We should tread carefully.

Comment moderation is ON.

These days the gulfs that already yawn between different parties in the secular world as well as within the Church are becoming wider still.

If there is any sort of controversy or disagreement, someone demands that someone else’s head be lopped off. A good example of this came yesterday from the shrill needle of the tricoteuse of the catholic Left, MSW, who shrieked for the elimination of Fr. Dwight Longenecker from ministry.  What was Longenecker’s crime? In a tweet he made a connection between the homosexualist agenda and clerical sexual abuse. Whether it is Chad Pecknold or Fr. Longenecker, for Madame Defarge there is only one response.

I hope that the Catholic Right doesn’t fall into the soul-annihilating trap of such shrill and bloody tactics.

More and more I have a sense of menace surrounding all that is good, true and beautiful in the Church.

The Enemy is at work.

It is also as if we have, in secular life and ecclesial life, almost reached the tipping point.

It is hard to explain what I mean. By way of a historical example, in post-war Italy, when Christian Democrats were struggling with Communists for power, the Communist philosopher Antonio Gramsci recommended to his comrades that they let the CD’s take parliament.  The Commies would focus on the schools, with the result that, in a few decades, people would ask the Communists to take everything over.  It’s a long and patient game of creeping incrementalism, cooking frogs in pots, etc.

In the secular world, decades and decades of control of academia by leftists and liberals have finally sufficiently reduced the percentage of the population who think, rather than merely emote, or who know history, rather than only what was on their Snapchat screen a moment ago, or … well, you know what I mean.  It feels as if they are just about ready to make their definitive moves to seize greater control. You can find hints of this in what is going on in US public discourse – if it can be dignified with the term – from the Democrats. They have swerved sharply to the Left and their responses are, in effect, lots of shouting and screaming and accusing and demanding.  They offer even more free stuff and, if I am right about the lowered percentage of the population who can think, they might just succeed with their seductions in the not too distant future.

If you want to know what that world would look like, try the amusingly scary short novels of Kurt Schlichter.

The secular Left is becoming a self-righteous, virtue-signalling mob.  If they stay in this course, there will be violence in the streets.  Sorry.. even more violence in the streets.

These days we have been treated to more head-hunt howling in the Church.  Card. McCarrick’s misdeeds, and the de facto cover up by the powers that be, have sparked rage and calls for action.

My concern is that the calls for action will drive a whole other group of people into a mob, also driven by self-righteousness and virtue-signalling.

By this post, I in no way suggest that no one should be called to account for misdeeds.  I do, however, see a trend in the way people deal with each other in conflict: they want their opponents, or the objects of their disappointment or opprobrium not just to be called to account, but to be ruined.   They want the opposition not to be persuaded, but to be crushed.  Not converted, but obliterated.

I thank God every day that I belong to a Church which was established for sinners, and not for the perfect.   Even though I am confident that God is forgiving, and the the Sacrament of Penance has its promised effects, with each passing year I feel more heavily the burden of the sins I have committed and confessed.  I trust in God’s mercy, if not that of my neighbor.   I would hope for compassion from my neighbor, but I don’t realistically expect it… anymore.  Not today.  Not in the present environment.

We should tread carefully.  I don’t doubt that there will soon be more violence in rhetoric and even physical violence in the streets.  I don’t doubt that past misdeeds and also completely false and invented accusations will become the modus operandi of the Left.

I can’t shake the feeling that this beast is coming, and it is slouching just around the corner.  Horrors have happened in history.  With every other kind of disaster, man made or natural, when we are comfortable we think that bad stuff happens to other people, in other places, not to us.   Until it does.

People were behind the Reign of Terror, the Russian Revolution, the rise of Nazism, the Cultural Revolution, the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, the Rwandan Genocide, Boko Haram and Islamic terrorism.  People are behind slavery, torture, human trafficking, drug culture, big-business abortion.

We are people too.  If you think bad things can’t happen where you are, just watch people in a grocery store before the hurricane hits or at the department store the day after Thanksgiving.  Just watch a four-way stop intersection for a while if you want proof of actual sin, or into the eyes of a testing 2 year old for proof of Original Sin.

