More Rad-Trad Than Thou

by SDG

in Benedict XVI

Did you know that not all pre-Vatican-II popes were created equal in the eyes of disaffected post-Vatican-II radically-traditionalist Catholics? Apparently, not all of the pre-Vatican-II popes made the grade as Sufficiently Loyal To The Post-Vatican-II Rad-Trad Vision Of The Church.

Case in point: When the former Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger took the name Benedict XVI many Catholics were touched by his explanation that the choice was made, in part, to honor the largely-forgotten twentieth-century Pope Benedict XV. Not all, though. There was at least one person, herself a radically traditionalist Catholic, who saw dark designs in the new Pope’s choice of name:

"Benedict XV came into his Papacy as Europe was entering World War I. In his first Encyclical, Ad Beatissimi issued November 1, 1914, the Pope, who refused to take sides in the Great War, made a dramatic call for peace between the warring factions of Europe. He also made it clear that inside the Church he was calling for a stop to the war against the modernists.

"Even while he referred to the ‘admirable fruits’ of [the] previous pontificate [that of St. Pius X], he called for concord among the members of the Church, that is, the modernists and the ultramontanes — the traditional Catholics who had been strengthened by Pius X. This ‘peace’ orchestrated by Benedict XV is what gave the modernists the opportunity to emerge from their dark, semi-occult caverns back into the light of day with a comfortable position in the Church."

"Dark, semi-occult caverns"? This rhetoric is so over-the-top that it practically fisks itself. To continue, let’s look at what this cheery individual sees in store in a Ratzinger pontificate given the current Pope’s choice of the name Benedict:

"I believe Benedict XVI intends to oblige traditionalist Catholics to ‘reconcile’ with Vatican II and the New Mass, to finish with our resistance and incorporate us in the Conciliar Church. It would be a maneuver similar to that of Benedict XV 100 years ago, when he struck his blow at the Sodalitium Pianum and the anti-modernist reaction. It is my opinion that we should be prepared for this kind of progressivist maneuver."

A pope who hopes to reconcile disaffected Catholics with the Church they claim as their own? Imagine that!

"What should be the position of Catholics at this important juncture? To be aware of the maneuver that is probably being prepared. To continue our resistance against the errors of Vatican II and its consequences. To offer an intransigence [sic] opposition to any proposition that implies acceptance of error. To display an invariable determination to remain always within the bosom of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church and remain faithful to her perennial teachings. To maintain a firm belief in the promise of Our Lady that she will intervene and restore Holy Mother Church to shine again with her purest doctrine and lead the world to build the Reign of the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

GET THE STORY.

You know, in some ways, radical traditionalism — as opposed to a legitimate Catholic traditionalism that merely prefers traditional expressions of the faith but does not reject Vatican II and the contemporary Church — annoys me more than progressivism. Perhaps it is because the progressivists are usually honest enough to admit that they wish to change the doctrines and disciplines of the Church. They are easier to deal with because their agenda is clear. Radical traditionalists, on the other hand, present their discontinuity with Church history and their rejection of the authority of the Church’s leaders as a supposedly Truly Catholic Response to concerns about the admitted difficulties in some human sectors of the modern Church. Anyone who rejects their understanding of the Church and its teachings is not as Catholic as they.

And that "anyone" apparently includes even a pre-Vatican-II pope.

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{ 30 comments }

Matthew of Beauvais June 1, 2005 at 5:22 am

Wow. You just can’t satisfy some folks. It’s true that Benedict XV stepped back on St. Pius X’s measures against modernism, but I think there was a lot of prudence in that measure–it had, from what I can tell, turned into a massive fiasco in some quarters (letters being opened illegally, quasi-spy networks, etc.), not what Pius had intended probably. Benedict XV was certainly no heretic; he just realized that the methods employed by Pius X’s Vatican (with or without his cognizance) would not work. While it’s fun to dream of such cloak-and-dagger activities against modernism, it seems the best way lies elsewhere. (And sometimes it’s hard for me to admit that!)

Jason June 1, 2005 at 7:42 am

I find this interesting, as “Traditionalists” tend not to hold pre-conciliar Popes to the same standards as post-conciliar Popes.
So, for example, Pius XII isn’t denounced as a modernist or antiquarianist because he restored the early Church order of Holy Week, but Paul VI is because he restored the early Church discipline of vernacular Liturgies. (I know there are a few exceptions, since some “Traditionalists” even refused to use missals before 1955, precisely because of Pius XII’s measures).

arthur June 1, 2005 at 7:51 am

And say what you will about progressives, they’ve never gone out and tried to ordain their own bishops.

