Hyperbolic Traditionalists

August 31, 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 5:57 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 7:44 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 7:50 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 9:17 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 10:54 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 12:04 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 1:20 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 1:30 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 1:34 pm PST
#10  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 4:26 pm PST
#11  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 7:13 pm PST
#12  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 7:46 pm PST
#13  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 8:30 pm PST
#14  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 9:27 pm PST
#15  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 9:33 pm PST
#16  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 1, 2013 at 11:10 pm PST
#17  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 1, 2013 at 11:31 pm PST
#18  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 3:54 am PST
#19  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 8:20 am PST
#20  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 2:22 pm PST
#21  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 3:00 pm PST
#22  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 3:26 pm PST
#23  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 4:06 pm PST
#24  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 4:15 pm PST
#25  Alexander Verbum - Springboro, Ohio

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

September 2, 2013 at 5:10 pm PST
#26  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 5:14 pm PST
#27  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 5:20 pm PST
#28  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 5:27 pm PST
#29  Christopher Ferrara - Richmond, Virginia

Peter Vere, I heartily approve your suggestion.

September 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm PST
#30  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 5:56 pm PST
#31  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 6:43 pm PST
#32  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 6:51 pm PST
#33  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 6:56 pm PST
#34  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 8:53 pm PST
#35  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 9:55 pm PST
#36  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 12:21 am PST
#37  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 3:45 am PST
#38  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 4:06 am PST
#39  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 4:10 am PST
#40  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 4:13 am PST
#41  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 4:29 am PST
#42  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 5:15 am PST
#43  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 5:22 am PST
#44  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 5:28 am PST
#45  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 5:45 am PST
#46  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 5:54 am PST
#47  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 8:31 am PST
#48  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 9:21 am PST
#49  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 9:44 am PST
#50  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 9:52 am PST
#51  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 10:09 am PST
#52  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 10:10 am PST
#53  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 10:11 am PST
#54  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 10:15 am PST
#55  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 11:47 am PST
#56  Romano Galassi - West Covina, California

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

September 3, 2013 at 11:58 am PST
#57  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 12:25 pm PST
#58  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 12:27 pm PST
#59  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 12:53 pm PST
#60  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 12:54 pm PST
#61  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 12:54 pm PST
#62  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 12:55 pm PST
#63  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 12:56 pm PST
#64  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 12:58 pm PST
#65  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 1:03 pm PST
#66  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 1:04 pm PST
#67  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 1:11 pm PST
#68  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 3:09 pm PST
#69  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 5:18 pm PST
#70  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 5:19 pm PST
#71  Dan Aller - Columbus, Ohio

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

September 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm PST
#72  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 5:52 pm PST
#73  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 5:57 pm PST
#74  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 6:01 pm PST
#75  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 6:06 pm PST
#76  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 6:47 pm PST
#77  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 6:51 pm PST
#78  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 6:58 pm PST
#79  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 6:59 pm PST
#80  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 7:16 pm PST
#81  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 9:31 pm PST
#82  Richard Chonak - Stoneham, Massachusetts

Chesterton's Father Brown told the criminal Flambeau how he recognized him as an imposter priest: "You attacked reason. It's bad theology."

That's a principle of the faith: the faith affirms reason, and whoever rejects reason is contradicting the faith.

It is a sort of superdogma: it rules out countless false doctrines, ancient and modern, on matters that do not seem to touch on religion.

September 3, 2013 at 9:34 pm PST
#83  John Willmington - NA, California


September 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm PST
#84  John Willmington - NA, California

Mr. Keating,

Chris Ferrara's response is right on target in its entirety. Although your extensive work clarifying Catholic teachings is greatly appreciated (for example, ministering to our Protestant brethren as well as unbelieving seekers,) it would be a benefit to you and CA to let go of your clearly biased opinion regarding the "un-radical Traditionailists" stance (those within the Church). It is obvious, given your trajectory of serving the apologetic needs of our community, that your efforts in defending Novus Ordo novelties are clearly a result of well-intentioned and sincere desire to minister to those seeking truth. Yet, your failure to see the undeniable bias with which your radio commentators addressed the "Radical Traditionalist" topic is inexcusable, given your extensive background in apologetics. It is likewise difficult to understand how a sincere Catholic of your academic stature cannot see the evident "chaos" or "decay" happening within the Church, (referred to by Chris Ferrara) resulting from the unlawful implementation of Vatican II and the skewed application of various, ambiguously- written parts of the documents. While the sincerity of the commentators, (Coffin and Staples) is also not an issue, their misrepresentation of traditional Catholicism can be interpreted as a purposeful attack toward those Catholics who value the undiluted and authentic Catholic teaching, not contaminated by modernist novelties, especially with regards to the liturgical form. Instead of misrepresenting traditionalists who are within the Church, as your commentators did, it would behoove you to appreciate traditionalists' desire for the same "new evangelization" called for by Pope JPII. By zealously misrepresenting them, your crew is the one giving off a "radical" aura. Continuing in this vein will be detrimental to your CA's image as a solid defender of Catholicism since you cannot be considered a true defender if you are simultaneously bashing your traditionalist Catholic brethren. Hopefully you and CA will not be as blind to the responses of all those you have misrepresented and are justifiably offended, as you are evidently blind with regards to the "chaos" or "decay" historically documented as stemming from doctrinal novelties pervading the Church since Vatican II.

September 3, 2013 at 11:18 pm PST
#85  Dan Aller - Columbus, Ohio

From my vantage point, all of this talk about Williamson on a Catholic Answers website is humorous because the destruction being done to Traditionalism by a wild card like Williamson is analogous to that which is being done to the apologist industry in America by all your poorly trained convert bloggers.

