Thursday, August 28, 2014

Traditionalists and Schism

I have written here more than once that I am fearful that there is a great schism building up in the Catholic Church.  I feel it is coming from the traditionalist movement.  I make my judgment not as one looking in from the outside, but as one who was very much on the inside of this movement and deeply in agreement with it at one time.  Sadly, everything I hear and read is only confirming my worst fears.

I have been chastised by one traditionalist who says I don't know the meaning of the word schism and therefore I shouldn't be making such rash statements. The Catholic encyclopedia gives us this definition of schism [HERE for the full article]
Schism (from the Greek schisma, rent, division) is, in the language of theology and canon law, the rupture of ecclesiastical union and unity, i.e. either the act by which one of the faithful severs as far as in him lies the ties which bind him to the social organization of the Church and make him a member of the mystical body of Christ, or the state of dissociation or separation which is the result of that act.
The article further states while schism and heresy are two separate matters, one will ultimately lead to the other.
This distinction was drawn by St. Jerome and St. Augustine. "Between heresy and schism", explains St. Jerome, "there is this difference, that heresy perverts dogma, while schism, by rebellion against the bishop, separates from the Church. Nevertheless there is no schism which does not trump up a heresy to justify its departure from the Church (In Ep. ad Tit., iii, 10).
And St. Augustine: "By false doctrines concerning God heretics wound faith, by iniquitous dissensions schismatics deviate from fraternal charity, although they believe what we believe" (On Faith and the Creed). But as St. Jerome remarks, practically and historically, heresy and schism nearly always go hand in hand; schism leads almost invariably to denial of the papal primacy.
The article also says that disobedience alone does not constitute schism.  An essential element of schism is rebellion against and rejection of Church authority:
However, not every disobedience is a schism; in order to possess this character it must include besides the transgression of the commands of superiors, denial of their Divine right to command.
We can continue to identify as Christian and yet still be in a state of schism:
Anyone becomes a schismatic who, though desiring to remain a Christian, rebels against legitimate authority, without going as far as the rejection of Christianity as a whole, which constitutes the crime of apostasy.
The article explains that at one time rebellion against the local bishop constituted schism. This definition has somewhat changed. Rebellion against the local bishop is a serious step towards schism. However, schism is now specifically defined as rebellion against the Holy See:
Now through the centralizing evolution which emphasizes the preponderant role of the sovereign pontiff in the constitution of ecclesiastical unity, the mere fact of rebelling against the bishop of the diocese is often a step toward schism; it is not a schism in him who remains, or claims to remain, subject to the Holy See.
It is for this reason that the Society of St. Pius X is not considered formally schismatic, even though they are not in communion with the Church. The Society states that they still recognize the authority of the Holy Father. They are dangerously close to schism, however, as the head of the SSPX, Bishop Fellay, has called Pope Francis a modernist, and says that while they do still recognize his authority at this time, that may change in the future.

The penalties for schism are severe:
These are: excommunication incurred ipso facto and reserved to the sovereign pontiff (cf. "Apostolicæ Sedis", I, 3); this is followed by the loss of all ordinary jurisdiction and incapacity to receive any ecclesiastical benefices or dignities whatsoever. To communicate in sacris with schismatics, e.g., to receive the sacraments at the hands of their ministers, to assist at Divine Offices in their temples, is strictly forbidden to the faithful.
St. Cyprian explains that leaving the Church amounts to leaving Christ.  If we do not remain under the authority of the Church, we are not under Christ's authority, and are gravely endangering our salvation.
St. Cyprian:  "The spouse of Christ is chaste and incorruptible. Whoever leaves the Church to follow an adulteress renounces the promises of the Church. He that abandons the Church of Christ will not receive the rewards of Christ. He becomes a stranger, an ungodly man, an enemy. God cannot be a Father to him to whom the Church is not a mother. As well might one be saved out of the ark of Noah as out of the Church. . . . He who does not respect its unity will not respect the law of God; he is without faith in the Father and the Son, without life, without salvation"
As other saints have said, where Peter is, there is the church. Therefore, to reject Peter is to reject the Church. And as we have seen, to reject the Church is to reject Christ. Hence, to reject Peter is also to reject Christ:
St. Ambrose: "Where Peter is, there is the Church; where the Church is there is no death but eternal life"
St. Jerome: "That man is my choice who remains in union with the chair of Peter"
St. Jerome:  "I who follow no guide save Christ am in communion with Your Holiness, that is with the chair of Peter. I know that on this rock the Church is built. Whosoever partakes of the Lamb outside this house commits a sacrilege. Whosoever does not gather with you, scatters: in other words whosoever is not with Christ is with Antichrist"
Last week I linked to a post by Mark Shea in which he reproduced Karl Keating's response to an article in The Remnant Newspaper [HERE] which tried to prove that Pope Benedict XVI abdicated from only the administrative portion of the papacy and still retains his infallible authority, thus abrogating the authority of Pope Francis.  In effect, this means that Pope Benedict XVI is still pope and, therefore, we don't have to listen to anything Pope Francis says.  As Karl Keating wrote "Their antipathy to that pope is leading them into theological nonsense, and it will lead some of their readers, and perhaps some of them, into further error.

Recently, - a true bomb thrower of a website - had as its main headline "Verrecchio: Emeritus Was Pushed". You can read the article HERE if you really want to. Louis Verrecchio is another bomb throwing traditionalist who is constantly attacking the hierarchy of the Church. He saves his harshest invective for Pope Francis. Verrecchio cited a recent news story in which Benedict XVI gave an hour and a half homily at a conference. It was reported that he stood the entire time even though a chair was available. As one participant said, "It was extraordinary. As always, it amazed us that in spite of age, and without a prepared text, the Pope (emeritus) gave a homily at a great level, with an extraordinary clarity of mind for his age."

