Stupid angry lib (I know, tautology) at The Atlantic against priesthood

UPDATE 22 May:

Fr. Robert Sirico responded to Mr ex-priest, angry lib Carroll, also in The Atlantic.

Sirico’s piece is as measured as Carroll’s is unhinged.  It is as succinct as Carroll’s is prolix.  As clear as Carroll’s is muddled.

____ Originally  Published on: May 21, 2019

At that bastion of liberalism The Atlantic is a piece by the angry Irish ex-priest son of a Irish Catholic mother immigrant.  The writes is James Carroll, author of such books as Constantine’s Sword, every word of which is a lie, including “and” and “the”, as the saying goes.

Understandably, the disillusionment could drive one to anger, and even rage.  It could compel one to avoid going to church for a while, depending on the parish situation.    However, anger can also make you stupid.  There is righteous anger, which looks especially to that which is owed to God, and rightly to man, and there is misplaced anger, which does not concern the good of God and man, but usually only one’s own self in a closed-circle manner of speaking.

The Irish ex-priest writer, mentioned above, was so angry about The Present Crisis, especially in the clerical abuse dimension, that he wrote…

I bring all of this up to make the point that, by the summer of 2018, as a still-practicing Catholic, I harbored no illusions about the Church’s grotesque betrayal. So it took some doing to bring me to a breaking point, and Pope Francis—whom in many ways I admire, and in whom I had placed an almost desperate hope—is the unlikely person who brought me there.

For the first time in my life, and without making a conscious decision, I simply stopped going to Mass. I embarked on an unwilled version of the Catholic tradition of “fast and abstinence”—in this case, fasting from the Eucharist and abstaining from the overt practice of my faith. I am not deluding myself that this response of mine has significance for anyone else—Who cares? It’s about time!—but for me the moment is a life marker. I have not been to Mass in months. I carry an ocean of grief in my heart.

I get this, sort of. I get being so angry and hurt that you don’t want to go near even something or someone dear.

But the ex-priest goes on.

After he adds his paean to a modernist version of the Church – a vision forged in those halcyon days of rebellion and Vatican II – he refers to the Church as “the largest nongovernmental organization on the planet”. I didn’t find any reference to how the Church views herself, and how the ex-priest should have learned to understand her. For the ex-priest, the Church is an NGO.   I don’t sense that it is anything more than that for him.

He adds:

My priesthood was caught up in the typhoon of the 1960s and ’70s. Ironically, the Church, which sponsored my civil-rights work and prompted my engagement in the antiwar movement, made me a radical. I was the Catholic chaplain at Boston University, working with draft resisters and protesters, and soon enough I found myself in conflict with the conservative Catholic hierarchy. It only gradually dawned on me that there was a tragic flaw deep inside the institution to which I’d given my life, and that it had to do with the priesthood itself.

Do you all remember my repeated descriptions of libs of a certain age? As mentioned above, caught up in the halycon days of revolt against authority, and in these USA, the anti-war movement, all in a slurry with the lies they heard about Vatican II, it’s “spirit”? That’s why these types have a nearly pavlovian response to the sight of a biretta or the sound of Latin. The switch in their brain blows and the fog and static begin.

The ex-priest then waxes about his hopes for Francis. Now, of course, he is disillusioned, because Francis hasn’t lived up to his expectations as an iconoclast.

Anyway, after a long rant about how awful every aspect of the priesthood is – which he has conflated with a shallow and stereotypical notion of the “clericalism” that everyone is rattling on about instead the real roots of the problem, the ex-priest writes, “The very priesthood is toxic…”.

One can understand being upset to the point of hiding away for a while. But being purposely obtuse.. stupid… is harder to understand. He goes on:

I want to be part of what brings about the liberation of the Catholic Church from the imperium that took it captive 1,700 years ago.


But to simply leave the Church is to leave its worst impulses unchallenged and its best ones unsupported.


The Church is the people of God.


What he wrote is just plain stupid. And it is so long and so rambling and so incoherent that it won’t have much impact.

He, in effect, wants a complete destruction of the priesthood, with all functions carried out by lay people.

In effect, he’s nothing but a low church Protestant – if that. At the core of all attacks on the Church’s unity, are attacks on the priesthood. That was the heart and soul of the Reformation: attack on the priesthood.

However, remember how libs work. This was in The Atlantic. Through creeping imcrementalism, libs work in small gains. And they put aside their differences to coordinate in their destructive intents.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. The main word that comes to mind is “sad.” I’m sad for him.

    Beyond that, I cannot comprehend how what it seems he wants even makes sense to him. In my 20s, I was away from the Catholic Church; I was part of a Pentecostal congregation, and then, for a short time, an Evangelical one, before returning home (all before I entered the seminary, by the way). I left because I became convinced, for various reasons, that the Catholic Church was wrong in so many ways; but over time, I obviously came to different conclusions. Notably, the Catholic Church always loomed large in my thoughts and imaginations — which is an odd thing, if you think about it; why should I continue to be haunted by a past I was happy to leave behind? But I bring this up to recall that at one point, I thought about what, precisely, I wanted the world to look like. If the Catholic Church was wrong, as I was convinced she was in too many ways, what would “right” look like? What would the result be if truth — as I saw it — prevailed?

