Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Katholic Krazies: Will The Synod Make Them Walk?

Pope Francis presiding over The 
Extraordinary Synod on the 

I wish I had gotten further into my series on Katholic Krazies before the Synod on the Family began its work because it would be so much easier to talk about the krazies’ response to the Synod if I had gotten beyond the sedi-vacantist extreme and written about those krazies who are still within the boundaries of the Church.  After all those who do not recognize the Papacy of Pope Francis—or his five immediate predecessors—consider the Synod to be irrelevant to their pseudo-Catholicism and really aren’t burning up the internet over it.  But the wing-nuts who were just basking in the glow of the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI are now beside themselves in anxiety over where the Church is going with Pope Francis and his synod.  And as a historian I find this very ominous as I think it bodes some dark and heavy history unfolding. 
One of the blogs most angry with Pope Francis and his leadership is by a woman from Boston named Carol who has entitled her blog—ironically—What Did the Pope Really Say? Carol has long been antagonistic towards the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal O’Malley, but over the course of Francis’ papacy her bile has been more and more directed at him.  Bile is the key word here.  This blog has gone through several incarnations beginning with Throw the Bums Out in 2010  (which clues one in to her political leanings and the fact that her blog is more concerned with the Church from a political and  “Culture Wars” perspective than from theological principles).  For several years thereafter it was named The Tenth Crusade which reflected the author’s (and her readers’) Islamophobia. Now she has entitled it What Did the Pope Really Say? when she has little—or actually nothing—good to say about this papacy and in fact has distorted much of what Pope Francis has said or written.  A careful reading of her various entries over a period of time show that she is angry and upset about what the changes in the Church have done—or she perceives to have done—to her children and grandchildren.    Carol has had consistently negative input about the Synod which she yesterday referred to as “Pope Francis’ Apostate Coup.”  She had previously referred to it as a “heretical circus.”  But her venom is not directed to the Synod per se, but to the Pope himself.  Recently she wrote about Pope Francis:
Seems now as clear as the nose on my face: Pope Francis appoints people to teach heresy and removes people who raise objections to the people they love being misled into error.
Am I understanding the message behind the philosophical beheadings for not going along with the spiritual homicides?
I suppose, what's a Pope to do when the devil dragging his children into mass spiritual homicides but to silence Church teaching and give witness that if we all don't go along with it, he will remove and exile?
Carol has a loyal readership who agree with her in her distrust of Pope Francis and his leadership.  Witness one response to her column: 
Carol...you have been very responsible in your observations concerning this papacy. Its all quite clear at least to me...we are living through the Apostacy (sic) spoken of by Our Lady and our duty is to pray fervently the rosary as She has asked. God Bless you dear heart.
An even more dramatic response to Carol’s estimation of Pope Francis’ leadership and the Synod is as follows:
I couldn't agree more. I wonder if, at some point--very soon--we shouldn't try to get a movement of faithful, orthodox Catholics to rise up and all start telling Pope Francis and our bishops (maybe the Gang of Eight) that we're tired of Francis' schtick and want him to either teach what the Church teaches shut up, or resign. Maybe it would be a Tea Party-like movement. If we could get enough people and make enough of a stink, maybe it would hit the mainstream media, and then Francis would listen?
This sort of reaction indicates not only lack of confidence in Francis and the direction in which he is leading the Church, but turns papal authority upside down as if the Pope can be told to step down when one faction or another in the Church does not agree with him.  It brings up the threat of dissatisfied Catholics breaking with Francis and his papacy. More will be written about that towards the end of this posting. 
Janet from Gaithersburg, Maryland, has a blog she calls Restore-DC-Catholicism.  Her original target was Cardinal McCarrick who was Archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006 and whom she saw as a dangerously liberalizing prelate.  She is no happier with Cardinal Wuerl.  Janet is an ardent supporter of the Reverend Marcel Guarnizo, a presbyter vagans who is nominally attached to the Archdiocese of the Mother of God (Moscow) but who wanders the world self-promoting and collecting funds for supposed charities and foundations he has established and administers.  Janet was extremely agitated when Cardinal Burke was removed from the Congregation of Bishops last December.  His Eminence has been an outspoken critic of Pope Francis, especially since he has been removed from various Vatican posts as Pope Francis has gone about his reform of the Roman Curia. Janet is a great admirer of the Cardinal and has taken to attacking the Pope for what Francis has done to her hero.  She has been particularly critical of the Synod (which she refers to as the SinNod) and was very angry about the talk given last week by Ron and Mavis Pirola whom she has continued to skewer in her postings.  She began her attack with: Synod Off To A Hell Of A Start  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I do mean usage of the word "hell", for that will be the fruit of the proceedings of this synod for some.  And before she went off on her initial diatribe against the Pirolas, she lit into Pope Francis’ opening homily.  She is convinced that the Pope is controlling the Synod to force his opinion on the bishops, the majority of whom she is confident disagree with the Holy Father. 
Michael Voris—the omnipresent face of Church Militant TV—has headed to Rome after doing a surprisingly critical appraisal of the Synod on one of his video-casts.  Voris has long been savage in his treatment of the American bishops, and especially Cardinal Dolan of New York as this plays well to his wing-nut audience, but up until this point he had avoided going after the Holy Father as this would be a “bridge too far” for most, even conservative Catholics.  It looks like the Synod is going to give him a change of direction however.  It will be interesting to see how he walks the tightrope on this one as an attack on the Pope or Synod could bring down his house of Catholic cards right on himself and his virtual television station by providing the American bishops with an excuse to censure him without looking vengeful about the grief he has given them.  
