On Being an ‘Ultra-Catholic’


A friend wrote me about a school principal, a religious sister, speaking to a parent and requesting school funds. The gentleman was described as an “ultra-Catholic.” My friend asked me: “What is that, do you know?” Evidently, the “non-ultra” principal thought it all right to siphon needed cash from the “ultra” parent. No strings were attached. Once the funds were donated, the non-ultra establishment would go its non-ultra way. The ultra was good for his cash, if he still had any. His ideas were, well, ultra.

Clearly, I cannot resist taking a stab at defining what a modern ultra-Catholic is. Some temptations are difficult to resist. Briefly, in today’s multi-descriptor world, an ultra-Catholic is one who is a believing Catholic, a fairly rare bird. The country is full of ex-, disagreeing, non-practicing, right-to-choose, leave-me-alone Catholics. They tell us that they are better than their hapless co-religionists who naively think Catholicism is credibly the most intelligent thing on the public or private scene. In the public area, the most often cited “authority” on what Catholics believe is the dissenter. Catholics are the one group about which no one has to speak accurately.

A be-knighted ultra-Catholic holds the Nicene Creed as true. He thinks divine authority exists in the Church. He knows that he, a sinner, needs forgiveness. But he does not make his sins into some social-justice crusade. He does odd things like go to Mass on Sundays, even in Latin. He thinks it is fine to have children. He prefers to work for a living. He also knows that the Church is under siege in the culture. He belongs to the real minority.

The word “ultra” is Latin, meaning “beyond.” We have things like ultra viruses, ultrasounds, and ultraviolet rays. In the Middle Ages, a pope was called “ultramontane” if he came not from Italy but from over the mountains. In France in the modern era, the ultramontanists were those Catholics who kept alliance with Rome. Jesuits, perish the thought, were said to belong to this alien group in the Gallican regime. Ultramontanists did not think the French government was divine. This latter view was considered to be rather extreme. I know this negative view of French glory is difficult for the average contemporary to grasp. We find divine authority neither in Rome nor in Paris but only in ourselves.

An ultra-Catholic today, however, is one who strives to do what Aquinas did: He distinguished between those who willingly practice virtue, because they understand that it is the noble thing to do, and those who practice it just to observe the minimum of the law.

In what is hopefully a pioneer endeavor, we even have a bishop explaining to a Kennedy what it means to be a Catholic. Bishop Thomas Tobin in Providence read what Congressman Kennedy said in the Congressional Record about his being a Catholic but still not “agreeing” with everything the Church held — a highly unoriginal position, to be sure. The bishop wondered just what it was that the congressman did not hold, and whether these “un-held” things were central positions in the Church — which, of course, they were. From the beginning, when this selective view of Catholicism first appeared, local bishops did not similarly inquire of politicians who invoked this fuzzy doctrine of themselves deciding what is Catholic, as if the politician were actually himself the pope.

Now about this ultra-Catholic character: We have all laughed at people said to be “holier than the Church.” This latter remark is not a compliment. Unlike the congressman from Rhode Island, some Catholics add things instead of subtracting them, as is the current fashion. Usually, the additions are not really wrong or bad. Most devotions, like the scapulars, are additions in this sense. Aquinas said that adding to the law was not the problem; taking things away from it was.

In the contemporary world, the real enemy of the liberal culture is the “fanatic.” He holds something. We have now reached the point where the fanatic is pretty much identified with the ultra-Catholic. What is dangerous is not some heretical notion of Christianity; it is Christianity itself, especially in its Catholic form. When many Catholics themselves do not know what they are and hold, we distinguish the Christian who defines his own beliefs from the one who holds the self-evident and revealed truths of the Faith.

When the non-ultra-Catholics identify themselves with a disordered culture, the ultra-Catholic is left standing by himself. The popes address their documents to “men of good will.” We read in the Gospel of John: “I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them.” Evidently, not all men have good will.

Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.


Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., taught political science at Georgetown University for many years. He is the author of The Mind That Is Catholic from Catholic University of America Press; Remembering Belloc from St. Augustine Press; and Reasonable Pleasures from Ignatius Press. His newest books include A Line Through the Human Heart: On Sinning and Being Forgiven (2016) and On the Principles of Taxing Beer and Other Brief Philosophical Essays (2017). His most recent book is Catholicism and Intelligence (Emmaus Road, 2017).

  • Deacon Ed

    more. The only thing that isn’t tainted in the mind of the modernists about ‘ultras’ is their money. Funny how it’s mainly been cash from the ultras that has been funding the USCCB and its subsidiaries like CCHD so that they can promote their ‘gospel’ of relativism, collectivism, community organizing, and atheism.

    We’re getting to know who the cast of characters is and their explicit agendas. It’s a bit late but we’re catching on.

  • Austin

    There are many Catholics in politics, but of course, it always comes back to the Kennedys. Perhaps this is due to the Kennedys wearing their religion on their sleeve for so long, and to the complicity of the Boston Hierarchy in the Kennedy saga of being America’s premier Catholic family. The result for a while was that some American Catholics regarded the Kennedys as being annointed by God to serve in high office. A sort of modern defacto divine right monarchy.

    It’s somewhat amusing to hear Rep Kennedy attempt to define what is Catholic and what is not. I think that the whole Kennedy divine right monarchy myth is fading. It appears that the Bishops have finally decided to not go along with it.

  • Tim

    One thing is clear from my own experience in Catholic secondary education is that the bishops need to take more direct leadership- the role of ex-priests, ex-nuns, and not-too-subtle same-sex attracted types, is not minimal- especially in religion departments and admin. We should not wonder that true Catholic identity is in a state of crisis- but not many are acknowledging this crisis.

  • William

    All this boils down to one thing: lousy catechesis. Clergy and religious dropped the ball; and for the past four decades, the faithful have been adrift. It’s the “ultra” Catholics that have kept the candles burning during this 40-year Dark Ages.

  • Nick Palmer

    Witty, thought provoking, and spot on. In the classical Schall-ian tradition.

    Yet, in the Advent season, it provokes a slightly different set of thought in me than in other commentators above. While I wholly agree with their takes, I see this as more of a challenge to me than an indictment of others (despite the fun of Kennedy baiting!).

    Do others see me as an (ultra-)Catholic, in the positive sense? How often do I bow to convention, not speaking out respectfully yet firmly in public? Am I helping to make straight the way of the Lord? Am I willing to be noble, regardless of the ridicule?

    I’m afraid I fall far short. And, I’m glad for Rev. Schall’s call to be better.

  • John Lillis

    Did I read Georgetown? Father, it must be tough… But I digress.

    Thank you Father for a wonderful article. I wish more of your brothers-in-the-cloth would accept God’s graces and show the courage to turn the tide of this destructive culture we’re in by speaking and writing for Christ and His church.

