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Cardinal Müller: “People Working in the Curia Are Living in Great Fear”

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, just gave a wide-ranging interview to Edward Pentin, the Rome Correspondent of the National Catholic Register. Among other important aspects of this report, Cardinal Müller for the first time admits publicly that the Congregation for the Faith did not itself edit the final version of the papal document Amoris Laetitia, and that he does not even know who actually did the final editing of that document. In this 29 September interview, Cardinal Müller for the first time revealed how fear-filled the atmosphere in Rome now is. He also calls for a further discussion of the dubia, and he defends Cardinal Carlo Caffarra in his expertise as a moral theologian. In the following, we shall present the most crucial section of that lengthy interview in which he explicitly speaks about people who are being spied upon in and about the Vatican:

Careerists and opportunists should not be promoted, and other people who are competent collaborators not excluded without any reason or expelled from the Curia. It’s not good. I heard it from some houses here, that people working in the Curia are living in great fear: If they say one small or harmless critical word, some spies will pass the comments directly to the Holy Father, and the falsely accused people don’t have any chance to defend themselves. These people, who are speaking bad words and lies against other persons, are disturbing and disrupting the good faith, the good name of others whom they are calling their brothers.

The Gospel and the words of Jesus are very strong against those who denounce their brothers and who are creating this bad atmosphere of suspicion. I’ve heard that nobody speaks; everyone is a little afraid because they can be snitched on. It’s not the behavior of adult people, but that of a boarding school.

[Edward Pentin:] One senior Church figure, speaking to me on condition of anonymity, called it a “reign of terror.”

[Cardinal Müller:] It’s the same in some theological faculties — if anybody has any remarks or questions about Amoris Laetitia, they will be expelled, and so on. That is not maturity. A certain interpretation of the document’s Footnote 351 cannot be criteria for becoming a bishop. A future bishop must be a witness to the Gospel, a successor of the apostles, and not only someone who repeats some words of a single pastoral document of the Pope without a mature theological understanding. […]

[Edward Pentin:] Regarding Amoris Laetitia and the fear of criticizing it, and the lack of response to the dubia, isn’t the irony that it goes against the Pope’s wish for parrhesia (to speak boldly and frankly) and dialogue?

[Cardinal Müller:] Everyone who becomes bishop, cardinal or pope must learn to distinguish between the critics who are against the person and critics against the mission you have. The Holy Father, Francis, must know that it is important one accepts his intention: to help those people who are distant from the Church, from the belief of the Church, from Jesus Christ, who wanted to help them. … This discussion is not against him, it is not against his intentions, but there is need of more clarification. Also, in the past, we had discussions about the faith and the pastoral application of it. It’s not the first time this has happened in the Church, and so why not learn from our long experiences as Church, to have a good, profound discussion in promoting the faith, the life of the Church and not to personalize and polarize? It’s not a personal criticism of him, and everybody must learn it and respect his high responsibility. It is a very big danger for the Church that some ideological groups present themselves as the exclusive guardians of the only true interpretation of Amoris Laetitia. They feel they have the right to condemn all people of another standpoint as stupid, rigid, old-fashioned, medieval, etc.

Nobody can, for example, say Cardinal Caffarra didn’t understand anything of moral theology. Sometimes the un-Christian behavior is printed in L’Osservatore Romano, the semi-official Vatican newspaper, or given in official organs of the media, to make polemics and rhetoric. This cannot help us in this situation — only a profound theological discussion will. [emphasis added]

These observations and comments have some grave implications with regard to the papacy of Pope Francis, inasmuch as he is, finally, responsible for this atmosphere of fear and distrust in Rome; and even for the suppression of some of the orthodox clergy and laymen (such as the highly respected Professor Josef Seifert).

In another section of his interview, however, Cardinal Müller insists, with regard to the confusion concerning Amoris Laetitia, that it is somehow not the pope’s fault: “I think the Pope should not be blamed for this confusion, but he is authorized by Jesus Christ to overcome it [the confusion].”

Cardinal Müller is at least to be commended for his courage to speak much truth in this new interview, and he likely will suffer for it. However, one may politely challenge him as to why he still does not call that man to come forth who is actually responsible, in the end, for this current state of affairs within the Catholic Church: Pope Francis himself. Do we not all have a duty loyally to resist him for creating such an atmosphere of fear and distrust and for suppressing the truly orthodox teaching? For, is it not finally about Christ’s own truth that we reverently speak?

107 thoughts on “Cardinal Müller: “People Working in the Curia Are Living in Great Fear””

  1. I’m frankly sick of hearing about the poor Vatican employees and priests and their “fear” for their jobs.

    Every Catholic man among us who is gainfully employed faces threats to his career over ethical and moral temptations that are no less important or serious to them than what our churchmen have to face.

    Catholic men are rightly expected to live upright and honorable lives no matter the threats.

    So should our leaders.

    If the president of the company I work for went off the rails and started badmouthing the mission statement of our business and guided our customers to other companies or told them not to buy our products, he would get an earful and fast.

    But ooohhh, the poor Catholic leaders are….FEARFUL.

    I’m sick of it and I bet every other Catholic man is, too.

    Grow up, priests and bishops and do your jobs.

    By the way, it is nice to hear Cdl Müller at least mustering a bit of frankness in his talk here. We need a lot more of it.

    • I know about ‘fear’ for my job. I left my medical career rather than compromise my ethical beliefs. One must trust God to provide and find other means of support. And He will.

      • I know a number of Catholics who have made similar changes due to the need to honor their Lord and Savior. You guys are heroes of the faith.

        • About 45 years ago my Father, who died in Poland exactly 6 months ago, was offered by communists to keep his job in the military, should he be willing to sign a declaration that neither he nor his family would be seen in church ever again. He declined. At that time he had three small children and no other career. Later he had another daughter and another son. And later Bergoglio practically called him a rabbit.

