+St. Thomas of Villanova+
It seems like another lifetime ago, but when my children were teens we lived in South Texas not very far from the banks of the Guadalupe River. One year following a spate of heavy rains the river overflowed its banks and threatened several towns lying nearby, ours being one of them. Where we lived at the time, the neighbors hosted country western barn-style dances, held under a large, covered carport-type structure. The evening the river was due to crest, one of these dances was attended by a good-sized crowd, as the rain beat down noisily on the tin roof. Everyone assured us the waters would not reach the area where we lived at the time. As I watched the twirling figures in the distance, it reminded me of a song from my youth — about a young man playing in a dance band on the Titanic. He asks a member of the audience to dance with him, even though the iceberg is looming just over his shoulder on the starboard bow.
Despite assurances from the neighbors, I was not taking any chances. As my husband and family looked on in amusement, I shifted all my books to the upper level of our bi-level residence, packed to-go bags for each family member and carefully watched the forecast. We went to bed that night serenaded by the tunes of the dance band, with the river due to crest in the early morning hours. When I opened my eyes the next morning, the first thing I noticed was the humid warmth of the room and the silent ceiling fan blades above our bed – the power was off. I whipped back the covers and ran to the window to see — water spread out over the entire landscape.
To get a better view I looked out the front door and breathed a sigh of relief. The trailers down the road had water up to their skirting but the flood waters had stopped just short of our steps. My prayers to Our Lady of Guadalupe had been answered and I murmured a heartfelt thank you to her. Our EMT-trained daughter was dressed and ready to go as a motorboat pulled up down the road to visit those needing flood assistance. Off she went with her to-go bag as I waved goodbye. A few South Texans died that day and many along the river lost their homes, for the second time in two years. As close as the waters came, it paid to be prepared. But the behavior of the folks drinking and making merry at the dance the night before never left me.
Eat, drink and be merry
Once again, I am watching as the ship begins to take on water and even those who should know better dance to the tunes of the band. Or is it the pied piper they are mesmerized by? I have to believe it is the latter. All this was choreographed long ago, by those engineers of doctrinal warfare plotting the destruction of the Catholic Church first, then the rest of mankind: as the Church goes, so goes the world. While everyone dismisses doom and gloomers, even some of those who were once skeptical about the precarious state of affairs globally and nationally are noticeably becoming uneasy, waiting anxiously for the next shoe to drop. How close everything is to the universal collapse is anyone’s guess, but I don’t think that those who rationally assess what is happening have any doubts that it could come at any time.
Those on the “Catholic” front who should be wearing sackcloth, adding ashes to their food and preaching prayer and penance are instead merrily planning an illegal conclave. How far these plans will go and whether they will be realized or not is anyone’s guess. It puts one in mind of the Bible verse: “As in the days of Noe, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even till that day in which Noe entered into the ark. And they knew not till the flood came, and took them all away; so also shall the coming of the Son of man be” (Genesis 6:1-7; Mark 13:32-37; Luke 12:35-48). And regarding the “reign” of the pseudo-clergy over the people, we hear this from Holy Scripture: “They have reigned, but not by me: they have been princes, and I knew not: of their silver, and their gold they have made idols to themselves, that they might perish… They shall offer victims, they shall sacrifice flesh, and shall eat it, and the Lord will not receive them” (Hosea 8: 4, 13).
Why is it that no one can see that there is nothing new under the sun here, that all this has happened before? Who has ever considered God’s will in any of these manmade Traditionalist movements? And especially now in these conclave plans to “resurrect” His Church by breaking the very laws He set down to keep it in existence?! For as the prophet Jeremiah warned: “Because you have sacrificed to idols, and have sinned against the Lord: and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have not walked in his law, and in his commandments, and in his testimonies: therefore are these evils come upon you, as at this day” (Jer. 44: 23). Whether we participate in such evils or not, we will all pay for these sins. And by ignoring Pope Pius XII’s Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis this is exactly what they are doing. This also happened before the “election” of the “Kansas thrift-store pope” David Bawden in 1990. Like Traditionalists today, Bawden had everyone convinced that Pius XII’s election constitution was only “an ecclesiastical law;” that in this “emergency” he would not wish his law to bind, when this is precisely why it was written — to protect the Church from being hijacked.
