The 2nd Vatican Council, and much more its aftermath and application, by and large have been a disaster for the Church, a disaster at once pastoral, intellectual and institutional.

As a result of this disaster the popular Catholic life that had existed was in large part destroyed.  Although Catholic culture is much broader than simply the reception of the sacraments and catechesis, it depends upon such formal elements of Catholic life. Without them it cannot last.

It is thus hard to envisage any ready way out of our present situation, since both the formal and the popular sides of Catholic life have been affected.  So how can we respond to that situation, in which the Church neither enjoys the patronage of any powerful government nor commands widespread enthusiasm and loyalty on the part of the Catholic people at-large?  In such circumstances how can the Church and Catholic life be maintained, nourished, and extended?

Sadly, the measures that can be suggested to achieve this end seem woefully inadequate.

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The Protestant Heresy – by Hilaire Belloc


Martin Luther and his 95 Theses at Wittenberg, Germany

What Was the Reformation?

The movement generally called “The Reformation” deserves a place apart in the story of the great heresies; and that for the following reasons:

1. It was not a particular movement but a general one, i.e., it did not propound a particular heresy which could be debated and exploded, condemned by the authority of the Church, as had hitherto been every other heresy or heretical movement. Nor did it, after the various heretical propositions had been condemned, set up (as had Mohammedanism or the Albigensian movement) a separate religion over against the old orthodoxy. Rather did it create a certain separate which we still call “Protestantism.” It produced indeed a crop of heresies, but not one heresy_and its characteristic was that all its heresies attained and prolonged a common savour: that which we call “Protestantism” today.

2. Though the immediate fruits of the Reformation decayed, as had those of many other heresies in the past, yet the disruption it had produced remained and the main principle_reaction against a united spiritual authority_so continued in vigour as both to break up our European civilization in the West and to launch at last a general doubt, spreading more and more widely. None of the older heresies did that, for they were each definite. Each had proposed to supplant or to rival the existing Catholic Church; but the Reformation movement proposed rather to dissolve the Catholic Church_and we know what measure success has been attained by that effort!

The most important thing about the Reformation is to understand it. Not only to follow the story of it stage by stage_a process always necessary to the understanding of any historical matter_but to grasp its essential nature.

On this last it is easy for modern people to go wrong, and especially modern people of the English-speaking world. The nations we English- speaking people know are, with the exception of Ireland, predominantly Protestant; and yet (with the exception of Great Britain and South Africa) they harbour large Catholic minorities.

In that English-speaking world (to which this present writing is addressed) there is full consciousness of what the Protestant spirit has been and what it has become in its present modification. Every Catholic who lives in that English-speaking world knows what is meant by the Protestant temper as he knows the taste of some familiar food or drink or the aspect of some familiar vegetation. In a less degree the large Protestant majorities_in Great Britain it is an overwhelming Protestant majority_have some idea of what the Catholic Church is. They know much less about us than we know about them. That is natural, because we proceed from older origins, because we are universal while they are regional and because we hold a definite intellectual philosophy whereas they possess rather an emotional and indefinite, though characteristic, spirit.

Still, though they know less about us than we know about them, they are aware of a distinction and they feel a sharp division between themselves and ourselves.

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Belloc: The origins of that great movement which shook and split for generations the spiritual world, and which we call the “Reformation”.

The most important thing about the Reformation is to understand it. Not only to follow the story of it stage by stage – a process always necessary to the understanding of any historical matter – but to grasp its essential nature.

On this last it is easy for modern people to go wrong, and especially modern people of the English-speaking world. The nations we English-speaking people know are, with the exception of Ireland, predominantly Protestant; and yet (with the exception of Great Britain and South Africa) they harbour large Catholic minorities.

In that English-speaking world (to which this present writing is addressed) there is full consciousness of what the Protestant spirit has been and what it has become in its present modification.


Archbishop Chaput on Catholic philosophy and elections, along with some recommended reading.

Any committed Christian might be tempted to despair. But the truth is that it’s always been this way. As the author of Hebrews wrote, “here we have no abiding city” (Heb 13:14). Augustine admired certain pagan Roman virtues, but he wrote the City of God to remind us that we’re Christians first, worldly citizens second. We need to learn—sometimes painfully—to let our faith chasten our partisan appetites.

In the United States, our political tensions flow from our cultural problems. Exceptions clearly exist, but today our culture routinely places rights over duties, individual fulfillment over community, and doubt over belief. In effect, the glue that now holds us together is our right to go mall-crawling and buy more junk. It’s hard to live a life of virtue when all around us, in the mass media and even in the lives of colleagues and neighbors, discipline, restraint, and self-sacrifice seem irrelevant.

Brad Gregory, the Notre Dame historian, seeks to show how we got this way in his recent book The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society. His answers are surprising, and for some readers, controversial. But his book is also important—and in its explanatory power, brilliant.


The story of the Reformation needs reforming

Protestant mythology achieved definitive form in a book that would shape the writing of Tudor history down to our own day. In 1679 Gilbert Burnet, a Scottish cleric, published the first volume of a massive History of the Reformation, an anti-Catholic narrative given scholarly credibility by the inclusion of dozens of documents gathered from public and private archives.

Burnet would be the chief propagandist for the “Glorious Revolution” which deposed James II and set the Protestant William of Orange on the throne. His history rammed home the message that Catholicism and Englishness were utterly incompatible: Catholicism was tyranny, Protestantism liberation. “They hate us,” he wrote, “because we dare to be freemen and Protestants.”

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Writer claims end of the world guy (Mr. Camping) got his idea from (gasp) a Jesuit!