          The depth of this man’s depravity and unfaithfulness makes my heart ache, especially when I think of my Parents. Many have mocked them, and accused them of foolishness, but for the pope to compare them to rabbits, like some of our family, which I heard myself as a young girl !? – It is too much. He also supports communists and their evil ungodly ideology. My Father could not listen to the news from the Vatican during Bergoglio’s reign. With all his courage, he could not take THIS.

          God merciful and just knows my Parents, and their sacrifices and suffering. There are so many faithful, whom Jorge Berogoglio hurt and betrayed. All those persecuted by sodomites today have no one to ask for help, not even in the Holy Office, while the likes of James Martin get promoted. I am only a sinner, and sometimes it is hard for me to sincerely ask God for mercy on Jorge Bergoglio.

          • Think of Bergoglio’s final end and you will find the strength to pray for him. When I lack a disposition of charity towards those who persecute the Church, I ask Our Lord to grant me His Sorrow and a generous heart like His Own. Think of any one of these being converted and returned to the Father and the subsequent rejoicing in heaven and the resulting flow on effect of the salvation of souls. Unconverted, they do so much harm daily. Imagine the antithesis!

          • I am living proof that our faith in Jesus Christ must be translated into our daily lives, all our decisions. I can see what others can’t thanks to my Parents integrity and faithfulness to God. They did not deny Jesus, as first Christians did not – even in face of hungry lions. Thanks to that decision they were immune to the lies of men.

            All my father’s friends from military academy chose a compromise with the anti-Christ system (as Bergoglio does in UN, China, Latin America). They considered themselves superior. They were tolerant of other people’s convictions, while hiding their own, and adjusting their lives to… “new realities”. Their children were not as deprived of material things as I and my siblings were. They took pride in it, and judged my Parents harshly for inability to go along to get along. “Live and let live” – they said. They said: “I am a good person, I do not steal, I haven’t killed anybody.”

            Yeah – you only denied Christ.

            It is THEIR children, not my Parents’, who are “Catholic” today while not attending the Holy Mass (unless for a wedding of the soon-to-be-divorced) while supporting religious indifferentism, divorce, abortion and sodomy, and while worshiping mother earth. They do not believe in that silly, narrow-minded thing Jesus Christ had said so long ago: “I am the Way. the Truth and the Life.”

            Like Bergoglio, they separate faith from life (a pastoral approach), and they create a farce.

      • They must be very terrified when this Jorge “Che” Bergoglio using NWO secret intelligent police to harass, intimidate, blackmail, and force them to shut up, betray God and the Church. As we know this Satanic pope is the enemy of Christ and His Church. He and his gang thought that with the help of fallen angels and their powerful world organization they can extinct easily the Roman Catholic Church. Wrong, wrong and wrong, at the end Jesus Christ and His Church always win. Thanks God Almighty for exposing and disclosing this false prophet and his cohorts and pouring down Your divine justice on them. Every knee shall bend.

        • All you say is true except for one thing. There is no “Roman Catholic Church” except when you are speaking specufically about the Catholic diocese of Rome, Itally and even then the use of the term is questionable. The One True Church of Jesus Christ which has its central “headquarters” in Vatican City is the CATHOLIC CHURCH. And that is its ONLY and OFFICIAL name.

          • It’s the Roman Catholic Church. All Catholics must call themselves Roman Catholic even the Catholics of the East.

      • I too have left jobs and situations that were contrary to my ethical and moral beliefs. I think sometimes we believe those actions do not do much, but sometimes one must leave for people to stop and think what they are doing. We sometimes feel alone when we make such hard decisions, but as we can see we are not and hopefully it will lead to some good. For if we compromise just once it is easier the second and then we find in a short amount of time that we have gone off the rails of who we are , what we believe, and what we will do.

      • How many Catholics are there who’ve done something like this? My experience can’t hold a candle to Maggie’s sacrifice, but I did resign my position as VP of a state teacher’s union over its endorsement of legal abortion once. I used the annual state convention as a platform to announce my decision and to clearly lay out the reason behind it. Then I wrote to every major paper in the state to double down on that announcement so that the story would reach a much larger audience than a few hundred delegates. There were friendships ended over the affair but, in retirement, I look back on it as one of the best decisions of any kind I made during my entire career.

    • Amen!!! to everything you said. I’m sick of it also. Time they put on their grown up pants, grow a backbone and stand up for what’s right regardless of fear. I’m also very tired of hear Card. Muller talk out of both sides of his mouth.Of course AL is not Francis’ fault. Honestly the whole thing is beyond tiring.

    • “If the president of the company I work for went off the rails and
      started badmouthing the mission statement of our business and guided our
      customers to other companies or told them not to buy our products, he
      would get an earful and fast.”

      Oh no, Rod. He would get much more than an earful. He would likely be fired and/or he would have an exodus of employees leaving the firm.

      You aren’t the only one tired about hearing of the poor Vatican employees and priest who are fearful of their jobs. They fear man when they should fear God.

      As for those who say the schism is coming, I believe that the schism is already here. A house divided cannot stand and we are very much a house divided.

      • You are forgetting, “You are Peter, upon this rock I will build My Church and even the gates of Hell shall not prevail.”
        No matter the faults, the incompetence of the current Bishop of Rome, we still have Christ – we have His Promise. Trust in Him!

    • “People Working in the Curia Are Living in Great Fear”.

      I haven’t seen or heard of any surge of Roman-collared refugees desperately fleeing Vatican City.

      • Well if they did, they’d be accused of being rats on a deserting ship. Don’t you think it’s likely that good men are trying to hold their beloved Church together in the face of a very powerful assault.

        • Of course it’s more than likely some few are trying to hold things together, but if such great ‘terror’ reigns within the Vatican then to what end do they remain timidly ensconced within its walls?

          Remember the warning from Scripture:

          “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying: Go out from her, my
          people; that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not
          of her plagues.” Rev. 18:4

    • As Billy Shakes had Caesar say:

      Cowards die many times before their deaths;
      The valiant never taste of death but once.
      Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
      It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
      Seeing that death, a necessary end,
      Will come when it will come.

