Fr. McFarland starts at the very beginning – we can’t talk about the Crisis in the Church unless we determine whether or not there actually is a crisis. And while it may be fairly obvious, we’ll look at specific ways, and distinct symptoms of this crisis that is the greatest challenge the Catholic Church has ever faced.
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Fr. McFarland is the Prior of Our Lady of Sorrows in Phoenix, AZ: http://ourladyofsorrows.org
This Episode on YouTube
Please note – this transcript has been lightly edited from the automatic word detection in our system. There may be some misspellings, or other small inaccuracies. An effort has been made to keep the conversational tone of the interview, not to make this a finished document.
You’re listening to the SSPX podcast produced by angelus press. This week we start our crisis in the Church series with episode one “is there a crisis?” We spoke with Fr. John McFarland, the Prior of Our Lady of Sorrows in Phoenix Arizona about the effects, the symptoms of this crisis, and how we can judge it against the other trials faced by the Church throughout her history. This is the first episode of almost two dozen which will be released regularly over the coming months. WE invite you to subscribe to the SSPX Podcast in your podcast app or feed and our youtube account so that you’ll always have the most recent episode. And if you have specific questions about the crisis in the Church as a whole, feel free to ask them! Just visit sspxpodcast.com/crisis and we’ll do our best to answer them in an upcoming episode. Now here’s our conversation with Fr. John McFarland
SSPX Podcast: Fr. McFarland thank you for joining us for this first episode of the crisis in the Church series on the SSPX podcast and on our youtube account! How are you doing today Father?
Fr. McFarland: I’m doing well thank you Andrew.
SSPX Podcast: Good good well uh before we start with a whole series about the crisis in the Church, we have to start from the very beginning and discuss whether or not there is a crisis at all, and I guess what do we mean when we say “crisis” so I guess I’m going to start out with the obvious question: is there a crisis in the Church?
Fr. McFarland: Undoubtedly and I think probably most people who are going to be watching an SSPX podcast on the crisis in the Church have some sense that there is, otherwise they wouldn’t uh wouldn’t bother. Sure I think for for most people that are going to be watching, you know, they’ve encountered the manifestations of that crisis in their own life and they’re looking for answers on some level, or being aware of some of the answers, or trying to go deeper, so there is, you know, theree… in certain quarters they do… there’s denial of the crisis, and I think you either find that people who are just entirely ignorant – they don’t know anything about what the Church was like before the second Vatican council – they have no point of comparison from which to work, so they are unable to recognize that there is a crisis. And then there are those who really want everything to be fine. Either the progressives who prefer the current chaos to the normal functioning of the Church, who don’t want the old thing at all, who want to break down the Church’s traditions and reform according to their own pleasure and prejudices, and then you have those conservative elements who think that if we’re going to salvage the notions of the Church or papal infallibility and so on, that we have to say that “no it’s not really a crisis… Fundamentally everything is fine, there might be some some abuses, some particular problems, but there is there’s no deeply rooted crisis afflicting the Church right now.”
SSPX Podcast: okay so it’s… go ahead…
Fr. McFarland: And I also say that there are fewer and fewer of these people because it’s harder to kid yourself these days with Pope Francis and everything that he’s done in the Church during his pontificate.
SSPX Podcast: Yeah it’s increasingly I mean if you are intellectually honest it’s harder and harder to make that that distinction, and that’s kind of what you’re talking about: conservatives generally you would assume are going to be intellectually honest or you’ve got the progressives who are just not. And that that group of of conservatives who are able to say, “uh no there’s not really a crisis it’s just you know infallibility it’s fine.” That’s… yeah it’s winnowing definitely.
As we are going through this crisis, you know here in 2020, are there — have there been crises in the Church before? I mean we all know about the time of saint athanasius – that was you know basically one man against the rest of of the Church so to speak, but beyond that have there been other crises in the Church?
Fr. McFarland: Oh certainly of all different sorts. You’ve had heresies of different degree of how widespread they’ve been. You’ve had schisms of course, the eastern schism, some major crisis, the great western schism was a tremendous crisis, a great scandal which we can even say contributed to the protestant reformation, which is another great crisis in the history of the Church. You have the liberal Catholic crisis of the of the 19th century. this is… Crises are nothing new for the Church. there are there are many more that that we could talk about of all different sorts, but uh we don’t have time to go into all of them right now.