John June 1, 2005 at 8:24 am

I’m not suggesting that Michelle Arnold hasn’t researched the individual being examined here, but we really should be careful not to call any schismatics or heretics “Catholic”.
Throughout history, many schismatics and heretics have tried to cloak themselves as Catholics. We shouldn’t feel obliged to comply if that isn’t truly the case.

BillyHW June 1, 2005 at 8:31 am

Anyone know how many schismatic traditionalists there are worldwide? Are there any hard numbers?

Sal June 1, 2005 at 8:32 am

I guessed right! It was Horvat. Do I get a prize?This sort of nonsense is partially why I left my indult community after 11 years.

JohnH June 1, 2005 at 8:40 am

say what you will about progressives, they’ve never gone out and tried to ordain their own bishops.
Give them time, they’ll come around. :-)

Michelle Arnold June 1, 2005 at 9:20 am

“I’m not suggesting that Michelle Arnold hasn’t researched the individual being examined here, but we really should be careful not to call any schismatics or heretics ‘Catholic.’ Throughout history, many schismatics and heretics have tried to cloak themselves as Catholics. We shouldn’t feel obliged to comply if that isn’t truly the case.”
John, unless the Church officially excommunicates someone, we should give a person properly baptized and still linked in some way to the Church the benefit of the doubt about being Catholic. We should not presume them to be “heretics” or “schismatics” unless properly-constituted Church authority says they are. The sacraments, particularly baptism, are what make us Catholic; not how well we understand or practice our Catholic faith.

Anonymous June 1, 2005 at 9:28 am

“say what you will about progressives, they’ve never gone out and tried to ordain their own bishops.”
They don’t have to – they’ve already got them (not all of them, of course).

Vincent June 1, 2005 at 9:31 am

From Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum:

It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as “profane novelties of words,” out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: “This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved” (Athanas. Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim “Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,” only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.

JJ June 1, 2005 at 10:11 am

Although I think that Ms. Horvat is barking at the moon about Ratzinger, I do think that Benedict XV was a tad remiss in his more laid-back approach to modernism.

Len June 1, 2005 at 10:18 am

I have to admit to all this causing me heartache. The lack of obedience and the militant language of this article speaks to the same old thing I constantly see in ultra-traditionalists or modernisist – it’s all about me. Well this nihilistic “it’s got to be my way or the highway” is sickening.

Tennessee Catholic June 1, 2005 at 10:49 am

Schismatics ready their response

I see a conscious, pre-emptive response to the overtures by our new pontiff to those who have separated from the Church in the name of the Tridentine Mass. Sad.

John June 1, 2005 at 1:17 pm

Michelle, I agree. That’s why I assumed that you knew the status of this person or the organization to which they belong.

Ashton Vaz June 1, 2005 at 1:52 pm

This ‘peace’ orchestrated by Benedict XV is what gave the modernists the opportunity to emerge from their dark, semi-occult caverns back into the light of day with a comfortable position in the Church.
Michelle, you may think that this is rhetoric, but it isn’t. I’ve read some of the writings and work of Freemasons (who encouraged and underwrote the work of Satanists and Theosophists in the 19th century) who wished to destroy Christianity and its influence in Europe and the world at large. The common beliefs in all three groups (which stem from the same original Lie) are identical to the beliefs put forward for the past 150 years by moral relativists, unitarians, liberal protestants and Catholic “progressives”. Thus Modernism did come into existence in “dark, semi-occult caverns”.
My thesis: St. Pius X’s rejection of “modernism” was exactly on the mark. Note: Modernism is not the acceptance of things “modern”, but a philosophical and theological framework that has, a fundamental belief that “we’re all (inevitably) getting better day by day”. Therefore it results in Relativism, i.e., that we can’t say that someone else is objectively “wrong”. It supports itself by pointing to its misinterpretation of the implications of Charles Darwin’s theory, i.e. to mean that ‘we’re (inevitably) evolving to be better”. Thus what is modern is, by definition, the “best”. Hence, the Church must “keep up with the times”. It therefore must reject all what came before because what came before was “worse” than what is now.
This erroneous interpretation was seized on by Freemasons, Satanists and Theosophists to further their aforementioned aim. This is how Modernism undermines traditional Christian faith and morals. The application of those beliefs inevitably results in the watering down of traditional Christian faith and morals and then the destruction of the particular “church” that accepts them. As St. Thomas Aquinas says, a small error in the beginning is a huge error in the end. Only the Catholic Church has been able to see the lies for what they are and resist them. Other “christian churches” are going the way of the dodo becuase they don’t know what hit them! Benedict XVI will have a hard time removing the entrenched “progressives” in the Church.
What Benedict XV did was laudable. He didn’t cease the rejection of Modernism but stopped the witch-hunt that had begun. Thus Modernists could indeed work in the open and cause the havoc that they have this past century. However, it is precisely because they are now in the open that they can then be enlightened or if they refuse to cease believing or teaching their heresy, they can be opposed by pointing them and others who follow them to the ordinary and universal magisterium.
Proof of this has been seen recently where avowed atheists and liberal scientists are lambasting a perfectly reasonable alternative to Darwinism – Intelligent Design. Their opposition has all the hallmarks of “true believers” and none of the expected rational opposition of neutral scientists.
If you want religious proof examine the underlying beliefs of all liberal Protestant Churches that are dying out and you’ll find these two “beliefs” implicitly included among other beliefs that they hold. 1) We must accept contraception, abortion, euthanasia, practicing homosexuals (and soon – infanticide and bestiality) because everyone does it (and hence it is modern, and therefore the “best”). 2) We can’t say anyone is wrong (because after all, everyone else is also evolving and we have no idea what we’re evolving towards), so let’s just accept everyone. The first is the error of Modernism and the second is its child – “tolerance”, i.e. Relativism.