Both sides would do well to heed the advice of St. Philip Neri:
“Nothing is more dangerous for beginners in the spiritual life, than to wish to play the master, and to guide and convert others.” –
“Beginners should look after their own conversion and be humble, lest they should fancy they had done some great thing, and so should fall into pride.” St Philip Neri

1 Timothy 3:6

Keep these things in mind whenever you hear someone describe themselves (continuously) as a convert and speaking with authority. That applies whether they're a covert to Catholicism or Traditionalism. Pray pray pray

September 4, 2013 at 3:47 am PST
#86  Pete Vere - Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

Chris and Karl:

Apologies for not responding sooner. My wife bought me a new outdoor George Foreman grill as part of an end of summer sale, so I spent part of last evening grilling buffalo steak for the family. Particularly tasty with molasses and brown sugar marinade. But its 200 square inch cooking surface is particularly ideal for a growing trad cath family.

Having said that, these comment boxes are getting a little heated. As I stated previously it seems a lot like old time's sake. What the heck! The old cudgel is buried in there somewhere...

Seriously, if the three of us are going to re-kindle and re-visit a twenty year rivalry, I think we owe it to younger trads and others new to the conversation to name the elephant in the room. Rather than give the impression we are sniping at each other for no reason, let us at least identify what has been the catalyst for our oftentimes heated and personal three-way discussions, whether in public or in private, over these past twenty years..

I am talking, of course, about Gerry Matatics and sedevacantism/ sedeprivationism/ (or whatever theory he is pushing today to deny that Pope Francis validly holds papal office).

Yes, this has been a constant sore spot between the three of us for the past twenty years, with Karl on one side, Chris on the other, and me having switched from Chris' side in the early 90's to Karl's around the year 2000 after I felt Gerry tried to lure me closer to a sedeprivationist position while we frequented the same FSSP chapel in PA.

And since Chris may point this out if I don't, no, the scandal for me was not so much that I felt Gerry was moving toward the sede position, or had adopted it, or was arguing it in private. Having studied Gerard des Lauriers's "Cahiers" in which he first proposed the sedeprivationist theory, I never felt that sedevacantism or sedeprivationism were any more extreme that what Fr. Cekada has since dubbed the "Recognize and Resist" position of the SSPX (prior to negotiations with Rome and the lifting of the excommunication). In fact, I am quite open about the fact I consider sedeprivationism to be less of an extreme position. Which is why I was not terribly scandalized (or surprised) when Dr. Tom Drolesky crossed over to sedevacantism. Of course I disagree with him, but I continue to respect him for having done so openly.

No, what upset me most in 2000 is that I felt I had been mislead by Gerry (and some of his supporters) vis-a-vis Karl and allegations of sedevacantism during the early 90's. Has there been any acknowledgment from those of us who attacked Karl over Gerry in the early 90's that Karl may have been right? (Or closer to right than we were willing to admit at the time. Note to Karl - Yes, I am setting aside temporarily our subsequent disagreement over whether Gerry was tilting sedevacantist or sedeprivationist at the time.) Any public acknowledgment since that Gerry has become, as Karl predicted back in the early 90's, some sort of sede?

Yes, I am pissed off about this. Not about Gerry's reported/alleged flirtations with sede'ism at the time, but by what appears to have been a coverup by those "in the know" among the Woodstock generation of trad. And how my generation of trad - at least in English-speaking North America - was left vulnerable to Gerry's subsequent mega tours where he continued to lead people to the edges of sede'ism, raising the theory and asking questions, arguing the position for its own sake, but never actually pushing people over the cliff. (But nor did he try and stop them when they jumped.)

And jump they did. In fact, several promising young traditionalist writers from my generation and Kevin's generation have, after repeated contact with Gerry, embraced some form of sede'ism.

Yes, Chris, you wrote several rebuttals to sedevacantism in the Remnant. But this was only AFTER they jumped. Actually, if I recall correctly, it was only after Gerry finally and unambiguously came out publicly as a sede.

Of course I am somewhat contradicting myself given that I tend not to be as scandalized as predominately English-speaking North American trads when it comes to sedevacantism and sedeprivationism. Rather, what scandalized me is how this whole incident played out between generations of traditionalist activist and writers. Why were we not told the truth? Why were we left to fend for ourselves? Why was Gerry permitted to be to our generation a pied piper of sede'ism?

Granted, Chris, everyone makes mistakes. These were some tough battles to restore Tradition in the Church. No doubt Kevin's generation of trad will point out the faults of my generation, just as mine has pointed out yours. That said, over the past twenty years Karl has admitted that traditionalists were right about a whole bunch of things. Can we not admit he was for the most part right about Gerry's sede leanings? Given all the mud-slinging he took from traditionalists during the initial incident, I can understand why Karl might be annoyed by the lack of acknowledgement he was right.

Or talk to Kevin. His former blog partner, at one time a promising young traditional Catholic writer trained in classical Thomistic philosophy, is now the same type of sede that Gerry is reported to be. Or at least was the last time I dropped by his website.

That aside, I agree with Chris that the damage done to the traditionalist cause in general was incalculable when Williamson's foolishness became public. I also suspect, as prophesied by Dom Gerard Calvet in 1988, that Williamson's foolishness likely derailed the full canonical reconciliation of the SSPX desired by Pope Benedict XVI. While I was aware of Chris and Michael Matt's excellent rebuttals in the Remnant of Williamson's foolishness when it became international a few years back, I was not aware that Chris had been warning trads about Williamson for several years before. At least I don't recall having come across or read anything written by Chris prior to Williamson going public. In fact, from within traditionalism, the only warnings I recall having heard vis-a-vis Williamson came from the French crowd, whether it was those like myself who were loyal to Dom Gerard, or within the SSPX those who were loyal to Lefebvre's co-founder Fr. Paul Aulagnier. The only other warnings I recall were from a traditionalist priest who as a young man had converted to Catholicism from Judaism, around the same year Williamson allegedly converted from Anglicanism.

That said, what happened, happened, as Dom Gerard predicted it would. Despite the evilness of Williamson's actions, and the ridicule to which they subjected all traditionalists (as well as Pope Benedict) at a time when we ought to have been rejoicing over the liberation of the TLM, traditionalists of all stripes subsequently drew together in renouncing and rebuking him. Additionally, this was the kick in the seat Bishop Fellay needed to rid the SSPX of Williamsonism.

