OnePeterFive is not rebuilding Christendom or Catholicism

At, editor in chief Timothy Flanders continues to speak about “our editorial stance … to unite the clans to rebuild Christendom.” The original article on this editorial stance is here and the current article being discussed, The Post-Liberal Conversation is here.

In this context, “the clans” refers to various schismatic groups, such as the SSPX, and others who reject the Second Vatican Council and reject the Novus Ordo Mass and the authority (or exercise of that authority) of the Popes since Vatican II. In addition, multiple articles at 1P5 reject the First Vatican Council, accusing it of inventing a new and false dogma of the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff. In fact, the Church has always taught the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiffs. All of the “clans” that Flanders and his editorial board seek to unite are opponents of Pope Francis and of Vatican II. They are in a state of schism for rejecting the Roman Pontiff, and the recent Ecumenical Councils.

The term “rebuilding Christendom,” unfortunately, does not include Protestant, Orthodox Christians, or liberal Catholics. It does not include Catholics who are moderate, nor those conservative Catholics who accept the Novus Ordo Mass, Pope Francis, the other recent Popes and the most recent Ecumenical Councils. It does not even include those traditionalist Catholics who accept Vatican II and Pope Francis. This is clearly not even an attempt to rebuild Christendom.

Neither is it an attempt to “rebuild” Catholicism — which does not need rebuilding, by the way. Flanders writes:

“First and foremost, our mission is to rebuild Catholic culture and restore Catholic tradition. We set out to fulfill our vocation as Catholics: to restore all things in Christ.” [1P5 Editorial Stance]

The principle of unity of the Church is the Roman Pontiff. But OnePeterFive has rejected Pope Francis and has judged and condemned many other Popes, as well as multiple Ecumenical Councils approved by the Popes. The Magisterium is the sole authoritative interpreter of Tradition. But 1P5 has rejected this role of the Magisterium, and has substituted the judgment of an odd collection of far right schismatics. Each article author puts himself or herself above the Church, the Popes, the Bishops, and the Ecumenical Councils, to judge all things and to condemn whatever is contrary to the article author’s understanding. That is not faith. That is not Catholicism. That is not Christendom.

The most recent article, The Post-Liberal Conversaion by Timothy Flanders, promotes traditionalism over liberalism. Huh. What about Catholic Christianity? Some of the teachings of Jesus might be considered to be liberal, some moderate, and some conservative. Jesus was more conservative than the Pharisees on divorce. The Lord gave a moderate and common answer when asked how to obtain eternal life: keep the commandments. And then, when confronted by the Pharisees over the woman caught in adultery, Jesus responded liberally, by dispensing entirely the Mosaic death penalty (i.e. for religious offences). Not even the liberal Sadducees would have dare to do so. One cannot determine the will of God by the categorizations of liberal, moderate, and conservative. Jesus did not teach conservatism. So promoting every conservative position and condemning every liberal position is contrary to truth, and is not a Catholic point of view, but rather a political point of view masquerading as religion.

Then, in the same article, Flanders promotes the book “Liberalism is a Sin,” written by Fr. Felix Salvany (d. 1916), who also wrote “a tirade of nine antisemitic pieces, La judiada (“the jewry”), describing Jews as ‘a moth gnawing at the log of Christian people’ ” [Source: Wikipedia].

The further one goes to the right among schismatics and heretics, who claim to be Catholic but are not, the more one encounters anti-Semitic views. Some on the far right, like Bishop Athanasius Schneider, think that Jews and Muslims cannot have supernatural faith, as they do not believe in the Trinity. This view is similar to the heresy of Feeneyism, as it narrows salvation only to Christians. One must die in the state of grace, with love, faith, and hope, in order to be saved. If a person does not have supernatural faith, then he does not have that state of grace and is not saved. So Bishop Athanasius Schneider is rejecting salvation for non-Christians by requiring explicit belief in the Trinity in order to have supernatural faith.

To the contrary, the Church believes that Jews and Muslims can and often do have supernatural faith, as they believe in the one Creator God, and many of them have true supernatural love of that God. Whoever loves God, proves that he has supernatural love, faith, and hope, and therefore has the state of grace. Jews and Muslims, other non-Christian believers, and even unbelievers can be in the state of grace, by an implicit baptism of desire, and in loving their neighbor, as did the Good Samaritan, they implicitly love God — despite invincible ignorance regarding religion.

This claim by OnePeterFive and its editorial board, that they will “rebuild Catholic culture and restore Catholic tradition” is contrary to the content of numerous articles at their website. They reject Vatican I and II. Peter Kwasniewski, PhD, Contributing Editor and Editorial Board Member has recommended that Catholics leave behind Vatican I, Vatican II, Lateran V, Lyons I “and other councils you’ve never heard of“. He has said that Vatican I needs an exorcism. He has attacked a long list of Roman Pontiffs. Then there are frequent attacks on Pope Francis and the Novus Ordo Mass at OnePeterFive. The founder of 1P5 has called the Novus Ordo Mass “diabolical”.

