Thursday, August 5, 2021



What is the opinion of most Catholics who attend Mass each Sunday in the Ordinary Form exclusively? I really don't know and I am a pastor of an ordinary form parish.

The ones who have an opinion similar to those in Italy who wrote an open (and useless) letter to Pope Francis are like those in my parish who read blogs and get caught up in the hyperbole that blogs bring to Catholicism. There is an exaggerated sense of doom and gloom about this papacy.

I suspect most lay Catholics today, even those who attend the Ordinary Form Mass weekly and without fail, are open to women priests and the gender ideology of the day to include gay marriage. They think the Church needs to keep up with the times and modernize. Humanae Vitae needs to be abbrogated like Summorum Pontificum and natural law no longer touted as a means for heathens to learn about revealed truth in Scripture and Tradition and the perennial Magisterium of the Church.

And the ideologies of today are cloaked in "love, tolerance and inclusivity" which in and of itself is not anti-Catholic.  

I think the majority of practicing Catholics are ambivalent towards this pope but are in favor of what appears to be His Holiness' agenda, to update the Church in all of the categories I have just mentioned and to bring back the more radical interpretations of Vatican II often referred to as its "spirit."

Am I wrong?

But here's the letter that I copy from Rorate Caeli:

A Public Letter from Italian Laity: Francis, enough! Stop the ideological Civil War on the Church

This heartfelt letter by several Italian lay people was published today in Italian daily IL FOGLIO. The laity are exhausted after 8 years of war conducted from on top: we want peace. Stop, Francis, just stop.

Holy Father,

The latest book by Andrea Riccardi, founder of Sant'Egidio and a well-known voice of the progressive Catholic world is entitled "The Church is Burning: Crisis and the Future of Christianity ”.

We have not written any books, we have not conducted any detailed analysis, but we see every day the slow fire that devours and destroys the Catholic Church in Italy and around the world.

The resignation of Benedict XVI, eight years ago, left many in desolation and others in hope. For some time there was talk of the "Bergoglio effect", alluding to a rebirth that unfortunately never took place. On the contrary! The "Church that goes forth" has remained a slogan with no real application. On the contrary, the holy city of Christianity [Rome], in the age of covid, was the first to barricade its churches, giving the world a sign of total desertion.

We have witnessed synodal journeys that have seemed like real civil wars, with maneuvers committed to guaranteeing a Soviet-style democracy, and which have led to controversial and practically completely useless documents. The churches, the confessionals, even the Vatican coffers are increasingly empty: a sign that the People of God do not recognize the voice of the shepherds.

Chinese Catholics, led by Cardinal Zen, suffer from the Vatican's agreements with the Chinese Communist dictatorship; cardinals who have been in the breach for years, alongside you, like Becciu, have ended up in economic scandals that had not been seen since Marcinkus; others, such as Caffarra, Burke, Sarah, Müller, Pell, were humiliated, silenced and ignored; still others, very close to you, have prevented the US Bishops' Conference from going deep into the pedophilia scandal...

As if this were not enough, entire conservative religious orders have been commissioned and have had to suffer persecution that was unimaginable even in the darkest times of the Holy Inquisition; even personalities of completely opposite orientation, such as Enzo Bianchi, were "mercied" overnight, with unprecedented harshness. So have bishops, priests, religious... throughout the country.

The Church today truly is a "field hospital", filled with wounded, which urgently needs not so much speeches on mercy, but true, real, concrete mercy. And peace.

Your latest provision against the so-called Latin Mass has further wreaked havoc and division, without any motivation. Why deny that which your predecessor had granted? Why humiliate a tiny flock of faithful, accusing them all in a summary way, without appeal, and -- as it appears ever more evident -- with no basis?

Thus, after 8 years the "Church is burning" as never before: it is divided and torn apart, in Italy, in China, in the USA, in Germany… as in Luther's time.

