What Color is the Pill You’re Taking?

Bahaha!  This is gonna be good! I’m gonna pop some popcorn and watch the fireworks. Methinks Fr. Martin has called in some favors after his latest dis-invite.  I have a whole other piece on Fr. Martin awaiting an edit but I could not help but jump on this one when a reader sent it to me.

Meet the Blogger Priest Firing Red Pills At the Vatican

Posted on February 1, 2018, at 11:17 a.m.

 Joseph Bernstein

BuzzFeed News Reporter

Last January, a Catholic asked a priest for spiritual guidance. Upset by the progressive direction Pope Francis has taken the church since his election in 2013, the person wondered whether it was a sin to pray for the pontiff to abdicate, or even, to die.

“No,” the priest, Father John Zuhlsdorf, replied. “It is not necessarily sinful to pray for the end of a pontificate, one way or another … Popes come and go. In our prayers, we can, without sinning, discuss with God about His time table.”

It’s polite to put <snip> in there when you cut out something this BIG.  So here’s how it really went:

“Given the rate things are going for this current pontificate, would it be sinful to pray that, if it be God’s will, that the pope either abdicates or dies and a new pope of a more conservative leaning is elected?”

I get this often.

No.  It is not necessarily sinful to pray for the end of a pontificate, one way or another.

However, it depends on why and on your attitude.  I urge people not to have hate in their hearts for the person of the Holy Father.  He deserves our prayers.  That doesn’t mean that we have to like him or what he does.  We do NOT worship the Pope.  Popes come and go.  In our prayers, we can, without sinning, discuss with God about His time table.

Just a wee bit different sentiment.

It’s no secret that the Jesuit pope has angered conservative Catholics with his criticism of the church’s fixation on abortion, same-sex marriage, and birth control; and with his promotion of progressive pastors. But still, it was a shocking answer — an ordained Catholic priest sanctioning prayer for the untimely death of Christ’s earthly representative.

Dear Buzzfeed guy and moral theologian, please tell me exactly how this goes against Church teaching.  And, btw, adding “untimely” is all you.  Let’s say a person says “Hey God!  It’s getting kind of scary down here.  If the Holy Father is blowing it, can you please open his eyes or close them?” Where is the lack of charity in that?  Wouldn’t this person be praying for God’s will to be done?

It is not necessarily sinful to pray for the end of a pontificate, one way or another.

And?  I’m still waiting for the BuzzFeed moral theologian to answer us.  Surely there has been more times in history where someone felt the current pope was hurting the Church.  Surely Mr. BuzzFeed knows there were some pretty bad popes out there.   Of course, after you read the rest, you might come to the conclusion he doesn’t know much.

What was even more shocking: This conversation didn’t happen in a confession booth or a rectory. Fr. Z, as he’s known, posted the exchange on his blog to a devoted readership of many thousands. He had pulled the question from his email. He chose to answer it publicly.

Shockers of shockers!  He says in public what he would advise in private.  What’s the point here?

And though he would later apologize for angering readers, a year later, he hasn’t changed his answer.

I think Fr. Z is a litte more worried about other things than angering readers.

“Frankly,” Fr. Z told BuzzFeed News, “It’s not a sin.”

Well, Mr. BuzzFeed moral theologian?  Is it a sin?  Do tell. Some may not feel comfortable with it but the question is, is it a sin?  You seem to be saying “yes” but you also have skipped a lot and around in your quoting of Fr. Z.

The 58-year-old, Madison, Wisconsin–based Fr. Z is a leader in the thriving online community of conservative American Catholics who have used the Trump era to ratchet up their criticism of what they perceive to be a liberal Church establishment, and liberal culture in general. Fr. Z, who has over 40,000 Twitter followers, considers the 12-year-old blog, What Does the Prayer Really Say, his ministry. The site, which Fr. Z told BuzzFeed News is the largest English language Catholic blog run by an individual, has received more than 85 million visits since 2006, per Statcounter. According to Father Z, What Does the Prayer Really Say gets more than a million unique visitors a year.

Is her arguing with the stats?  Not sure what the point is but then he goes onto this which is complete commentary:

And it draws just as much from the gospel of Roger Ailes as it does Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — a pro-Trump, anti-Francis hybrid of personal blog, Latin translation, Christian scholarship, scriptural interpretation, and Fox News. (A sidebar on the blog describes it as “a fusion of the Baroque ‘salon’ with its well-tuned harpsichord around which polite society gathered for entertainment and edification and, on the other hand, a Wild West “saloon” with its out-of-tune piano and swinging doors, where everyone has a gun and something to say.”) Together with sites like Church Militant, a kind of Catholic-themed Breitbart that the Church has officially distanced itself from, Fr. Z is waging an online culture war that is deeply informed by the greater American political context.

