Reese makes his 6577th mistake

Over at Fishwrap the cracks are widening. They are losing John Allen. They closed the combox. MSW is deeply into logorrhea. They are panicky.

Now I see a piece by Thomas Reese, SJ, who was removed from his editor’s position at America Magazine about a month after Benedict became Pope (HERE), entitled “Francis makes his first mistake“.

Reese – not a lover of the Roman Curia – is unhappy with four of Francis’ nominations to the cardinalate. Reese is unhappy that heads of Roman curial dicasteries are still going to be cardinals. That means that heads of dicasteries get to play on the major league team. Well, bad news to Reese: curial heads still get to wear the big league uniform and they will still wield power. More bad news for Reese is that with these four men getting getting the red hat from Francis, four others more to Reese’s liking will not get it.

But here is a sentence that Reese tries to slip into his argument without you noticing it.

It was very easy for the Vatican to take back control during the papacy of John Paul.


In Reese’s parallel universe, it was the those bad meanies in John Paul’s curia who took back power during John Paul’s time. It couldn’t have been John Paul! Oh, no. Remember, liberals like to love on John Paul … now that he is dead. They hated him when he was alive.

There’s more:

But under John Paul II, the decentralization was reversed and power reverted to the Vatican. That is why we have the terrible English translation used in parishes today.

LOL! Still whining about the translation, too.

No, it was John Paul who wanted to reverse the decentralization. This was his doing. Cards. Sodano or Ratzinger weren’t acting on their own. John Paul II brought Ratzinger to Rome and told him to go after X, Y, Z. He told them, “Get me back the Church. Get Catholic theology back.” It was John Paul II who hit the reset button and slowed the the spiraling chaos of dissent in the local churches that Paul VI allowed. Look, I am not fan of Card. Sodano, by a long shot, but John Paul II wanted him to strengthen the Curia, and strengthen the Curia he did.

And let’s here leave aside that the Curia ballooned under the liberals’ darling, Paul VI.

Let’s not forget our history. It isn’t as if the Roman Curia took control from local churches and the Pope just watched it passively or turned a blind eye. This was John Paul II’s design. He determined that the local churches were incapable of playing the role they were assuming. Liturgy, inter-religious dialogue, doctrine, moral theology, seminaries, religious life…. These are just a few spheres in which local churches had failed.

No, centralization was a Johanine-Pauline goal. Benedict XVI continued it.

The rest of Reese’s piece is detritus.

But Reese tried to slip in a whopper.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liberals, Our Catholic Identity, The Drill, Throwing a Nutty and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. acardnal says:

    “Reese’s Pieces” aren’t so tasty.

  2. Rich says:

    These guys just make it up as they go along. I don’t think they are too concerned with what is historically accurate, just as long as they can convey some narrative and still have it reach a certain audience to keep the audience galvanized in a certain fashion.

  3. Robbie says:

    Reese is an “On Eagle’s Wing”, “Sing a New Song” priest who is always on the wrong side of the issue. I guess that’s why he and his fellow SJ ninny, James Martin, are the American media’s go-to priests when a comment is needed. I know Fr. Zuhlsdorf is an advocate of the biological solution when it comes to bad priests, but these two are like bad pennies and many flock to them. [Let’s be clear about something. I take exception to Fr. Reese’s positions. I don’t write about his person. Also, I am not an “advocate” of The Biological Solution. It merely state it as an inevitable fact. The clock is ticking on all of us, equally.]

    Two things really stick out. First, it’s not that he doesn’t like four of the new Cardinals. It’s that he likes the rest of them. That’s a major warning sign to me. With another round of Cardinals set to be named in 2015, the college will likely be far more to Reese’s liking.

    Second, he whines about the new English translations and calls them terrible. What? Accurate translations from Latin to English are terrible? [While we all all admit that the new translation could have been better, it is a zillion times better than the dismal joke we had.] Well, I guess that’s the case when someone wants to sideline what the real message of the Mass is in favor of his own views. Is that a pastoral action, by the way?

  4. Nathan says:

    Interesting. Fr. Reese clings to the notion that “National Bishops Conferences Equals Collegiality.” I’m really not convinced that’s where the Holy Father is heading. Nor do I think Fr Resse would get exactly what he wants our of today’s USCCB.

    In Christ,

  5. Salvelinus says:

    I saw this guy on CNN the other day.

    He, “Sister” Simone Campbell, and someone from the Soros-backed fake catholic group “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good” were yucking it up with Anderson Cooper and Andrew Sullivan.

