10 November 2014

A Good Refutation of the Accusation of Discord and Contention through Blogging

This post at Unam Sanctam Catholicam lays it all out very well.  Worth a read in its entirety.  The start:

One of the interesting things about the current state of affairs in mater ecclesiae is watching the way people are bending over backwards to square the circle regarding the messages coming from Rome - trying to explain how everything is fine, calm down, relax, nothing to see here, move along, etc. etc. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

 A major threat to the "nothing to see here" mentality is of course the stubborn persistence of traditional Catholic bloggers who insist loudly that there is in fact quite a bit to see here, and that this is not business as usual. This can be disconcerting to the worldview of some Catholics, I admit; how could it not be? The implications, if accepted, could be very troubling. It would mean nothing less than that the Church herself is responsible for her sorry state of affairs - not the world, the media, or whomever else. To admit this would constitute a revolution of Copernican proportions for many Catholics.

Therefore, it often prompts anger, confusion and resentment, characterized by lashing out at "rad trads" and Catholic bloggers who dare to point out that the emperor has no clothes. Many of you have been on the receiving end of this. I know I have.

We traditionalists are all terribly sick of the "shoot the messenger" nonsense. The bishops of the world dally around with changing two millennia of pastoral practice, with devastating consequences to doctrine, and we are the kill-joys for pointing it out! After seven and a half years of blogging, I am still banging my head against the wall trying to figure out how the problem is not that there are priests, bishops and cardinals actively trying to destroy the faith, but that I am writing about their attempts to destroy the faith. Their perfidity merits a shrug - after all, who am I to judge? But our writing about their perfidity merits condemnation.

Recently, I heard a new take on the "traditionalist Catholic bloggers cause disunity" assertion. The argument relied upon St. Thomas Aquinas' definitions of the sins of discord and contention. Let me phrase the argument in the context in which I heard it:

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Barto said...

All this comes down the serious problem it is very hard for a Catholic to really accept that a pope currently on the throne of Peter could really be a heretic who is purposely and joyfully leading the Church into error. Everything in Church teaching screams out that could never happen.

The SSPX have been grappling with this since just after the Vatican II Council, when it seemed to them that Pope Paul VI had taught heresy in promulgating some of the Vatican II documents, and later on when they thought that John Paul II taught heresy. Their solution, which does have some support in authoritative theologians, is that there is a difference between a pope being a "material heretic" and being a "formal heretic." But I don't think their solution is really satisfying.

The "sedavacantists" solve this my simply declaring that there has been no true pope since the death of Pius XII. But then they are left without a pope, and without a unified episcopacy.

But, on the other hand, what good is a pope and a unified episcopacy if they teach error and drag their followers into darkness?

Anonymous said...

This was a well-written article, and this is coming from someone who finds Pope Francis a total breath of fresh air.
It is odd, though, to read such a well-written article that doesn't once mention God, Jesus Christ, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. I'm hoping They were implied.

What is missing in all this discord is this, and only this: Please define who your God is. This blog seems to sounds like He is the great Pez Dispenser in the sky who needs to be pleased by our adherence to ancient rites and traditions, and ready to damn to hell all those who aren't doctrinaire to their beliefs.
Is your God loving, or condemning? 100 out of 100 times, will God favor justice over mercy? Is God most pleased solely by us being goody-two-shoes? Is God far more concerned about inner piety than outward love for others? When you see Jesus Christ nailed on the cross, do you think He is mostly concerned about whether we wear a veil or genuflect at Mass? Is our bleeding Christ weeping on the cross because we aren't saying Mass in Latin and the priest is facing us instead of the tabernacle?
Yes, as toddlers and teens, we absolutely need rules and boundaries and laws. There is comfort in structure. But then ... we grow up. For most, the idea of who God is changes as well versus being stuck in toddlerhood.
I would ask this question of both sides: Can you just lay out WHO your GOD is?

Anonymous said...

This question will come across as snarky because blogs cannot convey tone, so I can only stress I mean it as a very genuine question that does not have a presupposed answer behind it: When is the teaching of a Pope, formal and informal, owed assent? The tempting curt answer of "When he teaches the Catholic Faith" cannot be sufficient, because the Pope is the highest earthly authority for interpreting what constitutes the Catholic Faith in the first place. In all honesty, what criteria must be met for one to disagree with the Pope on matters of faith and morals?

Bryan Kirchoff
St. Louis

Barto said...

In reply to Anonymous who asked "Please define who your God is" and who asked "Is your God loving, or condemning?"

We know God through Divine Revelation.

Divine Revelation is communicated through Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition (including the Mass), and the Magisterium of the Church.

If someone mis-teaches or misrepresents Divine Revelation then he or she is impairing the ability of hearers to know, love and serve God.

That's why this blog, and many like it, and bishops like Cardinal Raymond Burke have been speaking out lately about mis-teachings coming from other Catholic teachers and bishops (including the recent Synod on the Family). That's why St. Paul the Apostle condemned false teachers. That's why Jesus was so hard on Pharisees and others who mis-taught Divine Revelation.

Up until the Vatican II Council, the popes and other leaders of the Catholic Church were always very vigilant that teachers of the Catholic Faith teach Divine Revelation correctly, and were very vigilant in condemning errors. Notable examples are Pope St. Pius X condemning Modernism, and Pope Pius IX condemning religious liberalism, and Pope Pius XI condemning ecumenism.

So, if a person thinks God is indefinite, or unknowable, or just a figment of the imagination, or just a metaphor for the promotion of positive humanist values, then, indeed, there's no point in adherence to the ancient, original Divine Revelation maintained and passed on by the Catholic Church for almost 2 thousand years. A person who thinks that way is what Pope St. Pius X called a “Modernist.