We lay people, too -- albeit freer and not subjected to the growing arbitrariness of the clerical world -- suffer from this climate that has become heavy, almost unbreathable, this now total disappearance within the Church of all healthy plurality. Mother Church seems more and more like a stepmother, imposes anathemas, excommunications, commissariats, continuously.

We therefore ask you humbly: put an end to this civil war in the Church, as a Father who looks towards the good of all his children, and not as the head of a clerical current that seems to want to use his monarchical authority to the full, often beyond the confines of canon law, in order to accomplish an ideological personal agenda.

 Luigi Abeti, Tina Abbate, Francesco Agnoli, Sabrina Caporali, Teresa Di Chio, Claudio Forti, Silvia Frassinito, Giacomo Luigi Mancini, Simone Ortolani, Riccardo Rodelli, Manuela Zanzottera, Giovanni Zenone  

[Source: Il Foglio, via Messa in Latino]


TJM said...

Father McDonald,

Quite frankly I do not think most normal Catholics are into PF's agenda: global warming, globalism, illegal immigration, etc. The left would like you to believe that. Besides, so many millions of Catholics have walked away from the Faith, likely record numbers during this pontificate, so only a rump really remains at this point.

William said...

Vatican II or the Spirit thereof brought with it the end of Christian conscience formation. A Catholic's conscience is now autonomous. I've actually heard a Catholic say that bishops should not moralize. Woe betide the shepherds who've not fed their sheep.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

TJM, I doubt that there has been any scientific study to back any of what you have said, it is only anecdotal.

Joseph Johnson said...

Most people I talk to in my own parish and family have a sense of angst and disappointment with Pope Francis (as I do). We wish him well and wish he would be more clear in what he says and does (more like John Paul II and Benedict XVI). One faithful CCW lady in my parish, in her mid 70's and not a Latin Mass person, told me (after TC) that she no longer reads what PF says or writes and thinks "he's crazy." She could not understand why PF wants to limit or end the Latin Mass for those who find in it "a way to feel closer to God." My 83 year old mother has similar feelings (she attends Mass in both forms). My mother converted from Southern Baptist to Catholic in the late 1950's with Fr. Paine being her catechist. I view the NO through the lens of the EF. I cannot conceive how the Church can change what it believes or change its theology to the point that the older form of the Mass is now considered harmful and needs to be slowly phased out. I'm beginning to question whether, with a form of Mass that has such a long history (long before being codified at Trent), any Pope (despite being Supreme Legislator) has the authority to abrogate it.

Luckylady said...


In Australia, we have a full on ABS Census coming up...
To cut a long story short the so called progressive Left hates the fact that even in Australia, which is a MUCH more secular nation than the US, apparently c. 66% of people still believe in God.

Thus, there is a well funded campaign to get as many people as possible to tick: No Religion.

I am going to google more on this as I've heard talk regarding who are the key funders of this campaign...
As it has been said "follow the money"; so if the main people behind this are both often tax payer funded and the usual suspects (ie those who went after Cardinal Pell in the Australian media for YEARS or certain Australian musicians and songwriters etc...I would not be surprised. )

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

The plural of anecdotal is data. In a culturally and conservative area you minister in, I doubt Catholics are on board with the left’s agenda which PF has adopted

Thomas Garrett said...

I will make no pretense that those of us who frequent these blogs engage in hyperbole.


The very cosmic & spiritual situation we live in as God's creation demands it. What do I mean?

Read the writings of St. Ignatius, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Alphonsus Liguori--heck, read the Little Flowers of St. Francis--all of these saints employed what today's modern, enlightened mind labels as "hyperbole". And there is a very good reason why: The Four Last Things.

In the end, we are all either going to be in one of two places--only two: Heaven or Hell. The post-conciliar Church has completely de-emphasized that reality. But the saints KNEW it. They knew the ultimate importance.

We all want our kids to live well and we try to teach them to do so. But even more importantly, we need to teach our children to DIE well. We're all mortal and nothing, NOTHING is more critical than our eternal destiny. If anything else is more important, then tell St. Thomas More or St. Maximilian Kolbe or St. Edith Stein or any of the early martyrs.

