“I have confronted a few priests, as politely as possible, and hated every second of it.”

Most of us have have struggled at one point or another, often to the the point where a little trickle of blood emerges from the corner of our mouths, to bite our tongues during sermons.   Listening to at best pabulum and at worst outright heresy is the lot of many Catholics.  Some Catholics know what they are hearing.  Many haven’t a clue.  It’s hard to have a clue, to be sure.  I think, however, not having a clue must be harder in a way.

I digress.

At Crisis (getting better and better) find a “Letter to a Priest” in which the writer, William Luse, describes some of the occasions when he has tried to engage priests over what he has seen and heard in churches.  I suspect that some of you will resonate with his tales.

I’ll give a bit of his opening, which explains his over-arching angst these days.  His anecdotes begin down the line a bit.  My emphases and comments:

Letter to a Priest

“The synod experience also made us better realize that the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter, but its spirit; not ideas but people; not formulas but the free availability of God’s love and forgiveness.” ? Pope Francis

I do want to love this pope,[Catholics love their Popes… if they are Catholic.  We don’t have to like them and everything they do, but we have to love them.] the sure desire of any Catholic heart. But this rhetorical tic—to which he resorts so frequently that he must think it a profound path to genuine insight rather than a substitute for it—of setting at odds the spirit and the letter of doctrine is not making it easy. Every powerful gesture he makes, like visiting the Little Sisters of the Poor, or embracing a disabled child, must stand beside a cloud of utterances either impervious to interpretation, or so clearly censorious as to be unmistakable in their intent. The [unavoidable]implication of the latter sort is that, if you are among those who insist that true doctrine must be defended before all else, then you cannot be among those who “uphold its spirit.” You don’t live the doctrine, but relish laying it down. You don’t really care about those “difficult cases and wounded families,” or, to unmask the rhetoric, your devotion to doctrine has maimed your capacity to love.  [Which is, of course, rubbish of the highest – lowest- grade.  You can only love properly in the context of the Truth.]

How can you know the spirit of a thing without knowing first the thing itself? Upon reading the pope’s words, I thought I saw a ghost rising from its grave, the specter of that vague entity once called the Spirit of Vatican II. In reality, it has never received a proper burial and probably never will. It was, of course, the complete fabrication of renegades hoping to corrupt doctrine through an abrogation of discipline. This cannot be what Francis wishes, but there his words are, a voice of encouragement to the Catholic left who will gladly, with renewed vigor, destroy a discipline to devour a doctrine. Must we now look forward to fighting again the battles of the past? [To ask the question is to answer it.] I don’t know if I’d have the energy, but during the previous two pontificates, at least we knew we had the pope at our backs. This pope has compelled me to recollection.  [Thus he describes the overall environment.  He will move into particulars he has personally experienced that are reflections of this larger picture.]

Like most of you, I try to follow St. Peter’s advice and always be ready with a reason for what I believe, though I’d rather not have to ready myself against fellow Catholics, especially priests, let alone a pope. I (like most of you?) would much rather just sit in the pew and trust that the guys in the robes will say and do the right thing. Having to enter a Catholic church with my error-radar raised high, probing the air for evidence of an enemy incursion, is distracting, but over the years I think many of us have developed the habit, some willingly, others with reluctance.[Some today, after all these years, some who might not know what they don’t know, are now itching to hear problems even when they aren’t there, that’s how bruised they are.  They have experienced such blatant abuses and absurdities, that they imagine them to be the rule rather than the exception.  Trust can be low.]I hope I’m among the latter. I get the sense that some who would argue for the Tradition have enjoyed the confrontations of the last forty or fifty years (what Monsignor Kelly called The Battle for the American Church) a little too much. I haven’t. I knew before I joined up that the Church to which I was converting could be as fractious in its own way as our political culture was in another, but that doesn’t mean I liked it. I didn’t take the oath in order to find a good argument. I took it because of Christ’s wish that we all be one, and I saw the only hope for that oneness in this particular gathering of souls. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

I was raised to hold the Episcopalian priests of my childhood in high esteem. To me they were practically perfect. I knew they were men, but instinctively considered them something more, as though touched by heaven in a way the rest of us aren’t. With Saint Paul, I tried to put away childish things when I became a man. Priests are people too, we hear. [Thus, it is rumored.] It’s a fact, unpleasant though it may be. Becoming a man has not made it much easier to accept. They are just human, (and in the light, or darkness, of the 2002 revelations some have seemed less than that), but we don’t want them to be “just human.” We want them to be more. Some are. I have known a couple, and so, probably, have you. But you’ve also known the other kind, the one who feeds the disunity, who sets your teeth on edge, who makes you want to go parish shopping. You’re not sure how to deal with such a one. Should you confront him? Most of the time you don’t. You keep your mouth shut, offer it up to God, cling to the truth in spite of him. You vent to your family and like-minded friends. [And comboxes.]

