Magister: Comments on the state of the Curia

Some time ago I issued a serious rant.  HERE  I think you should take it to heart.

From Sandro Magister:

A Firing, a Demolition: Behold the New Curia

The reform of the Vatican curia that Pope Francis is carrying out is being done partly in sunshine and partly in shadow. [Mostly shadow.  There is a lot that doesn’t reach the light.]

Among the provisions recently adopted in shadow, there are two that are emblematic.


The veil was lifted on the first by the vaticanista Marco Tosatti, when on December 26 he broke the news of an order the pope had given to a dicastery [CDF] head to summarily fire three of his officials, an order given without explanations and without accepting objections. [He has the power to do that.]

It is now known that the dicastery in question is not second-tier, it is the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. [CDF] And the three officials fired enjoyed the full approval of their prefect, Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, in his turn made the target of repeated acts of humiliation, in public, on the part of the pope.

But which of the three rejects is the official whom Francis personally – as Tosatti has reported – reprimanded harshly by telephone for having expressed criticisms against him, which had come to the pope’s ear through an informant? [True.  One of them was called personally.]

It is the Dutch priest Christophe J. Kruijen, 46, in service at the congregation for the doctrine of the faith since 2009, a theologian of acknowledged expertise, awarded with the prestigious Prix Henri De Lubac in 2010 by the French embassy to the Holy See, unanimously bestowed upon him by a jury made up of the cardinals Georges Cottier, Albert Vanhoye, and Paul Poupard,…

[… read about him there…]


The second measure taken in shadow concerns the congregation for divine worship, [CDW] the prefect of which is Cardinal Robert Sarah, he too the object of repeated public humiliations on the part of the pope, and now condemned to preside over offices and men who are pulling against him.

Directed by the secretary of the congregation, the English archbishop Arthur Roche, [NB:] a commission has been set up within the dicastery at the behest of Francis, the objective of which is not the correction of the degenerations of the postconciliar liturgical reform – meaning that “reform of the reform” which is Cardinal Sarah’s dream – but the exact opposite: the demolition of one of the walls of resistance against the excesses of the postconciliar liturgists, the instruction “Liturgiam Authenticam issued in 2001, which sets the criteria for the translation of liturgical texts from Latin into the modern languages.

With Benedict XVI these criteria had been further reinforced, in particular through the pope’s intention to hold firm the pro multis of the Gospel and the Latin missal in the words of consecration of the blood of Christ, against the “for all” of many current translations.

But Francis immediately made it understood that this matter left him indifferent. And now, with the institution of this commission, he is meeting the expectations for a modernization of liturgical language championed, for example, by the liturgist Andrea Grillo, a professor at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm [This fellow is Bad News™.] and in great esteem at Casa Santa Marta:

> La traduzione/tradizione impossibile: i punti ciechi di “Liturgiam authenticam”

There are those who fear that after the demolition of “Liturgiam Authenticam,” the next objective, of this or another commission, will be the correction of “Summorum Pontificum,” the document with which Benedict XVI liberalized the celebration of the Mass in the ancient rite.

What is there to say about this?   Not much.  And what can be said, really can’t be said at this time.

Could the Pope roll back the 2011 translation of the Novus Ordo in English?  Unlikely.  However, he could provide options.   So far we have seen sharp and growing polarization.  Those who were already inclined to doctrinal and canonical fidelity continue to choose to be faithful.  Those who were already antinomian and untroubled by doctrine, continue to choose to be dissidents.  The ambiguities of documents today leave both sides free to choose… and they are choosing.  The liberal side, however, now has far greater cover, so that they are freer to pursue their agenda even more aggressively than before.  Options don’t bring much unity, when you reach the bottom line.

We are our rites.  If we pray a certain way, our belief is shaped.  From our belief, our prayer is brought forth.  There is a reciprocal and dynamic relationship between how we pray and what we believe.  While many factors are at play, there seems to be a strong corollary between the state of many of the Church’s institutions and how our sacred liturgical worship was altered.

Traditional liturgy and sound translations do not on their own preserve us from error.  However, hatred for traditional liturgy and sound translations it is unfailingly a signal of heterodoxy, and heterodoxy is always predictive of hostility toward sound liturgy.

