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A Non-Catholic German Warns Against Protestantization of Catholicism

In the wake of a recent critical overview of the four years of Pope Francis’ papacy as presented by the German Catholic journalist Matthias Matussek, another German journalist (who is not a Catholic) has now raised his voice of resistance with respect to Pope Francis. We speak here about Jan Fleischhauer, who is an editor of the influential secular weekly magazine Der Spiegel, and who, in 2009, wrote a book about his change of conviction away from a leftist to a more conservative viewpoint.

On 17 April, Fleischhauer published a column in Der Spiegel which is entitled “Self-Secularization: The Sponti-Pope [i.e., the spontaneous Leftie Pope](“Selbstsäkularisierung: Der Sponti-Papst”). With its subtitle, the author already indicates what he criticizes the current pontiff for:

Among Church critics, Pope Francis is much appreciated due to his pandering to the zeitgeist. Unfortunately, he thereby repeats the mistakes which the evangelical church has already committed.

Fleischhauer himself knows what he is speaking of here, because he himself was for many years a member of the Evangelical Church in Germany – mainly for political reasons. However, he later left the Protestant church and now describes himself only as a conservative. But he now also shows some admiration for the unmodernized Catholic Church when he writes:

The only Church which one can take seriously is the Catholic Church. I know that this sentence is for many readers an imposition, and I am also sorry that, of all years, I have to write this sentence in the Luther Year [of 2017].

Especially because he has seen some of the gravely defective adaptations of the Protestant church to the zeitgeist of his time, Fleischhauer now regrets that Pope Francis is now leading the Catholic Church into a similar ethos and direction. First, he describes his own admiration for the Catholic Church when he says that

Everything that critics bemoan about the Catholic Church – the Marian devotion, the cult of the Saints, the priesthood, the liturgy – is what, in my eyes, speaks for Catholicism. In addition, of course, to the length of time: an institution which is 2,000 years old has to be taken more seriously than one, let’s say, that is only 500 years old. Whoever was there first as Church, clearly has, when one deals with the last questions, the first position. Everything that [innovatively] comes later is, up to a certain point, heresy.

When speaking about his own final leaving of the Evangelical Church in Germany – at the moment of his own analogous change of political views – Fleischhauer explains just how weak the spiritual roots of Protestantism actually are:

Since the spiritual roots of Protestantism are thin, there is little that holds one back if one changes one’s worldview. A church in which not even the very existence of Heaven and Hell is binding becomes – for everyone who could only be kept in [the church] with the help of faith – a lost cause.

It is here that Fleischhauer sees that Pope Francis is now committing a comparably grave mistake:

If I am not mistaken, then, the Catholic Church is right now repeating the mistake of the Protestants. At its peak stands a man who shows a strange disdain for everything gradually grown and rootedly traditional and who enjoys surprising the Church people with thrown-down follies and jokes.

The German journalist then makes the explicit reference to Matthias Matussek’s own recent “fulminating text” and says that the Catholic Matussek “understands much about the importance of Dogma as a dam against the relativizations of the zeitgeist.” Fleischhauer places Matussek next to the German author Martin Mosebach, “another great Catholic reactionary.”

It seems that Fleischhauer understands more about what has happened to the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council than many Catholics of today, as he attempts to explain:

One could, if one wishes, see in [Pope] Francis the perfecter of a development which started with the Second Vatican Council. The first blow was taken against the liturgy between 1962 and 1965 – not accidentally a decade in which everywhere in the world the iconoclasts leaped greatly forward.

Here we Catholics are being rightly instructed by a German journalist as to how the Catholic Church removed “important elements of the centuries-old rite” because “she wanted to adapt to the zeitgeist”: “Priests no longer stood before the altar, but behind it, like behind a moderator’s table of the “Tagesthemen” [a German TV news show].” He also mentions here the thorough removal of the Latin language and the dubious permission of Communion in the hand. Piercingly, Fleischhauer adds:

Where they also took it especially seriously with the change of times, the clergymen themselves dragged the altars into the fields and chopped the Saints’ statues into pieces. For those without faith, these things might appear to be minor things, but, of course, it is not. Whoever has once assisted at a Mass in the old Tridentine Rite knows what the Church has lost when she succumbed to the 68-rush [cultural revolution of the 1960s].

Fleischhauer makes a prediction for the future of the Catholic Church, namely: if she follows the road the Protestants have taken, she will lose Church members and, consequently, will then consider adapting even more so to the zeitgeist in order to be purportedly more attractive. In the end, says the German journalist, the Catholic Church will have the same dilemma as the Protestants: “If the Church dissolves that which differentiates her from those other secular offers professing to give life a meaning – why then is the church still needed?” It is in this context that Fleischhauer sees the growth of Islam in the world which seems to move into the vacuum and to “fulfill spiritual needs better than the Christian competitor.”

