“TradCatholic” writes

I’ll tell you right now: If some African witch doctor becomes Pope, I’m leaving the Church.

And that, children, is one of the many reasons Trad Catholics are so often such repellent specimens. Racism, Jew-hatred, thin-skinned, self-pitying, bullying, smug, pharisaic pride: these are traits I have encountered *far* too often in Trad circles. Are all Trads like this? Of course not. I’ve known plenty of people who call themselves “Traditional Catholics” who were good and decent people. But I’ve also encountered an *awful* lot of people like this person, who mistake a particular aesthetic with sanctity and who forget that the fruits of the Spirit still matter. This particular “Trad” knows nothing of the tradition if he does not know that in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, European nor African. I’ve got news for you, pal: You’ve already left the Church in your heart if the color of our next Pope’s skin means anything to you.

It’s Lent. Try repenting of your racism, “TradCatholic”.

""When the traitor just flipped off the entire national security establishment"- Nah, that doesn't make ..."

"When Obama is right, he's right. Same thing applies right now."

"Yes, Putin is a corrupt oligarch. Yes, Russia is an aggressive world power who meddles ..."

The normal GOP sound and fury ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Trevor Howards

    I guess I’m just the kind of guy, from the PNW, who just thinks the closest thing to Heaven is a reverent Mass of Paul VI. I haven’t tried the Dominican Rite Mark, but it’s on my short list.
    Traddies say a lot of things I agree with, and I agree with more of them after 7 yrs of Benedict even if I wouldn’t have the same emphasis put to them as they do. To be honest, I’ve yet to meet a racist among them. I can’t say the same about the liberals whose ranks included rad nuns who only referred to the last pope as “that dumb pollack”

    Everyone needs to trust the Holy Ghost on this one.

  • “joe”

    “liberals whose ranks included rad nuns who only referred to the last pope as “that dumb pollack” ”

    would you say that the nun who used that phrase is as characteristic of “liberals” as the one who used the phrase in mark’s post is of the traditionalists?

  • Mark,
    Not unlike the gloriously monikered ‘FrenchCookingMama’, I am a 42 year old who’s only ever been to Novus Ordo Mass. I may be displaying the banality of my catechesis here, but I was always told that the Mass is the Mass is the Mass regardless of the form in which it was celebrated. I therefore agree with you one hundred percent in relation to your analysis of some of the online behaviour of some of those who describe themselves as being ‘traditionalist’ Catholics.
    The shocking lack of humility required for the act notwithstanding, the preference of one form of Mass over another is, in my eyes, a matter of mere taste; in the long term, a matter no more or less profound than whether you prefer ice cream to cookies, or ‘Dynasty’ to ‘Dallas’. When The Word becomes flesh again, in front of us in the Blessed Sacrament (and right in front of us, that everyday, almost workaday miracle the method of the performance of which too many people who style themselves Catholics seem to be willing to hijack in pursuit of the satisfaction of their own tastes), it does not matter whether the rite is performed in English or Latin; what matters is that He is with us again, to feed us, to sustain us, to make us better than we are, and to give us hope of eternal salvation – and these guys worry about whether the priest who’s doing it has his back to us or not? Am I missing something here?
    There are many things about the NO Mass that one could take issue with, on the grounds of taste. My own pet peeve is the ‘Folk Mass’, a form of liturgy apparently designed for Catholics who never got over Dylan going electric at Newport in ’65. Maybe I’ll live long enough to see a Hawaiian Mass, complete with ukeleles. But while I can think that the choice of church music preferred by attenders of folk masses might be animated more by a desire to hear acoustic guitar music played for the most part, to my ears, to a standard only very marginally above that of busking, that does not permit me to think the Mass at which it is played is invalid; and like you, that is the vibe I get from many so-called ‘traditionalists’.
    Taste is nothing but another expression of pride; I prefer Snickers, and I shall not eat Oreos! I like French fries, and I will not eat runner beans (President George H. W. Bush – ‘I’m the President of the United States, and I shall not eat broccoli!’)! And the vibe I get is that pride is at the root of this liturgical crapulousness. Some years ago, I gave up reading a blog written by a cleric which has been referenced earlier on this thread, principally because I got tired of him posting photographs of the sumptuous dinners he was eating while I’m on tinned soup, but by goodness did he think he had all the answers. One aspect of the ‘traditionalist’ mentality you didn’t really deal with is intellectual arrogance, a great width of faith that sometimes seems to lack depth, another form of pride which sometimes express itself in the deliberate quoting of obscure divines. I might play them at their own game on this sometime, maybe invent a couple to keep them on their toes – ‘Ah, but you have forgotten the commentaries of Calliope of Stygia on this matter! In particular, how his views contrast with the Apocrypha of Egbert of Worksop!’
    And what gives with this co-option of terms such as ‘traditional’ and ‘traditionalist’? We belong to a Church which has existed for two millenia; the co-option of such terms by one self-selecting group implies that anyone who does not share their views is somehow outside its traditions, which is arrogant nonsense on a par with suggesting that heterosexuals can’t be gay, in the previously understood sense of the word. My own very limited experience of traditionalists are they are people who have done very well in the world (never met a poor trad yet); perhaps these manifestations arise from a sense of guilt at having done well in a world at war with the Gospels they grew up with, with the militant traditionalism arising from a need to affirm an established identity, perhaps preferring to calcify and ossify their religious lives rather than develop them to their full potential; or as you put it, ‘pharasiacal’.
    From a certain point of view, that we can be talking about this at all could be seen as evidence that maybe too many people who speak English as their first language maybe take the fact that they have such ready access to Mass too much for granted. There are people, fellow Catholics, who would love to have the number of priests we seem to have in our countries. Maybe arguments of this type are indicative not of our spirituality but our decadence; I mean, if you lived in the Amazon and only saw a priest three times a year, your first reaction when you see him might indeed be to question his orthodoxy, but then again it might just be gratitude to see a priest at all.
    Sorry to ramble so, Mark, but I find behaviours of the kind you’ve criticised uncharitably irritating. Having been asked several times who I think the next pope is going to be, the only answer I’ve been able to give with any any certainty is that it isn’t going to be me; yet if the Holy Spirit directs the election of a man with a darker skin than mine, that speaks only of the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and the certainty of the Apostolic Succession. What will that trads do – start a hunt for his birth certificate?

    • Shocked Trad

      I suppose trad’s can be judgemental and stereotype much like Mark and Martin have done. I think Mark put the emphasis of the referenced quote on the wrong word (i.e. African), the adjective, rather than on the subject “witch doctor”.

      The Mass is Mass is the Mass except when it ain’t. I’m thinking the grape juice and cracker service at the pentecostal church I attended once doesn’t quite messure up. Form and substance do mean something as does authority.

      It’s easy to be a Trad. We have left your church. Thanks for your scorn.

      • Maiki

        Really? Ok, there is a 99.99% chance that the man that will be the next pope will be a cardinal in the conclave. I’m assuming nobody feels the need to rant about things that are remote impossibilities, so I’m guessing the commenter thinks one of the current African Cardinal Electors is a witch doctor. On what basis? Are they teaching heresy in their Diocese? If so, who is it? Okogie, Monsengwo Pasinya, Zubeir Wako, Napier, Njue, Onaiyekau, Pengo, Sarah, or Turkson?

        Or is the commenter just assuming “witch doctorness” based on the idea that African Catholicism is heretically contaminated through syncretism? (instead of non-heretical actions such as inculturation). Maybe they should look at the log of heresy in their own continent first.

        • Mark Shea

          The guy is a devotee of something called “Pro-Western Christianity” (meaning “White Supremacist Christianity”). “African” = “Witch Doctor” for him, the “European” =/= “Druid” or “Eostre worshipper”.

      • Mark Shea

        If by “your Church” you mean “the Catholic Church” then I hope you repent and return soon.

    • jeff

      Sure the Mass is the Mass is the Mass. It is the most beautiful jewel in the world. I am saddened when I see the most precious jewel in the world smothered in manure. Its beauty can even be all but obscured by the filth even though it is still there deep under the muck and the reek.

  • MtMama

    Sometimes I sense that kind of racism in conservatives’ dislike of Obama. Yes, I know he has a lot of bad policies, but the hateful hysteria after he was elected the first time stunned me. I was expecting to hear. “That n***er ain’t my president.” It was like they were completely blown away that a non-white guy was in the White House. Just that fact alone meant the country was going to the dogs! After Jose Gomez was appointed archbishop of L.A. I heard quite a bit of grumbling from conservative Catholics about his nationality – he has an accent, for Pete’s sake (and it ain’t brogue)!!

    • erik

      wow! Rad mind reading powers! I wish you could bottle that because the world is in short supply of your gifts. Here I thought I disliked Obama intensely because he is a radical who wishes to tear down the fundamental structure of my country and bankrupt it. Thank you for setting me straight.

      • “joe”

        “I thought I disliked Obama intensely because he is a radical who wishes to tear down the fundamental structure of my country and bankrupt it.”

        the man who saved american capitalism is a radical who’s bankrupting the country? the man whose policies are nothing other than bush III? and you snark at others’ mind-reading while claiming to know what obama “wishes to” do!!

        • To be fair, “joe”. Conservatives have always considered both Bush Presidents to be liberals. So, the claim that the Obama Administration is a continuation of Bush policies actually strengthens the argument you think you are discrediting.

  • Devon Davies

    Could it be that TradCatholic is an Agent Provacatuer?

    • James H, London

      Unlikely, I’m afraid. The Rad Trads seem to attract far-right types.

      In the UK, they sound a lot like Shocked Trad above, and dream about That Glorious Day when Trade Unions are abolished, the Royal Family becomes Catholic, and all those Johnny Foreigners are sent home. To Ireland.

    • Mark Shea

      No. It’s that TradCatholic is a white supremacist who imagines that “Western Christianity” (i.e. White European Catholicism) is the be all and end all of the True Faith and that all those brown and almond eyed people are messing things up.

  • Devon Davies

    Oh puleese!
    I Mark didn’t have impeccable character, I would immediately have suspected him of writing the rant to drum up traffic to his blog.

  • Stu

    This thread of a train wreck was on a trajectory to go off the rails from inception and was about as nuanced as a teacup painter who uses a house brush for his detail work. Why? Because it took some obscure statement from an unknown source and then attempted to attribute to a whole class of people who “are so often such repellent specimens.” And of course it tends to bring out more such affirmations from the ranks that in totality becomes a chorus of “thank God we are not like them.”

    I think the whole use of modifiers to the word “Catholic” to oxymoronic whether individuals are self-identifying or, as in the case, it’s used as a pejorative. It’s also not productive. Now one defense that I have encountered for such labeling runs along the lines of,”well, they called me (insert some name here) first.” That sort of defense never really worked for me when I was a child as my mother would always rightly point out that we can’t control others but we sure can control ourselves.” Mom did tend to be right about a lot of things and this was no exception. Seems to me that the more we engage in such tactics, the more barriers and divisions we create and fortify. Personally, I don’t think that is helpful. In fact, I think it is a form of tribalism.

    I go to parish that exclusively celebrates the Extraordinary Form. It’s in a large diocese and staffed the Fraternity of Saint Peter. I would challenge anyone to come to my parish and conclude that the people there are “so often such repellent specimens.” In fact, in my over 20 years in the Navy and 13 different parishes, this has been the best one. (The worst actually was a parish in Port Orchard, WA where many people were routinely up and walking around, talking with each and routinely eating food within the Church DURING the consecration. Thankfully, not all parishes in Washington State were like this so we were able to go to Our Lady Star of Sea (Novus Ordo) in nearby Bremerton and find peace.) Why has it been the best? Here are some reasons:

    -Beautiful Liturgy with emphasis on the Eucharist
    -Two Masses daily
    -Great Catholic music from the schola/choir
    -Orthodox and challenging homilies
    -Outstanding CCD to include post-Confirmation classes for the teens that use solid texts (Kreeft for instance)
    -RCIA program taught by the priests
    -Daily confession and confession available during Mass
    -Countless other devotions such as First Friday, First Saturday, Adoration, Stations of the Cross and more
    -And outstanding Ladies Sodality which carries out some solid work. They even have an impressive baby shower for all new mothers. (And yikes, we even allow mothers who have fallen a bit and gotten pregnant out of wedlock)
    -A men’s group that is involved in parish maintenance and as a group has taken on some significant parish improvement efforts.
    -Incredible social after Mass every week. It’s not unusual for people to stay with their children for in the late afternoon on Sundays. In fact, many new parishioners who are new to the EF comment on how welcoming it is.
    -Soup Kitchen support. Like the other parishes in the area, we work the local soup kitchen at another nearby inner-city church.
    -We just sponsored the first ever Eucharistic Procession down the local seaside boardwalk. It was tremendous success and the Bishop has given up permission to do it again next year. Already a multi-church event, we are working to get even more of the diocese involved.
    -Lots and lots of children. Lots of large families.
    -Vocations. We have five active seminarians which accounts for over 20 percent of the representation with the diocese. Two of these men are with orders while the other three are diocesan.
    -Our new church building, which is less than two years old, is beautiful. It was the first parish church build exclusively for the EF in this country in over 50 years. Best part…as of two weeks ago, it’s completely paid off. We look forward to the consecration.

    If that or the people there are “ repellent” then I question what they are supposedly repellent from? And I categorically reject that my parish is somehow not the norm in this regard for so-called ‘traditional” parishes. Now I could go on with the positives. It really is a great parish and I am confident that anyone who showed would feel welcome if they gave it a chance. And by “give it a chance” I mean overcome the understandable intimidation of entering into something new. The first time you go to the EF, it can be uncomfortable. That’s true with anything new, especially if you are older. But if you get yourself past that, you will find that people aren’t focused on you at all but on the Mass. And at least at my parish, if you are obviously new most of us make it a point to talk with you afterwards.

    Perhaps I could share some commbox posts from someone I have had a discussion with who goes by the name of “We are Church.” Thankfully, her views don’t represent the entire Catholic community but only herself.

    • Stu

      I meant to add above and forgot.

      I thank God for all of the blessing He has given my parish and would hope that they will continue. He has been very good to us all.

  • Stu,
    Your parish sounds wonderful, and may God in His infinite wisdom and mercy bless it forever.
    I haven’t had the dining during the Consecration experience, but regularly have the teeth-grindingly banal chattering at the back of the Church, both during Mass and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. I would never dare to speak for anyone else, never mind try to channel Mark, but parishes like yours, which are so vital and productive, are certainly not what I am criticising. What I am certainly criticising is the particularly arrogant mindset which states that the Latin Mass is the only Mass, and that the vernacular Mass is not a valid Mass. I have encountered this attitude, and it’s wrong, and I’m quite sure your priests in your parish would criticise it as well, although very probably in a very much more conciliatory and charitable manner than I have. The Mass is the Mass is the Mass, however it’s said.

    • Stu

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment.
      I rarely have encountered people within the parish who believe the Novus Ordo is not valid. Even the SSPX doesn’t hold that position. You will find plenty (myself included) who believe that the changes to the Mass were not prudent and give reasons why they believe it structurally presents some shortcomings for the laity in understanding the Mass but the overwhelming majority of us would have no problem going to the Novus Ordo if the situation presented itself. Same as I would believe the majority of those who routinely attend the Novus Ordo wouldn’t mind going to the EF if the situation presented itself.

      Only a very fringe group of people would make the ridiculous claim that the Novus Ordo isn’t valid. Best in my opinion is to speak out against such thoughts when they are made to you, avoid going looking for them (after all, you can find anything on the Internet) and otherwise ignore them.

  • tz

    I don’t understand why a licentiate in demonology or other advanced degree like a PhD would be a disadvantage.

    The church would be better off if then next pope believed in regularly exorcising.

    The problem is not so much with the novus ordo, but that they end up being novus disordo.

    The “Trad is rad” is still just a fad.

    Seriously, Tradition (cap-T) is far broader and deeper. The new mass is closer to what the church fathers practiced (though the kiss of peace belongs between the credo and petitions, not interrupting the canon).

    You are not saved by learning the dance and doing the motions and form perfectly. The brood of vipers in our Lord’s time mastered that. First love God. If you do that you will love your neighbor – no matter how annoying or even hurtful.

  • Janet

    I found some of Trad Catholic’s other colorful comments at:



    • Claude

      These PWC people are racists. Good grief, they even reject “transracial adoption.” What’s the rationale?

      Furthermore, the objection that that Gal 3:28 is really about the City of God in Heaven and not about the mystical body of Christ on Earth is complete nonsense. It might be helpful to read the preceding and subsequent verses.

      • Mark Shea

        If I may say so, you’re not a very good former believer. That’s a compliment. 🙂 You should think about returning to Christ. You and he see eye to eye on quite a number of things.

        • Claude

          Well, more like the Church got me early enough and just long enough to instill the sensibility. I’m certainly interested in understanding Jesus and Christianity better, from a skeptical distance.

          Please don’t think I’m playing hard to get. I’ve no desire to return to the Church. But thank you for the overture.

    • Dave Pawlak

      Mark, how does it feel to be a “Christian Cultural Marxist”, as you are labeled in that combox?

      • Mark Shea

        I don’t even know what that is.

  • Janet

    If you look at the twitter feed for “Pro-Western Christianity”
    they have almost 1,000 followers and the account only appears to be a few months old.
    I had never even heard of “Pro-Western Christianity” prior to an hour ago.

    • Mark Shea

      Note that PWC is drawing from deeper and older wells. Look at their reading list and links.

  • Janet

    Looks like some of your commenters are talking about you at that thread (http://prowesternchristianity.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-pro-western-christian-reading-list.html)


  • James

    The reactions to this post by other “trads” is very typical of what happens when anyone dares call a “TradCatholic” type on the carpet, the way Mark has dared to, here. They come out of the woodwork to mount a campaign of puffed-up righteous indignation, pharisaically tut-tutting that anyone should be so ignorant and so obtuse as to correctly interpret the offender’s hate as hate, his bigotry as bigotry, and his awful behavior as awful behavior. Either that or they distance themselves from the awful remark and act as if such opinions are so far from typical amongst their sort, when the truth is that such rubbish is entirely typical.

    I know it’s typical because I come from the “tradosphere” and I’m all too familiar with this pattern whereby a “trad” will blurt out something despicable or otherwise behave atrociously in public (as opposed to privately, within the “tradosphere” where such behavior is accepted and encouraged), after which he and his allies will attack the good Christian who has the temerity to be disgusted by his disgusting behavior. Hector the Projector suddenly pipes up left and right (mostly right), accusing the good man of sin for recognizing sin when he sees it.

    While you are right to say that not all traditionalists are so outrageous, you are also right to point out that so many indeed are. I have to say, however, that I am glad that’s the case. The alarming dearth of love and charity in traditionalist circles (and the abundance of hypocrisy, anger, and condemnation) is what ultimately forced me to see that Catholic “Traditionalism” and the message of Jesus Christ are not one and the same thing. Far from it.

