The axe of St. Boniface…

After praying about it for a while, triggered by a surprising amount of cajoling from various readers that I should not abstain from commenting on this papacy, I have decided that I will add my two+ cents to some of the latest from Pope Francis. (Lest I sound boastful, I did not receive a ton of cajoling to keep up my “discernment” of Pope Francis, but it was more than the zero I had anticipated.) I no longer feel that looking into the abyss, as it were, is a spiritual risk for me, as it was a few weeks ago–but as soon as it does start to divert my attention from God and sap my joy, I shall focus on something else until the room stops spinning again.

Saturday afternoon whilst driving I was trying to think like a “soft ultramontanist” about Evangelii Gaudium. (I’ll have more to say about the Everything Exhortation in the near future.) I think a fan of Evangelii Gaudium would promote it like this:

“We live in a radically secularized and pluralistic world. Christendom is dead. All the old bywords are defunct, and to repeat them to a religiously illiterate world would be to alienate the world and only further marginalize the Church. We need to get back to the roots, the radical kerygma, the Good News simpliciter. This is Pope Francis’s masterstroke: he is breaking with the usual rhetoric and routines in order to get people to listen, and he’s feeding the world basic spiritual milk before expecting it to be able to digest the highest fare. This approach also works for Catholics in our day. The vast majority of Catholics are far more catechetically illiterate and spiritually shallow than most of us ever imagined, although Francis is painfully aware of the fact. As such, EG is a sustained effort to show Catholics across the spectrum the simple, underlying unity of joy that binds the whole Catholic life together. Even for Catholics, EG shows us, all the old terms and concepts must be bracketed in order to plant seeds of profound Christian commitment beneath the barren soil of ideological fatigue and cultural conditioning.”

How did I do?

My problem with this hypothetical defense is twofold. First, honestly, no one is going to read EG, at least not on the scale which my little apologia requires. (I am aware of at least one case where somebody’s lifelong agnostic aunt is “impressed” by Pope Francis and was “intrigued” by the hoopla surrounding EG, so she actually read the whole thing, but that might just be the exception that proves the rule.) Only eggheads in committed parish fellowships and Catholic reading groups will bother digesting the whole thing, but they’re precisely the people who least need a “joyful” kick in the pants. Meanwhile, conservative pundits are obliged to perform that ole-time Auto-Tune Pope magic on the weak parts, while liberals will make endless hay over those same parts in order to drown out the sustainably orthodox passages.


The second problem with the “transvaluation” defense of Pope Francis and his Magic 8-Ball exhortation–viz. that it succeeds by “dumbing down” the Faith to a more effective “common core” (!) of basic slogans–is that it’s simply not what the Church did to achieve its greatest evangelistic successes in the past. In the early middle ages the Church was trapped and immersed in a bog of religious illiteracy and disarray, but it was by pitching high, doctrinally, and proceeding like a phalanx tightly woven around the center–the monarchical and supreme Holy See–that half the world was converted and a barbarian morass became a powerhouse of worldwide evangelism for centuries. It certainly wasn’t by flitting about at the “periphery” and mumbling the lyrics to Burt Bacharach’s greatest hit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: In a generation we’ve gone from Church Militant to Church Amoeboid and now to Church Sponge. Give me the axe of St. Boniface over the resurrexifix of Pope Francis any day–and tomorrow wouldn’t be too shabby a day to start.

Pope Francis close up bling Ferula

As I’ll discuss in an upcoming post, one of the key motifs in EG is “newness” and “change”, presumably because the Church needs to get with the times and constantly be ready to meet the “needs” of “the people.” Specifically, the discrete word “new” appears 121 times in the exhortation, and “renew” appears 41 times, whereas the old word “repent” appears only twice, in one line, in a single scriptural quotation–in a 50,000-word document devoted to missions and evangelism (cf. comment #5 in this thread). Despite being released “on 24 November, the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, and the conclusion of the Year of Faith,” EG only mentions the word “king” twice (and, like “repent,” it’s only in a single scriptural quotation), while “kingdom” appears 21 times. In his first major address to “the Christian faithful” as a whole, the words “Church Militant,” “purgatory,” and “hell” show up a grand total of zero times. Then again, “sin/sinful/sinner” does appear twelve times in EG (and once even in the same sentence as “repent”!), so at least we’ve got something traditional to feed into the Catholic Auto-Tuner 6000.

lego-church-promo¡Hagan lego!

