MUST READ! Why do heretics remain in the Church instead of just being honest and getting out?

At Crisis there is a MUST READ piece by Jennifer Bryson

Why Do Heretics Remain in the Church?
The counterfactual optimism of heretics keeps them in the Church while working to destroy it.

A perennial question. She breaks it down with the help of Fr. Joseph Ratzinger who developed three hypotheses in the 1970s about why heretics and destroyers stayed in the Church instead of breaking off in some way. He made distinction between hope and optimism. What was going on back then, by the way, is still going on now. So Ratzinger’s examination of the destruction of the Church’s institutions and teachings still applies. However, Ratzinger was at the time in correspondence with someone who also had an idea about why the destroyers didn’t leave, and it also rings true. The example they were working with what Holland, now nearly completely devastated.

The gentlemen in Holland are surely clever enough to know that, officially detached, they would sink into the abyss of uninteresting insignificance, whereas this way, they, of course, go on and on playing a splendid sensational role and yet, at the same time, do what suits them.

Germany to Holland: Hold my beer!

This piece is short and it is a must read.

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  1. Dave P. says:

    I don’t know if this applies to the Dutch and Belgian Churches, but the German bishops don’t have to rely on the faithful withholding money from them. They get their funds directly from the government, and can spend it as they please without answering to anyone.

  2. Brian J. Wilson says:

    My brother works at a Catholic girls’ high school which is affiliated with the Sisters of the (Holy) Humility of Mary . . . the “Blue Nuns”. They are generally wacky. My brother contends that they remain within the Church because “if they left, they would loose access to the Xerox machine.” Exactly. They have no intention of “walking with” the Church, but they have been spoiled by all the tools they have readily at hand, which further their real goals, which are not necessarily those of the Church.

  3. PNF says:

    The reason is because they [the Freemasons] are interested in DESTROYING the Church. Their plan all along has been to infiltrate the hierarchy and invert the teachings of the Church. Read the Alta Vendita.

  4. Grabski says:

    Easy: they want to take the assets

  5. jaykay says:

    Ubi solitudinem faciunt renovationem appellant…

    to slightly misquote Tacitus.

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    The optimism explained in Ratzinger’s thesis started life as the liberalism of Eighteen-century Protestantism, with the Principle of Private Judgment, with its emphasis on private determination, but with the rise of Modernism in the latter part of that century and its emphasis on progress via an evolutionary process, the focus shifted to a unstated desire to control that evolutionary process in the 1950’s. Private judgment gave way to private control, using whatever means necessary. Thus, Ratzinger’s third hypothesis evolves (no pun intended) into his second hypothesis. One may argue that it was mass communication that enabled this change, since one cannot control a society if one cannot communicate with them. This unites Ratzinger’s hypotheses with Görres’s hypothesis of relevance and ego.

    What is the antidote to all of this? Humility, plain and simple.

    The Chicken

  7. robtbrown says:


    The Masons have been around for hundreds of years and were not successful. What is different now?

  8. JustaSinner says:

    Of whom does the Roman Catholic Church belong to?

  9. summorumpontificum777 says:

    To us on the conservative/traditionalist side, it’s inexplicable that the so-called progressives’ believe that the answer to the crises in the Catholic Church is to remake the religion in the image of liberal protestantism. Liberal protestantism isn’t even working for liberal protestants, as their denominations spiral downward into utter irrelevance, so it’s truly insane to think it’s going to work for us. And yet that’s the bill of goods that the Germans and Cardinals Cupich, McElroy and Hollerich are trying to sell us. Nonetheless, the so-called progressives have a narrative to explain everything: a new liberal Catholic Church would have succeeded where liberal protestantism failed and would likely be thriving by now but for (1) the revanchist papacies of JP2 and B16; and (2) a Latin Mass subculture within the priesthood and laity that is holding the Church back. This isn’t a reality-based narrative, but, by gosh, they’re sticking to it, hell or high water.

  10. Not says:

    I have a secular example. My best friend worked for a major company creating cutting edge technology many years ago. All were highly educated. They started to notice that the new hires were not up to snuff as they say. So bad that the company decided to fire the head of Human Resources. When confronted he revealed that he did not have the education like the others in the Company, so he DELIBERATELY, did not hire the best people.

  11. Sandy says:

    This is parallel to a story in “Ungodly Rage” by Steichen (I think I have that right, from memory). It’s what a liberal wayward nun said when asked why they don’t leave the Church – they want to change it into their image!

