A reader writes…

Have you ever noticed that there is this very vocal tradical misconception that the abuse crisis is a “new” church thing? And that somehow it does not affect traditionalist orders…. Well, my father sent me this article because he lives in the Scranton area of Pennsylvania, and it touches the SSPX, FSSP and SSJ in the sordid history of the traditional St. Gregory’s Academy.

However, when the school closed, Rorate Caeli towed the official line given by the FSSP with no mention of the liability the school had become or the crisis.

Apparently, some tradicals don’t consider it a matter of justice to print the truth, and it is because they have built up this myth that the abuse crisis was not their problem.

I apologize for the nature of the email, but it angers me because this subterfuge has already hurt the church, we don’t need more secrecy, we need the light of day. I have spent a lot of time and money promoting the TLM and tradition, and I am forced to sit back and reevaluate exactly what I am promoting. After reading about this abuse, and after years of reading an unchecked flood of poisonous comments and reactionary posts on Rorate Caeli toward Rome and VII, I have to wonder… am I hurting the Church? As much as there exists a false spirit of VII that is repugnant, there also exists a false spirit of traditionalism that is equally repugnant and destructive. Unfortunately, while the false spirit of VII is in decline, the false spirit of traditionalism is not.

Yeah. It’s a cherished myth with a lot of Reactionaries that everything was great before the Council, that everything that’s wrong is due to a) the Council, b) Garrulous Karolus the Koran Kisser; c) damn libruls; d) Jews; e) Masons; and e) anybody who is critical of the widespread Traditionalist culture of pharisaic, paranoid, anti-semitic, conspiracy-mongering Inquisitorial lovelessness and pride. So they spend an inordinate amount of time doing things like spitting on the graves of good, holy and devout men who were same sex attracted and chaste, all while turning a blind eye to problems in their own spiritually superior subculture. Hard to be holier than thou if you admit that your gang are as prey to unholiness as the rest of us slobs. There are a growing number of people like my reader who admire the goals the TLM crowd but who are coming to the conclusion that they are often the absolute worst enemies of the Benedictine reforms on planet earth due to the sheer ugliness and bitterness of their spiritual fruit.

Traditionalists love to brag about being “deep in history”. In fact, an awful lot of them are shallow in history, particularly when it comes to moral theology. They adopt a thoroughly American Calvinist attitude toward concupiscence on selected subjects, notably pelvic issues, and acutely on homosexuality. Actual Catholic teaching on temptation is this:

1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.

1264 Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, “the tinder for sin” (fomes peccati); since concupiscence “is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ.” Indeed, “an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”

So, for instance, a gay man who remains chaste is not guilty of any sin and should, in fact, be commended for his virtue on the field of moral combat with temptation.

But for a Calvinized Catholic like the Trads at Rorate Coeli, mere temptation is already sin. There’s no mercy for you if you are a gay man, even if you are faithful to the Church’s teaching. And God help you if you struggle and fail. That just *proves* you are a fifth columnist and a cancer in the body of Christ, not a sinner needing grace and mercy like the rest of us.

Given that merciless and toxic attitude, it’s no huge wonder that they simply turn a blind eye to the occurrence of homosexual sin (and homosexuals) in their ranks. There is, in their theology, no place at all for people who struggle with this particular form of concupiscence.

But they’re still there and they still need grace and mercy. Actual Catholic faith offers that. The cartoonish parody of Catholic faith that is the Reactionary Catholic subculture: not so much (though, of course, there are people in the Traditionalist subculture who are not like this).

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  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    “merciless and toxic attitude”

    You nailed it.

    And “merciless and toxic” isn’t limited to RadTrad types – it’s very much present in a slightly different variety, among the greedier sort of Wall Street “Masters of the Universe”, as well as among certain hawkish military types (the former KGB, and the present Chinese police, etc.)

    “Merciless and toxic:” I and those few who measure up to me are Right. I got mine; what the hell is your problem?

