Hyperbolic Traditionalists

September 1, 2013 | 234 comments

After Catholic Answers Live aired, on August 12, its second two-hour program devoted to “radical Traditionalism,” a priest from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a religious society that celebrates Mass exclusively in the Extraordinary Form, wrote to us:

“Thank you for your fidelity in addressing this issue despite false accusations from some of ‘attacking’ traditional Catholicism. I thought your distinctions were clear between ‘radical Traditionalists’ and those in full communion with the Church.”

This priest had no problem understanding the program, which, like a May 31 program on the same subject, featured Tim Staples and Patrick Coffin. He understood the distinction drawn between fringe groups of “radical Traditionalists” and the much larger body of regular Traditionalists.

The same can’t be said for Michael Matt and Christopher Ferrara. Matt is the editor of, and Ferrara is a writer for, The Remnant, a fortnightly newspaper that some consider to be the chief Traditionalist publication in the U.S. The day after the August 12 program aired, Matt and Ferrara uploaded to the Remnant-TV website a video castigating Catholic Answers.

“The Church is in the state of absolute chaos,” said Ferrara, leaning into the camera, “and here they are wasting radio time.” Wasting radio time? Ferrara didn't mention that out of 1,600 airtime hours broadcast by Catholic Answers Live since the show’s debut, only these four hours have been devoted to the topic of radical Traditionalism: that’s one quarter of one percent. Is that too much for an issue about which we get many questions?

We have devoted far more program hours to the New Age movement, but we get far fewer questions about New Age beliefs and practices than we do about radical Traditionalism. Where has Ferrara voiced concern that we are "wasting radio time" on the New Age movement--or on the many other topics that we've devoted more than four airtime hours to?

More problematic than Ferrara’s arithmetic is his language: “The Church is in the state of absolute chaos.” The word “chaos” is hyperbolic; the adjective “absolute” raise the hyperbole to its highest possible degree. The phrase “absolute chaos” suggests that the Church everywhere outside Ferrara’s immediate sphere is as bad off as it possibly can be and is ready to expire.

That may be his view, and it may be Michael Matt’s, but it is not the view held by the large majority of Catholics, whether Traditionalist or non-Traditionalist. Most Catholics acknowledge serious abuses within the Church but also acknowledge extensive good. Judging from their choice of words, Matt and Ferrara seem to see almost nothing good. How could they, if the Church is in "absolute chaos"? (If they do see much good in the Church, then why do they so cavalierly use loaded terms like "absolute chaos"?)

In the video Matt complained that the term “radical Traditionalism” shouldn’t be used at all because it was coined by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a leftwing organization that, despite its name, does nothing to alleviate poverty but delights in discovering “hate groups.” (Matt's implication seemed to be that Catholic Answers is sympathetic to, or even in cahoots with, SPLC--else why mention SPLC at all?)

In 2006 SPLC produced a report on what it called the “Radical Traditionalist Catholic, Anti-Semitic Movement.” A dozen organizations and many individuals were mentioned. Some truly qualified as anti-Semitic; most didn't. One of the organizations listed was The Remnant. Thus Matt’s animus toward the term “radical Traditionalism.” But the term didn’t originate with SPLC. It was in use years before that group used it. A term doesn’t lose its value just because a scurrilous organization uses it in the title of a report.

The fact is that there are radical Traditionalists, people who can be distinguished from run-of-the-mill Traditionalists by their beliefs, actions, and attitudes. The two Catholic Answers Live programs discussed such folks—among them, for example, sedevacantists, those who reject Vatican II, and those who say the vernacular Mass isn't really a Mass at all.

In their video Matt and Ferrara complained about an unnamed blogger who had been cited by Philip Lawler at his own blog. They said the unnamed blogger unfairly characterized Traditionalism. “We don’t reject Vatican II!” said Matt. But then the blogger didn’t claim that Matt and his associates did.

The blogger was Taylor Marshall, and his blog post appeared on July 30. He listed nine attributes that he thought distinguished radical Traditionalists from regular Traditionalists. I don’t agree with everything on his list. He said, for example, that a sign of radical Traditionalism is “the denial of the charismatic gifts and the charismatic movement.” I think this is incorrect. One can find Catholics all across the spectrum who deny not so much the existence of charismatic gifts but the utility or prudence of the charismatic movement.

But Marshall did identify things that commonly are found among radical Traditionalists: “the denial of the Jewish holocaust,” “the outright denial of Vatican II as a valid council,” “disdain for Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis,” and “the belief that Latin Mass Catholics are ‘A Team’ and Novus Ordo Catholics are ‘B Team.’”

Those attributes don’t amount to a definition of radical Traditionalism, but they are useful indicators. The irony in all this was that Marshall was writing about Pope Francis putting a restriction on the celebration of the Latin Mass by the Franciscans of the Immaculate—a Traditionalist group of which Marshall is an associate member! In other words, Marshall is a Traditionalist himself.

Maybe this is why Matt and Ferrara didn't name Marshall, not wanting their viewers to look up his blog and see that they were claiming, loopily, that a Traditionalist was writing against his own position.

Michael Matt’s imprecision in saying that (an unnamed) Taylor Marshall claimed that Traditionalists such as Matt “reject Vatican II” is indicative of the looseness with which he and Ferrara have been writing and speaking about the two Catholic Answers Live programs. (The Remnant ran no fewer than three front-page articles against the programs.) Matt and Ferrara shoehorn their opponents into taking positions that they don't in fact take and into saying things they don't in fact say.

In their video Matt insisted that “the whole Traditionalist position is being attacked by neo-Catholics,” among whom he includes the staff of Catholic Answers. To him and to Ferrara, “neo-Catholics” either are oblivious to the multitudinous ills in the Church or are knowingly complicit in them. They go along to get along, don’t want to upset bishops by complaining about the hierarchy in public, and are cowed into silence out of fear of losing episcopal patronage or protection. They lack the gumption displayed by those associated with The Remnant.

In fact, people labeled “neo-Catholics” are simply orthodox Catholics who don’t share The Remnant’s unrelenting (and often skewed and uncharitable) grousing about the Church and about Catholics who don’t toe that publication’s party line and who don't follow its stylebook. In the minds of The Remnant folks, you can't be a traditional Catholic unless you use their rhetoric, focus on their issues, and share their priorities.

Let me end with a small amusement.

In their video Matt and Ferrara complained about the neologism “radical Traditionalism,” saying that it was misleading and unfair, that it painted with too broad a brush, that it lacked precision. Yet throughout their video they labeled their opponents with the even vaguer (and newer) “neo-Catholics,” a term that Ferrara admits he first popularized in a 2002 book.


Karl Keating is founder and senior fellow at Catholic Answers. He is the author of seven books, including his most recent, The New Geocentrists and The Ultimate Catholic Quiz. His books Catholicism and Fundamentalism and What Catholics Really Believe have been national...

Comments by Catholic.com Members

#1  jack hughes - bristol, Bristol City of

Dear Mr Keating

1) May I ask you to define a 'good' traditionalist? Is Criticism of Vatican Two allowed? (Cardinal Kasper admitted recently that 'compromise' formulas were adopted), when the Pope does something wacky are we allowed to criticize him? Criticism of the New Mass (whilst holding to its validity) ? I have asked this question on several blogs by orthodox non traditionalists and I have yet to receive an answer.

2) How can you say that the Church is NOT in a crises? Here in England only 5% of Baptized Catholics go to Mass, roughly 95% of Catholic children apostatize after our equivalent of high school, our Bishops for the most part fawn over our equivalent of DIGNITY and from experience I can say that maybe 5 people including myself go to confession on Saturday evening before the Vigil Mass at the Cathedral (attended by several hundred people), now either they are all perfect Saints or sacrilege is being committed en mass, yes there are pinpricks of light in the dark but they are very faint and I might add mainly Traditionalist.

3) As someone who used to be a regular listener I know that you run a regular segment with Sharon Lee Giganti on the New Age Movement, I'm sure that either Mr Matt or Mr Ferrera would be happy to answer your listener's questions on the Traditional Movement free of charge once per month, Mr Staples is no doubt a fine man to talk about purgatory but has he ever seen the inside of a Traditional Parish?

4) The LMS walking pilgrimage to Walsingham is its third year; this year 90 people walked the 55 miles, up from 30 two years ago, the Economist recently noted that the vast majority of us our young people, why do you criticize us when young people are flocking to our Masses when they are walking out of the Novus Ordo?

5) Please note that both Mr's Matt and Ferrera are of the generation who had to fight for the right to Worship according to the way their forefathers did and not what passes itself off as Catholic worship in many parishes around the world, and on this I urge you to understand the tone of their remarks . I would also urge you to read the works of Michael Davies on the Post Vatican 2 Church .

Good Day

September 1, 2013 at 6:57 am PST
#2  Terrye Newkirk - Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Thank you, Karl, for using the term "radical traditionalist" rather than the demeaning "radtrad," and, more important, defining it in a reasonable way. Part of what I objected to in the original program was that term. I agree that "neo-Catholic" is equally demeaning and imprecise.

I still find, however, that a huge number of Catholics make no distinction between loyal traditionalist Catholics and those who are in schism or otherwise disobedient to the Church. Yes, there is animus on the part of some TLM Catholics, but I think we must acknowledge that those who prefer the EF are just as often the objects of uncharitable attacks, even from priests and prelates.

Surely, everyone at Catholic Answers knows how *that* feels.

September 1, 2013 at 8:44 am PST
#3  Pam O'Keefe - Allen, Nebraska

I am by a long shot not Mr. Keating, but would describe myself as an orthodox non-traditionalist Catholic.

1. Vatican II itself, I would argue, was fine. The implementation of Vatican II often left quite a bit to be desired. I was a child during the 1970's and know full well that the catechesis was utterly frightful and woefully inadequate. (I was blessed with informed parents, and a predisposition toward rebelling against the norm when the norm wasn't true.) I think that to argue that doing things in an ephemeral, loosy-goosey notion of "the spirit of Vatican II" led to a plethora of abuses. Similarly, I would agree that the initial translations of the Novus Ordo into English were just pathetic and lazy. A first year Latin student could have done better. I'm thrilled w/ the new translation introduced during Advent 2011.

2. I don't think Mr. Keating would dispute that the Church is in crisis, moreso in some locales than in others. What he was disputing is Matt's and Ferrara's assertion that the Church is in "absolute chaos." Absolute chaos would perhaps accurately define the state of my laundry, or the condition of some individual parishes or even God help us of dioceses. But, it is an unfair and inaccurate assertion to make about the entire Church.

3. I don't know whether or not Mr. Staples has any exposure to the Traditional Latin Mass, or at least any extensive exposure to it. I have only attended one such Mass, and to be perfectly honest, while I strongly recommend all Catholics attend at least one (as well as attending at least one Eastern Rite Dive Liturgy, and at least one Mass in another language other than their own vernacular) I did not prefer it over the Novus Ordo. As to whether or not Matt and Ferrara would agree to a regular appearance on Catholic Answers, I would think that their disregard for the expertise and intelligence of the CA staff would need to be resolved first. As a listener, I would love to hear such a regular program.

4. I am not more than passingly familiar w/ the pilgrimage to Walsingham, and am thrilled to hear if its growth in recent years. Similarly in the US, we have found that more and more young people show up for such things as Eucharistic processions on the Feast of Corpus Christi (a tradition re-introduced here, it would seem, in the past fifteen or twenty years); more and more attendees at pro-life events (here in the US, abortion is, I think, quite a bit more politicized and polarizing than it might be elsewhere, due to the manner in which it was so broadly legalized). Many, many young people, while perhaps not flocking to the Traditional Latin Mass do seem to have a strong preference, in certain areas, to well done Novus Ordo Masses. Some are walking out of parishes that celebrate the Novus Ordo-- only to go to other parishes celebrating the Novus Ordo -- because of the degree to which the priests "say the black and do the red." (referencing the Roman Missal -- words to be said are in black, rubrics are in red -- which I'm sure you know already!)

5. I agree that there are a large number of Catholics who were horribly hurt by the changes wrought by Vatican II. It's been interesting to note that, when the new English translation came out a couple years ago, there were a number of people in my age group (forties and fifties -- kids during the seventies) who were really upset by the changes. I think that the means by which change is implemented can make a huge difference in how it is received, and although there were terrible, terrible casualties post-Vatican II, the Church learned from that, and the new English translation was introduced with a lot more compassion for the people in the pews.

In any case, yes, the hurt wrought by the loss of the traditional Latin Mass ought never be minimized. That, though, ought not lend any credence to some of the assertions made that the Novus Ordo is lacking, or that Vatican II was in error.

Prayers --
Pam O'Keefe

September 1, 2013 at 8:50 am PST
#4  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger


It looks like Pam has done much of my work for me. Kudos to her! Let me just add a few points.

1. Of course it's okay to criticize a council--or any other element of the Church, at least in its human manifestations. What makes criticism worthwhile vs. worthless is its intellectually integrity--and its balance. My issue with some Traditionalist commentators is that they exaggerate to such an extent that the accurate parts of their criticism become lost in their hyperventilation.

2. I didn't try to define "bad" Traditionalists, so I'm not inclined to try to define "good" Traditionalists either. Wouldn't the bad and good ones pretty much be defined the way bad and good non-Traditionalist Catholics are defined?

3. My sense is that the Church in the U.K. is worse off than the Church in the U.S., but I know of much good going on even on your side of the Atlantic. It's unfortunate that you see only "pinpricks of light." Perhaps you have made yourself too insular and are missing good things that are around you. I suggest you contact my friend Joanna Bogle, whose husband, Jamie, is a prominent Traditionalist in the London area.

4. I didn't say the Church isn't in a crisis. I said it's nonsensical to say it is in a state of "absolute chaos," because that is simply not true.

5. I'm pleased to hear of the growth of the Walsingham pilgrimage. I'm pro-pilgrimage by temperament, maybe because I like long hikes anyway.

6. I knew Michael Davies and fondly remember a long visit I had with him at his home. I'm sorry that we lived so far about (6,000 miles) that we didn't have a chance to get to know one another well.

September 1, 2013 at 10:17 am PST
#5  Mike Donivan - El Cajon, California

Pam, your response was brilliant and myself also being born in the mid 60's and a child of the 70's, I witnessed the birth and implementation of Vatican II. I don't want to be redundant, so I am leaving it at that. You definitely spoke for me and most of those in our age group. Blessed be God!

September 1, 2013 at 11:54 am PST
#6  Chuck Hasso - Webster, New York

Dear Mr. Keating,

My comment is not so much about the content of your Radical Traditionalist programs (I don't have a dog in that fight). But I did want to comment on the conduct of your hosts when talking to the sedevacantist priest. They constantly asked him questions and then would cut him off before he could answer (they kept blaming it on running out of time but did it over and over). They also seemed almost gleeful when they thought they had caught him on his "facts" about the validity of the papacy and other items. They may not have meant it, but it came across to me at least as rude and unprofessional. I expected more from them, and would have learned more from the program had he been able to complete his responses. Even those you don't agree with deserve to be treated with respect.

September 1, 2013 at 1:04 pm PST
#7  Jacob Flaherty - Sleepy Eye, Minnesota

Mr. Keating,

Thank you for your love of the Church. Something that I'm not understanding in all of this, as I see this ongoing sort of rivalry between you and Matt and Ferrara and now Voris is this: Why does traditional Catholicism have to be called 'Traditional' by you at all? Isn't orthodoxy simply orthodox? If Catholics have a right to attend the Extraordinary Form/Traditional Latin Mass/Tridentine Mass, (many names for it), does their going make them "traditional" or simply "Catholic"? I do believe that there are some Catholics who seem to scoff at attendees of such a Mass, as if they are some sort of strange aberration. Prominent Catholics labeling themselves as some kind of special outsiders group simply reinforces that stereotype, I'm afraid.

I had spent most of the summer going to the EF Mass because the common Novus Ordo experience where I lived was just altogether too frustrating. This morning my family and I were out of town, and so we attended a Novus Ordo Mass with our extended family members. There's a reason so many Catholics are frustrated when groups (and this was probably not your intent) take shots at traditional-leaning folks. The absolute nonsense that goes on at most parishes (who are not actually following the Novus Ordo rubrics, by the way), is absurd! In my opinion, Catholic Answers should be doing everything it can to welcome these folks into the fold while letting the "out-there" ones sit, clamor to get back in the fold by virtue of the outstanding witness and Catholicity coming from within the fold.

You fired a shot too close to an already spooked horse and expected no answer. I am 28 years old and have, by the grace of God, kept the Faith. But I can say that about almost no one in my family or among my childhood friends. Broaching the topic of 'radical traditionalism' without more clarity and initial explanation is the source of this problem, not the problem of those hearing it, considering the depth of the struggle we have been in and, even with the good things going on, it is still really quite rough out there. I have an Evangelical family member (who left the Catholic Church) and he often cites the whole 'Vain Repetition' anti-Rosary argument. I like to ask him: are the Scriptures here referring to 'vain' as an adjective or as part of the noun? He automatically assumes 'vain' is part of the object instead of a description. He also cites the 'graven image' argument. Again, is 'graven' part of the object, or just a description? When you referenced 'radical traditionalism' did you clarify in what way you were using 'radical' or did you just leave it to the audience to figure out. If so, there is the problem, as is the whole use of 'traditionalism', which I think is ridiculous for anyone to use. I am Catholic!

Yes, there are people out there who get too easily bent out of shape. Pope Francis bows his head to the Queen of Jordan? Oh, ok, not my preferred move, but I get why he did it; "I have come not to serve, but to serve..." I'm not going to condemn him and I trust that in the promises of our Lord concerning His Church he will stay, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

It feels good to fight, and I know this from battling my Evangelical family member. But sometimes it's best to just drop it. If Voris mischaracterized you, then let him know privately and be done with it. Allow him, through seeing your good deeds, to come back and re-clarify his position. Same with Ferrara and Matt. We will continue to hold all of you in prayer.

