Thursday, April 23, 2015

Father Z's Spittle Flecked Nutty Against Pope Benedict XVI and Summorum Pontificum

I recently commented on Father John Zuhlsdorf's blog in which I pointed out that he, Father Z, was in profound disagreement with Pope Benedict XVI.  He admitted that yes, he did disagree with Pope Benedict XVI, but he considered my comment to be "nasty" and as a result, he has completely blocked me so that I cannot even access his blog on my home IP address, much less leave any comments.


Rev. John Zuhlsdorf

Current Position:President
Tridentine Mass Society of Madison
Parish(es) Currently Serving:Cathedral Parish of MadisonMadison

St. MaryPine Bluff
Year of Ordination:1991

Here's the story.

Father Z did a post in which he answered a reader's question, as follows:
I know a [priest] who uses the Old Offertory Prayers when he says an Ordinary Form Mass. Is this okay for a priest to do? Is it a liturgical abuse?
You can read Father Z's answer HERE.  One would think that the answer would be a simple yes or no, and if you have read Summorum Pontificum, you would know that mixing of the two forms of Mass is not permitted.  But Father Z's answer delved much deeper into this question.  He entitled his post, "ASK FATHER: Using the traditional offertory prayers in the Novus Ordo. Wherein Fr. Z rants."  

Father Z started his answer with this paragraph:
The legislation which covers the use of the Extraordinary Form spells out that there is to be no mixing of the two rites (I say “rites”, because I don’t think that they are, liturgically, the same rite… juridically there are two “forms”, but liturgically and in many points theologically there seem to be two… but this is a digression).
Father Z correctly states in his first sentence that there is to be no mixing.  Everything in that sentence is correct up to the word "rites."  As Father Z explains, he feels that the two Masses are not two forms of the same rite, but two distinct and separate rites.  This is in direct contradiction to the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI and Summorum Pontificum as written by Pope Benedict XVI.

I commented on Father Z's blog that Pope Benedict would not agree with his statement, and quoted from the Pope Benedict's Letter to the Bishops which accompanied the Summorum Pontificum document.  Father Z answered (his answer is in red):

  1. Brooklyn says:
    Father, you seem to be in disagreement with Pope Benedict XVI who wrote the following in Summorum Pontificum:
    “In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.” [Yes, I disagree with that statement. Summorum Pontificum was clearly a juridical settlement of the disputed question of whether or not priests could use the older Missal. It doesn’t settle the liturgical and theological questions.]
    We may like the prayers of one form over the other, but Jesus Christ is present in both, and that is all that really matters. If Our Lord honors the OF, we should also. [Nice little speech. On the other hand, the content of the prayers, EF and OF parallels compared side by side (which I have done for a couple decades) are at times strikingly different.]

Father Z tells us in his comment that SP was "clearly a juridical settlement of the disputed question of whether or not priests could use the older Missal. It doesn't settle the liturgical and theological questions."

Well, that would be news to Pope Benedict XVI and the rest of the Magesterium. Pope Benedict XVI did not state "it is my opinion that the two Masses are two forms of the same rite." His Holiness made this statement without reservation. Pope Benedict XVI did not say or imply in any way that these two forms of the Mass are "juridically" one rite and "theologically and liturgically" two rites. In fact, he said just the opposite. From Summorum Pontificum:
Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the lex orandi (rule of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. The Roman Missal promulgated by Saint Pius V and revised by Blessed John XXIII is nonetheless to be considered an extraordinary expression of the same lex orandi of the Church and duly honoured for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church’s lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s lex credendi (rule of faith); for they are two usages of the one Roman rite.
It plainly states here, in complete contradiction to Father Zuhlsdorf's statement, that the two Masses are one theologically: "These two expressions of the Church’s lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s lex credendi (rule of faith)."

Further, Pope Benedict also wrote in the letter to the bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum:
There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.
Further, Pope Benedict XVI did not leave it up to the rest of us -- not even the most famous Catholic priest blogger - to question his judgments. Pope Benedict made these statements not in an interview or even in a homily, but as the Vicar of Christ in an official Papal document. This is the official ruling of the Church. To reject this teaching of the Pope is to reject the teaching of the Church.

