Mcbrien column april 2008


Our diocese is blessed (ahem) to have Father Richard McBrien’s syndicated column published in our diocese newspaper. In this episode McBrien knocks the B16 for thinking that sacramental confession is actually worthwhile. I would like to write a letter to the diocese about how upset I am with his column (specifically this one). The parishes in our diocese are required to pay for this publication. However, I don’t think I have time to write such a letter. Seeing as McBrien’s column is pretty widely distributed, I’m wondering if anyone has already written a letter explaining how ridiculous it is that dissenting opinions (about the sacraments nonetheless) are published in a diocese sponsored newspaper. So did anyone else run across this and already weigh in?
Ben Anderson


I have written and complained about this sort of thing for some years in my own diocese. Fr. McBrien obviously dissents against (rejects) the Catholic Faith in a substantial way and he is filled with ridicule and scorn for orthodox teachings. He is a scandal and the fact that several diocesan newspapers still carry his opinions (although fewer do each year) is a sad statement on the quality of our Catholic leadership in many places. The fact that many rank-and-file Catholics read that column and enjoy it is also a clear indication about how weak the faith is among many.


I hope that the Holy Father, Benedict XVI addresses these matters on his coming visit. McBrien has been a stone in the shoe of the U.S. Catholic Church long enough. It’s high time that he and like-minded “leaders” are either censured or defrocked.


Is this the article you are referring to?

“The Future of Confession”

Full article here.

First, let me start by saying I do not trust this guy. But looking at the article, nothing jumps out except this one paragraph near the end.

For many the experience of reconciliation occurs in conversation with friends, consistently with James’ advice to “confess your sins to one another” (5:16), but more commonly through active participation in the Eucharist.

Clearly, one cannot receive the Eucharist with grave sins on their conscience. Secondly, we need the priest, in their role as alter Christus in order to have our sins forgiven. Talking it out with your (Catholic?) buddies does not cut it.

California Catholic Daily has an interesting take on the article.


Richard McBrien has been a brazen HERETIC and yet,
strangely, a priest in good standing, for 40 years or more now.
I have his obscenely wickedly heretical book WHO IS A CATHOLIC? written back in the 60s that I bought at a used bookstore.

I would like to know who is responsible for allowing this
arrogant hater of all things orthodox to retain his active
priesthood AND teach on the faculty of a “Catholic” university???

Somebody, in ADDITION to McBrien, should also be
DEFROCKED, and I am referring to the higher ups that
allow this spiritual wolf to devour the flock.


Fr. McBrien has done a lot to destroy the faith of many Catholics. Most of those wanted to hear his brand of secularized Catholicism so the loss of faith is not an accident. But he has helped to drive a wedge between his followers and the teachings of the Church. He not only shouldn’t be writing in diocesan newspapers (which he does every week) but he should be completely silenced if not defrocked. He has a very long paper-trail of dissenting material. Of course, he will deny any formal heresies – everything is done by innuendo and suggestion. He winks at the heresies that he gets cozy with, but when challenged he will back away and claim that he’s faithful.

Here’s a perfect, classic example:

For many the experience of reconciliation occurs in conversation with friends, consistently with James’ advice to “confess your sins to one another” (5:16), but more commonly through active participation in the Eucharist.

The average reader (and that’s who he’s writing for) will walk away confirmed in their belief that they don’t need to go to Confession (as a large number of Catholics believe) since they can “experience reconciliation” in a “conversation with friends”.

They will also be encouraged to think that Communion will provide forgiveness of their mortal sins.

It’s blatantly obvious what McBrien is trying to say and what heresies he is supporting in that brief paragraphy. He telegraphs his intent with every word.

But when challenged, he plays the manipulator and deceiver (there’s clearly a mark of Satan in his writings) and will deny any formally heretical statement.

This might be why he has not been silenced yet. But this also assumes that our bishops are not intelligent enough to see the game that McBrien has been playing. I think it’s worse actually – that many bishops support McBrien because they share his hostility to the Holy See. This has been a scourge for the Church for many years. Thankfully, we’re seeing the beginning of the end of that era. But the clean-up process has been very slow and meanwhile, more people are corrupted by bad teaching and are lost to the Faith and to God. That is a tragedy.


I have read McBrien’s column for many years now. I have never considered his articles as teaching Church Doctrine, but more as socialogical comments on the state of Catholics in the Catholic Church. Like what are them lay people or hierarchy up to now? Very little teaching on doctrines or dogmas.

His column has appeared in our diocesan paper through the terms of three bishops (our third since I moved here has been in charge six months) and several changes in editors. The three bishops were appointed, one by Pius XII, one by John Paul II and the last by Benedict XVI, so its difficult for me to understand if what you are claiming about his scribbles are true, how could his column hang on through three Bishops, three popes, and a gaggle of editors. The paper has been redesigned after every Bishop took office, but McBrien’s column hangs on. Maybe you guys are reading more into what he says than is actually there.

As far as the paragraph on confession quoted above, I am certain, that that is where not a few of our post Vatican II people in the pews are at. Now with regard to his books it is, in my opinion, a whole different matter. I would never even consider purchasing one; too unreliable.

closed #8

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