The conservative Catholic subculture has gone astray from the true Faith

After Vatican II, liberal Catholics used the Council as an excuse for a number of serious errors on faith and morals, and on discipline. But the Council is not responsible for those errors, just as the Bible is not responsible when Christians misinterpret its teachings. Some conservative Catholics reacted by denigrating the Council and its teachings, claiming that these teachings were merely pastoral and therefore not binding. Some conservatives reacted by speaking as if liberal Catholics are necessarily unfaithful, and conservative Catholics are necessarily faithful.

This spit between liberals and conservatives widened over the years. Some Catholics began to assume that the conservative theological position was necessarily right, and any liberal position necessarily wrong. This assumption was extended even to conservative teachers, such that, if a Catholic priest, theologian, or author was considered conservative, his or her teachings were treated as necessarily faithful. Pride in being conservative and pride in one’s own understanding of the faith and one’s own presumed holiness has led many conservative Catholics away from the true Faith.

A conservative Catholic subculture developed, which many Catholics began to trust as if it were the Magisterium. Instead of basing their beliefs on Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium, they believed whatever the majority opinion might be among conservative teachers. But while Tradition and Scripture are Divine Revelation, and the Magisterium has the help of the Holy Spirit, no subculture within the Church, whether liberal, moderate, conservative, or traditionalist, has any guarantee of freedom from error. And so, errors began to creep into the beliefs of conservative Catholics. Conservative Catholics, while proclaiming themselves to be faithful to the Magisterium, began to ignore, contradict, or radically reinterpret many Church teachings. A set of grave errors has built up over the years, such that many commonly accepted ideas on faith, morals, and salvation are contrary to Church teaching. And many well-accepted conservative teachers are actually teachers of heresy.

Then, when Pope Francis was elected, it quickly became clear that he is a liberal Catholic. After attempting to ignore or reinterpret the holy Pontiff’s words and deeds, many conservative have simply decided to oppose the Vicar of Christ. They are conservative and he is liberal, therefore they assume that they must be right, and he must be wrong. And whenever the Supreme Teacher of the Church teaches anything contrary to the assumptions and opinions of the conservative Catholic subculture, conservatives lash out at him, as if they could not possibly be wrong, and he could not possibly be right. They demand that he explain himself to them, and that he conform his teachings to their limited understanding and misunderstandings. A great conservative schism is underway.

What is most disconcerting to me is that teachers have risen up, who openly teach heresies and other serious errors on faith, morals, and salvation — and they are welcomed and supported and praised by conservative Catholics. These teachers of heresy are not corrected by bishops, priests, and deacons. They are not corrected by various conservative Catholic lay theologians and leaders. They find much support on Catholic blogs, websites, and online forums. And they have positions of leadership and teaching in Catholic universities, colleges, seminaries, and other Catholic organizations.

The conservative Catholic subculture is following teachers of heresy, accepting grave errors on faith, morals, and salvation, and ignoring, contradicting, or radically reinterpreting the true teachings of Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium. And no one seems to mind or even notice. How can this be?

What will happen next? Pope Francis will teach some truths from Tradition and Scripture, things contrary to the misunderstandings of the conservative Catholic subculture, and they will cry out against him, falsely accuse him of heresy, and depart from the one true Church in a great conservative schism. In truth, they have already departed from the Church in their hearts. All that is left is for them to make it official by openly rejecting the head of the Magisterium, the Roman Pontiff.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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