      Raghn Corvinus

    • I get the impression that it’s not just losing their jobs they’re afraid of. Dies the really make sense. There is something much deeper and sinister going on here.

      • Yes, much of the evil is being hidden. I think the most worldly among us would be disturbed if we knew the full extent. The fact that a pedophile priest is on the run and most likely being protected by those in Rome is a major tell. It makes the obsequious attitude of Cardinal Muller toward Francis disturbing. Indeed it highlights the truth that people are living in fear at the Vatican. Morally depraved people will do ANYTHING to maintain power.

    • The frankness by Cdl Müller also includes a different interpretation of what I’ve been reading:

      Is it problematic that the Pope is giving his own interpretations that appear to be at odds with the orthodox interpretation you espouse, for example his letter to the Argentine bishops and his praise for the Maltese bishops?

      ….if you look at what the Argentine bishops wrote in their directive, you can interpret this in an orthodox way.

    • I agree. The lack of fortitude is scandalous.
      Then there is a reality that they are dealing with that we can’t deny — its the one we are dealing with. If they aren’t there, in the middle of it, they can’t be available to make change. They lose their voice — we know what that is like. Is anyone listening to the voice a an ardent and faithful layman in this Church of ours. We might as well be dead, mute, or last week’s trash.
      On an even deeper level, clerics and religious are dealing with the reality that things are so heavy handed in ecclesial life that life can be made so “discretely” — that is a key word — unbearable that you can be practically and emotionally forced out of living your vocation — which is a terrible reality, not just a change in career. Its rather like loosing your wife and six kids. Its deep.

    • In the interview excerpts it is quite clear that Cdl. Muller himself, even though he is more bold and frank than others, is being very cautios and careful with his words. He even goes so far as making it clear that his and others criticism of AL are not criticisms of the pope personally. There comes a time when one must admit, in truth, that when nearly every act of a person is evil then the person must be evil as well. I would do my best to be respectful and give deference to Pope Francis because of the office he holds and NEVER because of his person. In that regard I sadly have had to make the admission I stated abive.

    • “If the president of the company I work for went off the rails and started badmouthing the mission statement of our business and guided our customers to other companies or told them not to buy our products, he would get an earful and fast.”

      Are you familiar with the case of Gerald Ratner? He was the CEO of an international jewellery chain who gave a speech which more or less did exactly what you suggest. I think his exact words were “Lets face it, we make our money by selling cr@p.” The shares of the company nose-dived and he was out on his ear pretty promptly. Although he was the one founding family name still on the board, the rest of the board ditched him without a qualm.

      Obviously it would be naive to think that the Church could be governed like a multi-national corporation, but I do think there are some lessons which could be learned from the corporate world While it is highly unlikely that a majority of bishops would be able to put the interests of shareholders above their own careers, it would be nice to think that some of them still comprehend such ideas as “Gospel integrity”.

      In the meantime I will be content to think of Francis as the papacy’s own Gerald Ratner.

      • Deacon, this falls into the “You can’t make this stuff up” category.


        I looked this guy up and besides getting a cramp from laughing nearly cried as what he did to that company is only a small reflection of what his “namesake” is doing to the Church!

        “In the meantime I will be content to think of Francis as the papacy’s own Gerald Ratner.”

        Would that it was not so true!!!

  2. To not mention the Pope directly is absolutely absurd. To keep denying, and obfuscating, what is going on is to affirm the error. This has become a game.

      • On the other hand, this may just be another opportunity for us to witness to our brethren in the socialist New Church and validly ask them to take a second look at PF’s “mercy” as it slowly but surely shows its true self.

        Cardinal Mueller has become visibly disenfranchised with PF and his sacking, despite him having defended PF several times before and not being a “rad trad”, is bound to sow doubt in honest ratzingerian/moderate Catholics.

        His comments about the curia’s fear and about Cdl. Caffarra also further legitimize the dubia and the concerns they raise.

        Although it won’t take them too long for them to go Alinsky on him and make it seem he is just hurt at being fired.

        What do you think?

        • I agree with what you say here. Good points.

          I doubt most “conservative” Catholics care too much what happens to an SSPX bishop or priest no matter how right the bishop or priest may be. But let them see their favorite “conservative” cleric get smacked and it gets their attention.

          Michael Matt has essentially said the same thing in support of Cardinal Burke, in the face of some criticism by Trads who want to emphasize the “Ne-Cath” status of the V2-supporting Burke. I think Matt is right. Burke is taking his time and tho I wish he would have acted long ago, appears to be drawing in more and more support from “normal” Catholics who are watching all these other more garden run Catholics supporting the dubia and this new correction get criticized by leftist sodomy-supporting PF allies.

  3. What is happening in Roma will come to pass for us, the laity, as well; far worse than can be expected I am afraid. I pity Cardinal Mueller and those who have succumbed to fears from mankind. And I think we should pray not to succumb as well. But those who have been given SO much, so many graces, authority will be judged far harsher than many. Pity them and pray to be strong.

  4. I realize Cardinal Müller has his critics here, and I share their critique of his implausible exculpation of the Pope from our current set of circumstances, and equally implausible effort to draw a distinction between the Holy Father and those who feverishly work at his behest, but I could not help but be moved by the following passage:

    “The important thing is that we have to love the Church because she is
    the Bride of Christ. Loving her means that we sometimes have to suffer
    with her, because in her members she is not perfect, and so we remain
    loyal despite the disappointments. In the end, it is how we appear in
    the eyes of God that matters, rather than how we are regarded by men.”

  5. I’m so done with this guy. He was at it again yesterday, running interference for Francis over Amoris laetitia, saying essentially, “nothing to see here folks, move along”

    He was also busy blaming his firing from the CDF on “careerists and opportunists” in the curia, who besmirched his name, rather than on Francis himself.

    What a wuss.

