The Wanderer Interviews Fr. Paul Marx
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 to lead.
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 bishops.
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 from Rome?
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 resisting.
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 against them?
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 Rome?
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 read