Father’s job is to say “No.”

I have been saying for a very long time now that the Pope’s first job is to say “No.”

The job of bishops, priests, fathers in general, is to say “No.”

Whether your children are plotting to make a go-cart that should be able to sail off the roof  or your children are plotting to confuse the people of God with aberrant notions about the two natures of Christ (or Communion for the… well…), Father’s job is to say “No.”  And as the erring children insist more loudly, Father’s response becomes more firm.

Sometimes I have been in situations wherein I have been challenged to perform liturgical abuses.  At first, I give short answers: “No.”  As the ex-nun liturgy coordinatrix continues to insist that that’s-how-they-do-it-here, I lengthen my explanation to “Noooooooo!”

And so I turn to Fr Hunwicke (whose prose is delightful). He has a great piece today wherein he riffs on Pope Francis’s now famous “Who am I to judge?”  HERE

Here is a sample:

I have no problem with the idea of a pope who keeps anathemas under his camauro. A pontiff who issues a Syllabus of Errors seems to me a pontiff who is earning his paycheck. When Pio Nono, with the assent of Vatican I, issued his admirable negative, “The Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter so that by his revelation they should reveal new teaching”, I would have applauded. Three cheers for the author of Pascendi Dominici gregis. Cardinal Ratzinger’s insistence that the Pope is but the humble servant of Tradition had me raising my glass to drink his toast. (Indeed, during his Pontificate I was rarely sober.)

I really wanted to post the whole thing, but I also want to force you over to his place to read the rest.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Francis, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Mail from priests, Our Catholic Identity, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. HyacinthClare says:

    Bravo!! Bravo!! WONDERFUL writing!! YES!! I am committing pieces of this to memory. BLESS YOU, Fathers!

  2. Cincinnati Priest says:

    Bravo, Fr. Z.

    We need to hear this more often when the currently faddish buzzword is that we should be “making our parishes more welcoming.” (i.e. not saying ‘no’).

    I’m with you. Sometimes, when it comes to requested liturgical abuses or oddities, I lengthen my response from ‘No’ to ‘Nooooo’ and (if circumstances warrant) the *really long* ‘No, because the liturgy belongs to Christ’s Church, not the 10 families at (XYZ) Parish who want it their way.’

  3. Mike says:

    True story: I was serving a NO funeral Mass, and the Church lady “in charge” of things put out white vestments for the priest (ordained a year ago). The priest suggested violet for the vestments of the Mass, and Church lady shook her head, no. Well. Father told her “what we would do without your ministry” and then quietly put on his violet chasuble. “No” in action. I was impressed, and then we had (in Church lady’s hearing) how great black vestments are for funerals; the priest added that the gold in the black represented the hope of the resurrection amid our sorrow.

    A clever Padre!

  4. MGL says:

    It turns out Father Hunwicke speaks in the same delightful way as he writes. If you want to hear his voice in your head as you read his blog posts, I suggest you watch this 8-minute YouTube homily he gave to an American Ordinariate church around Pentecost this year: http://youtu.be/R8nSNVMXDAg

  5. defreitas says:

    Wonderful, wonderful article, thanks father for posting it.

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    So, basically, some NO Masses become, “Nooo” Masses


    Don’t day NO to the liturgy CO, say TLM.

    I got a million of ’em :)

    The Chicken

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    Should be:

    “Don’t say NO to the liturgy CO, say, TLM.”

    The Chicken

    P. S. A note to any budding humorists out there: always make sure to spell the joke properly :(

    Otherwise, “For want of a nail a kingdom was lost,” becomes, “For want of a pail a kingdom was last,” completely confusing the audience.

  8. Ferde Rombola says:

    At last someone has spoken the words that came to my mind the moment I read those unfortunate words of Fr. Borgoglio, as he calls himself. Who are you to judge??! You’re the POPE!!!

  9. excalibur says:

    Indeed. And when Francis alleged that God is not afraid of new things, that was a very scary moment in modern Church history. There is nothing new under the sun, yet this Pontiff says that!?

