THE WANDERER INTERVIEWS FR. PAUL MARX
by Arthur J. Brew
Q. As we approach the next millennium, what will be the condition of
the Catholic Church in America in the years 2025, 2050?
A. In the next millennium, say 2025, 2050, I see the Catholic Church
in America shrinking in numbers, given the continued theological
confusion in the seminaries and so-called Catholic colleges and
universities, the feminist movement, and the failure of the bishops
I do see the Catholic remnant as being more dedicated and devoted to
the faith, given the opposition members of the remnant must face in
trying to survive with their children. Religious orders that are
orthodox, like the Legionaries of Christ and Opus Dei, will increase
in goodly numbers. The smaller orthodox religious orders, both men
and women, will serve the faithful in a society threatened ever-more
by pagan, massive communications over which the Church has little
control. Orthodox Catholic publishers, broadcasters, and apologists,
as well as activist groups of Catholics will be a good counterforce
to the increasing paganization of the nation.
Q. Will there be many priestless parishes here and abroad?
A. Given the fact of few vocations among the various religious orders
and the decreasing number of seminarians, and with the median age of
secular priests at 59, there will be obviously many priestless
parishes here and in Western Europe. Priestless parishes mean that
the faith will be poorly served. Who will hear their Confessions?
Who will conduct the devotions to nurture the faith? Pius XII's
encyclical on the liturgy says that "the Mass is the source and
center of Christian piety." Imagine Catholic life without it! And
there will be many Catholics, already poorly educated in the faith,
faced with an increasingly pagan culture, now without the sacraments,
without the authentic devotions that have nurtured the faith through
the centuries, without Sunday preaching. More and more laymen will
have to be activated, but laymen can never replace priests.
Q. What effect will this have on the faithful and the Church?
A. Threatening to become the largest body of Christians in the U.S.A.
are fallen-away Catholics. Their numbers will increase, given the
shortage of priests and religious, given the shortage of authentic
Catholic education, and given the onslaught of the secular feminists
who have invaded virtually all our active religious orders.
Q. Will vocations continue to decline?
A. Obviously vocations will continue to decline in the United States.
Vocations, both religious and priestly, we know come not from the
very rich nor from the very poor, but from middle-class families who
have a deep faith and who know how to cultivate a Catholic home. The
home-schooling movement will replace what authentic Catholic schools
in the past have done somewhat. Homeschooling is no substitute for
organized, truly Catholic education on any level. Also, Catholics
have comparatively few children, surely not many more than the
average American couple, whereas we know that vocations come from
larger families with generous parents.
I cannot foresee that we will have more vocations in the future the
way things are going now, and given the condition of family life,
including Catholic family life today.
An Enormous Evil
Q. Is there really an "American Church" which is sharply at odds with
the Holy Father and the ?
A. So far as morality is concerned, we already have an American
Church in which wild theologians are allowed to dissent from the
authentic traditional Catholic moral teaching, in which is questioned and even rejected, in which false theories of
morality flourish in Catholic colleges and universities, and in which
the wild theologians go uncorrected by their superiors, religious and
Contraception is an enormous evil and the gateway to abortion and all
manner of sexual abuse. We now know that if parents contracept, their
teenagers will fornicate. But how many American bishops condemn
contraception? The Pope has done so in every country of the world he
has visited; he has often done so in his writings. The Pope told a
group of moral theologians assembled in Rome that is
no longer to be theologically discussed or questioned since
contraceptive birth control has been condemned for centuries under
the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Sterilization is the fastest-growing
means of birth control in the world. It is safe to say that of
Catholics married 10 years or more or having two children, at least
30% have been sterilized. How many bishops in the United States have
spoken out against this? Most birth control used in the United States
consists of sterilization or abortifacients and surgical abortion as
well. Where are the theologians and the priests and the religious and
the bishops to remind the many Catholics who are using abortifacients
that they are actually aborting?
All of this, and much more, indicates that we have an "American
Church" indeed at odds with the Holy Father and the .
