Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Radical Catholic Reactionary Errors of the Seattle Catholic Documented

The following excerpts document serious errors that the Seattle Catholic saw fit to print and espouse.

* * * * *

Never Lose Focus on the Complete Picture 

Thomas A. Droleskey (23 August 2004)

Even if Rome granted an Apostolic Administration for the Traditional Latin Mass, obeisance would still have to be paid to the disaster that is the Second Vatican Council and the horror that is the Novus Ordo Missae

Rome itself must reject the regime of novelty of the past forty years, which is itself an ecclesial embrace of the very errors of modernity that coalesced into Modernism, critiqued so thoroughly by Pope Saint Pius X in Pascendi Domenici Gregis in 1907.

This, then, is my final contribution to the Seattle Catholic site, which is such a vital source of news and information on the Internet. . . . I will still try to produce articles twice a month for The Remnant. [another radical Catholic reactionary periodical]

The Vatican II Renewal: Myth or Reality

 Kenneth C. Jones (8 December 2003)

(The following article is reprinted with permission from The Latin Mass magazine.)

. . . it is beyond question that our Holy Mother Church is again falling into ruins . . . understand and respond to the emergency before it is too late. 

The myth that the Council did not cause the crisis in the Church — the post hoc ergo propter hoc objection.

These hard facts show a growing, vibrant, militant Church at the time the Second Vatican Council opened. Attempts to portray it otherwise are revisionist history by those who want to justify or explain away the revolution in the Church since the Council. 

The final myth I want to discuss is the idea that the crisis we now face was not caused by the Council or the changes imposed in its name. 

I think the burden is on those who make the post hoc argument to offer a better reason. If the changes made after Vatican II did not cause the crisis, what did? They offer no other reason.

. . . it's time we discard New Catholicism, as we discarded New Coke. It's time to bring back Catholicism Classic, the real thing.

No Wonder Our Ranks Keep Growing

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. (3 November 2003)

. . . the ongoing post-conciliar revolution. 

Isn't one interpretation of the catastrophe that has resulted from revolutionizing the Church that the pre-conciliar Church may have been on to something after all?

Revolutionary Parallels 

Peter W. Miller (2 August 2004)

Responding to the ever-growing disenchantment many Catholics are starting to realize regarding what we are still being told is a "New Springtime" for the Church, a number of "Why Vatican II was Necessary," "How the Council Saved the Church," "Vatican II - We Love You," type of articles have been appearing with a greater frequency in a number of publications. With an underwhelming amount of direct evidence for positive results from Vatican II, the line of argumentation quickly turns to perhaps the last vestige of a revolutionary apologist - undocumented and largely anecdotal attacks on aspects of the pre-Conciliar Church.

Similarly, the post-Conciliar revolutionaries in the Church are having an increasingly hard time demonstrating the success of what they worked so hard to create. Faced with discouraging numbers and a universal impression of chaos to those within and without, they stubbornly stick to their guns. More and more people are starting to recognize the folly of this program, but when speaking out, are faced with the problem of authority since, by and large, those holding positions of authority in the Church are still those who wholeheartedly support the current revolution in which we find ourselves.

Catholic prelates are increasingly finding themselves in the position of Martin Luther, wondering why the revolution they helped facilitate is failing to draw new adherents, or why they are needing to fight a growing counter-effort seeking to undo what they have established. 

Revisiting Some Old Questions 

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. (25 July 2003)

The new rite itself, of course, by breaking dramatically with liturgical tradition, de-emphasizing important Catholic doctrines, and imposing bland, manufactured prayers, has severed one of the Catholic's most tangible links to the communion of saints. No longer does he worship in a manner that those who came before him would have recognized . . . Roman Rite Catholics have been rendered spiritual orphans, rootless and rudderless in a hostile world. 

Common Ground on the Catholic Crisis 

Peter W. Miller (4 April 2003)

Most orthodox Catholics are by now able to readily acknowledge the severe crisis the Church is facing in a number of areas: liturgically, doctrinally, pastorally, morally, and so on. Although conservative and traditional Catholics may agree on many things (and most importantly the Doctrines of the Faith), their disagreement as to the specific causes and contributors (particularly the role played by recent Popes, the Second Vatican Council and the liturgical modifications) have been the source of an ever-increasing amount of friction and vitriol.

More so than any other, the point of contention revolves around the Second Vatican Council and the role it played in "causing" the current crisis. Those who take up certain criticisms of the Council are accused of committing the logical fallacy, post hoc, ergo propter hoc (after the fact, therefore because of the fact); that is, they falsely assert something that happened after the Council was caused by the Council merely because of the temporal sequence. Such would be a legitimate criticism if that were the crux of traditionalist arguments, but once the issue turns to citing specific examples which support one's case, the defense must turn to a more direct refutation rather than a reiteration of a supposed logical fallacy that could no longer apply, if indeed it ever did at all. 

When speaking of the relationship between the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar crisis, "cause" is perhaps too strong a word. Rather than an originating cause of these problems, Vatican II was more of a catalyst or mechanism by which certain problems already affecting the Church were amplified and given an apparently authoritative basis. As mentioned before, liberalism can generally be regarded as the true cause; the argument then becomes whether Vatican II aided the advancement of liberalism which was already making strides in previous decades or effectively confronted and curtailed it. 

Although such figures show the difficulty of those who maintain or suggest that the Second Vatican Council was the sole cause or absolute starting point of all current problems in the Church (which I'm not certain anyone actually does, unfortunate choices of phrasing notwithstanding), arguing that the Council was not a "disaster" does not necessarily keep it from being characterized as a "failure".

It doesn't take much imagination to surmise that had Vatican II never have come about, the Church would not be experiencing any glorious age in 2003. We would most likely be facing many of the same problems, but would they be as bad? Would Catholics accept all the claims of renegades if there were no Council to which they could appeal for authority? If the Mass itself were not drastically altered, would other changes have been possible? Without a Council to mark a shift the Church's orientation, would subsequent Popes have tolerated any of this?

If the post-conciliar Church were strong with faithful Catholics and effective governance, the Second Vatican Council would most likely not have had any significant negative impact and we would be living in better times. Vatican II was not inherently bad or evil, but due to the influence of liberals and the freedom they were given, certain deficiencies and ambiguities ended up in the resulting documents and were seized upon by most of those same individuals in order to drive through their agenda.

. . . To maintain that the Second Vatican Council was a destructive force which descended upon a glorious Church to usher in the present crisis is to overlook plain and basic facts; but to absolve it from any and all culpability due to the previous existence of problems or a tentative understanding on the nature and outcome of Ecumenical Councils demonstrates an even greater obstinacy. . [relatively helpful, qualified observations]

Conservative and Traditional Catholicism Compared

Edward Faber (21 March 2003)

There is perhaps no contemporary theological discussion that alienates the traditionalists from everyone else in the Church than ecumenism. The tremendous force of John Paul II in the ecumenical direction has been welcomed by the conservatives, who justly point out that they often have more in common with their evangelical friends than with their fellow Catholics. The traditionalist is very uncomfortable with the whole ecumenical thing as it seems to compromise the unicity of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. While many traditionalists often accuse Vatican II of saying what it does not say about ecumenism, they rightly remain perplexed when the Church seems to whisper apologies for being the fullness of truth while then performing actions, be it on the papal or the diocesan or the parochial level which blatantly compromise that fact.

There is a great attempt on the part of conservatives to distinguish between a true and a false ecumenism while trying to uphold the unicity of Christ and Catholicism and reconcile ecumenism and evangelization. Much ink has been spilled on the matter without there being any convincing theological resolution. The traditionalist ignores all of this, . . .

A Brief Defense of Traditionalism: Responding to certain attacks and misconceptions

Peter W. Miller (21 December 2001)

As the heretics of yesterday have become the liberals of today, the liberals of yesterday now lay claim to the title "conservative". Consequentially the conservatives came to be known as "traditionalists". Unfortunately, these terms are no longer completely accurate descriptions. So for the purposes of this essay, I will use the following general definitions to delineate the differences between traditionalists and "conservatives":

TRADITIONALIST: One who challenges the novel practices and teachings of Catholics (including bishops and priests) which appear to contradict the prior teaching of the Church. A traditionalist questions the prudence of new pastoral approaches and holds the belief that those things generally deemed objectively good or evil several decades ago remain so today.

"CONSERVATIVE": One who upholds and defends the current policies and positions of the Church hierarchy regardless of their novelty. . . . "Conservative" will be used it in quotation marks to avoid the misleading connotation of being diametrically opposed to liberalism or on the far right of the spectrum. [i.e., "conservatives" are really "liberals"]

Again, some "conservatives" claim all current Papal actions to be completely consistent with his predecessors and Vatican II completely in line with the history of the Church, while the Pope and Cardinals claim and celebrate the opposite.

