Pope Francis: Things will not return to how they were before.

Pope Francis went to the Basilica of St. John Lateran (his cathedral) to speak with the clergy of the Diocese of Rome.  He spoke, again, off the cuff.  He took questions.

Among the things he said:

“The defining aspect of this change of epoch is that things are no longer in their place. Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work. The way in which we locate ourselves in history has changed. Things we thought would never happen, or that we never thought we would see, we are experiencing now, and we dare not even imagine the future. That which appeared normal to us – family, the Church, society and the world – will probably no longer seem that way. We cannot simply wait for what we are experiencing to pass, under the illusion that things will return to being how they were before”.

“Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga com’è, bisogna che tutto cambi.”

Thus Tancredi to his father, the Duke, in Il Gattopardo.

“If we want everything to remain as it is, then everything needs to change.”

Reason #4 for Summorum Pontificum.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    With all due respect to His Holiness, a quote from President Ronald Reagan immediately jumps to mind:

    “Well…there you go again!”

  2. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf,

    Is he referring to the collapse of civilization when he says

    Things we thought would never happen, or that we never thought we would see, we are experiencing now, and we dare not even imagine the future. That which appeared normal to us – family, the Church, society and the world – will probably no longer seem that way. We cannot simply wait for what we are experiencing to pass, under the illusion that things will return to being how they were before”


    Natural law is now defied openly, and our ways of responding to the situation can not be to “wait and see”.

    Or does he mean “we can’t go back to the use of the traditional forms and teachings of Holy Mother Church” because they no longer speak to modern man


  3. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I wonder what sort of inside information the Pope has…

  4. Bosco says:

    By the way, not to side-track matters from the git-go but what are the limits of papal binding and loosing with respect to saaay…divorce, homosexual unions, salvation, married priests, women priests, etc.?
    I haven’t heard ‘boo’ yet from His Holiness in respect of abortion.
    I think this is all going very weird very fast.
    Seriously: Can anyone recommend a good book on Natural Law?

  5. Priam1184 says:

    @Chris Garton-Zavesky I personally believe that he is referring to the collapse of civilization yes. And the Church, as the builder of that civilization, must suffer turmoil too. And my own personal addition to his commentary is that the Church, unlike all the other things, is immortal and after all the turmoil is done will be the only thing left standing as the world moves into the new epoch.

  6. Martlet says:

    Funnily enough, we were just talking about this today at home. Not the Pope’s remarks, but the state of the world — and I think that is what the Pope was talking about. He may be saying we have to find new ways of speaking, but I am sure he means speaking about the realities of God, heaven, hell – and the destruction of society happening before our very eyes. I am sure he is not speaking of traditional Mass or teachings.

  7. Bosco says:

    @ Martlet,
    “I am sure he is not speaking of traditional Mass or teachings.”

    Why, oh why, do we always have to guess at what His Holiness is ‘really’ saying? Why do we need sixty different snippets with sixty different interpretations and a thousand different spins on what was said?

    Unless he is trying to obscurely insinuate the end is nigh and doesn’t want to terrify the world out of its collective wits.

  8. iPadre says:

    I reall wish he wouldn’t speak off the cuff. It leaves too much up it personal interpretation.

  9. lucy says:

    I agree with Bosco. Does the Holy Father Emeritus and the Holy Father not understand how the press likes to spin their words? And also why do they speak in riddles? Just say what you mean. Our society today does not understand things spoken with the meaning hidden. We’ve lost that art.

  10. Bosco says:

    If I will be teaching catechetics from a cave in the near future ala Walter Miller, Jr.’s “A Canticle for Leibowitz” (great book!) then can you, Father, please recommend a good Catholic book on the Natural Law and how to explain it?

  11. anilwang says:

    “Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work…..Things we thought would never happen, or that we never thought we would see, we are experiencing now, and we dare not even imagine the future.”

    I respectfully disagree. Truth is truth. It does not change. God does not change. People can ignore the truth, but there are consequences. You can try to help people avoid the consequences of their sin by being pastoral (e.g. the Pope’s comment about baptising a baby of a woman stuck in mortal sin, so that the sins of the parent don’t harm the child unnecessarily). But there comes a point when being pastoral encourages your sheep to go to the slaughter. There comes a point when being “sensitive to the addict”, aids the addict in his addiction and makes you a patsy.

    The Church *must* keep proclaiming the truth, in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching (2 Tim 4:2).
    Whether the world listens, gives you laurels, or crucifies you is irrelevant. We have our marching orders.

    The current time is not unique in terms of sin. Every single sin of the modern age was practiced, even to a greater degree, in the past before the Church changed the world. The main difference is that when people sacrificed and rosted their children Moloch or the Aztec gods, or couples killed their born children simply because they were the wrong sex or had some imperfection, or when temple prostitutes and Pederasty were common, people spoke plaining and proudly about what they were doing. This plainess made it easier to confront.

    Things are more slippery now. We have mastered obfuscation to the degree that the greatest horrors can be made to sound bland, inconsequential, and actually virtues. And great virtues can be made to sound vile or foolish. The average person has become so timid, confused, caught in so much muddy thinking, and too desensitized with fake horrors that real horrors just don’t seem real. The sophists would be amazed at their descendants.

    But regardless, the approach remains the same. Clarity is the only way combat obfuscation.

  12. jhayes says:

    Francis also said:

    I dare say that the Church has never in such good health as it is today. The Church isn’t going to collapse. I’m sure of that! I’m sure of that,

    “Io oso dire che la Chiesa mai è stata tanto bene come oggi. La Chiesa non crolla: sono sicuro, sono sicuro!”

    Testo proveniente dalla pagina http://it.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/09/16/papa_francesco_al_clero_romano:_alla_chiesa_serve_conversione/it1-728994
    del sito Radio Vaticana

  13. jhayes says:

    Has never in = has never been in

  14. Stu says:

    I think his words are spot on.

    We are not called to be in a defensive posture. This is not a holding action. If we aren’t on the attack, we are losing. Society is not going to simply reset itself back into place. Like it or not, we are now back into a pagan environment as were the early Christians. We have to engage the World with the Truth as if it is the first time they have heard it. That’s what the Holy Father is saying.

  15. Andrew says:


    I agree with you. This is a mere observation on the Pope’s part: an acknowledgment of present social realities. Things are not just changing slightly with the passage of times as before. Instead, there is a consolidation happening of the forces of darkness whereby previous definitions that used to hold true are no longer binding. We all know this by now. Where is the surprise? The Pope is telling the clergy to confront this assault with a new zeal. They cannot afford to merely manage things by sitting behind a desk at a parish office. I don’t see anything here to panic about other than the frightening seriousness of the warning.

  16. Bosco says:


    Your guess is as good as any guess.

    These papal statements are like some kind of verbal Rohrschach Test. Everyone hears what they hear and come away with something different. No right interpretation. No wrong interpretation.

    In an odd sort of way, and not to be pejorative of His Holiness style of speech, his open-to-all-interpretations content reminds me of President Obama.

  17. Gretchen says:

    ” Like it or not, we are now back into a pagan environment as were the early Christians.”

    Except the world has centuries of sins, mistakes, and other assorted bits of history to hit the Church over the head with now. This is not the first time the world has heard about it. No, the world is sick of hearing about Christianity and its God.

    If a gleaning of meaning can be found, it is perhaps that we need to be living the Faith more than talking about it. That is a common mantra of some.

  18. ClavesCoelorum says:

    I wonder where Pope Francis got the idea that the Church is healthier than she was ever before.

