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How to go to war and lose

Since we are all going back to the Good Old 70s, I thought we would go back to the beginning of the War.


This is Mother Angelica’s big moment, her declaration of war against the evil men we had been stuck with for bishops. And they took her up on the offer of hostilities. And she lost, but only after putting up years of the most ferocious fight, and only after they had to pile on with the full force of their powers against her.

This is the speech that really alerted the bishops to the fact that there were still Catholics out there, that their Revolution hadn’t worked. She gave it after what she saw as the last straw: World Youth Day in Denver they gave us a woman acting the part of Christ in the Stations of the Cross. After that she went to war.

But she lost. And do we know why? Because she started with an error. At the beginning of this speech she recites the creed of the American Novusordoist conservatives: Vatican II was wonderful, but those wicked “liberals” highjacked it for their own evil purposes. It is a position that tried to create the compromise space that many American Catholics have tried to live in ever since.

It was this reasonable, nice, friendly, ecumenical position that made it possible for the Catholic leaders of the original pro-life movement of the 70s and 80s to draw in the conservative Protestants; all on the mutual unspoken agreement that we would set aside and never mention the irreconcilable breach between us. It is this false position, this “conservative” middle ground, founded on the new pseudo-doctrine of papal positivism that is now being closed with a resounding clang by the current regime. The old nostrum, the central conservative Novusordoist error of papal positivism: “I’m with the pope and whatever the pope says goes,” is being shown to be a false turn now.


As Ross Douthat said recently, there are roughly three positions in the American Catholic Church (and this spreads up into Canada – though much less in Britain, Australia, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia than most Americans understand). There are “liberals” of the Mahoney/Danneels/Bernardin ilk; the whole spectrum of Traditionalists from the SSPX to the Remnant followers (sedes are in a class of their own); and the conservatives, represented by the George Weigel/First Things/EWTN variety. Among these last have fallen the little group of what we have come to call Papal Apologists – the self-appointed priesthood who have tasked themselves with interpreting and explaining away Pope Francis’ every incomprehensible Pythian utterance.

But this third group, the ones who offered such a pleasing compromise, are the ones who are currently suffering the most. They are the ones who, having adopted the Conservative Novusordoist Creed recited by Mother Angelica at the start of that speech, are now thrown into confusion, frantically denying what is unfolding before their eyes because it fails to fit into their parameters.

Douthat at the end of that speech said that he is starting to think that he will be forced to follow the evidence away from the conservative position – that is being made untenable – and further towards Traditionalism.

I suggest that that time has come for us all.

~

16 thoughts on “How to go to war and lose”

  1. Hilary White says:

    Having hung around French Catholics a bit in Quebec, I’m pretty sure “integrist” is just the same kind of Bad Swear you call “people who believe Catholicism is true” that Dave Armstrong translates as “Radical Catholic Reactionary”… which case it’s not really a matter of confusing the two, but adopting it as a badge of honour.

  2. Deacon_Augustine says:

    Are you sure that you are not confusing Traditionalism with Integrism, which I believe was condemned?

  3. Interloquitor says:

    But Novus Ordoism is not a specific issue “WITHIN” Catholicism, it is outside of and quite apart from Catholicism. It is a product of Modernism, which is the synthesis of all heresies. Which means that it is a distillation of all forms of unbelief. It is not a legitimate expression of late 20th century Catholic opinion. It is just not Catholic, and we need to say that.

  4. Interloquitor says:

    I’m not accusing anyone of heresy, just advising that it is a mistake to misuse the term “Traditionalism” when we really should insist that Catholicism is what we are talking about and fighting for. When we persist in describing ourselves as “Trads” we can easily be dismissed as nostalgic esthetes, only obsessed with beautiful liturgies and arcane rubrical principles. We are about much more than that. Let’s not box ourselves in.
    Wishing you and yours have a holy and spiritually profitable Lent.

