Top critical review
Not worth your money
Reviewed in Australia on 23 July 2019
I bought this book after multiple people recommended it but unfortunately it was disappointing. Not all the content is bad, but the book's limited length (~200 pages to cover such broad and complex topics such as Fatima, Vatican II, de Lubac's Surnaturel, the liturgical "reform") means Marshall oversimplifies things far too much, though the superficial treatments do make it easier for him to lay out his overarching narrative. The treatment of de Lubac's Surnaturel for example, considered by some to be the critical theological text of the 20th century, is extremely lacking and contains not insignificant error. I say this as someone who agrees with the Banezian/Garrigou-Lagrangian position on nature and grace.
Another example, Marshall blames Karl Rahner for introducing "a new ecclesiology in which the Church of Christ is not the Catholic Church but rather “subsists in the Catholic Church.”" In reality, "subsistit in" was introduced at the suggestion, not of Rahner, but of Sebastian Tromp, SJ, who drafted Mystici Corporis, so when Marshall claims that the phrase "seems to condradict the teaching of Pius XII, this seems like nonsense. Note what Tromp himself says about the phrase:
"We can say: therefore it subsists in the Catholic Church, and this is exclusive because it is said that elsewhere there is nothing but elements. This is explained in the text."
Not only this but after the proposal by Tromp it was accepted without objection by Marshall's neo-scholastic hero Ottaviani (along with Fenton) and eventually virtually unanimously by the Council Fathers. So why should we take issue with the phrase? Marshall's whole point here seems to be basically nonsense.
In fact the books short length and superficiality hints, I think, that it wasn't really intended by Marshall to provide Catholics with a objective and serious means to understanding the current crisis, how we got here, and what to do. Instead, it seems like a way for Marshall to gain for himself from the current crisis in the Church, all the while contributing to the confusion in the Church. Suprisingly, even though it's such a short book some parts come across as filler...
Another thing I found off-putting is the way Marshall uses innuendo against people he doesn't like. For example, is there really any need to put in the book the rumour spread by a French diplomat that St. Paul VI was a sodomite? Marshall himself doesn't claim that St. Paul VI was an active homosexual, he just notes in passing that the claim was made. Its hard not to assume that this unsubstantiated gossip was put in the book in order to make Paul VI look worse. More examples could be found throughout. Lastly, the current Holy Father is portrayed as the culmination of hundreds of years of "infiltration" and recommended to be "recognized and resisted". Of course, such an opinion is not only ridiculous but also extremely dangerous to put in the minds of less well-formed/catechised readers.
Here is Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society (without question a bona fide "trad"), summing up his thoughts on the book:
"In defence of the author, we might say that he is too fair-minded to produce a racy conspiracy theory which would explain all the problems in the Church and tie up all the loose ends. But this not to say that his book has been carefully researched and written: it is characterised by sloppy accounts of historical phenomena, inconsistencies and factual errors.
To give a few examples, in 1859 Pius IX did not order his version of the Prayers After Low Mass to be said throughout the Church: only in the Papal States. If, as is suggested, Annibale Bugnini became a Mason in 1963, it is hardly surprising that Pius XII, who died in 1958, had not heard about it. Benedict XVI has not retained the “Fisherman’s Ring” since his resignation. The quotation dubiously attributed to Pius X, about striking Modernists without asking too many questions, is hardly vindicated by a footnote reference to John Cornwall.
What Catholics need today in order to understand the Church and to work effectively for her good, is a careful clarification of the key theological issues, of her recent history, and of the current ecclesial political scene. They will have to seek these things somewhere other than Marshall’s book."