Who Really are the Christian Ideologues?

Rorate Caeili posted a translation of an article by Corrado Gnerre from Il Giudizio Cattolico, entitled “Who are the real ‘Christian Ideologues’?”, which addresses Pope Francis’ critique of ideology within the Church. While I do not agree with his conclusions, I think Gnerre helps to clarify the problem that Pope Francis is trying to correct.

Ignoring the Facts

Gnerre defines ideology as a “hypertrophic condition of the intellect” by which one chooses to put faith in one’s “own theoretical and intellectual constructions” rather than to see the observable facts.  It is “an enlarging of the intellect in size without an increase in perception and understanding,” resulting in “a blind spot in the intellectual mind itself.”  In other words, an ideologue gets so rapt up in his prejudices and pet theories that he is incapable of acknowledging the existence of counterfactuals.  And the ideologue’s problem is not emotional bias, but a very rational and systematic presentation and defense of his theory, albeit, a house of cards that cannot sustain a comparison with the facts, because the theory itself demands that the facts be ignored.  I believe that Gnerre’s definition is correct. Continue reading

Restoring Faith in the Triumph of Christ

Pope Francis has recently criticized the modern versions of Pelagianism and triumphalism in a way that has left some devout Catholics scratching their heads.   The Holy Father seems to be taking aim at the more traditionally minded that are intent on bringing about a restoration of Catholic life, and they find it hard to understand why the Vicar of Christ would have a problem with, of all things, “traditional Catholicism.”  So what exactly is Pope Francis trying to accomplish?

Faith and Future

I believe the Holy Father is attempting to underscore the supernatural character of faith in a time when everyone is affected by the deviations of modernity, including the very people who are reacting against these deviations.  In his encyclical Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis says that faith is a supernatural gift that lights our way, “guiding us through time.”  It comes from the past as a “foundational memory.” Yet, because faith proceeds from the Risen Christ it is also a light that comes from the future, “opening before us vast horizons which guide us beyond our isolated selves towards the breadth of communion” (4).  Thus, Pope Francis calls faith memoria futuri, “remembrance of the future” (9).  Coming from the past, faith is an unshakable memory of what God and done for us in Christ Jesus, and what He has revealed to us through His Son.  Coming from the future, faith is bound up with hope in the promises God has made and guaranteed by the resurrection of His Son.  Thus, in practice to keep the faith means never allowing ourselves to be robbed of hope.  It means never being frozen in time because we are afraid of the future (57). Continue reading

The SSPX and ot…


The SSPX and other traditionalists have problems with Vatican II mostly on account of the thought-form and world-feeling that emerge from the conciliar documents. Search as they might, they cannot find the religion that elevates their souls in the present manner of the Catholic Church. To their souls, the Church has become concrete, glass, and steel- whereas their spirits thirst not simply for incense climbing the Gothic vault but for sanctuaries where all ancient symbols go untouched by modern eyes, touch, and thoughts. The entire project of the Council cannot but appear a monstrosity to them. It is the difference between communion received kneeling and on the tongue versus communion received in the hands while standing. Their religion is poetry and the Council’s is prose. Some of them might piece together arguments after they have experienced the breech between what they feel to be transcendence and what they see in the contemporary Church. Ultimately, such things are rationalization, which is why they are so poorly argued. Besting them in debate is easy. Presenting them evidence of their disobedience is similarly not a challenge. They fly only all the more into a rage and insist upon the truth of their position, because their hearts cannot rest inside so cold and alien a space as the present world.

Only orders such as your own, Reverend Father, have any hope of drawing them back, specifically by its promotion not simply of devotion to Mary but of the kind of devotion to her that hearkens to the spirit of St. Bernard and all that entails.


The Postconciliar Moment

I wrote the following article shortly after the beginning of the new year.  At the time I was not sure what I wanted to do with it, but now, in the light of the negative responses to the Holy Father’s abdication, I think it is time for me to put it out.

Rather than revise it in the light of the recent events,  I am just going to leave it the way it is. It is long, but it provides significant research into crypto-traditionalism and why it is a pernicious problem that needs to be called out.

NB:  The links to the endnotes are not functioning at the moment.  I will try to fix them.

The Postconciliar Moment

The Year of Faith provides a backdrop for recent developments regarding the hoped for regularization of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) and the ongoing controversy concerning the Second Vatican Council.  Not only have questions been raised about the doctrinal value of the Council itself, but also of what position Pope Benedict has taken on the matter of the Council’s continuity with Tradition.  I contend that those who denigrate the Council because they find major parts of it to be in rupture with Tradition do so along ideological linesand are therefore compelled either to publicly disagree with the Holy Father or to cherry-pick from his teaching.