Ashton Vaz June 1, 2005 at 1:54 pm

Note: The above is not an argument against Michelle’s post, i.e. “More Rad-Trad Than Thou” but a comment on a point raised in the post.

grateful_catholic June 1, 2005 at 2:34 pm

Those of all stripes who presume to know, better than Popes and Ecumenical Councils, what ought to be believed and taught by the Catholic Church, have by their very profession lost a key element of Catholicism, namely, trust that God guides the visible, hierarchical church – trust sufficiently strong to motivate the individual to conform to her teaching, rather than to presume to teach her.

JonathanR. June 1, 2005 at 3:22 pm

“And say what you will about progressives, they’ve never gone out and tried to ordain their own bishops.”
Hmmm…yuo forget the Old Catholics (those who did after Vatican I what the rad trads are now doing with Vatican II), who refused papal infallibility (how progressive!) and now have their own heirarchy. But I suppose that it is a testament to their irrelevance that few take note of them.

Steve Jackson June 1, 2005 at 5:08 pm

I’m not a Catholic, and my impression is that you have to be careful about what traditionalists you believe, but I’ve learned a lot about what is happening in the catholic church from reading traditionalist literature.
For example, semi-traditionalists such as Fr. Brian Harrison have written lots of interesting stuff about how liberals were able to smuggle lots of ambiguity into the texts of Vatican II.

hippo354 June 1, 2005 at 6:03 pm

Steve, be careful about believing all that about the ambiguity – I was told the same thing and I went to the vatican II documents that they referred to, and found either no ambiguity or that the document in question had nothing to do with the claimed topic.
I don’t remember the traditionalist author I read (this was years ago) but by the time I examined his claims and compared them to the actual documents I was dubious about whether he had read them at all.
I find the traditionalist groups to be seriously lacking in charity towards those of us in the (evil) conciliar/Novus Ordo church, and judging by the above quotation they have not much faith in the Holy Spirit guiding the church. I don’t know where they are with hope for the future of the church, but without faith and charity, they can’t get far.

Steve Jackson June 1, 2005 at 6:27 pm

Mr. Hippo,
As I said, you have to be careful.
But here is an example of a piece by Fr. Harrison –
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/remnant/skel.htm
It is quite comprhensive. Have those who endlessly attack traditionalists done the kind of work he has done on the primary sources?

Kevin Miller June 1, 2005 at 7:54 pm

Ugh. I see Harrison is getting crazier by the year.
Because the Council doesn’t make a point of repeating every truth of the Faith, it somehow paved the way for Evil.

Kevin Miller June 1, 2005 at 7:57 pm

(One should actually say, “every alleged truth of the Faith” – since Harrison claims that some things are, that actually probably aren’t.)

Sage McLaughlin June 1, 2005 at 8:29 pm

Whatever charity traditionalists lack, it is by no means mirrored by anything like a spirit of charity by more mainstream conservatives. Keeping a boot on the throat of the Latin Liturgy–for absolutely no good pastoral reason whatsoever–sure hasn’t borne much good spiritual fruit. Vague and condescending effusions about the importance of nostalgia to “some people” doesn’t count, I’m afraid. Nor does a refusal to face head-on the concerns of loyal Catholics who have seen the Mass degrade into a pathetic husk virtually indistinguishable from a Luthern “communion service.” If the post-reform liturgy is somehow an improvement on the Mass of St. Pius V I’d sure be glad to see a defense of that idea in print.
But here as elsewhere, sneers and mocking seem to suffice where argument–or even charity–is lacking.

hippo354 June 1, 2005 at 10:30 pm

My apologies for offending you all with my comments on traditionalist lack of charity. I speak from my experience, which may be skewed by the traditionalists in my circle of acquaintances.
Can someone tell me though, why they use the approach of telling me I surely will go to hell for not being traditionalist, and I am condemning my children to hell as well for attending the novus ordo masses? Am I wrong in considering this uncharitable?