Lex Orandi Lex Credendi … and vice versa

Perhaps this will galvanize some Catholics to get off their backsides and do something in favor of the liturgical revival we so desperately need.  

Card. Sarah sent out a clarion call to priests.  Fathers!  Let’s get going!  Benedict XVI gave us clear and sound liturgical teaching and direction. He gave us the stupendously important tool of the aforementioned Motu Proprio, the “emancipation proclamation” for all the priests of the Roman Rite.  It has been almost 10 years since SP went into force.  Take off the training wheels and ride the damn bike!

Do not be flustered.  Do not be paralyzed with anxiety.  Do not run in circles, panting and tearing at your clothing.  Pontiffs come and pontiffs go.  You, on the other hand, are called to influence your corner of the world according to your vocations, God’s plan for you.  So, form alliances, create a solid group with a vision and goal, discern your tactics to carry out your strategy.  Examine your consciences.  GO TO CONFESSION!  Get to work.  Don’t sit around in your wilted flower bed and wring your hands, waiting for priests to do everything for you.  Not. Gonna. Happen.  YOU have to make things happen.

The moderation queue is ON.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Praying for Pope Burke or Sarah. I would hate to have to go “parish shopping” again, trying to find a priest who does not arrogantly change the words which the Church – the Mystical Body of Christ – has given us.

  2. rmichaelj says:

    I have learned a new term used to describe the philosophy which seems to possess many of the Bishops and Cardinals that support a change in the doctrines of the Church because Francis would have it so ( unofficially).

    The term is “Papal Positivism”. In my opinion this is an excellent descriptor. Among its most important quality (accuracy), it also possesses a triple alliteration and rolls off the tongue easily with only a little practice.

  3. QuietContemplative says:

    I apologize if you’ve addressed this before, but this post leaves me with a certain zeal, as a lay person, to do SOMETHING… yet I know not what. For those of us with no easy access to more traditional Rites or priests with a willingness to promulgate them, what can I do? I don’t want to stand around and do nothing. When I face Judgement, I want to be able to say I stayed on the line in this fight.

  4. donato2 says:

    My displeasure with this pontificate has, I must admit, turned into anger. If they come after the traditional Latin Mass, it is all out WAR.

    Also, let it be known, here and now and everywhere and forever, that I will never ever accept a teaching that an unrepentant “remarried” person can receive Holy Communion. I don’t see how any faithful Catholic could.

    I do not think these liberals understand what they are up against. I am reminded of my work in the pro-life movement. The pro-life movement’s opponents cannot grasp that we will never, ever, ever, accept Roe v. Wade. So it is with the current battle. The dubia are never going to go away no matter how many people Pope Francis fires or elevates to the College of Cardinals. I don’t know what the modernists are thinking in terms of their end game. Do they really think that the Catholic faithful are going to accept the elevation of a lie to the status of a truth that is blessed by the magisterium?

  5. Thomas Sweeney says:

    Barry Goldwater said in 1964 that there has never been a successful liberal program. As we look around the world the truth of his statement is readily apparent. The reformation started out with one dissenter and ended up with 28,000 churches. Vatican II started out with opening the windows to let in some fresh air, the result was that 40,000 priests, along with 150,000 nuns bailed out. At present, we have a Pope, who is not content with the terrible divisions within the church already, has decided to create more. Perhaps the liberalism of people like Hugo Chavez or many others of his kind would serve as a lesson when trying to upset an existing order that seems to work. Heaven is what we work and pray for, and the lives of the saints will be our constant guide, not liberal mumbo jumbo.

  6. Geoffrey says:

    I have been meeting more and more seminarians and transitional deacons who give me great hope. While they may not be interested in the Extraordinary Form, they definitely do not see it as a threat, and are intent on celebrating the Ordinary Form with beauty, sacredness, chant, Latin, etc.

  7. donato2 says:

    I read the Andrea Grillo article that Fr. Z linked to and it disturbed me greatly, especially this:

    Il Motu Proprio di 6 anni successivo, che avrebbe dato inizio al rischioso parallelismo tra rito ordinario e rito straordinario è, di fatto, contenuto, non solo nello spirito, ma addirittura nella lettera di LA, ossia all’interno di questa indiretta negazione non certo del Concilio, ma proprio della sua giustificazione pastorale.