This article written by Jan Fleischhauer is an uplifting as well as sobering event. It shows to us how elements of truth will always find their way into the minds of honest people. We have seemingly come to a point where modern man is becoming tired of the pervasive relativism – and its accompanying ideologies – for, they do not correspond to reality. Man has a thirst for the true, the trustworthy binding, and the beautiful. The modern world has mostly produced ugliness, loneliness and a lack of love.

Is it not time for all of us – inside and outside the Catholic Church – to make an effort to free ourselves cooperatively, to come out from under the “rubble” and thereby to find the way back to the deeper sources of trust and joy which can only be found in and through Jesus Christ Our Savior – and in His Sacramental Church?

49 thoughts on “A Non-Catholic German Warns Against Protestantization of Catholicism”

  1. Comrades, so much of the trouble in the Church has come from German-speaking theological Brown Shirts such as Von Balthazar, Rahner, Kung and of course Ratzinger – the list goes on. Now we have Kasper, the Mad Mullah of Mercy, and Koch, the Gauleiter of Ecumania.

    Talking of lists, the Great Stalin looked up the wikipedia article about the German theologians of the 20th century and found that Bormann was listed. So now we know what happened to him.

    • Martin Adolf Bormann (14 April 1930 in Grünwald – 11 March 2013 (aged 82) in Herdecke) was a German theologian laicized Roman Catholic priest, the eldest of the ten children of Martin Bormann and a godson of Adolf Hitler.

      …Following a near-fatal injury in 1969 Bormann was nursed back to health by a Religious Sister, Cordula. He ultimately left the priesthood in the early 1970s, and they later both renounced their vows and were married in 1971. They never had any children.

      In 2011, Bormann was accused by a former pupil at an Austrian Catholic boarding school of raping him as a 12-year-old when Bormann was working there as a priest and schoolmaster in the early 1960s. Other former pupils alleged severe physical violence had been used against them and others. Bormann denied knowledge of the events.

      Wow. I had no idea.

  2. Heresy is not departure from that which is older, in terms of belief. It is departure from that which is true, yesterday, today, and always. Therefore, it is a mistake to see in the Bergoglian pontificate a merely Protestantizing influence, as though any “chirch’s” raison d’etre is to maintain/ increase the numbers of its own members or its impact on the surrounding culture. Our purpose is to be obedient to the true, living, and only God in the task of saving eternal souls. What we are up against isn’t simply a new Luther, for not even that heresiarch spoke against the authority of the papacy as a pope himself. But the article’s analogy of dogma as a dam is correct; and in Amoris Chapter 8 especially, the integrity of that “dam” has been breached.

    • Maike, send him over here to my ranch! We can take the horses into the mountains for as many days as it takes him to get it all worked out. He won’t turn down my wife’s Kartoffel Kliesels, Rolladen and glumpkies, either.

      And I have a couple FSSP priests I’d like him to meet!

      • RTHEVR, you are entirely sincere in your invitation, aren’t you? I think it would be simply awesome if he took you up on your invitation! Stranger things have happened

        • Jawohl!

          Mit Sicherheit!!

          But he’ll have to excuse what I remember of my High School German. That was almost 40 years ago!

          Invitation stands.

          Rod Halvorsen

          {PS. He probably speaks better English than I do anyhow. LOL}

          • Europeans often speak multiple languages — unlike folks in the USA who tend to think the world revolves around English. Yes, he probably does speak better English than you.

          • What do you call a person who speaks 2 languages?…Bilingual

            What do you call a person who speaks several languages?…Multilingual.

            What do you call a person who speaks One Language?…An American.


    • Chloe, you hit it on the head! This gentleman has summarized what The Remnant, The Angelus, Catholic Family News, 1P5 and other TC publications/sites have been saying for years.

      If I could, I’d give you 1000 up votes.

      • how kind Margaret! If he reads this I’d say “Come home dear. It’s awful right now but we need the family to rally round”

  3. A piercing article. Thank you. May it be widely read by NuChurch adherents who wonder why the Faith seems so dead at times. There are many out there. I was one. My husband and children, too.

  4. ATTENTION: Cardinals, Bishops and Priests –

    How many more NON-CATHOLICS will it take to point out THAT which you FAIL to acknowledge?

    The Church Militant

  5. How many more layman, non-Catholic as well as Catholic, have to offer the grace of their intellects, raise their voices, in order to move a petrified clergy class addicted to the zeitgeist into simple awareness of reality?
    Our pastors are pied-pipers, our ecclesiastics nothing more than ordained sycophants possessed of geriatric dementia.
    A brilliant contribution
    Thank you 1P5 for making it available — so much would go unknown to us were it not for your extraordinary work.

