Who Will Rescue the Lost Sheep of the Lonely Revolution?

Forgive me, Lord, if I use your words for an admonitory parable. You said to the Pharisees, “What man among you, having a hundred sheep, and learning that one of them has wandered into the wilderness, will not leave the ninety nine and go after the lost sheep? And when he has found it, will he not call his friends and say, Rejoice with me, for I have found the sheep that was lost?”

That is why you came among us, to call sinners back to the fold. Not to pet and stroke them for being sinners, because that is what you mean by “lost,” and what you mean by “dead,” when you asked us to consider the young man who had wandered into the far country. The father in your parable wanted his son alive, not dead. The son said, “Father, I have sinned before heaven and you. Now I am not worthy to be called your son.” He spoke but the truth, and that truth set him free.

So I am looking at a world in a shambles. We do not have Pharisees who preen themselves for having followed the letter of the law and missed its soul. We have Pharisees who preen themselves for disobeying the law, even the most serious admonitions of the law, even your own clear words on marriage and divorce, while presuming to have discovered a soul-of-the-law whose existence has eluded two thousand years of martyrs, saints, popes, bishops, and theologians. “I thank you, O God, that you have made me a sinner and a publican, and not like these others who set their aim so high.”

In this world that I see, there is no sheepfold left. “What man among you, having a hundred sheep, and seeing the fold smashed and hirelings among the flocks, men who, while wolves are tearing the bellies of the sheep, are themselves roasting mutton on spits, will not leave the ninety nine and go into the wilderness to find one, and when he finds it dead already, will not hold his head high and say, Well, I did my best!”

It will be said that the one—the unrepentant or semi-repentant sinner, the one who wants to have the faith on his own terms—is “marginalized,” a word I detest, but which may serve my purposes this once. If adults in immoral sexual relationships are “marginalized,” Lord, let me speak up now for people who do not even make it to the margins, for the poorest of the poor, for people who have no advocate at all.

Let me speak for the children of divorce, who see their homes torn in two, because of a mother or a father who has shrugged away the vow of permanence. I see them straining to put a fine face on it, to protect the very parents who should have protected them, to squelch back their own tears so as not to hurt those who have hurt them. Who speaks for them, harried from pillar to post? Who pleads their case, whose parents conveniently assume that their children’s happiness must depend upon their own contentment, and not the other way around? Where is my Church’s apostolate for the children sawn in half, while the Solomons of our time looked the other way?

Let me speak for the children thrust into confusion, to justify the confusion of their parents or of people in authority over them. Here is a boy whose father is absent or aloof. He needs to be affirmed in his boyhood, but he shies away from the other boys. Then sidles the teacher into the garden of his boyhood to suggest to him unrealities that he cannot understand. Who speaks for that boy, lonely and hesitant upon the shore, while his more confident fellows splash and swim? Who comes to his assistance to supply the want of fatherly care? Which of my Church’s bishops in all their years have ever turned a single glance his way? Saint John Bosco, where are you now?

Let me speak for the children exposed to unutterable evils on all sides. Here is a girl at age twelve who has seen things on a screen that her grandmother could never have imagined. She is taking pictures of herself already, and making “friends” among the sons and daughters of Belial. This is happening under our very eyes. She goes to the drug store and must confront magazines for “women” blaring out their headlines about sex and what without any irony goes by the name of “beauty,” and nobody says, “Why should this be?” Who speaks up for her innocence? Where are the leaders of my Church, helping her to become a gracious and godly Christian woman, rather than a poor self-prostituted wreck, more cynical about the opposite sex at age twenty than the hardest thrice-divorced old woman would be? Who pleads for her protection? Who notices her?

Let me speak up for the young people who see the beauty of the moral law and the teachings of the Church, and who are blessed with noble aspirations, but who are given no help, none, from their listless parents, their listless churches, their crude and cynical classmates, their corrupted schools. These youths and maidens in a healthier time would be youths and maidens indeed, and when they married they would become the heart of any parish. Do we expect heroic sanctity from them? Their very friendliness will work against them. They will fall. Do you care? Many of these will eventually “shack up,” and some will leave dead children in the wake of their friendliness. Where are you? You say that they should not kill the children they have begotten, and you are right about that. So why are you shrugging and turning aside from the very habits that bring children into the world outside of the haven of marriage?

Let me speak up for the young people who do in fact follow the moral law and the teachings of the Church. Many of these are suffering intense loneliness. Have you bothered to notice? Have you considered all those young people who want to be married, who should be married, but who, because they will not play evil’s game, can find no one to marry? The girls who at age twenty-five and older have never even been asked on a date? The “men” languishing in a drawn-out adolescence? These people are among us; they are everywhere. Who gives them a passing thought? They are suffering for their faith, and no one cares. Do you care, leaders of my Church? Or do you not rather tacitly agree with their fellows who do the marital thing without being married? Do you not rather share that bemused contempt for the “old fashioned” purity they are trying to preserve?

What help do you give them? Do you not rather at every step exacerbate their suffering, when by your silence and your telling deeds you confirm in them the terrible fear that they have been played for chumps, that their own leaders do not believe, that they would have been happier in this world had they gone along with the world, and that their leaders would have smiled upon them had they done so?

You want more? More people who do not merit a footnote? What about the men and women abandoned by their spouses? Have you stood up for their rights? What about the innocent men who, after they have been abandoned, become in effect slaves to a corrupt and lawless regime? Have you stood up for them? Founded a society for mutual support?

More? Go visit a prison. Do it, all you say your hearts beat warmly for the poor. Prisoners are poor to the point of invisibility. Go there and ask them about their sexual histories and those of their families. Go find out what the Lonely Revolution has done to them. Well may you plead for cleaner cells and better food for prisoners, and more merciful punishment. Why do you not plead for cleaner lives and better nourishment for their souls when they are young, before the doors of the prison shut upon them? Who speaks for them?

Who speaks for the penitent, trying to place his confidence in a Church that cuts his heart right out, because she seems to take his sins less seriously than he does?

Venturing forth into the margins, my leaders? You have not placed one toe outside of the plush rugs of your comfort. Do so, I beg you! Come and see all those whom the Lonely Revolution has hurt. Leave your parlors and come to the sheepfold!

 Editor’s note: The image above is a detail from “The Shepherd David” painted by Elizabeth Jane Gardner (wife of painter William Adolphe Bouguereau) in 1895.

Anthony Esolen


Professor Esolen is a teaching fellow and writer in residence at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts, in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Dr. Esolen is a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine and the author of many books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Books, 2010) and Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). His most recent books are Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press, 2014); Defending Marriage (Tan Books, 2014); Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books, 2015); and Out of the Ashes (Regnery, 2017).

  • St JD George

    Amen. I can find plenty of excuses between work, family, home and church, and what little I do in outreach I’m always reminded by others who find the time to do more with similar circumstances and draw inspiration from them. So much is wrapped up in what we prioritize and how we spend our time. Decluttering has helped me draw closer and find the time I never knew I had before. It’s amazing how many hours we can fill our lives with emptiness, starting with the TV or on the Internet.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    The essence of legalism, for which Our Lord repeatedly rebuked the Pharisees, is a preoccupation with the permissible: “Is it permissible to do this?” “Is it permissible not to do that?”

    Whether the boundaries of the permissible are narrowly or widely drawn, the legalistic spirit is worlds away from aspiring after holiness of life, as it is enjoined on virtually every page of the New Testament: “to renounce the world, and differ in every temper and way of life, from the spirit and the way of the world: to renounce all its goods, to fear none of its evils, to reject its joys, and have no value for its happiness: to be as new-born babes, that are born into a new state of things: to live as pilgrims in spiritual watching, in holy fear, and heavenly aspiring after another life: to take up our daily cross, to deny ourselves, to profess the blessedness of mourning, to seek the blessedness of poverty of spirit: to forsake the pride and vanity of riches, to take no thought for the morrow, to live in the profoundest state of humility, to rejoice in worldly sufferings: to reject the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life: to bear injuries, to forgive and bless our enemies, and to love mankind as God loves them: to give up our whole hearts and affections to God, and strive to enter through the strait gate into a life of eternal glory.”

    • slainte

      To live the Beatitudes.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        The other great flaw of legalism is that it neglects the the rôle of grace.

        Turn to the Lord (Hos 14:2)
        Turn back, turn back from your evil ways (Ez 33:11)

        But also
        Turn us, O God of our salvation (Ps 85:4)
        Turn thou me, and I shall be turned (Jer 31:18)
        Turn you us to you, O LORD, and we shall be turned (Lam 5:21)

        Make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! (Ez 18:31)
        A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; (Ez 36:26)

        St Paul, too, in a single sentence
        Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases him (Phil 2:12-13)

        • slainte

          When one lives the Beatitudes in humility, one lives the divine (and supreme) law which is Love.

          Those who know, through Grace, that they are much loved by a merciful and compassionate God are better able to love others. Christ’s love sustains those whom the world fails.

          Your comments MPS in response to this profoundly powerful article by Prof. Esolen are particularly beautiful.

    • Stanley Anderson

      Michael, your comments about “Is it permissible to do this?” remind me of that old story about the nobleman who wanted to hire a driver for his carriage. Three applied and he took them out to the edge of a high cliff and asked each of them how close they could drive his carriage to the cliff without going off the edge. The first said proudly, I can drive that carriage within 50 feet of the edge and not fall off.” The second said, “I can do better — I can drive within 25 feet and not fall off.” The third said, “Lord, I have no idea how close I can get to that cliff without falling off — I only know that if you are in the carriage, I am going to keep it as far away from that cliff as I can…”

      The third candidate, of course, got the job.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour


  • GG

    A beautiful and intelligent piece. Than you for all this great work you do.

  • Glenn M. Ricketts

    The shepherds not only fail to speak for the lost sheep of the present day; in many instances they have eagerly joined forces with the wolves who threaten them.

    • jacobhalo

      I agree. Let’s start with the lost sheep who were at the synod.

      • Glenn M. Ricketts

        Well,we’re certainly trying to at this web site, aren’t we?

        • jacobhalo

          Yes we are!! I’ve never seen so much criticism of the pope and his minions and it is well deserved.

          • John O’Neill

            Sede Vacante.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            Ah, those rogues who oppose Reformer Pope Francis are like barking dogs with no teeth. They will soon enough be put out of their misery. The sooner the better.

      • St JD George

        Remember what our blessed Father Sheen had to say about our responsibilities in that regard too. Our church is not strictly a top down organization, and accountability is a virtue.

        • PaulOfTarsus

          Our Church? Are you a revolutionist? It is the clergy’s church. Don’t you know the laity are to Pay, Obey and Pray in that order – as a holy priest once said. Well, maybe he wasn’t so holy. He liked to drink big glasses of red wine and cozy up with his secretary at parish functions.

