A warning from recent history about changes to the CDF and notes about authentic and deficient “evangelization”

A priest friend sent this around to a select group.  I think more people should know about it.

As we read about the proposed Curial “reforms”  Ottaviani reminds us that the seeds for this were sown by Paul VI another disastrous decision for the Church among so many others by Paul VI and the price the Church will pay for this politicization of the Church:


Msgr Simcic recalling:

when in the reform of the Curia immediately after the Second Vatican Council, the Holy Office was recast and its title “Supreme  Sacred Congregation” was taken away, Ottaviani commented on the fact before a group of his collaborators with these words (I am giving you their gist): “Remember this is a dark day for the history of the Church because we are not dealing with form with titles but with substance. [NB] Indeed, up to now, the supreme principle of governance for the Church was revealed doctrine, whose custody and right interpretation in the Church is entrusted in first place to the Pope, who makes use of this Congregation and that’s why it is ‘Supreme’. Now I don’t know what will be the critical inspiration for the governance of the Church, but I fear that the diplomatic and contingent will prevail.  I foresee that the Church will suffer much damage from this but because assisted by the Holy Spirit, sooner or later, she will take up the standard of government inspired by Revelation and its essential contents….

Il Prefetto del Sant’Offizio Le opere e I giorni del Cardinale Ottaviani by Emilio Cavaterra p.85


I remind the readership that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – if reports are accurate – is about to be knocked down a couple of levels of importance under some new “super dicastery” for Evangelization.

This is a Very Bad Idea, for the reasons that Card. Ottaviani mentioned at the time of the Pauline reforms.

There is another reason, too.

In the context of the “New” Evangelization we are supposed to be about, I have often wondered aloud about, “What about the ‘Old’ Evangelization?  When did that stop? What can it teach us about the ‘New’?  Is is substantively different, or is it mostly the same but with a different emphasis and audience?  What’s ‘Evangelization’ anyway?”

Since this is the First Day of the Novena after Ascension and before Pentecost, let’s bring these mysteries into play.

Before His Ascension, in Luke 24, the Lord tells the disciples that

“repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

He said that it was prophesied, as indeed it was in Is 52 & 53 about the Suffering Servant and in Jonah, when God’s servant preached to the Ninevites.  What did Jonah (a type of Christ, a foreshadowing figure) preach?  Repentance for sins.

Evangelization is about conversion – first and ongoing – metanoia.  That means that bringing the “Good News” to people – whether baptized or not – MUST involve preaching repentance for sins.   This is essential for any kind of evangelization according to the way the Lord intended it.  Christ effectively says that there is no evangelization without repentance for sins.  If we gloss over repentance for sin, whatever it is that we do we are not doing what Christ commanded.   Repentance is a universal dimension of all evangelical practice.  It was to start with the Jews and go to all nations.

I’m not making this up.  “… repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached…”.

Some people very high in the hierarchy of the Church and some who are not so high are preaching that you don’t have to make changes, change your view of sin and your life.  They talk about joy joy joy happy happy happy but they don’t mention repentance and true conversion.

Sure! Go to Communion without changing your life.

If you leave out sin and repentance, you don’t have any kind of authentic evangelization.

Evangelization does not have to dwell only on repentance, of course.  Repentance and reconciliation results in joy.  However, repentance for sins must be first at least logically if not chronologically.   It also must probably be chronologically first, too.

But those who exclude or diminish repentance… FAIL.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Geoffrey says:

    George Wiegel was on “The World Over” last night. He viewed a draft of this apostolic constitution, and said it is terrible.

  2. Benedict Joseph says:

    Often I find Mr. Weigel a bit too “nuanced” in his response to the present tribulation. His exchange last evening with Raymond Arroyo was riveting. Over and above his frank commentary on McCarrick his estimation of the curial “reform” was at once illuminating and scathing. He was at the top of his form last evening, and preceded by Cardinal Burke no less! Quite the demonstration of faith and reason of which we seem perpetually deprived of in both Church and society.
    What do you have on your hands when both Cardinal Müller and George Weigel call out the proposed reform for exactly what it is?
    Hagan lio!

  3. ususantiquior says:

    With regard to chronology, both John the Baptist (Matt. 3.2). and Jesus Himself (Mark 1.15) begin their public ministries with the word “Repent.”

  4. Henry Edwards says:

    “New Evangelization . . . Old Evangelization? . . . What’s ‘Evangelization’ anyway?”