And this is how I know this guy likely knows Fr. James Martin SJ. It’s no secret that Fr. Martin is a bit upset about his dis-invites from various institutions.  He’s waged war on his Twitter feed and I’m thinking this is his next step.  He wants the faithful Catholic blogosphere silenced.

“They think the liberal Catholic establishment must be dismantled,” said Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology at Villanova University. “And anything that can get to that goal is fine.”

Really?  Anything Massimo?  How about bloggers like us just call it like we see it?  Every once in awhile the “liberal Catholic establishment” (I thought it the “faithful Catholic establishment” that mattered but that might be just me.) gets it right.  Personally, I have actually given Fr. Martin kudos for his comments on the unborn.  Yes, I have to question his motives for doing so but, well, yay!  When he spews the ridiculous and ambiguous that leads people into, say,  sodomy, I’ll comment on that too.  So, Massimo, while your goal may be to win “it” for the liberal Catholics, some of us are trying to win souls with truth.

 Indeed, the sometimes shockingly antagonistic attitude of Fr. Z and his ilk toward the Vatican and liberal culture has invited comparisons to the alt-right, another group obsessed with waging a culture war against a supposedly liberal bureaucracy. Fr. Z, for his part, says he’s part of a “brutal” polemical tradition in the Catholic church that dates back millenia. More broadly, the popularity of Fr. Z’s blog and the power of his online following suggests that in 2018, even the longest-lasting institution in the Western world isn’t immune to the strains of the social internet.

Sorry, sweetie.  We’re sarcastic.  Deal.  While Fr. Z is sometimes really “in your face” he’s not trying to take down the “longest-lasting institution in the Western world.”  He’s trying to defend it.

“Thanks in no small part to the online world, the degree of open criticism of the Pope and church hierarchy is far greater than ever before,” said Mark Silk, the director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. “It would have astonished people 50 years ago.”

 Well, isn’t it shocking that Mark Silk had something to say about Fr. Martin’s being dis-invited to events?  https://religionnews.com/2017/09/25/religious-cyber-vigilantism-on-the-rise/ Duh!  You guys might want to keep your connections a bit more distant.  If you doubt the Fr. Martin connection with this Fr. Z hit piece, please put on your independent thinking cap.

“The comparisons with the alt-right are loose. There’s no direct connection between Fr. Z and that movement, which he told BuzzFeed News he had to Google when it was first applied to him. The alt-right, which draws on the reflexive atheism of message board culture and dabbles in the forms of neo-paganism associated with white nationalism, has no coherent stance on religion. Much of the alt-right is ambivalent, if not supportive, of homosexuality, which Fr. Z has called “unnatural” and “disordered.” (Oh for heaven’s sake.  Bothered to read the teachings of the Catholic Church, Mr. Buzzfeed?) Fr. Z has explicitly condemned anti-Semitism, which has dogged various factions of the alt-right (as well as the schismatic Catholic right.) And the comments under his blog posts are far from a Breitbartian vortex of invective; there are often long and thoughtful — albeit extremely conservative — discussions of faith, ritual, history, and bourbon.”

Oh ho!  “Fr. Z has no obvious connections to alt-right groups but we’re going to mention it just so you put the two in the same sentence.”  Can you say “Jumping the shark?!”

Wait for it!

But Fr. Z’s tone, politics, and tactics bring to mind the online mobs of Trump supporters who helped turn the current moment so divisive. Rhetorically, he’s a creature as much of the comment section as the canon, having honed his blogging style since the early 1990s, when he moderated CompuServe’s Catholic forum. He regularly rails against “libs,” “edgy social justice figures” and the “homosexualist agenda.” He has coined Trumpian epithets for his adversaries, referring to the progressive National Catholic Reporter as “fishwrap” and the “National Sodomitical Reporter” and liberal Catholics as the “Red Guard.” He casts himself as a defender of Western civilization and culture; In a recent post, he encouraged followers to buy Defeating Jihad, by the far-right former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka. And his blog links to a webstore where he sells mugs and T-shirts reading “Holy Mass: Turn Towards the Lord Again” in the ubiquitous #MAGA font and color scheme.