    My translation:

    The Motu Proprio six years later, which would initiate the risky parallelism between the ordinary rite and the extraordinary rite is, in fact, contained, not only in spirit, but also in the letter of LA, i.e., within this indirect denial certainly not of the Council, but of its pastoral justification.

    This I am guessing is part of the basis for Magister’s report that there are those who are saying that Summorum Pontificum is the next target of attack.

  8. Maynardus says:

    In my youth I lived through a period when the Church seemed to be at war with the pope (Paul VI), but I never thought I’d see the day when the Pope was seemingly at war with the Church! I keep telling myself “it can’t be this bad” but it seems as though each new week brings another – unpleasant – surprise. I am starting to think that I know how Evelyn Waugh felt when he wrote that “[t]he Vatican Council has knocked the guts out of me”. Like Waugh, I shall not apostatize, but I am finding the present stretch to be “a bitter trial”.

  9. FrPJ says:

    If Liturgicam Authenticam is abolished and we’re landed with more dynamic equivalence liturgical texts I for one will forswear the vernacular and thereafter only ever use Latin! Even the 2011 English translation can be rather blunt and inexact at times, as Fr Z so often illustrates. The possibility of going back to the bad old days of the 1970s is just too awful to contemplate.

    [That’s the spirit. And nothing prevents us from doing that NOW.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  10. benedetta says:

    Everything I have observed has the look about if of downsizing and streamlining, to get out of the active involvement of dispensing mercy, and just being a cheerleader or life coach in the context of homily giving and photo opps and media moments. When it comes to rolling up sleeves and getting involved with the smell of the sheep, it appears that there is a fear that the manpower is not available to meet the need and the demand. This would be one justification for telling people to figure out things with their own decisions and conscience apart from magisterium, making doctrine kind of do what you will sort of thing on your own and rhetoric pushing lay people to do more heavy lifting than already doing in terms of works of mercy. It’s probably practical and prudentially based seeing that in the west there aren’t priests enough to meet the spiritual needs and issues people have. It’s a retrenchment without admitting the less relevancy. Oh well.

  11. bombcar says:

    Hell Week has begun, and it’s on God’s time, and we know how long a week can be for Him.

    Latin up, boys!

  12. Robbie says:

    Turns on Internet, checks in on the latest news from Rome, shakes head, and turns off Internet.

  13. jlmorrell says:


    Perhaps I’m misreading the seriousness of your claim, but if not, then shouldn’t you go all the way and simply offer the TLM exclusively. Why put up with the headache of it all for the Novus Ordo?

  14. Benedict Joseph says:

    Thank you, Father Z, for your honest and sober reportage. So very necessary and it does provide authentic support despite the unpleasantness nature of the news.
    I would only object to one statement of yours, “What is there to say about this? Not much.” There is a library of what could be said, but as you did accurately posit, it “really can’t be said at this time.”
    Something I’ve said here a number of times is how fortunate that I who live in the middle of nowhere am fortunate to have a pastor who offers the Novus Ordo in the vernacular “ad orientem.” What a reverent Mass we have every day. And no interruption by a “kiss of peace.” Word is that the bishop appointed for the diocese by the current pope will be banning our practice in short time.
    Sensing some such manifestation I had redirected my contribution to the “annual appeal” to a Roman Catholic enterprise that I know does not inhabit “that end” of the pool. That is the way it will be until the storm is over in this corner of things. Hopefully I will not need to implement this course of action with my own parish.
    The lash reaches to the farthest corners, but it only affirms me in my estimation of the tragedy that has befallen us, and indeed it is engendering in me quite a new perspective on what has transpired in the years since 1958.
    Rude realities, are bitter yet sweet, for they are, indeed, a call to face the truth.
    Knowing what’s up from down is always better than delusion.

  15. jfk03 says:

    I believe the proper response to the current pontificate is summed up well in 1 Pet.:18-19: “Servants, be subject to your masters in all fear, not only to the good and moderate, but also to the severe. This is indeed a grace, if for consciousness of Vgod anyone endures sorrows, suffering unjustly.” The Lord will provide for us, never fear.

