Are we still trustworthy?

And now a short excursion into common sense.

“I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It’s impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent. Can such a community be trusted any more about anything else?”

Joseph Ratzinger in Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium- An Interview With Peter Seewald


That said…

A quote just popped into my head from Il Gattopardo. US HERE – UK HERE Perhaps my brain is fired up from garfolato?

Noi fummo i Gattopardi, i Leoni; quelli che ci sostituiranno saranno gli sciacalletti, le iene; e tutti quanti Gattopardi, sciacalli e pecore, continueremo a crederci il sale della terra.

We were the Leopards, the Lions; those who will take our places will be little jackals, hyenas; and every one of us Leopards, jackals, and sheep, will continue to think we are the salt of the earth.

It was the reference to “salt of the earth” that set me off, not that this quote fits perfectly with the one above.  It still gives me a chance to let of some steam.

What a mix of the mediocre we have in the Church today, with the occasional lights in the cave we’ve sealed ourselves into by the abandonment of tradition.  We destroyed our Catholic education and identity through compromise with secular aims of the academy and by the enervation of our liturgical worship.

Sticking to Il Gattopardo, that magnificent book, I’ll add this, which in a way crystalizes what I have been trying to get at over the years, what I’ve been trying to do… without – quod Deus avertat – becoming a “garibaldino”:

Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga come è, bisogna che tutto cambi.  Mi sono spiegato?

If we want everything to remain as it is, then everything must change.  Get it?

Tradition holds us in a tension.  Speaking of movies, sometimes I use the image of the African Queen.  Bogart and Hepburn have to fix that propeller shaft so that they can go faster than the current.  The prop connects them with where they were, the past, so that they can steer the boat around the rocks, the future’s challenges.

Panta rhei.

And since my mind is now fully adrift and slipping like a Heraclitean cloud-puffball into the stream, I’ll only add that “ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω μία καὶ ὡυτή”.

Mr Eliot would agree.

UPDATE 19 July:

Peter Kwasniewski also agrees. He has a good post which uses this same quote HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, Our Catholic Identity, Si vis pacem para bellum!, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Kathleen10 says:

    No. Not trustworthy.
    There isn’t an organization of any kind that can give up it’s foundation and remain what it was. How would that even be possible. By definition you can’t change everything and remain the same.
    What they are turning it into is going to be rejected. It’s already being rejected. The sellouts who show up now will soon grow bored and find something else that tickles their ears more. Or just sleep in.
    We are not only uninterested in a Marxist/Sodomite/Apostate Church, we are 100% determined not to help it in any way whatsoever. They are going to need Jeffrey Sachs to just keep the lights on.

  2. Peter Stuart says:

    Sorry, no. There are good establishment priests for sure, but they work in an organization that’s been playing games with the Church all my life and gives rewards for it, and that’s not changing. Especially as a struggling SSA Catholic, my trust for most priests and all bishops is nil.

    [I’m sure what an “establishment priest” is, but I think I’ve just been insulted.   o{];¬)   ]

  3. VP says:

    Not trustworthy. I am finding it more and more difficult to explain to my son, who is a possible vocation, how the Church can claim indefectibility given the overall quality of today’s clergy (there are of course individual exceptions).

    “Engagement of the culture” has diluted the teaching beyond recognition, and “liturgical reform” has been a disaster. Responsibility for all of it rests with the bishops as a group.

  4. jameeka says:

    “Tradition holds us in a tension.” Good! At least It holds us.

  5. VP says: how the Church can claim indefectibility given the overall quality of today’s clergy (there are of course individual exceptions)

    And that is enough.

    The problem of quality of clergy today has always been the Church’s problem. The first collective act of the entire body of bishops was to abandon the Lord, and 1/12th of the bishops sold Him for 30 pieces of silver.

    There is the great story in the Decameron there is a rather biting story about a Jew who is a friend of a bishop who has worked on him for years to covert to Christianity. Eventually, the Jew goes to Rome so he can make an informed decision. The bishop, knowing Rome, fears that his cause is now lost. Lo and behold the Jew returns and tells the bishop that he wants to convert. He explains that, having seen Rome, and the incompetent and corrupt clergy there, the Church must be from God, because only God could keep it going for so long.

