Uniting the Clans: Why All Traditional Catholics Must Work Together
Recently, Dr. Taylor Marshal had a video chat with Michael Matt, Editor of the Remnant Newspaper and Remnant TV. For those of you who don’t know these two, Dr. Taylor Marshall is a former Anglican priest, who converted to Catholicism as a layman, and is a well known Catholic author, theologian, Thomist and apologist. While he’s not part of the Ordinariate of Anglican Patrimony, he’s definitely on the Traditional side of things when it comes to Catholicism, and with his regular co-host, author Dr. Timothy Gordon, they put out a bi-weekly vlog and podcast that is a hard-hitting Traditional Catholic commentary with a very intellectual point of view. Michael Matt, is a cradle Catholic and veteran of the Traditional Catholic world. His father founded The Remnant, a traditional Catholic newspaper, of which he is now the editor, and his great-grandfather founded The Wanderer with the blessing of Pope Leo XIII. Originally called Der Wanderer, it was the first newspaper published in German to minister to German Catholic immigrants in North America. It was the first German-language Catholic publication in North America to decry the evils of both Marxism and Nazism. This is why, to a large degree, most German immigrants to America never fell for the twin German ideologies of Marxism and Nazism. They were well educated in Catholic teaching on this by Der Wanderer. Following the Second Vatican Council, Michael’s father started The Remnant to more directly address the problems that were developing within the Catholic Church as a result of the Modernist/Freemason/Communist infiltration of the Catholic hierarchy. Church Militant (another Traditional Catholic news outfit) has been highly critical of The Remnant, but I am not. I happen to endorse both The Remnant and Church Militant as good traditional Catholic news sources that I think any traditionally-minded Catholic will enjoy by following, and will stay well informed in the process. I highly recommend a Premium membership to Church Militant, and a paper and/or video subscription to The Remnant. You’ll be better informed than 95% of Catholic laity if you get these things. If you really want to be even more informed, read The Wanderer as well.
The topic I wish to discuss here is the same addressed by Marshall and Matt in the video above. (Take the time to watch it, as it’s well worth it.) The Catholic Church is in full, blown crisis mode now, and I’m not being alarmist to say that. It’s beyond obvious now to anyone who follows either religious or secular news, and it’s going to get much, much worse, before it gets better. We have only just begun to venture into this long tunnel of darkness. Just wait until the RICO prosecutions start! It’s going to get ugly, especially here in the United States. Recognizing that this is the biggest crisis the Church has seen in at least half-millennium, maybe longer, there is no longer any room for infighting among Traditional Catholics. We just don’t have time for it anymore, and the differences between us are not nearly as insurmountable as the differences between us and the Modernists. Let’s face it; we’re never going to see eye to eye on everything, and that’s okay! That’s why there are different factions of us. That’s why we each have our own point of view.
For example: I’m an Anglican Patrimony guy. I like Divine Worship which is used in the Ordinariate. I appreciate the Roman Patrimony, as exemplified in the Traditional Latin Mass, and I have attended many such liturgies, but I’m not really a Latin Mass kind of guy. Likewise, some Latin Mass people might appreciate the Anglican Patrimony as far more “traditional” than the typical Novus Ordo Mass, but they’re not really Anglican Patrimony kind of people. It’s just not their thing, and they prefer to worship according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Again, that’s all well and good. That’s why we have separate factions, so everybody’s spiritual needs can be met. Some Latin Mass people are strictly diocesan. Some are strictly Fraternity or Institute. Some are SSPX. I understand that each has their reason, and there isn’t much we can say to persuade the other. Again, that’s okay. That’s why there are many factions of us, so everyone’s needs are met. There are also Eastern Catholics, who respect traditional Western liturgy, but have no desire to be part of it on a regular basis. Likewise, many Western Traditional Catholics have no desire to be part of Eastern liturgy. Again, that’s okay. Finally, there is that ever elusive Traditional (unicorn) Novus Ordo Catholic, who worships reverently in a Novus Ordo (unicorn) mass that looks a lot like a Traditional Latin Mass, except it’s using the Missal of Pope Paul VI. We all know such liturgies exist out there, but they’re so rare and hard to find, they’ve been named “unicorn Mass” because most of us will be lucky to ever see one in our lifetime. God bless those who are part of such a thing, and I hope they’re counting their blessings, because they are a rare breed — for now. Many Traditional Catholics would have nothing to do with such a mass, even if they did see one, mainly because it’s Novus Ordo and they’ve had enough of that. Again, that’s okay. None of us have to agree on what mass we go to, or what our view on Vatican II is, or how to understand the post-conciliar popes. What matters is that we all recognize that the Catholic Church is in crisis, and like it or not, divided as we are, we are the ONLY people in the whole world who can set it right. We do it by our prayers, our intercession to the Blessed Mother, the celebration of our respective Traditional liturgies, making reparations for the sacrilege and blasphemies around us, and this is what we need a little improvement on, by marching together as one against the crisis of Modernism that is destroying the Catholic Church from the inside out.
