*conservative Catholics are being put to the test by God*
Heresy is fertile soil for the seeds of schism. Before the reign of Pope Francis, during the papacies of Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, I noticed many conservative Catholic authors — priests, theologians, canon lawyers, popular authors and speakers — asserting abject heresy. My readers know, I wrote very many posts pointing out these heresies and lesser errors on faith and morals, and arguing against them. And they were often asserted in conservative Catholic media. These media outlets claim to be faithful to the Church. But they permitted one heretical view after another to be disseminated through their platform. And very few of their readers objected.
Conservative Catholics had gradually moved away from belief in the teachings of the Magisterium to belief in their own ideas and in the idea of the conservative Catholic subculture. And if any person was an accepted conservative leader, he or she could propose the most extreme or absurd heresies — as long as they did not contradict any conservative talking points — and no one would object. The faithful in the conservative wing of the Church had decided that conservatism is the path to heaven, not faithfulness to the Magisterium. They had transferred their allegiance from the Shepherds of the Church, to their favorite conservative authors and speakers.
And this is partly due to the influence of sinful secular society, which teaches people to adopt a subculture and believe whatever that group believes, which teaches us to believe whatever we like, and not to accept any beliefs on authority. But it was also due to pride. The leaders of the conservative Catholic subculture became used to deciding every question of doctrine and discipline. They became used to a freedom of beliefs taught by secular society, and adopted by conservatives and liberal alike in the Church. As long as their beliefs were acceptable to their subculture, they did not care if it was contrary to magisterial teaching.
Many of the leaders of the conservative Catholic subculture became accustomed to criticizing Popes, Cardinals, and Bishops. They liked the authority to decide every question, a pretended authority that came from having a large following online. Without the internet, most of these persons would be largely unknown. Online, a teacher of heresy could amass a large following. Some amasses an immense following. And so they were filled with pride, and began to pass judgment on whatever the Pope or the body of Bishops would decide. And their listeners did not mind if they disagreed with the Magisterium or simply ignored magisterial teaching.
And so heresy after heresy was spread throughout the conservative wing of the Church, without much fuss from the conservative faithful. They did not care. They liked having the ability to decide for themselves what to believe. They liked being a part of the subculture. And so the soil was tilled and irrigated with false teachings and allegiance to false teachers.
Then Pope Francis was chosen by God to put conservative Catholics to the test. And many failed that test miserably. They increased their heresies. They cried out in indignation whenever the Pope dared to say anything contrary to the majority view of conservatives. They were dismayed and confused by a Roman Pontiff who did not teach and openly contradicted what the conservative leaders had long been teaching. They could not reconcile papal teaching with their own understanding of the faith, for they had been led and taught by heretics for a long time.
But rather than submit their minds and hearts to the teachings of the Vicar of Christ, which are the teachings of Christ Himself, they rebelled against Pope Francis. Some spoke against him with great malice, in such a manner as would be gravely sinful to speak about anyone. Many of the conservative leaders began to judge the Pope and to condemn his teachings and his behavior. They judged again and again. Though Christ taught them not to judge, they had long ago stopped being true disciples of Christ. They were heretics, at least materially. And in pride they had long been schismatics as well, not being willing to be submissive in religious belief and practice to anyone. So they fought against the Roman Pontiff, and they continue to do so today.
But the problem is not Francis. The problem is the conservative Catholic subculture. It decided that it was above the Magisterium, and above the Church Herself. It decided that truth was whatever it wanted truth to be. It decided that anyone who criticized or disagreed was worthy of contempt and malice, even the Roman Pontiff. This subculture is something of a monster. It is not the Church. It is not faithful to the Magisterium. It is not filled with love, faith, and hope.
A faithful Catholic can be conservative, to a certain extent. But the correct answer to every theological question is not the conservative answer. So if you cannot accept liberal answers or moderate answers, when that is the answer given by the Church, then you are not a disciple of Christ. For some of His teachings are liberal, some moderate, some conservative. You are not permitted to accept only the conservative teachings. and the same is true for liberals and moderates and whatever other category there might be.
Do not abandon the Church or the Pope. Set aside your pride and your identification as a conservative or a traditionalist, and accept whatever the Church teaches and decided, even if it seems incorrect to your understanding. Simply accept it in faith.
If you only believe what the Church teaches when it is the same as your own understanding, you have no faith at all. None. Faith accepts what is contrary to one’s own understanding, contrary to one’s own culture, contrary to what one has long believed and cherished. If you love father or mother more than Christ, you are not worthy of Christ. If you love traditionalism or conservatism or the Latin Mass or more than Christ, then you are not worthy of Christ.
You are being put to the test. The hardest part of the test is yet to come. Stay faithful to the Pope and the body of Bishops; the true Magisterium is always with them. Have nothing to do with anyone who treats the Pope or the body of Bishops with contempt or denigration. Whoever insults the Pope, insults Christ, and insulting Christ is blasphemy.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.