In 2017, Amazon confirmed that it manually conducted mass deletions of one-star reviews of Hillary Clinton’s book detailing her failed 2016 presidential campaign. According to news reports at the time, Amazon deleted more than 900 one-star reviews of Clinton’s memoir. . . .
While consumer product reviews are often manipulated to make potential buyers more likely to purchase an item, the opposite is often true with more political products, like books or movies. . . .
In 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon employees were being investigated for manipulating product reviews in exchange for cash.
“The going rate for having an Amazon employee delete negative reviews is about $300 per review, according to people familiar with the practice,” the Wall Street Journal noted. “Brokers usually demand a five-review minimum, meaning that sellers typically must pay at least $1,500 for the service, the people said.”
June 1, 2019
Dr. Marshall was an Anglican priest prior to 2006. As would have been the case then, once again he (ultimately) accepts neither the authority of popes nor of ecumenical councils, if they happen to clash with his own preconceived views. It’s the Protestant (and “Enlightenment”) principle of private judgment and exaggerated personal autonomy; part and parcel of both heterodox Catholic liberals and of self-consistent Protestants.
“the outright denial of Vatican II as a valid council,” “disdain for Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis,” and “the belief that Latin Mass Catholics are ‘A Team’ and Novus Ordo Catholics are ‘B Team.’”
It is hard to know where to begin a review, since discussing the book is rather like pointing out the absurdity of a crazy relative who always has an answer to every objection, pulled out of a world that exists only in his head. The fundamental stupidity of the book arises from the author’s felt need to explain the normal human condition in terms of a series of conspiracies. Developments and ideas the author considers bad—from the loss of the Papal States through the Second Vatican Council and right up to the current pontificate—are ascribed to the secret machinations of the Masons, the Modernists, the Communists, the gays, the St. Galen Mafia, you name it.
The technique is reminiscent of McCarthyism in America in the 1950s. If you have an idea that is similar to one held by one of the conspiratorial groups, it is a sure sign of the effectiveness of the conspiracy. If you happen to know someone in one of the conspiratorial groups, it is a sure sign that you have been successfully recruited. Even more absurd, the normal manner in which all human individuals and groups pursue their own interests is tagged, whenever convenient to the argument, as conspiratorial. Finally, in one of the classic tactics of the Catholic far-right, Marian apparitions and papal visions are adduced to confirm all, so that, from a few cryptic utterances, one’s version of history seems to be confirmed infallibly in every detail by God Himself. . . .
Infiltration, as I have indicated, displays an understanding of human history typical of your mad relative. What else can we expect from a book which makes wild assertions about plots, conspiracies and complex theological or institutional problems, each of which the author claims to treat decisively and beyond doubt in roughly three to five pages!
Pope Paul VI’s eager enthusiasm for ecumenism is rooted in this document [Nostra aetate] that presupposes that false religions can and do lift the soul to ‘perfect liberation,’ ‘supreme illumination,’ and ‘submission to His inscrutable decrees.’ Pope Leo XIII and Pope Saint Pius X would not have agreed with these theological assertions, . . . his thinking conformed to Freemasonic goals . . .
Dr. Marshall has badly misquoted and misrepresented the conciliar document and foolishly pits previous popes against it. It’s not presupposing that everything it mentions with regard to other religions is true. Thus, when it mentions “perfect liberation” and “supreme illumination” it was describing what Buddhists believe about their own religion: not what Catholics think. This is like St. Paul evangelizing the Athenians:
Acts 17:22-23 (RSV). Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.  For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you
It doesn’t follow at all that Nostra aetate agrees with every jot and tittle (which would be heretical indifferentism). Such a view is ludicrous, but is standard reactionary “anti-ecumenical” pablum. Nostra aetate makes it quite clear in the same section where it discussed Buddhism, that Catholicism remains the “fullness” of religious truth:
The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.
Thus, Nostra aetate did nothing other than what St. Paul did with the Athenians: it acknowledged true aspects while not denying false beliefs, and proclaimed the fullness of Christian revelation and theology.