  • Geoff

    FTR, I am what just about every Catholic I have met regards as a “traddie” and I have no doubt that these scandals existed in the Church prior to the VII reforms. Admittedly I am somewhat insulated from the larger traddie subculture being in Montana, but I have met none that would deny its existence. The argument that is typically put forth is that the problem was LESS prior to those reforms and not that it didnt exist.

    I see the loss or minimizing of traditional priestly formation (emphasis on St. Thomas, St Alphonsus etc) as one of the root causes since (IIRC) St. Alphonsus said that if a man was found unable to control his sexual urges and live chastely then he should be removed from formation. Now there are cases of seminarians at large, well known, seminaries that are caught by the police (with articles in the papers) having sex with one another in cars behind movie theaters and the like without repercussions. That being said, I cannot know or judge whether there actually are sanctions imposed by the seminaries on these men since they keep such matters very private (as they should) but why should those men who have shown they cannot control such urges be allowed to remain? Especially in the spiritual combat in which we find ourselves today such matters must be handled.

    It has been said that the worst punishment God can inflict upon His Church is that of bad priests and also that if you fight Him long enough eventually He will give you what you desire: anything but Him. We are facing, and fighting, the fruits of our labors to follow our own path instead of His plan and that applies to all of us.

    I do, however, agree with your assessment of the “Rad Trad” attitude toward homosexual issues. Some do follow the Calvinistic attitude of “doing evil shows the person to be intrinsically evil” that I have fought with varying degrees of success with several people (both Catholic and Calvinist). IMHO the proper attitude to adopt is that of Christ meeting the woman at the well: acknowledge the sinfulness of what has been done, allow forgiveness and allow them to go forth in love and sin no more.

    I am sorry for being somewhat reactionary in my reply, but being a part of the “Traddie subculture” means that we are treated like crazies by both Catholics and every branch of Protestantism (much like libertarians in politics) and we do tend to be defensive of our positions :).


  • Read the links.

    The problem described is not the refusal of Traddies to admit a tendency to sin, but an oughtright institutionalization of sin and a systematized administrative cover up of that sin.

    What is disturbing about this is not that some seminarians or priests might struggle with temptations toward sodomy, but that Church institutions – even “Traditional” Latin Mass institutions – allow priests to sodomize boys and beg money from donors so they can secretly keep it up. The Traddie Society of St. Justin and the bishop of Scranton in the cases sited are not guilty of judgmentalism, but of allowing and facilitating the abuse of children.

  • Geoff

    I have read the links and have been following these cases for years (I was raised anti-Catholic about 10-15 miles outside of Boston).

    And my point was that I have never heard or felt that Traddies say this doesnt happen in traditional orders or that it never happened prior to the VII/NO reform.

    It seems to me that we are all categorized as crazy and that our stance is caricatured and then mocked in a sort of pop culture strawman assault. Those people are not typical, they are not the norm. Heck, they are not even common enough for me to have met or read any (and I follow a lot of their blogs/news/forums etc.) outside of, arguably, Voris.

    • Nate

      I get that. I think you make some good points here.
      Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about traddie culture, but it does seem to me that what applies to the trads can perhaps be applied to the atheist. The sorts you find active on the internet are not necessarily representative of the general attitudes or composures of the group as a whole.

      For example, the sorts of trads you run across on blog threads tend to have a rather manichean take on the ‘sides’, as it were, and a rather impoverished look at history (e.g., ‘Everything was great up until V-II!, or ‘Everything was GREAT until that Martin Luther came along!’), but I’m guessing that your average trad has a more nuanced approach to the introduction of error and heresy. You also see a rather egregious abuse of the genetic fallacy on the internet by the trad (“This innovation in the Mass had its roots in the theology of X, who was a Lutheran!”), but I’m guessing most trads have a better handle on proper argument.
      Certainly, I believe you when you say that most all trads don’t whitewash their own side. But if you only read (certain) traddie blogs, you’d perhaps wrongly conclude this.

