What is most maddening about the current state of the Church today is the compelling need to correct so many dangerous errors in order to defend the faith. But what is sometimes lost in correcting these errors, as necessary as this is, is the simplicity of the faith itself. Heresies and broken laws take a lot of demonstration and explaining to understand, and if these laws were not being broken, and the faith was not being denied, it wouldn’t be necessary. But of course they are, and it is, and lest someone falls into the yawning chasms of disbelief they create, they must be exposed.
That being said, quite a few are understandably wearied by the constant need to deal with it all. Traditionalists and their pseudo-clergy grow more irrational and argumentative with each passing day. Witness some of the obviously nonsensical and contradictory statements posted by these sects on the Internet. The delusions they labor under are so entrenched and so strong I really do not believe it is possible to reach them. It is almost as though they function under some sort of satanic spell, and they do — the operation of error foretold by St. Paul. They have traded the true faith for a mess of Protestant pottage (thick soup or porridge) and not only do they deny it is Protestant, they think they are dining on steak and caviar, not pottage!
It would be one thing if we were dealing with the first generation of Catholics to depart following Vatican 2, but most of those who knew the Church as She once existed are no longer with us, or soon will be gone. They are the ones who initially embraced Traditionalism and refused to abandon their “priests” and now we are dealing with their children and grandchildren. They became caught up in the drama of Traditionalist life with its many scandals, dissensions and frequent hopping around from group to group, and this is now normal for these family members who went through it with them. They accept it as Catholic in these “emergency times” and with their parents’ support, continue to live the only “Catholic” life they know. Herd animals that they are, products largely of the world in which we live, they avoid at all costs anything that would separate them from their “pack” and cause them to actually think on their own. If many of them were home-schooled and this is the result, then the critical thinking homeschooling is intended to encourage certainly was lacking in their regard.
And so the initial mission to reach those who might yet understand no longer has any purpose and therefore must come to an end. Troubled Traditionalists reassessing their situation or newly-woken Novus Ordo departees are so consumed with the idea of participation and groupthink they are unable to consider any truly viable alternatives. The idea of the Latin Mass and the pageantry that always accompanied liturgical functions attracts newcomers and remains the guidepost for Traditionalists considering a different group. In a normal world this would be understandable in departing from what one considers a destructive or non-Catholic sect. But surely no one today can pretend the world we live in is anything close to normal.
Traditionalism is nothing new
Those weighing their options must understand that the Traditionalist movement is nothing new or even traditional. It is the continuation of the Jansenist, Gallicanist, Anglican, Orthodox, Theosophist and Gnostic ”tradition,” but that is certainly not Catholic tradition! One book all should read if they wish to see a mirror image of Traditionalist practice and belief is Peter Anson’s Bishops At Large. Written in 1964, it provides an amazing preview of what would soon become the Traditionalist movements and their many offspring. It is appropriate here to quote from the Introduction to Anson’s book written by Henry St. John, O.P. which aptly sums up everything we know as Traditionalism today.
“[Anson’s] story is one of the strangest and most fantastic religious movements to be found in the whole range of what may be described in general terms as the erratic ‘goings-on’ of the underworld. The use of the word underworld in this context must be taken as connoting an ecclesiastical eccentricity rather than roguery or crime, though neither of the latter is wholly absent from its records. The story is closely though not exclusively connected with movements of a Catholic type, mainly arriving from dissatisfied and unstable elements in Catholicism or Anglo-Catholicism. They stand as a rule for Catholicism without the Pope but their preoccupation amounting to obsession is the recovery of Christian unity by the widespread and in effect indiscriminate propagation of valid episcopacy and priesthood.
“In almost every case, the leaders of these multiple movements have been at pains to obtain episcopal consecration from sources often remote and seldom wholly unquestionable which they hoped would be indisputable. Having obtained an episcopal character, they proceeded to found a church based upon it and their own particular version of what true Catholic orthodoxy is. In this way, so the visionary hope takes shape in the minds of these dreamers, that their church will become the center and foundation upon which the unity of Christ’s Church could be rebuilt…
“Mr. Anson’s story shows us a reductio ad absurdum of the divinely ordained hierarchical structure of the Church constituted by Apostolic succession when divorced from almost every consideration but a mechanical conception of validity… The obsession of the bishops at large and their followers with the validity of orders has brought them to the belief that such validity is a sole hallmark of the nature of the Church and its authority. Ubi ordines validi ecclesia is the principle upon which they, all of them, consistently act with a determined conviction,” (valid orders make a strong Church).