  19. Franklinwasright says:

    I am looking at the world and seeing a return to paganism. This worries me, as it seems Western civilization has been steadily moving forward and is now on the decline, is this decline unprecedented? It seems so to me, which is why I have to fight off feelings that “the end is nigh.” Could someone with more knowledge of history fill me in as to whether we’ve ever seen a crisis within the church and society of this magnitude?

    I would also like a list of books that would come in handy for rebuilding the church from scratch, if we are indeed chosen to be part of the remnant.

  20. SimonR says:


    Here is a link to a book on natural law by Charles Rice and published by Ignatius Press


  21. Gaetano says:

    I cringe every time the press covers yet another of Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff remarks. As someone who works in public life, I can assure you that the press will always take your remarks in the worst way possible, so spontaneity is undesirable.

    That having been said,Pope Francis echoes GK Chesterton on this issue:

    All conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.

  22. Stu says:


    The “World” may have heard about Christianity and its God, but individuals have no idea about Christ. My parents generation knew they were rebelling against God. Now I think many have no idea what God wants for them or who He really is.

    But I agree that living the Faith is needed and that includes myself.

  23. Stu says:


    I can admit that the Holy Father would perhaps do better to consider honing his remarks a bit given how people can misconstrue them. But likewise, I think we owe him the benefit of the doubt in attempting to read his remarks through the Tradition of the Church and assume no ill will toward those of us who hold that Tradition so dear. And even with ambiguity, sometimes things are clear. This is one of those times.

  24. Bosco says:

    @SimonR ,
    Thanks very much! I’ll have a look.

    Just as an aside, I had the pleasure of speaking and corresponding with Prof. Rice (and Rev. Paul Marx and Joe Scheidler) in the mid-80s when he/they gave me an assist while I was attempting to convince the then-bishop of the Diocese of Allentown it was rather bad form to permit doctors who performed abortions elsewhere in the community to also enjoy staff privileges at a Catholic Hospital in the Diocese.

  25. Ignatius says:

    I have never been a fan of Abp. Bergoglio’s style of communication. But, frankly, the way some people (usually, from the Trad type, that is MY people) start hyperventilating and making tempest in teapots when Pope Francis says things that are perfectly clear such as these makes me nuts.
    I second what Stu and Andrew said.
    Best regards,

  26. sw85 says:

    For the reader inquiring about books on natural law, Edward Feser’s “Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide” is pretty darn good. It’s a little on the brainier/abstract side but very useful. It will equip you with everything you need to know to articulate and defend the idea of the natural law.

  27. Patrick-K says:

    The meaning of this statement would seem to depend on the question to which he was responding. Is the full text of the interview available?

  28. McCall1981 says:

    In my opinion, the issue is that many of us don’t entirely trust Pope Francis (at least not yet), so when he says something that can be interpreted a few ways, we don’t know whether we SHOULD give him the benefit of the doubt. For instance, if Pope Benedict had said this exact same quote, I don’t think any of us would have batted an eye, because we trusted him and would (rightly) give him the beenfit of the doubt. Same for Francis’ “who am I to judge”, and his “atheists go to heaven” remarks. As people have pointed out, Benedict said pretty much the same things, but no one was upset because he had our trust, and it was easy to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    I don’t trust Francis, so I can’t entirely give him the benefit of the doubt here. My hope is that over time I’ll be able to trust him more, and thus give him the benefit of the doubt in situations like this, but that hasn’t happened yet for me, and maybe for some others too.

  29. Robbie says:

    Each day brings something new that leaves me scratching my head. The comment that things will not return to how they were suggests what I’ve feared for months. That is that Francis intends the kind of “revolution” or change just as we saw in the late 1960’s and the 1970’s. In other words, what was begun then must continue today.

    Maybe I’m way off base, but I think the Pope’s comments over the last few months suggest major change was on the way. While not redefining any doctrine, it seems clear to me Francis is sending a message to the left their time is approaching. For the whole of the world’s left leaning media to be so wrong about someone seems a stretch and I think there’s a reason Hans Kung is so giddy.

    As for the comment the Church is in good health, I’m not sure from where that comes and it seems to differ with the view Cardinal Bergoglio offered in a speech to the Cardinals before Conclave.

  30. Does not the present situation–of repeated ambiguities and conflicting interpretations–lend credence to the view of those who believe it healthier for a pope to only speak formally in his office as pope, and keep his informal personal opinions and observations to himself?

  31. Stu says:

    Mr. Edwards,

    That is sage advice. Continual informal remarks not only cause cloudiness (which we have seen) but they also dilute the overall message and make even the formal pronouncements just another set of remarks.

    I believe our Pope has a pastor heart and there is nothing wrong with that. But that is not necessarily the job he has been called to do right now. It reminds me of a newly minted Chief Petty Officer in the Navy who doesn’t want to give up getting his hands dirty with the rest of the guys in fixing everything. It’s not what he is now called to do.

  32. Imrahil says:

    It was an endearing time, the good old time before anno ’14. And in Bavaria even more. Then His Royal Highness the Prince Regent was reigning; an art-loving monarch; for the King was melancholic. The beer was dark still; and the people were typical: the lads were mettlesome, the lasses were decent, and the notables slightly distinguished and slightly informal. There was just much still in order back then. For order and quiet were cared for by the gendarmerie; and justice by the Royal Bavarian District Court.

    (Introduction to the TV series “Royal Bavarian District Court”)

    And no that is not meant ironically, neither by Lohmeier (the author) nor by myself.

  33. I really like the “Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work.” That is a totally brilliant observation. While we went viral and received close to 1 million hits this week, we received a message that there was an excellent article by a monsignor somewhere on a similar topic that I should post because his never was seen. THAT’s the problem. We have these high-minded academically written statements that no one takes the effort to read. While we got a lot of bad press, people knew exactly what we were saying and did their best to misrepresent it and discredit the messenger. People don’t want to think or have things brought to their attention so they are much more comfortable being able to body-swerve vague, high-brow documents. You gotta shoot straight.

  34. Bosco says:

    Quoting Radio Vaticana’s English translation of September 16, the Pope said: “I dare say that the Church has never been so good as today. The Church does not collapse I’m sure, I’m sure ”


    @sw85 ,
    Thanks for the book suggestion.

  35. Ignatius says:

    I think that it would be a useful remainder for some of us to point out that the Catechism teaches:
    2477 “Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
    – of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor; […]”
    2478 “To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

    Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. and if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved (st. Ignatius Loyola, Sp. Ex. 22)”

    Best regards,

  36. Johnno says:

    More like the same Reason #1 for finally consecrating Russia by exercising Papal authority over the bishops to Mary’s Immaculate Heart in reparations for Russia’s errors which have brought its people and the world to where it is today. God gave us advance warning and has provided us with the means to fight against it. A solution that is divine and not of human hands!

    We just had another close call with regards to Syria escalating into WWIII. And now we’re going to do yet another world consecration… Our blessed Pope John Paul II performed many World Consecrations and his pontificate saw the bloodiest era of warfare and the largest Catholic Apostacy of the 20th Century. So much so that immediately afterwards he desperately resorted to calling other pagan religions to join him in Peace initiatives and joint prayer sessions for peace, which, to no one’s surprise, didn’t accomplish anything.

    I’ll give the pagans and non-Catholics some credit though… When the Pope called them to join him, all of them answered. When the Pope called upon his own bishops to join him, none of them bothered.

    Pope Francis is devoted to Our Lady of Fatima, and despite some questionable decisions, looks like someone who’s willing to buck the trend and case lio and go with his gut. Perhaps in an ironic sense, he’s what we need. I pray he will be the one to finally accomplish this. Though I fear something incredibly frightful will have to happen before this is realized.