          • St JD George

            Funny guy Paul, I pray you find true peace, and a deeper understanding of Gods love for you.

            • PaulOfTarsus

              I only wish it were funny. He also OK’d his secretary’s daughter to have an abortion because she was an unmarried teenager! It is rather pathetic people somehow attribute all the present and future ills of the church to Francis when it has seen worse times under the pedophile protector Pope St JPII and incompetent Benedict whose butler had more backbone than he concerning getting the “gay lobby” cleaned up. Benedict’s former butler is a married family man who risked more than anyone to do GOD’s will. Thank the lowly butler for beginning this new church renaissance – you’ll find GOD raises up the lowly in your bible – believe it. Thanks for your response. I’ll end it here.

              • St JD George

                You sound bitter. Nobody defends the indefensible, nor wants them not to be held accountable, but I’ll reserve judgement for the balance of a man’s life. We sometimes forget than these are mortal men capable of the same temptations and maybe more so who live in this world with us. Besides, you know Satan directs most of his energy at dividing us in his attempt to destroy Chist’s mission don’t you? And there is no better way than for him to overpower those who try to be good sheppards. Rather than being bitter, keep Christ first and pray for all sinners including our priests and bishops. Satan loves nothing more than for you to have a hardened heart.

                • PaulOfTarsus

                  Oh no, you misunderstand – nothing could be further from the Truth. I am joyous! Is it not all I have written true? Can the Truth be denied? Those who turn their eyes from the Truth are to be pitied. Those who face reality and know the Truth are to be held in high esteem. I have met the underside of the snake and am unscathed thanks be to the Grace with which I am bathed by the Holy Spirit. Put on your armor and hold up your shield against those who attempt to turn back the clock to the dark times from which we have just emerged. Follow Reformer Pope Francis into the light of a new day for Holy Mother Church and all the faithful!

                  • St JD George

                    Joy did not leap off the page reading your words, but neither do they mine at times. I’d rather be in the barque with sinners who are trying to have a relationship with Christ, than those who would spit in his face, though I know we are called to try and save all souls. I’m not quite ready to suit up and mount for another Crusade either, but there are plenty of dark clouds forming and especially in our own country.

      • PaulOfTarsus

        you are exactly correct – that Burke is either a drunkard or a madman – or Heaven forbid, both. Francis is leading Holy Mother Church to a new 21st C Renaissance. Pray fervently for his success – the snakes of the devil are everywhere.

  • publiusnj

    The author asks: “Let me speak for the children of divorce, who see their homes torn in two, because of a mother or a father who has shrugged away the vow of permanence….Who speaks for them…?”

    What Kasper and Company offer them is the opportunity for the left-behind spouse to find a second iteration of “love” in the arms of another person (let’s not get too specific about gender) who has no more obligation to stick around than the first abandoner did. Of course, that second love interest is purely a volunteer when it comes to acting as a parent to any children of divorce who remain in the home. In this way, the abandoned spouse may earn the comforts, such as they are, of serial monogamy but the children have to catch as catch can. Meanwhile the original abandoner can salve his/her conscience with Communion in a Church that has no rules that need to be heeded any more than the no Remarriage after Divorce Rule did.

    • Glenn M. Ricketts

      That sounds like what we’re now supposed to refer to as “mercy,” doesn’t it?

      • publiusnj

        Maybe, but it won’t last. We are the Catholic Church and Jesus does guide us. I will continue to point out the folly of Kasper’s proposal (and Francis’s entertaining it), but I am beginning to feel that Christ’s Church will expel this “foreign body.” We need to stay vocal about the utterly unacceptable nature of the proposal.

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          I agree, but I also think that the faithful are being needlessly bewildered and errant souls led astray, hence the need to “stay vocal.” At this site, I think we can count on that.

    • gaeliclass

      Kasper and Co wont win because thankfully Ed Pentin, long time journalist in Rome for Zenit and Newsweek had the courage to publish what needed to be published. So we all know that Card. Kasper is most definitely working with others in the hierarchy to push ‘his agenda’ – well he wont make it. And in fact possibly Vox Popolo can starting asking for his resignation for the disgraceful actions he is deliberating taking. which are against which Christ Himself taught!

      • Dick Prudlo

        We need not stop with Kasper, a rung higher may be required.

    • Christorchaos

      Under the modern rubric of “love wins”, it is not only your right to divorce your spouse, it is your duty to yourself to divorce your spouse the moment you perceive that you can be marginally happier with someone else.

  • orientstar

    A beautiful and powerful piece of writing. Thank you.

  • Jeannine

    Thank you for this article! I teach at a community college; if only the elites could see the weight of grinding misery that so many of my students carry because of all this. Sexual “freedom” has not brought them happiness but rather beatings, protection from abuse orders, addiction, trips to the domestic violence shelter, and abandonment. But seemingly no one has even tried to help my students to avoid their terrible suffering.

    • St JD George

      It is the ultimate irony isn’t it. I won’t re-quote the favored Chesterton saying, but it is so true. The quest for freedom from all constraint and belief in nothing but self brings misery except for fleeting moments of sensory indulgence. Happiness only occurs in the love for another, and the ultimate happiness can only occur in the love for Jesus Christ. I know one dare not speak his name in the public square today for fear of losing ones livelihood, so what are we to do? Watching our secular society destroy souls is gut wrenching, and passivity will not help our cause. Finding ways to shed our own timidity to profess our faith outside the sphere of comfort is a small start.

      • publiusnj

        Talking about names: think about how utterly irrelevant even our own patronymic names become in this secular culture. It used to be that a boy’s father would tell him that he was supposed to act in an honorable or a bold way because he was, say, a “McGonagle.”

        Today, how many families do we get introduced to on the 5PM News (say an 18 year old shoots or is shot by the cops) in which the son has the name of one baby daddy (say, McGonagle again), while his half-sister has a different baby daddy’s name and their unmarried mother, Ms. Truhart, has a third name (maybe her daddy’s or some guy who actually went as far as to marry and divorce her) while her latest live-in boyfriend has another name entirely. Who is Master McGonagle, the victim or perpetrator of the shooting? To what family does he belong? Is it the McGonagle Family? Even if he has never met anybody else named McGonagle who claims to be a relative?

        Maybe, it should be called the Truhart Family instead? Have we gotten to the point where matronymics make more sense? But then, why should any baby daddy even contribute child support at that point without a paternity contest and a court adjudication? And isn’t the Truhart name just the importation of another patronymic rather than a true matronymic? Should our names reflect the dead hand of foregone conventions such as patronymics?

        • St JD George

          Paternalism, that’s even more derogatory than Maternalism today isn’t it. The object of so much hate for the church by feminists and their would be sympathizers.

        • Some years ago, when I was engaged in Medicaid Maternity Care Auditing, I remember the case of a 41 year old woman who spontaneous aborted. She already had six or seven children with three different surnames- two had the same first name.

        • ForChristAlone

          I do professional counseling. By the time I take a personal history, I need a scorecard to keep straight who belongs to whom. Most of the time, I just throw my hands up in the air because if I were to try to make sense out of total Babel, I’d be needing counseling myself.

          • publiusnj

            What does it do to a person’s self identity if they don’t even know the name by which their multi-surnamed family should be called? If one’s father is a rolling stone, what does that tell the child about his/her worth? Doesn’t he/she wonder why the father ran off? Does the child’s patronymic mean anything more to him/her than an identification for somebody who fled his responsibilities?

            • ForChristAlone

              Exactly, NJ. Just think now about the ramifications for a child who’s the product of an anonymous sperm donor and an anonymous ovum donor whose conception takes place in a petrie dish and then is implanted in the womb of a surrogate mother and after nine months is handed over to two “married” males or two “married” females. Just think about it when someone like me is taking a personal family history and I ask the routine question, “Tell me about your family background.”

              • gaeliclass

                and the insanity will continue — and people will only kill one another..because God – the reason for life, for being –
                is not there.. What Our Lady predicted is happening.

                • PaulOfTarsus

                  Mary made no such predictions! Repent of those false sayings. you cause confusion among GOD’s people with this misinformation – May GOD forgive you.

              • publiusnj

                What you are portraying is where designer conception is going right now. The Sunday NY Times on July 6, 2014 did an article that portrays the surrealistic nature of the surrogacy industry very well. I am sure the NY Times didn’t intend to do so, but their page one, above the fold article shows just how heartless and commercial the whole ersatz conception process has become.

                Primarily so that “gay couples” can pretend to make house just like a married couple! Except they need two “opposite sex genetic material contributors” to pull off conception….just like a heterosexual couple does. So they have to “rent” the needed egg and/or sperm (and perhaps a womb for gestational purposes) from someone of the sex they otherwise have no use for.

                Indeed, the article is entitled: “Couples Coming to US for Baby and Womb to Carry It” The sub-caption is: “With Surrogacy Often Illegal Overseas, a New Market Emerges” See


                • Glenn M. Ricketts

                  Pretty gruesome stuff, alright. That the Times could publish it so unaware speaks volumes, as well.

            • Jude

              The patronymic becomes a daily reminder that, from the start of your life, the person with whom you share half of your genetic makeup decided that you weren’t worth sticking around for. When I got married, I was thrilled to jettison that name. And I will never, never, never get divorced. It is a non-negotiable. I told my husband (and he agreed, since he is also from a broken home) that we would both live in misery before we ever did that to our children. Throwing yourself in front of a bus to save your child is easy. Truly saving them means fighting for your marriage each and every day.

      • PaulOfTarsus

        If you are lukewarm the Lord will spit you out. You must be on fire for Christ or not at all. Wear your medal or cross proudly. Put pictures of saints at your desk & statues too. Keep Holy Water in your desk draw so you can bless yourself throughout the day.
        Why haven’t you done these things? Why do you need someone to direct you? It should come natural to one who is on fire for the Love of Christ. Oh, it’s safe to sit at a desk at home and type away here where you think you will be accepted. Whereas you cower from the true battle on the highways of life. Get out and put your words into deeds.

        • St JD George

          I do what I can, fully aware that I am able to do more, and it is my mission to do so.

    • gaeliclass

      Jeannine thanks for that.
      Have you considered that what is happening is targeted to destroy our youth? the devil wants the youth – as they are the future. They are being corrupted deliberately at a very young age- part of the’plan;. Families, groups, associations – all of us must unite our forces and fight back – with all we have.. Jesus has overcome the world.. He is with us and guides us.. even if there are those who ‘have left their post.. deliberately.” But there are those outstanding Church leaders who have not..- look at them and listen to them.