September 1, 2013 at 2:20 pm PST
#8  Jacob Flaherty - Sleepy Eye, Minnesota

Mr. Keating, respectfully, I thought this was in reference to a different issue, and I, admittedly, did not do my due diligence in watching the videos before commenting on your blog. Please remove my earlier post so that I can watch the programs and then comment.

Sincerely yours,


September 1, 2013 at 2:30 pm PST
#9  Christopher Ferrara - Richmond, Virginia

Mr. Keating focuses his reply to the videocast by me and Mike Matt on one phrase of mine: "absolute chaos."

Seriously? There is such a thing as a manner of speaking, especially in an unscripted, free-flowing conversation.

Fine, let's replace the phrase "state of absolute chaos" with "continuing process of decay," (Cardinal Ratzinger) "collapse of the liturgy," (Cardinal Ratzinger), "silent apostasy" (Pope John Paul II), and "so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy trivialized" (Pope Benedict XVI).

Mr. Keating rather ludicrously reduces observations of the profound ecclesial crisis we are now experiencing to "grousing," which illustrates precisely the state of mind Mike Matt and I were discussing.

As for Mr. Keating's protest that the CA radio show has devoted more time to the New Age Movement than to "radical traditionalism," this only establishes another example of his organization's misplaced emphasis. The New Age movement? Seriously? How about the hundreds of millions of Catholics around the world who simply no longer care what the Pope teaches about how to live their lives in conformity with the divine plan, and who exhibit precisely the "silent apostasy" John Paul II lamented after fifty years of imaginary conciliar "renewal" of the Church? What about the "radical neo-Catholicism" of these liberalized masses of people in the pews, who are helping to perpetuate the culture of death by slowly contracepting the Western world into oblivion, voting to elect radically "pro-gay" and pro-abortion politicians to public office everywhere?

It is simply despicable to assign "Holocaust denial" as an attribute of "radical traditionalism." The world's foremost Holocaust denier, David Irving, is not even Catholic, and there are Catholics of all stripes, including those in Novus Ordo parishes, who foolishly deny that 6 million Jews died under the Hitler regime. As for me, I have written an article denouncing as perverse attempts to minimize the number of Hitler's Jewish victims, which census data clearly show to have been about 6 million indeed. NOTE: Bishop Williamson was expelled from the "radical traditionalist" Society of Saint Pius X, and his views on the Holocaust were repudiated by the Society.

Finally, a careful reading of Mr. Keating's article will show that, like Messrs. Coffin and Staples, he is rather shifty about how to distinguish what he calls "regular traditionalists" (good) from "radical traditionalists" (bad). He offers only a reference to sedevacantism and certain "useful indicators." I detect the whiff of demagoguery.

None of this is to detract from the good work Mr. Keating has done. But really, it is time for Catholic Answers to wake up and smell the crisis in the Church and to recognize that the attempt to innovate her in every department after the Council has been a disaster. Only a restoration of what has been lost can repair the damage, as we see precisely with those traditionalist orders which are brimming with vocations while the seminaries of the Novus Ordo continue to close, along with Novus Ordo parishes and schools.

The urgent work of restoration was begun under Pope Benedict, who freed the Latin Mass from its absurd Babylonian captivity of forty years. We should all be praying that the process of restoration gains momentum under Pope Francis, even if the "beach party Mass" in Brazil, where consecrated Hosts were distributed in plastic Dixie cups and the "liturgical music" included pop and R & B stylings, does not appear to bode well for an end to what Cardinal Ratzinger rightly called "the collapse of the liturgy."

September 1, 2013 at 2:34 pm PST
#10  Kevin Tierney - Howell, Michigan

Mr. Keating,

I don't think anyone should doubt that error exists, and that people who hold bad views need to be held accountable. Yet when people like Pete Vere (a name you know well who basically wrote the playbook on "radical traditionalists') call upon Catholic writers to drop the phrase radical traditionalist because it stigmatizes faithful traditionalists in the pews, no matter how many distinctions are made, I really think Catholic Answers should take that into account.

And quite frankly, there could be a far better use of your time than writing on a small subset that mainly exists on the internet and is seldom if ever defined strictly.

I agree with what the following individual said:

"I have an extensive vocabulary. If I want to indicate my disdain for someone, I don't have to fall back on slang such as "radtrad" or "Fundie" or "Prot."

Who was that individual? I think Mr. Keating might know him pretty darn well, because that individual is Karl Keating. You really should live up to the standards you yourself set, because your vocabular is far too extensive for this kind of self-defeating language.

September 1, 2013 at 4:20 pm PST
#11  Christopher Ferrara - Richmond, Virginia

An addendum to my comment: In fairness to David Irving, I should say that he WAS the world's most famous Holocaust denier, but changed his mind after he studied the Eichmann papers, admitting during his trial that after he studied the Eichmann material he realized that the Nazis did murder millions of Jews. I cited Eichmann's testimony at Nuremberg in my own article debunking Holocaust revisionism, published in The Remnant.

September 1, 2013 at 5:26 pm PST
#12  Margie Sindelar - Heath, Ohio

While we are defining terms, can you explain to me what the opposite of a "Traditionalist" is? Wouldn't that be a non-Traditionalist? Since when do those who attend the TLM have a claim on Catholic Tradition? Aren't all faithful Catholics, Traditionalists?

September 1, 2013 at 8:13 pm PST
#13  Kevin Tierney - Howell, Michigan


One need not attend a latin mass to be a traditionalist, but not all Catholics are traditionalists. Just as not all catholics are charismatics, domicians, fransiscans, focolare, or whatever movement you wish to describe.

We traditionalists have certain charisms and certain things we emphasize. that doesn't mean the person who goes to an Ordinary Form liturgy done properly is incapable of calling themselves a traditionalist if they want. If they emphasize the things we do, welcome to the club. Or if they aren't part of the club, hey, they are another ally to do business with as we try to advance some liturgical sanity in line with tradition, an emphasis on taking all of Catholic tradition into account when it comes to dogmatic and prudential aspects, and someone we work alongside as we look to restore all things in Christ.

Now are some people going to disagree? Sure. But I think you give that kind of understanding at most of your latin mass parishes, and most would be cool with that.

September 1, 2013 at 8:27 pm PST
#14  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Kevin Tierney: I don't get your gripe at the end of your post. I precisely don't and didn't use the term "radtrad."

September 1, 2013 at 8:46 pm PST
#15  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Chris Ferrara:

1. I focused on your line about "absolute chaos" because that kind of language is commonly used by you not just in off-the-cuff oral remarks but in writing.

2. "What about the 'radical neo-Catholicism' of these liberalized masses of people in the pews, who are helping to perpetuate the culture of death by slowly contracepting the Western world into oblivion, voting to elect radically 'pro-gay' and pro-abortion politicians to public office everywhere?"

Yes, indeed--what about them?

Catholic Answers has an extensive chastity ministry that reaches hundreds of thousands of people yearly with the Church's teaching against contraception and in favor of the historic understanding of marriage and sexuality. We have published books and booklets on homosexuality and abortion. Our voter's guide, which covers those two issues and others, has been distributed in the millions of copies. We're doing our part. We're trying to fix a problem that you and we all recognize.

What is "The Remnant" doing beyond pointing out that there is a problem? What are you doing to convert those masses of Catholics to full Catholic morality? It's one thing to raise an alarm about a fire, but then one needs to attend to putting the fire out.

3. If you and Mike Matt don't like the term "radical Traditionalism," propose an alternative that makes clear the distinction between what I called "regular Traditionalists" and people who doubt or reject the validity of the Ordinary Form, of Vatican II, and of recent papacies.

4. As I wrote, we've devoted only one-quarter of one percent of our airtime to this topic. "The Remnant" recently devoted three lengthy front-page stories and a video just to our two shows. That strikes me as weirdly disproportionate.

September 1, 2013 at 9:30 pm PST
#16  Michael Contaldi - West Pittston, Pennsylvania

I am both outraged and encouraged by this ongoing problem between Catholic Answers & other mainstream Catholic media outlets and the new alternative Catholic media online.

Why am I outraged? Catholic Answers & others are trying to make Catholics think the SSPX are outside the Church or at least that they should be. This is outrageous. I will explain why in a moment.

Why am I encouraged? This is the fight that needs to be had this is the elephant in the Catholic living room. Vatican II needs to be discussed not only by EWTN and Catholic Answers but also by Michael Voris,Mr. Matt, Mr.ferrara and yes the SSPX.

The SSPX holds the Catholic Faith whole and entire. They hold all the Dogmas and all the doctrines. If Catholic Answers wants to suggest otherwise you need to state clearly what is it in Vatican II that they reject that say the FSSP accepts?

Newsflash most FSSP Priests that I speak to privately disagree with the SSPX on nothing that relates to Vatican II or the Mass. The only difference I can see is that the FSSP ignores Vatican II and the SSPX resists it publicly. The FSSP resists as well but by ignoring it and they are waiting for it to go away. That in my judgement is the problem here the problem here is those under ecclesia dei who appear saying something they are not saying.

Most of them completely agree with the SSPX on the matters the SSPX disputes but Catholic Answers seems to think the FSSP views these matters as Catholic Answers does. Attention Mr Keating this is not true at all. So your attempt to suggest that the SSPX are radical traditionalists is false due to that fact that it is based on an illusion. What illusion? That we who are not SSPX somehow all disagree with them we don't.

If the the SSPX are radical traditionalists then so are the rest of us! Attack one Catholic and you attack us all. That's the message to Catholic Answers the SSPX are in the boat stop trying to push them out.

Religious Liberty, False Ecumenism and Collegiality all coming from Vatican II are a problem for most thinking Catholics who are going to the Traditional Latin Mass. This is not limited to the SSPX or those other groups your radio show talked about. The other huge problem and this is where the southern poverty law center comes is supersessionism and Vatican II. The southern poverty law center calls faithful Catholics "anti-semites" and "radical traditionalists" due to our holding to the reality of supersessionism. This is an injustice.

The topic of the Jews must not be pushed under the rug because it makes people feel icky. Michael Voris was not allowed to speak in my diocese because he was faithful to Christ and the truth about the Jews & the reality the matter. This also is an injustice. So let's have at it in Charity gentlemen.
In Jesus and Mary,
Michael Contaldi

September 1, 2013 at 9:53 pm PST
#17  Kevin Tierney - Howell, Michigan

Mr. Keating,

What is "radtrad" if not shorthand for "radical traditionalist?"

And if we want a distinction between those who are faithful to the Church and those who aren't, here's an idea. How about "those who are faithful to the Church and those who aren't."

You guys are responsible for the terms you use. As someone who can more than back up the experience..... "radical traditionalist" ends up damaging the faithful traditionalist more than the alleged "radical." Since most people don't know any traditionalists period, the only thing they hear about is the "Radical" that you guys present on your radio show, as if this small subset of a small subset are some existential threat to the church.

If they are as small a minority as everyone seems to concede when pressed, why the need to invent a perogative label. Why is "wrong" not good enough?

September 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm PST
#18  Kevin Tierney - Howell, Michigan

In the end, talk with traditionalists like Pete Vere, and ask them why he abandoned using these labels. Or to quote him directly, with his permission, from his facebook page on August 15th, 2013:

"But that does not mean Kevin is wrong. Rather, like Shawn, I suspect Kevin is right. He is viewing things with the fresh eyes of a new generation of traditionalist that did not have to fight yesterday's battles, one that optimistic rather than embittered. And deep down inside I think that is what bothered me most about Kevin's response - the fact that him being right means I have to let go of old prejudices formed during yesteryear's battles. Battles that today's generation of trad never faced because traditionalism is now widely accepted in the Church mainstream.

That's a good thing. It means that today's young traditionalists like Kevin have an opportunity to grow the traditionalist movement in a way we could never imagine. But to do so they need to take a more positive and optimistic approach than would have been prudent for my generation of trad. Which is why I have no regrets about having stepped back to allow Kevin's generation a chance to step up. In essence, the expression "radtrad" was coined to allow traditionalists to escape the menu. It served its purpose. However, today's generation has been invited to eat at the table."

For those unaware, Mr. Vere was one of the people who coined the concept of a "Radical traditionalist" and made its use popular throughout Catholic commentary, a name people in this thread would know.

September 1, 2013 at 10:19 pm PST
#19  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Kevin Tierney:

Of course "radtrad" is shorthand for "radical Traditionalist," but it is more than just shorthand, just as "Prot" (a term favored by Catholic apologist Vin Lewis) is shorthand for "Protestant." In these cases it isn't merely a matter of saving a few letters. The shorthand forms carry with them a level of disdain that the long forms don't--and that's why I don't use either "radtrad" or "Prot".

You worry about the term "radical Traditionalist" damaging faithful Traditionalists. I see your point, but isn't there a greater danger in not making a distinction (which must be made using some descriptive term) between faithful Traditionalists and those use call themselves Traditionalists but have placed themselves on the edge or over it?

September 1, 2013 at 10:27 pm PST
#20  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Michael Contaldi:

You write, "[M]ost FSSP Priests that I speak to privately disagree with the SSPX on nothing that relates to Vatican II or the Mass. The only difference I can see is that the FSSP ignores Vatican II and the SSPX resists it publicly. The FSSP resists as well but by ignoring it and they are waiting for it to go away."

I guess we speak to different SSPX priests. The three at my parish don't think that way at all.

September 1, 2013 at 10:33 pm PST
#21  Kevin Tierney - Howell, Michigan

I have no problem using a descriptive term. It's called "wrong." There is always a danger that someone will use something incorrectly. That involves faithful traditionalists calling them out on it. Since we all agree that the "radicals" are such a minority, I can assure you, we have these discussions, and we don't need to use the labels.

As our mutual friend pointed out, these terms came into being when the SSPX was excommunicated and there was little to no legitimate traditionalist presence within the Church. The FSSP is here to stay, the SSPX are no longer excommunicated (though still not fully regularized, let us pray that happens), and Williamson, a guy who if we had to use such a label would be the first we used it on, was kicked out by the SSPX.

When a traditionalist tries to use those valid charisms as a way to promote declaring Vatican II as formally teaching heresy or the like, one simply needs to say "like all Catholics, you can't say a valid ecumenical council is heretical." There's just as much the danger of a growing tribalism and legit traditionalists like myself who were treated as second class citizens, and whose valid aspirations were denied because we wouldn't want to embolden the radicals winkwinknudgenudge.

I know you and many others never considered using the term like that. Yet it happens, and these terms have developed for almost two decades now in that fashion.

September 1, 2013 at 10:57 pm PST
#22  Michael Contaldi - West Pittston, Pennsylvania

All these titles before the name Catholic must completely be rejected.
Titles like "neo","trad","liberal","modernist","radtrad","sede","neo modernist" and alike do not and can no longer have a place among Catholics. These titles do not describe Catholics they describe factions of people who believe themselves to be Catholics. This is classic divide and conquer guys knock it off.

If someone is in point of fact a modernist he can not also be a Catholic. If someone is a liberal he can not also be a Catholic.
We would do well to follow the saints here and simply return to the use of the clearly understandable words of Catholic or heretic. Either one is a Catholic or a heretic. Why not deal in reality. Our Lord did.

If Catholic Answers believes the SSPX and others are following a false religion called traditionalism say so and call them heretics. If others believe Catholic Answers and EWTN are modernists and liberals say so and call them heretics.

If however Catholic Answers and the SSPX (and their supporters) view each other as Catholics then we should be treating each other as such and only refer to each other as Catholics. Sound reasonable?

This all boils down to the Council. Vatican II and it's documents have left Catholics at each others throats because all sides don't know what is binding and what documents carry what level of authority. Questions that need answers from Rome are.

1) Is dignitatis humanae de fide? If so what must be held? What is not binding in the document. What level of authority does it have.
2)Is dignitatis humanae doctrine or is it a pastoral initiative of the churchmen based on the reality of the modern world.
3)What is Ecumenism?
4) What is the meaning of the CCC when it is talking about the Muslims and it says " together with us they adore the one, merciful God"
5) How do we get to a hermeneutic of continuity on Vatican II in reality outside of reading into it what ever we wish.

Which is what is what is happening now. Catholics are using an error of modernity to answers questions only the Pope can answer. The reason the factions are there and men are fighting is because they are reading into these matters what they think Tradition and authority is asking them to think.

To be fair to groups like Catholic Answers,EWTN and Catholics United for the Faith I think you like the rest of us were given the Council and you are doing with it what you think is right that is reasonable. I think all Catholics should join their voices to that of Bishop Athanasius Schneider and send a humble loud request to Rome for a syllabus on Vatican II. Otherwise the Church will continue to divide.

We need something like a Catholic Woodstock moment where we all come together and hash all this out at the feet of the master. The rosary can heal these problems. Have some kind of Catholic media conference and invite everyone. Invite Bishops from the USCCB. Invite Bishop Williamson. Invite Catholic Answers and EWTN. Invite leaders from the SSPX. Invite Voris,Matt and the whole gang have talks,prayer and debates heck even invite the diamond brothers we can let them be the doormen and they can greet us as heretics of the "Vatican II sect" lol :) Let's work this out the devil is eating our lunch.
In Jesus and Mary,
Michael Contaldi

September 1, 2013 at 10:58 pm PST
#23  Benjamin Baxter - Fresno, California

It is technically incorrect to say that radical traditionalists use hyperbole. Hyperbole is a literary device which is basically a form of irony --- it is deliberate exaggeration to say something very much lesser.

Radical traditionalists are not being hyperbolic. Radical traditionalists really mean that Bugini was a Freemason when they say so just like Bob Sugenis really means Paul VI was a practicing sodomite when he says so.

September 2, 2013 at 12:10 am PST
#24  Benjamin Baxter - Fresno, California

There needs to be a "Nixon goes to China" moment where an established apologist engages, in good faith, the best part of books like //The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background// by Klaus Gamber and the works of Lazlo Dobszay. Neither Gamber nor Dobszay could by any stretch be called traditionalists, or and Dobszay is certainly not a reactionary, yet what they write is basically in line with all the hastily disavowed arguments and beliefs which mark the faithful traditionalists away from the rest of the faithful Catholics.