    For now, we will all have to make frequent confessions and perhaps take-up that call to daily Mass and offer our Thursday (From the Pieta pray booklet) Holy Communion for our priest!

    Advent is a time for change, so let’s all go beyond our own mountains this season and do something great for our Lord!

    Pace e Bene,

  • Bill Sr.

    I’d like to suggest that EWTN have a panel of bishops in the Chaput mold to rotate with at least a half hour spot on say a Wed. night to cover key aspects of Catholic Doctrines and how they apply to today’s society in America as well as the world over. It would go a long way in educating today’s confused or cafeteria Catholics who never knew the likes of Bishop Sheen.

    We would get satisfaction on two points.
    First, these “volunteers” would be on the spot to clearly define and articulate church teaching to all “levels” of Catholics with a singular tone.

    Secondly, the message announced would necessarily carry the weight and height of church hierarchy and not be dismissed as local interpretation of church law.

  • John O’Neill

    As one who spent seventeen years teaching in a “catholic” secondary school I can see this nun clearly. She is most likely a member of the American Liberal Church which uses the buildings and cash of the established church in order to further her modernistic view of Catholicisim. In the school I taught very few of the faculty lay or religious were what we would call practicing Catholics; most of them very obsessed with the political platform of the Liberal establishment. Devotions were practically non existent but lectures on the evils of Ronald Reagan and the American military were de rigeur. The fact that so many of these schools are closing is understandable why would parents pay out tuition to schools where their children are taught by the same mindset as the public school administrators. I even heard of some “catholic” schools deemphasizing Christmas celebrations lest they offend the Moslem world. The American bishops must realize that the closing of catholic schools as they are now configured is a good thing. Put their money into good catechetics classes taught at the parish level and invest in reinvigorating the Catholics who actually come to mass on a weekly basis. All we got from all this catholic educatin is a rather venal and shabby Notre Dame football team which contributes nothing to the spiritual life of American Catholics.

  • Scott

    A sure means to spot an “ultra Catholic” is by determining his stance on artificial contraception. It is sad that one must be called “ultra” these days only when he follows a teaching meant for everyone. The Catholic Church’s stance has always been and will always be that contraception is intrinsically evil. That means that contraception is an evil in itself and can never be used or justified for any reason. There are a some reputable Catholic prolife movements that estimate that over 90% of practicing Catholics today use some form of contraception. Catholics who contracept are deluding themselves if they think that they are in communion with the Church. Contraception is a grave sin, which qualifies for mortal sin if done with full knowledge and committed with full consent of one’s will. A Catholic who has a solid prayer life and seeks to do the will of God will always have the grace to see that every sexual act in marriage must be open to life. This is the absolute truth of God’s plan for Christian marriage. This teaching is not open to discussion. Being Catholic is all or nothing. Either you are for Christ in total obediance, or you are against Him.

  • Richard

    I don’t think I’m an ultra-Catholic, more like a struggling barely able to hold my own Catholic, but I believe in the teachings of the church and do my best to follow them. The problem comes for politicians and leaders seperating beliefs of the faith from a non-Catholic society. Abortion is the murder of a living human being, this is not a matter of faith, but a scientific fact, belief in the Triune God would be a matter of faith and probably shouldn’t be legislated. Unless a politician is actually performing the abortion, however, I don’t know that he should be denied Holy Communion. Rather, we , as believing Christians should work hard to elect politicians who agree with our beliefs.

  • Linda Morris

    I think, if the Church would go back to it’s teaching on how we become the “body of Christ”, many of these problems would go away. Start teaching that we are the BRIDE of Christ and because the two shall become one flesh, we become the body of Christ, and so we need to still be the adoring compliant bride. This would do away with many errant theological ideas out there today. For instance if the Church is the bride, why would we condone women priests if we did not want to push homosexual marriage? Put it out there so the people can see what the false teaching is leaning toward.

  • Sandy

    Thank you again Father Schall. Your article and the comments give me hope because they point to a great awakening. Men and women religious in Catholic higher education often use “academic freedom” to allow their administrators and faculty either to dismiss Catholic teaching or to bash the Church. I should know because I work in this setting. Ex corde ecclesia is rejected while these same administrators ask ultra-Catholics or “conservative” donors to keep the money flowing. If any donor(or Bishop) brings up the importance of maintaining a Catholic identity, he or she is reassured and then forgotten once the check is cashed or the conversation ended. If you promote the faith, you are called a “sectarian.” This is a dirty and evil word in liberal academic circles including Catholic high schools and colleges. Yes, Tim, homosexual trustees, administrators, and faculty are using these schools to promote their distorted and unfaithful views of Catholic doctrine. I’ve witnessed it. It ultimately hurts people. A response: support the Bishops and priests (for example, Father Schall)who are publicly pointing out this ongoing problem that needs a resolution.

  • John

    Thank you Fr. Schall for this witty and excellent article. It is absolutely spot on as I have been in precisely the position you articulate where only my money seems to matter while access to truths and dogma are watered down to point where they may even mean the opposite of what is intended by the Church. While there are signs that things are slowly changing my typical “church experience” is for homilies to be embarassingly anemic and whose purpose seems to be to fill time (not too much time) without offending ANYONE, most especially feminists, homosexuals, contraceptors, dissidents, and sinners which is all of us really – speaking of course only in the context of my ‘non-ultra’ diocese in upstate NY. However, if you are an ‘ultra’ you may be singled out with impunity for ridicule or contempt, or forced into a quiet dry martyrdom. I run an orthodox library and have not heard a single word or encouragement (or budget, irony of ironies!!!) in nearly ten years.
    Finally I couldn’t agree more with the posting from “Contraception,” having been on both sides of this issue. When I was a non-ultra it was mostly due to ignorance and lack of conviction regarding the truth of the Catholic proposition. I merely wanted to add here that a second characteristic of the ‘ultra’ is their deep seated devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. She always points to Jesus, always leads to Jesus. Jesus without Mary is simply an imposter (and vice versa).

  • Bruce in Kansas

    I don’t like the term “ultra-Catholic” because it sounds like a cult.

    Better to distinguish between someone who is Catholic — baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church and serious in trying to live as if the stuff (Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium) is true — and someone who has ties to being “Catholic” but doesn’t believe.

    A person choses whether to be confirmed Catholic or not. Don’t put a qualifier on the “Catholic.”

