Further Update on Fisher More

Per the request of a reader I am updating this blog concerning the Fisher More College situation.

There are a series of updates on the situation from the College itself, including a rebuttal of Taylor Marshall by the President of the College, Michael King.  I provide the link in the interests of fairness, but I also deem it necessary to point out again, why I originally posted on the matter and included a link to Taylor Marshall’s allegations.

I pointed out that the list of speakers at the College since Taylor Marshall’s departure confirm problematic situation as Dr. Marshall narrates it. The invitation,for example, to a suspended priest to speak at the college says pretty much all you need to know. Continue reading

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Church Militant TV Weighs In

Following up on my previous posts concerning Church Militant TV, I want to point out several important developments.

First, Louie Verrecchio has fired back at Michael Voris regarding his manifesto that CMTV will not publicly criticize the Holy Father.  It is interesting.  I completely disagree with Verrecchio’s rad trad Protestantism ideology/propaganda [see] but I think he making the same point that I do in my previous posts.

Next, take a look at the comment section beginning here with a the discussion that has ensued between Terry Carrol, Executive Producer of CMTV, Christine Niles, who seems to have some loose association with CMTV, and myself (look for commenters Christine Niles, person111, and Terry Carrol).

I have been saying for a long time that this is the postconciliar moment, and that Bishop Fellay’s agenda to change the terms of the discussion regarding Vatican II has largely succeeded.  Now CMTV is scrambling at the edge of the brink and trying to walk the edge.

More on Patrick Archbold and Michael Voris

Michael Voris has interviewed Pat Archbold about his piece that I commented on here.  I have to say that Archbold is completely genuine and motivated by love for the Church.  He is clearly moved by deep concern.

Both Archbold and Voris admit that the proposal for Pope Francis to regularize the SSPX without an agreement might be naive, but they believe that there is a greater good to be achieved that is worth the risk, because the marginalization of traditionalists, perceived or real, may end very badly and be irreversible.

Continue reading

Evangelii Gaudium and the Culture War

“Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

—Benedict XVI, quoted by Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, 7

The Year of faith has just ended with the proclamation “Christ is the center of the history of humanity and also the center of the history of every individual.”  And today Pope Francis has released his first Apostolic Exhortation in which he encourages us to create the conditions in which all men may find Christ in an “event,” a personal encounter capable of bringing a “new horizon and a decisive direction.”  Both Benedict and Francis have invested much in this event of the encounter with Christ, and have proposed it as the way that supersedes all ethical choices and lofty ideas.  This is the new evangelization.

With this post I would like to examine a specific problem regarding the reception of Pope Francis’ teaching.  Unfortunately, some have already pigeonholed Pope Francis as a liberal and are poised to parse his every word in that light.  I would suggest his teaching ought to be approached not simply through an assessment of “lofty ideas,” but as an encounter—a personal opportunity in the here and now to accept a transformative grace.   It is too soon for me to write anything in depth about the Apostolic Exhortation, but not too soon to suggest a manner of reception that will prove to be fruitful.  And for that we need to avoid a serious pitfall. Continue reading

Benedict and Francis

Most Catholics around the world are giving thanks to God for a new pope.  A few of us are already pontificating about the future.  This is my own little reflection on the relationship  between the pontificates of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

Benedict’s Plan

I believe that in order to fully appreciate the events of the last month or so, one must consider that we have a new Holy Father because, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Pope Benedict carefully formulated a plan.  The evidence shows that he did not just wake up one morning and say: “I have had it.  I just can’t do it anymore.”  The historical facts indicate that he was considering a potential abdication through most of his pontificate.  I think it is also fair to say that he was aware of all the potential outcomes.  The man, before anything else is a thinker.  I don’t believe he was surprised by any of the reactions or criticisms.  He had prayed for a long time and had thought the whole thing through.  When he made his decision he was definitive. Continue reading

Traditionalism and Liturgy

In recent posts here on MaryVictrix, I have voiced my concerns regarding certain ideas associated with Catholic Traditionalism.  I have also promised to follow upon on my “Traditionalist Sleight of Hand” post. While this present essay is not exactly the next installment of that series it does serve the purpose of making my basic concerns clearer, and perhaps the motivation behind my taking issue with traditionalism.  In this post I define what I mean by “traditionalism” and its relation (or lack thereof) to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.  In the next post, appearing in a day or two, I will try to articulate the motivations behind Benedict XVI’s formalization of the biformity (two forms) of the Roman Rite and the reason why this is no way a capitulation to traditionalism.