On his observations of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, G.K. Chesterton wrote the following:
Lincoln may have been right in thinking that he was bound to
preserve the Union. But it was not the Union that was preserved.
A union implies that two different things are united; and it should
have been the Northern and Southern cultures that were united.
As a fact, it was the Southern culture that was destroyed.
And it was the Northern that ultimately imposed not a unity
but merely a uniformity. But that was not Lincoln’s fault.
He died before it happened; and it happened because he died.
— GK Chesterton, On America, Chapter 36, from “Come to Think of It”
I think there is a lesson in this for Traditional Catholics like us. Insofar as we try to persuade one another on every little thing, and attempt to pull one another into the other camp, we will continually be in conflict. This has to stop, and in order to stop, we must come into unity rather than uniformity. For unity is the coming together of different things. Uniformity is the destruction of different things. It is the former that Traditional Catholics should be striving for, not the latter. Just as the pope is supposed to unite East and West, with various rites, uses, and traditions, so we must be of the same mind if we are to be in unity.
May I submit to you that uniformity does not come from our side. It never did. For from ancient times the Catholic Church has always been a communion of multiple churches, each with their own rites, traditions and canon law. Even the Western Church had its own uses and rites throughout history. What united them was what they had in common, namely doctrine and sacraments, while they allowed themselves to hold various opinions on non-doctrinal and non-sacramental matters, even liturgical matters.
Every Traditional Catholic I have ever met, agrees with the Council of Trent and Vatican I (one). Every Traditional Catholic I have ever met, agrees there are seven sacraments, and that these sacraments must be properly administered by a validly ordained Catholic priest. Every Traditional Catholic I have ever met, agrees that the present Catholic Church is in a liturgical, doctrinal, and moral crisis. Is this not enough to unite us? Are these things, by themselves, not enough to be in some form of unity? I think so. And I think we need to start recognizing that. We’re never going to agree on everything. We’re never going to fully agree on what caused the crisis, when it exactly started, how it progressed, where the specific weaknesses are, who were the bad guys, who were the good guys. or even why it’s happening. Our generation will never know the answers to all of these questions, precisely because we are living through it, and precisely because we cannot clearly see what we are completely surrounded by on all sides. Only a future generation will be able to precisely identify all of these things, when the present crisis is finally over, and hindsight is 20/20. For now, we must all admit that none of us have the full picture, and it’s not even possible for us to obtain it at this time. We can learn more every year, but not until the crisis is over, and some time has passed, will everything come into complete focus.
So who are the factions? Who are the Traditional clans? First off, I refuse to use the term “Traditionalist” now, because that is a noun which can be used to substitute for the word “Catholic.” I refuse to be labelled as anything but Catholic, so for this reason, I can’t use the word “Traditionalist” and I humbly submit for your consideration that the Modernists have used that word in just that way to marginalize us, and make us appear to the casual observer as somehow, something less than Catholic. Instead, I simply use the word “Traditional” which is an adjective and forces the noun “Catholic” to follow. I am a Traditional Catholic, not a Traditionalist, and this method of designation is by design. The Traditional Catholic clans are as follows, and they are designated by the type of liturgy they are attached to…
- Traditional Latin Mass (Tridentine or Missal of Saint Pius V)
- Traditional Novus Ordo (“unicorn” or Missal of Pope Paul VI celebrated according to the old ways, similar to the Traditional Latin Mass)
- Anglican Patrimony Mass (“Divine Worship” as celebrated in the Ordinariates)
- Eastern Rite Divine Liturgy (As celebrated in the 23 Eastern churches in communion with the Catholic Church)
Each traditional clan has it’s own way of being Traditional. Obviously, Eastern Rite Catholics have a very different way of doing it, compared to Traditional Latin Mass goers. Likewise, the Anglican Patrimony Catholics have their own way too. Traditional Novus Ordo Catholics (rare as they are) have their own way as well. We’re all Traditional, but we’re just Traditional in different ways.
