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The Boss: Another Casualty of the Strange Spirit of Vatican II

Michael J. Matt POSTED: 1/22/12
Editor, The Remnant  

'Catholic' Bruce Springsteen Promotes Obama, Abortion

Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was born in Freehold, New Jersey, September 23, 1949, the firstborn of Douglas and Adele Springsteen. Although the family name is Dutch, his father is Irish and his mother, Italian.  He was baptized Catholic and both of his parents were devout Catholics; he went to Catholic school (St. Rose of Lima in Freehold), was an altar boy and, with his first band, The Castiles, performed not infrequently for Church Youth Organizations and other Catholic events before his meteoric rise to rock 'n' roll fame.

Springsteen had it all--a good Catholic family, Catholic schools, devout Catholic parents. So what happened? We would argue that Springtime smacked Springsteen right in the mouth. He came of age just after Vatican II had closed and the Church was in the throes of universal revolution. 

Before it was over, the mighty Catholic Church would abandon Latin, throw out the old Mass, minimize most of her moral teachings, abandon her traditional identity, and attempt to reinvent herself as first and foremost a champion of the world's poor and underprivileged--a noble aspiration indeed, unless it is done at the expense of the mission Christ Himself gave to His Church: to teach, govern and sanctify souls. The concerns of the body and the human condition gradually eclipsed those of the soul and the life of the spirit, and very soon thereafter the beacon in the Catholic lighthouse grew dim as the intensity of the storm increased and the world became lost at sea.

Springsteen, now a rabid liberal, likes to cast everyone as a victim in need of a massive nanny state to make things right.  The irony here, of course, is that he himself is a victim-- a victim of the new orientation of the human element of his Catholic Church.  Stripped almost entirely of his identity as a Catholic, his is just another little ship among millions that lost their way in the night and crashed into the rock.

Pray for him. Pray for your children.  Pray for the Church.


Dear Mr. Matt,

Just saw your column wherein you mentioned Bruce Springsteen's endorsing of Barack Obama.  First of all, when I heard about this the other day I was thoroughly disgusted; not because he endorsed the liberal agenda, as I know he's a liberal, but because he specifically mentioned Roe v. Wade.  Really tore at my heartstrings, so to speak, because although I'm not a huge huge fan of his music, I have come to appreciate some of his less "hard" music;  much of it draws heavily on more folk-like idioms and is quite beautiful. 

 But I just wanted to point out something from your article.  You state that Bruce's "downfall" is a Vatican II-related collapse of his faith.  If you do the math, and if you know more of his background, you'll know that this is not really the case.  He was born in 1949, and attended Catholic schools well before the major events of VII.  I believe he was greatly turned off from the church by the nuns in his school who treated him rather cruelly, one even putting him in a garbage can to punish him, as he was a bit of a  daydreamer.  And on another occasion, a priest knocked him down as he was serving Mass (yes, the OLD Mass) because he didn't know the response.  I know Catholic schoolteacher nuns have been greatly maligned, but frankly, if what Springsteen has said is true, then he was not treated well; (I truly believe that some nuns of days gone by did not have true vocations and were frustrated with their lives, thus taking it out on their students, but that is another subject).  I think after he was confirmed he basically gave up on most of the practice of his religion...this was indeed right around the time of VII, but surely you can't blame VII's just having concluded with Bruce leaving the practice of his faith.

I don't want to sound like I'm defending VII, by the way.  I think you know well that not all the problems in the Church today just started occurring in 1963.  There was dry rot in the Church...else things would not have gotten so crazy so fast after VII.

Back to Bruce you mentioned, we must pray for him.  He still must surely have some of the Catholic ethos in him; I've heard that he has, in the past, been greatly influenced by the writings of Flannery O'Connor, many of which  deal heavily with worldliness, sin, and redemption.  And Springsteen at times wears a miraculous medal; let's hope he has an Alphonse Ratisbonne experience some day!

You should look into rigging up a comments section on your website articles..

God bless.

Christina Watkins

Oxford, CT  

A Further Response by Michael Matt: I appreciate your thoughts on this.  You may be right, of course, but as we've all discovered over the years, a lot of these horror stories about physically abusive nuns turn out to be apocryphal or gross exaggerations at best.  And always conspicuous by its absence from the accounts trotted out by disgruntled ex-Catholics like Springsteen is even a passing reference to any good nuns who would naturally have been at work during the same "dark" periodónuns often praised by guys like Bill O'Reilly, for example (certainly no traditionalist, but a practicing Catholic nevertheless), for having had a tremendously positive impact on the lives of their students.  There must have been at least one or two decent nuns who didn't spend their days beating the tar out of little kids. So why no mention of them...ever?

What are the chances, by the way, that this priest would have intentionally knocked Springsteen down the altar steps during Mass in front of God and everybody? This positively reeks of sensationalist Catholic-bashing nonsense.   Why would the devout parents of Springsteen have tolerated such an affront?  It's hardly the same as sexual abuse, where the crime would have taken place behind locked doors. 

If he really was knocked down the steps by a maniacal priest during Mass, and his parents did nothing, I wonder why Bruce never commented about his lunatical parents who let obviously psychotic priests have their way with him. 

And why is no corroboration for these stories ever offered?  Itís always the same terrors for children, served up years later by fallen-away Catholics whoíve since, coincidentally enough, become outspoken critics of the Churchís moral teachings. 

Stuffing a kid in a garbage can?  Encouraging other kids to beat him up?  Were there no police in New Jersey at the time?

Honestly, I see your point and appreciate it. But I guess Iím just from Missouri on this one, and am willing to take a chance on it and wait to be proven wrong. 

By the way, I was in Catholic schools just a few years later and the same nuns were my teachers. The only abuse I ever saw was when a wayward student slapped a beautiful old nun when she tried to insist he not pick on another student much smaller than he was.  If I canít get away with an across-the-board defense of the nuns based on my anecdotal experience with them then neither can Springsteen get away with his comprehensive bashing of all nuns based on his experiences.  

And about that terrible old nun and her garbage can:  Just how big was that garbage can?  What, did she have a dumpster in her classroom? 

I'm sure there were some grouchy old ladies here and there who were overly zealous in their disciplinary methods. So, what!  When considering the massive good the nuns accomplished overall for individuals and society, for many centuries and in many countries, I have to believe that these ugly allegations, necessarily based on extremely limited personal experiences, are politically motivated by folks with an ax to grind against the old Church.

In any case, I believe you raise a valid point for consideration, even if I also believe it can  most often be described as the "victim" exaggerating or perhaps even cooking up the evidence.

Bruce Springsteen (like Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy, Madonna, Sting, etc.) strikes me as a lost Catholic who--disillusioned by a modern Catholic Church that had cast off her traditional identity and thus mitigated her moral authority--first lost his identity as a Catholic, then lost his faith and finally joined the world in attacking everything that came before.

Springsteen has always been a civic-minded entertainer.  Even though he's become a rabid leftist, in his misguided way he does care about making the world a better place. Quite obviously, the lyrics to his music have been heavily influenced by his Catholic upbringing. He should still be a Catholic. And I would argue that had it not been for the revolution in the Church, guys like him still would be.

Michael Matt

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