    • Catholic pilgrim

      Those who run our public schools and public universities (& even “Catholic” schools) have shown the door to our Lord Christ Jesus who is our Good Shepherd. They’ve renounced Him in their policies & by their actions. They allow His Holy Name to be openly mocked. And they even oppose those brave students/instructors who try to invite Him back. Yet they’re so blind that they cannot see the damage their aggressive Secularist, Modernist actions & ideologies have caused to the lost souls of students. And because of the ridiculous, unsustainable costs, these schools’ days are numbered.

    • AnnieOfArc

      Wonderful, thank you so much for saying this. I have so many friends whose lives have been wrecked by the sexual/lonely revolution, but it’s as if they have stockholm syndrome. They expect they’ll meet some perfect person who will magically fix everything, and sneer at the people with a compass and guidance as if we are the ones who believe in a “fairy tale”. And then they continue to suffer. It’s heartbreaking.

  • C.Caruana

    Brilliant piece, especially the third paragraph – thank you. We are in fact witnessing an inverted Pharisaism that in the name of a false sentimentalised mercy is trying to subvert basic moral categories of objective right and wrong upheld by Catholic Christianity for thousands of years, endangering not only the real meaning and reception of three sacraments, but the eternal souls of those who drink the poisoned chalice being offered by some of their ‘shepherds’. The spectre of antinomianism is haunting the Church, and it has infected some of its highest echelons with their obsessive and simplistic antitheses of Law and Love.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      “We are in fact witnessing an inverted Pharisaism”

      Yes, and both forms neglect three fundamental truths
      1) that man is a fallen creature;
      2) that he can be acquitted before God only through a reliance on Christ;
      3) that God, by his Holy Spirit, can alone give him a new heart and fit him for the kingdom of Heaven.

      • ForChristAlone

        Well put, Michael. It seems you have summed up nicely the kerygma. That’s where we need to begin to preach the Gospel – all of us.

        • PaulOfTarsus

          Well, get up from your seat and do it. Preach the Good News!
          Justification through faith in Jesus Christ! We are saved this very moment because we believe. Christ is Risen. He has won the Victory for us. We are a holy people – Preach the Good News at all times.

  • Excellent.

  • Daniel P

    This piece could be, among other things, a shout-out for potential ministers to youth. As it is, our churches are filled with saccharine, cloying ministers to teens, who are little interested in actually engaging with the actual world these teenagers live in. As Sean Fitzpatrick mentions in today’s other article, however, teenagers are often disarmed and delighted when adults are willing to talk directly about things like sex, porn, divorce, and abandonment. Are ordinary, healthy Christian adults willing to come alongside these teenagers and talk sense with them?

    When you live in a den of thieves, you would do well to talk about thievery. The opposite of the debauchee is not the prude; it is the reasonable man who is willing to talk about evil — both how it fascinates and how it destroys. I hope I can do that for my children, and any needy children the Lord puts in my path.

    • Beth

      Daniel–I teach the 8th grade PSR (parish (or public) school religion) in my parish. When I speak of the things that Dr. Esolen speaks there are a handful of students in my class whose hearts are touched to the core–I can see it in their eyes, hear it in their questions and responses. The saddest things I hear are the children who defend their parents decision to divorce. It is wrenching to watch; to hear them make excuses for them. I encourage them to love their parents, talk to them, to do whatever they can to stay close to them in these turbulent teen years. And then I pray that these parents will hear their children.

      I have seen all of the faces you describe here, Dr. Esolen, in our grade schools, high schools, in the pews. Thank you for putting it so well. My prayers continue for all those forgotten and shoved aside so the ‘neglected’ can be served.

      • Glenn M. Ricketts

        Unfortunately it seems to be their parents, and not these poor children, on whom Cardinal Kasper is so eager to bestow “mercy.”

  • TribeofLiberty

    I knew the Church was off the mark, Prof. Esolen, but the margin is much wider than I imagined. Thank you for this powerful essay. It has me in tears.

  • BillinJax

    I strongly invite the readers to visit Mark Mallett’s website to partake of his latest three part series of articles on the Thin Line Between Mercy and Heresy. We must not allow ourselves to be overcome by the smoke screen of doubt and confusion the media is using to make us feel lost or abandoned by the Holy Spirit who Christ promised would guide us through all troubled waters. Bare with our good Pope Francis as he endeavors to gather in the lost and forsaken sheep who have wandered into the thickets. Many of whom had shepherds that fell asleep or had led them into barren land.

  • Dick Prudlo

    A firm and, I believe, necessary commentary on the state of our Church.

    I am reminded of a sermon several weeks back where our pastor said, “…there are two theologies at play in this synod, Kasper’s and God;s. It brought more than just a tear to my eye. I nearly broke down in gratitude from having such a holy man (FSSP) as my priest.

    • St JD George

      Lucky you. Count your blessings.

      • Dick Prudlo

        I truly do.

    • gaeliclass

      you are a fortunate man- and he is a great priest!

    • PaulOfTarsus

      Oh, that priest should be taken aside and spoken to. Bring him to the attention of your bishop. He knows no loyalty to Holy Mother Church if he says such lies at Mass! That is false and he should know better – foolish man. Pray for him. His soul is in jeopardy because he takes liberties for which he has no right. Reformer Pope Francis is leading the RCC into a 21st C Renaissance – Rejoice and be Glad!

      • Dick Prudlo

        Go back to your inorganic worship space and lay off the snips against the Catholic Faith.

  • Marie

    This is excellent, and painful. As a Christian undergrad at a public university, this sounds terribly familiar. But I guess it would sound familiar almost anywhere, now.
    I will pray about it. Pray for us Christians in college, please.

    • St JD George

      I will, and for your administrators too that they may come to understand the grace people of faith like you have to open their hearts and minds. Know that you do not walk along.

    • Cap America

      I will, Marie. It’s been a long time since I was an undergrad, and I’m surprised at hearing about university-endorsed (and paid for) schemes to promote various kinds of evil sexual behavior as a beneficial thing.

      • It’s been going on for decades, only it was more subtle back then.

    • Robert

      As a college professor, I shall pray for you.
      And, if it is any comfort, you are not alone. Much to my surprise, I have encountered a few – yes, only a few – but nevertheless a number of college students who in this age still try to live Christian lives. So there’s hope!

    • Find like minded friends, for mutual support Marie, and if you can’t being courageous and strong, much of life is going to be an effort to try to do the right thing when everybody else is taking the easy way out and pressuring you to do the same thing.

    • Kelly

      Read Flannery O’Connor’s prayer journal from her days in grad school. She gets it.

    • PaulOfTarsus

      Marie – go past the cross to the Resurrection – the Joy of the Gospel. Christ does not want people to needlessly suffer. Times are no different today than when Jesus walked the earth. He had to endure the cross to attain the Resurrection – that is His Father’s Glory. He has won the battle against evil. Believe and have faith in His Love and Mercy. You don’t have to do it for yourself – Christ, your brother, has done it for you. He has merited GOD, the Father – Abba, Father’s love for those who believe.
      St Paul in Romans – read his Letter to the Romans with a study guide. It will free you from all the overly wrought claims of sin & repentance. Yes, we are sinners, Though with capital letters YES – Christ has taken our sins upon Himself – don’t short change yourself be belittling yourself with thoughts of unworthiness. Christ is your brother. You are his sister – turn to Him with joy in your heart. He wants you near Him always!

  • “More? Go visit a prison. Do it, all you say your hearts beat warmly for the poor. Prisoners are poor to the point of invisibility. Go there and ask them about their sexual histories and those of their families. Go find out what the Lonely Revolution has done to them. Well may you plead for cleaner cells and better food for prisoners, and more merciful punishment. Why do you not plead for cleaner lives and better nourishment for their souls when they are young, before the doors of the prison shut upon them? Who speaks for them?”

    Before I start, one quibble. We don’t have “prisoners”, we have “inmates”:, the distinction is necessary when there is an industry that claims every incarceration is substantively flawed, unmerited, improper, unfair, excessive, whatever adjective they choose to attach to the complaint.

    Let me expand upon this a bit as a former corrections employee (on the fiscal side, but who had frequent contact with inmates, and care and custody staff).

    You realize very quickly several things. Human beings were not meant to be kept behind bars; to do so is odten necessary, but the lesser of two evils. Regimentation and restraint provides idle time. Idle time is the devil’s workshop, and behind bars, the workshop becomes a factory. Bowling with feces and the need to lock up yellow mops lest they be used as wigs is just the beginning of unpleasant insights in to depths human beings can sink if just given the opportunity.

    No inmate survives alone, he (and here there are no cries from feminists about the statistical disparity between men and women behind bars) he must join a group and/or be useful to others. One way is to join a gang, another is to be “gay for the stay”, the other is to profess the five pillars. While most are immoral and utilitarian; Islam marches on by claiming to provide structure, meaning and discipline, but it’s a boundless opportunity for grievances during Ramadan.

    Those people that wade into this environment to do as the Lord commands have my inextinguishable admiration. They truly must be devoted, and as wise as serpents; because they are sheep among wolves, askuing the wolves to give up the ways of the pack and join the flock. God bless them.

    • St JD George

      So true. In GA there was one in our RCIA group (sponsor) who was devoted to the prison ministry. I always admired his strength of conviction and talents God gave him to do that. It takes a special person to be able to do that who is wise yet merciful and confident in their faith. My current priest who I do admire i know has done that work as well, though he doesn’t like to discuss much. I sense some frustration that he feels much is in vain by virtue of results except when responding to a call from someone who is crying out and asking for his help.

      • I had a great Uncle who was in the Marines, and landed at Tarawa, before his lovely parting gift of Hiroshima clean-up detail. He never liked to talk about his experiences either, and I suspect they had similar reasons. Correctional facilities are war zones.

  • Cap America

    My heart bleeds and burns for all the single mothers in America. . . who were girls who were taught that having sex while young and unmarried is the Right Thing to Do.

    My heart hurts for all the children of divorce and the relatives of the divorced. We’re learning how enormously damaging this is to children, families, neighborhoods and friends. And, more broadly, Life in America.

    I can’t help but think that Tony’s column here should be given to the Nancy Pelosi’s of the world, the “Dan Savages” of the world, the leaders of organizations such as Planned (non-)Parenthood, the thought-leaders of Hollywood Nonsenseland.

  • Martha

    Thank you, Mr. Esolen. That was very poignant, and true. I saw myself in several of those paragraphs.

  • GHM

    Oh, thank-you for this merciful article! May God hear your prayers and perform the works of mercy that His entrusted servants in His Church have left undone!

  • ForChristAlone

    All I can say is “Wow” to this hard-hitting piece which should be a wake-up call to all deacons, priests and, especially, bishops. As for the rest of us, and, again especially, the fathers among us, we are accountable for all we do and do not do, including not holding our Church leaders’ feet to the fire. It’s high time that we speak up directly to those who lead our Church and who have been derelict in their duty toward the young and calling all of us to moral accountability. Time is indeed running out.

