Msgr. Eric Barr on the Rad Trad Heresy

Msgr. Eric Barr on the Rad Trad Heresy October 10, 2019

He seems to me to nail it:

What do followers of this heresy actually believe?

Under the banner of The Rad Trad Heresy are the following beliefs:

  • The Church is corrupt and has taken a side road away from the path to Truth.
  • The Novus Ordo Liturgy–developed by Vatican II–is a monstrosity that prevents people from communing with the Transcendent Christ. Even where grudgingly accepted the Novus Ordo is seen as deficient compared with the Tridentine Latin liturgy.
  • legalism that replaces authentic theological investigation.  When Canon Law becomes primary over Scripture and theology, the teaching of the Church becomes confused.  This has led to a vocal laity voicing what they think are the basics of Catholic teaching but in reality are legalisms masquerading as theology.  Indeed, what is visibly apparent about The Rad Trad heresy is the predominance of lay writers and speakers without a deep theological education waxing eloquent on what Catholic teaching should be.
  • Communion in the hand is an abomination and a major symptom of the disrespect shown to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
  • A basic disrespect of papal authority. Papal leadership is suspect and true orthodoxy must resist the present pontiff’s teachings.
  • The positive goodness of sexuality is reduced to almost nothing with the Rad Trad’s focus on sexual sinfulness which they see as rampant throughout all society.  Homosexuality, in particular, is seen as a simple choice and homosexuals, not simply their sins, are condemned in the strongest terms.  The sexuality of married persons is elevated to an ideal level not seen in real married life.
  • Judgement is primary over mercy.  There is no grey area in the life of the human person.  Mercy may only be offered if repentance has already taken place.
  • Holds as heterodox the positive Catholic anthropological view that human nature is basically good though weakened by sin.  Takes a Jansenistic/Calvinistic view of the concupiscence of humanity as so corrupting as to negate a positive appreciation of human nature.
  • Deficient Christology breeds a New Gnosticism.  Rad Trads neglect the salvific mission of the Son of God.  Jesus as well as his salvific activity seem to shift into the background. It is easy to miss this because so much is made of his Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, particularly in Exposition.  There is an aversion to speak about the Cross/Resurrection event as it revealed itself in salvation history.  Paradoxically, the divinity of Christ is accentuated through liturgical add-ons like devotional Exposition, etc. (in themselves worthy actions) but the revelation of that divinity through his humanity as exemplified by Scriptures is ignored.  When coupled with the Rad Trad’s loathing of sexuality as well as their negative view of human nature, this heresy embodies a new Gnosticism.
  • An heretical Apocalyptic view of history which views the Blessed Virgin as the change agent ushering in the Final Days of humanity.  Strangely, this view is built on the private revelations given to seers of various Marian apparitions down through the ages.  Though many of these Marian appearances have been authenticated by the Church, the Rad Trads go further, enshrining the prophecies and predictions made to the seers a truth level akin to Scripture.  Instead of Mary bringing people closer to her Son, instead of Mary revealing Christ to the nations, instead of Mary being the Mother of the Church, the Rad Trads have used her as a severe prophetess whose predictions usher in the final days.

Most Serious Error Is View Of Human Nature

The crucial teaching condemning the traditional Catholic anthropological view of human nature as basically good is the lynch pin of The Rad Trad Heresy.  The heretical teaching cannot get away from its negative view of humanity.  To say that Christ came to save humanity because he found it worth saving would be like chewing ashes for a Rad Trad.  This heresy subscribes to the Protestant vision that Christ came to save us even though we all deserved to be damned.  Catholic orthodoxy accepts our sinfulness but says Christ came to save us because he found us worth saving.  The Rad Trad Heresy comes close to a Calvinistic predestination vision for people who it sees as truly radical sinners, most visibly the homosexuals and, now, those in non-sacramental marriages.  Their list is open to new members.  No matter what these sinners do, short of a complete rejection of their life-style, a sure and final damnation awaits them.

