Timothy J. Williams: Vatican II Opponent & Pope-Basher

Timothy J. Williams: Vatican II Opponent & Pope-Basher July 28, 2023

Including Documentation of His Stated Views & Mindless Smears Sent My Way in a Catholic World Report Combox

The background of this latest incident where Dr. Williams (his words will be in blue below) has taken it upon himself to personally attack my work and myself in a very public venue (The Catholic World Report) is the dispute between Catholic philosopher Dr. Ed Feser (words in green below) and Catholic apologist Michael Lofton (which I have dealt with at length in a Facebook post). The Catholic World Report has seen fit to publish (and endorse via its editor, Carl E. Olson) two articles from Dr. Feser critiquing  Michael Lofton (both had already been published on Feser’s very popular blog). Olson wrote in the combox of the longer of the two:

I’ve been following and reading Dr. Feser’s work for many years, and I have yet to see an instance in which he misrepresents people. On the contrary, he consistently quotes them at length and provides necessary context. The “I expect better of CWR” approach doesn’t fly in the face of the evidence.

I wrote in direct reply to this observation:

Hi Carl,

Hope you are well these days.

Does the following qualify as Dr. Feser misrepresenting people? Is it ad hominem or a sweeping personal attack?:

Longtime readers might recall Dave Armstrong, a Catholic apologist who, to put it gently, has a tendency to stretch the truth in bizarre ways. His odd behavior has even inspired a definition:

armstrong, verb. Boldly but casually to insinuate a falsehood in the hope that others will go along with it. “Dave tried to armstrong me into a debate. Can you believe that guy?

Well, Dave “Stretch” Armstrong is at it again.

[Title] “Dave’s armstronging again” (6-3-21 on his blog)

[complete with a ridiculous image of “Stretch Armstrong”]

Feser in this asinine hit-piece, stated that I “posted several logorrheic comments attempting to rationalize” my “mischaracterization of” his “views by way of telepathy.” And he ended with the ultra-condescending flourish, “If some of them . . . come to know what kind of a person Dave Armstrong is, that is Dave’s fault, not mine.”

Dr. Williams happily endorsed this cynical view:

Thanks for the link to the really good read. Feser’s blog article about your remarks and your tendencies is quite accurate. You can’t armstrong your way out of it either.

Michael Lofton was subject to the same disdainful treatment:

Lofton is a contrarian attention-seeker, but he is hardly alone in that capacity in the Youtube world of self-styled Catholic apologists. The medium fosters this approach, because everyone there has to get their “Likes” and “Subscribers.” If Dr. Feser had written an article making nearly the opposite points, I suspect Lofton would still have jumped in with contrarian views designed to agitate and intimidate the easily-impressed.

I also wrote in the same combox:

Personally attacking those who have an honest disagreement is not a good thing, and it’s not wrong to point it out.

This is the problem with Internet “discourse” today. When one tries to point out that ad hominem attacks are unethical, irrelevant (non sequiturs and logically fallacious), and pollute online discussion, instead of engaging the point and taking action to reform, the person critiqued and their followers almost always simply savage and attack the one making the critique: thus amply proving the original point . . .

Hence Christians online (in this case, Catholics against Catholics) now habitually engage [in] the usual secular tactics of “shouting down” any dissenter. This impresses no one who is interested in substantive discussion.

Then I replied to Dr. Williams’ potshot above:

Thanks for the classic, playbook example of precisely what I am talking about. It doesn’t matter whether the attack is against me. That’s irrelevant. My case was but an illustration and an example of how Dr. Feser sometimes behaves.

What matters is the scandal and terrible witness of Catholics attacking other Catholics in these inane, fatuous, vapid ways. It’s bearing false witness, and a mortal sin to boot. God is watching, and He’s not fooled by all the nonsense that passes for legitimate discussion. We’re accountable for all of our words and actions.

There is legitimate criticism and holding someone accountable (“faithful are the wounds of a friend”) and there is juvenile insults and worthless ad hominem garbage.

Undaunted, Dr. Williams doubled down:

It is remarkable how many times Armstrong and Lofton have posted on this thread. They have afforded themselves limitless occasions for expressing outrage at those who object to their methods, all people who – of course – are engaged in “mortal sin.” I would challenge anyone to try such argumentation on Armstrong’s and Lofton’s own domains and see how that works out for you.

Having had enough of this verbal diarrhea, I replied:

You are more than welcome to come onto my blog at any time and defend in debate with me the proposition: “Does Dave Armstrong Habitually ‘Stretch the Truth’ and Lie and Descend to Sophistry, Since Dr. Feser has Declared So?”
You have free access to my 4,300 + online articles, and I’ll even give you free e-book files of any of my 51 books, to help you in your noble endeavor to document the truthfulness of Dr. Feser’s claims, which you have gleefully and manfully endorsed in this combox. All of your words will appear on my blog for all to see, just as I have done for most of my more than a thousand back-and-forth debates on my blog.
Then when we’re done with that, I’ll be more than happy to host on my blog a second debate between you and Michael Lofton, where you would defend the proposition, “Is Michael Lofton Obliged to Shut Down His Full-Time Catholic Apologetics Ministry Because Dr. Feser Declares That He Ought Not Write About Theology At All, As a Result of His Outrageously Daring to Express an Honest Disagreement with Dr. Feser, and That Lofton’s Replies to Him in Protest Against Alleged ‘Libel’ [the non-legal definition, mind you] Are Worthless ‘Dreck’ [a potshot on Twitter] etc.?”
[Dr. Feser had, after all, written at the end of the article under consideration:

Well, as the Scholastics and the pre-Vatican II popes who commended Scholasticism emphasized, training in philosophy is a prerequisite to doing theology well. The reason is that it disciplines the intellect, teaching one to use words precisely, to make careful conceptual distinctions, to reason with logical exactness, and to evaluate texts and arguments with caution and charity.