You will also note Father Z's comment to my statement that even though we may have personal preferences, we should honor the Ordinary Form of the Mass because Jesus Christ Himself honors it. Father Z most obviously does not like my statement. Father Z has deemed the prayers in the Ordinary Form of the Mass to be "theologically and liturgically" deficient, and therefore, he feels that they should be rejected even if they are accepted by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

I was able to write one more comment in response to Father Z before he cut me off. His remarks are in red:

  1. Brooklyn says:
    Father, if we can reject any part of Summorum Pontificum, as you do, then we can reject it all, and it holds no authority over anyone. Have you ever let your readers know that you do not accept all of Summorum Pontificum?
    [Nice try. First, you do not understand what Summorum Pontificum is. It is a juridical document. It can be found HERE. What you referred to, with that bit about the two rites, is not Summorum Pontificum. It is an accompanying letter to bishops issued by Benedict XVI at the time of Summorum PontificumHERE I disagree with something in that letter, not with something in Summorum Pontificum. Benedict’s letter does not conclusively settle the question of whether or not the EF and the OF are the same rite or different rites. Benedict’s juridical document settled the juridical issue of whether or not a priest with faculties to say Mass could use also the 1962MR. That doesn’t settle the other questions, which will take a lot longer to figure out. And, for your nasty crack at the end, you won’t be commenting here for a while. Your disagreement, compounded by your confusion, is one thing. Nasty is another. Not in my living room!]
As you can see, Father Z went into official "spittle flecked nutty" mode here. In his first answer to me, he confirmed that he did not accept Pope Benedict XVI's teaching that the two Masses are two forms of the same rite. I then pointed out - and as you can see, in a very respectful way - that we must accept all of Summorum Pontificum or it has no authority at all. We cannot play cafeteria Catholics in regard to papal documents.

In response, Father Z correctly pointed out that I did not quote from Summorum Pontificum, but from the letter to the bishops which accompanied it. He used this point to claim that I did not know what I was talking about and, therefore, he, Father Z, is not guilty of disagreeing with anything in Summorum Pontificum.

I have already shown in quotes above that Summorum Pontificum absolutely does state that the two Masses are one rite with two forms.  So, yes, Father Z is, without question, rejecting part of Summorum Pontificum as well as Pope Benedict's letter to the bishops.  We are not free to pick and choose what we want to believe when it comes to official church teaching. And official church teaching is that the two forms of the Mass are one rite, in every meaning of the word "rite".

Another official Vatican document released in 2011 reiterated this teaching as well. It is entitled, "INSTRUCTION ON THE APPLICATION OF THE APOSTOLIC LETTER SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI GIVEN MOTU PROPRIO." It can be found HERE. From this document:
6. The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI and the last edition prepared under Pope John XXIII, are two forms of the Roman Liturgy, defined respectively as ordinaria and extraordinaria: they are two usages of the one Roman Rite, one alongside the other. Both are the expression of the same lex orandi of the Church. On account of its venerable and ancient use, the forma extraordinaria is to be maintained with appropriate honor.
Once more it is stated in an official Vatican document that the two Masses are one and the same rite in every way possible.

In addition, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote the following on their website which can be found HERE:
The earliest Church documents that describe the Eucharist show differences in the way it was celebrated from region to region. Rome, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Milan, Gaul—all of these centers of the Church had different ways of celebrating the Eucharist from the earliest days. And yet, there was never a question that it was the same Eucharist, the same Sacrifice, the same faith, and the same Apostolic foundation which underlay them all. Even within the area encompassed by the Roman Rite, there had been considerable variation in the celebration of the Mass over the centuries. The Council of Trent endorsed some of this diversity, as well as called for greater centrality in promoting uniformity. Popes from the fourth century through the twenty-first century have made changes for the sake of adapting or reforming the Roman Rite, but all of these changes must be seen not with “the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” but within “the hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity” as Pope Benedict XVI teaches.
As you can see, this is not a trifling matter. Father Zuhlsdorf is in conflict with the teachings of Rome and also in conflict with the teachings of the United States Bishops Conference. By going against official Church teaching and insisting that the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form are two different rites, Father Z is saying that there is a break between the two forms of the Mass. Father Z is promoting "the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture" and is promoting division and dissension within the Church.