Chris suggests that Williamson could not have done more damage to the traditionalist cause had His Excellency been an infiltrator for the other side. Agreed. Nor could Williamson have said or promoted stranger ideas than had he been under the influence of the favourite substance of the rock band he has most favorably reviewed in his monthly newsletters. (For the curious, google "Williamson" along with "Pink Floyd" and "The Wall".)

Despite this, I believe that Fr. Aulagnier has been much more optimistic about full reconciliation and the regularization of the SSPX's juridical status. I also think the division Williamson has created (or come to symbolize) within the SSPX has been overestimated. From what I was told by friends of mine who are part of the Williamson "resistance", they were disappointed that he drew under 100 people during his last visit to Post Falls (post-expulsion).

The question is whether the SSPX will receive a similar generous offer for canonical status under Pope Francis that they received under Pope Benedict, the latter who had a great personal interest in the issue.

Back to Karl and whether Archbishop Lefebvre ordained the B Team with the three (then four) chosen for the 1988 episcopal consecrations. In fairness to the Archbishop, Karl, this is no big secret.

The whole reason for choosing the B Team is because the Archbishop did not want bishops within the SSPX to claim any jurisdiction. This was the Archbishop's way of trying to get around canonical arguments the consecrations were an act of schism. (NOT saying I agree with the Archbishop, simply presenting his position).

Thus the bishops were to be subject to the priests who held office as major superiors within the SSPX. Namely the A Team of Fr. Schmidberger, Fr. Aulagnier, Fr. Bisig and a handful of others who under ordinary circumstances would have been the best candidates for episcopal consecration.

Having said that, the main issue keeping Fellay on the B List at the time was his young age. With the exception of Williamson and his friends among certain "historical" societies, however, I believe all sides (SSPX, EF trad, Rome) recognize that with experience Fellay has since moved from the B List to the A List.

September 4, 2013 at 3:47 am PST
#87  Richard Malcolm - Silver Spring, Maryland

Peter Vere (Post 95)

I would just like to thank Pete Vere for contributing a much needed historical perspective and information that I think most of us did not have, especially in regards to Dom Gerard Calvet.

September 4, 2013 at 4:17 am PST
#88  Christopher Ferrara - Richmond, Virginia

Peter and Karl,

I might as well take this opportunity to state that Karl was probably right all along about Gerry's sedevacantism. I didn't see it at the time. But, as Peter says, we all make mistakes.

As to Mike Contaldi, here is a video clip in which no less than Alan Dershowitz declares that he would never call someone an anti-Semite because he is anti-Zionist or anti-Israeli policy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=r-QiH0O8-Qg#t=2152

I wish Dershowitz would so inform the ADL and the SPLC.

September 4, 2013 at 10:00 am PST
#89  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Michael Contaldi (post 107):

You have worn out your welcome. Your user account is being closed.

Before you speculate whether certain converts have converted far enough to meet your requirements, you need to get your own intellectual house in order. Your comments about those men are rude and offensive, and your comments about Richard Williamson, anti-Semitism, and Jews (as in post 99) are offensive and obnoxious. You seem to be another one for whom it's "all Jews, all the time."

You are free to ply your wares elsewhere, but not here. We have no obligation to give space to people such as you.

September 4, 2013 at 10:28 am PST
#90  Dan Aller - Columbus, Ohio


Respectfully, I submit, that if Michael had shown to you the same level of "insensitivity" towards any other group (muslims?) you would not have cut him off from the discussion.
I think you have demonstrated what others have said: "You can have UNITY in the Church or DIALOGUE with the Jews; not both"

Williamson proved it just a different way from you?

Why do you prefer the latter?

September 4, 2013 at 11:40 am PST
#91  Richard Malcolm - Silver Spring, Maryland

Hello Dan (post #110),

There's an important lesson that some traditionalists struggle with, and I think it is relevant here: A man may be fortunate in his enemies and yet still be unworthy of support because of his vices. And there are few men in the Church of whom this is more true than Bishop Williamson. The SPLC may be a repugnant wolf pack of leftist hacks and ideologues - and Karl was (I submit) remiss in resorting to them as a source - but that doesn't mean that Bishop Williamson isn't guilty of some of the things that...well, it's perceived that he's guilty of.

And when you go on and on and on and on about the Jews, or how many of them died in the Holocaust, we're left to wonder whether you don't share the same vices in some measure. Look: We all know that far too many in the Church - including more than a few of our prelates - now subscribe de facto (even if they won't admit it formally) to Dual Covenant Theory, and this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, one that the irenicism of Nostra Aetate has fed, unwittingly (I like to charitably think). But relentless harping on conspiracy theories involving Jews, and Holocaust minimization (or even denial) exercises such of the sort that you have attempted in this combox are not the way to go about it. Consider the irony of a discussion brought about by a talk show in which many traditionalists are unfairly tarred with the brush of anti-Semitism...and then a traditionalist shows up and starts talking about Jews, Jews, Jews. And starts adding links to figures (Sungenis, et al) known to be "problematic" on this topic. Or simply tries to change the subject.

This is why traddies can't have nice things.

Please, think about what you're writing in forums such as these.

* * *

Back to Pete Vere (post #105),

I also had the opportunity to attend Gerry Matatics's tour back in...I think this was 2005? And like you, I was aback by what I heard, as were friends of mine. It was unexpected, and it was not what was billed. Engaging and knowledgeable as always, Matatics was craftily pushing what was, to all intents and purposes, a sedevacantist line, denying the validity of the Pauline Mass, all the while cagily saying that he hadn't drawn a final conclusion about the validity of post-conciliar Popes. My friends and I, all graduate theology students (and none of us exactly fans of the Novus Ordo), had to spend a fair amount of time with deeply disturbed laypeople who had also attended the talk, assuring them that every Communion they had received for the past 35 years was not, in fact, just bread (assuming that it was properly celebrated).

