Do You Realize that the Conservative Schism has begun?

It used to be that conservative Catholics prided themselves on defending the teachings of the Pope and the Magisterium. But somewhere along the way, many conservative Catholics became lost to the sin of pride. They began to replace the theological opinions of the conservative Catholic subculture with the teachings of the Magisterium. If they encountered a magisterial teaching they did not like, they would ignore or radically reinterpret that teaching. They began to teach a version of Catholicism, as if it were dogma, which was a collection of mere opinions as well as doctrinal errors. A false version of Catholicism developed, which was not so much of the Magisterium, as if the conservative Catholic subculture.

It is quite clear, looking back a few decades, that Pope Saint John Paul II taught truths, by the Papal Magisterium, which were unacceptable to most conservative Catholics. His teachings in Veritatis Splendor have been ignored and radically reinterpreted by conservatives for a long time. I’ve argued against this type of error — very many times — to no avail. And the teachings of Blessed Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae, which were strongly supported and reiterated many times by Pope Saint John Paul II, have also been radically reinterpreted. It has now reached the point where the majority of conservative Catholic teachers teach grave errors on intrinsically evil acts and on abortion and contraception, contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium under conservative Popes, while claiming that these errors are merely the correct interpretation.

So the conservative Schism did not begin with Pope Francis. It began after Vatican II, when conservatives tried to wrest control of the Church away from the Magisterium, so that the conservative theological point of view would be treated as if it were dogma. And this trend toward believing what the conservative Catholic subculture teaches, apart from the Magisterium became very much worse once the internet rose to power. Many conservative Catholics, who have no qualifications to teach on faith or morals, began to teach grave conservative errors, mostly under cover of anonymity. The conservative Catholic subculture gained much power through the use of the internet to spread error and bring together persons who adhere to the same set of errors.

Then along came Pope Francis. Conservative Catholics were already behaving as if Catholicism were a political ideology, rather than the religion of love of God and neighbor. And they were already treating liberal Catholics with contempt and denigration. When it became clear that the new Pope was liberal, they quickly turned against him. They treat him now the way that Democrats treat Republicans, or vice versa. They see Pope Francis as their political opponent, and they scrutinize his every word and deed, so as to criticize or condemn as much as possible. They exaggerate his words and deeds, always to his detriment, and they constantly seek to portray him as unfaithful and incompetent.

Why do they behave this way? Pride. The conservative Catholic subculture has long considered itself to be the Church and to be the Magisterium. So God sent them a liberal Pope, to test them, to see which conservative Catholics were truly faithful to Christ, and which were only faithful to their own party, to their own misunderstandings and errors. Out of pride, they have refused to accept any teaching or correction from Jesus Christ through the Vicar of Christ. They are behaving just like the conservative Pharisees, rejecting Jesus because they do not wish to humble themselves to be corrected by Him, and also because they do not wish to give up their position of leadership and judgment, to which they have exalted themselves.

When I read the much-discussed dubia of the four Cardinals, I was astonished to find that they were accusing Pope Francis of ignoring or contradicting the teaching of Veritatis Splendor on intrinsically evil acts. For that is one of my main criticisms of the conservative Catholic subculture, that the teaching of Veritatis Splendor on intrinsic evil is ignored or radically reinterpreted. The hypocrisy is stunning. See my post: Are You Waiting on a Response to the Dubia?

And as the weeks pass, more conservatives have publicly rejected Pope Francis. Over at, Phil Lawler denounced Pope Francis very thoroughly, in what can only be described as a schismatic proclamation. And his partner in theology, Jeff Mirus, has used that website to teach heresy, including grave errors on contraception and intrinsically evil acts. The two of them are now constantly speaking against Pope Francis, as if he were there political opponent in a particularly nasty political campaign. And they each speak as if they were judges over every Pope, over the Magisterium, and over the body of Bishops. But in fact, they have no authority in the Church, and they are simply loudmouthed heretics and schismatics.

I was disturbed to read today an article by the editor and cofounder of, which publicly judged and condemned Pope Francis: The A – Z list of concerns with Pope Francis. The article presents the understanding of Catholicism of the conservative Catholic subculture as if it were infallible in teachings and infallible in decisions on discipline. I don’t see how the author of that article can be considered anything by a schismatic. For he places himself above the Pope, to judge his every word and deed, condemns every word and deed contrary to his own understanding, and shows no willingness to submit himself to teachings, corrections, and decisions on discipline by the Roman Pontiff.

And then, on the same day, I came across an article titled Is The Reign Of Francis The Worst Of All Those Of The Men Who Have Occupied The Chair Of Peter? The Answer, Sad To Say, Appears To Be Yes !!!, written by Fr. Brian W. Harrison, O.S. — a priest whom I formerly considered to be orthodox and faithful. Yes, it is sad to say that a priest has exalted himself above the Supreme Pontiff, to judge him unjustly and condemn him. No such role is given to any priest, bishop, or Cardinal.