    Christ promised that the Church would not fail. He didn’t promise that it wouldn’t fail in these USA. It may be our role to return to the modern version of the catacombs, or to priest holes … though with today’s technology, that’s pretty much unthinkable now. We may be called up to be what Toynbee dubbed a “creative minority”. That’s what the early Church was as the Roman Empire was dying: Christianity breathed new life into civilization. In 2004 Card. Ratzinger used the same image of a “creative minority” explaining that we must engage with society, rather than become a ghetto. We have to choose to be Catholic, to our toe nails and hair tips. We have to choose to be active.

    Hence, my constant call for a revitalization of our Catholic identity through renewal of our liturgical worship of God, the source and goal of our identity. Only if we know who we are, will the rest of the world bother to listen to us. They may listen and then try to snuff us out, but then we shall raise our arms as Job did and, trusting God, say, “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”

    Christ’s promises are true.

  6. Gaetano says:

    Chesterton addressed this point in Orthodoxy:

    If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.

  7. ServusChristi says:

    You know Father, I listen to very many Protestants, and I heard one day the claim that ‘you put the days of Pope Pius IX and the syllabus of errors next to Pope Francis I and you have almost a 180 degree turn”. To be fair the Protestant’s point isn’t entirely without merit.

    Another even said that he attended a NO and a TLM mass, and he said he felt the NO was almost a copycat of his services to the point that he questioned why he was there when he could just attend his own service whereas he said that the TLM was much more beautiful, with greater splendor, nowhere near as casual and in fact was the one he preferred. I think that too says a lot.

    If that same community has nothing but contempt (I believe condemned in the Council of Trent: canons on the sacraments in general) for the Roman Rite of Mass, also the most important prayer within the church then this community has lost all credibility in my opinion.

  8. LarryW2LJ says:

    I am coming to believe that the “turn around” for this sorry state of affairs that we are currently in will depend solely on the widespread revival of TLM, and a turn back to our roots and our traditional way of doing things. We have strayed from the path and need to re-find our way. The upheaval of the 60’s is nearly 50 years old now. We are now truly seeing the fruit that upheaval. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.

  9. Kathleen10 says:

    Today churchmen are taking the white post, painting it neon rainbow colors, and calling us Pharisees when we refuse to call the post white. Professional gaslighters, all of them.
    We have lost this battle, it is over and we are wondering what they are going to do with the prisoners. We will likely not see the end of the war, but God is in His heaven. No one has the answer to this mayhem, and maybe that’s when God will do His best work.

  10. Unwilling says:

    It’s a mystery to me that with not only sex scandals but high level contradictions on doctrine anyone new can be attracted to the Church and especially to choose the narrow gate!

  11. Lurker 59 says:

    The following is a bit hyperbolic but is descriptive of the angst that is experienced by some out there, and much more than myself.

    Fr. Z’s story about the conversion of the Jew, and others of the like, are predicated on the local conditions being holy while the conditions of “Rome”, or Church at large, being chaotic. The problem that exists today is that there is both chaos in the Church at large as well as, odds-on, one’s own local Church. The Jew cannot come back home from a chaotic “Rome” and find normalcy and holiness. What does the Jew convert to? Not to chaotic “Rome”, not to the chaotic local Church, but to his own private religion and interpretation?!?

    Many people who read this blog are converts — we left very much because our former religions were found to not be trustworthy. There are some Catholics who are leaving because “Rome” has also been found to be distorting the book. Some Catholics stay because, well at least their local Churches are trustworthy. Other Catholics find themselves in a situation where their local Churches are also not trustworthy but stay because at least those books on their shelve are trustworthy, even if what is preached, practiced, and prayed in their local parishes is at odds with what is in their books.

    The Church is trustworthy when her ministers preach Christ Crucified and not when they don’t.

    What is an Englishman to do when priest and bishop swear allegiance to King Henry VIII?

    What is a Jew to do when his king is Jeroboam?

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