Erosion by Emphasis [This is good.]
Usually it’s not a matter of outright heresy, but of what we might call erosion by emphasis
, his preferring, for example, the unifying significance of that communal meal known as the Eucharist to its previous incarnation as the body and blood of him who died in agony on a cross and whose blood spilled to the ground for our sins, of which we are unworthy but partake at his gracious command. This latter sacrificial and redemptive understanding is not so much overtly displaced as made to recede into the background where it need not trouble us unduly, or interfere with the “celebration.” [This is especially the penchant of those suffering these days from Immanetism Lite™.  They don’t deny the transcendent.  They simply never think about it.  If pushed, they’ll admit that God is transcendent, but it doesn’t mean much to them.] Or perhaps he engages in what some consider an understandable, socially necessary, and rather mild form of disobedience, such that, while Rome commands that neither the letter of the liturgy nor of the Bible quoted therein be fooled with, he sets about with a flailing scythe, severing every masculine pronoun from its Scriptural root and stalk, not so much feminizing the Mass as neutering it utterly, as though Christ were neither a man nor born of a woman, or, if he was, it’s not important.

Like most people, I usually keep my mouth shut. Usually. On the other hand, it’s hard to let the subterfuge pass unchallenged Sunday after Sunday, month after month, year after year. To do so seems an abdication of duty. I have confronted a few priests, as politely as possible, and hated every second of it.


Read the rest there.

Folks, be hesitant to confront a priest.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I have read so many good things over the last week that have eloquently captured my thoughts and feelings on the current situation. This is yet another one.

  2. pelerin says:

    ‘Folks, be hesitant to confront a Priest’. I can understand this comment of Fr Z although I also feel for those who might seek an explanation from their Priest over something which he may have said or done and which worries them.

    I wish I had not been hesitant years ago during the ‘changes’ to ask about the reason for them. I accepted, often painfully, one after the other and never once asked any of my parish Priests to explain their reason as I figured this would look like criticism of them which I had no wish to do. Of course there was no Internet then to instruct us. Attending Mass eventually became a mere habit for me. I clung onto my Faith but only just, often going for months without receiving the Blessed Sacrament. If I had had the courage to ask questions then perhaps I would have been spared much anguish.

  3. benedetta says:

    I guess one conundrum is that when one hears heresy presented in homily format by a priest, and it has been quite common for at least a generation or so, one naturally then understands the priest to be one who wishes to not be identified as “orthodox” thinking. And so, logically, one who is “heterodox” in his views (and sometimes it is of course well beyond that into a different strata and planet altogether, but I digress), one takes it, is then “open” to “dialogue” on his points because he is not a clericalist who insists on, well, magisterium, dogma, or his way or the highway, according to the paradigm being presented as working framework for us to proceed in the communion as Church. But then, lo and behold, one comes to discover, sometimes through quite harsh manner, that no, he is a clericalist, it is his way or the highway, and that it is an alternative magisterium or dogma, and one that cannot be verified anywhere but the priest’s own opinions which are not open to logical probing nor dialogue in an atmosphere of discussion, edification and mutual respect. One then gets caught up on the endless loop of someone who presents to open to dialogue being a tyrrant of his own ideas and opinions and the writ large part over one’s weekly worship “experience”. Which is very strange. But yes, I understand, it’s a mistake we make over and over again, that progressive or heterodox means open to rational discussion on the points.

    And this leads very well to some reflection on the very times, up to the weeks and months we are living in, whereby the relativist dictatorship is now hoisted on petard on the fictional insistance that all religions are equal, and equally bad, and devotees of any and all can be easily turned round to the ways of the enlightenment and rational thought through material carrot and exposure to all that secular culture has to offer, and that if one is a leader and one has these beliefs then they must be given an assumption that they are true by others, and religious freedom includes nothing more than the judgment that all religions are equally bad.

    The other thing that can be an adventure in cognitive dissonance is when you have been raised to believe all the calumny about orthodox or traditional Catholics and parishes which are styled this way, and you attend one of their “liturgies” all hopped up on this and ready for the big treatment, and then surprisingly, it never comes, and one is in fact accepted and welcomed, with all one’s issues, faults, and personal opinions and preferences, much more than the parish that styles itself open, not orthodox, and welcoming to all regardless, and you start thinking then how very much you have been lied to. So, while there is something to this “spirit versus letter”, it’s not always what one has been prepared to expect.

  4. anilwang says:

    [This is especially the penchant of those suffering these days from Immanetism Lite™. They don’t deny the transcendent. They simply never think about it. If pushed, they’ll admit that God is transcendent, but it doesn’t mean much to them.]

    This is at the core of the modern flight to insanity. Don’t think about death and eternity….there’s so much going on now to distract us and it’s a whole lot more fun. The future, while interesting to talk about is so uncertain, especially in this “rapidly evolving” world. Don’t think about Tradition and history. Those are from a past time and now is always different. Focus on now. It’s “all we can be sure of”, at least until “the final now”.

