“Restorers”! “Against the Council”! “MAKE IT take root”! What are they really saying?

It strikes me that relative newcomer around the Holy See Press sector, listed as CNA‘s “senior Rome correspondent” – which as I get older strikes me as amusing – Hannah Brockhaus should rethink her priorities.

Francis had an audience with a bunch of editors of European Jesuit journals – imagine what that was like. In the Vatican News piece relating what was exchanged in their Q&A there are some 2400 words. The section Hannah chose to report on is 188 words of the whole. La Civilità Cattolica HERE.  What was her game?  Click-bait?

The topic: Francis criticized, belittled, “restauratori”, “restorers who do not accept Vatican II”.

According the Francis, …

Q: What signs of spiritual renewal do you see in the Church? Do you see any? Are there signs of new, fresh life?

FRANCIS: It is very difficult to see a spiritual renewal using very old-fashioned schemes. [Is that what he was asked?] We need to renew our way of seeing reality, of evaluating it. In the European Church I see more renewal in the spontaneous things that are being born: movements, groups, new bishops who remember that there is a Council behind them. [Like in Germany?] Because the Council that some pastors remember best is that of Trent. [And why would that be?] And what I’m saying is not nonsense. [Oh… my….]

Restorationism has come to gag the Council. [1!] The number of groups of “restorers” – for example, in the United States there are so many – is impressive. An Argentine bishop told me that he had been asked to administer a diocese that had fallen into the hands of these “restorers”. [Given Francis’ disdain for Americans and the United States, you would think that he knows that Argentina and the United States are sort of far from each other.] They had never accepted the Council. [2!] There are ideas, behaviors that arise from a restorationism that basically did not accept the Council. [3! Say it again, until people believe it.] The problem is precisely this: that in some contexts the Council has not yet been accepted. [4!] It is also true that it takes a century for a council to take root. We still have forty years to make it take root, then!

To MAKE IT take root.

That’s one way to do things.  If it doesn’t work, force it.

One thing I do know is that Francis doesn’t have 4o years.  I suspect he knows that and so he is… what?… dominated by the idea of these “restorationists”?  Whoever they are!  Are “restorationists” the boogey-men hiding under the bed?

QUAERITUR: Do those who want traditional liturgical worship and solid preaching really want things as they were before the Council?

No, I don’t think so.  For the most part, they want clear teaching from the Church and reverent worship.  They find that the old ways appeal more, work better, and are, therefore, their preference.  They have seen that the new ways are hardly recognizable as Catholic sometimes and they don’t prefer them.

QUAERITUR: Why would some pastors remember Trent better than Vatican II?

Just a couple thoughts on that.

Why accept the premise?  Maybe pastors know Vatican II quite well!  They have not forgotten Vatican II, which they had to study in seminary and which they have heard of ad nauseam ever since.  It could be that Vatican II just wasn’t as important in the long run, in the history of Councils, and, though they remember it, they have other things to worry about.

Another idea.

QUAERITUR: Could be it that when you read what the Council of Trent produced, it is clear?  The human mind, especially well-trained, is better proportioned to clarity than it is to foggy.  The documents of Vatican II, while they have moments of clarity, as when they cite previous Councils, get a little dreamy and ambiguous.

No.  This is a straw man.

There are some people who really hate the Second Vatican Council.  I am not sure that they know why they do.  There are others who resist what the Second Vatican Council’s documents say and suggest because they sense – on the basis of pretty good arguments – that they are imbued with modernism, in particulars and in an overarching way.   Some parrot this, others can articulate exactly what they mean with citations and arguments.  They resist certain things in the Council, while admitting that it was a real Council.

Others… okay, we can play this game forever.  There are always more wrinkles.

This is a straw man.   There is no homogeneous group as Francis describes.  It’s fantasy.

What is clear, however, is that if you want “those people”, those “restorationists” to come on side, it might be better to stop treating them like trash, even if you think they are trash.  It’s neither smart nor pastoral.   As a matter of fact, in places like the United States, where there are (apparently) many restorationists and where there is a demographic sink hole opening up under the church gobbling up those imbued with the last 60 years of Vatican II… it’s kind of stupid to treat them like trash, because they are going to be the only ones left.

Back to the Q&A with Francis and the Jesuits.