    The widely quoted demographic of “Catholic, but” people should have the qualifiers on their Catholicity, be they those who may be “culturally Catholic” or “raised Catholic” or “lapsed Catholic” or even “baptized Catholic but doesn’t believe the stuff is true”, or…

    Wouldn’t this allow non-Catholics to understand better when it comes to receiving the Eucharist – entering into Holy Communion? It’s not that one has to be without sin to be in communion with the Church, but one has to assent to the stuff — her Sacred Scripture, her Tradition, her Magisterium. If one is not in communion with the teachings of the Church, one ought not participate in the sacrament of Holy Communion.

    Then Confession makes better sense as well. One ought to reconcile the relationship damaged due to sin by receivng absolution in Confession in order to fully participate in the sacrament of Holy Communion.

    So let’s put the qualifiers on the dissenter, not the assenter!

  • Eric

    Many Catholics, yes even some “Ultra Catholics” cringe when they hear anything about the dogma No Salvation Outside of the Church. But as Catholics slip away or dissent from the Church we all need to be reminded that as we separate ourselves from the One True Church we separate ourselves from Our Lord, and no one can get to the Father except through Our Lord. The need to teach this dogma is apparent as many either don’t know of it or think they can still achieve salvation without being in 100% union with the Church. If we reject just one Truth of the Church then we reject the Church and this puts us outside of the Church. Teach it and soon it will be clear again what it is to be Catholic.

  • Austin

    Judaism has various types of adherents, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and subdivisions even within these categories. A wide and varied spectrum to be sure.

    It appears that Catholocism may be headed in the same direction with various divisions and categories?

    I have noticed quite a bit of self righteousness and holier than thou attitudes among some posters. Perhaps a bit of spiritual humility may be in order?

  • bill bannon

    He is being simplistic and aiming his book at people who read little of detailed history. On the contrary, being “ultra” so as to make the non infallible issues tantamont to the infallible issues by a misuse of a partial idea within Lumen Gentium 25 can also lead to schisms and always has been part of schism’s structure. The Latin Mass-unhealthy ultra who sees that exact language as not just one way but as absolutely essential and the only way…. he will leave the Church in schism on that issue and he has overstated where infallibility lies as he points to ancient papal statements on the Latin Mass as being eternal and infallible. The Levebrist who sees the early 19th century encyclicals against freedom of religion as infallible instead of less than that… leaves in schism when a Ecumenical Council says otherwise.
    If you were a typical ultra in 1455, you believed in “perpetual slavery” for resisters of the faith with Pope Nicholas V and three subsequent Popes in that period (“Romanus Pontifex”/1454/ mid 4th paragraph). If you were ultra in 1521, you believed in burning heretics at the stake with Pope Leo X in “Exsurge Domine” 1520. Both ultra faithful lifestyles are now disallowed by Vatican II and by “Splendor of the Truth”, section 80. In 1994, John Paul II apologized for the ultras of those periods inter alia.

    I think the author is making the ultra audience feel good by comparing them to others as does Fr. Corapi also (flattery is warned against in the OT men)…but in doing so he is trivializing an ongoing problem for the zealous end of the Church which problem is schism which always comes from that “faithful” area of the Church in recent centuries… when for example he says:

    “Usually, the additions are not really wrong or bad. Most devotions, like the scapulars, are additions in this sense. Aquinas said that adding to the law was not the problem; taking things away from it was.”

    That is odd and he gives no cite location for Aquinas thinking so…it is odd because Christ accused the pharisees of adding to the law in Matthew 23:4… “They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.”

    And schismatics do that although they too shoulder the burderns (since they like these particular burdens though not the burden of unity)….and since they want all Catholics to follow their rigor in a certain area.

    And in Deuteronomy 4:2 God warns against ADDING: “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” And here… Pro 30:6 “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”

    For centuries actually Rome added rigor that proved incorrect in the area of usury but She did so in non infallible directives wherein she can err (though not toxically) like canon law where it was written for centuries: “all that is beyond principal is usury”..thanks to Gratian’s wording. Therein canon law effectively added to God’s law and in 1930, Rome corrected that. No folks…economies were not changing so as to affect personal loans. If you loaned Giotto money in the 14th century, he could gamble and make 10% and according to Gratian, you could not ask a piece of that 10%. And in every millenia, if you loaned, you risked non return through death of the borrower and deserved a fee thereby unless the person were poor as Calvin knew in 1545 but Luther did not and followed us. In 1830 we took in Calvin’s idea and as in Vatican II we took in the Quaker objection to all slavery with no exceptions…which exceptions were traditionally found in theology books til the 1960’s. Ultras in 1830 did not like the sound of Rome allowing interest. Ultras in the early 1900’s did not like the sound of Rome permitting the natural methods of birth control and the local Council of Malines warned that it would breed selfishness as later did Arthur Vermeesch whose objection grew as it became more accurate than at first.
    Liberalism is not the only problem. There are problems at the other end of the church also. Do we think that the devil leaves either end safe from his manipulations?

  • bill bannon

    1830 not 1930 was when the Church corrected the usury position.

  • john

    Ok lets get this Straight if one joins the army one is given rules to obey and if you said no I won’t obey this rule but I will this one.. Then you are drummed out of the army in disgrace. Well Kennedy is Supposed to be in God’s army are a good many priests and Bishops with him who pick and choose what they want to believe.. Either you are with God or not if you follow 99% of rules and not follow that extra 1% will take you straight down to hell[smiley=tongue] Kennedy says it’s wrong to execute a crimnal but it’s ok to kill a trillion babies? I leave it to you to use your common sense.

  • luke1_28

    I hope there comes a day when to say that you are Catholic, it is assumed that you are simply that….a Catholic. You aren’t liberal – ultra – neo – traditional – Charismatic – etc….you are just Catholic – Things have to change in order for the granular labels to stop. However, imagine the day when every time the new or cradle Catholic calls himself Catholic, their sense of duty and honor swell. Instead of defending WHY they became Catholic – they are catechized or re-catechized properly enough to answer the question of why they are or became Catholic so that the obvious question then falls back on the curious and becomes instead, WHY ARE YOU NOT CATHOLIC?

    For example, let’s say an inquirer comes seeking information about becoming Catholic. The steps of inquiry are followed and advised upon by an official of the Church loyal to the Magisterium or one of the Catholic lay faithful. Such questions like, “What is a Catholic?”, “What exactly do they believe?”, “How does a Catholic live out their obligations in life as it is formed by their Faith?”, “What does it mean to the world around you if you are a Catholic living in the world?”, etc…etc…have all been examined with the inquirer. Then every doctrinal item of the Faith that challenges the inquirer personally must be first comfortably asked of the Church official or the designated lay person, and then satisfactorally answered by the Church official or designated lay person – and the inquirer is expected to understand and comply in order for catechesis to begin.