  5. John says:

    Oh, and one more thing, I made a pilgrimage to Archbishop Lefebvre’s tomb in Econe in 2011. I have never had the opportunity to attend a SSPX mass but without this saint I quickly realized there would be no TLM anywhere so I thanked him.

  6. John says:

    the particular nun who was so “shocked” we we had discovered, loved, and were attending the TLM eventually washed out I believe because she like many others disappeared. I can’t be critical of someone who has professed vows to live their life as a cloistered nun but the novus ordo orders don’t seem to have too much sucess while the few that are traditional don’t have room for all the new postulants. Another thing too that was just wrong with EWTN was the “rockstar” priests, I knew some of the priests there were very grounded and by all appearances good priests but a few obviously could not handle fame and fawning faithful. Fame and priests/nuns does not go together well.

  7. Dymphna says:

    I meant the Shea’s now Ahead.

  8. Sankt Athanasion says:

    No, many in the conservative camp are also Catholic, just confused… many still have the habit of faith, but since confusion reigns supreme in the Church today, don’t yet know that papal positivism is an error. Most traditionalists were good conservative Catholics, doing their best to practice the Catholic faith, before they realized the truth of the matter. They were in good faith.

  9. Hilary White says:

    The EWTN nuns are (or were, things aren’t going very well for them lately, something that hasn’t been much talked about anywhere) right at the epicentre of the conservative Novusordoist compromise world, and in such places (Fr. Groechel’s outfit is notoriously another) there was huge hostility to Tradition. I think those days are past, however, with, as I have said ad nauseam and will continue saying, their territory disappearing beneath their feet.

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  12. RodH says:

    Ask a convert like myself and you are likely to get an answer you might not like. For myself, I realize now I walked slam into the middle of a big giant domestic dispute of Biblical proportions. And many who say what you say have totally divergent views on what it means to be a Catholic, some of which are so far outside any teaching of the Church as to be simply absurd.

    So I can leave the details of their technical “Catholicity” to God and simply be glad I found a TLM {FSSP} parish where the doctrines I was converted to are actually preached, taught and demonstrated by example and where heresy is flat out condemned.

    Frankly, I recommend every Catholic does the same.

  13. Interloquitor says:

    This isn’t about biology, taxonomy or theology. This is WAR, it’s about seizing the high ground and raining down fire on the enemy. Besides, “Traditionalism” was a heresy condemned in the 18th century I believe (don’t have time to look up the reference). So Todays Traditionalists should really be calling themselves “Neo-traditionalists” or something like that. Want to make distinctions? There’s a distinction for you.

  14. Hilary White says:

    When there are differences, distinctions must be made to create clarity. We know this in biology and call it taxonomy. In theology it is doubtless called something else, but the principle is exactly the same. There are differences, therefore we must make distinctins. Trying to deny that self evident fact is not helpful “OKAY?”

  15. steve5656546346 says:

    Everybody says the same thing: including the out and out “Catholic” heretic.

    Yes, you are Catholic. Now, we are talking about about a very specific issue WITHIN Catholicism, and we don’t want to write a dissertation describing it every time we notice it. So, we come up with a short hand label to distinguish real differences.

  16. Jim Dorchak says:

    Unfortunately to be Catholic and Orthodox, is to be a traditional Catholic. I am with you on the “Get IT CATHOLIC” point of view, but today we are a minority and those who are not Catholic but catholic call us Traditionalists.
    I for one know,,,, that if you are not a Traditionalist then you are not a Catholic, because if you ignore Tradition then you ignore the history of the Church and thereby you deny Christ and his Church. In essence if you do not have a historical Catholic Church then you have a protestant Church and I do not subscribe to such church.
    I am therefore a remnant.

    What a sad day in history where this discussion is even taking place. Sad, just sad.

  17. Interloquitor says:

    I’ve never called myself a “Traditionalist”; born in 1955 in the glorious reign of Pius XII, of happy memory, I’m a Catholic, get it? CATHOLIC!! Okay?

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