Saturday, May 9, 2020


Pope Francis models for the world how to keep aerosolized prayer proclaimed in a forceful way as though directed to the congregation from reaching the congregation and endangering the health and lives of the congregation:

Also, since aerosolized speech and breathing can be transferred to the congregation especially with fan shaped and in the round churches where congregations face each other rather than God, major renovations of churches will lead to the third photo because the first photo in a second photo church is potentially deadly:

Danger, danger, danger:

Thus, NO! NO! NO! To this style of church:

And YES! YES! YES! To this style of nave and sanctuary:

I know because I celebrate both forms of the one Roman Rite that kneeling for Holy Communion makes it easier for me not to touch the tongue of the communicant in the EF Mass if the communicant does what I was taught about receiving Holy Communion as a second grader. You tilt your head slightly back, stick out your tongue in a natural not exaggerated way and wait for the priest to withdraw his hand prior to retracting one’s tongue or moving one’s head forward.

In the EF Mass the priest responds amen for the communicant thus neutralizing any spittle from becoming aerosolized and attaching to the priest’s fingers while these are close to the communicant’s mouth.

Other temporal life-saving aspects of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass are these, which the Ordinary Form is recovering for the temporal health of the laity and priest(s):

1. Ad orientem, the priest’s aerosolized words go toward the wall not the congregation
2. Hymn books are now deemed a deadly devise if Coronavirus attaches to them and are being removed from pews. Thus the choir or cantor needs to chant the entrance chant, hopefully the official Introit and the laity actually participate by meditating on what is chanted rather than joining in and aerosolizing the air with their viruses.
3. The offertory gifts are not touched by anyone, similar to the EF Mass where only the priest touches the sacred vessels. Except in the EF it is out of reverence, in the OF it will be out of fear of contagion or viruses attaching to the vessels carried by the laity.
4. Kneeling for Holy Communion will finally be seen by bishops as the only healthy way to receive Holy Communion without hand to hand contact or hand to tongue contact, not because and unfortunately so, it is more reverent to receive in the EF manner.
5. The Common Chalice will never return to the laity out an abundance of fear that Coronavirus will live on and in the chalice and the Precious Blood diluted with copious amounts of numerous communicants saliva. Unfortunately the concerning of profanation of the Precious Blood by contaminants or spilling it is not the major concern as it should be.
6. Priests will no longer be glad-handing the laity before and after Mass, although unlikely, this may lead to priests praying privately to God before and after Mass which is a custom of the EF Mass.
7. To prevent aerosolizing of speech with Coronavirus in the floating spittle, silence will be demanded in the church before and after Mass and physical distancing amidst the silence not because the Blessed Sacrament is there and demands silent adoration, but out of a concern for temporal health.
8. Of course the handshake/hug of peace will disappear out of fear of offending social distancing civil law not because it is a horrible distraction during the Communion Rite.

At least God is renewing the liturgy even though His human instruments are doing so for temporal health not eternal health.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I have no problem whatsoever avoiding touching either hands or tongue when I distribute communion. 99% of the people receive in the hand. Those who receive on the tongue are either kneeling or standing. Their posture does not make it easier or harder to avoid contact.

If you're touching hands or lips or tongue, you're doing it wrong.

I would be happy to provide a tutorial for you or any other priests, deacons, or EM's on the proper way to avoid contamination.

rcg said...

It would be a shame to return to ad orientem and more solid practices solely as a response to a hygiene crisis and not for a better expression of reverence and higher understanding of worship. To use such a mundane reason for turning East is to concede the main point of the progressives; that the actions of the Mass are only symbolic and can be altered ad hoc to suite whims of taste and era. If we do return to the old ways and methods we should be sure the door is shut and bolted behind us so we cannot go back through it in some misguided future fit of conceit.

TJM said...

The best news is that the common cup is gone! No need for all of those non-essential eucharistic ministers. In most parishes I have been in over the years, maybe 1 out of 4 people take the precious blood from the common cup anyway

Artificially Anonymous said...

Father, your reasoning is sound, which is exactly why the people who make these decisions will never accept it.

Bob said...

Father K needs to give the tutorial to in-hand communicants who WILL and DO touch hands by cupping hands to prevent dropping, and their actions quite outside his control. Now, if a good modern Catholic who does not care if God hits the floor, Father K's success rate in not touching anyone will be most excellent. Good job, Father K.

rcg said...