    • The suggestion that Pope Francis appoint a group of cardinals to discuss Amoris Laetitia with its critics was not ridiculous. That’s part of what the critics are asking for. Discussion that can lead to clarification. It may be ridiculous to think or to expect that Francis would allow any such discussion. But it isn’t ridiculous to think that we need discussion or that we might “find some sort of consensus.” A consensus that we can all agree upon is exactly what we are looking for. Of course, it has to be a consensus found in the truth and a consensus consistent with the existing teachings of the Church. We’re not going to reach a compromise where half the the unrepentant adulterers get Communion and the other half don’t. But we might well get consensus that many of the things seemingly implied by Amoris Laetitia are not actually implied or would only apply in a very narrow set of circumstances.

      • It’s utterly ridiculous.

        The entire issue could be settled by Francis answering the dubia. Five simple yes/no questions. This he has refused to do. Furthermore, he has not even had the courtesy to meet with the dubia authors.

        The solution is there, right in front of him. And no we are not looking for a consenus. We are looking for a reaffirmation of Catholic teaching.

        Any debate, if there is one, should come only after Francis has answered five simple questions.

        • Cardinal Muller was not suggesting a “debate.” He was suggesting a discussion. Answers to the dubia would be nice — particularly if they were the correct answers — but even they wouldn’t resolve all the ambiguities of Amoris Laetitia chapter 8. A discussion is exactly what the dubia authors were asking for — and which you rightly point out — Francis has refused (cowardly refused, in my opinion). I sense you want to skip the discussion and move right to the trial of Pope Francis for heresy. But, obviously, lots of Catholic bishop and theologians think Amoris Laetitia is not heretical. Calling for a discussion is entirely reasonable — particularly as a first step. Indeed, it would be a tremendous step forward if Francis were to agree to that. Anyone expecting or hoping for Francis to do anything more than that is going to be left hoping.

          And there is lots to talk about. Much of Amoris Laetitia may be defensible if only applied to the most extreme cases. Take for example, a woman in a second marriage who wishes to abstain from sex and live as brother and sister with her second husband but her husband refuses to give up sex, beats her when she resists, and threatens to abandon her and her children. Her husband is surely in a state of mortal sin, but is she? Is her consent to the sin “sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice?” It is perfectly orthodox to recognize that one’s culpability for a sin depends on a myriad of factors and circumstances. (I’ll grant you that the notion that God wills her to commit sin in this or any other circumstance cannot be defended). To me, the biggest danger of Amoris Laetitia is the implication that such extreme cases are the typical cases or that one can discern one’s way out of all culpability. To me, in the absence of duress, discernment would seem to have to lead to great culpability — at least as to sins committed after the discernment.

          • Wrong again.

            A discussion is not a reasonable “first step”.

            Discussions deal with details. The details can be thrashed out later. Firstly, it is essential to know where Francis stands on those fundamental, non-negotiable core issues of Catholic doctrine which the dubia address.

            It could be done in two minutes. Five yes/no questions.

          • So, by your logic, the dubia cardinals should have refused to meet with Francis until he had answered the dubia. I guess they were ridiculous to request an audience.

          • It would generate more chaos and confusion and obfuscation. It would buy time for Francis and Friends to continue destroying the Church. The Dubia must be answered. The enemies of the Faith would talk us to death.

          • They have all the time in the world and are destroying the church right now. They don’t need to “buy time.” A discussion would at least be an admission that there’s something to talk about. Their preferred strategy is to ignore the criticisms and corrections.

          • No one has all the time in the world. Francis has met considerable opposition. His modus operandi is to”dialog”. Sorry, not buying. The dialog schtick is soooo transparent.

          • His m.o. Is to ignore his critics. But if you think there has been “considerable opposition,” then you’re living in a dream world anyway. Where is this considerable opposition? I wish it existed. The actual opposition is so minuscule as to be almost non-existent. The cowards and the heretics seem to outnumber brave and faithful clergy on the order of 100 to 1.

          • Ha. He doesn’t ignore his ‘critics’ as you put it. He endlessly kvetches about them in sermons and interviews. He is impressed with them in the sense of feeling he has to attack them in his jesuitical way. The opposition is apparently enough. ????

            Evil can seem very big and bad. A Goliath even. All it takes is a faithful youth and a few stones of truth to bring Goliath down.

      • There never will be any dscussion because Francis knows for sure that a theological confrontation will oblige him exiting naked out of the discussion room.

    • Cardinal Muller seems to be intent on desperately hanging on to whatever little cover he has left for his own ass, as though that will serve him well in the months ahead, while trying to encourage a perception of himself as a champion of orthodoxy. Orthodox in principle he may be, but minus the necessary backbone to support it, it’s of very little use. But I haven’t given up all hope for him just yet. Given the accelerating rate at which the Church is unraveling from the very top, Cdl. Gerhard Muller may yet, seeing that he really has nothing left to lose, come out swinging from his corner.

  6. I see some comments here critical of Cdl Mueller for not giving more “tough talk” and naming the Pope. You may be right but every one of us has to ask if we convert more souls by being “tough” or by gently coaxing people back to orthodoxy. Will the Cardinal be able to impact more souls(read “save”) now that he has been banished from the Vatican and has no contact with the Pontiff? While still at the Vatican, was he attempting to bring other staffers and the Pope back to orthodoxy, through the tough talk he was not using publicly? And the biggest question of all (in the Church or in politics) does anyone change his opponent’s opinion by bad mouthing them in the media? I think it always has the opposite effect, it turns them into mortal enemies, and should only be used as a last resort, when it’s clear they refuse to listen.

      • I agree, but you don’t get to high levels at the Vatican without the skill of politicking(which is not a skill to be envied). I compare the situation to having a disagreement with my boss at work. Do I discuss it with him and try to convince him, maybe many times over, or do I march into the cafeteria and start shouting about what an idiot he is? The latter approach will get a response, but probably not the correct one, although I may have some fellow employees who think what I did was exactly what they wanted to do but couldn’t find the courage to.

        • No question but I think your comparison might be weak.

          What we have in our problems are more akin to them being CAUSED by too much diplomacy and not enough straight up honesty.

          Look at the rambunctious history of the Church and we see times of great upheaval. Today, we have little upheaval, little argumentation and certainly no direct naming of names.