  • This may be your best yet – the indispensable counterpart to Evangelii Gaudium’s Chapters 1, 3 and 4.

  • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

    Beautiful. Much thanks for this article.

  • Rita

    I’ve been thinking for years that the reason our churches are full of “old” people (I’m 68) is because the church has abdicated their education on birth control to young adults who seem to drift away after confirmation. I think these young people end up in college and soon discover the hook-up culture that exposes them to almost 50 STDs and ultimate loneliness. How could they not feel abandoned by their church?? I help with a pro-life group here at St. Patrick’s Academy in RI and I always have the feeling that I need to take them all home and put them into a bubble for several years. I do bring them the stark realities of birth control, the hook-up culture and the back up to failed contraception…abortion. Most of them smile and smirk at the beginning, but begin to pay close attention as the meetings progress. We talk about the oxymoronic phrases like “safe sex” and the sad legacy of the sexual revolution and they do begin to listen. At least someone has told them the truth. I can’t follow them home or provide father’s where few have known such a relationship. I can only provide the truth and pray. Would that all priests understood the abandonment these young people feel when they are adamant about NOT talking about birth control in their parish. They are afraid that people will leave. Look around folks…they have left in great numbers.

  • Marie Van Gompel Alsbergas

    This is a beautiful, heart-breaking, richly worded feast for the heart and soul of any Christian.

  • ColdStanding

    I have noticed a very strange set of phenomenon. It pertains to the use of language and how technology has displaced from so very many of us the idea of “drawing forth” from ourselves in time of need, which is all times.

    It basically works like this. Pride is the root of all vice. Pride is self-love. Self love is a lack of self knowledge. Humility is the root of all virtue, humility is self-knowledge. Humility is a fullness of self-knowledge. See how these are mirror images. Similarity of form but disparity of direction. Virtue or vice is cultivated from a very young age. Virtue is a good and is obtained by drawing forth from one’s endowment of natural and supernatural goods and graces the wherewithal to readily obtain more and greater goods. However, vice, being evil and evil being an absence of good rather than a thing in itself1 is a not-drawing-forth. It is a failure to exert oneself for and to the good; to God. It is a reversion to nothing. Remember God made the world from nothing.2 How much evil is done because “good” men fail to act?

    Now that the dogma is in place, here is the praxis in an example dialog:

    Why on earth would you be (insert vice here) when you know it is wrong?

    Well, it is because (insert excuse here).

    If you listen for it you will hear this kind of discussion going all the time. The employment of the stock phrase “Well, because ‘X'” is productive of much of the confusion that Professor Esolen documents and rebukes.

    What is going on?

    Evil is being mistaken for a substance. Evil is being mistaken as having an author. There is no response to the question: Why are you committing evil acts? These acts are evil and should not be committed. Any attempt to justify evil acts is self-justification which is pride and self-love and therefore a sinful habit: vice.

    The use of justifying statements for evil acts IS THE CONDITIONING PROCESS that culls sheep from the exercise of virtue.

    It happens early. It happens often. It is deadly to the soul. A great number of people are going to be stunned finding themselves in Hell.

    Virtue is the lost component of current Christian teaching. Mercy is a virtue, therefore a particular virtue. How can we even pretend to know what the nature of much bandied about particular virtue Mercy is without a thoroughgoing definition of virtue in general? Why has it been lost? It is lost because we are unexercised in the cultivation of natural virtue3. The practical experience of natural virtue is the ground or bridge by which the abstract concept of supernatural virtue is grasped. The order of our encountering is not the actual order of creation. Contra hombreIII, we understand God not as if He is like our natural fathers are, but because He made our natural fathers like Him. So, I am not saying natural virtue is prior to supernatural virtue, just that we meet it first on the way back to heaven.

    How has this happened? In a word: luxury. Luxury and ease make no requirements of us. Luxury stifles the soul. What calling forth of our wherewithal occurs in pushing a button? Poverty: it is not just a metaphor. Jesus Christ was being literal in the need for poverty, actual economic poverty. Nobody has ever gotten rid of poverty. No matter what is done, it will not leave man. What must be done is to unite suffering with the Cross. This is the only way it can be made sense of.

    Full disclosure: This teaching is articulated by one Archbishop Ullathorne.

    1. For if it were a thing, it would be made by God and therefore good. Apply law of non-contradiction: All things are created by God. Evil is not created by God or anyone else. Evil is not at thing.

    2. Perhaps it can be said that we are created 1/2 way there and must work to complete the process, with the help of God’s grace, to attain perfection (completion).
    3. How can you love God who is far away when you do not love your brother who is close at hand?

  • James

    Great article. The divorce-industrial regime is a monstrosity but one sanctioned by the state and its flunkeys. Until Church leaders start showing a bit of gumption, it will roll on on its merry way.

  • GG

    I hope, and pray, the Pope reads this.

  • Harold Benghazi Koenig

    We did not get here in a flash. More than a century ago philosophies and sects arose which questioned the essential dignity of the child. Child rearing 100+ years ago was abominable. I knew another translator of Dante who boasted of tethering her child outdoors while she “worked.”

    I am 66. How many of the TV shows of my youth were laced and larded with slurs against fathers — and only slightly fewer against mothers?

    It took over a century to get here. We need a Roland to stop the advance of the barbarians, and then we can begin the Reconquista.

  • djc


    Thank you.

  • Long-Skirts



    We are St. Joan,

    Philomena, Campion

    The Faith in its whole

    Is what we do champion.

    We are St. Margaret,

    Pearl of York

    Where the bowels of the Faith

    They tried to torque.

    We are Sir More,

    That’s Thomas the Saint

    Whose reputation

    They could not taint.

    We are vocations

    Large families and kneeling

    Adoring His presence

    It’s not just a feeling.

    We are descendents

    Of Tradition and beggin’

    To stop all the men

    Who are turning us pagan!

    We are the poor,

    Uneducated ones

    But in faith well-informed

    The heretic shuns.

    And when Synod says,

    “God’s Word, just ignore.”

    Since we are true Catholics

    We kneel and ADORE!!

  • This is EXACTLY how I have been feeling. Somebody who can still post, send this link to Mark Shea.

  • piercedheart

    Words escape me to describe how truly excellent this is. As an adult child of divorce — I am speechless. Thank you.

  • Kalpurrnia

    Catholics can be such a glum lot. Woe is us. Regarding those young devout Catholics who follow the moral code. Rather than wallow in loneliness, give them some credit and consider that they in fact have everything to be thankful for and happy about, for God is with them! Virtue is with them. Truth is with them! Let them walk the straight and narrow and provide themselves as role models for living clean wholesome unscathed virtuous lives. Let them be saints!

    • Tony

      Oh sure, let THEM be saints. Well, they aren’t saints yet. Who among us is? Why are you not moved to alleviate their loneliness? Please, please reconsider.

    • GG

      Glum? Ha. I guess the truth hurts.

      This beautiful essay is a tonic for all the absurd spin we read from professional Catholics these days. We need more like this.

  • MgW

    Preach it Anthony! You really got to the heart of the matter as you always so eloquently do! Every Bishop and The Holy Father please read this before the next Synod!

    It killed me to read this, yet I was transfixed! Now I just want to run out and DO SOMETHING about this! Since it looks as though the majority of bishops are out in left field when it comes to getting to the real causes of these problems and root them out, We will have to do it ourselves. Can we get a think tank of the best Catholic minds of the Laity and come up with ways to minister to these “poorest of the poor” among us, like the Christians we are called to be ! Then we can make proposals to the Holy Father right before the next synod begins. It would be the sheep showing the shepherds how it is done. I think Pope Francis would love it! The sheep getting involved in their own protection. O and another problem we need to address , is all the dissident priests who need to be removed from the pastures immediately. Why wont the bishops remove them? I have heard so many cases of disobedience, yet they are allowed to pervert the teachings of the Church taking large numbers of sheep down the wide path with them!

  • Anonymous

    The Synod on the Family seemed to be such a disaster, and this part of the article really caught me: “Let me speak up for the young people who do in fact follow the moral law and the teachings of the Church. Many of these are suffering intense loneliness….What help do you give them? Do you not rather at every step exacerbate their suffering, when by your silence and your telling deeds you confirm in them the terrible fear that they have been played for chumps, that their own leaders do not believe, that they would have been happier in this world had they gone along with the world, and that their leaders would have smiled upon them had they done so?”
    I know of a man in his 30s, very pious, never married (though he would like to be), who since the Synod, has had awful thoughts of what it would mean if Communion were approved for those divorced and re-married. It seems that it even shakes what he once considered to be his indomitable faith. He seems to wonder whether, if it were approved, it would mean that the indefectibility of the Church would not be true, and even if it would mean that all of Christianity is not true. In other words —he is a Catholic who knows that everything in his faith is inter-related, and that if something as important as marriage falls (or the Eucharist, or Confession, which are also under attack), then everything else falls. He thinks of all of the beautiful and sweet divorced women whom he liked throughout his life, and the fact that he never “pursued” them because of his respect for Our Lord’s words regarding marriage. He thinks of the second “marriages” of his divorced family members that he did not attend, and perhaps the “bad blood” that was caused, simply because he had respect for Our Lord’s words regarding marriage. He thinks of his own struggles with pornography throughout much of his life (starting in his youth). For all of these things, it almost seems to him now that some of the “shepherds” are saying that his sorrow, and shame, and the “missed opportunities,” should not have happened. He knows that they are sowing falsehood, but he still feels personal pain.
    He prays that Pope Francis, even after his words after the Synod regarding the indissolubility of marriage, would do something more profound in that regard. This, so that the seeming scandal of what happened at the Synod doesn’t lead more souls astray.
    Indeed, I’ll say “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.” It was she who spoke of the immense spiritual poverty of the wealthy countries. May she intercede so that those who suffer from such poverty don’t offer warped ways of “helping” people, and don’t cause scandal for others due to the fact that they either don’t know or believe the Faith.

    • gaeliclass

      tell the young man he is right – and not to give up.
      Remember the Church is Christ’s, the Sacraments are his – NEVER will the
      divorced- receive Communion – idea of Card. Kasper pass – Never..
      Never will some of the other pieces that the group he is working with –
      Christ will protect His Church – we need not be afraid and neither should he. He has been an outstanding Catholic in what he has done and he must know that.
      Jesus said ‘be not afraid…’ We must not be afraid – instead we must double our prayer life, receiving the Holy Eucharist; getting together and building community of those who believe in the True Church of Christ –
      Christ will guide us..
      And yes we must talk, write and act.——————-
      evil does not win…
      God does!

    • Daniel P

      This young man didn’t have any missed opportunities. When we sacrifice sin, we aren’t sacrificing anything that is actually an opportunity.

