Another Lefty Priest (UPDATED)

A View From the Pew has a fantastic take-down of Fr. McBrien’s attack on “conservative” and “traditional” Catholics. This is a fine read in preparation for the Pope’s upcoming documents on the needs of the church.

I hope Pope Benedict’s roadmap will drive the likes of Fr. Richard McBrien to some church where he belongs. His snotty attack on conservatives deserves scorn from all corners of the Catholic church.

McBrien considers liberal Catholics mentally healthy, well-adjusted, and intelligent. He sympathizes with their condescending view of neanderthals like John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whom he considers dark monsters who belong in history’s dumpster.

As healthy people themselves they have an instinctive awareness of pathological or dysfunctional behavior when they experience it. Without benefit of advanced degrees in psychology, they recognize individuals who lack a healthy self-image, who are defensive and self-righteous, who are rigid and judgmental toward others, and who place undue emphasis on rules narrowly applied and on “orthodoxies” simplistically interpreted.

That’s right. According to Fr. McBrien, those of us who like traditional music, a little Latin with our worship, kneeling for Communion, and concentrating on God at Mass are psychologically flawed. We’re “pathological” in McBrien’s narrow, frustrated little mind.

Perhaps we need fifth set of Mysteries for the Rosary. We can call them “The Idiotic Mysteries” and meditate on men like McBrien and Brian Joyce and the other looney, holier-than-the-Popes priests who would be so comfortable in churches that aren’t burdened with 2,000 years of consistent teaching and a charter to operate from God Himself.

Under the title of putting my money where my mouth is, I have challenged Fr. McBrien to a debate. Father McBrien attacked Pope John Paul II in his pieces on “Redefining the Center.” By so doing, the priest challenge Peter’s authority as Pope. Therefore, my challenge was to debate the resolve, “The Vatican is Always Right” anytime, anywhere.

Here is the text of my letter. I’d give odds about his taking it up.


I read your piece in Tidings online entitled “Redefining the Center, Part III.” Frankly, Father, you are a heretic.

I am not a theologian. I have no advanced degrees in anything related to theology. What I know, I know from reading the fathers of the church, the catechism, and the Bible. You, Father, seem to have educated yourself right out of the truth, which you once had.

I am a simple sinner, loaded down with guilt. But I think your message needs a sound rebuffing. I will debate you, anytime, anywhere, on the Resolve: The Vatican is Always Right.

You may reach me at [phone number]. My mailing address is [withheld for safety]. I am proud to be one of the psychologically dysfunctional idiots you so enjoy degrading. This debate would be a great opportunity for you to show the world how much holier you are than we conservatives.


Bill Hennessy

Karl Keating, in This Rock magazine, summarizes Fr. McBrien’s declining ministry succintly:

First, Richard McBrien’s Catholicism was censured by the bishops for false advertising-it held up an ersatz Catholicism as the real thing-and now his column is heading south. He always will have a page in the National Catholic Reporter, no doubt, but he is facing a diminishing presence in the newspapers that Catholic lay people actually read, if they read any Catholic newspapers at all.

There will be much progressivist handwringing about the polarization supposedly fostered by The Powers That Be, but it will pass. So will the polarization, if Richard McBrien and his friends decide to accept the Catholic faith whole and entire.

Father McBrien has run afoul of God, his church, and his flock. He has no one left to preach to.