By: Tony Capobianco
A pseudo paradigm, that is to say a false worldview, false reality, or a false model has crept into the minds of the human element of the Church and the world. Dangerous novelties in thinking have manifested into a fog of diabolical disorientation. One such false paradigm concerns the novel idea that there are subgroups of Catholicism, each having their own theology, philosophy, and lifestyle within the Church. Some have coined this breach from the Authentic Traditional Catholicism of all ages as Catholic tribalism. The common view of today is that there are different labels or different kinds of Catholics and that each kind is a legitimate Catholic group or expression of the faith. This pseudo paradigm posits that there are two main subgroups within Catholicism, liberal/ progressive and conservative Catholics. This notion mirrors the modern secular political paradigm of liberal and conservative. The problem is that such a paradigm within the Church, simply did not exist prior to the twentieth century. This new paradigm is a disastrous rupture from Tradition. Whenever Catholic Tradition is deviated from, bad things follow.
The fabrication of this pseudo paradigm has given the appearance that there are two viable fashions or forms of Catholicism. Just as the two dominant political parties in the United States are the Democrats (liberals) and the Republicans (conservatives), so too does this false paradigm project this political construct onto the Church. As pervasive as this notion has become, it is nevertheless, fake. It is a false paradigm because the reality is that for nearly 2,000 years there were only two labels which applied to those that professed themselves to be Catholic; one was simply either Catholic or one was a heretic. Catholics either shared the same unity in faith or they did not. A Catholic either held to all the doctrines and dogmas taught by Holy Mother Church or they did not. When someone said that they were Catholic, it was known what their worldview was, that is to say that it was a Catholic worldview. In reality there is one faith, one Baptism, one Church, and that Church is holy and apostolic.
Generally speaking, the term liberal Catholic denotes a belief in the evolution of doctrine to such an extent that a doctrine comes to be understood in a manner which is radically opposed to its precise, perennial and unchanging definition. This type of doctrinal evolution, like a deadly virus, effectively mutates and deforms the original and true doctrine into a monstrous imposter which hides behind the name of the original doctrine while in reality it has become a new and lethally poisonous heresy. Liberal Catholics praise and glorify the nebulous spirit of Vatican II (which is largely separate from the Council itself) while declaring that the changes implemented since the Second Vatican Council are irreversible. They also insist that the revolutionary changes imposed over the passed 60 are only the beginning and that future “progressive reforms” must be administered in order to be relevant to the modern world. Proponents of this view hold that advances made in science, sociology, psychology, and anthropology consequently and simultaneously advance our understanding of the human person, of God and of the relationship between humanity and God. It is then claimed that this so called new knowledge not only justiffies but demands changes to the Church’s moral and theological teaching.
Progressive Catholics often support sodomy, so called gay marriage, abolishing priestly celibacy, women’s ordination to the priesthood, calling the death penalty intrinsically evil, historical criticism of the Sacred Scriptures, claiming that Jesus didn’t know Who He was until He grew in His humanity, the erroneous idea that Jesus learned His mission from the mere sinful mortals that surrounded Him, open national borders, stopping climate change and working with ungodly people that support population control (that is reducing the population), religious indifferentism, religious syncretism, and universalism. Often, liberal Catholics will errantly claim that it is impossible to live by the 10 Commandments and habitually live a life of sanctifying grace even with God’s grace. They routinely blur the lines of justice and mercy by claiming that we are all sinners and therefore we ought not correct the objectively sinful behavior of others because to do so would be unmerciful and judgmental. This type of “tolerance” and broadmindedness leads to the lawlessness found on the broad road which leads to destruction. It is not uncommon to hear a liberal Catholic call into question the meaning of Sacred Scripture through stating that, “Well they didn’t have microphones or audio recording back then so we can’t be sure what Jesus really said.” They cast doubt on Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Not a few will suggest that the miracles recorded in the Bible were really just symbolic. They call into question the faith of all ages in an attempt to remake a new faith in their own image. Pride, humanism, and the heresy of Modernism seem to be the foundations of so called liberal Catholicism.