  37. benedetta says:

    It sounds like he is referring to the fact that we can no longer rely on governments, schools, wider culture, media, or even families or parishes as we once did to pass on Christian values. Nor can we afford to wait, believing that these may or will return to prior roles. It’s up to us to live our Catholic identity if we desire a Catholic culture, it’s up to us to give voice to these important values, it’s up to us to spread the good news of the Gospel, and without us doing this in a “diy” way. And, I agree that the Church is not going to be collapsing any time soon. The Church has existed and flourished at times in history of severe persecution, and amidst cultures and values antithetical to ours. We might not be founding universities and hospitals in the near future as we once did, however, there will be holiness, fortitude, and other fruits of the Holy Ghost, there will be saints for our time. Tradition will be passed down through different means than what was once prevalent…through a blog, perhaps! Like Fr. Z says, we have to ride the bike.

  38. Bosco says:

    Please remember that even a Pope may make mistakes in the exercise and formulation of his prudential judgements and for one to question a prudential judgement of the pope is not tantamount to being anti-papal, often quite the contrary. (Ref. the dispute between Sts. Peter and Paul at Galatians 2: 11-13)

  39. benedetta says:

    sorry, and without us doing it in a “diy” way, these values will not be transmitted to the wider culture.

  40. Geoffrey says:

    Very well said, Ignatius!

  41. Ignatius says:

    I do remember that, Bosco. However, I fail to see the “error” in this particular case.

  42. mark says:

    Fr Zuhlsdorf, I think these words of Pope Francis were originally used in a document about the priesthood which he wrote when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. They were not off the cuff comments made today. In that document, he went on to explain that the priests’ mission was to challenge these changes. I will try to find the exact reference.

  43. VexillaRegis says:


  44. APX says:


    If you want to study the natural law, I would read St. Thomas himself. There’s some really contemporary quackery going on now in the philosophical circles when it comes to St. Thomas. I go to a catholic university (so they tell me) and my philosophy prof, when teaching St. Thomas’ natural law theory stated that, he “[didn’t] want to open up a can of worms, but modern philosophers studying Aquinas’ Natural Law theory are now saying that the Natural Law theory supports homosexuality.”

  45. Kathleen10 says:

    Wow. Again, I have no idea what he intends with his remarks. Again. Pope Francis seems to this uninformed observer as speaking to a different crowd than most of the commenters here on this blog. Speaking for myself only, I never feel he is speaking to me. That means nothing, just a personal observation. Maybe I’m the problem.
    In our crazy world, another mass shooting in Washington today, we have come to see a new world where up is down, bad is good, or so it seems. We know it isn’t, but our world appears, appears, shifting as opposed to firm. In a way, it feels like anything can happen, because anything is happening. I don’t wish to be alarming. But I’m a bit alarmed, or maybe, incredulous. Still, we have our God, and He is faithful.
    There is a decidedly new “shift” in the air. Something I personally can’t shake. It’s been building, and it keeps building. I can’t define it. I have a feeling if we could step outside our time and look at events, we’d be able to say what we are leading up to, or at least that we are leading up to something.
    Personally, I hope it’s the return of our Lord, coming on the clouds of glory. Scary? Yes, admittedly. Like I said, I don’t wish to make anyone nervous, but, let’s face it, these events have End Times written all over it. (Hey, I sound like a Protestant!) Even Jesus did not know when, but He said it would happen.
    I’m just sayin.

  46. Bosco says:

    Thanks! I’ll have a read of The Angelic Doctor at the beach. I don’t suppose it’s available in Cliffs Notes.

    Never mentioned error. Just questioned the prudential judgement exercised in the manner papal communications are revealed, released, and disseminated.

    By the way, didn’t the Vatican recently hire Greg Burke, a former correspondent with FOX News, to manage communications hiccups? What’s Greg doing these days?

  47. cdbeard01 says:

    I teach ethics at a small career college where there are few people of an academic inclination. From what I’ve seen of my students, there are very few relativists but also very few natural law thinkers. And almost no one is convinced by natural law unless he already more or less believed it and was looking for a name to give it.

    Bearing that in mind, part of what he’s saying may be that the world no longer accepts the philosophical or rational foundations on which we build our Catholic faith. That is, one can explain natural law philosophy as brilliantly as Thomas himself, but I don’t think it would convince your average guy on the street.

    I don’t think we’re going to convert people to the Catholic teaching on marriage, for example, by explaining the natural order of sex. It’s not that we need to be better at explaining the categories of natural law; it’s that the categories of natural law don’t make sense to the postmodern mind.

    This quote by the pope reminds me of something John Paul II said in Fides et Ratio. While saying that the Magisterium has a role in determining the truth or falsehood of philosophical ideas, he starts off a section with: “The Church has no philosophy of her own nor does she canonize any one particular philosophy in preference to others.”

    Rather than returning to natural law, part of responding to Francis’ observation may be to find out what philosophical system people believe *now* and building toward the truth of the faith from that. If we demand people switch philosophical categories before evangelization can begin, we will fail.

  48. Bosco says:


    Fear not! “and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 38:20

    Just keep your gaze fixed on Our Lord and while the sea may rage, you will be utterly safe.

  49. McCall1981 says:

    I agree with your interpretation on what he said. I agree that what he meant was that: “It’s up to us to live our Catholic identity if we desire a Catholic culture, it’s up to us to give voice to these important values, it’s up to us to spread the good news of the Gospel, and without us doing this in a “diy” way.” as you said. The thing I find frustrating is that by his actions he seems to be doing the opposite this. He doesn’t seem to be “giving voice” to important Catholic values, like abortion, homosexuality, etc; he’s just silent. I think it would be much easier for us all to stand up for Catholic values if our Pope was leading us, instead fo remaining silent and leaving it all to us.

  50. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Sub sole nihil novum.

  51. jacobi says:

    The Holy Father is right. The way we have explained things over the past forty post-Vatican II years has been a complete and absolute failure.

    We need now to get back to stating, teaching and practising the Catholic Faith, clearly and explicitly, as it has been revealed by the Magisterium of the Church up to the mid 20th century.

  52. McCall1981 says:

    “I have a feeling if we could step outside our time and look at events, we’d be able to say what we are leading up to, or at least that we are leading up to something.”
    Very well put, that’s what I’m feeling too.

  53. Johnno says:

    APX –

    I believe what those modern philosophers are actually subscribing to is ‘Fallen-Nature Law Theory.’

    Back in a Philosophy of Sex class in college, our professor the the course were trying to make it sound as if Aquinas was actually saying that rape was a lesser crime than consensual homosexuality and thus we ought to ignore Aquinas’ logical reasoning. Of course he never actually says this, though I can see why someone could get confused because Aquinas actually is only drawing a comparison between natural sex being ordered towards God and homosexual acts obvious being contradictory and thus being categorically worse than heterosexual adultery, but the lesson in class leaps to try and portray Aquinas’ logic as suggesting that he must then conclude that in the case of a violent rape of a woman by a man, that this is preferable to consensual homosexuality.

    Of course Aquinas never actually treats that particular topic (at least not to my knowledge with whatever texts we received in class) so it’s a faulty comparison and leap of logic to make that he would. You could demonstrate the disconnect here in that in the rape scenario, only one sins and does so by violence and restraining the free will of another by force, robbing them of dignity and reducing another to that of an object of gratification, no longer recognizing the image of God at all. Thus I feel that Aquinas would’ve no doubt been able to argue why the rape was categorically worse, despite being naturally ordered, because a greater number of crimes are committed to a greater degree. Perhaps someone more knowledgable about Aquinas or the Thomistic method can chime in on this topic here.