SSPX Podcast: But what makes this crisis Father, uh different or unique or distinct? Or is it kind of the same as some of the other ones we’ve seen?
Fr. McFarland: I would say the universality. That we are seeing a complete – almost complete – disruption of the Church’s practice, and the understanding of the Church’s doctrine. There’s never been anything like that before and also it’s pervaded every level of the hierarchy. And we find it in the course among the laity, but the priests, the episcopacy, in rome, and even with the popes themselves – these contributions to the crisis.
SSPX Podcast: And there’s the there’s the old adage of by their fruits you shall know them. We can see through many different effects…. The, well… the effects, what has been happening since, uh since this all started in the Church, are there some really obvious effects that really no one could argue with?
Fr. McFarland: I think so and I think that in particular the the loss of of the Faith – at least objectively the loss of the a sense of the truths of the faith – and I think you know we all encounter that: Catholics who don’t believe what Catholics are supposed to believe are extremely common in the political world right now. People who call themselves Catholics, who don’t hold any of the Catholic moral principles at all and consistently in their political life work against those Catholic moral principles so… And we can give statistics, you know, the pew research center quite frequently does these polls of Catholics asking about belief in fundamental doctrines and in a poll they did in 2019 a survey they include that about one of every three Catholics who practices regularly (those who attend mass at least once a week) don’t accept the Church’s teaching about the real presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament which is a basic, fundamental doctrine of the Catholic Church, obviously. Something that’s a dogma, something that we’re obliged to hold under pain of being in heresy. They simply do not believe that that Our Lord is truly present; and that it’s merely a symbolic action that represents Our Lord’s body and blood.
SSPX Podcast: And beyond just the belief there’s massive amounts of moral issues, and basically the degradation of morality, even among Catholics as well…
Fr. McFarland: Right. Again the Pew research center: 2015, 76% of American Catholics think that the Church should allow the use of birth control. 62% think that priests should be allowed to marry. 62% – again – think that those who divorce and remarry should be allowed to receive communion. 59% think that women should be allowed to become priests. 46 percent think that the Church should recognize homosexual marriage..
I mean… basic truths of the faith, or moral principles that – in many cases even a majority of those who call themselves Catholic explicitly reject.
SSPX Podcast: Wow. And you’ve been giving some statistics on American Catholics and obviously this is this is where we are, this is what we know here in the states, Father, but what about internationally? Is the picture any better, or is it worse, or…?
Fr. McFarland: It’s comparable I would say and…
SSPX Podcast: Okay
Fr. McFarland: Taking samplings from other surveys done in other countries among German Catholics 43% believe in the resurrection. And Saint Paul says that “if Christ be not risen from the dead our faith is vain.” So why are we even bothering calling ourselves Catholics if we don’t believe then? Only about 19% of German Catholics attend mass and of that 19% only 55% believe in the virgin birth of Our Lord. Again a dogma… Only 44% accept papal infallibility. Again a dogma… And that is apparently about 8% higher than the worldwide average, though…
SSPX Podcast: Wow
Fr. McFarland: …France only 12 percent of Catholics claim to definitely believe in hell. 72% percent deny its existence outright. Only 7 percent believe that the Catholic religion is the only true one and 34% of regularly practicing Catholics in France believe that Muhammed is a prophet.
SSPX Podcast: …Well that’s, that’s, cheery. This is just making me feel great Father.
Fr. McFarland: Right, any time! There is you know a serious crisis in belief among these Catholics in you know well-developed countries places where the Church has been established for a long time, we’re not talking about outlying regions where they’re they don’t have access to the information. We’re talking about wealthy countries
SSPX Podcast: So we don’t have the same the same surveys as, you know, today… The pew research center is not going to be doing the same surveys… you know, they weren’t doing these – or maybe they were – but we don’t have access to those in the 40s 50s etc., before a lot of this started, but we can see… maybe we can correlate some data with traditional Catholics. Is there, are there any sort of studies, or any sort of comparable data with traditional Catholics, people who attend the traditional Latin Mass, compared to what we’ve just talked about?
