Ridicule Kills: How Traditionalists Deal With their Enemies
Copyright © 2005 by T. Stanfill Benns
As all who treat of the constitution and organization of the Church teach, the Church is a true society in and of itself as established by Christ. Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey writes: “…Christ established the Church as a visible society, one that was to last until the end of time. This thesis is historically certain; it is theologically de fide,” (Manual of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. I, 1959).
This society, as all know, was established upon Peter the Rock, to whom Christ promised unfailing faith. Rev. W. Wilmers, S.J. describes a society as:
“…a number of individuals, a common end and unity of effort…A common object must be pursued…but the end is pursued as a common object only when it is sought with united effort. If a number of men work at the solution of the same problem, they do not, on that account, form a society. They form such only when they pursue the end common in itself with united effort and common means…In order to secure united effort and common means some power is necessary. This power is called authority—the power to impose obligations, whether vested in one or in many. Authority must be visible, i.e., it must reside in a visible subject, so it may be recognized by all as a ruling power,” (Handbook of the Christian Religion, 1891).
When this unity was achieved under the authority of St. Peter, the Church gradually developed- its own rules and methods of dealing with certain problems. She became a true and visible society with Her own monarchical government, courts, disciplinary code, laws, teachings, traditions, worship, philosophy and culture. Because the Church is a divine not a secular institution, Her methods and laws are based on what Christ taught during His earthly ministry. These are to be preferred by Catholics, since our first allegiance is to the Church as our society of choice, not the world and its scientific but often unCatholic ways of dealing with specific problems.
In a truly Catholic world, all disagreements are thrashed out in scholastic debate — the Church’s chosen form of philosophical discussion — and the rules of these debates are sedulously observed. Rev. A. C. Cotter advises in his The ABC’s of Scholastic Philosophy: “Let modesty and charity reign throughout. No sarcasm, no superior airs, no abusive language, no derogatory remarks.” If an opponent strays, not just from the argument itself but from faith and morals, the Church always has advised the use of fraternal correction. According to Holy Scripture, the erring party is approached first in private and corrected one on one. If he does not respond to this approach, two or three witnesses may be taken along to help persuade him to cease and desist. If this fails, Christ advises His followers to “tell the Church,” approaching first the religious superiors and if pertinacious heresy is involved, even the Pope. This is the “traditional” method observed by the Church, and all other methods are adjudged to reside in the secular realm.
But Traditionalists, as a general rule, do not abide by these norms. Because they seldom argue in the scholastic forum, they cannot resort to theologically convincing or correctly constructed evidence, and therefore do not see the need to abide by any rules of conduct laid down specifically for that forum. In fact they would cringe if they realized, as one priest-author explained, that their chosen method of dealing with their opponents only demonstrates their inability to present a solid case. Rev. Joseph Walsh S.J. lists Traditional methods as fallacies in his 1940 work Logic. Under the heading “Ignoratio elenchi” (Missing the Point at Issue, Arguing Beside the Point, Avoiding the Issue, Proving the Wrong Conclusion) Walsh comments, “Debaters and attorneys with a weak case sometimes resort to it deliberately.” He then lists the subordinate forms of ignoratio elenchi as “a.) argument ad balculem, or appeal to physical force by threats, actual violence, violent demonstration, to win one’s point…and f.) argument ad hominem, or personal attack, effected by abusive language or ridicule of an adversary, or charges of inconsistency, etc…” Traditionalists are generally aware that the ad hominem argument is not an acceptable form but use it anyway. Thus they do not follow the rules of the society in which they claim membership. They resort instead to rules they either invent themselves or adopt from secular or quasi-Catholic sources. And when it becomes evident that their attacks are not based on any solid evidence contradicting Catholic teaching already stated, these attacks should be recognized for what they truly are and dismissed altogether. In fact Canon Law legislates that once a canonical argument establishes certitude regarding a certain act, and the facts of the case are adequately demonstrated, the one establishing this presumption of law “is freed from the burden of proof, which is thus shifted to his opponent,” (Can. 1827).