    Naturally the class went on to treat Genesis as a myth disproven by Darwinian evolution, only mentioned to demonstrate how it shaped Christian beliefs with regards to sexuality, then concluded with the lovely pedophilic accounts of the Greeks replacing the Genesis ‘myth’ with the preferable Greek myth explained while young boys lie in the arms of older men explaining where heterosexual and homosexual lovers were all originally early human prototypes that over the course of evolution were split in half by the gods, some becoming opposite sexes, others retaining the same sex, and thus sexual orientation was simply these halves finding each other again. Doesn’t that sound like such a nice story?

  54. Johnno says:

    cdbeard01 –

    I disagree. I’d say the best way to do this is to completely destroy and demonstrate the flawed self defeating philosophies of the modernist world. Not trying to find a synthesis between what people believe now and through it leading them to the faith, unless of course you are doing it in a way that also achieves the former. Otherwise that’s precisely the sort of rubbish that got us to where we are in the first place and what the pastoral language of Vatican II was designed to accomplish.

    The first step to recovery is to destroy the very foundations their delusions are built on; the unholy trinity of Evolution/Copernicism/Naturalism. Followed by its children – humanist subjectivism, moral relativity, and revolutionary progress.

  55. Bosco says:

    @Dr. Edward Peters,

    Indeed, Panem et circenses.

    I’d like you to know I pray daily for your son.

  56. mark says:

    Here is a weblink which gives some background to the ‘change of epoch’ words:-

  57. McCall1981 says:

    Thanks so much for the link!

  58. benedetta says:

    McCall1981, I don’t know, I read last week that the Holy Father called a single mother and thanked her for going ahead and having her baby. I think that is a pretty strong encouragement for prolife. I never hear the usual American dissenting suspects doing things of that nature. As well the Holy Father has repeatedly spoken out about the importance of the family, of motherhood. Again, American dissenting Catholic types don’t want to encourage anything of that sort. It’s prochoice all the way for that crowd.

    Additionally, the fact that he states that the Church is in pretty good shape would also indicate that he does not believe at all in the agenda of American liberals such as womyn preests, etc etc etc. who are stridently proclaiming all the time that the Church “must wake up” and “must change” or else face dying out altogether. Holy Mother Church, thankfully, she is bigger (much bigger) than L’America.

  59. LuisaP says:

    Quote #1 If the Pope is correctly quoted, “I dare say that the Church has never been so well as it is today. The Church does not collapse: I am sure of it, I am sure of it!”

    ….. why would he say

    Quote #2 “The defining aspect of this change of epoch is that things are no longer in their place. Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work. The way in which we locate ourselves in history has changed. Things we thought would never happen, or that we never thought we would see, we are experiencing now, and we dare not even imagine the future. ”

    In the first statement, if he means the Church = the Mystical Body, the Church Militant, of course, that is true. But the other part of the first quote is difficult for me to reconcile with the second quote which is taken from Fr. Z’s article. “Spin” it – yes; honestly reconcile it – no

  60. johnnyDmunoz says:

    I appreciate that Father Z and others that are in the same vein in the Catholic media are showing loyalty for the Holy Father, setting an example to have fidelity to the Holy See, but nothing about Pope Francis seems good for the Church, in or out of context.

    Where is the reform? Why do we have to be explained the context, when the context never makes it any more clear? Embrace of gay clergy in the highest offices. And the ‘humble’ example of throwing off many traditions, in a Church based on tradition! Evil politicians still receiving communion, yup. And his meetings with Liberation Theology priests, comforting.

    Heard he was tough on the last two above, haven’t seen anything today that proves that to be true. Sorry but we have a Pope in the spirit of Vatican II. And like V2 nothing but confusion in his wake, I hear the confusion over and over since he came in. The Faith will suffer, the decline will be sped up and the Gates of Hell will try to over come The Church. Oh yeah, Christ’s blood in plastic cups surely thrown in the trash or on the ground, Habemus Papam!

  61. johnnyDmunoz says:

    Oh yeah I have been trying to find it in the Bible that people who do not believe in God/Christ will go to Heaven… I am sure it’s in the same chapter where the Apostles tell everyone Christ died so follow your conscious. How sad…

    If anyone can point me to those passages I would appreciate it.

  62. Quanah says:

    @ Stu and Andrew,

    You are spot on. I do not know why people are having a nutty about this.

    @ Anilwang,

    Of course, truth is truth. The Pope isn’t saying otherwise. There is, however, no one single perfect way for all times, languages, and cultures to express the truth. While there are, of course, exceptions (such as many good people who read this blog), the language of scholasticism and neo-scholasticism does not engage people. It’s like a foreign language to most people. If you are going to proclaim the Gospel you must speak the language of the people to whom you are proclaiming it. Benedict XVI does not say things the same way Aquinas did, who did not say things the same way as Augustine, who did not say things the same way as Irenaeus. They have all used different expressions and in some cases quite different vocabulary, yet they all proclaimed the Gospel truth.

  63. McCall1981 says:

    Anyone worried about this particular statement Francis made, read the link “mark” posted. This quote is from a paper that was written by Card Bergoglio around Aparecida. The quote is in reference to the challenges Priests will face. In other words those who have interpreted this quote in a positive sense seem to be correct. Phew!

  64. jhayes says:

    Mark, thanks for the link. My quick summary:

    1. The world has changed and isn’t going back to what it was

    2. [to priests] change yourselves, so you can save souls in this new world.

  65. McCall1981 says:

    Also, for the record, his quote “I dare to say that the church has never been so well as it is today,” sounds much better in context too.

    The full quote/context is:”I dare to say that the church has never been so well as it is today,” he said, in spite of scandals such as that over clergy sex abuse. “The church will not collapse, I am sure, I am sure. “Sanctity is stronger than scandals,” he said.


  66. robtbrown says:


    Personally, I hope it’s the return of our Lord, coming on the clouds of glory. Scary? Yes, admittedly. Like I said, I don’t wish to make anyone nervous, but, let’s face it, these events have End Times written all over it. (Hey, I sound like a Protestant!) Even Jesus did not know when, but He said it would happen.

    1. IMHO, the End Times began with the re-establishment of Israel in 1948. How long those End Times will last–100 years? 500 years? 1000 years. No one knows.

    2. The text you refer to from Mk is traditionally explained by saying that it wasn’t part of Christ’s Mission to reveal when. BTW, the parallel text from Mt leaves out reference to the Son.

  67. RJHighland says:

    This may be a chicken and egg thing but I believe the world is in the mess that it is in is because the Church established by our Lord is in a mess and has been a mess for decades about 5 to be exact. It is this lack of clarity from the Pope and Bishops in the Church that has caused so much confusion everyone can take what is says how ever they want to. It would be really nice if someone in authority in the Church could speak with clarity and be decisive. The Church teachings should be explained in black and white, this is right this is wrong. Really simple if you think about it. Reading statements like this just gives me a headache. The subject is never clear, who is to do what and why. An example “illusion that things will return to being how they were before”, before what? The current death spiral in morality in the world, the complete break down of families? The collapse of the faith inside the Church? Vatican II? If it will never return to some point are we to accept the error that is going on now? What does he mean?!?! As the sheep look at the shepherd with glazed eyes. It is like trying to look through a brick wall and expecting to see what is on the other side. The Church is in great shape? What?!?! Is this delusional or blind optimism?

