Lay Rage in Chicago, Mary Eberstadt takes names, and Fr. Z rants

I find myself once again in The City of Big Shoulders, Chicago.  The last couple of days have been fascinating, as I have met an interesting priest with an interesting story and had the chance to hear about what some lay people are doing – or plan to do – in these parts about The Present Crisis.

As I have commented before, a great deal of the clean up of The Present Crisis will be (must be) driven by lay people, who have, above all, numbers, and who have, ultimately, the money.

This will be a two-edged sword.

The sword, I think, has been drawn.

What I am picking up – I wonder if you priests and bishops out there are picking this up – is that lay people are angry in a way that I’ve never seen.

This leads me to the next point.

At The Weekly Standard there is a piece by Mary Eberstadt about what has been, is and will be going on for a while.   She really nails it.   After considering the way The Former Crisis was handled in the early 2000’s, she gets into the present, looking at language and how it is being used by the catholic left to deflect the cleansing of the Church that must be accomplished away from the true causes of the filth.

They’ll do anything, it seems to prevent us from dealing with homosexuality.   I’m sure that’s because they are self-interested.

Here are some choice bits:


Another word that continues to cloud rather than illuminate is homophobe, and its related variants, homophobia and homophobic. Inside parts of the church, and ubiquitously outside it, homophobe has become an automatic smear deployed for partisan purposes. We see this clearly by observing that related teachings of the church are not similarly made into epithets. Do people speak of contracept-ophobes, to criticize church teaching against contraception? Do they decry klepto-phobes or forni-phobes?

The fact that those other words aren’t in circulation shows that homophobe is meant to shame, intimidate, and sideline apologists for the magisterium. Homophobe, like gay, has become a political term, not a spiritual one. It’s an epithet, not an argument.

Words are never a matter of indifference. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn insisted, we aren’t obliged to participate or even to acquiesce in false accounts of reality. [That’s what libs insist on: you must deny facts in front of your eyes.] If we can’t speak clearly and plainly, we can’t think clearly and plainly. And if we can’t think clearly and plainly, we will never be able to reduce the damage being done in the house of God by the pachyderm trying to wreck it from within.


Today the moral coin is flipped: It is the antagonists of tradition-leaning Catholics who are trying to look the other way and carry on against overwhelming evidence that there’s nothing to see here.

They’ve also put new slurs into circulation. Some of the people uncovering the truth have been disparaged as haters, for example, including by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, who is presumed by many to speak for the pope. Haters, like homophobe, is an epithet imported from the antinomian secular political culture. Its suggestion that some people are beyond redemption is profoundly un-Christian. It should never be used by anyone in religious authority.

Another slur is even worse than haters. Many agonized Catholics desiring only to know whether allegations are true are now accused of participating in religious treason—of planning a “putsch” within the church, as Michael Sean Winters has put it in the National Catholic Reporter. Or consider some characterizations of the testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former nuncio to the United States and author of a historically unprecedented and detailed 11-page letter released last month, accusing the pope and others of covering up abuse. Theologian Massimo Faggioli has called the work a “coup operation.” Fr. James Martin has tweeted similarly of a “coordinated attack” intended to “delegitimize” the pope.

This list could go on and on. Such martial language is designed to marginalize and malign anyone interested in the veracity of Viganò’s claims. It also sends the terrible signal that some churchmen and theologians underestimate the sufferings caused by unchecked abusers hiding behind Roman collars. The increasingly hysterical insistence that all will be well if only everyone leaves the pope alone underestimates the intelligence of the laity. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] Anyone who has read Viganò’s letter knows that the testimonial isn’t some anonymous comment tossed into cyberspace but a series of intricate assertions about who knew what and when—all of which can be verified or not in the long run. That bishops and others in authority have testified to the credibility of its author makes the document even harder to discredit, let alone ignore.


First, clerical leaders around the world who do believe in a hereafter must avoid further scandalizing the remaining faithful. They must grasp that just as the scandals themselves have become an engine of secularization, so too has the refusal to address them.


But in this grave moment for the church, the laity knows more than it did 16 years ago. Back then I wrote, “If humility is now required of Catholics, so too is backbone. If it takes shutting down certain seminaries to protect boys of the present and future, close them now. If vocations to the priesthood should be so far reduced by stringent screening for abuse victims that American Catholics have to travel 50 miles to Mass, let them drive.” [You mean like some trads have been doing for years just to find a Mass that isn’t filled with fluff or abuses?] Today, a laity forged in this latest round of scandal knows all too well that there are worse things for the church than a priest shortage. And thanks again to the Internet, the same laity is scrutinizing the hierarchy as never before.