Hot off the ether frOm Cincinnati Archdiocese.

TJM said...


I noticed Holy Communion on the Tongue is strongly discouraged. Why is the Archdiocese anti-Science? I think receiving the Host on the tongue is far more sanitary. There is probably greater risk with several Eucharistic Ministers handing out the Hosts from their hand to ours. Just more left-wing loonism

Bob said...

Father MacD will enjoy the following, while Father K really NEEDS to read this, along with most modern bishops and priests who ignore all the Church aside from the piffling and only last 50yrs of the Church, centered totally on their own utterly insignificant lifetimes, which seems to be the measure of all things to them.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father Kavanaugh said:

If you're touching hands or lips or tongue, you're doing it wrong.

I would be happy to provide a tutorial for you or any other priests, deacons, or EM's on the proper way to avoid contamination.

Father, I believe you to be a sincere and truthful person, but I find this repeated insistence of your unbelievable.

I wish to know how you control the actions and movements of the communicant into whose hand you place the Sacred Host, specifically:

- So that s/he does not continue in motion rather than stopping still;

- So that s/he does not move his or her hands as you place the Host there, specifically (as Bob said above), cupping ones hand, or in bringing the second hand over too quickly.

My experience has been that there are more ways for someone receiving in the hand to make inadvertent contact than for those receiving on the tongue. In the latter case, I can more easily see that before it happens; i.e., I can ask the communicant (a) to open wider and (b) to put out his or her tongue. This experience -- confirmed repeatedly since this present crisis began -- is my basis for saying it is far easier to avoid tongue-contact than hand-contact.

So, as it pertains to the actions of the one distributing Holy Communion, I agree, it is not a problem placing the Eucharist on an open hand, or in an open mouth, without touching. But I have yet to awaken my latent psychokenetic powers sufficiently that I can prevent the hands (or head) of another person from moving in unhelpful ways. How do you manage to prevent the communicant from moving their hands at the wrong time or in the wrong way?

Anonymous said...

Read the directive from Cincinnati.
Pew management is well thought out, but I wonder how well and faithfully
it will be carried out and maintained, as it will need to be.
And of course, after the final mass of the day, the church will have to
be thoroughly cleaned.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Fr. Martin Fox -

What you choose to believe is up to you.

I do not have, nor does anyone distributing communion need, so-called "psychokenetic powers" to avoid touching the body parts of communicants.

With or without such power, I do not encounter, apparently, the number of wiggly, squirmy folks in my church that you seem to have in yours.

So, I don't have to, nor do I perceive the need to, "manage" the movements of communicants.

Maybe I just have better hand-eye coordination than those who struggle with cross-contamination in the communion line.

Or maybe, like Avis, I try harder.

rcg said...

TJM, I don’t think it is anti-science as much as admitting that the two variables of the untrained priests and untrained laity may be too difficult to overcome in one step. I agree with Fr. Fox based solely on the observation that tickets and receipts that are far larger and are in less need of scrupulous handling are placed on the counter rather than in the hand. The chance of the baton pass going wrong is too great with the great unwashed and the clerk that must perform the exchange hundreds of times each day. The answer is to make the case to the entire Archdiocese and explain how it is properly done. That would probably take two weeks to complete. With the training people would be able to adjust and self-critique if they mess up. Without the training mistakes will be used erroneously as evidence against communion on the tongue.

I also defend Archbishop Schnurr because he has supported our FSSP parish and the Latin Mass in our Archdiocese. He is even handed, as far as I know.

rcg said...

@Anonymous 2:45PM: Yes, I had the same thought. I have recommended that our KofC place painter’s tape on every other pew in two meter intervals and a canister of sani-wipes at each end. After Mass people wipe down and Knights and ushers double check their work.

TJM said...

Father Fox,

I recall you corrected Fr. Kavanaugh on another thread and he never responded. Your arguments were cogent, logical and forceful. He is not used to that. I would not count on a response from him now.

Anonymous said...

It does not matter if your hand touches the persons mouth when communion on the tongue because your hand is direct contact with the persons aerosolized breath. It is that breath moisture, and specifically moisture, that makes the transmission of the virus possible.

Bob said...

Father Fox, my experience as strictly a communicant is that only once has a priest touched my tongue with his hand, and it was mortifying to me, and it was replayed and replayed in mind, and could not see where I flubbed, but that it was the priest who flubbed, even though normally of flawless performance.