A page from a false pope’s playbook
What is really amazing here is that in calling for this conclave, Traditionalists are following Bawden’s very own instructions, a man they have ridiculed for decades. In a website article posted a few years ago, Bawden (now deceased) wrote:
“Excommunicates and those under suspension may vote. However they are admonished to observe the effects of the censure in ALL of their other activities as required by Canon Law. It might be wise for them to refrain from voting, but they may if they wish and we may not forbid them… Anyone, who has committed heresy in public should publicly and in writing renounce it, and this should be required for admission to the election, as proof of desire to return to the Church. They must also observe the censure of excommunication. All electors must accept the sede vacante and the jurisdiction of the Pope elected in this election. Such acceptance should be in writing and made by a vow to accept the Pope so elected. (Anyone: who does not have this level of belief should attempt to obtain it or prove why this election should not be held.) After the election all of the electors will have to show their acceptance of this Pope as supreme head of the Church. Before the election begins this vow should be made publicly by all electors individually in the presence of the other electors.”
This is basically everything that Traditionalists are advocating. But at that time Bawden, knowing his own limitations, was making concessions the Church would never make. He had already publicly admitted in 1982, eight years before his election, that he was a heretic for belonging to the SSPX. (This letter was not discovered until long after his “election.”) The excerpt above was his initial attempt to contact those with whom he corresponded and prepare the groundwork to convene an election. Traditionalists may deny they have ever admitted to committing heresy with its subsequent excommunication, deposition and legal infamy, but they have done so at least implicitly by invoking Can. 2261 §2 to claim supplied jurisdiction. Why would they need to invoke it if they were not excommunicated? And what other excommunications could they possible be referring to?
Minimalism started the downhill slide
How did it come to this? In one word, minimalism — a term you have heard on this blog many different times; a fatal error Msgr. Joseph C. Fenton crusaded against in his articles for The American Ecclesiastical Review and Pope Pius XII later condemned in Humani generis. We have seen, in articles and comments posted here, how even some of those calling themselves pray-at-home Catholics reduce papal decisions to meaningless formulas that need not be obeyed, and that is minimalism. Msgr. Fenton defines minimalism as follows:
“Ultimately theological minimalism was a device employed by liberal Catholics to make the rejection of authoritative papal teaching on any point appear to be good Catholic practice. Sometimes it took the crass form of a claim that Catholics are obligated to accept and to hold only those things which had been defined by the explicit decrees of the ecumenical councils or of the Holy See. This attitude…was condemned by Pope Pius IX in his letter Tuas Libenter (DZ 1683). Another crass form of minimalism was the opposition to the Vatican Council definition of papal infallibility. The men who expressed that opposition sometimes claimed to hold the doctrine of papal infallibility as a theological opinion but they showed a furious hostility to the definition which proposed that doctrine as a dogma of divine and Catholic faith” (“The Components of Liberal Catholicism,” The American Ecclesiastical Review, July, 1958).
In other words, minimalism was an attack on papal authority. No matter what the popes taught, it could be undercut and explained away, and a good “emergency” was all that was needed for it to be utilized to its full extent. Already in the 1950s the Modernists were in complete control, if covertly, and Pope Pius XII knew this, predicting, “…after me, the deluge.” So where does this attack on papal authority, this watering down of papal and conciliar teaching, censures levied in Canon Law and the faithful observance of moral laws lead? A reader recently supplied the following, from an unidentified source, but it is so compelling that it needs to be included here. It explains where eventually minimalization leads, and how truly dangerous it is, which is why Pope Pius XII condemned it in the first place. And it perfectly illustrates the very tactics used by Traditionalists for decades.
“If you bring up the obligation ‘We have to accept Catholic dogma or become heretics,’ the liberal Catholic will answer,‘Yes, but the dogmas have to be interpreted broadly so that almost no one really falls into heresy.’ There is always a minimization, a restriction to avoid reaching the final consequences and not reach a more complete and richer understanding of Catholic truths. This attitude of soul evolves. That is, no liberal Catholic remains in the same position. It is like a leprosy that progresses and eventually consumes the whole person. If the person has a long life, at its end he will have lost or almost lost the Faith.
