OK, some of you are innocent. But many leaders and followers in the traditionalist community are guilty of the errors discussed in this article. Their position with regard to Traditionis Custodes is patently false. They ask: Why Is Francis Punishing Us? Traditionis Custodes is not really a punishment. However, it is a necessary correction in response to a vast set of severe sins against Jesus Christ and His Church. If you wish to call that a punishment, all I can say is. “Many of you earned it.”
An employee is habitually late for work, takes long unauthorized lunches, leaves early, constantly berates his boss to the other employees, loudly criticizes every decision of his boss, makes personal attacks on the boss, refuses to believe what he says, refuses to follow his business plan, and gathers a group of fellow employees to oppose their boss openly. They even publish open letters accusing their boss of grave crimes and of deliberately making decisions aimed at destroying the business. AND THEN, when the boss issues new and stricter rules for the employees, he say: “Why is he doing this to me? I’m one of his best workers! I’ve done nothing but good for this business. Look at how many workers I’ve brought into the business, who behave just as I do!” That’s what the traditionalists who oppose Pope Francis are like. And don’t say to me, “The Church is not a business; we’re not the Pope’s employees.” It’s an analogy.
Here’s another one. Certain sheep oppose the new shepherd appointed by the owner of the flock. They disobey him, kick and bite him, demand that he act according to their desires, and they gather some of the flock into a different sheepfold, which opposes the new shepherd and disobeys him at every turn. What will that new shepherd do to the disobedient sheep? He will take down the fencing that keeps them in a separate sheepfold, apart from the one flock. And he will expel from the flock those sheep who refuse to be part of the one flock in the one sheepfold.
Certainly, there are supporters of the traditional Latin Mass, clergy and laity, who are innocent of the sins discussed in this article. They accept the authority and teaching of Vatican II. They love Pope Francis and accept his teachings. When they do dissent from Church teaching, by Francis or other Popes, it is a mild faithful dissent from occasional errors that all admit are possible in non-infallible teachings or points within those teachings, entirely absent of the accusation of grave error. Faithful Catholics are to be found at the TLM.
Unfortunately, an heretical and schismatic subculture has grown up within these TLM communities. And the number who have fallen into this type of error is very substantial. For many years now, even predating Pope Francis, a point of view developed which saw the traditionalists as the “most faithful” of Catholics and as having the role of guardian and teacher of the true faith. That is the exact and authoritative role of Popes Bishops, and Councils — exclusively. A lay person with a media outlet, or another lay person with a following on YouTube, is not a substitute for the Magisterium, nor do they have the role to judge and correct Popes and Councils.
The majority opinion of this subculture was placed by them above any teaching of a Pope or Council. The subculture, its leaders and even the least educated among its laity saw themselves as fit to stand in judgment over every Pope and Council, to determine what is truth, which doctrines to reject and which to accept, and to judge discipline and matters of prudence, with a claimed surety greater than any Pope or Council. And this attitude increased with the use of the internet to bring together such persons, and to reinforce their errors by the number of those who agree. And when a liberal Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis, was elected, the problems grew worse with each passing year. The conservative Catholic subculture refused to be taught or corrected by the Pope no matter his teaching.
He taught that the diversity and plurality of religions is the will of God. His critics cried foul, saying it is only the permissive will of God! He agreed with them. He stated this in a general audience. He put it in writing in a letter to one of this top critics, Bishop Schneider, and he told that Bishop to his face it is the permissive will of God. And then that Bishop and the traditionalist community accused Pope Francis of heresy for saying that the diversity and plurality of religions is positively willed by God — in direct contradiction to his own clear statements that agreed with them. They complain that he does not clarify his teaching when they have objections. But when he clarified the teaching on diversity of religions, so as to agree with them, they still accused him of heresy. They claim the wording in Human Fraternity implies the positive will of God, rather than the permissive will.
They accused the Pope of denying the existence of Hell and that souls go there. A small amount of time spent looking through his teachings finds multiple clear expressions refuting that accusation. But they continue to make the same claim. So they oppose Pope Francis no matter what he says.
Conservatives and traditionalists began to criticize the Pope more severely with each passing month. Petitions, Open Letters, and similar documents were circulated on the internet, proposing that the teachings of the Supreme Pontiff Pope Francis were gravely erroneous, and that the conservative Catholic subculture would need to take the role to correct the Pope and keep him from leading the Church astray. Eventually, many conservatives, and especially those in traditionalist communities, who gather online and at Latin Masses, came to utterly reject Pope Francis, not only in his particular teachings, but also his authority as Roman Pontiff itself, in its entirety. They call him a heretic and an apostate; they accuse him of idolatry. But that was not enough for them.
As the criticisms of Pope Francis increased from year to year, the papal accusers needed a justification for such severe accusations. So they began to look through the history of the Church and compile similar accusations of grave failures of faith (heresy, apostasy, or idolatry) against other Popes. Some went so far as to accuse Pope Saint Peter, the Apostle, of grave failures of faith during his papacy. And in the process of judging Pope after Pope, the Vatican II Popes were also rejected, so that nothing they taught was accepted on FAITH, but everything was first subjected to the judgment of the conservative or traditionalist Catholic subculture. Popes John 23, Paul 6, and John Paul II were judged not to be Saints. Pope Saint John Paul II was accused of idolatry, for holding the same type of gathering for prayer of the world’s religious leaders as did Pope Francis. And Vatican I also was rejected, due to its teachings which require the faithful to trust that the Roman Pontiffs can never lead them into grave error.