      More importantly, though, I think you are entirely right that the traddie is painted as crazy with scant and disrespectful handwaves by neo-con Catholics. There is a dismissive attitude (or more accurately, a hands over the ears “I can’t hear you la la la la la!” attitude) to the traddie by the neo-con Catholic. The neo-con is convinced (or convinces himself) that if only V-II were implemented properly, none of this stuff would have happened. I suppose I fall on this neo-conservative side of the fence as well.
      But certainly, the neo-con (read: my) argument re V-I isn’t without its foibles–its not knock-down–and when we neo-Cons look at the traddie who criticizes V-II or JPII without mincing words, and simply call him a nut, well, that’s not very charitable, nor are we being honest with ourselves. And certainly, you see this lack of charity by the neo-cons on the blogosphere.

      I can think of certain traddies where the tongue-in-cheek description of Ron Paul as seen on this blog (“But clearly, this man is insane.”) could be rightly applied.

  • Joannie

    Last September the Pope met with the American Bishops and said that every institution should all be held to the same high standards when it comes to sex abuse, but again one thing that I never hear about when it comes to this are 3 prominent and well loved Catholic “role models” and “heroes” First is Mother Teresa of Calcutta who actually said that to “talk” about this is WORSE than the act itself. Phil Lawler has commented on this and it is true. One of the nuns in her order was an abuser. Second Fr. John Hardon defending or making excuses for a fellow Jesuit who was an abuser, and finally “Blessed John Paul II with not just the Legion of Christ, but also telling the American Bishops personally, “You will get no quick fixes out of me” I saw this in the book “Man of the Century” and the author said the Pope wanted no bad publicity for the Church so he did not act on this, so it is not just the Trads but even well respected People in the Church and this is why many victims want this to be admitted to and pointed out faced and then apologize on this aspect of these three potential Saints, mostly John Paul II and why many were opposed and still are opposed to his Canonization if there is a second miracle for his Cause. The Truth about these three figures most be acknowledged.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      “Mother Teresa of Calcutta . . . actually said that to “talk” about this is WORSE than the act itself. Phil Lawler has commented on this and it is true.”

      An unsigned letter, portions of which were in Mother Teresa’s handwriting, also contained lines not in her handwriting, giving voice to this damning remark. The remark was apparently included by one of her assistants for her approval; the letter was found among her papers. It’s important to realize that these may not be Mother Teresa’s words or thoughts at all.

      Also, in a certain sense, it is worse to perpetuate an evil by idle and / or malicious talking about it.

      That “idle and / or malicious” part is the key here: It’s necessary for those who have the duty to deal with these situations – law enforcement, social service agencies, clergy, administrative staff, attorneyes, prison and parole personnel, medical staff, together with the victims, their families, and any witnesses, to investigate, discuss, ask questions, compare notes, about these tragedies. Their discussions have to take place; they are neither idle nor malicious in themselves.

      Also, for the faithful who have also been left reeling by these situations, it has sometimes been necessary to talk with trusted confidants to share our grief and disappointment over these evils. We say what we need to say to air our feelings, as sincerely and simply as possible, and we move on. We also make sure our children and youth are up-to-speed on what to do if the unthinkable should occur, and we do that briskly and succinctly without lingering on the subject or engaging in useless speculation about it.

      But some people seem to almost enjoy – in a sick way – dwelling on and reveling in the salacious details; they sometimes can’t seem to stop reading everything they can get their hands on, and talking about the subject day and night. They speculate aloud to others: “Is Father So-and-So like that?”, “I wonder what experiences Fr. Such-and-such had before he entered seminary?” and spread gossip, rumors, and innuendo. It becomes a pasttime, a form of entertainment for them. Sometimes people grow to love what they hate; can’t stop thinking about it; can’t stop taking about it; can’t live without it. It becomes like an addiction. I think of a former Catholic blogger whom I think this happened to.