Lofton’s response to my article provides evidence that he is lacking in these capacities. Hence I’d suggest that he might consider sticking to his own lane, which is making facile YouTube videos – but about topics other than theology, which requires levels of rigor and charity that he appears to lack.]

Anytime you’re ready to do that, just drop me a line.
Oh, by the way, I have been published in this magazine twice [one / two], and editor Carl E. Olson reviewed my book, The One-Minute Apologist (Sophia Institute Press, 2007) at National Catholic Register (8-21-07), writing:
This book is commendable for being pithy and precise while never being either simplistic or dense, an indication of how well Armstrong knows his subject matter and his audience. In fact, this is the sort of book that could only be written by someone who has spent countless hours studying, articulating and discussing the Catholic faith, to the point that he knows how to accurately answer questions and clearly correct misunderstandings. . . .
The writing is punchy but never pugnacious. . . . Accessible and substantial, The One-Minute Apologist will help readers in need of timely answers. And, just as important, it should serve as an inviting introduction to the richness and fullness of the Catholic Faith.
So I guess I don’t need to shut down my full-time apologetics ministry (active now for over twenty-one years). And — contra Dr. Feser — I don’t think [soon to be Dr.] Michael Lofton needs to do so, either, simply because Dr. Feser says so.
Sorry for making yet another comment here, as pitiable evidence of the “remarkable” frequency of same. My bad . . .
Thanks again to Carl and CWR for allowing dissenting opinions to be expressed.
Now, personally, I think it would be worthwhile to document some of Timothy J. Williams’ extremist, radical Catholic reactionary viewpoints, seeing that he has taken it upon himself to savage my apologetics apostolate in a very public Catholic place. A man’s prior dubious views often predispose him to say idiotic things about others who don’t hold to the same views, and who, indeed, are solidly orthodox and faithful in every Catholic sense of those words.
Dr. Timothy J. Williams, is, or has been (not sure which) a professor of French at the Franciscan University of Steubenville (see his Curriculum Vitae). He also has a master’s degree in music and has composed. Thus we see that — admirable as these accomplishments are — he has no formal training in theology, and is hardly the one (also not being my priest or bishop) to decide whether my apologetics work is of such a low and dishonest quality that I should cease writing.

He has written fifteen “recent” articles for Crisis Magazine, which is a radical Catholic reactionary venue. He also has at least two articles published at One Peter Five, which has always been a reactionary outlet as well. Despite our differences of opinion, I am friends with Timothy Flanders, the editor of One Peter Five, and have engaged in several cordial, substantive debates with him. It is actually possible to talk across “party lines.” Timothy recognizes that we are both serious Catholics, and that’s enough for him (and vice versa).