    I suppose when the media want to set a narrative, Fishwrap folks are the only ones they can find??
    No wonder people outside the Church think Catholics are liberal socialists. The aging hippies from the 1970s and 80s are still the “voice of Tradition”.

  6. robtbrown says:

    Fr Reese was formerly a member of the Woodstock Theological Center. It was a large Jesuit theologate in Maryland before it closed (now a Job Corps Center). Then it became part of Georgetown. The Center is now closed.

    Perhaps Fr Reese should become a consultant when organizations want to close and sell their buildings. If it’s one thing the Jesuits know very well, it’s how to close and sell buildings.

    If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can close any theological center and novitiate and sell any building.
    ******With apologies to Micheal Corleone.

  7. Sofia Guerra says:

    I have had the interesting experience of spending about 40 minutes talking with Father Reese. I was going to Confession at an un-named Jesuit parish (Only place that had Confession at the time I was able to go) and even though not my first choice to go to Confession I do believe int he Sacrament of Penance even if an arrogant Jesuit is the priest confecting the Sacrament.
    I was blessed that the late father John Hardon was at that particular parish for a visit and turned out to be my Confessor. (Cant make it up!) Of course I was blessed with recognizing his voice (Im a Jersey girl originally and we have the best recognition of voice to person, EVAH!) and as the Holy Spirit would have it, this was one of the most moving experiences of my life. (Its happened with many other confessors, not just the celebrity guys, so don’t think it was because I was justimpressed with Fr Hardon) The results of these type of Confessions usually move me to tears while Im offering my penance, I try to conceal it but Im Italian so u know the drill. After finishing my penance and Lectio Divina on the Gospel for the week (which I would hear the next day at a Traditional Mass) I got up to leave.
    This man dressed in civvies but whom I recognized and knew he was a priest approached me. He asked me if he could speak with me. I responded that I would only because I did recognize him but that being from NJ I would never go to speak with ANYONE I don’t know alone. I advised him that he was either naive or arrogant to think that people should go off with a stranger just because he asked.
    I knew it was Thomas Reese S.J. so I knew the latter of my statement was true. I don’t think if he had on his Roman collar I might not have been as tough, but that’s his fault for not wearing it in the Church. I dont care if it was his day off. If you are going to approach a parishioner to speak to them about whatever, at least go outside or in the vestibule. I do not care what the rules say on this, it’s a matter of principle and humility.
    Well, the oh so smart and powerful Reese just wanted to know if I was okay. I looked at him and said yes, thank you. He asked if there was anything Id like to talk about.
    Big mistake.
    I said (at this point we were outside taking a walk.) well, father and then I introduced myself and I told him no need I recognized him especially since he was in civvies. He thought that amusing, I thought him…foolish.
    I explained that when I have a particularly deep and profound spiritual experience in the Sacramentof Confession that sometimes I cry from the sheer beauty and joy of baring my soul, being forgiven and have a priest impart the wisdom of the Holy Spirit as “one who is at that moment,”another Christ.”
    Well, as true fashion with any elitist, self-absorbed, arrogant, self-centered narcissist, I was then lectured as a child. Too bad for Thomas Reese as I was educated in theology at the master’s level ( I possess a degree_) and I had also taught.
    His response to me…”You must be one of those Pre-Vatican II people, no?” Considering at the time I was 38 years old, quite youthful and most people wouldn’t know that my particular parish still had the Traditional Mass for a very old Italian priest who wouldnt be able to offer the Novus Ordo, it was unlikely that he could have formulated that judgment)
    I shook my head and held my temper. It was, after all, what I must do as a follower of Christ. In particular, I knew he was a priest.
    After shaking me head, he sked me what was wrong. I realized at this point he was CLUELESS.
    I said Father, you need some help with your social skills…you have taken almost 45 mins of my precious time and out of respect I listened and didnt react.
    Lucky for you we arent in NJ now. I cant promise I would deck you for being obnoxious.
    With a shocked look on his face I leaned forward and said,”No worry I will pray for you always as I think the prayers of a sinner are assuredly heard.”
    I walked away sad. I still pray for him daily, hoping these prayers of a sinner are heard. Im sharing this story so that all will pray for him. I am sure Father Zuhlsdorf will let me know that I have perhaps have committed a sin of detraction. I am truly sorry, I just want him to have a conversion. If Father, I am guilty of detraction I promise never to tell this story again and I will be at confession tomorrow.