In his Apostolate of Public Opinion (1944) Rev. Felix Morlion proposed a “Catholic” variety of propaganda pandering to Americanist tendencies and political interests in general, and this propaganda included the use of the methods proscribed above while claiming to be based on scholastic principles. The ideas of St. Thomas, St. Robert Bellarmine and others on democracy are used by Morlion as justification for his Americanist orientation. This despite the fact that Rev. Denis Fahey, in his Rulers of Russia, explains the difference between the direct democracy taught by St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Nicholas of Flue regarding the government of villages and towns and today’s indirect democracy, the only type possible in ruling large nations. Concerning the latter he wrote: “Direct democracy is where the ordinary citizen actually governs in person…Indirect democracy is that in which the people govern by their representatives…There are two kinds of indirect democracy, the legitimate form and what we may call the Rosseauist-Masonic form…The legitimate form of indirect democracy is that in which those who govern are, firstly, chosen from the whole people; and secondly, designated by the votes of the whole people,” (which is seldom done in America because only about 20 percent of the population actually turn out to vote.) “Authority has its source in God. This is democracy as understood by St. Thomas…The Rosseauist-Masonic form of indirect democracy should rather be called democratism. It is a philosophical religious myth based upon two dogmas: firstly, the dogma of the Sovereign People, that is to say, of the People always in possession of Sovereign power,” without God as its source. “Secondly, that the vote of the people makes or creates what is right and just, thus exalting man in the place of God…Rosseauist-Masonic democracy has been frequently condemned by the Catholic Church (Sillon).” Certainly the “right makes might” theory is seen here.
Morlion maintained close ties to those working to destroy the Church, championing the “might makes right” theory and favoring one-world government. He wrote on this head: “By studying closely historical evolutions or revolutions, it is possible to see how there are deeper currents which, although sometimes divorced from the policies of present rulers, are the best basis for integration in ‘a world family of democratic nations.'” Morlion served as Vatican facilitator in the Cuban missile crises during the reign of Angelo Roncalli. He also was responsible for providing the exact wording in the Vatican II document “revising” the Church’s official teaching on the role the Jews played in Christ’s Crucifixion, (“How the Jews Changed Catholic Thinking,” Look Magazine). His teaching on the glories of democracy and the pre-eminence of this form of government are not supported by the magisterium. For over a century, the Popes taught against false ideas of democracy and Morlion must have been aware of these condemnations. Below are listed but a few samplings of papal warnings concerning the dangers presented by such false ideas.
“Modern writers declare that all power comes from the people…But Catholics hold that the right of governing derives from God,” (Pope Leo XIII, Diuturnum Illud).
“If the people retains the power, what becomes of authority?…There is no more law properly so-called; no obedience…The famous trilogy ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’ (is) a theory opposed to Catholic truth…,” (Pope St. Pius X, Our Apostolic Mandate).
“What a spectacle is that of a democratic state left to the whims of the masses! Liberty, which is really a duty of the individual, becomes a tyrannous claim of freedom to give free rein to one’s impulses and appetites at whatever cost or detriment to others…The masses are the capital enemy of TRUE democracy,” (Pius XII Christmas address, 1944).
Pope Pius IX condemned the idea of “public opinion” used to represent the will of the people in his encyclical Quanta Cura. Quoting Pope Gregory XVI’s earlier assessment of the situation stated in Mirari Vos, Pope Pius IX taught: “(It is) insanity to believe that liberty of conscience and worship is the unalienable right of every citizen…They are preaching a ‘liberty of perdition,’” (DZ 1690).
Morlion’s apostolate employed techniques designed to promote Catholicism in the press, but only along certain pre-conceived lines. His assessment of why so many Catholics and sympathetic non-Catholics failed to grasp religious principles was definitely skewed from the start. Catholics failed to grasp these principles not because modern technology was not properly used to promote them; they failed to grasp these principles because materialism, individualism and fideism already had undermined the faith of most Catholics. Realizing this, although it is never stated in so many words, Morlion attempted to capitalize on this sad state of affairs by filling in the gaps; in other words he resorted to a subtle sort of manipulation. Articles promoted by Pro Deo were geared to appeal to those not truly knowledgeable in religion. This made it all the easier to mold public opinion among Catholics and non-Catholics alike on world issues, especially those dealing with the promotion of democracy as a world government. His stated approach to his adversaries (mainly the “hedonists” and those not supporting democracy as king) is interesting –because certain Traditionalists today have appropriated these tactics by preying on the ignorance of their readers, and this has been demonstrated.