“Summarizing, these are the basic characteristics of the liberal Catholic:
- He takes a contradictory position, which accepts two radical and opposed mentalities.
- He is hypocritical because he says he wants to serve God when he wants to serve himself.
- Also, he lies to himself by veiling the concessions he makes.
- He is resentful, revengeful and deceitful.
- His error evolves towards apostasy.”
The front presented by Traditional groups is that they are religious conservatives, even ultra-conservatives; but while they may be ultra-conservative from a political standpoint ,but doctrinally they are actually liberal progressives, if held against the Catholic standard as it existed during the reign of Pope Pius XII. This is why their behavior so closely corresponds to what is described below.
Traditionalists paint themselves as liberal Catholics
Nothing better describes the contradictory position of some Traditionalists, at least, than the material-formal dichotomy, or the very idea that the Catholic Church could truly exist for an extended period minus bishops lacking jurisdiction. Nor can anything more certainly typify hypocrisy than the condemnation of someone who professes views to justify a claim, (Bawden), then the subsequent use of those very same views to support a papal election by the laity. Bawden’s concessions made to voters, clergy and religious alike are carefully veiled with precautions; this doesn’t lessen the fact they simply are not and cannot be condoned by the Church. And Traditionalists embrace these same concessions. Deceit is more or less the hallmark of Traditionalism as will be explained in greater detail below. For they have managed to convince hundreds of thousands over the years that they possess certainly valid orders, can constitute Christ’s Church without a pope and can substitute epikeia, a shaky legal principle at best, for jurisdiction that proceeds only directly from God Himself, so is a matter of Divine law. When reprimanded or prodded, these “good Catholics” will immediately resort to hateful invective, even to calumny, defamation and any other manner of evil to defend themselves. One pseudo-cleric actually stooped to falsifying a translation of the Council of Trent!
Another good example of concessions made by Traditionalists is the fact that those participating in Trad discussion forums as well as social media sites, in order to be allowed to comment, must tolerate various positions allowed to be discussed among members as though they each possessed some grain of truth. These include such topics as the material-formal thesis, the Siri stupidity, conservative Novus Ordo practice passing as “semi-Traditionalism,” or even what is presented as the pray-at-home position (sufficiently subservient to those holding contrary positions to merit toleration). This is nothing less than a mortal sin against truth. It can be described only as doctrinal relativism — the condemned philosophical position that “all points of view are equally valid and that all truth is relative to the individual.” This reduces to what these people truly are, practitioners of the likewise condemned errors of Traditionalism/Fideism, which denies that the faithful can arrive at certitude regarding Catholic truth. It also is a form of Indifferentism, which tolerates all beliefs as equally acceptable.
As for apostasy, the belief in a non-Christian religion, think on this for a moment. If Traditionalists truly believe Christ came to earth to die for our sins, open the gates of Heaven and establish a Church intended by Him to last forever; if they truly believe that He appointed St. Peter and all his legitimate successors, canonically elected, to head that Church, and if they believe that Christ gave these successors of St. Peter His own power to bind and loose, then how could they possibly question the authority of a Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, a Cum ex Apostolatus Offiicio, or any other document of the extraordinary OR ordinary magisterium?! On questioning or disregarding these pronouncements, always prefaced with the pronoun “We,” to indicate the popes are speaking with Christ’s own authority, are they not questioning and denying Christ Himself, who promised to bind and loose? Isn’t this outright heresy and schism, and are not heresy and schism ranked alongside apostasy in Cum ex…and Can. 2314?
The journalist Louis Veuillot, in his 1866 work The Liberal illusion predicted what we are seeing today among these liberal Catholics parading as the true Church: “Which way would these liberal Catholics go, caught as they would be between the true Catholics anathematizing them and the true disbelievers demanding guarantees of the repudiation of Catholicism? … If such liberal Catholics …furnish the guarantees demanded by those in the opposing camp, they will cut themselves off from true Catholics; they will commend liberty for imposing silence on the enemies of liberty. They will lend a hand to persecuting the true Catholics and in so doing they will become apostates from the faith, while still remaining only half-hearted liberals.” One couldn’t find a better confirmation of what has been said above. Pope St. Pius X warned us in his encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis that the injury to the Church is more certain whenever the knowledge of Her is more intimate.