    To the extent that we do not focus on the unshakable rock of our Catholic faith, we are contributing to the insanity of the age and leaving ourselves open to being flung about by the fancies of the world.

  5. Vincent. says:

    “Having to enter a Catholic church with my error-radar raised high, probing the air for evidence of an enemy incursion, is distracting, but over the years I think many of us have developed the habit, some willingly, others with reluctance.” This and Fr. Z.’s comments describe me.

    I am very hesitant to confront a priest as Fr. Z. advises. In the few times I’ve done so, it has been from a place of humility letting the priest know that I am concerned and seek his feedback before sharing what I think was incorrect. This tactic has worked in that I have never received a negative reaction and in some cases I have seen changes. (However, it has been a different story in parish council meeting when I’ve brought something up and been yelled at and shouted down, by the deacon.)

    However, having just moved to a different part of the diocese it is on my conscience to write the pastor of the second closest parish (and copying the bishop) to let him know just why I cannot bring my family to his parish. The reason is that he just does not seem in building a strong Catholic identity. At the first mass we went to he praised the Five Precepts of Buddhism in the homily. At the second mass we went to he praised the prayer style of black Baptist preachers and put down traditional Catholic formal and contemplative prayer in the homily. At that mass he also added “and leaders of all faith traditions” during the Intercessions of the Eucharistic Prayer, after stating the names of the Pope Francis and our bishop. The last straw was that during Advent his written pastors message for one of the Sundays (which I accessed on the parish website) was; “Martin Luther began the Protestant reformation of the Church because he was studying the Bible and realized how far his church had strayed especially from the teachings of St. Paul. The Second Vatican Council, when it revised the Mass, realized that Martin Luther was correct”. So many things are wrong with that statement.

    [In case anyone is wondering why I the closest parish is also out, my wife and I, attending separate masses on separate Sundays, witnessed the religious sister who is the parish life director (they don’t have a full time pastor) dress in an alb for mass, performing the deacons role during Mass including giving the homily. I am writing our bishop directly about that one.]

  6. Eriugena says:

    How many Bishops and Seminary Professors will have to answer for this very grave crime?

  7. gracie says:

    I find that asking a question of faith may elicit different responses from different priests. I’ve asked three different priests: When exactly does the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ? The first priest said it’s when he calls upon the Holy Spirit to come down; the second priest said it’s at the actual words of Consecration (“This is My Body; This is My Blood); and the third priest said it doesn’t occur at a specific moment but over the period of time that starts with the Eucharistic Prayer and ends with the Doxology. I always thought it was at the words of Consecration, but something one of them said caused me to ask this question. Imagine three different answers!

  8. Luvadoxi says:

    Why should we be hesitant to confront a priest? What am I missing here? [First, because of the guidelines of fraternal correction. Second, because many people don’t know what they don’t know.]

  9. benedetta says:

    Confronting a priest, even, or most especially, on friendly, supportive, terms, or on intellectually inquiring ones, or even, not confronting but asking for something (anything) good and wholesome to be offered at parish level seeing as how people are offering literally all manner of other thing at parish level, generally gets you an instant blacklist award. There is no middle, civil ground.

    At the same time though one recalls what was done in our parents’ generation when things began going way, way off the rails, and, at least it was the appearance that, no one spoke up in challenging and organized manner. People were then quite deliberately graduated right out of the helpful, encouraging, uplifting, beneficial practice of the faith for themselves and theirs, and some went one way and others went far another, and that was that, a fait accompli. So then, a generation later and you move somewhere and just start going as normally to the Sunday Mass weekly to the parish of your geographic domicile, and the priest, upon encountering you for the third weekend in a row at the handshake after Mass, gives you a slightly irritated, perplexed, searching look like, “You again?? Why are you here, again? You aren’t some sort of…fanatic? Or, possibly, dying young of cancer?? What gives”, it kind of lends some perspective to what the shop talk over a period of time must have been about. One can get an awful lot of accurate impressions about the situation without ever having to say a word in edgewise.

  10. SaintJude6 says:

    How absolutely awful for your family. I guess you are going to find yourself making that long Sunday morning drive to find a fully Catholic parish.

  11. tz2026 says:

    I suspect “confront” is a word implying something less about correction than accusation.

    I would also turn it around in that in the “I love you, you love me / we’re a happy family” era where the only thing missing in lent is the purple dinosaur head the priests don’t confront the laity very often either.

    I’m lucky – the most recent homily was about sin harms not just the person but everyone, but how the grace of adoration (our Chapel opened on 12/8/15 – Christ available 24/7 – YEA!).

    But let me add the one problem afflicting many, many priests that have the doctrine and liturgy perfect: morbid obesity. I think the statistic in the USA is one in three persons is morbidly obese. (And I don’t think the problem is calories or exercise, but carbs, see http://dietdoctor.com for a comprehensive site – and how I lost 20% of my body weight and could lose a bit more but am perfectly healthy according to my doctor).