Let us not close ourselves off to compassion to each other.  Also, a serious individual examination of conscience is needed.  Then…



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    “This is not a new world; it is simply an extension of what began in the old one. It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history, since the beginning of time. It has refinements—technological advancements and a more sophisticated approach to the destruction of human freedom—but like every one of the superstates that preceded it, it has one iron rule: logic is an enemy and truth is a menace.” – Rod Serling, “The Obsolete Man”

  2. tho says:

    For almost 50 years the average white male has been castigated with every scurrilous name imaginable. Far and away 90% of these names have no basis in facts, yet no one will defend these untruths in a public way. Looking back over those years, makes a yearning for a President Trump understandable.
    I too feel a dread as to where we are heading. The church, usually a bulwark against evil, has entrenched in it’s hierarchy, devious men, whose passions and teaching are leading us down a crooked road. There are plenty of good men and women in the church, the problem is that they don’t have their hands on the levers of power.

  3. Michael says:

    I concur that “something is up” and can feel it as well. Although we are seeing more and more troubles, yelling, filth, diabolical disorientation and pure evil, I sense that our age is in that period almost akin to Ps 76:8-9 and Rev 8:1 where the earth and the heavens were still or silent before God came to judgment.

    Let us all pray and continue to love our neighbor.

    Psalms 76:8-9

    8 From the heavens thou didst utter judgment; the earth feared and was still,
    9 when God arose to establish judgment to save all the oppressed of the earth. [Selah]

    Revelation 8:1

    1 When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    A well thought and nuanced response to the current madness. The parallels between the chaos in civil society and within the Church are so apparent I am continually surprised that no one is drawing attention to it and asking probing questions as to the how and why of confluence of events.
    I am continually reminded of I & II Maccabees.
    What is next? We have the ability to make something wonderful happen next, but it appears there is very little willingness in the highest reaches of the hierarchy to make that happen – and to be honest, little willingness for decades. Only now the heels are dug in ever more deeply.
    Unimaginative men, hard of heart.

  5. Eric says:

    He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.

    For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word.

    He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust.

    His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.

  6. Unwilling says:

    I believe that the political and moral absurdities that shock us and threaten our hope are passing as waves of madness and will soon (though not very soon) be overcome, if not by inescapable reason (the essence of humanity) then by emergent distractions of a different ephemeron. When the right or goodness is eventually ascendant, I hope I will have the decency not to seek nor to support revenge, but to pray for mercy.

  7. ChrisP says:

    Like a faithful Bride, the Church shall be crucified and mocked, like her Spouse was. Like her Spouse also, the call to be crucified and mocked is coming from within the fold.

    And like her Spouse, the followers shall scatter – collegiality in denial & desertion. She shall have only Our Mother and a single follower to comfort her.

    But She shall rise….and that fact scares the hell out of Creation.

  8. richiedel says:

    There was an opinion piece in the Washington Post the other day entitled “The Catholic Church is enabling the sex abuse crisis by forcing gay priests to stay in the closet”. It illustrated, though perhaps unwittingly, in a matter-of-fact sort of way the same connection for which MSW pilloried Fr Longnecker. The author of the piece promoted it by tweeting out a link, and then – hey, go figure – Fr James Martin retweeted it. Many people tweeted back horrified at the connection the article made as if stating the obvious and I scratched my head and thought oh, dear these poor people in their rush to take control of the narrative and spin the crisis have forgotten their former talking points.

  9. Greg Hlatky says:

    Could be worse. Mme. Clinton could have been elected in 2016. The Grand Bargain would have been implemented. The Left would have looked the other way while her family enriched themselves and she would give the Left free rein to terrorize us Deplorables.

    I place no faith in princes. Mr. Trump doesn’t conform to my breed standard for a president, but he has unmasked our “elite” institutions for the irrational frauds they are. I do not recognize their presumption to shame me. That drives them even crazier.

  10. CasaSanBruno says:

    Thanks, Fr Z. Very well stated.

    I’ve been seeing this decay of thoughtful discourse crescendo over the past few years. The Left doesn’t want to win the debate because there ought not be a debate.

    Certainly there is no one cause for the situation in which we find ourselves. Recently, when speaking with a friend about this very phenomenon and the accompanying entitlement spirit so rife on the Left, this friend – who has little formal education – made the observation that the advent of birth control and ensuing smaller families accompanied by vast numbers of those toddlers who were permitted to be conceived and born being sent to daycare, away from their families from early on for many hours a day, might explain some aspects of this. Modern academia resembles an incredibly expensive daycaretration camp, complete with monitors for behavior (and thought) as well as safe spaces. And graduates from those institutions then populate the HR departments of corporate America, education, one of the 2 significant political parties in this country, etc.

    Thomas says that all sin goes against order, against nature, and against reason. It’s a sort of self-inflicted insanity. We are witnessing the results of it.

    In his De Caelo, Aristotle says that the slightest deviation from the truth is later multiplied a thousandfold. Certainly, the entire explanation is not found at the beginning of children’s extra-familial social interactions, that’s just a symptom of it. For sure, the dysfunction we are witnessing finds its roots much further back in history: Eden and exponential march into the madness of sin.

