Seal of Confession under Attack —
“Father Z” Cashes In

UPDATE 7/10/14: Hours after we blasted him for shamelessly cashing in on that seal of confession case, “Fr. Z” doubles down with another sales post. His blog must be a real cash cow! We can start spelling his name “Zuhl$dorf” from now on…

Never let a good Catholic crisis pass without cashing in on it: In the state of Louisiana, the Roman Catholic seal of confession is allegedly under attack, and the intrepid biretta-wearing blogging wonder Rev. John Zuhlsdorf (“Father Z”) has already found a way to make a profit from it.

Reporting on this news story about the seal of confession on his blog, Mr. Zuhlsdorf — whose ordination is doubtful because it was administered using the 1968 rite of Paul VI (see PDF here) — encourages people to purchase buttons, T-shirts, car magnets, and other goods sporting the message “I will defend the Seal” and “I will not break the Seal”, which he wants Novus Ordo priests and laity to purchase and wear. For these sales, he gets paid a commission.

In fact, he has an entire web portal called “Fr. Z’s Store” at Cafe Press, filled with this customized merchandise he wants you to buy, which he has named “Z Swag.”

Some of the many overpriced items Mr. Z wants you to purchase.
The only thing this will accomplish for sure is fatten his wallet.

So, what’s the problem with this, you may ask? Why should anyone care? For the following reasons:

  • This is typical for “Fr.” Z, who has a history of using his blog as a sales/cash gimmick. Whether it be receiving gifts and donations from his supporters or getting a cut on the things he sells on his popular site (from secular movies to coffee to electronic books), Mr. Zuhlsdorf has consistently used his putative Catholic priesthood as a way to make money off his supporters.
  • It is tacky, that is, in extremely bad taste. If the seal of confession is being challenged by the secular power, you should denounce this terrible injustice, you should exhort people to prayer and sacrifice, and offer or call for support of a court challenge against the government. Yet, in the entirety of Zuhlsdorf’s post on the story, he does not call for prayer or any other spiritual remedy even once. Instead, he wants you to buy cheap but overpriced merchandise that increases his bank account balance. Ker-ching!
  • Even if no tackiness was intended, at the very least, he ought to donate the proceeds of the sales to the legal case against the state that is attacking the seal of confession, which is, of course, wholly inviolable, as it admits of absolutely no exceptions whatsoever. If he is donating the proceeds, he ought to say so on his blog to prevent any scandal from being taken.
  • This merchandise, though it focuses entirely on the issue at hand, that is, on the inviolability of the seal of confession, will accomplish very little. It won’t really help the legal case, which is the only way this can successfully be fought, and it is far from clear just how a layman will “defend the seal” anyway. By doing what? Wearing stuff from the Fr. Z Store?
  • The only thing this will accomplish for sure is fatten “Fr.” Zuhlsdorf’s wallet. And, we suspect, that is the primary goal anyway.

This seal of confession challenge is just one more opportunity for Mr. Zuhlsdorf to sell over-priced merchandise. He has a history of encouraging his avid readers to either send him money, send him gifts, or purchase his Z Swag. For example, when Obamacare became mandatory in the United States, “Fr. Z” was right there asking people to “help me pay for my ‘affordable’ health care.” Perhaps he forgot that his readers, most of whom probably actually work for a living, also now had to pay for their “affordable health care”, but it’s hard to think of others when you spend so much time thinking about and promoting yourself.

A typical Zuhlsdorf sales gimmick

Zuhlsdorf’s blog is full of ways to make him money and promote himself. The first two things you will see in the right margin at the top of the page are an Amazon search box with a plea to please purchase all your Amazon goods through him so he gets that 6% commission, and then a “Donate” button you can’t miss, with the generous assurance, “I pray for benefactors.”

When he’s not asking for money, selling merchandise, or encouraging you to buy him items from his Amazon wishlist, Mr. Zuhlsdorf enjoys fine dining, traveling, attending conferences, giving talks, reading electronic books gifted him by his supporters, practicing target shooting at the gun range, and, of course, blogging — about bird feeders, exquisite food, Latin, books, movies, church issues, current events, and himself. Let’s hope that in between his prolific blogging and other “priestly” occupations, he really does find time to offer a few prayers for the pitiable people he’s milking.

It is really hard to understand why a man who spends most of every day doing things that have virtually nothing to do with the priesthood (even by Novus Ordo standards), can be admired as a “wonderful Catholic priest” by so many (he currently has 24,000 followers on Twitter — how pathetic is that!). It is frightening to see how easy it is to take advantage of people’s good will and naiveté, simply by means of a conservative, traditional veneer, utilizing the “smells and bells” of Catholicism: beautiful vestments, lots of incense, and good Latin. It’s all show — no substance.

Still not convinced? Then review our prior blog posts blasting “Father” Zuhlsdorf for his pretend Catholicism, his self-aggrandizement, and his promoting and selling of an immoral (!) movie:

People need to start asking themselves how it is that a man “ordained” by the “Pope” himself for an Italian diocese ends up living thousands of miles away and instead of doing the typical work of a priest gets to blog all day, sell merchandise, and milk his hapless fans for their hard-earned cash — and has done this for years.

It’s time to face reality, folks: “Father” Zuhlsdorf is a fraud.

Image sources: unknown / (screenshot) / (screenshot)
Licenses: fair use / fair use / fair use

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