Radical Reactionary Affinities in “Filial Correction” Signatories

Radical Reactionary Affinities in “Filial Correction” Signatories September 28, 2017


I’ve been studying and critiquing radical Catholic reactionaries (my own coined term in 2013) for over twenty years, have written not just one, but two books on the topic, and have a very large web page devoted to it. I know who these people are, and how they think. It’s part of my job as a professional Catholic apologist.

I was immediately curious as to how much influence this strain of thought had on the recent Filial Correction of Pope Francis when I saw two names on it: Christopher Ferrara and Mgr. Bernard Fellay: Superior General of the SSPX. The SSPX, of course, is not even canonically under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church. It’s a breakaway quasi-schismatic group (the largest and most influential such one). Mgr. Fellay was the only bishop who signed the original document.

Christopher Ferrara is perhaps the most prominent figure at The Remnant: one of the most influential radical Catholic reactionary organizations. He was a key man in promoting the ridiculous title, “neo-Catholic”. Gerry Matatics (who was a sedevacantist and now — even beyond that — thinks there are virtually no valid Masses anywhere) originally coined the term in the late 90s. Ferrara picked it up and promoted it in his 2002 book, The Great Facade (see also the expanded 2nd edition, 2015). His latest article, entitled, “Luther’s Revenge: The Neo-Catholic Surrender to Protestantism” (9-24-17) is an attack on Catholic Answers and one of the very best Catholic apologists today, my friend Jimmy Akin.

A thousand ludicrous, slanderous, self-evidently false citations could be culled from The Great Facade (I have a copy of the original edition in my library), but just a few will suffice to give readers an idea of its nature and tenor:

[S]ome neo-Catholic commentators are honest enough to admit that the Council and the conciliar Popes have introduced true novelties into the Church. Taking the bull by the horns, they openly declare that John Paul II is an innovator, who sees in Vatican II (as did Paul VI) a mandate for previously unheard-of progressivist undertakings . . .

[T]he traditionalists we would defend have been in just the right place all along: the postconciliar novelties are neither Magisterial nor formally heretical; they do not actually bind the Church to an act of belief in what is wrong. The Pope is still the Pope, and yet this is the worst crisis the Church has ever endured, in part because the conciliar Popes, helped along by the blind “obedience” of the neo-Catholics, have refused to acknowledge that there is a crisis, but instead persist in the very novelties that have engendered it. . . .

[T]he documents of Vatican II are a hopeless muddle of ambiguity from which it is impossible to discern the “real Council,” . . . The “real Council” is, therefore, a chimera. (pp. 38-39, 58-59, 308)

Ferrara is (very characteristically of radical reactionaries) inveterately opposed to Vatican II, the ordinary form of the Mass, ecumenism, and the present pope (whoever he is). These are the four identifying / defining marks of the reactionary. He was just as much against Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, as he is now against Pope Francis. Nothing new at all, in other words.

But what of the other signatories? I have done some searching, to see if they are published by three of the most influential reactionary sites:

1) The Remnant (“TR” below),

2) Rorate Caeli  (“RC”), and

3) One Peter Five (run by self-appointed prophet of doom, Steve Skojec: “1P5”).

Reactionaryism is all about networking. Reactionaries quickly learn who are the “good guys” (reactionaries) and “bad guys” (“neo-Catholics” and modernists: increasingly equated). In their little isolated cliques and bubbles, they hear the names of the good and bad guys over and over. It becomes very clear who the “in crowd” is. One learns by constant association, repetition (“Big Lie” tactics), and Orwellian groupthink.

Heretical and cultic groups like the Moonies and Jehovah’s Witnesses (I studied the latter in very great depth, for months, in the early 80s) use very much the same sort of tactics, designed to foster a virtual mind control and knee-jerk reactions among those in the group.

This being the case, if we see a pattern of signatories either being published at these sites, or frequently referred to at the sites in a positive way, we can be pretty sure that they are reactionaries themselves. Note that I am not engaging in merely poisoning the well tactics or “guilt-by-association.”

I’m not claiming that the document is null and void merely because of who signed it, or because they are reactionaries. I’m simply putting on my “sociology of religion” hat (my major in college) and taking note of where the document comes from, in terms of the ecclesiological spectrum.

I also searched three catchwords of constant reactionary rhetoric and polemics (three despised things or persons): “Vatican II, Bergoglio, Novus Ordo.”