This life is barely even a blip on the map of eternity. Your destiny after this life is what counts. You want to call that hyperbole? Fine, but there it is.

Catholics who understand this are fare more likely to engage in hyperbole.

But if you really think that hyperbole is mere exaggeration for dramatic effect, then perhaps some more "balanced" and "reasonable" person can find a less "exaggerated" way of emphasizing the transitory nature of this world and the permanence of eternity.

John said...

It always puzzles me when I hear the phrase "updating the church" I do not mean that I do not understand what the two words mean. But how do you update what Jesus Christ taught us? If the person using such language truly means that Jesus needs updating from time to time, then, I believe he does not know what he is talking about.

But I do not think that is what is meant in new-Church speak. In the secular world the words are used to sell something as in marketing, product advertising. If a theologian proposes some heterodox idea he will say this or that doctrine needs updating. Luther, Calvin and a lot of others embraced updating as a career. Their eager efforts lead first disunity from the Church established by Jesus. Ultimately, the named updaters's spiritual descents like the idea so much that they are still doing it. Benedict XVI taught a different kind of updating. He understood aurthentic updating in continuity with Tradition. Organic development by restating doctrine consistent with "what has been taught always and every way."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I don't pretend that I can read Pope Francis' mind, but he has elevated pastoral theology to a doctrine or even a dogma. That's can't occur because pastoral theology is always local and yes, it can be mistaken, depending on the priest who provides it.

For example and examples are always dangerous. Let's say I am counseling a Catholic who is homosexual and very promiscuous but the poor soul really doesn't like his lifestyle and wants to change but is having a difficult time of it. There needs to be some kind of pastoral solicitude toward him and if I can get him to settle with one person and rather than multiple partners, isn't that a better solution if he can't be celibate?

But that is a local discernment that can't be made universal.

What about a gay couple who are civilly married, are Catholic and then adopt children or do something else that provides them with children. What kind of pastoral solicitude do we offer them, if and this is a big if, they truly want to bring their child/ren up in the practice of the faith and use the parish school or religious ed programs.

That's a local discernment.

But it isn't doctrine or dogma and can be wrong.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

To be honest, when all of this stuff was in the closet it was easier on the instituional church and families, but today it is out in the open and celebrated by the culture, families and many in the Church.

Michael A said...

I'm not sure why you ridicule the letter as being useless. It is well reasoned, thoughtful and truthful. I enjoyed it. Thank you for posting it. But if you think the letter is useless then the same can be said for your blog and everything that every person writes on it. I don't happen to think this is the case. It’s always good to share intelligent opinions. I’ve learned many things from you and this letter is instructive too. It would help for the Catholics, who you say are apathetic, to read it. In fact, the letter is intended for them more so than for the Pope.

Your knee jerk reaction to Francis' Motu Proprio was to blame the stubborn rednecks who provoked the old man one too many times and they got their comeuppance. If that is in fact true then it might be articles like this one that that came across his desk and rather than react in a Christian manner the Holy Father had a tantrum and looked to exact some revenge. I think if this letter was read by you then there's a good chance of it being read by Francis. But, it won't melt his heart or reflect but likely cause him to kick and scream some more. If I knew that what I wrote would be read by him and irritate him, I would consider it to be a success and far from useless. Nearly everything he has written has rubbed me the wrong way so he needs to have his nose rubbed into the truth as often as possible regardless of what his next retaliation might be. I might add to the Italians’ letter a paraphrase from American politics. Francis seems to like American politics so he might enjoy the slogan: "De-fund Francis"!

Michael A said...