    Church approved catechetic material has been set before us precisely in The Catechism of the Catholic Church. No other resource is needed if the Catechist is properly trained themselves. It needs to be understood that not one sentence in that book is to be questioned if you are a Catechist – and if you are a Catechist, you must accept and embrace everything contained within it as the Truth. And if you are a Catechist and are questioning articles of the Faith – then you must leave your position as a Catechist and address the questions you have before teaching others.

    It is through the learning and understanding of all the Truths in the Catechism, that the inquirer is formed as a Catholic. If all is accepted as true for them and they promise to live and defend the teachings contained in the Catechism, they are received into the Catholic Church receiving the necessary Sacraments and therefore can call themselves Catholic.

    To summarize, if we address the catechetic process and how it is deficient, this will efficiently address where the trouble is – and therefore the root of our ‘label problem’ will naturally vanish.

    Pope Benedict XVI somewhere once stated that the Church will become smaller – but more faithful – or something to that effect. I think as Rome works from the top down to prune the Church, this might work from a more local level to help out.

  • georgie-ann

    i’ve noticed that people from “Catholic countries” are much more inclined to show “ultra-” characteristics more easily and naturally, and are, in fact, stunned & shocked to witness the blatant disrespect & scorn so prevalent in this country towards God and especially “Catholic things,”…

    small wonder that the watering-down of Catholic intensity in our churches, families & schools, & even thoughts, is so rampant in this country, as we partake of the “diluting” cultural offerings of the atmosphere we “swim” in daily,…there are things we cannot escape,…there is much we can make a conscious decision to avoid, even shun,…it takes much deliberate effort & determination to attempt to maintain one’s purity at all levels, and taking “ultra-” seriously as a practice-able goal or form, can be a great help,…

    we have to learn to “swim upstream” for the best results,…this comes as a great shock to many of my immigrant friends,…it is very painful to have to spell it out to them that we DO NOT LIVE in a Catholic country, & therefore find ourselves “at war” for maintaining the most basic things of our faith,…may God truly help us & the world we live in,…

  • Jon_in_Charlotte

    It is the modern, cafeteria type, contraceptive using, poorly formed, questioning Church authority Catholic which would muse that a practicing Catholic be an “ultra” Catholic. As if the suggestion of praying the rosary is beyond their comprehesion of what a practicing Catholic would do in their spare time.

    Having grown up in the Kumbaya style of Catholicism I can attest to having once perceived devout practioners as being extremists and beyond my own system of belief.

    This ultra Catholic is less a movement and more the remnants of traditionalism existing in the corosive nature of modernism. Studies show that more than 60 percent of Catholics born after 1960 rarely, or never, attend Mass. And, 90 percent of those who rarely, or never, attend Mass do not believe in the Divine Presence of the Eucharist. So, to the majority of modern Catholics believing in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist is actually beyond their belief. Those who actually believe in Holy Communion are, thus, ultra Catholics.

    Over the course of the last 50 years Catholics who practice their faith have evolved into ultra-Catholics without changing how they practice their faith. The ultra-Catholic phenomena is the result of the deterioration of faith within the body of the Church which has established a sharper awareness to how Catholics practice, or don’t practice, their faith.

    The actual movement is by the modernists which have been drifting beyond Catholic traditionalism since the advent of the Vatican II council. And, as the modernist movement has proliferated to the point of becoming the popular norm it is then the practicing “ultra” Catholic which is the perceived oddity. The term ultra-Catholic could very well be construed as being a contemptuous commentary by the modernists to appease a feeling of guilt regarding their perceived lack of practicing their faith.

    The concept of the “ultra” Catholic should continue to grow in it’s perceived extremism as the oldest generation of Catholics, typically more faithful in their practice of Catholicism (i.e. “ultras”), begin to pass away in the coming decade. As the older Catholic population is being replaced by modernists the percentage of modernists will increase and the traditionalists will decrease. As this trend occurs the perception of “ultra” Catholicism will additionally increase. As the perceptage of practicing Catholics decreases the sharper the guilt will be felt by modernists for their lack of Catholicism and as a result the sharper the criticisms (and even hatred) for the practioners of the faith.

    The potential fate of the “ultras” would be martyrdom. This fate could be altered by a rennasiance of traditional Catholicism.

  • Donald

    You’re spot on Fr. Schall. These days being a normal Catholi means being an ultra-Catholic to some. If you go so far as to have a devotion to Mary, ultra-catholic. Or, wow, if you go to confession (at all), ultra-Catholic! If you happen to have muttered the words “obedience to the Church,” not just ultra-Catholic also dangerous fanatic!! It’s somewhat frightening.

    I’ve had the same issue, though, with the word Catholicity which appears from Catholics who are tired of lax Catholics. I have a problem with this word too because it seems to be identifying a degree of being Catholic, as if someone could be MORE Catholic than someone else. It seems that Catholicity came about in response to the “ultra-Catholic” mentality, but it’s just as damaging I think. To me, you’re either Catholic or you’re not.

    How does one “be” Catholic? Receive the Sacraments!!!! Then go consult your priest/bishop for further duties.

  • Gabriel Austin

    One poster writes:
    “Unless a politician is actually performing the abortion, however, I don’t know that he should be denied Holy Communion”.

    Why not leave it to the prudence of the bishop? It is not ours to say. We have enough personal problems. It is the bishop who will be pointing out the great danger of compounding the sin by receiving Holy Communion while not in a state of grace. It is not a theological matter, for professors to quibble about. It is a moral matter.

    A poster referred to the varieties of Judaism. Actually there are no varieties. What is called Orthodox Judaism is Judaism pure and simple. The other “varieties” are branches, quietly withering.

    Another poster referred to Vatican II [or misinterpretations of that Council] as the source of all our problems. It is not. The source is the degrading practice of contraception.

  • James

    Rev. Schall rises to the call for leadership in the Church. I applaud his bold stance against the tide of moral relativism resident both in the general public and within our own faith community (the Catholic Church at-large). Our church leaders are obligated to teach the faith, the true faith; not the “this, but not that” practice that has become so commonplace within our culture.

    The Kennedy’s, like so many other “prime-time catholics” defalcate the faith for broader demographic appeal. Church leaders, and that includes Bishops, Priests, and parents, must follow the good Reverend’s lead. Perhaps now more than ever our homilists need to stress three critical elements during poignant, relevant, and practical homilies.

    1. Teach our faith. Accurately, in accordance with Catholic Doctrine and Catholic traditions, and with vigor. Priests, deacons, and laymen alike must teach our faith to our communities, teachers, and families. Not a watered down version of faith, the “real deal” with all of its challenges and all of its glory.

    2. Identify attacks against our faith in modern society. Illuminate the incremental changes in society, government, and those within the Church. Those changes numb our senses and threaten to make us immune to the constant onslaught against the faithful.