Even men inclined to criticize Pope Francis quite a bit are noting that the signatories contain:

. . . a significant number of chronic malcontents—those who have been also quick to condemn features of the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. (Dr. Jeffrey Mirus, “The latest effort to correct Pope Francis, for what it is worth,” Catholic Culture, 9-26-17)

Andrea Tornielli, writing for La Stampa / Vatican Insider on 9-24-17, noted:

In addition to the name of Fellay there are other signatures of priests, scholars, journalists and bloggers from 20 different nations, directly related to the Lefebvrian, conservative and far-right Catholic world.

Let’s see what can be found out about these men and women. Since they come from twenty countries, many likely don’t speak English as a first language (or at all), so I imagine there is relatively little material in English online from them:

1)  Fr. Claude Barthe was published by RC (9-24-14, where he is described as “One of the wisest clerics in the traditional Catholic world”; also on 11-12-14).

2)  Fr. Robert Brucciani is “District superior of the SSPX in Great Britain.” See more about the SSPX above.

3)  Fr. Thomas Crean was a signatory (as was Chris Ferrara) to the document, “A Statement of Reservations Concerning the Impending Beatification of Pope John Paul II” (TR, 3-21-11). It contains statements like: “throughout John Paul’s long pontificate faithful Catholics were bewildered and scandalized by numerous manifestly imprudent papal statements and gestures the likes of which the Church has never witnessed in 2000 years.” / “[E]every one of John Paul’s predecessors would have been shocked and dismayed by the disastrously widespread disobedience, doctrinal dissent, liturgical decay, moral scandals, and declining Mass attendance that continued to the end of his pontificate – all exacerbated by frequently poor episcopal appointments and the sorts of highly questionable papal words and deeds we have recalled above.” / “No blessed or sainted Pope in Church history has a legacy as troubling as that of John Paul II, and perhaps no Pope at all aside from Paul VI.”


4) Deacon Nick Donnelly is a regular columnist at 1P5 (ten articles listed). The sedevacantist site Novus Ordo Watch noted about him in an article (complete with screenshot): “For years Donnelly ran his Twitter account under the handle @ProtectThePope, yet a few days ago, on July 17, he notified his followers that he was changing his Twitter name from @ProtectThePope to @ProtectTheFaith.” He also has 33 articles listed at Michael Voris’ reactionary or nearly reactionary organization, Church Militant.

5) Dr. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi had a column published at 1P5 about liturgy (9-4-17), where he appears to run down the ordinary form of the Roman Rite Mass:

The current pontiff (Francis) recently affirmed that he considers the liturgical reform, initiated by Vatican II, “irreversible.” This irreversibility sounds like a challenge, if not a censure, to the former pontiff, (Benedict XVI), who had authorized the celebration of the pre-conciliar mass with his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. . . .
Well, the reader will say, why should these “clerical conflicts” matter to us? With all the problems there are, why should we preoccupy ourselves with the liturgy? Are we not helplessly witnessing the collapse of a civilization, of a culture, and of moral values, and they are wasting our time with discussions about the liturgy? But what if the liturgy of the Mass was a key element to explain everything? NOM (Nuovo Ordine Mondial [New World Order]) and NOM (Novus Ordo Missae [New Order of the Mass]) coincide both in their acronyms and their times of implementation. It is good to reflect on this debate, which is not about the form, but about the substance (of the liturgy), which is not at all the same in the two cases cited above, . . .
He is quoted at length in an article on 1P5 (3-13-17), espousing a conspiratorial theory of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation (shades of Michael Voris’ claims that Pope Benedict XVI exaggerated his illness in order to allow for an “immoral” resignation). He pontificated:
The plot appears to be American only because they have had the leadership of the New World Order. You see, the conspiracy, if we can so call it, was aimed at trying to solve some problems caused by the failure of the famous New World Order of the ’70s, gnostic, neo-Malthusian and environmentalist. This project of the New Order was openly intended (among other things) to relativize the most dogmatic religious faiths . . .
6) Fr. John Hunwicke is anti-Vatican II. He wrote on his own blog (9-19-17): “Clearly, we have now definitively (irreversibly?) moved out of the dark shadow of Vatican II. ” He employs the classic denigrating reactionary use of “Bergoglio” rather than “Pope Francis”: “[T]here are people who think that Pope Bergoglio’s style of papacy may be somehow more “ecumenical” than that of some other popes. Bergoglio goes around kissing Patriarchs and begging their blessings . . .  a self-obsessed tyrant propped up by an unhealthy personality cult; somebody whose least word or whimsy has to be accepted; who can, at will, change doctrine, morality, liturgy, and law” (8-18-17) He wrote (2-17-07): “Vatican II, like so many of its predecessor councils, is obsolete or, at the very least, obsolescent.” I’m sure much more similar reactionary material could be found on his voluminous site.
Indeed, much more could be found, and was. The above paragraph was my original entry. Then a guy named John Ruplinger came roaring onto my Facebook page with the following accusations:
This is just a silly hitpiece. Fr Hunwicke is very careful in his respect for Francis. Understand that he is a classical satiricist, and in the line of Newman. His wit is really nonpareil, . . . it is garbage, Dave. . . . Hunwicke repeatedly has shown filial devotion to Francis. His use of Bergoglio et alia is in the mode described above. . . . Your piece is total trash, Dave. . . . You trash people and expect a “reasonable” reply to your complete filth. . . . Your piece is character defamation, nothing less. . . . I have only two possible judgements at this point: Francis has strayed or Francis doesn’t understand what he is doing.
After that onslaught, I went back to Fr. Hunwicke’s page and found much more disturbing material:

Amoris laetitia and Auschwitz (8-23-17)

According to AL, a conscience may “recognize that a a given situation does not correspond objectively to the demands of the Gospel” but sees “with a certain moral security … what for now is the most generous response”.

Let us examine how this moral principle might apply in situations of organised and industrialised genocide. A man involved in the extermination of Jewry, for example … if he were to decline to collaborate in any more murders, not only might he be subjected to discriminatory responses, but his family also might suffer grievously. His marriage might suffer! Is he, perhaps, required by the Bergoglian moral principle of “what is for now the most generous response” to try, gradually so as not to be noticed, to reduce the number of Jews whom he kills each day? Or might Bergoglianism mean that he should do his very best to see that they die less painfully? Or should he attempt, again without drawing too much attention to himself, so to work the system that in three months time he gets transferred to duties which involve him less directly in extermination … like, for example, harmlessly organising the train schedules?

I am aware that my questions lay me wide open to an accusation that I am either an unbalanced crank in making an equivalence between well-mannered habitual adultery among the nice, if rather gleefully rutting, German middle-classes, and genocide; or ‘antisemitic’ for illustrating a moral principle by talking so calmly about something as vile as what Nazi Germany did to the Jews. It is my view that such an accusation by such an interlocutor would in fact amount to an admission that Adultery is not really sinful … that it is, well, perhaps not technically in accordance, quite, with the book of rules, but it is not really wrong. Cardinal Coccopalmerio has in fact said something rather like this.

It is also my view that a mortal sin is a mortal sin is a mortal sin is a mortal sin. And Mortal Sin is the area into which, like several fair-sized and unstable bulls in a very tiny china shop, Bergoglio and his cronies have strayed. And by sanctioning what Fr Aidan Nichols has neatly called “tolerated concubinage”, I do not think they will bring a single murdered Jew back to life or even save a single victim in future genocides. In fact, quite the contrary. Do we save lives … or marriages … by chipping away at the Decalogue, or by shoring it up when it comes under threat? . . .

Bergoglio’s ‘jesuitical’ campaign to circumvent Veritatis splendor paragraph 80, as well as Familiaris consortio, is both a moral and an ecclesial disaster. If Bergoglian ‘moral principles’ prevail, then, as Fr Aidan Nichols has accurately put it, “no area of Christian morality can remain unscathed”.

Fr. Hunwicke compares Pope Francis to Pope Honorius: the most notorious example of an actually or allegedly [Catholic historians and theologians differ] “heretical” pope in history:

Pope Honorius I (9-23-17)

. . . Honorius encouraged heresy by neglect.

Does this have any relevance for our times and our troubles?

Whatever may be the objective meaning of Amoris laetitia, whatever the intentions of the current pope in issuing it, there can surely be little doubt that he has de facto encouraged heresy by neglecting to correct those bishops and episcopal conferences which have promoted interpretations of the document constructively allowing for adultery.

This, in my own personal, subjective, and fallible opinion, is what most securely brackets Francis I with Honorius I, although, as a dutiful Catholic, I respect and love both of them equally and enormously. [bolding and italics in original]

Note the outright disrespect of the Holy Father and his office in these comments:

The current pope is neither learned nor intelligent. . . .Given a world so sadly unappreciative of eccentricity, in most other organisations this side of North Korea the Men in White Coats would have been sent in to hustle such a CEO out of public view. (8-29-17)

In a post of 8-27-17, mostly about Pope Francis, he never uses the title “Pope Francis” at all. He does (thankfully) write “Holy Father” once. Other than that, it’s:

“Papa Bergoglio”
“Bergoglio” (2) [“. . . some of Bergoglio’s highly-placed supporters . . .” / “Has Bergoglio suddenly forgotten his Greek?”]