Verrecchio then gave us a quote from the Pope's 2013 statement of intent to abdicate.  It includes in part:
[I]n order to govern the bark [sic] of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
According to Verrecchio, considering Pope Benedict's latest appearance in which he appeared to be in good health, statements about his physical weakness couldn't possibly be true.  Therefore, there is only one explanation for the Pope Benedict's abdication of the papacy:
Does anyone other than the willfully deluded and painfully ignorant still honestly believe that Benedict XVI wasn’t forced from office by a substantial threat either real or imagined?
Pope Francis
Verrecchio then goes on to tell us, with no proof whatsoever, that Cardinal Bergoglio was preselected "well before the doors [to the conclave] were even locked." This implies, of course, that Pope Francis's papacy is illegitimate and invalid and that Benedict XVI remains our true pope. 

The Remnant Newspaper, Louie Verrecchio and many other traditionalists are pushing the idea of schism fast and furious. It is hard to find a traditionalist website or blog that does not contain harsh and unrelenting criticism of Pope Francis, questioning his every move and every word, and trying to characterize the Holy Father as a heretic against the faith. These are not the actions of loyal Catholics but of those who are bordering on or are actually in a state of schism.

It should be noted that Verrecchio is scheduled to speak at a "Catholic Identity Conference" in September. The other main speakers are:
  • Dr. John Rao 
  • Michael Matt of The Remnant
  • John Vennari of Catholic Family News
  • Christopher Ferrara 
  • James Vogel from Angelus Press (publishing arm of the SSPX)
  • Kenneth Wolfe of Rorate Caeli 
  • Michael Brendan Doughtery from The American Conservative
All of these speakers are hard core traditionalists. They all disavow the validity of Vatican II to one extent or another, and by extension, the reject the "post Vatican II" church, as they define it. They all see the Traditional Latin Mass as the only valid Mass. They all are in basic disagreement with Pope Francis in almost everything he says and does.

These men are also highly educated, intelligent and successful at their chosen careers. They have studied intensely into church history, especially Dr. Rao, who teaches history at St. John's University. I spent 7 years in the traditionalist movement, and I can attest that the majority who call themselves traditionalists are educated, intelligent, intellectual, well-read and eloquent in defense of what they believe. And therein, I believe, lies their downfall.

I am not saying that there is anything wrong with education and knowledge. These things are very important. But what good is it if the end result is that you think you are more knowledgeable and more Catholic than Church hierarchy, and most especially that you are more Catholic than our Holy Father? What good is your intellectual ability if all it does is lead you to question and doubt everything the Church says?

In Jesus' time, the most educated of Jewish society were the Pharisees. And what was the only group of people condemned by Our Lord? The Pharisees. As Our Lord told the Pharisees in Matthew 21:31 - "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you."

What was the great sin of the Pharisees? It was a combination of pride in themselves and envy of Jesus Christ. They were angry that the people were accepting Our Lord's authority instead of theirs. And they were very proud of their "spirituality", looking down on others. And they did look good on the outside, doing all of the right things. But as Our Lord told them, "You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean." (Matt. 23:27).

As I have shown in the statements from the Catholic encyclopedia on schism, we can actually believe everything the church teaches but still be in a state of schism if we do not accept the authority of the Pope.

When someone like Remnant Newspaper or Louis Verrecchio comes along and tries to confuse and throw doubt into our minds about the validity of the Pope, how should we respond? How can we be sure of who the Pope is?

It all comes down to who and what we really believe. Our Lord told us that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church. He said that the Holy Spirit will never cease to guide His Church. We have the sure promise of apostolic succession. This is not something that needs our approval. It is as sure as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.

It is not up to us to make sure the Church conforms to our beliefs. It is up to us to conform to Holy Mother Church. However, many traditionalists such as Louis Verrecchio are so convinced of their own rightness and "infallibility", that they feel they can stand in judgment on Church authority, basically telling Church authority where they are wrong. And that is the big mistake traditionalists are making, and which may end up destroying them.

In the Divine Office from Wednesday, there was a reading from the Book of Jeremiah which I found to be apropos to this subject. This passage, from Jeremiah 2:1-13, 20-25, concerns ancient Israel's rejection of God. But it can apply to any of us, and we need to take note.