And why are "conservatives" the only ones defending these documents? Why don't the actual authors in the hierarchy provide clarifications? While many "conservatives" are quick to defend some of the novel language Ut Unum Sint or Dominus Iesus as perfectly orthodox, such defenses have not been regular or forthcoming from the Vatican. And (as with the Novus Ordo) since when does something "perfectly orthodox" even need a defense?

Traditionalists tend to place the "blame" for many modern issues on the Vatican Council and the New Mass (also Church governance which could be seen as an extension of conciliar-style "ecumenism" and "collegiality").

Traditionalists make a compelling case for the role the "renewal" of Vatican II has played in the modern crisis. . . . Traditionalists believe the Second Vatican Council to be harmful to the Church.

Which brings us to the much heralded "Spirit of Vatican II" which is used to justify any and every aberration or heresy. Regardless of whether you see this as an abuse of the Council or the result of the logical progression it unleashed (I tend to favor the latter), such novelties would have no excuse were it not for the Council, and the laity would be less likely to accept them. Novelties on a far smaller scale went on before the Council but received limited support and were clearly seen for what they were.

"Conservatives" are faced with another problem when they start blaming the current crisis on certain dissenting bishops and priests who spread heresy, dissent and scandal. If they are to blame, so is their leader. Who is the one in charge of governing the bishops and priests? Who is responsible for keeping them in line? If local policemen start a riot, you can bet the police chief and mayor will be held accountable. When Palestinian suicide bombers attack Israel, Arafat will certainly be held to blame. When a company is facing bankruptcy and losses, the CEO needs to answer for it. Pick any organizational analogy you like — teachers, parents, sports teams, schools, businesses, organizations, societies — the result is the same. The state of a household in ruin has something to do with its head — whether through misguided actions or the lack of appropriate response. So any attack against a liberal Cardinal or dissident bishop is an implication of Our Holy Father.

As a final clarification, most traditionalists do not see the Second Vatican Council and Novus Ordo as formal "causes" of the modern crisis but catalysts which allowed a number of Modernists to come to the forefront and foist their ideas and heresies on the Church under the guise of a "renewal". Both marked a sort of "triumph" of liberal, masonic and Modernist ideals within the structure of the Church. It is not wholly inaccurate to claim that:

"What the French Revolution was to France, the Second Vatican Council was to the Catholic Church."

While the validity of the sacrament may not be up for debate, the prudence of the decisions supporting the revision (revolution) of the Roman Missal is not beyond questioning, especially given one of its chief objectives. If one objects to the current ecumenical direction and practices which humiliate the Catholic Faith and cost countless souls, why should the Novus Ordo Mass receive immunity? 

The dissidents on the left who were rightfully shunned a half century ago have seen their ideals (religious liberty, collegiality, ecumenism) gain great measures of support in the Vatican.

"Conservatives" would dread having to get down on their knees every night worrying what the Pope is going to do or say next; or how many potential converts are being lost due to the ecumenical shenanigans; or how an orthodox priest will ever be able to make it through a seminary without getting expelled for being too Catholic; or what type of man a College of Cardinals which includes Mahony and Kasper will elect to succeed John Paul II.

[yeah!!!! What kind of man would be elected by all those "conservative/liberal" John Paul II appointees? Well: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: without a doubt the RadCathRs' very favorite and most-cited Cardinal (particularly with regard to lituregical abuses). What a "revolution" and conspiracy in the Church against "traditionalism" and orthodoxy, and a blow against reform of liturgical abuses, huh? What, did all these "conservative/liberal" Cardinals wake up overnight and discover the wondrous truths of RadCathRism, which caused them to elect the right man? Hmm????]

It is ludicrous to share in the Vatican illusion of a "Springtime of Vatican II" when all eye can see is a devastated vineyard. (3)

[in an older online version of this article (as late as February 2004; removed by April 2004), there was an additional section, entitled "POST SCRIPT: 'Wandering' aimlessly? ," where the author gives his thoughts about a controversy between The Wanderer and [RadCathR periodical] The Remnant. It's not clear whether the removal of this piece suggests a move away from more radical RadCathRism on the part of Miller or not. His article, "Common Ground . . . ", above, contains some relatively balanced statements on Vatican II, so it could be indicative of a positive trend in his thought; yet the "Postcript" remained for about a year after this article appeared]:

The Remnant (an American traditional Catholic periodical whose editor was among the targets of the attack) published a series of responses which defended the individuals singled out, as well as Catholic traditionalism as a whole (FULL TEXT). The responses demonstrated the obvious inconsistencies of the attack and summarily refuted what anti-traditionalist arguments were made. To the objective observer, the original work was destroyed and the author embarrassed. As much was obvious even to a non-objective "conservative" observer. I know because I was one.

Like any good "conservative", I would react strongly against those who claimed that Vatican II or the Novus Ordo Mass had any deficiencies — they were both doctrinally sound but unexplainably hijacked and abused by evil men.

Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger were my role models and the shining examples of wonderful "conservative" Catholicism in an increasingly liberal world — the generals fighting the "culture of death".

I knew all the "conservative" mantras: . . . "Pope John Paul II brought about the 'fall' of Communism";

While the problems were already becoming quite apparent before even reading the responses, I (like several other "conservatives" I knew) acquired copies of The Remnant to read them for myself. What I knew would be a relatively easy defense became a complete and irrefutable annihilation of The Wanderer and the work they mistakenly chose to print.

Since that event, The Wanderer has been on a very questionable "trajectory". . . . The criticisms of Cardinals and bishops have become less frequent as the actions of their superiors in the Vatican have become more similar. 

The name is becoming more and more fitting as the direction in which this periodical is "wandering" becomes more and more unclear.


Is Lutheranism Officially Anti-Catholic (The Book of Concord and the Catholic Mass)?

The following dialogue with Lutheran "BWL" occurred in comments below. Since I did a little work in my reply, I thought it would be appropriate to make it a new paper of its own. His words will be in blue. Citations from the Book of Concord will be in green.

* * *

Not to be nit-picky, but my understanding is that Luther and Calvin saw the RCC not as a false church, but as an impure one, which is an important distinction. They both recognized the validity of Catholic baptisms, and Luther thought the RC also had a true communion. Although Luther was critical of certain elements of RC communion practice (communion in one kind, the mass as a sacrifice) he did famously say that he'd rather drink blood with the pope than wine with the Reformed. Just a suggestion, but if you want to take on anti-Catholics, bringing up Calvin and Luther's view of Rome actually helps your case. 

As I've mentioned before, this should work against Reformed Baptist types by showing how Luther and Calvin would see their sacramentology (or anti-sacramentology, however you want to put this) as conflicting with Reformational soteriology. In other words, on the whole it helps you to point out how while Reform Baptist like to claim the mantel of defending the Reformation they actually conflict with the Reformers on numerous and important points.

I believe that it is a mixed-bag, when it comes to Luther and Calvin's view of the Catholic Church. I think they contradict themselves. I've found it impossible to interpret their views in this vein in a consistent, coherent fashion. For my documentation, see my papers:

John Calvin's View of the Catholic Church

Dialogue With Dr. Paul Owen on John Calvin's Anti-Catholicism

Did Martin Luther Regard the (Roman) Catholic Church as a Non-Christian, Apostate Institution?: Featuring dozens of citations from Luther's own writings; particularly On the Councils and the Churches (1539) and Against Hans Wurst (1541)

Luther's (and Calvin's) View of the Catholic Church

On the other hand, I've written about Luther's more "Catholic" beliefs:
The Pro-Catholic Side of Martin Luther
I'd be delighted to conclude that they regarded Catholics as more or less equal brothers-in-Christ, but there is too much that suggests otherwise, which has never been adequately explained to me by those like yourself who believe that they were not anti-Catholics (you're welcome to be the first; be my guest). I always say regarding Calvin, that if he thinks I participate in the grossest blasphemy, sacrilege, and idolatry every week at Mass, then that can hardly be squared with thinking that all this is Christian.

First, as you know Luther was prone to uh, exaggerations and harsh, polemical language. This certainly was a big flaw of his, though it's worth pointing out his Catholic opponents were at times prone to nasty polemics at first. My point is, however, that Luther should be taken with a grain of salt.

Are you maintaining, then, that every time Luther wrote something which could reasonably be construed as denying that the Catholic Church is truly Christian, it should be taken in this way, as merely his excess in language? There is not a single instance of these utterances that he meant literally? It seems to me that this would be an extraordinary claim, and almost impossible to prove.

To my knowledge, however, Luther and the Lutheran church has always regarded Rome as a christian church, though an impure one with many doctrinal flaws. That includes the sacrifice of the mass. I don't see, however, why you think serious disagreements in this regard makes Luther and the Lutherans, for example, "anti-Catholic."

I think it has to be judged on an individual case basis (as regards individual opinions). Lutherans, like Anglicans and Reformed, contain both views, and many members seem confused about even their own positions.

The RCC doesn't recognize Lutheran orders, nor from what I understand does it think that Lutherans receive Christ's true body and blood when they take communion.

That's correct.

