Thursday, October 06, 2005

Faithful priest answers dissident priest

Matt C. Abbott
Matt C. Abbott
October 6, 2005

In a September 9, 2005 column in The Tidings, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, renegade priest-professor Richard McBrien took a cheap shot at Father John Trigilio, author and EWTN television personality.

McBrien sneered: "...Indeed, there is a book, Catholicism for Dummies, co-authored by two priests who also lack theological credentials. But they are 'safe' enough to have a regular program on Mother Angelica's Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN)...."

Trigilio, along with Father Kenneth Brighenti, is the author of Catholicism for Dummies.

Trigilio sent the following (slightly edited) e-mail to The Tidings in response to McBrien's column:

"Father Richard McBrien's ad hominem attack on me and my co-author, let alone the uncharitable and slanderous remarks against Mother Angelica and EWTN, are completely inappropriate for an archdiocesan newspaper. He launched a scud missile against Catholicism for Dummies, yet it alone has an official imprimatur, whereas the competing editions — The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Catholicism and The Everything Catholicism Book — have none whatsoever.

"He brings up the issue of theological credentials. If he means we are not dissident theologians who repudiate the official Magisterium like some of the illustrious academicians of some allegedly Catholic colleges and universities, then by all means we are not in that infamous league.

"We used the Catechism of the Catholic Church as our foundation and schema for the book, so if orthodox catechesis bothers Father McBrien, he should stay away from our book.

"Instead of a character assassination on Senator Rick Santorum, McBrien should reread the Catechism, especially the apostolic letter of Pope John Paul the Great, 'Laetamur Magnopere,' thereby promulgating the Latin typical edition. There, it explicitly refers to the Catechism as the 'authoritative exposition of the one and perennial apostolic faith.' Perennial is the key word.

"The moral and doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church are perennial; they do not change. Disciplines may adapt with time, but doctrine, since it centers on truth, must be immutable. Whether it is doctrine of the male priesthood or of the Real Presence, whether it is the immorality of abortion or contraception, these truths do not change. That is why we have one Catechism for the entire universal Church.

"We are confident that our Catholicism for Dummies is more in conformity to that Catechism than McBrien's book, Catholicism, which conspicuously lacks an imprimatur in the recent third edition."

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He is the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League and the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee. He was a contributor to The Wanderer Catholic newspaper and had numerous letters to the editor published in major newspapers, including the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He can be reached at

Friday, April 29, 2005

Queen of Dissent

The notorious dissenter Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, made this obscene statement (April 20th, 2005) in the National Catholic Reporter:

"We’ve been living in an ecclesiastical tsunami this week. The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the position of Pope Benedict XVI has had all the force of a universal avalanche."

She should be grateful that this was not the Middle Ages when the Holy Office of the Inquisition would have turned her over to civil authorities for trial on the charges of slander, sacrilege and apostasy. Instead, the Benedictine nun lives in the 21st century where enemies of orthodoxy, the Magisterium and the Roman Pontiff can openly attack the Vicar of Christ with impunity, vitriolic rhetoric and diabolical motivation since Satan wants nothing more than to divide and conquer; to destroy the unity of Holy Mother Church. Pope John Paul II was and now Pope Benedict XVI is the personal sign of unity in the church as chief pastor, teacher and shepherd. He possesses full, supreme, immediate and universal authority the moment he became pope and that has been consistently taught by Vatican II, Canon Law and the Catechism, if Sr. Joan ever bothered to read any of those official documents. UBI PETRUS IBI ECCLESIA said Saint Ambrose, so an attack on Pope Benedict XVI is an attack on the Catholic Church. As Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then Cardinal Ratzinger staunchly defended the infallible teachings of our holy religion as taught by the Magisterium. Imagine a grammar school teacher instructing her students that there were only 20 letters of the alphabet instead of 26. Would parents tolerate such academic pluralism? Or a geography teacher telling his class the world is really flat. Truth is the conformity of the intellect (mind) to reality and not vice versa. Laws of grammar, physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc., are like divinely revealed truths: immutable. Water is H2O whether on earth or on Mars. The immorality of abortion and euthanasia is as perennial as the immorality of adultery and murder. No exceptions. The error of female ordination is as untrue as 2 + 2 = 5 but in Sr. Joan's universe, doctrinal and moral truths are changeable and that would make as much sense as a physician who thinks open heart surgery can be done with a local anesthetic or that cigarette smoking is non-lethal. If recalcitrant miscreants like Chittister don't like the truth, they can deny it but do so OUTSIDE the church. At least Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingli and Cramner had the decency to leave the Roman Catholic Church when they disavowed her doctrines and disciplines. Radical feminists who spew their heretical rantings can start their own church and religion and leave ours.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Pope John Paul the Great
the Luminous Doctor

Following in the footsteps of Pope Saint Leo the Great and Pope Saint Gregory the Great, it is evident that history and Holy Mother Church herself will one day not only canonize our recently departed Pope John Paul II, but also impart the rare title of “the Great” as well as declaring him a Doctor of the Church. Before the Good Lord called the Servant of the Servants of God home at 9:37 pm on April 2nd (the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday), Karol Jósef Wojtyła reigned as supreme Roman Pontiff for more than 26 years, made 104 international trips, beatified 1,338 and canonized 482 saints; authored 14 encyclicals, 15 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions, 45 apostolic letters, and five books.