Sorry. I cannot stop snickering.  “He has no connection to the alt-right peeps but he does!”  BTW, I’m for defeating Jihad too.  And the Fishwrap?  Many of us call it that and, guess what?  I didn’t even vote for Trump.  Some things are just common sense.  I also call it the National Catholic Distorter, National catholic Reporter, and probably ten other things. Whaaa!

Also, his critics say, he has rallied his followers to carry out harassment and no-platforming campaigns that directly recall the alt-right. In September 2017, in a post entitled “Should a seminary headline a homosexualist activist as a speaker?” Fr. Z alerted his audience to an upcoming speech by the progressive Jesuit priest Rev. James Martin at Catholic University, shortly after the publication of a new book by Martin urging dialogue between the Church and LGBT Catholics. Following Fr. Z’s post, and denunciations by other popular conservative Catholic and schismatic websites, Martin became the target of an online harassment campaign, including threats of violence. And two days after Fr. Z’s post, Catholic withdrew its invitation to Martin, citing “increasing negative feedback from various social media sites.”

“For me the saddest thing about Father Z’s blog is how cruel it is,” Martin told BuzzFeed News. “It’s astonishing to me that a priest could traffic in such cruelty and hatred.”

AND HERE’S WHAT THE WHOLE ARTICLE IS REALLY ABOUT.  Seriously, Fr. Martin has to turn to BuzzFeed because he’s never going to find a FAITHFUL CATHOLIC site to go after Fr. Z.  Honestly, I like to comment as I read but you could see this coming from the beginning of this piece.   Sadly, Fr. James Martin is in such a tail-spin he’s getting desperate.

So please, Mr. Buzzfeed, you’ve make a whole lot of accusations here.  Let’s see the harassment and violence threats.  Sure you must have nice screen captures of them.  I mean, I’m still holding onto Fr. Martin’s totally loving tweet:


Put up or shut up, Mr. BuzzFeed.

Fr. Z told BuzzFeed News that it was not his intention to sic the Zedheads — as he affectionately calls his readers — on Martin, and added that though he did not think it was appropriate for Martin to speak, he, too, had been disinvited from similar engagements for his views.

“I don’t whine about it though,” said Fr. Z. “This isn’t bean bag.”

What?!  No martyr complex?  All the priests have them.

Indeed, Fr. Z’s response to liberal priests who object to his rhetoric is, more or less, Snowflake! In 2014, he told the Jesuit magazine America, “No one forces anyone else to get involved online. If we are going to descend onto the sands of the arena, we had better buckle it on … the notion that everyone has to play verbal patty cake all the time is a rather new idea, both in the church and in the public square.”

EXACTLY!  We’ve all been called “haters” by Fr. Martin, Rosica and Reese at one point or another and we simply laugh because, well, we’re faithful Catholics. Christ was hung a cross and we should whine and cry about being, what, flogged on the internet? Boo hoo!

And Fr. Z buckles it on in the public square with astonishing frequency. In December 2017, Fr. Z posted 141 times, an average of 4.5 posts a day. His detractors are quick to point out the irregularity of his priestly circumstances. Though Fr. Z lives in and blogs from Madison, he was incardinated — basically, given the right to perform the duties of a priest — in an Italian diocese. That, according to several church sources, is highly unusual. Though Fr. Z has faculties in the Madison diocese, his blog comprises the vast majority of his ministry.

Really?  We’re going to go there?  I’m sorry, have you checked Fr. Martin’s Twitter feed?  And what the heck does “Italian” have to do with absolutely anything?  You better batten down the hatches, Mr. BuzzFeed.  I’m relatively sure you’re going to hear from my Italian brothers and sisters in just a sec.

All of this has given Fr. Z the image of a rogue blogger-priest, accountable to an obscure authority, firing red pills from his digital pulpit at a hidebound institution that is unprepared to deal with the new age of online dissent.

Why can’t I get a cool nickname like “rogue blogger-priest?”  Jealous.

Dear Mr. BuzzFeed, you are really a patsy.  You might want learn just a smidgen more about the man before you listen to Fr. Martin.  I’m really starting to feel a bit sorry for you now.  I do believe even Fr. Martin’s cohort publication, America Magazine, has done a better job of researching Fr. Z. https://www.americamagazine.org/content/all-things/catholic-blogosphere-qa-father-john-zuhlsdorf

“Our assumption used to be that [the internet] was a new community, a new way of becoming connected,” said Faggioli, who added that the Church has no regulations to deal with internet priests. “We now know that it has fostered new kinds of divisions. These Catholic blogs play a very important role in this. They tend to speak to a particular kind of audience, against a particular kind of church.”

