Defending Good Priests from the Papacy of Insults 

The papal hits just keep on coming. If you are a “rigid” Catholic these days (in other words orthodox and traditional) there’s a bullseye on your cassock and the Holy Father has taken aim. In this morning’s  homily at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis resorted once again to insulting “rigid” Catholics, this time priests.

The Holy Father began by first discussing the need for priests to be mediators rather than intermediaries. Yes, I am aware that those words (largely) have the same connotation, but regardless, Pope Francis classified intermediaries as being those awful “rigid” priests we keep hearing about. One wonders if by rigid he is referring to those unmerciful meanies who get so hung up on things like doctrine, truth, sin, salvation, etc.

Nevertheless, it was then that the pope recounted this odd anecdote:

About rigidity and worldliness, it was some time ago that an elderly monsignor of the curia came to me, who works, a normal man, a good man, in love with Jesus – and he told me that he had gone to buy a couple of shirts at Euroclero [the clerical clothing store] and saw a young fellow – he thinks he had not more than 25 years, or a young priest or about to become a priest – before the mirror, with a cape, large, wide, velvet, with a silver chain. He then took the Saturno [wide-brimmed clerical headgear], he put it on and looked himself over. A rigid and worldly one.

This has, unfortunately, become classic Francis. Note we have the elderly monsignor, who is both “normal” and “good.” In other words, the Vatican II generation priest is the good guy in our story. He just wants to buy a couple regular shirts.

He then encounters the usual villain in these papal admonitions: the young traditionalist. This one is extra young (not more than 25) and extra traditional (trying on a Saturno!), so we know that he is extra villainous.

For his actions, trying on the cape and Saturno, the young man is called “rigid and worldly”, which seems a bit extreme. After all, who are we to judge him?

Pope Francis went on:

And that priest – he is wise, that monsignor, very wise – was able to overcome the pain, with a line of healthy humor and added: ‘And it is said that the Church does not allow women priests!’. Thus, does the work that the priest does when he becomes a functionary ends in the ridiculous, always.

Ridicule. Always an effective tool for educating your (spiritual) children. As a father of five I can honestly say that insults and ridicules are horrible ways to correct our kids behavior. Of course, there really is nothing to correct here. The villain of the piece is simply a young priest who prefers traditional garb. Period.

This disdain for a certain group of faithful, both clergy and laity, who lean traditional in their preferences is par for the papal course these days. Whatever.

That a younger generation has rejected the scorched earth policy of the post-conciliar generation is beyond comprehension to them. We want ALL the truth and beauty of our faith. That a 25 year old priest might actually want to dress like priests have dressed for centuries confounds them.

As to the “joke”  by the normal and good elderly monsignor referencing the young priest behaving as a woman, this is standard fare for the self-loathing Catholic. It’s straight out of the National Catholic Reporter com box. It’s what heterodox Catholics resort to when presented with cassocks, capes, capa magnas, Latin, and lace. Those on the side of error always attack what’s true, good, and beautiful.

We must defend our good priests from this continued effort to demean and demoralize them in their vocation. The continuing insults hurled at so many good and holy men can take a toll. It’s the Saul Alinsky tactics of the Left: isolate and ridicule your opponent.

Many of our very best, orthodox, traditional priests will never ask for our help. They will perceive this papacy as an opportunity to grow in holiness through these insults. They’re not wrong of course.

We the faithful, however, must still defend. We must fortify them through our words of encouragement. We must reassure them in their vocation. And most of all we must support them with our prayers, most particularly to Our Lady.

And let us all consider buying our favorite priest a Saturno to go along with his glorious cassock while we’re at it.

Posted on December 9, 2016, in holiness, liturgy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 52 Comments.

  1. momentumveritatis

    Reblogged this on momentumveritatis.

    • You do realize you just ridiculed the Pope right? Pffft.

      • I take what he says seriously and assume that he means what he says. I afford both he and the office that respect. That respect was not extended to the young priest who was seeing (in the mirror) how the saturno and cape looked. Pffft.

      • And did Francis not say Jesus is a failure at the Cross, did he not say all Jewish, Muslims etc do not need to convert to be save, did he not say also is venomous to try to teach the word of God and convert those who are not in the Universal Church, he kisses the evil book call the Korean which Denied Jesus as the son of God… tell me who installed who

  2. This is typical of this pope. He pretended that he was a humble priest who did not want the papacy to one who is drawing closer and closer to acting like a heretic.

