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The Wisdom Of Father Wilson

In a couple of my speeches in Italy, I’ve favorably mentioned my old friend Father Joe Wilson, of the Catholic diocese of Brooklyn. He was a source of merriment, consolation, and wise counsel for me when I lived in that fine city. He’s written a fine piece about what it’s like to live this hellish scandal a second time as a Catholic priest. [1] It appears on the site of David Virtue, the Anglican commenter and longtime friend of Father Wilson, who had asked him in an email how he was holding up. Here are parts of the priest’s answer:

So this really is no surprise to me at all. The Church took a wrong turn in the 1960s. The results have been catastrophic. Stubbornly, I would even say psychotically, we insist on ignoring reality and talking incessantly about renewal. Hundreds, literally, of once flourishing Religious communities have faced the fact that their institution is coming in for a sad landing. Dioceses which once ordained classes of thirty or forty priests a year are over the moon today if the Bishop ordains four. The once proud network of Catholic colleges and universities extending across the land is almost completely secularized, the presence of the Religious who founded the schools a dim memory, the students more likely to have seen The Vagina Monologues on campus than taken a course in Catholic Theology. The Catholic divorce rate is indistinguishable from that of society at large; mainstream cultural attitudes towards fornication and homosexuality are frequently encountered among Catholics.

More:

Now, you asked how I personally move forward?

It really is not very difficult. I bless God for a solid Catholic upbringing thanks to good parents and really, really wonderful priest mentors when I was young. I was fortunate to grow up in

Fr Joseph Wilson

a house of three Teachers (parents and grandmother), which was like growing up in a library, and encountering and reading Chesterton and Belloc and Mauriac and Cardinal Gibbons and Monsignor Knox as a youth, even before high school. Most importantly, to be raised to live in a relationship with the Lord Jesus, to glimpse the nature of His Church despite the Puff the Magic Dragon spirituality I encountered, to be devoted to His Mother. If you’ve encountered the spiritual works of Dom Columba Marmion, you’re not likely to be too impressed by a paperback about butterflies coming out of cocoons.

Over this past Summer I began with great profit to read systematically through the wonderful writings of Saint Teresa of Avila, a great Doctor of the Church on the sixteenth century. We have spiritual works and many letters of hers, suffused with her lively personality. She founded a reformed branch of the Carmelite Order; her nuns would live very simply in small convents and focus on prayer behind their cloister walls.

She wrote a book on prayer for them called “The Way of Perfection”, and at the beginning of it she says something so pertinent to our situation today that it startled me. Right at the start of the treatise she says to her sisters, Why do you think I founded the Reform? It is because of the state of the Church, those dreadful Lutherans up there in the North who are rejecting the Mass and the authority of the Church, the people who are confused, the courageous priests who are attacking the heresies… Women like us cannot go to the front of the battle lines, but we can found oases where Jesus can find welcome and rest and home in a world which has forgotten Him. And that is what our convents shall be, where we dwell with Him. This from a cloistered nun!

change_me

And there, she draws us right back to the one thing only that is necessary, doesn’t she? We persevere in the place in the vineyard where He had put us, we watch, we pray, and look for the day when He raises up a Dominic, a Francis, a Teresa of Avila, and the renewal begins. We look for holiness, we try to open ourselves to grace, we try to make of ourselves a cloister for Him. The scandalous failure of our leadership really does not surprise me at all; most of our bishops are anything but leaders. When Mass attendance falls from 88% (1965) to perhaps 14% today (and clearly they are doing their damnedest, literally, to drive it lower) and there is no visible sign of concern let alone panic, but a constant chanting of the mantra age of renewal over fifty years; no question raised, Can we have done something wrong???, it’s hard to take them seriously. There is a great gent named Frank Walker who runs the invaluable canon212.com blog, covering the crisis in the Church (a must read every day twice a day at least), who startled me out of my wits recently by quoting something I said in, I think, 2004 in an article: “Watching the bishops’ conference in action is like viewing the film of a train wreck over and over again. With bright-colored clowns hanging out the train windows, waving and blowing kisses. One only wishes one had a tomato.” That about sums it up.

More:

But look at everything I have been given: the grace of Baptism, my daily Mass, the daily Liturgy of the Divine Office, the privilege of absolving sins, knowing the Gospel, preaching the Gospel, pointing the way to the Lord Jesus, encouraging others to strive for the Kingdom, the incredible, astonishing riches of the Catholic spiritual tradition… All of this a gift, given by the Lord Jesus, through His Church. And how often have I read the stories of His saints who lived in troubled times and admired their witness — isn’t it a privilege to live for Jesus in such times?