“The result of this action is that they are in effect reduced to saying ‘get valid orders and you can choose what you believe.’ They are unaware that they are saying this and consequently lay great stress on the supreme importance of an orthodoxy which turns out to be no more than their own particular and sometimes variable “doxy.” What they have forgotten in their often wild and eccentric way is that even a valid Apostolic succession is of small value unless it is possessed by a believing community that is a visible organic society divinely preserved from the loss of its structural unity. This unity preserves and is preserved by its sensus fidelium and by the teaching authority of its united episcopate. This is the essential nature of the Church as taught by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church in common, in accordance with historic tradition from the earliest times” but in the Catholic Church, of course, the Roman Pontiff alone is the guarantee of this undivided unity as the head member of that “united episcopate.”
The disturbing truth
And so we see that Traditionalists are no different than those schismatic sects who preceded them in pretending that one can have a Church without a pope. The underworld has now become their norm, and far from striving for any sort of Catholic unity, which necessarily requires a true pope, they seem to glory in their diversity. Anson goes into great detail to describe the occult connections of these groups, also their interests in ancient heresies, which so many have now resurrected and even perfected. Catholic writer Mary Lejeune warned those joining Traditionalist sects that they were occult-based and Masonic in origin in the 1970s, but to no avail.
Author Craig Heimbichner, in his Blood on the Altar (2005) notes that many of those initially singing the praises of the Latin Tridentine Mass in the late 1960s, early 1970s were practicing theosophists, who succeeded in luring traditionalists into “Latin Mass” groups. He links the awe for the old Mass to C.W. Leadbetter, founder of the Liberal Catholic (Theosophical) church in Sydney, Australia in 1917, citing several quotes proving theosophic occultism later was introduced into Traditional circles.
Heimbichner quotes Wasserman as stating that “Persons of Gnostic-hermetic interests have more in common with traditionalist Catholics than with either modernist Vatican II Catholics or with Protestants…The Right-wing exploits a superstition among some Catholics who hold to a kind of unspoken “magic sacramentalism,” [condemned by Pope St. Pius X in his encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis against Modernism], i.e, the notion that being present at the Holy Mass itself, with its awe-inspiring solemnity and its bells, incense and candles — not one’s state of grace, fidelity to the Commandments of God or relationship with Jesus Christ — becomes the individual’s guarantor of sanctity.” Heimbichner calls this a “Satanic perversion” of Catholicism, mixing pagan elements with the true, much as is done in the Satanic rituals connected to Voodoo and Santeria. And if this is what those investigating Traditionalism really wish to expose themselves to, they definitely are not looking for the true faith as taught by St. Peter through Pius XII.
Traditionalists’ intense focus on perpetuating their shady lineages and defending their legitimacy occupies the time that, were they anything but pseudo-clerics, should be devoted to developing a true understanding of the entirety of Catholic existence, not just its exterior aspect. They all have developed their own ideas of orthodoxy, as St. John notes above, and this is illustrated by the recent controversies among themselves regarding una cum and the material-formal hypothesis. Also as noted above, their theory regarding the episcopacy reduces the Church’s establishment of a hierarchy based on true apostolic succession headed by a canonically elected pope to an absurdity. The only difference between those sects described above and Traditionalists is that Traditionalists have succeeded in convincing their ignorant followers that they are the true Church, and the “True Restoration” crowd pretends to be able to unite all these scraggly sects to present the appearance of a unity they can never possess without a true pope.
Anson’s book is filled with photos of incredible pseudo-Catholic pageantry, clerical ostentation and simulated piety, found reproduced on nearly every Traditional “Catholic” website in existence. These sites feature full-color photos of alleged consecrations and ordinations, wide-eyed “seminarians” being ordained as “priests,” and pious congregations attending ”high masses” offered in vain. Such pretension is an insult to any true Catholic and should be recognized by all for what it truly is — the continuation of a long line of heretics and schismatics who wish to dethrone the pope forever and usurp his authority. Apostolicity of origin, doctrine and mission must all be one, and they have none of these, as has been proven by the Church herself on the pages of this site and elsewhere time and time again. But the followers of these imposters are concerned only with appearances, not reality. And here we must leave them in their fantasy world to fend for themselves as best they can.