  68. Michelle F says:

    Pope Francis has spent some time talking to Pope Benedict XVI, and I think he may be speaking in the context of some things that Pope Benedict said not long before he left office.

    I remember Pope Benedict saying once recently that the Church had failed to understand that society’s acceptance of same-sex “marriage” is not based on simple hedonism, but on a change in the definition of what is a human being. If I understood him correctly, he was hinting that the Church was going to have to have to address the concept of human identity and what is a human being before she could begin to address problems such as same-sex “marriage and sex change operations.

    I can’t find the article I read in which Pope Benedict talked about this, but he gave a similar talk to the Cardinals in December 2012, and the text of his speech is on the Vatican’s website:


    So I think Pope Francis’ comment belongs in the context of what Pope Benedict was talking about before he left office. The world at large will never understand or accept what the Church has to say about same-sex “marriage,” sex change operations, and related topics such as abortion and euthanasia, not even if she appeals to Natural Law in her arguments. The Church must first explain to the world what is a human being. It is the first rule of Philosophy: define your terms.

  69. Michelle F says:

    I gave you all the wrong link. Pope Benedict’s speech is located here:


    I apologize for the screw-up.

  70. Kathleen10 says:

    I’m not working right now, so I have plenty of time to mull over what appears on this blog. :-| For all your sake I hope I am busy and tired soon.
    I was thinking about all of this, this afternoon. A slight amendment to my earlier post that it feels like “End Times”. I’m not retracting, but adjusting.
    What it seems like, even feels like (sorry to rely on emotion here), is that the “warm hand of God” on which we rely, and have been accustomed to, has been withdrawn, and our world is now left vulnerable to reap all the evil we have sown, or, what our culture has sown. Here it is, in technicolor, and while we would of course cease to exist if God looked away from us for a moment, we would be obliterated, we seem to be much more vulnerable to extremes of all kinds, sociological, natural events, theological, political, etc. The world is all nuts all the time now, and it’s like a bad game of Dodge ball that none of us want to play.

    Thanks to Bosco and McCall and all of you. If Fr. Z. gets sick of us for our nonsense and closes up tomorrow I would miss you all and this blog very much. (and him!) :)
    Johno, the title of that class would have facilitated my taking “Flower Arranging 300”.

    Quanah, but THAT is the problem. We are waiting with baited breath for Catholic truth. Catholic truth is what we hunger for, would like to see expressed, we believe, trust in, lean on, in our post-Christian, secular, and pretty darn evil world and culture! I too wonder sometimes if it is just a matter of “style”, and it just may be that in this age, we need a Pope who speaks the lingo and will really relate to a larger share of Catholics or non-Catholics today, particularly Latinos? But, if it’s truth we are looking for, and expect our Holy Father to lead the charge, well then, where is the charge? We cannot be wrong to want to hear confirmed Catholic truth, teaching, and tradition. We can, most of us here, go it on our own for a bit, we have a foundation, but, it would be so much easier to have “one less worry”, and speaking for myself I can’t believe avoiding saying the hard truths is going to improve things in our world. God knows best, and I know nothing. The Pope is His jurisdiction.
    One last thing, please, does it not seem an important distinction to say a person who is not a believer may say no thank you to God and rely on his conscience IF he or she has a “well-formed conscience”? Without that important distinction, one is just following personal whims. We already have that in abundance, and I don’t see alot of people who’s conscience is all that well formed. If you tell the average Joe or Jane today they just need to follow their conscience, well then, they’re in trouble. These sound bites are killin us.

  71. Jackie L says:

    “Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work.” – I don’t know what this means, but traditional methods of the Catholic Church have not failed.

  72. Kathleen10 says:

    RobtBrown, thank you, that is interesting.

  73. Bob the Ape says:

    “The defining aspect of this change of epoch is that things are no longer in their place. Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work. The way in which we locate ourselves in history has changed. Things we thought would never happen, or that we never thought we would see, we are experiencing now, and we dare not even imagine the future. That which appeared normal to us – family, the Church, society and the world – will probably no longer seem that way. We cannot simply wait for what we are experiencing to pass, under the illusion that things will return to being how they were before”.

    I’m 57 years old. I can remember when the world – yes, even when the Cold War was going on – seemed stable and comprehensible. Sure, there was evil, and people disagreed about this, that, and the other; but for the most part the disagreements were reasonably civil and the arguments were rational. Not any more. Governments are concerned only with amassing power, the intelligentsia are mentally and morally insane, and the ordinary people are sheep without a shepherd. Nothing is unthinkable – imagine any atrocity, and you can find people who once would have known better but now would excuse, defend, or even celebrate it. I understand exactly what His Holiness is talking about.

  74. Palladio says:

    The Pope is exactly the sort of realist that the Pope Emeritus is. He is also correct. Some, perhaps insulated in their daily lives by proper traditions of good sense, good taste, and good morals, may not see what is obvious to those of us witnessing statism as the ascendent ideology, with its non-culture of death and tyranny, already firmly in place and effect. I, for one, see it the schools and in some ‘Christian’ churches. Even as signs of the moral poverty of our quasi-families and unjust laws reveal the place for what it is –murderously violent and villainous to the middle and lower classes and especially to the unborn and the young–we find little to no political or social counterweights of any force or substance. I know what our Church, the Church, is, but the shuttered parishes and schools–accelerated by the scandals–are the images of the world His Holiness envisages. Some call this state paganism. I find that off, since Greek and Roman times were far more interesting than the term suggests: unlike the Greek and the Romans, we lack imagination, passion, and disinterested approaches to truth outside of the exact sciences–or, we lack a general cultural will to these ambitions; we deny our nature and dignity, or degrade and destroy them. We have yet to produce literature and architecture to last as long as Homer or the Pantheon. If we date modernity to the Renaissance from 1300 to 1550, when most of its figures had been born or would be soon, then we have a long time more to last if we are going to perpetuate the traditions of Petrarch, Michelangelo, or St. Thomas More, Catholics to a man, by the way, to rival the “Glory that was Greece and the Grandeur that was Rome.” Put another way, for what did ten men from my family fight for in W. W. II? Bad as the good old days were, were ideals nonetheless not widely shared across faiths and, far from perfectly, enshrined in our laws? Where are those ideals today? Where is the country that my uncles and cousins fought for? I do not live in it, I am sure.

  75. McCall1981 says:

    What you said about feeling like the warm hand if God has been removed made me think of the Pope in the early 1900’s (perhaps soneone else can remember which Pope it was) who had a vision while praying. The vision was of Jesus and the devil talking. The devil said he coukd destroy the Church if left unhindered, so Jesus gave him 100 years to attack the Church. The vision terrified the Pope. I dont know how reliable the vision was, but it came to mind.

  76. Johnno says:

    McCall1981 –

    There was a speech at the Fatima conference earlier where there was speculation as to the interpretation of the 3rd Secret of Fatima and the consequences of delaying the consecration of Russia. One thing someone mentioned was that the longer it takes for the Church to obey God and delay His request; as a spiritual chastisement, God would withdraw grace more and more from the Holy Father thus making him more and more susceptible to the attacks, betrayals and deception of the Devil until finally his own life shall be taken by his enemies.

    There are a whole lot of things that seem to line up and coincide from previous visions of Popes, John Bosco etc. These indeed are days of testing. It is perhaps necessary that the Church, like Israel, spends its 40 years wandering in the desert, attacked from all sides, until the entire generation that begat the ‘spirit of VII’ dies off leaving the conquering of the Promised Land to the new generation that never knew of nor was attached to the temptation of returning to Egypt but being born in the wilderness has their eyes and hearts firmly fixed on their homeland. But the Pope that finally takes us there, like Moses, being of the old generation, too, may due to his errors of judgment, not be allowed to enter into that time, but he shall glimpse its fulfillment from afar, leaving his successor to take them there.