After he said what I fisked, above, Francis added comments about how wonderful the late Jesuit leader Fr. Arupe was.  Then he said:

A Jesuit from the province of Loyola was particularly aggressive toward Fr. Arrupe. He was sent to various places and even to Argentina, and always made trouble. He once said to me: “You are someone who understands nothing. But the real culprits are Fr. Arrupe and Fr. Calvez. The happiest day of my life will be when I see them hanging from the gallows in St. Peter’s Square.” [NB:] Why am I telling you this story? To make you understand what the post-conciliar period was like. This is happening again, especially with the traditionalists. That is why it is important to save these figures who defended the Council and fidelity to the pope. We must return to Arrupe: he is a light from that moment that illuminates us all. It was he who rediscovered the Spiritual Exercises as a source, freeing himself from the rigid formulations of the Epitome Instituti, the expression of a closed, rigid thinking, more instructive-ascetical than mystical.

I can’t help but think of a caudillo talking about opposition.

BTW… Arupe was the first General of the Jesuits to RESIGN instead of remaining in office until he died. He resigned and St. John Paul II – whose magisterium someone seems determined to obscure – appointed Paolo Dezza as General over Arupe’s vice general.

Arupe could be a personification of the 60s-70s for Francis, a halcyon age.

The Civiltà version has a footnote about the Epitome Instituti (consider the source, of course – Spadaro): “a kind of practical summary in use in the Society and formulated in the 20th century, which was seen as a substitute for the Constitutions. Jesuit formation in the Society for a time was shaped by this text to such an extent that some never read the Constitutions, which are the foundational text. For the pope during this period in the Society the rules risked overwhelming the spirit.”

Some insight is gained from this about whom Francis thinks “restorationists” to be.

Here’s a problem.

Vatican II was one among many Councils. Some of them were far more important in the history of the Church that Vatican II.  However, today some people (Francis?) have reduced Vatican II to a new Epitome Instituti.  It is the be all and end all for them.  However, there remains the whole gamut of the Church’s Councils and history.

Vatican II must be read with all other Council and not against all other Councils.  Certainly not instead of other Council.

What the team, the New Red Guard, around Francis want to do is turn Vatican II into the sole-hermeneutical principle through which the entirety of the Church, her doctrine, practices, laws, liturgy, are to be – must be – must be made to bereinterpreted.

Never forget this when you hear certain figures in Francis’ orbit talk about the Second Vatican Council.

Meanwhile, I just read elsewhere that when Francis was faced with an accusation of being pro-Putin he responded:

“Someone may say to me at this point: so you are pro-Putin! No, I am not. It would be simplistic and wrong to say such a thing. I am simply against reducing complexity to the distinction between good guys and bad guys.”


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Francis, Just Too Cool, Liberals, New catholic Red Guards, The Drill, The future and our choices, Vatican II and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Not says:

    I always thought I was an American, then they called me a Conservative, then a Right Winger, a White Suprematist, Neo Nazi.
    I always thought I was a Roman Catholic, then Catholic, then Traditionalist, Now Restorationalist ! I see a pattern here.

  2. Cornelius says:

    Hmmm. I wouldn’t blame Hannah Brockhaus. It’s quite remarkable that PF chose to respond as he did to a softball question about what signs of renewal in the Church he sees. His answer shows there’s a certain obsession there – he clearly intuits that the renewal that’s occuring is amongst those foul restorationists, which is why his answer goes directly to them.

    Anyway, it’s newsworthy, and she’s a journalist.

  3. mlmc says:

    Unfortunately, Pope Francis is heavily Argentine. First, the typical Argentine has no real conception of capitalism b/c he has lived in a version of an Italian corporatist- syndicalism-fascist state (don’t set you hair on fire when I say fascism- this is Italian 1920s stuff with less violence- not the German kind). The government heavily intervenes in the economy and promotes the major stakeholders (big gov’t, big business, big labor) work together and thereby shaft the little guy. The government maintains high levels of employment in the administration and petroleum industry (nationalized of course-Argentina has one of the only petroleum companies that regularly loses money)by encouraging grossly inefficient practices- protect by high tariffs on imported goods. Big business and big labor do well in the short term b/c they are protected by government policy. Overtime, the economic performance increasingly declines and you have periodic crashes and high inflation. The lower middle class and working class not in protected industries do poorly. So of course, Papa Francis doesn’t like it- but it isn’t capitalism in any real sense.
    Argentina was 1st world over a century ago, but rotten politics has ground it down to near 3rd world status. Argentina has rich agricultural land and oil, yet has been a case study in mismanagement for close to a century. Many Argentines clearly resent Americas failure to follow them in decline. Envy is a sin for a reason.
    I was confirmed in the diocese of San Isidro in Buenos Aires and one thing my father took to heart was the advice of other American Catholics there- once your children learn to speak Spanish you have to be careful what church you attend b/c many of the priests gave anti- american homilies. Luckily, we eventually found a great Priest from Boston- he was there to tend to merchant sailors in the port- but he took over the American community. As he said “I was sent to care for wayward sailors and you appear to be a wayward bunch”. We used a convent chapel and he began to say mass every Sunday & started a religious Ed program. Soon he had the entire American Catholic community and a parish on his hands-he clearly loved families and provided a great example for his flock. I wish I knew what happened to him- we moved away after about 3 years.

