Papa Z's Views and Comments

Location: Wisconsin, United States

I am a convert to the Catholic Church after serving in ordained ministry for more than nine years in another denomination. I hold a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in historical theology, and another in systematic theology, and am currently working (very slowly) on my doctorate. I work in Christian Education and Formation and teach at the University level. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and eight great kids! When I'm not studying, reading, or blogging, I enjoy eating and drinking! Like Bilbo Baggins, I have been specializing in food for many years, and my table has a high reputation!

Monday, May 31, 2010


Life . . . and death.

We must never, NEVER, forget those brave men and women of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard, the Merchant Marines and all attendant services who gave their all; who made the Ultimate Sacrifice.

It is because of them . . . that we can enjoy the freedoms and liberties that we have.

We must NEVER forget; we must ALWAYS be grateful.

Blessings to all -- and especially to my servicemember friends -- and to all veterans, wherever you may be.

Papa Z. is grateful.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Some thoughts on Anglican to Catholic Conversions

I am a frequent reader (and occasionally comment) on the excellent blog "What Does The Prayer Really Say?" by Father John Zuhlsdorf. Fr. Zuhlsdorf is a strong proponent of "Say the Red, Do the Black" with regard to proper, reverent liturgy. I thoroughly enjoy reading his thoughts and commentaries. Over the last year or so, with the continuing disintegration of the Church of England (and the Episcopal Church, here in the United States) Fr. Zuhlsdorf has authored quite a few posts on Anglicanism, and on Pope Benedict XVI, whom he rightly calls "The Pope of Christian Unity". The comment stream by readers of his blog has been quite active with lively participation by both cradle Catholics and Anglican converts to Catholicism.

I am bothered, however, by the tenor of some of the comments offered by some of the cradle Catholic participants who seem to feel the need to utterly degrade the entirety of the Anglican tradition, to question the motives of converts, and seem to be happy only when a convert abases himself in the mud on the banks of the Tiber, begging for admittance.

There are those who, regardless of the Pastoral Provision established by Pope John Paul II (the Great) and Anglicanorum Coetibus promulgated by Pope Benedict (the Pope of Christian Unity) wish to have nothing to do with former Anglican clergy who become Catholic priests -- to the point of refusing the Eucharist from such a priest (which more than smacks of the heresy of Donatism to me!)

There are those who wish to reject the notion that the history of Anglican tradition has anything at all to offer the Catholic Church, in spite of the Vatican's actions to the contrary (for example, the promulgation of "The Book of Divine Worship.") There are those who make broad pronouncements about the history and spirituality of Anglicanism, and those who make generalizations out of complete ignorance, forgetting the patrimony of Lancelot Andrewes; of King Charles the Martyr; of the Tractarians; of the beautiful translations of St. Thomas Aquinas' Eucharistic hymns (much better, I might add, than in your typical missalette!) And do we even want to compare the prose of the Book of Common Prayer to what ICEL has given us?

There are those who do not (or will not) understand that conversion is a journey, and that not everyone moves along that journey at the same speed. It took the (soon to be beatified) Venerable Servant of God John Henry, Cardinal Newman years to make his journey. Even GK Chesterton only made his conversion formal 14 years before he died.

There are those who do not (or will not) respect the fact that there have been well-reasoned arguments put forth by Anglo-Catholics which seem to justify separation from Rome, and that even when one realizes that an argument one once thought was valid truly is not, there is real pain and real grieving.

There are those who do not (or will not) respect the fact that many converts literally "leave everything behind" to follow Christ. Homes, salaries, churches, pensions, friends, etc. all become secondary considerations when one realizes that the fullness of Truth is to be found in Rome and not Canterbury.

To coin a phrase, all we ask for is a little respect. Don't try to debate us on nuances of English history or on causes of the English Reformation. We know all that. (Indeed, I can lecture on the subject for hours without notes!) Don't try to tell us that our entire ministries before our conversions were utterly without grace. They weren't. Don't try to lecture us on Apostolicae Curae. We accept it. We're extremely familiar with the document -- and realize (as Pope Leo XIII did at the time) that certain issues are not as "cut-and-dry" as they seem. Rejoice that we have come to embrace the fullness of Truth. And allow us a measure of dignity.

In the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 15, we read of the Council of Jerusalem. The burning question: did Gentile believers first have to become Jews in order to be saved. Some said yes -- the entirety of the Law of Moses was absolutely necessary for salvation. But the Apostles said no -- it was enough to avoid meat offered to idols, blood, the flesh of strangled animals, and sexual impurity. It seems to me that there is a correlation here. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have spoken in their Apostolic capacity regarding conversions from the Anglican tradition. That should be enough for everyone. Further burdens are not necessary.