          We have a captain and some of his crew in the bilge drilling holes in the hull while the midshipmen stand around discussing how best to trim the sails.

        • To be tough one need not roar like a lion. One can do so quietly while in other venues and in the background being “as cunning as a serpent”.

      • Sometimes I wonder if he sees it and is doing his best.

        But he just doesn’t know how to be a man as his formation and life experiences have utterly purged that out of him {them}.

    • There is a time for everything under heaven, including a time for “gentleness and coaxing” and a time for “tough talk and action,” Perhaps had John the Baptist and Jesus been coaxing rather than tough, the first might not have lost his head and the Lord might not have been crucified. But, then where would we be?

      The communist/modernist legions in the Church see gentleness, coaxing, etc. as weakness. They see strength in terms of Stalinist dictatorship. Sometimes fire must be fought with fire.

    • And the angelic doctor turned over in his grave — and caused earthquakes around the world. Aquinas and I are good friends; I took his name for my confirmation name when I was a pup.

  7. Cardinal Mueller must not allow fear of losing his red hat or the ecclesiastical perks to fraternally correct the pope to his face out of pure Christian charity! That is his primary vocation as a cardinal- to shed his blood if needed for the Faith. If he or any other cardinal (and other prelates) will not stand up for orthodoxy, God will most certainly deal with them harshly in the next life. I am glad I am not in their shoes. I want true unity, but not at the price of yet more dialogue and compromise of doctrine and dogma with those who will never change their minds. I believe it is inevitable that a formal schism will take place whether or not the fraternal correction is issued by Cardinal Burke. Sorry folks, but the actual schism happened at Vatican II with the Novus Ordo Mass, among others. To me, the only question which will remain is who will become the next pope and, most likely, an anti-pope? Francis and his allies will not back down nor admit their errors such is their pride. Archbishop Lefevre and the SSPX had it correct decades ago. So did Cardinal Ottiaviani during Vatican II and immediately thereafter. Unfortunately, Pope Paul VI did not listen nor did he ever respond to the Dubia by Cardinal Ottiaviani. Fast forward fifty years later, and we now have a Catholic Church (in the Latin rite) that suffers the spiritually lethal disease of the condemned heresy of Modernism. In the end, it is all one huge mess. I, for one, will fall in behind the SSPX when it all goes down (if I do not switch rites to the Eastern Catholic Church). Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us!

  8. I took a course in Church history on the Carolingian Renaissance.. Charlemagne , enacted a top down reform.. started schools , nurtured the faith ,basically brought light to a dark Europe.. his grandfather Charles Martel had stopped the Muslim Incursion into Europe. We have a Papacy now that is doing the opposite.. pleading for Islam entry into Europe in, snuffing out the light of Christ in his attack on Tradition and persecuting all those Catholics that seem to be able to read and write and form an opinion… I think of the awesome responsibilty to God that just the newest priest carries every day..responsibility for the souls in his best guess is that Pope Francis and his very tight allies along with the Fr Martin’s of the world…really do not believe what I believe..I am just a middle aged Roman Catholic that wants to go to heaven..pretty simple…

        • “Hidebound,” “anal-retentive,” “retro,” “member of a dying breed,” “aloof,” “antiquarian,” “rude,” “fascist.” These are just a few of the epithets I received from the Vatican II faithful upon my conversion some years ago. I say we all pool our resources and compile a Lexicon of Reactionary Abuse.

  9. What are these Cardinals afraid of exactly? That they might lose their positions and be forced to moved to slightly less palatial apartments? That they may not be invited to all the “right” parties and receptions? It’s not like they are going to suddenly be living on the streets if they speak their consciences. What incredibly weak leadership!

  10. I think the present situation in the Vatican is one of almost total corruption and scandal. I trust nothing from there these days. I will keep in mind that age old, ageless truths of the faith as has always been taught and keep my heart on Jesus and Mary. It is up to the Lord to clean out the filth in the Church and I can only do what I can in my own little sphere and seeking to be as good a Catholic as I possibly can with God’s grace.

  11. “…perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18
    Years back I attempted to live out the vocation of my youth in middle age. My formation as a Trappist was aborted on the eve of simple vows by an abbot who gloried in being referenced by his confreres at the General Chapter as a “left wing brat.” Upon getting wind [ear to door] that I was disappointed by the duplicitous and rude reception a JP II curial Cardinal was offered during a short visit to our monastery the hammer fell on me. I’m afraid I am somewhat sensitive to the fascist tactics of the open minded left.
    A commenter at another site said — “Pope Francis, not unlike a great number of vocation directors, thinks that orthodoxy is a mental illness.” Unfortunately those of Francis’ perspective are legion. More broadly if anyone does not share and conform to the ideological perspective of a superior life is going to become quite unpleasant.
    It was in the monastery — one of a leftist bent, that I first heard uttered “…revenge is a dish best served cold.” Those years back it was on the verge of being a nursing home. It is now not far from being a half inhabited hospice, albeit with a maze and a garden and a gift shop and a retreat house… Lay staff and volunteers abound. Where are the monks? Where is the new blood? Nowhere to be found. Why?
    The Bergoglian pontificate manifests what many of us have known for a long time. Certain individuals believe the Church is their oyster and the rest of us can get lost. They will stop at nothing to wrestle the façade, the pedigree, the treasure or the Church to their purpose. They come in all vesture, all rank. Their exhortation to a blind obedience to their ideology, their claim to
    superior insight, their adoption of new forms of “virtue” (ah, the “open mind”) are their mark. We need recognize and reject vigorously the reptilian subterfuge.
    Their interior disposition is often concealed, their lives a masquerade, the depth of their aberrance from the Truth of the Gospel, the Roman Catholic faith, unfathomable to most laity. Vindictive, retaliatory, all under the guise of pastoral, charity, psychological discernment. Life in the heterodox kirche is akin to life in the Soviet Union. Snooping, sneaking, backstabbing. It is
    particularly rife within religious communities.
    Cardinal Muller’s description of life in curia, and more broadly in ecclesia is no shock to anyone who has walked there. The Jesuit pope knows how to live life “in community” the way he likes it — his way.
    Where are all the priests and religious? Many who should be imparting their apostolate attempted a virile effort but are now found piled along the edges of the path — clerical, monastic road kill — peppering the uncatechized laity. A bishop in white walks through their corpses to his judgement.