Traditionalism Defined

I have given my definition of traditionalism before, but since it is so important, I am devoting a separate post to the matter. “Traditionalism” can mean many things depending on the circumstances.  I am not referring to the heresy condemned by Vatican I.  Nor am I talking about the philosophical trend of thought also known as Perennialism.  Both of these forms of “traditionalism” are anti-modern, not just critical of modernity, but fundamentally opposed to it.  One might argue that the traditionalism that specifically concerns me is also anti-modern and not just anti-Modernist, but I would not suggest that what I am talking about is essentially defined in relation to modernity.

I should also say that “traditional” Catholics are divided as to the use of the term.  Different people define it differently, and, depending on the definition, some willingly apply the term to themselves and others repudiate it.  As has been pointed out here by another before, some think the name “traditionalist” should be dropped altogether insofar as might be applied to Catholics.  I will not dispute that the use of the term risks misunderstanding.  I will not even claim of having any definitive response as to whether its use ought to be continued in the long run.  But I do believe the present status quaestionis makes the distinction necessary.

By traditionalism, then, I mean that ideology by which Catholics, in the name of conserving Tradition, take it upon themselves to determine what magisterial act does and does not belong to Catholic Tradition.  By calling traditionalism an “ideology” I mean to indicate that it consists of integrated assertions—in the line of contingent opinions—that come together to form an airtight and complete theory for the reconstruction of Catholic life according to the Tradition of the Church.  I argue that this ideology pretends to solve contingent problems by submitting the living magisterium to a scientific analysis and then insists that the magisterium, including the Holy Father, either prove the analysis wrong or conform to it.

It is very important to make clear that my position in no way implies a denial of the real distinction between fallible and infallible magisterial teaching, nor should it be thought to render pointless honest academic inquiry into the formulation of magisterial teachings and their historical context, thus helping to determine more accurately their relative value as part of the received Tradition.  My point in respect to what I consider traditionalism is that at this moment, in the context of current controversies, it represents an obstinate prejudice against an ecumenical council and fifty years of papal teaching.  According to this rupturist interpretation, the Council was not misrepresented and abused by those who have no regard for Tradition; Tradition was misrepresented and abused by the Council itself.  My insistence on the use of the term “traditionalism”—at least for now—is due to the fact that the current of thought here described is real and distinct, and not clearly acknowledged by a great many “traditional” Catholics.  This problem is not a matter reserved to the SSPX and more radical traditionalists and sedevacantists, but includes many who would not consider themselves traditionalists and who believe that they are perfectly faithful to the teaching of Benedict XVI.

I should also point out that my definition implies nothing directly about liturgical preferences.  A preference for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass does not by my definition make one a traditionalist, nor would a preference for the Ordinary Form in itself absolve one from the charge, since my definition formally has only to do with the relationship of the magisterium to Tradition.  It just so happens that the liturgical tradition is at the center of most disputes regarding the living magisterium’s fidelity to Tradition, and, therefore, the Extraordinary Form has become a kind of banner for a certain kind for crusade for the restoration of Tradition.  I have, in fact, met Catholics who, although they prefer the English Mass, have many questions as to whether the Church has been faithful to Tradition, and sometimes even subscribe to the same conspiracy theories promulgated by those sympathetic with the Society of St. Pius X.

A Bit of Background

In the past and due to my own failure to provide a context, my remarks concerning traditionalism have been misinterpreted as some kind of prejudice against the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.  I wish to dispel this idea.

My community, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, is a “reform of the reform” community and has been long before this idea became popular.  More than twenty-five years ago I was attracted to the FI, in part, because of its reverent celebration of the novus ordo according to the rubrics, and its readiness to incorporate the use of Latin and Gregorian chant into the liturgy.  I know that many of our friars, sisters, tertiaries and members of our liturgical congregations have been attracted for the same reasons.  This attraction has helped to produce many vocations to religious life and continues to be a reason why people come to our friaries and attend our liturgies.

