Weigel on “traditionalists”

I saw this at First Things:

Protesting Too Much

Matthew J. Franck
At National Review Online over the weekend, the familiar-to-First Things-readers George Weigel published a talk he gave recently in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in the course of which he argued: [For the NRO piece HERE]

The argument today isn’t about assimilation. The argument today is about who “gets” America: who understands the true character of America and the nature of freedom. And that puts Catholics—and those allies in the Evangelical Protestant, Mormon, and traditional Jewish worlds who, with serious Catholics, still hold to Murray’s four foundational truths of American democracy—in a challenging position. For the challenge now is to give America a new birth of freedom rightly understood as built upon those four truths; a new birth of freedom re-cemented to a foundation of transcendent moral truths about the human person, to the principle of government-by-consent, to a recognition of the priority of civil society over the state, and to an existential affirmation of the linkage between personal and civic virtue and liberty lived nobly.

This challenge will not be met by Catholic Lite. Indeed, one of the most powerful indicators that the Catholic Lite project is finished has been the uselessness of “progressive” Catholicism in the battle for religious freedom this past year and a half, a battle the stakes in which most Catholic “progressives” manifestly have not grasped.

The challenge also won’t be met by Catholic traditionalists retreating into auto-constructed catacombs. [?!?]

The challenge can be met only by a robustly evangelical Catholicism . . .  [Which just happens to be – and this might shock you – very like a title of one of Weigel’s books!]

I urge our readers to go read the rest of Weigel’s piece, which is as cogently argued as they will have come to expect.

Yesterday evening, however, at NRO’s Corner, Nicholas Frankovich directed all of his attention to the one line above concerning “Catholic traditionalists.” This he understood to be a remark contemning all those “who are attached to the traditional Latin Mass.” On he goes, then, for several hundred words elaborating his grievance, and celebrating these “traditional” Catholics (he objects to the “-ist” suffix).


Read the rest there.

From this comment and from his comments in his book (to which I referred above), I take it that Weigel doesn’t have much respect for those who prefer the older forms of sacred liturgical worship, along with all that goes with it, e.g., clear, faithful preaching and teaching about faith and morals.


Someone I know sent me the following, which I include here for the sake of balance and fairness.  I have anonymized it.  My emphases:

Weigel has no brief against the Extraordinary Form and says so in his book “Evangelical Catholicism.” What he has often expressed, however, is his regret that the Traditionalist movement (particularly in its SSPX form) rejects Dignitatis Humanae and shows a predilection for the restoration of monarchy and religious establishment — neither of which he considers to be an intellectually serious position today. Please note in his Wisconsin remarks that his reference to Traditionalists being unable to mount a defense of religious liberty in US is connected to their rejection of Father Murray’s analysis of the Church’s position in the United States and to a general approach of separation from rather engagement with the broader culture.

[…], I am certain that this is what he meant. I thought this might be useful for you to consider in the future as you situate Weigel’s continuing effort to strengthen the Church in the US to accomplish her mission.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. e.davison49 says:

    In other words, Weigel, by denigrating both progressives and trads in the same breath, bashes people who aren’t candidates for buying his book. He is playing to the squishy base in the middle.

  2. acardnal says:

    “I take it that Weigel doesn’t have much respect for those who prefer the older forms of sacred liturgical worship, along with all that goes with it, e.g., clear, faithful preaching and teaching about faith and morals.”

    I read about Weigel’s recent comments on another website. This is at least the second incident that I am aware of where Weigel denigrates tradition and those Catholics who are attached to the usus antiquior. Consequently, he has moved down the the list of Catholic writers I respect.

  3. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I wonder what would have turned George Weigel off to the traditionalist Catholic movement.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  4. Robbie says:

    Oh goody, Pope Weigel is back. I guess he’s finally gotten over the passing of JPII and is now ready to deliver his thunderbolts from on high again.

    In all seriousness, you’ve got to just laugh at his comments about Catholic Lite. I’m sorry, but that’s exactly what the Church has been since VCII.

  5. unavoceman says:

    Phew. I’m just trying to be a good Catholic like a lot of people (and keeping it Latin). I gotta tell you all this taking sides has been keeping me awake nights and a lot of others as well, I am sure.

    Nine words people. Put it on a post-it and stick in the the fridge: “NOTHING is going to happen that God cannot handle.” Thank God. If left to us on either side, it’s game over.

  6. VincentUK says:

    I take it that Weigel doesn’t have much respect for those who prefer the older forms of sacred liturgical worship, along with all that goes with it, e.g., clear, faithful preaching and teaching about faith and morals.

    Father, I think you are wrong here. I am not aware of Weigel being anything less than 100% behind the teaching of the Magisterium on faith and morals.