  11. benedetta says:

    Returning this evening from seeing the second of two full length documentary films seen in 20 days time tonight, my 18 year old was speculating that the popularity of this summer’s documentary films relates to a hunger at work in the populus for truthful, well told human stories, unfiltered through a media we’ve come to distrust, and for something real, not fantasy. I think this phenomenon relates to Father’s points here.

  12. thepapalbull says:

    It’s called Normalcy Bias. Everyone would do well to recognize it in themselves before it’s too late.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  13. Malta says:

    @ Fr. Z: “More and more I have a sense of menace surrounding all that is good, true and beautiful in the Church.” Indeed, we all need to remember this song:

  14. David Willis says:

    I hope that you are not suggesting that we “accompany” ++McCarrick, his protégés, and enablers.
    I am 42 and the number of people I love that have left the Church under that leadership is depressing.
    Men, fathers, and families quit attending Mass for a reason; they knew something wasn’t right; they didn’t want their boys to serve or be priests for this reason.
    How many good priesta were sent to Siberia, or worse, forced out completely?
    Nevermind the reaction of those in power and disregard the chance of a mob.
    We must fight for the Truth and the Faith and cannot run out of fear from the wolves.

  15. Joy65 says:

    Yes UNceasing prayer, Confession, Mass and of course following the Commandments. We need to stay as close to the Lord as possible. We can’t get prepared we must be prepared.

  16. Ariseyedead says:

    I agree that treading carefully is prudent. But we must also be courageous and willing to sacrifice. If we remain faithful to Christ, come what may, we can truly be at peace in our souls. The words of Pius XI from Casti Connubii come to mind. We must “stand erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds” us and uphold the truth of the Church’s teachings and look to our Lord for His consolation.

  17. crule says:

    “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying ‘You are mad; you are not like us.'” – St Anthony the Great.

  18. Ariseyedead: But we must also be courageous and willing to sacrifice.

    What are you willing to sacrifice? And for what?

    It is a good idea to think these things through, perhaps daily. If we play through scenarios in our heads, in conjunction with a really excoriating self-search, our chance of success when we go into the “black zone” is greatly increased.

  19. SanSan says:

    “I thank God every day that I belong to a Church which was established for sinners, and not for the perfect. Even though I am confident that God is forgiving, and the the Sacrament of Penance has its promised effects, with each passing year I feel more heavily the burden of the sins I have committed and confessed. ”

    Wow, Father, this statement alone I can relate to. I have been feeling more the heavy burden of every single sin of my whole life that has been confessed. I have increased my prayers, good works, devotions, Mass, adoration.

    I too feel that the beast is ready to pounce. I pray for all my brothers and sisters to stay faithful, stay strong under the mantle of Our Mother, and Trust in Our Lord Jesus. My Guardian Angel has also been called front and center to assist me in the upcoming gargantuan fight. God have Mercy on us all.

    Come Holy Spirit Come. How much longer must we wait? Please illuminate the hearts and minds of my beloved family and neighbors before its too late. PAX to all here.

  20. David Willis: I hope that you are not suggesting that we “accompany” ++McCarrick, his protégés, and enablers….cannot run out of fear from the wolves.

    I can’t tell from your handle what your state in life is. I’ll wager that you are a layman.

    I, however, am one of the priests “sent to Siberia”. I blew the whistle on homosexuals in my US seminary back in the day. The results were an anabasis of pain and grace, suffering and opportunity. On a daily basis I deal with the mob of the catholic Left. I have no affection whatsoever for McCarrick and his kind. I want to try to have charity towards them. They are, simply put, our enemies. I often fail in charity. How charity is applied to men like McCarrick and his kind is a matter of debate. After all, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote concerning capital punishment: “It is permissible to kill a criminal if this is necessary for the welfare of the whole community. However, this right belongs only to the one entrusted with the care of the whole community — just as a doctor may cut off an infected limb, since he has been entrusted with the care of the health of the whole body. (ST IIa-IIae, q. 64, a. 3.)” If in the case of capital punishment for the sake of the community, then also for stripping of office, etc., in the case of the Church? Probably.

    Just as guilty criminals have the right to a lawyer, McCarrick and Co., have the right to a confessor. The truly guilty should make restitution and amend their ways. Our Church is precisely for sinners.

    What I fear is that the shedding of compassion that often happens in mobs will lead many, who think they are fighting the wolves, to expose their backs to teeth of the roaming roaring lion.