Well, it looks like we do today. This is not really a surprise at all. And that is why I am prepared. In my left trouser pocket are my rosary beads; in my right cassock pocket, a tomato. Always ready.

Read the whole thing. [1]

Why did I bring Father Wilson up in Italy (including in my speech in front of Archbishop Gänswein? Because of something very wise he once said to me and others gathered in my Brooklyn apartment around the turn of the millennium.

We were having dinner and drinking lots of wine, as we did in those days, and a couple of us guys were doing our usual bitching about how awful the institutional Catholic Church was. The homilies were terrible, the masses were irreverent, parish life was dead, the usual. We were really bad about that back then (and let me warn you: that’s a deadly temptation, to only speak passionately about the Church in griping). Father Wilson could usually be counted on to affirm our whining by offering several actual real-life stories to make the point.

But at some point that night, he said something to us that I’ve never forgotten. Paraphrased, it went something like this:

Guys, I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong. The Church is just as mediocre as you say. But you are in so much better shape than my parents were. They had to raise me and my sister in the late ’60s and 1970s, when everything had gone to hell after the Council. They knew they couldn’t trust us to the parish. They both worked very hard to form us, and to give us everything we needed to be faithful Catholics. And it worked.

You have the same obligation to yourselves and your children. Thing is, you have it way better than my parents did. You have the Catechism, for one thing. You also have the opportunity to go online and have sent to your front door within a week a library that Thomas Aquinas couldn’t have dreamed of. And on the Internet, you can connect with people all over the country who are facing the same struggles as you, and who might be able to help you.

The point is, you’ve got all you need to compensate for the failures of the institutional Church. You just need to quit complaining and get busy.

I knew instantly that he was right. But I’m pretty sure I didn’t change one bit. When the scandal hit, it was too late.

That advice remains excellent today. The entire way of life of the Tipi Loschi from The Benedict Option [2] is more or less a Father Wilson village. They’re not waiting around for the institutional Church to get its act together before they build an authentic Christian life for themselves. It is a glorious thing to behold. My stars, if I could get Father Wilson and Marco Sermarini together at the same table…

37 Comments (Open | Close)

37 Comments To "The Wisdom Of Father Wilson"

#1 Comment By Br. John On September 13, 2018 @ 9:15 pm

“The point is, you’ve got all you need to compensate for the failures of the institutional Church.”

Amen. Sometimes I wonder how much my formatters are helping my religious formation, and how much they are hurting. But, in the evenings, I have been listening to audiobooks of the Church Fathers at librivox.org. Currently, I’m on John Chrysostom’s Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew. That’s a convenience.

I know I would make more progress in holiness if I prayed the Liturgy of the Hours more attentively, spent more time doing house chores than reading news on the internet.

Holiness is the only way out.

#2 Comment By MrsCole On September 13, 2018 @ 9:22 pm

As fun as it is to whine and moan about how awful your church is… it’s a sign that your church needs you. Sure, you show up every Sunday and put money in the plate, and that’s not nothing. But that’s the minimum requirement: when everybody in the parish does that (or less!), then of *course* there’s no parish life, the music is awful, the sermons banal, etc. If you treat it like a religious Quickie Mart, that’s the quality of parish you get. If your parish is great and you’re just showing up… that’s not something you earned, or that you deserve just for being there. Your tithe doesn’t buy that, and it isn’t a perpetual motion machine that’ll keep going forever without you touching it.

Probably, if you ask around (not just the priest– everybody who is in charge of anything at all), you will find they are in desperate need of you. They need you to teach Sunday School, sing in the choir, bring food, coordinate events, wipe the tables, scrub the toilets, talk to that new family that just showed up, change the light bulbs… whatever your talents, there is definitely a job for you at your parish! And the funny thing is, once you find that job and start doing it, there is a good chance you will also discover that there is more parish life going on than you thought. Partly because you are now contributing to it.

#3 Comment By Margaret On September 13, 2018 @ 9:39 pm

I had forgotten about this very fine priest. He came to the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle in Woohaven, NY shortly after we had moved from there. I think it may have been his first assignment. He used to write a lot about the problems in the Church. (I think he may have been silenced.) If the Church is serious about reform, he should definitely be made a bishop!
Thanks for bringing his name back into the public.