I know this is a very heavy charge, and I do not make it lightly. But there is no other way to interpret Father Zuhlsdorf's words. I tried as politely as I could to point this out to him, and he knew it. He did not cut me off because I was "nasty". There was nothing "nasty" or disrespectful in my remarks or my tone. Compare the tone of his remarks to the tone of my comments. Father Zuhlsdorf cut me off because I was showing him, not in my own words, but in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, that he was wrong.

I am not imputing any conscious maliciousness on the part of Father Z. I have no doubt that he believes he truly loves the Church and wants to serve God. But Father Zuhlsdorf is emblematic of the problems within the traditionalist movement. Father Zuhlsdorf's favorite saying is "Save the Liturgy, Save the World." Of course, "liturgy" as used by Father Z and other traditionalists means only one thing: the Traditional Latin Mass. A traditionalist blogger recently echoed this belief:
Moreover, I am increasingly convinced that the widespread re-adoption of the Traditional Mass and the whole traditional practice of the Faith is the only thing that can save this fallen world and see the restoration of Christendom.
Traditionalists look at the Ordinary Form of the Mass as the source and summit of all the problems in the Church.  By doing this, they are completely rejecting Summorum Pontificum, even as they say it was their salvation.  Traditionalists, as evidenced by Father Zuholsdorf, have convinced themselves that the real reason for Summorum Pontificum was to abrogate the Ordinary Form of the Mass and restore the Extraordinary Form of the Mass as the only Mass in the Roman Rite.  Traditionalists completely ignore this statement of Pope Benedict XVI which I noted earlier:
Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.
To be a follower of Christ means to trust in Christ for all things. His Will literally becomes our will. This is only possible in the Catholic Church because only the Catholic Church has the promise of infallibility in her teachings. Protestant Christians must, for their own spiritual welfare, always be questioning those in authority. If something doesn't seem right to them, they must act on it, because their religious leaders do not have the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit as is promised to the Magesterium of the Catholic Church. Any Christian separated from the Catholic Church has no higher authority than his own reasoning, and as a result, he will never be able to fully submit his will to Jesus Christ in this lifetime because he can never fully trust anyone or anything outside of himself.

But a Catholic is a member of the Mystical Body of Christ led by the Vicar of Christ who alone has been given the Keys to the Kingdom. We are given an unbreakable promise that we can never be misled by the Church. That doesn't mean that to be Catholic is to stop using the mind God gave you.  It certainly doesn't mean that individual bishops and priests can't be wrong. I give the example of Father John Zuhlsdorf right here.

But to be Catholic does mean to completely conform your thinking to the Mystical Body of Christ. We have been given the foundation of faith, which we know can never be changed. We have also been given a promise by Our Lord Himself that the official teaching of the Catholic Church will never go against that foundation of faith.

This promise of infallibility is especially true when it comes to the Mass, which is the unbloody sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Mass is the source and summit of a Catholic's life. It is where we meet heaven.  Our Lord promised that would never be taken away from us.  He gave no promises as to what the form of the Mass would be.  That is up to the Church to decide, and at this point in our history, in the Latin Church, we have one rite with two forms, both equally valid and licit.  And there is no rupture between the two forms.  If you don't believe it, you are not in conformity with Catholic teaching, and are not in full communion with the Catholic Church.  

