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The Dark Side of Tradition

Arkhip Kuinji. Moonlight Night on Dneper.
(Arkhip Kuinji. Moonlight Night on Dneper. Source)

1) Introduction

Should we believe so-called "Traditional Catholics", who sometimes claim, more or less explicitly, that:

- the Vatican II Council caused great harm to the Church;
- the old Latin Mass is intrinsically superior;
- Paul VI and John Paul II were not as "Papal" as "real Popes" like Pius X;
- the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) contains heresies;
- Etc.

I'm far from being a theologian, or an expert on "Traditionalism", so what follows is only my opinion. Please keep in mind that if there is a disagreement between the Pope and I, I'm wrong. Also, my personal liturgical preference is the Vatican 3 Mass

Keep also in mind that, as usual, we must distinguish between theological positions and personal intentions. In my experience, many "Traditionalists" sincerely want to follow Christ. Some of them have been fooled, but they are at least partially excusable, given the systematic effort that has been deployed to lead them into error.

2) What exactly do the "Traditionalists" claim?

In order to have a serious debate about anything, one of the prerequisites is to find out what the "other side" officially claims. For example, when I want to have a debate with pro-choicers or Protestants, I always tell them that the position I will be defending is described in the CCC (currently the most official overview of the teachings of the Catholic Church).

Already, at this initial stage, we have a huge problem, since there is no "Central Traditionalist Authority" to which all "Traditionalists" obey. Under the label "Traditionalist" can be found a large spectrum of positions, from a simple preference to hear Mass in Latin, right to the other extreme, where the current Pope is considered an impostor and the CCC full of heresies. All "Traditionalists" will claim they are Catholics and therefore faithful to the Pope, but many will add: "except when the Pope is wrong and we are right!"

Because of this lack of unity among "Traditionalists", I don't see how I could avoid making up a kind of composite drawing of the "typical Traditionalist", based on various claims I've heard and documents I've read.

3) What common ground is there with "Traditionalists"?

Here are some assertions which appear to be acceptable to both "Traditionalists" and Catholics who accept Vatican II:

3.1) The Catholic Church is currently in a mess. There are many heretics, even among Priests and Bishops. The problems aren't only theological, and as John Mallon states: "The attitude of these Jesuits and other clerics making comments to the secular press seems to be that the Church and priesthood is their own private bathhouse and the Pope has a lot of nerve to impose Catholicism on them" ["«Gay» Priest: An Oxymoron", Status Ecclesiae, November 2005]. See also FAQ #7, "Do we really need a good inquisition in the Province of Quebec?", and "The Diocesan Demolition Derby", etc.

3.2) Chronologically, it can be argued that this mess began roughly at the time of Vatican II. Many statistics (e.g. the number of vocations, Baptisms, percentage of faithful attending Sunday Mass, etc.) seem to indicate a temporal correlation between the mess described in #3.1 here above, and the Vatican II Council.

3.3) The old 1962 Mass is still valid. Nobody who is in communion with the Holy Father doubts that the "old" Mass was, is, and will always be a valid Mass.

3.4) The "spirit of Vatican II" is Satanic. There are many liberal Protestants out there who claim to be "Catholic". These liberal Protestants usually are in favor of women's ordination, homosexual "marriage", the contraceptive pill, abortion, divorce, etc. There are also usually against Transubstantiation, Papal Infallibility, the Virgin Mary, etc. These liberal Protestants almost inevitably claim to be "faithful to the spirit of Vatican II". Of course, the fact that all their claims are contradicted by the actual official documents of Vatican II doesn't bother them! (See also The Satanic "Spirit" Of Vatican II)

3.5) Papal Infallibility has it's limits. Popes can commit personal sins. As private theologians, they can err. When they speak as Pope, but not ex cathedra, they can err (but must still be obeyed). See among others "Papal Infallibility, and the Stupid Gods".

4) What is wrong with "Traditionalism"?

As I've said in #2 above, since there is no "Central Authority", I can't assert anything decisively unless I'm having an actual debate with a flesh-and-blood "Traditionalist". Normally, as far as the more extreme "Traditionalists" are concerned, we disagree about topics listed in the Introduction here above.

My fundamental claim is that there is a "Dark Side" to Traditionalism. Satan, as usual, uses his powers of mystification to encourage people to cut themselves off from the Holy Father. The Latin mumblings and the quotes from long-deceased Popes are just a smoke screen to hide the Devil's plan of attack:

Firstly, entice a large portion of the faithful to adopt abhorrent and un-Christian beliefs and behaviors in the name of Vatican II.

Secondly, claim that since these aberrations occurred after and in the name of Vatican II, "therefore" they were caused by Vatican II. Cunningly insinuate that since recent Popes ordered and embraced Vatican II, "Traditional Catholics" have to cut themselves off from the Pope in order to remain in the Church.

Finally, gently stroke the pride of "Traditionalists", whispering into their ears that only they are smart enough to wade through the reams of pre-Vatican II magisterial documents, and decide what Catholicism really should be.

5) The two Latin words that "Traditionalists" find so hard to say

All the "Traditionalists" I've met have an almost religious reverence for the Latin language, but there are two words in Latin they rarely use: "Ceteris Paribus".

Without these two words, Science is impossible. "Ceteris Paribus" (or "all else being equal" in English) is necessary to avoid comparing apples with oranges. I've never met a "Traditionalist" who compared the old Mass of 1962 with the new Paul VI Mass without violating this principle.

If you take a heretic and sodomitic Priest who's into New Age religions, who hates Gregorian chant and beautiful ceremonies, and who invents his own liturgy as he goes along, you'll get a disgusting result. That Mass might in some cases still be valid (for example, Transubstantiation might still occur, and the Sunday Precept might be fulfilled), but it will make real Catholics feel like vomiting.

I claim such a Priest, unfortunately, can desecrate any Mass, old or modern. Remember that the mess inside the Catholic Church started while the old Mass was ubiquitous. Also, I'm a product of the Paul VI Mass, and I don't think you could find fault with my attachment to Tradition, beautiful Liturgy, Transubstantiation, etc.

To explain this fully, I'm guessing we would need to dig into what regulates human actions, both internally (God's grace, human conscience, virtues and vices, etc.) and externally (Divine and human laws, etc.). There is nothing in a Missal which forces a Priest to say Mass in a given way. In other words, the Missal "causes" the Mass, but through the free-will of the Priest, who can decide to respect (or not) the will of Christ for the Liturgy of His Bride the Church.

6) Conclusion

The more extreme "Traditionalists" end up rejecting the most important tradition of the Catholic Church, i.e. submission to the Pope and the Bishops united to the Pope:

"But especially contradictory is a notion of tradition which opposes the universal magisterium of the Church possessed by the Bishop of Rome and the body of Bishops. It is impossible to remain faithful to the tradition while breaking the ecclesial bond with him to whom, in the person of the Apostle Peter, Christ himself entrusted the ministry of unity in his Church"
[Ecclesia Dei, #4].

The less extreme "Traditionalists" are often quite ignorant of the official teachings of the Catholic Church, including the actual documents of Vatican II. As far as I know, I'm able to condemn all modern aberrations (dogmatic, moral, liturgical, etc.) simply by quoting either Vatican II or other post-Vatican II texts from the Magisterium, as can be seen by my whole web site (even though, of course, I can also do it with Magisterial documents that precede Vatican II).

A final, somewhat bizarre twist is that it's me, the "Vatican II guy", who is honking the loudest for a good and joyful inquisition. Sometimes, it seems as if some "Traditionalists" considered the mess to be in another Church, not their own...

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