Morlion begins by basing everything on the “cultivation of tradition:” (how coincidental). Teaching this tradition, he explains, will supply for the dilemma of the (Catholic and non-Catholic) masses who are not interested in understanding “the deeper causes of things” and will not “live or die for…a philosophy of natural law…” Morlion set out to instill in the general public a “good tradition…” based on “Judaeo-Christian revelation” and “the international tradition of democracy,…the soundest guarantee for world peace.” Morlion describes Tradition as a “living force, which assimilates the basic thought of each century and grows stronger or feebler as a result of this assimilation. Tradition must be cultivated intelligently to increase in quality. If not, it can deteriorate and gradually be dominated by ideas contrary to its initial inspiration.” It is not Tradition as Catholics know and appreciate it, but a secular phenomenon that many such as Morlion attempted to harness to promote such things as democracy and international interdependence. All this amounted to was the use of propaganda to attract those who would later form the Modernist cells demanding change in the Church and the association of Catholicism with politics. Morlion’s primary goal was realized; the Church endorsed one-world government at Vatican II. The following statements handily sum up all Morlion says in his book on the subject:
Church in the Modern World
30. “…The more closely the world comes together, the more widely do men’s obligations transcend particular groups and gradually extend to the whole world…
82. “…To work for the moment when all war will be outlawed by international agreement, requires the establishment of a universally acknowledged public authority vested with the effective power to ensure security for all…”
88. “Chrisitans should willingly and wholeheartedly support the establishment of an international order that includes a genuine respect for legitimate freedom and friendly sentiments of brotherhood towards all men…” (Vatican Council II, Austin Flannery editor.)
In another section of these same VII documents, the council states that the Church is not affiliated with any particular political system or community. Morlion states the same, all the while promoting democracy throughout his work.
Like the liturgical innovators, Pro Deo harnessed Catholic Action to help promote their philosophy and, especially in America and France, found a ready audience. Morlion next tells us how by detailing the “techniques Pro Deo,” certain methods to be used to promote his philosophy and facilitate its spread. The first of these is exploitation of the popular theme, “some striking event…brought up in the midst of all conversation [which] influences all thoughts.” This can be a popular take on the course of events that seizes on the imagination, or just a slogan or ditty that “hypnotizes even those who argue against it,” and Morlion suggests using this in a Catholic way to achieve his desired end. One can see how in many cases this could conceivably work to the good, but the thing promoted must first be good in itself. Next Morlion addresses “the method of deflation,” different ways to manage “dangerous ideas.” Morlion advises the use of these tactics “only in absolute necessity.” Presumably this means that when heretics or others from without pour on the heat, the use of silence or ridicule is justified. While these methods are advised to combat evil, it remains only to determine who and what Morlion might see as “evil” or “dangerous.” considering his affiliations. “The creation of a void around evil influences, of a conspiracy of silence against lies, is often the best method of combat,” he wrote. “Especially when the dangerous ideas are confined to a particular milieu, they die a natural death since no one bothers about them; or at most, do not spread beyond those who, normally, could not be convinced. To attack such errors publicly and violently would be to make propaganda in their favor and to make everyone curious to know about them.” Pope Pius XI identified the source of the “silent treatment” in his encyclical on Atheistic Communism: “This silence is due in great part to an imprudent political policy…It is favored and recommended by various secret forces which have long been working for the overthrow of Christian States.”