Papa Z.

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Monday, May 10, 2010


Catholicism and Fundamentalism

I'm probably gonna get hammered for this post!

No, this is not a review of Karl Keating's book of the same name -- though if you are interested in my thoughts on the book, check out my review for!

What this IS, however, is some commentary on a trend I've begun to notice among a certain percentage of very conservative Catholics, and that is a trend toward what can only be described as a form of Catholic fundamentalism. Now please realize that while fundamentalist Catholics are very conservative, not all conservative Catholics are fundamentalists. This is a very important distinction to make. This commentary is not intended as a rant against people who prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (I've not attended one, but plan to, at my earliest convenience) nor those who watch EWTN (my wife and I not only watch, but appeared on "The Journey Home" a few years ago) or those who prefer more traditional music (count me in!) etc. I'm not referring to your typical, orthodox, Pope John Paul II Catholic.

When viewed on the spectrum of "liberal" to "conservative" your dear commentator would most certainly fall considerably to the "right" of "center". From a theological standpoint, I'm probably more conservative than 80% of your typical "man in the pew"; and the same would be certainly true in my academic work as well.

What I am concerned about, however, are those on the very far right -- the ones who brand you as an enemy (or worse, a heretic!) because you only agree with them 95% of the time. The ones who seem to think that faith means disengaging your brain, and that all development of doctrine ceased in the Middle Ages.

Some tendencies I've noticed which concern me:

  • Geo-centrism -- the notion that the earth is fixed and immovable, and that the universe revolves around it. (Based on a total misunderstanding of the Church's "condemnation" of Galileo!)
  • The absolute rejection of any and all critical tools in the interpretation of Scripture (and history!) After all, higher criticism was invented by liberal German Protestants who wanted to destroy the Church, therefore all critical tools must be avoided at all costs! (So much for the Church Fathers!)
  • A literalist view of Scripture that would frighten an Independent Baptist! No allegory allowed! No figures of speech, either! (Example; The prophets teach that Jesus would ride into Jerusalem "on an ass, and on a donkey, the foal of an ass" -- therefore on Palm Sunday, Jesus rode two animals! Yes, I've seen this vigorously debated!)
  • An unhealthy obsession with Matthean Priority. Personally the Synoptic Problem is not my problem -- and is an unresolved -- and unresolvable question. But, as the (faulty) reasoning goes, theologians who accept Markan priority obviously used critical tools to arrive at this conclusion -- and all critical tools must be avoided at all costs! Se above!
  • An insistence that only the Douay-Rheims Bible can be used (and only certain editions of that!) if one is unfortunate enough not to be able to read the Latin Vulgate (and only certain editions of that!)
  • A misunderstanding of the role of the Teaching Authority of the Church, leading to bizarre claims of "infallibility" on issues upon which the Church has never claimed infallibility!
In each of these cases, the problem seems to stem from an ultra-montane view of the Church, and by the taking out of context (both textually and historically) the role of, and meaning behind, Papal pronouncements. The gift of Papal Infallibility is to preserve the Church from teaching heresy in matters of faith and morals. It does not necessarily follow, however, that every proclamation by every Pope on every issue is a matter of faith and morals!

Now, is it true that many modern theologians have gone beyond (and even against) the Magisterium of the Church? Of course it is! Sadly, such dissent is common on a number of levels. But sadly, the Church has always had dissenters, and, as Christ teaches us, the wheat and the tares will continue to grow together until the End of the Age. But the way to deal with dissent and heresy is to promote good theology and orthodox doctrine -- not to insist that the thinking process be shut down entirely. The Book of Proverbs teaches us that "iron sharpens iron". What a blessing for the Church that the iron of St. Thomas Aquinas was sharpened on the iron of St. Bonaventure! What a blessing that Franciscans are not Dominicans who are in turn not Benedictines! What a blessing that some of the finest astronomers in the world have been (and still are) Jesuits!

It seems to this commentator that the extremes of the very far right are every bit as dangerous as the extremes of the very far left; both extremes leave the Church open to the ridicule from Her enemies; and that neither serve to benefit Her primary mission, which is the eternal salvation of souls.


Papa Z.

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Monday, May 03, 2010


Okay, I'll admit it! Your gracious blogger is a technological troglodyte!

I've been wondering why my 7.42 loyal readers haven't been posting comments. And the other day, my son received a message from one of you telling him that all of the comments posted were coming back as "undeliverable".

Guess what? Some months ago, I switched e-mail accounts -- and I never updated that little detail on this blog!

Oh well! It's fixed now!


Papa Z