01 December 2014

"There is no corruption of doctrine or discipline the neo-Catholic will not contort himself into accepting so long as it appears to enjoy official approval or toleration."

So notes Chris Ferrara in yet another great piece for The Remnant.  The knee-jerk requirement that neo-Catholics stubbornly maintain that the sayings of (what I earlier labelled) thisPope must be true to the exclusion of all Catholic Tradition has now made it necessary to shove JP2 down the memory hole.

We have always been at war with Eurasia.


In the neo-Catholic view of our situation this plain fact is inadmissible, for whatever the Pope or his delegates in the Holy See pronounce or approve is, for them, ispso facto consistent with both apostolic and ecclesiastical tradition.

Given the developments of the past fifty years, however, the neo-Catholic polemic, which arose essentially as a defense of novelties in the post-conciliar Church, does not defend Apostolic or ecclesiastical tradition as such, but only the most recent papal pronouncement or decision (which may or may not coincide with objective tradition). Standing with Saint Epiphanius and the entire history of the Church the traditionalist says: “It is a tradition. Ask no more.” The neo-Catholic, however, unable to reconcile the post-conciliar novelties with the bimillenial teaching and practice of the Church before Vatican II, retreats into sheer papal positivism: “The Pope said it. Ask no more.” The result is a Catholic variant of Protestant nominalism, equating the exercise of authority with truth. And it is no coincidence that so many of the prominent figures in the neo-Catholic current are former Protestants.


Well, we traditionalists are at it again: pitting one Pope against another. But this time we are pitting Pope John Paul II against Pope Francis on the subjects of admitting the divorced and “remarried” to Holy Communion—which Francis permitted when he was Archbishop Bergoglio —and misapplication of the “law of gradualism” to moral precepts of the divine law as opposed to progress in understanding the doctrines of the Faith. The Synod’s midterm report advocated both of these horrendous errors against the Faith, while John Paul II resoundingly rejected them inFamliaris consortio.

Being traditionalists, we naturally defend John Paul II’s teaching on these points, not merely because “the Pope said it” but because it is in line with the teaching of all John Paul’s predecessors for 2,000 years. Being neo-Catholics, on the other hand, polemicists like Shea now face a dilemma: Francis and his Synod controllers, led by the Synod’s General Secretary and Manipulator-in-Chief, Cardinal Baldisseri, are clearly intent on abandoning the teaching ofFamiliaris consortio by “updating” it—i.e., ignoring it (even if they do not ultimately succeed in the attempt to overthrow a bimillenial discipline rooted in divine law). How, then, can the teaching of John Paul II be defended against the Synod of Francis, which appears to have been convened precisely to dispense with that teaching? It is impossible.


This may seem overly harsh to some, but I believe it to be true: the members of the neo-Catholic establishment are not truly committed to the foundation of our religion, that is, traditional Catholic doctrines and practices as objective realities to be preserved and handed down intact from generation to generation. (I do not speak here of ordinary Catholics in the pew, but of opinion-makers and leaders among this previously unheard of constituency in the Church.) They may truly believe they are so committed, and they will certainly defend our traditions to a point. But that point is reached whenever they encounter what has become a commonplace in the Church since Vatican II: a conflict between what the Church always believed and practiced before the Council and whatever novelty a Pope of the post-conciliar epoch might approve or permit outside the narrow limits of his infallibility. Faced with this conflict, they will defend the novelty—even altar girls and Holy Communion for public adulterers—while heaping contempt on any Catholic who does not see how one Pope can blatantly contradict another in important matters without undermining confidence in the Church and ultimately the Faith itself.

As John Paul “the Great” disappears into the neo-Catholic memory hole so that the neo-Catholic defense of Francis may proceed unimpeded by the teaching of his own predecessor, it is fair to ask whether this thing so rightly calledneo-Catholicism can, strictly speaking, be called Catholicism at all. In practice the neo-Catholic is a Catholic: he is baptized; he can recite the Creed with conviction; he recognizes the authority of the hierarchy and follows the Church’s commands. He may in fact live a morally exemplary life and his personal piety may exceed that of a given traditionalist. This is for God alone to judge. But there is a disjunction between the Catholic religion he professes and the novelties he is willing to defend despite all the evidence that their introduction has drastically weakened adherence to the truths of that same religion, stifled vocations, and reduced the generality of Catholics to the equivalent of liberal mainline Protestants, if indeed they have not left the Church altogether.



Fr. Andrew said...


Anonymous said...

I understand where the author is coming from, but again, we face a problem: If the Pope is not the one who defines what does and does not fit within authentic Tradition, who does? The Traditional Catholic blogsphere? I realize that sounds snarky, but I mean it as a genuine question: If I am to decide which papal pronouncements will receive my assent, then by what criteria and authority do I make that judgment? In short, unless we think papal infallibility applies only to the explicit declarations on the Immaculate Conception and Assumption, are we not calling into question the entire idea of (ordinary) papal infallibility?
Also, there seems to be a tendency to lay all problems at the feet of Vatican II. Again, the pre-Vatican II Church, with all of its traditions intact, saw the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, the communist movements of the 20th century, and so on. Further, saying Mass in Latin was a novelty at one point, unless the Apostles immediately began using Latin upon Jesus' Ascension; heck, the term "Mass" itself was probably a novelty at one time, since the dismissal prayer from which the term derived probably was not immediately a part of Christian worship.
Again, I apologize if these thoughts come across as arrogant or partisan. I really mean them to be more sincere than the internet can convey. I've been confused over all manner of Church debates in recent years, but on what authority do we declare the Pope wrong?

Bryan Kirchoff
St. Louis

Ted said...


I do it the way any pope who sits down to write an encyclical, give an allocution, or just simply make some remarks should do it. It's not magic. There's a lot of stuff out there that tells you what we Catholics are supposed to believe and do. It's important to ignore the garbage however. But that's not really that hard if you know a thing or two.

I'm not being snarky. People make it seem like it's really hard. It just isn't. There's a lot of smart people who've done this stuff for 2,000 years. You just have to read them. And think a little bit.