I could go through each of the A to Z complaints, to explain and refute them. But what is the point to that? Once a Catholic exalts himself above the Roman Pontiff, to judge and condemn him, it is futile to argue. For you are arguing with a person who mistakenly thinks himself to be above the highest spiritual authority on earth, the Roman Pontiff. I should also add that, in many cases, I’ve argued theology with conservative Catholics, and I’ve found that they do not listen to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, or the First Vatican Council, or the Council of Trent, or Pope Saint John Paul II. Yes, it has reached the point where the conservative Catholic subculture is a religion unto itself, and no Pope or Council’s teaching prevails over their own very shiny ideas. Pride has made their own thoughts seem deeper than the thoughts of God expressed in Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium.

There is no humility in their complaints against the Supreme Teacher of the Universal Church, the Supreme Judge of the faithful, the Rock on which the Church is founded, the Pilot and Helmsman of the Ark of Salvation.

{9:7} Whoever teaches a mocker causes injury to himself. And whoever argues with the impious produces a blemish on himself.
{9:8} Do not be willing to argue with a mocker, lest he hate you. Dispute with the wise, and he will love you.

{11:2} Wherever arrogance may be, there too is insult. But wherever humility is, there too is wisdom.
{11:3} The simplicity of the just shall direct them, and the rebellion of the perverse will devastate them.

{3:1} My brothers, not many of you should choose to become teachers, knowing that you shall receive a stricter judgment.

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

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8 Responses to Do You Realize that the Conservative Schism has begun?

  1. Matt Z. says:

    I see schismatic railing against the Pope with so many online commenting on articles and such. It is sad to see. They call him anti pope and all sorts of names basically denouncing that he is Pope.

    On the other hand I do see some in the Church that dislike people with censervative or orthodox opinions. These people are looked down, get shunned, and lose positions in the Church.

    There is a great division where both sides are wrong. One side, people who think they are holier than the Pope, degrade the office of Peter, while making their own errors on doctrine. The other side chastise orthodox, conservative people making sure they lose their position in the Church or are just ignored entirely.

    Lastly, there are those who dislike the orthodox and also teach doctrinal error, whether its maliciously or they are saturated in the culture we dont know, All three of these groups are troubling and dangerous but this last group are the most dangerous.

  2. turnrod says:

    Without discussing the appropriateness of public criticisms of Pope Francis, Catholics in general can disagree with the Pope’s prudential judgements. It may even be that some Catholics teach or accept error unknowingly (possibly due to their own biases). However, I am not sure I have seen any evidence of conservative Catholics rejecting the authority of the Pope or the Church.

  3. Tom Mazanec says:

    I’ve argued against this type of error — very many times — to no avail.

    Keep arguing. The job of a theologian is to argue against error. If the mistaken do not listen, that is not your fault.

  4. Rodney Ford says:

    There seems to be a liberal agenda sweeping the Catholic Church. Some priests are preaching a social gospel in the homily, and continue to over-stress God’s mercy to the point of saying that all people, even unbelievers, will eventually be saved! While Catholic teaching does allow for some theoredical exception on the part of the invincible ignorant, also called the baptism of desire. But this should be viewed as a special circumstance and in light of the Church’s view of the necessity of membership for salvation, it is understandable that the possibility of salvation for those outside the Church should only be mentioned hesitantly, and not expanded to a teaching that boarders on univeralism. All dogs don’t go to heaven, contrary to the popular mind of most Catholics today.😇

    • Ron Conte says:

      Your position on salvation theology is tenable. But it is not the only possible interpretation or viewpoint. Many souls do end up in Hell, as I’ve argued in several past posts. But I believe that salvation is accessible to all persons, if they love others and follow their own conscience. For then they are implicit members of the Church, which is the sole Ark of Salvation.

  5. Rodney Ford says:

    I agree there are super conservative eliments in the Church today that are trying to push their agenda by picking up the mantle of the Magisterium, but at the same time I see liberal Catholics who seem to be doing the same. The Church is not a political democracy where we can create a grass-roots movement to push our personal agenda on the Church. As Catholics are we not called to be subject to the authority of the Magisterium and the Pope? We should all learn to be more docil to the teachings of the Church, whatever our personal opinion is on certain issues, but most Cathlics are uninformed or lacking a proper faith formation and seem to prefer an alicart Christianity.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Good comment. I think that God chose Pope Francis to correct the conservatives, and He will choose the next Pope so as to correct the liberals.

  6. I am traditional but in full union with Rome I only stick with church approval like the FSSP and MFVA of EWTN. I stay away from schismatic traditionalist such as the sspx and sedevacantist ext.

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