    If Francis, by saying “Who am I to judge”, meant the sinner, then okay, as we are to love the sinner, but hate the sin. But he left that hanging; I think now deliberately. Then last week the “God is not afraid of new things” line.

    No wonder Benedict retired, there are forces at work behind the scenes that are terrifying. The smoke of Satan.

    I shudder at the Synod v.2015 and where that will end up.

  10. jacobi says:

    “ challenged to perform liturgical abuses”

    And Father, you have exercised your judgment regarding the request, and said, no.

    Judgment is something we exercise a hundred times a day, in the physical, the interpersonal and the moral.

    We must all get back to being ever more acute and sensitive in our judgment, and ready to apply it.

  11. jacobi says:

    I left out one very important occasion when you exercise your judgement. When as a priest, acting in Persona Christi, you decide whether or not to grant Absolution in the Confessioanal.

    My apologies.

  12. Joe in Canada says:

    I hope the Father says “Yes” to me when I need it.

  13. Ignatius_P says:

    I seem to recall a certain prince of the Church in an interview saying just the opposite; that the first response of the church to a situation should be a resounding “yes!”

    I guess saying “no” these days means you’re just a dogmatic, fundamentalist meanie.

  14. Athelstan says:


    A wee correction: The church in which Fr. Hunwicke spoke in was Our Lady of the Atonement – which is an Anglican Use parish under the Pastoral Provision, and not a community in the U.S. Ordinariate. Virtually all of the old Anglican Use parishes have indeed joined the Ordinariate, but Atonement has decided not to for the time being.

    But you’re right about the rest: It is a delightful homily, and worth listening to.

  15. Yes, Father, you’re right.

    It’s just all part of that wonderful crisis of fatherhood we are enjoying here in the West right now. But I’m so glad to see so many younger priests and seminarians don’t seem to be as damaged by it as my generation.

  16. donato2 says:


    This is perhaps a bit off topic but I thought it worth bringing to attention in case the press does not pick up on it, and I suspect it won’t. It’s an article from L’Avvenire about a speech that Pope Francis gave today in a meeting marking the 100th anniversary of an apostolic movement called Schoenstatt (with which I am not familiar). In the speech, Pope Francis speaks out very clearly about the attack on the family and the destructiveness of the “new normal” (my phrase, not his). Pope Francis speaks of the need for better marriage preparation so that couples understand the permanence that the “throw away” culture is putting into question. He also speaks of the destructiveness of the new forms of association that are being called “family.”

    In my opinion this clarity is what is needed to free Pope Francis to engage in the outreach he wants to make to the world. Vagueness that puts doctrine into question thwarts that outreach.

  17. Andkaras says:

    One hardly needs to be forced over to Fr Hunwickes site as we would gladly trot over there every chance we get .It is like dessert to Fr Z’s meat and potatoes.

  18. Urs says:

    ahhhh….sanity and clarity…..thank you FrZ! You are on a roll for me too! you have been my Spiritual Direction for recovering from my own upheaval that was brought to a head during this synod. I am just beginning to calm down. Cardinal Napier was right on when he said at the first relation that once you put it out there, you can’t take it back. At least for me, he was. It colored everything in the rest of the synod for me. Perhaps that actually was its aim. BUt it also gave me a gift: many faithful bishops rising up to defend the faith! That was so good to see. There has been too much confusion and not enough clarity for me during this papacy. I want to thank you, Fr. Z for always speaking clearly AND faithfully. Thank You for introducing me to Fr. Hunwicke. And thank you for your article on Archbishop Chaput’s talk . You pulled out the good part when he ansered the question on the Synod, which I needed to hear. But that whole talk was VERY good and very timely in our country. I live in Mississippi. There are good faithful Catholics here but there are more , though they are ‘good people’, they do not know their faith. I used to be one of them. Thank You for being a voice crying our in the wilderness for me.

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