  16. elijah408 says:

    Any advice for “solid” seminarians who will be ordained this spring such as myself who studied in heretical seminaries and/or who are in the same type of religious communities? I’ve been in submarine mode for too long! I want to give the people of God the best I can give which they deserve. JMJ

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  19. Mike says:

    elijah408, you are in my prayers; your example edifies us laypeople who sometimes forget what tremendous risks are taken and sacrifices made by our faithful priests, Religious, and seminarians. I only wish there were more support I could offer. God will richly reward your perseverance.

  20. Prayerful says:

    The threat to Summorum Pontificum has been phrased as restoring the rights of bishops to control the liturgy in their diocese. This did not happen, and given how some of the recent Cardinal appointments occasionally celebrate the Mass of All Time, or have confirmed young people in the traditional manner, given his scornful but not hostile words on traditional minded Catholics, the Pope does not care enough about TLM to wage war on it. The Franciscan of the Immaculate were effectively destroyed, and some traditional minded bishops were removed on what seem like flimsy pretexts. Perhaps these acts were easily done or the FFI showed up the Conciliar changes to vowed life as foolish and ill-considered. It suggests perhaps that Francis will do nothing to once again restrict the TLM, both from a mix of indifference and the limitations on a man with one lung. I will pray that the Pope answers the dubia correctly and ceases with an evident policy of ‘making a mess’ as he advised some Latin American youth to do.

    Diocesan TLM chaplaincies have done so much to restore both Churches and observance of the liturgy (eg locally for me: I hope they are left in peace. Perhaps the brief efforts to restore full communion with the SSPX was part of an agenda to restrict TLM to Traditional priestly societies.

    I’ll keep praying.

  21. benedetta says:

    There is jhayes up there trying to psycho analyse everyone and interpret one’s spiritual soul again without qualifications or foundation…

    I certainly have zero fear and I do as St. Peter advised. It is what it is. One should always expect a certain level of these sorts of issues and attend to one’s personal spiritual state with an awareness of the nature of the times. Fear is never useful or necessary in this. No one should be fearful. That doesn’t mean that we all ought to then to drift off into American boomer la la land of addictions, libertinism, credit card debt, mindless chatter and entertainments, the mass violence and trolling happening by social media in lieu of worthy pursuits, joblessness and weed smoking. To think of those together, and St. Peter, at the same time, is preposterous. Now that is “scary”.

  22. OldLady says:

    Thank God for the vocation of good priests. Although I pray for priests regularly after reading this decided to standardize my prayer. Mary said there were many graces left to give that no one asks for. Not sure if I am asking for the right graces for you?
    Dear Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph,
    May your intercession and graces rain down on all TLM priests and parishes around the world. Please assist the bishops and cardinals who actively support the TLM, protect all Latin Mass priests, strengthen seminarians and priests in orthodoxy. Please help Catholics to advance in orthodoxy and gravitate to the TLM as God desires. Protect us from all evil as we worship in Your Church. May God’s Will be done now and always.

  23. FrPJ says:

    I sometimes ask myself your question. But if I did I would have to move diocese if not state. It’s not always easy discerning where one is truly called to serve.

  24. Giuseppe says:

    Over the Christmas holiday, I was speaking with a friend who is Greek Orthodox. We were discussing barriers to Christian unity, and he (a very thoughtful woman) said that filioque, Papal primacy, marriage, and purgatory were minor matters compared to what shakes the bones of Orthodox priests: that the liturgy, liturgical calendar, and liturgical fasts are so essential to Orthodoxy (of all countries), that uniting with Rome could create an exodus of people going for 40 minute masses and 60 minute pre-Eucharist fasts, etc.

    It’s the Orthodox version of lex orandi, lex credendi.

  25. Giuseppe says:

    Whoops – last post – ‘she’ not ‘he’ – dangers of typing quickly with thumbs on a phone

  26. Let us keep our wits about us at all times. I hope these disturbing reports prove to be ill founded, or else cooler heads in high places will prevail.

    It occurs to me that rolling back Summorum Pontificum would create many serious problems, depending, of course, on what shape it would take. Would priests who now celebrate the Extraordinary Form from time to time be obliged to stop? Would they be barred from teaching other priests and seminarians? Won’t a good deal of this activity go underground? There are quite a lot of priests and seminarians who either embrace the Traditional Latin Mass, at least part of the time, or else who are friendly toward it; and a move like this would tend to radicalize at least some of them.

