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Some Catholics, understandably, don't like all the infighting about matters of heresy and schism. They call it a circular firing squad, for example. "Can't we all just get along? We all believe the same thing. Stop the back-and-forth attacks." "Unite the clans," even.
While the sentiment does have some validity to it because we don't think most people actually enjoy confrontation and fighting, etc., we'd also like to propose a couple of sayings for people to ponder: "It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error."
And secondly, "It is better to speak the truth that hurts — then heals — than falsehood that comforts and then kills." This is exactly what Our Blessed Lord did. Differences in substance simply cannot be papered over, no matter how emotionally tempting that may be.
And within the Catholic world, what is surfacing right now is that there are substantial differences not just between believing Catholics and modernist Catholics but actually between believing Catholics, meaning those who say they believe the Faith. But, that said, there is more to believing the Faith than just accepting the teachings themselves. There is also accepting the authority — the authority of the Church, for example, when She says the Second Vatican Council was a legitimate council of the Church.
When it comes to the matter of schism that we have been talking about for a week or so and whether Francis is actually the pope, or if he never was or was and then stopped being pope, the real underlying driving force behind all of that is the belief that Vatican II was a heretical council — meaning it was not legitimate.
For Catholics who style themselves as "traditional" Catholics, Vatican II is the litmus test. It isn't about the Latin Mass, although that's certainly part of it. It's about the council's legitimacy — always has been. And for the record, Church Militant has never defined itself as "traditional" — certainly not in this sense of rejecting or questioning the council's legitimacy.
We are orthodox Catholics, meaning we accept everything the Church puts forward. We oppose heresy and schism. In the end, this is the essential reason the Society of Saint Pius X is in schism. It's what Pope Benedict meant in his condemnation of them in his 2009 letter to the Church's bishops having to clarify what the impact was of him lifting the personal excommunications of the four bishops illicitly consecrated.
Here is what he said in reference to the doctrinal issues:
In his letter, he mentions the problem (of the SSPX) being doctrinal. It's not about the Latin Mass, although that's how many of the society's cheerleaders like to falsely portray it. The doctrinal issue is that the SSPX (and certainly many of its defenders) simply rejects Vatican II. Their rejection — and there are wildly varying degrees of rejection within the self-styled traditional community — must be challenged because it's not right.
We agree and have said many times — reported on, thousands of times — the abuses that are seemingly omnipresent in the Church today demand an intense look at those documents from the council — and deep clarification. The so-called spirit of Vatican II has been allowed to maul the Faith of tens if not hundreds of millions of believers, but too many self-styled traditionalists are ready to throw the baby out with the bath water and simply declare the council itself was illegitimate.
That's the complete heart of the matter, the central point of these wars within the Church. And despite whatever their best efforts were, Paul VI, John Paul and Benedict did not exercise sufficient discipline to bring the abuses to an end. The can, as the saying goes, can only be kicked so far down the road. And as a result, people are going into schism.
One very well-respected cardinal, Raymond Burke, who has publicly declared that the SSPX is in schism, has been repudiated by various Catholic internet media types — sometimes directly by name, other times by innuendo — but repudiated nonetheless. To lift a couple of quotes from just one such "trad" who has a microphone, he says of Cdl. Burke, "He has a block about the SSPX." Meaning, "He's a really good guy but he doesn't agree with me and my group, so the problem is him." He goes on to say of Burke, "He's a 'Benedict guy.' He believes in Vatican II."
See, there is the problem right there: If you accept Vatican II, like Pope Benedict did — like Cdl. Burke does — you are automatically excluded from being able to render a proper verdict on the SSPX schism. It's circular logic raised to a near authoritative pronouncement by the so-called trads.
In sum, it's this: "Vatican II was not a legitimate council. The SSPX stayed true to the Church in its aftermath and rejects the council. Believers in Vatican II (even popes) who declare the SSPX in schism are wrong because they accept the council." It's like a textbook definition of circular logic. If you accept the council, you are to be discounted, however politely or respectfully and sometimes even rudely. Church Militant is not unaware of the multitude of problems that flowed from the aftermath of the council. We have reported extensively on the hugely deleterious effects of modernist bishops, abuses in the liturgy, contorting of the gospel, and on and on.
In fact, so often and in enormous detail in investigations and specials have we reported on all this, that many so-called and self-styled trads believed we, like them, also rejected the council. They were actually kind of shocked a few years back when we started reporting on all this. We used to get invited to their gatherings and conferences; they would show up at our talks and conferences. We were on friendly terms with their media personalities. But when we refused to go along with their refusal to accept the council itself, we became their enemies, and they made no bones about it.
So is there common ground between Church Militant and those who call themselves "trad Catholics" —meaning specifically, those who will not accept Vatican II — because that is precisely what is meant when trads call themselves "trad"? Well, of course there is. Vatican II rejectors and Church Militant each agree on the plague and heresy of modernism in the Church and its horrible effects. We just do not agree that going into schism is the answer. The Church Herself — and She alone — gets to declare what is within the bounds of belief, practice and acceptable response.
It reveals a great underlying pride and hubris on the part of various Catholics, no matter how it's cloaked in terms of fidelity, to tell the Church She is wrong about a legitimate council. Problems in its aftermath? Absolutely. Clarification needed? Without a doubt. Discipline to be strictly enforced to bring the modernist heresy to an end? Please, God. But schism? Not an answer — never an answer.
And no, lay Catholics and various individual clergy and even prelates do not get to sit around and say the Church is wrong and a council called by the Church is heretical, nor do they get to rationalize their wrong position, saying it's for the good of the Church and the Faith.
Every schismatic, as well as heretic, over the past 2,000 years made the exact same argument. It always comes down to the question of authority, and too many media types in the Catholic world today have thrown their lot in on the side of schism. Most just aren't being forthright with you about it.
You need to ask them nonstop until they answer you directly and go on the record. Yes or no, the Church has declared that Vatican II was a legitimate council? Yes or no, do you agree? It's a very simple question and answer. Anything other than a direct yes or no tells you everything you need to know.
Catholic media sites and personalities have an obligation to their followers and supporters to be up-front and forthright about their editorial and philosophical point of view. Do you accept the legitimacy of the council? Do you accept the authority of the popes that the SSPX is in schism? Those are the first questions that need to be answered — and the answers are very simple and straightforward.