Just as Saint Bonaventure is known as the Seraphic Doctor and Saint Thomas Aquinas as the Angelic Doctor, it stands to reason that John Paul II should be given the title Luminous Doctor or the Doctor of Light and Hope. The first words of his pontificate, “be not afraid” were mirrored by his prolific writings and speeches, his pastoral visits, his popular Word Youth Days, and his courageous battle with disease, illness, assassination attempt and old age. “Fear not” and “be not afraid” were spoken by the Archangel to Our Lady and to Saint Joseph prior to the birth of Jesus Christ who Himself uttered those sentiments to His disciples after the Resurrection when they thought they were seeing a ghost. Pope John Paul II dispelled the fear which crept into the church following the Second Vatican Council. Not that Vatican II caused the fear and doubt, but the powers of darkness successfully distorted and diluted the Council documents so as to promote the alleged ‘spirit of Vatican II’ rather than the ‘letter of Vatican II.’

Ultra-liberals called him an archconservative and ultra-conservatives thought he was not traditional enough, but John Paul II was not sympathetic to either classification of liberal or conservative, progressive or traditional. He was just orthodox. A true son of Vatican II, it was under his reign, at his command and with his guidance that the Church was given some invaluable and precious pearls which sadly some swine do not appreciate. He gave us the revised Code of Canon Law in 1983 which had not been updated since 1917. He gave us the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992 which was only preceded by the Catechism of the Council of Trent four centuries earlier. He gave us epic encyclicals like Redemptor Hominis, Mater Redemptoris, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Laborem Exercens, Familiaris Consortio, and Ut Unum Sint but of all these, Evangelium Vitae, Fides et Ratio and Veritatis Splendor stand out as his greatest masterpieces and were the beacons of light which emanated the sublime truths of our Catholic religion. They alone warrant him the title Doctor of Light and Salvifici Doloris and his indefatigable courage to battle the Nazis, Communism, Secular Humanism, materialism, moral relativism, sexual permissiveness, et al., merit him the title Doctor of Hope.

I was in High School Seminary when he was elected Pontiff in 1978. The first two years were during the final years of the then ailing and aged Pope Paul VI. Vocations were declining, Mass attendance and confessions were dropping, dissident theology was proliferating Catholic colleges and seminaries, and other cancers were infecting the church for several years after Vatican II. Tabernacles were hidden, religious garb was discarded, catechisms were watered down, sacraments and sacred liturgies were irreverently innovated and the faithful were raped of sacred art, orthodoxy and solid leadership in many corners of the world until a man was sent from God named “John Paul II.” Since his election as Bishop of Rome and 264th Successor of Saint Peter, JP2 has encouraged many vocations, conversions, reversions, and initiated a true Catholic Renaissance.

Sure, liturgical and doctrinal abuses continued in the sanctuaries, colleges, seminaries and sadly even in some rectories (where children were abused) but there has never been a period of human history where there is no sin and no evil. These aberrations would have occurred regardless of who was Pope at the time since human free will is not limited to one time or place and men of the church, just as men of the world, can freely choose good or evil. It is unfair and unjust to blame Pope John Paul for the clergy sex abuse scandal when it was the fault of the perverted clergy who actually committed the abuse of children and teenagers and the bishops and seminary faculties which looked the other way when these deviants were under their authority and supervision. Lex ordandi, lex credendi, lex agendi. Bad liturgy and bad theology will feed and support one another and will inevitably lead to bad morality and behavior. Liturgical abuses, dissident theology and heterodox doctrine will spawn moral depravity and other evils. At the same time, reverent (valid and licit) liturgy combined with orthodox theology (based on the Magisterium) will also promote and sustain pious and holy lives, for clergy, religious and laity alike.

Pope John Paul II was neither perfect nor impeccable but he was infallible as Pope and exercised his supreme teaching authority in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis which closed the debate once and for all on women’s ordination. He was human and had his weaknesses like the rest of us but he had more courage, piety, devotion, patience, prudence, intelligence, wisdom, compassion and integrity than anyone else of the last century. He gave the Church a banquet of truth in his teachings, much like the Summa of Aquinas which is even today still producing good fruit. Sadly, modern man and modern Catholics are content with the bare minimum of spiritual life support rather than feasting on the fullness of grace, truth and tradition Holy Mother Church offers and which was offered in an exquisite presentation by Pope John Paul II. It would be like someone opting to have an intravenous solution drip in their arm when the alternative would be a seven course gourmet meal with every vitamin, mineral and necessary nutrient inside.

When he gave the Church the five new Luminous Mysteries to the Holy Rosary, it also symbolized the light of hope he brought to the Church during his 26 year pontificate. Our loss is heaven's gain.

Rev. John Trigilio, Jr., PhD, ThD
President, Confraternity of Catholic Clergy

My Blog List

Blog Archive