In short: Catholic Answers needs to establish some street cred before it jumps in. If it does, even some of those otherwise lost to the radicals might calm down.

Why? There is an inverse relationship between the support authentic, faithful traditionalism receives and the market for folks like these two. That is to say, they wouldn't have a market if the extraordinary form and the little traditions got more mainstream support.

If it decides to continue these arguments without having established its credibility //on matters of liturgical-cultural tradition//, Catholic Answers will only make the problem worse. Without getting the trust of those hovering around The Remnant but not yet sucked in by it, Catholic Answers will never get their respect or attention. This, as you know, is the better goal.

September 2, 2013 at 12:31 am PST
#25  Kelly Wing - Wyoming, Minnesota

Dear Karl:

I have enojoyed CA for over 10 years- thank you for work!

On the topic at hand, I was surprised that CA even did one 1 -let alone 2- shows on this topic. I thought both shows were sloppily designed and produced. They lacked a focus on what they were trying to impart and discuss, they seemed to fillibuster time with trivialities, and the attempt to even try to define "Radical Traditionalism" seems to me to be the root cause of the discord here. I think a show called "Sedevacantism" or something with an affirmative title would have been better than trying to illustrate what Traditionalists are NOT.

It hurts that CA took a group of Catholics -those in our own fold- and called them to task for who they are and what they do. Yes, CA has addressed new agers and OTHER NON CATHOLIC groups, but how often has it had one entire show go after a fellow Catholic viewpoint? If this is to be the case, then it would seem that CA ought to do a show on Catholics who are truly out of the fold. CA could do shows like "Catholics for Obama?" or "Looney Liturgists" or "Heretical Homilists" or "Cafeteria Catholics" or "****** Catholic Colleges" just to show an impartiality to the matter and expose those who are truly and undeniably outside the church who use the title Catholic when they ought not.

September 2, 2013 at 4:54 am PST
#26  Michael Contaldi - West Pittston, Pennsylvania

Mr. Keating,
We must be speaking to different SSPX and FSSP Priests indeed. I have spoken with many FSSP Priests on a wide range of topics dealing with the Council and the Mass. I have asked many of them this question. Would you offer the new mass? The answer is universally.......no.

A problematic contradiction comes into play when the question is asked: Father if the new mass is not good enough for you offer why is it good enough for me to assist at. The answer normally comes back that I should not attend the new mass but if I do I am free to do so. This is leaps and bounds away from the early traditional movement's warning "The new mass is evil don't attend it you will lose your faith" Today this view can be found among Bishop Williamson's people some SSPX Priests and yes some eastern rite Priests as well as those under ecclesia dei but they are more hush hush about saying it publicly due to the odd place those under ecclesia dei are in.

So in this spat between Catholics I see the ecclesia dei groups as the problem. We have false advertising going on. We have an appearance and a reality that don't match. If you think Mr. Keating most of them side with your view of matters I think you will find out soon this is not the case at all. Look at the all out war that took place among the Franciscans. All of this is due to the Council and the Mass. When Priests study the matter and offer the Latin Mass for a time they see the new orientation,the new theology,the new mass and the popularized understanding of Vatican II (put out by EWTN and Catholic Answers) does not line up with Tradition and is a danger to their souls and Priesthood.
Mr Keating I have some questions if you don't mind.

1) Were you or anyone at Catholic Answers asked to do these shows and stories on the SSPX and "Radical Traditionalism" by anyone in authority in the Church or anyone representing them? or by anyone or any group or person outside the Church?

The reason I ask is many of us noticed other Catholic media outlets doing doing similar attacks at the same time. Like this hit piece called:
Three barriers to the Latin Mass:
In the last frame of the video the shot intends to demonize SSPX books after attacking faithful Catholics for our dress. Clearly this is an attack. It didn't go unnoticed and it is also and injustice.

2)Do you believe that the Catholic is Israel? In other words do you believe the Roman Catholic Church is the Israel of God now. Do the Jews need to be Baptized into the Catholic Church the one true Church to be saved? Is their salvation outside the Catholic Church for Jews?

3) Can man choose what ever religion he wants based on his "human dignity" and his "human rights" Can a man be said to have a right to be a Hindu? If so what kind of right? If not why?
In Jesus and Mary,
Michael Contaldi

September 2, 2013 at 7:31 am PST
#27  Christopher Ferrara - Richmond, Virginia


In reply to your comments on my comments, I will respond to your remarks in order:


My 700-page study of the ideological origins and progress of the idol called "Liberty," Liberty, the God that Failed, was assigned as required reading by Dr. David Schindler for one of his graduate courses at the John Paul II Institute of Catholic University of America. The work was very favorably reviewed by world-renowned scholars the University of Oxford and the University of Nottingham. The Priestly Seminary of Saint Peter invited me to give talks on the book to the seminarians in Nebraska.

My defense of Catholic Social Teaching in the book The Church and the Libertarian was listed by Dale Ahlquist of Ignatius Press as one of the ten best books he had read in 2010. A prominent Protestant lawyer who read the book said that it had greatly increased his respect for the Catholic Church, and wrote to the Remnant to say so.

Your focus on a single phrase in my conversation with Mike Matt, and your vague allusion to "language commonly used by you" is a thinly veiled argumentum ad hominem. It avoids the merits of what I said.


This is the good work for which I have praised your organization. What I object to is your continuing attempt to demonize traditionalists by a shifting application of the term "radical traditionalist" and your steadfast refusal to recognize that an intra-Church collapse of the liturgy, of discipline in general, and ultimately of faith--admitted by a series of Popes--can only be addressed by a restoration of what was lost during the post-conciliar "updating" of the Church.

Again, this is why we see a plenitude of vocations in the traditional orders while the Novus Ordo establishment continues to crumble under the weight of its own blunders: empty seminaries, empty convents, closing parishes, closing schools, trivialized liturgy---as Pope Benedict admitted, while attributing the disaster to a "virtual Council" created by the media.

The problem you seem unwilling to recognize is that this "virtual Council" was implemented, not by the media, but by Church authorities, including Paul VI, who lived to lament what he himself called the "auto-demolition" of the Church and the penetration of the Church by "the smoke of Satan." If you have a problem with "hyperbole," Karl, your problem is with the dramatic admissions of Pope after Pope about the immense crisis that is staring you in the face.


First of all, the first step in any cure is the diagnosis. The Remnant does far more than pointing out that there is a problem: it explains *why* there is a problem---the abandonment of the traditional liturgy, discipline, catechesis, and militancy of the Church.

Secondly, in case you haven't noticed, young traditionalists are now the avant garde for a true reform of the Church. I point you to an important article in the London Economist (12-15-12) which begins thus: "Since the Second Vatican Council in 1962, the Roman Catholic church has striven to adapt to the modern world. But in the West—where many hoped a contemporary message would go down best—believers have left in droves."

In response to this disaster, young people are seeking a return to integral Tradition. Writes the Economist: "Like evangelical Christianity, traditional Catholicism is attracting people who were not even born when the Second Vatican Council tried to rejuvenate the church."

The Remnant has been leading this youth movement for years--for example, its American chapter of the annual Chartres Pilgrimage, whose participants average about 22 years in age. Further, by providing the correct diagnosis and cure for the crisis in the Church, The Remnant has illuminated thousands upon thousands of Catholics, many of whom have written to the paper in gratitude for helping them to understand what has gone wrong in the Church and what to do about it: return to Tradition in its fullness.

Lastly, among Catholics of Tradition there is no need for things like a "chastity ministry," or pamphlets informing them that abortion and sodomy are intrinsic evils, or that marriage is only between a man and a woman, for traditionalists already understand and obey implicitly the precepts of the natural law and their application by reason of a strong faith, traditional catechesis, and frequent reception of the sacraments, reinforced by a majestic and august liturgy that is not a joke, like so many Novus Ordo Masses have become.

Of course, your activities are needed among Novus Ordo Catholics, who have received inadequate formation in the Faith, and for this you deserve praise. But such lay "ministries" are stop-gaps for a Church in crisis. What you are doing to educate people should have been done by the *ministers of the Church* in the first place, not by lay ministries.


But Karl, it is you who have the burden of making that distinction clear, since you introduced it in synch with the Southern Poverty Law Center. And you have utterly failed to carry that burden. Beyond sedevacantists, whom do mean? The Society of Saint Pius X? But how can that be, since, as the Diocese of Richmond admits in an article retracting its earlier calumnies, the Holy See treats Society's adherents as it does all the other members of the Catholic faithful, and it is wrong to call them a "sect." When can we expect CA's apology to the Catholic faithful of the SSPX?

Now, if by "radical traditionalist" you don't mean the SSPX, then whom do you mean apart from the sedevacantists? Do you mean me or Mike Matt? If not us, then who, Karl, *who*?

Finally, I am sure I speak for Mike when I say that this entire controversy, which you have provoked, was completely avoidable. Indeed, Catholic Answers should be seeking an alliance with the traditionalist movement, including The Remnant, instead of continuing to imply (without saying so) that it lacks "full communion" with the Church, whatever that means.

A suggestion for you: join Mike and me for a conversation at the Remnant forum, or have one or both of us on your show. I guarantee that the exchange will be productive of amity rather than the discord your organization continues to foment regarding the rising traditionalist movement, so much encouraged by Pope Benedict. You need to face the reality that the future of the Church lies in the recovery of her past throughout the ecclesial commonwealth in order to restore the unbroken continuity that is Tradition.

You once said--and I commend you for it--that you were tempted to believe that traditionalists are right about everything. But let us put it this way, so as not to reduce the question to a mere argument that one side is trying to win: let us say that Tradition is right about everything and that it is Tradition, in all its elements, that needs to be restored for the good the Church and indeed the whole world.

September 2, 2013 at 9:20 am PST
#28  Michael Contaldi - West Pittston, Pennsylvania

I really have to agree with something Mr. Ferrara said in the video on youtube called: Strange Bedfellows: Neo-Catholics & the Far-Left. I disagree with something put out by Mr. Matt and Mr. Ferrara in that video as well.

In dealing with sedevacantists and the problem of sedevacantism Mr. Ferrara says they are basically victims of the crisis in the Church. Agreed that is true. That said Catholic Answers is picking up on a vibe that is out there coming from sedevacantism and the internet and trying to deal with it with no help from the Bishops in the United States or Rome that I can see.

I disagree with Mr. Matt and Mr. Ferrara on how much of a threat sedevacantism really is. Catholic Answers, Mr. Matt and Mr. Ferrara would do well to craft apologetics materials and programs on how to defend the Faith from these people. I have personally seen people with large followings on line fall into sedevacantism and the damage that it does is much worse than what happens if a Catholic becomes say Protestant or leaves the Priesthood under bizarre circumstances like some famous EWTN names. I am speaking of Gerry Matatics and other Catholics who went off the cliff into sedevacantism.

The other question that has not been taken on by Rome or the Bishops is are sedevacantists still Catholic? I can not see how they could be but I lack the authority to say so with authority. I know many good faithful Catholics who think they are still Catholic and others who say they are not. I think ignoring sedevacantism is a mistake on this point Catholic Answers is right. Linking faithful Catholics in the SSPX (or those who agree them) in anyway with sedevacantism is an an outrageous scandal. Public penance and apologies are in order.

Where I disagree with Catholic Answers,Mr. Matt and Mr. Ferrara is the matter of the holocaust and those who question the number of Jews killed by Hitler. The "holocaust" is a horror of history but it is not part of the Catholic Faith and what one thinks about the number of Jews killed has nothing to do with the the reality if they hold the Faith or not. So I rebuke Catholic Answers for trying to push the SSPX out of the boat they are Catholics. I also rebuke Catholic Answers,Mr. Matt and Mr. Ferrara for trying to push Bishop Williamson out of the boat for his view on the number of Jews killed by Hitler. You can't do that. Bishop Williamson is Catholic.

The reality of the matter is 66 million souls were lost during the war. A fair question is why is the 6 million Jews killed somehow more important to Catholics than the other 60 million souls that were lost during the war that were undoubtedly Baptized gentiles.

To focus completely on only the Jews who were killed when Christendom was crushed under Hitler and Soviet Communism is a stunning mental twist of reality. The only "holocaust" that is a matter of faith for Catholics is the holocaust of the God man Jesus Christ on the cross which is represented in the Mass that is what matters. The genocide of the Jews is a awful sin but it is not Dogma or doctrine stop treating it as such.

Newsflash: Bishop Williamson and the Priests who are with him are Catholics. The faithful who follow them are also Catholics and Catholic Answers, Mr. Matt and Mr. Ferrara don't get to decide who is in the boat neither do I. Until Rome has something to say on the SSPX and the Williamson matter I have no power to say that they are not Catholics neither does Catholic Answers, Mr. Matt and Mr. Ferrara.

In Jesus and Mary,
Michael Contaldi

September 2, 2013 at 10:36 am PST
#29  Michael Matt - Forest Lake, Minnesota

Mr. Keating:
Not long ago you were gracious enough to publicly defend The Remnant against the charge of "radicalism" and "schism" when someone from your organization mistakenly accused us of the same to a member of my wife's homeschool co-op. For this gracious gesture on your part I have remained grateful ever since, and have often recounted to my friends around the Catholic world just how impressed I was by your integrity in that case, despite your disagreements with us.

I was thus taken aback a bit by the recent CAL program on "radical traditionalism," which struck me as inexplicably aggressive. I do not believe that we overreacted in our subsequent responses. The fact that a second CAL radio program was required to try to clarify who and what had been the target of the first one should absolve us of the charge of being reactionary. Lots of good people on all sides of this issue took offense, as Patrick Coffin readily admitted.

Twice now I have publicly allowed for the possibility that Coffin and Staples did not realize how offensive their lack of precision and definition would in fact turn out to be. In your own column you admit that you understand why I would have a certain animus against an anti-Traditionalist pejorative made infamous by the radical Southern Poverty Law Center. In that column, you rightly observe:

“In 2006 SPLC produced a report on what it called the “Radical Traditionalist Catholic, Anti-Semitic Movement.” A dozen organizations and many individuals were mentioned. Some truly qualified as anti-Semitic; most didn't. One of the organizations listed was The Remnant. Thus Matt’s animus toward the term “radical Traditionalism". . .

That’s precisely it, Karl. For the past seven years I have seen myself and my brother Catholics castigated as "radical traditionalists" and “dangerous haters” in news organs all around the country, from the New York Times to the Washington Post to The Foreword and dozens of major outlets in between--each proudly citing the Southern Poverty Law Center as reference for this scurrilous charge.

Imagine the betrayal we felt when along came Catholic Answers Live trotting out the very same term against some traditionalists, many traditionalists, a few traditionalists, none of us, all of us—who knows? Even the SPLC had the sense to define the term and actually identify their targets by name.

Coffin and Staples are well-read men with a good command of the Queen’s English--could they not have come up with a less polarizing term, rife as this one is with far-Left hate-mongering implications? It’s somewhat mystifying to me why they would be so shocked that many of us took offense when, as you yourself rightly note, the title of the SPLC’s original attack piece was “Radical Traditionalist Catholics”?

In retrospect, Coffin and Staples could say whatever they wanted in their attempt to clarify their initial intent, but few were listening. Why? Because that inflammatory term has already been defined, and it is simply not possible to project new and less offensive spin on it. Many traditionalists believe that your guys are just too intelligent to have chosen the term by accident. Now that might be a bit rash on their part, but can you really blame them, given the ferocity of the SPLC witch hunt against “radical traditionalists”?

And finally, I’m not attached to the SSPX but rather have attended a diocesan-approved Latin Mass here in St. Paul since 1984. As you know, crucial discussions have been going on, between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X--discussions which I know you hope and pray will yield good fruit and lead to full reconciliation.

In all candor, then, Karl, what good could possibly have come from the CAL’s branding of even the SSPX as "radical traditionalists", especially now when the wolves in the media and the progressives in the Church are looking for any scrap with which to browbeat the Vatican away from regularizing the SSPX? Nobody is sure where Pope Francis will come down on this, but it can’t be a good idea to broad-brush the SSPX with “radicalism” (and by implication anti-Semitism) at this crucial moment. Right?

This is a lose/lose situation for everyone. And just imagine how delighted the Southern Poverty Law Center must be! If conservative and traditional Catholics are going to tear each other apart, guess who gets to walk away the winner. I know you don't want that and neither do we; but if these ill-defined attacks continue we have no option but to respond.

So, let’s end this!

I would be happy to have you appear as a guest on The Remnant Forum this week, where we could have this out once and for all, respectfully and as gentlemen. Alternatively, Chris Ferrara and/or I would be happy to do CAL with Coffin and Staples, where we could address their concerns head on.

It would be so great to let the world see that while we have disagreements with each other, we are all brothers in Christ who will not be artificially polarized and who are more than willing to lead our respective camps in the direction of unity against the Christophobes during these perilous times. What do you say? Time to raise the white flag?

September 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm PST
#30  Pete Vere - Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

Following this thread I'm afraid I feel very old. Certainly it recalls to mind many of the fun times and heavy debates of the early days of the traditionalist movement, some of which I was privileged to experience with Karl and Chris, whether as friend or as foe. My concern though is not that we are dating ourselves by rekindling some of the old debates, but rather that by rekindling these old debates we are coming across as increasingly irrelevant to younger generations to traditionalist like Kevin Tierney. With the expulsion of Bishop Williamson, and the reconciliation of Fr. Aulagnier (who cofounded the SSPX with Archbishop Lefebvre and was its first ordinand) even the SSPX has softened its stance over the last decade.

Which is a point I would like to remind Michael C. I have several friends who are FSSP clergy, and many diocesan priests who offer the TLM. None of them believe that Vatican II or the Novus Ordo is invalid. In fact, the strong strongest defences of Vatican II, especially in the area of Religious Liberty, remain written by priests who celebrate exclusively the TLM. The first is Dom Basile Valuet, OSB's doctoral thesis on religious liberty, to which the introduction was written by Cardinal Ratzinger when he was prefect of the CDF. Dom Basile was the Benedictine theologian tasked by Dom Gerard Calvet to document and present to Rome their monastery's objections to religious liberty in light of Catholic Tradition after their monastery Le Barroux reconciled with Rome in 1988. While researching his doctoral thesis, Dom Basile came to recognize and understand the patristic roots of religious liberty, and thus what began as a criticism from the traditionalist movement became what Cardinal Ratzinger deemed the greatest doctrinal defence written on the topic.