I'm not sure your pastoral care in regards to the married gay couple is on the right track. If you allow them access to all the privileges of the Church community/parish then you are endorsing their public sin and thereby set a dangerous example for everyone else in the parish. If I'm at Mass with my wife and three children and we are sitting behind the gay couple with their adopted child(ren) then what kind of psychotherapy are you prepared to offer to me and my family? And if you allow them to go to Holy Communion then I may as well crawl up to the steeple and jump because I'll have no hope. What I do know is that I would expect the gay couple to be proud supporters of Pope Francis, but they don't represent the rank and file Catholics left in the Church today.

I think as the Church keeps shrinking, that the number of liberal Catholics as a percentage of the whole is getting smaller. I can't prove it, but I would be eager to get some statistical data on it. We do know that all Christians who attend church regularly are much more likely to vote Republican and that should tell us something about the people who are left occupying our pews.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

By useless, I meant in terms of the three cardinals Dubia and other clarifications asked but ignored. It is called passive aggressive. And yes, since, pastoral solicitude is not a doctrine or a dogma mistakes are made as I clearly wrote.

Michael A said...


Understood. Thank you.

Mark said...

Father McDonald:

Thank you for posting the letter from Italy. As a counterpoint is a piece that appeared recently in America magazine titled “Confessions of an Exhausted Catholic”:

In this country (and perhaps many others) these two contrasting perspectives parallel (sometimes quite literally) the divisions in our politics. The same challenge would seem to exist in both spheres: How to create bridges rather than walls? This is not just a trite slogan but gestures toward a serious and necessary moral endeavor.

I do find one observation of the America magazine article quite compelling as the author urges us to take the long view:

“I buck myself up with a reminder that Catholicism is much bigger than the latest scandal or headline. The church is an ancient, beautiful and flawed vessel that has carried the best and worst of humanity over the centuries. At my baptism, I inherited a faith tradition and history rich with the treasures of mysticism, the examples of fearless spiritual reformers, people who tried to follow humbly in Christ's footsteps.

“They walked alongside corrupt men, hungry for power, who led lives juxtaposed to the gospel on their lips. At times, the saints and sinners could be found in the same person. Sin and grace are not served a la carte. This is how it was and will always be. Being a member of a church that stretches back to the time of the apostles imbues you with an appreciation for the long view. . . .

I still believe the best of Catholicism can enrich our culture, politics and search for meaning. The artists, activists and ordinary Catholics who live our faith in the shadow of scandal and hypocrisy are not blind to the flaws of our church. We persist because we search and struggle together, connected in spirit and memory to all those who did the same before us, and to future generations who will take up this difficult, worthy pilgrimage after we are gone.”

aka Anonymous 2

Mark said...

Correction: NCR not America magazine.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The NCR article should be read with the article I link in the post above this one. The author of the NCR article thinks the Church can and should change any and everything to comply with current political and ideological sentiments, including gender ideology and the like. While he and most people of good will decry the scandals in the Church, not all are equal. What the now laicized and former Cardinal McCarrick did, he did with some of the most important people in the Church and the media knew. That’s the deeper scandal and it goes right up to several popes including the current reigning one. But he was a theological progressive, advocated for same sex civil unions, while upholding in a fake way, sacramental marriage between one man and one woman. He, like Popes Paul and Francis think and thought the pope can change everything and the faithful, unless they go into schism with him, are to obey for the unity of the Church centered in the pope. Never mind that the unity of the Church is not centered in the visible head of the Church but in her invisible Head, Jesus Christ. And His teachings are well known, out in the open for the least theologically educated to discover. There is no elite clerical caste that knows something different then what can be discovered through intellectual curiosity and study.

Mark said...

Father McDonald:

I read the article linked in the post above this one but am unable to understand whether the author would accept the OF in the vernacular even with the constraints you advocate for it. Does the author consider that the OF in the vernacular violates the condition for acceptable reform he identifies?

“[T]here must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.”

How do you understand the author on this point?

It seems an important question because, unless the adherents of the EF accept the legitimacy of the OF, properly celebrated in the vernacular, then there will be no bridges and the walls will grow only higher. And is this the mindset that, rightly or wrongly, Pope Francis ascribes to the adherents of the EF?