    3. Encourage the courageous practice of faith. Not overt, self aggrandizement, but vibrant evidence of one’s living faith. Faith is manifest most effectively through actions – attending Mass (including Holy Days of Obligation), Reconciliation, regular participation in the Stations of the Cross and parish ministries benefitting those in most need, and prayer. Most of all, prayer.

  • D.B.

    when Fidelity to the Church and her teachings makes you the odd man out.

  • Michael

    The problem comes for politicians and leaders seperating beliefs of the faith from a non-Catholic society. Abortion is the murder of a living human being, this is not a matter of faith, but a scientific fact, belief in the Triune God would be a matter of faith and probably shouldn’t be legislated. Unless a politician is actually performing the abortion, however, I don’t know that he should be denied Holy Communion.

    There are few that actually perform the abortions, but many hands have enabled the abortionists to do so legally.

    Any Catholic who defends abortion rights is not in a state of grace necessary to receive communion. Do a Google for “Who_Can_Receive_Communion” – http://www.catholic.com has a nice write-up.

    The Catholic politicians often makes their opinions a matter of public record, and are on the front line with potentially changing our laws. That’s why they may be singled out by bishops for a private discussion to see if the politician will change their minds. If the poliltician is obstinate, the bishop may instruct not to receive communion.

    Law makers, of all people, should be aware of the consequences of not following the rules! But more importantly, we need to address the WHY the rules are there, WHY abortion is murder. I hear so many “non-ultras” declaring “don’t tell me what to do or think” but they are blind to the heart of the issues.

  • I am not Spartacus

    Once Fr. Feeney is declared a Dr in the Church you’ll know your personal opinion about EENS is correct.

    As it now stands, the sole reference to Fr. Feeney at an Ecumenical Council is the one at Vatican Two which referenced the Boston Heresy case where his errors about the meaning of EENS were held to be completely wrong and utterly void.

    That Feenyites behave like Protestants in their arrogance in insisting that they, not The Magisterium, not the Divinely Constituted authority, are authoritative as to what is the meaning of the Dogma EENS means that they themselves are outside the Church.

    Which means…

  • Christine

    This article made me sad. I don’t think that any of us who have studied and prayed and looked through the eyes of faith and obedience at what the Catholic Church believes and thus uphold Her way should be called “ultra catholic”.

    I guess that is why Jesus chose the Cross and told us that when we follow him, we choose it too. I guess I just always thought that just being Catholic was the way to salvation. In my naivete, I thought that if you went to Church on Sundays and spent your time, effort and money on being Catholic that you would believe or at least try to believe in the Way. It seems that too few of us are really trying to get to heaven, even though our Mother Church gives us the path. Who would have thought that the path was so narrow?

    I just pray that the path is not so narrow as it seems to me right now. I guess a Divine Mercy Chaplet is in order right now…

  • Andy Sloan

    Message to Ned Dougherty Dec.2,2009
    The following message is an interior locution received by Ned Dougherty, who attests and represents that he continually receives messages from Jesus, Mary, and St. Michael the Archangel on or about the first day of each and every month since the inauguration date of the monthly messages on August 1st, 2005. For more information about Ned Dougherty and to view previous messages, go to: http://www.missionofangels.org or http://www.fastlanetoheaven.com

    December 1, 2009 – at 12:45pm
    Meditation Garden, St. Rosalie’s Parish, Hampton Bays, New York

    Message from Jesus The Redeemer

    My dear son,

    I come to you today as Jesus The Redeemer with good tidings to the world during this Advent season, for I am here to spread the Good News, as the Lord and Saviour, of my intentions to diminish and defeat my enemies before your very own eyes in this very important time in the history of humanity.

    As you listen to my words, I am going about the Fathers plans to diminish and defeat those who have attempted to install a new world order upon humanity in defiance of the plans of the Father in Heaven for all of humanity.

    It has been my mission on Earth during my lifetime, as incarnated in flesh among my brothers and sisters, to lead all of Gods children back to the Heavenly Kingdoms, and my mission continues as such in the Spiritual Realms, where I now dwell to fulfill the plans of the Father.

    You must watch faithfully the signs of the times and the plans of the so-called elitists among you, who have gathered together in sinister forces and in clandestine and secret societies to impose the will of these few elitists through the ages and through all times up until the current times to control and defeat all of you and to force you to live without personal freedoms in a draconian state of serfdom.

    Now as you watch the headlines in your news sources, you can see how these dark forces are being exposed, and how their plans for world domination are being thwarted. As I have told you time and again in my messages to you, these dark forces would be defeated in your lifetimes here on Earth, because the Father in Heaven has so ordained not to allow the dark forces and minions of the evil one to continue to rule the Earth. So now it is the time when these minions of evil are being exposed and their plans for world domination and control are being thwarted, much to their disappointment and chagrin, so assured were they in their hubris and self-confidence that they would prevail in their plans.

    However, the time is now for all of Gods children, for all of my brothers and sisters here on Earth, to be even more vigilant and aware of the plans of the dark forces. These are the times that require all of you to pay closer attention to the signs of the times and the plans of the new world order that are being unraveled and exposed before your eyes.

    Be wary of global visionaries promising you a global governance and a new world order, for their plans are to serve the few in number who count themselves as the elitists and the rulers of the world. Be wary of their claims to save the planet from fictitious and trumped-up environmental threats that will result only in global legislations and laws intended to dominate you and your freedoms while masking the true intentions of these evil mongers.

    You are all stewards of the Lords dominion here on Earth, and it is the good people of the world, not the elitists of the new world order, who will gracefully and with love manage the Lords kingdom here on Earth, where the Father in Heaven has given you dominion over the animals and plants and resources of the world for the benefit of all of mankind, but not through the evil plans of the elitist few, who have been dominating the resources of the world for their own control and benefit and to the detriment of the rest of humanity.

    Now these evil world leaders are being exposed for their injustices to humanity, and I as your Saviour and Redeemer will continue to expose the evil ones, who are doing the work of satan, for it was never the plan of the Father in Heaven to allow this evil new world order to take control over humanity.

    Be wary then of any and all legislations and laws that are proposed to give global governance to a select few to dominate and control the rest of you. Do not accept any technologies that result in the lessening of your freedoms, and specifically refuse to accept any microchip technologies to be imbedded under your skin or within your human bodies, for these devices are the result of evil technologies that are not planned by the Father in Heaven.

    So become aware now and more vigilant of the plans of the evil ones by exercising your responsibilities to become ever more aware of their dark plans for you. Do not assume that your world leaders have the most idealistic goals in mind when they give you assurances, and when they expect you to concede to a one-world governance, a one-world currency, or a one-world court to enforce their domination and control over you.

