“Postconciliar” Reply to Peter Kwasniewski & John Lamont

“Postconciliar” Reply to Peter Kwasniewski & John Lamont June 10, 2019

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski and Dr. John Lamont were both signatories to the “Easter Letter” that accused Pope Francis of heresy. I have written about the reactionary influence in that document, twice (one / two) and also commented upon the pushback even of Francis critics, who opposed the attempt to accuse him of formal heresy. Both these men are properly classified as radical Catholic reactionaries (see my carefully thought-out definition).

I recently summarized their glaring errors as follows:

4) Dr. John Lamont questioned the beatification of Pope St. John Paul II  and asserted that the  “teachings of Vatican II formally contradict the tradition of the Church.”
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5) Dr. Peter Kwasniewski thinks that Vatican II itself (not its distortion) is a seedbed of “progressivism and modernism” and that “John Paul II and Benedict XVI . . . were swimming in a lake of Kool-Aid rather than the ocean of Tradition . . . [and] were conflicted and inconsistent progressives.” He ties Pope Francis in with popes of the last 60 years: “Bergoglio is the distillation of all the worst tendencies in Roncalli, Montini, Wojtyła, and Ratzinger . . .” Agreeing with Fr. Thomas Kocik (and in glaring contradiction of Pope Benedict XVI), he thinks the Pauline / “New” / ordinary form Mass is “so radical a deconstruction and reconstruction of the Roman liturgy that it does not exist in the same tradition of organic development. It is a new departure, a new thing, not a revision of the old thing . . .”
They both showed up on my Facebook page when a mutual friend, Brendan Triffett, tagged their names. In the dialogue below, Brendan’s words will be in purple, Dr. Kwasniewski’s in green, and Dr. Lamont’s in blue.
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I read your blog but I’m also FB friends with John Lamont and Peter Kwasniewski. I’m being tugged in two directions. I find those two theologians to be careful and level-headed–nothing like Taylor Marshall on that score. I know you disagree with them but I’d like to know how far you’d be willing to go in “admitting there is a problem with Pope Francis” given the worrying things they and others have carefully documented?
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If there was supposedly such a problem with Pope Francis, why is it that even harsh critics of his like Phil Lawler disagreed with the “Easter Letter” accusing him of heresy? I debated Dr. Kwasniewski on “the reform of the reform”.
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Either Pope Benedict XVI is lying or Dr. Kwasniewski is. One can’t have it both ways. I’ve made my choice.
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Thanks heaps; will read.
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The proof’s in the pudding. Study what happened in the liturgical reform, who did it, why, and what changed. It’s eye-opening, to say the least. Then have a look at the ever-decreasing number of people who are even attempting to defend Francis, whether the charge of heresy can stick or not. And then ask yourself: “How did we get to this point, where we can have a man as pope who wouldn’t have passed a first communion quiz in the days of Pope Pius X?”
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Dr. Kwasniewski’s beef, as I have shown, is not just with Pope Francis (which is very fashionable today!), but also with Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope St. John XXIII, Pope St. Paul VI, Vatican II, and the Pauline Mass.
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Thanks again. Boy things are getting ugly at the Amazon review page as you’ve noted. Of course you’ve got to stand your ground which you are doing well. It’s a shame it gets to this, isn’t it? There is a psychology to the reactionary tribalism. I’ve likened it to ethno nationalists fed up with failed immigration policy. It’s almost a sort of collectivism, gathered around a militant leader who is full of bravado. We certainly need zeal and courage these days, but when they are not tempered by humility and balance, not to mention a supernatural charity, they become destructive caricatures.
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Of course if Benedict XVI had said that the novus ordo is an organic development of the Catholic liturgy, and this statement was not true, that would mean that he was mistaken, not that he was lying. So ‘either Pope Benedict XVI is lying or Dr. Kwasniewski is’ is a silly argument. But in fact he has denied that it is an organic development. E.g. ‘The liturgical reform, in its concrete realization, has distanced itself even more from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but devastation. In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy. They have deserted a vital process of growth and becoming in order to substitute a fabrication. They did not want to continue the development, the organic maturing of something living through the centuries, and they replaced it, in the manner of technical production, by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment.’ (Ratzinger in Revue Theologisches, Vol. 20, Feb. 1990, pgs. 103-104). ‘We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it—as in a manufacturing process—with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product. Gamber, with the vigilance of a true prophet and the courage of a true witness, opposed this falsification, and, thanks to his incredibly rich knowledge, indefatigably taught us about the living fullness of a true liturgy.’ Preface to The Reform of the Roman Liturgy by Msgr. Klaus Gamber.
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I think it’s quite clear that Pope Benedict in these two instances was talking about the Pauline Mass as practiced; i.e., the many liturgical abuses that, unfortunately, occur when it is celebrated. This is indicated by his phrase, “in its concrete realization”: which is referring to the overall reform (and its abuses), not the Pauline Mass itself, rightly understood.