      You almost talk as if — had he used porn or married the divorced woman without her getting an annulment — this would have been rewarding for him. That’s not true. And there’s no contradiction between dealing mercifully with those who do such things, and firmly insisting that they cease from their sin. Sin is never in the best interests of the person.

    • beriggs

      I understand the fears of the man you write about. I chose to be Catholic because of its historicity – I put my faith into the “faith that comes to us from the apostles.” When the princes of the Church began to suggest changes to the teachings of Christ himself, my spontaneous thought was: if nothing holds the line on this, then there IS nothing, and we have all been fools for 2000 years.

    • Catholic pilgrim

      Wow, powerful, painful, truthful words. I will pray for this young man. As St. Paul extols us, persevere in the true faith- to the end. The reward (eternal union with God through Christ) is too great to lose it. Run the good race & finish it- no matter the Modernists & Heresies that stand on the way. God, give us courage to brace the storms that seek to overturn the Barque of Peter. St. Paul, St. John Paul II, St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

    • publiusnj

      I am 68 and have been married for 16,393 days to the same woman. Yet, the Relatio has shaken me as badly as it did that unmarried man in his 30s. I grew to adulthood in the 1960s and saw the sickness visited on this country by “Liberalized Divorce.” Nothing convinced me more of the Truth of the Catholic Faith than the Church’s firm opposition to Divorce Liberalization. While every other sect basically caved on the question, the Church reiterated its position that marriage is indissoluble and has continued to do so (e.g., the Catechism, para. 1650)…until now.

      I was willing to give the Pope the benefit of the doubt for all his “loose language” on the plane and in interviews until the Oct. 13 Relatio. That interim Relatio, though, was prepared by his hand picked run-away editorial committee and reflected the Kasper Proposal which the Pope had spoken well of. Sorry, but if the Church caves on Divorce-Remarriage, my faith will be gravely shaken.

      If the Pope can “permit” Divorce-Remarriage in direct contravention of Christ’s very clear words on the subject (Mark 10:2-12) and of the clear teachings of the Catechism which was expressly approved by the Sainted Pope who appointed Francis, bishop , archbishop and cardinal, then I will consider NONE of the rules of the Church binding on me any more. Already, I have dropped out of my volunteer activities in the Church. I used to love proclaiming the readings as a Lector. Today, I feel myself too conflicted by my brand new doubts about the indefectibility of the Church to be proclaiming its scriptural messages. I have been scandalized and need some reassurance. What I would really like to see is the Pope and Catrdinal Kasper admitting that the proposal was a dumb one unworthy of Christ’s Church, but I am open to some lesser bow to the Faith which comes to us from the Apostles.

      • Catholic pilgrim

        publiusnj, I too gave Pope Francis many benefits of doubt but believe it’s long past time for some papal clarity- this weary, confused world needs the mercy of clarity more than anything. GK Chesterton once wrote that the Catholic Faith is MOST especially meant for Stormy, struggling times- not just for easy-going times. It’s most especially needed in times of confusion & doubts (caused by both forces from both inside & outside the Church) to cling to the great Catholic Faith. Persevere to the end as the great Apostle St. Paul extols us to do. Remember, there is always a sunrise after the night’s darkness. A calm, peaceful sea after a deadly sea storm. Spring after winter. Focus on our Hope (the Coming of our Resurrected Christ Jesus, Who conquered both Sin & its wage- Death). The days of unrepentant Heterodox Modernists are numbered.

      • Anthony

        Not even a Pope can change that.

        Read this:


      • Isaac S.

        I think this post clearly articulates the stakes of the dangerous game that Pope Francis is playing. Ross Douthat had a piece in the NYT last week pointing out that if Pope Francis were to issue a proclamation approving of communion for the divorced and remarried, the authority of the Pope (and hence the Catholic Church) would collapse entirely. It would basically be admission that the Orthodox (or the Protestants, or SSPX/SSPV) have been right all along. I’m not sure what Crisis’s policy is on links but I’ll post it below if anyone is interested. I am confident in our Lord’s promise so it shouldn’t come to this, but the Holy Father is playing with fire here, IMHO.


        • publiusnj

          Thanks for the article. How curious a situation we are in: a columnist for the NY Times is making more sense about the Catholic Church than many of its bishops…and Pope Francis is becoming Elton John’s hero.

          We need to keep praying for the Church and especially for:

          1) those bishops being deprived of their positions after speaking out for the Church’s traditional position (nothing could be clearer than that the Communion for the Remarried without a firm purpose of amendment (i.e., I resolve to stop committing adultery with my “second spouse”) is sinful); and

          2) us faithful who are trying to tell the Church that this Pope is being extremely “unwelcoming” to the average “Joe Pewsitter” who has believed that conduct is sinful when it has always and everywhere been deemed sinful by Holy Mother Church.

          The collapse of the Church will be even more irremediable because the Pope will essentially be saying; “I don’t care that the Church has always taught this doctrine and that the Saint who appointed me bishop, archbishop and cardinal approved of the language in the Catechism that repeated the judgment of the Church that Communion was unavailable to the unrepentant unmarried. We can rewrite the Church’s teaching as we see fit once we have stacked a Synod to get the vote we need to get.”

          In truth, if the Pope can ignore Christ’s direct teaching on the adulterous nature of a second marriage, then all moral bets are off. Why would we have any obligation to observe any of the Church’s other moral teachings? Who’s to say that the next pope wouldn’t deem something else to be an unfortunate hangover of an older morality (say the prohibitions on Abortion or Incest or Polygamy, particularly in African dioceses) that is unfortunately preventing us from being “welcoming” enough to those we are seeking to bring into the pews?

          • Isaac S.

            I think that you’ll find, when this all plays out, that a Pope actually can’t ignore Christ’s moral teaching. According to some accounts, Pope Sixtus V was a day away from promulgating a Papal Bull declaring his horribly mangled Vulgate translation to be the one, only, true version of the Latin Bible. The morning that he was to promulgate the Bull, his aides found him dead in his bed of natural causes despite his excellent health. The next pope cleaned up the translation and never promulgated Sixtus’s letter. Now I’m certainly not suggesting that anything similar will happen to this Pontiff, but the story illustrates the lengths that Our Lord will go to in order to keep his promise.

            • publiusnj

              All we can do is pray for God’s Holy Catholic Church and continue giving our witness.

      • PaulOfTarsus

        Are you talking schism? How can you be such a traitor to the one true church? Your reassurance will come about by listening to Reformer Pope Francis. Don’t listen to those who will denigrate him. Recall, Francis was elected by the Majority of Cardinals consecrated by St JPII & Benedict. Francis has Benedict’s blessing and wholehearted support. This is the church at work. Those who say otherwise are like the snake in the Garden of Eden come to destroy the church with their lies and perversions. Resist them and be saved. Run to the safety of the arms of Jesus. He is the Life and the Resurrection. He is the Glory of GOD His Father – because He has saved His people. Repent of your sins and move on. Put them behind you, don’t wallow in them. Jesus has freed you and all from sin and raised us to a new level – we are brothers and sisters of Christ if we truly believe in Him and all He has done for us in His Father’s name. Glory to GOD in the Highest!

        • publiusnj

          Of course not. Schism is what “reformers” have been doing since the Third Century or so.

          Should Francis go down the path proposed by Kasper, though, I will have very clear doubts about the indefectibility of the Church, as I have written. After all, St. JPII sponsored and approved the CCC, para 1650 of which sets forth a very clear answer on how to treat Remarried would-be Communicants, and it is directly contrary to the Kasper Path.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            Yet Pope St JPII is one of the worst sinners by allowing the clerical pedophile pandemic to continue during his pontificate. How can a man bearing such great sin, under GOD’s wrath because of his refusal to repent and lead Holy Mother Church down a new, and holier path. Does not GOD smite the sinner? GOD visited his wrath upon St JPII rather than the whole Church – though GOD did visit his wrath because of the “gay lobby” and others.
            How then can one say the Church has been on the right path under the guidance of St JPII when he was so troubled and therefore the whole Church.
            Benedict too was troubled. So much so, he was led by GOD to resign his pontificate because of the “filth” in GOD’s Holy Church. Again, how can one say GOD’s church was right then and wrong now? Rather it was wrong then and is right now!
            Think not that Reformer Pope Francis is acting alone. He has support of cardinals and bishops. Beware of those who want to turn back the clock to the former evil days. GOD’s bright dawning on His Church lies in the future with Francis. Kindly keep an open mind always as GOD works in mysterious ways.

            • publiusnj

              This is more “theological trolling.” Sorry, but I am not going to play.

  • MJD

    Good thing Professor Esolen has tenure. One wonders if such candor would otherwise be tolerated at a Catholic institution.

    • Tony

      You’ll be pleased to hear that there are about 40 lay professors at Providence College, and about 30 Dominican priests, who would slap Professor Esolen on the back and say, “Attaboy!”

  • Stacia Marie

    I converted 13 years ago from secular paganism. I quickly moved to the conservative and traditional side of the pew. I look at all of the craziness in the Church right now and think if I did not already have the faith, why would I convert now? Why struggle to make a failing marriage work? Which I did, with Gods grace, the sacraments and the the traditional teaching on marriage and family from the ages of the Church past. Why go off birth control? Why live in almost poverty and stay home with my children? Why even bother to go to Mass?

    I just pray that the diabolical disorientation subsides soon. So many souls are being lost to this new brand of “mercy” I did not want this type of mercy when I came back. I wanted the Church telling me “YOU ARE WRONG!! STOP IT!!” I thank God for His Church that spoke boldly “YOU ARE IN GRAVE SIN!! REPENT AND CONVERT TO JESUS’S HOLY WILL”

    “You say that they should not kill the children they have begotten, and you are right about that. So why are you shrugging and turning aside from the very habits that bring children into the world outside of the haven of marriage?”


  • John

    This is what Archbishop Lefebvre saw coming and tried to avoid around 30 years ago but was “excommunucated” by Pope John Paul II for trying to speak out for all the innocent victims metioned in this article.This didn’t just happen overnight with Pope Francis, a lot of groundwork was being laid these last 50 years and most of it during the 27 years of Pope John Paul II’s papacy. Until and unless Catholics realize and accept this fact I don’t expect to see any change for the better.

    • GHM

      The misguided Archbishop was not excommunicated for trying to speak up for the innocent victims! You should be ashamed about peddling untruthful statements such as this one! Archbishop Lefebvre was admonished for behaving schismatically! Instead of confronting issues WITHIN the Church, patiently and perseveringly, in the manner of great saints such as Apostle Saint Paul, St Catherine of Sienna, et al, he took the law into his own hands and defected pretty much as Luther did. That’s why he was admonished and not even half as severely as he should have been!