So, if the Lutheran disagreement over the sacrifice of the mass makes Lutherans "anti-Catholic", why isn't the Catholic church "anti-Lutheran" since the RC doesn't recognize Lutheran communion?

The difference would be if the mass is considered blasphemy and sacrilege and idolatry (whereas we would never say that about a Lutheran service, or any standard Protestant worship service; we would say they convey grace of some sort, even if not technically "sacramental").

The above view (where it occurs) would make the mass, by definition, a non-Christian thing. Then you would be in the incoherent, odd position of agreeing that Catholicism is Christian, despite the fact that its central rite is utterly non-Christian (and, far beyond that, anti-Christian, as it is idolatry, blasphemy, etc.). Quite a bizarre state of affairs, there . . .

In fact, the Book of Concord confirms my suspicion that Lutheranism is officially anti-Catholic. Lutherans are bound to this as their confession, so it can't be cavalierly dismissed as some old irrelevant document.

Smalcald Articles [1537], Part II, Article II: The Mass:

The Mass in the papacy must be regarded as the greatest and most horrible abomination because it runs into direct and violent conflict with this fundamental article. Yet, above and beyond all others, it has been the supreme and most precious of the papal idolatries . . .

If there were reasonable papists, one would speak to them in the following friendly fashion:

"Why do you cling so tenaciously to your Masses?

1. "After all, they are a purely human invention. They are not commanded by God . . . Christ says, 'In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men' (Matt. 15:9)."

. . . 3. . . . "one can be saved in a better way without the Mass. Will the Mass not then collapse of itself -- not only for the rude rabble, but also for all godly, Christian, sensible, God-fearing people -- especially if they hear that it is a dangerous thing which was fabricated and invented without God's Word and will?"

. . . 5. "The Mass is and can be nothing else that a human work, even a work of evil scoundrels . . ."

Accordingly we are and remain eternally divided and opposed the one to the other. The papists are well aware that if the Mass falls, the papacy will fall with it.Before they would permit this to happen, they would put us all to death.

Besides, this dragon's tail -- that is, the Mass -- has brought forth a brood of vermin and the poison of manifest idolatries.

(The Book of Concord, translated and edited by Theodore Tappert, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House / Muhlenberg Press, 1959, pp. 293-294)

Apology of the Augsburg Confession [1531], Article XXIV: The Mass

Carnal men cannot stand it when only the sacrifice of Christ is honored as a propitiation. For they do not understand the righteousness of faith but give equal honor to other sacrifices and services. A false idea clung to the wicked priests in Judah, and in Israel the worship of Baal continued; yet the church of God was there, condemning wicked services. So in the papal realm the worship of Baal clings -- namely, the abuse of the Mass . . . And it seems that this worship of Baal will endure together with the papal realm until Christ comes to judge and by the glory of his coming destroys the kingdom of Antichrist. Meanwhile all those who truly believe the Gospel should reject those wicked services invented against God's command to obscure the glory of Christ and the righteousness of faith.

(Tappert, ibid., 268)

I guess at the end of the day I don't see why strong disagreements among Christians makes them "anti".

Not disagreements, but denial of the status of other Christians as Christians. It's the devil's biggest victory: if half of the Body of Christ denies that the other half even belongs in the Body at all, then what could be better for the devil's purposes? We'll always be hopelessly divided. So the world keeps going to hell because (anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant, anti-Orthodox) Christians can't even recognize fellow believers.

If we all recognize each others baptisms, why is this "anti" stuff even a real question? It's not like Lutherans are Reformed or fundamentalist Baptists or something.

Because (obviously) if anti-Catholicism is entrenched in both the founding confessional documents and the founders of a religious point of view, then it will continue on, because it was in the roots from the beginning. How Lutherans square the realities of these aspects of the Book of Concord, I don't know, but it creates an internal contradiction if one says that they follow the Lutheran confessions, yet dissent on the nature of the Mass and so forth, and are not themselves anti-Catholic.

How would you square these two things, BWL, if you have become aware of some passages that perhaps you were not aware of before, in the Book of Concord? I'm very curious. There may very well be a way that ecumenical Lutherans reconcile this, through some interpretive means that I am not yet aware of. I'd be more than happy to be educated by those who feel that they have a solution to this apparent dilemma for ecumenical Lutherans. Please (you or friends of yours who might help us better understand) teach me . . . I don't want division; I would love for there to be a way to reconcile these two things. No one would be happier than I would be to learn that there is some coherent explanation of this, so that anti-Catholicism is not necessary to hold as a confessional Lutheran.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Dr. James Dobson and "Anti-Catholicism"

I love James Dobson, and all the tremendous good he has accomplished. Let's get that straight first. I've listened to the man off and on for some 23 years now. But like so many Protestants, even a good (I would also say, great) man like this is quite confused and ambiguous, if not contradictory, when it comes to Catholicism. Hence, we learn, in an article entitled, Dobson can't decide whether anti-Catholic bigotry is OK, on the Media Matters for America website, of this exchange on the Fox News' talk show Hannity & Colmes:

[ALAN] COLMES: You are participating in an event this Sunday, "Justice Sunday." And among those there will be Dr. Alan [sic] Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who said a few years ago, "As an evangelical, I believe that the Roman Catholic Church is a false church. It teaches a false gospel. And the Pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office."

Are you concerned about the anti-Catholicism of some of the people you are participating with to fight the filibuster?

DOBSON: Well, first of all, he [Mohler] did not make a vehement anti-Catholic statement. He's a Southern Baptist, for Pete's sake.
You expect a Southern Baptist to say that he does not honor the pope in the same way the Catholics do. It's a different theology. Is that not right? That's not an attack on the Catholic Church.


Where to begin? No, we don't expect Southern Baptists to be Catholics in their ecclesiology. That's a no-brainer and nothing to argue about. Nor do we dispute that Catholicism teaches a "different theology" (in some respects, but none amounting to a denial of Christianity). But as to whether the statement cited is an "attack on the Catholic Church," it certainly is!!! How could it not be? And how could it not be seen as anti-Catholic? Mohler said that the Catholic Church was a "false church" that teaches a "false gospel." If a group does not teach the gospel it is not a Christian group, period. End of discussion. We don't even need to analyze what is meant by a "false Church" (though if we look at the rhetoric of Luther and Calvin, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to deduce what they mean by it). But somehow Dobson doesn't see this as a manifestation of anti-Catholicism. Amazing . . .

Dobson might clarify and re-state what he was trying to express. Let's hope . . .

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A Cool Mathematical Analogy For the Holy Trinity

From Catholic writer and blogmaster Elena (not sure if she wants to give out her last name, so I didn't) -- who has distinguished herself by actually being that one-in-a-thousand person who could make it through my entire 2nd counter-reply to atheist Bob Hypes (a whopping 270K in length) without long since dozing off (as she informed me by e-mail)!!!!!

1+1+1 Does =1: The Trinity in the Mathematics of Motion and Action

I'm no mathematical expert (my last class was Algebra 4 in high school, c. 1975, and I couldn't wait to be done with that!), but this seems legitimate to me. I'd be interested in further comments from Elena and/or those more educated in math and science (perhaps physics would be particularly relevant here, too, as it is a discussion of dimension).

This argument appears to me to be somewhat similar to C.S. Lewis's famous analogy of "flatland," squares, and cubes in his Mere Christianity. He said that the flatlanders couldn't imagine a two dimension plane, and that those in that world without a third dimension could not imagine the third. Yet all three exist, and a cube has a "oneness" just as a plane and a line do. In our world, one being is one person. But why should we think our experience is the whole of reality? What is intrinsically impossible about a Being Who Subsists in Three Persons (Being and Person being two distinct categories, so that this is not an automatic contradiction)? The Holy Trinity is not at all impossible a priori (philosophically-speaking, and in terms of simple logic).

It wouldn't be the first time, after all that science / math has confirmed (or at any rate, was shown to be entirely consistent with) a Christian dogma:

1) Einstein's theories of relativity made it more sensible and "scientifically respectable" to conceive of a Being outside of time as we know it (a friend of mine who is big into Isaac Newton and who frowns upon Einstein, actually thinks that God is in time, which is heretical from a biblical perspective).

2) Likewise, the non-eternal universe that had a (rather inexplicable, in materialistic terms) beginning, is now scientific, cosmological orthodoxy, courtesy of the Big Bang Theory.

3) I would also say that Intelligent Design (within some form of creationist or evolutionist paradigm; it's consistent with either) is a compelling scientific variant of the old philosophical Argument From Design (or Teleological Argument).

We have nothing to fear from science. Quite the contrary; it is the materialistic scientists and the atheists who seem to irrationally fear any hint of suggestion from science that God might be an actuality in this universe, and in fact, right in the center of it, as the Bible taught us 2000 years ago (KJV):

ROMANS 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, {are} all things: to whom {be} glory for ever. Amen.

HEBREWS 2:10 For it became him, for whom {are} all things, and by whom {are} all things, . . .

ACTS 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; . . . For we are also his offspring.

