difference. In Brazil one bishop refused to I’ve up the Latin Mass. We could have bishops that like Cardinal Ranjith order altar rails restored, or communion in the mouth while kneeling, or bring in FSSP. The more individual power the Bishop has the better for diversity by example. I am with the monarchical papacy.

  46. Chris M says:

    Really? Come on, man. I was an Episcopalian. #LFMF

  47. robtbrown says:

    JARay says:

    I see that Dr. K says that the reason John Allen doesn’t move is because he subscribes to their policies. In other words, he has an agenda in what he reports. I saw one commenter on the Rorate blog describe him as a wolf in wolf’s clothing. In his comments before the last conclave he never suggested that Cardinal Ratzinger had any chance of election. He only promoted liberal Cardinals.

    In fact, a week or so before the 2005 conclave Allen wrote an article saying that the Ratzinger solution is still on.

  48. robtbrown says:

    ,b.PostCatholic says:

    ‘Why don’t they just go join some congregationalist (sic) group, or maybe unitarian (sic)?’

    Your refugees are gladly and lovingly—and frequently—received by we Unitarian Universalists. Thank you for the encouragement to them,/B.

    Are they trying to find God or themselves?

  49. robtbrown says:

    PostCatholic says:

    ‘Why don’t they just go join some congregationalist (sic) group, or maybe unitarian (sic)?’

    Your refugees are gladly and lovingly—and frequently—received by us Unitarian Universalists. Thank you for the encouragement to them

    Are they trying to find God or themselves?

  50. Johnno says:

    “received by we Unitarian Universalists”


    I’d be surprised if any refugees even knew where to find you… much less know this funny sounding sect even exists…

  51. Blog Goliard says:

    The most gloriously clueless piece I saw there recently was an article by the redoubtable Sr. Joan Chittister, headlined “Vatican could learn a thing or two about renewal from women religious”. Wherein she recounts all the necessary and beneficial reforms carried out (mostly in the ’60s and ’70s, the hinge point of all history, natch) in the realm of women religious, and the extraordinary fruitfulness that has resulted.

    (Oh, wait…turns out she doesn’t have a whole lot to say about that last bit, apart from a nod to liberation from authority here and mumblings of “mutual respect” there. I wonder why?)

    The dreams that people like Sr. Chittister had back in the day were not self-evidently crazy at the time, and I will concede that many of the disastrous experiments of unhappy memory were entered into with good intentions. But persisting in them, while remaining impervious to the experience of the past 30-50 years and the lessons to be learned therefrom, is another thing.

    Pity the poor radical whose revolution has failed, whose time has passed, and who, trapped within an ossified world-view, has learned absolutely nothing from any of it.

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