Not Super-Complicated

Not Super-Complicated December 18, 2013

There’s constructive Traditionalism that respects the Magisterium and there’s self-absorbed neopelagian promethean Reactionary ideology that speaks with contempt to the Magisterium. If you care about Traditionalism actually winning hearts and minds, be like the first guy.

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  • Joejoe

    “I fear that one message will be loud and clear: Faithful Catholic traditionalists no longer have a place in the Church.”

    It takes a lot of navel-gazing to come to that conclusion. Snap out of it. One order’s problems got so bad that the Vatican had to step in and help sort it out. That. Is. It.

    • chezami

      One might even say such navel-gazing sounds “self-absorbed”.

    • IRVCath

      And it is for reasons largely unique to the Franciscans. Summorum Pontificium cannot overrule the rule of St. Francis, and the problem was the imposition of the EF as the communal Mass, which is normally to be the only Mass for the community.

      People should also realuse that the Masses at abbeys and friaries are primarily for the members of the community. Their needs take priority, espacially when the issue is one of community cohesion. So the bellyaching of nonmembers is to some extent irrelevant in this case.

    • “Faithful Catholic traditionalists” … the last word might be a problematic label, but the first one is what always makes me wonder. For these people the adjective “faithful” is crystal clear.

      • Marthe Lépine

        Yes, but “faithful” to what? Their own conception of the church, or the church herself?

    • Marthe Lépine

      Although I am not very knowledgeable about Protestant history, it seems to me that the attitude expressed in the quoted sentence above would have a similar meaning as the attitude of Calvin and/or Luther when they could not have their way. That sentence could be a perfect example of “Protestantism”. Correct me if I am wrong…

  • Fr. Denis Lemieux

    For those who don’t have time to read the CWR article, here’s the money paragraph:

    “On September 19, 2013, authorization was obtained from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life to publish the results of a questionnaire sent by the Apostolic Visitor to all the friars in perpetual vows. Slightly less than two-fifths said that the Minister General was governing well; 61 percent said that there were significant problems. Of the latter group, almost three quarters thought that the problems could not be resolved by an Ordinary General Chapter but required either an Extraordinary General Chapter or a Vatican-appointed Commissioner. The response to the question about the Minister General’s decisions in liturgical matters was similar: almost two to one, the friars admitted that there were problems, and about half of the respondents said that extraordinary measures were needed to resolve them (77 percent of 64 percent = 49.3 percent). Finally, more than half (53 percent) said that relations with the Superior General of the Sisters’ Institute were problematic, and of them, 85 percent considered extraordinary measures necessary.”

    Those numbers are indicative of a huge problem. I am a member of a community, and know what’s what in communal religious life – to have this level of division and unhappiness in a community makes the institute non-functional. Serious measures are clearly required, not to destroy this community, but to heal it. The rest of the article is well-worth reading.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Thank you for the synopsis. Those are indeed big problems that needed to be kicked upstairs.

    • $2346491

      Agreed and even then the initial restrictions were quite mild. They had to get permission to say the EF Mass and the 80-year-old founder, who is in poor health, was replaced. The further restrictions announced by Father Volpi last week were put in place because some elements sympathetic to the SSPX were defying the Vatican’s authority. They were hiding money and intimidating less traditional members. When the Vatican says an order has problems and suggests corrective measures and some members openly defy the Vatican’s orders, then the order is going to get the book thrown at it. Considering that the initial order had Pope Francis’ signature on it, those friars who are up to no good are acting in direct defiance of the Holy Father on this.

  • Mr. X

    Nice try, but there is no way you’re gonna trick me into reading the drek put out by that Archbold.

    • Veronica

      Well said! I while I love Matt Archbold’s posts, his brother Pat has been increasingly (and ridiculously) hostile towards Pope Francis, to the point where I just can’t read him anymore. I honestly think NCR should reconsider having him as one of its bloggers. He’s going from bad to worse.