And Timothy Flanders has declared, by his own authority or lack thereof, that the Catholic Church defected three times in Her history, including in the present time, in three periods he terms “pornocracies”. Since the Church is the body of Christ, with Christ as Her head and with the Holy Spirit as Her soul, and since “Christ and His Vicar constitute one only head” of that one Church, such a claim is schismatic, heretical, and blasphemous. The Church cannot fall into a pornocracy, where Her decisions on doctrine and discipline, under the Keys of Saint Peter — which bind even in Heaven!! — are corrupt and worthy of rejection and resistance by the faithful. Such a claim attempts to destroy the unity of the Church; it does not restore or rebuild. Flanders states about these claimed pornocracies: “It means sexual corruption, financial corruption, and most importantly spiritual corruption afflicting the Papacy and the Vatican.” This claim is schismatic, as it rejects submission to the Roman Pontiffs and the Apostolic See, and heretical, as it rejects the dogmas of the indefectibility of the Church, the never-failing faith of the Roman Pontiffs, and the unblemished Apostolic See.

OnePeterFive is not a publication that is seeking to restore or rebuild Catholicism, except in the sense that they wish to reject the Popes, the body of Bishops, the Ecumenical Councils, and the decisions of the same on doctrine and discipline, tearing down the one holy catholic and apostolic Church — led and taught by the successors of Peter and the successors of the other Apostles — and replacing it with a false Church rebuilt by a clan of schismatics and heretics.

Flanders also says: “We can think of rebuilding Christendom in three spheres: the family, the economy, and politics.” If a liberal publication made that statement, they would be criticized by conservatives for not including God, the salvation offered by Christ, and the Church in the alleged “three spheres” of Christendom. That view is secular; it is cultural, not religious. And that is one of the common errors of these papal accusers: they have idolized a conservative or traditionalist subculture, and they wish to replace the true Church with that culture. It is a merely human culture, with many religious errors. It is a culture led by an odd assortment of mostly lay persons, with very few Bishops and not particularly many priests.

There is no rebuilding of Catholicism at OnePeterFive. There are different ways to consider the unity of the Church. We are united by one Lord, Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, by the one Faith, by one Baptism. But the Roman Pontiff, as the one visible Head of the one Church, is an indispensable cause of unity in the body of Bishops and in the whole Church.

Saint Cyprian: There is “one Church founded by Christ our Lord on Peter, by the source and reason of unity”.

Pope Saint John Paul II: “Another firmly established point to be kept in mind is that the unity of the Church is grounded in the unity of the episcopate, which, in order to be one, requires that there be a Head of the College. Analogously, the Church, in order to be one, calls for a Church that is Head of the Churches, the Church of Rome, whose Bishop, the Successor of Peter, is the Head of the College.”

Vatican II: “And in order that the episcopate itself might be one and undivided, He placed Blessed Peter over the other apostles, and instituted in him a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion…. The Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful.”

Vatican I: “For this reason it has always been necessary for every Church–that is to say the faithful throughout the world — to be in agreement with the Roman Church because of its more effective leadership. In consequence of being joined, as members to a head, with that See, from which the rights of sacred communion flow to all, they will grow together into the structure of a single body.”

Relatio of Vatican I, Bishop Vincent Gasser: “This prerogative granted to St. Peter by the Lord Jesus Christ was supposed to pass to all Peter’s successors because the chair of Peter is the center of unity in the Church. But if the Pontiff should fall into an error of faith, the Church would dissolve, deprived of the bond of unity. The Bishop of Meaux [French Bishop Auguste Allou] speaks very well on this point, saying: ‘If this Roman See could fall and be no longer the See of truth but of error and pestilence, then the Catholic Church herself would not have the bond of a society and would be schismatic and scattered — which in fact is impossible.’ ”

Pope Benedict XV: “To Peter the Prince of the Apostles, the divine Founder of the Church allotted the gifts of inerrancy in matters of faith and of union with God. This relationship is similar to that of a ‘Choir Director of the Choir of the Apostles.’ He is the common teacher and rector of all, so that he might feed the flock of Him who established His Church on the authority of Peter himself and his successors. And on this mystical rock the foundation of the entire ecclesiastical structure stands firm as on a hinge. From it rises the unity of Christian charity as well as our Christian faith.”