Steve Jackson June 2, 2005 at 3:36 am

Kevin,
I think Fr. Harrison’s point is that certain truths have been watered down (eg, the need for Jews to convert) in order not to offend modern sensibilities. He shows this through a discussion of the council.
Don’t we have this in Catholic and protestant churches concerning the teaching on hell?
There is a point when the failure to teach the entire truth becomes condoning falsehood.

Elizabeth June 2, 2005 at 9:25 am

Dear Hippo354 -
There are some traditionalists who seem to profoundly lack charity – but not all. In all the years since I began attending the indult Mass, I’ve seen very little of that. For the most part, I think that’s because I don’t have the time to attend the sporadic social events and my family life is too demanding.
Many trads feel that their own spiritual and, particularly, liturgical lives were so desolate after Vat II that they wandered in an isolated desert for years, without sustenance. It is not surprising that they become so strident. I vividly remember the first Novus Ordo Mass I attended when it was first instituted. I was in my 20s and wept, along with many in the congregation, as the Mass ended. And then, I spent the next 25+ years gritting my teeth through all of the vagaries of NO masses (banal language, ludicrous hymns, Communion in the hand, no Communion rails, etc. etc.). Then, having been granted the incredible grace of the indult Mass, you can’t blame traditionalists for being a bit edgy about that too being changed or withdrawn!
No one has the right to predict damnation for anyone. Even Holy Mother Church, in her infinite wisdom, has never definitively stated that any single person is actually in Hell. However, in Charity, remember that people may believe that your journey and that of your children may be seriously compromised – and they have a duty/responsibility to help you see that. I’m not saying I agree, or that I wouldn’t be offended, but I think I understand what they are trying to do. And, in my own experience, some of my own children remain Catholic (some in practice and some in name only) and some not, but the clearly determining factor in remaining Catholic has been attending Latin Masses.
AMDG

Elizabeth June 2, 2005 at 9:25 am

Dear Hippo354 -
There are some traditionalists who seem to profoundly lack charity – but not all. In all the years since I began attending the indult Mass, I’ve seen very little of that. For the most part, I think that’s because I don’t have the time to attend the sporadic social events and my family life is too demanding.
Many trads feel that their own spiritual and, particularly, liturgical lives were so desolate after Vat II that they wandered in an isolated desert for years, without sustenance. It is not surprising that they become so strident. I vividly remember the first Novus Ordo Mass I attended when it was first instituted. I was in my 20s and wept, along with many in the congregation, as the Mass ended. And then, I spent the next 25+ years gritting my teeth through all of the vagaries of NO masses (banal language, ludicrous hymns, Communion in the hand, no Communion rails, etc. etc.). Then, having been granted the incredible grace of the indult Mass, you can’t blame traditionalists for being a bit edgy about that too being changed or withdrawn!
No one has the right to predict damnation for anyone. Even Holy Mother Church, in her infinite wisdom, has never definitively stated that any single person is actually in Hell. However, in Charity, remember that people may believe that your journey and that of your children may be seriously compromised – and they have a duty/responsibility to help you see that. I’m not saying I agree, or that I wouldn’t be offended, but I think I understand what they are trying to do. And, in my own experience, some of my own children remain Catholic (some in practice and some in name only) and some not, but the clearly determining factor in remaining Catholic has been attending Latin Masses.
AMDG

JJ June 2, 2005 at 9:59 am

Kevin,
I find Fr. Harrison’s work to be clear, lucid, and balanced. If you read his stuff, you will see that he does not claim there was an Evil Masonic Conspiracy, but that with the best of intentions, some decisions were made that turned out to be not so prudent in the wording of the documents. Some of the Council Fathers have made similar comments. Heck, Paul VI even had to emend Lumen Gentium after the fact to correct loopholes in the wording. Something similar was recently done with the CCC because its prior wording was not quite accurate. I know that you are trying to speak up for the faith, but there’s no need to be knee-jerkingly reactionary about it. Shooting your friends does not help dialogue.

Greg August 22, 2005 at 5:49 pm

And say what you will about progressives, they’ve never gone out and tried to ordain their own bishops.
That’s because they don’t need to. The last four Popes have ordained plenty of progressive bishops for them.

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