    As for his reservations about “traditionalists,” I think he means by that word something narrower than simply all those who like aspects of pre-Vatican II liturgy. I think he means those who believe that simply by reestablishing the 1962 Missal for every Mass in every parish as of next Sunday, suddenly all our problems will go away. That view is a naïve fantasy – remember that the horrors of the 1970s were inflicted by people who had grown up and been ordained under the old rite! Weigel’s ‘Evangelical Catholicism’ concept goes some way towards the other things that we need to do to reform our Church and our culture.

  7. mamajen says:

    I don’t know anything about George Weigel, but yeah, splintering off into separate interest groups doesn’t help anybody. I don’t think that’s what most traditionalists want, though. He shouldn’t lump everyone together.

  8. James C says:

    “I think he means those who believe that simply by reestablishing the 1962 Missal for every Mass in every parish as of next Sunday, suddenly all our problems will go away. That view is a naïve fantasy ”

    The real naïve fantasy is the idea that this is what traditional Catholics commonly believe. Weigel has long used such strawmen to denigrate Catholics who don’t subscribe to his Americanist views or his “conservative” version of the hermeneutics of rupture vis-á-vis the bad, old “preconciliar” church and the glorious renaissance he thinks was ushered in during the 1960s (the decade of his youth—coincidence?).

  9. rtjl says:

    I agree with VincentUK when he says that he thinks Weigel ” means by that word something narrower than simply all those who like aspects of pre-Vatican II liturgy”. I think Weigel uses the word traditionalist to mean those traditionalists who would be content to hole up in their little enclaves, keep to themselves and never engage with the broader world. I know that doesn’t describe all traditionalists but it certainly describes some that I know. If progressives have broken with the past, these traditionalists have broken with the present – and with the future. They would make of themselves a kind of Catholic Amish.

    I think Father Z makes something of the same point, actually, when he encourages traditionalists to get involved in performing works of mercy and to become socially engaged. Unless they do, they will never be taken seriously by non-traditionalists or by the broader culture at large. Neither will they impact the culture in the way the culture needs to be impacted. In other words traditionalists need to be evangelical (is “apostolic” a better word?) in the sense that they must be prepared to carry the Gospel that they themselves have received beyond their own enclaves into a world that so desperately needs that Gospel – and they must do this in both word and in deed.

  10. VincentUK says:

    The challenge also won’t be met by Catholic traditionalists retreating into auto-constructed catacombs. [?!?]

    There is a tendency amongst some trads to retreat into a cultural bunker – they have their homeschool collective, the chapel they drive two hours to each Sunday for the only TLM with a priest they like, &c. While these are not bad things in themselves, and may even have been necessary to preserve the Faith for the last few decades, it’s not going to be enough to reclaim our culture for Christ. We need to do more. We should not shrink from the public places. We need to be Evangelical. This, I think is what Weigel means.

  11. Jason Keener says:

    The old canard that “traditionalist” Catholics somehow want to hunker down and return to the catacombs is silly. For example, traditional Catholics are the only Catholics I know who are still willing to even tell non-Catholics they have a serious need to convert to the true Catholic Religion. The good work that Michael Voris comes to mind. Also, the traditional Catholics I know are, for the most part, vigorously involved in the pro-life and pro-family movements.

    Unfortunately, what Weigel and other “neo-Catholics” fail to understand is that the Catholic Church has become so impotent in the modern world precisely because it has lost that fortress mentality that once prevented the Church from being infected with the errors and ways of the world. Some of Weigel’s advice is good, but we must also listen to Catholic thinkers like Michael Voris who provide some balance.

  12. Arele says:

    Yes, I read Frankovich’s response to Weigel’s article today on NRO, and I immediately hoped that Fr. Z would post something about this. I’m also glad I read Frankovich’s article first before reading Weigel’s.

    Regardless of what Weigel “might” have meant by traditionalists, he is a good enough writer to have articulated his meaning in such a way that it shouldn’t need an apologist to interpret it.

    Weigel went down in my regard today.

    And once again, thanks to Fr Z’s blog, including articulate commenters, and also a shout out to Frankovich this time too. It’s folks like you that keep me sane!

  13. Joshua Mincher says:

    “auto-constructed” is a stupid description. What trads have had to create their own catacombs? They were driven their initially by bishops everywhere who banned the traditional Mass. There they may have developed bitter mania, but when you’ve been forced to found and build an ‘enclave’, you can hardly expect a few smug words from triumphalistically ideological Weigel to inspire people to come running out into the sunshine of the post-conciliar world.

    What planet does he live on? He is an Americanist and a war-monger. I read his book on the election of Pope Benedict, half of which was about John Paul II. In it he continued what he’d done before: reduce all of John Paul’s opposition to Republican wars to ‘misrepresentations by Curial congregations’, trying desperately to make us believe JP2 didnt reallly oppose America’s wars.

    I don’t know what his views on the liturgy are, but he is not a liturgist, I know that. He is infatuated with the “shining city on the hill”. He needs to stop misidentifying Catholicism with the politics of Alexander Hamilton and the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson. Or the philosophy of John Courtney Murray for that matter.