Not having followed him as closely as some here, it was an unwelcome surprise. Matatics had some authority and cachet given his status as a former instructor at Denton and his apologetics, and it felt like an abuse of that authority. I think many of us wanted to give Matatics the benefit of the doubt up to that time, so I can understand The Remnant's slowness to come round on the subject. And perhaps many others besides. It's unfortunate, because Gerry undoubtedly has many gifts which once were put to good use in the service of the faith.

What you say about the "Team A/Team B" strategy in the 1988 SSPX consecrations makes a great deal of sense, and helps explain why what was done, and who it was done to, in a way that had mystified me in some ways. I can understand the archbishop's thinking, but it proved to be, in some ways, a disaster for the Society in the long run.

September 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm PST
#92  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

John Willmington (post 103):

You refer in passing to "Novus Ordo novelties." Others refer to "the Novus Ordo" or use similar phrases. Properly speaking, "Novus Ordo" should refer only to the liturgical reform under Pope Paul VI. It shouldn't be used more widely than that, to refer to things outside the liturgy. Some people--perhaps you're one of them--use "the Novus Ordo" as a synonym for "the Church" or at least for "post-1965 Church."

The implication, whether intended or not, is that this Church isn't the real Church, and that implication leads to disaster.

I ask you and others not to use "Novus Ordo" unless you're referring to the revised liturgy, particularly in its early years. If you're referring to its current form, I think "the Ordinary Form" is better or, as I sometimes write, "the vernacular Mass." Or use something similar.

"Novus Ordo" is one of those terms that has taken on a certain pugilistic flavor over the last forty years. If you say, as you do, that the term "radical Traditionalist" should be retired, then you can set a good example by retiring "Novus Ordo" in most of its currents uses.

September 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm PST
#93  Dan Aller - Columbus, Ohio

Richard Malcolm:

I don't think it's Holocaust denial to say with Max Dimont http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuvUt5E4YaE that the Nazis killed Five Million Jews in a systematic program of genocide (racial not religious). Whether Zyklon B killed them, bullets, or the ride is of no consequence. I do not think mentioning the numbers of those only referred to, if at all, as "others" is anti-Semitic. http://holocaustforgotten.com

I do not believe that praying that the Jews enjoy that which is most dear to me is anti-Semitic.

I do believe NOT praying for them IS. I think peddling a dual Covenant Heresy is stupid and cruel. And since you mentioned Sungenis, I would add that he played a role in getting the US bishops to disavow that heresy in the adult catechism.

September 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm PST
#94  Richard Malcolm - Silver Spring, Maryland

Hello Kevin Tierney (post #112),

I don't think there's any harm in the historical debates - you don't have to participate in those sidebars if you don't want to.

But I do agree with a lot of what you say about the translation saga. Specifically:

"I can tell you that people like myself who began to question the Latin translations were told to pipe down and not harbor schismatic mentalities by questioning it. I can tell you that rookie bloggers were being told by apologists who wrote in the pages of This Rock magazine that to question the translations showed questioning the trust you have in the Church."

And I had the same experience. The translations were bad - very bad - and there ought to have been nothing wrong with respectfully raising concerns about them. I think that even the static that an outfit like Adoremus received at the time for delving into the issue was telling.

It's true that traditionalist scholars (and there have never been many of them) may not have been active in large numbers on the translation issue, but it strikes me that this was so for two reasons: 1) they had absolutely zero chance of gaining official acceptance in the ICEL/Vox Clara process (and it proved to be no small miracle that even cleric like Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth was even taken into the process very late in the game), and 2) most preferred to focus their efforts in other lines, because they weren't as deeply invested in a liturgy that they though was notably inferior in form - even in the original Latin - to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII.

Perhaps the latter was a mistake; it ought to have been apparent that 99% of Catholics would be attending Mass in the OF, and we ought to make more efforts to make that liturgy as traditional as possible, as widely as possible, against the day when the old Roman Rite might be restored in some form. But things turned out otherwise. And as you say, there have been efforts by many of us to support the new translation and its implementation.

September 4, 2013 at 1:50 pm PST
#95  Pete Vere - Sault Ste Marie, Ontario


I really appreciate your admission that Karl was right about Gerry and sede'ism. I can sympathize with your statement that you did not see it in Gerry until it was too late. I was in the same position. And for years, despite Karl's gracious reassurance every time I brought it up that he had accepted my apology in 2000 and that the issue between him and I was "water under the bridge," I still harbored deep regrets about my initial involvement in the controversy, not to mention my role in mustering Indult trads to Gerry's defence. I now feel that I can leave the issue in the past.


I think you raise some excellent questions with regards to Archbishop Lefebvre and the Sedevacantist Nine he was forced to expel from the SSPX. Here is my take based upon my personal understanding of the back history. Again, I would like to stress to your readers that I do not agree with all the actions of all the parties involved. Nor do I think that historical circumstance, as I understand it, excuses Archbishop's actions at the time. But I think there are a number of mitigating circumstances.

Basically, from what I understand, Archbishop Lefebvre was caught by surprise by the emergence of sedevacantism in his seminary back in the 70's. One of his key professors in Econe had been the noted Dominican theologian Fr. des Lauriers. Today, most trads who have heard of des Lauriers know him as one of the illicit (and possibly invalid) bishops consecrated by Archbishop Thuc during his period of alleged sedevacantism.

The reason I use "alleged" here is because friends of mine who are priests, canonists and theologians within the Vietnamese Catholic community, who knew Archbishop Thuc personally but otherwise celebrate the Novus Ordo exclusively and have no connection to the TLM, believe that Thuc suffered from dementia by the time he was making sedevacantist pronouncements and consecrating sedevacantist bishops.

Some "old school" trads - and I suspect Chris and Michael Matt may be among them - may be familiar with des Lauriers' co-authorship of the Ottoviani Intervention.