#4 Comment By Andrew On September 13, 2018 @ 10:13 pm

Good post. That’s why a few months ago I asked you to post some positive Catholic stories. Not to distract from the serious problems that must be addressed. But rather to show that people, many people, are getting down to work and rebuilding the Church with God’s grace and help. The paradox that the renewal is happening at the same time as the purging/collapse. It’s important to remember that. Time to get to work!

Here’s a start: a group of American Benedictine nuns are booming with vocations and building a new church/convent. The renewal is already beginning! God is good!!!

Watch this:

#5 Comment By Vsevolod On September 14, 2018 @ 12:05 am

I know very superficially about Teresa of Avila, but I learnt a bit about Francis of Assisi back in the day; both are regularly pointed to as a distilled example of what’s wrong with Latin spirituality (as opposed to Orthodox).

#6 Comment By BillWAF On September 14, 2018 @ 2:27 am

Of course, for all the complaints about the problems of the 1960s, priests were raping altar boys many decades earlier and getting away with it, often with the Church helping to cover it up. Basically, this is just more conservative propaganda by a man who cannot live in the world.

[NFR: The idea that Father Wilson “cannot live in the world” will strike anyone who knows him as a hoot. This is a man who used to stop by Murray’s Cheese Shop on the way to our place for dinner and bring several delicious kinds of cheese, including Stinking Bishop, as a joke. You are NEVER going to outwit or out-snark Joe Wilson. — RD]

#7 Comment By J On September 14, 2018 @ 4:04 am

Great post – we all need a Father Wilson in our lives!

Re his comment on the bishops’ conference, I have my own recollection on that group. About 15 years ago I was in DC for a business meeting and stayed at one of the big hotels downtown. When I went to breakfast, each table in the dining room had one occupant with the following description: a priest, bald with a little gray hair on the sides, very overweight, silent, serious and reading the NY Times. Then I noticed each had a chain around the neck with the end end tucked into the pocket. On the way home, I heard a news report that the USCCB had just finished its meeting in DC. When I got home and told my wife, I said I saw the most uninspiring group of people in my life. They looked like a bunch of men put into time-out by their mother and not allowed to talk with each other. They looked mad and displayed zero joy.

#8 Comment By Pear Conference On September 14, 2018 @ 7:36 am

The molested children mean nothing in this verbiage. Just a convenient news peg for more of the Church’s factionalist infighting.

#9 Comment By Donald On September 14, 2018 @ 8:38 am

“Of course, for all the complaints about the problems of the 1960s, priests were raping altar boys many decades earlier and getting away with it, often with the Church helping to cover it up. Basically, this is just more conservative propaganda by a man who cannot live in the world.

[NFR: The idea that Father Wilson “cannot live in the world” will strike anyone who knows him as a hoot. This is a man who used to stop by Murray’s Cheese Shop on the way to our place for dinner and bring several delicious kinds of cheese, including Stinking Bishop, as a joke. You are NEVER going to outwit or out-snark Joe Wilson. — RD]”

You responded to the trivial part of his post. The deeper point is that the Church was a catastrophic mess before the 60’s and maybe always was. The pews were full, but the rot was there all the same. Blaming abuses of power on Vatican II won’t fly. Wilson is mixing up two separate issues— liberal theology and abuse of power.

#10 Comment By Robert_C On September 14, 2018 @ 9:02 am

“And on the Internet, you can connect with people all over the country who are facing the same struggles as you, and who might be able to help you.”

I converted to Catholicism while attending a college with almost no Catholics at all, and which was very hostile to the Church. I found the Catholic Answers Forum very helpful during this time, when the weekly holy hour and Sunday mass at the local Church wasn’t enough to nourish my newfound faith.

Watching online Bishop Robert Barron (then only a priest) and Ven. Fulton Sheen, among others, and being able to find direction on the authors to who were faithful to the Church and those who weren’t was also invaluable.

#11 Comment By Another James On September 14, 2018 @ 9:30 am

BillWAF says:
September 14, 2018 at 2:27 am

Of course, for all the complaints about the problems of the 1960s, priests were raping altar boys many decades earlier and getting away with it, often with the Church helping to cover it up. Basically, this is just more conservative propaganda by a man who cannot live in the world.

