Why Should We Believe You?
© Copyright 2009, T. Stanfill Benns (None of what appears below — in whole or in part — may be used without the express and written permission of the author.)
“Let him who reads understand,” (Matt. 24: 15)
Since I began writing for the Church in 1979, various Traditionalists have more or less gently tried to steer me into the field of devotional articles only, or into a more neutralfield where all was presented as potentially true, and readers would be allowed to sort things out for themselves, (modern-day journalism). The reason given for this was primarily that I am a woman, and women must not venture into the theological sciences. Had they been able to point to authentic decisions of the Church barring women from such occupations, I might have considered their objections seriously. Instead I have found only facts that refute what they ascertain, and a sample of these facts is presented in “Chiefly Among Women,” a work describing the many contributions of Catholic women, (Chiefly among women). I am not, however, under the persuasion that this piece will deter my detractors. Already one of these has used an isolated quote from this aforementioned work to “demote” me to the kitchen, (where I spend a good amount of my time anyway, and gladly).
In reality, many of the Traditionalist males who spend their excess energy in bashing women also share a common orientation: they tend to favor certain falangist beliefs and practices which predispose them to a peculiar disregard for the opposite sex. As the bestselling author Umberto Eco has observed: “Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to [less savory] matters. This is the origin of machismo, whichimplies…disdain for women…” The Ur-fascist harbors a fascination for weapons, verbal and otherwise, and this Eco says is to be viewed as an extension of their exaggerated notion of “manhood,” (Ur-Fascist book review, New York Times, 1995). We must remember the peculiar hero/messianic mentality of fascists, which Eco notes; all were prepared to die glorious deaths for the Fatherland during WWII. This same trend can be noted among those Traditionalists with monarchical tendencies who believe the Great Monarch will be established and will return Christianity to its medieval purity. Odd that in their reveries they fail to remember the deference to and respect for women innate in the medieval period.
Aside from the women bashers, there are those who point to the fact that I have taught numerous errors during my writing career, and that is a point well taken. I would like to point out, however, that in writing the 1990 book promoting a papal election, I did ask those who objected to the thesis presented to correct me and offer serious reasons for why what I was proposing was wrong. I received several discourteous, sometimes outright rude letters from the women bashers, and others from various Traditionalists objecting to typos, or to actual statements made they “felt” were wrong, (and only two that I can remember touched on the important issues). But these people failed to provide serious theological arguments, teachings, or laws that forbade me to act. This was a task I would be forced to undertake myself many years later. Those following this site at all will be aware of the fact that I have gone to great lengths to correct any errors I have made in the past, making my corrections as public, and even more so, than my support of a papal election, since the Internet did not even exist yet in 1989. No one understood the primary message of the 1990 book: that without a Pope, Traditionalist priests and bishops cannot function, and the Church exists in name only, having lost its visibility. This anomaly is described by St. Francis de Sales in his “The Catholic Controversy,” where he teaches that it is one of the disorders that will exist during the time of Antichrist.
Duties of the Scholastic theologian
Rev. Joseph Clifford Fenton, speaking of the responsibilities of scholastic theologians writes: “When a scholastic sets down a thesis, he is expected to offer evidence to show that it should be accepted as a correct explanation of Our Lord’s method. Other theologians, who deal with the same matter, must examine and evaluate the evidence which has been brought forward. If the proof is valid, the thesis stands. Should the evidence not be forthcoming, then the proposition has no legitimate place in the field of sacred theology on the authority of the writer,” (“The Concept of Sacred Theology,” 1941). “…When any man acts as a teacher or writes on theological subjects, he automatically lays himself open to criticism. It may well be that a certain amount of that criticism is motivated by unworthy reasons. It may well be that some critics oppose the books or teachings of others within the Church because they dislike the authors or their associates. If they act in this way they will answer to God for the sins against charity or justice involved in their conduct.
“[But] if a critic should make the assertion that a definite statement is contained in a book [or article] and that this statement is opposed to theological truth, and if anything like serious evidence should be brought to bear in favor of this assertion, it is definitely the business of the writer thus accused to examine his own teachings. Where the accusation turns out to be accurate, it is his duty to withdraw and to disavow the error he has propounded. Where the accusation turns out to be inaccurate, it is his duty, or at least his privilege, to defend his own position. In any event, it is unworthy of the calling of a theologian to repel adverse criticism by alleging that the men who sponsored it are troublemakers, heresy-hunters…adherents of an unpopular or dead political group [or, we may add, are of the female sex], “American Ecclesiastical Review, February 1952, “Reform and Integralism,” Rev. J. C. Fenton).
It needs to be noted here that contrary to Rev. Fenton’s recommendation and Church practice, those castigating this writer have themselves corrected none of their errors. They may assert — and to give them the benefit of the doubt, may even believe — that they have seen nothing in the way of a serious argument from myself or other likeminded Catholics. They have convinced themselves that whatever is said here and elsewhere is merely the opinion of the person presenting the arguments. But is this really the case? First of all it should be pointed out that, as Rev. Fenton notes above, these allegations often arise from “unworthy motives” or personal animus on the part of the person objecting to a given teaching or statement. Secondly, it may be attributed to invincible ignorance on the part of the accuser in some cases, although this may not be as common as some believe. But it often is not opinions that people object to. What they often object to are actual truths of faith, and neither this author nor any theologian cited presents these truths; the Church Herself presents them. Such truths cannot be questioned, they cannot be argued against. It is only for us to accept them with a firm and unwavering belief.