What most don't know is that prior to the Second Vatican Council, des Lauriers was a very reputable professor of Thomistic theology whose students included two men who would eventually become pope. One of the reasons I know the back history is because a retired Benedictine theologian who replaced the pastor of our local indult parish I attended during college, was a former student of des Lauriers. (For the record, this Benedictine theologian personally preferred the Novus Ordo, which he celebrated reverently; however, he will fill in at the indult as a favour to our pastor, the diocesan bishop and local trads.) Thus des Lauriers seemed like a good pick for the Archbishop's seminary in Econe during its early founding. Certainly having des Lauriers on the faculty lended much-needed credibility to the seminary.

To a lesser degree, the three of us have at different times found ourselves in somewhat comparable situations with regards to Gerry Matatics, except that des Lauriers' credentials as a Catholic theologian and professor were much more strongly established.

The problem is that during this time des Lauriers began to develop and adopt the sedeprivationist position. For readers not familiar with this position, it is the theory that post-Vatican II popes are "material" popes and not "formal" popes. Des Lauriers then developed the sedevacantist position as a means of contrasting and explaining sedeprivationism. Of course he shared his ideas with SSPX seminarians studying under him, and swayed many to his position. (One exception was Fr. Cekada, who told me personally he was sedevacantist right from the get go as a SSPX seminarian, and who also shared with me several of his personal objections to des Lauriers's sedeprivationist beliefs.)

Of course by the time Archbishop Lefebvre caught wind of the situation and dismissed des Lauriers from the seminary, the damage was done. Des Lauriers would then go on to receive episcopal consecration in the Thuc lines, before renouncing his consecration and dying reconciled to Pope John Paul II.

Which raises another issue - one that I suspect may open me up to intense questioning from Karl and Chris. Des Lauriers's reconciliation with Rome is not out-of-the-ordinary for former sedevacantists and sedeprivationists. In fact, both the traditionalist movement and the wider Church have greatly benefited from the reconciliation of sedes. Off the top of my head, I can think of the following:

- The Society of St. Vincent Ferrer
- A group of CMRI sisters in Spokane, Washington.
- The Campos priests (Bishop Castro de Mayer, Archbishop Lefebvre's co-consecrator in 1988, was openly sedevacantist).
- One of the traditonal Benedictine monasteries in America.

There are several others, as well as a number of independent chapels and apostolates that were formally sede. Many of these have gone on to do good work in defence of the Church, the Second Vatican Council, and the post-conciliar popes. In fact, it was the Society of St. Vincent Ferrer that discovered and subsequently published a photograph of Archbishop Lefebvre's signature on the two documents of the Second Vatican Council that Lefebvre claimed not have signed.

Again, in no way am I defending or expressing agreement with sede'ism. I willingly and joyfully submit to Pope Francis as successor to my namesake. I am simply stating that I have often found sedes less extreme than other branches of traditionalism that refuse submission to the Pope, and I have often found sedes open to honest dialogue and willing to be convinced of the legitimacy of the post-conciliar popes.

September 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm PST
#96  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Pete Vere (post 105):

You bring up a name from the past: Gerry Matatics. Probably many people reading this thread would ask, “Who?” Gerry has been out of the limelight for quite a while, but a quarter century ago he and Scott Hahn, then still friends, were bright stars in the constellation of converts.

I always respected Gerry’s native talents. As highly as I regard Scott’s talents, I thought that Gerry could have excelled Scott, if he had applied himself. But he never had the self-discipline.

I remember listening to a tape of one of his debates—this was after he left Catholic Answers, where he had been employed for seven months beginning in June 1990. The debate was held in Brooklyn, and Gerry then was living in Front Royal, Virginia, down the road from Christendom College, where he once had taught. He spent much of his opening remarks saying that he hadn’t prepared for the debate but did jot down notes on a legal pad as he drove up. (Not smart. If you neglect to prepare for a public performance, at least don’t announce it to your audience.)

As you know, Gerry and I were at odds after he left Catholic Answers. I wrote about him a few times over the succeeding years and for the most part confined my remarks to his religious ideas or actions, but my deeper concerns were at the level of ethics and character.

By 2006 Gerry had confirmed himself, publicly, as a sedevacantist (his term, even if in your eyes he qualified as a sedeprivationist), and then he largely disappeared from public view. As he had in previous years, he went on the road, speaking usually at Holiday Inns to tiny audiences—sometimes to as few as six people, from reports I had. And then even the speaking stopped.

How he gets by, what he now does for a living, I don’t know. I hope he has a “regular” job. I remember Scott Hahn commenting that Gerry should get out of religious work entirely, for his good and that of his family, and become a teacher of French at a private or public school. (Gerry’s French is said to be good.)

Maybe he’s doing something like now; maybe Chris Ferrara knows. But it’s clear from Gerry’s website that he no longer has many (or any?) speaking engagements, and, of course, he never has produced a written product. But he still produces recordings and every few months will throw onto the website a pitch for them. The only other outreach he has, so far as I know, is a series of online interviews with Judith Sharp. I suppose those interviews can’t have many listeners.

You bring up Gerry’s move toward sedevacantism. This was something I wrote about more than once in “This Rock” magazine, most extensively in the August 1995 issue.

Gerry had accepted an appointment as an instructor at the sedevacantist seminary run by Bishop Daniel Dolan in Cincinnati. (I’ve never settled to my own satisfaction whether Dolan was validly consecrated, but we’ll give him the courtesy of the title.) The seminary even had distributed an advertising flyer with Gerry’s name and photo on it.

Dolan and his associates were then, and are now, strict-observance sedevacantists. I think it’s scarcely imaginable that they would have hired someone not in line with their thinking. (Gerry ended up not accepting employment by the seminary.)

Back in those days Gerry was getting much, maybe most, of his income by speaking in so-called “Novus Ordo” parishes. He had one set of talks—his conversion story, for example—for those venues, another set—lots of anti-Vatican II red meat—for “Traditionalist” conferences.