Conversely, when I have received in the hand, my hand has been touched too many times to count, often the priest pressing it into my hand as if to hope it becomes embedded and does not fall, and to where I nearly was worried it would jump out of hand when released by priest.

Bob said...

Anon, you speak with authority based only on one of many theories which have yet to be proven, when the fact is that we have no idea how even the common cold and flu is mostly transmitted.

I suggest you read this study of various mask studies, and despite the writer obviously seriously cooking the data before your very eyes to slant towards masks being effective, you will note their effort quite unconvincing, and most certainly also puts a huge dent in the aerosolized idea entire.

Bob said...

I would like to address commentary as to forcing people to use supplied wipes on pews, and, for that matter, hand sanitizer solutions.

10-15% of problems in serious allergic reactions of folk seeing dermatologists and allergists are caused by MCI/MI (Allergen Of The Year, several years back) which used as a shelf-life-extender anti-microbial in most every non-food liquid today, especially in cleaning products ranging from baby wipes to detergents to sanitizing wipes.

It HAS been removed from cosmetics, and maybe baby wipes, but still is used in too many products to count in the USA, including Windex, sanitizing wipes and gels/lotions. It takes very little exposure to trigger reactions for the rest of the person's life, to most everything now made for cleaning and personal care, including solid products which used liquids with these preservatives.

rcg said...

@Anonymous 4:16 PM. That is true within 6 feet anyway and the single most concentrated area of virus is on the hands. Mouth is still better.

Anonymous said...

Ok, a liberal is a liberal is a liberal. They will never change. The chalice may go away but it will be replaced with something worse.....individual shot glasses just like Protestants use. Just wait and see. The shaking of hands may be gone but it will be replaced by fist pumps and shouting across the aisle and endless waving to everybody. Communion on the tongue will be banned, Francis will have NO problem seeing to that. As for the offertory procession they will have drones or motorized vehicles bring it up. Just wait. The liturgy isn’t going to get better it’s going to get much much worse. Just wait.

Bob said...

My state, entire, guidelines, for the curious as to what other disjointed nationwide responses are being made...this covers several territories, including literal old territories and Nations....pdf, only, I am afraid....

TJM said...

Father Fox,

I am shocked K responded, but his first sentence is a mirror into his soul and personality: snotty and petty, not a good look. I suspect he has a lot of unaddressed issues.

rcg said...

Bob, I have noted your point on shelf extenders even in previous posts and need to look into that. However, armed only with what I have for information at this time, I must respond to the COVID risk first because it will kill them in two weeks. We will consider a site concocted solution of cleaner if we can be sure of its effectiveness and safety.

TJM said...


My parish opens next Sunday and my pastor, a 32 year old priest who celebrates the EF, will offer Holy Communion on the tongue. Our bishop fortunately rejects the leftwing loonies notion of "science"

Fr Martin Fox said...


Your point about being in contact with someone's moist breath is an interesting one, but it seems to me that this will be true whether the Eucharist is placed on someone's tongue or in the hand, for three reasons, admittedly conjectural on my part:

- The communicant is still breathing toward the person distributing, regardless of how the communicant receives Holy Communion;

- The communicant's breath is going to spread downward toward his or her uplifted hands -- if one's hands are held around one's chest, that's not very far from one's mouth.

- The communicant is almost certainly going to look down, and likely lower his or her face, toward the hand of the person distributing Holy Communion, with the result that s/he is breathing toward both his or her own hands, and the hand of the person distributing the Eucharist.

Yes, there would be a difference in distance, but are you certain that difference of inches makes that much difference?

Also, as should be obvious, the wearing of the mask only helps a little here, as the communicant must remove his or her mask to consume the Sacred Host.

Vatican Zero said...

Father K:

You admit in your first comment that 99 percent of the people receive in the hand.

Surely YOU as a priest KNOW that the indult (not the NORM) for receiving in the hand was obtained under false pretenses. If not, I will provide brief summary (there's a lot more to the story) here: Now disgraced Cardinal Bernardin was the president of the NCCB (now the USCCB) and pushed and pushed for this indult. Paul VI was RELUCTANTLY granting the indult to countries where bishops affirmed that Communion in the hand was a longstanding practice.


After Bernardin lost repeated votes to apply for the indult, HE CHANGED THE RULES for voting (how Alinsky-ish!) and permitted bishops absent from the meetings to vote in absentia. The vote barely passed.