  4. Fr. Ryan Humphries says:

    Excellent articulation of the lie that there’s one cabal working against and actively believing against Vatican II. There are lots of parallels with the reductionism so prevalent in political journalism – everyone must be reduced to their camp…

    I feel like Vatican II has become a kind of Book of Mormon for modern Catholics. It’s treated as a second scripture by certain bean-like folks. I was at a Penance service a few months ago and we got a reading from Romans, a psalm, and a reading from Gaudium et Spes…. It was ludicrous.

    I agree 100% that the ordinary folks in the pews aren’t looking for 1955, they’re looking for a reverent and orthodox place to grow in the knowledge and love of God.

    Thanks for the Blog!

  5. teomatteo says:

    Dear Pope Francis, be not afraid. — teo

  6. James C says:

    Don’t forget what the pope said at the end of the interview:

    “Sorry if I went on too long, but I wanted to underline the post-Council and Arrupe issues because the current problem of the Church is precisely the non-acceptance of the Council.”

    Yup, you heard it. From the mouth of the pope.

    In 2022, with everything going on, WE are the the problem in the Church. Not the mass apostasy. Not the Germans. Not the sodomites. Not the Pelosis.

    It should be clear now that he wants us to bow down to him and get with the program or else get the hell out of “his” church. That’s Bergoglian mercy and dialogue and tenderness and reaching out to the peripheries.

  7. Uniaux says:

    When be says that it takes 100 years for a council to take root, what exactly is he saying here? Seems to me that it’s taken root just fine and rather immediately. But things that take root can still wither away due to the wrong kind of soil and climate. I guess you could try to nurse it along by dumping fertilizer all around it. But they definitely have tried that already. (And I’ve beaten this analogy to the ground.)

    Did it take 100 years for anti-iconoclasm to take root after Nicaea II? Did it take 100 years for the rejection of Arianism by the church to take root after Nicaea I? Did Florence ever take root?

    I’ve never heard of such a starement, but I’ve also never studied the councils. The only thing that I can think of that has a 100 year period attached to it is a certain prophecy by Leo XIII.

  8. Lurker 59 says:

    Have you ever planted a certain type of tree from seed, nurture it, help it to grow, only to find that it is somehow a completely different kind of tree? Seems to me that that is Pope Francis. He cannot stand that the tree that he has found to be growing isn’t a Spirit of VII Tree. It is also magical thinking to think that all his railing will transform this tree into a Spirit of VII Tree. Life doesn’t work that way — you tend to the trees that you have got growing in your area of the Vineyard of the Lord, you don’t wish them to be something else. Even our Lord instructed the Angels to tend to the tares that they found growing instead of wishing to uproot them.

    The Spirit of VIIer’s have some weird obsession with Trent. It is like they forgot about VI and all sorts of post-Trent councils/synods/bulls/encyclicals etc. It is as if they don’t understand the various philosophical and theological currents that run around in “traditionalist” circles. Many (if not most) are Leo XIII neo-Thomists, but not all. There is a chunk of Ressourcement and Nouvelle théologie (which overlap but are not synonymous) traditionalists. Then there is the plethora of spirituality floating around — you will have Sacred Heart of Jesus devotees butting heads with Divine Mercy devotees, just as examples. There are even hybrids out there with their hearts in the East and their heads in the West (like myself).

    His Holiness, to me, speaks as a man who has no (spiritual) children speaks. There is bitterness. His documents love to quote himself, but how many serious educators, catechists, and theologians refer to his thought as the loadstone for theirs? In the analysis, is he but a footnote, and if he makes enough waves, might those who write and teach just quote someone else instead (even though on his side)?
    At a certain point in a man’s life he notices that the younger generations have prepared a grave for him. It is ready, they are waiting, and they have moved on from him while he is alive. It will especially sneak up on the man who assumes he is for a glorious purpose “Not finished yet. Still have work to do.” he will rail against the sky, to quote one of my favorite fictional characters. But the world has other plans; some sow, some tend, some harvest. Some try to will maple trees into apple trees.