Year of Faith

This Year of Faith, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, might be characterized as the postconciliar moment.  We are beneficiaries of both the patrimony of the conciliar texts and a very problematic postconciliar implementation of them.  We have witnessed extremes of all kinds, but mostly those of the progressive wing.  All the while, the postconciliar popes have been patiently and consistently working to restore the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council to both Tradition and legitimate progress.  In a particular way, Pope Benedict has made it his task to bring about a reconciliation with our past, without, however, backing away from the legitimate aspirations of the Council indicated in its actual texts.[1]

I believe the Year of Faith may be the postconciliar moment for two reasons:  First, we are witnessing a very definite shift from progressivism to traditionalism.  This has been occurring for some time, but is now plainly evident.  Progressivism is slowly growing out of fashion and the trend, at least in some circles, is moving definitely toward traditionalism. Continue reading

A Time for Faith

With the stunning announcement of the Holy Father’s resignation to take place on February 28, the speculation will begin as to his successor will be and as to the direction the new pontificate will take.  Of particular interest to me is the “hermeneutic of continuity” of Pope Benedict in respect to the Second Vatican Council.  This is a hot issue at the very moment the Holy Father announces his resignation.

The Holy Father’s appeal to a renewal of faith based on the proper assimilation of the texts of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church is being rejected, in very the name of the faith, in favor of some “more faithful” and “holier” version of Catholicism.   In fact, this is the appeal of traditionalism:  it represents a more vital commitment to the faith than can even be mustered by the Vicar of Christ.  I am sure we will witness from the traditionalists the hope and prophecy of a more “dogmatic” papacy.

Wait for a much louder drum beating.  It is coming. Continue reading

They are, in fa…


They are, in fact, priests ordained in an illicit manner, and no Catholic priest whose ministry is illicit – whether or not he is a member of the SSPX – may celebrate in a Catholic church, unless, of course, he be reconciled with the Church.

The difficulty proper to these priests, compared to Orthodox priests or Protestant pastors, is that their ministry in fact contributes – perhaps not in their intent – to divide the Catholic Church from the inside. And it is precisely regarding this point that my anxiety has grown in the course of the past few months. I was already horrified that a bishop of the SSPX had published a book repeatedly accusing Pope Benedict XVI of being heretical (Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, L’étrange théologie de Benoît XVI, Avrillé, 2010). This could nonetheless be an isolated viewpoint that did not engage the Society as such, even if coming from one of its bishops. The same applies to the famous declarations of Bp. Williamson, which was confirmed by his exclusion from the SSPX.

In the course of the past few months, the declarations of Bp. Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX, have sadly confirmed to my eyes the power of his Society to cause trouble within the Church, and to harm the reputation of the Church as seen from the outside.

Charles Morerod, OP, Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg

The SSPX, their Orthodox sympathizers and New Catholic at Rorate Caeli, just ignore the bishop’s explanation and equate it with spitefulness because they don’t want to be held accountable for their own choices.

Bishop Fellay just said that the SSPX is willing to loose everything in order to preserve their “faith.”  Bishop Morerod’s decision is consistent with Church law, which the traditionalists reject because they have chosen to follow their own conscience.

We all make choices and then reap the benefits and suffer the consequences.  That is not persecution.  That is life.

The Cost of Making War

Continue to pray the Rosary in order to obtain an end of the war.

—Our Lady of Fatima, September 13, 1917

In her spiritual commentary on these words of Our Lady of Fatima, Sr. Lucia dos Santos, the eldest of the three seers at Fatima, states that war can only be brought to an end by prayer and sacrifice. Of, course the “war” Our Lady is speaking of is the First World War. However, Sr. Lucia’s ties the praying of the Rosary to the end of all war. Her reflection about “the end of the war” is a long disquisition on the existence of evil spirits and our combat with them.  Salvation is a matter of spiritual combat.  Its weapons and tactics are not those of this world.  The prayer of the Rosary is, so to speak, the weapon of choice in the conflict at which our souls are at stake.

The Church Militant is the term used to identify the life of Christ’s followers on earth.  It is a general term that situates us between heaven (the Church Triumphant) and purgatory (the Church Suffering) in a state of crisis and combat.  St. Paul’s exhortation to put on the armor of God urges us to act like we are at war, to be aware of the “enmity” that exists between God and Satan and how that conflict is played out in our souls and in the history of men. St. Paul is clear about distinguishing this war from general human conflict:

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places (Eph 6:12). Continue reading

The Bridge That Was Burned

Recent developments shed light on Bishop Fellay’s inflammatory statements of December 28.  The bridge he burned had been carefully reinforced some weeks earlier by Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, Vice-President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. The Holy Father has entrusted to the Archbishop the task of dialoguing with the Society of St. Pius X in the hopes of restoring its unity with the Church.

The letter was sent in French during Advent to Bishop Fellay and the priests of the Society.  In the last few days, it was posted on the internet in both French and English.  Whether the English is the original of Archbishop Di Noia is not clear, but the version used here is apparently the same quoted in the Catholic News Service article recently published.

I would just like to highlight two points that he makes and leave you to read and reflect on the rest.  Archbishop Di Noia suggests charity and discretion as the way forward.

Continue reading


An Olive Branch to the SSPX from Archbishop Di Noia


– On the other, the SSPX still considering that certain passages of the teaching of Vatican II cannot be reconciled with the preceding Magisterium, it could discuss it, as long as it:

– abstains as a matter of principle from [discussing them in] the mass media;
– does not establish itself as a parallel magisterium;
– always presents the objections in a positive and constructive manner
– bases all its analyses on deep and wide theological bases.