    • I think the time will come when we will all have to make a decision regarding Pope Francis. Yes he is popular. Yes he has cast aside the useless globber that popes of the past wore. And yes he is no Saint John Paul II. Pope Francis is the visible head of the invisible body. We also must remember that where Peter is there the Church is to be found. I wonder what reaction there would be if Saint John Paul II did the same thing.

  3. I have been a priest for 6.5 years, and I feel inspired and challenged by Pope Francis. Yeah, there were a few guys I encountered in seminary like the ones Pope Francis characterizes, but the majority were not like this at all (I did pre-theology at St. Charles in Philly and then four years at NAC in Rome). I think he is referring to an obsession with the externals, which I had encountered a few in seminary, and, many times I found them quite bitter. I mean, it is one thing to wear a cassock, which, I don’t do, but I do not have a problem with either, but it is another thing to be obsessed with it, along with all the externals, which is unhealthy; I encountered a few guys like that in seminary, but, for the most part, this was not the case. The younger clergy in my diocese, those ordained with me and after me, seem to be pretty supportive of and excited about Francis. I mean, I felt challenged and inspired by Benedict as well. I guess, in sum, I do not feel insulted by the pope; I think he challenges and encourages us priests in some of the areas we probably need to be prodded.

    • Good response…obsession with externals and with “self” (“don’t I look great?”) undermines the humility with which priests (and ALL of us) are called to serve.
      It’s not the action so much, as it is the attitude.

      • And what evidence did either the Pope or the Monsignor have of obsession that merited being talked about behind his back and mocked in public by a brother priest?

    • Thank you for your comment Fr. Boni. I don’t expect you to feel insulted by the pope since he clearly isn’t speaking to you. However, if you are a priest who chooses to wear the cassock and saturno, not because you are obsessed with externals, but simply because you love the Church, her traditions, and look to be that visible sign of Christ in our lost world…then you might be insulted. The Holy Father clearly has a problem with those who most vociferously defend orthodoxy or identify with tradition, and he doesn’t hesitate to isolate and discredit them. Or at least that’s the attempt made. I stand by my article and in agreement with the many, many, good and holy priests who are presently sharing this article. Also, for any priest or lay person familiar with the challenges and obstacles faced by the good men who were ran out of seminaries in the Seventies & Eighties because of their rigidity and imbalance (code words for orthodox, traditional, heterosexual seminarians), this all rings of a return to very bad times.

    • Hi Fr Boni,

      I think the point is that while a few are obsessed with externals of clerical dress, and I admit there are, there are others who simply wanted to dress like their heros the saints. Still others believed that the priest’s traditional dress served to capture the minds of the faithful pointing them to think about heaven. As much as those who were obsessed about dressing up, there were those obessed about dressing down at club NAC, who would never be seen in clerics when they were not required to–is this not a problem? Others were obsessed about being liked, about power, about money, etc… These obsessions exist both in old and in young priests–and seeing a priest trying on a saturno tells you about as much as buying a “regular shirt”, which is to say NOTHING. That old priests didn’t know or care to know the young priest and if we were going to judge anyone in the Pope’s story it would be the sin of uncharity, prejudgement, gossip, and quite frankly scandal committed by the old Monsignor. We have nothing, not action, to judge the young priests heart on, unless you (and the Pope) are saying the Traditional dress of a priest is somhow immoral, but I missed that section in the Summa.

      Hope all is well.

    • Do you see what you did? You took Pope Francis’s insult and turned it into something reasonable. Yes, all could agree to NOT be in favor of a very few people who are hung up on clothing. But Pope Francis never says that. He issues very broad condemnations about priests in general; Then we are left to excuse his insult, and say well, he really meant…X, Y, and Z. But at some point, I would hope that a Pope could simply speak correctly and plainly, and not need an excuse all the time, and stop issuing insults all the time. I defended Francis for a long time, but he has lost me.

    • “I think he…”. I think he meant….”

      I think you’re having great difficulty coming to grips with what the reality of what clearly seems to be happening.
      I sympathize. I was there.
      My prescription for a reality check, (I feel cruel in asking this), read Amoris Laetitia again.