The INDULT was obtained by lying. It was obtained by manipulating the rules and the man in charge of getting that change was a disgrace to his vocation. Yet even some of our "best" pastors have DRE's who year after year manipulate children who don't know any better in to receiving their First Holy Communion in the hand and they do nothing to stop it.

What about YOU, Father Kavanaugh? Are YOU OK with that? What are YOU doing to stop the sacrilege? What are you doing to prevent the particles of the Sacred Host from falling on the ground? What are YOU doing to protect the privilege of the ordained? What are you doing to make it more difficult for satanic cults to obtain consecrated Hosts? Are you re-catechizing your congregations as to the correct way to receive Communion? Are you informing them what an INDULT means vs. what the WORLDWIDE NORM is? If not, what is stopping you?

Bob said...

RCG, the active ingredient in the sanitizers is quick drying alcohol (which is in short supply here), which is harmless to many things, but which can be harmful to others, generally fine on polyurethanes, but not so on older varnishes, will not harm most plastics or upholstery, but certainly needs a good heavy wipe in some out of view spot for trial.

TJM, I am not a real regular here, only enough to note a very snide priest whose initials are FR. MICHAEL J. KAVANAUGH seems unable to resist visiting and "stirring the pot" as some Bergoglios of note, and it easy to see why he replied, as with his original post here, it was all praising him, and his reply also featured him in near every sentence. You really need to cut him some slack, as it is most assuredly hard to modest when one is perfect in every way.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it true that the only person required to receive communion during the Mass is the priest saying the Mass? Could that be the best solution until a vaccine is in use?

TJM said...


He is a nasty like his hero, Pope Bergoglio. I have been around dozens, probably over a hundred priests during my lifetime, and I like the vast majority of them.

rcg said...

TJM, that is heartening to hear. I am preparing myself to receive God physically, after so long. The prayer of spiritual Communion has been very powerful for me these last few weeks. It makes me more conscious what is happening with the Real Presence. I am almost fearful of it now.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Vatican Zero said...

"YOU as a priest KNOW that the indult (not the NORM) for receiving in the hand was obtained under false pretenses."

No, I do not, and neither do you.

"Now disgraced Cardinal Bernardin..."

He is not disgraced.

"What about YOU, Father Kavanaugh? Are YOU OK with that?"

I am OK with what the Church tells me is OK.

"What are YOU doing to stop the sacrilege?"

Receiving communion in the hand is not a sacrilege.

"What are YOU doing to protect the privilege of the ordained?"

No privilege of mine or any ordained person is in danger.

Bob, this is a public blog. As such, comments here are open for response and comment. I have never claimed to be perfect and never will. That you have to resort to a straw man argument in your comments about me indicates that your position regarding me is weak, if not entirely unsupportable.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how Fr. Kavanaugh tersely answers each point without bothering to explain anything.

The new clerical Know-Nothingism. Pretty sad.

TJM said...

Communion in the hand, as "Father" Kavanaugh knows came about as a result of rank disobedience and the Church caving in, just as they did with girl altarboys. My little old Italian pastor, before the Vatican caved on Communion in the hand, slapped the hands of a woman who extended her hand to receive. She then out her tongue. If more priests had had his courage, this silly and irreverent practice would not have taken hold.

Vatican Zero said...

Father Kavanaugh:

Setting aside (but in no way conceding) all the other points of my post, I cannot help but notice that there is one thing you chose NOT to address: My assertion that Communion in the Hand was not a longstanding practice (or, for that matter, shortstanding) in the United States. I suspect this is because you know fully well that point is irrefutable.

Connect the dots, good Father: Pope Paul VI--again, RELUCTANTLY--granted the INDULT--to nations where bishops' conferences held that receiving in the hand had been a custom of the people. Again, this was NOT the practice or custom in the United States and our bishops conference told the pope that it was: THAT IS CALLED LYING.


Anonymous said...

"My little old Italian pastor, before the Vatican caved on Communion in the hand, slapped the hands of a woman who extended her hand to receive."

He should have been arrested, charged with assault, and imprisoned for his rank unlawfulness.

Then, the faithful Catholic woman who merely wanted to receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity or her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ should have sued his clerical behind off.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes! How revenge and blood money solve all the problems of the Church, her priesthood and the world. I wonder why Jesus didn't teach that? I guess he was not as enlightened by our vengeful, litigious generation.

John Nolan said...