    Speaking of ‘100 years’, this was precisely the period of time that passed when St. Catherine told the French King that he should consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to avoid catastrophe. But the so-called ‘Sun’ King at the height of his reign and optimism, didn’t. Neither did his successors. 100 years later from the date of Christ’s command, began the French Revolution. The king was beheaded, the priests and nuns slaughtered alongside many people by the godless revolutionaries and the sexual perverts after the likeness of De Sade. It is possible a similar clock has been ticking since Our Lady asked Sr. Lucia to tell the Holy Father that now was the time to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart.

  77. TNCath says:

    So, Your Holiness, what is your point? These vague, stream-of-consciousness statements are getting a bit frustrating. I agree with comments made above: I just don’t trust this Pope as I did Benedict XVI or Blessed John Paul II.

  78. Johnno says:

    Michelle F –

    I think Benedict XVI and Francis are on the wrong track with that one. Not on their observations of the state of the world. That much is true and obvious. But on their solution, which is basically what Vatican II was supposed to be. They are still wed to the council. But the world isn’t interested in philosophy nor dialogue, especially coming from a source ‘The Church’ that it feels has been ‘discredited.’ Discredited by ‘science’ (false science that has in actuality discredited modernists). ‘Discredited’ by the hypocrisy and scandals of its own members (unfortunately true). And ‘discredited’ by their own biased subjective human experience (which is limited and erroneous).

    It does no good to define terms of a human being to a humanity that believes it has the power to redefine things however it wishes for its own convenience. Who after all gave the Pope authority to define anything? Why should they listen to him when there are a spectrum of views to consider? Is the Pope special? Is he somehow divine or priviledged in some way? Is he different from that bishop who says he is wrong? Is he more bishop than those other bishops? More and more it doesn’t seem like it… For them, definitions in and of themselves are subjective and change with the times, whether by the individual or by the majority or by the minority, there isn’t even a standard for them to fall back on. They will not get past the explanation when at the very onset they will deny the Church’s right to define anything. What after all gives the Church this right? Why should they not protest?

    The only thing that will work is to remind humanity that God exists and to destroy their underlying assumptions upon which their false self-appointed contradictory authority rests. This we can accomplish up to a point. But it will in the end require an incredible miraculous demonstration. Something that will target both their remaining reason and their overindulged experience. This only God can provide. But God will only do things on His terms. He shall not be tested by us. We are to be dependent entirely upon him. But the Church of recent has been depending on human effort and dialogue where the fullness of Truth and God has been reduced to a shadow in order to appeal to a rebellious mankind. I’m afraid the thing that has been most damaging to the world is as usual, the sin of pride, in this case, pride and arrogance that our human wisdom and efforts can accomplish in another way what God said only He could accomplish in His way.

  79. jhayes says:

    perhaps someone else can remember which Pope it was

    Leo XIII. We are past the 100 years, now.

    “On September 25, 1888, following his morning Mass, Pope Leo XIII became traumatized to the point that he collapsed. Those in attendance thought that he was dead. After coming to consciousness, the pope described a frightful conversation that he had heard coming from near the tabernacle. The conversation consisted of two voices – voices which Pope Leo XIII clearly understood to be the voices of Jesus Christ and the Devil. The Devil boasted that he could destroy the Church, if he were granted 75 years to carry out his -plan (or 100 years, according to some accounts). The Devil also asked permission for “a greater influence over those who will give themselves to my service.” To the Devil’s requests, Our Lord reportedly replied: “you will be given the time and the power.”

    Shaken deeply by what he had heard, Pope Leo XIII composed the Prayer to St. Michael and ordered it to be recited after all Low Masses as a protection for the Church against the attacks from Hell.”


  80. Southern Catholic says:

    Embrace of gay clergy in the highest offices.

    Cite the source where the Pope embraces gay clergy “in the highest offices,” because it is news to me.

  81. Stephen McMullen says:

    OK, I am gonna step out on a limb…..I am getting more and more confused all the time. Unlike previous popes, a lot of his statements are confusing, or leave more unsaid than said. I am not
    comfortable with this…..

  82. Bosco says:

    Remember always that the Pope is a m-a-n subject to human weakness and temptation and prudential error like all men:
    “…and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” Luke 22:32
    Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!
    Exaudi, Christe. Ecclesiae Sanctae Dei salus perpetua. Redemptor mundi, Tu illam

  83. pannw says:

    McCall1981 says:

    It was Pope Leo XIII sometime in the 1880’s and in response, he wrote the Prayer to St. Michael and ordered it to be said at the end of Mass and it was until some time after Vatican II. I really don’t understand why we stopped saying it. Many believe that the 100 years actually started at the time of the apparitions in Fatima in 1917, if I remember rightly.

  84. Traductora says:

    I think this is actually one of the most profound and at the same time chilling observations Pope Francis has made. I hadn’t even thought of this before, but he’s right: there has been some sort of a strange shift, fairly recently, and things won’t be the same again. People on the other side of the divide from us have redefined everything and their narrative has now become the one that will explain the visible world for future generations.

    So lets say a person has those tired old biological features that we used to call male or female; that’s no longer what defines these concepts any more, and in fact even the concepts are disappearing. What’s a mother? What’s a father? Who’s a bride? Who’s a husband?

    In other words, we have made a shift from empirical thought to – well, something else. In the world of society, we have made the switch from the concept of natural law, which depends on accepting one’s starting point as empirical reality – this being has natural rights because it a human being, for example – to a society based entirely on positive law, that is, law created by the State. Thus, if the state says a man can suddenly announce that he’s a woman, despite all of those old fashioned appearances to the contrary – well, then, he’s a woman. Marriage has been completely detached from the empirical, objective conditions required for it to be possible, simply because the state has redefined it.

    So what now? Now that objective, visible, physical reality no longer counts for anything, where do we go from here?

  85. Bosco says:

    “And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White, ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father”. – The Servant of God Sister Lucia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary –

    I have always wondered about the phrase “we had the IMPRESSION that it was the Holy Father”.

  86. NBW says:

    Why does the Holy Father keep making off the cuff remarks that keep getting misinterpreted every time? Does he enjoy seeing people go into a frenzy over his remarks?

  87. Ignatius says:

    I see some commenters saying “I don’t trust this pope… I did trust Benedict XVI (or Pius XII, etc.)”.
    I don’t understand that. I really don’t. Those are sad comments. I don’t trust ANY pope, I don’t trust Fr. Zuhlsdorf, or myself, because, as St. Paul says in the second reading last sunday, I am the worst sinner (and so are you). But our trust is on Jesus, not on fallible people. Aren’t we supposed to act as Catholics? Sheeesh!

    I find those comments un-edifying. People, get on your senses!

    Best regards,

  88. mburduck says:


    I am impressed to see that you quoted Poe’s poem “To Helen.” I discussed that poem with my 19th-century American literature class last Thursday.


  89. Bosco says:

    Indeed we ALL have feet of clay.

  90. jm says:


    This stuff about needing new ways of teaching as what Pope John said. What followed was the debacle of Vatican II. I was what Frank Sheed said, right before he watched his publishing house essentially crumble. It was what Benedict and Hans von B and the whole Communi crowd has said, even as the Church has lost people in a haze of babble. People don’t reject the mode of our message… they reject the message. We hardly mention sin and judgment now, and yet we need to soft spin our message further?What we need is clear orthodox theology. How hard is that? Apparently straight talk is abhorred from the top down. A shame. I respect the office of the Pope, but dissent from this hypothesizing. We have been in defensive posture since Modern Culture went on the offensive. It kind of makes sense.