“But, but,” some will object, “he was speaking about jooooyyy, not all that heavy, dark stuff!” Fair enough–or not, since “joy/joyful” shows up only about 75 times in EG–but, lest we get too carried away with visionary tinkering on a Church-wide scale, consider how quickly things can go wrong in dogs when a few desirable traits become a Procrustean bed for otherwise healthy, time-tested development. The Church is not a mere assemblage of negotiable themes and customs, not a bunch of spiritual Lego blocks to be constantly adjusted in order to meet consumer demand, and for anyone to presume that he can reshape the Church in a “programmatic” way is as grotesque as it is short-sighted. As a commenter named Dumb_ox noted at Louie Verrecchio’s blog, while Pope Francis makes hay about the evolutionary flexibility of the Church qua living organism, he neglects to mention how his putative source for that idea, St. Vincent Lerins, even more vehemently rejects novel tinkering and changes. It was precisely along those lines that Verrecchio had quoted Pius X in Pascendi Dominici Gregis (#55), thus:

“[The Church must] combat novelties of words remembering the admonitions of Leo XIII. (Instruct. S.C. NN. EE. EE., 27 Jan., 1902): ‘It is impossible to approve in Catholic publications of a style inspired by unsound novelty which seems to deride the piety of the faithful and dwells on the introduction of a new order of Christian life, on new directions of the Church, on new aspirations of the modern soul, on a new vocation of the clergy, on a new Christian civilisation.'”

lego mess

No doubt it’s a joy to throw open the lid of the Church, dump out the gifts given to us by Father, and let our friends from outside play with them till kingdom comes, but it’s hell to pick up the mess once it’s been made.

About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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36 Responses to The axe of St. Boniface…

  1. tamsin325 says:

    To extend the legos-on-the-floor metaphor, young children often end up shoveling and kicking and throwing the pieces, trying to out-do each other in range. They enjoy the sights and sounds of plastic tumult with their friends.

  2. “No doubt it’s a joy to throw open the lid of the Church, dump out the gifts given to us by Father, and let our friends from outside play with them till kingdom comes, but it’s hell to pick up the mess once it’s been made.”

    As a cradle Catholic born in the mid 1950s, I am struck by how perfectly the above sentence of yours sums up what conservative cradle Catholics my age were saying in the 1970s about Vatican II and its aftermath. These themes and complaints long predated your reception into full communion with the Catholic Church. Yet, forty years later, the Church is actually in better shape, on the whole and worldwide, than she was then. That is not a coincidence.

    Of course the traddies like to say that things have improved to the extent that JP2 and B16 rolled back the reforms of Vatican II and simply reiterated the perennial doctrinal and liturgical patrimony of the Church. But that is manifestly untrue. Both men were active at Vatican II and were thoroughly committed to implementing it. What Francis is really on about is completing that process, which in some ways has barely begun.

  3. Ibn Yaqob says:

    You are making every idiot mistake every anti-John Paul II radtrad flake made in the late 90’s up until his death.

    So much raw stupidity here were do I begin?

    > First, honestly, no one is going to read EG, at least not on the scale which my little apologia requires.

    This reminds me of the Gnus on Feser’s blog or over at Dangerous Minds who say “Nobody is going to learn Thomism it’s too hard blah blah blah….”.

    Low information Catholicism is something we should battle not encourage.

    I’ll deal with the rest later I have work to do.