    • Fr. I am also a product of seminary education. I can say there was a also a minority of the people you discribed out of 150 men, there were maybe 10-15 as your discribed. Small, but a group often involved in an agendia. Several of these men were from the same diocese and being around them one got the impression they had goals of placing themselves in positions within their diocese, head of Liturgy, vicar fro clergy. Director of a his deanary etc. with the purpose of a life dnof coupe de ta, worthy of Macavelli. I realize
      This sounds a bit far fetched, conspiratorial, but I went to school with these me. For four years. A few of them were even my friends. I know the things they would say behind closed doors and sometimes even in the refectory over meals. On one occasion the entire group sitting at table began to discuss how only priests who came from means should be appointed to parishes that were well off or positions within the diocese of a certain stature because, “they know how to juggle resources better and manage a large amount of funds and have th cultural breeding and upbringing to appreciate the finer things in life.” And that’s a direct quotation. Naturally nearly all of these me. We’re from families with means so they were speaking about themselves. I spent time with these guys because I did appreciate culture and art and liturgy, but when they spoke like this, not being of means and in poor upbringing I diffinitely did not agree with their assumptions, but bulked at the rank ambition and elitism these con-friars seemed to aim at. I was horrified to hear this come out of their mouths to the point I collected my food and moved tables, to their surprise. Then there was the day not long after when one of these men, soon to be ordained got his Saturna in from Rome. Of which wh took the time to make sure everywho passed by was call d over to see it. “And it was beaver pelt, because naturally it can only be made of beaver pelt.” I saw that had and thought, “you know I’ll bet that cost a lot of money.” And itnis purely an external. It’s not even for liturgical worship. It’s for him to look like something. How would that come off to me if I was a poor parishner in a poor parish with this guy who had never had to dig ditches in his life, but found the extra funds whil in seminary to get a beaver pelt hat, while my hands are black and blue to make ends meet. How is that priest going to preach to me about the simplicity and beauty of the Gospel, and mortification? Or the. There was the other member of this group who sent out a gift registry like at a wedding for recommended antique liturgical items for his ordination. When the bishop got wind of this he was pull d into the office and told, “you don’t get ordained so that people give you stuff.” Now tho this person all this seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea, so that relatives wouldn’t get things they didn’t need, but again, when you drive a 50,000 Audi, have a gift registry and have to show everybody your Saturna and think only guys with the “right stuff,” only should be in positions of power and influence in the diocese, and you just so happened to be in that group of people. All of these is precisely the kind of attitude Pope Francis’ words are aimed at. Thats not all tradional Catholic priests. But the. Again he wasn’t addressing all traditional priests. Which is why I take issue with the article. It’s distortive. It’s over reactionary. And misses the point. Which the. Becomes an grasping dig at Pope Francis. Unfortunately, even though I have been associated with the more traditional media lem ntsnof the Church, I find this behavior and mindset all too common. Certainly th majority of guys I went to see with were not this way, but enough were for it to be a problem, especially when one considers their planning behind closed doors to try to get into positions of power where they could steer things in their direction so that their version of what they determined to be the “right way,” could be maximized. Most of the other guys I went to school with were there simply to be priests, agenda not included.

  4. If the Holy Father truly said this as it is reported, may God have mercy on us all! Fulton Sheen: the Church will be destroyed by her own.

  5. In the transcripts of the victim soul Annaliese Michel who agreed to allow herself to be possessed at the time in the 1970’s that the Dutch Bishops, German and others were declaring there is no being the devil we get to actually hear Lucifer and other demons/damned souls. At the point in the exorcism where the devil is forced to tell the truth by God and the Blessed Virgin Mary many revelations come forth including the fact, which is obvious if you research their statements/actions at that time, that the “Dutch Bishops are heretics” and that the “reforms” in the Church, Communion in the hand and standing, priests not dressing as priests…all the “in the spirit of Vatican II” come from the devil and his minions….the devil stated how important the tapes of this was and also due to his work no one would believe it, and gave some good laughs at how stupid these priests were and those who “prostitute” the Catholic Church, which he stated has the real doctrine, to chase after the ways of the Protestant Church that has the doctrines he provided them….I recommend all read the transcripts and listen to the tapes….:

  6. God bless you, and thank you for your prayers!

  7. Thank you for your insightful essays.

    I appreciate the “rigidity” of the lovely people who have formed me deeply in the Faith and who rescued me from the tyranny of cafeteria Catholicism that I had previously been exposed to in the “progressive” parish in which I was received into the Church. The apparent fear of Tradition and history among my first mentors at the time bordered on the pathological. Sadly, Pope Francis’ approach reminds me of the condescending attitude of my first mentors who seemed incapable of appreciating the transcendentals: truth, goodness and beauty. That an appreciation of beautiful Liturgy and the art of the Faith (orthodox theology, vestments, attire, gesture, chant and sacred polyphony, architecture, furnishings, etc.) presents such a threat to some people is surprising when one thinks of the awesome creations that Catholics, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, have produced down through the centuries. In a real sense, the liturgical iconoclasm of recent generations is out of character for Catholics. Is it too much to state that many Catholics give host to a character flaw which prevents them from embracing liturgical beauty? Given the many negative views toward Tradition-minded liturgy, that flaw sure seems to have metastasized into a grudge against the Mass. Is that grudge a sign of resistance to the beauty which the Holy Spirit inspires in those docile to His influence?

    I am reminded of a quote: “A theologian who does not love art, poetry, music and nature can be dangerous. Blindness and deafness toward the beautiful are not incidental; they necessarily are reflected in his theology.”—Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. The Ratzinger Report (p. 130).

  8. Rejoice when they revile you, and speak all manner of evil against you. For they hated, and rejected Him too. The persecution is upon you, faithful priest and prelates will be on the front lines.

  9. The day I tried on my new high school uniform in the shop was one of the happiest of my life. Of course, I’m a woman, so I suppose that is hilariously funny and indicative of something negative about womanhood.


  11. Schultzz Heinrich Schultzzkopf

    As was stated by a previous Pope, “The smoke of satan has entered the Vatican.” After the chastisement much of this will be straightened out and we will have hope if only for a limited period of time.

  12. You don’t have to be a priest or a traditionalist to be disgusted by some of things coming out of the Pope’s mouth.

    I am an old widow and a mother, so I’m an expert at cleaning the toilet and also, in changing both infant and adult diapers. Plenty of diapers, and all kinds. Cloth diapers, cotton diapers, gauze diapers with safety pins to secure them. Small disposable diapers with velcro strips to fasten them. Pullups, you name it. Big adult diapers so foul smelling when dirty as to give you what you humorously call “a religious experience.”

    You change them when they get wet and heavy. You dispose dirty diapers ever so carefully, so they don’t assail you with their smell and to prevent the spread of diseases. And unless the doctor or a nurse asks, you don’t think or talk about what the dirty diapers contain. You don’t talk human excrement in polite company.

    So why does the Pope talk about human shit? What does he know about people being obsessed with them to the point of sexual arousal? How did he know that some people actually eat shit? I’ve never heard of such disgusting things before until the Pope – yes, the Pope! – talked about them.

    I’m sorry but I’m so shocked. As a Catholilc, I’m so embarrassed with this Pope. I wish the Pope will just shut his mouth. I wish the Pope will just go away.

    • Maria Procaccino

      Perhaps you need to re read some of the gospels…. Being like Jesus is not something wrong!!!! It’s the way it should… No MUST be!!! Perhaps Francis is not the one who needs to go away!!!

    • Margarita, Me too! I’ve changed all you have mentioned. I’m a grandmother and a great grandmother. As a student nurse, long ago, we were sent to an ‘Institute’ (used to call them mental hospitals) for three months for our Psychiatric education.

      There were terrible things there at a time when there was no medication for these poor people. I never learned about those two terms, however. I am beginning to attribute Francis’ diatribe about feces, of all things, to the theory that the gates of hell are wide open. He is the Pope and he has a potty mouth! Never before in history! Devil influence! How does he know of such matters?

      Listening to Francis is bad for me and I think I will just ‘scan’ him from now on in order to keep my senses and my faith.

      We must hang on to Our Lady. “Only I can help you now” “Our Lady of Fatima God has ordained it such for She will crush the evil ugly head of satan. I hope for the best for you.

  13. Maria Procaccino

    You’re kidding? So asking you to be more like Jesus is an insult? Really???? I would be very concerned if my boss told me I was NOT acting like Christ but rather like the Pharisees!!! I would make changes immediately… Perhaps so should you!!!

