Thursday, October 06, 2005

Faithful priest answers dissident priest

Matt C. Abbott
Matt C. Abbott
October 6, 2005

In a September 9, 2005 column in The Tidings, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, renegade priest-professor Richard McBrien took a cheap shot at Father John Trigilio, author and EWTN television personality.

McBrien sneered: "...Indeed, there is a book, Catholicism for Dummies, co-authored by two priests who also lack theological credentials. But they are 'safe' enough to have a regular program on Mother Angelica's Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN)...."

Trigilio, along with Father Kenneth Brighenti, is the author of Catholicism for Dummies.

Trigilio sent the following (slightly edited) e-mail to The Tidings in response to McBrien's column:

"Father Richard McBrien's ad hominem attack on me and my co-author, let alone the uncharitable and slanderous remarks against Mother Angelica and EWTN, are completely inappropriate for an archdiocesan newspaper. He launched a scud missile against Catholicism for Dummies, yet it alone has an official imprimatur, whereas the competing editions — The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Catholicism and The Everything Catholicism Book — have none whatsoever.

"He brings up the issue of theological credentials. If he means we are not dissident theologians who repudiate the official Magisterium like some of the illustrious academicians of some allegedly Catholic colleges and universities, then by all means we are not in that infamous league.

"We used the Catechism of the Catholic Church as our foundation and schema for the book, so if orthodox catechesis bothers Father McBrien, he should stay away from our book.

"Instead of a character assassination on Senator Rick Santorum, McBrien should reread the Catechism, especially the apostolic letter of Pope John Paul the Great, 'Laetamur Magnopere,' thereby promulgating the Latin typical edition. There, it explicitly refers to the Catechism as the 'authoritative exposition of the one and perennial apostolic faith.' Perennial is the key word.

"The moral and doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church are perennial; they do not change. Disciplines may adapt with time, but doctrine, since it centers on truth, must be immutable. Whether it is doctrine of the male priesthood or of the Real Presence, whether it is the immorality of abortion or contraception, these truths do not change. That is why we have one Catechism for the entire universal Church.

"We are confident that our Catholicism for Dummies is more in conformity to that Catechism than McBrien's book, Catholicism, which conspicuously lacks an imprimatur in the recent third edition."

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He is the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League and the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee. He was a contributor to The Wanderer Catholic newspaper and had numerous letters to the editor published in major newspapers, including the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He can be reached at

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