Catholics must defend the truth
I once believed that Traditionalists were the enemy because they operated without delegated or ordinary jurisdiction. Then I realized the Conclavists also erred in this matter of jurisdiction, or at least the “popes” they promoted so erred, because they operate without the necessary Divine jurisdiction and do not possess Apostolic Succession. But the only common enemy we are battling today is the Father of Lies and those lies themselves. If you are reading this you are most likely seeking the truth. You may be confused, angry, anxious and/or on the verge of hopelessness concerning the situation in the Church today. I have tried to provide what answers I know here, taken from the pre-1959 works I possess. I am not the last word or even a degreed professional, but it does not take a degreed professional to accurately quote the teachings of others. I can tell you I have devoted my life to studying the truths of faith, but leave it to God to determine the value of that study. In “Where is Your Imprimatur?” I have demonstrated that we are always and everywhere, regardless of our circumstances, required to give reason for our faith. In the works on this site, I give my reasons for believing what I present. To do this I follow Church teaching and Canon Law to the best of my ability.
Pope Pius XII taught that, “The initiative of the lay apostolate is perfectly justified even without a prior explicit ‘mission’ from the hierarchy…Personal initiative plays a great part in protecting the faith and Catholic life, especially in countries where contacts with the hierarchy are difficult or practically impossible. In such circumstances, the Christians upon whom this task falls must, with God’s grace, assume all their responsibilities… Even so, nothing can be undertaken against the explicit or implicit will of the Church, or contrary in any way to the rules of faith or morals, or ecclesiastical discipline,” (“The Mission of Catholic Women,” Sept. 29, 1957, The Pope Speaks, Vol. IV). In following primarily this Pope’s laws and those of his predecessors, I have tried my best here to obey this teaching. If others believe that I have taught contrary to the will of the Church, faith or morals, or ecclesiastical discipline, it is their strict obligation to make this known first, to myself, so that if anything needs correcting it may be corrected, and finally to the Church, should proofs demonstrate that such a correction is truly in order.
Pope Pius XII urges cooperation
A great teacher on the spiritual life, Rev. A. D. Sertillanges O.P. writes: “The wise man begins at the beginning, and does not take a second step until he has made sure of the first. That is why self-taught men have so many weak points. They cannot, all by themselves, begin at the beginning,” (“The Intellectual Life,” 1956). I did not have the great privilege of reading this work until long after I had made many mistakes and begun my studies in the middle of things, owing to the errors of an ill-instructed tutor. I have tried to retrace my steps to get back to the beginning, so that others who might try to travel this path will be better able to understand things. The beginning, for adults would be Rev. Thomas Kinkead’s “Baltimore # 3 Catechism,” followed by Rev. Morrow’s “My Catholic Faith” and finally by The Catechism of the Council of Trent. Much better to learn a little well than to know only a little about many different things. As the saying goes, some learn only enough to make themselves dangerous. If something here is lacking or is not understood, if a step has been missed, please advise.
Finally, Rev. Sertillanges says this about the those who pursue a life of study: “The first association of the intellectual, which will show him for what he is…is association with his fellows…I should prefer to say cooperation, for association without co-operating is not doing intellectual work. But how rare, in this age of individualism and social anarchy, is such a kinship of minds! Pere Gratry deplored it: he dreamt of Port Royal [where the Jansenists congregated] and wanted to make of the Oratory a ‘Port Royal without the schism. What labor could be saved,’ he said ‘if people could join and help one another! If six or seven together, with the same idea, worked by way of mutual teaching, became by turn pupil and master of the others…,’ (les Sources). Without pride or the spirit of rivalry. Seeking only the truth, the friends thus gathered together would so to say multiply one another, and their common soul would reveal a wealth of which no sufficient explanation would appear to be discoverable…” And this sentiment is expanded upon by Pope Pius XII in “Mystici Corporis Christi”: “But a body calls also for a multiplicity of members, which are linked together in such a way as to help one another. And as in the body when one member suffers, all the other members share its pain, and the healthy members come to the assistance of the ailing, so in the Church the individual members do not live for themselves alone, but also help their fellows, and all work in mutual collaboration for the common comfort and for the more perfect building up of the whole Body.”
If I have offended those of good will in the past, I beg their forgiveness. If I have unintentionally led them into error, may God forgive me. The goal of this site for the past two years has been to right those wrongs and try to return to the beginning by “putting on the new man.” I do not want to be the master of anyone, only the friend of the True, as Sertillanges describes them. I am not presenting this site as a means to promote another papal election (far from it), or found a new sect as some have alleged. The purpose of this site is to gather the truths of faith necessary to these times into one place, in an orderly and understandable manner; to add to them, perfect them and make them available to others. I do not ask anyone to believe me, but to believe only the truths of Divine Faith taught by the continual magisterium, and set down in Her Canons Laws. On the contrary, I ask and will accept the correction of any inaccuracies of any kind and will make those corrections, unless, as Rev. Fenton notes above, these corrections prove to be inaccurate or specious in and of themselves.
For those who wish to check quotes, copies are available. Please recite at least a brief prayer to the Holy Ghost before reading the articles on this site.