Amazingly enough, Fr. Wilson addresses exactly this point in the part of the letter you couldn’t be bothered to read:

I have sometimes heard the argument that many of the priests who are known to have been sexual abusers, acted out in the sixties, seventies, early eighties and had been formed in the old seminary system. To this, I reply that if the 1940s-1950s American Catholic Church had really been as solid as it looked, it could not have collapsed as it did.

#12 Comment By David McKay On September 14, 2018 @ 9:47 am

For you my brother,

My Love

Sometimes the clouds pile up like falling snow,
And darkness seeps into the base of life
Displacing muck and mire through tiny cracks,
Fault lines that egos could not seem to patch.
By inches, slow, the murky puddles rise,
Until the deeps become a putrid lake
A force that simply cannot be denied,
A rot to make the shoring timbers break.

And then at last when all the world seems lost,
When clouds take on the aspect of the night,
And blackness seals the world inside itself
There will appear at once a single crack,
And then a sudden fire from heav’n will fall
A beam of gold and warmth and hope and joy
A tower strong, unbroken and unyielding,
A love unbowed reminds, “I am enough.”

By David McKay

I’m beginning to thank God that my long struggles with depression as a failed pastor begin to bear fruit in His name. Being tested in the small things, makes the big things so much easier to face. Blessed (not cursed) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!

#13 Comment By Mont D. Law On September 14, 2018 @ 10:00 am

“The point is, you’ve got all you need to compensate for the failures of the institutional Church. You just need to quit complaining and get busy.“

I am fairly sure that the whole point of Catholicism is that you need a priest. And realistically I don’t see what Catholics can do about that. All the things mentioned in post here seem unlikely to be effective at least without stretching what it means to be Catholic to ridiculousness. Are you going to refuse the parish priests they send you? How will you know which ones are bad? After the Lincoln disaster it’s pretty clear that outward expressions of traditional faith are not enough. Let’s say you successfully defund your Parishes. What then? You can’t start your own. Let’s say you get rid of the bishops. All of them, half of them even a third of them. Then what? They aren’t enough priests to minister to the existing American parishes. Who’s going to ordain your priests?

I guess the Irish survived with hedge priests, but they were pretty sub-par, and doctrinally worse than what you have now.

So this may be hopeful but it’s not true.

#14 Comment By Richard On September 14, 2018 @ 10:13 am

the students more likely to have seen The Vagina Monologues on campus than taken a course in Catholic Theology.
Fr. Wilson is about 20 years behind the times. Today, The Vagina Monologues is more likely to be banned from a campus, Catholic or otherwise, for its conservatism. The Left has attacked the play for its alleged premise that all women are born with vaginas, and that only people born with vaginas are women. Such hatred and bigotry cannot stand.

#15 Comment By Rich On September 14, 2018 @ 10:14 am

The photo ad below your post was of a huge squid attacking a scuba diver.

I’m not sure what that symbolizes.

#16 Comment By Elijah On September 14, 2018 @ 10:21 am

“and let me warn you: that’s a deadly temptation, to only speak passionately about the Church in griping”

Let me second that: I believe it’s a sure-fire way to eventually talk yourself out of an active faith (consciously or unconsciously).

Speaking as a sometimes awfully critical and judgmental person myself, it is something to be improved on, not a strength. With that kind of attitude, no church will ever meet your standard.

#17 Comment By Bob On September 14, 2018 @ 10:45 am

It is very hard, to impossible, to live a holy life quite alone in a crowded pagan world, lacking even a quiet, holy place to pray and worship, those places locked except for community group participation, and where near every community “worship” is more an act of robotic profanation, than anything, rote recited by folk who have no more aspirations to Christian holiness than does any atheist party animal on the street.

Where you spend most of Mass struggling to not be disgusted by everyone ignoring God right there before their eyes,… the congregation, the priest, musicians, everybody, where nothing the entire service is oriented to God right there before their very eyes, God completely ignored in his own house, much less, outside the doors.

And this has nothing to do with the difference between old and new Mass styles, as an empty people is what drove Vatican II changes. I can go to a Latin Mass filled with folk who also concentrate only on the rote act being a better rote act, and none of them having the spiritual life of a turnip, none educated in such, and led by priests and bishops just as ignorant as the flocks they “lead”.

No, we do NOT have all we need at our fingertips. We are lost in a crowded wasteland, and quite alone.

#18 Comment By James Kabala On September 14, 2018 @ 11:08 am

Vsevolod: If you’re going to make an off-topic drive-by insult of that time, you might as well provide some details. And I would be authentically curious to hear the reasons (however irrelevant they may be to this thread).

