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Tuesday, June 26, 2007



"Is there anyone who has become a Catholic—loyal to the Magisterium and the teachings of the Church—because of the witness and work of Fr. Richard McBrien?"

As a convert, I can answer that in one word - no.

Sean Gallagher

Jeff Miller over at 'The Curt Jester' ran his commentary on Fr. McBrien's column along the lines that there will be a shortage of straw soon because McBrien set up so many men made of the product.

He has a humorous point. Fr. McBrien's column is so one-dimensional, so out of touch with even a nuanced reading of the reality of the Church in America at the present (which is not, mind you, a sideways criticism of this post) that I truly wonder what is going on in his mind.

Is it a case where he has told his vision of what he would like the Church to be so often that he has convinced himself that it is actually true, whole and entire?

I don't know. But after reading a column like his, I wonder about him and am honestly concerned for him.

Francis Beckwith

Missing from McBrien's account is the Holy Spirit.


My brother (a fledgling apologetics author) ran into a similar attitude from the Communications Director of the Ignatian "MAGiS" program for WYD2008.

Although I have to admit, Fr McBrien does point out the problem with the ecumenical movement that followed Vatican II, a failure to assert that the Church is the way to Christ.

John Powers

In Fr. McBrien's world, if a conservative has a deeply held belief, it must be considered a bias. If a "liberal" has a deeply held belief, it must be a fact.


Dale Price

There is no one with comparable visibility in the Church in America who writes with less insight and self-awareness than McBrien. No one.

To call him a "hack" is unfair to high-volume mediocre wordsmiths everywhere.

Deacon Harold

Nice power tie! I guess his Roman collar became a relic of the pre-Vatican II era.

Thomas Aquinas

Is that Karl Malden?

Carl Olson

To call him a "hack" is unfair to high-volume mediocre wordsmiths everywhere.

LOL! I would add: I know it's a cliche, but McBrien's columns are always bursting with cliches. Both literary and theological in nature.

Deacon Harold

I attended Notre Dame in the mid-80's and was influenced by McBrien Catholicism. After a few years of floundering in moral relativism, I knew that something was seriously wrong. I turned to the writings of Pope John Paul II and got back on track. I knew who Jesus was before (head knowledge) but through John Paul the Great (there was no CCC yet), I began to understand "why" I was Catholic. Over time, as I accepted the wisdom of Holy Mother Church on a deeper level, I began to fall in love with Jesus Christ and the richness, beauty and objective truth of the Catholic faith (heart knowledge).

Carl asked, "Is there anyone who has become a Catholic—loyal to the Magisterium and the teachings of the Church—because of the witness and work of Fr. Richard McBrien?" The tragedy is that a number of people (and God only knows how many) may have abandoned the teachings of the Church beacause of Fr. McBrien. "Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed."

deacon john m. bresnahan

McBrien may hate the phrase, but I still love and use it at times in sermons. "The One, True Church."

Terrence Berres

His photo reminds me of someone. Oh, McBrien, you've done it again!


Richard McBrien is a talented man, he dons reddish hair, a red nose and while juggling theological issues becomes Bozo the Theologian.


there once was a priest that wore suits
who didnt like cath-lic recruits
so he wrote in the paper
soz to make us ship-shaper
we'd ought to give them new cath-lics the boots


The protesters against McBrien strike me as overly sensitive. McBrien offers some observations--take 'em or leave 'em: he is, after all, a brother in good standing to all converts in question.

The notions that Vatican II has no "spirit," that it did away with "one, true Church," and the like are also contortions of the truth, and do little to bolster the blogger's argument.

More meat, please.

Adam Janke

One needs only glance at the picture of this priest to know immediately that something has gone wrong. Little more "meat" is needed for the faithful Catholic.


If one were charitable one might say that
Professor McBrien is a clever rhetorician.
I think it is difficult to be charitable when the
Chair from ND seems to lack all charity.

The critism is always implied but never stated out right.
For instance,

''great Brownback became a Catholic, wait a minute -
too bad he didn't become a liberal like me.''

Jonh XXIII wanted to let fresh air in,
never mind that the Rhine group (including Ratzinger)
threw out all of his ideas of what the council would be.