If nothing else but to dodge the growing objections to their inability to possess canonical mission jurisdiction, first raised by several authors in the 1980s and maintained by this author since that time, Traditionalists may very well feel the pressure to elect a pope, to provide at least some semblance of legitimacy. But their pride will not permit them to admit it is no longer possible because they themselves are questionably ordained and consecrated and are ineligible to vote. All those bishops who might once have been able to gather and elect have since passed away. Those claiming to be clerics today possess no jurisdiction of any kind, and epikeia cannot and does not supply it. Apostolicity no longer exists; the Divine grant of jurisdiction has been allowed to expire. Does this mean the Church Herself no longer exists? No, because Christ is still the head of His Mystical Body, there are still Catholics on earth who love Him and keep the faith, and He has promised to be with them until the consummation.
As explained in an earlier blog, Pope Pius XII commanded the faithful to fulfill the duties of the hierarchy in their absence. But ONLY in accordance with the rules of faith, morals and ecclesiastical discipline; nothing can be done contrary to the implicit or explicit will of the Church. Yet everything Traditionalists have done is contrary to that will. Faith has been so minimized by these men that it no longer resembles the true Catholic Faith. And this has been reflected in their morals — the Shuckardt affair, the Trento debacle, the St. Gertrude the Great scandal; also various scandals that have hounded the SSPX and cast a shadow over certain independent groups. How is this any different than the Novus Ordo or even Protestant sects? Why do the people following these pretenders drift aimlessly from sect to sect, settling doctrinally and morally for whatever they can get?
Coercive persuasion and the three D’s
According to Robert Jay Lifton (1961) in his definitive work on mind control, Farber, Harlow, and West (1957) described the Korean thought reform system used to brainwash prisoners of war as the “DDD syndrome”: debility, dependency, and dread. Anyone leaving the disaster that was created by Vatican 2 and the new mass suffered severe psychological debility. They were extremely traumatized and vulnerable, and those offering to provide what they wanted and felt that they needed knew this. Over time they had learned to become dependent on the clergy, for everything, and had no idea how to sort out what was happening to them. Attempts to curb this dependency by establishing Catholic Action groups prior to Vatican 2 met with only a modicum of success. Dependency on the clergy was pronounced and bled over even to those not certainly validly ordained or consecrated, after the death of validly ordained priests. These men were only too happy to persuade vulnerable Catholics that they had to preserve the Latin Mass and receive the Sacraments. This dread of being deprived of Mass and Sacraments — graces these men insisted were absolutely necessary to salvation — fueled their continued flight from group to group over the years, after scandals broke and infighting erupted.
Tell me that this does not describe a cult-like mentality. And the sad fact about such a mindset is that those suffering from it are unable to realize it and withdraw — why it is called the operation of error. They mistook the Church for a religious version of the nanny state and cannot disengage themselves from the Traditionalist teats. Now they are preparing to elect the ultimate cult leader, and yes that is all any “pope” they might elect will ever be. They cannot face the reality of our situation, that God has pronounced His judgement on a guilty people who refused to honor Him and His Vicar on earth, by depriving them of Mass and Sacraments, just as Holy Scripture predicts. These people are so irrational they would rather risk their very souls than admit that no certitude regarding the validity of their clerics can be had at all without a decision by a CANONICALLY ELECTED pope. The Catholic Encyclopedia, commenting on Pope Leo XIII’s Apostolica Curae, tells us that even a slight doubt regarding orders must be referred to the Holy Office for a determination and that this usually involves conditional ordination. Some sedevacantists even admit this regarding the Thuc consecrations.
The real crime here committed by Traditionalists and those who cooperate with them in any way is and always has been crass indifference to the enormity of the sins of sacrilege and idolatry, sins specifically and directly offensive to God. Those in good faith who pray at home do so to avoid these loathsome and grievous sins — it is as simple as that. They hearken to the words of Christ, who has taught, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” and “Obedience is better than sacrifices.” Electing a Traditionalist grand poohbah and calling him pope will not unite Traditionalists nor render them obedient. It will only further entrench them in their errors and officially brand their pseudo-pope as yet another antichrist. And the mark of this antichrist will be the very liberal Catholicism they have so long condemned in their Novus Ordo brethren.