#19 Comment By James Kabala On September 14, 2018 @ 11:09 am

that type. My fingers are making a lot of typos today.

#20 Comment By Bill Cynch On September 14, 2018 @ 11:23 am

Beautiful reflection, Rod. Thank you. I haven’t heard of Father Wilson until now, but he’s definitely one of my new favorite priests. Thanks again.

#21 Comment By Mark Garbowski On September 14, 2018 @ 11:33 am

Fr. Wilson is currently at my parish in Queens (part of the Brooklyn Diocese). He has been here several years — maybe a decade — minus a roughly 2-year absence. He is the best sermonist I have ever had the pleasure to experience. The linked article overlaps considerably with a sermon he delivered a few weeks ago. What a delight to find that Rod knows him and see his work given greater notice.

#22 Comment By Mike On September 14, 2018 @ 11:34 am

Rod,
I think you have been spot on with just about everything you have reported. As you perspicaciously document (with facts), the current ongoing self immolation of the church is predominantly caused by clericalism twisted up in some perverse homosexual confederacy. To be fair you submit that “other” problems within the church also contribute to these core causes. Regardless of its seminal roots the entire sclerotic malady has now unfortunately become institutionalized.
But there is one piece of the enigma that seems missing to me and I am hoping you can shed some light on it.
These malignant bishops and their confederates appear to believe that they have not done anything wrong. That somehow sex with young men is not a grave sin – that it is something more akin to drinking too much wine. (What’s wrong with having just one more glass they must be thinking)
For priests and bishops to continually look the other way there must be some sentiment in the clergy that homosexual activity is not gravely sinful but is somehow simply – recreational. When I hear the statements of victims it always sounds like these priests think they are just having fun – that everyone, including the victims, are just having fun. They do not appear to understand homosexual activity in the same manner that they would decry similar activity – like sleeping with a parishioners wife or a young woman. How else could these terrible activities be countenanced and tolerated if they did not somehow view homosexual activity as simply some petty indulgence as opposed to being a gravely sinful act which would automatically forfeit their collars. I of course realize that almost every one of the perverse clergy invariably states that he was “consenting” or that “he wanted it”. But this begs the question. So what?. It would not matter if the parishioners wife you slept with “consented”. Any priest would have condemned such an act as gravely sinful and would have immediately reported the incident as warranting consideration that he be laicized. Either there is, or was, a sentiment in the church that these acts were simply self indulgent recreational activity, (perhaps analogous to staying late at the pub), or there must have been a more serious pathology at foot. (I would understand a more serious pathology to be an organized and intentionally self developed group of priests and bishops who criminally preyed on young men for their deviant sexual appetites and coordinated their activities to do so and to protect each other in doing so.)
Has any Bishop or priest simply come forward and stated that they did not understand such acts to be sinful – that somehow this was an unspoken “benefit” or indulgence that priests were entitled to as “compensation” for their vow of celibacy. Was there a sentiment that this activity was simply part of the bargain and should be overlooked as the spoils of a priest’s war on sin – akin to a soldier lifting a can of peaches from an unguarded pantry when the city is sacked? Was there a sense that this activity was tantamount to a priest who drinks too much and is excused by the parish because father has a lonely and unending task of tending to his flock in grim funeral rites, teenage pregnancies and broken marriages. There must have been a sense that what was occurring was somehow justified in the eyes of the clergy – particularly priests sleeping with other priests. They must have thought that what they were doing was somehow rationalized and justified. How else could it have been? Either that or the greatest criminal conspiracy of all time has just had its curtain pulled back.

#23 Comment By simon94022 On September 14, 2018 @ 12:01 pm

Where you spend most of Mass struggling to not be disgusted by everyone ignoring God right there before their eyes,… the congregation, the priest, musicians, everybody, where nothing the entire service is oriented to God right there before their very eyes, God completely ignored in his own house, much less, outside the doors.

And this has nothing to do with the difference between old and new Mass styles, as an empty people is what drove Vatican II changes. I can go to a Latin Mass filled with folk who also concentrate only on the rote act being a better rote act, and none of them having the spiritual life of a turnip, none educated in such, and led by priests and bishops just as ignorant as the flocks they “lead”.

So glad you are comfortable judging the interior dispositions and spiritual condition of everyone around you when you come to church.

