If a Catholic protest happens in a forest…does it make a sound?

January 21, 2020 (Steven O’Reilly) – Over the weekend there was a protest in Munich (see here) to draw attention to the German synodal process which threatens to protestantize the Church with its call for women’s ordination and other liberal demands.  These are all things faithful Catholics should object to.

As I understand it, the small protest invited only (100+); it was organized in secret, and the protesters gathered at the site without even notifying the local archdiocese of their purpose. When I heard this was the general outline of how this meeting came to be and I read Fr. Z’s excellent post (see here) on the Munich demonstration, an old saying came to mind: “if a tree falls in a forest, and there is no one around, does it make a sound?” I don’t know why necessarily, but this morphed into the thought: “if there is a Catholic protest in a forest, and there is no one around, does it make a sound?” Does anyone hear it?  Does it have an impact?

Certainly, Catholic readers of certain online magazines and podcasts may have heard of it, and Catholic twitterverse, of course…but what did Pope Francis, Cardinal Marx and their ilk think of such a tiny, secret gathering in the grand scheme of our times? Trying to imagine it from their vantage point, only one word comes to mind: lilliputian.

It is not my intent to knock these organizers and demonstrators. Indeed, it was a noble effort. Each of them does great work. They all do. I mean that sincerely. So, no insult is intended. Truly, this wee blog (your humble Roma Locuta Est) —  needless to say — is an insignificant nothingness in comparison to their great work, scale, audience, etc. This article is meant only as a positive suggestion. I certainly don’t want to be that the yappy and whiny ‘ankle biter’ guy; however, at the risk of appearing so, I can’t help but feel the “resistance” needs to think at least a little bigger. [NB: I’ve elsewhere offered some thoughts on “bigger” for resistance prelates, such as on an imperfect council  (e.g., here, here, and here)].

While I get it that the small protest in Munich is symbolic, as a suggestion for the future for a start, I think  perhaps a stronger message might be sent if — instead of one protest — multiple ones are coordinated and staged simultaneously around a country, region, or the world. Perhaps in major cities in front of each local bishop’s residence or cathedral, and in front of as many nunciatures as possible — and at the Vatican — all on the same day.

I could be wrong but I can’t imagine it would be too hard to get at least 100+ local people who are concerned enough about the Church to show up. Just replicate that model in a number of key cities/capitals around the world all on the same day — such as after the release of the coming Pachamama Exhortation; then rinse and repeat as the occasion warrants. I don’t know, of course, but I suspect each new demonstration just might grow a little bigger than the one before. We just need some visible lay Catholics and organizations with the wider audiences and networks to pool resources and organize it (e.g., but imagine how many Catholics–hundreds and or thousands–could be mobilized with the combined collective reach of the LifeSites, ChurchMilitants, and the Fr Z’s of this world!).

Admittedly, I have never attempted organizing anything more numerous than insisting the parents of the players I’ve coached get their kids to the baseball field on game day at the requested time. That’s about it…so I could be wrong. Indeed, I have it on very good authority (namely my wife) that I have been wrong before…so I may in fact be wrong again here, too; but the “resistance” is thinking way too small, in my humble opinion.

But, having ventured this far, I will tread a bit farther with a few more observations. Certainly pray during each protest as the protesters did do. However, there are many, many faithful Catholics around the world who are clueless to much of what has been going on these last 7 years (really 60+ years!). They need to be brought up to speed. Therefore, two things:

  1. How about carrying some signs with some pithy messaging, e.g., “No to Heresy!”, “No to Women Deacons!,” “No Money for Heretical Bishops”, “No to Pachamama!”, “God ONLY wills His Church”, etc.?
  2. Tell somebody. National and local secular news media? Other Catholics?

Then…when all this is said and done, imagine a copy of the same letter being delivered by the demonstrators at each protest site, e.g., to each local nuncio or bishop, all on the same day. I am confident Pope Francis will get that message. Now, what that would actually do–if anything, of course, is debatable. We might not be able to say he would do anything…but, if nothing else, “we” would be able to say “we” did do something. Something akin to but a little more staid than olden days when Catholics stormed churches occupied by heretics.

