Richard McBrien, RIP. Fishwrap’s encomium.

Fr. Richard McBrien is dead at 78.

I hope that in his final years he had a chance to rethink and repent of his work. Enough about him. There is an old phrase, Nihil de mortuis nisi bonum… Say nothing but good about the dead.

Over at Fishwrap, however, there is a encomium of McBrien, featuring such darlings of the Left as Fr. Charles Curran, Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, and Fr. Thomas Reese. You can imagine.

I bring to your attention their citation of the late Professor Ralph McInerny, which pretty much sums up the work of McBrien:

“McBrien has terrible ideas,” Ralph McInerny bluntly said in 1990. The late McInerny was a renowned philosopher and author of the “Father Dowling” mystery series, as well as a stern critic of what he once called the “pell-mell pursuit of warm and fuzzy Catholicism” he associated with McBrien.

“I think the demonology he works with is that once we had a hierarchical view of the church, which was authoritarian,” McInerny said. “Then we had Vatican II and, he believes, that model was thrown out. His view is wrong.”

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  1. Imrahil says:

    Forgive me, Father, for correcting you,

    but the Latin adage is not “nisi bonum”, but “nisi bene”, [No. It is found both ways, with bonum and with the adverb bene. HERE]
    which means that you can’t talk about them except in a good way (which might include saying bad things if it’s good to say them). [I know what the phrase means. That’s why I used it… correctly.]

  2. Robbie says:

    It’s interesting. Most see McBrien as a liberal voice in the Catholic Church. On the other hand, Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia described him last night on Twitter as a mainstream voice.

    My only real memory of McBrien came from the lead up to the 2005 Conclave. I believe he appeared, on more than one occasion, on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. He was absolutely certain Cardinal Ratzinger had zero chance of becoming the Pope.

  3. Eugene says:

    I will always remember him stating something to the effect, Re: St JPII’s funeral, how unimpressed he was with the 3-4 million who had shown up in Rome for the Pontif”e funeral because of the millions who left the church because of the Pope’s authoritarian teachings. May God have mercy on his soul.

  4. The Astronomer says:

    May he rest in peace; he has already faced his particular judgment.

  5. eyeclinic says:

    Je ne suis pas Richard McBrien!

  6. Sandy says:

    When I was referred to the article yesterday, my first thought was that I hope he repented of his errors at the moment of death if not before. Then the obvious was those “darlings of the left” chosen for quotes of praise heaped upon him. Open the eyes of the blind, please Lord, and rescue us!

  7. DavidJ says:

    I was never a fan of his in life, but I pray he died aided by the Sacraments and is in Heaven.

  8. The Masked Chicken says:

    RM commenting on RM.

    I miss Prof. McInerny. I didn’t know him, but I use some of his ideas on the Category Problem in philosophy and his article on Aquinas’s use of analogy in my work in humor theory. Not only did he write the Fr. Dowling mysteries, but, also, the Sr. Mary Teresa mysteries.

    The Chicken

  9. Boniface says:

    Chicken, indeed! And Prof. McInerny also wrote the Andrew Broom mysteries, and many others! What a great Catholic scholar, teacher, mentor, and gentleman he was. I had the privilege of meeting him a few times.
    He wrote in his memoir of a kindness Fr. McBrien once did him – upon learning from McInerny that his wife Connie had cancer, McBrien offerred to say mass for her then and there. Obviously, and rightly so, they were ideological adversaries and McInerny was on the right side (no pun intended -really), but the anecdote was a good example of a Catholic gentleman gentlemanly giving credit to another Catholic gentlemanly act.

    May God have mercy on Fr. McBrien, may whatever good he did and evil he avoided be remembered to his benefit at judgment; may most of his writings be quickly forgotten, and may God have mercy on us poor sinners still here struggling on earth to be faithful to the Gospel in the face of worldly opposition both within and without the Church.

    Incidentally, Chicken, you have long been my favorite poster on this blog.

  10. Gratias says:

    Richard McBrien was an effective extreme left wing agitator. I was once given his book lives of Saints and he was so obviously glad that St. Christopher had been demoted by the Consilium that I disposed of the book in the garbage bin. Never done that with another book. I thought it was better not to recycle his lies.

    From Wikipedia:

    McBrien served as a paid consultant for the controversial film The DaVinci Code, a movie that offended many Catholics because it portrayed a sexual relationship between Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.[10] In September 2009, McBrien published an article in the National Catholic Reporter in which he criticized the centuries-old devotional practice of Eucharistic Adoration, calling it “a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward.””

    With friends like these who needs enemies?

  11. Legisperitus says:

    Miserere, Domine.

    My first encounter with Fr. McBrien was a televised debate circa 1990 called “Abortion: The New Civil War,” in which McBrien was the sole “representative” of the Catholic Church. The position he expressed, in that role, was that abortion should not be against the law because there is a lot of disagreement about it.