That dichotomy couldn’t last, of course. Word started to get around to regular parishes that Gerry was telling two stories; his gigs started to dry up. (And, no, neither I nor anyone I know had anything to do with that; it was a process of auto-destruction on Gerry’s part. Two or three times someone called to ask whether I thought Gerry would be an appropriate speaker for a parish. Not wanting to be blamed for his loss of gigs, I just replied that I wasn’t in a position to recommend him.)

You have heard about Thomas Huxley, known as “Darwin’s Bulldog.” Charles Darwin wasn’t a particularly effective promoter of his own theories, but Huxley sure was. He was out in public far more than Darwin. It was as though Darwin was hidden away, with only Huxley giving the defense.

So it was, in a way, with Chris Ferrara and Gerry. Chris was Gerry’s bulldog. I don’t remember Gerry ever writing to counter anything I reported about him, but Chris often wrote against me.

It isn’t pertinent at this point to dig up the arguments or the sometimes harsh language—all this was a long time ago—but I found it curious that Chris, however much he thought I had it in for Gerry, didn’t seem to examine the information I gathered and say to himself, “Well, Keating’s being arch about this, but there is something increasingly odd about Gerry and his ideas.”

As I said, I was writing about Gerry’s slide into sedevacantism as long ago as 1995. Chris gave up his public defense of Gerry only about the time that Gerry finally styled himself a sedevacantist, which was in 2006. (Gerry still has on the top page of his website a short piece he wrote in 2006: “Is Gerry Matatics a ‘sedevacantist’?” In it he objects to the word “sedevacantist” but shows that he accepts the principles most people associate with the word.)

As Gerry was making what amounted to a public affirmation of his position, Chris wrote a multi-part series against sedevacantism in “The Remnant,” the first time that he had addressed the topic, so far as I know. He didn’t mention Gerry. At the time I took the series to be a last-ditch effort to pull his friend back from the brink, but the bulldog wasn’t strong enough to stop a leap over the edge.

I appreciate that Chris wrote, in post 108 above, that I “was probably right all along about Gerry's sedevacantism. I didn't see it at the time.” I accept that he didn’t see it in 1995 and maybe not even a decade later, but I’m at a loss to explain how it couldn’t be seen. So many others saw it.

Maybe this is an example of the loyalty of friendship clouding one’s eyes—or maybe, those many years ago, Chris, because of his animus toward me, thought that the allegations couldn’t be true precisely because it was I who leveled them.

It doesn’t matter really. What does matter is that a man with exceptional talents and exceptional promise misused those talents and never fulfilled that promise—not because outside forces were against him but because of his own inner failings. This is the definition of tragedy, as Shakespeare knew it and showed it.

Sometimes I think back to the heady days when I first knew Gerry and imagined the good he could do for the Church. It’s hard to conjure up those memories now because they were followed by a sad realization that that good was stillborn.

September 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm PST
#97  Richard Malcolm - Silver Spring, Maryland

Hello Dan (post 115)

"I do not think mentioning the numbers of those only referred to, if at all, as "others" is anti-Semitic."

I think what it is is a rabbit hole, a rabbit hole in which certain unsavory ideas (and people) tend to be found with dangerous frequency. Really - I ask in all charity - what's the point? The scholarship is pretty overwhelming on the Holocaust. If the concern is that other genocides of the era get slighted - the Holodomor, the killing of Polish Catholics in the death camps, or elsewhere - then spend time promoting *these* back into the public lens, without actively minimizing the Jewish part of the Holocaust. If the concern is that certain Jewish groups have turned the Holocaust into a cottage industry that's used as a platform for other agendas - there's not much that can be done about that, save to fight the battles that need to be fought on the proper terrain.

Bishop Williamson, unfortunately, has gone beyond quibbling over the numbers. He was denying that any Jews were killed by gas as far back as 1989 (at least in public), and suggesting that the numbers killed were relatively small (a few hundred thousand). On top of some his other comments, public and private (including anti-Semitic cracks to his own seminarians, from whom I and others have heard it directly, or hiring lawyers with neo-Nazi associations), it's pretty hard to escape the conclusion that he's given to what can be fairly called anti-Semitic views and actions, over and over again. And that makes whatever else he's right about (or whatever his enemies in the SPLC or the ADL are badly wrong about) really beside the point, because he's badly compromised now, and he's damaged the SSPX by his reckless actions. Look, being a good traditionalist and fighting the good fight to restore tradition doesn't require continuing to defend Williamson on these things, and fighting the spread of crypto-Dual Covenant Theory in the Church doesn't require splitting hairs about exactly how many Jews were killed at Auschwitz, or how they were killed.

"I do not believe that praying that the Jews enjoy that which is most dear to me is anti-Semitic." I wouldn't argue that point, and I don't think anyone else here would, either. And yes, we *should* pray for them.

"And since you mentioned Sungenis, I would add that he played a role in getting the US bishops to disavow that heresy in the adult catechism."

Here we have the same problem as with Bp. Williamson: Bob Sungenis may have been right, on a narrow point, about the problem with the Catechism, but he was far from the only one to raise the alarm bell, and others were not as obnoxious as he was about it. More to the point, others don't have - I don't know how else to put it - the problematic track record he has regarding Jewish issues.

Hello Kevin (post 117),

"This stuff? Not so much. Its a way for people to continue to hang onto grievances and their (legitimate and serious) wounds from time. It isn't helpful."

Well, I've been reading the thread down to here on page 2, and I'm really not seeing the harm - quite the opposite, since it seems like some old warhorses burying the hatchet, or what's left of the hatchet. Your mileage may vary, obviously.

September 4, 2013 at 3:49 pm PST
#98  Pete Vere - Sault Ste Marie, Ontario


I appreciate you sharing your view of the whole Gerry Matatics fiasco. What I appreciated more was your graciousness in 2001 when we met in San Diego so that I could apologize to you privately for my involvement in the whole affair - especially without having first heard your side of the story. You told me all had been forgiven and forgotten. I then offered to apologize publicly, since my attacks against you had been public. To which you responded a public apology was not necessary, and then you invited me to sit with you on your radio programme and plug the seminary building project of an Ecclesia Dei community I was working with at the time. Our TLM seminary gained many new donors from among your listeners that day.