  4. The second problem with the “transvaluation” defense of Pope Francis and his Magic 8-Ball exhortation–viz. that it succeeds by “dumbing down” the Faith to a more effective “common core” (!)…

    You mean like C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”?

    Now I know that his address is quite different…but you act like that’s an inherently bad idea with your outraged exclamation point, when obviously it’s not.

    I’m also not sure how an outright example of a Protestant reading the document because Pope Francis impresses and intrigues her is an “exception that proves the rule”. That concept never made sense. No, it’s an exception that provides a legitimate challenge to your entire argument. This is exactly what people who support Pope Francis were hoping was going to happen. The truth is that you have no idea how many on the fence Protestants would be interested in this, and now we have an example of an on the fence Protestant who read it and was impressed. I think this at least makes your entire mini-dissertation here a LOT less self-evident than you seem to think, and at most it provides a real challenge to your premise.

  5. My exclamation point did not express outrage but mere emphasis. I’m a public school teacher. The phrase “common core” is making the rounds these days, as is statism and collectivism. I find it… notable that these Tendenzen are prevalent in Catholic discourse as well.

    As for Lewis, he was an Anglican, so his emphasis on the via media is no surprise. If EG really is addressed to the Catholic faithful, then why is it so watered down. We’re already catechetically illiterate enough worldwide. It wouldn’t–ah well, I guess the B16 bias is showing again.

  6. Murray says:

    “Yet, forty years later, the Church is actually in better shape, on the whole and worldwide, than she was then.”

    Of course, if you choose to begin a time series at its minimum point (i.e. the Catholic Church circa 1973), virtually anything will look good by comparison. Go back a further 10-15 years–how does today’s Church compare to 1963 or 1958? Choose any metric you like: vocations, Mass attendance, Catholic parishes or schools per-capita, cost of Catholic education, adult conversions, you name it.

    Which is why your final sentence is so chilling: if a mere partial implementation of Vatican II emptied parishes,seminaries and convents, inspired disastrous wreckovations and liturgical freelancing, laid waste to catechesis, and led to ubiquitous dissent among lay, clergy and episcopacy alike (etc.), what fresh hell might we expect from its completion?

  7. Once the media is done with EG, it will be a few soundbites about the economy. It’s simply too large and too rambling to become a true manifesto, especially since it’s just a chipper reassembly of numerous Vatican II themes and slogans. The whole point of the Annus Fidei was to get the Church as a whole reacquainted with and inspired by the V2 documents, in order to reunify and revitalize the faithful. How did that work out? Now Francis seems to be trying to make the same kind of V2 waves again, but with his personal charisma as the main draw.

    The reason I call that agnostic’s reading an outlier, is because she was vaunted as an example precisely to refute the trend of EG swiftly passing into the brambles of internecine Catholic exegesis. It was brought up by a zealous reader of EG in a conversation about how few people are even aware of EG. There’s a reason such anecdotes stick out: because they are so rare.

    Of course I pray for lasting fruits from EG, but the promissory note of a new springtime has been a long time coming since John XXIII.

  8. Quite right, Murray. This post contains a number of salient data on how the Church has “improved” since V2. –>

    They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I’d say the entire post-conciliar fallout gives a good example of that.

  9. If we’re catechetically illiterate, getting back to basics isn’t necessarily a bad idea. The best Theology class I ever took, and it was great, used “Mere Christianity” as a textbook.

  10. This is also true. If only there were more eggheads like yourself! 😉

  11. The notion that things were relatively peachy on the eve of Vatican II, that the Council was responsible for ruining them, and that they’re still ruined, is ridiculous. I have personally lived and experienced everything you’re talking about, and I’ve seen it from all sides. Things were bad in 1960; they were worse in 1975; they are now better than in 1975, and I expect that, in another generation, they will be better than in 1960.

  12. tamsin325 says:

    “internecine Catholic exegesis” 😀

    thanks. if we don’t laugh we’ll cry.