I have been saving the best for last (and yes, I eat the frosting after I eat the cake)and that is a krazy—an arch-krazy actually—whom some of my readers have been asking me to write about for some time.  It is our old friend Mundabor.  I will do a posting on him when I get back to my series on “Introducing Katholic Krazies,” but this guy really hates the Pope.  If the verb “to hate” didn’t require a direct object, I could just say that he hates because he is filled with an ubiquitous vile that spews in any and all directions.  Mundabor lives in a psychotic state where bishops still dwell in palaces and are counted among the nobility.  (Well, he is English so we need to cut him some slack—after all he was raised in a delusional environment called a Monarchy).  Pope Francis is known in Mundabor’s blog as “The Most Astonishing Hypocrite in Church History” (aka TMAHICH).  Along with Cardinal Kasper and Hans Kung, the Holy Father (or, as Mundabor calls him, the unHoly Father) is the arch-enemy of your soul.  Each in his own way, these three are among the most efficient weapons of the Devil in his battle for your soul. The Cardinal pays lip service to a truth he says you do not have to follow if your conscience dictates otherwise, the Bishop (of Rome; but he is so 'umble, you know…) supports him any way he can short of jumping around like a groupie, the theologian is so far away from even the notion of Christianity he now supports his own home-made religion.
In a recent posting about the Synod, Mundabor compared the Church on earth to a building to be made in the image of the heavenly Church, the New Jerusalem above.  This is actually good theology, however he stumbled on it.  But then he falls off the wagon writing:
The Architect has made the plan. The builders must stick to the plan. If they don’t, they are a disgrace. That’s all there is to know.
We are now in the hand of (referring to the bishops) drunken, blaspheming, careless building contractors who have been put in charge of the maintenance, but really do not care a straw for the edifice. They go around breaking windows, because they have noticed that the mob likes the sound of splintered glass. They also do not care whether the Architect of the immense building exists or not, and probably think the building “just got there out of nothing”.  It is perfectly irrelevant to them whether the edifice will still be in any half-decent state of repair in one generation or two. But when they break another window, the mob applauds, and gives them money to eat, drink, and be merry. That’s another window going, then…
And what is Pope Francis’ role in all of this  
Francis is a stupid, drunken, arrogant, socialist, and very probably atheist disaster of a contractor firm director. One day, the Great Chairman In The Sky will punish him as he deserves. 
Of course, when it comes to this backlash against Pope Francis and the Synod, you could find all this on the internet yourself.  You don’t need me to point it out to you.  My purpose is rather to indicate its significance.
I have long—for over thirty years—been convinced that in the wake of Vatican II a schism is all but inevitable.  I have also always believed it would come, not from the left but from the right.  My first reason for this opinion is that historically most schisms have been reactions against change in the Church.  My second is that liberals don’t have the attention span for a schism—they may as individuals get discouraged and go away—but they don’t have the organizational drive—or skills—to actually organize a breakaway.  Also liberals simply disobey and do as they please without creating a fuss about it.  But my final reason is that the social, political, and economic structures that the Church has been undermining for the last sixty-plus years since Pius XII’s encyclicals laid the groundwork for Vatican II (and actually for the last 110 years since Leo XIII) protect the interests of those who identify themselves as conservatives and not as liberals.  Conservatives have the most to lose in Vatican II Catholicism and it has been an increasing thorn in their side. The moderately conservative  policies of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI relieved some of the sociological neuralgia inherent in gospel-Catholicism, but Francis does his drilling without Novocain. 
When one questions the fidelity of the Pope I am not sure what choice there is but to reject his authority and find oneself in some state of schism.  I suppose I have more respect for the Sedevacantists who, judging recent Popes to have departed from Orthodoxy, have formally removed themselves from what they perceive to be a “heretical” papacy and a “heretical” Church.  How can these various critics remain in the Church if they have no confidence in the authentic belief of those who lead the Church? 
I do not think, however, that a schism would be particularly successful, at least from the perspective of attracting a substantial number of adherents.  While all may not agree with Pope Francis or Cardinal Kasper, the distrust of Pope Francis and the magisterium expressed by people like Carol or Janet are held by less than one percent of practicing Catholics.  I suspect too that while some priests and even a few bishops might withdraw from Francis’ Church if the Synod—or actually the ordinary Synod planned for 2015—makes significant departures in Church discipline regarding who may and may not receive Holy Communion, they will lack the critical mass to be any more significant than some of the various groups that have formed in the past such as the Polish National Catholic Church or the so-called Liberal Catholic Church.  Were Cardinal Burke to be among the defectors it would boost the success rate considerably but as unhappy as he may be with the direction the Synod is going, it is totally improbable that he would burn the bridge over the Tiber or even given public support to those who did.  
Also to be considered is that significant change in Church discipline will squelch any reconciliation with the Lefebvrist movement or other independent groups who favor the TLM.  This will divide those who give up on Francis with some going to groups that adhere to a pre-Vatican II Catholicism and others seeking groups that have Mass in the vernacular but follow an old-line approach to Church discipline.  A divided response will militate against the success of any schismatic movement. 