    So don’t let ’em bully you, Mark. Keep calling them on the carpet. They have no self-accountability out here in the world of internet anonymity. In an electronic Catholic milieu the preponderance of which seems to shed copious tears over some of the most hypocritical segments of the Church as though they were all victims who are forever unjustly mistreated, it’s a relief to see that someone of some prominence is trying to keep things real.



  • At first I thought that Mark was overreacting to the comment by TradCatholic. However, if the “reading list” is an adequate reflection of held beliefs then I’m inclined to support Mark’s reaction. I’m disturbed by this, what I can only call, neo-Gallicanism. Such ‘Nationalism’ or racial purity projects has been consistently rejected by the Church (the strongest being the Council of Trent). The Church is a Universal Society that transcends any human bond, allegiance, ideology, or endeavor. This is very different than the pseudo-scholarship about Social Marxism.

    Granted, I’m sure I can identify the root of this movement. The denigration of Western Europe and its cultural heritage (including its ecclesiastical heritage) is disturbing. Most cultures think of themselves as the best culture. So, if ones own culture is attacked or minimized it bears to reason that it would need to be defended. This is, of course, all speculation. However, based upon my read of things so far I’d be willing to make that bet. And, quite frankly, Western Europe has contributed more to the general culture of the Church than most places in the world. It doesn’t deserve to be the whipping boy of the post Vatican II era.

  • Subsistent

    I wonder to what extent the aberrant “pro-western Christianity” outlook has been fostered by Hilaire Belloc’s aphorism, that “the faith is Europe; Europe is the faith.” Against this aphorism the Thomist author Jacques Maritain wrote: “No! Europe is not the faith and the faith is not Europe; Europe is not the Church, and the Church is not Europe. Rome is not the capital of the Latin world; Rome is the [Ecclesial] capital of the world. *Urbs caput orbis*. The Church is universal because it is born of God. All nations are at home in it.” (*The Degrees of Knowledge*, Chap. I, p. 17.)

  • Jenny

    Sigh…Mark I love your blog and many of your insights. I delight alittle too much in your criticisms i think, because when it’s directed at me and my own, it feels like…Ouch! Again how to prove a negative i.e. that most “Trads” aren’t ugly racists. Well, I could tell you that I’ve been attending the Traditional Mass for twenty years and have never once met a racist… I could give you examples of wonderful families that I know and love, but that wouldn’t prove anything. The fact is I’ve been a part of both Trad and Novus Ordo groups for many years and have had experienced the tribalism on both sides. We’re both human and human beings tend to band together against ” The Other.” I attend a parish in which there is both a conservative Novus Ordo and a EF Mass and have been witness to a ton of ugliness and believe me there has been enough from the Novus Ordo group to fill a stadium. Yes, thre are Ugly Traditionalists but there are also really nasty Novus Ordos too. Just try to start coming to a Traditional Mass and watch what comes out of the woodworks. The point isn’t who’s the worst. We’re all human and our minds navigate towards the negative. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There was only one time I remember when that was not the case. It was when my husband was dying of cancer. People from both groups joined together to help out our family. It was truly beautiful. When he died they arranged a beautiful sung Requiem Mass for him and the church was packed with people from both groups. A couple of families started coming to our Mass after that… But now it’s back to the same old same old… I suggest that instead of slamming Traditional Catholics as a whole ( and no i don’t think saying, “There are some good Traditionalists” relieves you of slander) that you try and think *mostly* of the “good and decent” Trads you know, and that when we Traditionalists also feel tempted to gossip about The Other, we try and keep only those good and decent people we know who go to the Novus Ordo Mass in our minds as well. After all, there’s not that much difference between us. We’re all trying to raise good Catholic families and fight the culture war. We’re both Catholic even if we disagree on the situation of The Church or have a different preference for the Mass that we attend. If it’s wrong to judge our neighbor, it’s also wrong to judge a group of neighbors.