REVIEW: Infiltration – Dr. Taylor Marshall (Sophia Institute Press, 2019)

It’s not often that I come across a book with about two-hundred fifty pages of content that includes an index and fifty pages of appendices, but that’s what I found I’d ordered when Dr. Taylor Marshall’s Infiltration arrived in the mail last week. It’s a short and very easily-read book, taking only about an afternoon and some change to read through from cover to cover, yet in it, Marshall attempts to tackle the history of the liturgical subversion so rampant in the Church today.

Marshall correctly asserts that the scope of the problem is larger than mere partisan complaints over the status and actions of the current pontiff, and larger still than entry-level snipes at the legitimacy or reasoning behind the Vatican II council half a century ago. He begins all the way back in the nineteenth century, under the pontificate of Pope Pius IX, and the actions of the revolutionaries, Freemasons, socialists, and radicals of the 1840s. From there, using the apparitions of Our Lady of La Salette and Our Lady of Fatima as guideposts, he chronicles the gradual subversion of doctrine and theology though the use of key figures in the clergy who managed to push their agenda through popes—such as Popes Pius XI, St. John XXIII, and Bl. Paul VI—and the council of Vatican II. It leads us though the banking crisis, through Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, and the election of Pope Francis being, apparently, the culmination of two centuries of plotting.

As a brief introduction, Marshall’s distillation of Church events over the past hundred fifty years does a good job crafting the narrative of Modernism entering the Church. Given that the book was written for general audiences—many perhaps only barely tied into recent Catholic history or practice themselves—it seems appropriate that the book be read in this light. It’s not an academic study of the inversions in theology presented by the proponents of Nouvelle Theologie, nor is it a penetrative analysis nor defense of the Marian apparitions and their subsequent affects. Rather, Marshall touches on each of these subjects, and many more, while giving only enough background so as to make someone unfamiliar with the context get a general idea.

And when I mean brief, I mean very brief. For a book of such short length to include some thirty-three chapters is a bit odd, given that a number of the chapters consist only of a couple of paragraphs lasting about a page and a half. These—and particularly the ones dealing with Vatican II and its aftermath—could easily have been grouped into a single chapter. If the distinction of topic is so important, then the chapters could have been revised to have section subheadings within the chapters so it all stays organized.

This is only of note because the book is billed as a well-sourced investigation into the subversion of the Catholic Church, yet it reads as only a general, cursory glance at it all. As the sourcing goes, Marshall relies on footnotes for his references, which makes tracking down information in retrospect more difficult. A more serious work would have used short references in the footnotes that point to a bibliography or a works sited page in the back, yet there isn’t one. And there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason for such a thing to be missing given that the book has fifty pages of other appendices and even an index.

Another note on his sourcing is that it seems more apt to call the book half-sourced. There are a number of claims that are sourced, which is great. But there are a number of others that should be sourced which aren’t. Claims like things the Church Fathers are supposed to have written about regarding the handling of the Host and the status of deacons in the Church (Chapter 23, p160), among others, don’t necessarily require exact sourcing but at least footnotes to point the reader toward related material. It’s not even that the reader has cause to doubt the veracity of his claims so much that these would help Marshall’s audience fulfill what he wrote the book for in the first place: the building of a more informed resistance to a secularized, liberalized Catholicism. Simply pointing out the errors of the modern Church isn’t enough; the readers should be pointed in the direction of how to resist the right way.

And he covers some of this in the penultimate chapter entitled “Solving the Current Crisis,” which outlines several possible responses to the infiltration and subversion. They seem sarcastic, given that the responses include things like rejecting the faith, something he obviously doesn’t recommend, but plenty of Catholics have fallen prey to such rhetoric before. The explosive firestorm of attention that the sexual abuse crisis garnered in the 90s and 00s led countless laity, most of whom were poorly educated in their own faith, into Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches. They rejected the One True Faith not on theological grounds, as the honest atheist does, but over disagreements with the temporal hierarchy of the Church as an institution and, in many cases, a legitimized fear of personal injury. In this chapter, Marshall probably seeks to quell the fears of those laity who may respond similarly. While his intentions are good, his execution is a little weird.

Most puzzling is that he doesn’t actually claim or even suggest that atheism is wrong, which it is on sheer matter of fact. Despite his background in Thomistic studies, he relates instead that “for myself, I cannot accept atheism” (231) due to his personal encounters with Our Lord and his personal experience with Catholicism—all well and good, and even valid, but his personal experiences with Catholicism isn’t going to sway someone with such a weak grasp of the faith that they’d seriously consider atheism as a valid position. It might be a nitpick, but it’d have been better if he’d simply said atheism wasn’t a valid response to the present crisis because atheism isn’t a valid response to anything.

Yet Marshall makes a more fact based argument regarding rejecting the Protestant angle, briefly detailing how the same Holy Scripture that outlines Our Lord’s life on Earth and lays the foundation of Christian teaching also depicts Him as having instituted sacraments, founding the Church, and populating it with very specific people who were the Fathers of the clergy. It’s a simple argument, and it’s one you either believe or you don’t; if you believe it, you’re engaging in a reasonable reading of historical events as documented by historical persons, and you’re Catholic. If you don’t believe it, you’re engaging in unreasonable doubt and rejecting the faith.

The book is a real mixed bag. I want to like it, in part because I appreciate that Marshall’s internet show has garnered such a following and that he’s such a staunch advocate for the Tridentine Mass. Some of his shows have had really good in content as well, such as his work publicizing the Vatican bank scandal, a few of his presentations on Fatima, and the video he did on Fr. Malachi Martin.

On the other hand, it’s shortness and lack of depth, coupled with its haphazard method of sourcing makes the book wanting for something more penetrating. For someone who is completely unfamiliar with the state the Church is presently in, the book offers plenty of starting points as to where to look for answers. However, since it covers so much ground in such a short time, Marshall never spends the time to dwell on any one aspect. It can be frustrating, but those who already watch his show or are already familiar with some of the controversies will only be able to use his book as a jumping off point, rather than a full addendum to his online content.

One last note: some of the appendices he includes at the end are quite helpful, though the documents he includes—such as the Atla Vendita and the secrets of Our Lady of La Salette—are both available online with a quick internet search. I guess it’s convenient to have them in the book, but not really necessary.

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