Um, Massimo, I’m sure there’s some sort of mirror in your house.  Please look into it every once in awhile.

And thanks to the reach of the internet and social media, the message of what Mark Silk called “religious entrepreneurs,” like Fr. Z, can find and consolidate a politically and culturally homogenous audience in a way a parish priest never could.

It’s a point not lost on Fr. Z, who sees himself in a tradition of Christian leaders evangelizing through technology. (A tradition that includes Martin Luther, who could not have spread the seeds of Protestantism without the printing press, but also Father Coughlin, who used the radio in the 1930s to spread his fascist political beliefs to tens of millions of listeners from the tower of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Detroit.)

Oh my gosh!  Is Mr. BuzzFeed serious? The innuendos abound!  How many time can you say “He’s a Nazi but I’m not saying that!” in one piece.  LOL!  

“The church has always made use of the best means of communication,” Fr. Z told BuzzFeed News. “I’m one little guy, but this blog is my force amplifier.”

That force multiplier has allowed Fr. Z to turn What Does the Prayer Really Say into an enterprise. For the spiritual and cultural succor on offer, many of the blog’s readers donate money — on both one-off and monthly subscription bases — and Fr. Z invites them to lavish him with gifts. In exchange for a monthly subscription, Fr. Z wrote in 2015, “you wind up regularly on my list of benefactors for whom I pray.” And the second widget from the top on the blog’s sidebar, below only a search box, is a plea for readers to do their Amazon shopping through his affiliate link.”

The practice has drawn critics, who say that soliciting money directly from his readers inappropriately insulates Fr. Z from Church pressure. But in the context of internet publishing, even on Fr. Z’s low-tech blog, it’s on trend. From YouTube stars to writers crowdfunding projects, content creators across a range of internet media are finding that a devoted audience can support a subscription model. And who is more devoted than a group of parishioners?

And?  Fr. Martin hocks a bunch of bad books and has multiple organizations backing him in his pocket.  Oh, yeah, I forgot.  All of Fr. Martin’s money goes to the Jesuits and he practically lives in a homeless shelter. Please.

“I’m a free market guy,” Fr. Z told BuzzFeed News. “If I put something out there and people want to drop money in my hat, so be it.” He added that he’s not paid a salary by the church: “I kill what I eat.”

Oh, come on, Fr. Z!  Now you’re just baiting the anti-hunting crowd!

The subscriber model produces a fascinating question in the clerical context: If Fr. Z relies on the generosity of his audience, rather than the support of the Church, how much does he have to tell them what they want to hear?

So Mr. BuzzFeed is saying what?  It’s better to take money from the Church so that you’ll say whatever the people want you to say?  That’s quite a twisted logic.  How about you make your own money AND are a faithful priest?  Supposedly Fr. Martin is supported by the Jesuits.  How’s that working out for the Church?

Perhaps that explains his shifting perspective on Donald Trump. Though Fr. Z told BuzzFeed news that he’s not interested in politics, he blogs about national affairs regularly. In January 2016, during Republican primary debate season, Fr. Z approvingly reposted a blog by the conservative priest and cultural commentator Robert Sirico that compared Trump to a laxative and concluded that “I cannot figure out the alleged white-evangelical attraction to Trump.” As the general election got underway, Fr. Z found more and more to like about the GOP candidate, specifically that he recorded a video message for Catholics and was not Hillary Clinton, who he called “treasonous” and “the criminal candidate for the Part of Death.”

Yeah, I’m pretty sure many Catholics went with the lesser of the two evils approach. 

Since the election, Fr. Z has gathered signatures to thank President Trump for defunding “Big Business Abortion” — Planned Parenthood — contrasted Trump flatteringly with President Obama, whom he called “arrogance incarnate,” and most recently, posted President Trump’s remarks at January’s March for Life.

And this is because he raises his own support money?  Might it be, and I’m going out on a limb here Mr. BuzzFeed, because Trump defunded “Big Business Abortion” and spoke out for the unborn at the March for Life?  Oh, your right.  Got to be those donations he brings in.  (insert rolly eyes)

More surprisingly, Fr. Z seemed to endorse President Trump’s travel ban, a decision the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops called “un-Catholic” and protested with an amicus brief filed in the Supreme Court. It was a position that seemed to hew closer to Steve Bannon, the President’s former chief adviser, who has claimed that the Church favors illegal immigration because it has an economic interest, than to Church leadership. Indeed, in 2016, Pope Francis said that Trump’s position on immigration made him “not Christian.” And so Fr. Z found himself, a Catholic priest, warning his audience about the perils of letting immigrants into America, three days after he wrote that it wasn’t a sin to pray for the Pope to die.