As you know, I have no problem at all with the Latin Tridentine Mass and consider it a mistake to have eliminated it in practice as an option in the wake of Vatican II. But can the same be said for many of the adherents of the EF: Do they accept the legitimacy of the OF, properly celebrated in the vernacular? Or is it, “My way or the highway,” mirroring the intransigence and intolerance of the Vatican II elites the author of the article laments?

TJM said...


The my way or the highway applies in spades to PF and like-minded bishops. It is they, who have the power.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Mark there is no doubt that there are extremes in some of those who promote the older Mass but there are extremes in the “new” Mass communities too and more extreme than what the Pope thinks is bad about the EF extremes. Yet he coddles those extremes and crushes the opposite. It is very odd and inconsistent to say the least.

I happen to have agreed with Pope Benedict that having the two forms of the Mass was to exert an influence on both forms and lead to one Roman Missal again with the best of both incorporated. There is no hint that Pope Francis is moving in that direction. I have written before, too, that the Ordinarite’s template of its Missal, issued by Pope Francis, which is quite ironic, is that template.

But I fear that Pope Francis by stealth sides with the heterodox in the Church as symbolized by Germany’s synod. Yet this pope speaks out of both sides of his mouth and is intentionally muddled and ambiguous about endorsing and cautioning what is the German Church today. yet with the traditionalists there is a clarity that is lacking in so much of Pope Francis’ magisterium.

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

Best thing you have written on the subject!

V for Vendee said...

Who’s the Father of Ambiguity again?

DJR said...

Mark said... As you know, I have no problem at all with the Latin Tridentine Mass and consider it a mistake to have eliminated it in practice as an option in the wake of Vatican II. But can the same be said for many of the adherents of the EF: Do they accept the legitimacy of the OF, properly celebrated in the vernacular?

But there's the rub. No one can tell us what the new Mass, properly celebrated in the vernacular, is supposed to look like.

The implications of such a phrase, i.e., "properly celebrated," are clear: that almost the entire Catholic hierarchy, including several popes, along with the majority of priests, have not been "properly celebrating" the new liturgy.

But according to whose assessment?

The new missal permits "inculturation." As a result, what one person thinks of as "properly celebrated," another considers sacrilege.

Mark said...


That is a very fair comment, and surely a springboard for a serious discussion about what the criteria are, or at least should be. Will there be argument about this? Yes. Is that a bad thing? No, not necessarily, provided it is a rational enquiry undertaken in a spirit of good faith (pun intended) and with openness to learn on all sides. Am I being an idealist? Probably.

Mark said...


So, can we agree that everyone, and that means everyone on all sides, has to jettison the “My way or the highway” attitude?

TJM said...

Sorry Mark,

You and I are not in control - PF and his like minded bishops are. No sale. If we were someone in control, then you would have a point

Mark said...


Perhaps I am being dense but I genuinely do not understand_your_point. Why are we even talking about the matter at all then?

TJM said...


You seem to think there is some moral equivalence when the parties are not of equal standing. Besides, even if some EF attendees say mean things about the OF and Vatican II, that is hardly a justification for withholding the EF from those who do not. The Motu Proprio is the epitome of "my way or the highway." To see how a real Shepard is handling things, please read Bishop Paprocki's interview:

Mark said...


Are we miscommunicating? I said “So, can we agree that everyone, and that means everyone on all sides, has to jettison the ‘My way or the highway’ attitude?”

You do see the word “everyone” there, stated twice, I hope.

If your complaint is that someone, i.e., Pope Francis, is not jettisoning that attitude, it seems that, logically, you should agree with me, not disagree with me—unless, of course, you also think that some others (perhaps including yourself?) should not jettison that attitude. Please help me understand, because I still do not.