  • HornOrSilk

    To me, the problem with “traditionalists” is that they do not know tradition. They confuse their limited perspective with what “tradition” taught. They might find people within tradition who held views similar to theirs, but that does not make it tradition. Tradition has always had a pluralistic approach to it, where differences in opinion on non-dogmatic concerns not only could be held, but were encouraged. “Traditionalists” want to lock tradition into a dead end, and not let it live and thrive and develop in diverse ways. They want their way or else. That, again, isn’t tradition (unless someone considers the foundational methodology of Protestants like Luther, tradition, who mined tradition to create a one-way or the high-way theology).

    • Hear, hear, hear! This is an excellent description of what tradition is and isn’t. This is what drives me nuts about some traditionalists on the liturgy: they really don’t know very much about the history of the liturgy. They have a bead on the Roman liturgy from the Council of Trent to about 1961, and ignore everything else outside this, including the large number of different Eastern liturgies, and whole traditions in the West (like the Ambrosian rite) that have ancient origins, the authority of which has always been respected. And every one of them is thoroughly Catholic and traditional. Nevertheless, for some people, the Tridentine Mass becomes The Mass of All Ages, when there never was any such thing. That’s what Pope Benedict understood: that tradition was a living, growing thing, that the EF once “released,” could continue to evolve — but this is the last thing many traditionalists want – they insist that nothing ever change the slightest in “their” Mass. This is not tradition, but a rigorism born of fear and a need for security. This is many traditionalists’ real problem.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Would that you and HornOrSilk were heeded well by many.

  • Stu

    How about instead of “If you care about Traditionalism actually winning hearts and minds, be like the first guy.” you say, “If you care about Traditionalism actually winning hearts and minds, it may be better to use the first approach.”

    Delivery, delivery, delivery.

    As to the situation itself, if I were in a position to advise the Vatican on this I would stress more transparency. Don’t leave things to the imagination if you don’t have to do so. Whether it’s a wayward priest involved in a scandal or the inner workings of a religious order that has become public, nothing like transparency to ease those who have concern whether merited or not.

    • chezami

      Because there is no “maybe” about it.

      • Stu

        I knew you were going to say that.

        Delivery, delivery, delivery.

        I have rarely quoted Sun Tzu, even while in uniform, but this is appropriate.

        “When you surround the enemy
        Always allow them an escape route.
        They must see that there is
        An alternative to death.”

        Your challenge Mark is that you go at your perceived “enemies” with everything in terms of rhetoric and tone. It’s a search and destroy mission with you when instead it should be a mission of instruction. You back them up against the wall and don’t leave them a way out.

        I guess again, the question is “what are you trying to achieve?”

    • John Barnes

      Does someone pay you to follow Mark around and edit his writing, or is it just a hobby?

      • Stu

        I get satisfaction simply from people like you taking the time to comment.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          So, troll?

          • Stu

            If putting me in that tribe scratches an itch, have at it.

            Sticks and stones as they say.

            • Andy, Bad Person

              Oh, whaa. You just said you like to post for the satisfaction of attention from others. That’s the definition of an internet troll.

              • Stu

                Well, that’s your definition of a “troll” and a novel one at that. But if that is indeed the definition, then we are all “trolls” unless of course one posts without the intent to engage in discourse.

                However, I still prefer just to call you “Andy”.

  • If any Traditionalists ever want to know how on earth people could form the opinion of many of them as being, in Mark’s words, “butthurt and whining”, they should just read the comments after both those linked articles.

    • Stu

      And if any non-traditionalists (for lack of a better name) ever want to know hoe on earth people could form the opinion of them as being “whatever” they should go read the National Catholic Reporter.

      Or maybe such a generalization isn’t fair. What do you think?

      Perhaps we could just judge individual actions instead of analyzing and classifying others as members of some adversarial tribe?

      • If traditionalists want to stop complaining that they are being especially picked on by the rest of the church, I am not stopping them. But they do so complain.

        • Stu

          People of all stripes complain about all manner of things in the Church. Doesn’t mean we need to spend all of our energies analyzing them and classifying them into groups that are not “us.”