What I am asking, as a personal favor, is that you be similarly gracious toward Chris in light of his admission that you were probably right vis-a-vis Gerry. I know where Chris is coming from with regards to taking Gerry at face value and not seeing the underlying sede'ism. I was there myself until, well, about a month before visiting you at Catholic Answers to apologize.

Having been on both sides of this controversy - at times quite publicly - I can emphasize with where both of you are coming from. I too, when if first began, mistakenly thought you were persecuting Gerry out of jealousy for his talents, not having picked up on the underlying issue.

Similarly, when Gerry finally tipped his hand with me personally in 2001, I too felt betrayed by Chris and other trads of his generation. How could they have not known?

Today, I think both of you were acting out of good intentions.

With regards to other points you raise regarding l'Affair Matatics, here is my perspective. A lot of it will no doubt seem obvious or repetitious to you - it isn't anything we have not discussed in private. But for the sake of your readers and younger trads unfamiliar with the background involved, perhaps some of what follows may prove helpful.

First of all, with regards to the overall controversy, I think you were generally right when the initial incident arose in the early-to-mid 90's. Of course, that is not how I felt then, which is why I initially sided with Gerry. But yes, he was definitely flirting with some type of sede'ism. And given that sedeprivationism had not yet migrated from France to America (with the exception of small group in the U.S.), and was thus not part of the wider traditionalist lexicon, I would agree with you today that it was probably sedevacantism.

With regards to Gerry having declared himself a full-fledged sedevacantist by 2006. You are likely right. I think I had stopped following Matatics' movements by then. I seem to recall the Feeneyites, recently reconciled but not yet canonically re-established (similar to the SSPX's status today), publicly banning Gerry from their conference around the same time, for alleged sedevacantism. And by then others had told me they had heard Gerry promote sedevacantism. So I have no reason to disbelieve you that Gerry was a fully-fledged sedevacantist by then.

Our friendly - but sincere - private disagreement over whether Gerry was sedevacantist or sedeprivationist seems to have arisen some time between 2001 and 2005. Nevertheless, as we both know and you pointed out at the time, it was never a matter between us of who was right and who was wrong, but rather the nature of our respective audiences.

To recap, for the sake of those following along:

We both agreed that Gerry had embraced some form of sede'ism more boldly than in the past, and that he was attempting to lead others to this position.

We both agreed that the above was in itself problematical, and that addressing it among our respective (and each other's) audience was important.

So why did I push our "sedevacantist vs. sedeprivationist" disagreement in private? Of course you know the answer since you pointed it out to me, but for the benefit of our readers.

Your audience at Catholic Answers was already on your side and recognized the problem of Gerry pushing sede'ism, regardless of its particular flavour, if they even knew it came in different flavours. As you pointed out at the time, most of your readers or listeners likely did not know what sedeprivationism was. In fact, few traditionalists in North America outside of sedevacantists knew of the distinction.

On the other hand, my audience was primarily drawn from traditionalists who sided with Gerry during the earlier incident between you and him. So they were predisposed to believe Gerry over you. Since sedeprivationism had not yet entered the popular trad lexicon in English-speaking North America, few of those to whom Gerry appealed would think of raising the possibility.

Meaning that Gerry could promote the common tenants between sedevacantism and sedeprivationism, while maintaining plausible deniability that he was a sedevacantist.

As an interesting side-note, which I recall sharing with you at the time, around that time Gerry had invited me to discuss with him privately his views on the validity of the post-conciliar popes. In fact, quoting Scripture he reminded me that I had a moral obligation to do so before making any type of public statement on the issue. I recall questioning him on his views and asking him repeatedly if he was sedevacantist. He denied that he was. He was quite friendly and cordial throughout.

Then I asked him if he was a sedeprivationist. Silence fell on the other end of the phone. Suddenly, his tone shifted into one that sounded quite angry and agitated. He accused me asking the question in bad faith. He then expressed surprise that a "neo-traditionalist indulterer" like me would be familiar with sedeprivationism and the writings of des Lauriers. (Um...like I have always been associated with the French side of the movement ideologically, and as good as Gerry's French is, mine is better?) Then he demanded a public debate with me on the topic, stating this as the only venue in which he would respond.

My concern at the time (which has since turned out to be completely unfounded) is that Chris would come to his defence and that this would become a gong show in which Chris set out to prove Gerry was no sedevacantist, and that you and I were just rekindling an old rivalry for the sake of persecuting Gerry. Apologies to Chris, since it is clear that I was wrong. This became obvious by 2006 when Gerry emerged fully as a sedevacantist and Chris published his Remnant essays against sedevacantism. But this is why I felt it important to maintain the distinction between sedevacantism and sedeprivationism in responding to Gerry prior to 2006.

Today, not so much. It is clear that Chris, Michael Matt et al have no love of sedevacantism. Similarly, it is clear that Gerry is some sort of sede. Not that it matters, but last I heard we are both wrong concerning which flavour of sede. Reportedly, Gerry is now reported to speculate openly about the Siri thesis.

One of the benefits I could see to a North American version of GREC is that it would allow folks like you, Chris and I to leave behind all these old personality conflicts based upon obscure ideologies and engage in serious non-polemical but honest discussion concerning Catholic traditionalism.

September 4, 2013 at 5:17 pm PST
#99  Jack Compton - McClean, Virginia

With all due respect to Catholic Answers and the good work you do, I'm compelled to interject some thoughts. I've been living in the Arlington, Virginia diocese for over twenty years. The Arlington diocese is considered by many the most orthodox diocese in the U.S. Since the Motu Proprio, the traditional Mass is offered regularly at a number of parishes and has been well attended. I attend the traditional Mass each Sunday and am fortunate to have the option to choose between five different parishes within a 15 mile radius of my home. I can honestly say, each of these Latin Mass communities include some of the kindest, most well formed Catholics I’ve ever encountered. The majority consists of young Catholic families who are on a quest for the best means possible to keep the faith of their children in tact. Are these good people disillusioned by the current state of the Church? Yes. Would they characterize its present state as “chaotic” as Chris Ferrara aptly termed it? I’m afraid so. Are they “radical”? By today’s standards they certainly are. Because they know and live the Faith in ways that set them apart from the majority, including most of their fellow Catholics. While it makes sense the world would view traditional Catholics as “radical” and abhor what they stand for, I find it perplexing that Catholic Answers would be so reckless in their representation of them.