  13. ErnstThalmann says:

    “Both men were active at Vatican II and were thoroughly committed to implementing it. What Francis is really on about is completing that process, which in some ways has barely begun.”

    Now that’s the whole of the question, isn’t it, Michael? Is Francis about completing the project of Joseph Ratzinger, Hans urs von Balthasar, Henri du Lubac and Communio, International Catholic Review? Clearly, these were the intellectual giants of the last four decades. But to imagine Francis as the finisher of this project is pure burlesque. If anything, he appears its antithesis. We’ve got a loose cannon here and no right to recall. Frankly, I’m considering the exit.

  14. While I’m at it – you were the one who brought in the loaded phrase “Common Core” (I myself am writing a paper on its horrors for Educational Psychology).

    Anyway, you ask why its so watered down if its addressed to the Catholic faithful. I think it’s pretty clear, and you hint at this even when you point out that you doubt the “right” people will read it, that it’s addressed to a certain subset of the Catholic faithful. When we talk about “interpreting” Pope Francis correctly, you seem to see it as rationalizing his mistakes; I look at it as figuring out, with everything he says, who his audience is supposed to be. Who is Pope Francis addressing here? Does that tell us anything about the language he’s using?

    I loved Pope Benedict. But here’s the thing – the Church didn’t really improve at all under his papacy. If anything, we learned of more scandal up in the higher ranks of the Vatican, with the infamous “Vatileaks”. His biggest impact is with Summorum Pontificum, I have seen absolutely no evidence of it taking effect anywhere. None of my many Catholic friends know it exists, or would care if they did know. It was a nice sentiment that represents what may or may not have been the right idea. I don’t think it’s going to do a thing,

    The SSPX, you say? You mean the ones who DIDN’T reconcile with Rome under Pope Benedict’s papacy?

    Keep in mind, as I said, I really do love Pope Benedict XVI. I think “Summorum Pontificum” (which Pope Francis hasn’t spoken about, and which I highly doubt he’ll repeal) is a very good thing. I think his Regensburg Address was brave. I think his efforts with the SSPX were highly admirable, and he probably came closer than anybody else even could have to reconciling with them. I also think the smackdown he laid down on the LCWR was great. But this contrast between Pope Benedict the Great and Pope Francis the Always Mistaken isn’t accurate.

  15. See, when you say you’re “considering the exit”, this is exactly why I react the way I do – because I think the conservative overreaction is extreme. There is absolutely no reason to consider the exit from a doctrinal standpoint. None of the Church’s claims are being undermined by the Pope. You’re going to consider the exit because you’re not a fan of the Pope.

  16. Yet it’s okay to exult in the idea that a lot of people will ENTER the Church because they are fans of Pope Francis. I don’t feel as strongly as Ernst does, but perhaps he only means an exit to a different rite. I’ve been tempted myself, and know of at least one reader here who has considered it a huge balm to have been delivered from a lot of the Roman rite mess in our day, in the shelter of an Eastern Catholic rite.

  17. If he is only switching rites – More power to him!

    Yet it’s okay to exult in the idea that a lot of people will ENTER the Church because they are fans of Pope Francis.

    I think this fails as a reply. We’re hoping that people who enter because of the love the Pope is showing will stay because they grow to love the Church. People who leave because they dislike the Pope…they’re doing something wrong, plain and simple. Catholicism has never worked like that.