          • Right. But the point is: Traditionalists do it to themselves. They’re the ones saying “The people in the chanceries are out to get us.” Who’s ‘us’? “Those who like the TLM.”

            • Cypressclimber

              Catholics who were faithful–during a period of insanity in the church–were, indeed, treated very badly, in seminaries, in chanceries, in parishes. And if all that were clearly past, that’d be one thing. But it’s clearly not.

              It’s hard to see the merits of ignoring this fact in understanding how we come to be where we are.

            • Stu

              Yes, that’s “everyone”.

              And when Joan Chitister makes reference to a majority of Catholics speaking of contraception, etc can I assume that includes you as well?

              The problem with this tendency to tribalize everything and sort people into predefined groups is that you end up doing more collateral damage. It’s just not productive.

  • Thetimman

    What a surprising take.

  • Andy

    Why is it that so many folks who claim they are traditionalists find that what Benedict decreed can not be challenged, if challenged then those challenging Benedict were heretics or worse. Yet it is appropriate for these self-identifying traditionalists to challenge Francis. It boggles the mind.
    I found it difficult to accept some of what Benedict said, but wrestled with it privately and ran on the assumption that he, not me, was the pope and more capable of teaching Catholic morals. I see the same with Francis, though he speaks more clearly to me, he is the pope and is teaching Catholic morals. Benedict made decisions that I did not understand, agree with and sometimes was completely puzzled by, but as the pope he has access to information I did not. Francis is in the same place.
    Damn, what is wrong with these folks? By the way I often wondered about the self-identifiying liberals when they questioned and dismissed what Benedict said.

    • $2346491

      I think that it is okay to criticize the pope on his decisions. I found Benedict’s decision to pursue talks with the SSPX puzzling, especially after the Williamson debacle. I have been incredibly pleased with Francis but I admit to being a bit confused by his “theology of the women” and will be disappointed if he sends Burke to Chicago. I’m not offended by loudmouths like Limbaugh whining about Evangelii Gaudium because I don’t think that the Pope is a delicate hothouse flower that needs to be shielded from the world. However, what is hypocritical to me is the fact that Benedict was above criticism, but Francis isn’t. Either both are above criticism or neither one is. Conservative Catholics cannot have it both ways.

      • Andy

        I agree. Either Benedict and Francis can be criticized, or neither can be criticized is what I was trying to say, albeit poorly. As far as Limbaugh goes his comments though disgusting and typical of his ilk – I really don’t care nor do I think the pope cares.

      • Dan C

        Benedict is a conflict-averse man. He hated the schism, is at heart an academic who thinks that one can talk and talk and teach out problems. At heart, this is who he is as a person.

        That he was head of CDF (and rarely ever cited anyone) is the only thing that does not make sense in his career.

        SSPX talks and having dinner with Hans Kung all make sense.

      • Kirt Higdon

        Where does anyone get the idea that Pope Benedict was never criticized? I dropped my subscription to one Catholic magazine which accused him of being a homosexual. He was likewise labelled a socialist and an ecological nut for some of his statements and initiatives. His outreach to the SSPX was treated with resentment by the enemies of that group and with contempt by the group itself. I recall one schismatic bishop even mocking his Bavarian accent and accusing him of heresy. To date, Pope Francis has received less criticism and far more praise than Pope Benedict. Both of them are good men and I see little difference between them, but then I’m very much an ultramontanist.

        Kirt Higdon

        • $2346491

          No doubt both liberals and extreme conservatives (sedevacanists) criticized Benedict, but I don’t remember the neo-traditionalist set ever criticizing Benedict. Their message to the rest of us was shut up and obey. And now it is totally okay to criticize Pope Francis because he doesn’t care about their fussy liturgical concerns and told them to can it with the constant obsession on only sexual morality.

          • Cypressclimber

            Oh come on.

            First, if you read Fr. Z closely, even though he was pretty high on Benedict, even so, you’ll find he made clear he didn’t like all of Benedict’s decisions. And there were a lot of criticisms of Benedict, even by bishops, of some of his decisions. A lot of them did not like him freeing priests to celebrate the older form of the Mass; and to be fair, there were some miscues on Benedict’s part that certainly were criticized.