  91. Cantor says:

    NBW –

    Why does the Holy Father keep making off the cuff remarks that keep getting misinterpreted every time? Does he enjoy seeing people go into a frenzy over his remarks?

    Why do the Holy Father’s off-the-cuff remarks keep getting reinterpreted every time? Do people enjoy getting into a frenzy over his remarks?

  92. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Monsignor Pope recently had an interesting post with excerpts from C.S. Lewis’s Latin correspondence with the Blessed Don Giovanni about ways in we are involved in something different, and graver, than a return to paganism.

    Churchill’s speaking of the dangers of sinking “into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science” also come to mind: dangers which did not end with the defeat of the Nazis, but are more deeply characteristic of our ‘scientistic’ technological age.

  93. Bea says:

    The Pope said: ?
    “Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work.”

    Does he not realize that “our previous ways” are no longer being used at all?
    This “new evangelization” has replaced “our previous ways” and THAT is what does not work.

    If we return to OUR PREVIOUS WAYS, maybe then things will “begin to work” once more.
    If we return to the TLM,
    If we return to the Baltimore Catechism,
    If we return to explaining Christ and the fullness of His Teachings instead of “explaining the world”
    If we return to fasting and prayer instead of “explaining the world and relationships”
    If we return to a relationship with Christ instead of relationships with man
    THEN maybe things will once more “work”.

    He also said:
    “We cannot simply wait for what we are experiencing to pass”
    True, we cannot wait.
    What we are experiencing will not pass by itself.
    Before more souls are lost we must return to teaching catechesis instead of social messages.
    True catechesis will bring out the true Christ-centered social message that benefits both the giver and the receiver.

  94. Gratias says:

    We remenber the things our betters say to us. Our parents, even comments our employers make about us become seared in our memories. Pope Francisco should be teaching instead of seeding verbal confusion. He sometimes misses the opportunity of keeping his mouth shut. The leftist world of the mainstream media adores Francisco with his who am I to judge, invert Msgr. Ricca in the Vatican Bank, turning convents to Muslim illegal immigrants, Liberation Theology sympathies and no teaching whatsoever on abortion (passed in Brazil under his watch), Gay marriage (passed here and in France) and euthanasia, the pillars of the culture of Death. The preferential option of the poor Francisco is to go with the flow and applause of the modern times. Our religion lasted for 2000 years by seeking a kingdom of heaven and not of this world. Pope Francis targets his magisterium to the minimal common denominator even though Catholics have been able to read and write and understand for a long time. In the meantime there is ample time to hammer Pelagians, Triumphalists and FFI. These are serious times in our Church.

    Santa Maria mater Dei, ora pro nobis.

  95. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Why must everything the Holy Father says be submitted to a hermeneutic of suspicion? He is speaking to the priests of his diocese and telling them that so much change has happened in the world that they must go back to the drawing board and find ever creative ways of defending and spreading the true Faith. It’s called lighting a fire under their feet.

    Would that more bishops challenged their priests to not go on in the Church as if things are business as usual. Pastorally, when a great project for preaching or catechesis falls flat, we have to see if something else will work.

  96. Nan says:

    @robtbrown, end times began with the Resurrection. In the first centuries, Christians lived as though Christ’s return was imminent and would take place during their lifetimes. We should all do the same; no worries about doom and gloom though.

  97. Anabela says:

    For myself, if we don’t get back to renewing the the Holy Mass we won’t get anywhere. The way we treat Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is paramount to any form of renewal in our Church. To study our faith properly, to renew ourselves in the reading of Scripture and in prayer and not just to be passive followers sitting in the pews but participate with our hearts and minds in what is going on at the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To let the Priest be a Priest and not interfere with his Sacred Ministry and for us the laity to know our place in the Church. I was present at a Conference in Ireland in Kilkenny at the weekend, ‘Faith of Our Fathers Conference’ and it was really excellent. The most consistent cry from most of the speakers was that we need ‘courageous leadership’. One of the speakers was Frances Hogan, renowned Scripture Scholar who has written a new book called ‘A Path to Healing a Nation’ which goes into how and why so much went wrong in our Church and how we can help to restore and bring it back to renewal. One of the things she said was how important it was for the Priest to face the Altar and not the people, to worship God and not have the Priest at the centre of attention but the Lord. This amongst other things added to the diminishing and respect towards the Holy Eucharist.

    We must go back in some ways to the old ways but move forward with a new awareness and respect for the majesty and magnificence of the Liturgy through study and proper formation in our faith and develop a deeper relationship with Christ in our own personal life as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was continually asking for. And bring that faith with joy into our lives, our families and our workplaces and not leave it there for the Church on Sundays.

  98. SimonR says:

    On a more positive note from today’s Vatican Bulletin:

    Vatican City, 17 September 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

    Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, presented by Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, upon having reached the age limit.

    You may recall that he is/was? the president of Germany’s bishops’ conference and recently called for the creation of a new, specific office for women deacons.

  99. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. Re: trusting Benedict so much more — Y’all commentboxers mostly didn’t trust Benedict, as I recall. I seem to remember years and years of suspicion of Ratzinger, followed by years and years of setting up all sorts of “standards” and “tests” that Benedict had to Pass or be unworthy. Only in the last few years of his pontificate did people take a chill pill, and even then there was a lot of whining about the Anglican Use and other stuff.

    2. Based on this standard, I expect that if Jesus Christ came back and walked the earth today, most people here would be whining about how His parables were ambiguous, how He never celebrated Mass until Holy Thursday, and how the Apostles didn’t provide full transcripts of His speeches in the Upper Room, at the seashore breakfast, and on the road to Emmaus.

    3. Seriously? Give a pope a chance.

  100. Supertradmum says:

    Remember that infallibility only is from the Chair of Peter-not off the cuff remarks. Also, infallibility is a negative teaching; in other words, it is a teaching which states the Pope is without error, in certain circumstances, not that everything he says is true or good. That may be a hard distinction for people to make, but it is in the definition none the less. It is when the Pope is speaking as the spiritual head of the Church with regard to faith and morals in a formal statement with formal definitions that he is without error.

    As to things not returning to the way they were, is that not obvious? Many good people have been saying this for 40 years. The fact that the Pope said this helps the rest of us who have been labelled Cassandras.

    As to criticizing Popes, I think all the popes have had their share of criticism since the first one. I can imagine someone saying, “Oh that Peter, he not only walked away from Rome and had to have a vision to come back, but remember what a sinner he was in denying Christ.” Too many Catholics are Donatists.

  101. Bosco says:

    When the Latin Mass disappeared and the balloons came out, and the greasepaint, and the liturgical dancers, and the puppet Masses, and the female altar servers, and the ad hoc Eucharistic prayers, and Communion in the hand, the laity were largely reticent, giving Pope Paul VI and the Council the benefit of the hermeneutic of bovine trust. And here we are today with The End of the Church as We Know It pep talks and our ecclesiastical ‘go-bags’ packed.
    Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.
    There is an old addage which I believe appropos to the present moment in the Church:
    “Trust but verify.”
    It is neither uncharitable nor impious to be rigorous.
    God bless and guide the Holy Father.

  102. Ignatius says:

    Suburbanshee: you nailed it. Great message!
    Best regards,

  103. Sonshine135 says:

    “The defining aspect of this change of epoch is that things are no longer in their place.”

