Wednesday, June 19, 2024

About That Interview...

I am sure that by now that our readers have all heard the worrisome report from Rorate Caeli (which has in the past proved to be quite well-informed on this topic), namely, that the Roman authorities are preparing another dose of Accompaniment™ for the bishops, in regard to the governance of their faithful who love the traditional Roman Rite. And make no mistake – it is the bishops and their authority which will be assaulted and undermined, if a follow-up to Traditionis Custodes is indeed in the works, as a certain kind of ideologue grows increasingly frustrated with Their Excellencies’ paternal charity. As we pray the Lord to avert such a calamity, let us remember also to pray especially for our bishops, who may soon find themselves constrained to treat their faithful with a shabbiness not of their own doing.

Some of the 850 faithful who attended the last Sunday traditional Mass in the cathedral of Melbourne, Australia, which the DDW has recently forced the local archbishop to end.
By coincidence rather than design, I am sure, the man who is thought by many to have been the mind behind the previous assault, the Italian liturgy professor Andrea Grillo, has just given an interview to the website Messa in Latino, which has been translated into English by the excellent Rome-based journalist Diane Montagna, and published on Rorate Caeli. I pause to note that I disagree with Rorate’s wording for their headline, which calls the interview “astonishing”. Prof. Grillo has never allowed the law of charity to temper his disdain for all and sundry, and there is nothing new or astonishing about it. (See the profile picture on his blog for further details: I do not insert it here, since the algorithms that govern social media platforms disapprove of the behavior which it shows, and tend to delete links to articles that contain such pictures.)

I pause also to note that Prof Grillo himself has denied that he was in any way involved in the issuing of Traditionis Custodes; if this is the case, the similarities which it bears to his writings on the subject are so notable that he should sue the DDW for plagiarism. On the other hand, the Italian academy is a house built on envy, and it would be career suicide for any Italian academic, but especially one working for the Church, to admit that his work had had any sort of impact on the real world.

Since the publication of the interview yesterday, I have received more than one exhortation to write a response, to which I can only reply that I do not see the point. I trust that most people will be repulsed by the frantic lack of empathy that seethes through his every word; those who are not so repulsed are unlikely to be persuaded in any direction by anything I might choose to write.

The internet has given us a number of useful terms to describe its various epiphenomena, one of which is “gish-gallop – a rhetorical technique in which a person ... attempts to overwhelm their opponent by providing an excessive number of arguments with no regard for the(ir) accuracy or strength.” (Wikipedia) I propose that in our intra-ecclesiastical discourse, we rename this “the grillo-gallop” in honor of this interview, and the professor’s work in general. A similarly useful and related term is Brandolini’s Law, more colorfully and amusingly known as the “b—s— asymmetry principle”, which states that it takes far more time and effort to refute a specious or absurd argument than it does to make one; and in this case, that means time that I simply do not have.

Fortunately, someone else has taken the time. Back in March, Mr Kevin Tierney published an article on his excellent Substack about the reception (or lack thereof) of the post-Conciliar liturgical reform, which I asked his permission to reprint as soon as I read it. Again with his permission, I reproduce here some of his observations on the Grillo interview made in foro privato. (You can also find Kevin on Twitter at, and hopefully be inspired to offer him some encouragement to keep up his excellent work.) I have added quotations from the interview in italics.

“As with many others, Professor Grillo should be thanked for his honesty. He’s insane, but he’s honest. And the Pope has a madman for a courtier.

It’s not just that he hates the Latin Mass with a passion that is tough to decipher. He views the shrinking of the Church as something to be celebrated, not bemoaned, as a necessary transition to purity. (...“the ‘dearth of seminarians’ and ‘young people fleeing’ is not just a negative fact: is the sign of a necessary travail for the entire Church.”)

When most people see others who have violated no doctrines but are Catholic in a different way, they shrug their shoulders. Even if they don’t like it, they don’t lose sleep over it.

Professor Grillo has not slept in years. He is kept perpetually awake by this, and seems to have inflicted a similar insomnia on the Pope. The traditionalists are an irrelevant sect, nothing compared to the wider Church. (“What are [the] 18,000 people [at Chartres this year] compared to the great multitude of the Catholic Church? Little more than a sect that experiences infidelity as salvation...”)
Dangerous counter-revolutionaries, undermining the unity of the Faith!
But we are also such a mortal danger to the Church that we must be forcefully suppressed. Even one Catholic who experiences spirituality differently from Grillo is a danger to the entire Church. (“Praying ‘una cum Papa’ isn’t achieved with mere chatter, but by sharing with the Church, and above all the Pope, the one Ordo in force. Otherwise, one chatters but lives in opposition to tradition.”)

When it is pointed out to him that this kind of theology can’t allow things such as Eastern liturgies or diverse movements within the Church, he doesn’t shy away from it, but doubles down. The end goal is that all Catholics must worship and understand the Faith exactly the same as whoever currently occupies the see of Rome. If we aren’t doing this, then we aren’t praying in communion with the Pope.

Most importantly, he develops a tension not between traditionalists and Church authorities, but between ordinary Catholics and ideologically-motivated revolutionaries. Professor Grillo wants a Church of perpetual revolution, one that is always attacking the foundations of the past, preparing for a glorious future. (“Tradition is not the past, but the future.”) Even most of those who aren’t traditionalists eventually get tired of the constant uprooting.

That this is an academic, divorced from interactions with everyday people, is not surprising. Only an academic or someone high in authority thinks like this.”

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