    Do people want the objects of their disapproval to be ruined? Or do they want wounds to be healed?

  21. Kathleen10 says:

    I hear what you are saying Fr. Z., it is completely worth considering, and I shall. We should not allow ourselves to turn into our own kind of vigilante force, and anger can be a pointless exercise.
    But speaking candidly, and only for myself, a corner has been turned. These men go too far. They should have picked their poison, but they can’t have two poisons. If they insist on deconstructing the faith and the church, then they can’t go around raping and sodomizing boys and young men and then gaslighting us when we state we know what they have done or are doing. For me personally, this is too much. We have all known they are raping and sodomizing young men, and that was bad, but we didn’t walk, maybe to our shame, but here we have two poisons and it is clearly one too many. So for me, they have to pick. Pick one.
    Now, as it turns out, I personally can live under Poison #1, and have lived under it, as most of us have for quite a while. But I know I can’t live under Poison #2. The very idea of perverted men putting their corrupt hands on boys and young men, wrecking their lives and causing them such pain, then piously putting their hands together in a public display of prayer, is so revolting I know I can’t live with it. These men have gone too far, just incredibly too far. It’s a terrible thing, but our predominant feeling toward the men running the church right now is pure contempt. We know there are good and faithful priests, but there are just not enough of them. And we know the church is never going to rid herself of homosexual men, there are just too many and they are in control. Do I want the objects of my disapproval to be ruined? Yes, if you are a man working overtime to destroy the faith, or if you are a man whose hobby is sexually molesting boys and young men, yes, I want you ruined, if ruined means you are out of the church and if indicated, behind bars. At the least.

  22. MitisVis says:

    There has been laid a mighty trap, not aimed at the wayward but specifically at those who live and seek closeness to God and His church.

    “What I fear is that the shedding of compassion that often happens in mobs will lead many, who think they are fighting the wolves, to expose their backs to [the] teeth of the roaming roaring lion.”

    Those whom fought the good fight for so many decades and yet stand firm when ignored, trivialized, rejected, watch most desert and leave and those that remain mired in confusion and lack of instruction. To now expose all manner of his previous works and influences to spur us into an uncontrollable righteous rage is shear Mastery. How better to trap the faithful into sin than to give them a legitimate cause? It is that very mastery and cunning which should give us a fearful wake up call, every red flag in the universe is up right now and I believe this is just the start. We need to pray before we act since action is needed. This might be the beginning of our Lepanto and we need to act accordingly and in good faith.

  23. philosophicallyfrank says:

    May I suggest another scenario for where we are today. Back in 1919, a new political party was formed; called The Communist Party, USA. In 1972, Democrat George McGovern had lost his presidential run to Richard Nixon; but, retained the leadership of the party. He began to move the party further to the Left and that Leftward movement has continued to this day and to the extent that the Democrat Party and the Communist Party, USA have become one. What the Left is doing to President Trump is not something new as it is a strategy that has been used a number of times since the late 1940s and early 1950s. It came out of NAZI Germany of the early 1930s and is called “The Big Lie”; I’ll leave it up to everyone to “google” it and learn about it yourselves. It was initially used against Senator Joe McCarthy in the late ’40s & early ’50s when he tried to root out the Communists in the Federal Gov’t. and Hollywood. They succeeded in destroying him. Then it was used against Sen. Barry Goldwater in his run for the Presidency in 1964 and again succeeded. To a lesser degree they tried again against Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush without much success. So, now against Pres. Donald Trump. Next year, 2019 would have been the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party, USA and “if” Hillary Clinton had been elected; they would have been able to celebrate their 100th anniversary and claim a successful “Bloodless Coup” of our Gov’t. That is why the constant 24/7 haranguing of Pres. Trump; they came so close and still hope to drive him out and complete their coup. Will enough Americans regain the necessary “vigilance” to keep our freedom & liberty??????
    There were three “events” since the end of WWII that forewarned us of the what was coming; but, no one advised us of two of them. #1. The Apparition of the Blessed Mother (1947) at ‘Tre Fontane’; #2. the radio preachings of, then, Fr. Joseph Ratzenger (1969) and #3. The Apparition of the Blessed Mother (1973 to 1981) in Akita, Japan. Those three along with Pope Paul VI “Humanae Vitae” foretold every thing that is happening.

    One final comment, “if” the Bishops over the last 50 +/- years had done their jobs and dealt with the dissident Catholic politicians and educational institutions, we wouldn’t have the political, cultural, societal or religious problems that we are having.

  24. Pingback: McCarrick Watch: Saturday Edition – Big Pulpit

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