The New Advent Catholic online encyclopedia says this about Liberal Catholicism:
The following are anathema statements issued by the First Vatican Council and many of these anathema’s apply to the beliefs found within liberal Catholicism:
The label Conservative Catholic denotes those who accept the Church’s doctrinal and moral teaching while interpreting those teachings through the lens of the Second Vatican Council. Due to the ambiguous language found within some of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, conservative Catholics apply what Pope Benedict XVI coined as the hermeneutic of continuity in order to read the documents of Vatican II in an orthodox way. They tend to enthusiastically embrace the many changes thrust upon the Church following the Second Vatican Council. For them, the Second Vatican Council is viewed as a quasi super Council and as a result, many are either somewhat ignorant of the previous Church Councils of the past 2,000 years or they view all previous Councils through the lens of Vatican II. Furthermore, proponents of this view have often been deprived of being taught about authentic Catholic Tradition as it had been understood and practiced for over 1900 years. Conservative Catholics strongly embrace and praise the New Mass, the new rosary, and the new evangelization. Many conservative Catholics have no qualms with extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, Communion in the hand while standing, Mass said with the priest facing the people instead of the tabernacle, altar girls, lay lectors, and the use of contemporary music during Mass. This group of Catholics tend to believe that they are privileged to live during a string of great post conciliar papacies, perhaps some of the greatest papacies of all times. For English speaking conservative Catholics, EWTN and Catholic Answers are the gold standard for learning and understanding the Catholic Faith. To be clear, I have no doubt that many conservative Catholics are holy and likely far holier than I but the things being laid out here are only meant to describe the world view of a typical person from this particular group.
A third group of Catholics is sometimes lumped into the conservative Catholic label and is nearly always overlooked and marginalized. This third group has been labeled as Traditional Catholics or Traditionalists. The term Traditional Catholic denotes a belief in and practice of the Catholic Faith as it had always been believed and practiced for nearly 2,000 years. A Traditional Catholic strives to practice the faith as it was prior to the revolutionary changes imposed upon the Church following the Second Vatican Council. Adherents to Tradition view the documents of Vatican II and the writings of the conciliar and post conciliar Popes through the lens of Tradition, ie. through the writings of all the pre-conciliar Popes and all of the previous Ecumenical Councils in Church history. In reality a Traditional Catholic is simply what a Catholic always was until the disastrous aftermath of Vatican II and the advent of the novel terms of liberal and conservative Catholic as explained above. Proponents of Tradition love the holy Latin Mass and feel sorrow when they hear the holy Latin Mass referred to as the “extraordinary form of the Mass”. They object to the label “extraordinary form of the Mass” because it makes clear that the Latin Mass of the ages is no longer the ordinary Mass. For many people it is difficult or nearly impossible to find a holy Latin Mass to assist at. The Latin Mass is the Mass which the vast majority of saints assisted at and spoke so beautifully of and yet millions of Catholics have been deprived of this glorious part of their Catholic heritage.
Traditionalists are deeply sorrowful when they see the many Liturgical novelties of the past 60 years, ie. the destruction of granite altars as they were replaced by irreverent wooden tables, the removal of altar rails, the removal of the tabernacle from a place of prominence, the removal of many statues of the Saints, the introduction of so called “extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion”, the reception of Holy Communion in the hand while standing as if it were a fast food line, the introduction of altar girls, the introduction of profane music to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, versus populum (the Mass being said by the priest as he faces the people in a dialogue instead of facing the Lord in His tabernacle), etc. Traditional Catholics are scandalized by the lack of authentic Catholic teaching and by the fact that churchmen often sound like second rate politicians instead of shepherds. They recognize the conciliar Popes and post conciliar Popes to be legitimate Popes but without calling into question the individual sanctity of these Popes, Tradionalists tend to be critical of the way that these Popes governed. Traditional Catholics question why these aforementioned Popes have elevated so many doctrinally heterodox clerics to the exalted positions of Bishop and Cardinal. They ponder why the Popes no longer speak in the same kind of Catholic language that all of their predecessors spoke for over nineteen hundred years.