Having compared Pope Francis to Honorius, he then analogizes today’s situation (on 6-19-17) to the Arian crisis (in which the divinity of Jesus was denied):
The time has surely come for the Four Cardinals who intervened last year with their Dubia to revisit the question. And the time for Bishops, Successors of the Apostles according to the teaching of Leo XIII and of Vatican II and not mere vicars of the Roman Pontiff, to speak with courage, clarity and unanimity. And for clergy, laity, and academics to do the same. Remember that, at the height of the Arian Crisis, it was not among the Bishops or even in Rome that the Faith was most conspicuously preserved and defended.
7) Dr. John Lamont wrote an article which was posted at RC, entitled, “On the Formal Correction of Pope Francis” (2-12-17). It was enthusiastically referenced two days later by 1P5. In it, he opines:
In the light of the fact that Pope Francis has openly endorsed heretical understandings of Amoris laetitia in his letter to the bishops of the Buenos Aires region of Sept. 5th 2016, it is more likely than not that he is in fact a formal heretic. . . .
[T]he crisis over Amoris laetitia and Pope Francis’s support for heresy is not simply the result of a rogue pope having disastrously been elected. The failure of the hierarchy to oppose the Pope’s disastrous actions is the result of a deeply-rooted systemic problem in the Church. It is not just this failure, but also the heterodox programme of Pope Francis and his allies, that is rooted in this problem.
See also an earlier article in RC (12-5-16). Dr. Lamont also signed the piece published by TR, questioning the beatification of Pope St. John Paul II. He’s an “equal opportunity” pope-basher. In another article at RC (5-11-15) he goes after Vatican II advocates, decrying those “who wish to apply a ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ to Vatican II, or who deny that there can be any opposition or rupture between the documents of that council and Catholic tradition, or who claim that the assertion that the authentic teachings of Vatican II formally contradict the tradition of the Church is false”. This , too, was praised and passed along at 1P5.


8) Fr. Serafino M. Lanzetta has been published at RC (9-27-14 / 9-21-17).


9) Prof. Roberto de Mattei is published at RC (7-2-17 / 1-28-15 / 7-13-17 / 3-29-17 ). In the latter article he writes: “who could have ever imagined that a pontifical document, Pope Francis’ post-synod Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia made public on April 8th 2016, would endorse adultery?” At the top it states: “. . . whose columns we bring you here first in English each week.” 1P5 announces with great fanfare a lecture by Dr. Mattei in Washington DC (3-8-17). He’s clearly hailed as one of reactionary “good guys.” He has an article at RC entitled, “To which Church does Pope Bergoglio belong?” (10-19-16). In this article he clearly thoroughly distorts the Holy Father’s words that he cites, with the inane analysis: “Pope Bergoglio calls ‘good Lutherans’ those Protestants who do not follow the faith of Jesus Christ, but its deformation and ‘lukewarm Catholics’ those fervent sons and daughters of the Church who reject the equalizing of the truth of the Catholic religion with the error of Lutheranism.”

[Note: I’ve been informed that among Italians, use of the form “Pope Bergoglio” is not derisive in intent, as with English-speaking reactionary Catholic usage]

In another RC masterpiece from 11-2-16 he opines: “What surfaced during the ecumenical meeting between Pope Francis and the World Lutheran Federation on October 31st in Lund, seems to be a new religion.” Like most reactionaries, he has not the slightest clue as to the true nature of authentic Catholic ecumenism. After all, ecumenism is one of the things (one of the four hallmarks) that they detest and despise. He’s also interviewed on 1P5 (5-16-17).

10) Martin Mosebach: one of his speeches was cited at length at RC (7-17-14). He is a big critic of the ordinary form Roman rite Mass, and he was disappointed in Pope Benedict XVI (the “darling pope of reactionaries and traditionalists alike). In the end, he disagrees with the German Shepherd’s 2007 proclamation that the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Mass are two forms of the same Roman rite. Sedevacantist site Novus Ordo Watch cited him at length (6-6-17) with its own translation:

Pope Benedict saw his role as that of a reconciler. The adherents of Tradition and the adherents of the progressivist wing [of the Church] both equally hold the view that the Second Vatican Council and the reform of the Mass constitute a genuine rupture with Tradition. . . . Pope Benedict tried to transcend any such confrontation by opting for a hermeneutic of continuity, saying: The old and the new Ordo [=order of Mass] are two different forms of the same rite. That was a bold thesis for anyone who uses his eyes and ears. I view it as a diplomatic formula [which Benedict advanced] to help heal the obvious rupture. Based on this, Pope Benedict then expressed his hope that the old and the new Ordo would be able to influence each other, perhaps in order to arrive at a synthesis of old and new Ordo in accordance with the Hegelian model of dialectics. However, this would require the old Ordo to be celebrated in a great many places — otherwise there could hardly be a fruitful exchange concerning it. Moreover, one would have to accept that the old [rite of] worship cannot change — it would surely then have to be the Novus [=new] Ordo which gradually moves towards the sacredness of tradition so that the commonality of both forms can be recognized.

