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The Church is in a disastrous state.
Many bishops don't believe the Faith. They certainly don't care about souls. They have destroyed countless souls. Anyone with a brain can see this. It is undeniable.
The question isn't, Is this all true? It has been asked and answered multiple times. The question is, What do we do?
This is where a great divergence has occurred. It is a deep wound in the Body of Christ.
Among those who are most distressed over the current crisis — and yes, it is a giant crisis — there is too often a tendency to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They turn uncritically and unthinkingly to anything that proposes itself to be a remedy to the crisis.
As a result, the sense of "tradition" gets bandied about as some kind of silver bullet cure-all for everything ailing the Church.
However, "tradition" means different things to different people — who, again, have to properly understand the nature of the crisis. For example, there is a naive belief that if it happened before Vatican II and if it was accepted before Vatican II, then it must be rushed into headlong.
While that instinct is certainly understandable, it's wrong — dead wrong.
We aren't talking about Church teaching, we're talking about the approach to the Church. For faithful Catholics who cling to tradition, properly understood, they also cling to wrongheaded traditions that come along for the ride.
For example, there is the approach to the priesthood. Faithful Catholics treasure the priesthood. It is the priesthood that brings us Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist, bestows absolution for our sins and so forth. All that is a tradition.
But coming along with that is an approach to individual priests that is completely wrongheaded. Just because a priest wears a cassock all the time and offers the Latin Mass does not make him holy.
McCarrick started out wearing a cassock, was ordained in the Old Rite — and was raping seminarians left and right. Cardinal Spellman of New York, who raised McCarrick from the dust and set his feet on the path of careerism, wore a cassock, loved the lace, was solidly orthodox in his preachings, offered the Latin Mass — and was reportedly massively homosexual.
We move to Joseph Bernardin, who was not only homosexual but also involved in Satanism. Bernardin wore his cassock, was ordained in the Latin rite, offered the Latin Mass and was notorious.
So it goes. In fact, every single bishop at Vatican II pre-existed the Council, quite obviously. Each was made bishop by totally solid popes.
So, how did things go so sideways?
To delude yourself that all was good before Vatican II, and therefore everything in the Church before that needs to be emulated today, is simply just that: delusional. In fact, the argument can easily be made that the seminaries prior to Vatican II were the breeding grounds for the homosexuality that eventually burst onto the scene with Catholic clergy starting in the 1960s.
If everything was so hunky dory before 1965, how was it that so many religious — male and female — simply abandoned their vows and religious communities so quickly? Why was Mass attendance in France already in a freefall, with fewer than half of Catholics in the Eldest Daughter of the Church actually going to Mass?
The fact that there are massive problems today — seemingly almost insurmountable — does not discount that there were very serious problems back then as well.
So to want to "turn back the clock" to before 1965 is a wrongheaded approach.
Regarding the laity, within three years of the council ending, Catholics all over the West ignored the teaching on contraception and embraced the Culture of Death. That speaks directly to a huge lack of catechesis. There is just no way a well-prepared and instructed laity would walk away from the Church, in such huge numbers and in such a short period of time, if they had been properly instructed. It's not possible.
This brings us to the dangers of the "mad, rad, trad" world today. No, we aren't speaking of normal Catholics who have an affinity for the Old Rite. We are talking specifically about the crowd members who can't reason their way out of a bag on these issues.
They are mad about the current state of affairs. With reason.
They are radical in grasping onto anything and everything just because it predates 1965. They wrap it all up in the term "tradition" without making the necessary distinction between teaching and approach to the Church.
What else could explain the brain-dead approach to the case of Fr. James Jackson of the FSSP by the mad, rad, trad crowd?
He was arrested last year and charged by the feds with child pornography — not just your run-of-the-mill child porn, but actually involving infants and animals. He was re-arrested in July on what amounts to the same charges and basically admitted in legal pleadings in court last week that the government's case could easily be made against him.
The case sent shock waves through the mad, rad, trad crowd, who immediately went into hyper-overdrive, declaring that it had to be a conspiracy organized by Pope Francis and Joe Biden; or demons were present in his computer wiring; or it had been planted by nefarious people who didn't like his traditional veneer. One even joked it was aliens.
I didn't know the mad, rad, trads even believed in aliens.