1 TIMOTHY 6:13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, . . .

NEHEMIAH 9:6 . . . thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all {things} that {are} therein, . . . and thou preservest them all . . .

COLOSSIANS 1:17 . . . by him all things consist.

HEBREWS 1:3 . . . upholding all things by the word of his power, . . .

Great work, Elena! Be sure to pay a visit to her blog, Web Musings.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

James White Gets His Wish!!! So-Called "Marian Stains"

Dave Armstrong: Catholic apologist and defender of papal infallibility and supremacy, would like to state, firmly and unambiguously:

Look, people, this kind of thing is absurd and ridiculous. Pure superstition, . . . and worthy of at the very least church discipline.

[see: "More Mary Stains"]

But remember, you didn't "hear" the above (as White predicted). It was merely an "apparition."

White asked (quite reasonably, in my opinion):
. . . why are all these folks finding pictures of Mary in the grimy stains left by reconstituted water . . . or salt-filled road run off on a freeway underpass?

Why, indeed? I think it is a ridiculous display of what might be called "Rorschach Catholicism." I would only disagree with calling this "idolatrous" because that requires putting something in the place of God, and above God. Since Catholics don't do that with regard to the Blessed Virgin, it is not accurate to call veneration of her (even with the aid of a silly stain thought to be supernatural) an act of idolatry. Mary is simply not raised above God in Catholic teaching, nor adored as only God can be. I think 99% of even these Catholics gullible enough to believe in this nonsense would understand that.

If I were there at this farcical "shrine" I would denounce it in no uncertain terms and tell the enraptured, deluded Catholics who foolishly seek and "thrive" on such things that they would much better profit from reading the Bible or the Catechism or the encyclicals of Pope John Paul the Great, or St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Therese or Peter Kreeft.

And I'm not the only one. Just yesterday, in fact, I heard Fr. Mitch Pacwa state on EWTN that he doesn't think much of purported "private revelations" such as these. This is rather common in Catholic apologetics circles, and I have heard similar disclaimers time and again. He's a pretty "major figure in Roman Catholicism," and White himself happens to like Fr. Mitch personally (and has debated him), so I must protest that White's characterization of supposed Catholic non-reaction to such things is exaggerated and distorted:

But no, you won't hear that [the sort of statement I agree with up at the top]. Instead, you'll hear, "Well, looks like a rather common water stain mixed with the salt from the road on an underpass, but hey, if it gives you warm post-modern religious fuzzies, that's great!"

If White thinks that any legitimate representative of Catholic teaching who is a "major figure" states such things, then why doesn't he document it? That would be a nice novelty, for a change, wouldn't it? White does, however, provide some very funny comments on occasion. This case of religious "super-pious" folly provides ample opportunity. For example:

Where is someone's mind if they can look at this stain and go, "Oh gosh, Mary has appeared under a bridge!" What on earth is she doing under a bridge? Western culture is on the slippery slope of post-modernism, sliding at high speed toward self-destruction, and Mary is busily arranging salt stains on a bridge underpass near Chicago? Hello? Anyone out there? . . . the kind of "piety" that leads people to light candles in front of water stains on the walls of freeway underpasses . . .

I roundly condemn these (humorous, tragi-comic) excesses, with him. But it should be noted, too, that there is a major underlying difference here. White thinks that Mary could never appear anywhere, under any manifestation, miraculous or otherwise. I believe (with the Church) that there are legitimate Marian apparitions, and that one must exercise due caution and prudence in discerning which are authentic and supernatural, and which are not, and be willing to submit to Church determinations on such matters.

Obviously, if something can never happen (by prior premise) then any alleged (or actual) instance of it will be immediately ruled out a priori. But if it can possibly happen, then one will have to use their critical faculties with regard to authenticity, just as Protestants who still believe in current-day miracles (White may not: he might be what is called a "cessationist") will require proper documentation and proof for healings, etc.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Radical Catholic Reactionary Pet Term "Neo Catholic": Where Does it Come From? What Does it Mean?

In seeking to answer the questions in the title of this paper, I discovered a superb article, entitled, "Rhetoric, Manipulation, And Ferrawood’s 'Neo-Catholic'", by Omar F.A. Gutiérrez. It was published in The Wanderer: 10 May 2003. I shall cite it at length, in blue. Citations of Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods Jr. [the latter has since renounced this book] will be in red.

* * * * *

"Catholics have nothing to fear from ideas." I was handed The Great Façade [The Remnant Press, Wyoming, Minn., 2002] by self-described traditionalist friends of mine some time ago with these words. They wished that I should attempt to answer the traditionalist argument found within its pages. This book was, for them, one of the finer arguments for the traditionalist position to date. As far as they were concerned, Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods Jr. had finally presented the traditionalist argument in clear and concise terminology.

[Dave: I was presented the book in person by Gerry Matatics (who exhibited similar opinions of it) ]

. . . In light of the overwhelming praise that it is given by the traditionalist gallery, I believe this book can only do more harm than good. The Ferrawood argument, as I have come to call it, is not clear or logical. It is manipulative and rhetorical. Such an argument cannot possibly shed a kind light on the traditionalist movement.

I do not deny that there is a crisis, and I believe traditionalists are too often dismissed without being given much thought. Nor do I wish to quell what I see as very useful and helpful voices coming out of some corners of the traditionalist movement. However, this book is an example of a work that can only do damage to this movement, for this book is filled with a verbal sorcery that is dazzling but equally deceptive. Perhaps the most egregious example of this sorcery is the invention, definition, and constant use of the term "neo-Catholic."

. . . Page 12 in The Great Façade begins by stating that the definition of terms is absolutely necessary for fruitful debate. So far this seems a reasonable approach. However, the terms in chapter one that appear key and pivotal for the Ferrawood argument are not central to the argument, nor do they draw out the "exact nature of the controversy" between conservatives and traditionalists. The terms most important to the authors are "traditionalist" and "neo-Catholic," or more precisely "neo-Catholic" in place of "conservative." Meanwhile, the authors completely ignore terms like "tradition," "novelty," "Magisterium," "authority," "doctrine," "dogma," etc. These are all terms with specific theological meanings, and all terms which have been lost on the authors.

When reading The Great Façade, one finds either a complete lack of definition or a complete misunderstanding of basic theological distinctions. Of course it is also telling that the central terms for the Ferrawood argument are labels not ecclesiastical terms. Labels, even if accurately defined, are imposed on persons, and the authors do not give us any reason to believe that they are qualified to label anyone accurately. The fact that none of the truly central terms in the debate are defined can only lead one to assume, from the very start of the book, that the Ferrawood argument can bear absolutely no fruit for this debate.

On page 5 the authors make clear that those who would refer to themselves as "conservatives" are not worthy — at least in action — of such an honorable title . . .

[Footnote 4: "Since [conservatives] have not in fact conserved anything . . . we believe that the term ‘conservative’ invites confusion among casual readers, for whom it carries a positive connotation, while attaching a venerable designation to people whose actions — or inaction, as the case may be — merit no such honor."]
. . . Let us look at the definition of "neo-Catholic." Remember please that for the authors this is one of the central terms of the debate and the proper understanding of this term is the prerequisite to any fruitful outcome for the debate between traditionalists and conservatives.
We read on page 15:
What, then, do we mean by the term "neo-Catholic"? Before answering, we must first anticipate the banal objection that we are "generalizing" about neo-Catholics and neo-Catholicism. Of course we are. The focus of this book is the idea of neo-Catholicism as a system of novel practices and attitudes that first emerged in the Church during the 1960s. While the neo-Catholic idea can be illustrated with the objective statements and actions of particular individuals who are part of this new constituency of the Church . . . it is not for us to make any judgment about the Catholic fidelity and personal piety of these people — even though . . . the leading lights of neo-Catholicism are all too ready to denounce their traditionalist brethren as "schismatics" and cast them into outer darkness, without benefit of any canonical declaration by competent Church authorities.

On page 19 the authors write, "A neo-Catholic, then, is someone who more or less lives according to the neo-Catholic idea." And what is the "neo-Catholic idea"? The authors tell us that the "focus of this book is the idea of neo-Catholicism." This "neo-Catholic idea can be illustrated with the objective statements and actions of particular individuals who are part of this new constituency of the Church."

This is what we are given thus far: to have a fruitful debate the authors must define "neo-Catholic"; a neo-Catholic is one who adheres to the neo-Catholic idea; the neo-Catholic idea is demonstrated through the actions, attitudes, and statements of neo-Catholics. Therefore, a neo-Catholic is one who adheres to the neo-Catholic idea, which is discernible in the action of a neo-Catholic. Right?

Wrong. This is a tautology, it is a circular argument, or definition in this case. The Ferrawood argument begins by stating that in order to understand A (neo-Catholic) we must know B (the neo-Catholic idea), and in order to know B we look to A. The authors claim they are focusing on the "idea of neo-Catholicism" but their definition of this idea is based on the actions of those they have already determined to be neo-Catholic. They simply point to the actions of those they label as neo-Catholic and say, "Ah ha, a neo-Catholic!" But what is the neo-Catholic idea? How is it to be understood? The authors go to great lengths in the book to tell us what a neo-Catholic does, but they never define what the "idea of neo-Catholicism" is apart from the actions of those they’ve already labeled.