There is a good deal more that you can explore on your own.

This is a good time to repeat my mantra.

No initiative that we undertake in the Church – including cleansing – will succeed if it does not begin with and return to our sacred liturgical worship of God.

We must revitalize our liturgical worship.  This is URGENT.   In turn, this will have a massive knock-on effect on priests and, with them congregations.

We have to get serious again about how we fulfill our obligations under the virtue of religion both individually and collectively.  That means liturgy.

And by liturgy I don’ mean Mass!   PLEASE, people, stop using the word “liturgy”… “the liturgy” if you are talking about Holy Mass.  Mass is liturgy, but liturgy is more than Mass. Liturgy includes the liturgical hours and all manner of other rites.

We need a restoration of The Liturgy across the board, from top to bottom.  That is why I am encouraged that some bishops have turned their eyes to liturgical calendrical moments in the Church’s year such as Ember Days.  That’s a sign that, perhaps, in some places we might be sobering up after the decades of drifting on the halcyon vapors of the 60’s and the delusions about what was mandated and what was not by the Council Fathers.

The revitalization of our Catholic identity – isn’t that what we are talking about in This Present Crisis? – must come from revitalization of our collective formal liturgical worship of God.  Then it must return to worship in an unending circle.  Christ is the one who is the True Actor in every world and liturgical gesture.  Our participation in those words and gestures have transformative power.   This is TRUE “Liberation Theology”!   Authentic active participation by active receptivity in serious and reverent and time-proven liturgical rites that tie across the gulfs of centuries, regions and even the door of death.

Fathers!  Bishops!


Teach about it.  Make it available.  Use it often and oftener.

This is one of the greatest tools we have in The Present Crisis to help us do what needs to be done.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Clerical Sexual Abuse, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Dan says:

    Mary is right that the laity are angry. I am angry. I am not angry that this abuse has once again resurfaced through. I am glad for that. I am angry and fearful that like so many other issues, a certain dubia comes to mind, that given time and if ignored long enough it will be a flash in the pan that nothing comes from. I can’t help but be skeptical. I see bishops and priests angry now, calling for reparation and prayers and healing, but am fearful that in 6 months they will revert to their comfortable practices of not making waves. I am frustrated that the Vatican has said, we should have a meeting about this in 6 months and talk about it. That is bull$5!7. Another strategy of silence that has worked so well in the past. If the Holy See refuses to address it our bishops need to stand up now and address it and if our bishops refuse the priests need to. Now not in six months.
    We can’t allow clerical cardinals to dictate what needs to be talked and preached about. It is time to drag the devil by the tail kicking and screaming into the light.

  2. LeeGilbert says:

    Father, you write: “Mass is liturgy, but liturgy is more than Mass. Liturgy includes the liturgical hours and all manner of other rites.”

    Among several other causes of the scandals, surely priests’ failure to pray played a major part. Now, formerly, if a priest were not going to spend an hour a day in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament as Bishop Sheen recommended, and if he neglected to make a good thanksgiving after Mass, and if he neglected his daily Rosary, at least he had his breviary which he was bound to say under pain of sin. Before the liturgical reforms, this would take an hour a day, roughly.

    Pre-Vatican II, this would involve saying the entire Psalter over the course of a week, together with other prayers and hymns. Many of those hymns were very uplifting, because written by saints likely under Divine inspiration. After the liturgical reforms, my understanding is that the Liturgy of the Hours was reduced to saying the entire Psalter once every two weeks and the hymns were far less inspirational ( IMHO) and often enough obnoxious (“A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” for example.)

    Extrapolating from my own experience, admittedly, I personally did not find the new Liturgy of the Hours sufficient sustenance for my own spiritual life, because it was so watered down. By the time one got into a spirit of prayer, the office came to an end. Moreover, since I found many of the hymns obnoxious, the Liturgy of the Hours itself became obnoxious. Frankly it was more of a drag than an inspiration and I abandoned it, eventually giving the whole set to a young friend. Yet, if I had been a priest in the circumstance described above, with the LOH my last vehicle of prayer, abandoning the LOH would have been abandoning a prayer life altogether.