The second book, a chapter of which I translated for Envoy Magazine several years ago, was Fr. de Servigny, FSSP's defense of Vatican II and religious liberty. Both works should be translated into English and read by all serious traditionalists. Along with Dom Calvet's "Demain la Chretiente". Of course I prefer the original French, but for those who don't understand French an English translation would be helpful.

As far as traditionalists and anti-semitism, I was among the first Catholic traditionalists to denounce Bishop Williamson and call for other trads to do so as well. In fact, I remember arguing the point with Michael Davies in the early-to-mid 90's after being present at a confirmation mass where Williamson attempted to minimize the number of deaths in the Holocaust. This was one of the final incidents to turn me against the SSPX. Back then the issue simply was not taken seriously by the SSPX. Thus I was not surprised when Williamson went public shortly after Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications, and I appreciated the efforts of Michael Matt and Chris Ferrara to separate traditionalism from anti-semitism, as well as those of (sedevacantist) Bishop Sandborn to do the same from the sede position. However, I note the strongest rebuttal of Williamson's Holocaust revisionism came from within the SSPX, namely, their former superior general who noted that Archbishop Lefebvre's father died a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps, as well as the current number two to the superior general who used language and sarcasm that I have seldom read a priest use against a bishop. In fact, at one point he refers to the whole incident as God's punishment upon the SSPX for having previously failed in their moral duty to rein in and discipline Williamson for using his mitre and status as SSPX clergy to spread wild conspiracy theories.

As Kevin points out, this is a different time. Antisemitism and Holocaust denial is about as relevant to today's younger generation of traditionalists, in my experience, as the term "neo-Catholic". If they are even aware of its once wider popularity within the traditionalist movement, all three are now - for the most part - considered an anachronism of yesterday's wars, of which Karl, Chris and I were all players.

In some ways it is like pre and post Constantine's edict freeing Christianity. Pope Benedict's freeing of the TLM has allowed a new generation of traditionalist to arise that prefers worshipping at the TLM, but in most other respects are indistinguishable from other orthodox Catholics. That is, those whom in my day we would refer to as "Novus Ordo conservatives." Even the SSPX under Bishop Fellay is slowly coming around. One just hopes that Bishop Williamson did not do too much damage before his expulsion.

Having said that, I can understand Chris's invitation to Karl to discuss the issue publicly in more depth at the next Remnant forum. I think a conversation could be a good thing, provided we avoided the temptation to simply rehash old rivalries and debates that no longer seem to matter to most of today's traditionalists, whether EF or SSPX.

Which is why I think we need to think bigger. If a conversation were to take place over traditionalism and its place in the Church, we must toward Europe where EF communities, scholars and their SSPX counterparts have engaged in solid, non-polemical discussion and academic research that has advanced the traditionalist cause and its union with Rome. What we need is a North American version of GREC. The idea was first proposed to me by a friend in the SSPX. And FSSP friends with whom I have spoken have expressed openness to the idea. Karl, Chris, what say ye?

September 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm PST
#31  Pete Vere - Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

Mr. Matt:

Just read your intervention, and I agree with a number of your comments. As a young aspiring traditionalist author twenty years ago, one of the first magazines to give me a voice was the pro-life and conservative Catholic bi-monthly Canadian magazine, Catholic Insight, founded and edited by a an old conservative priest named Fr. Alphonse de Valk. He did so out of loyalty to Pope John Paul II, despite having some personal misgivings about the Indult. Yet over time he would soften his personal views toward the Indult and then come to greatly appreciate his traditionalist contributors to Catholic Insight.

Six or seven years ago, when Fr. de Valk was threatened by our quasi-judicial human rights "tribunals" for being a faithful pro-life Catholic voice, I sounded the alarm in the Wanderer, for which I was writing a monthly column at the time. I recall the gratitude I felt when two other Catholic publishers in America joined Al Matt in coming to Father's defence and between the three of you raised enough money to retire Father's legal debt. These were Karl Keating and yourself. I know Father was deeply appreciative as well.

On a similar note, before I retired from writing, I knew and corresponded with both Patrick Coffin and Tim Staples. Both were always very supportive of me as a traditionalist and other traditionalists like the FSSP who offered the TLM in full communion with Rome. So I know from first hand experience neither Patrick nor Tim are anti-traditionalist. Nor is Karl who when I worked for the FSSP allowed me to plug our seminary building project on his show, and who if I recall correctly hosted Loic Merian when he was touring America on behalf of CIEL-International.

Which is why, more than ever, I think the idea proposed to me by a friend in the SSPX U.S. District - that of a North American version of GREC - makes sense within today's traditionalist paradigm.

September 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm PST
#32  Alexander Verbum - Springboro, Ohio

Three problems with the so-called “neo-conservative” crowd.

“Vatican II itself, I would argue, was fine.”

Not really insofar as the council itself has in some places unprecedented ambiguity and imprecision which was placed there by the progressives who controlled the majority of the voting commissions. This is documented by everyone, trad, liberal, conservative, etc. INCLUDING people working at the council itself or around it. It’s historical fact hence the hijacking was easier to do after the council.
That is the main concern of real Trads regarding Vatican II; not that the council was in error or was invalid, etc, but that SOME people will not recognize this fact about Vatican II.

The New Mass.

This one is really simple: The new Mass is less explicitly Catholic.
First all this faux-Traditionalist talk about invalidity etc. is a bunch of malarkey.

BUT if you compare the prayers and the ritual of the TLM side by side with the Novus Ordo you will see that that TLM is far richer in Catholicity. Now that is not to say that the New Mass isn’t but that the TLM is just superior in this regard. This goes beyond using a liturgical language but Latin is extremely important too (you can use Latin in the NO anyway).

Thus ONE piece of the puzzle which we call the crisis of faith is the watering down of Holy Mass.

“Hyperbolic” defense of the Holy Father.

Just admit that kissing the Koran, Assisi meetings, liturgical abuse, prayer to St. John the Baptist to protect Islam, etc. are mistakes and get over it (THIS goes for you “traditionalists” too).
There is no point in trying to do mental gymnastics when the Holy Father makes a mistakes that are scandals to the Catholic faith itself. Just stop please. Defending this stuff indirectly helps error that is spread by it – i.e. indifferetism.


The real world is harsh.

There is no such thing as the faux-Traditionalist dream world of a pre-Vatican II church of perfection with every priest and Pope being orthodox and the entire Western civilization in the bosom of Holy Mother Church.

It’s not the “neo-Catholic” dream world of “yeah there are problems in the Church but it’s all just due to forces outside of Her. Vatican II, the New Mass, JPII, etc. are all perfect and not a major thing is wrong with any of them.”

Both of these mentalities, and anything that tends towards them needs to STOP in order to solve the crisis, NOW!

September 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm PST
#33  Steve Cunningham - Spartanburg, South Carolina

Just seems it would have been much easier & prudent to have a recognized traditionalist on the air as a guest, like a Dr Taylor Marshall or a FSSP priest. This would have defused a LOT of nonsense. Just seemed it was for a ratings thing not doing that. Now we have this mess going on

My 2 cents. Maybe a 3rd show with a surprise guest & do that?


September 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm PST
#34  Alexander Verbum - Springboro, Ohio

Please have Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP on to talk about real Traditionalism!

September 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm PST
#35  Alexander Verbum - Springboro, Ohio

Let me follow up my first post:

Catholic Answers and The Remnant are NOT infallible (that includes me). I have actually seen both entities make mistakes, yes even Mr. Keating.

The problem is that no one wants to admit they’re wrong sometimes.

Which leads me to my second observation:

1. Catholic Answers in SOME of their descriptions of radical Traditionalists ascribe characteristics to them at real Traditionalists adhere to. This is either because there is a misunderstanding OR CA is simply wrong.

2. The Remnant does not escape this mistake either, in SOME of their descriptions they mischaracterize CA.

Let me demonstrate the differences between “camps” that people are taking about with this chart and this is by no means ascribing anyone here to these beliefs but a generalization that I have come to notice through years of interaction:

A. So-called “Neo-Catholics”/”Neo-conservatives” or whatever:

1. Generally see little to nothing wrong with Vatican II and ascribe the mess afterwards as solely on the culture and the “implementation” of the Council itself.

2. Generally see little to nothing wrong with the New Mass except in translation and in some prayer structures. The more “extreme neo-cons” will actually see nothing wrong, the “less extreme” will tend to be “reform of the reform” types.

3. Some will admit that it is okay to criticize a Pope or a council but will never do so themselves and attack everyone else that does so rightly or wrongly. Some will act as if criticizing the Pope is an act of schism. Further they will vigorously defend a Pope who does scandalous actions against the faith or just flat out ignore it.

B. So-called “Radical Traditionalists:”

1. Generally see EVERYTHING wrong with Vatican II with little to nothing good but will recognize a legitimate council. They will blame the council as the primary cause of the crisis of faith. The most extreme elements will ascribe error and even heresy to the council (I am not including sedes in this description who will see the council as invalid).

2. Generally see the New Mass as 100% protestant and positively harmful to the faith. The most extreme will ascribe heresy, sacrilege and even invalidly to the New Mass.

3. They will vilely attack all post-Vatican II Popes, even judging their soles and ascribing heresy to their names. They lack any ability to see any good that comes from them.

C. Real Traditionalists, or Traditional Catholics.

1. For them Vatican II is a valid council with a lot of good things. But they will recognize imprecision and ambiguity in the texts that were purposely put there for later manipulation (read a history of VII, it’s all there). They will also say that another VII weakness is in not condemning error formally with precision (such as with anathemas in past councils). Hence VII HELPS to lower the defenses of the Catholic Church IN SOME WAY and thus indirectly assists in the crisis of faith.

All areas of ambiguity and imprecision can however be reconciled with past teaching.

2. The New Mass is valid and can be celebrated reverently. However its prayers and ritual are inferior to the old Traditional Latin Mass. A side by side comparison reveals that the prayers in the TLM are more explicitly Catholic and the ritual has deeper meaning, symbolism, and less options which helps fight abuse.

They argue that the TLM is a connection with the traditional faith, an organic development from the early Church and the nourishment countless saints and mystics throughout Church history. Hence the TLM is more suited to grow and sustain the Catholic faith compared to the NO (but of course, nothing is perfect).

3. They recognize that recent Popes have done much good but also see their failings, especially with regards to Church administration and engaging in scandalous activities that hurt the faith (think Assisi and Koran kissing). However they pray for the Holy Father all the time and OBEY him even if they may think his decision is not correct. They do NOT judge any Pope’s soul nor ascribe to him any heresy and they take prudence in criticizing them if they even do so at all.

September 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm PST
#36  Tim Whitney - Portland, Maine

I just wanted to comment that I agree with Alexander Verbum that Fr. Chad Ripperger would ben an excellent guest for CA to have on sometime.

September 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm PST
#37  Pete Vere - Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

The best spokesman for traditionalism in North America, in my opinion, is noted canon lawyer and FSSP priest Fr. Phil Creurer, the pastor of St. Clement parish (the FSSP's first full parish) in Ottawa, Canada.

September 2, 2013 at 6:27 pm PST
#38  Christopher Ferrara - Richmond, Virginia

Peter Vere, I heartily approve your suggestion.

September 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm PST
#39  Kevin Tierney - Howell, Michigan

I think this discussion is getting a bit interesting, but a few other things to point out from my perspective. My perspective is that I'm not professionals like others here, I'm just a 30 year old who has been in the business long enough to remember what things were like before the motu proprio, but young enough to belong to not belong to that era.

The language you guys feel was necessary then isn't necessary anymore. Things have changed. Not just in the SSPX. 10 years ago it was a thought crime amongst the Catholic intellgentsia to remark that vatican II, like every other council, had compromises that resulted in certain ambiguities that could be read in damaging ways, and that this is indeed what happened with many clerics whose decisions inflicted a lot of damage. To argue that way made you suspicious of being a "radtrad" amongst the powers that be in the Catholic commentariat. I know this because I was that way. Some of the people who wrote quite a bit in Mr. Keating's magazine told me personally that, that I needed to stop thinking those things. Today Cardinal Kasper states this as a matter of fact in interviews. On the other side of the ideological spectrum, Bishop Athanasius Schneider says that because of those ambiguities, it is important to read Vatican II in a way that is consistent with Church tradition. Again, to even suggest that Vatican II in and of itself was not self-evident in line with tradition in every single one of its parts was a thought crime. Today it's the consensus position of the Church: It's a valid council, has some good, some you don't really pay much attention to, and to avoid misunderstandings, read within tradition.

Liturgically things are also different. I remember back in the days of Ecclesia Dei here in Michigan where your only Latin Mass in Michigan was at a parish in the most dangerous part of the state (not Detroit!) right across the street from a strip club, at 1pm. When too many showed up, they moved it to 4pm, which happens to be when it gets dark in the winter. Because we all know how the elderly and people with young families like going near strip clubs in crime ridden cities when its dark out. That kinda landscape is history, as within the greater Detroit area 2 parishes offer a weekly latin mass, one a daily latin mass, in addition to about 5 or 6 parishes offering it once a month, with more added every year. While the suburb parishes are dying off, those parishes friendly to traditionalists (even when its just the ordinary form) are growing and thriving because of their youth. We aren't the pariahs we once were.

Even in the Ordinary Form things have changed. For so long, traditionalists were held in suspicion of thought crimes simply for stating that the English translations were horrid, and that the ambiguities in those translations led to a weakening of the faith, thanks to the law of lex orandi lex credendi. We argued that the majority of liturgical music had nothing sacred about it, and was mostly an insipid mess. Both positions are once again the consensus view amongst the kind of people who are going to go to Catholic Answers. The new translations were a huge example of lex orandi lex credendi, and faithful Catholics were taught for the first time that we needed to use better language, because the ambiguities in the creed and gloria's english were leading to a weakening of faith.

Even politically, things have changed. A lot of traditionalists have always been leery of marrying Catholics too close to the goals of the Republican party, and on the other side, the First Things idea of a "Catholic moment" and a synthesis was all the rage. Now you have even George Wiegel (!!!!) questioning if such is ever possible.

Things have changed, and now here we are people reintroducing terms that are completely alien to the realities on the ground. What, are we gonna talk about clown masses next? If you think "radical traditionalist" is a good idea Mr. Keating, go visit your average traditionalist parish, and sit down with the parishoners, and listen to their opinion on the usage of the term. When I wrote my column at Catholic Lane calling for the terms to be abolished, it was because I did speak to them, and found the support overwhelming. they agreed with me that people use that term "radical traditionalist" as a club to beat all traditionalists with, and the less savory types use it to hold traditionalists down when we get a little uppity and want to be treated as equals in the Church. We get compared to the "radicals", even when we attend mass at the Ordinary Form daily. the idea that "radtrad" is bad, but "radical traditionalist" is okay, I don't buy it. The same insults were used on people like me for years as a way for us to "know our place." Our place is as equals, fighting alongside each other as allies, since by everyone's admission, we agree on 98%, and that other 2% isn't dogma.

How we gonna work as allies when we traditionalists first have to undergo what amounts to loyalty tests to prove we aren't "radicals." that ain't brotherhood, that's being a second class citizen. (Of course, all this goes for "neo-catholic" as well!)

September 2, 2013 at 6:46 pm PST
#40  Pete Vere - Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

Chris F:

On a sidenote, I was not aware that David Irving had recanted his holocaust revisionism, although it does not surprise me that he did so in response to Eichmann's testimony. Having spoken to Allied veterans who participated in the liberation of Nazi concentration camps and death camps, they all told me the images of starving Jews and other prisoners are ones they will never forget.

In fact, in our TLM chapel several years ago, it was a WWII vet who had participated in the liberation who put a stop to a handful of radicals in our chapel attempting to promote Holocaust revisionism under the guise of traditionalism. I wish he was still alive. He would make a great interview.

On another note, in re-reading this thread I noticed that I may have (unintentionally) left readers with the impression that Michael Davies supported, or was not unsympathetic to, Bishop Williamson's Holocaust revisionism. Such is not the case. From what I recall of our argument, Davies was convinced that Williamson's views on the topic were so "out there" that they would never gain credibility among a mainstream Traditionalist audience. To which I responded that Williamson was a bishop - one of the four chosen by Archbishop Lefebvre, by then recently deceased.

Davies was correct vis-a-vis the Indult (now EF), sedevacantist and Feeneyite crowd. And being English, I think he may also have been correct with regards to European SSPX (or FSSPX as they are known on the Continent). However, sadly, I think Davies underestimated Williamson's popularity in English-speaking North America. I am glad God spared him the whole Williamson debacle a few years back, shortly after Pope Benedict freed the TLM and lifted the excommunications. However, I have no doubt that Davies would have blasted both Bishop Williamson and his followers had Davies been alive when everything blew up in public.

