Timothy S. Flanders is the author of Introduction to the Holy Bible for Traditional Catholics. In 2019 he founded The Meaning of Catholic, a lay apostolate. He holds a degree in classical languages from Grand Valley State University and has done graduate work with the Catholic University of Ukraine. He lives in the Midwest with his wife and four children, and is a regular columnist at the One Peter Five website. Previously, I engaged in two good dialogues with him:
On 1-31-20, he sent me a letter seeking further friendly dialogue and stating that he was “interested in trying to cut through the lack of charity that is dividing faithful Catholics right now” by means of “just a good conversation among brothers.” I responded by writing, “I think it’s a great and commendable idea . . . [to] simply talk like mature adults, minus all the silly insults.” We decided to write articles back and forth: much as we already have. The ones on his end would be published either at One Peter Five or his own website. He wrote:
I’d like to focus the discussion on the issues that have created the divide between “Trads” and “conservatives”, mainly Vatican II and the New Mass.
Timothy’s words will be in blue throughout.
I would like simply to get some basics understood between us (what are your basic opinions about general matters?) so we don’t waste time writing against misunderstandings between us. You can find my general perspective in the following links:
I’ve written so much on all these topics that it is difficult to know where to begin, to summarize it. It’s a bit like being asked, “why do you love your wife?” I’m very happily married, and to answer that would be overwhelming. I could list 500 things or I could summarize by saying, “she is the best wife and woman in the world.” But I’ll do my best, as a first attempt to generalize. It’s interesting that you don’t like the label “traditionalist” whereas I actually consider myself one (with just a few key qualifications). I wrote an article in 2013: Am I a Catholic Traditionalist? (Well, YOU Decide!)“.
On the other hand, I don’t call myself that. I am simply an orthodox Catholic (if I must use a description beyond “Catholic”). So I also wrote the paper: On the Use of “Traditionalist” Preceding the Name of “Catholic”.
As you may be aware, I coined the term “radical Catholic reactionary” in 2012. I explain how I differentiate that from “traditionalist” in this paper: Definitions: Radical Catholic Reactionaries vs. Mainstream “Traditionalists”. The one-paragraph definition of it in that paper is as follows:
a rigorist, divisive group completely separate from mainstream “traditionalism” that continually, vociferously, and vitriolically (as a marked characteristic or defining trait) bashes and trashes popes, Vatican II, the New Mass, and ecumenism (the “big four”): going as far as they can go without technically crossing over the canonical line of schism. In effect, they become their own popes: exercising private judgment in an unsavory fashion, much as (quite ironically) Catholic liberals do, and as Luther and Calvin did when they rebelled against the Church. They can’t live and let live. They must assume a condescending “superior-subordinate” orientation.
I have defended the Pauline [“New”] Mass as in continuity with liturgical tradition. I debated Dr. Paul Kwasniewski at length regarding the “reform of the reform”. I noted how I continue to defend Pope Benedict and Summorum Pontificum, while traditionalists and reactionaries are moving away from both. Here are other papers of mine about this issue:
Critique of Criticisms of the New Mass [11-5-15]
I defend Vatican II over against charges of “ambiguity” and “modernism”: notably recently in 12 in-depth replies to Paolo Pasqualucci. I have many more defenses listed on my “Church” page (search “Vatican II”).
I defend legitimate Catholic ecumenism, as in line with Catholic tradition, including the Bible and St. Thomas Aquinas. See my web page on that.
I have critiqued all of the major books that “bash” the pope (Taylor Marshall, Phil Lawler, Karl Keating, Ross Douthat, and Henry Sire). Pretty much, no reactionary has been willing to engage in actual dialogue except for Dr. Paul Kwasniewski. And of course you (whatever your category is) are also willing (for which I highly commend you). See all these papers on my Papacy web page. My Amazon review of Taylor Marshall’s book, Infiltration was the top-rated for over two weeks, and top-rated critical review, with the most “helpful” votes, when it was censored by Amazon.
See also, of course, my Radical Catholic Reactionaries vs. Catholic Traditionalism web page.
As I wrote at the end of my Amazon review of Infiltration:
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 . . . 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.
This will serve as my statement of my basic views. In two sentences, it is:
I believe in all that Holy Mother Church teaches and affirms and requires of her members. I am as rock-solid orthodox as they come: mentored by (and enthusiastically recommended by) Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ: adviser to Pope St. Paul VI and catechist of St. Teresa of Calcutta and her nuns.
I have produced a lot of material about these issues, as you or anyone can see. We can go wherever you like. But we have to narrow it down. I would prefer that you select one of these papers of mine to start (whatever is your pleasure), critique it, and then I would counter-reply.