      • winslow

        Would you care to discuss the issues? Archbishop Lefebvre was a Father of Vatican II. He worked from within the Church from its unfortunate inception. Do you know the result of his confronting issues WITHIN the Church? He was steamrollered by the ‘progressives’ and homosexuals WITHIN the Church. He was effectively blackballed and told to shut up.
        Look at the fruits of Vatican II in the Church and you will find a broad roadway to the disastrous conditions Professor Esolen exposed. Conditions which would not exist if Archbishop Lefebvre had been listened to.
        And, BTW, the homosexual mafia in charge today was, piece by piece, put in place by the now sainted Pope JPII.

        • Joseph D’Hippolito

          …the homosexual mafia in charge today was, piece by piece, put in place by the now sainted Pope JPII.

          BRAVO!! BRAVISSIMO!!! PREACH IT, BROTHER…especially to the de facto Ultramontines who infest Patheos and Catholic Answers (and, dahlinks, you know who you are)!

  • gaeliclass

    Yes you are right – never has the world been lonelier – never have we as people been lonelier– never have our families and youth been lonelier –
    We are all crying out for our Shepherd; our Shepherds!
    They’ve left the gate open – and the wolves are at the door.
    Dear holy Blessed Pope Emeritus Benedict warned us at the beginning of his holy brilliant pontificate ‘pray for me that I do not flee from the wolves’ — the wolves in fact were already attacking him from inside the doors! Now those ‘same wolves (numbers probably have doubled) are inside the gates of the Vatican, and they are becoming bolder and bolder.
    Look at the disastrous shameful Relatio released to the press even before the Synod Fathers saw it, commented on it, approved it. If that in itself does not say it all- nothing will.
    That was a deliberate action, planned – to get the press wheels turning so that they could do the ‘dirty’ (and they obliged) of ‘feeding the masses’ – with something that should go down as shameful coming from the Vatican itself.
    Thankfully some good Cardinals banged their tables when those ‘in command’ at the Synod strongly advocated not to release the texts of the language working groups but rather ‘they would make a synthesis’.. No way said the Cardinals/Bishops – you will release our statements. Thankfully Lifesitenews had the translation up within 2 days..(except for Spanish)..- which helped form the bulwark for what then transpired in the final document ..but wait! Even the final working document was missing a very important
    piece in the marriage area.. aka….that marriage is between a man and a woman.
    …!!!! ho ho ho! A mistake? Rome has some of the best English/Italian translators in the world. No mistake — a deliberate move. to once again – derail and confuse the Faithful.
    The Vatican should be ‘fixing that document’ and resending it to all Bishops Conferences right now. Are they? (stay on this story)..
    Yes there is loneliness because all of a sudden we feel ‘afraid’ .. because now we need to sort out the real shepherds and the fakes — and fakes there are.
    It is a time for authentic Catholics to join forces; to build communities –
    and the only shepherds that get in are the real ones..-
    That is the message that must come out from Vox Popolo this year..
    and no ‘wolf’ should be invited to talk, write or other – on Synod/Family matters..

    Prayer and fasting – and asking The Lord for the Holy Spirit – is the only way forward..Our Blessed Mother will lead us. She will not let ‘the wolves’ destroy the Church that Her Most Beloved Son gave his body and blood for ….
    But what will come will be terrible for those who worked against Her Son – esp.lly those who were put in charge by Jesus Himself, of His sheep – His children.
    … indeed ‘wow to them, every single one of them’

  • john

    The author is right on the money. There are so many hurting and lost people in today’s world and what this article makes clear is that we can not continue to protect and defend our Popes at the expense of destroying so many innocent lives. It just doesn’t make sense and isn’t fair to the children, not to even mention the salvation of the Pope’s soul.

  • Alicia

    Thank you for this article…it is such a blessing to read it…thank you. 🙂

  • jacobum

    Absolutely Stunning! You have put into words, as only you can, the sentiments of countless faithful Catholics who are profoundly confused and embarrassed by “brass b*lls” of the Synod Bishops masquerading as “Shepherds”. it is clear that a great number of Bishops simply do not believe the faith any longer.

  • C.Caruana

    Again about the inverted Pharisees described so accurately by Mr Esolen, I invite all readers here to read an equally forceful denunciation of them in this admirably brave and insightful interview of Bishop Athanasius Schneider here:


    And BTW, allow me to hazard two guesses. First, the pharisees exposed by bishop Schneider are not exactly the same ones that Pope Francis usually thunders against in his homilies. Second, I don’t think that Bishop Schneider has any good prospects of a ‘promotion’ in the immediate future.

  • Rose

    Wow! You have hit the nail quarely on the head. Thank you! We need our church to be true to Jesus Christ! We need our leaders to be true leaders.

  • Rtort

    This is truly awesome! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for giving voice in such an eloquent way to the broken-hearted. God have mercy on those who have so failed them.

  • gaeliclass

    But there are those who remained and will remain faithful… look at some of the Cardinals and Bishops at the Synod who refused to accept what was coming out of the Press office. They knew they had been ‘tricked’ when the Relatio was released to the press even before the Synod Fathers had the chance to read it or accept it. This fact in itself should be investigated by the Cardinals and Bishops – so who gave permission to release it.
    Remember Watergate – follow the money! ..Well follow the press office, Thankfully we have outstanding Cardinals like Burke, Napier (S.A.), Erdo (Hungary), Pell (Australia); the strong Polish Bishops, the Aux. Bishop of Kharaz. who even though not being at the Synod had harsh words for the documents produced. And how about the mistakes in english in the final document — (that was no mistake).. There are those as Pope Emeritus Benedict said ‘ the wolves …’ some are in the Vatican and elsewhere..
    But Christ’s Church will stand.. it has for 2,000 years even when the worst clerics were in it.

  • The Cardinals who were convinced Our Pope and Our Cross was the man best qualified to be elected Pope can not rationally be counted on to publicly oppose his naturalistic agenda.

    One can try and pretend the Synod was not an attempted practical coup to change the Church into a reflection of the accepting of-divorce-and-remarraige praxis of the schismatic heretics of the east but that has been the intention of the Bishop of Rome since the get go – see his interview on the plane back from WYD and read his first Angelus message and see who it was he hand-picked to try and run this game on us.

    M.J. lived through a similar modernist machination a long time ago; it was then called RENEW and it was a heretical movement within the Church run by neo-arians and, like the Synod, its form and function was created to develop the illusion of free debate and openness etc but it was conducted in such a manner that it completely violated what it claimed was intrinsic to its purpose.

    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice and George W. Bush will find that it is difficult to put food on the children.

    My Church has been saddled with a man who intends to change the church to fit his iron will and there is little I can do about it for M.J. has no authority or influence but he can say that if the Synod does change Catholic Teaching through the subterfuge of manipulating Sacramental Discipline, M. J will be left within no other option than to conclude that Our Pope and Our Cross is an anti Christ and that he has a majority of Bishops who are his henchmen.

    That is the unspoken fear of many Catholics who were, like me, born into the Church in the 1940s and who have witnessed everything – EVERYTHING – being changed (Mass, Sacraments, Blessings, Breviary, Religious Orders,Ecumenism, Ecclesiology) and as the changes multiplied an unintentional ironic phrase – hermeneutic of continuity – was created to try and mask the obvious radical rupture with the past.

    Look, M.J. is neither blind nor a fool. The Catholic Church he was born into does not exist except in the Caves of Covadonga ( Traditional orders like the FSSP and ICK) and we cave dwellers are not welcomed by the Bishop or Rome; Protestants and Jews, yes, trads no.

    O, M.J. does want to publicly praise the public opposition to this naturalistic project mounted by Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider but one doubts they can stop Francis.

    We shall see, but if the Synod supports his agenda, then M.J will continue being a passenger on the lonely train to sedeville

  • I think the offices of certain cardinals–whether those who went to synod part I or those who are slated to attend part II–ought to be blankets with copies of this article. How does one organize such a campaign?

  • Dan

    It is actually quite easy to speak about “solutions” for those in the “margins” of the Church… Let’s give the Sacraments to those who are divorced and civilly remarried! Let’s accept and value homosexual relationships! Let’s bend or ignore the “difficult” sexual teachings of the Church!
    This “easy road” is paved with popularity and acclaim by society. Take this “easy road” and you will be esteemed, given places of honor, called a “champion of the marginalized”, given awards, celebrated as a pioneer, schools and institutions will be named in your honor, and history books will speak of your accomplishments.
    Truth? What is Truth? Dare to follow our Lord, holding fast to the Truth with utmost care, concern, and love, giving a voice to the voiceless and truly “marginalized” as Esolen so beautifully described. But be forewarned and ready to be ridiculed, called a “Pharisee”, mocked in public discourse, considered an “enemy of the human race”, and hated by society.
    This “difficult road” is paved with the blood of martyrs, it is the royal road of the Cross! Shepherds and Pastors, please be brave! Lead us on this narrow road!

  • LF

    We also need to stop pretending that children of annulments do not suffer pain, too. Yes, there are just reasons for decrees of nullity, but this does not take away from the fact that the children who thought their parents were married, only to find out they weren’t, aren’t experiencing pain. Msgr. Cormac Burke, who was on the Roman Rota, wrote on his blog that he has noticed children of annulments often take it harder than children of divorce, and the Church needed to study it. At any rate, local parishes need to offer these children counseling, support and encouragement.

    • publiusnj

      Most children of annulments were first children of divorce.

  • madgrandma

    I am sharing this far and wide… Our culture has crumbled and we are in need of a restoration of values, morals and standards that come only from the biblical truths of our LORD. Unity and peace comes from the WORD of GOD.

  • lazypadawan

    ” Have you considered all those young people who want to be married, who should be married, but who, because they will not play evil’s game, can find no one to marry? The girls who at age twenty-five and older have never even been asked on a date? The “men” languishing in a drawn-out adolescence? These people are among us; they are everywhere. Who gives them a passing thought? They are suffering for their faith, and no one cares. Do you care, leaders of my Church? Or do you not rather tacitly agree with their fellows who do the marital thing without being married? Do you not rather share that bemused contempt for the “old fashioned” purity they are trying to preserve?”

    Thank you!!!

  • Ivetta

    Yes, thanks for standing with us that are lonely and abandoned. Being in Canada for 22 years- as an immigrant, mother of 4 girls, wife with the abusive husband- I was never noticed or reached out. Came from the country where the Church was persecuted- and I was not lonely or abandoned. The indifference in Canadian church is indifference of the world. Church is cold, hurried- some say dead- but very comfortable and satisfied, Not desiring God, not needing God, not Eucharistic . From there we see, it can’t love the other- that is suffering in loneliness, if God is not number one, if church is not in love with its Savior, it has no strength to love others and be the light. There is no difference between world’s and Church’s behavior- majority of believers act as they do not know Jesus and His values. People do not build His Kingdom of love, but self obsession. Their will is done, not Father’s- as Christ lived it and calls us to do it daily.The narrow road of disciples is almost not existing here- just blindness, hardened hearts and idolatry. Sad and tragic for millions in North America, that need to be loved. But those who prefer not love others, are loosing even more- because Christ will not recognize them in the end, when he will judge them, because they never recognized him or willingly turned away.