It’s currently ultra-fashionable among reactionaries to second-guess and cynically speculate about Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. He used to be their superhero and “darling” but no more! Hence, Dr. Marshall asks: “Why did Pope Benedict XVI resign the papacy on 28 February 2013?”
Why should it be a mystery and be talked about as fodder for more conspiracies, when Pope Benedict *himself* explained exactly why? Why is that not good enough? Is he lying through his teeth? He wrote in his letter of resignation:
After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. . . . in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
Case closed. A revered pope has clarified his own personal situation. We need not invoke the Freemasons, the mafia, dissident Churchmen, or some other nefarious or conspiratorial scheme (such as it being “immoral” and “abandoning the flock to wolves”: as Dr. Marshall’s reactionary buddy Michael Voris asserted in one of his countless videos).
I’ve been saying for six years now that traditionalists and the more extreme reactionaries like Taylor Marshall, are turning more and more against Pope Benedict (and popes since 1958) as time goes on. They used to love him. He was the cat’s meow because he talked about liturgy and criticized the liberal dissidents (as he well should!). But then he resigned. Now (after years of increasing bitterness and resentment) he is being accused (much more explicitly in Dr. Marshall’s many You Tube videos) of not even being doctrinally orthodox. It was Pope Benedict XVI, writing as a high-ranking Cardinal in The Ratzinger Report of 1985, who explained:
It must be stated that Vatican II is upheld by the same authority as Vatican I and the Council of Trent, namely, the Pope and the College of Bishops in communion with him, and that also with regard to its contents, Vatican II is in the strictest continuity with both previous councils and incorporates their texts word for word in decisive points . . .
Whoever accepts Vatican II, as it has clearly expressed and understood itself, at the same time accepts the whole binding tradition of the Catholic Church, particularly also the two previous councils . . . It is likewise impossible to decide in favor of Trent and Vatican I but against Vatican II. Whoever denies Vatican II denies the authority that upholds the other two councils and thereby detaches them from their foundation. And this applies to the so-called ‘traditionalism,’ also in its extreme forms. . . .
To defend the true tradition of the Church today means to defend the Council.
Dr. Marshall, on the other hand, pontificates over against Holy Mother Church and Pope Benedict XVI:
Devout Catholics often defend Vatican II by saying that it was ‘hijacked,’ and that is certainly the case, but the question is when, and by whom. As will become clear, Pope John XXIII, and his favorites, Bugnini, Bea, and Montini [Pope St. Paul VI], had already set the optimistic new order, or novus ordo, agenda.
Reactionaries think they are so Catholic: much more than the rest of us poor ignorant peasants (they “get” it; they’re the elite and the cream of the crop: so they constantly tell themselves), but in fact they are steeped in the principles of “do your own thing” / “arbitrarily pick and choose” cafeteria Catholic authority of the very liberal dissident Catholics whom they despise.
Consistent, observant, pious, devout Catholics always exercise the utmost respect for ecumenical councils and for popes (and that does not necessarily reduce to ultramontanism and “papolatry”). They don’t sit around making videos (with all of 13 years of lived Catholicism) mocking and disparaging both councils and popes, and lecturing all the rest of us, as if they possess magisterial Catholic authority. It’s a disgrace. St. Paul and St. James condemned and warned about this sort of thing:
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (RSV) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings,  and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.
St. Paul showed more respect for the Jewish high priest who was opposing Christianity, than reactionaries do to popes:
Acts 23:1-5 And Paul, looking intently at the council, said, “Brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience up to this day.”  And the high priest Anani’as commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.  Then Paul said to him, “God shall strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?”  Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?”  And Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, `You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.'”
It comes down to what one believes — in faith, by God’s grace — about ecumenical councils. It’s a matter of faith. Traditionally, Catholics have believed that they are guided by the Holy Spirit. They possess infallible authority if they authoritatively clarify long-held doctrines, in agreement with the pope.