Proof that the so called Traditional Catholic group is not only underrepresented but not represented at all, exists. Currently, to my knowledge, there isn’t one Traditional Catholic Bishop outside of the SSPX. There currently isn’t one Traditional Cardinal. Much less has there been a truly Traditional Pope after the Second Vatican Council. For over 60 years, churchmen have incessantly spoken in buzzwords such as “listening”, “dialogue”, “pastoral care”, and “accompaniment” and yet these sterile platitudes don’t seem to apply for Traditionalists.
This pseudo paradigm has created a false construct of what the Church truly is and it has also led to the appearance of a false dichotomy between liberal Catholicism and conservative Catholicism. Indeed, this distinction is a novel fabrication which is completely alien to nearly two thousand years of Church history. What is fashioned as conservative Catholicism is in reality a variant of liberalism in general. Both conservative Catholics and liberal Catholics are progressively marching in the same direction. Again a correlation can be seen with politically conservative Americans and liberal Americans. It seems that conservatives and liberals, both in the Church and in politics, are traveling to the same destination, albeit at varying speeds. The liberals are taking the express (non stop) flight while conservatives take the flight with a few layovers. Nevertheless, both will eventually arrive at the same destination and make no mistake that this destination is continents apart from the destination to which Traditionalists strive to reach. In truth, that which is considered conservative today would more appropriately be called neo conservative because it isn’t conservative in a traditional, historic sense. Authentic conservatism, by its very nature conserves tradition and what passes for conservative today does not seek to conserve or preserve tradition and therefore cannot really be authentic conservatism at all.
This pseudo paradigm has manufactured a distinction without a difference between conservative Catholicism and liberal Catholicism and it is quite diabolically dangerous. The very premise which is suggested by these novel terms attacks one of the marks of the Church, namely that the Church is one. How can there be unity of faith when there are supposed subgroups which believe, worship, and live so differently from one another? Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. Still another mark of the Church seems to be undermined by this false paradigm. The mark of holiness is assaulted in that the holiness of the Church concerns the spotless purity and holiness of doctrine. If the Modernism found within liberal Catholicism seeks to redefine doctrine through clever sophistry then how is the mark of holiness not under diabolical attack?
These questions raise hope because as the current crisis in the Church unfolds, many souls are beginning to ask these difficult and unsettling questions. As these questions are studied, a growing awareness of this unprecedented crisis and its causes are inspired. Neo-conservative Catholics are not the enemy. It is likely that the vast majority of our neo-conservative Catholic brothers and sisters are ignorant of Traditional Catholicism, as it ever was, through no fault of their own. I believe this to be the case because, for a time, I too was once a neo-conservative Catholic and I was unaware that historical and Traditional Catholicism was very different from the Catholicism that I had been taught. It was only through this current massive crisis and by the grace of God that I learned of Authentic Traditional Catholicism. Many shepherds have failed to educate their sheep in Tradition and many shepherds have neglected to pass down the traditional practices of our Catholic fathers. Tradere is a Latin word which means to deliver, to hand over. It is tradere which is a root word for tradition. Catholic Tradition in this sense means to deliver, hand down the Catholic Faith as it was received. This apparent negligence of our spiritual fathers to hand down and deliver the Faith as they received it, is most sorrowful.
God is good. God is in control and He knows what He is doing. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Only the Lord God can bring forth good from evil and light from darkness. It appears as though the Lord is using this crisis, which was caused by sinful men, to purify His Church. This crisis makes evident that things within the human element of the Church are going very poorly in every measurable metric. This crisis is making clear that the pseudo paradigm of conservative and liberal Catholics is indeed a man made novel construct and that it is not part of Tradition. Therefore, this pseudo paradigm is destined to fail and become the compost of history. That which is not true, cannot have the light and without the light it will disappear into the darkness because the darkness cannot dwell in the light. The more aware Catholics become of this pseudo paradigm, the more its facade will crumble because it is a false paradigm built on sand. As this facade crumbles, souls will return to that which is built on solid rock. Authentic Traditional Catholicism is built on solid rock and it has built Christendom and is the kingdom of heaven on earth. Souls will return to Traditional Catholicism. Returning to Tradition is the answer to these questions. Tradition is the cure to the virulent disease of liberalism. Tradition is rising.
*This article has been edited for grammatical corrections.