That’s what this blog is fighting, and attempting to help correct. This blog simply holds to the proposition that the Catholic Church cannot alter Divine Revelation.

The issue of the Mass comes into play because the Traditional Latin Mass is an uncompromised expression of Divine Revelation. By contrast, many Catholics view the Vatican II Mass (“Novus Ordo”) as being a compromised expression of Divine Revelation. A saying in the Catholic Church is “Lex orandi, lex credendi,” which means that how we worship reflects how we believe, and vice versa.

Would it be okay if the professors of Physics, Chemistry, or Biology mis-taught those sciences to their students? Then why should it be thought to be a matter of indifference if teachers of Religion mis-teaches that subject their students?

Regarding the question of Anonymous, "Please define who your God is,” the answer can be found in reading the Bible and reading pre-Vatican II Catholic books such as “The Catechism of the Council of Trent.”

Regarding the question of Anonymous, "Is your God loving, or condemning?" The answer according to Divine Revelation is that God is merciful to those who obey His Commandments, and punishing to those who disobey His Commandments. Or it is sometimes said that those people who love and practice unrighteousness are people who punish and condemn themselves to suffering (though there may be pleasure in the short run).

Love of God and love of neighbor and love of the truth of Divine Revelation and obedience to God's commandments all go hand-in-hand. Much effort has been put into dissecting and divorcing these parts, but to no avail. There really are only two paths: (1) The Way of Obedience to God’s Commandments, and (2) The Way of Suffering.

This part of Divine Revelation is extremely unpopular in today’s world. People nowadays want to be able to do whatever they pleases their ego, vanity or their flesh, or whatever is deemed okay by popular opinion or by one’s own clique. The whole matter of the necessity of obeying God’s commandments is widely rejected nowadays, even by many Catholics, even by some Catholic bishops (as seen in the recent Synod on the Family).

Barto said...

Bryan Kirchoff above wrote: “In all honesty, what criteria must be met for one to disagree with the Pope on matters of faith and morals?”

Stating criteria is perhaps difficult. But perhaps stating illustrative examples is not so hard. Suppose a pope taught that there is no God. Or suppose a pope said that we are now to worship Satan instead of God. Would you struggle with what criteria to use to reject those teachings of the pope? What if a pope taught the doctrine of universal salvation (no human goes to eternal damnation in Hell). Perhaps that one is harder.

In any case, the idea that a Catholic must accept everything a pope teaches seems easy to dismiss in principle.

Pope Pius XI condemned Ecumenism as a matter of principle and doctrine. Then the Vatican II Council came along and said this very same Ecumenism is an essential and indispensable part of the Church’s life and mission. Vatican II did a similar flip-flop on the doctrine of Religious Liberty. What’s a Catholic to do with these issues?

For me, for a variety of reasons, the criteria is simply accept only what was taught prior to the Vatican II Council. My main reason for this is the evidence of all the terrible harm the new teachings of the Vatican II Council have done to the lives of real people.

Jesus Our Lord said: "“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits." (Matt. 7)

Boniface said...

I wrote the original blog post linked to in this article.

My blog has a lot of stuff about God, etc. The fact that this particular post does not use the word "God" or "Trinity" enough is no indication of how I think about God. It was about what constitutes discord. Please read more than 1 or 2 of the 1005 posts on my blog before forming opinions about how I think about God, whether He is a Pez Dispenser, etc. Blessings

Anonymous said...

The question of "Who is your God" comes from my heart and is not meant to be snarky. Three responses, but none have directly answered, but tells us what our response to our God should be.

Okay, let's ask the original question this way: You are a missionary in a 3rd world country, and a curious 18 year old asks you "Who is God?" Would it be "Read the Bible?" Would you tell them to read Pre-Vatican II theology books? Would you tell her that she has to learn Latin first before you can answer that? Would you say that, despite living in abject poverty, they need to go to a first world cathedral with a gothic church and pipe organs to finally understand who God is?

If so, you have lost a soul who was thirsting for God.

Can someone here get out of their head and away from their rules and rubrics, and into their heart to define God?

thetimman said...


Who is my God? The One True God, the Most Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

i.e. I'm Catholic

thetimman said...

Bryan, a combox is not sufficient space for a truly comprehensive attempt to answer your question. But I do think you must start with the truth that no pope can teach contrary to the Catholic faith as handed down. The pope is the highest earthly authority to determine that, yes, in a sense. But there have been hundreds of popes before him, dogmatic councils before him, scripture before him, and theologians before him. He is not free to cast the all off and call it development of doctrine. He can't go from St. Paul and Christ on marriage and communion and then go to Kasper, and just say pastoral practice.

I am not a theologian, but it seems that if this matter is a tough call intellectually and abstractly speaking, in the practical case of the synod against the family that if the pope did say that communion for adulterers is a-ok, we are way beyond the close call stage.

I welcome answers from anyone else taking the question seriously, particularly those whose training makes them more competent than bloggers to answer.

But that's my initial take.

Anonymous said...

Oh, okay. I'm sure the 18 year old inquisitive teen will fully understand your answer on who your God is: "The One True God, the Most Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost."
The teen will then ask Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Animists and others the same question, and someone will set down and share with them the goodness of God.
That won't be found on this blog - just the same ol' "My side is right, the other is wrong."

thetimman said...

The goodness of God might just be that you got a clear, concise, Adult Catholic Answer to your question, instead of the squishy feel-good nonsense you were looking for. You need to come to grips with the fact that God loves you so much that He expects perfection from you and will not be satisfied until He gets it. It is time to wake from sleep, TIYS, because the night is far spent.

And yes, this same mini-lecture applies to me. Let's get over ourselves together, OK?