    IDK, there is great consternation with this pontificate because we are caught up in the middle of it. But the youth, the youth, they have a superpower, which is to simply turn the page and move on to the next chapter, their chapter. The VII wars are over, yet they are still being fought as echoes by living ghosts telling old war stories. It didn’t root, or at least not in the way they wanted it to. Even Ratzinger found this to be the case — but he had the humility to turn and tend to what grew following the Council. And he had the humility to realize (even though I disagree with him) that the fight was no longer his to fight, and that it was time for the next chapter, as unfinished and abruptly ended as his was, and as dark as the next chapter was promising to be.

  9. HyacinthClare says:

    Restorationist. I pray every day that’s me.

  10. Ipsitilla says:

    Based on the Holy Father’s repeated utterances, I can’t help wondering which appears to be more pathologically in need of constant affirmation, acceptance, and mandated celebration: the pronoun-obsessives on TikTok or the Second Vatican Council?

  11. JabbaPapa says:

    I am constantly bemused by those who seek to oppose Trent and Vatican II, as if they were entirely incompatible with each other.

  12. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Perhaps one could refer to PF, and those in his orbit, as “Deformationists”?

    Just askin’. ¯\_(?)_/¯

  13. summorumpontificum777 says:

    Pope Francis rejects trads and all our works and all our pomps. Yes, we get it. Does he have to beat the same drum every day? Sigh. Isn’t it obvious what’s going on here? The man is sad and frustrated that the “Francis Effect” revolution he had envisioned himself ushering in on those halcyon days on Copacabana beach in 2013 utterly failed to materialize. He’s got little to show for 9 years but a Church in precipitous decline. And he’s seized upon a convenient scapegoat… traditionalists. His revolution would have succeeded, too, if not for those meddling American trad kids and their blasted dog, Scooby Doo. What he doesn’t understand is that it’s nothing personal. The ecclesial combination of liberal theology and political leftism has utterly failed in every sect in which it’s been tried: protestant, Catholic, Unitarian, Jewish, whatever.

  14. Chrisc says:

    The attitude of Francis is so nakedly partisan. It is as if he is simply applying Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables’ comment from 2016. It is a pity to have a father who has no desire to love his children. And unfortunately, these comments will probably only serve to make others dislike the Holy Father more. This is a sad state of affairs. It should not be. But what does one expect when you have a father who beats his children? Who locks them out of their homes? Who goes out of his way to stop others (diocesan priests and bishops) from caring for them?

  15. Dan says:

    “It is also true that it takes a century for a council to take root.”

    For years I heard it repeated over and over it takes 50 year for a council to be accepted, now that we are 60 years past the 2nd Vatican Council (one among many) the talking point is changed to 100 years. I suppose in 2065 they will start telling us it takes 200 years for a council to be accepted. so in another 100 years we can force it down your throat.

    Of course by then all of these people trying to hold onto a past that no body really wanted will be dead and hopefully the Church can restore her worship with minimal resistance from modernists.

  16. Gaetano says:

    While I have many criticisms of Jesuit Father General Arrupe and the devolution of the Jesuits during his leadership, he resigned only after he suffered a devastating stroke that left him paralyzed on his right side & scarcely able to talk.

    It wasn’t a denigration of duty. He was massively impaired and never fully recovered.

  17. eamonob says:

    Why do people, like Francis is doing, keep putting Vatican II up against the other councils? It’s like every other council no longer exists once we hit VII. He accuses others of not accepting VII and in the same interview does essentially the same thing with Trent.

  18. moon1234 says:

    If one was to have only the catechism of the council of Trent and learned NOTHING else, would he be somehow less of a Catholic? If said person were to follow all of the norms and prescriptions of said catechism would he somehow no longer be catholic?

    You know what, I would be PERFECTLY happy, giddy in fact, if I could live my life as if it was 1954 and all I had was the church and her liturgies as they existed at that time. I would not care if the rest of the catholic world was happy in whatever the current liturgy was. If they can somehow find a way to honor and worship the Lord in the new liturgy, more power to them.

    I am tired of the constant attack, attack, attack tradition. Walk into any parish that has the TLM for a while and what do you see at Mass? You see LOTS OF BABIES and YOUNG CHILDREN. These are the FUTURE catholics in this parish. Compare the numbers. Just count. Many who attend the traditional Mass have 4+ children. In my parish it is not uncommon to see 8 or more children. Just two or three families like this equates to 10-12 families who have the typical two children at the new Mass.

    I don’t want to play demographic games, but there is a biological wave coming. The old guard who is afraid that their reform is just about done is frightened. The young families are perfectly happy to wait for time to remove them from their posts.