    There are many conspiracies among these dark forces to control you, and you have a responsibility to your children and your childrens children to recognize these conspirators and their attempts to control you. Do not accept the explanations that are fed to you by major media sources, who are doing the work of the evil one in brainwashing and controlling you into their new world order belief systems.

    There are many among you now who are answering the Lords clarion call to expose the new world order and their plans. So my brothers and sisters, you now are being given the information and tools to assure that the dark forces will not prevail in their plans to dominate you. The truth, as it is written, shall set you free from the draconian plans of the new world order.

    Most of all, you must rely on the power of prayer to discern for you, each and every one of you personally, on the best course for you to take to help the Lord and Saviour in the plan for you to defeat the evil elitists of the world, who want only to dominate you. For above all, it is the power of your prayers, collectively and individually, that will enable the worlds citizens to defeat the elitists of the new world order. cont……

  • Andy Sloan

    This battle is, above all else, a spiritual battle to assure the peaceful future of mankind in ways that will please the Father in Heaven. Each and every one of you must recognize the power of your own prayers in this regard to defeat the evil of the world.

    Consider this message then a message of good tidings in this Advent Season that as I promised you in these messages, the dark forces of the new world order will not succeed in their plans to dominate all of humanity. For they will be defeated by the vast majority of you, who recognize that you are Gods children and that ultimately you are here on Earth to do Gods will for all of humanity.

    So celebrate your successes in advance, for the truth of the Lord and Saviour shall ultimately prevail over all of humanity. You have my blessings on your journey to defeat the evil of the world.

    Message ended 1:17pm

    Message from Jesus The Redeemer

  • Christine

    Did you see the last two posts? They’re trying to sell stuff!

  • Jitpring

    All this boils down to one thing: lousy catechesis. Clergy and religious dropped the ball; and for the past four decades, the faithful have been adrift. It’s the “ultra” Catholics that have kept the candles burning during this 40-year Dark Ages.

    In this interview you’ll find that Benedict XVI himself, as Joseph Ratzinger, agrees with you:


    It’s a transcript of this:


  • Jitpring

    It appears that Catholocism may be headed in the same direction with various divisions and categories?

    Yes. And consider this: dia-boline (Gk.) = to tear apart, to rend asunder, to fragment. This fragmentation is thus thoroughly diabolical, as is the Babel we see every Sunday with the various Masses in different languages.

  • Tobit

    Your position is extreme as to multiplicity. It can be good as in various languages for the Mass and it can be bad as to varying positions on abortion which is settled infallibly in section 62 of Evangelium Vitae. Compare your position with Benedict…not what you think he would do on languages in your imagination…but what he has in fact done…affirmed both the vernacular and the Latin with the latter being extraordinary.

  • Administrator

    Did you see the last two posts? They’re trying to sell stuff!

    Good catch, Christine. I appreciate the heads-up, and have removed that section.

    Opinions are always welcome, but we don’t want our comboxes turning into a marketplace.

  • John Charles

    Sign me up for ‘them thar’ believin’ in Jesus, thinking that the Nicene Creed means somethin’, and the Church has some higher authority stuff, ultra-Catholics.

  • Anita

    The problem is ,not that there are enough believing Catholics, but rather that everyone is focussed on the few who don’t believe as they should or follow Church teachings correctly. When push comes to shove and there is a need to stand up for their faith, there are the majority that do so. In our country, concerning the abortion issue, 72% of Christians are against it. This includes Catholic Christians.

  • Jerry

    Hi Father,,
    Seems to me that Ultra is too extreme. Isn’t to more like what used to be called a “good Catholic?”

    Oh and with regard to Kennedy, to coin a term, he appears to be a “CINC” – that is, a Catholic in name only.


  • Robb

    A more important reason to publicly remove a Pro Abortion Catholic Politician from the Chruch roles is to try and get through to them that their soul is hanging precariously in the wind.

    Their soul is far more important an issue than letting them continue to believe that ‘politics makes right’.
    Stop belly-aching about theological questions and focus on the reality that they need to wake up to their soul’s position. And if we put them on notice, then all the better for their political soul if fewer children’s souls are seperated from their bodies before birth.

    I went through the abortion process with a girlfirend 24 years ago. She did not want our child and wasn’t willing to face the issues around carrying a child for nine months. THank God for the priest that looked me in the eye and said ‘You’re lost to your soul right now. Are you going to make amends for that?”

    To the Catholic politician who says “I myself wouldn’t have an abortion, but….’ I say “Wake up! And come back to our community when you have awakened…for your soul’s sake, if nothing else.”

    Say it lovingly. Say it straight forwardly…but say it, while you still can say it. Cause you’re responsible for doing the loving thing for your brother, too!

    Wake-up time.

  • Ches

    I hate the terms liberal Catholic or conservative Catholic, and now I will add “Ultra” Catholic. I am a Catholic… practicing… trying to get it right. I believe what the Church teaches and try to follow it. I don’t contracept, I pray at abortion mills, I go to Mass on Sundays, Holy Days of Obligation and even daily Mass sometimes. I pray the rosary daily and wear a scapular. I say morning and night prayers. I say the Angelus. All I am is a practicing Catholic. I do all these things because it takes LOTS of PRACTICE to be a good Catholic! [smiley=wink]

  • Ann

    A be-knighted ultra-Catholic holds the Nicene Creed as true. He thinks divine authority exists in the Church. He knows that he, a sinner, needs forgiveness. But he does not make his sins into some social-justice crusade. He does odd things like go to Mass on Sundays, even in Latin. He thinks it is fine to have children. He prefers to work for a living. He also knows that the Church is under siege in the culture. He belongs to the real minority.

    Sad, but true that this would make one an “ultra” Catholic.

  • Maria

    It is heartening to see a Jesuit from Georgetown, what I deem a former Catholic University, support the Holy Mother Church, her teachings, and the faithful.

  • Lynne B.

    All this boils down to one thing: lousy catechesis. Clergy and religious dropped the ball; and for the past four decades, the faithful have been adrift. It’s the “ultra” Catholics that have kept the candles burning during this 40-year Dark Ages.

    Well said and right on the money, William! I could not agree with you more! It is absolutely criminal and appalling the lack of right catechesis in the Church. High school confirmands who do not know the Nicene Creed are completely at a loss as to what their faith is are produced by parents who weren’t taught right doctrine. I fear for the Church.

  • Ann

    Formerly Catholic universities…isn’t that the truth

  • Pavel

    The sinner and the Pharisee. Many of you here sound more like the Pharisee. If you do, you’re in a lot more trouble than any number of bad Catholics with no illusions about themselves. Don’t boast. Jesus was tormented and crucified by all of us, and still is.

