ASK FATHER: How to protest, perhaps in Rome?

From a reader…


Father, do you think individuals or groups of non-Italian Catholics can picket or demonstrate in Saint Peter’s Square? I’m from the U.S.A. and thinking I’d like to fly over and start doing so! As a frequent visitor to the Eternal City, what do you think are the chances?


I’ve been getting a lot of this lately! People are champing a the bit. Especially Americans who want to DO SOMETHING!

The first thing to do is to examine your conscience and make a good confession and good Holy Communion.

Next, remember, it is hard to maintain out of proportion anger towards someone for whom you are regularly praying.

These, and living well your vocation, with fidelity, are good ways gently to protest those who would have us change our doctrine and discipline. Simply say, “No!” and hold fast.

Once those are secured and routine…

Protesting within St. Peter’s Square won’t last very long.  You will be herded out.  Protesting on the edge will last longer.

There was a great protest a week or so ago.  Quite a number showed at the end of the long street that runs up toward St. Peter’s and stood silently.  There were quite a few Americans in evidence, but I am not sure who organized it.

Let us also never forget the Angelus address back in 2018 after a certain former Nuncio to the USA issued a public statment. The weekend or so after, an lone voice rose in the Piazza like the battle-cry of Ἀλαλά personified:


The video shows that the name caught Francis’ attention and seemed to shake him.  You could see him look out, clearly trying to locate the origin and he was distracted for the conclusion.   Then he went on with the greetings.

I’m not recommending such a thing, of course. After all, not everyone has such a good sense of timing or strong voice… or luck with the police.

Still, I can imagine a legendary legionary barritus resounding from the Romans present, Rebel Yells from the Americans. Yes, I can imagine that.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Philmont237 says:

    Honestly, ”Viganò!” is probably the best thing to yell and put on signs. So much is said with that name that no other slogan is necessary.

    Quite frankly, I think that every bishop should not be able to walk out of his chancery without either seeing (on a sign or billboard) or hearing “Viganò” to remind them of their crimes. Anybody want to rent a billboard in Chicago near the chancery with this name on it?

  2. ChrisP says:

    Apparently, to make an impression on PF, all you need is a 16yr old with OCD+Asperger’s and fame-seeking manipulative parents, to shout at old people whilst reading from a carefully manufactured script. Find that and your home and hosed on the protest front.

  3. rhhenry says:

    Slightly off-topic, but related: how should we react if we see those little Amazonian idols popping up in our own parishes? Do we just walk out of the church as soon as we see them? Scoop them up and trash them (risking arrest for theft / vandalism)? Take a photo and write to the bishop? It could very well happen (cf. the increasing prevalence of the gay pride rainbow flags).

  4. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    rhhenry asked: “How should we react if we see those little Amazonian idols popping up in our own parishes? Do we just walk out of the church as soon as we see them? Scoop them up and trash them (risking arrest for theft / vandalism)?”

    You’ve heard of “punkin’ chunkin’,” I presume? It’s very “out in the country,” but lots of us city folk enjoy occasional visits. Here’s a video

    Why not go into someone’s yard or a field with a (much smaller) home-made trebuchet, and do some idol chunkin? A competition to see who can chunk their idol furthest, and the various positions marked with flags might be fun. A prize to him or her whose idol makes it the farthest.

    What about a pick-up game of basket idol? The idols won’t bounce very well, but they’ll go through the baskets OK. Or idol badminton using idols as the shuttlecock.

    What about outdoor idol bowling? Or running over them with a gas-powered lawn mower? What would happen if wooden idols were nailed to the side of a tree and decorated with a chain-saw? How many times being run over with a car would it take to flatten an idol to less than 1″? How many idols can be strung, tied to a car bumper, and towed at a fast rate of speed through a shopping center parking lot, late at night, and then slammed into a row of dumpsters? And what would happen to them?

    (Am I being disrespectful?)

  5. @Marion Ancilla Mariae II

    My parakeets think I am crazy. I am laughing so hard and I thank you for that. I needed to laugh.

  6. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    P.S. the Idols I referred to above for idol chunkin’, should be made at home by the individual Catholic – we don’t take them from the church. (Would it be a form of idol-worship to make an idol to install in a ballista for a distance competition, I wonder?)

  7. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    P.P.S. For “idols” we could actually use gnomes, like garden gnome figurines, but small, inexpensive ones. They sell cloth ones, too.

  8. JTH says:

    How about silently praying the rosary in St. Peter’s Square for the Church? The best form of protest I can think of.

  9. grateful says:

    I wonder if that sort of protest would send the poor man deeper into hiding.

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