What Fr Kavanaugh did, and posting under his real name, was to reiterate certain comments and refute them. I don't see why any prolix explanation is necessary. Any man is entitled to defend himself, especially when he is defamed.

I assume that the hostile comments concerning Fr K come from those who know him personally. I don't claim that privilege, and my disagreements with him on a number of issues are based on what he writes rather than on any personal animosity.

CITH and 'serviettes' certainly started out as abuses which were later legitimized (since had they been ruled against that ruling would certainly have been ignored). But, deplorable as they are, they are allowed. Where bishops allow CITH it cannot be denied in the OF. But no priest, at any Mass, is obliged to have a woman server, even if no male is available.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on this one Father. While the Church IS the instrument of God's mercy on earth, it is also the army of spiritual warfare and there is no place for snowflakes and crybabies.

If anonymous would sue this old Italian priest, he would have had multiple lawsuits against St. Padre Pio--noted for a few well-needed slaps and kicks in the behind to wayward Catholics.

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

Anonymous K is really a sad piece of work. He needs his own blog. I should have added that the woman who got her hand slapped was a friend of mine and she laughed about it. But Anonymous K is devoid of a sense of humor so I did not mention that fact

Vatican Zero said...

John Nolan,

I do not believe my challenge to Fr. K is "hostile", as you put it but I may have given that impression. While I am VERY hostile to the practice of Communion in the Hand and the "rules for radicals" techniques that brought it into practice, I respect Fr. K as a priest even if I disagree with him. So, publicly, for any way that I have communicated hostility to Fr. K, I apologize.

Now please stop encouraging Communion in the hand!

Anonymous said...

TJM - I am not devoid of a sense of humor. I laugh at your posts regularly and with gusto!

Fr. McDonald - Defending a priest who slaps a woman's hands - not good optics there. What some jail time or a hefty fine or settlement might have "solved" was this priest's penchant for violence and his oh-so-clerical sense of entitlement.

TJM said...

Anonymous Kavanaugh,

This old Italian priest was the most popular priest in the parish, generally a kind soul. But unlike many priests today, he had the upmost respect for the Blessed Sacrament and was vigilant against profanation. At the time this woman did this, it was a profane act.

ANON said...

What do we call a priest?


If a father cannot mildly slap the hand of his children without the crybaby patrol screaming "child abuse" something is seriously wrong.

Then again, we've known for some time that something is seriously wrong.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

V Zero -

There was a time when every practice in the liturgy was "not a long standing practice." So your assertion "that Communion in the Hand was not a longstanding practice" is absolutely true and absolutely moot. The notion that any practice introduced into the liturgy - any addition, any deletion, any change whatsoever - must be one of "long-standing practice" is self-contradictory. Something novel is, by definition, not of long standing practice.

You have read and you believe that the introduction of communion in the hand or girl altar servers or the sign of peace shared among the members of the congregation or some other liturgical practice you don't like is part of a nefarious plot conjured up, overseen, and implemented by men of evil intentions. In your mind they might have been Masons or Communists or members of the Illuminati or some other group. But your wild imaginings don't make it so.

You and others have concluded that these things are intended to destroy the Church, to drive people away, to reform the Church into just another branch of Protestantism. You have chosen to believe these things because it serves your personal narrative; to wit, that you are right, that you are wiser than those who share the burden of authority in the Church, and that you are truly Catholic, and those who disagree with you are wrong, foolish, and not truly Catholic.

You and anyone else who feels this way is perfectly free to do so. And I am perfectly free to disagree.

The dignity of my priesthood, the dignity of any member of the priesthood of the Baptized or the Ordained, comes from the author of that priesthood, not from your approval.

John Nolan, I know personally one person here - Fr. McDonald.

Marc said...

Fr. Kavanaugh makes a pretty compelling point, actually. One can't seriously argue that Fr. Kavanaugh is out of step with the Catholic hierarchy and the faith. In fact, he is emblematic of precisely what the modern Catholic church believes, whether traditionalists like it or not.

The problem is that many traditionalist Catholic simply do not share the same beliefs as the Catholic hierarchy.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Marc - What I believe and teach is what the Church believes and teaches. There is no "modern" Church in opposition in matters of faith to an "traditionalist" Church.

You hold the position that the "modern" Church has abandoned, in some respects, the faith of the Church. You argue that there are aspects of the faith that, once believed and taught, have been sets aside or replaced by belief and faith that is incompatible with what went before.

The problem is that many traditionalist Catholics believe they are the authentic teachers of the Faith, which is wholly non-Traditional belief.

