I was reading Fr Tim Finigan’s blog today, The hermeneutic of continuity, and was startled to read his post “Fr Z under attack.” Apparently Dr. Phyllis Zagano, professor of Religion at Hofstra University, doesn’t care for Fr Z’s ecclesiology and liturgical theology. Actually, it’s not Fr Z she has the problem with, it is the Church. But since she’s can’t get at that in manageable ways, she’s going after a prominent priest-writer. Why does she really care about Fr Z???
The controversy is based on ruffled feathers: Dr Zagano and much of the NC Reporter crowd doesn’t like to be scrutinized by those “who think with the Church.” It seems to me that this is another example of the mentality where “authority (and obedience) is for other people”; remember, this way of judging things isn’t really Catholic. The same doesn’t accept fraternal correction or live in a spirit of obedience to the Holy Mother the Church (who might just know more than a mere individual expositor of religion). Clearly, this is a case of scratch a liberal find a fascist. In world where adults are expected to be mature, trying to dig up dirt so as incite scandal among the faithful has no place in the Church. Perhaps, it seems to me, that Dr Zagano has not really learned much from all the work she’s done with the central spiritualities of the Church.
For the record, I’ve met Fr Z when he came to NYC in 2010. He’s a good priest, a faithful son of the Church who is doing his best to live his vocation.
I have reposted Fr Finigan’s post below. You would do well to read Fr Z’s blog posting “Waiting for Zagano.”
Every now and then, I get a phone call or an email (usually without malice) asking about the canonical status of Fr Zuhlsdorf. I am able to assure people the he is in good standing. He is a priest incardinated in the Diocese of Velletri, with faculties from the diocese, and working outside the diocese with permission from his bishop, engaging in an apostolate of writing and speaking (as well as working on a doctorate.) He lives simply and relies on donations from people. (If you want to support him, go to his blog and you can leave a donation via the paypal button near the top of his sidebar.)
This is a fairly tough situation for a priest to be in, and Father is careful to seek the support of fellow priests (and a few friendly bishops who are grateful on their part for his support of them.) His online apostolate has brought great consolation to many Catholics and has been of significant help in promoting Pope Benedict’s programme of reform and renewal in the Church. His comment is balanced, orthodox, reliable and absolutely loyal to the Holy See.
Now he is Waiting for Zagano who has been planning a hatchet piece on him for the National Catholic Reporter and trying to dig up dirt on him. The National Catholic Reporter is an influential mouthpiece for liberal Catholicism in the US, and Fr Z is a major opponent of their project. So it is not surprising that they should go after him, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this will backfire on the National Catholic Reporter. William Oddie has written an article for the Catholic Herald: Is the National Catholic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) out to get Fr Z? If so, they would be wise to think again. I don’t suppose they will think again, and they probably will fire off the first salvo. So, as in Master and Commander, “We shall beat to quarters!”