We read on page 16, "So, based on the objective words and deeds of some of the more prominent neo-Catholics, we can safely generalize about the neo-Catholic idea." Oh really! The tautological nature of this sentence and thus the Ferrawood argument shines through clearly. One must ask the authors how they can be sure that the "objective words and deeds" they witness are those of neo-Catholics if they do not already have a means by which they can objectively determine who is a neo-Catholic and who is not? They might answer with the following "definition" of the neo-Catholic idea:

Particular applications aside, it is the idea that with the advent of the Second Vatican Council a new sort of orthodoxy suddenly arose in the Church, an orthodoxy stripped of any link to the ecclesiastical traditions once considered an untouchable sacred trust. It is the idea that by virtue of Vatican II the Church has, in some manner never clearly explained, progressed beyond what she was before the Council to a new mode of existence, and that this progression requires an assent on the part of the faithful that is somehow different from the assent required to the constant teaching of all the previous councils and Popes.

The fact that "orthodoxy," "ecclesiastical traditions," and "assent" are never defined aside, this is the idea of neo-Catholicism, and the authors demonstrate the legitimizing proof for their definition by pointing to the words and deeds of leading neo-Catholics. But it is only natural that the words and deeds of those the authors tell us are neo-Catholics would fit this definition of the idea, because this definition was manufactured from the words and deeds of those the authors had already determined were neo-Catholic. This is a circular definition. This is a term manufactured to guarantee rhetorical victory. On top of this, if one were to actually know some of the neo-Catholics the authors label one cannot really match the above idea to them. I know some of those the authors label as neo-Catholic and they do not cling to or foster the above idea.

On page 17 we read the following explanation about this neo-Catholic idea, "What this means is that the neo-Catholic idea is nothing less than a form of progressive or liberal Catholicism — whether a given neo-Catholic knows it or not, is, subjectively speaking, a liberal by intention." Apparently anyone labeled a neo-Catholic could not even argue about the justice of the term, because, as the authors are so good to tell us, they are liberals whether they know it or not. By the authors’ own standards for fruitful debate, they have already failed. For this definition is no definition, and this tautology is the central term for the entire work!

The authors’ rhetoric does not advance an argument but rather trains the casual reader’s mind to associate disapproval with the label neo-Catholic. And this is precisely what neo-Catholic is: a label meant to habituate the reader’s mind into dismissing those who have the misfortune of falling under it. This is tactical writing reminiscent of political mudslinging and the ravings of modern liberals, but it is not argument. The practice of assigning labels that one side has invented to opposing positions in order to stack the argumentative cards in one’s own favor and thus avoid contending with the opposing argument is a liberal and precisely modern method of argumentation. Assigning these invented labels aids in dismissing the opponent because the authors of the label can create an opponent ready made for defeat.

This is the epitome of a rhetorical abuse. The authors define what a neo-Catholic is in a manner favorable to their own argument, thus assuring their victory in debate.

. . . Furthermore, there is a logical answer to why this defense for their linguistic invention fails. "Schismatic" and "integrist" are two terms that are often laid upon traditionalists. However, both these terms have definitions that originated outside of the imagined war rooms of neo-Catholic think tanks. One can find St. Thomas Aquinas defining schism. One can turn to Henri Daniel-Rops or Pope Benedict XV for an understanding of integrism. The authors can at least argue about the justice of the label being applied to them by appealing to these objective definitions. The same cannot be done by neo-Catholics, for this term came forth from the authors’ traditionalist imagination. To what objective standard can supposed neo-Catholics appeal to? The only standard is the aforementioned imagination. This is no fair standard, and this is no reasonable argument.

Later in chapter one, page 24, the authors, speaking about neo-Catholics and the neo-Catholic Church, write:
The general result has been a de facto detachment of the greater part of Catholics from the Church’s own precisely crafted dogmatic framework, leaving them to drift in a kind of quasi-Catholicism that may not contain any explicit heresy, but that the preconciliar Popes simply would not regard as authentically and integrally Catholic.

Now, the authors do maintain that the piety of the neo-Catholic can rival that of the traditionalist. Also, the authors do not state that neo-Catholics are adrift but that "the greater part of Catholics" are adrift. However, I cannot accept that the authors do not mean to refer to neo-Catholics in any way when they write "the greater part of Catholics." It seems rather clear from this statement that the authors are judging at least the objective fidelity of the neo-Catholic. What else could this term mean but to suggest that the neo-Catholic practices a new faith, a new Catholicism? This new faith is clearly not authentic or integrally Catholic. Yet the authors still mean to say that accusing neo-Catholics of taking part in a "quasi-Catholicism," which at any other time in history would have been seen as inauthentic, is not judging the "Catholic fidelity" of neo-Catholics?

How is it not calling into question the orthodoxy of the neo-Catholic by saying explicitly that previous Popes, if given the chance, would reject their faith as inauthentic? . . .

. . . Perhaps the authors do not mean to call into question the fidelity of the neo-Catholic when they write on page 250 that a "neo-Catholic is nothing more or less than a kind of liberal, even if he conforms to the moral teaching of the Church and espouses no formal heresy as such" . . . 

On the same page and after suggesting that neo-Catholics are guilty of the modernist heresy [Footonote 9: "In many respects, the neo-Catholic fits Pius X’s description in Pascendi of ‘the modernist as reformer’."], the authors attempt to remind the reader that the fidelity of the neo-Catholic is not being called into question. This time, however, they qualify the parameters of their judgment. They write that they are "speaking here only in the objective realm of ideas, without presuming to judge the subjective faith of any individual." They do not judge the subjective fidelity of the individual, but they are judging the object of their faith. Dr. Janet Smith, H.W. Crocker III, Mother Angelica, and so many others labeled as neo-Catholic maintain a faith that is objectively inauthentic and not integral to the Catholic faith. These persons espouse no formal heresy, but certainly some form of material heresy. This is the necessary and logical implication of the authors’ statements.

The authors incessantly use "neo-Catholic" when they introduce a work, organization, or person they wish the reader to be aware of as being untrustworthy. It is difficult to see it as anything but a malignant effort to score rhetorical points. Who can doubt the manipulative nature of this term when the last paragraph of Ferrara’s article to Michael Davies [see citation below] reads, "He who controls the terminology controls the debate. It is long past time for traditionalists to take control of the terminology in this debate. Does the term neo-Catholic anger our adversaries, who have been calling us names for decades? Too bad — the shoe fits. Now let them wear it."

. . . this demonstrates — better than I could — that the term neo-Catholic is tactical writing closer to the heart of liberalism than to the traditions of the Church. Taking control of the terminology of the debate by inventing terms that are designed for one side’s benefit is precisely how the radical liberal intelligentsia have won over the faculties of Western universities . . . the invention of "neo-Catholic" is one of the more egregious examples of dishonest debate. For those traditionalists who wish to shake the liberal label, they ought to abandon the Ferrawood argument altogether.

* * *

Christopher A. Ferrara, Esq., further elaborates upon the meaning of neo-Catholic, in his article, The Justice of the term 'neo-Catholic', which appeared in the notorious "traditionalist" rag The Remnant, and was reprinted on the Daily Catholic web page:

. . . In our use of the term neo-Catholic, Tom and I are making an analogy to American politics. American political thinking did, after all, exert a great deal of influence on the Council, . . . In America, the term “neo-conservative” does not mean a revival of traditional political conservatism, American-style. It denotes, rather, a new and more liberalized version of what is now disparaged as the old “paleoconservativism” of people like Pat Buchanan.
. . . These people, without even realizing it, have developed a deep aversion to certain aspects of their own religion. They have come to detest these elements of the preconciliar teaching of the Church more than any heresy against the faith, and the defenders of these forgotten teachings more than any true enemy of the Church.
. . . And through it all, the neo-Catholic establishment continues to maintain the pretense that it occupies the moral high-ground simply and only because it is willing to indulge in a display of blind loyalty to the person who currently occupies the Chair of Peter. As the human element of the Church collapses everywhere in scandal and liturgical and doctrinal degradation, the neo-Catholics do nothing but complain bitterly about local abuses, while waving a banner containing the slogan that has overcome reason itself in the neo-Catholic mind: John Paul II, we love you. But this isn’t love we are seeing. It is a form of idolization that in fact does the Pope and the Church a terrible disservice.
. . . Tom and I have never claimed that those who could be called neo-Catholic in their misguided approach to the crisis are not “real” Catholics. Unlike our accusers, we do not feel ourselves entitled to write fellow Catholics out of the Church. Rather, as the quotation from Johnston illustrates perfectly, we are dealing with liberalized Catholics who have been induced to accept newly emergent attitudes and practices that undermine the very faith they think they are defending.
. . . As we can see, the term has definitely hit home. The neo-Catholic commentators who delight in deriding us as “ultra-traditionalists,” “extreme traditionalists,” “Pharisees” and so forth now have a label of their own to contend with. The term neo-Catholic incenses them because it captures their position and leaves it “formulated, sprawling on a pin,” to borrow a phrase from T.S. Eliot.

