According to a recent blog post by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, popularly known as “Fr Z,” his time living in the Diocese of Madison is coming to a close. Zuhlsdorf is a traditionalist priest of the Italian diocese of Velletri-Segni near Rome who resides in the Wisconsin diocese, where he was granted faculties to say Mass and has headed the local Latin Mass society. According to his post, he has made some decisions that will require him to move away from the diocese:

My years in my adoptive Diocese of Madison have be fruitful on many levels. However, I’ve have discerned that – while I still can – I need to be closer to family. I’m not getting younger and neither are they. That, in itself, requires me to relocate in the not too distant future, to move, or at least to spend long stretches of time other than in Madison. I’ve discussed this with necessary parties. That’s in the works. I thank God and many others who have been so good to me here. I’ll be around, however, and I won’t be a stranger.

Zuhlsdorf, you may recall, had been livestreaming videos of himself performing a Latin Rite of exorcism every day after Mass for the intention of overturning the results of November’s US presidential election. Regularly, in his blog posts and descriptions for these videos, as well as in the recordings of the videos themselves, he would explain that the exorcisms were being carried out for purposes of unmasking election fraud or otherwise changing the outcome. For example, the description for his December 5 exorcism read:

Exorcism against Satan and Fallen Angels (for protection against demonic influence in the vote certification process).

As Christopher Lamb reported in the Tablet last week, before carrying out the ritual in his January 5 video he said, “We have to be concerned about the people involved in this who might have lied, or who might have committed fraud, concerning this election. This is not cheating to steal the election to 5th grade class president. This is something on a whole different scale, it’s quantitatively so vastly larger, that it’s qualitatively a different kind of a situation and sin. This isn’t like going over and stealing a newspaper off your neighbour’s porch.”

Zuhlsdorf had claimed, “I have the permission of the bishop to say this, which increases the authority of the praying of the prayer.” The bishop of Madison, Donald Hying, seemed to contradict this claim in a statement that was sent out to many concerned Catholics who contacted the diocese. The statement said, in part, “A number of people have falsely concluded that I, as the Bishop of Madison, gave Fr John Zuhlsdorf permission to perform the rite of the sacramental of exorcism in relation to partisan political activity.” The bishop went on to explain that he had granted permission for Zuhlsdorf to do the ritual “for the intention of alleviation from the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Soon after this story was published, Zuhlsdorf began changing the intention of the exorcisms in the video descriptions, such as on January 13, which simply said, “AFTER MASS: Prayer against the Pandemic.” Additionally, Zuhlsdorf wrote a 3-part blog post on “Prayer for Enemies.” In the third part of the series, immediately after the words, “I forgive them for their desire to hurt me as much as they can. I forgive them for their harassment of others in their attempt to get at me,” he mused, “I fear these people are so engrained in their ways that only suffering will help them to wake up to the peril they are in” (emphasis mine).

He also prayed for “a good death” for his enemies (“on God’s schedule”). He concluded the post by tagging four Catholics who are well-known critics of his work (these tags have since been removed).

So what’s next for Fr. Z? Well, it seems that he has not lost sight of his perceived enemies:

I am going to work on the “mo jo” issue. I’m not quite sure what that is, but …

That – by the way – should be interesting in this present atmosphere of “cancel culture” now infecting the Church, as well as the media and streets.

There is a catholic Antifa now. They are feeling their ascendancy and they are applying it. We will see more persecution leveled at any one who strays from their demands. The New catholic Red Guard. They are bullies. They are easy to spot. They aren’t even trying to hide it anymore. In the near future they will be a force of great evil in the Church and we must find ways to resist them without stooping to their thuggery, without giving in to hate. God help them.

Please keep him in your prayers as he begins his new chapter.

Update 1/15/2021 11:34 PM EST:

Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s page on the diocesan website is no longer active.

Update 1/18/2021: Christopher White has the story in NCR, including a statement from Bishop Donald Hying of Madison.

Image: St. Mary’s of Pine Bluff, Wisconsin (where Fr. Zuhlsdorf has served). License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). Phil Roussin. https://www.flickr.com/photos/pbr-photos/23834398449/in/photolist-Cjawhi

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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.

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