    How can a morbidly obese priest credibly preach about self-control, temperance, moderation, gluttony, or sloth? Preach always, sometimes use words. A huge gut is like a neon sign flashing a message and not a good one. The health problems are serious – Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, risk of stroke. I have not met one priest that smoked cigarettes. But there is no shortage of morbidly obese priests.

    I am not being specific as to persons here, but this is a point where the clergy and religious can examine their own conscience. Friar Tuck?

    In the one case, I politely asked one why he gave up a successful diet (he admitted so in his homily) – his answer was “he didn’t like bacon”. I didn’t press it further, but I thought about how hard it is for ordinary people to live holy lives, amid the pornography, materialism, etc. while because he didn’t like doing what was making him healthy, he gave up the fight and let himself turn into a jolly, erudite, orthodox, blimp.

    How hard is it to try to find proper words to bring attention to a slow-motion suicide. One that would be readily admitted since it is very visible. But what then? Is not health in body and soul worth a sacrifice? Is Gods grace insufficient? Even if it was hard, would it not be worth it? What advice is given to those in the confessional who need to overcome an addiction or some other excess?

    I found it easy to stay thin AFTER I stopped trying to fight the addiction – I suffered much, fasted, was weak and hungry, and barely lost any weight for years. When I practically gave up sugars and starches, I lost my appetite, dropped dozens of pounds, and felt better – plenty of energy, clear thought, no suffering, and haven’t regained the weight for years. I don’t care for bacon either, but there are hundreds of other things I can eat. Since I never feel hungry, I don’t eat very much – most often my small appetite shuts off mid-meal.

    Carbs are addictive and is not of the gluttony of volume but one of the other 4 forms. I’ve already pointed to dietdoctor.com (and I have plenty of other resources). Basically you can eat as much as you want of anything other than carbs until you feel full (which you will when you start burning your own fat), but you must avoid carbs as much as possible – less than 20g/day – you don’t even have to exercise. Apparently too much to ask – the one tree in the center of the garden whose fruit you must not eat proves an irresistible temptation, or that giving it up would render life too bleak even to avoid an earlier death. I wish I was kidding.

    Lent is coming up and I plan on issuing a general challenge (not in a Catholic forum) to give up carbs for lent – and if they lose weight, feel better, healthier, then they can decide whether to continue after Easter. I wish I could find a way to do so within the church.

  12. rmichaelj says:

    I used to hold to the common teaching that parish shopping was a bad idea. I still think it is suboptimal, however when one has children, I have gone to the opposite extreme. Your vocation as a parent is to raise the children in the Faith- it is your responsibility not the possibly heterodox priest whom the diocese assigned. If the local priest hinders rather than helps the fulfillment of that vocation then get your family out of the situation as quickly as possible- their souls and yours may depend upon it.

    On the other hand- if children are not a part of the situation than I think one has a responsibility to support the local parish and be a part of the community as long as it doesn’t endanger one’s own soul. Dealing with a difficult priest can be tough as they do have authority which must be recognized. As I’ve told my own children on rare occasions- you aren’t in trouble for asking a question; it was the disrespectful way you asked the question that got you in trouble.

  13. Vincent. says:

    Thanks. Yes we have had to make some long drives. Always worth it of course no matter how far. :)

  14. juergensen says:

    This has been an astoundingly depressing pontificate. I can barely stand to read news of the latest proclamation from Rome. It is never an affirmation or defense of the Faith; it is rather always obfuscation of the Faith.

  15. Nat says:

    I don’t know..it depends on where you live, I guess, and whether or not you have children. I grew up in a ridiculous diocese. Bishop Remi de Roo….. my parents had to ROUTINELY confront the priests (and bishop) just so we could actually have faith. In disobedience to the bishop we PUT UP A CRUCIFIX in the church. We wouldn’t listen to our priest who said that general confession was the only way to do things in our parish. We went to an old priest in another town to go to confession, he would still do it for us. We were the only “wackos” who received on the tongue. In order to keep us safe, my parents had to tell us to avoid a certain priest because he seemed dangerous (he was charged with child abuse…) the list goes on. We were told to ignore the priest preaching Eastern philosophy from the pulpit. We dubbed him the “cosmic priest”. All the young people my age left the church. I only have my faith because my mother cried every Sunday and told us that clergy aren’t supposed to be like the ones we know…. so sad. I am glad that they protested so much…

  16. gatormom says:

    This is rich. So this guy sees error reluctantly and with sadness unlike the other goons out there who just enjoy finding error and heresy in the Church all these years. Yeah, they are just yucking it up enjoying their battle. Thank goodness he’s not like them. I really do not think that the Church is suffering due to a lack of reluctance to confront priests, puuulease.

  17. Nat says:

    How does one confront a wolf “politely”? When plain truth is considered rude and not everyone is gifted with the wit of St. Thomas More. A friend of ours had to “remind” a priest (impossible to do without at least a little bit of sarcasm) that Sunday actually IS a day of obligation, contrary to what the priest had just preached to the congregation…including our friend’s children.

  18. Christophorus1208 says:

    Yep…it’s hard to know how to respond to it all. I struggle daily wondering when my own hesitation and “prudence” regarding fraternal correction is really just cowardice? Or wondering, when is one really being hated with Christ and for His sake, and not just hated because one is proud and being a jerk? I very much relate with the above article and Fr. Z’s comments. Its encouraging to know that I’m not the only one

  19. Militans says:

    I teach first Communion class i another parish, but I have always tried to be loyal to my territorial and baptismal parish (one and the same), so I attend mass there. I stopped being an altar server because I struggled to be so close and see the abuses, I hide at the back now!

    A problem is that the priest tries to get everyone involved during the homily, so you can hear all sorts of nonsense from the people with an answer of “thank you”. One mass he was asking what made people happy – and a bookish fellow stood up and said learning things and the priest agreed.

    I had to object, but rather than the brilliant oratory in my head I came out with some rambling.

    I said that not all knowledge makes us happy, and I knew I couldn’t use the example of pornography as being an imperfect representation of the truth of love and beauty in the middle of the family mass so I used the example of pictures of what ISIS has done as something that would make me sad, or otherwise not have a good effect on me, and said that the church has always recommended discernment in what we view because it has an effect (custody of the eyes).

    Obviously about an hour later the really good answer comes to you: Adam and Eve fell because they ate of the tree of knowledge, which God had forbidden them, therefore let us say that it is not “learning new things” that makes us happy – but getting to know the truth. Having an encounter with He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

  20. Luvadoxi says:

    So true, Father. We often don’t have the whole story, and are supposed to put the best interpretation on others’ actions. Thank you for the reminder.

  21. teachermom24 says:

    “There is no middle, civil ground.”

    Sadly, this is true. I have struggled to always “speak the truth in love”, in family and church life, and often the “love” part has hung me up and kept me quiet because I was unsure of my motives, that, and fear of being rebuked. But when it comes to my children, I’ll err of the side of just speaking the truth and not worrying about pure motives. When our pastor showed a video from TV for the homily about lesbians shopping for wedding gowns, and my teen boys were present, I couldn’t have cared less about “offending” him by letting him and the bishop know we would not tolerate this.

  22. benedetta says:

    And then there are the priests who equip, encourage, and give places of honor to, Catholics who will bash their own fellow Catholics, right in congregation, in personalist and torturous ways, at just the very mention of pro-life let alone the basic way Christians have worshipped and believed in all times and places. What to say, or do, about these. Neither abiding by letter nor spirit this varietal. Can’t confront, hierarchy, do they care, they continue on from their lofty positions at the expense of others, some entirely innocent of their invested wars and bearing the harshest wounds and scars, continuing, with ne’er a “I’m sorry” or any of that mercy good stuff.

    Perhaps it surprises some, it did me at first, and yet, when you think about it, it is all the logical result of what was executed, began, a time ago and continuing. It explains the tyrranical clericalism which is not about reaon or dialogue, or developing any theology of any sort, not about charity certainly, and, is the logical step and extension of that fait accompli. Why should anyone be surprised.

  23. Chiara says:

    The comment, “Be hesitant to confront a priest,” says it all for me.

    I have endured two occasions when I have had to confront two different priests. The first was our Administrator (not pastor). He had a jarring habit of using non-inclusive language during the prayers of the Mass (“Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth,” instead of “His people on earth,” for example). It drove me batty. So after Mass one day, I went to the sacristy and asked him why he did that. Father went into a long discourse on the nature of God being neither male nor female, and cited St. Thomas Aquinas. When he stopped for air, I asked him why, then, did Jesus, who knew God better than anyone who ever walked the earth, tell us to refer to God as our Father? He got very angry, and told me that Jesus was talking to 1st century Jews who had no respect for women, and that Our Lord had to tailor His comments accordingly. I told him I never read anything anywhere in which Jesus talked down to anyone. At that point, Father said there is only one difference between men and women, and made an extremely crude and inappropriate gesture, the kind that I can imagine being used in a high school boys’ locker room. (I am am a 54 year-old woman, btw.) I sternly told myself not to blush and left the sacristy.

    The second incident happened four years later, with my current pastor. I had been on parish council for many years previously, although I was not a member at that time. A very distressed Hispanic parishioner contacted me after receiving a blanket email from an organization that had been given considerable space in the bulletin for airing their views during Lent, which had just ended. (They quoted Sr. Joan Chittester – get the picture?) The email urged parishioners to picket the upcoming Diocesan ordination in order to bring attention to their view that the Catholic Church should ordain women and have married clergy. The email included photos of the group picketing in previous years.

    The parishioner and I were shocked to say the least. I saw that our pastor was also on the list of recipients of the email. I sent him a private email, respectfully asking if he was supporting the views and actions of this group, and if it was perhaps inappropriate for them to be given space in the bulletin to promote their group, which amounted to the parish promoting them as well. I also asked for a clear explanation of the Church’s teaching on priestly celibacy and the male priesthood. I received no response after waiting two days.

    So I addressed the group via email and asked them to reconsider their actions, which were not only inappropriate and scandalous to parishioners, but would be extremely painful to the newly ordained and their families on the happiest, holiest day of their lives. As a Secular Franciscan, I was careful to be charitable and loving in speaking to members of my parish family, even though we disagreed.

    Predictably, I was personally attacked for my email by the group, and they would not change their plans. So that Thursday, my husband emailed our pastor and asked to address parish council at their meeting the following Monday. Father gave him several hoops to jump through, including having us produce documentation, and speaking to a representative of the group in person. We did so, and Sunday, the day before parish council meeting, we approached Father at coffee hour after Mass along with the member of the group to whom we spoke (who was cordial, even though we agreed to disagree.)

    Father fell all over himself telling the member of the group, who freely referred to himself as a dissident, that he was grateful to him for being such a faithful parishioner and Catholic. He would not allow us to speak. The dissident, who was a lawyer and a long-time acquaintance, in a sense of fair play, spoke up for us and told Father that we agreed to disagree and that we remained on cordial terms. Father wrung his hand and wished him good day and he left us.

    Then Father turned to us and asked us if we had anything to say. I opened my mouth, but he would not let me or my husband speak. He started on a tirade, screaming at us, and accused us of doing this to bring attention to ourselves, and told us we were liars. It was frightening and painful. Then he invited us to leave the parish if we did not like it. I thought his head was going to explode. My husband calmly told him we were not doing this to bring attention to ourselves, but to defend the Church and to keep our parishioners from being misled. Father had nothing to say to that, except to scream at us again to leave the parish.

    We notified the Diocese, which was grateful for the heads up about the picketers. They arranged for extra police protection. And our good bishop sent a message through a representative saying we had done nothing wrong, that His Excellency is praying for us, and that Father had been “less than pastoral.” Which was some comfort.

    We did not leave our parish, which has been my home for all my life. We are praying for Father every day, that he may be healed and protected spiritually, physically, and mentally. Even after two years, he refuses to speak to us, except to tell us we are unwelcome at parish activities, and to tell me that I was dismissed from being an EMHC. We were told through our deacon not approach Father for Confession or Communion, and we stay out of his way and avoid him as much as possible. We registered at a second parish so we can be sure that a priest will come to us if we are in danger of death, so we are monetarily supporting two parishes, but it is worth it. We take up space in the pew, knowing we will be there after Father is gone.

    We would like to reconcile, but it is impossible if it is one-sided. So we remain in hope of God’s mercy, peace, and forgiveness. But we will never open ourselves to this kind of treatment again.

  24. Echoing Nat, yes, my mother did a lot confronting of priests too. As the pastor wreckovated our little historic church, she stopped its destruction. No matter where we were, while many we knew would simply walk out on a sermon, my mother would wait until the end and as the priest greeted those exiting after Mass, Mother would take the priests to task right then and there over the heretical sermons. At little parish conferences delivering talks on de Chardinism, Mother would attack. Yes the priests would look bewildered. Yes, I’d be embarrassed. At my young age I didn’t understand what appeared to be crazy and mean.

    But man, do I see it all in hindsight now. Look where we are now. Is this the result of apathy and cowardice?

    The day I brought home from catechism a pamphlet on the 3 new ‘saints’ Gandhi, Martin Luther King and JFK [I think it was] is the day I got yanked from CCD and Mother taught me herself. Yes, she made it very clear to me when heresy was being taught and what priests I shouldn’t trust. Eventually we took many years refuge with the Byzantines.

    That the laity hasn’t rioted in protest over all these years is far less charitable than not hurting the feelings of priests and saving the Faith around us. The loss of Faith around us is staggering – we are down to, what, 2 percent [?] practicing believing Catholics?

    Now, who even knows the Faith well enough to synthesize and comprehend what is wrong and even make any cogent statements to anybody?

  25. benedetta says:

    It does sound super intriguing, of course, when certain people lean hard on directing who needs to become more merciful, and I’m sure it resonates with the narrative constructs most of us have all been led and taught with so many means to in fact believe, and worship, but the fact is when you begin to talk about the realities, and real life experiences, then it very easily tumbles down just like a house of cards and one begins to appreciate that there is not only the one very harshly identified sector shall we say in the Church which needs to go and learn the meaning of mercy. Let’s leave it at that.

  26. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear gatormom,

    You wrote:

    “So this guy sees error reluctantly and with sadness unlike the other goons out there who just enjoy finding error and heresy in the Church all these years. Yeah, they are just yucking it up enjoying their battle. Thank goodness he’s not like them.”

    I do not think that William Lise is proceeding from false humility, if you read the entire article that he wrote. He has fought the good fight, but doesn’t really see much good coming from his efforts.

    I do not know Bill Luse, personally, but we were co-commentors back in the day when I was making comments on the What’s Wrong with the World blog. He is a Catholic convert from the Episcopalians, if memory serves. He is a conservative Catholic blogger (his blog can be found by Google) and the co-editor of the Christendom Review. He is an English professor at Valencia College in Florida.


    You wrote:

    “We were told through our deacon not approach Father for Confession or Communion, and we stay out of his way and avoid him as much as possible.”

    The problem, here, is that the deacon cannot speak for the priest. Him telling you not to approach Father for confession is hearsay. If Father, truly, did not want you to approach him for confession, you might need to speak to the bishop about this, because it seems, as I read it, to violate Canon 986:

    “Can. 986 §1. All to whom the care of souls has been entrusted in virtue of some function are obliged to make provision so that the confessions of the faithful entrusted to them are heard when they reasonably seek to be heard and that they have the opportunity to approach individual confession on days and at times established for their convenience.

    §2. In urgent necessity, any confessor is obliged to hear the confessions of the Christian faithful, and in danger of death, any priest is so obliged.”

    As to confronting priests, in general, the Catholic Encyclopedia (1917) has this to say about fraternal correction (I’ve corrected a few spelling errors and done light editing in the transcription):

    “Given a sufficiently grave condition of spiritual distress calling for succor in this way, this commandment [to fraternally correct] may exact fulfillment under pain of mortal sin. This is reckoned to be so only when:

    1) the delinquency to be corrected or prevented is a grievous one;
    2) there is no good reason to believe that the sinner will adequately provide for himself;
    3) there is a well-founded expectation that the admonition will be heeded;
    4) there is no one else just as well fitted for this work of Christian charity and likely to undertake it;
    5) there is no special trouble or disadvantage accruing to the reformer as a result of his zeal.

    Most of the time, the problem comes from 3, 4, or 5 in the list. I have been in Churches where the music is very bad, but I did not approach the pastors to argue the finer points of authentic Church music, even though I was possibly qualified, because I was sure that I would lack standing in their eyes, so 3 and 5 in the list come into play. Most of the time, the problem isn’t with the correction, its with the fraternal part of the equation. It is far easier to correct a pastor if you are on good terms with him than if you are not, so one has to ask, first off, whether or not your relationship with the pastor is such that your comments really will be heard fraternally. If not, then some other approach might be more beneficial.

    The Chicken

  27. Nat says:

    I think the list from 1917 needs to be revised for the laity living these times.
    1. There is a delinquency to be corrected that is grave. SOMEONE must say it. It would be really nice if it was the priest. Unfortunately, it often isn’t. Pray for courage.
    2. There is no good reason to believe that the sinner will adequately provide for himself…the offending priest usually doesn’t care to hear the truth, and the children won’t hear it if the parents don’t say it themselves… Pray for courage.
    3.We KNOW the admonition will not be heeded…but the kids are watching. Pray for courage.
    4.There is no person better fitted for the job… if only there was. Pray for courage.
    5.There is usually ALOT of trouble for the reformer on account of his zeal. Pray for courage.

    It kind of reminds me of how military tactics used the rules of hand to hand combat for some time after guns were introduced. The front line men were simply mown down before someone finally realized that it is better to shoot from a hidden position and maybe don’t advertise who the head guy is with a flag…. It took a while and many casualties before they acknowledged that the old ways weren’t working… how many more generations will simply….nicely …politely… lose their souls.

  28. Nat says:

    Didn’t Solzhenitsyn say something about men doing nothing…..

  29. Raymond says:

    I sympathize with Nat and Tina in Ashburn.

    Yes, it’s usually the devout, pious women who would confront the nutty priests and bishops. When men are turned-off by the craziness they see in church, they usually just stop going. I also wonder whether this “keep quiet/don’t speak ill of priests” attitude is mainly a Northern European/North American phenomenon. A legacy of Irish clericalism in the US Church, perhaps?

    In places like Spain, Italy, Latin America, and the Philippines, where people are more emotionally expressive even in public, laity-priest confrontations are probably more common. Personally, I prefer this environment–where gossip and rumors are either confirmed or denied–rather than the uptight, head-bowed-down attitudes that I have witnessed in some church circles here in the US.

  30. Nat says:

    One last thing: “Western societies are organized and live as though God did not exist. Christians themselves, on many occasions, have settled down to a silent apostasy.” Cardinal Sarah

  31. Mojoron says:

    If I used every errant Holy Mass to find fault with the Church, I would probably be cutting grass on Sunday’s rather than receiving the Lord. As I am a sinner and imperfect, so are the errant priests and bishops and sometimes Pope’s. I try not to get caught up in the minutia of priestly politics as well as diocesan intricacies, but I do worry that the current issues in Rome which will/may have another schismatic effect on the Church, one that splits the Lord’s body again. I suppose the Holy Spirit will show the flock the right direction, but we also need priests to stay somewhat versed in the political realm to lead us to the correct path.