  1. i think you're being somewhat unfair regarding the motivation of 'traditional' leaning catholics remaining within the church; after all i as a liberal leaning catholic didn't leave the church under benedict even though i was loudly and frequently discontent. i just bided my time and hoped that a more progressive pope would come along... and I'm glad i did stay although i was very unhappy being a catholic at the time. probably most trad leaning catholics are probably doing much the same although others inevitably would have left at some point anyway. one difference between trads and liberal catholics is that Vatican ii isn't going to go away and I'm not sure many can get over that emotional hurdle, evurrrr

    i also disagree with your opinion that cardinal burke doesn't have any motivation for leaving the church; after all if he did defect to SSPX he would out-rank Fellay - not even an archbishop, only a 'humble' ordinary - and become defacto senior cleric / leader of the SSPX. it would be a PR coup for the SSPX and the big Burke would get to dress up as the real Pope (or as near to it as he dares) complete with Crown and Sedalia etc and pontificate to all to his hearts content without fear of contradiction or ever being questioned. he could live in a idealised perfect fantasy world projecting his thinly hidden narcissistic wounds - a toxic mix of sexual suppression and self-hate, which must be a very tempting possibility for him particularly as he's a careerist who has just past the apex of his career. he appears to be setting himself up as another Ottavani figure. Paul VI probably made a mistake in not curtailing Ottavani earlier because he wanted to be fair and give the catholic right a voice - but will Francis be so patient? i think Francis, as a wiley Jesuit, is very able to play hardball and dirty if it's needed!

  2. I must have expressed myself badly. I don't believe a significant number of neo-trads would leave the Church, unhappy as they may be. But reading the various blogs, I do think there would be some who, believing that Francis' Church has left them, would gather into congregations that perceived themselves as keeping the "true faith." And, as I did write, I think there is a significant difference in the mentality of "liberals" and staunch neo-traditionalists, in fact conservatives in general. I have found that conservatives are far more passionate about their ideology, far more financially committed to supporting it, and far more inclined to organize groups that share their ideology. As I said, I don't think liberals have the attention span for schism. As for Cardinal Burke, as he would lose his Cardinal's position should he leave, I doubt he would go. And if he did he would still be a Bishop but not even an Archbishop as he no longer heads an Archdiocesan See. He would, by courtesy, be addressed as an Archbishop and retain whatever ceremonial prerogatives belong to that office but Bishop Fellay would undoubtedly not move over and make room for him in the chancery office. But who knows?

  3. The Liberal Catholic Church in its origins was not really a revolt against Rome. Indeed both +Wedgwood and + Leadbeater were former Anglicans. Even dear old ++Arnold Harris Mathew (sp?) couldn't deny that he was an Anglican and his body is resting next to the door of a lovely Anglican country church.

    The PNCC was more of a revolt against the Irish bishops than against Rome. Alas, the same bishops were responsible for so many Uniates returning home to Orthodoxy.

