Since there’s been some confusion…

I have no quarrel was those who call themselves “Traditionalist” Catholic per se. If you call yourself a “Traditionalist” and assent to the basic ideas laid out by Pete Vere here, then that’s just ducky with me. If you reject any or all of these ideas, then call yourself what you will, but the reality is you are just as much a dissenter from Holy Church as Rosemary Radford Reuther or Frances Kissling–and with considerably more responsibility since you allegedly take serious Catholic doctrine while they are frankly contemptuous of it.

“Catholic” is not an ethnicity. To be Catholic is to assent to the proposition “I believe all that the Catholic Church teaches and proclaims is revealed by God.” “Traditionalists” who do not do this reject the Tradition they claim to uphold.

Now, just to head off the inevitable chorus of, “You check your brain at the Church door” rhetoric, let me reiterate, the Church does not operate on the principle “That which is not forbidden is compulsory.” You shall worship the Lord your God with all your mind, among other things. And so there is a wide gray area where the Church proposes things, not for assent, but for contemplation. She asks us to try to think with the Tradition, using it as a light for reflection, not a slide rule for infallible moral calculus that must always produce monolithic lockstep agreement. Witness for instance the wide disagreement among Catholics about war with Iraq (about which I am increasingly ambiguous) and the bishops’ own insistence that their prudential judgment is not binding on us. For more info here, see my piece “Catholic “Officialdom” and Theological Ambiguity“.

But the mark of dissent is that it rejects, not just prudential judgments, but the teaching which undergirds the judgments (much like Remnant offers undisguised contempt for the teaching of Holy Church in Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra Aetate). Pete Vere has outlined pretty well some teaching which can’t be dissented from if we are serious about being Catholic. I thank him and Shawn McElhinny for it.


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