      We are to fulfill our duty to do all that is necessary to administer justice, and to protect our young people, and beyond that, we are to get our minds off that, and let our minds dwell on what is beautiful, what is lovely, what is admirable, what is praiseworthy, as the Apostle Paul prescribed.

      It that was the sense of the words contained in Mother Teresa’s letter, then I agree with her.

  • Ted Seeber

    Ok, this article is too spammy, so I’m cutting it down to just the main point. By the evidence in the John Day report, the culture immediately preceding Vatican II is what caused the secrecy portion of the sex scandals, the general sexual revolution in first world countries made them worse, and the destruction of clericalism (which took until the 1990s to really take hold) freed victims to talk about the abuse, while also simultaneously making seminarians more aware that it *is* abuse.

    This goes right in line with other famous Baby Boomer eros-based mistakes, like the rise of pedophilia, extra-marital relations, and gay pride behavior (to distinguish the last from SSA struggles). But I also think the result, now being seen in GenX/GenY parents having to be background checked to drop their kids off at Sunday School, will be a less trustful culture in the future. And in some ways, that’s a good thing.

    And wordpress thinks this article is a bit too spampy, which is why I said gay pride instead of using a longer technical term, and hope that everybody understands. If prompted, I will attempt to dig into the John Day overlapping bell curve issue.

    • Ted Seeber

      Ok, I’m going to try to explain the above.

      The John Day Report gives us three bell curves of data.

      The first is when priests accused of abuse were ordained- this is a bell curve from the 1940s to 1970.

      The second is actual incidents of abuse, and again we have a bell curve, but 1956 to 1986.

      The third is publicity about former accusations of abuse, and this is basically 1989-2004

      There is a baseline beneath all of these bell curves, but it’s shockingly low (in that, in any given population of male human beings you’d expect to find 4.5% abuse children; in Catholic priests the TOP of the bell curve is 1% and the bottom is somewhere close to .01%- it does seem that in the vast majority of cases, the vow of celibacy actually does some good).

  • Gavin

    “There are a growing number of people like my reader who admire the goals the TLM crowd but who are coming to the conclusion that they are often the absolute worst enemies of the Benedictine reforms on planet earth due to the sheer ugliness and bitterness of their spiritual fruit.”

    Just what are the “goals” of the “TLM crowd” in your opinion, Mr. Shea? I can tell you as an organist and schola director who has a decided preference for the Extraordinary Form (and the much older Dominican Rite, celebrated at my parish on a weekly basis) my “goal” is to help educate Catholics who are attached to both forms of the Roman Rite about the history and beauty of authentic sacred music (yes, I am acutely aware that the situation regarding sacred music before the 2nd Vatican Council was largely dire, and am in no way suggesting that the 50’s were a “Golden Age” for chant and good polyphony. There is no romanticism in my choir loft. I have no fear about taking an objective look at our musical/liturgical history, rolling up my sleeves, and getting to work doing what our Holy Father Benedict XVI has *asked* Catholic musicians to do). Another one of my “goals” is the musical enrichment of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, a vision shared by my pastor who is incredibly supportive of our music program – and which is also the vision of Pope Benedict XVI, in case you’ve forgotten.

    Yes, there are things I hate: I hate disobedience to the Holy Father, I hate ignorance of the history and documents of the Second Vatican Council (which in truth did sacred music a lot of good, particularly in the renewed call for the learning and propagation of Gregorian Chant).

    So what am I doing about it? Directing a Schola full of some of the most authentically *joyful* people I have ever met. I’m 27 and most are younger than I am. I haven’t heard one peep about the Jews, the Masons, the Muslims, the evils of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, Benedict XVI is a modernist, etc. They just love the music of their Church, and our Dominican Rite Mass is where they find it at the moment up here in the frozen north.