“In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy.” Again, this is plainly referring to abuses, not the New Mass itself. If it were not, then why is it that Pope Benedict continued to celebrate the Pauline Mass? He could have stopped had he wanted to. Who could tell him otherwise?

Not to mention that if we took this interpretation of those words of his, it would completely contradict Summorum Pontificum. Moreover, Fr. Angelo Geiger, who blogs at the Mary Victrix site, who is himself a traditionalist and EF priest, has shown how the “banal” statement has been greatly distorted and taken out of context.

No offense, but you can have your postconciliar aggiornamentoed Balkanized toothless Catholicism, if you really want it. I’ll stick with the Fathers, Doctors, Councils, and Popes who preached a consistent and coherent doctrine.

I am completely and utterly orthodox, and you can’t prove otherwise. If you think so, prove it. Put up or shut up. I have more than 2300 posts online, which are easily searchable on my blog.

“I’ll stick with the Fathers, Doctors, Councils, and Popes.”

The Fathers played a key role in my conversion, as a result of reading Cardinal Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. That’s why I have compiled three books of their quotations (one / two / three) and have a large page of articles and links about them. So to try to pit them against me, as if I love or follow them any less than you do, is ridiculous beyond measure. For heaven’s sake, there are many things we can agree on. Why make them imaginary points of difference?

Of course I love the Doctors, too. I have my books, The Quotable Augustine and The Quotable Summa Theologica, as well as Quotable Catholic Mystics and Contemplatives: which contains much material from several other Doctors of the Church (particularly female ones).

It’s rich and ludicrously ironic for you to claim that you are the one following “Councils”: seeing what you think about Vatican II: which cannot be found to be any different in origin or nature than any other ecumenical council, as Pope Benedict XVI made very clear in The Ratzinger Report and as pope.

You guys love to cite him when you think he agrees with you (as John Lamont did above, regarding the grossly distorted use of his “banal” statement). But when he disagrees, you will say he is wrong at the drop of a hat. That’s not the traditional respect and reverence for popes that has characterized pious Catholics for 2000 years. It’s the opposite.

You claim you are following popes all through history, but somehow arbitrarily want to act as if the ones of the last sixty years are fundamentally different. You ought to get consistent and become a sedevacantist. This half-baked reactionary extremism that you adopt is relentlessly self-contradictory and arbitrary.

“Postconciliar Catholicism” is still the same Catholicism of the ages — the same Church with the same dogma — as it has always been. If you deny that, then you have to either deny the validity of the 2nd Vatican Council (be like the Old Catholics in 1870) or deny the indefectibility of the Church. Those are the only two choices.

There is plenty where you and I can agree, as to liberal bishops, laxity, tragic condoning of sexual sin, etc. I’m all for reform there and have issued extremely strong statements about it. But that is not “the Church” or “Catholicism.” It’s the poor and sinful choices of men, that have always been present since the beginning, when St. Paul rebuked the first pope.

You are the one who is incoherent and inconsistent. Sedevacantism is a far more serious error but at least we have to give it credit for being self-consistent: unlike your reactionary, pick-and-choose “Liberalism-Lite” / cafeteria Catholic position.

I do sincerely thank both of you (despite our disagreement) for at least showing up here and making some comment; attempting any interaction at all. This is so rare these days that I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude.

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Photo credit: ignote; First Vatican Council, contemporary painting (c. 1870) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]
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