  8. Justalurkingfool says:

    You are some piece of work, Sofia Guerra. Nice story. It was well worth the read, even from a Jersey Girl. I am an Upstate Boy from New York. Where I live we always pronounce the arrrr. But it has always puzzled me how I can live an hour and twenty minutes from the G W bridge and be an Upstater? I guess those city kids really do think the world revolves around them!

    It was nice to have heard such an anecdote from a tough broad like you!

    God bless, you put a smile on my face.

  9. Elizium23 says:

    This is some fascinating insight. I have not always been the enthusiastic Curia-and-episcopate-watcher that I have become today. In fact I have a short, sharp confession. For 11 years of the pontificate of Blessed John Paul the Great, I was an agnostic not practicing the faith. I was angry at the Church for being mean to me (in a rather nebulous way, after all, it was the Sisters of Mercy and the Augustinians who had nurtured me and formed me through 13 years of school.) And I was angry with God for not making my life turn out just the way I wanted it. Well in fact I realized that it was I who had turned my back on God. I turned from my liberal ways and embraced the conservative I already had inside. I was ambivalent about JPII until he died, and as my faith blossomed and I enjoyed Benedict’s papacy, I came to study JPII and his life, and I saw just how momentous and incredible a thing it really was. Theology of the Body, the fall of Communism, working for peace, the traveling, the encyclicals, how could one man possibly have accomplished so much? Well, he had a good long time to do it, thanks be to God. This blog post has just increased my admiration for his work, because it has suddenly clicked that no, Benedict did not turn on a dime and start all of this “Reform of the Reform” on his own, he was working in continuity with JP the Great, and while Benedict and Francis have put their own distinctive marks on the Chair of Peter, they are standing on the shoulders of giants. GIANTS. And that includes the cardinals they created and the bishops they appointed.

    Now I must check my hubris here. My Metropolitan Archbishop once said “Do not put your faith in human beings, because they will let you down. Let your faith rest on the Church, and in her sacraments and in Christ, because they will never fail you.” I must remember that our clergy works in persona Christi, and we are nothing without Him. It is only through the grace of the Holy Spirit that such works have been performed in my lifetime, in our constant battle against evil, and a Culture of Death. Blessed John Paul the Great gives me hope, hope for Mankind and hope for the world to come. Amen.

  10. Dimitri_Cavalli says:

    If you want to make liberals cry and very, very angry, bring up the expansion of the federal government’s power starting in the 1950s to stop states and localities from violating the rights of blacks. (And, yes, expect to be accused of racism.)

    Actually, I would argue that the Catholic Church IS quite decentralized. Think about it. How can one pope with a small staff (even with the benefit of email, etc.) be expected to micromanage every last detail of a Church with over one billion members? (Under the “conservative” John Paul II, the size of the Catholic Church nearly doubled.) The papacy often defers to the decisions of the individual dioceses and religious orders. When the Vatican does step in such as the firing of Charles Curran from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. or the censure of some rogue theologian, it is actually infrequent. These rare cases are magnified only by the attention they generate in the media . I have probably ordered more five pound bags of Breakfast Blend coffee from Mystic Monks than theologians who have been censured or reprimanded by the Vatican since the late 1970s.

    It was this decentralization that facilitated the sex abuse scandals (note the plural.) Contrary to what liberal and secular activists allege, it was Cardinal Ratzinger, who in 2001 (long after most of the cases) decided to start handling the abuse cases. If one prefers to minimize the pope’s leadership, then one shouldn’t fault the so-called “silence” of Pope Pius XII and the supposed lack of response to the abuse scandals.

    Father Reese and those who agree with him have long tipped their hands. They may talk of “decentralization,” “openness,” “glasnost,” “letting fresh air in,” “more democracy,” etc. but this is all just a means to an end. They want the “power” (which is actually influence) and “control” (authority) for themselves. If they ran the show, just how tolerant and open-minded would they be to so-called conservatives? (I remember James Carroll once proposed the direct election of bishops. How would the campaigns work? Would the candidates have to abide by self-imposed campaign finance laws especially to minimize the influence of the wealthy, corporations, and private foundations who would bankroll favored candidates.)

    I believe that John Paul II was a great pope and deserves to be canonized. I also agree with criticisms made by some “conservative” Catholics that he was a poor administrator by making bad appointments and setting up numerous commissions.