    And an odd thing happened: I wasn’t really able to imagine that reality. I couldn’t really conceive of the Catholic Church as anything like what would match my particular views. What’s more, I also couldn’t conceive of a world without the Catholic Church! That is to say, such an outcome was not what I wanted. And, thirdly, I couldn’t make sense of my version of Christianity, Protestantism, broadly speaking, also without the Catholic Church.

    It wasn’t a line of thought I stuck with, because I wasn’t ready for the conclusion at the time. But eventually, of course, I returned. But when I read things like this, I want to ask individuals like Mr. Carroll: are you really able to imagine the Catholic Church being what you ask for? I really wonder; I really think often the objection is not, the Church must change, but rather, simply, rebellion. Does this make sense to anyone else?

  2. JustaSinner says:

    So, another future Satan’s Little Minion. How quaint. And he has SO MUCH to add!

  3. Charles E Flynn says:

    Aside from the worthless article, the cover illustration showing what appears to be a cathedral coming apart is in poor taste, considering the recent fire at Notre Dame.

    To its credit, the Atlantic published this worthwhile piece:

    A Waste of 1,000 Research Papers:
    Decades of early research on the genetics of depression were built on nonexistent foundations. How did that happen?
    Ed Yong May 17, 2019

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    This pathetic individual has long been off my screen. He’s still whining and screaming. What ever point he is attempting to make falls on deaf ears. His element in the Church has produced a generation of “nones,” long ago alienated one way or the other the parents of “nones,” and the faithful can only look on upon such a soul and pray for him and his confreres in delusion. A not unsubstantial number nor without considerable power — but the clock is moving. A remnant will remain and the restoration will begin.

  5. Grabski says:

    If he left the Priesthood why does he think it’s a big deal to stop going to Mass?

  6. HibernianFaithful says:

    Nothing is more intolerant than a tolerant Pro(RE)gressive\liberal\fascist\socialist\Democrat (but I repeat myself)

    Nothing in more uneducated than an educated Pro(RE)gressive\liberal\fascist\socialist\Democrat (but I repeat myself)

  7. Carroll is a sad sack with father issues. His father was an Air Force general highly placed in the Pentagon while his son was protesting the Vietnam War and doing the hippie-priest thing, such as saying Mass barefoot (see photo of Carroll making a fool of himself in his 1997 memoir) before he left the priesthood altogether. The two never got along. Dissenting liberal Catholics are the only kind of Catholics the mainstream media can stand, so Carroll is now a media star. His theories about Constantine wrecking the Church are ridiculous, of course, but they are held as Gospel truth by nearly all liberals, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

  8. ChrisP says:

    The problem is not that Carroll views the Church as an NGO, but that Pope Francis, Spadaro and so on and so forth do.

    Just look at the flumbustible emissions they pronounced over Matteo Salvini having the temerity, the temerity!, to publicly exhort the Italian nation to the Rosary and her Immaculate Heart.

    An outrage! Surely there is an SOP to counter such anti-committee/synod/pastoral/Twitter/bridge-building activities?

  9. Charles E Flynn says:

    First Things has an excellent rebuttal.

    Thou Art a Priest Forever, by Paul Mankowski, S.J.:

    The article begins:

    “Abolish the Priesthood,” reads the provocative title of the latest Atlantic cover story, penned by James Carroll. Is it the Brahmin priesthood that has to go? The Shinto kannushi? Ordained Anglican women? (Spoiler alert: No, no, and no.) It is the Roman Catholic Church that must do the right thing and drop her connection with the whole priest business.

    This is a puzzling imperative. One can understand a call to fill a need, to address a deficiency by supplying a want. But there are thousands upon thousands of priestless institutions already out there, from Camp Fire Girls to plumbers’ unions to Kiwanis clubs; why should the Catholic Church add to their number? On this matter Carroll is as confused as we are. He can point to a diseased and depraved priesthood, but he has no awareness of its healthy state, no comprehension of its authentic purpose.

  10. teomatteo says:

    “…but for me the moment is a life marker”. More like a soul darker.
    I pray he finds his way back

  11. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Hell knows not the fury of an ex-priest who is obsessed with the Church treating him as a jilted lover. What’s next after abolishing the priesthood? Abolish religious life? Abolish the permanent diaconate? Abolish the episcopacy? Abolish the papacy? As if abolishing anything will bring him an iota closer to the peace of Christ for which we all long.

  12. Charivari Rob says:

    Charles E Flynn, around these parts (Boston) the plumbers’ union might have a priest – if not on the roll, at least as a chaplain.
    They do have some interesting members at local 12 (I should know, having worked with a couple of them) – fictional Eastern-bloc spies among them ;-) – so why not priests?

  13. TRW says:

    What you say makes perfect sense, Fr. Fox.

  14. Gab says:

    There is only one, holy, catholic and Apostolic Church which is the mystical body of Christ. Regardless of how we humans try to destroy it from within and without, the Church will remain the mystical body of Christ and Our Lord will never desert the Church, no matter how bad things become. So if Our Lord is staying, and He promised He would, then I’m staying too.

    I wonder if this “ex-priest” (how absurd, priesthood is imprinted on the soul for eternity) is actually causing scandal by his public pronouncements that can seem like encouraging others to leave the Church?

  15. Semper Gumby says:

    Thanks for the links to rebuttals by Fr. Sirico and by First Things. Good to see First Things getting back on track after that peculiar “Against the Dead Consensus” manifesto a month or so ago.

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