  14. Joshua Mincher says:

    nobody wants to live in catacombs. classic out-of-touch-with-reality neocon blather. The homeschooling, TLM pilgrimaging traddies do not suddenly wake up one day with a phobia and decide to auto-construct a catacomb.

    Our government is constructing our catacombs. Our bishops have helped.

    Wake up, Weigel. Gaudium et Spes is still a fantasy.

  15. boko fittleworth says:

    Here’s a link to Franck’s First Things piece: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/10/28/protesting-too-much/#comments

    Franck urges us to read “Weigel’s piece, which is as cogently argued as [readers] will have come to expect.”

    George Weigel, Franck assures us, “is a writer of considerable care.” I assume Franck, too, is a writer of considerable care. Which is why I find the phrasing of the first bit I quoted to be high-larious.

  16. Elizabeth D says:

    I read all of Witness to Hope to try to understand why a priest I know idolizes Bl John Paul II. And it was a great read. Wiegel is deeply knowledgeable. Just this past week he was in town and I went to his talk to a large audience of Catholic UW-Madison students, on Evangelical Catholicism of course. It was very historical, it was about popes going back into the 19th c and he had a narrative that I half-understood of how the Church had been changing between Vatican I and Vatican II basically, the gist of it I think was that Pope Leo XIII (do I have the right # Leo?) in particular set the Church on a course of transition from a counterreformation perspective to the “evangelical Catholicism” of Vatican II which would shake people out of a formulaic faith to a living Faith that is friendship with Jesus and that is evangelical. He seemed perhaps slightly weary and nothing about his talk seized me very much, and strangely I felt less persuaded by his insights than when I read a First Things article by him on Evangelical Catholicism, but I am glad I went. I don’t know what I think as I feel I have only begun to understand. I saw him as someone who was very formed by John Paul II and part of the project of implementing Vatican II with an understanding similar to that of JPII. The one I really relate to a lot is Benedict XVI with his talk of continuity.

  17. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    To build in one’s own heart, not a catacomb, but an interior castle from which the King may receive worship and to reign over that heart, as well as the other hearts with which it comes into contact.

    To go before Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and to retreat to that inner castle, built with love just for Him. There to rest.

    To live in the present moment. All is a gift; all is grace. Sunshine or rain, health or pain, loneliness or friends, God gives us what we need: His own Self, and when and where we are, right here, right now.

    It’s not bad to seek a home in a safer neighborhood, a better-paying job, a more fuel-efficient car, or a more congenial parish, one with liturgy more to one’s liking. But ultimately, if Jesus isn’t Lord and King in my heart 24 / 7, then does my concern about worship in the traditional vs. the ordinary form risk becoming simply a question of my preference for a certain type of subjective experience?

    He is here even in ordinary parishes. He makes Himself present even in ordinary liturgies. All
    that much the more must He appreciate our reverence and our love in ordinary settings, since the beauty and honor that ought to accompany the worship in those places has been so denuded.

    It’s so important to think only of Jesus, and Him crucified, to put Him center-stage always, when we speak of liturgy or of the Church in general.

  18. Joshua Mincher says:

    “Today more than ever the Christian must be aware that he belongs to a minority and that he is in opposition to everything that appears good, obvious, logical to the ‘spirit of the world’, as the New Testament calls it…

    Indeed, among the most urgent objectives of the modern Catholic belongs that of recovering all the positive elements of a spirituality of this kind, with its awareness of the qualitative distance between the mentality of faith and a worldly mentality. To be sure, in the Imitation there is a one-sided emphasis on the private relationship of the Christian with the Lord. But in too much of the contemporary theological production there is an insufficient understanding of spiritual interiority. Its global and irrevocable condemnation of the fuga seculi (the flight from the world), which is at the center of classic spirituality, failed to perceive that there was also a social aspect to the ‘flight’. One fled the world, not to abandon it to itself, but in order to find in places of recollection new possibilities of Christian and, therefore, human existence. One acquired a clear perception of alienation of society, and in the hermitages and in the monasteries new social models based on new foundations were tested. Oases of true life arose in the desert; one gathered fresh hope for the salvation of all.”

    —Cardinal Ratzinger, in ‘The Ratzinger Report’

  19. Allan S. says:


    Careerism people. What Voris calls “professional Catholics” helped things along by bending with the wind when Benedict was Pope. Now that the pendulum has swung 180 degrees they all bend the other way to curry favour. Access, interviews, invites…these are the currency of his career. He needs to kneecap a few trads to avoid being swept out by the new broom. (“Me? I’m not with them!”)

    There’s a lot of it going around. They’re trying to spin hard identity Catholicism as something that can be divorced from all things “traditional”. W is sending a message here with this throw away line, and it’s NOT a message to trads….