    What else am I doing? I am compiling materials for a six-month series on the history of sacred music that will be open to all members of the parish, even *gasp* folks who exclusively attend the Ordinary Form!

    But I guess the jig is up! You’ve exposed our anti-Semitic, pope-hating, rabid agenda! Oh noes!!! However can we spread our ugliness and opposition to the Benedictine reforms now?!

    • Nate

      Ok? So you’re not the sort of person who Shea is talking about then. Why take so much offense?

    • Dude. Just FYI, you didn’t help your case with this post. It comes across as a little bit combative. Just keep doing your (awesome) thing, and let the church gradually rediscover its treasures.

  • Gavin

    Because he consistently paints Traditionalists with the same broad, uncharitable brush, and I hit my saturation point this morning.

    • I hear your pain Gavin. I can think of many occasions on which I’ve been generalized into a group (home schooler for starters) by someone leaving me feeling defensive and angry at the unfairness of it all. I have to be careful however that in my own defense I’m not employing a ‘no true Scotsman’ argument and that I’m not reacting because someone touch a raw nerve rather than reacting to an unjust argument. You clearly are not the sort of ‘rad-trad’ that Mark is refering too. The writers over at Rorate Caeli seem to more accurately fall into that category (indeed, may make up the bulk of that category for Mark (not a jolly joke)).

      You can find more of the same type of folks at http://www.faithfulcatholics.com/ (yes, Faithful Catholics ™ have a website) who generally reject VII entirely and are quite touchy about it.

  • Disgusted in DC

    Perhaps this history is why the Ordinariate and the Bishop of Scranton did not want St. Thomas More Parish, Scranton to host St. Gregory’s. Also, in fairness to the traddies/FSSP crowed, I think they were fooled by the leadership of the Society of St. John, who seemed to operate the society as a pederastic religious cult. Back in the late 90s, I remember finding their literature very odd, particularly their idea of a “Catholic city,” which is simply not possible to do under federal and state fair housing laws. When religious organizations pursue goals that obviously fly in the face of reality, things tend to go disasterously wrong. Their literature’s writing style also betrayed an “artificial” style that struck me at the time as strange. There is a psychological type of homosexual male who loves ritual and artiface, of which I was personnally quite well aware, but did not put two-and-two together until the pederasty charges were aired.

  • Observer

    Disease: Crisis of faith.
    Symptoms: Viral outbreak of concupiscence.
    Cause: Attack on the faith and the soul/humanity.
    Remedy Cure: Penance, Confession, and receiving the Sacrament in fullness and light of the Gospel.
    Prescription: Take the above medicine by quarantiing one’s self as the Saints had lived as hermits, in solemnity, prayers, devotions, and particularly as men in Holy Orders live under an Abbot and in keeping (restoring) their vows to the Church (Christ’s bride and to Christ himself) through a cloistered habit.

    What was the failure allowing the problems and ill-effects of a culture which went haywire (causing the problems which men fell into such a wicked and dangerous form of concupiscence)? A malpractice of medicine caused the whole problem. Men who had fallen as priests should had been sent to a cloistered community and habit whilst an investigation had been carried out (not upon psychological non-sense persuading the Church to relocate men to active parishes and denying the full identity and reality of their lives to Christ in the Eucharist.) Plain and simple, men of authority who were in charge enabled the worse outcome of events not as much as the one’s commited those abuses. And when pre-vat’s and post-vat’s point fingers at each other, God’s merciful action is to show them what happens when they forget Christ and His presence in the Eucharist and argue over non-essential things.

  • Observer

    Solution: Quit the non-sense. Turn to Christ and God’s mercy saying, “Mea culpa, mea culpa.” And completely avoid the pharisaic response of “Prevat culpa” or “Postvat culpa.”

  • You have a distorted view of what traditional Catholics believe. One thing we don’t believe is that “mere temptation is already sin”.