* * * * *

What magisterial Church document provides radical Catholic Reactionaries (RadCathRs) with their definition of "Neo-Catholic"? What is the etymology of this term? Who first used it? Just curious . . ."

I am content to simply call "traditionalists" and also RadCathRs and myself "Catholic." If I must make distinctions due to liberal or far-right rot in the Church, then I use the qualifier "orthodox" as well, to indicate that I accept all the teachings of the Catholic Church.

If one accepts notions that go contrary to orthodox Catholicism, and uses the term, I must object, because "Tradition" is a good Catholic word which must not be trifled with (and those who reject some of it ought not to be allowed to co-opt the term to themselves as if they actually exemplify a particular devotion to "tradition" as they themselves define it). Even if a RadCathR is orthodox, but insists on using the term, then it must be because it is being used to distinguish the RadCathR from the likes of me, who has supposedly somehow become simultaneously "liberal" and "orthodox" (by the application of the silly term "neo-Catholic").

So it is still attempting to create division in the Church and separate Catholic believers into a superior-subordinate relationship, with the RadCathRs being the ones who "get it" and the "neo-Catholics" being dupes and fellow travelers of their liberal overlords in the lower hierarchies of the Church. Either way, it stinks to high heaven.

 "Neo-Catholic" means a new kind of Catholic. But this is an oxymoron, according to the nature of Catholicism. There can be no "new Catholic." One is simply an orthodox Catholic, according to the Tradition of the ages, or not. Catholic (in its deepest sense) means "orthodox", so to say that one is a "new Catholic" is to say that one espouses a "new kind of orthodoxy," which, of course, is a self-contradiction. There is no such thing as a "new orthodoxy." That would be, rather, a novelty or heterodoxy or heresy. So the label basically reduces (but this is actually consistently applying logic) to calling someone heterodox or a heretic. Yet RadCathRs want to call us "orthodox" and "neo-Catholic" at the same time? Ferrara and Woods come right out and say that it means "liberalized Catholic."

But how can I be a liberal and orthodox at the same time? The whole thing is a big game and exercise in futile, circular logic. The term is simply meant to belittle and dismiss non-RadCathR Catholics, precisely as Omar Gutiérrez maintained. It doesn't matter where it came from. The goal is to ridicule and defame orthodox Catholics who try to get beyond the separation of Catholics into categories and the divisiveness that this tends to produce.

"Neo-Catholic" contains an explicit insult and implication of heterodoxy, any way that you look at it.
If "Neo-Catholic" doesn't come from the magisterium, why should I accept it? On what authority? It's an insult, meant to belittle and put in a box those who don't buy the RadCathR line.


Ferrara (lest we miss it) makes his meaning even more clear in his article, Neo-Catholic Quislings (a title speaks a thousand words, doesn't it???):

Dr. Thomas E. Woods and I have written a book, The Great Façade, which analyzes a phenomenon that is rightly called neo-Catholicism. The New Catholics who practice this new strain of Catholicism are distinguished by their seemingly inexhaustible willingness to defend, in the name of "obedience," every destructive innovation of the past 40 years, merely because some level of ecclesiastical authority has approved it.

. . . The term "quisling" is derived from the name of Vidkun Quisling, the head of Norway’s government, who sided with the Nazis during the German occupation of Norway from 1940-1945 in the wrongheaded belief that this would be best for Norway’s common good. Today "quisling" connotes one who serves as the misguided puppet of an occupying force.

. . . And the legacy of the quislings who have collaborated with this occupying army of Church-wreckers will be the same as that of Vidkun Quisling himself: a legacy of shame.

Thank you very much, Chris! There is something to be said for forthright clarity and unambiguous statements of one's position! In an equally edifying, uplifting article, The Blindness of Neo-Catholicism, Ferrara states:

The people I call neo-Catholics refuse to admit that the Catholic Church is suffering the worst crisis in her history because of innovations and capitulations approved by the Vatican apparatus itself. For the neo-Catholic, the Vatican can do no wrong . . .
And in his article, Neo-Catholic Blindness: Another Case in Point (does anyone sense a theme, here?), we are blessed with this tidbit:

There will be no solution to the crisis in the Church until the Vatican bureaucracy is held to the same standard of Catholic decency, decorum and common sense as that adhered to by Archbishop Chaput. Either Sodano and his collaborators cease their hobnobbing with the forces of darkness and go back to preaching the Gospel, or God will have to clean house at the Vatican. Only then will the crisis end.

In his paper, The Blind Guides of EWTN, Ferrara (outdoing even himself) surprises us all by reaching previously untold heights of complimentarity towards his buddies, the . . . (you guessed it!):

EWTN’s mixture of certain aspects of traditional Roman Catholicism with absolutely appalling novelties invented during the past 40 years — novelties that would have reduced the pre-conciliar popes to a state of apoplexy — is the very essence of neo-Catholicism. 

. . . Our experience of the past 40 years shows us that the real problem in the Church today is not overt modernists, who are easy to identify and expose, but the vast neo-Catholic establishment, posing as the "mainstream" of Roman Catholicism, with its multiform corruption of the traditional faith in both practice and belief. The devil’s momentary triumph in the post-conciliar epoch — inevitably to become his final defeat — consists of a shift of the great body of Catholics toward latitudinarianism and indifferentism . . . 

In short, the rise of neo-Catholicism is the post-conciliar crisis in the Church. It is a crisis as great as — if not greater than — the Arian crisis that also overcame the greater part of the Church in the 4th Century. To appreciate this we need only consider that EWTN is now considered an exemplar of Catholic orthodoxy, when, as we can see here, it is providing the very blind guides Our Lord warned us not to follow, lest we end up in a pit. 

Isn't this marvelous? So now we "neo-Catholics" don't simply sincerely misunderstand the nature and causes of the current crisis in the Church, but we are, in fact, the very crisis itself. We exemplify it, and are the forerunners and sustainers of it.

In "The Sands of Celebrity," [no longer online at this URL] Ferrara, undaunted and utterly unrestrained (not that we ever expect him to be restrained), trashes Scott Hahn, and then makes a vicious attack upon Pope John Paul II:

The neo-Catholic establishment is a house built on the shifting sands of celebrity, including the celebrity of a hugely popular Pope who will not rule his Church, but instead basks in the adulation of a profoundly disoriented laity whose plight he does not seem to understand. The Church cannot be sustained in her mission by celebrities who hunger after novelty, whether that novelty be carnal or theological. The Church does not need knights in shining armor from Washington, or books that make Hahn-verts instead of old fashioned converts, or even a Pope who is always celebrated but never feared. None of these celebrities can provide what the Church requires in the present crisis. Only the foundation stones of traditional Roman Catholicism, put firmly back in place by a militant hierarchy from the Pope on down, will be able to support the household of the Faith against the winds and floods that now assail it. How much more damage the Church will sustain in this crisis will be determined by how much more time it takes the hierarchy to restore the foundation.

In the same article (also reprinted on Robert Sungenis' website [no longer online at this URL]), Ferrara even has to intensify his own ridiculous term:

This kind of thinking represents an ultra neo-Catholicism that goes beyond the more conservative neo-Catholic’s comparatively passive defense of the post-conciliar novelties. In the manner of a true revolutionary, the ultra neo-Catholic openly despises the Church’s past and rejoices in its burial . . . this ultra neo-Catholicism is being amalgamated with the policies of the Republican Party, . . . 

Peter Miller, editor of the RadCathR rag,  Seattle Catholic, himself wrote an absolutely glowing tribute to Ferrara's and Woods' book, The Great Façade, in his newspaper (28 August 2002). Miller writes about this atrocious book:

. . . hundreds of sensible and reasoned observations which, in better times, would be laughably obvious. Unfortunately, one of the tragic results of this crisis has been the emergence of an attitude seemingly dedicated to obscuring common sense with elaborate explanations, selective citations and vicious attacks upon faithful Catholics. It is to this current of thought and its dedication to ecclesial novelties that Christopher Ferrara and Thomas Woods have applied the label "neo-Catholic" — a term perhaps more precise than "moderate liberal" and much more accurate than the constantly-fluctuating "conservative."

. . . yesterday's liberals (ironically enjoying the term "conservative" based solely on the emergence of liberals even more radical) . . .
. . . arguably the most comprehensive and exquisite defense of the uncorrupted Catholic Faith printed in decades — The Great Façade.
. . . While there are many aspects of this book that make it an invaluable addition to any faithful Catholic's library, one chapter stands above the rest and is as impressive as any single chapter or article written in years. Entitled "A Nest of Contradictions," Chapter 11 exposes the complete lack of consistency and credibility of the typical neo-Catholic claims.
. . . In a year where already several important Catholic books have been published, The Great Façade easily stands out as a monumental work. The exemplary prose makes reading the various chapters swift and enjoyable. At the same time, the attention to detail and extensive footnotes make this not only a great read but a valuable reference tool, ranking it among Michael Davies' Pope John's Council and Romano Amerio's Iota Unum as books belonging in every Catholic's library.
For balanced critiques of The Great Façade, see Brian O’Neel's review in This Rock. Also, see James Likoudis' review.