    What does anti-vatican II mean? Is that like being homo-phobic? I am not afraid of homosexual people. I just find their lifestyle repugnant and so teach my children to love the person, but hate the sin/lifestyle. The same goes for most of the post VII stuff.

    Pull out a Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism III and start asking ADULTS at most post VII liturgies some of the questions that were designed for kids under 10. I bet you will be shocked at how many people can not answer the questions.

    I taught CCD about 12 years ago for a couple years before my family became too large. I refused to use the parish materials and said the only way I was teaching was to use the Baltimore Catechism. I was allowed to use it.

    TO THIS DAY I hear comments from the parish secretary that those kids can still recite the answers to the questions. They know what was decided at the first council of Jerusalem. I believe this speaks to the truth that the old methods work better. The kids RETAIN the knowledge they learn and can APPLY it to their daily life.

    If that is restoration, then I am all for it and will wear that badge with pride and honor. I think the pope is frustrated that he can’t just blot out traditionalists. The SSPX is too large and some of the other groups have grown to such a size (ICRSS and FSSP) that they would not easily be marginalized.

    With the last Motu Proprio I know of at least FOUR vocations that were intending to be diocesan, but have went to: 1-SSPX, 2 FSSP and 1 ICRSS for discernment. They love the TLM and could not see themselves NOT having access to it. Those are REAL vocations that are being PUSHED out, not discerned out, but PUSHED out.

    Pope Benedict really had the correct idea. You could live in the modern church, but not have to drink the kool-aide.

  19. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The letter of Vatican II says parishes should be using and teaching chant and teaching Latin.

  20. James C says:

    Pope Benedict in February 2013, just several weeks before Bergoglio was elected:

    “The world interpreted the council through the eyes of the media instead of seeing the true council of the fathers and their key vision of faith. Fifty years later, the strength of the real council has been revealed, and it is our task for the Year of Faith to bring the real Second Vatican Council to life.

    “The immediate impression of the council that got through to the people, was that of the media, not that of the Fathers. The council of journalists did not, naturally, take place within the world of faith but within the categories of the media of today, that is outside of the faith, with different hermeneutics … a hermeneutic of politics.

    “The media saw the Council as a political struggle, a struggle for power between different currents within the Church. But it was obvious that the media would take the side of whatever faction best suited their world. There was this triple issue: the power of the Pope, then transferred to the power of the bishops and then the power of all … popular sovereignty and naturally they saw this as the part to be approved, to promulgate, to help.

    “We know that this council of the media was accessible to all. So, dominant and more efficient, this council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery. In reality, seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy was trivialized … and the true council has struggled to materialize, to be realized.

    “[The real Council] has slowly emerged and is becoming the real power which is also true reform, true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that 50 years after the Council, we see how this virtual council is breaking down, getting lost and the true council is emerging with all its spiritual strength. And it is our task to work so that the true Council with the power of the Holy Spirit is realized and the Church is really renewed.”


  21. Tantum Ergo says:

    “That’s one way to do things. If it doesn’t work, force it.”

    That reminds me of a saying when I had a blue-collar job: “Don’t force it, get a bigger hammer!”

  22. Lurker 59 says:

    @James C

    There is a problem with the text from B16 in that it implies that the bishops, seminary directors, those in cloistered convents, etc., were the ones watching the TV and following the media’s interpretation. They were not, but rather following the experts and what those who were there were instructing them to do. Sure, there is the Council and then there is the Spirit of the Council and then there is how it was actually implemented. And, yes, there is the media spin, but it is only an accentuating of what was done, not something independent.

    “In reality, seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy was trivialized … ” That is not the fault of the media, that is the fault of bishops, priests, and experts. They did that all willingly because of their chosen reforms. They might not have known, but they did it.

    The Hidden Council argument is a buttress to the Hermeneutic of Continuity, but the HoC has been sundered as an unworkable hypothesis with B16’s abdication. I don’t know if you can get back to those positions even if all of the past 9 years are anathematized. A new way forward must be undertaken….it might just very well be the younger generations just walking away from everything to do with the Council, all sides, and doing their own thing. It has happened before. That might be Fr. Z’s traditionalist/charismatic hybrids.

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  24. Johann says:

    For a Pope who claims “who am I to judge?” Francis seems to have no problem heaping judgment and denunciation on this strawman caricature of Traditional Catholics he has erected in his mind.

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  26. Legisperitus says:

    You can’t make a plastic tree take root… in 40 years, 100 years, or 1,000 years. The green shoots will keep growing up from the living roots and you won’t prevent them forever.

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