#24 Comment By Theo On September 14, 2018 @ 12:36 pm

“and let me warn you: that’s a deadly temptation, to only speak passionately about the Church in griping”

Well, yes. But in these times it is important to come to grips with what is really happening in the life of the Church, and that can take a lot of reading, talking, processing, including of hot, righteous anger.

For my husband and I, the issue comes down to trust. Over and over in our lives as Catholics we have been betrayed by Church leaders in all kinds of ways, broken promises, financial deceit (including in one parish we belonged to a million dollars disappearing, which we still don’t know the full truth about), abusive behavior, failure to actually do what is right even in a common, ordinary human way, let alone a Christian way.

And now we know the corruption reaches to the highest levels in the Church, sexual and financial, and neither the Pope nor the cardinals or bishops appear capable of policing or reforming themselves. Nor are they doing the obvious thing that needs to be done with respect to sex abuse: get the gay men out of the priesthood, along with straight men who do not honor their vows.

So our question is, at one point is staying a form of enabling? In protest we are withholding funds from the Archbishops Catholic Appeal – but we have also learned that the Archdiocese skims off part of whatever we tithe to our parish, but without telling lay members. It is an outrage. So we are struggling, because we feel like we are enablers despite our best intentions, and have no real voice in what happens.

Which means that right now, to have it implied that we are “griping” and thus committing a deadly sin does not exactly fly with us. We are facing possibly the worst crisis in the history of the Catholic Church, over matters which in the early Church lay people would have rioted over – and they were not told they were committing a deadly sin in so doing. No, they got rid of the corrupt bishops, and made sure good ones were put in place instead. I’m beginning to wish we could go back to those days, physically remove those guys with our own hands if no one else will. In the Old Testament the temple was destroyed because of this kind of stuff, and Jesus used a whip to drive out those ruining the house of God. But today we subjected to a false gospel of false charity and false mercy, to our great demise.

[NFR: Please — please! — don’t misunderstand me. I fear that you don’t read me correctly at all. I am the *last* person to tell people not to complain. I think people ought to be shouting from the rooftops! My point is simply that if the *only* time you speak passionately about the Church is to complain, something is wrong. — RD]

#25 Comment By MarkedMan On September 14, 2018 @ 12:45 pm

The child molestation by priests is a well known “secret” going back centuries, if not millennia. The idea that it was caused by Liberalism in the 1960’s is ludicrous.

[NFR: Quite as ludicrous as you claiming that that’s what Father Wilson believes? — RD]

#26 Comment By Andrew On September 14, 2018 @ 1:18 pm

I have noticed that when Rod posts a positive story it gets nowhere’s near the commentary that his scandalous or negative posts get. Interesting. People like scandal and they like to complain. And yes, I’m complaining about complaining. 😉

#27 Comment By BF On September 14, 2018 @ 2:29 pm

Vsevolod: If you’re going to make an off-topic drive-by insult of that time, you might as well provide some details. And I would be authentically curious to hear the reasons (however irrelevant they may be to this thread).

Vsevolod knows hardly anything about either Saint he criticizes. He admits it himself. In light of that fact I doubt he has anything useful to say on the topic.

#28 Comment By Another James On September 14, 2018 @ 2:39 pm

Donald says:
September 14, 2018 at 8:38 am

The deeper point is that the Church was a catastrophic mess before the 60’s and maybe always was. The pews were full, but the rot was there all the same. Blaming abuses of power on Vatican II won’t fly.

I’m taking it that you didn’t actually read Fr. Wilson’s letter, in which he agrees with your point.

#29 Comment By DW On September 14, 2018 @ 3:01 pm

MarkedMan said:
“The child molestation by priests is a well known ‘secret’ going back centuries, if not millennia. The idea that it was caused by Liberalism in the 1960’s is ludicrous.”

Then you wrote:
“[NFR: Quite as ludicrous as you claiming that that’s what Father Wilson believes? — RD]”

But that is what Wilson believes. You asked him how he was holding up during the current scandal (which is about sexual abuse, committed and covered up), and he replied with:

“So this really is no surprise to me at all. The Church took a wrong turn in the 1960s. The results have been catastrophic.”

Gotta side with MarkedMan on this one.

#30 Comment By Vsevolod On September 14, 2018 @ 3:53 pm

James Kabala:

Sorry I insulted you, and I do offer my apologies, but I think my point was important and on the topic. Father Wilson thinks of Teresa or Avila as beacon to restore the Church to its proper state; and my implication was that the mark is itself wrong. From Orthodox point of view, of course.