  20. Lucas says:

    I met him at a booksigning one time and we were talking, he is pretty pleasant to talk to, and I mentioned the EF. He said while it wasn’t his preferred form of worship, he had nothing against those people that do enjoy it.

    However, his tone, to me anyway, told a different story. He also quickly changed the subject afterwards.

    I’ve read his books on JP2 and they were fantastic in my opinion.

  21. Lavrans says:

    There is a need for tradition-minded Catholics in love with the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite as well as all of the other traditions of the Catholic Church.
    There is a need for Catholics of other rites as well.
    There is a need for capable, faithful, orthodox priests and religious.
    There is a need for prayer.
    There is a need for action.
    There is a need for evangelical Catholics in the Church.
    There is a need for contemplative and scholarly Catholics in the Church.
    There is a need for capable, faithful, orthodox teachers in our parishes and schools.
    There is a need for large and beautiful Catholic homeschooling families.
    There is a need for strong families and marriages to mentor and instruct the next generation of families and married couples today.
    There is a need for people to fight the good fight on abortion, contraception, IVF, and euthanasia.
    There is a need for people to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and bury the dead.
    There is a need for faith-based medical care.
    There is a need for capable, faithful, orthodox servants in public office.

    Sure, there may be a few more, but divisions, factions, and outright heresies held by some have no place in the Church. Quite frankly, there is no need for them. I wouldn’t consider the likes of Weigel or Shea to be outside anymore than Voris or some of the folks at Rorate. They’re all needed provided they A.) realize that their vision and role, while necessary, is not all there is and B.) stay faithful to the teachings, traditions, and practices of the Church.

  22. Charles E Flynn says:

    A Diabolical, Nostalgic Plan
    , by Michael Coren, for the Catholic World Report.
    October 24, 2013
    “Division. We love it, we relish it, we eat and drink it, we splash around in the bath of it.”

  23. RJHighland says:

    That is a beautiful litany and so true. The problem that I see we have in the Church and outside the Church is that last line B.) stay faithful to the teachings, traditions , and pratices of the Church. That is the one that causes the most trouble in that everyone interprets and worships in their own way and everyone thinks there way or at least those that are realatively close to their interpretation and worship practice are correct and everyone else is wrong. That goes for the progressive Catholic, Neo Con and Traditionalist as well as all the different groups in the Protestant Churches. God intended One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Which one is it? Well mine of course. No it is Christ’s Church and he will guide us if we ask but will we truly know until it is to late when we are before Him at our final judgement? That is when we shall witness the fullness of Truth. Please keep Fr. John Frances Peters in your prayers he has gone forth to face his judgement he helped guide me early in my journey. His Rosary will be this Saturday please offer the repose of his soul in your prayer intentions.

  24. Geoffrey says:

    On more than one occasion, Mr. Weigel has spoke positively of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and how that it would act as “a kind of liturgical magnet, drawing the “reform of the reform” in the direction of greater reverence in the Catholic Church’s public worship”.


    Earlier this year on EWTN, Mr. Weigel said: “The availability of the 1962 Missal should be like a magnet drawing the shrapnel out of the Novus Ordo, out of the Missal of 1970, now in its third edition. The future of the Church is the Novus Ordo mass, I don’t have any doubts about that. But that mass has to be celebrated in a dignified way, with beautiful music…”


  25. Priam1184 says:

    @RJHighland You are so right. This Church belongs to Jesus Christ and to Him alone. And He submits to no man made category or ideological label.

  26. Rachel K says:

    A bit disappointed to see so much Weigel-bashing. I think his writings have influenced many for the good. Clearly, like each of us, he has his own opinions about things which are not doctrine.
    I have to concur with VincentUK, I think he is addressing a form of narrow-mindedness which occurs on both extremes of the Church.
    And I also think that “clear, faithful teaching about faith and morals” also goes with reverent Novus Ordo Mass and comes from clergy formed after VII who also can really understand the faith. I know many good priests who come under this description.

  27. Supertradmum says:

    Sorry, have not trusted Weigel’s comments for years as he is the king of Catholic soundbites. He should know better than to attack the main place where the real remnant is holding forth against the relativism and secularism of the Church-the TLM members who home school, ignore the television and generally live the real Catholic life, which is and much be counter-cultural.

    Too many Catholics who are successful deny the real need for a counter-cultural Church and not an American Church. Weigel is way to American in his appreciation of the Church and does not seem to have an understanding of the universal Church.

  28. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Some of the criticisms of Weigel posted here are silly, and some are rank nonsense.