I read the interview with Bishop Paprocki you linked. As I have made clear on this Blog over many years (as Anonymous 2), I defend and have always defended the “right” (I will use that strong term) of Catholics to be able to attend a Tridentine Latin Mass, and I agree with much of what the good Bishop to say. I am, however, puzzled by his concluding speculation that Pope Benedict hoped a future pope might one day merge the EF and the OF into a single form. I do wonder whether that is correct. Moreover, personally I am a “liturgical pluralist,” and consider that the Church should offer forms and styles that “inspire” people (who are clearly different from one another) in different ways.

For example, despite having seven years of school Latin and having studied Roman Law in the original texts at university, I do not prefer the Latin Mass. Perhaps it is a failing on my part, but I like to think it is because I appreciate the beauty of the English language, when delivered properly, and possibly with the bias of someone who served as a lector for thirty-five years and who attempted to do just that. For the same reasons, and pace Father McDonald, I do not care for a sung Mass. It does not inspire me at all. I am just being honest here. This said, I accept completely that others are different and would be greatly inspired by forms and styles which do not inspire me.

It is on this basis that I would like to see conversation proceed, subject to the very important caveat articulated by DJR. And subject, too, to the further caveat that it is indeed critical to restore a sense of mysticism to Catholicism. But there are ways to do that other than just in the Mass. Indeed, I suspect that restricting it to just the Mass may in fact be harmful and counterproductive. To take a prosaic example, if we are not overcome by the mystery that is the miracle of childbirth or, at the other end of life, by the mystery of death (and by so much else in between), then there is something wrong with us! I suspect that what that something is goes by the name of the Enlightenment (enlightening in some ways but darkening in others)!

TJM said...


You have purposefully ignored Papal Knight, William F. Buckley’s comment on the OF. If you prefer the banal and droll, have at it! Obviously you cannot appreciate the grandeur of the Mass at the Brompton or Oxford Oratories! Sad

Mark said...

In the final paragraph the word “awed” would be better than the word “overcome” unless, perhaps, we say “overcome by awe at” -:)

John Nolan said...

Mark (aka Anonymous 2)

I was interested to read your comments regarding the sung Mass. Evelyn Waugh found music, especially classical music, painful to listen to; this was one reason among others why he preferred the Low Mass. On one occasion he was attending a Solemn Mass at Farm Street when he spotted a priest emerging from the sacristy, preceded by his server, to offer a private Mass at a side altar. Waugh left his place to attend it.

My preference is for the Sung Latin Mass (in either form) but I can understand why others are drawn to Masses in English, or the EF Low Mass. But I'm fortunate in having a choice. Reading some of the comments here, the only options for many people are putting up with an abusive 'liturgy' with dreadful music, or driving for hours to find a TLM.

John Nolan said...


Most of the Masses at the Oxford Oratory, including all the normal weekday ones, are in English and not sung. London has four Masses on a weekday, two in English and two in Latin (one EF, one OF). Birmingham has, on a weekday, two English Masses and one Latin Mass; on a Sunday two Latin Masses (including the Solemn Mass) and three English ones. Birmingham is unique in that all its Latin Masses are in the Old Rite, and it uses the 1955 Ordo for Holy Week. All three Oratories have Vespers on Sundays and Holy Days in the older form.

The feature of all the English Oratories is that every Mass, High or Low, Latin or English, is celebrated with the utmost reverence and attention to detail, and the preaching is orthodox but often with a lightly humorous touch (very English).

I'm sure someone with Mark's liturgical preferences, which incidentally are widely held, would appreciate what's on offer. But if you want versus populum celebration, Communion standing in both kinds, extraordinary monsters and altar girls, you will be disappointed.

Mark said...

Thank you, John, I am sure I would (including of course the light humor!). It may be that my difficulty with a sung mass is personal, having to do with aural discrimination issues or some such. I only know that, whereas I usually try to follow the words of the Mass meditatively, I cannot do so when the priest sings it.

Thank you for your wise tolerance on these issues. I wish TJM shared it. My hope is that after reading your comment, perhaps to some extent he now does.