To prove that point would take an effort beyond my capacity. I came to that understanding reading St. Ignatius Bryanchaninov and listening to theology prof. Alexander Osipov, which names are likely meaningless to you.

In essence, the very idea of holiness, spiritual life, and, particularly, of prayer, of relatively recent Latin saints is different from that of ancient fathers.

I just declared that restoring RCC to XVI century ideals as fr. Wilson dreams would not do much good.

And I thought I tried my best to be polite.

#31 Comment By Longing for the Shire On September 14, 2018 @ 4:47 pm

@Mark Garbowski, what parish/church in Queens does Father Wilson serve? I’ve been trying to find it online with no success. I’m in Brooklyn, but he sounds worth braving the G train.

#32 Comment By Bob On September 14, 2018 @ 7:06 pm

I am sorry if I sounded harsh as for most other Mass attendees paying no attention to God right there on the altar…

How could I be so blind as to not see playing with missals, rooting in purses, finally turning OFF cell phones, whispering to hubby or children non-stop, and otherwise blatantly ignoring anything even a pew away, is actually a deep spiritual rapture sign..

How could I be so judgemental on parishers rushing to be the first to hit their knees, stand, or anticipate responses at twice normal conversation speed..

I was blind…what can I say…I have no right to judge interior spiritual dispositions simply because most everyone is ignoring what it going on at the altar. I was a fool.

#33 Comment By BillWAF On September 15, 2018 @ 12:05 am

@ Another James

“Amazingly enough, Fr. Wilson addresses exactly this point in the part of the letter you couldn’t be bothered to read:

‘I have sometimes heard the argument that many of the priests who are known to have been sexual abusers, acted out in the sixties, seventies, early eighties and had been formed in the old seminary system. To this, I reply that if the 1940s-1950s American Catholic Church had really been as solid as it looked, it could not have collapsed as it did.’”

Actually, he did not address my point. We know that Catholic clergy were sexually abusing children far earlier than the 1960s. We also know that it was not limited to the United States. For example, we now know that in Australia, at least as early as the 1920s, Catholic clergy (in many cases, Christian Brothers) were raping many orphan boys who had been entrusted to their care. In some instances, when the victims tried to report the abuse, those most holy brothers beat them with belts. Some of those beatings were so intense that the victims died.

Perhaps both you and Father Wilson forgot about Australia because so many of the abusers were Christian Brothers. Amazingly enough, I do not believe that. However, I do believe that the Church is equally responsible whether the abusers were priests or brothers. The Church is also responsible for abuse that occurred before Vatican II.

Beyond the U.S. and Australia, we also know about massive abuse in Ireland. Let us not forget about the abuse scandals in Austria; Belgium; Chile; Canada; the Dominican Republic; Guam; Honduras; India; Poland; Spain; Germany; and Norway.

It seems unlikely that the condition of the American Church in the 1940s-1950s had much to do with what happened in those countries.

Unless someone in the clergy (a Cardinal perhaps?) discovered a means of time travel, it seems highly unlikely that conditions in the 1940s American Church had much to do with the repeated clergy perpetrated sexual abuse in 1920s Australia.

Of course, Another James, you left out Father Wilson’s next paragraph. Let me remind you of it:

“But even more to the point, the objection presupposes a static personality. Your priest ordained in 1959 did not carry his training and personality through the next forty years unaffected by what was going on around him. He was affected by the turmoil of the sixties and the confusion of the post-conciliar changes as they were going on. No one was prepared for this (except those who had planned and executed the confusion). Amidst the confusion, whatever else was going on, priests and laity were getting a message: Everything you thought was immutably true is up for grabs.”

Right after that Wilson goes on to blame the 1960s. Then Wilson writes: “So this really is no surprise to me at all. The Church took a wrong turn in the 1960s. The results have been catastrophic.”

Thus, according to Wilson, it really was the 1960s, not the American Church in the 1940s-1950s.

At best Wilson’s “thought” is contradictory. Frankly, that is far too generous an assessment.

Possibly Wilson is implying that those Christian Brothers in 1920s Australia were actually psychic. Their psychic visions of Vatican II caused them to lose all decency and perspective. If they had not foreseen the 1960s, they would not have become rapists; torturers; and murderers. Strangely enough, I do not believe that to be the case. No doubt I have too little faith.

@ NFR

I would have thought that knowing how to live in the world requires treating evidence honestly. However, let me assure you that I am truly relieved to learn it means buying and eating good cheese.