The extremity of Dr. Williams’ theological / ecclesiological views are seen — ironically and conveniently enough — in another combox of The Catholic World Report. Let’s take a look at it, shall we? On February 26, 2021, Douglas Bushman wrote an article for that magazine entitled, “How should we think about Vatican II?” It was a defense of the orthodoxy of the council, and its continuity with Catholic tradition. Dr. Williams’ comments in the combox reveal quite clearly where he stands regarding the authority and veracity of this ecumenical council:
It is hard to believe that this sort of article is still being written in 2021. For some people at least, the human mind has an infinite capacity to delude itself in the search for comfort. Nowhere outside of academia – universities, institutes, schools of theology – is this sort of nonsense still believed. The remaining members of the dwindling remnant of the Church have moved on. We know that only a radical “about face” can salvage what was lost, what was destroyed by Vatican II. (2-27-21, 9:53 AM)
I tried to read them [the documents of Vatican II] all. I really did. I got through only Sacrosanctum Concilium and Lumen Gentium. The rest I read only here and there. It was insufferable boredom. What is most apparent is that the sheer number and length of the documents . . . were intended to confuse and to conceal, to allow the implementation of the Council to take whatever shape the modernists wished. Somewhere, in all that verbiage, a line or two can be found (and have been found) to justify everything. (2-27-21, 12:32 PM) [note how — as is true of many of these anti-Vatican II naysayers — he barely read the documents at all]
The problem I have with this “real Council” vs. “false spirit” argument is simply that the same prelates who approved the documents of Vatican II also implemented them in their respective dioceses, leading to our present shipwreck. If those who read and signed the documents “misinterpreted” them, what possible value could these documents have? (2-27-21, 8:08 PM)
Bushman’s article was reprinted at The Catholic World Report on 12 February 2023. Williams, true to form, had choice words for it again, on that occasion, in the following “Valentine”:
I am curious to know why this article is being resuscitated at this time? Are we supposed to give one last consideration to the hackneyed “authentic Council vs. false ‘spirit’ of the Council” idea? I used to hold to that, until I realized that the same Church periti who crafted the documents of the Council and the bishops who voted to approve them went home to their various dioceses and implemented the Council according to their understanding of those documents… and with the catastrophic results only a sightless fool can deny. We can argue and debate all we want concerning the state of the Faith prior to the Council, and what may or may not have been needed to revive the Faith in the hearts and minds of the faithful. What we CANNOT argue is that Vatican II was the medicine for our age, the gift of the Holy Spirit, yadda yadda yadda. I red pilled on that nonsense twenty years ago. (2-14-23, 8:04 AM) [note here that Dr. Williams repudiated the Second Vatican Council as far back as 2003. This is no “post Francis disillusionment” phenomenon. No, Williams is an old-school reactionary — I was refuting them back then, too — , who has spewed this toxic garbage for more than two decades now]
The really interesting and revealing two cents’ worth from Dr. Williams comes under an article posted at the reactionary site Rorate Caeli, which was a hit piece on Pope Francis on his first day in office: 13 March 2013 (!). I later discovered that the key source in the article, Marcelo González, is a Holocaust denier.
Rorate Caeli has disabled its comment section: a practice followed by many reactionary sites, including One Peter Five and Crisis Magazine. I sure understand why; it’s because of relentless comments like those of Williams, that I am presently documenting. Comments on reactionary sites are the worst imaginable “PR” for the reactionary cause. Here is what our brave weaver of words wrote:
I am a Roman Rite Catholic who has attended a Byzantine Liturgy for the past 18 years, because the Roman liturgy in my diocese changes with every new breeze. . . . Now, I am a hard-core Trad. But what is amazing is that there are many, more “moderate” Catholic parents doing exactly the same thing I am doing. And yet, our Catholic sensibilities have been so poisoned by Vatican II and the Novus Ordo that we hardly even recognize the monstrosity of this situation. Even good Catholics think of things as almost “normal” or “getting better”! And people wonder why Bishop Fellay hesitates! The only reasonable hope for the Papacy of Francis is that he will will not do considerably more damage than his predecessors. Any expectation beyond that is simply delusional. Oremus! (3-13-13)
Note three extraordinary things here: his antipathy to the “Novus Ordo” [“New” / Pauline / “ordinary form”] Mass, which is in addition to his vehement opposition to Vatican II; his belief that Pope Francis’ “predecessors” (one of whom is a saint) did “damage” to the Church, and the fact that he was already trashing and being cynical about Pope Francis on literally his first day in office, before he had done anything at all.
I’m unable to access the original at Internet Archive. Fortunately, I preserved Williams’ words at the time (an article of mine dated 20 September 2017). Reactionaries always reveal their own true stripes. One just has to know where to look, to find them.
When we understand that a person is an extremist, fringe Catholic, far out of the mainstream, then their slanderous attacks against faithful, orthodox members and defenders of Holy Mother Church and the Holy Father (whomever he may be), like myself and Michael Lofton, are put into much clearer perspective. We defend the things and persons that Dr. Williams savages, and so he throws crap at us as a result, since he seems to be either unable or unwilling to form a cogent, coherent rational argument on these topics.
With utter predictability, Dr. Williams responded to my long comment at CWR:
Do you not realize all this is starting to sound a little… unhinged?
And I replied:

Yes, of course you would think that. And of course you attack my work, seeing that you detest Vatican II and the New Mass, and this pope and the two previous ones: things and people that I am proud — and duty-bound — to defend, as a Catholic apologist. My next blog paper will document all of this (most of it drawn from your past comments in this very venue).

This is why you oppose me, because you can’t tolerate what I stand for. It’s as simple as that (in case anyone was wondering what you had against me).



Practical Matters: Perhaps some of my 4,300+ free online articles (the most comprehensive “one-stop” Catholic apologetics site) or fifty-three books have helped you (by God’s grace) to decide to become Catholic or to return to the Church, or better understand some doctrines and why we believe them.
Or you may believe my work is worthy to support for the purpose of apologetics and evangelism in general. If so, please seriously consider a much-needed financial contribution. I’m always in need of more funds: especially monthly support. “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (1 Tim 5:18, NKJV). 1 December 2021 was my 20th anniversary as a full-time Catholic apologist, and February 2022 marked the 25th anniversary of my blog.
PayPal donations are the easiest: just send to my email address: apologistdave@gmail.com. You’ll see the term “Catholic Used Book Service”, which is my old side-business. To learn about the different methods of contributing, including 100% tax deduction, etc., see my page: About Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong / Donation InformationThanks a million from the bottom of my heart!


Photo credit: Rory112233 (8-21-17) [Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license]


Summary: Documentation of radical reactionary (anti-Vatican II / anti-New Mass / anti-papal) views of Dr. Timothy J. Williams: public trasher of my character and apostolate.


Browse Our Archives