The passage starts out with a remembrance of the time when Israel was still very devoted to God, following Him as He freed them from the slavery of Egypt and brought them into the promised land:
Remember the devotion of your youth,
how you loved me as a bride,
Following me in the desert,
in a land unsown.
Sacred to the Lord was Israel,
the first fruits of his harvest;
Should anyone presume to partake of them,
evil would befall him, says the Lord.
Listen to the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob!
All you clans of the house of Israel.
But as Israel was following God in the wilderness, they started questioning and rebelling, thinking they knew a better way:
Thus says the Lord:
What fault did your fathers find in me
that they withdrew from me,
Went after empty idols,
and became empty themselves?
They did not ask, “Where is the Lord
who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
Who led us through the desert,
through a land of wastes and gullies,
Through a land of drought and darkness,
through a land which no one crosses,
where no man dwells?”
An "empty idol" is anything we worship other than God. What "empty idol" do traditionalists worship? As I have shown above, they trust in their own reasoning. They believe they know the direction the Church should be taking, and anyone who disagrees with them - even if that person is the Holy Father - is wrong and must be destroyed. They are no longer looking to the Mystical Body of Christ for answers because they have all the answers.  That is the worst idol of all.
When I brought you into the garden land
to eat its goodly fruits,
You entered and defiled my land,
you made my heritage loathsome.
The priests asked not,
“Where is the Lord?”
Those who dealt with the law knew me not:
the shepherds rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
and went after useless idols.
Where Peter is, there is the Church. When we rebel against Peter, we are rebelling against the Church. And when we rebel against Holy Mother Church, we are rebelling against the Lord.
Therefore will I yet accuse you, says the Lord,
and even your children’s children I will accuse.
Pass over to the coast of the Kittim and see,
send to Kedar and carefully inquire:
Where has the like of this been done?
Does any other nation change its gods?—
yet they are not gods at all!
But my people have changed their glory
for useless things.
The Traditionalists argue that all they are doing is trying to uphold the sacred traditions of the Church. But they fail to see the great distinction between traditional practices and traditional beliefs. Practices have changed throughout the life of the church.  As just one example, we have seen practices changed in regard to the amount of required time to fast before the reception of communion, or in how frequently the faithful should be allowed to receive communion.  The way in which we do things is always subject to change.  What is unchanging is our core beliefs.  That has never changed and will never change.
Be amazed at this, O heavens,
and shudder with sheer horror, says the Lord.
Two evils have my people done:
they have forsaken me, the source of living waters;
They have dug themselves cisterns,
broken cisterns, that hold no water.
When our Lord promised that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church, and when He sent the Holy Spirit as our guide and comforter, we were given a sure promise that no matter how badly things may look, the Catholic Church will always be the Mystical Body of Christ.  No matter how the sea may rage and the barque of Peter may be tossed to and fro, the Church will never cease to be the beacon of light in a dark world.  Yet, how many have instead turned to their own understanding and sat in condemnation of this beautiful gift given to us directly by Our Lord?  Does Our Lord now look at us and say, "O ye of little faith"?
Long ago you broke your yoke,
you tore off your bonds.
“I will not serve,” you said.
On every high hill, under every green tree,
you gave yourself to harlotry.
I had planted you, a choice vine
of fully tested stock;
How could you turn out obnoxious to me,
a spurious vine?
Though you scour it with soap,
and use much lye,
The stain of your guilt is still before me,
says the Lord God.
How can you say, “I am not defiled,
I have not gone after the Baals”?
Consider your conduct in the Valley,
recall what you have done:
A frenzied she-camel, coursing near and far,
breaking away toward the desert,
Snuffing the wind in her ardor—
who can restrain her lust?
No beasts need tire themselves seeking her;
in her month they will meet her.
Stop wearing out your shoes
and parching your throat!
But you say, “No use! no!
I love these strangers,
and after them I must go.”
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis (and he is the Holy Father, despite the malicious and hateful accusations of people like Verrecchio), gave a homily a couple of days ago in which he said, "In a Christian community division is one of the most serious sins, because it does not allow God to act”.  According to an article from Catholic News Agency [HERE]:
Addressing the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Roman Pontiff explained that as Catholics “we affirm in the Creed that the Church is one and that she is holy.”
“One because she has her origin in the Triune God, mystery of unity and full communion. Holy since she is founded by Jesus Christ, enlivened by his Holy Spirit, and filled with his love and salvation.”
We continue to refer to the Church as “one” and “holy” despite the fact that “we know by experience that it is also composed of sinners and that there is no shortage of divisions,” he said, recalling how the night before he was arrested Jesus “asked for the unity of his disciples: ‘that all be one.’”
“We trust in his desire that unity will be one of the characteristic features of our community,” the Pope continued, noting that “While we, the members of the Church, are sinners, the unity and holiness of the Church arise from God and call us daily to conversion.”
Division is never a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Accusations and division are a sure sign of the work of the devil.

Continuing from the article:
“Sins against unity are not only schisms,” he said, “but also the most common weeds of our communities: envies, jealousies, antipathies...talking bad about others. This is human, but it is not Christian.”
These sins “which occur even in our parish communities,” Pope Francis continued, “come about when we place ourselves at the center.”
This last statement of the Holy Father, that these "sins against unity are not only schisms but the common weeds of our communities" and they occur "when we place ourselves at the center", basically summarizes everything I have been trying to say in this post.

Our Lord told us that we must become as little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  We are told in one of my favorite verses of the Bible, and which I quote frequently, that Our Lord says, "But to this man will I look: even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word." (Isaiah 66:2)  Our Lord is not impressed by how educated we are or even how articulate we are in expressing our faith.  The only criteria He uses in judging us is how much we trust Him and how much we love one another.  Do we believe Him when He says that He will never leave or forsake us?

From Pope Francis' homily:
Explaining how “It's the devil who separates, destroys relationships, sows prejudices,” the Pope affirmed that “the holiness of the Church” is “to recognize the image of God in one another.”
“The holiness of the Church consists of this: reproducing the image of God, rich in mercy and grace.”
Our Lord told us in John 15:5-6, "I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in Me and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without Me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." To abide in Christ is to abide in His Church, which we see personified in the Holy Father. 
As St. Cyprian warned:
God cannot be a Father to him to whom the Church is not a mother. As well might one be saved out of the ark of Noah as out of the Church. . . . He who does not respect its unity will not respect the law of God; he is without faith in the Father and the Son, without life, without salvation."


  1. Replies
    1. Jackie - you actually read this entire tome? Thank you so much. You are the first and you may be the last to agree with me.

    2. Nope - I agree with you as well - I came across the poster for the Identity conference and was going to post it - it was too late to do a post when I found it - so - I will do it today and link back to you. My very first thought was that they are heading towards schism/sedevacantism.