  29. benedetta says:

    I have always liked the analyses of George Weigel. To me it sounds as if he is basing his opinions upon the way things were for traditionalists pre-summorum, when there was a great deal more defensiveness. It would probably be interesting for him to revisit certain areas where the EF is growing, and inquire particularly into its appeal to young people of the JP II generation and onwards who knew nothing of the defensive posture which was admittedly a necessity at a certain point. Juventutem comes to mind. As a matter of fact, I would say having read his book on evangelical Catholicism that what he describes fairly accurately captures the dynamic found right now in parishes and congregations where the EF is celebrated. I think he could benefit from updating his view of traditionalists which seems derived from experiences during a previous era. I think he also doesn’t account for the fact that there are quite a number of young evangelical Catholics who may not attend the EF regularly or belong to an EF parish but attend and appreciate the EF whenever they have the opportunity. In other words, young dynamic Catholics do not have such precisely demarcated lines with respect to this or that type of Catholic or liturgy that they only do one or the other, always. I would encourage him to do a little investigating as the dynamic Catholics he is encouraging are not now turned off by the EF or “traditionalists” in the way he may have been during a certain time. Generally I think the time for disparaging or marginalizing the pioneers who were able through difficult times to keep our patrimony alive is over and unhelpful to the unity of the Faith, no matter what’s occurred before.

  30. robtbrown says:

    Weigel’s Tranquillitas Ordinis is a well regarded book.

    On the other hand, from what I know about him, he seems to have little if any insight into Benedict’s concept of the importance of Latin liturgy. The Ratzinger argument was a very broad one, that what has been lost has been Catholic Culture, whose foundation is the beauty of Latin Liturgy (and the study of Latin literature, cf. Veterum Sapientia) and those churches that were built for it.

    Thus Catholic Culture, which is not esoteric but rather populist, nourishes Faith and Morals and cannot replaced by a shortcut of “Friendship with Jesus”.

  31. Titus says:

    Weigel has written quite a bit of highly valuable stuff. He’s never made it a secret that he has a beef with Catholics who don’t “get with the program,” so to speak, regardless of the specifics of their predilections.

    But to treat Fr. Murray’s vision as the way forward for the Church in the U.S., or anywhere else, is simply fantasy. His engagement-and-molding theory was tenuous when developed, and it’s become comically impractical over the last forty years. The ship is sinking, people: we don’t have to stay and polish the portholes any more. History will vindicate Alasdair MacIntyre at the expense of Fr. Murray and Weigel.

  32. Moro says:

    I can’t read Weigel’s Mind. But let’s face it, if anyone knows what the term traditionalist means, it’s Weigel. He’s a journalist and he should know better. I can’t help but think he knew it would cause a stir, he’d alienate trads and progressives and win over the neocon novus ordo crowd who is a target market for his book “Evangelical Catholicism” which he can’t stop blabbing about. He came to my parish when it launched and quite frankly, there was nothing in his speech that anyone who reads a Catholic blog once a month wouldn’t know.

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  34. Athelstan says:

    Please note in his Wisconsin remarks that his reference to Traditionalists being unable to mount a defense of religious liberty in US is connected to their rejection of Father Murray’s analysis of the Church’s position in the United States and to a general approach of separation from rather engagement with the broader culture.

    Well, yes, most traditionalists do reject Fr. John Courtney Murray’s analysis of Church and State, and there’s nothing wrong with that, because Fr. Murray’s approach was never adopted by the Council in Dignitatis Humanae – and Fr. Murray was very disappointed that the Council declined to do so. For more on Fr. Murray’s deep frustration on that score, see Francis Canavan, S.J., “Religious Freedom: John Courtney Murray and Vatican II,” in John Courtney Murray and the American Civil Conversation (Eerdman’s, 1992). Whatever Dignitatis Humanae stands for, it is not Fr. Murray’s position – it just isn’t.

    This is not to say that even the more restrained position of DH does not meet objections by some traditionalists, even in problematic ways. Some really do reject anything short of confessional states, and that can be a problem. But it must be reiterated that, however realistic Weigel’s understanding of American politics regarding church-state relations might be, he repeatedly stretches DH farther than any reasonable reading of the text permits.

  35. Athelstan says:

    Earlier this year on EWTN, Mr. Weigel said: “The availability of the 1962 Missal should be like a magnet drawing the shrapnel out of the Novus Ordo, out of the Missal of 1970, now in its third edition. The future of the Church is the Novus Ordo mass, I don’t have any doubts about that.

    Which, I think, is a fair representation of his thinking on the value of the TLM.

    He doesn’t object to its celebration, and thinks it has value to the Church today. But that value is almost entirely in that its celebration here and there will act to help push the Missal of Paul VI in a more traditional direction, at least in its celebration. If he has objections to the texts of the Missal itself, or its lectionary (beyond perhaps the translation required in the U.S.) and calendar, he has kept that very much to himself. He’s indicated repeatedly that he’s content with the Missal as it now exists, in its essence (however poor he finds its actual celebration to be in many places).

    But he does not see the TLM as having value as anything more than that; he does not think it has evangelistic power; it is only a very tiny niche liturgy, for a very tiny group of people.