  12. Midwest St. Michael says:

    You are correct, Sandy. Mrs. Steichen wrote Ungodly Rage.

  13. JonPatrick says:

    I think part of the reason for the optimism is our modern concept of Progress – the saying we often see with ongoing projects is “temporary inconvenience, permanent improvement”. At one time we had more faith in our institutions and actually though the new thing would be better, so we were willing to put up with the chaos that accompanies change. Now older and more jaded we realize through experience that the new thing will be uglier, more cheaply made and likely to break soon after it is opened. Back in the 1970s people still had faith in the Church so put up with the changes. Now we know better but we have lost control, so those who are pushing for “progress” seem to be unstoppable. At this point I think only divine intervention can stop it.

  14. sjoseph371 says:

    Ratzinger is spot on . . .I had wondered the same thing myself that if they hated the Church so much, they could just leave and find a church that aligns with their beliefs. Then it dawned on me – if they did that, they would not get the attention of being the “maverick” that they are and lose out on all the fame & attention that goes with it. I mean, what’s so attention getting about another Protestant saying how bad the Catholic Church is?

  15. Imrahil says:

    Note that the later Pope Benedict thinks his 2nd hypothesis is a hypothesis, it could be. I quite agree to that; it could be that there are those malevolent people who make use of the others.

    I don’t think there are many of them.

    Now, what is the reason?

    My theory is of course only that, but here it is: If I were American, I would describe it as the fact that we are suffering from the European sickness. (In a nerdy mood, I’d call it morbus Europaeus.)

    Not to be misunderstand, it is a common complaint of orthodox people, including European orthodox people, to say: “Why don’t they just leave and choose a Church they align with”. But while conversions (and the thing theology calls “perversions”, i.e., away from Truth) are “a thing” everywhere, and are how the Church originally spread, there’s always something extraordinary, even miraculous about them. There is only one country in the world where “finding out what you believe and then inscribing into a Church or community that believes the same thing” has the feeling of being the normal thing to do, and that country is the United States of America.

    Europe really has imbibed the Catholic truth that there is only one Church and it teaches all the truth. (It’s what the Founding Fathers, at least the Mayflower-type founding fathers, the Virginian Founding Fathers perhaps less so, fled from, actually.) Now this is true as far as it goes, but it leads to problems whenever disagreements arise which one is it and what is the truth. The thing to do seems to have been to enforce uniformity societally (or penally), with the option of emigration.

    To digress a bit, the peculiar German problem is probably the fact that it always remained one nation, somehow, but one in which both Catholics and Protestants held sway over very roughly one-half of the population (with the Catholic element predominating until Austria was bullied out of Germany by the Prussians). Hence, ecumenism, which at least to a German seems to be the German desire to present one faith for one nation. (The fact that some of those Protestants are Calvinists and some Lutherans, which as far as I know would be a big deal in America, is of zero relevance here. The majority in fact are “unified”, which approximately means they don’t know themselves whether they’re Calvinists or Lutherans.) That is why ecumenism means (to a German) the relationship between the Catholic Church and Mainstream Protestantism and has rather nothing to do with Pentecostalism or Eastern Orthodoxy and only very little with Evangelicalism.

    Coming back to the topic, there are those who find themselves as part of what they (despite, due to a deeply rooted aversion against appearing fanatical, not using words to the effect) believe to be the True Church; which just happens to be the Catholic Church they have mostly been baptized into as children. If they didn’t feel it, somehow, to be the True Church, why be a member there? And there really is a sacramental bond, after all.

    At the same time though, they also happen to agree with the beliefs of mainstream society on a lot (or possibly all) topics in which that contradicts the Church’s: maybe in some cases because they really have pondered the reasons and reached a wrong conclusion, in others because they simply don’t think about either the Church’s or the World’s opinion and just drift subconsciously to the latter.

    Anyway: they are at the position of thinking: “I am part of the True Church, but she teaches untruth.” The consequence they draw is in itself logical; if such a thing were possible and if they were right on the facts, then the thing to do really would be to stay in it and try to change it.

    (On a less than dogmatic level, precisely that is something we also do, after all. Only we are right about it, and our disagreements with the holders of the Magisterium is on issues not actually magisterial or at least not dogmatically so.)

    And that’s why they don’t leave the Church.

    Or, to put it this way: Courtesy and the cameraderie of enemies fighting each other require that the Church cannot expect her enemies to excommunicate themselves. They do the enemy-ing; she must do the excommuncating.

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