Just going to point out, for what it’s worth, there aren’t actually any quotes here.

Said Faggioli, “Fr. Z is much more convinced about the Christian character of Donald Trump than of Pope Francis. That’s remarkable.”

Wow!  Can’t answer for Fr. Z on that one but, hello, you might think that Faggioli would have provided some quotes for that one!

I’m sure the Fr. Martin crowd is gleeful about this one but the rest of us are laughing at the audacity of the level of conjecture and insinuation found in this screed.  I suppose desperate times calls for desperate measures for some.

29 thoughts on “What Color is the Pill You’re Taking?

  1. Well that settles it! I need to follow Fr. Z!!! I wanted to add that Mother Angelica was also a huge media influence and still is after her death! Have you listened to what she said over 30 years ago? She has been openly criticizing the liberal Catholics for decades and I love her for it! Truth always wins. And yes, I proudly voted for Trump because it was time for a non-politician to bring our concerns to Washington even if it did come in the form of a John the Baptist type rough man! I think Melania has had a good influence on him with her faith and I also truly believe that family is very important to him and right now I think family values and Christian values are what will keep America moving in a positive direction. Thank you for shining light on yet another attack by the unfaithful “Catholic” media!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Free publicity is good publicity. I bet many people will go over to take a look and find that Buzzfeed is… a little imbalanced.

    By the way – I am thinking of taking that famous phrase from Dr. Faggioli (“Catholic Cyber Militia”) and making t-shirts… Will keep you posted!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Horror of horrors! You’re hawking wares on your website like Fr. Z does? Guess what Jim Martin and Joseph Bernstein would say? ha ha — keep at it, Mom!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Buzzfeed specializes in spreading falsehoods. It is relatively crazy. None except the severely disturbed read it, so this crummy article is par for the course.


    1. What’s truly sad is the calumny going on over on Fr. Martin’s facebook page. I mean, they even got the BuzzFeed’s pathetic attempt to quote wrong. Fr. Z now advocates and prays for the Holy Father’s death, don’t you know? Sigh.


      1. That way of sliming a person – by cutting out what they said until they shape what is in essence a fake quote – is standard technique on leftist web sites. It is so funny that this hit piece against father z is just an attempt to drive hatred – and yet these are the people that whine about “haters” all the time.


    1. Dave, My wife and I have prayed a novena for the conversion of President Trump to Catholicism, and encourage all Catholics to do the same. In terms of heartening the Church, it would practically be on the scale of the conversion of St.Paul, would it not?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I live in Madison, WI and know Fr Z in person in real life where he is a real priest. In fact, I could be wrong but I am pretty sure he’s actually incardinated in our diocese now. There have been various attack pieces directed at him over the years; from the perspective of actually knowing him they don’t really hit home. One could of course critique how he speaks of his various opponents on the internet but strong speech has its legitimate rhetorical purposes and is used by various sides in any given debate. You know what, it’s legitimate to call NC Reporter “fishwrap”. He’s generally using those strong words about heretics and their heresies and heteropraxies. His blog is not a homily, it’s a blog. And his homilies do not resemble blog articles. What I hear the article saying is “some people are rubbed the wrong way by Father Z”. And that’s okay, and I’m not sure there’s anything too much worse to say about the man.


  5. This article rather well describes the dustup surrounding an otherwise nondescript academic who wandered off the reservation and the orthodox priest who is attempting to inject some reality into the situation. One can not help but be reminded of one central fact. The Church was founded to be a permanent earthly institution. Aberrant nonsense comes and goes. We have had the Cathars, Albigenses, and other cults addicted to strange behavior. None of these made a permanent impression. Father Martin is simply the latest to decide what the Almighty really meant and he too will fade when the next cause je jour arises. The Church, as always, remains, as we are assured by its founder.


  6. Fr. Coughlin was actually an FDR progressive type of priest, although he had some kind of distributist variation I never tried to understand. When he became the wrong kind of leftist as policies changed, suddenly he became an unperson to the Democrats. But even in my history textbooks back in the Eighties, he was not being called a fascist leftist! Lol, you have to love how leftists rewrite history to suit themselves.


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