  18. ErnstThalmann says:

    malcolmthecybic & Cogitator,

    Truth be know, Francis is close to being the last straw in a decision to leave the Church. I converted to Catholicism roughly twenty-five years ago after an earlier, profound conversion experience that brought me out of both atheism and the worship of reason. In between was a journey involving a return to the Mainline Protestantism of my youth and dissatisfaction there with its entanglement in liberal politics; a subsequent period in Evangelical Protestantism with concerns about it focus on bigness, God & country authoritarianism and, of course, its errant vision of Scripture and its inspiration. Throughout, my focus was on theology and in learning precisely the vision of reality that Christianity taught. I got what I was looking for in the Catholic theology of the 20th century and the feeling of there being something missing that motivated my journey in the first place disappeared. I was encouraged by the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI and the direction they took and found my faith developed and reinforced by the theologians at Communio, International Catholic Review. I sought out of love to offer what I’d learned, most notably about the dogma of the Holy Trinity by offering several local parishes a formal book study build around Cardinal Kasper’s, the God of Jesus Christ. In eleven instances I was turned down flatly by the pastor in each instance.Had I offered a similar study in a Protestant environment, the opportunity would have been embraced enthusiastically. But it was not in Catholicism; after all I was not a priest. I suppose it might have been enough if I were then to have found decent fellowship in the Church but I never could. There was the occasion when I faced major surgery for cancer, was promIsed a hospital visit by priest only to have him fail to come. I was getting tired of raising my voice against the Sr. Mary Margarets of the diocese who without concern of discipline took it upon themselves to alter the words of Scripture for the readings so as to conform them to some cheapened vision of the feminism that had so captivated them. And then there were the eruptions in the priesthood and seminaries concerning pedophilia and homosexuality which dominated the most recent decade. Francis has somehow crystallized everything that always has concerned me about the direction of the Catholic Church. He seems to me the antithesis of the Benedict whose theology, intellect and example had served as an anchor for my Catholicism for a very long time. I have no such respect for Francis, nor has he given me any justification for respect. I’m at a crossroads and no longer attend Mass.

  19. wewjude says:

    I’m truly thankful you’ve decided to publicly contend for the faith (Jude 3-4). Keep up the good fight brother!

  20. c matt says:

    I suppose there is nothing wrong in theory with a watered down approach for the poorly catechized. But the issue is what, exactly, is being watered down? Is it a watered down version of the poor catechesis we’ve been getting for the last 50+ years? If so, what’s the point? Most of Catholic teaching is really not that hard in the sense of being complicated. What is so complicated about abortion = murder, or homosexual acts go against the purpose of sexual intimacy, and therefore should not be engaged in or celebrated? These are not complicated – they are “hard” because they are hard to live up to for our current culture. When Franics waters these down (Who am I to judge, Don’t be obsessed), what he is doing is not simplifying the bases for these teachings, he is suggesting we ignore the teachings and focus on other issues, like youth unemployment. No wonder the world loves him. They love him not because he is leading them to the Church, but leading the Church to them.

    At least, that is how it looks. Maybe he will pull a bait and switch at some point, at which time they will no longer vote him Time’s Man of the Year.

  21. Dale Price says:


    It is a horror to be alone, and worse yet to be alone in the midst of people who are supposed to be your brethren and help you bear the load.

    The only advice I can offer is the advice I took: don’t cut yourself off from the sacraments. If Francis is the problem, tune him out. Ignore him. That’s tough, I know, since he’s the “Person of the Year” and so beloved by the wrong people for the worst of reasons. Tune them out, too. Tune out the well-meaning who have boarded the bandwagon. I’m not a fan, either, and have gagged on the unreasoning, unquestioning and sycophantic response to him by too many people. A few weeks ago, I was in your boat, starting to look for the exit, and even googling local Orthodox churches. To use a Lake mariner metaphor, my decks were awash with green water in heavy seas. But, prayer–including the hardest, chewed-nails rosary I ever grated out–Adoration, the sacraments. These kept me above water.

    The fact is, the Church is bigger than any papacy, even this one. Don’t read his stuff, ignore the hubbub and stick to prayer, scripture, traditional devotions and theology, and the wellsprings of grace–the sacramental life.

    It is not easy, and I won’t pretend it will be so, nor that the sailing with be calm seas. I have to imagine more head-shaking and annoyances await. But do not give up the race, at least not without remembering and exploring the riches in Christ that brought you here in the first place.

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  23. Leo says:

    “Once the media is done with EG, it will be a few soundbites about the economy.”