That being said, I think the SSPX has set the record straight with Fr. Pfluger following words to Bishop Williamson, which although written in a private letter, were translated and made public by the Williamson faction. (I have, however, verified their authenticity with two sources within the SSPX loyal to Bishop Fellay, both of whom are in regular contact with Fr. Pfluger as the SSPX's number two):

"The Society [of St. Pius X] is cast for the role of an outsider. That tempts us to grant a measure of sympathy to any other outsiders. I consider this is a trap. We are not truly outsiders. There are many others, romping around the Internet, who are truly outsiders. Ever since your interview of November 1, 2008, on Swedish TV, I have had plenty of opportunity whether I wanted to or not, to confront Holocaust-deniers, or “Revisionists” as you call them. Goodness gracious, what miserable minds ! Precisely, not Catholic. When I think of the court case of Horst Mahler, supposedly converting because of you… That is pure Hegelianism, but certainly not Catholic. And then all the crazy ideas of your supposed friends, Butz, Faurisson and so on. Men neither nice nor Catholic. Be it Neo-nazism, “Third Position”, Antisemitism, or any kind of extremism, one has the impression that it is all about finding excuses to avoid having to hold down a regular job. When it comes to slandering, I repeat, they are fast on the uptake, as happens on the Internet too. Unfortunately you were not able to resist the temptation to join in. Morally speaking that has always been sinful. One of the people slandered has, to my way of thinking, neatly summed up what kind of people are behind the slandering : “Uneducated, unbalanced, sexually frustrated, male losers.” The one constant feature in the lives of such men is often their extremism. Yesterday they were tough British Nationalists opposed to North Irish Catholics, today they belong to the “Third Position”, tomorrow they will probably be followers of Islam. The solidarity between Nazis and Islamists became clear at the Holocaust-denying Conference in Teheran, and you too never tire of declaring that Western society, our own civilization, no longer deserves to exist. I find all that repulsive, but hardly surprising. Some time ago Hitler declared that National Socialism could not be understood without Wagner and Nietsche. But when it comes down to presenting such nonsense as though it were a religious duty to do so, then I step into the lists for the greater glory of God. I cannot and will not let the name of God be misused for such weak-mindedness. I have already written to you once that I certainly did not become a priest in order to preach hatred of Jews. Nor did I enter the Society to canonize Hitler. I am horrified to see you spreading around videos which justify the mass-murder by Hitler. And now you set up to be defending your honor ? Just what honor ? The honor of trampling on the historical truth ? Your Excellency, kindly defend the honor of the Society, the honor of Our Lord !"

September 2, 2013 at 6:56 pm PST
#41  Michael Contaldi - West Pittston, Pennsylvania

Mr. Vere,
I was not suggesting that FSSP Priests agree with the SSPX on the topic of the new mass being invalid. That has never been the position of the SSPX. What the SSPX is saying is that any mass can be valid or invalid.

The SSPX and the FSSP Priests that I speak to say the consecration takes place (FSSP) but the SSPX would also say that but they would also say it CAN take place or NOT take place and like any mass we do have reason to doubt validity if any of the these three parts which are needed for validity are lacking or are in serious question:

1) a validly ordained Priest with the proper bread and wine
2)the proper words are used by the Priest
3)The Priest has the intention to do what the Church does which is to offer the propitious sacrifice of Christ in an unbloody manner (this is where the SSPX rightfully calls Catholics attention to)

If a Priest willfully does not intend to offer the propitious sacrifice of Christ validity can be questioned. If a Priest is trained and deeply believes that in his heart it is only a celebration at a table that it is ONLY a sacrifice of praise and not a propitious sacrifice validity CAN be questioned. So the SSPX does not and has never said the new mass is invalid objectively always and everywhere. That is why if you are going to talk about the SSPX you should talk to them not to those who attack them.

Where the SSPX and FSSP agree on the new mass is that after the consecration is not in question the rest of the new mass is problematic protestantized and a danger to their priesthoods and faith. Many Priests have said the new mass deforms their interior lives and messes up their priesthood. The idea that the FSSP thinks in lock step with Catholic Answers on the new mass is false.

I think GREC in the United States is a bad idea it was a bad idea in France it has led to more confusion and division among Catholics. This is one of Bishop Williamson major problems with the SSPX these days. What is the fruit of GREC? Division and one day maybe a schism. What is urgently needed is a syllabus on Vatican II from the Pope.

Words that mean so much nothing to young Catholics are anti semitism & conspiracy theories. The term conspiracy theory to thinking Catholics such as myself in my 30's is code for "true but not allowed to be discussed" So when I hear the word conspiracy theory in Catholic or secular mainstream media I hear "true but not allowed to be discussed". When I hear the words anti semitism I think "someone is speaking the truth about the Jews and they have no defense so the default line is anti semitism! anti semitism!" As I said these words mean so much nothing.

As for who should be the spokesmen for Tradition to talk to Catholic Answers. I respect Fr. Chad Ripperger as well but I think a round table of 7 is in order. As I said I think the ecclesia dei groups are the problem not the solution. If the doctrine was hammered out in 1988 when the FSSP was created this mess wouldn't be so bad now. The ecclesia dei are a massive contradiction and the mix messages they are sending has led in part to these Catholic Answers attacks on faithful Catholics. The round table of 7 should be:

1)Fr. Chad Ripperger (Father is no longer FSSP as i understand it)
2)Bishop Fellay
3)Fr. James Gordon, FSSP
4)Bishop Williamson
5)Michael Voris
6)Chris Ferrara
7)Father Nicholas Gruner

Seriously a Catholic conference is urgently needed and questions need to be crafted and sent to Rome for answers. Catholic Answers could play a huge role in healing all this if they want to or they can make things worse.
In Jesus and Mary,
Michael Contaldi

September 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm PST
#42  Pete Vere - Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

Hey Kevin:

Thanks for reminding me:

1 - Why you are my favorite writer among today's young Catholic traditionalists in North America; and

2 - Why I retired from writing when I did. I was simply too tied to the old controversies (pre-Benedict liberation of the TLM) to be an effective voice in the new traditionalist reality. Thus I appreciate the more optimistic outlook of your generation of Trad, as well as your efforts in putting yourself forward as a voice of this new traditionalist reality.

In looking at the opportunities enjoyed within the Church by today's generation of traditionalist, I think you in a much better place. Most dioceses have vibrant Traditionalist communities. Mass centers have become full parishes with schools, CCD classes, theology on tap for college students and young adults, Knights of Columbus councils. Traditionalists are active on a diocesan level in pro-life ministry, teaching RCIA, teaching at local Catholic colleges, organizing food banks and soup kitchens, organizing annual pilgrimages, etc. I even spoke to a friend of mine the other day who is both a FSSP priest and a military chaplain - to my knowledge the first traditionalist priest to be commissioned an officer and chaplain in NATO.

Most young trad families with whom I have spoken since Pope Benedict's motu proprio simply are not interested in carrying forward what they see as controversies from a previous era. Just like the vast majority of them were aghast when Bishop Williamson engaged in Holocaust revisionism. And they considered dated terms such as "radtrad," "radical traditionalist," "neo-cath" and "neo-Catholic."

Hence one of the reasons I think an informal non-polemical scholarly discussion group like GREC could benefit the traditionalist movement in North America. Your generation will carry forward the torch of Catholic traditionalism, with or without the blessing of my generation. However, it will certainly be without our controversies. Nevertheless, a group like GREC could allow your generation to draw upon the collective experiences and wisdom of our generation, when needed.

September 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm PST
#43  Tim Whitney - Portland, Maine

Mr. Contaldi makes interesting choices for a 7 person round table on our topic. I would certainly be interested in hearing those 7 people addressing the issues being discussed on this particular blog,

September 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm PST
#44  Terrye Newkirk - Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Kevin Tierney wrote: "Things have changed, and now here we are people reintroducing terms that are completely alien to the realities on the ground. What, are we gonna talk about clown masses next? If you think "radical traditionalist" is a good idea Mr. Keating, go visit your average traditionalist parish, and sit down with the parishoners, and listen to their opinion on the usage of the term. When I wrote my column at Catholic Lane calling for the terms to be abolished, it was because I did speak to them, and found the support overwhelming. they agreed with me that people use that term "radical traditionalist" as a club to beat all traditionalists with, and the less savory types use it to hold traditionalists down when we get a little uppity and want to be treated as equals in the Church."

Hear, hear, Kevin! Although I do see some nonsense from self-styled "traddies" online, I have simply not run into the "marks" of the radical traditionalist in my IRL interactions with TLM Catholics since I went to my first Latin Mass in San Diego in 1998 (while working at Catholic Answers, in fact). And that includes living for years in a traditionalist enclave at Clear Creek. I certainly met some unpleasant and even a couple of unbalanced people--but no more than in any parish I've ever attended.

Seriously, guys, can't we quit the (mis)characterizations--on both sides--and unite to fight the very real enemies who want to destroy the Church, from within and without?

September 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm PST
#45  Christopher Ferrara - Richmond, Virginia

Peter, thanks for the text of this important letter. I was warning about Williamson for some five years before his nonsense finally exploded into the worldwide media.

That man may have single-handedly derailed the regularization of SSPX on which Pope Benedict was so intent. If the enemies of Tradition had planted a double agent in the Society, he could not have done a better job of sabotaging it.

But all in God's time.

September 2, 2013 at 9:53 pm PST
#46  Kevin Tierney - Howell, Michigan

Mr. Contaldi,

You might want to do a bit of homework before you start lecturing Mr. Vere about the SSPX position. Really. Ask some of the more veteran SSPX parishoners.

As far as GREC, it is all Greek to me. I don't know what the organization did, who its members are, etc. Yet if you can get people to actually discuss real issues instead of nonsense, I"m all for that. Rome has stated that the SSPX are not excommunicated, and whatever their previous status, calling them schismatics really doesn't work either. They are in an irregular situation, and should be treated as catholics who need a canonical regularization so certain oddities can be resolved.

So if we can have those discussion groups to get rid of the nonsense, lets have em. And yes, anti-semitism and conspiracy theorizing is part of that nonsense. Like you, I'm in my 30's. 31 in November. The likes of Bishop Williamson set back the cause not just of the SSPX, but all traditionalists. Whenever people were close to accepting a deeper devotion to liturgical tradition, and accepting the need to read Vatican II in a manner consistent with 2000 years of Catholic truth, they would always bring up the Williamson thing. Want to know how many Catholics of Jewish descent were drawn to the Latin Mass, but the kind of attitude displayed by Williamson and some of his lackeys turned them away? I can give ya 5, and one of em is actually really well known.

It was said elsewhere "holocaust denial has nothing to do with the faith." Indeed it doesn't. Part of being a Catholic is accepting the world as it exists. We can accept that modern science doesn't contradict the faith. And we can accept that certain things happened in the world. The holocaust happened. If it isn't part of the faith, why are people making such a huge deal in defending the right to believe it? Some things shouldn't even be named amongst us because of the grace scandal they inflict. WE should never kick these people out of the Church, and always offer them the ability to repent of their sins against charity (and no matter what way you slice it, something as disgusting as holocaust revionism is a sin against charity since it presumes the worst about everyone except those who actually operated the gas chambers), yet make equally clear their viewpoint isn't welcome and if they continue to persist in their views, they should look elsewhere.

One of the greatest successes of the traditionalist movement is that we have, for the most part, relegated the anti-semites who see an alleged jewish cabal behind every corner, we've relegated them to the internet discussion boards where their paranoid views can fester with everyone else. As Mr. Ferrara noted, it is highly likely that in an alternate world where Bishop Williamson doesn't exist, not only are the SSPX excommunications lifted, but they would have been fully regularized. Think of all the graces that would be poured out on the Church by such an event? Think of having yet another priestly order dedicated to the Latin Mass, and unlike the FSSP, they have all their infrastructure already setup? They would be plug and play traditionalism. And this cause got set back for what? FOR WHAT? Because someone wants to question something that happened 70 years ago that has absolutely no bearing on the state of affairs in the Church? Holocaust deniers and their sympathizers always want the right to say it didn't happen. How about recognizing that their non-essential viewpoint is damaging a very real essential cause for tradition, and if they really cared about tradition, if they can't change their beliefs, they would at least pipe down for the greater good, since as you constantly protest, this isn't part of the Catholic Faith.

Then stop talking about it, never speak of the holocaust again for good or ill, and focus only on the Catholic faith. If we can't get you to accept historical fact, at least do those of us who are trying to advance this good fight a favor and stop talking period.

September 2, 2013 at 10:41 pm PST
#47  Benjamin Baxter - Fresno, California

Karl Keating: These are suggestions which Catholic Answers can actually implement and empower. It will establish Catholic Answers as having, you know, bona fides, right down to the literal meaning of bona fides.

September 2, 2013 at 10:55 pm PST
#48  Benjamin Baxter - Fresno, California

(I should clarify --- this is in reference to hosting a roundtable discussion of traditionalists intelligently identifying facets of traditionalism, &c.)

September 3, 2013 at 1:21 am PST
#49  Diane Korzeniewski - Warren, Michigan

I just want to thank everyone for having this calm and rational discussion. I'm learning a lot from all sides, even though I may disagree with some points made by some members. The point is that when you remove low-ball snipping, good discussion happens.

I, like Kevin Tierney (whom is a good friend), am a new generation traditionalist, even though I am 20 years his senior. I was born in 1962 and did not experience traditionally celebrated Novus Ordo until 2005 when I joined Assumption Grotto, nor the Traditional Latin Mass until Fr. Perrone began offering it in 2007. Yet, for whatever reason, when Pope John Paul II gave the Indult, with no prior memory of this beautiful Mass, I gravitated heavily to it upon seeing it in news coverage. For years after the Indult, this yearning was strong, but I was unable to get downtown to St. Josaphat where it was eventually granted in Detroit. So, when it came to Assumption Grotto, my heart was overjoyed.

Being online I had seen so much vitriol and anger, but I could not relate to it. However, I try to empathize with those deeply wounded by it's loss and the struggle to give it more freedom by envisioning and end to it all at Assumption Grotto. I cannot imagine that pain. That helps me to understand the pain that others, perhaps Mr. Ferrara, experience.

Further, I know some have no place to go as do I so for them the deep pain continues and sometimes boils over into anger.

But Kevin is right about much of what he says. I know many traditionalists like myself, and even some who are older and are enjoying it's return in my area, who aren't interested in dwelling in old arguments.

Mr. Keating, if you really want to get the pulse of the new generation traditionalists, I would encourage you to get to know Paul Schultz, the head of Juventutem Michigan. This group of 35 and under Catholics who love the TLM, from my personal experience with them, put a refreshingly joyful face on the movement. Perhaps you could come to Detroit some time and join them for one of their monthly Friday night Masses and social which follows. This would be an ideal time and place to hold a dialogue with new generation traditionalists. Plus, Kevin Tierney is also here in Detroit and would really boost that discussion to a high level.

What really disappoints me is the sniping that I see. There is just no place in hit and run pieces on any side. This dialogue, as it is happening right here, is exactly what we need. I like many of the ideas I've seen in a call for dialogue, but the polemical characters need not apply.

A bridge needs to be created between new generation traditionalist, and old generation. Both new generation could use to appreciate the struggles of the old and the old needs to see the joy and the hope of the new.

There must be a second bridge and I address this to Mr. Keating. As one of the new generation traditionalists, I do not feel that some of the mainstream Catholic media, including CA, fully accept us because the only time traditionalism seems to be discussed is in the context of negativity. There are so many things that could be discussed to show the beauty through the eyes of those who enjoy it. I know both young and old who could show this.

I see nothing wrong with holding a show on things like sedevacantism or feeneyism, for which there are true experts. I have known people lost to these things and families sadly torn apart, still today, because young people find their material online. One young man left our parish with the belief that Fr. Perrone did not have valid holy orders. He got all his material online and there was no reasoning with him - not by the priests, nor his parents. But, this must be given over to true experts in the subject matter, perhaps even people who were among these groups and came out.

Likewise with discussions about the SSPX. There are ways to have good discussions about the controversies holding the SSPX bag from having their status regularized. It need not waste much time on the anti-semitic streak if the SSPX has shown to renounce these things by it's ouster of Bp Williamson.

I really hope all of you, especially Mr. Keating, Mr. Vere, Mr. Ferrara, and above all, Mr. Tierney would continue this discussion, even unto producing a series of round table discussion for all to learn from. It should be approached from the standpoint that each group represented therein, has something to learn. The problem is that everyone has been trying to instruct others, rather than engaging in the kind of dialogue that can foster learning.

I have learned tons just from this and want to see it continue. I think we all need to reject snipers who hit and run in a public way and call them to order. That's the adult thing to do here for those who love the Church and want to get harmony from discord.

September 3, 2013 at 4:45 am PST
#50  Diane Korzeniewski - Warren, Michigan

I would also like to point out something I got through the grape vine recently. I understand the Archdiocese of Detroit is going to be offering to seminarians this year, the opportunity to be trained for the Traditional Latin Mass. I'm hearing that priests of the Order of Canons Regular of St. John Cantius will be heading up that training.

I am certain that this has everything to do with the enthusiasm of new generation traditionalists persistent petitioning of our archbishop rather than any kind of protests or demands. In fact, what is so interesting is that it comes despite those things - in a diocese known so well outside for it's dissenting groups and liturgical abuses (which are slowly fading with a new generation of priests taking on pastorships). The archbishop obviously understands the difference between a movement with it's own charism and the blessings it can bring his diocese and the negative elements that should in no way be attributed to it.

Perhaps, Mr. Keating, you might interview Archbishop Vigneron sometime since he has had experience with Juventutem Michigan, which just had it's first monthly Mass (and a historic one at that) at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral last week. Bishop Donald Hanchon celebrated the TLM. Here is one photo report, if I am permitted to offer this link. http://pblosser.blogspot.com/2013/09/blessed-sacrament-cathedral-mass-report.html

September 3, 2013 at 5:06 am PST
#51  Diane Korzeniewski - Warren, Michigan

In fact, I would recommend interviewing Archbishop Vigneron, Paul Schultz (head of JM), and the diocesan chaplain to the group, Fr. Lee Acervo.

For once, let's hear about the joy of the traditionalist movement through the lens of the new generation.

I hope the wounded older generation traditionalists enjoy every bit of it because it is likely much of their hard efforts that contributed to the birth of this.

September 3, 2013 at 5:10 am PST
#52  Elizabeth Fitzmaurice - Park Ridge, Illinois

Mr. Keating: Where did you get the idea that the Franciscans of the Immaculate are, what you call, a "traditionalist" order? I think that would be news to just about everybody! There's so much inaccuracy in your article, I can't even begin to address it all, nor do I want to bother.

Catholic Answers is a supreme disappointment. You really ought to do better research before writing an article such as this. You've completely lost any credibility you had with all the nonsensical statements throughout.

September 3, 2013 at 5:13 am PST
#53  Diane Korzeniewski - Warren, Michigan

Elizabeth - yours is exactly the kind of polemical, non-productive reaction this high level discussion really doesn't need.