            I do agree some people’s commentary on the pope has been repulsive. Rorate Coeli was labeling Pope Francis a heretic within hours of his election; and over the years, the National so-called Catholic Reporter was equally repulsive toward Benedict.

            • $2346491

              I’m not discussing all Catholics but a tiny sliver of neo-traditionalists. The National Catholic Reporter thinks it is okay to criticize popes. They are more favorably inclined to Francis because he is more liberal but some are still critical. The feminists don’t think that he has gone far enough. The reality is that neo-traditionalists and even just plain conservative Catholics wouldn’t have tolerated (and even participated in) the passive aggressive whining about the Pope if it was still Benedict. Donahue would have been shrieking through the roof if a liberal commentator had disparaged Benedict like Rush Limbaugh disparaged Francis. I don’t care about this criticism because I don’t think that Francis is a delicate flower who needs to be shielded against insults. However, I do think that it is hypocrisy.

  • $2346491

    Many atheists or others who dislike the Church insist that it has trillions of dollars and dismiss Francis’ appeals to the poor. I think that many believe that Pope Francis spends his nights in his secret vault where he rolls around in his gold coins. (Oh and he apparently has a solid gold bedroom.) It seems like traditionalist Catholics have their own fantasy about this but rather than counting his money, Francis stays up at night and thinks of ways to hurt traditionalists. This is of course as untrue as the atheists’ fantasies about the Vatican’s vast wealth. There are serious problems with the FFI based on Father Volpi’s letter.

  • Cypressclimber

    Mark, I hope when you’re down, no one takes as many gratuitous kicks at you as you seem to love taking to the folks you love kick when they’re down. Sheesh.

    • chezami

      Oh brother. I’ve been a human punching bag for these selfpitying bullies for years. Cry me a river.

      • Cypressclimber

        So…because some individuals you understand to be “traditionalists”/”reactionaries”/”bullies” (fill in other names you label people) have treated you badly, that gives you a pass for how your comments are insulting to people who haven’t hurt you?

        *I’m offended by your approach to this. When, exactly, was a “bully” who treated you as a “human punching bag”?

        It may be I’m one of very few who are taking offense at your approach. Or it may not be.

        • chezami

          My post addressed one (1) good approach and one (1) bad approach to talking about Francis. I made a super clear distinction between healthy Traditionalists and unhealthy Reactionaries and made it super clear that it is only Reactionary hostility to the pope I am addressing. Somehow, you nonetheless manage to insist that I am talking about all Tradiitionalists. You should ask yourself why you insist on casting yourself as a victim here.

          • Cypressclimber

            Wait–I thought *you* were the victim? (“Cry me a river…”).

            I never claimed to be a victim. I said I was “offended” by your approach. I think those are two very different ideas, and I think you are bright enough to know the difference. And, I think you know well enough that that’s a clever rhetorical move, but a little underhanded. But it’s easy enough to do it unintentionally.

            Allow me to clarify; it isn’t just this post I’m faulting; it’s your overall approach. You get on a certain topic, and for awhile–till you move on to something else–you’ll keep coming back and whip that topic, poking the wound. It’s the glib, sweeping insults and labels hurled like thunderbolts from heaven above. Just from observation, it seems like when someone challenges you in the comments, you are eager, within a day or two, to poke that sore point again. Of course, it could be that’s just me; but that’s how it looks from just my perspective.

            You complain about Fr. Z’s winky-wink; you don’t see how you’re doing the same thing here? However measured you may claim to be–and this post is a big improvement, I grant you–I notice lots of far less measured comments in your threads. It’s almost predictable. Hard to believe you don’t see it.

            For that matter, just what was so “contemptuous” about Mr. Archbold’s post? Not “less persuasive” or “overwrought” or “one sided,” but contemptuous. I don’t know Mr. Archbold, so maybe he’s just terrible. But simply judging by the linked article, I think this is, yet again, way over the top.