  • Lisa

    I like this article because it delineates what I’ve seen as a convert. I meet people who say they are Catholic who believe that abortion is ok, who don’t “like” the Pope, who don’t really “get into the Eucharist,” who think that “the Episcopal church is really not that different from Catholic” (that from a 21 year old), all sorts of things… it’s very disconcerting for a convert because I naively thought that we would all be on the same page….

  • Chaplain Sue

    Father, thanks for the interesting article. I also was surprised to see you are at Georgetown..I’m a chaplain at a Jesuit Medical Center and, sorry to say, your views would be held as archaic by most Caholic chaplains there. I wonder how you get along. I gave up long ago trying to express my Catholic beliefs with most of my Catholic colleagues. The majority are pro-choice, openly gay and hold traditioal practices such as asking a priest to bless a medal for a patient to be ridiculous. I was literally laughed out of the office last time I tried…first, of course, they told me to bless it myself. (I’m a woman.) Most of the nuns, ex-nuns and former priest I encounter in ministry consider themselves to be partially Christian and partially Buddhist. The supervisor who educates the student chaplains (a former priest himself) treated me lik an idiot when I questioned the fact that one of the resident chaplains assigned to me saw herself, rather than Christ, as the source of her ministry. I work in hospice and am appalled at the “Catholics” ministering to Catholics at the end of their lives with their own belief systems of reincarnation, energy healing, etc. Apparently pagan mysticism is more appealing. It’s certainly easier to live with than the mysticism of the Doctors of the Church, including St. Therese. Her humulity doesn’t sit well with those whose intellectual arrogance surpasses simple acts of compassion. I could not find a single priest on our staff willing to help a dying young man who’s life was destroyed by sexual abuse from two priests while in a pre-seminary high school. Maybe they were afraid of a lawsuit. I don’t know. They not only didn’t want to get involved but would’t speak to me for months for even asking. I would say easily 75% of our Catholic patients are non-practicing and refuse pastoral care at the end of life. The generation that does see value in this is quickly disappearing. This insanity, in my opinion, is coming directly out of “Catholic” universities where traditional values of any kind are considered politically incorrect. These institutions are filled with preists, nuns and many who have left religious life with an axe to grind because they, themselves, do not live the Gospel and so want to rewrite it. I don’t think Catholics should be considered “ultra” anything. I think those who falsely identify themselves and make a living from the very Church they denounce are the ones who should not be called Catholics. Some call themselves “Post Christian” Catholics. That seems suitable. It’s heartbreaking. The enemy knows exactly how to veil the truth and has infitrated the Church in astonishing ways. If we don’t wake up and speak the truth (even if mocked) we ourselves mock the Cross of our own salvation.

  • Aria

    It is heartening to see a Jesuit from Georgetown, what I deem a former Catholic University, support the Holy Mother Church, her teachings, and the faithful.

    Excuse me? Georgetown still has a very good group of Catholics, you just hear about that “bad” ones. Fr. King, God rest his soul, was one of our finest. Fr. Schall is called the Socrates of Georgetown, let’s just hope he doesn’t have the same end fate.


  • Jersey Girl

    All this boils down to one thing: lousy catechesis. Clergy and religious dropped the ball; and for the past four decades, the faithful have been adrift. It’s the “ultra” Catholics that have kept the candles burning during this 40-year Dark Ages.

    Amen to that. I recently spoke at an open forum at my parish and asked the pastor why there are no clergy involved in my childrens’ catechesis. I was met with stunned silence. Why the bishops & clergy allowed a bunch of DREs to take over CCD and produce such dreck and fluff for the past 40 years is a tragedy. We have, in my parish, “volunteer” CCD teachers who don’t know enough about the faith to attend Mass on Sundays.

    The clergy and especially the bishops have to take back catechesis from the laypeople. Families have to be catechized together. How can you have parents teach the faith when they don’t know their faith? I throw myself into this catagory. I spent most of my years in Catholic school in the 70s singing “Day by Day” and making felt banners.

  • Pavel

    You won’t bring people back to the Faith by lecturing, denouncing or complaining. They’re gone because lecturing was of little use. The faithful are always signs of contention and always will be in the world. You will be rejected, and that is your cross, which should be borne with joy as well as suffering. Christ is here. Lead the way.

  • Tammy

    “Aquinas said that adding to the law was not the problem; taking things away from it was.”

    I think Jesus would disagree with him on that point because most of the arguments Jesus had with the Jewish religious authorities were about additions to the law, not the Torah itself.

  • Caroline

    Thank you Bill Bannon for your most intelligent comments.

  • Vincent De Vargas

    So many differing views. It is good to see so many trying the seek what is right.

    Thomas Merton wrote that in his college years his close friend, a Jew, asked him what he wanted to be. Merton hesitated and then replied that he wanted to be a good Catholic. His friend said “No, you should want to be a saint,” or words to that effect. Clearly that is what we should all strive to be. But how?

    The education of our children today is, in my opinion, failing to teach our children what they need to know to be good Catholics. There is preparation for Confirmation that focuses heavily on social responsibility. This is not in itself a bad thing. The problem is we are raising good Christians who don’t know much about the Catholic Church and what she teaches.

    In the entertainment world it is a badge of honor for public figures to brag that they are former or used-to-be Catholics. It should be a badge of shame. Our children are influenced by this attitude. But they don’t really know what the Catholic faith is really about. And so our kids fall for this “popular” view of Catholicism…something to escape from or mature out of.

    What is missing is a clear, concise statement of what we believe. There is not a clear statement that God made us, that we are to know love and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him in heaven. Those of you who are old enough will recognize the first two questions of the Baltimore Catechism. While I am not advocating a return to that venerable text I am saying our children need to know the basics of Catholic teaching. What are the laws of the Church? What are the corporal and spiritual works of mercy? What are the dogmas of our faith? What is grace? Why Reconcile on a regular basis? Why do we have the obligation to celebrate Mass on Sunday– every Sunday?

    These kinds of things give meaning to the kids about the “service hours” they are required to fill. I have seen too many kids who have no idea why they have to do them and don’t understand what the hours have to do with Confirmation or being Catholic.

    In becoming kid friendly our religious education has become doctrinally empty. The two educational methods need to be united. Then we won’t need terms like ultra-Catholic. We will just be Catholic. And the world will know who we are and will want to be like us.

    My old teacher friend told me years ago that we are different from every other church because we have the Eucharist. It makes us special in many ways. But it obligates us as well — obligates us to be different, to stand out as Catholics and to never think we need to apologize for what we believe. And in order to do that we need to know what we believe.