This is disingenuous and a favorite liberal tactic (lie?). To claim that
Vatican II was John XXIII's work when it was not. Second favorite
tactic is to claim that there is some spirit of Vatican II
which only theologians such as McBrien can detect in the air.

Another well worn tactic of McBrienis to claim
that he is a genuine Catholic and those who disagree
(Donatism?) do so in bad faith (like Brownback, Novak et alia)
or that they are pawns of the right wing
or left wing (whatever that means?)

The truth is that there is enough meat in the stew to
make us wonder what happened to the fatted calf
that was out on the range yesterday.

Carl Olson

The notions that Vatican II has no "spirit," that it did away with "one, true Church," and the like are also contortions of the truth, and do little to bolster the blogger's argument.

Todd: I think you need to read both McBrien's column and my post a bit more carefully.

Dale Price


Your contrarian instincts are not helping you on this one. Would that Fr. McBrien were benignly "offering observations." Leaving aside the fact that it has factual errors and is absolutely lethal to anyone with hayfever, he's clearly engaged in an act of broadbrush well-poisoning. Not very...brotherly, that.

Sandra Miesel

I once had the misfortune to hear McBrien speak and oh yes, he's a skillful rhetor! He had a malign gift for using true statements to draw false conclusions. By the time he ended his speech with " The Last Supper was not a Mass and Christ ordained no one," the entire audience--except me--was howling--not clapping, howling--its approval.

Ed Peters

Sandra, I've occasionally seen such episodes myself. They send a chill down the spine. Really, they do.

Robert Miller

This is an excellent piece.

The only question it leaves in my mind is: Why aren't bishops, priests and laity aggressively promoting public awareness of the Holy Father's teaching, both as Pope and theologian? This is a golden opportunity for a unifying reform of the reform (in more ways than liturgical). But I see scant evidence in everyday Catholic life that even "conservative" and "traditionalist" Catholics are remotely aware of the opportunity that Benedict's Pontificate presents.


I had a dream after JPII died. Fr. McBrien was elected Pope. I then became a Methodist. It was a very bad dream. Scarey.


That was envigorating to read. But it does serve as a reminder of how many 70's hold-overs still live in a cloud of delusion about the Church. It's not just that their wrong about the liturgy, magisterium, and basic Christology (which they are); it's also evident that they still believe the tide is sweeping their way. How can a rational person look at the theological and ecclesial foundations laid by JPII with the Catechism and 20+ years of evangelizing and believe silly sideshows like ordaining women on pontoon boats actually matter? How can they observe those orthodox labors of one pope receive further solidification through a different style and focus of the next - a man who legitimately appeals to Protestants as a biblical scholar - and think questioning the Resurrection is a fruitful endeavor?

The Catholic left is not just wrong, it's suffering the birthpangs of a bonafide Greek Tragedy! Hide the hemlock.

Judith M.

That's Fr. McBrien? I thought it was a picture of Lex Luther!


McBrien strikes me as a man whose driving belief is a profound sense of shame and guilt over the Church he nominally belongs to - perhaps driven with a desperate desire for secular approval. Everything he says makes more sense once seen through that lens; to speak of pathologies like nominalism, Kant, Rahner, transcendental Thomism or Schleiermacher is really just embroidery.

And given that, is it any wonder that identifying McBrien-inspired converts is so difficult a task? How could a man so ashamed of the Church he belongs to and at odds with so many of its basic doctrines make it at all appealing to join?

Meanwhile, it pains me in the extreme to take exception to the inestimable Dale Price:

"There is no one with comparable visibility in the Church in America who writes with less insight and self-awareness than McBrien. No one."

Dale's forgotten Dan Maguire.

But perhaps he means to say Maguire doesn't have the same visibility.

Joseph Paul Adorable

The Church founded by Jesus Christ in 33 A.D. is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman, Church. She does not need the approval of men, for she is the work of God.

Let us all humbly accept each other as brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ and under the leadership of the Bishop of Rome.

As Saint Ambrose wrote: "where Peter is, there is the Church: and where the Church is, not death, but eternal life reigns." (from St. Ambrose, In XII Ps. Enarratio, 40, 30).