            • chezami

              You’re still missing the main point, which is that I am not talking about all Traditionalists. I am addressing the Reactionaries who have been insulting and bad-mouthing Francis and falsely claiming that he is persecuting them and destroying the Church and all the rest of it. If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it.

              • Cypressclimber

                All right. I don’t want to argue with you, particularly in your house, as it were. So I’ll offer this and try to let that be it…

                For awhile there, you were referring to the “urine and vinegar” crowd–i.e., folks being so off-putting and unwelcoming.

                It’s not about me being a “trad”–I mostly attend the newer Mass, I have mixed feelings about the old Mass, I’m more a “reform of the reform” guy. This is about me feeling more and more put off by something about your whole approach.

                I like a lot you do, but I’m getting more “urine and vinegar” hereabouts than I care for, if you get what I’m trying to say. FWIW.

  • Elmwood

    I don’t think it’s any secret that the Holy Father doesn’t have an “attachment” to the preconciliar externals. But to say he is a modernist or something to that effect (SSPX, Rorate Caeli crowd) is equivalent of calling him a Marxist for upholding the social doctrine of the church.

  • CradleRevert

    This post was vindicating in a couple of ways.

    1. It’s vindicating to those who criticized the Holy Father’s “self-absorbed neopelagian promethean” label. Clearly the use of that phrase was scandalizing to people like Mark as he now feels free to condescendingly lob the insult at fellow Catholics because hey, the Holy Father did it.

    2. It’s vindicating to Fr. Z after Mark’s criticisms of him yesterday. Fr. Z put the phrase on the mug as a badge of honor with the assumption that the label would be taken to apply to those of a traditionalist mindset. Given Mark’s use of the phrase above, it appears that the phrase has been taken to mean just that.

    • chezami

      Wow. What a misreading. The pretense was that a) nobody knows what Francis means coupled with b) the passive aggressive awareness they know perfectly well what he means and that c) he is mean and insulting and Benedict would never say such a thing. Benedict proves all this to be rubbish. The whole point is, it’s not an *insult*. It’s a diagnosis and one that Reactionaries are too proud to hear.

  • Jared B.

    But who can argue with such logical syllogisms as,
    A. The FFI is traditionalist.
    B. The FFI has been put under some nearly-unprecedented (in modern times) censures.
    ∴ Traditionalism itself is under censure. Just like the 18th century Jesuits. In fact, this just might be some kind of twisted revenge for that! The Pope is a Jesuit afterall, so… [wash, rinse, repeat syllogisms].

    Or again,
    A. Cardinal Burke was removed from the Congregation of Bishops.
    B. Burke is a very adamant pro-lifer.
    ∴ The pro-life cause is no longer a priority at the Congregation of Bishops.

    It’s rock solid!

    Try it in your personal life too:
    A. You really liked Iron Man 3.
    B. You were passed up for a promotion at work.
    ∴ Your boss hates Iron Man 3.


    • Dan C

      Pedro Arrupe had some Vatican and Papal intercession in the early 1980’s for the Jesuits. Pedro Arrupe hugged the pope at the announcement.

      The Jesuits remained faithful and still exist.

      • Cypressclimber

        “The Jesuits remained faithful”?

        Are you serious?

        It would be tedious to list the Jesuit institutions of higher education that have made a shipwreck of their Catholic Faith. Georgetown is exhibit A; the Cardinal Newman Society has the rest of the depressing list.

        Not that all the wrecked ships were captained by Jesuits; but the story is just so depressing.

        • I love the Jesuits, but I find it hard to characterize them as particularly “faithful”.

  • Lee Johnson

    actually that was pretty complicated.

  • Andy

    After further consideration – I see the difference between questioning the Pope and/or criticizing the pope and what is seen in our host’s so named reactionary catholics is a matter of degree. Questioning decisions, being critical of decisions is part of developing ones prudential judgement – since prudential judgement is based on a fully developed conscience – as an attempt to learn and understand it is what we should do. However, when comments stray into the area of suggesting that the Pope is out to destroy the church, that he might be an antipope are beyond the pale.