If Mr. Keating has made a mistake, and I believe he has on that point since the FFI are not a traditionalist order, but an order that has members who gravitate to it (along with the founder, if I recall), there is no reason to throw him out with the bath water.

That kind of attitude is what has put up all the walls of recent years.

If productive discussion is going to continue in the Church on these things, everyone from every side has to allow others to make mistakes without some kind of wholesale condemnation of all they do. That goes both ways. That is the whole reason there has been no fruitful dialogue to the satisfaction of all sides with a stake in the matter.

I would encourage you to continue the discussion, but offer information to help Mr. Keating see why you disagree with something he said. Isn't that a better way than to snipe and run?

September 3, 2013 at 5:29 am PST
#54  Elizabeth Fitzmaurice - Park Ridge, Illinois

@Diane: You're right. My comment was a hit and run. I found many inaccuracies in his article but only had the inclination to point out the first obvious one ~ the Franciscans of the Immaculate being a 'traditionalist' order. The rest of what I said obviously doesn't contribute to this intelligent back-and-forth dialogue that's happening. Just venting.

September 3, 2013 at 6:15 am PST
#55  Christopher Ferrara - Richmond, Virginia

Karl Keating writes:

"I didn't try to define "bad" Traditionalists, so I'm not inclined to try to define "good" Traditionalists either. Wouldn't the bad and good ones pretty much be defined the way bad and good non-Traditionalist Catholics are defined?"

For heaven's sake, Karl, are you now saying that "bad" Traditionalists are the same as "bad" Catholics generally? Then what was the point of your four-hour exposé of "radical traditionalists"? Why not stop twisting yourself into a pretzel and admit that the exposé was mistake?

In case you haven't noticed, the comments on your post suggest the potential for peace breaking out all over: joint appearances on shows, roundtable discussions, an end to hostilities, the possibility of an alliance. Yet you don't seem interested. Do you have some sort of vested interest in maintaining division between Catholics along traditionalist/non-traditionalist lines? Should we not, in the end, all be traditionalists? Isn't that what our Faith concerns: tradidi quod et accepi in all the facets of the Church's life?

September 3, 2013 at 6:22 am PST
#56  Diane Korzeniewski - Warren, Michigan

Elizabeth - thanks.

I find that if we presume an error is made without intent, even when we think someone should be better informed, it is a good idea to simply, and unemotionally, state the point you believe to be in error, and provide background or other facts to help boost your point.

Please stay in the discussion in that way. It's not as easy as venting, but it is good practice. I've been doing this a few years and still vent now and then, but I try to pick myself back up and go back to thoughtful dialogue.

Start with the presumption that someone means well, but doesn't understand, then set out to help them understand. If they reject it, you have committed no fault and tried. If they accept it, give thanks go God. And, sometimes you learn, it is you who did not have a proper understanding, and this is where humility comes in to play.

September 3, 2013 at 6:28 am PST
#57  Elizabeth Fitzmaurice - Park Ridge, Illinois

@Diane: Very good suggestions. Note to self! Not so easy to do! I'll try to practice :) By the way, I've always enjoyed your blog.

September 3, 2013 at 6:45 am PST
#58  Elizabeth Fitzmaurice - Park Ridge, Illinois

@Diane: I just read your post "The Catholic Virtual Wars - Time for a Cease Fire (Part 1)".....How timely for me and learning to temper my inclinations! Very good and helpful article.

September 3, 2013 at 6:54 am PST
#59  Sean Whittle - Costa Mesa, CA, California

I think one of the problems with a definition is that some (most?) traditionalists waver in what they think about things. So they themselves may ebb and flow between moderate and radical positions. I attended an independent chapel for over 10 years (Mssrs. Matt and Ferrara are familiar with this unnamed chapel) and in those years I held many views as I fleshed out what I thought, and the changing state of the local and Universal church gave me new perspectives. I have flirted with sedevacantism. The priest there said it was a viable private opinion. And I know well-known (unnamed) people from that chapel who we are now sedevacantists, though the priest preached against it as a publicly held position.

This particular priest was very up front about saying that JPII and Paul VI are two worst Popes ever in the history of the Church. Meanwhile, the Church is canonizing one, and the other one has had heroic virtues confirmed. Wow. That's a contrast.

Fr. Kramer says that the New Mass with "for all" were probably invalid in his work The Suicide of Altering the Faith in the Liturgy (bk. 1, Appendix II). Even when the Church stated otherwise, and the vast majority of faithful attended it for years. He also stated the New Mass clearly violates one of the Council of Trent's canons on immemorial tradition and customary rites. Except he might have missed that the Council of Trent says, "It [the Council] declares furthermore that this power has always been in the Church, that in the administration of the sacraments, preserving their substance, she may determine or change whatever she may judge to be more expedient for the benefit of those who receive them or for the veneration of the sacraments, according to the variety of circumstances, times, and places" (Session 21, D931). Please note the word "whatever". But Mssrs. Matt and Ferrara rub shoulder with Fr. Kramer at the Fatima conferences. Do they share his views on the New Mass essentially being evil and displeasing to God?

And then we have Vatican II. It is not off to find "moderate" traditionalists who *do not* accept the Council. They either think it needs to be washed away entirely. Or they think it has heresy or "errors". Or they ignore it completely. (The "silentium obsequiosum" which Ott said would not suffice.) This completely seems to go in the face of the Pope, the one and only Vicar of Christ who said:

We order and decree moreover that all that has been established synodally in the Council is to be piously and religiously observed by all the Faithful, for the glory of God, for the splendor of Holy Mother Church, and for the tranquillity and peace of all men. We have approved and established these things, decreeing that the present letters are and remain stable and valid, and are to have legal effectiveness, so that they be disseminated and obtain full and complete effect, and so that they may be fully convalidated by those whom they concern or may concern now and in the future; and so that, as it be judged and described, all efforts contrary to these things by whomever or whatever authority, knowingly or in ignorance be invalid and worthless from now on. (In Spiritu Sancto, Paul VI, AAS 58 [1966] pp. 18-19)

Okay. I can go on. I can talk about how everyone is going ape over the "antics" of Pope Francis. Or the canonization of JPII.

So I think a problem is that moderate and radical traditionalists intermingle and share chapels and fora. Even in the same person he may waver from one position to another. Particular if he reads a lot of polemic and gets really angry a lot and all that's going on (and may be ignoring the good things -- like those Novus Ordo nuns in Nashville with vocations exploding).

I think this hits home with Mssrs. Matt and Ferrara because they have a lot in common with "radical traditionalists", but maybe disagree on a few views, which is sort of like how they tolerate one another. It's sort of like they share 99% of each other position, but so-and-so has doubts about the Mass. Or whatever.

I listened to the two shows. I read the blog posts on all sides. Really, the CA guys were very clear. I think they were as clear as getting hit with a pan in the face. Traditionalists don't generally like the mirror shined back. But it isn't like this hasn't been discussed before. We had Fr Ripperger with his talks on traditionalists tendencies and problems.



The question is, is anyone being unfair? Are there radical traditionalists? Yes. We sedevacantists and people who have positions which render them essentially "practical sedevacantists". They exist in an independent bubble with apparently a pipeline to the divine (you know, the "eternal Rome" and such like) which end-runs around the Church, which we are told is the one voice of the divine in our midst, the one guide.

So what are we supposed to be about? About becoming holy. Becoming holy means pointing the finger at oneself first, about converting and being converted constantly. Really, the Remnant and CA and the rest should have more articles examining their owns positions and critiquing them. And I am talking about a good one side then the other side, then a weighing to see, and then a call to conversion. As though we were decided yet, but really are interested if we have the correct view, and are being responsive to the Spirit. Many times I'll hear the one side which confirms one's views laid up with loads of data, and a little hat tip to the other side which would conflict, and then we all feel good we have the right view. For instance, I never heard in all the critiques of Vatican II that the Pope called all to "piously and religiously observe" the Council. All I heard was that it was "pastoral", which became a code word for optional, which morphed into effectively ignored and many times practically rejected.

Be holy friends. Be converted. Step back and look at yourself and your position. All sides.

September 3, 2013 at 9:31 am PST
#60  Kevin Tierney - Howell, Michigan

Mr. Whittle,

I think in the end everyone has their inconsistencies in their "tribe", people who hold views that most find a bit looney, but they aren't going to go all hellfire and brimstone on them for various reasons, most importantly because the Catholic Church is rightly not an internet discussion board.

I think that's why traditionalists are so incensed at Mr. Keating and Catholic Answers right now. They view this as one big rating stunt, and now that the ratings were generated, its back to "well there are good and bad traditionalists, just as there are good and bad Catholics." If that's really the case, then why was this made into such a big deal? Especially because for the most part traditionalists largely leave Catholic Answers alone. We respect the apologetics work done, and most of us remember that Karl Keating was for a "universal indult" when the rest of the mainstream commentators wanted the screws put to the Latin Mass even tighter. Do they go as far as we would like? Nah, but perfection isn't the adversary of pretty good.

There was no need for this kind of fight to happen, and if it was, it should have been done with people who could work through these things rationally and professionally. That Coffin and Staples needed two shows and explanatory followup articles proves they failed at that. And for what? Just for everyone to agree that somewhere in some corner there are some trads who aren't perfect Catholics, just as there are Catholics in the Ordinary Form who aren't perfect?

The only way to get out of the tribalism is the kind of dialogue being proposed. There's a very good chance it will fail. But there's also a chance something very good could come out of it.

September 3, 2013 at 10:17 am PST
#61  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Michael Contaldi (post 26):

"Were you or anyone at Catholic Answers asked to do these shows and stories on the SSPX and 'Radical Traditionalism' by anyone in authority in the Church or anyone representing them? or by anyone or any group or person outside the Church?"

Short answer: No.

Long answer: Your hectoring writing style and your innuendos are not helpful to the overall discussion.

September 3, 2013 at 10:21 am PST
#62  Michael Contaldi - West Pittston, Pennsylvania

Mr. Ferrara,
I see these matters somewhat different than you do. I think it is an act of providence that the SSPX was not regularized without the doctrine being cleared up. Bishop Williamson did not derail what the Pope wanted to do because of his controversial comments.

As I see it if the SSPX was regularized with out a clear doctrinal statement we would have a global quagmire like what we have with feeneyism. Feeneyites cause all kinds of problems and divisions in parishes. I know I left an FSSP parish in part due to their harassment and obsession with the matter. The parallel I see between feeneyism and the SSPX matter is clear to me.

Feeneyites will run around and say outrageous things like "the Baltimore catechism teaches heresy" If you try to call them on it they point out rightly that Father Feeney was reconciled with the Church without having to recant his positions. Rome never released a statement or document clarifying the matter so now we have this doctrinal mess.

Can you imagine if the SSPX were just given faculties with no doctrinal clarification. We would have the SSPX condemning the things they condemn now 1)Religious Liberty 2)False Ecumenism 3) Collegiality while EWTN and the American Bishops are doing novenas for Religious Liberty. This could lead to an outright schism down the road. We need a syllabus on Vatican II.

I think the SSPX and Bishop Williamson are convenient punching bags. For Catholic Answers it's the SSPX for you and others Bishop Williamson. The masterstroke of Satan is clear on this. The problem is not the SSPX or Bishop Williamson. The problem is doctrinal. Only the Pope and Our Lady will fix this.

What Bishop Williamson has right is the modern world is making war on God and reality. The best example of this that relates to you is Fatima. Clearly consecrating the "world" is not the same thing as consecrating "Russia" anyone who thinks it does is clearly a victim of modern man and his war on reality. This is why in my judgement Catholic Answers wants no part of you (they may not know this) but they have allowed themselves to operate under many Orwellian ideas like the world=Russia and to allow your voice to expose that 2+2=4 would cause a powerful break with denial.

I finished two of your books this year. Ewtn a network gone wrong (which every thinking Catholic needs to read) If Catholics don't understand the beef between Catholic Answers & EWTN and the Catholic media on line this book that will make many matters clear.

The other book I read of yours is False Friends of Fatima is let's face it what the blackout of you in mainstream Catholic media is all about is FATIMA FATIMA FATIMA. That is still the issue Fatima is not over as you know. The other reason I left the FSSP Parish was the FSSP and it's outrageous treatment of Father Gruner you know as well as I do most FSSP faithful and Priests agree with almost everything Father Gruner says but they treat him like a bastard step child and it is wrong. Fatima is another example of where the ecclesia dei groups are the problem like with the doctrine they send mixed messages and are prolonging the crisis.

I am not SSPX by the way. I am seriously thinking of leaving the Latin rite. The eastern rites are looking better. I want my children to have sanity and stability. A war is going on in the Latin rite.

I also watched the youtube video of yours liberty the god that failed. Great stuff but I must say you shouldn't bash Williamson too much I would not have had the doctrinal context and a Catholic view of history to understand your latest work if it were not for Bishop Williamson. He is a man give him a break. Also I wouldn't mind a free copy of your new book "liberty the god that failed" if you have extra copies laying around. Our family is growing and I can't afford to buy books. Imagine that a growing family without a "chasity ministry" who would have known.

In Jesus and Mary
Michael Contaldi

September 3, 2013 at 10:25 am PST
#63  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Chris Ferrara (post 27):

1. I haven't read your books. I wouldn't be surprised if they have a style different from that of your articles in "The Remnant" and from that in your off-the-cuff comments on videos.

2. ". . . while the Novus Ordo establishment continues to crumble under the weight of its own blunders: empty seminaries, empty convents, closing parishes, closing schools, trivialized liturgy."

All of this is overwritten. None of these is universal in the Church in the U.S. There are convents that are bursting at the seams (Nashville Dominicans, for example). Many parish closings have been because of an exodus from inner cities (Detroit is a good example), and many dioceses are building parishes rapidly. In many parishes the OF is celebrated reverently.

Your comment can be applied only limitedly here and in Europe. It hardly applies at all in many places in the world. In Asia and Africa in particular seminaries and convents are full, parishes are being built, schools are being established.

3. "Lastly, among Catholics of Tradition there is no need for things like a 'chastity ministry,' or pamphlets informing them that abortion and sodomy are intrinsic evils, or that marriage is only between a man and a woman, for traditionalists already understand and obey implicitly the precepts of the natural law and their application by reason of a strong faith, traditional catechesis, and frequent reception of the sacraments, reinforced by a majestic and august liturgy that is not a joke, like so many Novus Ordo Masses have become."

The same lack of need for things such as a chastity ministry can be said to apply to, say, the young folks who attend such schools as Christendom College, Franciscan University, and Thomas Aquinas College. Our work in chastity isn't directed to such young people but to the those elsewhere.

(Besides, even young people coming from Traditionalist homes have problems. Some fall away from the faith. Others fail on chastity. Others get into fads such as the so-called goth culture. Surely you've come across some such.)

4. "But Karl, it is you who have the burden of making that distinction clear, since you introduced it in synch with the Southern Poverty Law Center."

This is a cheap shot, Chris. It suggests Catholic Answers colludes with the SPLC. As I wrote, the term "radical Traditionalist" was in use long before SPLC attached it to its badly written report.

5. "The Holy See treats Society's adherents as it does all the other members of the Catholic faithful, and it is wrong to call them a 'sect.' When can we expect CA's apology to the Catholic faithful of the SSPX?"

I've never called the SSPX a sect. I'd appreciate your not implying that I have. This doesn't foster a rapprochement.

September 3, 2013 at 10:44 am PST
#64  Kevin Tierney - Howell, Michigan

Call me crazy, but I don't understand how anyone can view a continued division a blessing. If they aren't excommunicated, its not really proper to call them "schismatics", then there are irregularities that need to be worked out. To work them out, everyone gives up what would hinder that union as long as their principles aren't compromised.

Sure, there can be grey areas. But think of the grace of the Spirit which can heal those grey areas, just as that grace can turn something stained crimson into something white as snow, namely our souls. The problem with Bishop Williamson is he was making those things which by everyone's own admission have nothing to do with the faith into articles of faith.

The old prejudices are slowly fading, and we will all be better Catholics for it.

September 3, 2013 at 10:49 am PST
#65  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Michael Contaldi (post 28):

Yes, someone can be a Catholic while being an ignoramus in terms of history. Richard Williamson is a good example. I am glad he was expelled from the SSPX, but he should have been expelled many years earlier. In fact, he never should have been consecrated a bishop and never even should have been ordained a priest.

That Williamson was chosen for these roles by Marcel Lefebvre is an indication of what a poor judge of men the archbishop was.

September 3, 2013 at 10:52 am PST
#66  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Michael Matt (post 29):

Thanks for your calm remarks.

I concede that the term "radical Traditionalist" was misunderstood by some listeners--not by a large proportion, so far as I can gather, but certainly by more than a few. It was not the term I would have used had I been on the May 31 show. (I was vacationing in Germany at the time.)

I'm not sure what term I would have preferred; perhaps more than one term would be needed, to distinguish "run of the mill" Traditionalists (the large majority) from those who have gone off to an extreme (sedevacantists and those who claim Vatican II and the OF are invalid) and from a third group consisting, chiefly, of the SSPX, which, after all, is not in full communion with the Church and which takes some positions, with respect to Vatican II and its aftermath, that I don't think can be supported.

So, I'm open to finding better terminology. I hope you would be too.

I would like to see "The Remnant" drops such unhelpful terms as "Novus Ordo Catholics" and "Conciliar Catholics." I don't think such terms can be used without inadvertently conveying a sense of condescension or disdain.

I don't mean that you and your associates load those terms with condescension or disdain. I mean I think many people on the receiving end will think that you intend the terms to carry that kind of baggage.

This is what you and others are saying about the term "radical Traditionalist"--that it too easily is taken the wrong way. That's a valid criticism. I think there is terminological weakness all across the board.

September 3, 2013 at 11:09 am PST
#67  Richard Chonak - Stoneham, Massachusetts

I was disappointed in the radio show, or at least in the 40 minutes I've heard so far. It doesn't matter whether an FSSP priest or other listeners who are already thoroughly familiar with traditionalist issues find it understandable: surely they're not the audience for this program. We should think of what average Catholics unacquainted with these matters take away from it.

