Fr Z calls for solidarity

I saw this tweet from Ed Pentin:

I call to mind Benedict XVI’s words in the Way of the Cross he wrote for Good Friday in John Paul II’s last days. For the 9th Station, the 3rd Fall, he wrote:


How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency! What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall! All this is present in his Passion. His betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison — Lord, save us (cf. Matthew 8: 25).


Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag you down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that you will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of your Church, you will remain prostrate and overpowered. But you will rise again. You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all.

All: Pater noster …

Eia mater, fons amoris,
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.


I recently finished an audio “course”, Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon, from The Great Courses [US HERE – UK HERE] and I am presently working through Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

Having all this French upheaval in my mind, it wasn’t much of a jump to recall the anecdote about Napoleon and his threat to destroy the Church.   It is said that Pius VII’s envoy Ercole Card. Consalvi observed,

“Your majesty, we, the Catholic clergy, have done our best to destroy the church for the last 1,800 years. We have not succeeded, and neither will you.”

Surely this is true.   Holy Church is indefectible.  Indefectibility is one of the divinely designed attributes of the Church.

Our Lord made promises.  He promised that Hell would not prevail against the Church (Matthew 16:18).  In the end, the Church will be triumphant and the final closing of Hell’s gates will shut the Enemy away forever.

The gates of Hell will not prevail, the Lord promised.

He did not promise that Hell would not prevail against the Church in these USA.

In the fantastic TV series, I, Claudius, [US HERE – UK HERE] the old emperor, finally and terminally weary, knowing that the horror of Nero is around the corner, acquiesces to his fate and croaks out:

“Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.”

Great moments all through that series.  For example, Caligula’s interpretive dance always reminds me of certain Jesuits, and vice versa.

I think we have to brace ourselves for the fallout.

I suspect that large numbers of nominal Catholics will drop away.  They will take income for the Church with them.   Local Churches will thin out.  Clergy will retire and not be replaced.  Churches will close.   At the same time, I think that Tradition will grow in numbers and strength.   I think these things were going to happen anyway, but it’ll probably speed up now.

Now is the time for all of us on the more conservative and traditional – Catholic not catholic – to close ranks and cooperate.   There is no purpose or value in small differences or past grievances, imagined or real.

Cardinal Consalvi, by the way, was the Cardinal Deacon of Sant’Agata de’ Goti, whose title is now held by Raymond Leo Card. Burke.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  1. Unwilling says:

    It must be timely – I also just finished re-watching the series. I thought several things portrayed were similar to current events. I interpreted the “Let all the poisons…” as something that the “deutero-canonical” Sibyl had said. Claudius blames himself for trying and succeeding to make the institution of Emperor less horrible. To get rid of the Emperor entirely, “let all the poisons…” be exposed and cause the maximum of pain, so that the senatus populusque will find intolerable and reject the institution. It is probably bad and nihilistic advice. But even entertaining it as a literary analogy, for us Catholics now: what to expose, what to reject? E.g. homosexualism? The headlines I am reading today about Pennsylvania are pointing the accusing finger at “the Catholic Church”.

  2. Ms. M-S says:

    The orchard and the vineyard may look fuller before pruning, but it’s only after the dead and diseased branches in them are lopped off that they can become truly fruitful. Pray for the husbandman. Burn the dead branches carefully. We have a promise. Follow the Master, even if it’s a small train. There’s nowhere else to go.

  3. Sawyer says:

    Maybe a good idea for people to write to their own parish priests to thank them for their service and for saying yes to their vocation. Just some words saying you pray for them, supporting and encouraging them. It’s probably a very difficult time to be a priest. Encouragement and thanks can’t hurt, and I would think such support would be welcome.

  4. chantgirl says:

    While we stick together and try to do penance for the Church, stay frosty. I have a sinking feeling that all of this scandal is going to be used in upcoming synods to push for a relaxation of celibacy for priests.We may even see calls for homosexual priests to come out publicly since having secret lives ends in so much scandal. Never mind that most gay men don’t want a wife, or that married men make up a large portion of abusers, or that priests have promised to live chastely whether they prefer women, men, children, animals etc.

  5. benedetta says:

    I remember tuning in to that Way of the Cross. Such a relief at this time to hear Pope Benedict. To hear him speak the truth at a time when we need it the most.

  6. Peter Hans says:

    Fr Z hitting on all 8 cylinders for sure! When it hits the fan, and it’s going to get wild, remember to “put on the mind of Christ and think with the mind of His Church”; never forgetting G K Chesterton’s admonishment that “the true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

  7. Spinmamma says:

    Yes, that line from “I Claudius” has come to my mind frequently in the last few months. However, it was a futile gesture on his part, as he committed suicide by taking what he knew was poison from his wife Agrippinilla, Nero’s mother. Nothing turns out as he planned–Nero becomes emperor and is as wicked and depraved as Claudius foresaw, but the Republic is not consequently restored. The poisons hatch out, but things go from bad to worse. In our case, the poisons are hatching out,and, as you say Father, rather than leading to a great cleansing and restoration they may lead to more poison and more destruction. None of us know where all of this is going. I thank God daily for the good and true clergy left in the world. And I pray my Rosary the more fervently, sing the Divine Mercy chaplet, and remember Mary and John at the foot of the cross at the moment of Jesus’ death, when they continued to trust in God. Jesus , I trust in You.