  6. Many of us converts have similar observations of the pre- and post-V2 Church culture and popularly understood doctrines.

    For those of us blessed enough to have a Traditional parish in which to worship and grow, a visit to a novus ordo congregation can be utterly shocking.

    Just before Easter Sunday Mass, my son {also a convert} who attends a NO parish told me the woman choir director, from the balcony, couldn’t take it anymore and blasted the congregation with a scolding over their irreverent pre-Mass “fellowshipping”. He said it took her two attempts to quiet the rabble.

    I know…just one more anecdote…..

  7. I am sure that all of us who used to be Protestants can identify totally with Fleischhauer’s arguments. We saw and lived through the chaos and degradation of any last vestiges of Christianity in those pathetic faux-churches to which we belonged.

    However, there is a good reason why Francis is taking the Catholic Church into the abyss along with the Protestants – he is a Protestant. He may be a well-intentioned Protestant, but from his rejection of reason to his teaching that “Christ became the devil for us”, he sounds more and more like “Luther redivivus” every day.

    • Actually he is worse than Protestant. Luther said by faith alone one could be saved. Francis says that by no faith one can be saved.

      • Pope Francis has lowered the standards. You don’t need faith – just “be a good person.” Unless you’re a full-blown sociopath that’s not a grand standard.

  8. Not only is the church’s historic teachings important to preserve but her new teachings are stunningly prophetic eg on ivf.

  9. How better to destroy the Church then to make her so modern that she becomes irrelevant. And we all know whose goal for 2,000 years has been her destruction! I have a suspicion that the Master is saying to faithful Catholics, “if you want My Bride to survive, then stand up and FIGHT for her! You need to pray, but you also need to act.”

    Here and on other sites we get the “news,” but our participation is vicarious. We are merely spectators watching the bark of Peter slowly slip beneath the waves like the good ship Titanic. What then? Do we give a standing ovation for a well done performance? We ARE supposed to be Soldiers for Christ and our Commander long ago gave us marching orders.

      • Organize, stage protests, let the faithful, authentic, orthodox clergy, religious and laity know the Church is alive, bleeding and battered, but alive. Fight back against Francis and his legions. Demand the Church return to its pre-vc2 orthodoxy. Demand that Francis and his clowns be deposed. In short adopt and use — in a respectful, Christian, law abiding form — Alinsky’s playbook for radicals. We need to do these things and more PUBLICLY and in a way that draws attention. What are we willing to sacrifice for the One True Holy Apostolic Faith? Martin Luther King Jr. Did it and got the civil rights law passed. The anti-Vietnam War crowd made the government change its program. The suffragettes did it and got the vote. So, what are we waiting for? I’d start something, but I don’t know how to do what needs to be done. I know what we need to do (the goals and aims), but not how to get there. But I will do everything I can to help. I am far more willing to give my life for Christ and His Church then I was for civil rights and I almost died in Selma!

        • Honestly, we need to do something.

          I am DAILY astounded that we have no one among the Bishops willing to FIGHT. Oh, we get the occasional effete little assessment, or statement of concern, or suggestion, or in Burke’s case a sweet gentle promise of a “correction” that with all his otherwise lavish and disgusting praise for Pope Francis might as well be a kiss on the forehead of a marauding crocodile. Otherwise, nothing.

          One very respected and well loved Bishop even emailed me and told me not to read scandalous reports of what is going on. Great. THAT’S the solution to the widespread heresy in the Church? Bury our heads?

          My take is that all these guys are either in tacit support for the general direction of the
          opposition to orthodoxy or they are, in short, simply scared of being “Levebvre’d” which is to say crossing the line whereby the Current Inhabitant can find a reason to excommunicate them.

          I just wonder if God is waiting to act for an actual MAN among the prelates to push his head up above the sewage that has become the top crust of Catholic hierarchical culture over the last 50 years.

          There are ways a MAN could state the case, ways that are so entirely orthodox and PERFECT in their teaching, ways that do not disobey any direct order, ways that wholly and completely reinforce clear Church teaching that an attempt to excommunicate them would be so obviously fraudulent it might just begin the toppling of the whole houseful of sodomite supporters currently running the show.

          May God save the Catholic Church.

          • I was away from all religion for several years. When I was “reconverted” (a long strory), I found my way back to the One True Church via a couple of protestant denominations, the last of which was Episcopalian. By that time the the NO Mass was well entrenched. I knew something was VERY wrong when, because the NO seened so familiar, I compared the Missal with the Anglican “Book of Common Prayer.” The comparison revealed the two are virtually identical. Any differences are quite minor. Then I read the Vatican Council II documents and I became even more uneasy. I doubt that most Catholics, even the faithful minority, have carefully read those documents. Subtly interwoven into most of the high theological sounding documents are phrases, sentences and whole paragraphs that suggest or outright state denials, vagueness and contradictions of sound, correct, long standing doctrines and teachings of the authentic Catholic Church. Those who are not well versed in the orthodox doctrines and teachings would be misled by the reasonable sounding arguments put forth in the documents of Vatican II. The communications by Francis and his fellow modernists are in the same pattern of subterfuge. I think the whole lot of modernists, regardless of their position within the Church, need to be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. Now what did I do with my pitchfork?