In the show, Coffin and Staples spoke of various disparate problems with the spectrum of traditionalist movements: problems ranging from matters of tone and tendency all the way to schism. In some cases, they went beyond what the Church herself has said: the Church rarely treats disobedient actions as though they implied a doctrinal denial of papal authority.

I couldn't help feeling that the presenters needed someone with more in-depth subject-matter expertise: someone like Jim Likoudis or Pete Vere.

Overall, the main weakness of the program was trying to deal with so many diverse topics in one show. Sedevacantism is a distinct issue; the role of the SSPX is another; critique of the revised Missal is another; so is critique of Vatican II documents; so is the anti-Semitic temptation.

Some of those categories involve very grave errors, and some involve debatable questions on which Catholics in good standing may disagree. Trying to treat all of these in one huge show couldn't help but leave innocent reputations tainted by association, despite Staples' effort to keep distinctions in mind. After all, this is a fast-moving drive-time show interrupted with commercials.

The very term "radical traditionalism" is part of the problem, because it's vague and doesn't name the errors being critiqued. Instead of clarifying issues, it stigmatizes. An analogy on the "left" would be to take indifferentism, the Call To Action movement, Voice of the Faithful, Roman Catholic Womenpriests, and the National Catholic Reporter, and lump them all together as "radical reformism". It wouldn't really clarify things.

September 3, 2013 at 11:10 am PST
#68  Dan Aller - Columbus, Ohio

Peter Vere:

The lines on the issue of the Holocaust are not as clearly drawn as you would like to think. The Holocaust Denial conference in Tehran also hosted hasidim who adore Ahmadinejad. http://youtu.be/R-r04SQ97_Q
The anti-Semites capitalize on the ignorance of the masses. Of course the Nazis didn't kill in even millions. At Nuremberg, the official figures on Jews alone were put between 4.6 and 5.2M. Jewish historian Max Dimont (Jews Got and History) said 5 Million Jews, 7 Million Christians. The figure of 6 Million is Talmudic in origin. It had been suggested before but never did it come this close to be believable. But why does minimalising this expose one to fines or gaol? Is any other historical event equivalent? What about the slander of Catholics done by history books over just the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition?

In the end, the whole Williamson affair has proven one thing: You can have unity in the Church or Dialogue with the Jews. Not Both. For the past half century, the Church has opted for the latter.

September 3, 2013 at 11:11 am PST
#69  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Pete Vere (post 30):

It's good to hear from you again, though it bothers me that you talk about yourself about being of a previous generation. How do you think that makes me feel, since I can remember you as being hardly old enough to vote?

Be that as it may, I appreciate your point that a fruitful discussion needs to be largely European, not just American, and that the chief serious work in these areas is being done on the other side of the Atlantic.

September 3, 2013 at 11:15 am PST
#70  Michael Contaldi - West Pittston, Pennsylvania

The matter of the SSPX being is a blessing now is simple because the doctrinal matters are front and center and will soon cause a response from Rome Lord willing. If it turns out they are correct on doctrine and dogma they will be the victims of one of the greatest injustices in Church history. If it turns out they are in error the faithful and Priests attached to the old ways will know clearly where the line is. That is the blessing.

In today's Orwellian Church that is possessed with the spirit of Burger King (you can have it your way say the SSPX,FSSP,Catholic Answers and EWTN) every Catholic and group gets to read what he wishes into Vatican II and other matters and this is where we have false the titles from "neo" and "traditionalist" these titles must be dropped like Mortal Sin!

Let's deal in the reality of the matters not the appearance.

Mr. Keating,
Sorry for the hectoring I share a temperament with both Hitler and Bishop Williamson I am a choleric. I mean no harm Sir. I also intended no innuendo. About my question related to the Southern poverty law center. I wasn't suggesting that you were working with them against faithful Catholics. I was asking thinking that they were perhaps pressuring you or your staff. Groups like these are known for using dirt on people to get what they want. I was asking to see if they got to one of your staff or were harassing you. The southern poverty law center is pure evil and anti Catholic. As for Bishop Williamson he can be called many things but he is not ignorant or stupid. You may think he is wrong that's fair but he would eat your lunch in a debate about matters.

I think you are wrong about Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Issue by issue over time he is being vindicated and he may end up like St Athanasius who was excommunicated by a Pope for not adhering to the Arian heresy and the history records him the Saint and the Pope who excommunicated less so.

In Jesus and Mary,
Michael Contaldi

September 3, 2013 at 11:33 am PST
#71  Kevin Tierney - Howell, Michigan

Mr. Keating,

Given your recent statement that radical traditionalist was "Misunderstood" and not what you would have used, can Catholic Answers going forward agree to not use the term, especially given the proposed dialogues going on? I think that would gain a ton of goodwill, in addition to being the right thing to do. Hopefully the other terms such as "concilliar catholics" and "neo-catholic" can be dropped, but even if they aren't, it is still right and proper to avoid "radical traditionalist."

What you said takes a bit of guts and honesty, and I think you deserve everyone's respect for that. Hopefully the dialogue proposed is fruitful. Small time bloggers like myself can talk about these things, but we don't matter. You guys do. ;)

September 3, 2013 at 11:48 am PST
#72  Richard Malcolm - Silver Spring, Maryland

I've belatedly come across Karl's post here, and read my way through the combox. As an "Ecclesia Dei Traditionalist" for the last dozen years or so - I think titles are problematic, but I know no other way of identifying where I'm coming from in a reasonable shorthand - I am relieved to see that there's more common ground emerging than I thought there might be when the first CA show delved into this late in the spring.

And while there are a number of people who have made perceptive and thoughtful comments, I would like to single out for particular mention Richard Chonak, who observed that the CA show a) could have greatly benefited from bringing in a recognized and respected Catholic traditionalist figure to sit in with Tim and Patrick to provide not only more in-depth knowledge, but given the show a credibility that would not be so instantly suspect to tradition-minded listeners; and b) not tried to deal with so many diverse topics in one show.

I do hope that there's still a chance for such a public interaction, as others have suggested - either on a future CA show, or over at The Remnant. Karl and his CA colleagues are not obligated to consider it, but I'd hope that they would consider it, just the same.

September 3, 2013 at 12:47 pm PST
#73  Romano Galassi - West Covina, California

"Tradition is democracy for the dead" G.K. Chesterton

September 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm PST
#74  Richard Malcolm - Silver Spring, Maryland

Hello Karl,

I'd also like to make a more direct response to some of your recent comments here. I agree with much that you say, not least that traditionalists can't take a strong chastity ethos (or the faith itself) for granted so easily as we like to think. But I did want to take issue with your response to Chris Ferrara, who said: ". . . while the Novus Ordo establishment continues to crumble under the weight of its own blunders: empty seminaries, empty convents, closing parishes, closing schools, trivialized liturgy."

You replied: "All of this is overwritten. None of these is universal in the Church in the U.S." And you cited some noteworthy success stories.

Mr. Ferrara may have overstated matters (and used an unhelpful "Novus Ordo" label that is polemically unhelpful), but if so, it's not by much - at least not in large swaths of the Western World and Latin America. The situation on the ground in France, the Netherlands, and Germany really *is* approaching catastrophic levels by virtually all indices. But even in the U.S., where (I think we're largely all agreed) things seem better for the Church than in most of the West, the situation is often a lot more grim than we like to think. Instructive along these lines is Ralph Martin's (who was on your June 26 show) recent article, "The Post-Christendom Sacramental Crisis: The Wisdom of Thomas Aquinas," Nova et Vetera, English Edition, Vol. 11, No. 1 (2013): 57-75.

Prof. Martin focuses on the most easily measured phenomena, resort to the sacraments. Even in an average (unidentified) Midwestern diocese, he discovered these remarkable declines in just a ten year period (2000-2010):

* Infant Baptisms have decreased 42.4% (from 16,294 to 9,544)
* Adult Baptisms have decreased 51.2% (from 1,442 to 704)
* Full Communion has decreased 43.6% (from 1,713 to 960)
* Catholic Marriages decreased 45.3% (from 3,641 to 1,649)

A drop in *half* in just a decade in "life marker" sacraments - something that is inevitably playing itself out in Mass attendance and vocations as well. And I know dioceses where the declines are even worse, especially in the Northeast (the Sunbelt generally fares better, but one could argue that the decline is merely masked by internal migration). And demographics will only accelerate the problem: Traditionalists and conservatives like to talk about the "biological solution," but that solution will not only remove many older liberal clerics and religious from the scene, but also quite a lot of the laypeople actually still bothering to show up in the pews. The result: as bad as parish and school closings have been over the last twenty years, we had better get prepared for them to get much worse in many places.

Traditionalists too easily will see the doom and gloom. There *are* success stories (like the Ann Arbor and Nashville Dominicans, the cleanup of many of the worst seminaries, etc.) outside the orbits of Denton, Gricigliano, Clear Creek and Winona, and we should note them and hold them up. We should be careful not to take counsel too quickly of apocalyptic (end-times) glosses of the Church's state. But I think that many conservative apologists, cued by John Paul II's identification of a "new Springtime" in the Church, would do well to follow Ralph Martin's lead to take a sober (but not despairing) assessment of the state of the Church today. Despite the encouraging signs of life, there's an awful lot out there to sober us.

September 3, 2013 at 1:25 pm PST
#75  Dan Aller - Columbus, Ohio


That Williamson was chosen for these roles by Marcel Lefebvre is an indication of what a poor judge of men the archbishop was.>>


Do we really want to go down that path? There is a pope about to be canonised who, I dare say, is responsible for more bishops, who did more damage than Williamson.

September 3, 2013 at 1:27 pm PST
#76  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Alexander Verbum (post 31):

Another term that shouldn't be used in these religious discussions is "neo-conservative." It is a political term and has some utility in political discussions--but not here.

I'd like to see it disappear, along with the equally unhelpful "neo-Catholic."

September 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm PST
#77  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Steve Cunningham (post 33):

"Maybe a 3rd show with a surprise guest?"

Hmmm. Maybe we can do a kind of revival of "What's My Line?"

John Daly: "Will our mystery guest enter and sign in please?"

September 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm PST
#78  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Kevin Tierney (post 39:

"Even in the Ordinary Form things have changed. For so long, traditionalists were held in suspicion of thought crimes simply for stating that the English translations were horrid."

Hardly. The ones who were foremost to complain about the original English translation, and the ones who were instrumental in getting the new translation made, were people in such groups as the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

While some Traditionalist writers pointed out obvious weaknesses in the original translation, the thorough analysis and the re-translation were done by those who were not self-styled Traditionalists. Their critique was much deeper and far wider than that given by Traditionalist writers, who focused on only a few poorly-rendered texts, such as "for all."

September 3, 2013 at 1:54 pm PST
#79  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Chris Ferrara (post 55):

"Karl Keating writes: 'I didn't try to define "bad" Traditionalists, so I'm not inclined to try to define "good" Traditionalists either. Wouldn't the bad and good ones pretty much be defined the way bad and good non-Traditionalist Catholics are defined?'"

"For heaven's sake, Karl, are you now saying that 'bad' Traditionalists are the same as bad' Catholics generally? Then what was the point of your four-hour exposé of 'radical traditionalists'? Why not stop twisting yourself into a pretzel and admit that the exposé was mistake?

"In case you haven't noticed, the comments on your post suggest the potential for peace breaking out all over: joint appearances on shows, roundtable discussions, an end to hostilities, the possibility of an alliance. Yet you don't seem interested. Do you have some sort of vested interest in maintaining division between Catholics along traditionalist/non-traditionalist lines?"

The middle paragraph above is an unfortunate example of reading into someone's comment what wasn't there.

I didn't at all say that "'bad' Traditionalists are the same as 'bad' Catholics generally." I declined to define "bad Traditionalists" at all. I just said that the process of defining "bad" vs. "good" Traditionalists might be similar to the process of defining "bad" vs. "good" non-Traditionalists. Of course, the "bad" in the two groups can be "bad" in different ways.

You also write:

"In case you haven't noticed . . . You just don't seem interested. Do you have some sort of vested interest in maintaining division . . ."

Actually, I am interested, but your snarky writing and innuendos don't make a rapprochement easy. When it comes to entering a future roundtable or forum, maybe you'll have to be content with the part of Moses rather than that of Joshua.

September 3, 2013 at 1:55 pm PST
#80  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Sean Whittle (post 59):

If the priest of the chapel you attended "was very up front about saying that JPII and Paul VI are two worst Popes ever in the history of the Church," then you had a pastor who was an ignoramus when it came to Church history. There were quite a few popes who were worse, no matter how dark might want to paint John Paul II and Paul VI.

As for Fr. Paul Kramer: Can you or anyone else verify his bona fides? I've tried looking up his priestly credentials but found nothing.

You say, "It is not off to find 'moderate' traditionalists who *do not* accept the Council. They either think it needs to be washed away entirely. Or they think it has heresy or errors'."

Such people are in no way moderate. You can't say an ecumenical council "needs to be washed away entirely" and be an understanding Catholic.

September 3, 2013 at 1:56 pm PST
#81  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Michael Contaldi (post 70):

"About my question related to the Southern poverty law center. I wasn't suggesting that you were working with them against faithful Catholics. I was asking thinking that they were perhaps pressuring you or your staff. Groups like these are known for using dirt on people to get what they want. I was asking to see if they got to one of your staff or were harassing you."

I don't recall anyone at Catholic Answers ever having had contact with the SPLC. I wrote against the SPLC on more than one occasion. We've received no pressure from the group. If it wants to dig up dirt on us, its people are welcome to come to San Diego with their shovels. They will find the region attractive but the visit unfruitful.

As for Archbishop Lefebvre, whom you also talk about in your post, I can understand why some followers take a hagiographic view of him. (That's the kind of thing followers tend to do.) But I don't. I think Lefebvre was a tremendous blunderer, moved by suspicion and pride.

September 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm PST
#82  Christopher Ferrara - Richmond, Virginia

Reply to Karl Keating:

Karl, you write, and I respond, as follows:

"All of this is overwritten.... Your comment can be applied only limitedly here and in Europe. It hardly applies at all in many places in the world. In Asia and Africa in particular seminaries and convents are full, parishes are being built, schools are being established."

That simply isn't true: Regular Mass attendance in Europe is about 5%. That qualifies as social apostasy on an unprecedented scale. Why else do you think John Paul II spoke of silent apostasy? Was that hyperbole too?

And you know quite well that the vast majority of Catholics who consider themselves faithful practice contraception, divorce at the same rate as Protestants, and (by smaller majorities) are voting pro-'gay' and pro-abortion politicians into office all over the Western world. The bulk of Catholics in the world today don't give a damn what the Church teaches about marriage and procreation. That's obvious: look at the drastic decline in Catholic birth rates, marriage, baptisms, and so forth. The western Church is in free-fall. Face it.

As for the supposedly "vibrant Church" of Latin America, it is hemorrhaging by the millions into Protestant sects, as the number of Catholics steadily declines while the imaginary "renewal of Vatican II" goes on. Contraception is rampant there as well.

The "vibrant Church" of Africa is plagued by the scandal of married priests. Even Wikipedia recognizes that "Africa was cited as a region where the violation of celibacy is particularly rampant. Priests on the continent were accused of taking wives and concubines." That's just the way priests are in Africa. Oh well.

Compare this situation with the one Marcel Lefebvre left behind: this lone prelate practically converted North Africa to traditional Catholicism. Are you aware, Karl, that there was resistance among Africans when liturgical idiots told them they needed tom-toms and other African elements, along with the New Mass, for the sake of "inculturation"?

Having said that, however, I note the prediction of Pius XII, when he was still Pacelli, that after the innovators he foresaw had wrecked the Church, the Third World would save it. But that will not happen without a liturgical restoration.

"The same lack of need for things such as a chastity ministry can be said to apply to, say, the young folks who attend such schools as Christendom College, Franciscan University, and Thomas Aquinas College. Our work in chastity isn't directed to such young people but to the those elsewhere."

Agreed. There is, in fact, an almost linear relationship between the approach to integral tradition and the solidity of the faith. I have two sons who attend or attended Christendom, where the formation is Thomistic, the Latin Mass is available during the week and the Novus Ordo Mass is celebrated without any of the abuses that, let us face it, John Paul "the Great" pioneered, including, of course, altar girls.

I think the charismatic nonsense at Steubenville contributes nothing to the process of restoration, and I sense that you are less than pleased with the "charismatic renewal." Rightly so.

"This is a cheap shot, Chris. It suggests Catholic Answers colludes with the SPLC. As I wrote, the term "radical Traditionalist" was in use long before SPLC attached it to its badly written report."

I didn't say you collude with them, but rather that your attacks on radical traditionalists---a term you still refuse to define---lend them aid and comfort. And this is so precisely because you refuse to define the term, but leave the implication that it embraces those the SPLC denounces, which are basically Catholics who oppose the disastrous innovation of the Church and have not gotten with the Vatican II program.

Let me ask you point blank: Are the SSPX radical traditionalists? Yes or no would be helpful.

"I've never called the SSPX a sect. I'd appreciate your not implying that I have. This doesn't foster a rapprochement."

Your spokesmen, not you, made it quite clear that according to them SSPX is not in communion with the Church and is a radical traditionalist organization. Thus, Catholic Answers owes SSPX an apology of just the sort the Diocese of Richmond had the decency to make.

Finally, I don't deny that there are some bright spots in the Novus Ordo. But there are many more among the traditionalist movement, which I am firmly convinced is the future of the Church. The Novus Ordo cannot sustain itself. It lacks the vocations to continue much longer. Already in France the majority of regular Mass-goers attend the traditional Latin Mass. That is the way the whole Church will go, sooner or later.

September 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm PST
#83  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger


Someone above made reference to "clown Masses." Can we have a hiatus from using clown Masses as representative of troubles in the Church?

Some keep asking, "What about all the clown Masses, huh?", as though such Masses occur regularly. Do they? Where's the evidence?