    • Read the post again please. Ridicule and obnoxious attacks against priests who favor traditional garb have nothing to do with Christ like behavior. Our Holy Father often displays a pharisaical rigidity far more than the orthodox & traditional bishops, priests, and laity who receive the brunt of his attacks.

  14. I agree with you on your focus on the fact that it is the “Saul Alinsky tactics of the left. Isolate and then ridicule your opponent.” Our Holy Father always isolates a traditional Priest or Bishop. He doesn’t seem to experience much joy in the Truth. The beautiful vestments which we saw long ago gave us that glorious appreciation of the power and awe of a true Priest. Thank God there are some young Priests with whom we are blessed that are adhering to sound doctrine and beauty! They are the salt of the earth.

  15. Totally agree with the reality that Pope Francis and his functionaries employ Saul Alinsky tactics. His remarks betray him. He regularly makes derogatory statements the type of which are ever reminiscent of any left-wing ideologue you might ever read! Thanks for the article.

  16. You are all purveyors of the preposterous. Arguing over which ridiculous, anachronistic garb to wear like tacky drag queens is emblematic of the fantasy world in which you reside.

  17. He just hates Traditional priests, period! And how can we prove the story of Francis “the humble” is true? There is also a hidden agenda to promote the idea that seminarians who are obsessed with wearing cassocks, capes, laces etc have a formation problem, thus giving them hard times for getting ordained. Fr. Boni you are pathetic.

  18. Is it ok now to judge people based on their attire? I kinda thought we were beyond appearances. By judging so must be tiresome and not quite joyful.

  19. From two Synods on the Family, we ought to be thoroughly familiar with the pope’s playbook. In this case, the homilies appear to be building up “support material” for what he intends for the Synod in 2018.

  20. “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge just judgment.” (John 7:24).

    It is so sad to see the Holy Father himself, and a Monseigneur he praised, forget this very simple rule.

  21. Much of Our Holy Father’s rhetoric hurled at young priests strikes one as having the smug and condescending quality that the American Progressive left is infamous for. The later is convinced that any who disagree with them are either stupid, wicked, or insane; no though is given that the opponent might have a legitimate point to make, or may even be correct.

  22. It seems more than unconscionable to hear the pope constantly slam “rigid” priests and seminarians (what he obviously means is “Traditionalists”) at the same time he gives a pass to sodomites and heretics of all stripes, even within his own Jesuit order.

    My question: How did the priest at the shop, and the pope, know that the young man was even a seminarian or a priest? He could have been an actor trying on some clothes for a play.

    In any event, there’s no reason to believe that the story actually even happened. What evidence is there, other than the pope’s story? No one needs to believe it.

  23. Pray Unceasingly.

  24. “Who am I to judge?”

    Apparently, he is.

  25. I think something being overlooked here is the healthy excitement of the young priest. Perhaps he was just ordained or soon to be. Does he not have the right to look for nice vestments?
    Pope Francis very often stresses the point that we are meant to be joyful. Yet he spurns this young priest who may very well be joyful and excited about his priesthood!
    Francis projects that the young man is obsessed with the clothing, why? Because that is what he sees. He is judging based on the exterior. To write someone off based on their exterior, that, I believe, is what’s truly rigid.

  26. So you can judge the pope for his teachings, in your opinion???. It sure looks like you 1. are clueless of the meaning of the Holy Father’s meanings, 2. It shows that you can judge and ridicule the Holy Father,while saying that he is ridiculing others???? thinking he is the villain??? are you not worst??? you dare insult the Vicar of God on earth and make it public to boot??? 3. As you are doing the very thing you accuse the Holy Father of doing, you show your profound immaturity in ethics, in professionalism, and in wisdom. Grow up!!! If you know liturgy, then write about liturgy, for you know nothing of what the Holy Father means. You just don’t get it.

    • Read his words again. Then read mine again.

      • I really didn’t take what he said as making fun of the garb, he was calling the priest’s infatuation with his appearance ridiculous. I really believe his point is the garb doesn’t make the priest, the heart makes the priest. All of these reactionary comments are massive over-reactions, I think.

  27. Theresa Laugesen

    This is totally untrue. Where did you get this junk idea?

  28. The irony is that non-Catholics like to use the “dressing like a woman” language to ridicule the vestments that no doubt the monsignor wears in the liturgy and the garb that Pope Francis wears every day.

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