Fr. McFarland: Yes you know on some recent surveys that have been done on the subject polling Catholics of both sorts who attend the traditional mass or trying to attend the the novus ordo mass, two percent of traditional latin mass attending Catholics approve of contraception, versus 89 percent who attend the novus ordo. Not sure who those two percent are but uh hopefully they can…
SSPX Podcast: You want to find out, right?
Fr. McFarland: One percent of uh traditional mass Catholics approve of abortion, compared to 51 percent -more than half of those who attend the novus ordo mass. 99 percent of traditional latin mass Catholics say they attend mass weekly as opposed to 22 percent of novus ordo attendees. Two percent – and I wonder who this two percent is but – uh of traditional latin mass goers approved of gay marriage as opposed to 67 percent of those who attend the novus ordo in these particular surveys.
SSPX Podcast: So there’s a very striking difference there between those who are attached to tradition and those who are attending the novus ordo mass and and I know this is probably speculative Father, but but… do you suppose that those numbers were probably similar to what the majority of Catholics as a whole believed in… you know, say, the early 1900s 1800s?
Fr. McFarland: I would say they’re probably high. They’re probably above even that for the traditional Latin mass goers but certainly there was… you know we’re not… we would not have been talking about more than half of Catholics who believe things that are opposed to very clear Church teachings.
SSPX Podcast: Uh-huh. It was interesting also, talking about some of the some of the ways that we can see the actual crisis, there was a statistic that the society of saint pius the tenth in this past year in 2020 ordained an equal number of Irish priests as all of Ireland did, so in Ireland there was – I believe it was zero. I may have to put this up on the screen if I’m forgetting it, but there were I believe there were zero ordinations of Irish priests (maybe it was one) and inside the Society of Saint Pius X we had… one. [editor’s note: there was 1 ordination in Ireland, 1 in the SSPX in 2020] So going along that same route; vocations. That has been a huge crisis just in and of itself in the last 50-100 years.
Fr. McFarland: Right and following Vatican II you had a tremendous exodus from the priesthood and the religious life. The official documented number of departures between 1964 and 2004 – it’s from the Vatican – 57,580 priests left the priesthood. And that doesn’t count those who didn’t bother with any kind of canonical procedure or the like. And there are certain organizations that study this and work with priests who have left the priesthood, and they give estimates that vary from eighty thousand to a hundred thousand priests who have left the priesthood. Between 1965 and 2002 the number of seminarians in the US decreased 90 percent. We often hear about closing seminaries, there were there used to be just a lot more seminaries with a lot more men in them than there are now.
SSPX Podcast: Right.
Fr. McFarland: And even if those numbers have perhaps picked up a little bit from their lowest days they’re not anywhere close to returning to what they were in in the early 20th century.
SSPX Podcast: And religious life I assume is about the same?
Fr. McFarland: Yes you know, certainly the number of sisters in the US dropped from 180,000 in 1965 to 75,000 in 2002, you know, more then half. And I think even just anecdotally you know, if we talk to people of our parents generation – they were who attended Catholic schools – they were all taught by religious. My Father was taught by religious from first grade up through college and you know an occasional layperson, but almost entirely religious. They were the backbone of Catholic education and there are very few left. You know attending Catholic schools, uh as I did you know in the in the 1980s and 90s, we had a handful, you know two or three sisters at a time in a given school.
SSPX Podcast: For the last 10 minutes we’ve been talking about a lot of statistics. We’ve been talking about a lot of – you know – decrease in belief, here are the actual numbers of Church attendance, and the number of priests… When we talk about the crisis in the Church, just to get kind of back to a more 30,000 foot view of all this, is this the crisis in the Church? These people who don’t believe, these numbers, is this the crisis? Or is the crisis something different? Maybe I’m getting a way ahead of myself, maybe this is episode five or six, but is… are these the symptoms of the crisis, or is this the crisis, what do you think?
Fr. McFarland: They’re symptoms but they are certainly part of the crisis too. You know the crisis is made worse by the unbelief of those who call themselves Catholic. It’s made worse by the lack of priests and religious, so it it’s all it’s a symptom, yes, but it is… it’s also part of the problem, undoubtedly. It’s not the entire story that’s for sure.
SSPX Podcast: Right. And this seems so striking… i’m a layman who doesn’t know very much about theology or anything… The Vatican’s got to know; they’ve got to see these same numbers…? I mean haven’t the popes in the last 50 years seen this, hasn’t the Vatican… I mean you’d think they would respond in some way?
Fr. McFarland: Yes and they have. The recent popes have pointed it out They haven’t done much about it, at times they act as if there is no crisis, but you do have some very telling admissions that they they’ve given over the years, and not just one pope but most of them since the council.
So Paul VI for example: “the Church is in a disturbed period of self-criticism or what would better be called self-demolition.” It’s a pretty strong statement that the Church is destroying itself.
SSPX Podcast: Right, and and Paul this… pope Paul VI he was also the one who said that the smoke of satan has entered the Church, is that is that an accurate quote of his?
Fr. McFarland: Yes. “through some secret fissure the smoke of satan has entered the temple of god. It was believed that after the council a sunny day in the Church’s history would dawn but instead there came a day of clouds storms and darkness.” That’s June 29, 1972, so we’re not even 10 years after the council at that point.
SSPX Podcast: Yeah… And how much worse have things have gotten… okay so that’s pope Paul VI, and then we move on to later popes when these crises are getting worse and worse, and more vocations are lost, a right-thinking person would say… certainly, they would correct things but probably not, right?
Fr. McFarland: And they haven’t really corrected things. There have been some measures now and then in response to certain aspects of the crisis but overall the direction has been the same. And there has been a recognition too that there’s something profoundly wrong! John Paul II in 1981 said “we must admit realistically and with feelings of deep pain, heresies in the full and proper sense of the word have been spread in the area of dogma and morals.” And he doesn’t do a lot to respond to those heresies, but… and then towards the end of his pontificate in July of 2003 is his famous remark that “European culture gives the impression of silent apostasy.”
SSPX Podcast: And pope Benedict XVI I mean arguably a little bit more traditional, a little bit more conservative, than the previous popes, and he spoke, I mean from my own recollection, he spoke out about this crisis probably a little bit more strongly, but again didn’t do a whole lot.
Fr. McFarland: Right and only one month before his election in 2005 he compares the Church “to a boat about to sink a boat taking in water on every side,” which…
SSPX Podcast: Yeah. And it’s really striking to me, Father. I mean, again we’re talking about this and maybe we’re just making it too simple, or maybe I’m just not that smart, but I’m just thinking, “okay obviously you would have to do something,” um but when you and I talked a little bit ahead of time, before we recorded this, Father, you know you mentioned: it’s not just that they didn’t do anything. The popes had a major role in creating this crisis!
Fr. McFarland: Right absolutely, and in acting in ways that cannot be squared with orthodox Catholic practice: praising the united nations as Paul VI did, which is a free masonic organization, with goals that are steeped in naturalism, the denial of the supernatural. You have the infamous Assisi prayer meetings of John Paul II and that of Benedict XVI as well all the these false religions coming to saint Francis’s basilica and in Assisi to pray together, and that the first one even having the statue of Buddha placed on top of a tabernacle, you know again a famous incident of uh John Paul II kissing the Koran…
In the way they acted, visibly, they do things that are detrimental to the Catholic faith. Likewise they’ve permitted those who hold heterodox opinions – and promote them and teach them – to remain in good standing.
You know for example Henri Lubac the French Jesuit who is a a favorite theologian of John Paul II, whose teaching effectively equates nature and grace: “we’re all beloved by God by the simple fact of being human.” He was made a cardinal by John Paul II.
Someone like Hans Kung, the swiss theologian, if we can even dignify him with that name, he was so off the wall that he was finally forbidden to teach. But that was the only censure. He wasn’t allowed to teach. He was still permitted to function as a priest you, know to preach, hear confessions, and remains a Catholic in good standing.
A more recent figure: James Martin, another Jesuit, you know promoter of homosexuality… you can pretty much count on him to promote any trendy left-wing cause. Remains in good standing, is invited by bishops into their dioceses.
You have the almost the entire German episcopate at the moment is flirting with open schism their synodal path… and what do the popes do? Nothing. If anything they promote them. On the other hand you have Archbishop Lefebvre the great defender of tradition, who’s censured and condemned for adhering to tradition…
SSPX Podcast: Right…
Fr. McFarland: For refusing to go along with the novelties
SSPX Podcast: And so… This is definitely a case of or… “you tell me your five best friends, the five people that you spend the most time around and that’s basically a reflection of who you are.” We can kind of look at that in the same way, with the Catholic Church; show me who your friends are: These are the guys. And that’s basically what the Catholic Church is today. It’s kind of the same analogy, Right?
Fr. McFarland: I think so.
SSPX Podcast: So that’s all the past or the most recent more recent past, and then we get to today: I’ve talked with a decent amount of conservative Catholics – not traditional Catholics but conservative Catholics – who are just shocked, “shocked I tell you,” uh that some of these errors are happening today, in the last you know two or three, four years, and certainly during the pontificate of Pope Francis and they’re surprised that this is all happening. But we really shouldn’t be surprised, right?
Fr. McFarland: Right and the important thing to remember is that Pope Francis didn’t come out of nowhere.
SSPX Podcast: Right.
Fr. McFarland: He’s – we can say even – the logical conclusion of what’s been going on in the Church since the 1960s. And he …you know it’s not as if he, you know rode into the papal conclave and forced his own election. He was…
SSPX Podcast: Right.
Fr. McFarland: He was appointed archbishop and cardinal by John Paul II in spite of having, you know strange ideas, and strange practices, he remained in that position. And it’s impossible to even think that someone like him could have been made a bishop, much less be elected pope, without Vatican II and the subsequent crisis having taken place, so…
SSPX Podcast: And the crisis has really escalated. I mean we see this, but from what, from our own experiences… But what are some, what are some kind of water marks, some key points in the pontificate of Pope Francis that we can point to, where this is really escalating the crisis?
Fr. McFarland: Right I think on the in a very clear way the Pachamama scandal…
SSPX Podcast: Oh yeah…
Fr. McFarland: …of last year I think that that that shook up a lot of people, and made them realize that something more was going on, and rightly so. We’re talking about this this idol, this image of the earth mother – whatever that is – at the amazon synod, despite the fact that the idol is of Incan origin which is… any way – but during the synod, you know in the Vatican gardens on October 4th in 2019 there was a pagan ritual performed centering on this image, these idols of this earth mother, including people prostrating themselves, bowing down, giving visible worship to an idol in in in the Vatican gardens, with you know pope Francis close by. You know the official… the first official position of the Vatican was they deny that it ever happened but the video was already public. You know and after the ceremony, one of the idols was presented to Pope Francis who blessed it, and in return he was given a pagan necklace, an offering of soil, to pachamama and a tucum ring, which is apparently a black wooden ring with an occult spell cast on it, symbolizing spiritual marriage with pakamama, and it’s apparently also taken as a symbol of liberation theology. But… and then the ceremony itself was only about 10 minutes long, the statues were still all over the Vatican throughout the course of the synod. They’re carried in procession and placed on the main altar in saint Peter’s Basilica on October 7th, you know where the amazonians with Pope Francis and other bishops offered prayers in a circle around it, and then others were set up in the Church, Sancta Maria Transpotina, from which they were famously removed and thrown in the Tiber by a layman.
SSPX Podcast: A clear violation of the of the first commandment right?
Fr. McFarland: Right the offering worship to idols. You know most the time when you’re teaching people about the first commandment you say “well you’re probably not going to be tempted to literal idolatry these days,” but it would seem that in some places they are right, that they’re bowing down before an image of something that is not God, is not Jesus Christ, is something pagan, and… there’s no excuse that can justify it! You can’t say “well it’s just hospitality to those who…” You can’t do something evil for a good purpose and is an objective evil. I mean in the old testament God is repeatedly chastising the Israelites for their worship of idols. It’s a serious thing! It’s a serious thing! There’s no way it can be justified. And it’s impossible to imagine this taking place in the pontificate of Pius XII or Saint Pius the 10th or Pius XI or Pius V or any of the popes that came between, or any of the popes that came before. You know, the popes in the early centuries of the Church died rather than even give the appearance of committing idolatry.
SSPX Podcast: This is the… this is the obvious one, this is the… this is the real break with any sort of tradition. I mean this is, again, like you said Father, it’s breaking the first commandment, you can’t get much more clear than that, that there is a real problem here. But this isn’t the only one, this isn’t… this isn’t like trads are just saying “hey this is the issue we have, the issue with Pachamama, here now, we need to, you know, really rope you into traditional circles,” uh there’s been a lot more, right?
Fr. McFarland: Right and most notably amoris Laetitia, the apostolic exhortation following the synods on the family in 2014 and 2015 which it …you know, being a document and having that that usual sort of weaselly modernist approach, where they don’t come out and say things quite as clearly. Traditional Catholics would, you know…. traditional theology would say very clearly what it meant and… but still it’s certainly putting forward the possibility of giving to communion to those Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried, which is a situation that Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself says constitutes adultery. And in chapter 19 of saint Matthew’s gospel, also chapter 5, and then chapter 16 of saint Luke’s gospel very clearly, that you know to put away your wife and marry another you committed all three, and yet the document itself Amoris Laetitia says that it can no longer simply be said that all those in any irregular situation are living in a state of mortal sin, and are deprived of sanctifying grace. Such situations, realize, they’re far too abstract, an “almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families in a partial and analogous way.”
SSPX Podcast: Right.
Fr. McFarland: So this is the… Our Lord Jesus Christ puts forth a “nearly impossible ideal” that people “can’t realize.” So in their ability to… their inability to realize it, then they’re certainly not in mortal sin
And in talking about what can be done for these people, the footnote to the text says, “in certain cases this can include the help of the sacraments hence…” and this is quoting pope Francis, “…I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy. I would also point out that the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”
SSPX Podcast: Right
Fr. McFarland: And there’s , you know, deliberate ambiguity there. It’s not a remedy for those who are in mortal sin and one has to… the confessional is, but the holy eucharist is not! One has to be in the state of grace to receive it worthily. Again that’s very clear, right, as st Paul points out “that if we if we receive the blessed sacrament unworthily we’re guilty of the of the Body and Blood of Our Lord.”
SSPX Podcast: And it’s right there in the communion prayers as well, right after the… if… and correct me if I’m wrong Father, but if right after the…. right after the priest receives holy communion he says, um, “let this not be a judgment to my condemnation” but, you know , it’s something that helps me get to… I mean he says it right there. [editor’s note: the prayer is just before the celebrant’s communion] The celebrant says this could condemn me, this could be something that could send me to hell if I if I do it unworthily, and he’s praying for that grace, you know “let me receive this worthily.” It’s there. This is not ambiguous.
Fr. McFarland: Right. And to you know to suggest that, you know, that nowadays the situations are impossible and we can’t we can’t expect people to live up to that is… is effectively denying the… you know… God’s grace and the objective reality of of what’s taking place. We can’t say that an adulterous relationship is something good just because it might hurt people’s feelings to say that it’s something bad, you know? Our Lord himself has told us this, Right. We can’t say that Jesus Christ needs to get with the times and realize the… you know… the new situations that people have to encounter. I think he was well aware of what they would be.
SSPX Podcast: Right and this was about four years ago, and from what I recall the Vatican stood by it, and has stood by it, um… But there have been people who have really pushed for the Vatican to either clarify these things or to outright scrap it including cardinals, is that correct?
Fr. McFarland: Right they have the the dubia. Five questions presented by cardinal Caffarra, Burke, Brandmüller, and meissner on September 19th of 2016. No response has been given to that. We also had a commission of 45 theologians review it. They condemned 19 propositions present in the document Amoris Laetitia of which they said 11 were heretical. And then you had the also the group of 40 who signed the the the correctio filiales, the filial correction sent in August of 2016. And those are unprecedented.
SSPX Podcast: Right
Fr. McFarland: In the history of the Church, that there be a filial correction of the pope, that you have cardinals presenting dubia, based on a document that is – at least has the appearance of being magisterial.
SSPX Podcast: Right and God bless them for doing that. And I want to take a side step for a second, and again maybe we’ll be talking about this over the next 10 – 12 episodes or not, but something that’s always struck me about the current pontificate is, you know, the first year or two where pope Francis was the pope uh there were many people who said, “well his statements are ambiguous because he’s just, you know, he’s used to just kind of speaking as a cardinal, he’s not really used to speaking as a pope, you know, give him some time he’ll kind of figure it out.” But throughout the entire pontificate we have this ambiguity where almost every time he’s on a plane you know there’s statements that people are scratching their head: “Well did he mean this, or did he mean this?” Or interviews with, you know, his favorite interviewee… or interviewer is an atheist um in in Italy, and there are statements where again, there’s that ambiguity. And we can’t really defend that ambiguity like we could maybe in the first year of this pontificate.
Fr. McFarland: Well I don’t think you could ever defend it maybe early on you might try to excuse it but it’s… s
SSPX Podcast: Sure.
Fr. McFarland: …It’s, and it’s common in the in the conciliar documents themselves of Vatican II and of the post-conciliar magisterium you find this ambiguity and it’s most the time it’s deliberate.
It would be very easy to clarify what you mean but you don’t want that clarification because you have some some plan to make some change by means of this ambiguous statement, and so you don’t really want to push it that far, but you want to kind of leave the door open and let people interpret the way they want; to not do the hard work…
SSPX Podcast: Right.
Fr. McFarland: …and we, and then we just sort of move the ball gradually down the field ,right, by getting people used to an ambiguous formulation and they say “well okay that previous document also said it,” and so on. And you build on these ambiguous statements to justify ultimately whatever it is you happen to feel like doing.
SSPX Podcast: Sure so the Society of Saint Pius X has stood up for years, um since its founding, and Archbishop did against these against this crisis, and you know we’re… again we’re talking about all these things that have happened since Vatican II, and the SSPX has stood up against it, and now there are other traditional groups that are standing up against it as well. But not a whole lot of outcry or defense of truth and tradition from the conciliar Church, from within the Church, why do you think that is? Is it… are people scared? Are archbishops and cardinals scared, or are they just along for the ride or…?
Fr. McFarland: Well I think it’s…
SSPX Podcast: And I know I’m asking you to put motives in people’s heads sorry that’s probably not fair but…
Fr. McFarland: And it certainly would, you know vary from person to person, um I think a lot of them…. you know that the better ones are… don’t think they can do anything, they’re just gonna rock the boat and then get smacked down by somebody. Smacked down in the press, smacked down by their confreres, smacked down even potentially by the Vatican, lose their positions, and so on. Some of them are certainly, you know, on board 100% and you know want to keep pushing the envelope, keep the destruction of the crisis going, because they don’t uh have any love for tradition and what it stands for.
SSPX Podcast: Right so we do have those four cardinals uh cardinal Burke cardinal Caffara cardinal Brandmuller and cardinal Meisner uh who spoke out against, at least against Amoris Laetitiae, um and we have one archbishop who is more recently sounding the alarm as well, right?
Fr. McFarland: Archbshop Vigano, the former nuncio to the United States who has been very direct, very clear, and… this is just you know within the past year or two that he’s… he’s really become a public figure, and as that things… as time has gone on, we see him saying more and more uh the sort of things that the even the Society has been saying for.. for a few decades. And …and he’s very clear too, that this crisis as it is today comes you know from that that original moment, if you want of Vatican II, where this all broke out into the open. It’s not that it all started there it’s been you know, currents have been running for centuries, as I think we’ll see in the in future uh podcasts, but… It all, it certainly you know, breaks out into the open, becomes mainstream, is embraced by a large part of the … larger part of the of the Church at Vatican II. And in his summary of the of the origin uh is is quite excellent you know he says
“If the pachamama could be adored in a church, we owe it to Dignitatis Humanae. If we have a liturgy that is Protestantized and at times even paganized, we owe it to the revolutionary action of Msgr. Annibale Bugnini and to the post-conciliar reforms… If we have come to the point of delegating decisions to the Bishops’ Conferences – even in grave violation of the Concordat, as happened in Italy – we owe it to collegiality, and to its updated version, synodality. Thanks to synodality, we found ourselves with Amoris Laetitia having to look for a way to prevent what was obvious to everyone from appearing: that this document, prepared by an impressive organizational machine, intended to legitimize Communion for the divorced and cohabiting, just as Querida Amazonia will be used to legitimize women priests (as in the recent case of an “episcopal vicaress” in Freiburg) and the abolition of Sacred Celibacy”.
SSPX Podcast: …Wow if that doesn’t sum it all up…
Fr. McFarland: Yep!
SSPX Podcast: Wow. And it’s, and it’s one archbishop. And that sounds kind of familiar.
Fr. McFarland: It does doesn’t it?
And I think there’s… there could be the temptation for us to sort of, you know, fold our arms and say “well it’s about time other people started showing up too” of this…
SSPX Podcast: Yeah
Fr. McFarland: It’s something I think that we should avoid. You know we’re right, the more fellow travelers we have, it doesn’t matter when they arrive, and… but that they understand what’s going on, that they’re willing to to see the crisis for what it is, and embrace the truth, is absolutely a good thing.
SSPX Podcast: So basically to sum up Father we are looking at, again, whether we talk about these actions as crisis or we talk about this act… these actions as um symptoms of a larger crisis overall the Church is almost unrecognizable from what it was 60 years ago.
Fr. McFarland: It’s been turned on its head entirely. We have we have chaos in the hierarchy, we have scandals of all sorts: moral scandals, doctrinal scandals, we have the open contradiction of Our Lord Jesus Christ himself, we have the, you know, the surveys we’ve talked about that indicate the loss of faith, the lack of practice of the faith, a ever-growing lack of respect for the Church’s moral teaching, we have a fall in vocations… all these things unparalleled in the Church’s history
SSPX Podcast: Wow.
Fr. McFarland: We are in in the midst of the crisis. There have been other crises in the past, undoubtedly but nothing on this scale, nothing with this depth nothing with this much damage. It’s the greatest that has ever afflicted the Church, and I think as we’ll see in the, in you know, in the future episodes, all of this comes from the disastrous attempt to marry the teaching of the Church with the thinking of the modern world at Vatican 2.
SSPX Podcast: Well that’s uplifting.
Well, and I’m sorry! I’m sorry to be flippant about it, I’m not trying to be, but this is, again… We… This was not supposed to be a cheery episode. This is, this is… we are laying out “is there a crisis?” And let’s make it perfectly clear what we are talking about when we talk about the crisis. It’s all of these things. And I really want to just keep talking, and now end the note with “well let’s talk about some of the things that we can do,” um but Father Franks has said “no let’s just do one episode on what is the crisis” so I think for now we’re going to end it here Father.
Fr. McFarland: All right. I think we should certainly remember that it is still the mystical body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and he is with it till the end of time, and the Church will come through this crisis as well.
SSPX Podcast: There you go! Thank you for that I… thank you for giving me that, at least at the end, Father, I appreciate it!
Well Father thank you for your time, I appreciate it. We’re gonna be uh we’re gonna be chatting with you again on future episodes, along with some of our other priests, so thank you again for not just doing this, but for all of your work uh helping to keep the Society afloat and tradition going.
Fr. McFarland: Absolutely.
SSPX Podcast: All right thank you.
Fr. McFarland: God bless you.
Thank you for listening to and watching this first episode of the crisis in the Church series. please make sure to subscribe to this podcast and our youtube account so you won’t miss our next episode. Coming next week we’ll be speaking with Father Alexander Wiseman on the background of this crisis, which stretches back to the 1300s – a lot further than the second Vatican council. And if you’re able to help support this endeavor please consider a small monthly donation of $5, $10, $20… these recurring donations help us immensely to know that we can count on much needed resources to produce these videos and podcasts. Just visit sspxpodcast.com for options. Until next time thank you for listening, and for sharing, and for your support, and god bless you.