    3. I truly wish that we were wrong, but I don't see how those who call themselves Catholic can be in such great opposition to Church hierarchy and not be in schism. I think we will see things happening this Fall with the Synod if it doesn't go the way people want it to.

  2. I too am very concerned about the schismatic trend from the "traditionalist" movement.
    I believe that more than a few faithful Catholics are aware of the error of extreme rebellion against our Bishops and Priest. I wish more of us were as out-spoken as the traditionalist.
    That quote from St. Cyprian "God cannot be a Father to him to whom the Church is not a mother" is going to be my new catch-phrase.
    I also am concerned on what we will see after the Synod on the Family.

    1. Another big factor to look for is the closing of Holy Innocents Church in Manhattan, which will be announced in the next couple of weeks. This will be a flash point for traditionalists around the world.

    2. I partially agree with you. There is a certain feeling that schism is inevitable. However those with genuine concerns do feel pushed towards schism by many in the Church.

      The closure of the Holy Innocents Church is, as you say in America, flipping the bird to traditional Catholics in New York. It certainly isn't the act of a Bishop concerned with unity.

    3. Flipping the bird? I am assuming you are not personally acquainted with the situation in New York and only know what you have been reading on the Internet.

      Holy Innocents is not the only church in the NY Archdiocese that is threatened with closure. The Archdiocese is paying $40 million a year to keep churches opened. At the same time, church attendance is way down. Out of 2.5 million Catholics in the Archdiocese, only about 800,000 attend Mass regularly. It is not a decision anyone likes, and many feel is wrong, but the Archdiocese has decided to close and consolidate churches. St. John the Baptist, only a few blocks from Holy Innocents, averages 500 people attending Mass every day. They are on the hit list. There is another church in Westchester, also called St. John the Baptist, that has 700 families on its membership rolls that is threatened with closure.

      In contrast, Holy Innocents averages about 150 people every day who attend Mass there, despite being in one of the most populated areas of the City. On Sundays and Holy Days, it is less than 300. Yes, they are financially solvent and have no debt. And yes, they did spend several hundred thousand dollars in renovations in the Church. But the physical building itself still needs a lot more work. St. Francis Xavier Church spent $13 million renovating their church. I dare say it would take millions of dollars to renovate HI if it was to be done correctly.

      As I said, I do fear that closing Holy Innocents will lead to outright rebellion among traditionalists. But for most mainstream Catholics - the vast, vast majority - it will be no different than any other church closing.

      It also concerns me that you say "schism is inevitable." Why should that be? No matter what happens, why would any Catholic want to leave Holy Mother Church? Separating from the Church, as I said in my posts, is separating from Our Lord. And there is only one alternative when you leave Jesus Christ.

  3. Saint John the Baptist, Manhattan and Holy Innocents are targeted for liquidation because, unlike Saint Francis of Assisi, their air rights remain unsold. Several (unfortunately I do not have statistics) churches in Manhattan have already sold air rights over the past two and a half decades effectively making the properties worthless to developers as they could only build as high as the current building. Holy Innocents is additionally targeted because it has become a center for the Traditional Mass and there is a contempt for the Mass and what it represents (the so-called "pre-Vatican II church") in many well placed corners of the Archdiocesan bureaucracy. This is not conjecture; I have heard these sentiments directly (and very indelicately) from many in positions of church authority. The lay Faithful of Holy Innocents (of which I am, at best, a part-time member) are exercising their rights as American citizens and as apostolic Catholics to address the unjust closure process (which, in fact, is contrary to many prescriptions of canon law).

    I have also seen many Catholics leave the practice of the Faith because their old neighborhood church was closed down. Have they separated themselves from Our Lord because they are fed up fallible men? Are they on the road to eternal perdition?

    You post, though circuitous, raises valid points of concern regarding the direction of the traditionalist movement. A good grounding in some fundamental psychology and sociology will help in contextualizing many of the more virulent strands (the state of their souls is not our provenance). Minimizing exposure to fundamentalist traditionalist is good but only part of the solution. Maximizing good apostolic work, under appropriate direction, is crucial.

    Is the world madder than in any other historical epoch? Is the "institutional" Church laboring under an unprecedented malady? Those are questions for meditation. But, to paraphrase Chesterton, I can answer those questions in the affirmative because into this particular age and no other that I was born.

    1. I appreciate the fact that you did not attack me personally in this comment, so I will answer the facts that you raise.

      You claim to somehow have inside knowledge of the "real reason' for wanting to close Holy Innocents. If that is the case, then you also know the Archdiocese is bleeding money. They are spending $40 million every year to sustain parishes. You also know that Holy Innocents has a low attendance rate. Yes, it's much higher than it use to be because you have traditionalists coming in from all over New York City and the surrounding area for the TLM. However, looking at the actual numbers instead of statistics tells the real story. While going from 100 people to 250 people on a Sunday may be high from a percentage point of view, it is still a very low number. The closing of Holy Innocents will actually affect a few hundred people at most, and even among these few people, it will not deprive them of their home parish. Holy Innocents is a commuter Church. There are very few, if any, who can actually call Holy Innocents their home parish because it is in a business area, not a residential area.

      Even as a commuter parish, Holy Innocents has much lower numbers than most other parishes in the city. I work next to another commuter parish in the downtown area which has 6 daily masses, and offers 15 masses on the holydays. They offer confession at three separate times every day. Further, it is the only Catholic Church in its area so it serves a very important need. One of the reasons Holy Innocents does not have the numbers is because it competes with so many other churches just a few blocks away.