    • Catholic pilgrim

      Ivetta, I believe your on the path to holiness in the midst of a world full of Indifference, Modernism, Heresy, & Materialism (which causes loneliness). Peace of Christ (which this world cannot give) be always with you. I feel your pain (as my parish is the same). Materialism only breeds loneliness. You’d think that the wealthier people live, the more happier & grateful they would be. No, in reality, people become more miserable, full of avarice (I want more money & cars & big houses & expensive vacations), & lonely. Life in America: rush, rush, rush, more money, slaves for money, rush. We’re so self-obsessed we forget to truly care about Catholic community. Results: we end up with Catholic parishes (which are supposed to be like a big family, a family of families, in love with Christ) where hardly anybody knows the names of the other parishioners or even care about them & their lives.

      The first sociological study was called “Suicide” (1897) by famous Emile Durkheim. It determined that Catholics had significantly lower suicide rates than Protestants (Protestant work ethic, individualistic) because Catholics placed higher value in Community (public Feast days, Mass, community gatherings after Eucharistic processions) than Protestants. Sadly, that is not the case today.

      St. Francis of Assisi, teach us American/Canadian parishioners to have our hearts burning with Christ Who is the Light so that we may love God & neighbor with all our being & strength. Holy Spirit, guide us to holiness.

      • Catholic pilgrim

        According to Emile Durkheim’s 1897 “Suicide” study, we Catholics were happier & more community oriented (feast days, Mass, Eucharistic/Marian processions, families, parish, gatherings) than Protestants (Protestant work ethic, Highly individualistic, Dutch capitalists, Calvinists, iconoclasts). Protestants were more miserable & lonely. Now, after many efforts by Modernists & liberals of Protestantizing the Holy Catholic Church, Catholic societies are just as miserable & lonely as Protestants. Sad. We need to go back to our Catholic roots. To Holy Communion. Let’s abandon worldliness.

        • Catholic pilgrim

          And Communion of Saints, I forgot

  • Florentius

    I sometimes fear that if I make it to heaven, I will see few princes of the church there. :-/

    • publiusnj

      Of course, you will not be doing the judging.

    • winslow

      “The streets of hell are paved with the skulls of Bishops.” — St. Athanasius d.373.

  • Caroline

    For those of us who never made it on the marriage market because we followed the sixth commandment and gradually settled into being old maids and old bachelors, God sometimes, often, provides the vocation of being good aunts and uncles to little children who recognize our innocence now and will remember it later. The Church needs to get serious about the single vocation and not write us off as selfish because we didn’t enter religious life and did not find spouses.

  • slainte

    Archbishop Charles J. Chaput is an unabashed rescuer of the lost sheep of the Lonely Revolution:

    “….The world works better when it follows God’s design. We see this in our own moral lives. God gives us the law and the beatitudes because they lead us to joy. Jesus shows us the plan God writes into human nature so that, by his help, we can flourish. Too often we think of rules as things that keep us from being happy. But rules, understood as God’s order, are good for us because they show us how to live in a way that shares in his glory. They lead us to embody what God intended human beings to be and do. This is one of the things Scripture means when it says Jesus came “so that we would have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10)….

    It’s in seeking Jesus Christ with all our hearts that culture is built and society is renewed. It’s in prayer, the sacraments, changing diapers, balancing budgets, preaching homilies, loving a spouse, forgiving and seeking forgiveness—all in the spirit of charity—that, brick by brick, we bring about the kingdom of God…”

    Link: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/08/13612/

  • J.

    Compassion matters only where it is fashionable to be compassionate… That is the view of the world, not of Christ.

  • Michael P. Mc Crory

    I like this Pope and for GOOD reason.

  • I agree that all the problems the author raises here are genuine, and I have seen many of them myself at first hand. What fills me with sorrow, however, is the literary device whereby the author impugns all the bishops of the Church without qualification. Such exaggerations could easily lead to calumny, and are an unfortunate misuse of the author’s rhetorical skills. What troubles me above all, however, is that an indirect expression of suspicion, antagonism, and even what might be taken as scorn is aimed at the one who has specifically exhorted us to “go to the margins.” This exhortation is a challenge for each one of us, and we are called personally to help many on the margins, including those mentioned by the author. Our awareness of these needs corresponds to a vocation to meet them. It does not give us a license to make such attacks in the public sphere. There is entirely too much of this and it must stop! We are Catholics! Have we forgotten that?

    Under no circumstances will I ever heap abuse (direct or indirect, blunt or clever) upon the VICAR OF JESUS CHRIST ON EARTH. I have lived through six popes and have seen all of them attacked from the “left” and from the “right” and I have never seen ANY good come of it for the Church. It is an uncatholic spirit. We must resist it as the temptation it is, and if we perceive particular needs or want to contribute we must do so constructively and humbly. Otherwise we will not bear fruit. Instead we will damage the life of the Church. I have seen so much harm come of these attitudes in the past that I cannot be silent in the present circumstances.

    • winslow

      And I have seen much harm done to the Church by excuse-makers like you who will sweep the sins of any bishop under the rug no matter how grievous they are. Pope Emeritus Benedict told this Pope when he was elected that there is a homosexual cabal in the Curia. The Pope later said, yes, they are there. We will see what to do about it? And what did he do? He removed Cardinal Burke from the office for BIshops and replaced him with a notorious homosexual who, when he was in Pittsburgh was known as “Donna.’ His bishops were referred to as Wuerl’s Girls.’ He stacked the recent synod with liberals whose object is to abandon settled doctrine, including doctrines settled by Our Lord in favor of degraded secular doctrines pushed in the name of mercy and kindness. He selected my bishop, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who has been coddling homosexuals for years, to be one of his principle advisors. This Pope has a record since he’s been in Rome that has much to answer for, including sowing confusion in the Church all over the world, and he knows it. Yet he is silent. This Pope should be attacked — as directly as he is attacking the Body of Christ and as persistently.
      Spare me, John Janaro. If you had half the concern for the Church and for faithful Catholics as Anthony Esolen does, I might be willing to listen to you. You don’t and I’m not. Yours is the ‘Spirit of Vatican II/Voice of the Faithful’ message that has done enough damage to the Church. Peddle it elsewhere, please.

      • GG

        Preach it brother. None are so blind as those who refuse to see.

      • slainte

        “… This Pope should be attacked ..”

        No…the vicar of Christ should not be attacked. Please reconsider your position.

        • Shibes Meadow

          …if he really is the Vicar of Christ…

          • slainte

            Et tu, Brute?

        • winslow

          Are you saying he should not be attacked in spite of my accusations? Or did you just ignore them? Are my accusations not true? I say they are, and if I’m right there is no way this Pope gets a pass from me, or any faithful Catholic. We are faithful to Jesus Christ, not Jorge Borgoglio. If HE were faithful to Christ I would reconsider, but he’s not and I won’t.
          And here’s something else for you to chew on. Remember the woman from S. America who called him? She said her pastor told her, because she was divorced and remarried without an annulment, she couldn’t receive Communion. The Pope told her, don’t worry about it. Go ahead and receive. What’s the matter? It’s just a piece of bread and a little wine.
          There’s the supposed Vicar of Christ reducing the Blessed Sacrament to a piece of bread and a little wine!!! Is that okay with you? Not to mention be threw her pastor under the bus. If he were trying to get that priest to leave the Church, he couldn’t have done it any better than that.
          I’m sorry, my friend, but I”m a faithful Catholic and I know what faithful Catholics sound like. Papa Borgoglio doesn’t sound at all like a faithful Catholic to me.

          • slainte

            We should exercise care and humility before condemning Pope Francis based upon unreliable hearsay and half truths reported by a biased and frenzied media. As Francis has not yet spoken dispositively on the controversial issues raised by Cardinal Kasper and others at the recent synod, we should reserve judgment.

            That said, bishops and clergy who have engaged in immoral and/or criminal activity, and have been found guilty after receiving due process, should face appropriate censure and removal from their clerical duties when warranted.

            I like Cardinal Burke very much and do not understand why he has been removed from the important roles for which he was appointed by Emeritus Pope Benefict. I defer, however, to Pope Francis who has every right to appoint those people he believes are best qualified to carry out his ministry.

            There is a great deal that we do not know and which has not been disclosed. As such, we should properly offer constructive criticism and make recommendations, but we should refrain from “attacking” a sitting Pope. As a faithful Catholic, I support Christ’s vicar and those bishops who are faithful to God’s mission.

            • winslow

              “As Francis has not yet spoken dispositively on the controversial issues raised by Cardinal Kasper and others at the recent synod, we should reserve judgment.”
              Well that’s a nice little dodge, isn’t it? slainte, the Pope HAS spoken dispositively…when he asked Kasper to peddle his garbage in the opening speech to the Synod…when he appointed Forte to write his odious paragraph on homosexuals for the relatio.,,when he stacked the deck, thereby assuring the outcome he wanted while encouraging the bishops to speak boldly. In that sleight of hand alone he shows his deviousness. He sacked and embarrassed a holy bishop by marginalized him while preaching kindness, mercy and tolerance showing his skill at talking out of both sides of his mouth.
              You are right in saying there is a lot we don’t know, but there is a lot we DO know and it does no credit to the former Archbishop from South America. In this particular instance, I prefer to support Christ instead of his wayward vicar. It’s one or the other.

              • slainte

                Winslow writes: “….In this particular instance, I prefer to support Christ instead of his wayward vicar. It’s one or the other.”

                But Christ chose and granted His authority to wayward Peter whom He predicted would betray Him three times before the rooster crowed (Matthew 26:34).

                “…15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16* Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”17 Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood* has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,*and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.* Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:15-20

                Have faith in the revealed promises of Christ, Winslow. In uncertain and chaotic times, we Catholics should cling to the promises of Christ with the sure knowledge that the Holy Spirit worked through the Magisterium to select Pope Francis to lead Christ’s bride through turbulent times. All will be well.

                • winslow

                  The Holy Spirit does not elect the pope, slainte. That’s a common misconception. The Holy Spirit prevents the pope, and the Church, from teaching error. I appreciate your sentiments regarding trust in the Lord. THey are my daily prayers.

                • winslow

                  Pope Francis is not St. Peter. He is the former bishop of Buenos Aires who sent his priests to the boondocks to tell EVERYONE to come and receive the Sacrament, which he has referred to as ‘a piece of bread and a little wine.’ IOW, he legitimized a sacrilege.
                  Please don’t lecture me, slainte. I’m not your spouse of one of your children. And please stop quoting Scripture to me. I’m very familiar with whatever verse or passage you care to use. Just make your point and I will know what part of SCripture you’re referring to. Thanks.
                  I said I choose to follow Christ, not His current vicar. I say it again.