      • Lee, I would be of no assistance.
        Never once was Armand de Rance covered in our formation material. I believe he was mentioned once in idle converse and labeled a Jansenist. If I remember correctly Thomas Merton does have some adequate coverage of him in “The Waters of Siloe.” It has been years since I read it.
        Only the Rule of St. Benedict, John Cassian and then coverage of the sermons of St. Bernard, and the writings of some of the other Cistercian Fathers — Aelred, Isaac of Stella, Guerric of Ingy (they are absolutely wonderful — read them).
        Our study of the history of the order was rather left to own devise, which was disappointing to me because I love history.
        With the reorganization of the life after “the” Council de Rance I believe is found to be something of an embarrassment — at least that is the impression I received, but then again, a lot of Roman Catholicism appears to be a difficulty for contemporary monastics…not all, but many communities are uncritically post-Vatican II. There is not serious and painful reflection going on — a lot of zeitgeist addicts, heads in the sixties. The monks that occupy a zone outside of that orbit were not plentiful, mostly nonexistent in my community, although all of them were wonderful men in many ways.

        • James, “You ask:Where are the monks? Where is the new blood? Nowhere to be found. Why?” To that question I have stumbled across a very obvious answer, one which I am endeavoring to frame in a way that will make an impact.

          My interest in all this derives from the fact that I was a novice with the Trappists from August 2 to Nov 13, 1965, that I love the order and especially The Abbey of Our Lady of New Melleray. Merton, the novice master for a time at Gethsemane speaks of novices who get thinner and thinner and finally go home forever, and to this cohort I belonged. Now, of course, from a distance of more than fifty years, one’s memory may play tricks, but my recollection of the novitiate library was that it had quite a lot of high mystical literature, including the works of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa and St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, and what I would call the contemplative tradition of the Cistercians. In that library were Bernard’s sermons on the Canticles of Canticles, his sermons for Advent and Christmas, his letters, the Golden Epistle of William of St. Thierry and all the sort of thing that one can find now at Cistercian Publications.

          There was, naturally, classroom instruction in the constitutions and history of the order in that Fall of 1965, especially revolving around St. Robert of Molesme, St. Alberic, St. Stephen Harding, and of course St. Bernard of Clairvaux. However, it grew on me in retrospect that there was never a word about Rancé, the de facto founder of the Trappists and sole restorer and conservator in 17th c. France of the Cistercian charism as it unfolded at Citeaux and perdured down the years. Of course, it may have been that I was not there long enough to hear anything about him, but I am quite certain he had no presence in the novitiate library, nor in the guesthouse library, for that matter–nothing by him or about him–although somewhere I picked up the lore that he used to weed out prickly plants with his bare hands. Only that and nothing more.

          He seemed to be the disgraceful ancestor about whom the less said the better. However, within the last year it occurred to me that with the internet it would easily be possible to solve for myself the mystery of de Rancé. This came through my wife and I discovering Ailbe Luddy’s Life of St. Bernard, another book that should have been in the novitiate library but was not. From there we quickly discovered Luddy’s The Real de Rancé and with that came the beginning of dawn. Shortly I was looking for works by de Rancé in English, and, lo, on Bookfinder were two copies of The Sanctity and Duties of the Monastic State, one for $130 and another for $600. Despite having been in the order, having read quite a lot of Merton, and having repeatedly made retreats at New Melleray, this was my first awareness of the existence of any such book, a book that clearly should have been the bible of anyone attempting monastic life of any sort, especially Trappist.

          • (con’t) Yet, one would have to say that keeping it out of the hands of both monks and prospective monks was the decided policy of the order, for it was last published in English 1830. Moreover, of all his many works in French, until recently it was the only work to be translated into English for the benefit of his anglophone sons in the order or for the many devout Catholics who would likely have been interested in them, as were their French counterparts of the 17th c. It seems a species of damnatio memoriae, does it not? Nor was I surprised when my $130 copy of The Sanctity and Duties of the Monastic State arrived with markings of Gethsemane Abbey, for I had previously acquired two Cistercian breviaries from the same abbey in the same manner. One wonders if they were tossed on the used book market in the same years that Mao’s Cultural Revolution was tearing through China, for a thoroughgoing cultural revolution was obviously intended and undoubtedly swept a great deal more of the Trappist and Cistercian lore out of that abbey than made its way into my library. All this reminds me of a conversation I had with Abbot Edward McCorkle at Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia in the mid-70’s when he lamented that we, the Church, were jettisoning our patrimony. From this madness the Cistercians were clearly not exempt.
            A survey of Cistercian websites brings one thing vividly to the fore. Whereas there is an endlessly repeated mantra of “contemplation” in the modern Cistercian writing as the goal of monastic life, for de Rancé, as for St. Bernard, St Stephen Harding and St. Alberic before him, sanctity above everything else was the goal, sanctity as expressed in a crucified life that was, till very recently, the well worn monastic path to contemplation here below and to ensuant contemplation of God forever in the Beatific Vision. Briefly: sanctity ( i.e.graced heroic virtue) now, contemplation later. The goal was to become as Christlike as possible, and particularly with de Rancé to offer one’s body as a living sacrifice of praise, to arrive especially at humility by being humbled to the dust–in other words, death to self, body and soul: the spirituality of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

            However, given that self-preservation is the first instinct (both of one’s body and one’s amor propre ), it is not surprising that the Order has repeatedly, resolutely and effectively imposed silence on de Rancé, and in the most scholarly and reasonable terms. For that matter, one could say too that in rejecting de Rancé they have placed him in very exalted company, for they have also rejected St. Bernard as penitent all the while–in an incredibly successful rhetorical sleight of hand– exalting him as a contemplative. One would have thought that St. Bernard as de facto founder– or co-founder–of the order would be in his penitence as well as in his prayer life the heroic exemplar of every Cistercian.