Father Wilfrid Stinnissen
There was a wonderful reading in today's Magnificat magazine by Father Wilfrid Stinnissen, a Carmelite priest and author who founded a contemplative community in Sweden and who died in 2014.  The theme of this meditation is trusting in the Will of God:

But there comes a time when God's will moves from the front to the back, resulting in the disappearance of the light.  I can no longer see where I am going.  God is behind me, and I have only one thing to do:  Let myself be pushed along.  In the beginning it feels a little uncertain and unsafe, and small accidents can occur, not because God fails to do his part or is leading in the wrong direction, but because I have not dared to trust in him completely, and I resist or want to help.  God is like a specialist in relaxation who works with the patient's head, turning it in different directions.  The fact that it causes pain is not the specialist's fault.  He does not turn it too far.  No, it is because the patient's neck muscles are tense.  He cannot, dares not relax completely.  It is no wonder God calls us a "stubborn people."  (Dt. 9:13).

The words "your kingdom come" that we pray daily are realized only when we live in total dependence on God.  As long as he cannot do everything in us, his kingdom has not come.  He wants not merely to decide himself; he also wants to carry out what he has decided, "as though without me and yet through me."  Our ego lives, thanks to and through our activities.  When we surrender our faculties to God, and let him manage them, the ego has nothing more to do; it dies from lack of work.

In his advice to the novices, Eckhart writes:  "God has never given himself and does never give himself to a will that is foreign to him.  He gives himself only to his own will.  But when  God meets his own will, he gives himself and enters into that will with all that he is."


  1. You certainly were not being nasty. Someone was being condescending - but it wasn't you.

    I am quite sure that someplace Benedict distinctly said there is one rite with two forms - one Mass in the Roman rite - two forms. The Ordinary form which is exactly that - celebrated by the Popes, and the Extraordinary rite - the use of which is expressed in the SP Pope Benedict issued. Pope Francis has not abrogated anything It is one Mass, One Eucharist, One Christ; who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

    1. My feelings exactly, Terry. We have the assurance of the Vicar Of Christ in his official capacity as earthly head of the Church that the Mass in both forms is the bloodless sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When we question that, we are imposing our will, and that can never lead to anything good.

  2. Liturologically, they are two distinct Rites.

    1. The Magesterium of the Catholic Church does not agree with you.

    2. From a social science perspective, they are two distinct rites.

    3. When it comes to the Church, I listen to the Church, not "social science perspective." If you are a Catholic, you should be doing the same thing. The "social science perspective" does not have the Keys to the Kingdom.

    4. Thankfully by the singular grace of Blessed Trinity and the Blessed Virgin, one has continually and without apostasy, either formal or material, since the day of his Baptism as an infant lo many years past, kept fast, in loyal submission to the Roman Pontiffs, to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

      That said, the Supreme Legislator, for many complex reasons, was specifically intending not to establish a separate liturgical jurisdiction as he did with the Anglicans. That is the context of the "not two Rites but two forms".

    5. And you can read the mind of Pope Benedict XVI?

      The Anglican Rite is a combination of several different rites, including the rite of the Anglican Church. That is totally different from the OF and the EF which come from the same Latin rite.

      I am aware that you have personally met Father Z and are probably very unhappy with my post. But that doesn't change the fact that he is in direct conflict with the teaching of the Magesterium and is spreading dissension among his readers, many of whom will listen to him before they listen to the Magesterium.

  3. What's up with that USCCB pic? Is that a dig on their position on immigration?

    1. Seriously. Your USCCB logo pic has an overlay of Mexico rising up over the US. That's not part of their logo.

    2. Sorry, Joshua. You are right. I just googled an image for the USCCB, and didn't look that close at it. You are right. I'm not sure where it came from. I'll put their actual symbol on there.

    3. P.S. Would you like to be my editor? :)

    4. Ha. Yeah, I guess my last comment was a correction too. Being too quick with a correction is a mark of being a jerk (a title I neither admit nor deny I deserve). Please don't think I'm being critical! I think you're doing good work.

  4. Technically, the Anglican Ordinariate usage is a derivative of the Roman rite.

    Actually, your post makes me chuckle.