Q. Do you think the "American Church" will continue to drift away
A. I see things as getting worse, I mean in regard to the theologians
and the bishops not standing up for orthodoxy, and not obeying the
Pope despite his pleas for obedience. I do not see what will halt the
drift to the left with, of course, small groups and programs
There are 300 bureaucrats at the National Conference of Catholic
Bishops who write the statements of the bishops, determine their
policies, and issue an avalanche of instructions that no bishop has
time to read.
A Lack Of Faith
Q. How do you explain the many liturgical abuses occurring in so many
parishes in this country, and why hasn't there been more of an outcry
A. Liturgical abuses are many, and they are, again, allowed by our
bishops. Religious superiors as well are at fault in allowing such.
Religious orders of nuns are involved in these liturgical abuses with
their superiors seemingly having lost their faith and not correcting
these serious liturgical abuses.
I think, further, that these liturgical abuses stem from a lack of
faith, that a large portion of religious and even priests, and I
suspect some bishops, have lost their faith. They no longer believe
in transubstantiation, and so the liturgical rules are not all that
important, they think, while being led by the bureaucrats on issues
like inclusive language and women priests.
Q. Is the National Conference of Catholic Bishops a significant force
for good in the United States?
A. I fail to see how the NCCB is a "significant force for good in the
United States." I have been waiting for a definitive statement on the
virtue of chastity in and out of marriage while the bishops preoccupy
themselves annually with lesser problems. They speak of violence and
decry it, but say virtually nothing about the violence of sexual
abuse, which creates all manner of violence and disruption in married
and family life, to say nothing of the lives of the youth who have no
models in their parents and very often in their teachers, laymen now,
many of whom are contracepting-even aborting and sterilizing
themselves -and who therefore are no model to the young.
How can one expect them to be models to their students, promoters of
chastity, and advocates of true morality? I dare to say, from what
good lay people tell me, that the Catholic bishops have lost their
credibility. There are a number of reasons for this, one of them is
Joseph Cardinal Bernardin's seamless garment theory in which he
equates the evil of abortion with all manner of other evils which
gave an excuse to so many Catholics not to fight this baby-killing.
I was absolutely shocked to hear Bernard Cardinal Law, who has a poor
reputation when it comes to pro-life matters, say that we should not
be praying and picketing before abortion centers! He called off a
three-hour prayer service on New Year's Eve when a crackpot shot up
two abortion centers. That should have been all the more reason to
pray that evening, and all the more reason why we all should pray in
front of abortion centers.
As former abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson wrote in one of his
books, one picketer outside the abortion mill bothers the doctor who
is killing the baby, bothers the nurse who is handing him the bloody
tools, bothers the receptionist who is taking the bloody cash. And
Cardinal Law would call them off! No wonder abortionists fully
celebrated his call-off! Besides, Cardinal Law was part of a very bad
pastoral in Massachusetts on the family a few years ago, wherein
contraception and sterilization were not even mentioned, as if these
were no longer serious sins in the Catholic Church.
I regret to say that many thinking Catholics wonder about our
bishops, ask why they don't speak out forcefully, "in season and out
of season," letting the chips fall where they may, as bishops did in
the past. No matter what foolish things a bishop does or says, he is
supported by other bishops. The bishops should speak with one voice
only when they say the whole truth; I don't see this happening. And
the creative bishop in the little diocese is afraid to pioneer or to
say the whole truth, seemingly fearing what the bishops think or what
the Catholic conference thinks.
Disregard Of Good Traditions
Q. Why are there so few vocations today?
A. I have already given reasons why religious and priestly vocations
are so short. Let me add that the priest is no longer a hero in the
minds of young people. After my 47 years of priesthood, I see few
priests involved with young people, whereas when I was a young priest
there were many so involved. Also, all the scandals that priests have
given by leaving their commitment, by acts of pedophilia, and so on,
have surely lessened the desire of young men to become priests. Also,
the antics of the nun- liberationists have been a scandal. All too
few are the truly Catholic religious nuns in habit who are a shining
example of virtue and unselfishness, joyful in their demeanor, truly
pious, obviously loving the Lord and therefore His children.