  4. Embedded in this latest entry as well as the above comments lies what I believe the most crucial insight of all, namely the psychological impairment and arrested development of these krazies. If you read, for example, Fr. Don Cozzen's The Changing Face of the Priesthood you will find a trenchant analysis from a Freudian and Jungian perspective of the psychosexual basis for the pathologies deeply entrenched in institutional Catholicism. Simply put, the Catholic Church in its human organization is an Oedipal institution and those who are most successful in it betray an infantilism that includes among other things the kind of narcissism and paranoia on display in the referenced blogs. These people are psychologically driven to shore up their positions with such vehemence and commitment precisely because they are under such psychological threat when the institution suddenly and unexpectedly begins to show some sign of maturation. The Francis-Burke contrast is a virtual typology of openness to growth versus massive (and unconsciously defensive) resistance. Their need for Disneyland Catholicism with its costumes, flight from reality, authoritarianism, rigidity and yes, deep reservoirs of anger are all symptomatic of the very fragile psychological structures they are defending. And by the way, their obsessive neuroses cannot help but take the form if an intense misogyny and homophobia as there one finds them most vulnerable and most heavily defended. The Synod is bringing it all to a surface, an unwelcome therapeutic intervention they cannot abide except to attack it. They may well go into schism, but it will be a schism of very sick individuals. Anyone who has seen their communities from the inside and has studied the individuals who belong to them and lead them knows how infested they are with stunted children. The Pope is a healthy, mature, and deeply human Christian -- the kind the Gospel produces when it is heard, understood and lived. The krazies -- and they are crazy -- belong instead to the church of Oedipus with all its murderous and incestuous venom.

    1. I have read Cozzen's book on The Changing Face of the Priesthood and found it to be one of the most insightful and helpful --and unfortunately all too true--analysis of the situation facing the Catholic Church in the United States. Cozzens hit the mark squarely but as so many in the hierarchy are thre precisely because fit this dependency model Cozzens describes, there has been little hope for change, Signs are that Pope Francis is appointing more psychologically mature men. Let us hope.

    2. Cozzens's books are excellent, but they tell a story that the hierarchy is unwilling to hear. The sound you hear is the Vatican crumbling.

  5. Your evaluation of Father Marcel Guarnizo is spot on. He is far more concerned with self-promotion and outside activities than performing priestly duties. Like now, while at St John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg Father Guarnizo was a self-promoter with little concern for performing the daily tasks required of a parish priest. He lacked the skills necessary to be a successful parish priest.

    Janet of Gaithersburg continues to claim he was thrown under the bus by the Archdiocese in response to his denying communion to a lesbian. In actuality his dismissal from the Parish and Archdiocese involved more than the communion incident. Additional reasons are only known by a few however I have knowledge of the true facts and can state that your blog posts concerning Father Guarnizo, the communion incident and its aftermath demonstrate uncanny intuition.

    1. Actually it is not just intuition. I too have had access to the fuller story and while I may not know as much as you might, I know enough to realize that this man is dangerous to the max. Reading the above comment about Father Cozzen's 2000 book on the American priesthood, Guarnizo manifests some of the worst pathologies Cozzens describes.

  6. So glad to have found your blog - I have read back through some of the older entries and found a lot of interest here.

    On the instant topic - I think much of the blame for the admittedly krazed reaction of some factions within the Church must fall on Catholic progressives--and I would count myself as a "Catholic progressive" but for the fact that I hardly qualify as a practicing Catholic these days. As you have noted, the more liberal Catholics don't organize much, we just disobey or go away, effectively forfeiting our voice. But its not just the silent progressive (majority? plurality? large minority?) within the laity - it is also on the remaining moderate and progressive clerics. The last two papacies have carefully cultivated a crop of bishops that are largely sycophantic yes men, especially among the more progressive. These "leaders" have remained conspicuously silent while the Loris and Burkes of the world (and their lay buddies like Donohue) have been allowed to be the face of the Church. So there has been no voice within the Church for some time willing to say anything even mildly progressive. The best we had was when Lori and Burke were demanding that democrats be denied communion, and a few bishops were willing to say that was not the practice in their dioceses. None that I know of were willing to say more. Now that there is at least some (little) room for discussion in the Church, the krazies are stunned to learn that there are Church leaders that disagree with them and their Crusader pals. The silence of the progressives for all those years led the krazies to reasonably assume that the kind and understanding priest down the street was an aberration, and that "real" Catholics were all hard-hearted Burkeans. Maybe if we had insisted on being counted they would be less reactionary...

  7. Spot on about the Krazies, and they are the ones who have seemed to have the upper hand during the last few papacies. It's interesting to know that Guarnizo appears to be another rockstar cleric who has a talent for getting people to part with their money like Marcial Maciel did. His real story sounds like it would be a doozy. It's when these neo-trad priests start going all reactionary on the modern world that my BS meter goes off. Voris is a real head case. I watched the YouTube video where he told his audience that his model for American governance was a monarchy governed by a king who claimed to govern by divine right. Excuse me, but that model ended up failing in a number of locations, including France in 1789 and England in 1648.