The modern interpretation of the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation is that they are coded references to contemporary politics and all the tyrants, harlots and horned beasts in them are long since forgotten dust. But prophecy is much more fun. By close study of the Book of Daniel, the Spanish Jesuit Francisco Ribera further invented the doctrine of the Rapture. This breaks the last judgment into two parts – first the real Christians are swept up into heaven, then the bad stuff happens to the rest of us.

Since this was a Jesuit doctrine, it was completely unacceptable to Protestants until the 19th century, when it was republished by another Jesuit, writing pseudonymously as a rabbi. From Jewish sources, it made perfect sense to Edward Irving, a fashionable Scottish preacher in London in the 1820s. By the 1830s his congregation was speaking tongues and prophesying and claiming miraculous healings, like an early version of Holy Trinity Brompton.

From there the doctrine crossed the Atlantic. William Miller, a Baptist minister in upstate New York, decided that when the Book of Daniel said “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed”, it obviously meant 2,300 years; and by “the sanctuary being cleansed” it obviously meant the return of Jesus: all he had to do was to establish the date from which Daniel was counting, and all would be ready.

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Editor’s note: Based on the plethora of recent news stories about apostate Jesuits from all around the world, I’ve come to a “working conclusion” that when the prophesied Anti-Christ is truly revealed, he will very likely be a Jesuit.

This Week’s Ask Alice: History’s Biggest, Catholic Church Scandals.

Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer as many questions as possible,
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Brian Asks: With the recent Philadelphia sex scandal surfacing, i was trying to rationalize the severity of this scandal in the history of the church. Naturally its an ugly situation here and in other parts of the world. What are the top 5 biggest scandals in the history of the Catholic Church?

Alice Answers: Living in an era when scandals rock our Church is no concert for faithful Catholics. To put the current scandal in perspective, I spoke with two priests.

My beloved uncle, Fr. Sergius Wroblewski, O.F.M., is an author, and he also teaches Scripture classes at Lourdes Friary, in Cedar Lake, Indiana. Here is his answer:

“That is a tough question, because it calls for scouring history for scandals. I came up with two cases and both have to do with the Reformation. One is about the Capuchin, Bernardine Ochino who became a Lutheran and caused a great scandal that almost brought down the whole Capuchin Order. The other one is about Pope Leo X who was Pope from 1513 to 1521 and whose scandalous life was a factor in moving Luther to break with the Church. He was a de Medici pope. Cardinal Petrucci wanted to kill him. Four cardinals were involved. They did not succeed because a letter describing the plot was intercepted. So Petrucci was strangled at the Castel Gandolfo.

Leo was the Pope who initiated the construction of the great Vatican Basilica. He needed lots of money so he issued indulgences: the greatness of the indulgence was in proportion to the amount of money given. This speculation in indulgences involved Bankers. But let me give you a description of what was going on in the Vatican gardens.

There was a continual celebration that was a mixture of paganism and Christianity with masked balls, performances of ancient mythology, Roman tales acted against magnificent scenery and, on the other hand, processions and splendid church feasts with performances in the Colosseum, classic orations in the Capitol, and more feasts and speeches on the anniversary of the founding of Rome. There were daily parades of cardinals, ceremonies for the arrival of ambassadors and princes with groups so large they looked like armies. Retinues, too, of the pope where he went off to hunt at Magliana, at Palo, at Viterbo, with the falcons at his wrist, with packs of dogs, heavy baggage, flocks of servants, the suites of the cardinals and of foreign preachers, the happy crowd of the poets of Rome and a mob of barons and princes, all in such a clamor as to seem a company of Bacchantes.

The vicar of Christ took part in the shows and appeared to enjoy the stupidities of the court buffoons that his valet Serrafica, had the job of bringing to Court. Among these was a certain Querno who dressed like Venus sang poems and drank a lot. There was also Mariano Fetti, Apostolic Sealer in the Chancery, better known as the court clown. A formidable glutton and drinker, he amused the pope with his buffoonery inviting him to enjoy life, saying, ‘Let’s live it up, Holy Father, for everything is a joke.’

There is no doubt that lasciviousness and moral corruption reached the highest levels with Leo X. That was a scandal that invited a (very) strong reaction, The Protestant Reformation.”

Fr. John Zemelko, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Valparaiso, Indiana compiled his list of the top five scandals of the Catholic Church:

1) Schisms: East and West (the Reformation)

2) Lapsi Crisis. This schism occurred when an African deacon, Felicissimus, opposed St. Cyprian, who enforced an extremely rigorous policy for Christians who apostatized (lapsi) during the Decian persecution in 250 A.D.

3) The Inquisition

4) The Crusades

5) Current clergy sex scandal

Although we live in troubled times, it is reassuring to remember Jesus’ promise to all faithful Catholics when appointing Peter as His earthly successor.

“(Peter) you are ‘Rock,’ and on this rock I will build my church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

No priest, bishop, heretic, dictator, or army can destroy the Catholic Church, which was founded in 33 A.D. by Jesus Christ.

In Christ’s Love,


Doug Lawrence adds: I often say that if the Catholic Church was a publicly traded company, I would have sold all my stock in it, many, many years ago. Instead, I continue to “hold” … based solely on the “rock solid” security that God alone is able to provide.

The fact that the Catholic Church has always been able to “take a punch” … ever since Jesus Christ walked the earth … despite whatever novel corruptions and persecutions those outside … or inside … of the Church … might choose to unleash against it … is just more proof of its divine origin … and of God’s loving and continuing providence.

But … what else would a person expect of the only Church that Jesus Christ ever founded, authorized, empowered, and eternally guaranteed … for the purpose of our salvation?

Praise God!