    Makes no difference which or what. Until our bishops wise up and get the clue to first pull the liturgy out of the ditch it’s been stuck in the past fifty years. Short of them opening their eyes to the obvious, all this babble about the “new evangelization”, let alone some sort of “superdicastery” to oversee it, is just stuff and nonsense, going precisely nowhere.

  5. Aquinas Gal says:

    My understanding is that Popes John Paul II and Benedict called for a new evangelization because of the massive falling away from the faith in formerly Catholic countries. (like Europe). This is the new part, that the baptized now need a massive evangelization effort to return to the practice of the faith. It’s a new situation. Yes, there have been always been Catholics who fell away. But it was more the exception than the norm. Now it’s the opposite.

  6. Lurker 59 says:

    I’ve said this elsewhere, but this pontificate seems to be the worst Protestant anti-catholic caricature of the Church make manifest. If what is preached is not absolutely rooted and founded upon Divine Revelation, what is preached is not salvific.

    More importantly, let me call attention to how Pope Francis has mandated that the document On Human Fraternity (the Abu Daubi document) is to be integrated and taught as the standard methodology within Catholic universities. This document, in multiple places, abandons the Missionary Mandate of the Church and directly contradicts Dominus Iesus (seeming to expose those very condemned views that were the impetus for writing DI). Couple this with the soteriology /justification charges in with Letter to Bishops which levels a charge of heresy at Pope Francis, chiefly being that Pope Francis appears to hold a Lutheran view of soteriology whereby the moral law is not possible to be kept, even by the justified. This permits all the accompanying and discerning and “who am I to judging” in the world as there is no longer an imperative to live a holy life. This is a problem that Luther commented on in his own lifetime.

    When we look at the shifting of the dicasteries, we can see the above being played out. The purpose of evangelization IS NOT going to be preaching the Gospel message but rather working towards “human fraternity” grounded in an amoral accompaniment based on shared political goals and works.

    It can be nothing else. Frankly, in many places, it is already that.

  7. carndt says:

    AGAIN, Francis is speaking with forked tongue . No clarity. No charity to stop sinning. More massive confusion of the laity.

  8. crjs1 says:

    To be fair I think the Holy Father is being clear and reiterates church teaching that homosexual activity is a sin and against natural law AND that homosexual people should not face unjust discrimination like being thrown out by thier family.

    It’s one of his chest statements, I don’t see the problem with it at all.

  9. JonathanTX says:

    In order to appreciate the Good News of Salvation, you have to already understand the Bad News of Damnation. But to talk about the Bad News is not… “pastoral”. Before anything else, I think this is the root of the decline of the Church in the West.

  10. Contra_Mundum says:

    First, the declaration of “human fraternity” in Abu Dhabi.

    Next, placing evangelization above doctrine, which is not only irrational but seems impossible, as they cannot be separated.

    This Autumn, we’ll be treated to a synod which is expected to extol “indigenous spirituality,” and which is expected to end celibacy in the West.

    The mystery of iniquity is coming into full bloom.

  11. Jerome Charles says:

    I agree with crjs1, in response to carndt. Pope Francis is saying nothing outside of Church teaching. AND he is stating that God loves LGBT people, and that we are to treat them with love, as Jesus taught us. He admitted that he spoke inappropriately regarding “psychiatrist” vs. “professional.” How often do you hear a Pope admit being wrong about something?

  12. TonyO says:

    AND that homosexual people should not face unjust discrimination like being thrown out by thier family

    Sort of. But not without distinction: people who suffer from same sex attraction (SSA) and who are trying to live as Catholics in spite of their condition should not be thrown out of their families. People who suffer from SSA and who use the term “gay” because they embrace the gay mind-set, the gay culture, the gay philosophy that having homosexual relations with another of the same sex is “good” for them – these cannot be tolerated in the bosom of the family where there are youngsters who will be damaged by the bad example. If they insist on being anti-Catholic (which is what embracing “gay” means), they thereby insist on not living in peace with the Catholic family. You can’t paper over this and pretend it’s nothing. (This goes equally for a young adult in the family who insists on having an ongoing sexual relationship outside of marriage, by the way, so it’s not special to just gays.)

  13. samwise says:

    Yeah, Weigel has lost resonance since WITNESS TO HOPE . I agree with him about the Ukraine and his first-hand dealings with McCarricks antics, but by and large I agree moreso with Dreher that Weigel is stick in 90s Catholic lingo

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