      The downtown church also has benefactors who are able to support all the renovations and repairs that are needed to keep the building in excellent condition. As an example, a benefactor recently paid to have all of the pews and kneelers completely renovated, along with replacing the costly lights in the Church. As stated in my previous comment, even though Holy Innocents is free of debt at this time, it it still in need of major renovations and repairs which are not economically feasible.

    2. To continue, yes, I am sure that the money that can be made from selling Holy Innocents Church is a factor in closing it. But to say that it is the main factor is clearly untrue when one looks at the whole picture. I am not arguing in favor of closing Holy Innocents. I think it is a tragic situation to close any church. But focusing in on only one or two factors when so much more is involved in clearly biased.

      You also write that you "heard" those in the Archdicoese say that the Latin Mass is representative of the "Pre Vatican II" Church. Such evidence would never be accepted in a court of law because it is hearsay and cannot be proven. However, we are not in a court of law so I will not contest its veracity. But the truth is, although those who attend the Latin Mass are very loud and vocal, as I stated, they represent a very small minority of Catholics. Traditionalists have deluded themselves into thinking that they are the only "true" Church and everyone who doesn't agree with them is a part of the great false church that is only masquerading as the Catholic Church.

      Pope Benedict XVI gave us Summorum Pontificum so that those who are still devoted to the TLM can continue to celebrate it because it truly is a beautiful and valid Mass. But the TLM is a product of the influence of Europe. The European culture is dying, and the European culture in the Church is dying with it. The future of the Church is in Africa, South America and Asia. The western church is shrinking, but the Catholic population in non-western countries is exploding. When Pope Paul VI instituted the New Mass, he did so with the guidance of the Holy Spirit because the New Mass will better serve the growing and dominating influence of the non-European church. That is the real future of the Catholic Church.

      I know you and the others at Holy Innocents with help from sources like Rorate Caelii and Father Z will do everything you can to make the closing of Holy Innocents an international incident. The only result you will get from this is schism.

      Do you really want to stand before Our Lord and try to explain that?

  4. Recently I was watching a Spanish language new program produced in Mexico which is broadcast nationally in both the United States and Mexico. Much to my surprise there was what I thought a local story (a bus incident in Manhattan) receiving international attention!

    Holy Innocents under a recent previous pastorate was run in a very similar manner to Our Lady of Victory. There are several factors involved in the gradual truncating of both schedule and staff. The building of Holy Innocents is about eighty years older than Our Lady of Victory. There are major capital projects needed but nothing unreasonable especially if there is a plan in hand. (I will concede that O. L of Victory has more well-heeled donors in its immediate grasp but that's because Cardinal Spellman planned it that way!)

    There are some ethnic churches in the Archdiocese that have a smaller population and less activities and are not being recommended for closure.Many of these ethnic churches draw from outside the boundaries of the Archdiocese for their attendance.

    And as an ethnic Latin American I am offended by the patronizing comment about the "Third World" church's inability to be conversant in liturgy.

    1. First of all, may I say thank you again for holding off with the ad hominen attacks. I knew you were better than that.

      Regarding your last comment first, you know very well that I am NOT saying that "third word" countries are unable to understand liturgy. You are actually showing a strong bias because when you say "liturgy", you mean only one thing - the Latin Mass. I am talking about culture. The beauty of the Ordinary Form of the Mass - and I believe the reason it was created - was to allow people to bring the good aspects of their own culture into the Mass, as opposed to being strictly European. I have been to Latino Masses with the guitars and exuberant music and their vocal praise of God. An African missionary told me about African Masses which can go for 2 hours filled with their music and culture, and the churches are packed. This is exactly the goal of Vatican II and the Mass of Pope Paul VI, and I have no doubt that this is very pleasing to Our Lord. He is a God of great variety - you only need to look at His creation to see that.

      Holy Innocents has been on a deliberate campaign to bring your story to wordwide attention by going to the US newspaper of record - The NY Times - ensuring that it would be picked up by other media. You have gone to Voice of America, a government sponsored media. You have gone to Fox News to a "Catholic" bomb throwing columnist who has shown such extreme bias against Pope Francis in the past that he was fired from Catholic News Service. And you have friends in high places in the traditionalist world such as Father Z, who backs you up no matter what. And that is only some of the avenues you have sought. There are many others. And may I add, you have been very successful in demonizing Cardinal Dolan and unifying traditionalists everywhere against him. However, I think this is going to hurt you badly in many different ways.

      You "blame" Cardinal Spellman because Our Lady of Victory is more successful than Holy Innocents? Would it have been better to just leave Wall Street without a Catholic Church? I thank God every day that I walk into OLOV that Cardinal Spellman put it there. A major reason that OLOV is so successful is because it it not just targeting one small minority in the Catholic Church, as HI is doing with traditionalists. By putting the emphasis on the TLM, you are alienating the vast majority of Catholics who have no interest in it.

      I'm sure ethnic churches draw from outside their own area for those who attend. However, I am also sure they have a greater number than 300 people attending as well. Again, you are hurting yourself by targeting such a small minority in the Catholic Church. Although ethnic churches also target minorities, they are based on culture, and that always attracts more people. The TLM is just based on preference, and that is why you have such small numbers.

  5. Serious question: Does the name Jungmann mean anything to you?

    1. That's it. You're done. If you have anymore to say, do it on your own blog. All of your future comments here will be deleted.

  6. The correct answer was Father Josef Andreas Jungmann, SJ. leading twentieth-century liturgical scholar, who wrote the definitive history of the Roman Mass!


