Are "Traditional Catholics" Kosher?
Until recently, I had co-administrated a 2500 member group on facebook called Catholics are Christians to explain the faith to anyone who would listen. We had some great discussions and actually won some folks over to see the beauty and truth of the faith. Unfortunately, in the past few weeks I had some "traditional Catholics" fill the pages with divisive and fairly rancorous comments. These included links to a popular but controversial traditional Catholic personality who makes his living by perpetually criticizing the "post-Vatican II Catholic Church." This inspired me to blog about the concept of "traditional Catholicism."
There is a very good chance that this will alienate me from a certain small but vocal segment of Catholics, however, I feel it is important to talk about the proverbial "elephant in the Catholic room" here. My purpose in writing is not to alienate or divide but to warn. I recently came across a blogpost entitled "Who Is Afraid of the Latin Mass?" I thought about it and concluded that I am indeed afraid of the Latin Mass. Quite honestly, the truth is that I am not actually afraid of the Latin Mass, but very afraid of what the Latin Mass can do to some, not all, faithful Catholics. To further clarify, I think the Latin Mass is a gift of God and the Church has given it to us and it has been the normative form of worship for most of the history of Christendom. However, in the past 40 years since the Ecumenical Council called Vatican II, there has arisen a group of Catholics who believe that the TLM (Tridentine Latin Mass) is superior to the Novus Ordo (NO) mass given to us by Pope Paul the VI in 1969. These folks who refer to themselves as "traditional Catholics" claim to be the only ones who cling to the traditional truths and practices of the "faith, once delivered to the apostles."
However, our popes have indicated that both forms of the liturgy are valid. Pope Benedict gave his motu propio in 2007 which allowed the Extraordinary Form (the Latin Mass) to be celebrated freely with no restrictions. Thereafter, the bishops of every diocese must provide the opportunity to have the EF of the mass celebrated if requested by the laity or priests, without requiring an indult. So that's good news! If you desire to worship with the EF, go find one, if you desire to worship with the NO, that's good too. But just to be clear, one form is not superior to another, says the pope.
But what has happened is that some, not all, Catholics have completely disdained the Novus Ordo mass and anyone who supports it, including the hierarchy of the Church.
Some, not all, traditional Catholics believe that the NO mass is "barely" valid or not valid at all. They believe that those who assist at the NO mass are liberal or "modernist."
Now cue the twilight zone music. These same folks also hold to the the theory that Vatican 2 was hijacked by modernist liberal elements and even Jews, to subvert the true Church. (It is true that there were Jewish converts at Vatican 2, and certainly one could understand their desire to see reconciliation with the Jewish people. )
Some, not all, traditional Catholics have been extremely condescending to those of us who believe that Vatican 2 was a work of the Holy Spirit and is in continuity with the previous Church councils.
Some, not all, traditional Catholics are anti-Semitic (they would say anti-Zionistic) and believe that the Jews are behind the destruction of the Catholic faith.
Some, not all, traditional Catholics believe that the holocaust did happen, but the numbers of those killed have been exaggerated by the "Jewish-controlled media."
Some, not all, traditional Catholics believe that the Vatican is completely infiltrated by a "gay cabal" and that the homosexuals and their gay agenda have subverted American seminaries and seek the destruction of the faith. (Yes, there likely is percentage of active homosexuals in the curia and the pope is aware of it. That's quite different than believing that the Vatican is run by homosexuals as some, not all traditional Catholics espouse.)
Some, not all, traditional Catholics broadcast their distrust of our popes, bishops, and the magisterium which sows a seed of discord among the faithful.
Some, not all, traditional Catholics, believe that they understand the mind of God regarding our Church more than the current pope. They will insinuate that the current and past popes have been deceived and are making bad decisions, by pursuing relations with Jews and Muslims.
Some, not all, traditional Catholics feel that our current pope is a useless shill for the modernist agenda that has taken over the Vatican and feel he will do nothing to stop heresy.
So, are traditional Catholics kosher? Depends on whether they trust the pope or not. Pope Benedict 15th, in 1914 warned of the danger of calling oneself a traditional Catholic. This was even before Vatican 2 and the "modernist heresy!"
"It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as "profane novelties of words," out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: "This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved" (Athanas. Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim "Christian is my name and Catholic my surname," only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself."
Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24
In conclusion, my warning is this, if you are a Catholic and love the devotional practices of traditional Catholicism and the reverent aspects of the Tridentine Mass, go for it. If you wish to receive Jesus on your tongue instead of in your hand, go for it. If you love chant and enjoy it more than the contemporary songs from the new hymnals, go for it. If you love incense, bells and the sense of mystery that is contained in the Latin Mass, go for it. These are all beautiful and wonderful things.....
But if you meet people at the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (TLM) who identify themselves as Traditional Catholics and hold to any of the views I have outlined above, that is definitely not Kosher. I encourage you to embrace the pious traditions and eschew the hate, paranoia, conspiracies and anti-Semitism of some, not all, Traditional Catholics.
Pope Benedict the 16th on the Novus ordo rite: "The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal."