I am pretty tired of this B as in B, S as in S.

A few inflammatory points by way of introduction.

First, there are those who say that many of the problems in the Church today can be traced back to the influence of a kind of “jansenism” impressed during formation in seminaries way back in the day.  The main culprits were, as it is said, especially Sulpicians, who ran many large seminaries, and those whom they trained.  Quite a few Irish clerics were, long ago, trained in extremely rigid French Sulpician seminaries, since they had no chances in Ireland.  A dark rigidity was thus imported to these USA through these conduits.  And since the English-speaking Irish made the claim to be “natives” (even though they, too, were immigrants), they shut the other ethnic groups out of the American hierarchy, coming to dominate chanceries and mother-houses and schools.  When the leash was finally loosed, through the growing effects of modernism and then Vatican II, the formerly rigid snapped and ricocheted into being liberal progressives… except that they remained rigid when it came to oppressing anyone that didn’t agree with their progressivism.  The worst of the worst of what people call clericalist: liberals.

Next, I am sure that you have noticed how smug and humorless liberals are.  That’s because they perceive themselves as morally superior to us mere mortals.

Thirdly, it is sometimes hard to remember – it is for me – when reading liberal crowing about their latest Pyrrhic victory, that younger committed Catholics, certainly seminarians, younger priests and goodly number of bishops, don’t give a tinker’s dam about anything the Fishwrap (aka National Sodomitic Reporter) says.  They don’t share the narrow vision of a still widespread – but rapidly weakening – discontinuity and rupture. Young people have nothing invested in that agenda.  The few that do are exceptions to the rule.  The seminarians I know, if they see the Fishwrap at all, just shake their heads, marveling.  Perhaps they smile a little.  The indifference this new generation of priests has concerning the liberal catholic agenda will inevitably have a huge knock-on effect in the parishes they will lead and the classrooms they will teach in.  That terrifies the aging catholic Left.

Lastly, self-absorbed Promethean Neopelagian aging-hippie liberals still interpret everything within the Church through the lens they formed during the anti-authoritarian civil-rights and anti-war protest movements. When we try to uphold hierarchy and authority or rubrics or the older form of Mass or obedience to the Magisterium or decorum in liturgy and sacred music (or in the clerical life) an involuntary subconscious switch clicks in their heads. They take your faithful Catholic position of continuity to be an attack themselves and on Vatican II, on … niceness… on bunnies … on the poor… on the Democrat Party…. Vatican II cannot, in their minds, be separated from the protest movements they have idolized until they are actually paradigmatic, iconic, even mythic. The myth is now itself dying, and they don’t like it one little bit.  (It it interesting to see how new protest movements are springing up, fueled and paid for by older liberal ideologues among young people who have been reduced to slavery and vacuity by liberal educational institutions.)

Now, to it.

I saw at the Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter – insert head shake and wry smile here) an interview with out-going Sulpician Fr. Phillip J. Brown, now the former rector of Theological College, the national diocesan seminary of the Catholic University of America in Washington DC: “Francis effect growing among seminarians, says Theological College rector”.


The subject of change in the attitudes of seminarians is “a delicate situation for me as a seminary rector,” acknowledged Brown, who will be moving on to a similar position at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore later this year. [Another Sulpician place.]


He’s seeing a shift in attitudes among seminarians particularly in the areas of:

View of church tradition. […]

There’s less focus on the sacerdotal nature of priesthood […]

There is less of an emphasis on signs and symbols indicating traditionalism. They can seem like small things: the wearing of cassocks, Communion only on the tongue and not in the hand, to name two. But in recent years these symbols became what Brown described “as markers of orthodoxy” with an indication that those who didn’t follow such practices were suspect.


Seminarians are more inclined to move from what Brown called a Calvinistic, rule-based view of moral theology, to a more nuanced understanding of the role of church teaching in people’s lives. They are less likely to view psychological counseling with suspicion. The Francis message on the environment is also catching on, he said.


Okay… I’ll bet the seminarians there really appreciated that parting shot.

Look.  I’ve not been a seminarian for a long time, but I am still suffering from the post-traumatic stress disorder of those times. I still remember that the aging-liberals were once relevant, and, as a result, they can still get under my skin.  Younger, committed Catholics don’t have those memories.

They are now going to taste something of the bitter cup we were forced to quaff.

That said, I have contact with seminarians all over these USA and abroad.  I have a different sense of The Francis Effect™ among seminarians.

However, if you want a more direct and pointed response to the assertions above, I saw on Facebook (yes… I know) a direct and pointed response by a priest who was at that seminary during that rector’s tenure.  HERE  My emphases:

This article, written from an interview given by the out-going Rector of my former seminary, is very hurtful. The men who were formed in and ordained from Theological College over the past 10 years are some of the best and most pastoral men and priests that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Inventing a false dichotomy between a love for the Church’s traditions and a love for the people of God is a manipulative, ideological tool used to push forth one’s personal agenda.

I have known Father Brown for many years, and have a great deal of respect and admiration for him personally, but this public interview he gave with an openly dissenting “Catholic” publication warrants an alumnus response.

As one of the many cassock-wearing, Communion-on-the-tongue-receiving, Latin-loving, Extraordinary-Form-Mass-saying young priests that have passed through the halls of Theological College, allow me to say plainly to anyone who would agree with the tone and sentiment of this article that you have deliberately and painfully pigeon-holed men who love the Church and cast us to be pompous little monsters simply because we have a different theological/liturgical outlook than you. You condescend towards us as if we were not thinking, opining, and sincere men. You gossip about us, ensuring that we are “put in our places” and “taught a thing or two” by your confreres. You confuse our strong convictions with arrogance and accuse us of being staunch when we are trying more than anything else to be faithful, helpful, and loving.

But let’s be quite honest…you don’t really know us because you never took the time to get to know us. You saw us when we were in the seminary chapel or over breakfast…but that’s about it. Have you seen us at 2:00 AM in the hospital? Have you seen us working late into the night on a funeral homily? Have you seen us giving up our one day off a week to visit with a lonely elderly parishioner? Have you seen us on our knees at night before the tabernacle weeping because we just buried a child earlier that day? Have you seen us celebrate four Masses on a weekend, hear hours of confessions, and still show up to Sunday evening Youth Ministry? Have you seen us wear the same pair of socks two days in a row because we simply ran out of time to do laundry? Have you seen us muster a smile even when we’re exhausted, or miss Christmas with our families because we’re assigned 300 miles away, or forget to eat dinner because there’s another meeting to go to? The answer is no. What you see are the cassocks and birettas and fiddleback chasubles and accuse us of being “out of touch.” Well the reality is, you are guilty of the very thing you accuse us of. You ignore our humanity, our struggle, our sincerity, and you fixate on external things to make your judgments.

As difficult as it is at times, I love being a priest with my whole heart. Not because it offers me an exalted status or any privileges, but because it offers me, and the people I serve, the means by which to attain salvation. I love the people I serve to death, and I would do anything within my means to help them. If you look at my cassock and presume otherwise, I can only feel sorry for you.


Thus, this young priest’s reaction to that interview.  I suspect that the seminarians remaining at Theological College have much the same view.

There is great division now, and it is growing, especially along generational lines.

I have only anecdotal evidence so far, but we all know that the plural of anecdote is “data”.  My understanding is that numbers of applicants for seminary are down.  Also, seminarians who have been in for a few years, who thus began to discern their possible vocation in the time of Pope Benedict, are respectful about what Pope Francis is doing and saying, but they are not as ensorcelled as some liberals might hope.

I am pretty tired of this B as in B, S as in S.  I have been tired of it for decades.  Yes, the Biological Solution is working on these aging hippies, but… sheesh!

Every young priest who has toyed with the idea of wearing a cassock, but has been intimidated by the nattering nabobs of negativism (or blustering Boomers of bellicosity?), should resolve to wear his cassock in public one day a week – or every day! Or maybe band together. Steal a liberal hippy Boomer technique and stage a sit-in, a “cassock-in”, somewhere really public and visible, like outside the office of some seminary rector.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liberals, Mail from priests, Pò sì jiù, Priests and Priesthood, Self-absorbed Promethean Neopelagians, Seminarians and Seminaries and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Scott Woltze says:

    Wow. That was an outstanding Facebook post. I think the Holy Spirit must have been ghost-writing that response.

  2. CPT TOM says:

    God Bless our Young Priests! They are faithful and good servants, and the ones we have in our Diocese are Orthodox and humble in ways that their much older brothers could learn from. They not only take care in their celebration of the Mass, but they give their full attention to their vocation. They can actually give a good homily that is on topic, relevant, and teaches the hard truths. I judge them by the reaction of my soon to be 10 year old son. He admires them and is fascinated by them in a way he wasn’t with most of our older priests. Except our bishop, who is orthodox and old school in his habit and actions, my son likes him too quite a bit. My son now serves at the Latin Mass, which is said by what young priest we can get to say it. He never was interested in doing so with the regular Mass. He points to Father Peter and his young colleagues as the reason why. Maybe a vocation there? God knows. May the Blessed Mother watch over all the young and older, orthodox, priests!

  3. majuscule says:

    Our local seminary was run by Sulplicians–I think it still is, but there was a reorganization a while back. The Fishwrap complained about it at the time, too, so I’m sure the changes were all for the good!

    The priest’s comments brought tears to my eyes. We have such a priest in our parish. And added to all that he does for the parish, he has also been teaching at the above mentioned seminary!

    Someone told me that three of the current seminarians are interested in celebrating the Extraordianry Form, too. Take that, Fishwrap!

  4. Rich says:

    The liberal experiment has been tried and found wanting, unless, of course, it were actually intended to drive a whole generation out of the Church. The problem for them is that their experimental subjects aren’t around to influence the Church from within anymore, for they are not within the Church anymore.

  5. benedetta says:

    Quite right. Others of us see the chasubles and cassocks and birettas and think not of being ‘not nuanced’ (whatever that is code for) nor Pope Francis and the environment, but rather all those encounters listed which mean a staggering amount, which matter, to those of us whom holy seminarians and priests serve tirelessly. So, instead of the disconnect of happy clappy to partisan agenda homily to the jokester how great I am with the whiplash transition to the consecration and then the big lord’s table anti janssenist and anti calvinist satisfaction…the great majority of people see the sacred host offered on the paten by one wearing the dignity worthy of our communion and the Lord’s presence with us, and put all those experiences he describes there on that paten. We do that, silently, actively, interiorly, without having to be dictated to and despite the finger wagging about what the partisans think is so wrong about us. When we get the game show host ars celebrandi, then, we do it too, but, we realize how seriously and frighteningly alone we are in that consciousness and prayer. That is why a lot of us who grew up with the minimally valid and sometimes illicit opt for sacramentals, Eucharist on the tongue, taking some steps into our own hands, as it were, so that we may not minimize the working of the grace and mercy we so desperately need but humbly ask for as much as we possibly can receive in so many ways.

  6. jschicago says:

    Interesting … he seemed very complimentary a few years ago about the same seminarians…

    But Theological College’s Father Phillip Brown said a rise in enrollment is only part of the story:

    It’s not just the numbers but the quality and spirit of the men who are coming,” he told CNS. “I’m tremendously impressed with the quality of the candidates, their zeal,” he added. “We’re seeing a real renewal of the priesthood.[9]


  7. Glennonite says:

    Excellent post, Father.

  8. PhilipNeri says:

    Our numbers at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, LA are growing every year. . .have been since 2009 or so. At last count, we will have 133 guys in the fall of 2016. . .

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  9. MrsMacD says:

    That quote from the young seminarian overwhelms me with gratitude. God is so good! Thank you Holy God!

  10. The Egyptian says:

    please send him up here, I am so tired of these 70’s holdovers we get. At 57 I’m sick and tired of waiting. The biological solution goes both ways ya know

    Hope that priest makws Bishop some day, talk about tough and yet humble

  11. Matt Robare says:

    Even better than a cassock-in, what about going to a confess-in?

  12. Thomas Sweeney says:

    My comment is that Father Z’s Blog is a bright star on a cloudy night. You are a teacher and an inspiration to me. Finding your blog was a stroke of luck of which I am grateful.

  13. HeatherPA says:

    Thank you for this post, Father. The FB post is beautiful.

  14. Clinton R. says:

    I was talking with our parish’s associate pastor the other evening. He was ordained in 2011 and he sees the Second Vatican Council II as the opportunity modernism finally got its way. After all he, said Pope John XXIII wanted fresh air in the Church and by the next decade, Pope Paul VI declared the smoke of satan had entered the sanctuary. Father went out to say that the liberalism in the Church post V2 has lead to great religious indifference. He pointed out the popularity of the COEXIST bumper stickers. I think there is much he would like to say on matters in the Church, but probably feels it is prudent for now to lay low. I do pray for the young priests, that their faith may be strong.

  15. mysticalrose says:

    I am neither a liberal, nor old enough to have been alive in the ’60’s. But I do not understand why a civil rights protest would be called “anti-authoritarian”??

  16. Benedict Joseph says:

    Yet another facet of the clerical perspective illuminated here is to be found at: http://www.onepeterfive.com/cardinal-lehmann-popes-cardinal-muller-amoris-laetitia/
    Of viral proportions regretfully and it appears there is no longer any need to practice prudence when commenting on issues and individuals in the Church – at least if you are of a certain point of view.

  17. Hidden One says:

    Pray for seminarians.

  18. Warren says:

    Even where there is a policy that restricts internet use during the first year of seminary formation, there’s little that liberal bishops and “progressive” rectors and professors can do these days to freeze the flow of online information that Tradition-minded tech-savvy seminarians can access and thereby continue their “informal” formation. Impromptu sodalities are constantly forming online that allow like-minded Catholics to network, stay informed, and to resist the silly attempts of our cafeteria brethren to re-engineer the Church and fashion her into their twisted collective image.

    Welcome to the new recusancy!

  19. Patti Day says:

    It is so encouraging to read father’s response. Thank you for making it available Father Z, and for your commentary.

  20. Sandy says:

    Fantastic, Father Z. Somehow I hope this wonderful priest finds out about the support he has in places such as this blog. I’m sure we here are only a fraction of the wonderful Catholics who will pray for him and others like him. I certainly hope he will have a huge and positive response to his words. God bless all you loyal priests!

  21. Semper Gumby says:

    Deo Gratias for these traditional and orthodox priests and seminarians as they toil in the vineyards of the Lord. May their tribe increase!

  22. PostCatholic says:

    I was going to say something morally superior but I found myself laughing at my smugness.

  23. Peter Stuart says:

    When I reverted several years ago after decades in the SSA wilderness—whose lures are yet to be fully conquered—I thought the equivocal nonsense that contributed to my giving up the Church for lost in my early 20s would soon be over with. Now that the “Francis Effect” is reviving feel-good foolishness, I’m tempted to throw in the towel, oh, no more than three or four times a day.

    And then I read about some brave young priest holding out against the liberal Establishment. Or preaching against some innovation that’s trying to damage the Faith and destroy the faithful (and me). Or just reminding me and other isolated souls that we’re not alone.

    Please know, brave priests young and old, that your efforts do not go unappreciated. I will always need prayers and boosts aplenty, but today I live in (cautious, snakebit) hope.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  24. Toan says:

    It’s breathtaking that Fr. Brown says “There’s less focus on the sacerdotal nature of priesthood” in seminaries today. Given that “sacerdotal” means “priestly”, he is saying that there is less focus on the priestly nature of the priesthood…which would effectively mean that more men want to become priests for the sake of non-priestly functions/goals.

    No, I don’t buy it. In an age where pop culture considers all priests to be pedophiles, a man is unlikely become a priest for non-priestly reasons. If seminarians talk about cassocks less, it’s because they are keeping quiet because they want to graduate in an environment in which liberals are emboldened.

    I wish Fr. Brown would show us his data. How about, “X% of seminarians 3 years ago thought the sacerdotal nature of priesthood was ‘Very Important’ or ‘Somewhat Important’ to them, and Y% of today’s seminarians think the same?”

    On a tangent…a lovely statistic would be seminarians’ responses to the question, “As a seminarian, how favorably do you view of the National Catholic Reporter?”

  25. Benedict Joseph says:

    Peter Stuart, persevere! What has been accomplished in you by the Grace of Jesus Christ will continue to be accomplished with your assent. And it will be brought to perfection. You are not alone in this struggle. You are not alone in experiencing the assault with which the current debacle is confronting us. Perseverance is the key. Collapse? Get up. Don’t give it more deference than it is due. The past three years have presented me with an interior moral war, and I’m sure there are many others as well. Persevere. You are accompanied by our Savior, and by our prayer.

  26. JonPatrick says:

    In our Diocese we have 2 newly minted priests, one (who offered his first Mass after ordination as a TLM) at his first assignment has been able to establish a monthly TLM, the first in that part of the diocese since the onset of the new Mass. The other priest is an associate in our parish and has learned the TLM and has offered it on 1st Saturdays and Ember Days. They are both good solid orthodox priests. If that is any indication of what the seminaries are putting out then we are in good hands.

  27. gouletdrg says:

    As a Catholic Priest, who falls under the orthodox side and who was Sulpician trained and know all parties involved, I feel the need to provide my two cents. The intro makes it sounds as if all Sulpicians are liberal leaning heretics. Not true. I was formed by outstanding, orthodox Sulpicians priests who enhanced a love of proper liturgy, orthodoxy in preaching, love for the Church, and the care of God’s people. I will not forget a comment by one Sulpician Father: “Gentlemen, remember this. When you speak, your public opinion is that of the Church. You speak for the Church.” Doesn’t sound like liberalism to me. I challenge all to physically visit the Sulpician Seminaries. I visited all but one in my current military assignment in the past year. I found both orthodox Preosts and seminarians in all my visits. Yes, there are few who are progressive. You will find them too at all seminaries, as I have during my visits to other seminary communities. As I had Father Brown as a professor in Canon Law and he served as President of the Canan Law Society of the US, I am rather surprised by his remarks. Then again, it is the National Reporter, a publication known to skew facts and twist words for their own agenda. [Yes, true. That is something to keep in mind. I too have know a good Sulpician. He is now the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops!]

  28. Pingback: MONDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  29. roseannesullivan says:

    I agree with you. The anti-establishmentarianism of the aged hippies switches on when tradition is even mentions. I wrote the following comment at the article at the Fishwrap, but my comment was moderated out of existence. “A good rebuttal to those hurtful and inaccurate claims is in this article: https://liturgyguy.com/…/a-young-priest-sets-the-record-st…/

    “As a former falllen-away-atheist hippy, now a happy re-lapsed Catholic atttendee at an Oratory where only the traditional Latin Mass and sacraments are offered, from my point of view liberals are the ones with cookie-cutter mentality. They are totally predictable and share the same values derived from the popular culture. I observed when I came back to the Church that liberal Catholics love to dialogue, except with those who believe in Church teachings and discipline and want to uphold Church doctrine and morality: they are intolerant in the name of tolerance.

    “Believe it or not AileenUSA, traditional Catholics develop an intense interior spiritual life though the liturgical trappings, not by throwing them away. Look at the saints. For example, St. Francis loved Lady Poverty but he taught that nothing is too precious for use in the worship of God at Mass.

    “It is possible to be very arrogant about being too humble to wear the vestments that in former ages were worn with many layers of symbolism imbedded to show honor to our awesome God. The priests I know from the Institute of Christ the King exhaust themselves. They pour themselves out for the people and are deeply involved in the lives of their congregations, far more than any of the 9-5 diocesan liberal priests I met over the years before I found a traditional, loving, moral, and authentically God-adoring community.

    “[ AileenUSA mentioned how the traditionalists don’t care about social justice.] Social justice begins with personal holiness and a relationship with God that fills the person with authentic love. Social justice begins at home, when the traditional Catholic is committed to his marriage, open to having the children God gives him, abhors abortion and indecency. A person who keeps his marriage vows and cares for his own relatives and friends is building a just and loving society. Concern for others radiates out from there.

    “Social justice is not what many people think it is, neglecting their own home lives and going out and meddling with the lives of others. Lady Bountiful mentality aids only the condescending giver and hurts the receivers of the gifts. Remember this: The movement in the 1960s towards priests and religious involving themselves in the lives of sinners led a lot of them to fall into sin instead of helping the sinners. Lots of vocations and sons were lost. Personal holiness must come first before any outreach to any sinner, or the sins will rub off.”

  30. trekkie4christ says:

    As a seminarian who has experienced Fr. Brown’s influence as rector firsthand, I’d like to come to his defense for a moment. If you look at the article, it’s not so much an interview as an opinion piece prompted by the interview. The author of the article makes grand conjectures without actually quoting Fr. Brown on many points. That throws the validity of his summary into question. Knowing Fr. Brown personally, some of the statements in the article are shocking to me and I can’t believe that something so harsh would come out of his mouth. What I *can* believe, on the other hand, is that the Reporter writer used some of what he heard from Fr. Brown to support the message he wanted to put into his article, perhaps even asking pointed questions meant to provoke answers he could skew in his own favor. The Reporter loves to do it with Pope Francis, why not with a likewise-ambiguous rector?

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