    Really, though, this is the key impediment here to effective evangelization, isn’t it? We are relying on our enemies to give us a fair airing of our views. The reality is that even if EG were as perfect a summation and expression of the immutable contents of the Magisterium as ever existed, the media would find a way to distort it — or failing else simply push it down the memory hole.

    The media of course has never been friendly to Catholics and all the bluster about Pope Francis notwithstanding, it’s never going to be (indeed the bluster is evidence of that — they only love him to the extent they think they can use him as a blunt object with which to bludgeon faithful Catholics). In the past, though, that wasn’t an impediment, because we had effective means of communicating the faith to the world and passing it down to our children. We no longer do. The means just aren’t there and worse, the vocabulary isn’t even there. This by the way really is one of the fruits of Vatican II and its deliberate dismantlement of the whole Catholic way of life in the name of interfacing with modernity.

    The conclusion we ought to draw from this is that all the evangelical hype is misplaced. The Church as it is today is simply unequal to the task of evangelizing the world. She needs to get her house in order first. Seriously, we are talking about bringing people by the boatloads into the Church, whereupon they will…. what? Be fully and wholesomely instructed in the faith by our legions of orthodox clerics and catechists? Be moved to repentance by any of the inspiring homilies currently given? “But souls are being lost outside the Church!” cries the gnu-Catholic. Well, it’s not looking much better inside the Church, is it?

    The problem is that “getting our house in order” is a task that isn’t going to be done by a smiling charmer like Francis or a theologian like Benedict, etc. It’s going to be done, if it’s going to be done, by a tough old sonofabitch with a bit of a snarl.


  25. Yes, there’s a difference between watered-down and down-to-earth catechesis. The pope has objected to aerosol theology before, and warned against “liquefying” the faith (WYD 2013), but doesn’t he have any idea how tone deaf this makes him look, in light of his own by-and-large Softserve waxing? Let’s go back to the Baltimore Catechism, if we need to re-educate myopic Catholics in a simple way. Truth has no sell-by date.

  26. ErnstThalmann says:

    Dale Price,

    Many thanks, Dale, for the caring – and helpful – response to my recent comment. If only Francis were the whole of the problem, he’s not. Francis is just the most recent obstacle. There are personal spiritual needs that are at the core of my gripe with the Church and they are just not being met, one such a need to bring any competences with which God has seen fit to equip me to the service of the Church. In a word, I’ve sought to love the Church with the intellectual gifts I’ve been given but nobody – certainly not the many parish priests I’ve approached over the years concerning the book study I’d hoped to conduct for them – wants what I have to give. And in instances where certain pastoral needs that I’ve had have needed to be addresses – my concerns regarding ending membership, for example – phone messages in search of help to priests have not even been answered. After a while, one gets the impression that you’re simply not wanted, eh?

    There is no fellowship worth its salt in the Catholic Church. My earlier experience as a Protestant in this respect puts my present experience to shame. I’d do better in a twelve step group than in the circumstances offered by my local parish. And, in Catholicism, we have but one place to look for these shortcomings: Those that run things. I’m left with what you have so kindly suggested: The sacraments. Until a few years ago when I discontinued Mass attendance, the sacraments were all I had. But they make for thin gruel when a drive to serve is one’s strongest impulse.

    Again, I most sincerely appreciate your kind comments. They have been received as they were offered: In Christ.

    Ernst Thalmann

  27. “There is no fellowship worth its salt in the Catholic Church.”