Within the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) clan, there are many factions as well, and again, all of that is well and good. What matters is the liturgy they’re attached to, which tells us something about their Catholic beliefs and temperaments. They have these in common, regardless of their jurisdictions, explanations, conspiracy theories, etc. None of these extraneous things matter, and we’ll never be successful at convincing one another fully. What difference does it make of one Traditional Catholic believes in interpreting Vatican II a specific way that is consistent with earlier tradition, and another believes the Council should be rejected altogether because of that earlier tradition? If Vatican II defined no new doctrine, which the CDF emphatically states it’s heresy to say it did, then who cares what your opinion is on Vatican II? Leave these matters up to bishops and discipline within their jurisdictions. I imagine the SSPX has their own “party line” on this, while the FSSP has another. That’s an internal matter for each bishop, his priests and his jurisdiction. As for the laity, we can still get along and agree to disagree on this. What matters is what we do have in common, which is that we are Traditional, and we recognize there is a crisis in the Church that can only be cured by returning to Tradition. If we can just agree on that, which we do, we can go a long way toward remedying the problem.
I think it’s a mistake to think that Traditional Catholics can be united under some kind of common umbrella organization. I think that leans too much toward uniformity. For two millennia that’s never been our thing. Only the Holy Spirit, working through a wise pope can unite us that way, in a true unity not uniformity, as was done in ages past, in spite of many schisms and heresies. No, I think what Traditional Catholics need is just a mental assent that we are already united in the fact that we practice Tradition, and we believe only Tradition can save the Church from this present crisis. At best, we could hope for a very loose confederation of Traditional clans someday, but it would have to be very loose indeed, for any sign of uniformity is inconsistent with who we are, and who we’ve always been. I think the goal of our ultimate unity should be Catholic, which is to say a resolution of the present crisis in the Church, under the pope. Many of us already have full communion and full regularization with Rome, and that is well and good. Some of us are still working toward that, and while this type of juridic unity is extremely important, it should not be rushed. It has been my observation that rushing leads to fracturing.
If I may submit this to you as well, Modernists only know how to work in uniformity not unity, and their uniformity centers around doctrine and practice. They want all Catholics to submit to a standardized Novus Ordo liturgy, and they hate the idea of Traditional plurality, as was evidenced by their bitter opposition to the restoration of the Traditional Latin Mass in Summorum Pontificum in 2007. They hate the idea of an Anglican Patrimony Mass, as was evidence by the bitter opposition in England to Anglicanorum Coetibus, because they knew it would produce a liturgy more traditional than the Novus Ordo commonly used there. Pope Benedict XVI, himself, had to visit the isle and remind his bishops that they will accept the Ordinariate converts as fully Catholic. They hate the idea of the Novus Ordo itself being celebrated in a traditional way. As for the Divine Liturgies of the Eastern churches, Modernists basically ignore them, because there isn’t much more they can do. Modernism also seeks uniformity in doctrine, but not the kind you would think. The uniformity they seek is a uniformity of ambiguity, eventually leading to the rewriting of the faith in a way that accepts heresy and immorality. These are very specific heresies and immoralities they’re working toward. This ambiguity they wanted in the 1950s, was received in some of the documents of Vatican II during the 1960s, and they capitalized on through the ambiguous “Spirit of Vatican II” in the following decades. It’s a uniformity of ambiguity, newspeak or political jargon, that makes it impossible to really understand what a person is saying. Over the last few decades they’ve mastered it well in the hierarchy, to the point now where they are beginning to show their hand of what they really wanted all along: Marxist economics, communion for those living in a state of adultery, acceptance of religious plurality, acceptance of homosexuality, embrace of same-sex unions and gender theory, etc. Their uniformity in ambiguity is designed to lead to uniformity in acceptance of all these things. Modernists would have it no other way.
If I may suggest, Modernists seek uniformity, while Traditional Catholics seek unity. It’s always been this way, since the beginning of the Church, and it will remain this way until the end of time. Heretics are almost always uniformists. I think the first step toward uniting the Traditional clans is recognizing this, accepting this, and beginning to show a united front on who we are (Traditional Catholics) and what we’re working toward (the restoration of Tradition for the healing of the Church).
The Chartres Pilgrimage is one such example of how we can make this happen. If I may suggest, wherever it may be possible, that Traditional Catholics of all clans, begin inviting one another to Eucharistic processions in every major city around the world, whether in the Americas, Europe, Australia, wherever. There is nothing wrong in doing this. And there is no reason why Traditional Catholics in a diocese cannot invite local SSPX members to march together with them in the streets toward a Eucharistic adoration at a reasonably traditional chapel or cathedral of some type. There is no reason why the SSPX can’t do the same in reciprocation. There is no reason why the two cannot merge their efforts. I think this might be a good place to start. Who knows where it might lead from there?