            Were it not so tragic, it would be laughable that the Abbot General ( and presumably the whole order with him) is concerned about the waning vigor of the order. There has been a dramatic fall off in numbers that promises to be much more dramatic in short order. It is not first of all, though, a waning of personnel, but a waning of fidelity to the monastic charism, and a very evident consequent waning of Divine interest in the perpetuation of the order. If it will not bring forth fruit, why should it clutter up the ground?

            And the Abbot General wonders what can be done to stem the waning vigor of the order. To a layman leading a cozy life, but with a ringside seat on this spectacle, the answer seems blindingly obvious: de-mitigate. In his Rancé and the Trappist Legacy, A.J. Krailsheimer pointedly quotes the author of De la Sainteté et Des Devoirs de la Vie Monastique: “The number of Monks has never increased more than through the greatness of their austerity . . . The Spirit of Christ calls people to strict congregations, the spirit of man to lax ones.” Under that view, abandoning the designedly radical, self-sacrificial Trappist charism necessarily involves the implosion of the order, and so it is proving to be.

            Now, concerning all this I hope with the grace of God and the intercession the Blessed Mother to reissue the English translation of de Rance’s great work. To this end I have worked for nearly a year on rendering the text accessible. That is done and I am in the throes of trying to formulate an adequate preface. For that I could use some advice and informed feedback.

          • Yours is much appreciated, Lee.
            You were part of the Golden Age! Before everything hit the fan. One hardly knows what to say, but there is much of your story and perspective that I appreciate. Indeed, the order appears to be on a suicide course along with most of the others. It is pitiful to watch the same mistakes being perpetuated on multiple levels.
            There are no ears to hear there.
            Last evening prompted by you after many years [I last read it in November 1967 according to my notation in the front cover] I picked up my copy of “The Waters of Siloe” and to my great surprise discovered Merton discussing him in much the way you describe here. Even in the late forties Rance is held at arm’s length.
            He does mention your reference to handling prickly plants with bare hands!
            In a nutshell, the last line of Chapter 1, directly before taking up his discussion of Rance in the succeeding chapter, Merton writes “And when a contemplative order ceases to produce contemplatives, its usefulness is at an end. It has no further reason for existing.”
            I do not worship at the Merton altar, but he could be very insightful.
            In all likelihood given your depth of interest you are familiar with that passage, and with a title I saw on the web, published by Cistercian Press “Understanding Rance” by David Bell (2005).
            My three years of monastic life were the most wonderful of my three score and six. And if there was something to go back to I would endure the humiliation of knocking once again. But there is nothing there. It is metamorphosing into something unrecognizable having nothing to do with the call that continues to be heard within my heart. If I was a young man I’d be off to the Carthusians or that promising development – Carmelite Monks in Wyoming, and another two groups in Minnesota and Texas.
            God willing, may they prosper.
            The Trappist leadership despite the very best of intentions appears caught in a vortex of notions that don’t even appear to have much to do tradition at all. Undoubtedly you have heard of the comeuppance surrounding the efforts to reform liturgical practice at Mariawald in Germany – I believe an apostolic administrator has been installed there. Though I’d never have survived the Divine Office in Latin, I appreciate their effort. Roman Catholicism has become a footnote – when I was a postulant non-Catholics visitors were boldly receiving Holy Communion until enough of the novitiate (there were eight of us at one point!) murmured loudly enough that it was curtailed. All but two of that eight are gone – the
            survivors having decades of religious life behind them before they transferred to monasticism. Survival rate is almost zero, but not quite.
            Outside of the developing countries [which have their own set of problems] the bright spot in the order from what I’ve heard is the Trappist Nuns in Vitorchiano, Italy — near Viterbo. The home community of Blessed Maria Gabriella. They are flourishing.
            May your worthy project come to fulfillment. I thank you for sharing.
            God reward you.

          • Thanks very much for this reply, James, for no I was not familiar with or did not remember that section from the Waters of Siloe, or where I had heard the prickly plant lore. This will be very helpful. But when you say, “There are no ears to hear there,” that is what scares me. At this point I wonder to whom to address my preface or my efforts. To young men who feel an attraction to monastic life, and who think there are still Cistercian monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict? At this point it seems to me that for these monasteries to allow themselves to be called Cistercians or Trappists is a classic case of stolen valor. Essentially the order has quietly disappeared, leaving behind some magnificent relics and memories. Yet . . it may be that some young man will take up The Sanctity and Duties of the Monastic State, find some friends to join him and set out once again to live the life.

          • “…stolen valor…” “…quietly disappeared…”
            Honestly, you could not be more accurate. It is painful to read.
            Is it not the case with what is transpiring across the entire Church. Though not Cistercians, let alone Trappists, I wonder if fruitful resource would not be Clear Creek in Oklahoma. Their devotion to authentic monastic practice attracts those who share their devotion and concern. They certainly could be the network to tap into. And then, depending upon how you present your project, I’d be surprised if Cistercian Studies would not at least take it under review…but it would have to be near perfect. They have high academic standards. I don’t believe they would be interested in taking on something that would be contrary to the current they are riding, so the intro and general thrust of the presentation need be neutral in tone.
            There is not much neutral about our exchange!

          • Well, since you will not correspond and I need your advice and feedback, my preface comes to you in dribs and drabs and for all the world to see.

            Despite my last post, I do think there is hope, for there are embers of authentic Trappist and Cistercian life still smoldering in vowed ancients of the order. From the draft preface;

            The rapidly increasing implosion of the order after dismissing de Rance’ and his argument seems like nothing so much as corollary support for him and for it. There is, moreover, the present-day internal witness offered by Cistercians themselves, if not by the Holy Spirit speaking through them. In February of 2017 the abbot of one monastery [ New Melleray] summarized reports that had been given to him on formal conversations that took place within the abbey:
            ”Some expressed disappointment in the loss of the lay brother vocation. Some expressed disappointment with what looks like a loss of the ascetical character of the Order. Some were disappointed in the loss of common work, common lectio, and other features that in an earlier era bolstered the common life; some disagreed with a more participatory style of leadership in the Order.”