Okay….that’s it. Roma Locuta Est now returns to its humble insignificance in hopes the “resistance” can one day manage something more than another Munich.

Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. A former intelligence officer, he and his wife, Margaret, live near Atlanta with their family. He has written apologetic articles and is author of the recently published Book I of the Pia Fidelis trilogy, The Two Kingdoms. (Follow on twitter at @fidelispia for updates). He asks for your prayers for his intentions.  He can be contacted at StevenOReilly@AOL.com (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA)

24 thoughts on “If a Catholic protest happens in a forest…does it make a sound?

  1. I’ll be captain obvious. This whole protest was eerily staged and orchestrated by “club” elites. They selectively invited and controlled their designer-protesters.

    It was as if the organizers wanted to show their duped audiences that they really were up to doing something big to “counterrevolutionize”, in Deutschland, but conflicted as they were, didn’t want to actually make the substantial amount of noise as to not upset the German apple cart!


    1. Thanks Em S for your feedback.

      I’d like to underline and emphasize I am not attacking those who organized the event. Lay Catholics are struggling with how to best deal with and respond to the crisis in the Church. These demonstrators are doing something, and I applaud them. Imagine if we didn’t have their voices.

      So, there is a place and time for such protests. I am just voicing one opinion that perhaps we are now beyond that point of more symbolic statements–and that I feel strongly.

      Thanks again for voicing your opinion!




  2. Agree 100% Steven. The toothless Trad, Inc secret protest in Munich calls to mind Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement agreement with Hitler in the same place in 1938. Now we have a “pope” whose heresies have the prospect of damning millions to

    The current situation is so bad with anti-pope Bergoglio that all efforts must be made to get him removed. First off few in Trad Inc blogs even will publicly proclaim the anti-pope thesis. The first thing we must do is to pray for courage and the help of St Michael.

    What does Trad, Inc think they are doing? Trying to work a deal with the devil? That’s the way it appears.
    Their Munich secret protest was more an admission of weakness and a Win for the anti-pope and his troops.


    1. Michael, thanks for your feedback and comments. Please see my response to Em S in this comment section about the protest.

      I don’t particularly want to get into a debate here (or anywhere for that matter) over the “Trad Inc” thing as if there is a nefarious “Big Oil” or “Big Auto” of the Catholic ‘resistance.’ I don’t believe there is one as it seems to be popularly and pejoratively intended.

      What I see in the major, independent Catholic media is a love and commitment to truth and the faith. I have no reason to doubt that the love of the faith is what motivates folks in the independent Catholic media. And, more specifically with regard to the participants in the Munich demonstration, I expressed my sincere respect for them and their work in my article.

      Certainly, let’s have honest disagreements on the facts and competing theories floating around (e.g., re Francis)–and address them (something Roma Locuta Est attempts to do). But let’s leave appeals to motives out of it if and when someone else might take a different view of the matter or prudentially judge another course of action is more advisable.

      So…to answer your rhetorical question…I don’t think anyone on the resistance side is trying to ‘work a deal with the devil.’

      Thanks for following the blog.



      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your comments on “Trad, Inc.” The paltry sums that these organizations scratch by with doesn’t exactly bring to mind mustachioed Robber Barons, even if a few of their leaders are known to smoke cigars. They’re in the entirely wrong line of work if worldly riches are what they’re after. No, they’re sincere, even if sincerely mistaken, or even sincerely blinded by their own estimation of their opinions on certain matters. Who alive today isn’t prone to fall into that trap (besides Elijah and Enoch)?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I support Michael Matt and all his efforts. It seemed to me he should be called out on his what does appear to be silent appeasement in Munich. And, of course, he’s not making a deal with the devil—it only seems that way to a tired and somewhat jaded observer, like me, i.e., we can’t even call the enemy by his real name.


    1. Michael, thanks for your follow up comments. I think I get where you’re coming from.

      My view is….at a moment in history in the Catholic Church, at a time of an unprecedented crisis which we are *all* trying to navigate best we can without a ‘roadmap’ — personally, I can’t fault someone for having a different view of which ‘route’ is best to take.