    Wouldn’t this also serve to bolster the ranks of the SSPX, and further populate the pews of their chapels?

    And, as far as fiddling with the Liturgiam Authenticam, that would seem to take a fair amount of time, and would risk throwing a spanner into the works of things now in progress. Bishops don’t like that sort of thing. And, in any case, the present Missal, isn’t going to be replaced anytime soon. It’s very hard to imagine the pope would want to go down that road. So if there is a replacement for LA, (a) it may take awhile, (b) it may not differ as much as some would hope or fear, and (c) it would likely only affect the various ritual books, and maybe not that many, since several are in the pipeline, I believe.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would be sorry to see such changes, but there are also serious obstacles in the way.

  27. There isn’t a little bit of irony here in that most priests are not going to fight in and win this war by grandiose visions of Chyrsostym like confrontations of public figures. They are going to take Francis’ words to heart and get to work smelling like the sheep. They will uphold TRUTH even in the smelliest of situations. They will be the ones on the ground with the common folk, tending to wounds, presenting the wounded and sick to the Good Physician by their prayers and sacrifices. Living, holy examples of true sacrifice. I know, everyone likes a challenge,a romantic view of their place in life, a good argument where one can strecth out over a vast mental horizon and strut unscathed through the battlefield. Mothers dream of the convent, fathers dream of the battlefield and priests dream of martyrdom. Good mothers, fathers and priests know and understand their place, little and insignifigant as it may be, because with God, all things are possible and “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose”.
    Good mothers, fathers and priests are already amongst the sheep not making their charity felt by a distant and cold truth. Not making the poor feel their poverty in such a way that embarrasses them to the point of impeding the love of the truth but inspires that love by the warmth of their living and true sacrifice of themselves. Living flames of charity in our homes, parishes and the world. I have seen them with my own eyes and experienced this through good holy priests and faithful. Pope Francis was correct about getting smelly with the sheep only I think most interpretations of his statement miss the mark.

  28. jhayes says:

    There is jhayes up there trying to psycho analyse everyone and interpret one’s spiritual soul again without qualifications or foundation

    Benedetta, I haven’t posted anything in this discussion so I don’t know what your comment is about. Pax vobiscum

  29. benedetta says:

    Some people want to entrap others into living a life of fear. That’s just how it is. It doesn’t help to pretend that they are not doing it.

  30. benedetta says:

    jhayes, are you denying you posted that quote from St. Peter?

    I guess that for you, it’s better to be legalistic and righteous than peaceful.

  31. jhayes says:

    Benedetta, as I said, I have not posted anything in this discussion (other than my first reply to you on 17 January 2017 at 12:47 PM).

    If you believe there is some other post from me in this discussion, would you please provide a date and time for it.

  32. jhayes says:

    17 January should have been 12 January

  33. Filipino Catholic says:

    I think the Peter quote was on a different post, some cooler heads might be advisable.

  34. Vincent says:

    Pray. A little obvious, perhaps – and something we can all be better at (mea culpa), but still something of immense value. Think of it as the mortar shell of spiritual warfare. Sends the enemy scurrying for cover. Pray for priests, of course. But also pray for us lay people who have been given the opportunity to serve. Many are young men who need all the help they can get, navigating the rocky waters of the modern world during the week and managing an altar full on a weekend. I know from personal experience that being an MC can be exhausting work, especially since the priest must not be distracted by your serving. I would certainly appreciate your prayers when I’m serving.

    Of course, the spiritual dimension isn’t the only one – as my great uncle said, (apparently… He was a Jesuit brother in Rhodesia) “pass the rosary, and the ammunition boxes”. If the Masses and priests aren’t too dodgy, why not encourage activities like Benediction or vespers or something like that on a Sunday? Or even, volunteering to sing in the choir?

  35. jhayes says:

    Another change at the CDF:

    “On Saturday it was announced that Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has yet another reason to come to Rome, with his appointment as the newest member of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    Already a member of the Pope’s Council of Cardinals and President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, O’Malley’s appointment to the CDF, announced in a Jan. 14 communique from the Vatican, adds yet another major role to the list of duties he is accumulating. “

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