Vatican Zero said...

Father Kavanaugh,

With all due respect, HOW DARE YOU ATTEMPT TO READ MY MIND AND PRESUME WHAT MY MOTIVES ARE OR ATTEMPT TO DISCERN SOME "PERSONAL NARRATIVE" that suits my own personal "biases". You don't know me and you don't know a bloody thing about me.

This began as a discussion of practices. You admitted that Communion in the hand was a novelty. Enough said.

If you want more credibility it would serve you well to stick to the argument and save your soothsaying and pop-psychology attempts for your personal life.

What nerve. And a PRIEST at that.

ANON said...

The problem is, many in the Catholic hierarchy don't believe what the Catholic hierarchy has ALWAYS believed until the great rupture took place after Vatican II. God is the same yesterday today and forever. Bishops and priests should reflect that consistency and continuity, but should any of us hope for such stability now, we are told that WE have a problem, we are out of touch or we have some immature need for certitude.

Marc, you are quite right, Fr. Kavanaugh does appear to be emblematic of what the "modern" Catholic Church believes. However, your second sentence about "traditionalists" misses the point because you forgot to mention that they do not share the same beliefs as the "modern" Catholic hierarchy.

The Church should not be "modern" or "traditionalist". It should be CATHOLIC. Guess which group moved first?

TJM said...

Vatican Zero,

"Father" Kavanaugh is the poster boy for the dying, bitter old guard. Remember Einstein's definition of insanity?

Marc said...

Fr. Kavanaugh rightly notes that it is the hierarchy who teach. So whatever differences exist between the modern and historical (is that a better term, Father?) Church, it is the hierarchy at any point in time to set out the teachings. It is not the duty of the individual to do anything other than profess the faith as delivered to them.

There is a tension between the historical church and the current church - that is evident to anyone with eyes. What Fr. Kavanaugh is saying is that the hierarchy resolves that tension. And according to Catholic teaching and history, he’s right about that.

I think that, if people don’t accept this aspect of Catholic teaching, they should probably either reconcile their minds to it or search out a different religion that teaches something more in line with what they believe.

Anonymous said...


That "dying, bitter, old guard" seems to be finding just enough disciples to perpetuate their ecclesial vice grip. Just look at what was just appointed as coadjutor of the Diocese of Peoria. You know, Peoria, that anomaly among midwestern dioceses that used to have such a solid reputation? And he's young.

TJM said...


What if the heirarchy is infested with no-nothings, which currently seems to be the case? Sorry, no sale. Ever hear of the Arian heresy? A majority of bishops were on the side of heresy

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father Kavanaugh (whom I have never met) and I seem to disagree on some matters, solely based on our interactions here. That said, I have tried to be charitable and courteous toward him, and I think he has done the same.

There is a glaring disconnect when people seek to vindicate the Catholic Faith on particulars, such as the proper celebration of Holy Mass, or the proper way to distribute, or receive, the Eucharist -- but then, in doing so, manifest a gross lack of charity and respect for others.

It is particularly notable when people mock the priesthood of Father Kavanaugh with scare quotes or simply decline to refer to him as a priest -- from all appearances, this is because they disagree with his comments here. A priest you disagree with is still a priest, and whatever respect you believe is due to a priest and his priesthood, is due regardless of his views.

After all, if someone is wrong, should not your goal be to convince and persuade that person to change? And does rude and insulting behavior really seem the way to go?

Candidly, rude and insulting behavior happens far more because we get aggravated and overreact. It's very human, yet a pause is always called for. And stop and think about the fact that when we are not in physical proximity, and we have the shield of anonymity provided by the Internet, these conditions tend to bring out the worst in people. People say things to and about each other online that they would hardly ever say to each other in person.

Charity, brothers and sisters. You do not honor the Lord by defending him with a lack of charity.

Marc said...

In the Catholic Church, people don't get to decide not to listen to their bishop because they think their bishop is a heretic or wrong about something.

At the time of the Arian heresy, people were allowed to depose their bishops for heresy. Rome took away people's right to do that. Now Rome requires that you do as the pope and the bishop that he appoints say.

Vatican Zero said...

I agree, Father Fox and, for the record, I stated earlier in this thread that I respect Fr. Kavanaugh's position as a priest because it bothers me too to see people denigrate his priesthood or refer to him as any less than a priest.

