Over the last few years, Fr John Zuhlsdorf has been leaving a taste that gets sourer and more unpleasant as time goes by. His growing antipathy towards Pope Francis reached sickening proportions a year or two back, some time before the Amazon Synod. At the time of the Amazon Synod, he was ranting like the late Ian Paisley, who had interrupted Pope St John Paul II’s address to the European Parliament by shouting “I denounce you as the Antichrist!”
Others have been saying their bit about his deterioration as well.
Now, it seems, Zuhlsdorf and his adopted US bishop (of Madison) have parted ways, leaving him somewhat SSPX-like without faculties to do much (although he would presumably still have faculties from his Italian bishop). He’s still part of the Italian diocese he belongs to, but he has departed from the Madison diocese, like Trump departed from the White House.
I used to be a fan. I liked EWTN and their founder, Mother Angelica, as well. She died in 2016, and since then EWTN has declined and fallen to become a fundamentalist organisation opposed to Pope Francis and the magisterium of the last 40 years. Last year or the year before, I tweeted to our Cardinal (Napier) that we should remove EWTN from Catholic radio in South Africa (Radio Veritas). It’s still there, but it’s becoming more and more obviously a blight on the Church, and the time will come when it gets cut off.
Zuhlsdorf has chosen his side on the wrong side of the Church, where the crackpots and fear-mongers gather with itching ears to tell each other their latest rumours and gossip. A lot of people are going there, because of today’s uncertainty. It’s as if the right wing offers a secret source of reassurance that the Church lacks and that the truth lacks. He has a cult following; he may go deeper and become a cult leader, at least a cult on the internet. There are some very disturbing things in his history that suggest he already is. Some are mentioned in the comments here. Others are just obvious from looking at the comments on his own blog, and the way his followers have started expressing themselves over the last few years.
In the words of Zuhlsdorf’s own bishop:
“On the other hand, one who combines arguments of faith and morals with photos of birds, Chinese food and aircraft seats, as well as boasting about a firearms license, speaks for itself and I do not see what theological or scientific credibility he can have” … Bishop Vincenzo Apicella.
I would add to that anti-science claims, fake news about COVID-19, fake news about Trump politics, and a fetish for fishwrap. I’d also like to know on what unofficial business paid for by his blog followers he is travelling around the world for. What is everyone paying for?
His future: He says he will move closer to his family. Will a bishop take him in, or will be remain a wandering priest without a home? A bishop suited to his style would be Bishop Joseph Strickland. Vigano is in hiding, Schneider has gone away, and Burke isn’t hiring. Judging by Fr Chad Ripperger’s turn for the worse, there are other visible and official enclaves of pseudo-traditionalism who could take him in where he might easily fit in. He could do what a local Cape Town priest did, and leave the Church to join the SSPX.
Several things worry me. He lies, about important things, not just little things. When a person with such an aura of self-importance, especially a cleric, lies … something is wrong. When a priest starts lying in order to make himself look important … beware of him. Run. It applies to the SSPX, and it applies to Zuhlsdorf. And when such a priest owns a gun …
The words “cult” and “dishonest” and “priest” and “gun” do not belong in the same sentence, not in a sane world. Yet here we are.
I don’t respect clerical megalomania. Respect I had for him has now gone down the toilet. Spiritual abuse is as bad as sexual abuse.
He saw himself as a macho priest fighting evil with his exorcism videos. He made it seem bigger and better by lying. Now he’s exposed. Now he’s just a pathetic little man.
Wherein Fr. Z gives an update about life and changes – Fr Z’s blog
“Fr. Z” to leave Madison diocese – Where Peter Is
Controversial traditionalist Fr. Zuhlsdorf to leave Madison Diocese – National Catholic Register
Priest performed US ‘election exorcisms’ – Christopher Lamb, The Tablet
How Catholic Leaders Helped Give Rise to Violence at the U.S. Capitol – America Magazine
EWTN: The voice of opposition to the pope – Where Peter Is
A dangerous bishop – Where Peter Is