Pope Benedict XV: “The ancient Fathers, especially those who held the more illustrious chairs of the East, since they accepted these privileges as proper to the pontifical authority, took refuge in the Apostolic See whenever heresy or internal strife troubled them. For it alone promised safety in extreme crises. Basil the Great did so, as did the renowned defender of the Nicene Creed, Athanasius, as well as John Chrysostom. For these inspired Fathers of the orthodox faith appealed from the councils of bishops to the supreme judgement of the Roman Pontiffs according to the prescriptions of the ecclesiastical Canons.”

{18:17} And if he will not listen to them, tell the Church. But if he will not listen to the Church, let him be to you like the pagan and the tax collector.

For whoever does not listen to the head of the Church, does not listen to the Church. Whoever does not remain in unity with the head of the Church, is not part of the body of the Church. And whoever attempts to depose the Roman Pontiff is no longer in agreement with the highest See, which is the principle of unity in the one holy Church.

{22:32} But I have prayed for you, so that your faith may not fail, and so that you, once converted, may confirm your brothers.

The body of Bishops has the charism of never-failing faith as long as they remain One with the Supreme Pontiff in the one Church founded by Christ on Peter. And so it is a false historical claim to say that most Bishops, or four-fifths of Bishops, or 300 Bishops (or similar exaggerations) fell away from the true Faith into Arianism. The dogma of the indefectibility of the Church and the teaching of our Lord to Peter that he would confirm the faith of his brethren, the body of Bishops, proves that the majority of Bishops has never fallen away from the true Faith.

Pope Leo XIII: “It is consequently the office of St. Peter to support the Church, and to guard it in all its strength and indestructible unity. How could he fulfil this office without the power of commanding, forbidding, and judging, which is properly called jurisdiction? It is only by this power of jurisdiction that nations and commonwealths are held together.”

Cardinal Ratzinger: “In fact, the unity of the Church is also rooted in the unity of the Episcopate. As the very idea of the Body of the Churches calls for the existence of a Church that is Head of the Churches, which is precisely the Church of Rome, ‘foremost in the universal communion of charity’, so too the unity of the Episcopate involves the existence of a Bishop who is Head of the Body or College of Bishops, namely the Roman Pontiff. Of the unity of the Episcopate, as also of the unity of the entire Church, ‘the Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is a perpetual and visible source and foundation’. This unity of the Episcopate is perpetuated through the centuries by means of the apostolic succession, and is also the foundation of the identity of the Church of every age with the Church built by Christ upon Peter and upon the other Apostles.”

Pope Saint Paul VI: “Are there not those who say that unity between the separated Churches and the Catholic Church would be more easily achieved if the primacy of the Roman pontiff were done away with? We beg our separated brothers to consider the groundlessness of this opinion. Take away the sovereign Pontiff and the Catholic Church would no longer be catholic. Moreover, without the supreme, effective, and authoritative pastoral office of Peter the unity of Christ’s Church would collapse. It would be vain to look for other principles of unity in place of the true one established by Christ Himself. As St. Jerome rightly observed: ‘There would be as many schisms in the Church as there are priests.’ ”

Pope Leo XIII: “Union with the Roman See of Peter is to him [St. Jerome] always the public criterion of a Catholic. ‘I acknowledge everyone who is united with the See of Peter’ (Ep. xvi., ad Damasum, n. 2).”

“And for a like reason St. Augustine publicly attests that, ‘the primacy of the Apostolic chair always existed in the Roman Church’ (Ep. xliii., n. 7); and he denies that anyone who dissents from the Roman faith can be a Catholic. ‘You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held’ (Sermo cxx., n. 13). So, too, St. Cyprian: ‘To be in communion with [Pope] Cornelius is to be in communion with the Catholic Church’ (Ep. lv., n. 1).”

“In the same way Maximus the Abbot teaches that obedience to the Roman Pontiff is the proof of the true faith and of legitimate communion. ‘Therefore if a man does not want to be, or to be called, a heretic, let him not strive to please this or that man…but let him hasten before all things to be in communion with the Roman See. If he be in communion with it, he should be acknowledged by all and everywhere as faithful and orthodox. He speaks in vain who tries to persuade me of the orthodoxy of those who, like himself, refuse obedience to his Holiness the Pope of the most holy Church of Rome: that is to the Apostolic See.’ … (Defloratio ex Epistola ad Petrum illustrem).”

Unity in the Church is found through submission to the Roman Pontiff as the Teacher and Guide of us all. Through submission, we obtain communion with the Pope and with all others who submit to his authority over the Church. And this results in orthodoxy, in freedom from heresy, and therefore in the unity of one Faith, one Lord, one baptism.

There is no restoring or rebuilding of Catholicism apart from the Roman Pontiff, the body of Bishops led by the Roman Pontiff, and the Ecumenical Councils approved by the Roman Pontiffs.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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