(“‘Liturgie heißt: Gott agiert’”Die Tagespost, June 2, 2017)

The spiritual luminaries on the site then add their editorial comment: “Mosebach has also come to the conclusion that all this talk about two forms of the same rite is just so much Ratzingerian bunk.” He rejects Pope Benedict XVI’s teaching regarding the reform of the reform. I have debated people on this topic, like Dr. Peter Kwasnieski, an influential reactionary close to all the events now taking place.
11) Prof. Claudio Pierantoni RC published a translation of a talk of his at a conference in Rome on 22 April 2017, in which the professor compares Pope Francis to Popes Liberius and Honorius: two of the most notorious alleged or actual or nearly heretic popes. He states, with extreme condescension:
What instead leaps to the attention in the current situation is precisely the underlying doctrinal deformation that, as skillful as it may be in evading directly heterodox formulations, still maneuvers in a coherent way to carry forward an attack not only against particular dogmas like the indissolubility of marriage and the objectivity of the moral law, but even against the very concept of right doctrine, and with it, of the very person of Christ as Logos. The first victim of this doctrinal deformation is precisely the pope, who I hazard to conjecture is hardly aware of this, a victim of a generalized epochal alienation from Tradition, in large segments of theological teaching; after him, there are innumerable victims who fall into deception. . . .
Now, these five questions have put the Pope in a stalemate. If he were to answer them by denying the Tradition and the Magisterium of his predecessors, he would pass to being formally heretical, so he cannot do it. If instead he were to answer them in harmony with the previous Magisterium, he would contradict a great part of the doctrinally relevant actions taken during his pontificate, so it would be a very difficult choice. He, therefore, chose silence because, humanly speaking, the situation can appear to have no way out.
TR makes lengthy reference to this speech in an article dated 5-6-17. In another RC article (11-3-16), the rather imaginative professor makes the claim that today is analogous to the Arian crisis in the early Church (which heresy denied that Jesus was God), and maintains that Amoris Laetitia “legitimates a series of positions which are mutually incompatible, and some manifestly heretical.”


12) Prof. Enrico Maria Radaelli Sandro Magister, in his article, “High Up, Let Down by Pope Benedict” (Chiesa, 4-8-11) describes Dr. Radaelli’s disappointment with the German Shepherd (good ol’ pope-bashing again):

In the erudite and vibrant pages of his new book [Entrance to Beauty, 2007], however, Radaelli does not fail to subject to criticism the current hierarchy of the Catholic Church almost in its totality, including the pope.

The disappointment over the action of Benedict XVI stems – for Radaelli as for other traditionalists – not only from his having convened a new interreligious encounter in Assisi, or having initiated the “Courtyard of the gentiles”: both initiatives seen as a source of confusion.

The biggest fault attributed to pope Ratzinger is that of having declined to teach with “the power of a scepter that governs.” Instead of defining truths and condemning errors, “he has made himself dramatically open even to being criticized, not claiming any infallibility,” as he himself wrote in the preface to his books about Jesus.

Even Benedict XVI would therefore have submitted to the capital error of Vatican Council II: the renunciation of dogmatic definitions, in exchange for a “pastoral,” and therefore inevitably equivocal, language.

In another article in Chiesa, written by Sandro Magister (2-9-13), Radaelli trashes Vatican II “as an assembly in total rupture with Tradition.” Magister summarizes his outlook at the end: “in a nutshell he seems to identify the hoped-for pacification with an all-encompassing victory for the Lefebvrists [i.e., SSPX] and for those who, like them, see themselves as the last and sole defenders of dogma.”