Ave Maria!

Joseph Paul Adorable

scotch meg

I have personal knowledge of a man who was considering Catholicism and rejected it specifically on the basis of McBrien's "Catholicism". His wife was extremely disappointed, as she is Catholic and is raising their children in the Church. Instead he became an Episcopalian. Sad but true.

Ben Delphia

Many of my older friends were strong supporters of the “traditional” Democratic Party because of its positions on the working man but now they are leaving the party because of extreme liberals like Mr. McBaien. Conservatives may be drawn to the Catholic faith but the McBaiens on the far left are driving people out of their traditional Catholic votes for democrats.

Tony Jordan

It is not easy to write this, as I was married in a Catholic church at age 22, to a lovely Catholic lady, my three children, now all adults, were raised devout Catholics; I almost became a Catholic in the early 80's, was much involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the 80's, but could not reconcile the doctrine and dogma of Catholicism with God's Word, the Bible.

I have studied Catholicism intensly for the past 20 years, vis-a-vis the Historic, Orthodox, true Apostolic Christian faith, and I cannot fathom how such intelligent, well educated men/women, can swallow hook, line and sinker, what the Papacy presents as the 'truth.'

The very roots of Catholicism are to be sought for in the corruption of human nature, the very Apostacy which commenced in Eden and consummated in Rome.

Roman Catholicism, is a clever refined system of the ancient Babylonian 'Mysteries' all presented in the veneer of Christianised Paganism. The IDENTITY between the systems of ancient Babylon and Papal Rome, can be established if we inquire in how far does the system of the Papacy agree with the system established in these Babylonian mysteries?

All of Catholicism's sacerdotal, sacramental Priestcraft, can be one by one, identified with the ancient 'Mysteries' of Babylon; especially the 'Mother and Child' homage.

The names of utter blasphemy bestowed by the Papacy on Mary have not one shadow of any foundation in the Bible, but are all to be found in the Babylonian idolatry. The Doctrine and Discipline of the Papacy were never derived from the Bible, but, in all essential respects, have been derived from Babylon. Baptismal Regeneration; Justification by works; The Sacrifice of the Mass; Extreme Unction; Purgatory, and Prayers for the Dead; all have their origin in the ancient Babylonian 'Mystery' Religion, of crass idolatry.

The Sovereign Pontiff, priests, monks, and nuns, had their Babylonian counterparts in the "Pontifex maximus," the system, first concocted in Babylon, has been modified and diluted in different ages and countries.

Catholicism, leaving the Word of God, has had recourse to the Babylonian system. Popery is revived Paganism. Papal idolatry is, however, a more subtle and perfected system than Pagan idolatry was.

Hither, was transfered the seat of Paganism, and the Emperor became the high priest of its religion.

THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH had to endure a severe baptism of persecution from Paganism, as the catacombs at Rome today testify.

Nevertheless, Christianity spread rapidly during the first three centuries, and finally triumphed over the same empire which reckoned to have crushed it.

Dignities and wealth now flowed in upon its ministers and disciples, and, according to the uniform testimony of the early historians, the faith which had maintained its purity and vigor in the humble sanctuaries and lowly position of the first age, and amid the fires of Pagan persecutors, became corrupt and waxed feeble amid the gorgeous temples and the worldly dignities which imperial favour had lavished upon it.

THE CORRUPTION of the Christian Church henceforth, from the fourth century, continued to make marked and rapid progress.

Its Doctrine, Polity, and Worship became gradually changed, until the primitive Church sank into a christianised Paganism.

People learned to regard the clergy as a priesthood, foreign to the New Testament; the rites which they administered as the only channels of grace, and the punctilious observance of these rites as meritorious in the sight of God.

Thereby, the Gospel was obscured, and men in general did not know the truths of salvation by grace, through Faith 'Alone' as emphatically preached and taught by Paul, Peter, and the others.

The humble, anointed first century ministry of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers; was now replaced with a hierarchy of Popes, Cardinals, as its head.

The whole service, except the sermon, was conducted in a tongue unknown to the people, Thus everything was changed in the Church. From the six century onwards Christianity was a mongrel system, made up of Pagan rites revived and the Christian beliefs and observances still allowed to linger.