A further variation of the above method can be found in the “whispering campaign,” that malicious and dishonest attack on one’s character often carried on in conjunction with the “silent treatment.” It consists in the confiding of secrets made by those believed as trustworthy to a group of hand-picked inferiors they know from past experience will privately pass on the secrets confided. The idea is not to publish these secrets, for then the allegations could be answered; and this understanding is either stated clearly to the ones receiving the secret or presumed based on past contact. The damage is done silently from a distance, and those receiving the information without questioning its veracity or source are as guilty as those disseminating it. Whisperers in moral theology are best known for turning friends against friends. In today’s world the definition has changed somewhat to include actually preventing one from investigating the truth or questioning the authority of those allowing and secretly encouraging the whispering campaign. It is diabolical in origin, suggestive of the serpent’s whispered suggestions to Eve, as well as potentially disastrous from the standpoint of faith.
Morlion also suggests the use of ridicule in “well-chosen cases,” observing that, “ridicule kills…This method (is) applied by caricatures, anecdotes, interviews, background stories, etc…” In their A Primer of Theology, Bk. Two, Revs. Regan, Henry and Donlan tell the story of two newspaper columnists, one serious and one more laid back, who disliked each other. The laid-back columnist began denigrating the serious columnist’s writing efforts by portraying them in a comical light. -“After awhile, the serious columns of the [other] writer became a laughing matter for many of the readers,” the authors wrote. “The method of destruction was ridicule. No matter how sacred or serious a thing may be, it can be broken and shattered if it is made to appear ridiculous.” The importance of honest, academic dispute of opinions, ideas and opposing points of view are appreciated even in the secular forum, but this is often not the case among Traditionalists. Even Morlion endorses the necessity of “dig(ging) deeper and deeper until we logically find the fundamental roots of the error,” and advised promoting “precise truths” to overcome these errors. Some Traditionalists, on the other hand, are not concerned with establishing the truth; they prefer ridicule and silence for convenience’s sake. Unable or unwilling to go to the bother of preparing an exhaustive answer to their critics, they find these tools far easier and more effective; more suitable to their slothful habits. And they find the end result most useful in discouraging those they wish to turn away from other lines of thought. Sadly, this is even the case where the truths of faith are concerned, as often any investigation of the truth is halted by derisive reference to the one presenting it. In fact this was the very tool used in the late 1950s, early 1960s to demoralize conservative theologians and their followers who refused to accept the liberal doublespeak that led to Vatican II.
Another technique advised by Morlion is that of repetition. When used for a good purpose, such as the study of theology, this method is recommended by St. Augustine and St. Thomas of Aquinas as a useful tool to facilitate memorization. But when used to reinforce the memorization of questionable principles, and Morlion’s principles ARE questionable, it becomes a propaganda tool. The old Communist maxim that a lie that is repeated over and over again eventually will be accepted as the truth then comes into play here. After repetition, Morlion suggests variation in repetition and the use of slogans. Rev. A.C. Cotter calls the use of slogans “intellectual laziness,” and tells us that certitude is purchased only by dint of “serious effort and untiring labor,” (The ABC’s of Scholastic Philosophy). Next Morlion uses Hitler’s speeches and methods to demonstrate the necessity of amplification, using all resources at hand to make a huge display of nationalistic and Catholic “solidarity” that will remain vividly alive in the minds of those participating. Again, the idea itself is not a bad one, depending on the nature of the display. But it can be used for less than noble purposes.
Morlion mentions the use of psychology in his work, directing it toward more easily acquiring a desired result from the Catholic masses without their knowledge. This can be used for apparently good reasons and results, but it is basically dishonest and amounts to manipulation. It also smacks of a type of condescension that relegates the “Catholic masses” to what one Traditionalist writer recently referred to as an amorphous group of “lunk-heads.” Basically, then, Traditionalists as a whole are perceived by certain leaders as uneducated in the faith, gullible and generally not the brightest bulbs on the marquis. They are ripe for the type of redirecting into the desired channels that Morlion himself strived to achieve. In other words, they are easy targets for manipulation, even deception. These Catholics, many of whom never enjoyed a Catholic education or even proper religious instruction, and some of whom suffer from various disabilities that make reading and understanding painfully difficult, deserve better. They are no less valuable in God’s eyes than those of us trying to explain and defend the faith. We owe them our attention and the efforts necessary to do what we can to make the faith both appealing and understandable for them. Their input is essential to us if we are to fulfill God’s will in our writing vocations. This proletariat assessment of the “masses” or “little people” is also dangerous for another reason.