    My first year of college I went to an elite private university, but then transferred back to a huge state university in Florida. I enjoyed better fellowship at the state school, even though on many levels I was surrounded by more like-minded people at the private university. “The Catholic Church” is enormous, and I find that fellowship is as fellowship does. I am NOT blaming you for not trying hard enough, trust me; I am simply trying to commiserate in a constructive way. The Internet is a saving grace for many people. If priests and parishes around you don’t want what you have to offer, your input is very welcome here! I have had unbearably desolate phases in my life as a Catholic (only 8 years and counting now), and I have survived on the thin gruel of the sacraments. Perhaps you’re looking at in the wrong way, though. For me, the permanence–the sometimes monotonous givenness–of the Sacraments is a sign of God’s own permanence and abiding love. You are encountering none other than the Lord God in the “mere sacraments,” which you know, so, again, I am simply encouraging you. The ineptitude and lukewarmness of this or that pastor and of your fellow parishioners is just that–lukewarm ineptitude. Meanwhile, though, YOU ARE WANTED FROM ETERNITY BY GOD HIMSELF, and it is this fact which the Sacraments express unlike anything else.

    In any case, you need to countenance the fact that, as nice as the rush of warm fellowship might feel back in Protestantism, it, too, is finite and shall fade away. What will you do when you lose that “fellowship feeling” outside the Catholic Church? I don’t know, but it’s a dangerous precedent to establish.

    In any case, I genuinely welcome and embrace you here, so just know that you are not alone and I would hate to see you go out from us. Please be in touch.

  28. Dale Price says:


    Thank you for your response, and again, I’m sorry for what you’ve had to go through. One possible outlet for your desire to teach might be a Catholic homeschooling cooperative. Ours has weekly dogmatics and Latin classes, and parents attend the former.

  29. E.M. Howard says:

    Yes – thank you for continuing the fight and ‘putting on the whole armour of God’! Your insights are much needed. It’s very lonely right now trying to ‘stand against the wiles of the devil’ especially as it seems our beloved Holy Mother Church is morphing into the Church of Man. Dale Price – you have been a great help to me also. I find it best to ignore everything coming from Francis or his gang of 8 or even the Vatican and focus on that ‘ old old story’ of God’s redeeming love and our hope to be with Him forever in the next life. Have you noticed how much the Vatican now seems focussed on creating a utopia in this world now – wave to end hunger – end youth unemployment etc. Their pronouncements seems to be sounding more and more like the UN.

  30. ErnstThalmann says:


    I very much appreciate your kind invitation to participate here. I will do so.

    You know, I knew at the time of my being admitted to the sacraments that there would be a price to pay in terms of fellowship. What mattered to me most was that I’d finally come to rest with an understanding of the faith that was satisfying. Becoming Catholic was the most authentically personal decision I’d made in my life up to that time. It even cost me a relationship with a disapproving sister. But I loved God and wanted to know everything I could about him and, in Catholicism, I was in community with Joseph Ratzinger and Hans Urs von Balthasar, two men who gave me real answers to the theological questions that had challenged me, and that was primary. So I am in the Church out of a profound conviction, not a whim, and I’ve expected the Church to value that, but it hasn’t. I regret that and now feel at quite a distance from it as you might understand.

    In any case, your kind reception is appreciated. Hopefully I’ll have something to bring here that is edifying.

    Ernst Thalmann

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  32. joe m says:

    “Yet, forty years later, the Church is actually in better shape, on the whole and worldwide, than she was then.” Based on what stats, really?

  33. joe m says:

    Equating Francis to CS Lewis is ludacris. It’s tough to know WHAT Francis believes about Heaven, Hell, salvation. Not so Lewis. As for EG. no one will read it because like so much of Rome’s output,it is prolix to the point on sominex. It just isn’t very good. As a celebrity Francis gets an A. As a communicator, not so much. He is so elastic all asides can claim him. Now THAT’S good, huh?

  34. Oh, far from equating Francis to Lewis, I was contrasting their views on the value of seeking “the center” rather than merely holding hands at “the periphery.” Best. Archbishop. Of. Canterbury. EVER.

  35. I rank her up there with Ashley Simpson in singing talent, yeah that bad.

    Spider-Man barely had the strength to hold Green Goblin. Aquarius as the rebellions spirit and trendsetter is forging ahead into
    new adventures.

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