The inward power of Christianity was lost; and it was in vain that men strove to supply its place by the outward form. So far had the declension of the Church proceeded.

Conscious that Scripture and genuine antiquity gave no countenance to their assumptions, the advocates of Papal pretentions found a ready means of accomplishing their object. Pious frauds were called to the aid of the Church, i.e., "The Donation of Constantine," and the "False Decretals of Isadore" professing to be written by ancient bishops of the Chruch of Rome. Two of the most monumental forgeries ever, in the history of ancient literature; seeking to Anti-date the rise of the Papacy by five centuries, and today, form the bedrock and foundation of the Canon Law of Catholicism.

These, and a mass of other fradulent documents, all acknowledged by Catholic scholars, that essentially form the basis of the spurious so-called 'Sacred Tradition' and upon which the Papacy was deceitfully established, have been fed down the minds of the adherents of Catholicism.

No words can aptly describe what Roman Catholicism has down in in maliging, corruping, and utterly vitiating the absolute, self-authenticating authority of God's Word, the Bible, from its pure, simple Apostolic roots.

And what is heart breaking, is that we now have men, former Protestants, leaving the 'core' truth of God's Word to embrace the Paganistic Idolatry of Catholicism. But, we were warned, that this great Apostacy would happen, by Paul, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will DEPART from the FAITH, (Body of doctrinal Truth) giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons..." ( 1 Tim. 4:1).

No lie or deception is more subtle or dangerous, than when it is presented, couched and veneered in 'Truth' this is in fact, the masterful art of Catholicism. For the 'Jesus' of Catholicism is another (heteron) Jesus; the spirit of Catholicism is another (heteron) spirit; and the gospel of Catholicism is another (heteron) gospel!

Carl Olson

Roman Catholicism, is a clever refined system of the ancient Babylonian 'Mysteries' all presented in the veneer of Christianised Paganism. The IDENTITY between the systems of ancient Babylon and Papal Rome, can be established if we inquire in how far does the system of the Papacy agree with the system established in these Babylonian mysteries?

Alexander Hislop lives! However, no one who has actually studied Church history and Catholic theology takes him seriously anymore, as even his former disciples admit.

william i. smith

contraception is mutual mast
urbation! (mahatma ghandhi)
the world will never run out
of oil or gas as long as we
flush toilets. How is this
accomplished, avoid hell or you will find out? 3300 american customers are murdered each day by abortion!help stop it.

william i. smith

3300 american customers are
murdered each day by abortion! contraception is mutual masturbation! (mahatm
a ghandhi) The world will never run out of oil or gas
as long as we flush toilets.
How is this accomplished, avoid hell or you will find

Tony Jordan

It is impossible to understand the 'heart' of Catholicism's plan of salvation, unless one has a proper grasp of her 'Mariolotry' which is in fact, when unvieled, nothing else but pure, Paganistic Idolatry; which the humble handmaiden of the Lord, had absolutely nothing to do with, nor the eternal Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let us look at God's Word, on the blessed handmaiden, what were her last words spoken, as divinely recorded in the New Testament?

"And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, 'They have no wine." Jesus said to her, "Woman, what DOES YOUR CONCERN HAVE TO DO WITH Me? My hour has not yet come." (John 2: 3,4) emphasis added.

What Mary then says in response to Jesus, are her last recorded words in the NT spoken by her; and Catholics would do well to heed them, for they are truly instructive, potent, though concise in expression, and are entirely consistent with all that followed in His Messianic Glory, as the Second Person of the Eternal Godhead, as SOLE, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Saviour, Mediator, Advocate, Intercessor, LORD OF LORDS, and KING OF KINGS, with the Father, in Heaven, (the Spirit realm) and mankind here on earth (the physical realm).

And what are Mary's last recorded words in the New Testament? Let us hear from God's Word.

"Whatever He say to you, DO IT." (Jn. 2:5b)

Verse 11 then records: "This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested (what?) HIS GLORY; and His disciples BELIEVED IN HIM." (Jn. 2:11) emphasis added.