13) Dr. John RaoRorate Caeli’s first-ever credentialed Conclave correspondent in 2013″ and regular Remnant columnist, also signed the objection to the beatification of Pope St. John Paul II (posted at TR). Reactionary Hilary White provides (at 1P5: 6-7-16) an utterly fascinating “inside” account about how she was with John Rao, Mike Matt (big shot at The Remnant), the late John Vennari (of the reactionary Catholic Family News), and John-Henry Westen (of the reactionary LifeSiteNews): all together on the night that Pope Francis was announced as the new pope. Note how they regarded him on his first day, before he had done anything! In other words, it’s relentless pope-bashing, that would have been applied to anyone:

For quite a while after he was elected I continued to work for LifeSite and as John Henry said above it took a while for the editorial staff there to come up to speed [with the pope-bashing and reactionaryism]. . . . Some of the VEC boys had smart phones and we had to learn from the internet – while standing in the damn piazza! – who had just been elected. All it took, even before he came out on the balcony and did his Frankenstein routine, was the information that he was a South American Jesuit, ordained in the early 70s and the archbishop of Buenos Aires. I opened my phone and called first Mike Matt and told him, “We’re completely ___ed.” He told me to meet up with the gang at Roberto’s in the Borgo where we would be spending the rest of the night receiving text messages from Argentina about just how _____ed we REALLY were. I struggled out of the crowd before he gave his papal non-blessing, (but after he had pulled – in the first five minutes of his pontificate- his first ridiculous populist stunt of bowing to the crowd) and caught up with friends for a hot chocolate. We huddled around their smart phones while warming up and exchanged horror stories coming in to our various email addresses. Then I got on the phone with JH [John-Henry Westen] who started telling me what a wonderful record he had on life issues. I tried to tell him we were in the biggest trouble the Church had ever been in, but I was told not to judge too quickly. Then I went to Roberto’s were I and Mike Matt, John Rao, John Vennari and various others I can’t name spent the night drinking in shocked horror. None of us were near our computers, or we would have got ahead even of Rorate Caeli who was the very first to sound the alarm bell [they trashed the pope in an article based on the opinions of Marcelo González: a Holocaust revisionist, as I have documented]. They produced that within hours of Bergoglio’s little performance on the loggia. We all read it while we were still in the Borgo.

If you’re actually interested in what I really wrote publicly – and at some risk since LSN [LifeSiteNews] wasn’t on board yet [with reactionary radicalism] – you can find quite a bit of it on my blog, Orwell’s Picnic, for the date March, 2013.

Thanks, Hilary, for a spectacular confirmation of virtually everything I have claimed about reactionaries, above: the networking, the exact groups and persons involved, the knee jerk opposition to popes (any pope), the groupthink clonism. It’s all there in one big package. She even throws in a bonus observation in the same comment: saying that Pope St. John Paul II “was a modernist who was failing to do his job.”

Now that we heard the real story: how Rao, Matt, and other reactionaries “spent the night drinking in shocked horror,” we can see what they said for the cameras of “Remnant TV” on the next day (14 March 2013), in the interview of Dr. Rao by Michael Matt. He says “It doesn’t look good” (1:00); that Pope Francis was elected by a faction who “don’t care if the Church dies” (1:15). How melodramatic! I thought the Church couldn’t die?! Isn’t that the quaint and old-fashioned notion of indefectibility?

Rao talks about the disappointment of what he calls “traditionalists” [i.e., reactionaries] over the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI: “I’ve seen over the past couple of days the anguish over Benedict’s resignation, turn to serious resentment on the part of traditionalist Catholics” (4:03). He refers to the opinion of a friend (with whom he seems to agree): “Benedict thwarted the will of the Holy Spirit by abdicating, and perhaps our punishment for that is to return — at least somewhat — back to the catacombs” (4:28). At 5:58, he reiterates his sunny, relentlessly optimistic faith: “The Church, underneath the spirit of the council, is dying, and will, insofar as it can die, die.” And, of course, those who are devoted to the extraordinary form Mass will be, so says Rao shortly after, “perhaps the only serious group that still survives.” That’s the sort of message that will make Catholics go out and joyfully share their faith, isn’t it? Who in their right mind would want to join such a doom-and-gloom Church?

The above was my original entry for Dr. John Rao. But vocal critic of this paper, John Ruplinger (see #6 above) took the strongest exception to it on my Facebook page:

John Rao is not one of the caustic folks at Remnant (which I avoid for that reason). Not quite fair to lump all these folks together, by taking out of context snippets to cast all in the worst light. . . . You pick the very worst you can find. Especially perverse is your slam against Rao (and Vennari to a lesser degree) because they drank with Hilary White. . . . Rao is a professor of good standing. You kind of failed to mention that. He seems to be a drunkard that agrees with all the poison that comes forth from White.

This is ludicrous. I merely cited Hilary White’s own words about how she, Dr. Rao and others “spent the night drinking in shocked horror,” as a result of Pope Francis’ election. The implied emphasis was clearly on “shocked horror” and the fact that so many notable reactionaries totally judged Pope Francis at the very moment he was elected: not on some supposed drunkenness that I never claimed.