              • C.Caruana

                Although I do share many of your anxieties, I think that ‘Attack’ is the wrong word. Precision of language is of the essence in defending the faith, for that is exactly what is to be criticised in some of Pope Francis’ extempore utterances, with their ambiguities and potentially harmful interpretations. Then there are the undeclared enemies of the Cross, among them those Cardinals, bishops and other prelates who are using sophistries and cunning word play to radically change Catholic doctrine and discipline that has been accepted by everyone and everywhere for centuries. It is of the utmost importance that we should resist these and rebut their linguistic manipulations of such words as Mercy and gradualism by precise and exact language that is both truthful and charitable. And the ultimate and most effective use of language obviously remains heartfelt and suffered prayer.

                • winslow

                  I agree with everything you say, but I have trouble being charitable in these instances when charity has failed so consistently in the past. My less than charitable approach is never without accompanying private prayer.

    • C.Caruana

      Defending the obviously indefencible is no humble service to the Church or to our Pope Francis. It is just another form of betrayal of the truth, the supreme value under threat at present. The Church has not started paying sttention to the peripheries now, and you yourself are proof of it. Concentrating on the peripheries while diluting the doctrinal and moral centre of the Church is a recipe for disintegration, as witness the mainline Protestant Churches. Prioritising and substituting the social gospel for sacramental orthodoxy is no way forward, for as Mother Theresa used to say, the spiritual poverty that condones abortion is the worst poverty of all, and she knew more about peripheries than me, you or the Pope.The source of all kinds of poverty is the sonful heart, and the only healing mercy for it available is the sacramental and moral traditions Our Lord himself left to his Church, that need to be defended and upheld by any Pope.

  • OrthodoxNet

    AMEN, AMEN, AMEN! God bless you Anthony for speaking the truth so clearly and boldly. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

  • Isaac S.

    This is amazing. That’s about it. 🙂

  • Kristyn

    I am here on the fringes, raising six kids alone and trying to be faithful to the Church while the synod tries to fashion loopholes for the people who won’t play by the rules. It hurts and makes me feel like the proverbial sucker. I am simplifying, I know. We all have a good excuse, a reason for why we’re so special that the rules don’t apply. The reality is we need the Church to tell the Truth rather than look for ways to twist it. Thank you Prof Esolen. I always enjoy your writing but this cuts to the heart.

  • Shibes Meadow

    A question to all:

    I have to wonder what the Fr. Zs, Michael Vorises, Mark Sheas, Jimmy Akins, and others whose loyalty to Francis is unshakable are going to do a year from now when he and the Synod begin to blatantly teach error as truth.

    At that point, any faithful Catholic is going to be faced with two options:

    1. either the Church is not infallible, or

    2. Francis isn’t the pope.

    In other words, they (and we) will be forced to choose between apostasy and schism.

    I ask all of you to imagine it is one year hence. You flip over to your favorite Catholic website, and there you find the words of Francis, speaking for the bishops of the Synod:

    “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Sacraments cannot be withheld from those who live in a state of marriage after divorce, or from those who are gifted by God with a homosexual orientation.”

    Now what do you do? Do you become a sedevacantist? Do you grow a beard and admit that the Orthodox were right about everything? Or do you conclude that the Church is not infallible, and therefore not the true Church, and turn your back on the whole thing?

    Apostasy or Schism. Seriously. What will you do?

    • slainte

      Words seeking to scatter and divide Christ’s flock from Pope Francis, the successor of Peter, are not of God.

      Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 1 Peter 5:8

      • Shibes Meadow

        I notice that you didn’t answer my question.

        I am not seeking to scatter and divide Christ’s flock from Pope Francis. I am asking you personally what you will do when he and the Synod begin to openly teach error as truth.

        • slainte

          Jesus said:

          “…Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).

          “…As the Father has sent me, I also send you’ (John 20:21).

          “..He who hears you, hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me’ (Luke 10:16).”

          Christ conveyed His authority to Peter, the Apostles, and their successors to carry on His holy work. The Pope cannot err in matters of faith and morals.

      • RufusChoate

        Thank you. Personally I needed this direct reassertion of what I believe. I started reading NCR over the last week or so and disconnected from reality and confidence in the workings of the Holy Spirit.

        • PaulOfTarsus

          Don’t worry the Holy Spirit will keep you company all the days of your miserable existence. You’re a pitiful excuse for a human being – more like a horse’s ass most people say. Not worth the time of day is what others say about you. you’re lonely, pathetic life will come to a debilitating end in some home for the elderly without visitors. Cherish the Holy Spirit you’ll be having your only conversations mumbling gibberish wherein you will be looked upon as the crazy loon & drunk you are.

  • I_M_Forman

    Professor Esolen addresses the subject quite accurately. Since Catholic Education is still available but expensive then parishes need to provide additional opportunities for extended Catechism to youth of all ages as well as adults not just only for sacraments, but for teaching them the Truth of Christ.

  • Netties Petrone

    Wow. This is outstanding. This is true. This is horrifying.

  • Olga Zurova

    Thank you for this.

  • Pk

    First, let me say thank you for your courage. Your article was so true. Someone sent me an email with excerpts but I chose to ad the whole article. I will share your article in its entirety.

    http://www.thewarningsecondcoming.com is a site where a woman from Ireland has been receiving messages since Nov 8th or 9th 2010. They are messages of God’s love and mercy but they reiterate over and over again, we have to choose God. We have to repent and follow His TRUE teachings. The messages are obviously not approved by the Church but they are beautiful. They have been warning of all of these things coming to pass. If you all so choose to go to the website, unfortunately the home page is full of doom and gloom so it tends to scare people away, but if you are interested, pray for discernment and start reading the messages from the first day and read them in order. They truly are a reminder that it is up to us to follow God’s true teachings, that nobody can change them, not even the Church and that it is up to us, with our free will, to choose God and His true teachings and to live our lives accordingly if we hope to live eternally with Him. Discern for yourselves. May God grant you His gifts of wisdom and discernment. If you believe these messages to be true, then please pass along the website. God bless each of you.

  • St. Benedict’s Thistle

    Late to the conversation, but I am grateful for the article. It speaks truth so clearly and simply. Many are suffering, and the comments here testify to that. Our Lord, Christ Jesus, however, has never and will never abandon us. Meditating each day on the mysteries of the Rosary has helped me greatly to feel His presence with us. He will not let us down. He will keep us together in the sheepfold. We know His voice.

  • Chump

    I have thought the same for years. Truly felt like a chump for years. Pope Francis has reinforced these thoughts and makes me wonder if I haven’t been a chump.

  • TJM

    Much of the time I enjoy Prof. Esolen’s commentaries and typically agree with them. But this excoriation of the Church and membership is way off base. In my own diocese of Dallas and the parishes therein, there is an active prison ministry, there is an active child intervention program, there is a huge effort put forth annually for migrants whether legal or illegal (more than 30,000 families helped each year). Drug programs, parents and families and gay children (adults and youngsters) on-going year in and year out.

    What side of the bed did you wake up on? Who/what empowers you to cast forth such sweeping judgements and accusations? Are you seriously suggesting that somehow the Church itself can remedy the ills of society when billions of dollars and thousands of government programs cannot stop mental illness, cannot stop drug abuse, cannot stop child abuse, cannot stop illegal/immoral behavior? These issues are NOT limited to modern times but have been part and parcel of human society forever. The Church has been the only consistent bulwark (even when feeble or less than enthusiastic) to stand against the moral dissolution of society since its founding.

    You do the Church and Crisis Magazine a disservice by this article. I am ashamed to think that the editors at Crisis allowed this to get through. You have no standing or cause for this. You condemn upon your narrow and limited vision of reality. Where is your data? Where is your survey of programs? Where is you listing of the millions of hours donated, for example by the Knights of Columbus worldwide to relieve as many ills of the world as one million men can do? Do you know that the local Mens Club at my parish raises tens of thousands of dollars for the parish including for scholarships for kids who have no money for college? Did you check how much money, time and donations the Love Truck raises each year for the Diocese and my parish? Thousands of volunteer hours, 60 tons of clothing collected; nearly the same in food for local food banks; over $20K raised for helping poor families buy back-to-school supplies and for an annual Christmas party with gifts, gift wrap and money for a holiday meal for over 600 families that would otherwise have nothing. That’s just one parish.

    Your own concern over the direction of the Church (which is only your opinion in the end), has become vituperative and is clouding your judgment.

    • Augustus

      Now look who’s gotten up on the wrong side of the bed! Sorry but you are not the center of the universe. Your little world is not representative of the whole country or other countries that suffer similar ills. Dr. Esolen is identifying specific problems that have gotten worse over time because they have not been a priority of our civic and church leaders. Problems grow because of neglect. You may do your part in your little corner of the world but you are delusional if you think that everything that can be done about these particular problems is being done. Your pride has blinded you to the real message of this article. It is a call to arms that thousands of Crisis readers have affirmed because they see problems in their communities that are not being addressed. Nowhere does this article criticize those leaders who are doing their part. Rather, it is an indictment of those in authority who aren’t.

    • winslow

      Anthony Esolen is a professor of English at Providence College and one of the leading Catholic writers of our day. He is well qualified to discuss, and to offer his opinions about the issues he has raised. You seem to know a lot about your parish activities. I congratulate you and your parish for its good works. Unfortunately you seem to know nothing about the rest of the world.

    • C.Caruana

      ‘But this excoriation of the Church and membership is way off base’. And you are accusing the good Professor of generalising? Consult the other famous Literature professor, Harold Bloom, about the subtle art of misreading and the anxiety of influence.

  • jesusandtherese

    This is very true and very thoughtful. However, I wish you had wrote about young men and women who wish to be priests and nuns being marginalized for that aspiration, which is a gift from God. However, this sentence, ” Let me speak up for the young people who see the beauty of the moral law and the teachings of the Church, and who are blessed with noble aspirations, but who are given no help, none, from their listless parents, their listless churches, their crude and cynical classmates, their corrupted schools?” seems to speak for all young people who have a vocation and who are marginalized for it. I can relate to this a lot. Thank you for this article.

  • jev

    As a Providence College grad, I am so happy to see a strong voice of faith and reason loudly challenging the status quo and speaking for our children! I hope my daughter is lucky enough to have Prof Esolen if she chooses PC. Go Friars!

  • lj

    Excellent article! Thank you Professor Esolen for so eloquently expressing what so many of us are thinking and experiencing.

  • JohnnyVoxx

    This is the best piece of modern writing I’ve read in years. God bless you Professor Esolen. Keep “professing” for us please!