  8. Pingback: THVRSDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  9. Kevin says:

    Time to link across the world with confession prayer and “Reparation Reparation Reparation”.

    This will be big.

  10. Markus says:

    Day after the Feast of the Assumption, I thought that I would share this. Our diocese went through this 25+ years ago (accusations still occur) and our tiny mission parish is still doing OK. A couple of months ago, one of our Deacons started praying the Rosary before Mass. It started with six people. The church only seats 150, with SRO about 200 attend every Sunday. Some 30 showed up last Sunday at the start of the Rosary. Few more every Sunday. The NO Masses, from the parishioner side, seem more respectful and solemn now, even though Father has not changed, he always is (and was). Something is going on here, one can sense it.

  11. TonyO says:

    We know the Church will survive, but will I? Or my parish? Or my diocese? No guarantees there. I have it within my power to pray and go to confession and stay with Holy Mother Church, God’s grace be praised. I cannot make it happen for the parish or diocese.

    I know many wonderful priests who are holy and who think with the mind of the Church. I do not much fear that I, personally, will have to live a long period without access to priests and the confessional. But I worry about my children and grandchildren. Yes, there will be pockets of resistance to the evils, indeed even pockets of great growth in faith, but they will be scattered around and may be very far from Catholics who want and need them. Will my grandchildren have access to sound priests when they need them? It’s not automatic, and we can’t simply say “of course”. Might not happen. There might be whole dioceses that are, effectively, the enemy’s encampments. (That might be very close to the truth right now, frankly.)

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Saw the Mater Ecclesia parish anniversary Mass, last night on EWTN. I could tell that the news had cast a sad light on a happy occasion. But Fr. Pasley had an appropriate sermon against living a double life, and they prayed the Memorare before Mass. Also, I felt that the long Kyrie seemed especially appropriate.

    We should respond with penitence, yes, but also by doing the right things in love.

  13. Fallibilissimo says:

    Lots of people I talk to used to say “I won’t get scandalized” and that these bad things, if anything, strengthen their faith in God. Yet now, in what I hear, I’m seeing signs of actual scandal. I know, those who scandalize murder, those who allow themselves to be scandalized commit suicide. However, it’s hard to talk about it since some folks are so jaded and their views becoming unshakeable. Deep and Clear lines are being made between Christ and the Church, making it sound like the two are separate realities…which we know is not the case. Some just have no respect for the clergy anymore, and make little if any distinction between the good and the bad. Whatever we may want to throw at these people for such attitudes, the visible human cost of these scandals is hard watch.

    It’s not just the sex-abuse, but so often I see people get deeply involved in the Church only to end up being so hurt and disappointed by the clergy and those who work with them. They leave so bitter and wounded. Pat Lencioni has somethings to say about this, for anybody who might be interested.

    There would be so much I would want to say on issues technical and cultural (within the Church) but for now, I’ll leave that to smarter and better informed folks to talk about. I do have to say that bad things happen everywhere but in the Church, regardless of the reason at hand, it’s different because She is different. Also, I’m convinced Satan knows he has to attack this institution more than others: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.”. The wrath of Satan has to be worse here and above all his cunning more acute because he knows it’s THE Sacrament, it’s THE institution.

    Personally, my expectation for whenever I enter anything in the visible Church is to see both realities: I expect to see the true light of Christ’s immense charity and I expect to see its worst corruption. Some of the findings of the Penn Grand Jury certainly are showing one of those sides.

    Even if this period of purification occurs, it’s not going to solve the effects of original sin, so I’m not expecting “good times ahead”, even after any purge. Instead, I expect all times to be an opportunity for our love to be tried and tested. I’m not sure how it works exactly, but I have the sense that forgiveness will have to play a crucial role in our faith and the way we deal with whatever type of Church problem. Whatever happens, God’s will be done.

    On a side note, it’s interesting to see how many of us were thinking of the same quote from I Claudius…I’ve been saying it for awhile as well. If I’ll be fully open about it, part of me felt guilty because I didn’t know what I was wishing for by saying it.

  14. Malta says:

    I dealt with the abuse of children for many years, both as a prosecutor and FBI Agent. Most victims are too afraid to come forward, or something like scopolamine ( because it blocks the memory.

    The three-hundred priests indicted in just three counties in PA is just the tip of the iceberg. After Vatican II there was a pole shift in the Church; but modernism was percolating long before: Vatican II was the result of the disease, not necessarily the cause of it.

    So, yes, the real enemies of Christ’s church are within it, all the way to the top.