It seems to me that we pray less for vocations than when I was
ordained in the late 1940s when there were many vocations.
Another reason why I think there are few vocations is that there is
much less Catholic education, and much of so-called Catholic
education is riddled with heresy and bad, explicit sex education
which often amounts to no more than organ recitals.
Q. What is behind the drive to renovate so many churches, stripping
them of kneelers, altar rails, confessionals, statues, and holy
pictures, and hiding tabernacles? Is there a mandate for this from
A. I know of no mandate from Rome which says that kneelers, altar
rails, confessionals, statues, and holy pictures should be stripped
from our churches. I see in all this a lack of respect for good
traditions, and I think the whole of these abuses is one more
reflection of a loss of faith.
A Pornographic Culture
Q. There seems to be an increase in sexual scandals in the clergy in
recent years, or has the situation just gotten more publicity?
A. I am inclined to think there is much more clergy sex abuse than
there was 30 to 40 years ago. It is not a case of these sexual
scandals getting more publicity. Indeed they get much publicity, but
during most of my years of priesthood I heard of no archbishops
abusing sex, of no bishops involved in sexual abuse: All this
happened in the last three years.
One cause for the increased sexual abuse among the clergy and
religious is the highly pornographic culture of modern times. This
was not so even 15 to 20 years ago, nor did we have pornographic
massive communication as we have today.
The virtue of chastity needs many props; they are mostly gone today,
and I see no spiritual substitutes in the offing.
Q. Do you feel that the homosexual movement has attempted to
infiltrate the seminaries and the priesthood?
A. I have no evidence that the homosexual movement has attempted to
infiltrate the seminaries and the priesthood. The seminaries and the
priesthood are the ideal environment for the homosexuals, however,
being all-male groups. Homosexuals normally gravitate to all-male
groups, above all religious.
Q. Why is there an apparent resistance to Latin Masses, especially
the Tridentine Mass, in the United States?
A. There is much resistance to Latin Masses, mostly on the part of
the bishops, for reasons I do not fully understand. I have been told
that the bishops fear that with the Latin Mass would come back the
old-time Church of pre-Vatican II and the old ways they want to
discard or think are not good. I am befuddled by this resistance to
Latin Masses. My view would be if people want to go to a Latin Mass,
let them do so.
Q. Will American bishops ever attempt to recruit priests from those
African and East European countries where there are many vocations?
A. In years gone by, American bishops recruited many priests from
Ireland; in fact, there was one seminary solely meant to produce
priests for foreign countries, known as All Hallow's. Some bishops in
the past recruited priests from other countries, like Spain and
Holland. We find no such recruiting today, but then there are no
vocations to be recruited in Western Europe! I do know that a number
of Polish priests are coming into this country, and more and more
African priests, particularly Nigerian priests.
Natural Family Planning
Q. Why is there such ambivalence about abortion among American
Catholics? (It has been reported many times that Catholic women have
abortions in about the same proportion as non-Catholics.)
A. I find it hard to believe that Catholic women have abortions in
about the same ratio as nonCatholics. How do you define "Catholic
women"? In graduate school, we used to argue by the hour as to who
was Catholic. I find it hard to believe that Catholic, churchgoing
women, or women who really know their faith and who have been
properly instructed, are having abortions. One thing I am convinced
of: Most Catholics have no idea what abortion really is. The reason
is that most Catholics have very little idea of intrauterine life.
Abortion, then, does not seem to be such a great evil. Also, they
have been propagandized that it is only a clump of cells, not human,
and many theologians have told them we don't know when life begins.
It is because so many do not know the human reproductive system that
they do not see the evil of abortion as destroying a human being and
therefore also are not interested in natural family planning (NFP).
If they understood the human reproductive system, they would know
that natural family planning is a very moral and reasonable practice.
In the area of NFP, American Catholics are terribly uninformed, and I
lay the blame on bishops and priests. It is a rare priest who
understands natural family planning. I met a bishop once who had not