However, courtesy and respect are a two way street. Fr. Kavanaugh might find that the good people who comment on this blog might take a kinder turn towards him if he would stick to the discussion instead of making personal remarks or assuming to read the minds of those who disagree with him.

During the last presidential election, there was incredible hostility from both sides as Clinton supporters derided Trump supporters as "monsters" and "deplorables" and Trump supporters denounced Clinton supporters as "socialists" or "unpatriotic" or what have you. The disagreements should be about issues and sometimes those disagreements can get pointed and heated. However, getting personal is only destructive. What works best for me is to assume that everyone who voted, regardless of who they voted for, did so because they sincerely believed they were doing what was best for their country.

Can't we, as Catholics, do the same? There has been a "civil war" brewing in the Church for decades and it isn't going to be resolved by either side getting personal or presuming to know the inner motives of their opponents. We have to try to believe that each side embraces what they truly believe is best for the Church and restrict our arguments to the issues at hand.

TJM said...

Father Fox,

I respect you because you are Catholic and display commonsense, which all priests do not.

This is what torqued me off:

" Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...
Fr. Martin Fox -

What you choose to believe is up to you."

You are fair more generous than I would be with a petulant comment like that coming from a brother priest.

DJR said...

Vatican Zero said... "We have to try to believe that each side embraces what they truly believe is best for the Church..."

Why should anyone believe that people like now-Mr. McCarrick or Archbishop Weakland or Bishop Bransfield or Bishop Ryan or Archbishop Hunthausen or Cardinal Bernardin or Bishop Ferrario or Cardinal Mahony or Bishop Trautman or Cardinal Danneels, or priests like James Martin, Richard Vosko, Edward Schillebeeckx, Hans Kung, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum, embrace/d what they truly believe/d is best for the Church?

In fact, it's the opposite. No one should believe such a thing.

Vatican Zero said...


I guess I should have qualified my comment by adding, "...unless we have strong evidence otherwise."

In the case of the people you mentioned...well, enough said.

Fr Martin Fox said...

DJR, Vatican Zero:

A wise friend of mine, who works in politics, taught me something many years ago. Namely, that your political opponents, however wrong they are, however bad their ideas are, nevertheless usually (not always) are seeking what they believe is good policy.

My friend would be amused to be put in the same category as St. Thomas Aquinas, but in his way, the angelic doctor made the same point: even when we sin, we still desire a good thing: we either desire a good that we are not entitled to, or we desire too much of it, or desire it in the wrong way.

As abhorrent as former Cardinal McCarrick's behavior appears to have been, even he was most likely seeking what he perceived to be the good of the Church or the nation, at least some of the time.

Did you ever see the movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? The corrupt senator is explaining to the newer, idealistic senator (played by Jimmy Stewart) how he came to be involved with graft. He says something like, yes, early on, I made the same compromise I'm asking you to make now; but I did it so that I'd be in a position to make a hundred good decisions for our country and our state.

My point is, feel free to lambaste people's wrong ideas and policies and behaviors, but there's no real point in trying to characterize their own inner intentions and purposes.

Anonymous said...

"...but there's no real point in trying to characterize their own inner intentions and purposes."

I think there is. And I think these can be known.

Motivations are not always pure. They can be purified, but don't always start out that way.

Some here claim their they, not those given the authority to teach in the name of the Church, to wit, bishops, can decide as individuals what is and what is not part of the deposit of faith.

What motivates such muddle-headed thinking? Lack of understanding of the Church's teaching on who has and who has not the authority? A desire for power? Simple arrogance? Poor formation during catechesis? Fear? A desire to be different in the hope that this difference will be noticed and praised? The unfulfillable hope of resurrecting a Church from the 1500's in the 2000's? Anger?

We can speculate and we can, at times, uncover the intentions and purposes that drive others' behavior and policies. And this can be helpful in responding.

Whatever the cause, we know that the claim regarding authority is unfounded and un-Catholic.

rcg said...

@Fr Fox; It’s funny but I had a similar counselIng session with someone in Washington some years ago. I was not an elected official and the compromises were not easily seen as illegal of immoral by themselves. But they built a great weight that could not be resisted. The question comes down to our own nerve and the vanity of our commitment. Do I starve the enemy knowing that he will inflict the greatest suffering on those most dependent on him for help even within his own circle? Do I make the choice, knowing it will starve the Innocents in the enemy’s camp in some strange bid for my own salvation? I do not believe that Mr McCarrick was wanting what is best for the Church unless he never gave any thought to the progress of his own projects. If he was not given in to evil then he was given to insanity. In either case he deserves my pity and prayers as well as removal of his wealth and reputation. If he sees the resulting dearth of comfort as suffering then he sees it through the same lens as he views his deeds. Those who, like the song says, let him go so long out of kindness, have earned my enmity, contempt, and perhaps someday, my wrath.