    1. I apologize, but your comments on the last post are still in my mind and I was feeling very defensive. The name sounded very much like Carl Jung, and I was sure that Jungmann must be some sort of figure in the field on psychoanalysis and you were again telling me that I needed professional help.

      So I am showing my ignorance here, which you can exploit if you would like. I see that Josef Jungmann, a Jesuit priest, was a peritus at Vatican II who was involved in the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy. His two volume work can be downloaded online, but it is almost 1000 pages, daunting to say the least. I did find this quote from him:

      "In the liturgy of the Church there is deposited a mighty potential for human guidance, the Christian orientation of life and for the mastering of life; but it is a potential which up till now has been only partially utilized. . . . The liturgy has been an affair for the priest, and the faithful felt it as their prime duty to assist at Mass on Sundays until everything had been completed conscientiously. In this way the minimum conditions of a Christian way of life were assured. . . . But a mere trickle ran where a mighty stream should have been flowing.”

      This kind of statement would seem to put him at odds with traditionalists, yet that does not seem to be the case. Maybe you could explain from a traditionalist point of view?

    2. Any Trad worth his salt would agree wholeheartedly with that valid sociological critique of the liturgical state of affairs of that time. Indeed, that very same complaint is true in the Ordinary Form to this day! .

    3. Yes, sadly that is true. I remember watching a video in which s priest was explaining the meaning of the Mass (Ordinary Form) step by step. He said that the hope of every priest is that sometime before he dies that just once he would have a church full of people who actually understand what is happening during Mass. This has been true for the entirety of Church history.

      And yes, I agree that most trads do have a deeper understanding of the Mass than the ordinary Catholic. Unfortunately, this has led for feelings of superiority and self righteousness and elitism. Therein lies the danger.

  7. I see another possible schism in Europe, when the synod on the family fails to change the Church's teaching on marriage. Maybe not a formal schism, but widespread disobedience in Germany, Austria and probably parts of North America. Both sides fighting against the center. Sad

    1. I think you are absolutely right on this, unfortunately. I think just as there was tremendous rebellion in the Church when Pope Paul VI released Humanae Vitae, it will be the same with the Synod, no matter what happens.

  8. Hello Brooklyn,

    Just a few points that would be helpful if clarified:

    1. "If that is the case, then you also know the Archdiocese is bleeding money."

    Certainly this point is not in dispute by anyone - the balance sheets are available online for all to see. But the question inevitable comes to the fore, after looking at them: Was it such a prudent idea for His Eminence to approve a $177 million renovation for St. Patrick's Cathedral shortly after he inherited an archdiocese with a $13 million plus (as of 2011) operating deficit? While undoubtedly some of the monies raised for that project were only available for this restoration, some were not, and represent an opportunity cost that could have gone to the sustenance of struggling parishes. Either way, it does not make easier the task of reconciling New York Catholics to the closure of their parish when such an ambitious project is being undertaken on the cathedral while their church closes, does it?

    2. "They are spending $40 million every year to sustain parishes."

    That they are. But not all of the parishes under consideration for closure are among those so sustained. Certainly not Holy Innocents. It is hard to see how this logic applies in regards to parishes which are at present no financial burden on the archdiocese.

    3. "You also know that Holy Innocents has a low attendance rate."

    We've talked here about H.I.'s attendance, which seems to average around 100 daily and 250-300 on Sunday. The question arises of what the standard is for "low," and whether "low" is justification for closure. According to "The Changing Face of U.S. Catholic Parishes" published by Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership, 25% of Catholic parishes in the U.S. average 300 or fewer in Sunday attendance. Here in Washington D.C., I can think of at least ten urban parishes with Sunday attendance equal to or less than what H.I. currently has; obviously there are a number of rural parishes that fall in that range as well.

    In any event, such a reason by itself would not be enough under canon law to justify the closure of a parish. As Cardinal Raymond Burke of the Apostolic Signatura noted in a May 2014 interview, if a church is being closed because the parish doesn’t have the means to keep up more than one church, “then you have to demonstrate that, in fact, there aren’t the means there for the church to be maintained.” Has such a demonstration been made by the councils charged by ADNY with recommending these closures, with regards to H.I. or any other parish?

    4. "The closing of Holy Innocents will actually affect a few hundred people at most, and even among these few people, it will not deprive them of their home parish."

    The difficulty, however, is that canon law does not recognize the concept of parish registration. While dioceses usually erect geographic boundaries for most parishes (Canon 518), Catholics are not bound by them, and are not barred from registering in other parishes within the diocese. If they do so, that parish assumes the obligation for their spiritual care. Most of Holy Innocents' regulars do seem to have registered, even if many do not live within the diocese's designated geographical bounds. For the intents of canon law, H.I. *is* their home parish. If it is closed, they will lose that home and thus, the canonical community charged with their spiritual care.

    It's obvious that many attend H.I. because it fills their spiritual needs, needs seen as rightful under Church law under Summorum Pontificum - if this were not the case, they would, presumably, be attending somewhere else...perhaps that "territorial" parish they happen to live within the boundaries of. Because these aspirations are rightful under Church law, and obligations imposed upon local Church authority to try to meet them, what will ADNY do to supply the deficit created when it closes the only parish offering a daily EF Mass? Where will these people go for daily Mass?

    1. Thank for such a thorough comment. Just a couple replies:

      1. St. Patrick Cathedral's restoration is not being funded by the Archdiocese. It was done the same way the restoration of Holy Innocents was done. Here is a link:

      From this link:

      "The restoration of St. Patrick's Cathedral will be made possible by people like you. Just as Archbishop Hughes in the 1860's asked for donations no matter how large or small, today Cardinal Dolan asks that our community of visitors, worshipers and admirers of this Gothic beauty unite in support of the restoration.