  36. robtbrown says:


    Good stuff. As I said above, Weigel has little if any understanding of the importance and value of Latin liturgy. He’s a neo-con.

    The future of the Church is the Novus Ordo mass, I don’t have any doubts about that.

    Interesting that he has no doubts about the future success of the Novus Ordo, which has so far done little except empty the seminaries and religious houses in the West.

  37. wolfeken says:

    I find it interesting that, in his talk, George Weigel identifies more with orthodox Jews and evangelical Protestants than he does with “traditionalist” Roman Catholics.

  38. robtbrown says:

    I don’t see how adopting or rejecting the positions of John Courtney Murray has anything to do with the liturgy. The whole point of ad orientem Latin liturgy is that its value is the same whether the govt is a monarchy or democracy.

  39. OrthodoxChick says:

    Can’t we just bring P.E. Benedict XI out of retirement for one day so he can add a codicle to S.P. that states, “It is hereby forbidden to treat all lay Catholics who prefer the TLM as though they are lepers or aliens instead of the mainstream Diocesan Catholics that they are.”

    Just because I prefer a solemn and sacred Mass rather than a 70’s folk concert/90’s Christian concert, and a parade of lay people up and down the altar (while the priest sits off to the side as though no one needs him for anything but the consecration), that doesn’t mean I want to go hole up in a catacomb somewhere.

    The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is supposed to transport us to the foot of the cross. Since I wasn’t there originally, I can only imagine that people weren’t singing hip tunes and traipsing all around calvary while Our Lord was suffering. Is a little reverence, solemnity, and decorum really that much to ask????!!!!!

  40. acardnal says:

    Below is an excerpt from the blog of the “Musings of a Pertinacious Papist” from April of 2013 wherein he quotes a passage from Weigel’s new book. It appears to me that Weigel does not appreciate the Extraordinary Form at all other than what it can do to improve the Novus Ordo.


    Here, of course, our concern is liturgy, and the following is a taste of what Weigel suggests Evangelical Catholicism envisions by “Deep Reform” in the liturgy, which comes in a section entitled “Reform, Not Nostalgia” of Chapter 7, “The Evangelical Catholic Reform of the Liturgy”:

    The reform of the Church’s liturgy in Evangelical Catholicism is emphatically not an exercise in nostalgia: nor does it begin from the premise that the Novus Ordo of Pope Paul VI–the form of the Roman Rite developed by the Concilium for the implementation of Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy–was a serious mistake. There were certainly grave mistakes in the implementation of the Novus Ordo liturgy. Thus Evangelical Catholicism welcomes the revival of the Missal of 1962 (the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite) for its capacity to inspire a more dignified celebration of the Novus Ordo. But the evangelical Catholic liturgical renewal of the twenty-first century will be built from the Novus Ordo, particularly as embodied in the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, not from a return to the preconciliar liturgy.

    For a small minority of Catholics, the Missal of 1962 offers a way of prayer most conducive to the worship they seek to offer. For the overwhelming majority of Catholics, however, the reform of the reform will be an ongoing reform of the Novus Ordo as outlined above. That reform will be retarded, not advanced, by exercises in liturgical nostalgia that, by seeking to re-create an imagined past (which is, in truth, barely recognizable as the ‘past’ that Catholics who lived in the 1950s would recognize), fail to set an appropriate course for the future. This kind of ill-informed nostalgia cannot contribute to the development of Evangelical Catholicism in the twenty-first century; the reform of the reform of the liturgy will not be advanced by a return to the use of the maniple, or by the widespread revival of fiddleback chasubles, or by a proliferation of lace surplices and albs, or by other exercises in retro-liturgy. (p. 168)

    The end of this sentence carries an endnote. As I said, Weigel is very clever; and his pièce de résistance comes in this endnote (n. 11, p. 274). He writes with delicious (but undoubtedly altogether charitable and not the least bit malicious) irony:

    How anyone can imagine that the abundant use of lace in liturgical vestments advances the reform of the priesthood as a manly vocation is one of the minor mysteries of early twenty-first century Catholic life.


  41. TimG says:

    Athelstan and acardnal….many thanks for your specific inputs. It does appear that there is much more than just smoke here.

  42. James C says:

    Weigel again with his strawmen. Most traditionalists I know couldn’t care less about lace. What we do care about is the survival and flourishing of the Roman liturgy as it has been passed down through the centuries—as a *given* thing, not as the product of a bureaucracy of experts. We care about the continuity of traditional Catholic culture as expressed in her ancient but timeless rites. We care about the texts and prayers, with their unambiguously sacrificial language.

    We care about restoring the sense of the Apostolic Faith having been bequeathed to us down the ages and carefully guarded and tended by the *Successors* of the Apostles, not remade anew each generation by committees of self-appointed Apostles.

    We didn’t need a New Pentecost in the 1960s. The original was just fine! Lace has nothing to do with it.