                          Revised, with new terminology incorporated, on 12 August 2013.

                                                                             * * * * * 

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Ratzinger): Vatican II Has the Same Authority as Trent (if one goes, both go)

It must be stated that Vatican II is upheld by the same authority as Vatican I and the Council of Trent, namely, the Pope and the College of Bishops in communion with him, and that also with regard to its contents, Vatican II is in the strictest continuity with both previous councils and incorporates their texts word for word in decisive points . . .

Whoever accepts Vatican II, as it has clearly expressed and understood itself, at the same time accepts the whole binding tradition of the Catholic Church, particularly also the two previous councils . . . It is likewise impossible to decide in favor of Trent and Vatican I but against Vatican II. Whoever denies Vatican II denies the authority that upholds the other two councils and thereby detaches them from their foundation. And this applies to the so-called 'traditionalism,' also in its extreme forms. Every partisan choice destroys the whole (the very history of the Church) which can exist only as an indivisible unity.

To defend the true tradition of the Church today means to defend the Council. It is our fault if we have at times provided a pretext (to the 'right' and 'left' alike) to view Vatican II as a 'break' and an abandonment of the tradition. There is, instead, a continuity that allows neither a return to the past nor a flight forward, neither anachronistic longings nor unjustified impatience. We must remain faithful to the today of the Church, not the yesterday or tomorrow. And this today of the Church is the documents of Vatican II, without reservations that amputate them and without arbitrariness that distorts them . . .

I see no future for a position that, out of principle, stubbornly renounces Vatican II. In fact in itself it is an illogical position. The point of departure for this tendency is, in fact, the strictest fidelity to the teaching particularly of Pius IX and Pius X and, still more fundamentally, of Vatican I and its definition of papal primacy. But why only popes up to Pius XII and not beyond? Is perhaps obedience to the Holy See divisible according to years or according to the nearness of a teaching to one's own already-established convictions?

(The Ratzinger Report, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1985, 28-29, 31)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Baptismal Regeneration: Luther, Wesley, and Anglicanism

Scripture seems to clearly refer to baptismal regeneration in Acts 2:38 (forgiveness of sins), 22:16 (wash away your sins), Romans 6:3-4, 1 Corinthians 6:11, Titus 3:5 (he saved us, . . . by the washing of regeneration), and other passages.

For this reason, many prominent Protestant individuals and denominations have held to the position of baptismal regeneration, which is anathema to the Baptist / Presbyterian / Reformed branch of Protestantism - the predominant evangelical outlook at present. We need look no further than Martin Luther himself, from whom all Protestants inherit their understanding of both sola Scriptura and faith alone (sola fide) as the prerequisites for salvation and justification. Luther largely agrees with the Catholic position on sacramental and regenerative infant baptism:

    Little children . . . are free in every way, secure and saved solely through the glory of their baptism . . . Through the prayer of the believing church which presents it, . . . the infant is changed, cleansed, and renewed by inpoured faith. Nor should I doubt that even a godless adult could be changed, in any of the sacraments, if the same church prayed for and presented him, as we read of the paralytic in the Gospel, who was healed through the faith of others (Mark 2:3-12). I should be ready to admit that in this sense the sacraments of the New Law are efficacious in conferring grace, not only to those who do not, but even to those who do most obstinately present an obstacle."

    (The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, 1520, from the translation of A.T.W. Steinhauser, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, rev. ed., 1970, 197)

Likewise, in his Large Catechism (1529), Luther writes:
    Expressed in the simplest form, the power, the effect, the benefit, the fruit and the purpose of baptism is to save. No one is baptized that he may become a prince, but, as the words declare [of Mark 16:16], that he may be saved. But to be saved, we know very well, is to be delivered from sin, death, and Satan, and to enter Christ's kingdom and live forever with him . . . Through the Word, baptism receives the power to become the washing of regeneration, as St. Paul calls it in Titus 3:5 . . . Faith clings to the water and believes it to be baptism which effects pure salvation and life . . .

    When sin and conscience oppress us . . . you may say: It is a fact that I am baptized, but, being baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and obtain eternal life for both soul and body . . . Hence, no greater jewel can adorn our body or soul than baptism; for through it perfect holiness and salvation become accessible to us . . .

    (From edition by Augsburg Publishing House (Minneapolis), 1935, sections 223-224, 230, pages 162, 165)

All the major Lutheran denominations hold to baptismal regeneration. According to Mead's Handbook of Denominations (I have a 1970 ed.), Lutherans accept Luther's Small and Large Catechisms, both of which clearly teach baptismal regeneration. The Smalcald Articles were also written by Luther. The Formula of Concord, also accepted by most if not all Lutheran bodies, states in its Article XII, section on "Erroneous Articles of the Schwenkfelders":
We reject and condemn these errors . . .: 3. That the water of Baptism is not a means whereby the Lord God seals the adoption of sons and works regeneration.
Mead writes about general Lutheran belief:
Infants are baptized, and baptized persons are believed to receive the gift of regeneration from the Holy Ghost. (p. 129)
Looking through the various Lutheran denominations, I see that the old American Lutheran Church (now part of the current ELCA) holds to the two catechisms, the Book of Concord, and the Smalcald Articles, as does the LCMS (the largest orthodox Lutheran group left, which hasn't sanctioned abortion and various liberal heterodox assumptions, etc.). I highly doubt that the Wisconsin Synod would believe any differently, being a very conservative group. Indeed, Mead says they are "very close" to LCMS theology. If a self-described "Lutheran" denies baptismal regeneration, then they are no representatives of Lutheranism, traditionally-understood, but rather some nebulous entity which may still be called Lutheranism, but in actually no longer is.

Anglicanism concurs with Luther and Lutheranism on this matter. In its authoritative Thirty-Nine Articles (1563, language revised 1801), Article 27, Of Baptism, reads as follows:

    Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.

    The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.

    (From The Book of Common Prayer, NY: The Seabury Press, 1979, 873)

The venerable John Wesley, founder of Methodism, who is widely admired by Protestants and Catholics alike, agreed, too, that children are regenerated (and justified initially) by means of infant baptism. From this position he never wavered. In his Articles of Religion (1784), which is a revised version of the Anglican Articles, he retains an abridged form of the clause on baptism (No. 17) , stating that it is "a sign of regeneration, or the new birth."

Written in 1996 by Dave Armstrong.

Dialogue: Baptism, the Mystical Body of Christ, and Implications for Ecumenism

A "traditionalist" wrote to me (words in blue):

. . . the very articles you listed in the first part of your reply . . . made me question these NEW definitions of "Church" and "Mystical Body of Christ." Baptism alone does NOT incorporate one into the Mystical Body of Christ. Father Most (who also is a renowned orthodox Catholic) says that Peter Kreeft is wrong in one of his books by stating this very thing. I am here assuming that Mystical Body of Christ = The Church. This is emphatically stated in Mortalium Animos and encyclicals by Pope Pius IX and Pope St. Pius X.

Then Fr. John A. Hardon (also of impeccable orthodoxy) is also wrong, as he states that one effect (among many) of baptism is:

    . . . entrance into the Mystical Body, which is the Catholic Church.
{Pocket Catholic Dictionary, NY: Doubleday, 1980, 39}

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), #1267, 1269 says the same thing. But I suppose you consider that a liberal document as well? So does the Catechism of the Council of Trent:

    . . . we who by Baptism are united to, and become member's of Christ's body, . . .
{New York: Joseph F. Wagner, 1934, tr. John A McHugh & Charles J. Callan, 186; the Church is described as "the body of Christ" on p. 99}

Was the Council of Trent "liberal" too? Was it infiltrated by modernists who deliberately and insidiously implanted "ambiguous" language into it?

Likewise, the Council of Florence (1439) declared:

    . . . holy baptism . . . by it we are made members of Christ and belong to His body, the Church . . .
{Decree for the Armenians}

The Church is the organization within itself established by Jesus Christ, so to say that Catholics "search for unity" is a misnomer.

Not at all, because various Christians have varying degrees of attainment to Catholic fullness of truth. They are implicitly members of the Catholic Church if they have been baptized properly (i.e., a trinitarian formula, with right intent); therefore we are to seek unity with them. It is an imperative, and not optional. This goes back at least as far as the controversies over Donatist re-baptism, in Augustine's time (5th century).

One of the four marks of the Church is that it is "ONE."

Of course it is.

At the very least, do you not agree that the misinterpretation of ecumenism has led millions into religious indifferentism?