There have always been scoundrels and palace intrigue at every council, because men are sinners. And there has been uproar and confusion after every council, too. If people knew their Church history, they would know this, and the current problems would be put in much better perspective. It’s nothing new. It’s not the end of the Church as we know and love her. St. Paul was struggling with the Corinthian and Galatian churches (even including sexual sin). There is nothing new under the sun. So, for example, Joseph Francis Kelly writes:
This initial ecumenical council foreshadowed elements of many others, one of which was a confused reaction following the council. . . . historically speaking, after councils some participants often have second thoughts about what happened or are surprised at the reaction of others to the council’s work. (The Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church: A History, Liturgical Press, 2009, p. 25)
Have reactionaries never heard of the Old Catholics and their rejection of papal infallibility? That was a schism in the Church due to Vatican I’s definition of papal infallibility. They dissed the council, just as Taylor Marshall is now doing with Vatican II.
This is why indefectibility is such a glorious guarantee. It overcomes the attempts of men to wreck things and destroy the faith. Taylor Marshall and people who think as he does can only see evil men, plots, and (supposedly successful) wicked conspiracies. We are looking at it with the eyes of faith, and see a God Who is much bigger than all that, who can turn around even the worst of situations. Chesterton stated: “at least five times in history the Church has gone to the dogs, but in each case, the dog died.”
Vatican II is completely orthodox and a wonderful exposition of the Catholic faith. It’s an ecumenical council. Catholics believe that doctrine continues to develop and is ever more understood. Blessed Cardinal Newman classically explained that in 1845 in his “Essay on the Development of Doctrine” (key in my own conversion in 1990). Vatican II is part of that. This is why we love it or should love it. It is the fully developed Mind of the Church in our time, along with the papal encyclicals of the last 60 years, including St. Paul VI’s heroic Humanae Vitae (1968) and St. John Paul II’s magnificent Evangelium Vitae (1995).
Taylor Marshall seems to have a very stunted, limited understanding of these things. And in my opinion, it’s because he has reverted and digressed back to the ecclesiological pablum of his former Anglicanism. He’s not thinking as a Catholic should think. This is my point. So when I say that Taylor has reverted to Anglicanism, I mean in spirit, in how he thinks about authority; in important presuppositions that are hostile to Catholicism rightly understood. But he is canonically a Catholic. This is the tragedy of it, and exactly why I refer to these folks as radical Catholic reactionaries.
The twisting of a thing is completely different from the thing itself (throwing the baby out with the bath water). The Bible itself is twisted and distorted and abused all the time. Does it follow that IT is a bad thing, to be rejected? Obviously not. I detest the myths about Vatican II that lead to this sort of bilge of people rejecting it altogether, rather than the thinking of folks who lie about what it teaches and pretend that it teaches false notions that it never teaches.
Lastly, I agree that many groups have tried to infiltrate the Church. The radical homosexuals are the ones in our day. The liberals have been trying to wreck Catholicism since the French Revolution. My mentor, Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ (who received me into the Church and enthusiastically endorsed my first book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism) said often that modernism is the culmination of all heresies, and that the modernist crisis is the greatest in the history of the Church. I agree 100%!
My response to that, though, is that the Church is led and protected by the Holy Spirit and is indefectible; therefore, all such attempts fail in the long run. Reactionaryism is the counsel of despair. The orthodox Catholic is always hopeful and believes that God is in control and that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).
Conspiratorialism is a dead-end street; the fool’s way out, and a plain dumb and intellectually naive and vacant interpretation of very complex events and ideas. Much better is traditional Catholic grace-empowered faith: particularly in the indefectibility of the Church, God’s providence, and the scriptural knowledge that sinners are always present in the Church (parable of the wheat and tares, seven churches of Revelation, etc.).
In this vision and way of life, we know and believe that God is always in control and protects Holy Mother Church despite our repeated attempts to bring it down to the dirt and filth of human sin and nefarious aspirations for power, rebellion against God, and all the rest.