      Funds raised in support of this historic restoration of St. Patrick's Cathedral will be directed to and managed by the St. Patrick's Cathedral Landmark Foundation, a new 501©(3) established specifically for the purpose of preserving and maintaining St. Patrick's Cathedral."

      Please do go to the link if you would like to contribute.

      Even Michael Voris agreed that this restoration is absolutely necessary. It is the cathedral for the archdiocese. It has to be done. It has nothing to do with closing any churches.

      2. I wonder if you read the NCR article about church closings. From the article:

      ""Even if your parish is solid, your building is in good shape, and you have money in the bank, do not assume you will survive," she told the group. In some cases, the bishop realizes the diocese can benefit financially "by shuttering the moneyed parish and getting funds through [the] indebted parish.

      "When the bishop begins to make those adjustments, he's looking at money," Kuenstler said. The capital earned from the sale of a good building will be greater than one in disrepair. Though the money from the sale must go into the new, merged parish (and not directly to bishop), the funds will be used to pay down debts, and in many cases, these debts are to the bishop."

      These are ugly facts, but they are facts. The Archdiocese needs money desperately. They also have a glut of churches. Holy Innocents is a church serving a very small minority of people. HI, despite the renovations made, is still in need of major repairs. There are several other Catholic Churches only a few blocks away. And yes, it is sitting on valuable land.

      As bishop facing a financial crisis in your archdiocese, what is your decision?

    2. To continue:

      3. If Holy Innocents was the only Church in the area, the argument could be made that attendance should not be a factor. But the fact is, anyone who goes to Holy Innocents has many other churches close by that he or she could go to as well. Yes, it is true that no other church in the archdiocese offers a daily Latin Mass. But as important as that is to people like you are who devoted to it, that cannot be considered a factor. Though there are no other daily Latin Masses, there are several Sunday Latin Masses in the area. A daily TLM is not essential to anyone's spiritual life, as much as you may think it is. Keeping a church open solely for this purpose, especially when only about 50 people attend a Low Mass and maybe 100 to 150 people attend the weekday High Masses, just is not enough of a reason. The Ordinary Form of the Mass is just as valid and holds just as many graces. As I have stated, HI is in a business district, therefore no one will be losing their home church.

      4. SP does say that the Latin Mass cannot be denied. However, it does not say that a church must be kept open solely for this purpose. Have the leaders at HI talked to any other church pastors to see if anyone would be amenable to a daily TLM? Is Holy Innocents the only church that can have a Latin Mass? Hardly.

      The low attendance rate at HI, the need for major repairs and renovations, the fact that it is in a business district and therefore not a home parish, the fact that there are many other churches in the area - all of these are valid reasons for closing Holy Innocents. As I have stated, I think the closing of any church is a tragic decision. Maybe there are other avenues that could be taken. But this is the decision made by the Cardinal, and he has every right to make this decision. He is not evil, he is not the devil incarnate as so many at HI see him. He is faced with very difficult choices, and we need to pray for him.

  9. Next time I see a Hasidim I will tell him that he must worship according to the Reform tradition.

  10. I am glad that you have now researched the actual definition of schim – you are on the right tract now. Since you have done that, you now need start looking into what Canon Law has to say about the closing of parishes and about the use of the money that results from those parishes. Then, you can offer a more informed opinion about the closing of churches, instead of basing your opinions about the closing of Holy Innocents based on, it would seem, your bitter memories or experiences when you used to attend there.

    I know that you feel that you have to show to others what you read, so now you have and will continue to talk about the “European influences in the traditional Mass.” And how the New Mass should be open to other ethnic influences, simply because you have become disillusioned with the traditional movement and have decided to jump over to the other side and become a defendant of what the traditional movement, in your views, would not like.

    Fine. That is your choice. However, if your view is that the Mass should be as malleable as the culture in which it finds itself, that must be some kind of opinion that will border on heresy at some point (even if not now). That opens the gates to allow anything in the Mass as long as it is inclusive of people’s culture and it keeps people in church for 2 or 3 hours. That has got to be an erroneous point of view.

    While Mr.Screwtape did not intent to tell you to read Carl Jung, I will. Not so much because of the psychological insight he might give you as a psychoanalyst, but because he wrote a couple of books on the meaning of religion and the need of religion for humans. Heretical works for sure, but guess what? Carl Jung became very popular among many priests and retreat masters in Catholic settings/parishes/groups. And these gatherings were and are (where they still take place) just as, if not more, schismatics and heretical than the conference by traditionalists that you cited. The Jungian practices tend to draw from eastern philosophies (to get away from European influence!). Did you know any of this? Did you consider writing posts about these practices in some New Orders? This should be of great concern for you. Again, this shows your one-sidedness against traditionalists, which simply gives away some type of anger that you must still be holding on from when you were part of the traditionalist movement.

    ---- “Walk into a typical Catholic bookstore and browse in the "spirituality" section, and you'll see the best-selling books of such popularizers of the Jung Cult as priests Basil Pennington, Richard Rohr, and Thomas Keating.

    Read the listings for "spirituality" programs and retreats in many diocesan newspapers. You will see that programs on Jungian dream analysis, discovering the child within, contacting your "god/goddess," or similar such Jungian therapy programs predominate, even though they have nothing to do with Catholic spirituality and are inherently antithetical to it.” Stuff like this is what “inculturation” will bring about even more, so you should stop advocating it. ---


    I actually do not know where you get your “expertise” on Holy Innocents, but how do you know that Holy Innocents needs millions of dollars in repairs? And how do you know that it does not have the money for that? Or that it could not raise that money for it? Your faith in what parishioners can do for their parish is very little, you of little faith! How do you think Holy Innocents was able to do the renovation and pay off the loans right away? Not only that, but more donations related to that fundraising keeps coming in, even though the loans were already paid! You of little faith (despite a lot of reading)!