  15. Thorfinn says:

    “I suspect that large numbers of nominal Catholics will drop away. They will take income for the Church with them. Local Churches will thin out. Clergy will retire and not be replaced. Churches will close. At the same time, I think that Tradition will grow in numbers and strength. I think these things were going to happen anyway, but it’ll probably speed up now.”


    Regarding the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ –

    If they haven’t already done so, parishes (dioceses) should take a hard look at their financial structure and plan for contingencies – say, a 10% to 50% drop in donations. What is a need vs. want vs. luxury. How do dirt poor parishes survive and thrive today, and how have they since the time of the apostles? Think very carefully before signing up for new debt.

    And the obverse for parishioners: if the lukewarm walk away taking their money with them, are we prepared to make up the deficit in time & money?

  16. SanSan says:
    The Chastisment of Holy Mother Church……when did it start?

  17. Charlotte Allen says:

    I’ve got abuse-scandals fatigue right now. I’ve lived through two rounds of this stuff: the 1990s and the early 2000s. Always the same scenario: A round of priestly horror stories, followed by liberal Catholics blaming the celibacy rule and conservative Catholics blaming various prelates and popes. I don’t think I can take it a third time. I just want to bury my head in the sand and keep attending my Dominican parish with its raft of holy, dedicated priests and a liturgy that isn’t too awful (it could use some improvements, though).

    I can’t even figure out what’s going on with the Pennsylvania grand-jury report. Some of the allegations date as far back as 1947, long before Vatican II. Nearly all the priests and bishops involved are likely to be dead–and also many of the alleged victims. What evidence did the grand jury look at? What was the nature of those old alleged crimes compared to more recent ones? I’d like to see a timeline and some graphs and charts on the sorts of allegations that have been made over the years. When did the bulk of the alleged offenses occur, and what were they? You have to remember that sweeping this sort of stuff under the rug was what the Church did back then, all the way through the 1980s. Reassigning errant priests and/or sending them to pointless “rehab” was the usual supposed remedy for sexual misconduct–the theory being that the rehab worked, and if a priest were in a new location, maybe he’d change his ways. We now know better, fortunately. So I’m inclined to take the grand-jury report, if not with a grain of salt, at least with a desire for more context, which I’m not getting from the news stories. This is like the #MeToo movement: lots and lots of allegations, too many to really process, but not a lot of depth in the reporting.

    As for people leaving the Church over this, the people who will leave are the ones who have either already left or will be leaving anyway. Liberal Catholicism doesn’t generate loyalty, and it certainly doesn’t generate Catholic offspring for the liberal Catholics. Vatican II-era Catholics had enough nostalgic ties to the Church of their youth to get their children baptized (often by a priest who left the priesthood a couple years later), but the children of those children are typically unchurched and never darken the door of a church anyway (nor do their parents or grandparents unless there’s a liberal church they can attend–occasionally). Conservative Catholics will mostly slog off to church anyway, with grim expressions on their faces.

    Where I think the Church will suffer monetarily is in donations to bishops and their pet charities. As this latest scandal indicated, the Catholic bishops in the U.S. are by and large time-serving, glad-handing mediocrities who live high off the hog and have adroitly worked themselves up the ecclesiastical career ladder by saying the right things to the right people at the right time. I think that Catholics in the pews are getting tired of them, and these recent allegations bombshells don’t help. I don’t see why I should donate to my local “Cardinal’s Appeal” when the cardinal already siphons off a big percentage of my parish donation–to pay for what? A beach house for the bishop? Episcopal leadership seems nearly nonexistent, with expensive conferences devoted to issuing bromides and taking secular political positions on issues on which they have neither competence nor any business meddling in. They can’t even get half their priests to say Mass with proper dignity and get rid of all that appalling music, the ugly vestments, the huggy-huggies, and those darned lay “Eucharistic ministers” buzzing officiously around the altar (one of them–at one of yesterday’s Assumption Day Masses at my parish church–was so incompetent that she dropped a Host onto the church floor! Her presence was completely unnecessary–and what ever happened to those acolytes with patens designed exactly to prevent that sort of thing from happening? The Church used to take enormous precautions against falling Hosts: houseling cloths, and so forth. Now it’s all caution to the wind as lay people with minimal training get to feel important playing priest.

    Now I’m going to bury my head in the sand again. I’m not going to try to surf this wave, but, rather, let it roll over me. I need a glass of wine–or even better, a relaxing swim. It’s in the 90s outside.

  18. Ave Maria says:

    My archbishop is asking all his priests to offer a monthly Mass in reparation. But I suspect even more than that is needed….
    Yes, I think that these perpetrators and those who covered up the evil are possessed by demons. I have no doubt. These men have no faith and no heart. A diabolical narcissism is what they have. Those who live in fine mansions and strut about….that is not a shepherd leading a humble flock.

  19. Pingback: Pennsylvania, Bishops and Giving to Caesar what’s Due Caesar While Giving to God What is Due God – Da Tech Guy Blog

Comments are closed.