My experience of the novus ordo, in my religious community has always included the use of Latin and Gregorian chant, communion on the tongue with the use of communion plates, the reception of communion kneeling at an altar rail, and for the last four or five years, in most of our American communities, Mass is also celebrated ad orientem regardless of which form is used.  I realize that my experience of the novus ordo for more than two decades has been significantly different from the average Catholic, and that I have been spared a great deal of pain, frustration and scandal within the walls of my community.  But this simply confirms for me that the problems are fundamentally matters of abuse and not of the Ordinary Form itself.  The idea that somehow one is deprived of graces in the use of the Ordinary Form, or that vibrant Catholic communities faithful to Tradition cannot be formed on the basis of the novus ordo I know to be patently false.  The arguments to the contrary, I personally believe to be fundamentally ideological.  I appreciate the historical reasons why to many these arguments seem plausible and convincing, but I am still convinced that they are wrong.  The historical arguments are not free of a priori ideological underpinnings.

In respect to the Extraordinary Form I have a fair amount of experience.  I eagerly learned to celebrate the Mass according the Missal of Pius V, sometime between 1995 and 1998 for several reasons.  One reason is because I was attracted to it and believed it would be helpful to me as a priest, and the other reason—the one that was determinative, since at that time as a community we did not make use of the older form of the liturgy—was that there was a priest in the diocese in which I reside that needed a substitute from time to time to celebrate a weekly Mass for a group of traditional Catholics that had connections with a schismatic group.  The Mass was being made available as an indult alternative to the Masses being offered by the irregular community.  At the time when I learned to celebrate the vetus ordo, I was the only American priest that could do so, aside from the several older priests who had been ordained before the Council.  I was also one of the very few in our Institute worldwide that celebrated the old rite at all.  I simply have never had a problem with the old rite and I can say I fully appreciate Pope Benedict’s remarks about the two forms of the Roman rite having a “mutually enriching” influence on each other.

My experience also includes pastoral ministry to individuals with a traditionalist background and mindset.  I am very familiar with the arguments that are routinely presented, and with the alienation and isolation experienced by those attached to the old form because of complete lack of sympathy for Tradition and the Mass of Pius V on the part of priests and bishops.  I have seen a wide spectrum of beliefs and practices, some quite balanced and some bordering on the neurotic.  For, example I have known for many years families who attend the novus ordo during the week and the vetus ordo on Sunday, and I have known couples who refused to be married in a regularized Church even according to the old form, because they believed the even that would be a compromise.  And I have witnessed even more extreme positions than this.

When the Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum was promulgated in 2007, our institute received it with enthusiasm, as I did personally and as did all the friars in the United States.  We generally understood the Motu Proprio to indicate the venerable status of the vetus ordo and the legitimate aspirations of those who were attached to it.  Furthermore, as a means to promote the reform of the reform, Pope Benedict wished to make the celebration of what he now termed the Extraordinary Form more widely available.  This was a matter, he said, of “reconciliation at the heart of the Church.”  I have always supported this reconciliation.  I continue to do so and strive to conform to the mind of the Church, according to the teaching and directions of Pope Benedict.

More on this in the next post.

I’m Dreaming of a White Propaganda

A distinction can be made between white and black propaganda.  White propaganda is basically an informercial.  You know someone is trying to sell you something and that they are going to spin the presentation in the interests of their sale.  Black propaganda, on the other hand, is false information from a source that pretends to be friendly but is actually hostile.

Leave it to the traditionalists to exploit Christmas for their anticonciliar views.  At least no one can fault them in this for a lack of transparency.

Bishop Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X promulgated a Christmas pastoral that impresses upon the faithful why the mystery of Christmas reveals to us the evils of the Second Vatican Council.  Merry Christmas everyone!

The King of peace, Rex pacificus. Here we would like to elaborate somewhat on this truth, which is so to speak at the heart of the crisis that is shaking the Church and affects the relations of the Society of St. Pius X with the Holy See.