Mr. Ruplinger will quickly learn what all my critics discover about me: if challenged on my writings I will either manfully retract (if they are right) or double down and prove my case all the more (if they are wrong). This is an instance of the latter, and thus I will now provide much more revealing material about Dr. Rao, too:

Now a serious consultation of Church History—the whole of Church History—would reveal the nightmare that taking the path of Second Vatican Council and electing a man like Bergoglio as pope entails. More importantly still, it would reveal what it is that constitutes the chief cause for that nightmare: Vatican Council’s and Francis’ full-scale surrender to the nature-bound socio-political system that dominates our unhappy world. It is the Church’s enslavement to this anti-social, anti-authoritative, willful, materialist American Pluralist system—the devil’s most effective tool for leading men to perdition—that is at the root of our continuing troubles today.

But, alas, as noted above, history is dead! American Pluralism has done yeoman service in destroying it as a force with any practical impact, and Catholics in general have learned that they have an obligation to bury it alongside the other slaves of the Regime. And worst of all, those responsible for teaching and enlightening their fellow believers have engaged in such historical grave digging with unsurpassed enthusiasm and energy, furthering the cause of ignorance with an arrogance that is unmatched by anyone with the exception of our papal leader. (article at The Remnant, 3-15-15)

Writing again for The Remnant on 11-20-14, he opines:

I have mentioned on a number of occasions my conversation with an Argentine friend just after the election of Pope Francis. Readers might remember that he made this rather ominous, though amusing comment: “If you try to understand him, you will lose your Reason”.

My friend uttered that phrase to underline his conviction that anyone trying to outline a heresy in the words of the pope would be barking up the wrong tree. As far as he could see, the pope’s “thought” is not “thought” in any traditional Greco-Roman-Catholic sense, and therefore cannot be held up for normal scrutiny as “orthodox” or “heterodox”. He assured me that anyone looking for orthodoxy or heresy would be able to find both, together, and even perhaps simultaneously. Take your pick.

And in another atrocious piece at Rorate Caeli (1-18-16):

Shaking with rage over his latest statements, convinced that the one not so surprising surprise of the Holy Spirit in our day is the need to shut our  ears tightly to the nonsense coming out of Rome today, and yet having no time at the moment to write a new article on this subject, I beg readers of Rorate to find a piece that I wrote some ago for the Latin Mass Magazine on this subject — The Bad Seed: The Liberal-Fascist Embrace, which can be found in toto by clicking here — to understand where the tyrannical Pope’s usurpation of the authority of the Holy Spirit comes from. . . .

Dr. Rao’s attacks are not confined to Pope Francis. He also didn’t think much of Pope St. John Paul II. In his article, “The Worst Pontificate in History” (TR, 8-31-04), he pontificates:

A good case can be made for calling the current pontificate the worst in all of Church History. Having stated this personally liberating thesis, I find no need to add further data to the mountain of documentation already provided by other Remnant writers over the course of many years in order to back it up. Instead, I wish to present the case for its validity in a brief and simple meditation upon the contrasting themes of straightforwardness and confusion. . . .

Most Catholics, traditionalists among them, saw and heard what they wanted to regarding Pope John Paul II and his vision for the Church from the moment of his accession to the throne of Peter. Several days after his election, I was present at a gathering of Catholic traditionalists from Europe and the United States. One of the European participants, exceedingly well informed about the history and convictions of the Cardinal of Cracow, pointed out what proved to be the truth about him: that he was one of the most wholehearted supporters of the Second Vatican Council, particularly of its decree on religious liberty, and that we could not only expect Holy Mother Church to continue full steam ahead along the disastrous course plotted out for her by Pope Paul VI, but also to do so with still greater enthusiasm. . . .

. . . Pope John Paul II’s personal enslavement to Enlightenment rhetoric. . . .  How could a pontificate that exposed the entirety of Catholic Tradition and the whole of the Christian Commonwealth to the whims of tyrannical freedom fighters and irrational rationalists not become the antithesis of an absolutely straightforward reign like that of the Pope of the Syllabus of Errors? How could it not become the worst pontificate in history? How, indeed.

Obviously, adoption of an Enlightenment rhetoric leading to maddeningly contradictory conclusions did not begin with John Paul II’s pontificate. His reign, however, has had much more time than that of John XXIII and Paul VI to test the lugubrious results. These have been exactly what nineteenth century Catholic thinkers predicted they would be. Exactly. The Roman Catholic Church, in different ways in different places, has become a global instrument for the spread of Enlightenment ideology, shaped according to the caprice of whichever ecclesiastical bureaucrat, journalist, politician, Jewish neo-conservative, capitalist, investment or advertising consultant, financial or sex criminal, or purveyor of vicious utopia and utopian vice happens, locally, to be in charge of it.  . . .