          • Although my return to Catholicsm was 25 years ago, thanks! It changed my life drastically including leaving my career as a professor of computer science to go back to school and get a Masters in Theology. But that too is another story. But I have a question for you which might be better asked in a private communication.

          • Just done. Same subject line. Maybe the first attempt went to your junk/spam mail folder. If you don’t get this one, I suggest you check there..

  10. “Pandering to the zeitgeist” has increased exponentially since March 13 2013. Those who, prior to the installation of Jorge Mario Bergoglio might have been a little bit more cautious now cast all restraint out the window, and do so with impunity. A phrase emerged a year or so into the current pontificate/regime’ “Francis bishops” to describe the kind of “merciful” clerics upon whom Bergoglio smiles so approvingly. What the originator of this expression intended is unclear, but some would argue that it can only be justifiably used in a pejorative sense.

    Only this morning, I once again came across the observation made by Servant of God Fr. John Hardon shortly before his death. Speaking of the culmination of the spiritual battle for the soul of man; a battle that has been intensifying for the last fifty years, he said: “Only heroic families will survive this war. Only heroic bishops, only heroic priests will survive this global conflict between the powers of darkness and the powers of light. Only heroic religious will be able to endure. Only heroic men, women and children will remain Catholics and Christians and faithful followers of Christ. Where can we get the light and strength we need to remain spiritually alive in the modern world? The sources are available. They are constant, humble prayer, frequent reception of the sacraments and devotion to Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist. Either we have recourse to the sources of divine grace available through prayer and the sacraments, or we shall become casualties in the ongoing war between the followers of satan and the followers of Jesus Christ.”

    Of course, this good and holy priest wasn’t talking about physical survival, but about whether we spend our eternity with the God who made us for Himself, or otherwise enjoying Lucifer’s infernal hospitality. When each one of us dies, it will be too late to figure out that we backed the wrong horse. And tragically, far too may of our bishops and priests are, collectively, the “wrong horse”.

  11. The process of Protestantization has been fully active in the Church since Vatican II now reaching it culmination with our present Pope. The culmination has reached such a point that now we have a Pope in name only (PINO) serving Catholics in name only. The laws of the Church and Catholic doctrine are mainly manifested in the breach. Our present situation cries out to the heavens for remedy. But like the parable of ‘The Rich Man and Lazarus’ the answer may be the same, i.e., you have already been told the remedy.

  12. The Institutional Church is reaping what the devil has sown. The Sacramental Church is reaping what Jesus has sown. For the Sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have Mercy on Us and on the Whole World. This is the True Mercy before which Francis’ form of mercy withers.

  13. Is there a way to forward this article and its comments (including prayers and invitations) to this journalist? I will certainly add him to my prayers of intercession. Yes, he is becoming Catholic and he does not know it.

  14. Of course Germans are known for their high intellect. But if such a ‘sound personality’ as Jan Fleischhauer, thinks that Francis is even a Catholic and the institution he heads is the Catholic Church? Then we must conclude that the famed German intellect is colluding with those seeking to destroy the Catholic Church!

    What Jan Fleischhauer think Francis is doing is a calculated plan by the enemies of the Catholic Church to bring down the ONLY TRUE spiritual institution on earth.

    Jan Fleischhauer ought to have read history to see the hermeneutics of evil which led to the election of such a horrible Character as Angelo Roncali to the papacy and what led to the Second Vatican Council.

    If he reads, then he will know that the ‘Protestantization’ of the Catholic Church began when even before Pope Pius X! Pius X fought the enemies and other popes fought them as well and then they took over everything and started a secrete and gradual process of destroying finally, the Catholic church! Today, the true catholic Church is in eclipse!

    To fail to see that Francis is NOT a Catholic and his institution is also not Catholic is a BIG minus in the intellect of Jan Fleischhauer and that ought to worry every thinking human being!

  15. Nothing wrong with Evangelicals and the Catholic church taking the example of less emphasis on the authority of the Pope and one Church, and more on the Bible and autonomism of churches. The problem with the Protestant reformation was once they questioned the church they then questioned the Bible. Keeping a strong Pope won’t stop liberalism, because once the Pope is liberal how do you question him. The Evangelical are right when they say the Bible is a product of God not the Church. I as a Catholic don’t fear reform, just liberalism.


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