Indeed, it seems to us that the basis for the current problem can be summed up as a loss of faith in the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh! Of course many people protest that they believe that Jesus is God, but very few are ready to draw the practical consequences of that truth which will manifest itself in the sight of the whole world at the end of time.

Our Lord is the Head of the Church. But since He willed that His Church should be visible, after His ascension into heaven, He gave her a visible head, who is His Vicar on earth, Peter and his successors…. To him alone did Our Lord give the power to feed the sheep and the lambs, he alone has full, sovereign, and immediate authority over each and every member of the Church. That is why the Church has always proclaimed herself to be a monarchy, governed by one man. Certainly, the human character of government makes it quite understandable to seek counsel and the advice of wise persons, but a form of democracy imported into the Church by collegiality and by the parliamentary parody of bishops’ conferences allows all sorts of abuses and subjects to group pressure the decrees of Divine Law that declare that each diocese has only one head, the bishop of the locality.

Authority today is seriously shaken, not only outside, through the litigation of secular leaders who claim a share in government, but also within the Church, through the addition of a number of councils and commissions which, in today’s atmosphere, prevent the just exercise of the authority delegated by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The really unfortunate thing is that these kinds of ideas are gaining currency among those who are ostensibly “regular” and openly supportive of the present occupant of the Chair of St. Peter, as though Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic of continuity was a question rather than an answer.  Collegiality is anathema to the traditionalists because theirs is an elitist way of life in which the few have control over every aspect of the lives of the many.  “Who cares what the pope or an ecumenical council says if it does not confirm our airtight system of ideas?”

It is funny how everything, and I mean everything, points to the same conclusion, that the poor plebs in the pews should have more trust in Bishop Fellay than they should in Pope Benedict.  Aren’t you amazed that this little kernel of gold was hidden in the manger of Bethlehem?

It was news to me too.

Tradionalist Modernism?

“What in the world happened to the Traditionalists?!?!,” asks one commenter:

As one might expect, Obama also lost the Traditionalist Catholics, obtaining two-fifths of their votes. Nonetheless, he did better with the Traditionalists than with the Centrist Catholics and markedly better than Kerry’s one-fifth in 2004. This result is a surprise, being the only instance where a group of Traditionalists voted more Democratic than their Centrist coreligionists. This change represents a modest closing of the God Gap among white Catholics (although McCain still did well among regular Mass attenders overall).

Opposition to the Iraq War may account for Obama’s gains among Traditionalist Catholics: In 2004 more than three-quarters supported the war, but a majority opposed it in 2008. The Catholic Church opposed the Iraq War and its leaders, from the pope to parish priests, regularly criticized it. In addition, prominent Catholics joined the debate on related policies, such as the interrogation, surveillance, and detention practices of the Bush administration. It is ­interesting, however, that such policies could influence these voters, given their other issue positions. For example, Traditionalist Catholics were staunchly pro-life on abortion and, like the Centrist Catholics, tended to hold conservative views on economic issues. And as in 2004, they gave lower priority to economic matters than many other religious groups.

If Centrist Catholics were a bright spot for McCain, then Traditionalist Catholics were a major disappointment. This outcome may reflect the often intense competition between progressive and conservative Catholic activists for the votes of the most committed Catholic voters. Overall, white Catholics made up one-sixth of the Obama vote and one-fifth of McCain’s supporters. If white Catholic ballots are added to minority and Unaffiliated voters, the total accounts for almost three-quarters of all Obama’s ­ballots.

No definition in the article is given for “Traditionalist Catholic.”  It is only distinguished from “Modernist Catholic” and “Centrist Catholic.”  Here are the published survey results.  I assume the respondents were just given the three options undefined and were left to define and choose themselves.

In any case, the results are very curious indeed.  Why would Catholic traditionalists compromise on abortion?  One would think that those who are the least secular and the most “supernatural” in their outlook would buck the fear of being a “single issue voter.”  All is not well among the “traditionalists.”

No, traditional forms, as important as they are, are not going to save us.  Let us hope that inspite of our “orthodoxy” and “traditionalism”  we are not whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful but within are full of dead men’s bones and of all filthiness (Mat. 23:27).