    I think that is what happened, or part of what happened.

    My reversion to the 1962 breviary was a reversion to solid nourishment, and there was a perceptible uptick in my devotion . . .and connection to God, for that matter. Yet, I think for priests carried along on the “spirit of Vatican II” reverting to anything pre-Vatican II would have been unthinkable. So we had, I think, many priests without prayer, ripe for plucking by the demons of perversion.

    Surely the way forward should include re-version to a breviary that incorporates the entire Psalter in a week, together with the old Ambrosian hymns, and similar.

  3. Elizabeth D says:

    I saw that Dr Peters comments on her proposal that men who have been victims of sex abuse be screened out because it is a risk factor for becoming an abuser. I only glanced through his article but I think he is neutral on the idea but current Church law doesn’t call for that.

    My thought is that it can go two different opposite ways for someone who was abused, the wounded person may become an offender themself, or they may be among those who most hate and abhor the wickedness and harm of impurity and are the most utterly committed in chaste celibacy, with a uniquely strong concept of how positive and desirable it is. The latter does not deserve to be regarded as dirty or a risk. Same for women. And, women who were raped are not supposed to be ineligible for even the consecrated virgin vocation, their ability to be chaste need not be called into question by this? Are males different, if so why? There should also be some prudent awareness that the devil, the father of lies, may attempt to assert a pepetual right in regards to people who are sexually defiled, and absolute rebuke of this and deliverance may be necessary and an intentional and strong confidence about belonging to and loved by Christ. But look, Jesus wins not the devil. The temptation for the opposite types of outcome of abuse is surely different, for one they may be persistently sexually tempted or tempted to identify with a disordered “orientation” that may even be a result of or exacerbated by the abuse wounds and such people are not suitable to be priests, for the other the inclination may be to an immoderate harshness in regards to others’ sexual sin, in part because of the strong instinct to oppose the profound harm they experienced and protect others. Yet, to hate wickedness is not actually misguided. Am I wrong?

    Should/would Church leaders really screen out men who unwillingly had sex offenses committed against them from candidacy for the priesthood when they do accept men who, like St Augustine, St Jerome etc once committed various sexual sins willingly and repented, did penance, and hated this wickedness? The tendency to assume the permanently heightened untrustworthiness of all persons connected with sexual sin should and must be resisted. They may need to live in successful chastity for some span of time (years) to demonstrate that trustworthiness and stability in the virtue of chastity before being admitted but it should not be cut and dried that men be rejected from seminary for having ever been abused.

    I read somewhere what I think is wise, that a priest should be at least in the illuminative way, and to be suitable as a bishop he should be in the unitive way. Even to be in and remain in the purgative way a person has made a stable choice to remain in a state of grace, to avoid mortal sin and by the more mature phase of the purgative way the person has grown to avoid all fully advertant and willing venial sins. They are still capable of sin, and are never going to grow any further if they lack humility, but the will is in a far different place than before their conversion began. whether there are spiritual directors who can discern this rightly I do not know, but I know that spiritual growth is really possible and people can be united with God in their will and choose not to sin but to live virtuously, with the help of Grace.

  4. Danteewoo says:

    “That’s what libs insist on: you must deny facts in front of your eyes.” Grocho Marx: “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

  5. Ultrarunner says:

    Forgive the bluntness, but if priests continue to rape the laity and sodomize one another before and after mass, and if bishops, all the way up to the Pope, continue to cover it up, relatively few people are actually going to give a rats behind about the particular mode of liturgical worship employed by the Catholic Church.

    It’s also worth noting that almost 500 years ago, St Charles Borromeo had the Latin Rite, but that didn’t prevent the urgent need for him to implement the now universal practice of installing fixed grills in solid-walled confessionals to keep priests and penitents physically separated from one another.