Oh, of course. I always say so in my papers on the topic. But we don't determine orthodoxy and truth by virtue of "misinterpretation," do we? The same has been done to Vatican II and the Bible. You "traditionalists" wish to, therefore, question the validity of Vatican II itself. But in so doing, you throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Is the prudency NOT questionable?

Not at all, as this would make also the Bible itself "imprudent," given the myriad abuses of it through the centuries. Your argument, therefore, proves too much. You should know that there has been turmoil and crisis after all the ecumenical Councils. Even Nicea defined the Trinity (in less-developed form compared to the later Chalcedon), but nevertheless the Arians flourished for quite a while after it (and had great, majority, numbers, even among the clergy - Newman credits the laity for keeping the Church afloat in that troubled era). By "traditionalist" reasoning, this must have been because Nicea was an "Arian Council." If there wasn't a liberal crisis in the Church (i.e., in practice, not in terms of dogma), I suspect that schismatic and separatist types wouldn't spout half the nonsense and claptrap that they do. Sorry for the invective, but I (with Augustine and the mind of the Church) consider the schismatic spirit and actual schism an exceedingly wicked sin, to be avoided like the plague. Identifying error and heresy for what it is is very biblical and Pauline . . .

[citing me]: "We do think many of these non-Catholics will go to heaven, but because of what they know or not know individually, and how well they follow the moral law, not due to any relativism of doctrine (we think Protestants and Orthodox are implicitly part of the Mystical Body and the Catholic Church)."

CONDEMNED PROPOSITIONS Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors: 17. "Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ." --Encyclical Quanto conficiamur, Aug. 10, 1863, etc.

But the Catholic view is - and always has been - that non-Catholic Christians who have been incorporated into Christ and His One Church by virtue of baptism are part of the Church in some fashion, as just established above. Therefore, Pius IX's condemnation doesn't apply to this orthodox Catholic position.

16. "Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation." -- Encyclical Qui pluribus, Nov. 9, 1846.

In other words, this is a condemnation of relativism and indifferentism, which even you agree is a misinterpretation of true Catholic ecumenism.

[me]: "(we think Protestants and Orthodox are implicitly part of the Mystical Body and the Catholic Church)."

Not according to the continuous teaching magisterium of the Church for 1999 years and Father Most. This is simply incorrect. You are changing the definition of Church and Mystical Body of Christ from their original meanings.

Hardly, as I showed above. I see that a little background on the Donatist controversy is needed, as this issue constantly comes up, and "traditionalists" seem to be unaware that the undivided, pre-Schism early Church has long since authoritatively spoken in a sense which is altogether consistent with present-day authentic Catholic ecumenism, as emphasized at Vatican II.

I cite Jaroslav Pelikan, noted historian (formerly Lutheran, recently a convert to Orthodoxy) of the history of Christian doctrine:

    Donatism was no less insistent than Augustine that there could be only one church. The Donatists also laid claim to the title 'catholic,' which they denied to anyone else. But they made the unity and the catholicity of the church contingent upon its prior holiness . . . And the only church that met this qualification was the Donatist community; it alone had true unity, for it alone had true holiness. Likewise, it alone had the sacraments. 'There is,' said one Donatist bishop, 'one baptism, which belongs to the church; and where there is no church, there cannot be any baptism either.' . . . In the name of this demand for holiness, the Donatists felt obliged to separate themselves from the vast body of those who called themselves catholic Christians; for there could be no fellowship between the church of Christ (the Donatists) and the synagogue of Satan (the catholics) . . .

      [St. Augustine wrote:] 'as there is in the catholic church something that is not catholic [i.e., unholiness in some of its members], so there may be something that is catholic outside the catholic church.' [Ep. 185.38, 185.42] . . .

      . . . 'all men possess baptism who have received it in any place, from any sort of man, just so long as it was consecrated with the words of the Gospel and was received by them without deceit and with some degree of faith.' [Baptism, 7.53.102]

{The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine: vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), Univ. of Chicago Press, 1971, pp. 309-311}

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2nd rev. ed. by F.L. Cross & E.A. Livingstone, Oxford Univ. Press, 1983, p. 127) summarizes the Donatist / baptism controversy and its import:

    . . . Pope Stephen I . . . [in 256] refused to sanction rebaptism and also threatened the African bishops with excommunication if they continued the practice . . . The Council of Arles in 314 opposed this [Donatist] view by declaring heretical Baptism valid if conferred in the name of the Trinity, and this teaching came to be generally accepted by the whole Church, esp. through the influence of St. Augustine. He established the dependence of the validity of the Sacrament on the correct form prescribed by Christ, regardless of the faith or worthiness of the minister.
This understanding is altogether harmonious with the ecumenical notion that Protestant and Orthodox trinitarian baptism is valid and sufficient for incorporation into the Body of Christ.

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. (who received me into the Church, and baptized my first two children) wrote:

    Gradually, therefore, as it became clear that there were "God-fearing" people outside the Christian fold, and that some were deprived of their Catholic heritage without fault on their part, the parallel Tradition arose of considering such people open to salvation, although they were not professed Catholics or even necessarily baptized. Ambrose and Augustine paved the way for making these distinctions. By the twelfth century, it was widely assumed that a person can be saved if some "invincible obstacle stands in the way" of his baptism and entrance into the Church.

    Thomas Aquinas restated the constant teaching about the general necessity of the Church. But he also conceded that a person may be saved extra sacramentally by a baptism of desire and therefore without actual membership by reason of his at least implicit desire to belong to the Church . . .

    Since the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 defined that "The universal Church of the faithful is one, outside of which no one is saved," there have been two solemn definitions of the same doctrine, by Pope Boniface VIII in 1302 and at the Council of Florence in 1442. At the Council of Trent, which is commonly looked upon as a symbol of Catholic unwillingness to compromise, the now familiar dogma of baptism by desire was solemnly defined; and it was this Tridentine teaching that supported all subsequent recognition that actual membership in the Church is not required to reach one's eternal destiny.

    At the Second Council of the Vatican, both streams of doctrine were delicately welded into a composite whole [he then cites Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, II, 14] . . .

    Actual incorporation into the Church takes place by baptism of water. Those who are not actually baptized may, nevertheless, be saved through the Church according to their faith in whatever historical revelation they come to know and in their adequate cooperation with the internal graces of the Spirit they receive.

    On both counts, however, whoever is saved owes his salvation to the one Catholic Church founded by Christ. It is to this Church alone that Christ entrusted the truths of revelation which have by now, though often dimly, penetrated all the cultures of mankind. It is this Church alone that communicates the merits won for the whole world on the cross.

{From The Catholic Catechism, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1975, pp. 234-236}
[citing my words again]:

"Another charge which has been sent my way is the accusation that I am trying to evangelize the Orthodox, or that I am engaging in proselytizing. The ecumenical Balamand Agreement stated, for example:

    Pastoral activity in the Catholic Church, Latin as well as Oriental, no longer aims at having the faithful of one church pass over to the other; that is to say, it no longer aims at proselytizing among the Orthodox."
Mr. Armstrong, do you not find something inherently wrong with this statement? Perhaps the fact it contradicts 2000 years of magisterial teaching as well as that specifically of Jesus Christ. This was issued by the Vatican. Does it have any doctrinal weight or authority for us Catholics? I doubt it. And if it does, one must obey God rather than man, especially in the face of insipid apostasy.

I engage in apologetics, but in a manner consistent also with the ecumenical spirit. Both strains of thought and approach are well-entrenched in Catholic Tradition, as I am trying to demonstrate presently. But one can't "evangelize" other Christians, by definition. One can only seek to persuade them that the fullness of apostolic Christianity is found in the Catholic Church.

[Me]: "that all who are saved are saved because of the Catholic Church, whether or not they are aware of that fact."

So the Church is visible to some, but invisible to others?

In effect, yes (or mistakenly identified or defined with too-narrow parameters).

Since most non-Catholics (and "Catholics") practice birth control, and the use of birth control is a mortal sin, how can those who are in the state of mortal sin (objectively) go to heaven?

They can't; however, one of the requirements for mortal sin (as I assume you know) is sufficient knowledge. This is lacking - I would suspect - in the great majority of these cases (though I would agree with you that it shouldn't be). One might also make a complex psychological/philosophical argument that "full consent of the will" is also usually (or at least often) lacking. I know that when I contracepted I didn't have the slightest idea that such a practice was universally condemned by all Christians until the Anglicans caved into the humanist and neo-pagan zeitgeist in 1930. I was simply ignorant. When I was informed of this, I immediately became more responsible and culpable for my objectively sinful actions (and indeed I soon denounced it).

I thought the church was visible and we had to make a profession of faith to be Catholic, not just "fall into it" accidentally without even knowing it. We must profess Catholic belief and practice Catholic teaching in our lives (to the best of our knowledge) to be saved, yes or no?

Yes. The huge "loophole" here, of course, lies within the parentheses.

Compiled by Dave Armstrong on 1 August 1999 from e-mail correspondence.