  • Joe Cober

    Do not boast ? Don’t be silent ! Born in 1920. When working, made sign of cross before eating my lunch, alone amidst my co-workers. Drove 23km to weekly Latin Mass. Now in seniors home. Am the only one who crosses himself before meals. 4 Ladies asked me to join them, praying the rosary after supper in private room. I did, but they don’t cross themselves in dining-room regardless my example. The pastor made change in liturgy that was not allowed. I acted. To make long story short, after 6 weeks we had proper liturgy back. The church buletin asked to receive communion in hand. I acted. Soon 2 extra-ordinary servers told me separately, the one not knowing from the other, receiving in hand had increased. In both cases the pastor took revenge; in both cases it failed (long stories). Years ago my wife and I started to go to communion, palms of hands together to evangelize that something special was going on. In 2002 started efforts, alone, to get a May procession. 2008, a young mother took over; got a procession; 24 persons. In 2009, 60+ persons, 1 pastor; also a seminarian in black cassock. Here in Guelph(Canada)stands big Maria statue downtown. Years ago I started praying there alone, once a month, rosary dangling from my hand; and I hang sign “Whether glad, sad or wary, pause a while, say a Hail Mary”. Some passersby react positively. Only once, a man got in front of me and started yelling. In 2007, a man, 40 years yonger, asked if he could join me. We go twice a month. People can see … and hear us. I started pilgrimage 12km to nearby town, and back. Some came along. I had to give up after age 75. No one continued. I never ask “Could we.. nor Maybe we should..” I do it alone to prove that it can be done. then ask others to join. If no one joins me, I continue alone. Are you afraid some may call you a ‘show-off’. I am not a show-off; I am a ‘show-up’, stepping to the front line where the battle is fought. In 2004, in Turnhout (Belgium) where I grew up. On the big square is a churc. Beside it, a Sacred Heart statue. I prayed there a rosary, alone, my friends didn’t dare to pray in public. I was shocked: the statue was in so bad state, 4 metal bands held it together. I was told no one knew what to do, for it would cost a lot, and religion is way down. In 2005 I wrote to over 100 families (found addresses on computer)that it was their duty to restore it. I offered 500 Euros. My opponent: everyone felt that money should go to tsunami disaster. I told them that there would always be disasters. In Spring 2006, it was repaired from the base up. I returned and again prayed rosary at that statue on the square, alone. And I could go on. Pray and act. Hardly any cleric gives leadership. Pastors may be overworked ? You, and you, and you, and I, we must evangelize. PRIORITY: receive on tongue; honor God. Roman Catholics: demand communion-rail. It’s your right. I wrote bishop, he is not worth his salary; we cut Sunday offering; only 25 cents if no communion-rail; $ 5 if there is a kneeler. I could go on. Pray and act ! joecober@rogers.com

  • A Graduate

    Excuse me? Georgetown still has a very good group of Catholics, you just hear about that “bad” ones. Fr. King, God rest his soul, was one of our finest. Fr. Schall is called the Socrates of Georgetown, let’s just hope he doesn’t have the same end fate.

    Written by Aria

    No, Aria; it is either a blatant distortion or wishful thinking to suggest that Georgetown promotes faithful Catholicism in accordance with the Magisterium. There may indeed be a “very good group of Catholics” — including Father Schall — but they are a tiny minority, they are marginalized, and they are not in charge of the place.

  • Bonecrusher

    I found the quote interesting< 'Aquinas said that adding to the law was not the problem; taking things away from it was.' Which "law" is he referring to?? In Deuteronomy the command was quite speciffic, ' do not add to nor take away from THIS LAW, (emphasis added). The law that Catholics follow IS NOT THE LAW THAT YHVH laid down for ALL THOSE WHO WOULD FOLLOW HIM. The law that Catholics follow has things added to and taken away from that which was supposed to be un altered.

  • Tim Cooper


    Nice try… but I’m not buying what you are selling. Yes, I have met both Catholic holier-than-thou “pharisees” and also SSPX types that deny the validity of Vatican II, Novus Ordo etc. However, nothing in Fr. Schall’s article would suggest he belongs to either category. The same can be said of those commenting. In truth, from my experience the “pharisees” and the latin only ultra-traditionalists make up 2-3 percent of Catholics. However, cafeteria Catholics make up well over 50 percent of Catholics. Cafeteria Catholics do much more harm to advancing the gospel than do the ultra-traditionalists and pharisees.

    Fr. Schall and the pro “ultra” commentators are not judging sinners to hell or placing themselves above cafeteria catholics, but rather lamenting what the American version of Catholicism has become. American Catholicism is firmly rooted in idea that the teachings by the Magesterium (in areas related to faith and morals) are NOT binding. We can be our own pope. At one time, I held this view as an evangelical Protestant and for a time, as a Catholic convert (due to a poor RCIA program).

    Your point that “ultra” Catholics “add to” the faith is also wrong. There is nothing wrong with the rosary or eucharistic adoration or praying the office other practices that are part of small “t” tradition. Ultra Catholics are not FORCING these practices on other Catholics as the phrisees did to the jewish community.

    You are also wrong about the sin of usury and good of burning heretics. Doctrines develop and practices change. The church has a better understanding of market economics today than earlier, so usury has changed in how it is applied. At one time, all interest on loans was seen as “preditory lending” but that is no longer the case. Regardless, “Preditory lending” is still wrong. This is natural development. Pope Leo X’s support of “burning heretics” was never presented as a doctrine that must be held by the faithful as a matter of faith. He listed 41 “errors” of Luther and his followers including Luther’s rejection of the burning of heretics. However if you read Exsurge Domine you will see that the reasons for these errors include: [1] heretical or [2] scandalous or [3] false or [4] offensive to pious ears or [5] seductive of simple minds and [6] in opposition to Catholic truth. Pope Leo X does not specify which of these apply to the burning of heretics.

    Finally, you are wrong about Aquinas as well. Aquinas helped initiate the practice of Eucharistic devotions including the feast of Corpus Christi. To say that Aquinas concerned himself only with capital T – Traditions and not small t – traditions is not correct.

    Life begins at conception. This is objective truth, therefore we cannot deny the abortion holocaust as liberal Catholics try to. Contraception is always grave matter. When we deny the authority of the Magisterium we are playing with fire. As GK Chesterton said, Jesus came to wash our sins, not to whitewash them.

  • Mike Lockaby

    Allow me to paraphrase:

    A be-knighted [Episcopalian] holds the Nicene Creed as true. He thinks divine authority exists in the Church. He knows that he, a sinner, needs forgiveness. But he does not make his sins into some social-justice crusade. He does odd things like [take Eucharist] on Sundays, even in Latin. He thinks it is fine to have children. He prefers to work for a living. He also knows that the Church is under siege in the culture. He belongs to the real minority.

    To all who want to be part of the true Catholic Church of the Church Fathers before Papist and Reformist innovations, go to your local Episcopal Church!

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