There are 17,413 parishes in the country, according to research by Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. Let's say the average parish has three Masses on Sunday. That's 52,230 Masses on Sundays alone. How many of those Masses will be clown Masses this week? Even one?

Even if there were, on average, ten clown Masses a week in the U.S., that's a proportion so small that it's just not worth focusing on. To keep bringing up clown Masses is to throw people into confusion about the real state of things.

So I suggest that there be no clown Mass hyperventilating through the end of this year, even if a few clown Masses occur before January 1. There are plenty of other things to kvetch about, if you need to kvetch.

(/pique off)

September 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm PST
#84  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Several people, in comments above, suggested there should be a conference or colloquium or forum that would bring together representatives of various viewpoints for a public discussion.

I think it's worth talking about such a thing.

Even before there could be consideration of who the presenters might be there would need to be consideration of what such a gathering would be intended to accomplish (or to begin to accomplish) and how, uh, ecumenical it ought to be.

September 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm PST
#85  Richard Malcolm - Silver Spring, Maryland

Dan Aller (post 75):

"There is a pope about to be canonised who, I dare say, is responsible for more bishops, who did more damage than Williamson."

Undoubtedly (we could, all of us, draw up a long list). But have any of them done as much damage to *traditional Catholicism* as Bishop Richard Williamson?

I don't share Karl's critical assessment of Archbishop Lefebvre. But I think that even most SSPX priests and followers would agree at this point that the choice of Williamson was a major mistake, one that has caused no end of trouble for the Society.

September 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm PST
#86  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Dan Aller (post 75):

Williamson had oversight of only a portion of what is a small organization, the SSPX. For much of his SSPX career he oversaw things in the U.S. We're talking about only thousands of people, not millions, being under him. As it was, he wasn't able to do much damage because his reach didn't extend far, less far than that of a bishop of a minuscule diocese.

What is particularly troublesome to me is that his unfitness for ordination should have been evident from the first. The crackpot ideas he has espoused in recent years don't arise out of nothing and normally don't arise all of a sudden, in one's later years. They tend to be indicative of a man having had bad ideas for a long time, ideas that his superiors should have noticed.

September 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm PST
#87  John Morrell - Beaumont, Texas

Mr. Keating,

You wrote the following:

"That Williamson was chosen for these roles by Marcel Lefebvre is an indication of what a poor judge of men the archbishop was." (post #65).

I have no connection with the SSPX, and yet found your use of Williamson as an opportunity to besmirch the reputation of Archbishop Lefebvre disappointing. Do you care to moderate your above statement?

September 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm PST
#88  Dan Aller - Columbus, Ohio

As Dr. White would say, "How come no one gets fined for denying the gulag?"

September 3, 2013 at 6:36 pm PST
#89  Ken Cenci - Peck, Michigan

After spending a fair amount of time reviewing this exchange, can anyone remember why we love being (insert favorite title here) Catholic? Could it be simply to know, love and serve God and be happy with Him in Heaven? Isn't the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass what is the utmost important for our salvation? Does anyone really remember what it means to be Catholic? To receive Our Lord's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion in the State of Grace? Or how about the good old days, where Catholics had a day long celebration after a Holy Day of Obligation Mass? (oh wait, that was dispensed) Ok, how about a good old fashion 40 Hours Devotion? (hang on, none of the new Ordinary books have that in there). You know? on second thought, never mind. How radical minded I was to think these thoughts of peace. Carry on.

September 3, 2013 at 6:52 pm PST
#90  Benjamin Baxter - Fresno, California

Mr. Keating:

I would like to point out that all references to clown masses above this comment were specifically made in REPUDIATING the use of them as comically large rhetorical sledgehammers.

So far as the purpose of such an assembly or conference, I will have to think on it.

September 3, 2013 at 6:57 pm PST
#91  Sean Whittle - Costa Mesa, CA, California

To Mr Ferrara, #82

You said: "Are the SSPX radical traditionalists? Yes or no would be helpful."

I would say yes, if we understand "radical" to mean outside of what is a doctrinally acceptable response in our Faith. Why?

1) Abp. Lefebvre and Bishop Fellay have said that the New Mass is intrinsically evil. A position even Michael Davies said was incompatible with the Faith.

Ref: http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2013-0131-tofari-fellay-Canizares.htm
And: http://sspx.org/en/new-mass-legit

Good luck straightening your faith out if you agree with the SSPX on this. Not to mention there has never to my knowledge been a primer on what constitutes the minimum doctrinal information in a rite of Mass to deem it sufficient enough to elude the SSPX's stamp of "evil". One would think that promulgation from the Pope would be a sufficient warrant of sufficiency. And then we can wonder if the other rites in the Church would come under this scrutiny and see if they come out unscathed.

2) They have elected to engage in a separatist position. That is, they believe that in order to maintain their existence they must be separate from the Pope and local bishops juridically. Separatism is A hallmark of extreme religious movements. Whatever the vicissitudes of their history, in this case this is unacceptable since the Church has no real doctrinal wiggle room for separatist movements in relation to the Pope. At best we have what She says of them now -- they are not in full communion. Fr. Michael Mary called it "practical sedevacantism". Part of being Catholic is being under the Pope. Since many traditionalists have found a way to do this, we can't excuse the SSPX. Sure it is very difficult because they are a large group of priests, but you can't give in to the inertia of forty years of resistance to papal demands and overtures.

3) Another offshoot of the juridical separatism is the separatism advised to people who attend SSPX Masses. They are officially advised to avoid the New Mass, and even the "indult" Masses because it gives the appearance of support. So not only do you have no juridical connection, you have people on the ground who will only attend SSPX or very similar Masses, even if the local parish with the Latin Mass is quite good and acceptable. This tinges slightly, at least in some cases, to a puritanical view -- a warning to avoid in order to remain untainted by the unwashed masses. So instead of "go ye and convert", it is, "stay here and be safe".

Ref: http://archives.sspx.org/motu_proprio/attendance_at_the_indult_vanes.htm

What we have to do is be honest with one another. Mr. Ferrara likes to use a phrase often. He would say that the previous Popes, like St Pius X, would be struck with apoplexy if the saw all the stuff going on these days in the local parishes and papal Masses. What he is omitting is that said Pope would also be just as struck by the Society named after him. St. Pius X would have no time for a movement like the SSPX in terms of the points above. Even when people didn't like his "novel" reform of the Breviary, he told them ultimately to go fly a kite.

Now we can ask what the usefulness is of labeling the SSPX as "radical". Well, if we're just trying to call names and score points, then we lose. We all lose. What we need is traditionalists to say to the SSPX, "We want you to reconcile." I assume Mssrs. Matt and Ferrara would agree that the SSPX would not commit Operation Suicide since they worship at Masses with priests in full communion with the Pope. So where is the cry from the Remnant and such like to make the move? Where's the internal pressure? Where is the internal countability the SSPX feels amongst its own people or people sympathetic to them? Did we see articles with the feeling of injustice when Fellay pulled back and the rhetoric started to heart up again? Because it is their move to make right, since you've implicitly accepted that the conditions for them are optimal (otherwise you yourselves would avoid the "indult" Masses, right?).

I pray for a universal movement amongst traditionalists toward reconciliation and union with the Pope. We need to stop playing footsie with the idea that we can have all the benefits of the Church while rejecting the Pope practically and juridically. I think the sign has clearly turned toward action from within the structures of the Church. Whatever was, was. In a sense, this doesn't involve CA and their show. We can say this is an internal matter amongst traditionalists to clean up our house. We can say that we've been pure and upright in everything while all the blame goes to the others. Paul VI was clear that he wouldn't give any concessions in the way of the traditional Mass because it was being used as a point of division and resistance to him. Everywhere along the way the Popes and (good) bishops have seen traditionalists as risky. Let's just admit that we too could have conducted ourselves better. Make the confessions. Make the amend. Bury the hatchet. Carrying on as though it is still 1975 or 1986 or whatever is just counterproductive. I am not saying ignore, but consciously decide to move on.

I leave the whole question of what the Roman Rite will look like in the future to the Holy Ghost. Let us worship in union with the Pope, in places where priests are serious about the Faith, and serious about being/becoming. And let us mutually call one another to conversion, and mutually be responsive to that call.

September 3, 2013 at 7:01 pm PST
#92  Benjamin Baxter - Fresno, California

Ken: A few things should be considered here.

a. V-II says Eastern Catholics should be enjoined to be Eastern on principle. (How about specifically Byzantine? Ruthenian? Armenian?)
b. What should Western Catholics be? (How about specifically Roman? Or Dominican? Or Mozarabic?)

For that matter, and this is a different claim than you have made: To say traditional Romans calling themselves traditional is no more a slight on other Romans than it is on preachers for the Order of Preachers to describe themselves so.

Apostolicity is not just a matter of teaching but as a matter of practice. Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote, as Cdl. Ratzinger, that the liturgical oversight duty of the pope was like a gardener.

Keep this in mind: My personal opinion I retain to myself. My only point is to suggest that these points deserve real reflection and cannot be dismissed out-of-hand.

September 3, 2013 at 7:06 pm PST
#93  Jonathan Liem - Singapore,

With respect to the vibrancy of the Faith here in Asia, perhaps I could shed some light, as I live in Singapore and am an Indonesian citizen.

* My Goddaughter has a cousin that says she doesn't need to go to Mass on Sundays because her priest is very understanding.

* Plenty of folks here only go to Mass on Christmas.

* Most of the Catholics I know here have never been to Confession, and think the Confiteor at Mass is a proper substitute.

* Priests attend the Buddhist weddings of former Catholics.

* Who converted to Buddhism, after coming from a "devout" Catholic family.

* And Catholics becoming Muslim, in order to marry Muslims.

* I have met some that wonder whether it's okay for their kids to attend Protestant services instead of going to Mass on Sunday.

* My daughter (11) knows more about the Catechism than her CCD teacher.

* At my brother-in-laws funeral, we were assured that he was already enjoying the Beatific Vision.

Yeah there might be growth, but only because Asians are starved for the spiritual, especially after suffering the atheism of the Communists. However, what they are getting is Protestant mush & emotionalism, leaving them open to every sinew of the Dictatorship of Relativism...

September 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm PST
#94  Richard Malcolm - Silver Spring, Maryland

Jonathan Liem (post 93):

Sadly, I don't think that most of what what you describe is all that uncommon in large swaths of the Church in Europe and North America.

September 3, 2013 at 7:51 pm PST
#95  Pete Vere - Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

Catching up with today's comments, I will begin by responding to the handful of Bishop Williamson's defenders who are attempting to present as Traditional Catholicism some diabolical synthesis between Holocaust denial and the Americanist heresy. To put it plainly, your voice does not matter. Neither does that of your headless episcopal fuhrer.

I have no problem stating this bluntly. Unlike other traditionalists involved in this conversations, I was never ideologically a part of North American Anglo-American school of Catholic traditionalism. Rather, my introduction to the traditionalist movement came through France, at a traditionalist chapel along the Quebec - Franco-Ontarian border, where I was introduced to Dom Gerard Calvet's "Demain la Chretiente." (Tomorrow Christendom).

And to those who for myself were catechized in French as the first language of faith, including the traditionalist understanding of this Catholic faith, and whose introduction to the traditionalist movement came through French-speaking traditionalists, Calvet understood and captured the young Traditionalist imagination in a manner that no English-speaking Traditionalist writer has ever been able to do. Hence the reason I hope to one day publish my English translation of his seminal work appealing to young traditionalists to stand for Catholic tradition. This is a book Gary Potter recommended all young Catholic traditionalists read.

That being said, Calvet always recognized Williamson for danger he was to the traditionalist movement, and he attempted -pleaded with Archbishop Lefebvre - not to consecrate him a bishop in 1988.

This will mean nothing to younger trads in North America, but to Chris, Michael Matt and Karl, yes the Calvet prophecy was true. Calvet verified this to me so personally when he visited St. Clement parish in the early 90's. He told me how he was prepared to follow Archbishop Lefebvre and support him in consecrating the original three bishops named by Lefebvre (Fellay, Tissier de Malerais, and de Gallereta). Calvet also told me how the Archbishop's last-minute addition of Williamson forced him to reconsider and subsequently withdraw his support for the Archbishop. "The man has never been Catholic," Calvet said. "He has no loyalty to the Church. I tried to warn Mgr Lefebvre that if he consecrated Williamson a bishop, Williamson would destroy the SSPX from within by forcing a schism within 10 years of the Archbishop's death."

As Archbishop Lefebvre was fond of reminding us, "Error has no right with truth." In this particular case, the truth of Nazi death camps was established, not only meticulously by the Nazis themselves, but by the martyrdom of the Archbishop's father Rene. So those who deny this historical truth deserve no place at the Traditionalist table. Nor do they deserve a voice in our traditionalist chapels. In fact, it is an act of Catholic charity to silence them.

The only place for Bishop Williamson in the Catholic Church is in some Trappist Monastery where he can finish off his life in silent prayer and penance, atoning for the great evil has inflicted upon the Church in general (and the traditionalist cause in particular).

As for those who support Williamson in denying the Holocaust and demand that traditionalist chapels provide a forum for Holocaust denial? Americanism is a heresy condemned by the Catholic Church. In fact the Popes condemned this heresy long before the Second Vatican Council. Therefore you have no right to our Catholic pulpits or round-table discussions. Or to demand that any Catholic - let alone those faithful to Tradition - entertain your foolishness. So go back to your parents' basements and plot the takeover of your local Polish bakery. But you have no right to take over our traditional Catholic chapels.

Again, unlike Michael Matt, Chris Ferrara or Kevin Tierney, I am neither American nor from the English-speaking traditionalist world. (Although I often interacted with it in the past as a traditional Catholic writer and commentator). So I really don't care that Williamson was charged by the state, or silenced by the SSPX, or whatever. In attempting to tie the traditionalist movement to historical stupidity that has nothing to do with the Catholic faith, and in allowing his followers to fan the Americanist heresy in their attempts to defend him, he has forfeited any respect due to him through his consecration to the episcopacy. He deserves nothing but to be reviled and pilloried for the clown he in. If nothing else, Bishop Williamson is an example of clown theology creeping its way into the traditional Roman liturgy.

September 3, 2013 at 7:58 pm PST
#96  Jonathan Liem - Singapore,

And I forgot the Catholic I met that was attending Protestant Bible studies so that she could get something with some meat in it...

September 3, 2013 at 7:59 pm PST
#97  Jonathan Liem - Singapore,

And the priest on the second day of RCIA coming in asking: "Do you need to be Catholic to go to Heaven?" with his answer being "no"...

Or the priest giving the homily saying that the Church got it wrong with her doctrine of Outside The Church There Is No Salvation, because the theologians have changed their minds.

Or the priest who gave a homily on how he needs the congregations participation, in order to call down the Holy Ghost to consecrate the host.

etc. etc. etc.

September 3, 2013 at 8:16 pm PST
#98  Kevin Tierney - Howell, Michigan

It's kinda interesting. The patristics talked about the fewness of the saved, some even provided percentages below 1/3. that would mean even priests that 2/3 of priests wouldn't be included amongst the saved. Some were even more pessimistic.

We can just be glad that while things are bad, the existensial crisis is mostly gone. now we just have to pick up the pieces from the devestation. Considering that this has happened before in tradition, lets not get too despairing.

September 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm PST
#99  Michael Contaldi - West Pittston, Pennsylvania

Pete Vere,
The "Holocaust" is not a Dogma of the Catholic Faith. You are treating this part of history like a superdogma. The genocide of the Jews was a horror. 66 million souls died in the War the Jews that died were not better than the gentiles that died. The is the New Testament! The whole thing was an absolute horror. I have a religion I don't need another one thank you. Let's focus on our own 60 million gentiles died as well. What they can be forgotten?

The only Holocaust that binds my conscience it the Holocaust of the God man Jesus Christ. Obsess on the Jews and the war all you wish it is not going to change the reality of what some men believe about the Jewish genocide. We can't control what men believe. Let it go.

Your linkage of the Americanist heresy,Holocaust denial and Bishop Williamson is off the wall. What synthesis? That is just goofy. Your comments are not being driven by reason but your feelings for the man. Perhaps it was a good idea that you stop writing about him. You seem to hate him. These topics seem to upset you Sir. Let it go.

Bishop Williamson is a man just like the rest of us. How many masses have you had said for him? (This goes for all the Williamson attackers) How many sacrifices have you made for him lately? How many rosaries have you prayed for him? Have you ever tried to see the good in him? Can you see Our Lord in him?

Pete you speak for no one and you have no power. Thank Almighty God for that go back and read your last comment and think what would you have done with the power and gifts that Bishop Williamson was given. Would you or I have done better? Perhaps we would have been worse. Really Pete with the homosexual mafia alive and well in the Priesthood Williamson is the villain in all this? Really Pete? Really.........Let it go.

Our Lord will judge him. For my part I thank Almighty God for him. He taught how to think as a Catholic and see history as a Catholic. He taught me the importance of reality and truth. He taught me how to see the Orwellian playbook and reject it. Sorry Pete 2+2=4 and 2+2 can not =5.

In Jesus and Mary,
Michael Contaldi

September 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm PST
#100  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

John Morrell (post 87):

"You wrote the following:

"'That Williamson was chosen for these roles by Marcel Lefebvre is an indication of what a poor judge of men the archbishop was.'" (post #65).

"I have no connection with the SSPX, and yet found your use of Williamson as an opportunity to besmirch the reputation of Archbishop Lefebvre disappointing. Do you care to moderate your above statement?"

No, I don't wish to moderate the statement. I'll even expand it. I think all four episcopal choices by Lefebvre were poor. Fellay seems to be the best of the four, Williamson the worst. (Fellay was only 30 when he was consecrated a bishop--far too young.)

Remember the nine SSPX priests who left the Society in 1983 because they were sedevacantists? Four were expelled by Lefebvre and five others joined them. That nine such men were ordained by Lefebvre at all also speaks poorly of his judgment.

September 3, 2013 at 10:31 pm PST

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