I work at a large secular organization in the Virginia/DC area. Most of my colleagues are “Catholic”. Every one of them is a sad product of the post Vatican II church. My personal interaction with them has gradually revealed one sad scenario after another. One cradle Catholic colleague has abandoned Catholicism for the Episcopal church, in part because of the rampant sexual abuse and the Church’s delayed response to it. Another one of my Catholic colleagues who rarely attends Mass himself, convinced his wife to convert to Catholicism to foster a relationship with the pastor so his children would make the cut to attend the parish school. His reason? Catholic schools are academically superior. On the feast of the Assumption, I asked if he and his wife (who was received into the Church this year) would be attending Mass that day. The reply? “No, I have other things I have to get done.“ The poor man (and presumably his now Catholic wife) apparently had absolutely no idea, or perhaps just didn't care because he hasn't been taught to care, that he was required to attend Mass that day - under pain of mortal sin. A young Lutheran I know was recently complaining that his Catholic father in law, who brings the Eucharist to shut-ins, was under the impression the host he carried was merely a symbol. Ironically, my Lutheran friend set him straight! Most Catholics I know have no understanding that premarital sex, co-habitation and contraception are grave sins. Sins? Maybe. But nothing that warrants damnation. A Catholic colleague who attends Sunday Mass faithfully, recently confided how he encouraged his 16 year old son to be chaste but then advised he use a condom upon learning he wasn't chaste. his kind soul - who in good faith wants to live honorably - signed away his son's soul without even realizing. This is the new brand of the Church “militant”. It's mainstream Catholicism: millions of misguided, ill-formed “practicing Catholics” whose souls are in peril. I’m certain it’s NOT hyperbole to characterize the current state of the Church as chaotic.

Those of us who still have the Faith have to remove our heads from the sand and take a look around. Let’s not let the small pockets of grace that scatter the globe deceive us into thinking all is right with the Church. All is certainly not right at the moment. If we think that then clearly we have stayed too long in our isolated bubbles of delusion. There are millions of souls who rarely encounter truth in its fullest. “Radical” traditionalists have much to offer. Serious Catholics would do well then to stop marginalizing them and realize what’s glaringly obvious: Traditional Catholicism is not the enemy, it's the way forward. Catholic Answers - let's take on the real enemy, together. We each have a dog in this fight – it’s the fight for souls, in chaos.

September 4, 2013 at 5:58 pm PST
#100  Karl Keating - El Cajon, California - Catholic Answers Blogger

Pete Vere (post 121):

Thanks for the further insights. I chuckled that during your phone call with Gerry he insisted on settling things with you through a public debate. That's been his m.o.

Years ago I attended a convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars that was held in Washington, D.C. By that time Gerry was living again in Front Royal. Before I left home I contacted him, saying I'd like the two of us to meet privately and see whether we could begin to forge a new relationship. He agreed to meet me at the convention's hotel.

I waited for him in the lobby. He brought with him a large plastic bin filled with file folders. It was like the bins I saw lawyers bring into courtrooms when I used to practice law. Gerry said the folders contained his "documentation" for our debate.

"What debate?" I asked. He said he wanted to round up FCS members to sit as a panel to adjudicate the issues between us.

I said something to this effect: "Are you nuts? These people aren't here to oversee a trial between you and me. They're here for the convention. I invited you here for a private talk, and you've shown up looking for a public fight. Besides, you didn't let me in on your plan, so of course all of my documentation is at home."

As you might imagine, my attempt to effect a rapprochement got nowhere. It was a small comfort to me to learn that something similar happened to Scott Hahn when, on a separate occasion, he was in the D.C. area and made a similar offer to Gerry. Gerry responded with a debate challenge: "The only meeting I'll have with you is a public debate." Sheesh!

As for Michael Matt and Chris Ferrara: I know they don't give any truck to sedevacantism (or sedeprivationism). When Chris wrote the series against sedevacantism in "The Remnant," I had the impression that he had to work up his thesis in short order--as I said in my previous post, probably to encourage Gerry to move away from the edge--yet he gave a good account of the anti-sedevacantist argument.

For our readers who may not have heard of the Siri Thesis:

The story is that at the 1958 conclave Cardinal Giuseppe Siri (1906-1989) actually was elected pope. Somehow the Kremlin found out about this and, before the new pope could appear on the balcony and bless the crowd, the Kremlin threatened to blow up the Vatican unless Siri resigned and someone else were elected. So Siri resigned and Angelo Roncalli became John XXIII.

The theory is extended to allege that Siri was elected twice more, in the 1978 conclaves, but also was squeezed out. But he was the real pope until his death. Further, he arranged for an underground college of cardinals, and at his demise they elected a true pope in 1989, but that pope (or his successor) is underground and we don't know who he is.

Of course, all this implies that John XXIII and following popes really were anti-popes.

Cardinal Siri denied all of this speculation, and there is absolutely no evidence to back it up, save an unverified claim that at the 1958 conclave white smoke came out first and then, after a long pause, black smoke. Later there was white smoke again, at which time John XXIII was announced. For this mix-up in smoke signals there also seems to be no evidence.

(What never is explained is how, in the short time between the first white smoke and when Siri was supposed to appear on the balcony, the Kremlin was informed that he had been elected and the leadership of the Kremlin was able to convey a threat to the electors. But conspiracies theories don't have to deal with practicalities such as that.)

September 4, 2013 at 6:25 pm PST

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