            Here do we not see longing expressed by men with a Cistercian charism for a return to Cistercian life? It is a life they aspired to, were implicitly promised, but which they have been denied by their superiors. Are they then obliged by the vow of obedience to keep pace with the mitigation? Neither St. Bernard nor de Rancé think so. Rancé discusses this in Chapter VIII, Question 9, citing St. Bernard.

            St. Bernard also discusses this in De Praecepto et Dispensatione Liber, a work that while it did find its way into English in 1970 has rapidly achieved rare book status, being out of print and unavailable, presumably because in it we find a somewhat juridical Bernard out of sync with his much preferred contemplative self. Could it be that the the preservation of the Cistercian order depends on bringing the Contemplative Bernard, the Penitential Bernard, and the Juridical Bernard into focus as one man, the archetypical Cistercian, with a word in season for every excess and defect of the order?

          • James, I thought of the contemplative life and gravitated toward the Trappists a little later in age than you, but substantially later timewise. I only got as far as making exploratory retreats. May I ask which house you were part of?

          • It seems absurd, but I would prefer not to say, not so much for myself, but for the remnant of the community I left behind. Unfortunately there are only ten monasteries in the US and I believe three in Canada. Three in the United States are no longer taking candidates if I’ve heard correctly.
            To my mind the heathiest communities are to be found in the Northeast, but that is a subjective opinion and perhaps not as accurate any longer.

          • I did extended retreats at most of them as part of my discernment. I got so depressed during each of these retreats that I finally decided that wasn’where God wanted me. I read many of Merton’s books, but toward the end he seemed to be swallowing modernism.

          • You did the right thing. Paying attention to your intuition and emotional response is vitally important.
            I’ve never been a big Merton fan. I once asked my Abbot [who never knew him personally, but knew many who did] what was he like. He said he was a good guy, well liked. “Everyone called him Uncle Louie.” Of all the things I’ve read or heard of him, that is what I most appreciated.
            Otherwise this “cult” that surrounds him is absurd. He was a decent writer. He was a good student of monastic history. He was a reasonable thinker, but I can’t help but think he was a socialist. He was of his time. I don’t believe he ever really became a Roman Catholic in his deepest self. He was not a Chesterton or Waugh or Tolkien.
            I don’t believe for a moment that he was a mystic, or heroically virtuous. He was a bright man. He could have been a fine professor at some small college — just like St. Bonaventure’s where perhaps he should have stayed.

  12. So Cardinal Müller says “The Pope should not be blamed for this confusion, but he is
    authorized by Jesus Christ to overcome it [the confusion].”

    Well, the first part of that sentence, if Cardinal Müller actually believes it, demonstrates a breathtaking naïveté that makes me think his eminence maybe shouldn’t leave the house unaccompanied.

    As for the second part, a pope isn’t just ‘authorized’ to disperse any confusion within the Church, he is *commanded* to do so. “Feed My lambs. Feed My sheep” remember? The terrible conclusion to be reached as to why Francis has not done this can perhaps be deduced if we recall another short but beautiful statement of Our Lord’s, namely “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

    • Statements like that of Müller’s are the noise of the lawnmower. I ignore it and look for cut grass.

      And all to often, the grass is still knee high…

  13. This atmosphere of fear is itself of Satan. Satan controls constantly through fear whereas Our Lord asks us to trust and to be courageous in speaking the truth. How far are we willing to go? The Holy Spirit is always courageous. He impels us to speak. He inspires us with the Words. Without Him, we have no courage or strength or Wisdom. But in order to be ready to speak when the opportunity arises and to do so well, we must be in a state of grace and of one mind with Christ, so that the Holy Spirit works through us. How to attain this? Frequent worthy reception of the Sacraments, meditation upon scripture, much time spent in prayer. Expend yourself for the sake of others. Only then does He come, the Third Person of the Holy Spirit, in a way which fills us, ignites and sets other hearts ablaze. Stay very close to Him now.

  14. Think I’m attending this crisis soberly and with sufficient knowledge. What’s gnawing at my anxiety (an incidence of being double-dealt!) is the solidifying thought that (in spite of this and that pulled forward) no historical precedent can be called upon to really, truly explain this papacy.

    Our Savior is above us, with us, and before us, but we *are* trekking a wilderness – if not enemy territory.

  15. One reads solemn nonsense about the”development of doctrine” quite a lot these days. Of course the nonsense began with Vatican II (V2) and its reckless proponents. Here is the development I discern:

    1) Disgusied as Aggiornamento, V2 initiates wholesale destruction of the Church doctrinally, sacramentally, liturgically, vocationally, you name it.

    2) For 50 years the series of disasters is described as somehow changing nothing important about the ancient virtues.

    3) Francis I now openly makes virtues out of vices.

    4) Lutheranism.

    It’s what’s for dinner.

  16. I think that the described situation which is now associated with Amoris Laetitia is not anything new in church circles. It has, unfortunately, been similar in past decades. Anybody who opposed, e. g., Humanae Vitae had to face oppression (including genius of moral theology Bernhard Häring).

    • Nope. The difference is, this time around the heretical propositions are coming from the person sitting on the Chair of Peter.
      Bernhard Häring’s heretical ideas were rightly opposed by the saintly Cardinal Caffarra in defense of Humanae Vitae.
      Interesting how +Caffarra again found himself defending orthodoxy almost 50 years later.

  17. Much of what I read here seems to me what it must have been like in Europe before 1517 and immediately after. People feeling sure because of newsbits, reports, an interview here and there, some personal stories, which might also hide personal interest, that the Pope is practically the anti-Christ. Brothers and Sisters, be careful with the conclusion. Judge not. Pray. Wait. Because the storm, if it is a storm, will pass. Do not let your time be stolen by Satan in judging what is not yours to judge. Be warned by the example that befell Luther and his accomplices.


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