DJR said...

Fr. Martin Fox said..."My point is, feel free to lambaste people's wrong ideas and policies and behaviors, but there's no real point in trying to characterize their own inner intentions and purposes."

With respect, Father, would you apply said sentiments to people such as Mao, Stalin, Lenin, and Pol Pot?

What about "By their fruits you will know them"?

Fr Martin Fox said...


Your argument is not with me, but with St. Thomas Aquinas. Let me quote from an article on this subject, for which I will provide the link below:

Second, it appears that Aquinas is mistaken when he says that the ends for the sake of which we act are good. Clearly, many things we pursue in life are not good. Aquinas does not deny this. He agrees that cognitive errors and excessive passion can distort our moral views and, in turn, incline us to choose the wrong things. Aquinas’s point, however, is that our actions are done for the sake of what we believe (rightly or wrongly) to be good. Whether the ends we pursue are in fact good is a separate question—one to which we will return below.


This was the point I was making: that people we disagree with may indeed be doing things that are wrong, but -- as stated above -- they "are done for the sake of what we believe (rightly or wrongly) to be good." And yes, as far as you or I know, that applies to people such as "Mao, Stalin, Lenin and Pol Pot."

Can you demonstrate that when these people did the terrible things they did, they believed their acts to be evil and chose them for that reason? I have not spent much time investigating the reasoning and rationale these people offered for their actions; but what little I know is that they always justified them as serving some good.

To cite a far more common example, those who support legal abortion. What we all generally encounter is that people are supporting legal abortion not because they knowingly choose what they believe to be evil, but because they pursue some good (i.e., the welfare of the mother or the perceived benefit to society) over other goods (such as the life of the child). Their ordering of comparative goods is wrong; but it is not, as I said all along, a deliberate and knowing choice of evil as such.

Even if St. Thomas Aquinas proves to be wrong in saying that we never choose evil as such (but what we mistakenly see as good), what really is gained by focusing our attention and rhetoric on the motives and inner processes of other people? Who but God can really know those inner motives?

Is it not far better to focus our analysis on what is observable and measurable, which is their words, actions and the consequences thereof? So: you can say that Father So-and-so or Politician So-and-so are wrong in endorsing X (and explain why); but it is idle and perhaps even presumptuous to say that these people have evil intentions. That you cannot know.

Fr Martin Fox said...


I can't really know Theodore McCarrick's inner life and motivations, but it seems far more probable to me that, going back to the beginning of his vocation to the priesthood, and through his career, he was not 100% devoted to sin. Somewhere, somehow, he lost his way; and I can imagine (as can you) the sort of justifications or rationalizations he made for the predations and so forth; but everything about his life as a priest and bishop was not predation. He offered Mass, he heard confessions, he baptized and so forth, and it seems probable to me that lots of good aspirations remained in him all along the way.

That is why I have no problem supposing that he still had good intentions, mixed with bad. That's how corruption works, at least, I think that's almost certainly how it works almost all the time. The people who do bad, even very bad things, are seldom (I speak in a non metaphysical sense) bad "all the way through." If they were, you would not have all the astonishment and confusion when the evil deeds of people are unveiled. If someone were bad all the way through, the reaction would be, "no surprise there," not: "I can't believe it!"

And it ought to be clear that none of this is a defense or justification of McCarrick's (or anyone elses) evil acts, nor am I arguing for any particular leniency toward him or others; I'm simply talking about the mystery of evil as it works inside a human being.

DJR said...

Fr Martin Fox said... "Is it not far better to focus our analysis on what is observable and measurable, which is their words, actions and the consequences thereof? So: you can say that Father So-and-so or Politician So-and-so are wrong in endorsing X (and explain why); but it is idle and perhaps even presumptuous to say that these people have evil intentions. That you cannot know."

Father, it would be nice if you, or one of the other clergy members here, would weigh in with these sentiments the next time you see a typical post regarding the evil intentions of "right wing bloggers."

Fr Martin Fox said...


Either my advice is sound or it isn't. Please rebut my argument, don't try to make this about me.