In the editorial note to his book Brain-Washing, the former Communist Kenneth Goff laid out the course of study he undertook as part of his induction to the Communist Party. The entire book, a training manual actually used by the Communists, is dedicated to creating chaos through manipulating social programs and political processes. (As seen above, Morlion’s stated objective is to appeal to the masses using political means.) The stress resulting from this manipulation will then drive people to nervous distraction and subsequent drug use that easily can be labeled as insanity. By repressing the more effective forms of mental health practice that would offer relief, and especially by teaching mental health in schools while targeting and corrupting youth, the need for the warehousing of individuals exhibiting symptoms can be created. “We were trained in all phases of warfare, both psychological and physical for the destruction of the Capitalistic society and Christian civilization,” Goff wrote. “In one portion of our studies we went fully into the matter of psychopolitics. This was the art of capturing the minds of a nation through brainwashing and fake mental health…If people can be conquered in the absence of war, the end of war will have been achieved…” The manual also related that those who study and understand psychology “become at once a candidate to accept the reasonableness of Communism.” Little wonder that the Church has long held this science suspect, particularly in non-Catholic hands. As described by Goff, psychopolitics seems to be exactly the method Morlion used to bring about his desired end.
The ultimate goal of psychopolitics is to produce such a horror of religious “fanaticism” that it will be classified as insanity. “You must work until ‘religion’ is synonymous with ‘insanity,'” Goff said, quoting his Communist instructors. “You must work until the officials of city, county, and state governments will not think twice before they pounce upon religious groups as public enemies.” And this is exactly how previously mentioned Traditionalists manage to sideline the “fanatics” impeding the advancement of their agenda. Ridiculing one’s critics as a “cult,” ignorant, mentally deranged and so forth in the religious sphere is scarcely the same as refuting their arguments. When such criticism is consistently leveled without any accompanying proof that the claims of such a group are indeed untrue, then it becomes clear that the real intent is not to discern the truth or defend it but to suppress it and entirely destroy its value for others. As stated above, even the sacred may be profaned by ridicule. The establishment of Homeland Security and compilation of the Patriot Act following the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 has allowed government officials to make great strides in suppressing the truth, as Pres. Bush’s secret wiretaps confirm. Journalists once able to inform the public based on their right to know now are instructed by their editors to cease and desist rather than risk fines and imprisonment for exposing lies and abuses.
And what happens next if all the methods of attack described above are unsuccessful? Then the out and out lies begin, with certain individuals even receiving favors for stretching the truth or outright fabrication. Is this statement absolutely precluded on the grounds that true Catholics would never engage in such behavior? Only the truly naïve would assume this. History tells a different story. St. Gerard Majella himself was falsely accused of impurity by a woman and was suspended from his priestly duties until the accuser recanted. His superiors believed the (“good,Catholic”) woman, at least for a time. Depending on how desperate an enemy is, this campaign of terror can even escalate to homicidal proportions. Considering the raw hatred generated by repeated, vicious verbal attacks and the cloak of religious righteousness worn by the offenders, lending them an assumed purpose and mission, it is no wonder that such situations easily culminate in physical violence. Harassment becomes stalking and stalking handily accommodates physical harm, even murder. The unbalanced, especially, are stirred by such passions and can easily justify taking matters into their own hands. Juan Krohn, who in 1982 attempted to stab Karol Wojtyla in Portugal was such a Traditionalist. When the truths of faith are little appreciated or practiced; when one must continually lie to oneself concerning the true state of affairs and ignore the obvious, anything is possible. The writer who does not fully understand and appreciate where passions once roused will transport the reader is not aware of the power he wields.
Catholic writers, in the public eye and holding a position of authority in the estimation of their readers, have a strict obligation to abide by the teachings of the continual magisterium and Catholic principles in general, as Pope Pius XII reminds journalists below.
