Catholic apologist Mark Shea, in a superb critical article about the "traditionalist" term Neo-Catholic ("Final bits and pieces about the Mystery of the Neo-Catholics"), came up with the following gut-bustingly funny insight:
There are two hilarious ironies here.See my related papers:
The first is that, as we are constantly informed by the Janice Krauses of the world, lay people (except Janice Krause) have no business going around talking about or teaching the faith. So Catholic Answers is anathema and there is "no office of apologist in the Church". They're only in it for the awesome power, prestige, money, and hot chicks that are all part of the perks for being a Catholic writer or speaker. Scott Hahn appears to me more or less the locus of evil in the universe for all this. What right has he to being teaching Scripture, just because he has a Ph.D in the subject. He's popular, dammit! And a convert! And a layperson!
But when some guy named Chris Ferrara cooks up the novel term "neo-Catholic" to attach opprobrium to anybody he dislikes, with no clear description of what the term means that could possibly bind together all the victims of the label, the term is somehow granted canonical status and we are to treat it as seriously as terms which actually arise from the tradition and not from the hothouse of the uber-Trad subculture. I don't care who you are, that's funny. . . .
What exactly is not up to snuff about them [Dave: so-called "neo-Catholics"] is maddeningly vague. Is it that they are somehow Protestantized half-breeds with an alien culture or theology? Is it that they are sinister neocons whose Judaized Israeli-supporting politics are leading us to disaster? Is it their presumptuous tendency to think they should go around teaching others about the Faith and evangelizing them to their Protestantized hybrid religion? Is it their shallow cult of personality centered on JPII? Their money-grubbing hucksterism? The way they talk? Their sinister happiness with Vatican II?
Dunno. There's just something about 'em. They are Other. They aren't really and truly Catholic. And our authority for all that is... some guy named Chris Ferrara, some woman named Janice Kraus, and a few other lay Traditionalists who bandy the term about loosely and with no clear definition they can all agree upon other than "Ewww! Them!"
(Of course some of us "neo-Catholics", when we are on the receiving end of this aggression, will use the term "Rad Trad" to describe the Aggressor. But we only mean that term to refer to those Traditionalists who attempt to reduce the Faith to their hothouse subculture and to exclude those outside it. We do not apply it to those who happen to have Traditionalist sensibilities, but who do not suggest, insinuate or say that other Catholics are "neo-Catholics" or somehow second-class Catholics.)
Am I a "Neo-Catholic"? / My Belief Concerning the Criticism of Popes is Taken Out of Context and Distorted by "Traditionalists" (in Wikipedia)
Few people are funnier than Mark Shea when he focuses on a target eminently worthy of criticism. I absolutely love it. He's the apologist that "traditionalists" despise perhaps more than any other. I agree that he has gone rhetorically over the top on more than a few occasions, but this is right-on. Note, especially, the disclaimer at the end about the distinctions we "neo-Catholics" make in describing "traditionalists." It is exactly my own view as well, as I have tried to make very clear, especially in the last few years.