    I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. Obviously, Pope Francis is about to tell us it is time to clean up. Right? Let’s proceed.

    “Our previous ways of explaining the world and relationships, good and bad, no longer appears to work.”

    This is a little disconcerting, but I also think true. I believe the church has lost moral authority in this world. It does not matter if this loss of authority was rightful or not, people no longer listen to the church. 90% of the church doesn’t listen to the church. That is a huge problem.

    “The way in which we locate ourselves in history has changed.”

    This is an utterly ambiguous statement. I did not know a person could locate themselves into a different time period. If so, can I relocate to a time when the world made sense? Scotty, beam me up!

    Things we thought would never happen, or that we never thought we would see, we are experiencing now, and we dare not even imagine the future.

    This is not a very hopeful statement at all, and I would expect something more uplifting. I really want to imagine a future where the church militant remembers its place in the world, and instead of teaching milquetoast catechism for fear of offending, teaches the entire deposit of faith. I imagine a future with a reverent Mass. I imagine a future where men say “enough” and they take control of their families.

    “That which appeared normal to us – family, the Church, society and the world – will probably no longer seem that way. We cannot simply wait for what we are experiencing to pass, under the illusion that things will return to being how they were before”.

    So what are the marching orders????? The troops are in the field Papa. We, the church militant, are awaiting your orders! What is the strategic battle plan? Where must we continue fighting the tactical battles? 3rd down and ten from our own 1 yard line, and I don’t want to punt.

  104. Bosco says:

    As you seem to tar with a rather broad brush, I should like to say in respect of your point #1 that I was over the moon when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope and remain so to this day. If you’re ever in Ireland stop by our wee village and browse through the works of Benedict XVI I have read.
    As for point #2 I salute your clever remark. For my part I find I can only repeat the question:
    ” Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
    As for point #3, Yes. Seriously.

  105. cajuncath says:

    The pope is quoted as having said at the Basilica of St. John Lateran “I dare say that the Church has never been so well as it is today.” Does anybody here actually agree with that or even think it is a plausible possibility?

  106. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Ignatius, last time I looked it was not counted as a sin to trust a fellow-man or to wish to have one to trust, especially in high positions.

    What you mean is that we must know that our ultimate trust is in God, Who never fails while men can. But I do wish that this theoretical knowledge does not become experience.

    That said, dear @NBW, I have sometimes mused that by his very often giving remarks, I sometimes mused that our Holy Father, perhaps unconsciously, is teaching us an important lesson: He is not infallible (except, of course, when he is infallible) and maybe he does speak just often enough that noone sensibly goes on treating everything the Pope says as a binding directive on theology and Catholic thought.

    And seriously, if he achieves that goal he achieved something important.

  107. Imrahil says:

    Dear @cajuncath,

    Does anybody here actually agree with that or even think it is a plausible possibility?

    My whole heart says “no”. My reason says: do not be rash, it may be a possibility; though even a possibility only when a qualifier has been added. The qualifier is “in times of lack of outward persecution” (though that is occident-centric). The Church during the Roman, Nazi, etc. persecutions was in a better shape than she is now.

    Was there a time of outward peace where the Church was in a better shape than today? Again, I do believe there was. Austria 1855-59 comes to mind, or France during the restored Bourbon monarchy, or Bavaria from the reign of Louis I to the absorption into the Empire, or any time of the Middle Ages from the reign of St. Henry onwards not burdened by declared schism in the West, or the times of St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, or the reign of Charles the Great, etc. But who knows how God counts things.

    I do opine, though, that even if it is the Holy Father’s honest opinion, he should have been silent about that one. He cannot possibly be sure about it, and even if it’s not mere keeping-up-morale optimism on his part, it sounds like it and has equal effects (among which, one generally finds astoundingly little of keeping up morale).

  108. Bosco says:

    Spot on.

    Notwithstanding, however, sitting here at my computer having a cuppa has converted me into a bit of a Doughnutist.

  109. SimonR says:

    And what’s this all about then????

    “Unreported by Vatican Radio or L’Osservatore Romano regarding the Pope’s partly closed-door meeting with a part of the Roman clergy yesterday was the following, mentioned by Sandro Magister in his Italian blog:

    While making one of the five questions presented to the Pope and speaking of the centrality of the poor in pastoral [action], a priest made a reference, in positive fashion, to Liberation Theology and to the understanding positions, regarding this theology, of Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller.

    But when he heard the name of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Francis did not let him end his question, and said: “That is what Müller thinks, that is what he thinks.”

  110. SimonR says:

    The Holy See has published an official translation of the Pope’s letter to Dr. Scalfari:


  111. Kathleen10 says:

    Bosco, I laughed.
    So much food for thought here. I’m so appreciative for some place for exchange of ideas, even concerns. Fr. Z., without this blog I might stare at walls with all this going on. But we have a meeting place. A cyber-Pub. Thank you a million times.
    I think I will be more earnest about the prayer to St. Michael, praying it more regularly now.

  112. benedetta says:

    Today I happened to be reading the collection of sermons and talks given by Pope Benedict as Cardinal, compiled by Ignatius Press under the title, God is Near Us, the Eucharist the Heart of Life. And the first one struck me as really very similar in content to these remarks of Pope Francis. In these comments, Pope Francis seems to be focusing on the response required on our part to become cooperators with God’s grace. In the sermon I read today, Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger said this of “ex Maria Virgine” in the Creed: “The Incarnation required acceptance…’He who created you without your aid did not wish to redeem you without your aid.’ was what Augustine said about it.” We must make our own response to our encounter with God, and not rely on cultural externals or anything else to give our ‘yes’.

  113. Palladio says:

    mburduck: thanks, I’ve used the poem myself over the years with students. It’s quite good, no?

    traductora is entirely correct, if I may say so. “Chilling” is, for example, the mot juste.

    Then there are those Catholics more Catholic than the Pope: easy to spot, and typically–forgive my candor– MISTAKEN. No Pope I know of spoiled the Church: ‘liberals’ did that in great number from within the Church, “against which the gates of hell will NOT prevail.”
    What the Pope said is meant to bring Catholics–especially, Priests, as good Father Soleto points out here–to face the facts. And to act. Radically. Nobody, I expect, loves the TLM more than I. Celebrate it devoutly. Explain how that alone will stop abortion or euthanasia, which is how some self-identifying ‘traditionalists’ explain the world. Are such ‘traditionalists’ really pietists writ large?

    It just struck me: reading Francis through Benedict is what I instinctively did in perusing the quotation. Thanks, Fr. Z, for bringing the approach into the light of day and the quotation into your salon.

  114. joan ellen says:

    Palladio says: “And to act.” These words sum all of the wonderful words above for me.
    A friend recently told me, as was mentioned above, that we expect consolations from others, but not from Our Blessed Lord.
    I saw the words “priestly identity” in the link provided by Mark, and
    “human identity” provided by Michelle F.
    Benedetta: “It’s up to us to live our Catholic identity if we desire a Catholic culture, it’s up to us to give voice to these important values, it’s up to us to spread the good news of the Gospel,…”
    Bea above gave us some of the exact ‘things’ to help us in our Catholic identity. To act, to me, means to form our Catholic identity, to live our Catholic identity, then expect our Catholic identity to help those who do not understand us to then understand us.

    Are we expecting the Holy Father to console us, and also expecting him to do our work in developing our Catholic identity and in living it out? Whereas is he saying ‘Help me help the Church”. Could it be that Our Holy Father is merely saying “Act like Catholics”?

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