    Now to the canonical aspect of the closing of churches: This is taken from directives from the Congregration for Clergy. It stated that "the following reasons in themselves do NOT
    constitute grave cause to close a church:

    i. a general plan of the diocese to reduce the number of churches (check! You, CatholicInBrooklyn defend this).

    ii. the church is no longer needed (check! You, CatholicInBrooklyn defend this).

    iii. the parish has been suppressed (You, CatholicInBrooklyn, will defend this when the Archdiocese suppresses parishes)

    iv. the number of parishioners has decreased (check! You, CatholicInBrooklyn, defend and excuse this as a valid reason for church authority to do this, but authority that is lower in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church).

    v. closure will not harm the good of souls (As you seem to “suspect,” closing Holy Innocents will cause a lot of pain and may cause people to leave the Catholic Church. So, even Rome is able to foresee this).

    vi. a desire to promote the unity of the parish

    vii. some potential future cause that has not actually happened yet (you, CatholicInBrooklyn, probably defend this as well because there will be fewer people attending Mass, fewer vocations, etc., in the future as the Church and the Mass becomes less European)

    So, you are defending reasons that Rome itself has already said are not reasons grave enough to excuse the closing of a church. This means that you have to retract what you have given as reasons why it is O.K. for Cardinal Dolan to consider closing Holy Innocents and many other churches in the Archdiocese. Otherwise, you will be defending disobedience to higher authority, which might eventually lead you to schism (!) and we all know that you do not want that at all.

    Holy Innocents is the home to the traditional community. Whether you like this terminology or not, that is what it is. Just like the Croatian community at Sts. Cyril and Methodius is home to Croatians who do not even live in NYC, and the Archdiocese accepted that for them and kept their church open simply due to that fact! I saw that in writing from the advisory group, so it is not hearsay.

    Finally, you project your views and needs to other people (traditionalists in particular) and that is wrong. Just because you NOW feel comfortable going to any church does not mean that traditionalists should simply go to any church and that’s why Holy Innocents does not need to remain open. Traditionalists do not want to attend the New Order because they prefer the traditional Mass, which they already attend daily in NYC.

    If the archdiocese saw it this way, then the Croatian church should have been closed and should have been told that its parishioners should go to church to wherever they live. But this did not happen. So, there is no particular reason why it should happen for the traditional community at Holy Innocents. If you support this idea, you are being unjust and biased in your opinion.

  12. Actually, I do not have a need or a wish to tell you or show you anything. But it is not fair to continue writing posts about traditionalists and a certain portion of it in NYC based on opinions that do not seem to have facts to back them up.

    You are free to have your opinion, but you seem to cite them as facts, and the fact that you want to seem THE promoter of obedience to Church authority blinds you to so many other things (conditions, if you will) that need to be taken into account.

    The Catholic Church (having experienced over 2 millenia of human history has basically seen everything that humans can come up with. So, Canon Law and Liturgical law give us a good idea of what has been tried before and what could be tried in the future.

    This is why there are rights for the faithful as well, and obligations for those in authority to respect those rights and the needs of the faithful.

    By the way, I meant to include that the Croatians (and I was present when they said this) only use the church on weekends. So, during the week, the church is practically dead. However, this does not seem to be a problem for the Archdiocese that, somehow, seems concerned with other churches that do not get a full attendance for weekday Masses.

    1. Why do you keep coming back here if it upsets you so much? There are tons of traditonalist blogs that agree with everything you say. I am very much a lone voice out here read by very few people. Why bother with me?

      But speaking of respect, I have to say I see very little of that coming from traditionalists towards the hierarchy of the Church. Most traditionalist blogs are truly scandalous in their personal attacks against priests, bishops and the Holy Father. That was certainly in full view this week in the case of Cardinal Dolan. And if you wish to add to that vitriol, please go elsewhere. I'm not interested.

  13. My emotions are not controlled by a post or a comment. However, your posts and comments tend to lack factual evidence.

    I have always had people who disagree with me, even people from that community about which you write and complain so much! However, I do not write posts about/against them or their views.

    Should I write posts on my blog about you and your views?

    Where do you see vitriol? I think that your mind is already always expecting a pre-conditioned response from traditionalists even when it does not really come the way you see it. You might need to pray more about it.

    You might want to mention it in confession and see what advice you get.

    1. Thank you for your concern about my spiritual wellbeing.

  14. Please explain this to Pope Francis and Cardinal Muller.Tell them that Vatican Council II can be interpreted with or without an irrational premise

    September 12, 2014
    The Call to Holiness and Catholic Identity Conference speakers will use a false premise in the interpretation of Vatican Council II, Redemptoris Missio, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Dominus Iesus...

  15. Today I made my general confession and I am reconciled with the Church. All that traditionalists have to recall is that the Church is the pillar of truth, not their own understanding of the faith. If the Church teaches something that you disagree with, you are in error, not the Church. They can't see how similar they are acting like Luther. It's private interpretation, not of scripture, but of tradition and Church teach. They might leave the Church thinking that they are the true faithful remnant, like many other schismatic sects in history.

    1. Very wise words, indeed. We will not be saved by how RIGHT we are, but by how FAITHFUL we are.

      Welcome home, my friend. Stay close to our Blessed Mother, She will protect you from all harm and always lead you to her Son.


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