“You understand the grave responsibility resting on you. Be conscious of it when you write. You have your ethical principles worthy of a noble art; yet you will agree that there is an evil press abroad that scorns these norms. Bring the weight of your honorable loyalty and fearless example to thwart the harm it can do. Calumny and scandal, how quick-footed they are!…What havoc it can wreak in family life, in the lives of individuals and nations! A scoop is not worth the deep sense of shame that should come to one guilty of such conduct…One may well shudder at the flood of error and false moral standards let loose by the communication arts today. We pray that God may strengthen you in your resolute purpose to live up to your lofty vocation; so that always, alert to your obligations to the thousands and millions of people who may be affected by what you write, may you give them at all times nothing but the truth, as far as your serious research can ascertain it,” (to American newsman, April 15, 1957; The Pope Speaks).
And as Pope Leo XIII wrote in Immortale Dei:
“The integrity of the Catholic faith can by no means exist along with opinions which border on naturalism and rationalism…It is not lawful to follow one form of duty in private life and another in public…[Some] are faced with the charge of having violated or mistrusted the Catholic faith, which we are sorry to say has taken place more than once. Let all who are accustomed to express their opinions in writing, especially writers for newspapers, bear this principle in mind. In this struggle over most important matters, there can be no place for internal controversies or for party rivalries…If hitherto there have been rash and injurious actions, those who are in any way to blame for this should make amends with mutual charity, and a kind of special submission should be made on the part of all to the Apostolic See. In this way Catholics will obtain two very excellent results: one, that of establishing themselves as helpers of the Church in preserving and propagating Christian wisdom; the other, that of bestowing upon civil society the greatest blessing, the preservation of which is imperiled by evil doctrines and passions,” (DZ 1885, 1886, 1887-1888).
To date, personalities, personal agendas and ulterior motives have dictated the course Traditionalists follow. A history of the movement easily proves this to be true. Infighting and the perpetual struggle for dominance override every attempt to simply know and understand Christ’s will for His Church on earth and His teachings concerning how to determine this will. Neither the ethics of the secular sphere nor those more stringent laws of conduct enforced by the Church give them pause. Solutions to this crisis, long in coming, now seem to revolve around solving it in a way that does not take into consideration any of the bedrock realities Christ established for His Church nor any of the solutions infallibly taught by His vicars. There is therefore a definitive BREAK, not continuity with Tradition, for as Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey reminds us “The organs of tradition are the various voices which express and describe the Catholic belief, namely the Supreme Pontiff, the bishops and the faithful,” (Manual of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. I). Since most Traditionalists believe and all the evidence shows that Pope Pius XII was the last true pontiff, this means all these “voices” would need to be gathered from pre-1959 sources.
Sufficient numbers in favor of a certain course of action, not those unanimous in faith; popular appeal, private opinion and not unanimity of Church testimony over the centuries — this is what now comprises the new marks of the Church. Traditionalists have a choice. They can follow private interpretation of Scripture and “Catholic” prophecy advanced by those posing as the “enlightened” ones in charge of the destiny of the “lunk-heads,” or they can reason things out for themselves with their own God-given faculties from the vantage point of faith. Unity in doctrinal belief, holiness of the doctrines taught by Christ and His vicars, the universality of doctrine and the apostolic source of these same doctrines — these are the genuine marks of the Church. A truly honest assessment of these doctrines as taught by the Church Herself would reveal this; the larger part of the Catholic masses are perfectly capable, with the usual help and guidance required by most students, to learn their faith. Not only is it possible to do so, it is the bounden duty of true Catholics to discover and examine that truth for themselves before lending allegiance to the inventions of others.
If the din of contention would cease for just a brief space in time, Catholics might be able to clear their heads. As Pope Leo teaches above, all rivalries and internal controversies must be set aside to address truly important matters — what the Church teaches, how we must change our lives to conform to this teaching, and what we must do to resolve the crisis in the Church. Catholics today must unanimously and resolutely insist on a cease-fire of this sort at this most important juncture in time. If they shirk their duty in this regard, we may all soon experience the hellish heat of that fire without ceasing for failing to defend Christ’s Mystical Body and affirm and obey the holy teachings of His vicars.