And then there was the book, “Infiltration”, which went even further than the above exceedingly grave errors by claiming that the Church has been successfully infiltrated by an evil Satanic conspiracy, the goal of which was to place a Pope for Satan on the Roman Chair of Saint Peter, i.e. Pope Francis. His papacy was said to be the result of a Satanic revolution with Pope Francis as a puppet of that revolution. The conspirators were said to be freemasons, Communists, socialists, global elitists, modernists and the illuminati. And its author, Taylor Marshall, used the book to go through every decision of doctrine or discipline that the Popes or the Second Vatican Council had made in the last 150 years and simply claim that anything he himself disagree with must be part of that conspiracy. The absurdity of the book’s claims is exceeded only be the extent of its sinfulness, attacking the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church more so that Martin Luther and the other Protestant Reformers. And the TLM community embraced this book and its ideas. They actually believe that the Church has been taken over, at its highest levels, by a conspiracy to corrupt the Faith — by making decisions and issuing teachings contrary to the opinions of the far right subculture in the Church.
Among those who are guilty of the above sins, you will find many who are only guilty of some of these sins, not all. Some made more extensive accusations against Popes and Councils, and others made less extensive claims. And, as I said, some are innocent of these types of offenses. But overall, the priests and lay leaders in these TLM communities have sinned so gravely against the authority and teaching of the Church that some action needed to be taken against them. They have been leading souls away from the true Faith and the true Church, replacing it with their subculture. And they largely use the TLM to do this. They attract Catholics to the beauty and solemnity of this time-tested form of the sacred liturgy, and then they corrupt their minds and hearts by means of the wicked subculture that has in effect abducted this holy liturgy.
Why didn’t Francis correct the errors among liberals first?
Traditionis Custodes is a correction from God, probably because the sins of the far right in the Church are the more grave type of sin, sins against religion. Which is worse, contraception or blasphemy? Which is worse, murder or leading souls into eternal damnation?
But if you think the correction is merely from the man who is Pope, where is your faith? It is dogma that Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head of the one Church. Christ is not only with His Church when She teaches infallibly. The Church is not like Dr. Jekyll, when teaching infallibly, and like the monster Mr. Hyde, when teaching or deciding non-infallibly. The Ark of Salvation is not only guided aright when deciding its course infallibly, and then constantly running aground or crashing on the rocks when deciding non-infallibly. The Church is always the spotless Bride of Christ, always has Christ as Her head, always has the Holy Spirit as Her soul. And the papal charisms reside continually in the Roman Pontiff, not only when speaking infallibly.
Why does the TLM need to be entirely extinguished?
I have no doubt that a future Pope will revive the TLM. But when a religious order does grave harm to the Faith, it is suppressed, at least for a while. Taking away the TLM scatters the enemies of the Faith, and deprives them of the bait that they use to lure just and holy souls into the trap of modern-day Pharisaism and of rebellion against the authority of Popes and Councils.
We have not failed in faith because non-infallible decisions of doctrine and discipline allow for disagreement.
Wrong. What is non-infallible requires religious assent, that is, sincere acceptance and application, with limited possibility of licit theological dissent. But since the non-infallible decisions of the Apostolic See never err gravely, the extent of licit dissent is limited. One can never licitly or faithfully claim that a Pope or Council has erred gravely in doctrine or discipline.
Why did Pope Francis act with such cruelty?
There is nothing cruel about protecting souls from grave errors, and taking away the means used to lead those souls into grave error. The only cruelty is found in the response to this just decision: all kinds of malicious remarks directed at the holy Father, and a continued refusal to be taught or corrected by the Apostolic See.
As I said, the supporters of the TLM, by and large, are not innocent. Here are some of their sins:
* Putting themselves and their leaders above the Popes and Councils, to decide matters of doctrine and discipline.
* rejecting the authority of Vatican II, rejecting its teachings, and rejecting the reforms that followed the Council
* the false accusation that the Novus Ordo Mass was a grave error by the Popes and does grave harm to the faith; a claim contrary to indefectibility.
* rejecting the authority of Popes and Councils over their communities, such that they believe the majority opinion of the conservative Catholic subculture over the teachings of Popes and Councils
* utterly rejecting the authority of Pope Francis, and refusing to accept anything he teachings or decides
* rejection of the dogma on the indefectibility of the Church
* rejection of the dogma on the never-failing faith of the Pope (Vatican I; ordinary universal Magisterium)
* rejection of the unblemished nature of the Apostolic See (Vatican I; ordinary universal Magisterium)
* false accusations of heresy, apostasy, and idolatry against Pope Francis and other Popes
* false accusations of heresy against Vatican II
* rejection of the authority per se of the body of Bishops led by the Pope
* scandal of publicly opposing and deriding the Roman Pontiff.
* malice directed at the Vicar of Christ
And this list of the teachings of Saints, Popes, and Councils proves the following:
1. Every Pope has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith.
2. No Pope can err to the extent of heresy, apostasy, or idolatry.
3. The Apostolic See is unblemished by any grave error.
4. No decision of a Pope or Council on discipline can gravely harm the Faith.
Therefore, the many accusations made against Pope Francis, other Popes, Vatican II and other Councils are all false accusations. No Pope has ever failed in faith (while he was pope) and no Ecumenical Council, approved by the Pope, has ever taught heresy or erred gravely.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.