    When C.S. Lewis envisioned hell in “The Screwtape Letters,” he portrayed it as a bureaucracy. The problem with the Catholic Church, the Vatican, the dioceses, the religious orders, etc., as I see it, has been that they, to varying degrees, have become too bureaucratic in operation in recent decades. The officials need problems to study, experts to consult, conferences to chair, op-ed pieces to write, interviews to give, and paperwork to push. (These things aren’t wrong, but they are not ends in themselves but a means for the Church to spread the Gospel and save souls–which remains its primary mission.) Too many people with a little responsibility (which they eventually see as power) become entrenched and do not want to give up their perches. Recall “The Gatekeeper” phenomenon described by Michael Rose in “Good-bye Good Men.” One conservative Jesuit once told me that there is a province in the U.S. that will not admit candidates to seminaries who say that they pray the rosary every day (“a sign of spiritual rigidity”) or agree that women should be ordained as priests. (The Jesuit said how he “coaches” candidates to get past the screeners.) Many others prefer not to rock the boat with strong leadership–unless directed against racism or the SPXX folks–and risk getting blasted by local editorial writers and columnists with unhappy Catholic childhoods. Problems and scandals are swept under the rug out of fear of bad publicity.

    Given how the Church’s founder picked a bunch of fishermen, a tax collector, and a political revolutionary to spread His message and build the Church–in the face of the Roman Empire–maybe her survival for over 2,000 years, despite the repeated sins and incompetence of her flock, can be indeed attributed to the love He offered and vowed never to withdraw.

    Allow me to close with a line from “Animal House” (1978), “Forget it, he’s rolling.”

  11. Vocatus says:

    “Not making Vatican officials bishops or cardinals would also open up all sorts of positions for laypeople. For example, there is no reason a nuncio or the head of a Vatican office could not be a layperson, even a woman.”

    And there we have it–the substance of the article.

  12. Nancy D. says:

    Most likely, the four are not part of the lobby. Has there been a statement by the local bishops that makes it clear which publications that profess to be Catholic are in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and which serve to cause chaos and confusion?

  13. JamesM says:

    I have some sympathy for those who dislike the current missal. I think it is lacking in many areas.

    Maybe we should all move back to the superior missal of John XXIII from 1962?

  14. Supertradmum says:

    Blessed John Paul II was hated in this diocese. The priests thought he was besotted with youth and pro-life issues, as well as being anti-Marxist, which he all was.

    I remember a priest, who has much clout in this diocese today, being upset with the new priests he called the “sons of Mother Angelica” and the “JPII generation”.

    No, Blessed John Paul was not liked at all. History seems to be the plaything of the deceitful.

  15. Imrahil says:

    That is why we have the terrible English translation used in parishes today.

    Almost correct. (But not quite, of course.)

    That is why you (i.e. English speakers) now have an actual translation instead of the previous “seperate rite freely adapted from the Roman Rite” (and I’m being charitable and do not even look at the old use’s flaws in particular).

  16. gretta says:

    That isn’t the only mistake they made in that issue. In a piece that really has no purpose except to be critical of Cardinal Burke, the editor wrongly identifies the cardinal as overseeing the Roman Rota. Then he goes and voices some opinions that maybe Pope Francis was taking swipes at Cardinal Burke during his address to the Rota. Except that Cardinal Burke is head of the Signatura. Archbishop Pinto is head of the Rota. Rather large editorial mistake, particularly when the whole opinion piece hinges on that one fact, eh?

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  18. VLL says:

    I am relieved to discover you weren’t criticizing the actions of Reece from Person of Interest. ;)

    Perhaps soon, Fishwrap’s Reece will experience some discomfort. That wave of January molasses could be heading his way. You know, the reform of the Society of Jesus.

  19. Scott W. says:

    We shouldn’t let comments about the quality of the new translation make us loose sight of something earth-shattering: Progressives lost control of the language, and when that happens, it means your world-view is circling the drain. Fr. Reese may be chock full o’ error, but he’s not dumb and recognizes this is his whining.

    Yesterday, I went to the EF Mass celebrated by a priest fresh out of seminary. Basically, he kept his yap shut about his interest in the EF to his seminary faculty, and now they can (and do) kvetch about it all they want for all the good it will do them. Tick-tock.

  20. Scott W. says:

    “…in his whining.” not “is his whining”. Sorry.

  21. But Father! Why complain about them complaining about the new translation? Certainly it would be easier for us to agree with them not to use the new translation — or the old one, either, or any at all.

    To paraphrase Picard: Mass, Novus Ordo, Latin.

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