I will say up front that I’ve known Dr. Taylor Marshall for many years informally. We both hopped on “Catholic Twitter” about the same time, and, as time goes by, you see a person’s stuff pop up and you find yourself saying, over time, “I agree with that person a lot.” No one agrees 100% of the time, but over the years you start to informally befriend those you keep coming across and those you share ideas with.
I was blessed to be able to be a chaplain this summer for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land that Dr. Marshall led. It was asked that we do the Latin Mass each day, so I was a little intimidated by that prospect as I only celebrate that form of the Mass once a week. I didn’t know how intense Dr. Marshall and the other 90 people coming on the trip would be. Let me tell you something, I’ve never been with 90 nicer people than the 90 people I went on pilgrimage with this summer. Dr. Marshall and his wife Joy brought their 8 children and there were lots of other young adults there, and the pilgrims were just super normal and super down to Earth.
I share this so that you know 1) my bias and 2) I hope this gives a bit of insight into the Dr. Taylor Marshall I’ve had the limited chance to get to know.
Dr. Marshall’s notoriety has also exploded over the last 18 months in the wake of the (formerly Cardinal now Mister) McCarrick story that broke in the summer of 2018. Dr. Marshall had a podcast that had started prior to the scandal breaking, but it was his episodes, particularly the ones where he joined with Timothy Gordon, that put him in the Catholic spotlight.
Dr. Marshall and Tim Gordon, from the moment the McCarrick story first broke, started talking frankly and clearly about the story in a way that the average Catholic could understand (also in a way the average priest could not say things!). This awful and (still very much ongoing) scandal needed (and still needs) the sort of frankness and directness that Dr. Marshall and Tim Gordon have been bringing to this topic for the last 18 months, and their viewership has grown exponentially.
In covering the twists and turns of any major story, any good reporter that is able to explain to people what is happening in clear English will naturally unearth lots of interesting and noteworthy information from interviews, from their own research, and from information sent to them as people see the platform that the reporter has.
So we now come to the book “Infiltration” by Dr. Marshall which was published by Crisis Publications in early 2019. The book strikes me as essentially a combining together into one book the written record of the research and information gleaned from his podcast over these past 18 months. I found the book to be concise and full of good information that I had never seen before. I would say that the material laid out in the book is stuff that the average Catholic can understand, and is also important information that every Catholic needs to know about.
So let’s get to the critics of the book. The criticisms I’ve had the chance to come across generally fall into three categories:
1) “Infiltration” is not academic enough. It contains good research in places, and then it blends in the author’s own hypotheses in a way that serious research does not. It is not as polished as the Oxford Dictionary, and there are accusations dropped in that are messy and not always explained.
2) In a related criticism, “Infiltration” is too “conspiracy theory-ish” in nature.
3) More research should have been done before publishing.
My response to criticism 1: the book is written in a style similar to Dr. Marshall’s podcasts, and that, in my mind, explains the book’s success so far. A lot of the people lamenting that “Infiltration” is too informal are some of the same people that can’t get anyone to read their books. It is fairly obvious why people are drawn to Dr. Marshall’s podcast; he speaks in plain English. People, it seems to me, are fed up with “Church talk” and want to hear, in plain English, what’s going on and what should be done. There will always be jealousy by those who want more people to listen to their version of what is happening, but can’t say it as clearly and concisely as the people that are garnering praise and attention for their clarity.
“Infiltration” isn’t written in theologian-speak. I don’t believe I saw any instances of the words “ecclesiology” or “Christology” or any other of the myriad of theological jargon that, while at times important, puts the average Catholic to sleep really quickly.
My response to criticism 2: yes, Dr. Marshall puts in some of his own hypotheses, but I would say to the critics “You mean you really can’t tell where he’s inserting a hypothesis?” To me it is quite obvious where he is speculating and where he is sharing a fact.
As to the book being to “conspiracy theorist”, I would say, first of all, the whole premise is that there is some kind of conspiracy, so that would imply that the book is “conspiracy theory-ish”. Secondly, consider the fact that the following things all are matters of historical record, and are not “theories”:
1) Bishop Athanasius Schneider endorsed the book.
2) Paul VI in a HOMILY in 1972 REALLY said: “no its’s not mysterious; through some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the Church of God”
3) Pope Pius IX really did approve the apparition of “Our Lady of La Salette”
4) Leo XIII in 1890 published the Saint Michael Prayer.
5) Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich really wrote in the early 1800’s that Satan would be unleashed on the world in the second half of the 1900’s.
6) Fatima happened, and even if nothing has been hidden (John XXIII’s secretary has said the second half of the third secret was hidden) there is much to pay attention to. That some in the Church have covered up and never revealed parts of what the children were told to share with the world is a “conspiracy theory” in the sense that there is strong evidence that people conspired to do something, but regardless, Fatima itself really happened is not a conspiracy theory and has much to pay attention to.
7) VENERABLE Bishop Fulton Sheen actually said, in a book, “He will set up a counter church which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ.” That is an actual quote, not a conspiracy theory.
8) A former Communist agent Manning Johnson testified before the United States House in 1953: “Once the tactic of infiltration of religious organization was set by the Kremlin…the Communists discovered that the destruction of religion could proceed much faster through infiltration of the Catholic Church by Communists operating within the Church itself…This policy of infiltrating the seminaries was successful beyond even Communist expectations.” (public record…not a conspiracy theory on the internet)
9) In 1958, 74 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass, and today it is only 22%. That’s not a conspiracy theory.
10) In 1965 there really were 49,000 seminarians and in 2002 there really are 4,700. Not a conspiracy theory.
11) Cardinal Danneels is the one who first let everyone know there was, as he himself termed it, a “Sankt Gallen Mafia” of Church leaders. That’s not a conspiracy theory. He said it.
12) Alice Von Hildebrand reports that Bella Dodd confessed to her and Dietrich that Russian Communists were working with 4 cardinals high in the Vatican. If you don’t trust Alice Von Hildebrand, and put her in the conspiracy theorist category, I don’t know what to tell you.
As to the final criticism that there needs to be more research: I agree, as I’m sure Dr. Marshall agrees and lots of other people agree. Dr. Marshall is a father of 8 children working hard to raise a family and teach online and so forth, does anyone actually think one person would EVER be able to unearth the depth of this situation?
The Spotlight story that broke open the abuse crisis of 2002 in Boston had a team of 5 full time reporters working on the story for years. How many reporters covered Watergate? But Dr. Marshall, through first interviewing victim James Grein, uncovered an eerie connection with McCarrick and Sankt Gallen (I’ve noticed some professional Catholic outlets criticize “Infiltration” and then turn around and reference the information Dr. Marshall unearthed in his interview with Grein, all while not crediting Dr. Marshall with discovering the info. That’s plagiarism where I come from. The same has been done to some of the stuff that Church Militant and George Neumayr have discovered. They’ve been described as non-professional, and then, by the same groups, have their work non-professionally plagiarized).
I am confident in saying that Dr. Marshall would love nothing more than to see lots of other people continue to do a deep dive and investigate all the strands of this story. That no one else seems willing to look any deeper into this story, given what Dr. Marshall has already been able to unearth and pull together, will certainly only add fuel to the fire of those who are tempted to see conspiracies.
I’m thankful for the work being done by Dr. Marshall, the book “Infiltration” very much included!