The use of (gunai) woman, in verse 4 by Jesus, instead of (meter) mother, which by the way is a term He never called her by anywhere in the NT, and does show her she can no longer exercise maternal authority, and most certainly not at all in His Messainic work, either on earth or in Heaven, which God's Word is emphatic on, throughout the canon of New Testament Scripture, from Matthew to Revelation.

Truth by definition is absolute, exclusive, therefore, according to the unalterable, unchangeable 'Law of Non-Contradiction' two competing 'truth claims' cannot be both right at the same time, and same place.

Of course, Catholicism resorts to eastern dislectic logic, both/and, in order to justify her contention re Mary's role in the salvation of men, that is Jesus and Mary. Yes, they admit that He is sole mediator according to Scripture, but then contrary to God's Word, they interpose Mary as Co-Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix, which has absolutely no Scriptural warrant whatsoever, and is a logical fallacy, as not only from the 'Law of Non-Contradition' is this wrong, but is in diametric oposition to God's Word.

But, as if it were not absurd and un-scriptural enough to disregard God's Word in this particular regard, re Mary's role, they then go way beyond this un-biblical stance of co-redeemer, and actually pronounce and proclaim some of the most blasphemous, idolatrous concepts on the lowely handmaiden of the Lord, who I am sure, if she could speak to them, would weep and cringe over what Catholicism has done to her humble character, where in Luke 1:28, the angel said to her:

"Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you,
blessed are you AMONG (not above) women."

Let us look at two Greek words that the Holy Spirit used in recording this encounter of Mary with the angel.

First, the words 'highly favored' are from the Gk. (Kecharitomene) perfect passive participle of 'Charitoo' and means endowed with grace (charis), enriched with grace, the same Greek word used in Ephesians 1:6, where Paul writing the saints at Ephesus, states:

"To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made US (those who are Saved) ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED." emphasis added.

Which (hes) Genitive case of the relative (hen) cognate accusative with (echaritosen) (He freely bestowed), late verb CHARITOO (from Charis, Grace) in the N.T, attached to the antecedent CHARITOS, ONLY HERE and in Luke 1:28.

In other words, the same root word CHARITOO, from which is rendered 'highly favored' in Lk 1:28, is the same root from which '...made us ACCEPTED in the beloved' is translated. So that we see the same bestowal of grace given to Mary, is the exact same bestowal of Grace given to all the Redeemed saints of The Lord Jesus Christ. And these two text Lk. 1:28 and Eph. 1:6, are the only two places in the NT where this is stated.

Now, the second point from Luke 1:28. "...blessed are you AMONG WOMEN" Here we see the Holy Spirit using the preposition 'en' which means according to position, is, 'in, on, at, AMONG, within' and relationally, means, 'beside' and 'with' this is precisely why He did not use the preposition 'huper' which means 'beyong' 'over' 'above' for Mary is NOT above any of the redeemed children of God, as Catholicism has exalted and literally deified her to be, and can be found nowhere in the New Testament in such a status. All of this exaltation and deification can only be found in the un-scriptural, spurious 'sacred tradition' of Romanism.

Here is where the 'Law of Non-Contradiction' simply cannot be got around, for it will haunt you to the end, and God knew what He was doing when He created these logical principles, which He allowed Aristotle to discover, and it is a 'thorn' and will continue to be in the side of eastern dialectic logic, which Catholicism holds on to, in order to justify her BOTH/AND, JESUS/MARY, theology, instead of the absolute 'Truth' that it is EITHER/OR, that is, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, is EITHER, ALL that the Bible proclaims and declares Him to be, the ONLY SAVIOUR, the ONLY MEDIATOR, the ONLY ADVOCATE, the ONLY HIGH PRIEST, before the Father, because He is, Omnipotently, Omnisciently, and Omnipresently God, as the Second Person of the Eternal Godhead, OR HE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AT ALL! emphasis added, I'm not shouting at any one. You cannot have it both ways!

michael clapp

To Tony Jordan-- it would be good for you to read Scott and Kimberly Hahn's book "Rome Sweet Home," especially paying attention to Scott's search for a defense of sola scriptura.

God bless you.

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