Rad Trads Change The Nature of Jesus

That anthropology sets the stage for a radical revision of the person and purpose of Jesus.  Jesus becomes an object to be adored in the Blessed Sacrament, not the dynamic Savior intimately involved in people’s lives.  Christology, down through the ages, has always swung between a belief in a too human Jesus and a too divine Christ.  That’s a poor word choice, granted, but it serves to show how difficult it is to keep the Chalcedonian definition of Jesus as totally God and totally human, 100% divine/100% human.  Rad Trads eschew Christ’s humanity and in doing so, reject Christological orthodoxy.  Scripture takes second place to its new replacement–Mariolatry.

Dispose Of Mary’s Traditional Role; Invent Her As Apocalyptic Prophetess

When the Rad Trads separated the Blessed Virgin from her scriptural basis as the one who brings Christ to the nations, they invented her as an apocalyptic prophetess of the final days. Apocalypticism, when it is scriptural, has a valued place in Catholic orthodoxy, but Mary as a figure of the apocalyptic end times is not scriptural.  Her appearance in the Book of Revelation is that of the Mother of the Church, not the begetter of the end times. Mary is raised to an almost divine status, eclipsing her Son and becoming the focus of people’s honor and devotion to the detriment of her Son. Many active Catholic lay people, however, are attracted to its “damn the world, bring on the apocalypse” mentality.  Although simply an observation, many dioceses have more public talks on Fatima and Mary then they do about Jesus and Scripture.  People are attracted to apocalypticism and, as always in the past, Church leaders have to carefully educate the faithful on an orthodox way to hold the end times.

It is striking to me that both Rad Trads and the Cult of Trump deeply believe in conspiracy theories, which is profoundly gnostic approach to life.  From QANON kooks smashing up local Catholic parishes in response to nutty conspiracy theories that the Catholic Church is helping refugees as part of a human trafficking conspiracy to Right Wing Catholic kookery starring the Blessed Virgin Mary as Super-Pope overruling the Magisterium that is now actively engaged in destroying the Church, the mentality is exactly the same: No one and nothing can be trusted in the Magisterium and nobody and nothing can be trusted in the supposed “Deep State” (meaning “the rule of law”).  Indeed, the kooks explicitly profess themselves to be “red-pilled”.  It is a reference to the most gnostic set of films ever made: The Matrix Trilogy.

The extraordinary thing is watching people who regard themselves as the Greatest Catholics of All Time totally embrace this gnosticism. For them, the indefectibility of the Church has ended, the infallibility of the Pope is a thing of the past. Watching these people try to square the circle with supposed belief in the Tradition is a wonder to behold. It is non-stop appeals, not to the Tradition, but to dubious private revelations like La Sallette or rumored visions or quack conspiracy theories hovering around the Third Secret of Fatima or garbage from the Poem of the Man God or some other gossip. The garbage book Infiltration trafficks in conspiracy theories that are hard to distinguish from Fundamentalist rhetoric. What matters is not the Tradition or the Magisterium, but what a few conservative Folk Heroes say.

In the same way, members of another religious cult at war with the Church–the GOP–believe literally any lie Trump and his minions tell and delude themselves with baseless conspiracy theories. And the incredible thing is that so many of the Greatest Catholics of All Time have the astonishing lack of judgment to trust every word the proven liar in the White House and the pack of liars around him say while believing they are qualified to sit in judgment of the Holy Father. It is the most spectacular display of Dunning-Kruger Syndrome I have ever seen.

And it is the behavior of people who are intensely afraid of the truth and who are fully engaged in the project of trying to magick it away by a torrent of lies.

That’s what gnosticism is: the attempt to parody the creative Word of God by the diabolical method of lying with the word of man. It claims to reveal the Hidden History of our Time and to be able to speak into reality what is not real and what will never be real. It is utterly doomed to failure, if not in this life, then in the next.


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