The Big Lie: Traditionalist Orthodoxy

In the article “Pope sends discouraging message,” Charles Lewis has this to say:

“There is less confusion about Church teachings among those who take part in the Latin Mass than in any other corner of Catholicism. It is one of the places you can count on to be true to sacred teaching … a secure anchor in a bed of orthodoxy.” [The Catholic Register

There are certain Catholic teachings which the traditionalists tout as proving their orthodoxy: opposition to contraception and abortion, opposition to same-sex marriage, opposition to premarital sex, and adherence to teachings such as transubstantiation and the Real Presence. Those are orthodox positions. But are they held because the Church teaches them, or because they are seen by adherents as conservative positions?

Most traditionalists have utterly rejected the authority of Pope Francis. They do not accept him as their Teacher or their Shepherd. They see him as the leader of an opposition political party. That attitude toward the Pope is incompatible with orthodoxy; it is schismatic.

Pope Saint Pius X: “the field in which he can and must exercise his authority is not limited; The authority of the Pope is not preceded by that of other people, however learned, who disagree with the Pope, who, if they are learned, are not saints, because whoever is holy cannot disagree with the Pope.”

Traditionalists think they are holy due to exterior elements of worship, and their strong devotion to the traditionalist subculture, which has replaced the Church and the Magisterium for them. They do not believe what the Church teaches, and the do not accept the authority of the Pope.

The Council of Trent also taught that those who receive a baptism of desire are children of God by spiritual adoption, just like those who receive the formal Sacrament of baptism with water [Decree on Justification]. But salvation theology is not orthodox among traditionalists. A type of mitigated Feeneyism is found among some traditionalists. Catholics are saved. Everyone else, they’re not so sure about. Baptism of blood is limited by them so much so that they do not allow the possibility of baptism of blood saving those who die in the womb, with no chance of baptism, nor those who die in infancy or childhood unbaptized. Baptism of desire is so narrowed that they do not think Jews and Muslims reach the state of grace by loving God and neighbor. If you do not worship God as the Trinity, says Bishop Athanasius Schneider, you do not have supernatural faith at all.

Then there are the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, at best ignored and at worst accused of heresy by traditionalists. This is the common position among traditionalist priests and laity. They do not teach from that Council.

Have you read a magisterial document in the last 50 years? They all rely on Vatican II, quoting one document after another. Rejection of Vatican II is rejection of magisterial teaching since the Council. And they are also guilty of that failure of orthodoxy. Vatican II is of the Magisterium, and it requires assent. But traditionalists refuse.

Then there are the teachings of the First Vatican Council, which are rejected by traditionalist Catholics, sometimes by distortion, and other times outright contradiction. They do not what the Roman Pontiff to have too much authority because traditionalist Catholics have replaced the Roman Pontiff and the Ecumenical Councils and the Magisterium itself with the traditionalist subculture. That is the source of their teachings and disciplines. The traditionalist subculture gives them the Latin Mass, which they worship like an idol. It gives them other forms of exterior discipline. And so many traditionalists have decided to take their teachings as well as their disciplines only from the traditionalist subculture. That is not orthodoxy; it is schism.

The Roman Pontiff has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith. He can never teach or commit heresy. The Apostolic See is unblemished by any grave error. This same doctrine is found in the perennial teaching of the Church. But the traditionalists reject these dogmas. They accuse Pope Francis of heresy, Pope Saint John Paul II of idolatry, Vatican II of heresy, and they accuse Pope Saint Paul VI of developing the Novus Ordo Mass (as if that were a crime). They reject the canonizations of Popes John 23, Paul VI, John Paul II. They utterly reject Pope Francis and everything he has taught and decided in the last 8 years.

And when the Roman Pontiff attempt to teach or correct them, they refuse. They proclaims themselves to be the most faithful of Catholics. That is the sin of pride. They think that by attending a form of the Mass with heavy emphasis on exterior form that they are holier and better Christians. They attribute things to the form of the Mass that are in fact from the grace of God and the Church Herself. They have turned the TLM into an idol to be worshiped. They are guilty of heresy for rejecting numerous dogmas of the Catholic Faith. They are guilty of schism for rejecting Vatican II, Pope Francis, and the other Vatican II Popes. Far from being most orthodox, they are one of the hotbeds of heresy and schism in the Church today.

Some traditionalist Catholics are faithful and orthodox, just as some liberal Catholics are. But most of the leaders of traditionalism and many of their followers have fallen into grave errors. They are no more orthodox than a gay married former priest. They simply have different failings.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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