      Let’s voice our opinions, and try to make the best case we can for it–and hope…the best course of action emerges. And, be prepared to be surprised…the way forward may not be the one we previously imagined best.




  4. Mr. O’Reilly, having been one of those parents you speak of, I felt that getting kids to the right field at the right time was a HUGE accomplishment of strategy and planning on my part. LOL

    Your suggestion to replicate the recent protest in many, many places around the world at the same time is a manageable possibility. I hope that it reaches the ears of those more apt than I at organizing. Thank you for taking the risk of putting forth your idea in such a charitable way–acknowledging the good effort that was made as well as making suggestions for doing better in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? The answer is yes, it does, but it is inconsequential as far as sounds go if no one hears it. Likewise a protest.


  6. Steven, if the Munich protest organizers even bother to offer an explanation, I would venture to guess that they will say that it was to protect Abp. Vigano. That is certainly a worthy reason, as I believe that Vigano correctly understands that his life is in danger. However, given that during the current crisis of which you speak we have no real leadership (especially among the prelates), perhaps these few laymen are attempting to form that leadership. In other words, in an attempt to “unite the clans” and the “resistance”, they want to make sure that they control the narrative and thus the clans unite around them. Excluding some “obvious players” like Fr. Z was not best move. I agree with you that a bumpy road lies ahead.


    1. DC…thanks for the feedback.

      Frankly, I don’t believe rolling Vigano out of hiding for this level of protest was worth the risk.

      Risk vs. reward…if you are going to expose one of your few strategic assets to ‘enemy fire’, be sure some sort of decisive victory is conceivable and worth it (i.e., this is “the principle of calculated risk”). Not a criticism…just an analytical assessment…I don’t know what adding Vigano to this small protest accomplished to have justified the risk. If he had popped up on a day of, say, 30 similar protests in 30 different cities — with some sort of declaration letter delivered to a number of nuncios and Presidents of bishops of conferences — that might have been worth it. But…for now…color me unimpressed.

      Thanks for your comments.



      1. Steven: I agree with your assessment. I also think it was not prudent for Vigano to attack Abp. Gänswein. I know there are a lot of strong opinions on both sides on Gänswein, but I think the jury is still out on him. Vigano’s value is his first-hand knowledge of McCarrick’s misdeeds and who knew what when. He is needed to keep the pressure on bishops and Francis regarding the sex abuse scandals. IMHO, McCarrick is the most dangerous man in the Church. His known history suggests that he has strong connections to some of the most sinister people on earth. His recent disappearance could mean that he has resumed working, behind the scenes, even with what little energy he may have left. His “laicization” was a head fake. We keep getting promised a report. Vigano, I think, fears him more than Francis.


  7. The funny thing about the whole “protest” was that I first read that clergy was purposely excluded, then we see that Vigano was there.

    Talk about head fakes…

    The gathering served no purpose. Most pewsitters have no idea what’s going on. This protest won’t change that. Additionally many think these things are great.

    My mother, two weeks ago, asked her parish priest (St. Thomas More Church in Withamsville, Ohio) what he thought of the pachamama controversy. He didn’t see any problem with it. She said it was an idol and people were bowing down to it and it was placed into a Church. He stated that conservatives are making too much of it and that Pope Francis is a great Pope bringing about all of these changes.

    And he’s leading the flock!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John…thanks for the comments.

      Lots of good priests and “average” faithful Catholics have no clue what’s going on….or the depth of the crisis…nor do they realize we’re all about to get hit by a freight train as the “synodal” process continues.

      I stand by the article above that more and larger is needed on the demonstrations front.

      Thanks again!



  8. I should have stated that I think your idea has great potential. Imagine if this happened in front of every Cathedral and Chancellery or every parish Church. That would get some notice in the media.

    The problem I see is how to get the word out to the pewsitters who know something is wrong but don’t know what to do or that they aren’t alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Like a Buddhist Monk back in the day, two days ago I lit myself on fire in protest of the Pope’s progressive praxis but, as luck would have it, there was a local downpour and I was too wet to ignite.

    My wife, who was standing by to film the protest, seemed excessively disappointed and urged me to try the next dry spell we experience but I think that is tempting fate.


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