  43. Charles E Flynn says:

    Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches
    , by George Weigel, published October 29, 2013.

  44. HighMass says:

    Same OLD, Same OLD from the liberals or those who don’t like TRADITION….I believe it was our Sweet Pope E. Benedict that said “Tradition has been replaced by Moderenism”

    Correct me folks if I miss quoted P. Benedict. The verbiage has been the same from the Start of the Famous VII….They are always right and we need to grin and bare it…….

    God Bless them all, and we pray that someday they will see the whole picture.

  45. JMody says:

    George is, in my considered opinion, exactly the type of thinker that Messrs. Ferrara and Woods had in mind in “The Great Facade” where they described a neo-conservative Catholic as someone who wants there to be serious Catholicism but sees it as coming only from Vatican II and so is seeking to “conserve” it as a sound basis for the Faith going forward. The neo-con will defend the Church against wacky loony lefty novelty, but then will also defend her against any appeals to anything between the deaths of St. John the Apostle and Blessed John the 23rd. This fits George to a “T”. His interview with NRO over his “Evangelical Catholicism” was quite revealing, wherein he all but denounced the Counter-Reformation for having existed past its usefulness (which he does not define nor quantify), describes very assuredly some rather unique, heretofore unheard motives to Leo XIII, and then urges us to go forth and adopt behaviors which were arguably visibly stronger in the Church of the Counter-Reformation, as he puts it, than they are today. So George, was it that bad? Why yes, because in fact it occured between 95 AD and 1962 AD, prima fascia evidence, no footnote required.

    George seems to forget that the Church as Bride of Christ has to meet the challenges of the here and now, but if she were ever to become the Church of the Here and Now, she would cease to be the Bride of Christ who is beyond time. The Church today is the Church of the Counter-Reformation, and of the Crusades, and of the Catacombs, and of the Avignon Papacy — the Church of Blessed John Paul II and the the Church of Alexander VI, and Leo X. He seems uniquely qualified in his own mind to issue authoritative judgments on JP2 (obviously the Greatest Pope ever, because George had the interview and published that great book, you know?) which are therefore judgments on Vatican II (obviously the greatest Council ever), which are therefore judgments on the entire Church, and history, and theology, all made conveniently available to us the laity by him and his effort and his lucid writing. We are truly fortunate to live in a time with such as him — correction, there are none “such as” him, he is unique, to rip off Bill Buckley, Jr — and I for one am grateful. NOT.

    He is certainly intelligent, and is a good writer, but seems not quite as logical or as grounded or something as he would have his reader believe. I find him rather galling, a monument to failed potential or misplaced initiative or something.

  46. bookworm says:

    If George Weigel is a squishy liberal, Rush Limbaugh is a Communist, Michael Moore is anorexic, and I’m Abe Lincoln. How anyone could think he’s too liberal, simply because he doesn’t have much enthusiasm for bringing back the Latin Mass, is beyond me. His liturgical tastes, as expressed in some of his weekly columns, are certainly not “spirit of Vatican II” happy clappy. In one column that I distinctly remember, he said he does not approve of “self-worshipping” hymns with lyrics written in the first person (e.g., “Here I Am Lord”, “I Am the Bread of Life”), he described modern music written by Haas, Haugen, et al. as sounding too much like Broadway show tunes, and he strongly recommended use of the Adoremus hymnal. If he doesn’t believe that restoration of Latin and of pre-Vatican II liturgy is the key to liturgical renewal, you’re free not to agree with him, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a bad or second-class Catholic.

  47. Imrahil says:

    Dear @bookworm,

    noone said he was a liberal; they said they disagreed with him even though he is not.

    Frankly, I can accept his point of view about the Novus Ordo (where probably from the “normative force of the factual he has a point; yet I insist to call better ehat I think better however chanceless it be!). But wherever the “tiny minorities” and other such talk raises it’s head, I think he is talking as he should not.

    On the other hand, I do not think the 1st person, even in the singular, to be ritually impure, to be silent of implying a vuolation of the first commandment (as “self-worship” implies).* Then, of course, I still think that the Evil is the enemy, and that human nature and the self, far from being enemies, are Grace’s wounded comrades-in-arms.

    I agree though that such a position might becorrectly called Evangelical Catholicism.

    * Where is the place to go to, when grief and pain oppress me?
    To whom announce my praises, when joyfully beats my Heart?
    To Thee, to Thee o Father come I with joy and sorrow,
    for Thou art who sendst the pleasures and healest every pain.

    That is what Schubert composed to be sung by the people while the priest begins a TLM, and I’m going to defend it. Sorry for not finding rhymes in English.

  48. Imrahil says:

    “accept” in the sense of an opiniob I do not share… and excuse the spelling errors, writing from phone.