  12. Boniface says:

    Gratias, I often wonder to what extent much of that generation’s “intellectual contributions” are more wisely seen simply as an unhappy child sticking its tongue out at a parent. The Church being the parent, of course.

    Not that this applies so much to Fr. McBrien, but more more to the younger equivalents today: we must not underestimate what is, for many, the irresistible attraction of making a career out of being a professional, pseudointellectual insider critic of the Church, and thus a darling of the NYT crowd’s cocktail parties and editorial pages. There is a lot of adulation, ego-stroking, and honoraria to be had. So it’s often not really about sincere belief, but posing.

  13. Imrahil says:

    Rev’d Father,

    forgive me if the second part of my comment sounds as if I had to tell you that. It was more for completeness’ sake.

    As for the first, I had never ever heard the phrase with “nisi bonum”, only “de mortuis nil nisi bene”. Might be a German thing. Thanks for the information.

  14. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    What Pater said.

  15. Athelstan says:

    On the other hand, Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia described him last night on Twitter as a mainstream voice.

    If Fr. McBrien is mainstream, Rocco is going to be all to seek in identifying what qualifies as extreme on the progressive side of the fence. We are not just talking about contraception or even women priests, but a theologian who insisted that even the Virgin Birth and Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Mother were not defensible.

    But Rocco’s own theological views are not exactly unknown, I’m afraid.

  16. mysticalrose says:

    In true charity, Fr. McBrien needs our prayers now. It is no secret that there were errors made in both his professional and private life. May God have mercy on his soul.

  17. pannw says:

    So true, mysticalrose. I was reading some of the comments over at Fishwrap last night and there were a number talking about how he was a new voice in Heaven, blah blah… Very typical of the protestantized church to personally canonize someone immediately upon their deaths. I always find it very sad when even a very devout Christian dies and people declare them to be “With Jesus now!” or “Looking down on us from Heaven today…” rather than praying for them. VERY few will be so holy as to avoid anytime in Purgatory. How much sadder when they don’t bother to pray for the soul of a man charged with teaching Jesus’ little ones who taught the little ones so many things contrary to the Teaching of Jesus’ Church. The Fatima prayer is one of my favorites for a reason.

  18. Supertradmum says:

    Well, I am full of Fr. McBrien stories which I shall save until someone asks. I was there when he was hired to fire many in the theology department.

    I was at the Mass on Easter Sunday at ND when he denied the real Resurrection, and said only the idea of the Resurrection was important.

    I shall sincerely pray for him, and try to do a plenary indulgence for him.

    God rest his soul.

  19. Gaetano says:

    Fr. McBrien now knows the truth about every chapter in his book, Catholicism, and every last one of his other writings. One day we shall all know the same.
    I will pray for his soul. There is such a delightful irony in offering up a plenary indulgence on his behalf that I must do it.

  20. Gaetano says:

    Father, you should have included this quote from the NCR article as well:

    Fr. McBrien was an able and indefatigable proponent of the Catholic revolution that never was and, now, never will be,” said George Weigel, widely seen as America’s leading conservative Catholic commentator.

  21. FrAnt says:

    Someone noted this morning that those who were not fans of McBride’s are praying for him, but his colleagues over at the fistwrap have barely raise their hands in prayer. If you read the long, long, article there about McBride’s life and passing you will be hard pressed to find a petition of God’s mercy on his soul.

  22. Allan S. says:

    I will remember the late father at Eucharistic Adoration and, unlike his liberal associates who assume everyone goes to heaven, I will pray for his soul.

  23. Boniface says:

    FrAnt, while I personally refuse to even visit the Fishwrap so as not to increase any advertising revenue-related hits (or any hits at all – may they recede into permanent irrelevance), but it seems the dissident Catholic (-ish) left don’t believe in prayer for the dead. You are really onto something. A friend of mine was just commenting on the same theme you were. And as for the way your electronic device changed “McBrien” to McBride” – I had the same problem several times today. Annoying.

  24. ofHippo says:

    re: Robbie, it is interesting to compare ‘Catholic taste-maker’ leaders’ comments during PBXVI Pontificate vs. their PF era commentary. How sad to see them vacillate so! This is why at this point one should seriously consider sticking with this site (Fr. Z) and anything Cardinal Burke has to say, because they are stable and the same (narrow pathers). I’ve done the comparisons, and would encourage others’ too as well. The job description is to clarify and (seemingly) others in leadership positions are apparently not up to the task. God’s Mercy is that these two are still able to do so.. I hope we are all praying for them to continue. On this sober day of The Holocaust Memorial: St. Edith Stein: “Do not accept anything as love which lacks truth.”

  25. ofHippo says:

    In other related news…yikes!

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