They spouted any ridiculous nonsense they could come up with, because in the language of one of the most prolific deniers among them, no priest who says the Latin Mass could possibly be guilty of this. He would be holy and incapable of such filth. There's some circular logic for you.
One notorious blogger even collected about $140,000 from the mad, rad, trad crowd, declaring he would get to the bottom of all this.
Mike Parrott, of the Restoring the Faith media blog, told his followers he would get his hands on the evidence (which was the computers and hard drives) and turn it over to a computing forensic expert to perform his own independent examination of them. In short, he would defend the Church (insert chest thump).
Of course, he had no access to anything he claimed, and no forensic computing was ever performed. Still, that didn't stop the mad, rad, trad crowd from donating all that money — so willing to believe that there was just no way any of this could be true.
When Church Militant, journalistically curious about his claims of getting his hands on the prosecution's evidence and soliciting donations to pay for it, contacted him and asked some typical questions, he and the mad, rad, trad world went bananas. They blew up social media, saying our journalism was unreliable and like the National Enquirer, that we hated tradition, and on and on.
The charge was led by Mike Parrott, who didn't like us posing questions about him collecting $140,000 under the pretense of getting his hands on the state's evidence to conduct a private analysis. The attacks got so bad, defaming our journalistic integrity, that we had to sue him. It was settled a couple of weeks ago, with Parrott having to pay us for some of our legal expenses and issuing a recorded apology.
The point of all this is to say that the mad, rad, trads are off the hook — promoting schism and attacking other Catholics who don't share their insanity.
This crowd has come to support the schismatic movement of excommunicated archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. For the record, three popes in a row — John Paul, Benedict and Francis — have officially declared the SSPX movement schismatic. But the mad, rad, trad crowd, while claiming loyalty and fidelity to the Church, gives the finger to those declarations. It has officially condemned the Novus Ordo Mass as "evil" and actually "re-ordained" priests who joined the movement after being ordained in the New Rite.
The SSPX has its own hierarchy and its own annulment courts. In short, it has established itself as its own church. But hey, they say the Latin Mass, so ignore all of that.
The entire movement within the Church — brought about in reaction to the evil of the hierarchy for the past half-century — is little else than Protestantism speaking Latin.
Sadly, well-known Catholic media sites and Catholic YouTube personalities are signing on to this agenda, directly or subtly suggesting Vatican II wasn't legitimate, Francis is a heretic and the Novus Ordo Mass isn't valid.
These outfits and personalities have found cash cows in some wealthy backers, who throw their money to promote this agenda. So they tailor their stories and talking points to those donors. Don't be taken in by them, no matter how familiar you are with them and may have even liked them in the past.
You don't get to tell three popes in a row to go jump in the lake, treat valid sacraments as though they are worthless and then re-administer them, declare yourself "Eternal Rome" and still claim to be Catholic, just because you have a pre-1965 calendar on your wall.
One thing, however, that the schismatic members did manage to import from the post-1965 era was the penchant for clerical sex abuse and their bishops covering it all up, as multiple investigations have proven. Ignoring or apologizing for sex abuse — in effect, aiding the cover-up — is now becoming commonplace with these same media outlets in the trad world.
Just like the post-1965 bishops became quite expert at lying, as well as enlisting multiple lay people to continue the lies, so too has the SSPX lied through its teeth even to this day, denying and deflecting with the best of any modernist bishop.
Praying in Latin does not make a priest or a layman "holy."
But in their unthinking, uncritical, emotional, off-the-rails response to the crisis, the mad, rad, trad crowd feels completely justified in lying, smearing, stealing and attacking anyone who dares challenge them and their tradition.
The mad, rad, trad crowd's understanding of "tradition" is not one to be emulated. Breaking away from the Church while claiming to be loyal to the Church is a non-starter. This crowd has created a cottage industry out of it. Given the current insanity coming from the hierarchy, they are able to advertise themselves as a splendid alternative, with incense and candles and Latin.
But they conveniently leave disobedience out of their messaging, as well as denying the validity of sacraments not performed by their clergy.
Their leader is excommunicated. Their current leaders cover up sex abuse on an international level. Their followers lie so intensely, they need to be sued and made to pay damages to be forced to tell the truth.
Yes, the Church is in a crisis, perhaps the greatest one in 2,000 years. But joining a schismatic movement, no matter how "traditional" it looks or claims to be, is never the answer.
The answer is to do what faithful Catholics do and have always done — stay and fight.