Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Out with a whimper -- or, Requiem for a Featherweight

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 05, 2004

The Spring 2004 number of Letters and Notices, a publication of the British Jesuits, approvingly repeats the following excerpt from the London Times's obituary of Fr. Cyril Barrett, S.J.:

Like many Jesuits down the ages Barrett made no attempt to disguise his chafing at the Vatican's hierarchical politics and social conservatism -- going so far as to declare on the day of the attempted assassination of the Pope, in a bellow that filled a London restaurant, that "the only thing wrong with that bloody Turk was that he couldn't shoot straight." Yet he could readily assume his priestly guise and, in that capacity, was a compassionate and subtle counsellor and eminently practical moralist, ultimately convinced of the intelligence as well as the goodness of the Holy Spirit and able to instil that belief in others.

No doubt the Holy Spirit was flattered by the compliment.

A decaying aristocracy brings to all its endeavors the odor of the tomb, and there's something macabre and pathetic even in its attempts at self-congratulation. Deprived equally of a viable future and of a heroic death, it finds itself reduced to mockery of the canons of nobility on which it was founded.

During the persecutions of the 16th century, England's scaffolds provided a platform for several outstanding martyrs of the Society of Jesus to pray for their executioners as they went to their deaths for courageous papistry. In the present era, her restaurants entertain a feebler strain of Jesuit, roused occasionally to the defense of sodomy or inclusive language, but otherwise content to creep into the grave muttering blessings on the Pope's assassin.

It's important to keep in mind that Barrett's outburst is not recorded against him by his detractors but remembered to his credit by his fellows. Do these so-very-emancipated Jesuits realize, I wonder, that in writing this obituary they have written their own?

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach five million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our April expenses ($19,750 to go):
$35,000.00 $15,250.48
56% 44%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 12 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Fr. William - Oct. 06, 2004 6:55 PM ET USA

    Indeed, the Father Arrupes & Father Barretts of the Jesuit order are dying out. And many Jesuits of such heretical nature are still part of the Society. But let's pray for the intercession of Saint Ignatius, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Robert Bellarmine, as there is a small group of orthodox Jesuits, that includes Father Fessio and Father Pacwa, who could lead a reform of the Society, akin to what Fathers Groeschel and Apostoli did with Friars of the Renewal in New York. Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 06, 2004 9:38 AM ET USA

    Whatever good Jesuits may remain in service to God, the Pope and the Church would probably understand if the order was suppressed. The first principle of proper wound management (after staunching the bleeding) is to thoroughly cleanse it. This cleaning is often uncomfortable, but it is essential to prevent infection and to promote optimal healing. I heartily recommend the same procedure in regard to this and other "wounds" in the heart and body of the Church.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 05, 2004 9:00 PM ET USA

    Will the last Jesuit please blow out the candles.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 05, 2004 6:22 PM ET USA

    As the famous Swiss Jesuit (Hans Urs von Balthasar, a JPII Cardinal and one which I have never seen a picture of in a Roman collar) said to Fr. Fessio back in the '70's ... "Die Gesellschaft ist tot". Thirty years have not breathed any life into it.

  • Posted by: Psalms - Oct. 05, 2004 6:21 PM ET USA

    Whatever happened to there motto AMDG?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 05, 2004 5:39 PM ET USA

    Yes, really nice that he had a kind word to put in for the Holy Spirit. I notice he didn't mention God the Father and God the Son.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 05, 2004 4:55 PM ET USA

    A week ago last Sunday we celebrated, in my Traditionalista chapel, the feast of the North American martyrs. All Jesuits. Along with Mass we got a beautifully researched sermon on the sacrifices these men made. Through it all I couldn't help but marvel at the distance between these men and modern Jesuits. A modern Jesuit is far more likely to die from the effects of sodomy than from martyrdom. I fear that screams of mocking laughter came from below when Pedro Arrupe died.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 05, 2004 4:45 PM ET USA

    "Nihil de mortuis nisi...veritas!"

  • Posted by: - Oct. 05, 2004 2:17 PM ET USA

    Mediocre work dear Wormwood, our minions are complaining about the rather insipid flavor of this measly meal you manage to send us.

  • Posted by: shrink - Oct. 05, 2004 10:47 AM ET USA

    Kudos to Diogenes, who, as usual, cuts to the chase. A little footnote: Contrary to the Jesuit claim that the “bloody Turk” couldn’t shoot straight, the facts show that Agca placed two 9mm rounds into the Pope’s gut, at short range (15 ft). This would kill most people, and almost certainly a man in his 60s. Which leads one to conclude that Barrett may be impressed with the intelligence of the Holy Spirit, but has evident disdain for God’s providence.

  • Posted by: Cornelius - Oct. 05, 2004 10:31 AM ET USA

    Though there certainly are better Jesuits than Barrett, the Society has unquestionably lost its founding charism. My own theory is that they were felled by intellectual pride, victims of their own successes in a way.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Oct. 05, 2004 9:57 AM ET USA

    What young man who is faithful to the Church could read that and say this group which heaps such honors upon Cyril Barrett is one that he would want to devote his life to?

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Smaller Church, Bigger Faith, 3: Ecclesiastical Discipline April 17
The Holy Spirit and Evangelization: A Primer April 16
Journey to the Sun: A Strange Biography of Junípero Serra April 16
Russia's demographic recovery + US demographic decline = danger April 16
James Carroll strikes (at the Church) again April 16

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days