There always seems to be some “way out” of the pope’s outrageous statements, as though an arm or a leg of St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas were stuck, artificially, onto a statue of Zoroaster or a photograph of Freud. . . .

Blessed Pius IX, Pope of clarity and straightforwardness, pray for our legi[ti]mate pontiff, and pray for a Roman Catholic Church which has been placed by the murkiness of his pontificate under the daily control of illegimate Warlords dedicated to its annihilation.

Dr. Rao’s writings are voluminous, and he has written for all the “usual suspect” venues of the reactionary world.

14) Prof. Arkadiusz Robaczewski signed the objection to the beatification of Pope St. John Paul II (posted at TR), too.

15) Dr. Anna Silvas TR noted in an article (5-6-17), a conference in Rome on 22 April 2017. It cited a talk by Dr. Silvas:

Francis and his collaborators deal with the matter of doctrine, not by confronting theory head on, because if they did so they would be defeated, but by an incremental change of praxis, played to the siren song of plausible persuasions, until the praxis is sufficiently built up over time to a point of no return . . . the end game is a more or less indifferent permission for any who present for Holy Communion. And so we attain the longed-for haven of all-inclusiveness and ‘mercy’ . . . This alien spirit appears to have finally swallowed up the See of Peter, dragging ever widening cohorts of compliant higher church leadership into its net, is its most dismaying, and indeed shocking aspect to many of us, the Catholic lay faithful.
In an article, “A Year After Amoris Laetitia. A Timely Word” (4-21-17; apparently a version of the same talk above) she writes:
Now, in the few short years of Pope Francis’ pontificate, the stale and musty spirit of the seventies has resurged, bringing with it seven other demons. And if we were in any doubt about this before, Amoris Laetitia and its aftermath in the past year make it perfectly clear that this is our crisis. That this alien spirit appears to have finally swallowed up the See of Peter, dragging ever widening cohorts of compliant higher church leadership into its net, is its most dismaying, and indeed shocking aspect to many of us, the Catholic lay faithful. I look up at any number of higher prelates, bishops and theologians, and I cannot detect in them, by all that is holy, the least level of the sensus fidelium—and these are bearers of the Church’s teaching office? . . .
But I think ‘the spirit’ to which Francis so soothingly alludes, has more to do with the Geist of Herr Hegel, than with the Holy Spirit of whom our blessed Lord speaks, the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him (Jn 14:17). The Hegelian Geist on the other hand, manifests itself in the midst of contradictions and oppositions, surmounting them in a new synthesis, without eliminating the polarities or reducing one to the other. This is the gnostic spirit of the cult of modernity. . . .
When I hear those who lecture us that Pope Francis is the voice of the Holy Spirit in the Church today, I do not know whether to laugh at the naivety of it, or weep at the damage being done to immortal souls. I would say that yes, Francis is the agent of a spirit, namely the Hegelian Geist of ‘modernity’ very much at work in the Church.
16) Dr. Joseph Shaw appears to be a reactionary as well. On 10-3-17 I found the following remarks from him, at RC (9-29-17):
Walford’s key mistake, then, is to ignore the central claim of the Correctio, and to focus on something the Correctio goes out of its way not to say. The real claim is: the Pope has left us little doubt about how he wants us to understand and apply Amoris, and this understanding is in the last analysis incompatible with the Faith. What Walford would like it to be saying is that Amoris is unambiguously erroneous in itself.
Certain passages of Amoris do, perhaps, point in a problematic direction, but for myself I was ready to read them in light of the preceding teaching of the Church — anyone who doubts this can read the blog posts I composed in the immediate aftermath of its publication. Heck, I even criticised Steve Skojek [sic] over it. Now it’s me who is the idiot, along with everyone else who tried to give it the benefit of the doubt. What is key here, however, is not the precise wording of Amoris, but the way Pope Francis has been indicating, non-magisterially, that it should be understood.  . . .
It is not that we are saying that the text of Amoris cannot be bent into some kind of orthodoxy. What we are saying is that it has become clear that orthodoxy is not what Pope Francis wants us to find there. . . .

It should be obvious to anyone who loves the Church that it would be far more scandalous if a pope favoured error and faithful Catholics all remained silent. I hardly think this point needs to be laboured. . . .

Having made the necessary distinction between the Pope proposing heresy explicitly and promoting it, Wood fails to consider the (personal) acts of Pope Francis, many listed in the Correctio, which do favour this idea. But that is what the Correctio is ultimately about.


See related post: Reactionary Influence: Correctio & June 2016 Criticism of the Pope.

Photo credit: Study after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953), by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]

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