    1. You chuckle when you see a priest misleading Catholics and having a temper tantrum when it is pointed out to him?

      FYI: "The Anglican Use liturgy reflects many influences, including the Sarum Use, the English Missal, and the 1928 and 1979 versions of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, as well as the Roman Missal. Anglican Use liturgy and the 1962 Tridentine Latin Mass have very similar structures. Distinctive features of such Masses include 16th-century English (e.g., "thee" and "thou"), greater use of incense and bell-ringing, and English chants and hymns."

      You and I can argue about this all day long, but the fact is that the Magesterium of the Church has declared the OF and the EF as ONE rite, not two. And that is the bottom line. Anyone who rejects that teaching rejects the Magesterium.

    2. The quote is a superficial resume of the Anglican Ordinariate liturgy's pedigree but it is sufficient for this discussion, delimited by as it is by ultramontanist constraints..

  5. Douay-Rheims Bible
    Having an appearance indeed of godliness, but denying the power thereof. Now these avoid. 2 Timothy 3:5 comes to mind.

    (I wondered why they liked the term Old Rite)

    1. Just because something *looks* good, that doesn't mean it is. And when it comes to the Church, loyalty to the Magesterium is essential.

  6. I think this priest is a fraud. I am not the first to say this. His whole parish situation is weird, and there is something else I noticed recently which keeps bugging me. He claims to have been a former Lutheran, but he gives very stereotypical descriptions of the Lutheran tradition. His last name is Zuhlsdorf. Do people realize that that is the name of the farm Martin Luther and Katie owned? It worries me when people follow bloggers like Zuhlsdorf who clearly collects a lot of money (begs for it in fact) from his followers, glorifies himself all day long, and enjoys putting others down/banning those who disagree with him. Why aren't people horrified by the way this supposed priest behaves? I don't doubt he has helped his followers in some way, but that's solely thanks to God who can turn all evil to good. You are not the only one with this experience. People like him should be exposed for the fraud that they are.


    2. I think we must be very careful about calling priests or bishops "frauds." Father John Zuhlsdorf is a validly ordained priest of the Catholic Church, ordained by St. John Paul II in May 1991. However, that is no guarantee that anyone ordained by St. John Paul II cannot go astray. Ordained along with Father Zuhlsdorf was now ex-Father John Corapi.

      As I have pointed out here, I have very definite concerns about Father Zuholsdorf. The traditionalist movement has many potential pitfalls and traps, and I think Father Zuhlsdorf has fallen into at least some of them, as I have pointed out here.

      Also, I think Father Zuhlsdorf really needs to back off on the constant begging for money from his readers. He has even gone so far as to offer blessed cards for three figure donations as can be seen here:

      From that post:

      "Speaking of Holy Cards, you may recall that in March when I was in Rome for conclave and subsequent election of Pope Francis, I had the very day of the election stopped at a couple souvenir type stores to buy packages of Holy Cards with some image of St. Peter on them. I could find really good ones, but… hey! In any event, I hauled them around in my back pack all day and then to the square in the evening for Pope Francis appearance for the first time… and his Urbi et Orbi blessing. It is generally the intention of the Popes to bless objects people bring for that purpose.

      In any event, when I got them home, I ordered ink stamps so that I could mark them with the necessary information about the who, where, what, etc.

      I am sending them out by snail mail to readers who send particularly generous donations (involving 3 digits). It is my great pleasure to do so. Since some people clicked the waving flag (I am raising money for a liturgy conference in Rome at the end of June), today I was happy to write up a few more envelopes for Mr Postman tomorrow!"

      It is totally against Church law to sell blessed objects for more than their intrinsic value. Father Z tries to get around this by offering them for "donations" and "three figure" donations at that.

      This is not good.

  7. Thank you for writing this. I have often wondered about Fr. Z's inconsistencies. The scary thing is … that on the surface, he appears to be a faithful Catholic priest who supports the Traditional Mass. But when I see the disdain and the hardness against those whom he disagrees with …it is startling. Again, thank you. It is also revealing that he blocked you. If you are a truly holy Catholic priest -- nothing, nothing, not even a humble Catholic making a point would make you flee. Unless, unless…you have something to hide. Jesus said this would happen. Our Lord said -- remember, I warned you ahead of time.


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