  6. oldCatholigirl says:

    Although I think Mary Eberstadt is a wise and prophetic writer, I, like Elizabeth D, question the wisdom of the idea that anyone who has been sexually abused should be automatically barred from the priesthood. There are varied degrees of abuse and various responses to it. And I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to be encouraged to permanently identify themselves as a Victim of Abuse. (Or maybe as any kind of Victim.) Over at today, Dr. Jeff Mirus has an excellent article documenting the Church’s frequently reiterated and authoritative position on forbidding men who are clearly homosexual from being ordained to the priesthood. If the strictures already in place were followed (and I gather that they are in some places), that would help more–and pertinent childhood experiences would be unearthed.
    To my mind, the protection of innocent victims is not the only issue–or even the main one. It’s the salvaging of the souls of those who are guilty, in whatever degree, of becoming mired in sexual sin. Very few totally innocent minors are being raped–especially since the 2002 shakeup–at least not in the Church. But many adults, old as well as young, consent to many varieties of flouting God’s beautiful plan for human sexuality–and are receiving Communion–lightheartedly. The biggest horror, of course, is that some of them are saying Mass.

  7. mbarry says:

    Where, oh where can one learn the TLM?! I had a priest recommend, but it has instructions for priests on how to say the TLM.

    That’s fantastic! But, I’m not a priest!

    Should I just get a 1962 missal and try to “sound out” the words? I will be waiting forever if I wait until my bishop decides to make TLM more widely available.

    Surely there has got to be an instructional video on this? I’d love to get some help on this…

  8. zag4christ says:

    Whoa! Today I go to our local outreach to the poor at our Cathedral, where some of my colleagues and I do what we do as veterinary folks, taking care of homeless and poor people and their canine and feline companions. As we are helping them, I find myself looking more at the people rather than the animals they present. And I am stunned. The degradation of humans in this time of this world we live in is unimaginable. I came away from there somewhat shaken. Sometimes I struggle to see Christ in them (the people) and other times I am totally blown away by seeing Christ in them.

    I contrast them with what I see in the news about the Church and what is happening in the Vatican and what is happening in our country’s political scene, and I realize that what we experienced today in dealing with real people in their struggles is far more important that what is going on in Rome, Chicago, Argentina, Brazil, ……
    I posed a questioned to a priest several years ago following my confession about what was happening in the Church at the international level and he counseled me to worry about my own soul and my interactions with the people whom I shared my life. I need to remind myself of his counsel frequently.
    Peace and God bless

  9. JonPatrick says:

    mbarry the best way to learn the TLM is just go to it and follow along in one of the red books that most TLM’s give out at the door. Watch what others do as far as when to kneel/stand/sit. After you have gone a few times you will get the hang of it. If you want to get more into it and have the various propers etc. (some parishes provide those as inserts into the red books) then you can get a 1962 hand missal such as the Baronius or the Angelus Missal.

  10. mbarry says:

    Thanks, Jon Patrick. I ordered two Campion missals today. has a tutorial of sorts, it turns out, so I will probably just try to grind it out by attending once I get the missals.

    Someone should make an instructional video that teaches the TLM. It would sell quite well!

  11. KateD says:

    Ah, yes! I remember the days when the TLM was only 50 miles away……

    Presently, the nearest Latin Mass is 160 miles away. But we are infinitely grateful for an excellent priest who is kind enough to pray the Novus Ordo Mass nearby once a week on Sundays. He’s a good confessor, too.

    It’s only going to become more and more difficult…..And going to confession will become a luxury. We are going to have to be better about living holy lives and purging ourselves of pettiness.

    mbarry – ditto what JonPatrick said….and just go. It’s not like the Novus Ordo, where you are expected to respond and move in lock-schtep with your fellow comrades…I mean parishioners. You are free to focus your attention on the sacrifice of the Mass. At the very least the Gospel and homily are in English. For the rest of it, just follow along in your missal, you’ll pick it up. And I’ve found Latin Mass people infinitely more compassionate and understanding than parishioners who attend the NO, as a whole. Here’s another thing that helped us….We also attended Divine Liturgy around the same time we were discovering the Tridentine Mass. The Divine Liturgy is sung in English and it seems to me there are a lot of parallels….more so than between the EF and the OF.

  12. snegopad says:

    mbarry,—-I am a little late, but : HERE
    perhaps this helps….and there ARE some videos in the net…

  13. MrsMacD says:

    mbarry I found this book, ‘The Mass Explained,’ extremely good for teaching my children and I learned a thing or three

  14. mbarry says:

    Thank you all very much for your help! May God bless all of you all in abundance!

  15. jokkmk says:

    The book, Treasures and Traditions from Augustine Press is beautifully illustrated and very good for someone who is starting out. Also, we’re tired of waiting too so now travel 80 minutes each way to attend. Best decision we’ve ever made.

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