#34 Comment By Mont D. Law On September 15, 2018 @ 7:34 am

“I was a fool.“

That’s really not the word everybody else was reaching for. I suggest you go to

[3]

And read Erin Manning on judging your fellow worshipers.

#35 Comment By JohnPerth On September 16, 2018 @ 1:16 am

I’m an Australian, and I was schooled by the Christian Brothers.

Read the data carefully. Every effort has been made to find continuity between before V2 and after. It’s a lie.

Three things to keep in view.

1. Numbers. Not even on the same scale pre and post. Mass attendance went from 80+ % to under 20%, whilst homosexual seduction and abuse did the opposite. No exaggeration.
2. Guileful, tendentious, dishonest use of terms by activists and journalists. When reporting preV2 corporal punishment, which in any given case may have been excessive, it is termed “child abuse” in order to conflate disparate issues. Likewise, homosexual abuse, more usually seduction, is termed pedophilia.
3. The attitude of the hierarchy, chalk and cheese generally speaking, pre and post V2.

Read this for an example locally: [4]

I have been a traditionalist for thirty years and have raised nine kids in safety. Never had to worry about our SSPX clergy. The homosexuals I constantly confronted in the New Mass milieu are not around. (And no, one swallow does not a summer make, so save the two counter-examples, I know about them.)

#36 Comment By JohnPerth On September 16, 2018 @ 1:22 am

Cardinal Billot, at the time of the Modernist crisis (under St. Pius X, just over 100 years ago) said that this is not so much a crisis of faith, as a crisis of reason. It was indeed a crisis of faith, and Billot was a chief figure in overcoming it, granting us another fifty years before the deluge, so what did he mean?

I think he was looking at faith vis a vis reason as grace is to nature; grace builds upon nature, and faith requires reason. This isn’t to say that a broken character cannot be repaired by grace, for in one sense that’s exactly what happens to all of us, but merely that the more broken and weak a character is naturally speaking, the more work there is for grace to do, and we should not expect miracles in the ordinary course of things. St. Paul was a nasty and faithless character when he was persecuting the Church, but he was an integral character, a man of strength, stability, and educated intelligence. There was something there for grace to build upon. The opposite is true of somebody like Francis Thompson, the poet, who never became more than a reed blowing in the wind, not because he lacked sincerity, good will, or even grace, and certainly not because he didn’t get what the spiritual life is, or even live it, but because he was so incredibly weak that he kept falling back into laudanum abuse. (Waugh paints such a character in Brideshead, Sebastian Flyte, who ends as well as could reasonably be expected – saved, but not really repaired, so to speak.)

The man who has lost hold of reason in the way that Hegelians, Kantians, and Humeans have – that is, a man that can hold two contradictory propositions at the same time – is not a sound subject in which faith can inhere. Grace can work a miracle by which such a man can HAVE the faith, but it’s always in danger, precisely because reasoned apologetics can never really support his faith, can never really answer his temptations to doubt, and because the objects of faith (i.e. the points of belief, such as the Incarnation, the Resurrection, etc.) don’t hang together as a logically consistent tapestry, but rather they are all of them individual points of “fideist” conviction. This is one reason that the Vatican Council of 1870 defined several fundamental truths of reason. Truths of reason were under widespread doubt or denial, and that endangered the faith itself. A generation later the Modernist crisis illustrated the point with acute clarity.

Vatican II was the collapse of faith that came from the battle for reason being lost to scientism (a form of superstition that is now almost universal in the West), and it was also the fruit of a successful conspiracy by the neo-Modernists. But the conspiracy could not have succeeded in a healthy Church.

There’s nothing the laity can do except choose to withdraw from the new Kantian/Humanist religion of Vatican II and return to tradition. I say to my Anglican friends, “Don’t be a martyr for Henry VIII. he made his choices five hundred years ago, you weren’t there and you are not responsible; don’t make yourself responsible by defending him and his legacy.” I say to modern Catholics, don’t be martyrs for John XXIII and his (very likely homosexual) successor, Paul VI. They fomented a revolution, and you shouldn’t feel that loyalty to the Church requires loyalty to them.

#37 Comment By Mark Garbowski On September 16, 2018 @ 8:20 am

@Longing for the Shire…
Fr. Wilson is currently at St. Margaret Parish in Middle Village.
[5]
There are a few priests who say Masses and there is no fixed schedule so I suggest you try to call the rectory to find out before making a trip.