  32. TheDude05 says:

    I challenged a Priest’s idea of Pope Francis in regards to marriage at a family Thanksgiving meal. He seemed to think the Holy Father was going to give the nod to using the confessional as a means to allow for the divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist, something he said he and others had been doing for years. I said it was hard to get a true read on the Holy Father since shortly after the Synod he tore the German Bishops a new one, and the idea of the internal forum was theirs. He started to argue and then changed the topic. I was ready to go to the mattresses with him in as polite and humble a manner as I could.

  33. benedetta says:

    The point of all of this discussion, whether/how to confront…is that teaching or preaching what is not of the Gospel is actively hurtful and harmful, not only to our communion, but to real lives of people, in a humanist sense, and it has had the visible effect of deterring people of the benefits of their baptism, and the benefits of regular practice of the faith, not to mention sowing confusion, divisions, discord, and discouragement. The short term political or ideological gains accruing to a precious elitist few can never be justified as worth this. It is obvious that far from being worth it, the harm in material terms as well as spiritual is staggering and permanent. For those who trade in this sort of “preaching” and pastoral care there have been ample warnings far beyond whatever may be said here: Si autem te non audierit, adhibe tecum adhuc unum, vel duos, ut in ore duorum, vel trium testium stet omne verbum.

  34. benedetta says:

    In all probability, if “Catholic” universities and publishers, politicians and priests teaching heresy had been reigned in by those whose responsibilities it is and was to watch over them for the protection of the faithful, then, a lot of what a number of us materially and physically and spiritually suffer, right now, and others who aren’t even aware that they are suffering or have a better way through, would have peace, the basic peace that we are entitled to as a basic human right, right here in these USA, and certainly in a number of other places where it is even and much worse. There are real measurable observable consequences to the dereliction of duty that Christ entrusted to those who omitted in favor of a lot of happy claptrap and bread and circuses, and while a lot of us in ignorance or suffering may be able to avail of mercy, those who brought all this on and deprived so many of basic access to what they deserve, may not get it, not because we don’t want it for them, or because God is not merciful, but because of the way their duplicitous teaching and actions separated themselves from His communion despite the trappings of their offices.

  35. hilltop says:

    Luvadoxi asks: “Why should we be hesitant to confront a priest? What am I missing here? ”
    Fr. Z replies : “[First, because of the guidelines of fraternal correction. Second, because many people don’t know what they don’t know.]”
    Hilltop sees a huge, thick, tasty slice of irony in that reply. Anyone else?
    Might “fraternal correction” be in order here to redirect the impulse for evident condescension into the charitable direction of catechesis? In the first, folks will greatly benefit from instruction as to the what, who and how of fraternal correction. In the second, the “many people” ignorant of their ignorance includes a woefully immense number of those in Holy Orders. (Present company excluded.)
    In Respectful Admonition -not to say confrontation-

    [Father is Father. He is not brother or son. Be careful.]

  36. dominic1955 says:

    If only the laity had had the good sense of the laity of Pistoia who ran Bishop de’Ricci out of the city and burned his cathedra in the town square. Methinks much of the crazy that happened after Vatican II wouldn’t have happened if the laity hadn’t been so cowed into blindly believing that “Father/Sister knows best.” It would be great if we could absolutely trust our priests and religious, but we cannot stick out heads in the sand when that clearly is not the case.

    Now, of course, good judgment must always be used. One should always be given to interpret things people say and do in the most charitable ways. One should not jump to conclusions. Small matters shouldn’t be blown out of proportion, and many things really do count as “small” matters. But if Father or Sister is spouting blatant and intentional heresy, someone needs to call them out.

  37. tufty says:

    I just want to point out, in case there might be confusion, that the list that “Chicken” is posting refers to occasions when NOT confronting would be mortally sinful. In other words, under these specific circumstances one is morally bound to correct.

    The list is not restricting correction to occasions when all of these circumstances apply.

  38. alnleash says:

    I’m struggling with approaching Msr. So-and-so at another parish in town, but how can I not speak up when so many souls are being mislead?

    Short story short…went to Sunday 5pm (“Lifeteen”) mass at another parish with my 9 yr old son (hubby took older kids that morning; unusual day where we had to split). Here are some examples of the experience…

    Msr. moved the Gloria to after the homily so we could sing while we he sprinkled us with holy water. Everyone signs the “Alleluia” while singing (the motion was made with both index fingers in the air twirling around as if to say “Whoopee!). All teens surround the altar for consecration. Everyone holds hands AND sways while singing the “Our Father.”

    The worst part? No one kneels for the consecration. My son and I did, and then Msr. announced everyone should be standing. We did not stand. He did ask everyone to bow after the prayer.

    My 9 year old was so confused that he asked me, “Mom, do we still say Amen when we receive the body (of Christ)? YES, son, we do.

    I can’t be the first to bring this up with Msr. I’m fearful my charitable words may fall on deaf ears, but it will probably be worse than that. Please pray for me.

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