  49. robtbrown says:

    George Weigel is not a liberal. He is a neo-con, which means that he is:

    1. Catholic in matters of Morality
    2. Catechetical in matters of Faith
    3. Protestant in matters of liturgy

    The reason for #2 is that neo cons often adopt La Nouvelle Theologie (or some species of it) that either ignores important questions of Christology or answers them incorrectly (e.g., Kenotic Christology). Although they would never deny certain articles of the Faith, they take positions that, if logically pursued, undermine or ignore them.

  50. robtbrown says:

    Also: I am not an expert on Weigel, nor do I have any desire to be one. But from what I know of what he has said and written, his approach is little else than what existed in Counter Reformation theology, but with Neo scholasticism replaced by La Nouvelle Theologie. He has the same utilitarian understanding of liturgy that is Vat II tried to end.

    If I could replicate what I wrote on another site about Evangelical Catholicism:

    Regardless of whatever merits to be found in this book, its concept seems like a last place team planning World Series strategy. Evangelization? How about first deciding what exactly a priest is? Is he primarily someone whose work is pastoral? Or someone whose primary duty is to pray and say mass, with possible pastoral duties flowing out from it? Does he preside at the Eucharist, or does he offer the Holy Sacrifice? Is the Eucharist a memorial of the Passion and Death of Christ (as the catechism says), or it is also (as Paul VI said in introducing the Novus Ordo) an innovation that is also a memorial of the Last Supper? Is habitual concelebration good, or does it undermine the propagation of the salvific benefits of the Eucharist?

    These are not unimportant questions and must be settled before undertaking an Evangelical project.

    Certainly Joseph Ratzinger, as Cardinal and then pope, endorsed the New Evangelization, but it is obvious from his various writings that he thinks it must begin with reform of the liturgy (cf. SC 10), including ad orientem celebration and substantial use of Latin.

  51. Nicholas Frankovich says:

    I reply to Franck here:


    I think we can learn from modern Judaism. Fifty years ago the Conservative movement, an answer to what were seen as the excesses of Reform Judaism, was growing, had all the momentum, and was thought by many to be obviously the future of Judaism. Orthodox Judaism was assumed to be poorly adapted to the modern (postmodern, whatever) world and destined for the fringes.

    It didn’t turned out the way. The growth of Orthodox Judaism in the past fifty years is surprising (although, as a commenter to my post says, not for anyone who was paying close attention). I mean not just in numbers (although the growth there is impressive) but in energy and intellectual firepower. The Conservative movement has declined and is now to Judaism something like what the mainline Protestant denominations are to Christianity. Edward S. Shapiro has an article about this in the May issue of First Things (“The Crisis of Conservative Judaism”). As I see it, the evangelical Catholicism that George Weigel is advocating is the Catholic equivalent of Conservative Judaism.

    In the Catholic Church, the Catholic corollary (roughly) to Orthodox Judaism has been unexpectedly persistent. I mean “traditionalism.” (Quote marks because I’m not sure how helpful that term is. It has negative connotations for so many people.) Its growth in the past ten to fifteen years has been steady, though not explosive — but that it even survived in a climate so highly unfavorable to it is remarkable by itself. Two data points lead me to think its presence in the Church might grow conspicuously in the next ten to fifteen years: the demographics of TLM congregations (so many young and big families) and reports that seminarians want to learn to say Mass in the extraordinary form.

  52. ssoldie says:

    Dr Peter’s, silly and rank nonsense, maybe to you, but they are opinions and like noses, everyone has one. Maybe a little bit of TRUTH in all of them. For as Pilate asked ‘what is truth’.

  53. David says:

    Supertradmum says: “..the main place where the real remnant is holding forth against the relativism and secularism of the Church-the TLM members who home school, ignore the television and generally live the real Catholic life, which is and much be counter-cultural.”

    Is the mark of a “True Catholic” that he attends the TLM, home-school, ignore the t.v. and “generally” live the “real Catholic life”? I thought the mark of a Catholic was to be a little Christ, that is, a saint. I thought a Catholic who obeys mother Church and says, “Thanks be to God” for all that the church sets before him, whether that is the TLM or the novus ordo, is doing what Christ’s body, that is, the Church has asked of him.

    It is exactly those who believe they are part of this idea of a “real remnant” that Mr. Weigel is concerned about. Those who consider themselves to be the “real remnant” who retreat into their homes, emerge for the TLM and disengage from the world, are those who cannot be leaven in this world. One cannot disengage and engage at the same time.

    The “real remnant” comment also seems to pit Catholics against each other. I have attended both TLM and the N.O. I’ve experienced beautiful and reverent masses in both, lawful forms. In the words of our Lord, “It is out of the heart that evil thoughts come…” The N.O. is not evil nor is it an occasion for sin for those who love God and His Church. Those who actually prefer the N.O. do not show their stripes as the Wrong Type of Catholic. They are Catholics who love Christ and His Church.

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