The Gnostic Traditionalist

June 2007By Thaddeus Kozinski

Thaddeus J. Kozinski, Ph.D., has a doctorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America, and writes for various Catholic magazines and scholarly journals. This article appeared in much shorter form on www.tcrnews2.com.

Ed Note: In our March 2007 issue, we printed a letter from Thaddeus Kozinski, who wrote in to critique Chris Conlee's January 2007 NOR article, "The Fever of Vatican II." In his letter, Kozinski mentioned something he calls "gnostic traditionalism." In our Editor's reply (March) to Kozinski's letter, we said, "What is 'gnostic traditionalism'? You never define it." Kozinski responded to our challenge by sending us this article, which he says defines "gnostic traditionalism." We know that this article will upset some of our readers. Be it known that the NOR does not endorse his views; we are publishing his article in full because we challenged him on it. An Editor's Reply follows.

I am firmly convinced, and have been for some time, that the Tridentine Mass is vastly superior to the Novus Ordo Missae. Indeed, the Novus Ordo Missae represents a radical breach in liturgical tradition. As a friend of mine put it, "The Church's single greatest treasure has been pillaged, scattered, squandered, and something manifestly inferior and discontinuous has been set up in its place." Agreed. Benedict XVI himself, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, suggested that Novus Ordo reformers must look to the Tridentine Mass as their model. Nevertheless, in this article I would like to discuss a problem I have noticed, not with the Tridentine Mass, or a more traditionally orientated Catholicism per se, nor with those who exclusively attend the Tridentine Mass. It is, rather, a problem regarding those who adopt the distinct identity of "traditional Catholic" -- in an ecclesial situation in which the mainstream Mass of the Church is not the Tridentine Mass, and in which the identity of the ordinary Catholic is not distinctly "traditionalist."

As we know, traditional Catholicism has been unjustly and mysteriously marginalized, seemingly by the Church herself, and this cannot be supported by any means -- in fact, it must be resisted! Yet, those who resist this marginalization and thus reside at the margins of the contemporary ecclesial structure need to be as vigilant as possible about the dangerous spiritual temptations that are the byproduct, so to speak, of such marginalization and resistance. I myself have not heard enough discussion about these temptations among traditionally minded Catholics, and so I would like to discuss them here.

I have recently moved to the Santa Cruz, Calif., area, where there is no officially approved, weekly Tridentine Mass within a reasonable and convenient distance, and with three small children, convenience is not an inconsiderable factor. At first, I was quite upset at this situation, but over time, I have realized that regularly attending a well-celebrated Novus Ordo -- as well as the Byzantine Mass and an Indult Tridentine Mass on occasion -- has been a good thing for me and my family, spiritually speaking. Indeed, I believe it has produced more abundant fruit in my spiritual life than if I were still attending, by choice, a weekly Indult Tridentine Mass. What I have just said, of course, is outright heresy for the traditionalist. Well, this suggests the problem I will be describing. In the traditionalist milieu in which I lived before I moved, I had developed what I now see as an ideological and neurotic consciousness of being a "traditionalist," as distinct from just being what I now see that I am and always have been since my reversion, just an ordinary Catholic who loves the Tridentine Mass and the Tradition of the Catholic Church. Through circumstances outside of my control, I was enabled to see a large deformation in my spiritual consciousness and to begin the process of healing. I call this deformation gnostic traditionalism.

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I should add a caveat: St. Athanasius resisted that which he knew was wrong, which is why he was banished in the first place.

Certainly God does not call us to be cowardly and placated by the horrible abuses going on around us, whether to the liturgy, or to the faith in general. We need to fight abuse, but only if our fight is just...
Posted by: conlee
August 16, 2007 12:09 AM EDT
A most excellent article, Mr. Kozinski.

I have loved the extraordinary form of the Sacred Liturgy since I first participated in one (as an adult). I did not understand everything that was going on ceremonially, but with four years of latin under my belt, I could follow the audible prayers easily, make the people's responses, sing the chants (my singing is a C+ to B-), et cetera. At that time, I began a sort of long-term independent study of liturgical history that continues to this day... I mention that in order to indicate that I've been at this for a while, and not to assert any level of expertise.

Anyway, as much as I've grown to love this form of the Mass and appreciate its stages of development, I often came away from Sunday Mass feeling quite drained. Not because of the quality of the celebration of the Mass, mind you, but because of what usually occurred afterward. As much as I find shaking hands at Mass (often enough, though not always) disingenuous and greetings among priest and people after Mass equally so, I found the social goings-on after the Latin Mass even more egregious because, in my way of thinking, we folks ought to "know better."

You are aware of just being at Calvary and participating in the perpetual Sacrifice of the Cross - a sacrifice that opens salvation to the world AND assimilates your daily sacrifices into Itself if you offer yourself with Christ- and the only thing you can think about five minutes after Mass ends is how that no-good, dirty Bishop So-and-So has altar girls at his cathedral?!? Or, how dopy Aunt Sally wants Cousin Johnny to be confirmed at the Novus Ordo parish? Or, how Sister Mary Fussy Britches brought Holy Communion to you in the hospital in stead of the pastor, who was out playing golf? All worthy topics of discussion by the right people and at the right time, to be sure, but not after the celebration of the Mass. Not in the manner I've usually seen it done. Where, in this scenario, is the transformation of the inner-man that ought to occur as a result of an encounter with the divine?
Posted by: cocol
August 13, 2007 01:38 PM EDT
Although I think Kozinski goes too far in criticizing those who attend the Indult Mass, he is also very percipient in his understanding of those of the cusp between rightful indignation against the silly innovations before, during and after Vatican II, and those who take such indignation to the point of denying the Pope--Sedevacantists. Our period is not unique to history. Starting in the fourth century, we have had groups rightfully indignant at the Church heirarchy. St. Athanasius was rightfully indignanat and was banished by the Church, only to be made a saint, later. Unless SSPX goes off the deep-end, I could imagine Lefebvre being made a saint, someday. There have been those who were once were excommunicated who are now Saints; rare as it is, it has happened. But, our duty, here and now, is to support our Holy Father Benedict XVI, and support him wholeheartedly, because he is up against challenges that few Popes in history have been challenged with. We need to pray for him daily, and support him unconditionally. With that in mind, I offer the following:

Alas, how sad it is that some are far more ready
to judge (and criticize)
priests than they are to pray for them.

The Danger of Criticizing
Bishops and Priests

By Thomas G. Morrow

In the thirteenth century many priests were involved in seeking wealth and having a pleasant life. They hardly preached at all, virtually never studied, and paid for important positions so that they could get even more money. A number of priests openly lived with women, causing great scandal. Some of the bishops lived in unbelievable wealth, and would sell Church positions to keep their rich life style. Many of the people were just as bad as their leaders.

As a result, many so-called prophets had appeared, some good, some not-so-good, who promised terrible punishments if people did not reform. Peter Waldo was one of the reformers who had a great beginning. He gave up his riches to live in poverty and spread the faith. He had many followers who also lived as poor men, and did penance. However, when they began to preach without permission against the lazy and sinful priests, the Archbishop of Lyons, France, excommunicated them.

The group, called the Waldensians, took their case to the pope, and he encouraged them. He praised Peter for living in poverty and gave him and his followers permission to urge the people to live moral and holy lives wherever the bishops allowed them to do so. But since they had not studied theology they were not permitted to explain the Bible or to instruct people in the faith. Unfortunately, they began to do both.

In time they got into all sorts of errors, such as placing their interpretation of the Bible over the authority of the pope, denying both purgatory, and veneration of the saints. They also refused to go to confession to immoral priests, preferring to confess to good people who were not priests. As a result, the Waldensians were excommunicated by the pope in 1184.

However, there were still a number of them going all over, spreading their errors. And, there were also the Albigensians or Cathari, as they were called in Italy, who condemned the material world as evil. As a result they denied the sacraments, and marriage in particular. Many people listened to both the leftover Waldensians and Cathari because they lived Gospel poverty, unlike the priests.

Despite their sincerity, and their living radical Gospel poverty, they all fell astray. They lost the faith. But, their contemporary, Francis of Assisi did not. Why not? Because he never went anywhere to preach the Gospel without permission of the priests. Furthermore, he would never criticize the priests and bishops—even the most lazy and immoral ones—nor would he allow his friars to do so. (As a result, the Franciscans were always welcome just about everywhere they went.)

Once a Waldensian challenged Francis on his unshakeable reverence for priests, by pointing out the local pastor who was living in sin. “Must we believe in his teaching and respect the sacraments he performs?”

In response, Francis went to the priest’s home and knelt before him saying, “I don’t know whether these hands are stained as the other man says they are. [But] I do know that even if they are, that in no way lessens the power and effectiveness of the sacraments of God… That is why I kiss these hands out of respect for what they perform and out of respect for Him who gave His authority to them.” His challenger left in silence.

The Franciscan Order revolutionized the faith in Europe during the 19 years from Francis’s conversion at age 25 to his death. There were thousands of Franciscans by the time he died, spreading the true faith, not by pointing out the sins of the priests and bishops (of which there were certainly many), but by living the gospel so simply and so joyfully that people found it irresistible.

Today there are many priests and even bishops who seem to invite criticism by what they say and do, but most are far less culpable than the priests and bishops of St. Francis’ time. The recent scandals in the U.S. priesthood are much uglier but they have been dealt with far more strongly than those lesser but more widespread faults of the thirteenth century.

Rejecting Doctrines
And, I believe the people who will bring about a new springtime in the Church will be more like Francis of Assisi than today’s harsh critics of priests and bishops. Perhaps the example of the Waldensians and Albigensians gives us an insight into what happens when people focus on the sins of priests and bishops.

I believe such criticism can feed our own pride, and make us feel superior to our Church leaders. From that point it is not a great leap to begin to lump their teaching in with their behavior, and to begin to reject the doctrines of the Church. The danger is real.

Jesus warned his followers not to reject the doctrines of the scribes and pharisees despite their shameful behavior:

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. (Matt. 3:1-7)

A few verses later he proclaims, “Woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites,” and calls them “blind guides,” and “brood of vipers.” Nonetheless, people are to “practice and observe whatever they tell you,” because they are, in effect, descendants of Moses.

I would venture to say that most of our bishops are far better than the scribes and pharisees, and they are the descendants of the apostles. How important it is that we listen to them, especially in light of the fact that Jesus told them, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Luke 10:16).

Liturgical Tampering
Another problem that emerges some times among those who would rather criticize than pray for bishops is deciding for themselves the form the liturgy should take. Some take on themselves the prerogative to make little changes in their responses at Mass, thereby causing division in precisely the place where we should be most unified. Whether it be rejecting a certain memorial acclamation, or responding in Latin when the congregation is responding in English, or substituting the word “God” for “he” or “him” for feminist purposes, any of these can be a distraction for others trying to lift their hearts and minds to God.

It is not up to us to decide what is apt in the Mass, but the bishops. Surely, we should avoid doing something immoral, but besides that unlikely case, we should obediently follow the liturgy given to us by those chosen to do so. Whether we like a translation or not (and some seem to be lacking at times), we should accept and use what our superiors have given us. Far better to write a humble letter to the bishops than to change things on our own authority. And far better to pray for better translations.

Losing Joy
There is a further danger of being so ready to criticize bishops or priests: we can become very dour Catholics. The more we criticize and complain, the more we bring down the morale of the Church and the more gloomy we become. (St. Teresa of Avila said once, “God deliver me from gloomy saints!”) Many sincere, orthodox Catholics have become sour people because they continued to dwell on the faults of the clergy, so sour that they have been unable to contribute something positive to the Church, despite their many talents.

This is not to say we may not acknowledge the wrongs of priests and bishops, but we should do so reluctantly and with understatement. And then, we should move on to the positive, the things that will build up the Church and her morale. We should never dwell on the negative elements of priests and bishops—or anyone else, for that matter—because it will make us melancholy people, always ready to point out the negative aspect of any situation.

The devil is most clever in bringing down those who sincerely love God and the Church. He gets them to dwell on the negative elements of the Church and thereby destroys their joy. We mustn’t fall for this ruse. If we want to be holy, we must focus on the positive, and let nothing destroy our joy.

God the Father spoke to St. Catherine of Siena about his “ministers,” the priests. She recorded it in her Dialogue:

…[It] is my intention that they be held in due reverence, not for what they are in themselves, but for my sake, because of the authority I have given them. Therefore the virtuous must not lessen their reverence, even should these ministers fall short in virtue. And, as far as the virtues of my ministers are concerned, I have described them for you by setting them before you as stewards of... my Son’s body and blood and of the other sacraments. This dignity belongs to all who are appointed as such stewards, to the bad as well as to the good.

…[Because] of their virtue and because of their sacramental dignity you ought to love them. And you ought to hate the sins of those who live evil lives. But you may not for all that set ourselves up as their judges; this is not my will because they are my Christs, and you ought to love and reverence the authority I have given them.

You know well enough that if someone filthy or poorly dressed were to offer you a great treasure that would give you life, you would not disdain the bearer for love of the treasure, and the lord who had sent it, even though the bearer was ragged and filthy... You ought to despise and hate the ministers’ sins and try to dress them in the clothes of charity and holy prayer and wash away their filth with your tears.

Indeed, I have appointed them and given them to you to be angels on earth and suns, as I have told you. When they are less than that you ought to pray for them. But you are not to judge them. Leave the judging to me, and I, because of your prayers and my own desire, will be merciful to them. [1]

Is judging the same as criticizing? It’s close. The Random House American College Dictionary defines the word “criticize” as “1. To make judgments as to merits and faults. 2. To find fault.”

Clearly, the Lord wants prayers, not judgment for his priests. Alas, how sad that some are far more ready to judge (and criticize) priests than they are to pray for them! Imagine how much better off the Church would be if all the energy given to criticizing priests and bishops here devoted to prayer and penance for these men; and how much better off those who prayed and fasted would be!

As a seminarian I once was visiting my sister, and we proceeded to tear apart all the dissenting theologians in the Church. It seemed like such fun. But, then we caught ourselves, and I said, “You know, we probably should not take such delight in criticizing the theologians. It can be a pride thing.” She agreed, “Yes, by saying how wrong they are, we are proclaiming how right we are.”

It’s an easy trap to fall into. We call it the “Isn’t it awful syndrome.”

As a priest, I don’t believe I am exempt from the warning from the Lord to St. Catherine about judging other priests. I don’t have any more right than a layperson to criticize my brother priests. Sometimes this involves biting my tongue when the subject is a less-than-perfect priest.

As I mentioned earlier, it is not wrong to acknowledge the errors of priests or bishops, or gently point them out. But, when it becomes a zealous sport to pontificate about such errors, and to verbally attack these clerics personally, it goes too far.

Love the Bishops
People have a rather rose-colored idea of the life of a bishop. It’s not so pleasant. About 15% of his work is making decisions. The other 85% is dealing with headaches.

I remember well the quip of my pre-ordination retreat director: “Isn’t it interesting that in this age when we have so few vocations to the priesthood, we have so many vocations to the episcopacy.” And, we might add, to the papacy!

When people publicly criticize a bishop, or any man, for that matter, the one criticized will often dig in his heels for his position even he may not care that much about it. He does that to show that he won’t be manipulated by those who try to strong-arm him, even if the criticism is well-intended or well-placed.

On the other hand, people such as St. Catherine of Siena and St. Bernard of Clairvaux had tremendous influence over bishops by their letters. It is not hard to see why: their letters were humble and respectful, and full of love. “But they were saints,” one might argue. They became saints, but if you examine their lives you will find that many did not recognize their sanctity when they were alive. Furthermore, it was their sanctity that inspired them to urge reform with love, and so it will be with our sanctity, if we strive for it.

The priests and bishops are probably no worse than they were in the time of St. Catherine of Siena, or St. Francis of Assisi. In fact, they are much better, in general, despite the shameful scandals of a few, in recent years. We have a choice to make: to give in to our sadness and become a “priest-basher” or “bishop-basher,” always ready to lament with great energy the faults of our clergy; or, while acknowledging the errors of the clergy, we can become morale-builders in the Church, always emphasizing the positive, always ready to build up, not tear down. And, if we look closely, we’ll see a lot of positives in the Church today, and in every age.

St. Paul said it well: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. But we beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thess. 5:11-13). This is the way to true holiness, and the joy which always accompanies it. And, this Christian joy, unlike sullenness, is infectious.


1. Catherine of Siena; The Dialogue, translated by Suzanne Noffke, O.P., New York: Paulist Press, 1980, pp. 229-231.
Posted by: conlee
August 14, 2007 12:56 AM EDT
Response to eakter:

Your whole post illustrates how NFP is not GFP. GFP couples do none of this planning. They let God decide whether to give them 3 children in 4 years or 4 children in 4 years.

GFP is a gift few ask for and few can practice. And the chance of a man and woman with the same desire marrying one another in these times are slight.

But we know saints are rare!

Posted by: rdohanian
June 19, 2007 06:31 PM EDT
Mr. Vree:

I am fully aware of the meaning the term gnosticism has in the Catholic theological and philosophical tradition. However, gnosticism can mean, not only a specific ideological position, but also a particular spiritual attitude, one that can take on varied manifestations in different historical and cultural contexts. I am drawing attention to one manifestation of this attitude in our day. I am using the term somewhat loosely, then, I guess. Well, I beg your pardon if you will not permit this, but I do think you are overreacting. Scratch the term, then, if you want--the phenomenon I am describing exists nevertheless. Perhaps there is a better name for it.

My article is not perfect, and, perhaps, even seriously flawed in some important ways. Well, I did my best to articulate how I see things, in light of my own expeerience, education, and the Church's teachings. On the other hand, I have shared my thoughts with several well-educated philosphers and theologians whose orthodoxy and devotion to Tradition, including the Tridentine Mas, is beyond question, and though not agreeing with everything I say, they do agree with much of it, being sympathetic with my position on the whole. Either we are all crazy, seriously deluded, or vicious--or we are on to something. The latter seems more reasonable.

I can accept and appreciate thoughtful critiques of my position, but I can neither accept nor appreciate and all out attack, as if there is absolutely nothing to what I am saying. The reactionary vehemence with which you pick apart my statements, completely ignoring the thrust and heart of what they express as a whole, and your apparent lack of any awareeness whatsover of the danger I am pointing out, is, ironically, a sign of what I am talking about.

There is certainly something to what I am saying, and your reply to it only confirms this. There are others better trained in theology and rhetoric who might express it more accurately and effectiveley than I. I hope my article encourages them to do so.

In Christ,

Thaddeus Kozinski
Posted by: tjkozinski
June 07, 2007 01:18 PM EDT
At first reading, much of the dispute with Dr Kozinski's essay has to do with his imprecise use of the term "gnostic." Were we to put that aside, and confine ourselves to his anecdotal evidence, he would have a case. But even then, anecdotal evidence is not always the most reliable, since it only takes into account one's own experience, and not that of a random sampling.

Be all that as it may, a lot of Catholic traditionalists possess the attitudes he describes. This is often a manifestation of a fine line that has always existed between spiritual piety and spiritual pride. It is also a sign of the grassroots effort to counter confusion in the ranks. Without their shepherds to guide them properly, many traditionalists must act as their own guides. The dangers of this can be found in the long run.

Even when prelates do step in, confusion remains. The editor quotes from Msgr Perl as saying that the consecrations of four bishops by Lefebvre "did not properly accomplish a schism." What are we to make, then, of the declaration in Ecclesia Dei that this same action constituted "a schismatic act"? Do we defer to the higher authority, or the one that suits us? And if attendance at an SSPX Mass does not constitute a sin, have we still met our Sunday obligation? Can an illicit means accomplish a licit end? If so, what need do we have for an indult, when an entire self-supporting infrastructure exists -- one that is, apparently, "not in schism"?

Kozinski's attempt to explain an aspect of this confusion is not without merit, but its Achilles heel is the improper use of a term with a meaning all its own. Traditionalists may appear at a distance to possess that which is hidden from others, but they are not the ones who did the hiding. It was those who were entrusted with guarding our Traditions, and who betrayed them.
Posted by: manwithblackhat
June 07, 2007 01:22 PM EDT
As a contributor to The Latin Mass magazine, like Kozinski, and having had quite a rounded experience with self-defined "Traditionalists" across the country,like Kozinski, and considering myself a huge supporter and proponent of the Traditional Latin Mass, like Kozinski, I would say his defining of the problem that he calls "Gnostic Traditionalism" is right on the mark. Some Traditionalists happen to be their own worst enemy, stepping into the ditch of a whole new set of spiritual problems (e.g., adopting a cult-like mentality) in a misguided effort to slay the Liturgical Beast of the modern church -- just as Kozinski describes.

Please let it be said: there is indeed room for (and a need for) introspection among traditional Catholics today.

I'm not sure why knowledgable NOR readers (save for a very few)would be "upset" by Kozinski's well-reasoned, well-argued, and reasonable critique of one element of Catholic traditionalism. It is, in my opinion, a valuable contribution.
Posted by: charing cross
June 07, 2007 03:22 PM EDT
Mr. Vree,

I was at a Latin Mass Magazine sponsored event in which Dr. Kozinski attended in Monterey back in February. He was a young, humble fellow who did not come across as a PhD. I'm not as educated or academically diversified as he, so the term "Gnostic" is not what pops in my head when I think about this issue. But as a lifelong "Traditional" Catholic, I agree with almost everything that he is saying. I use the term "Traditional" because that is what I'm labeled as by my regular attendance to the Tridentine Mass and adherence to pre-Vatican II practices and devotions that were passed on to me by my parents. I'm only 37 years old. I didn't understand the division inside the Church between "new" and "old" or "Liberal" and "Conservative" Catholics until after I joined the military in the late 1980s. Fortunately I grew up in a community where Roman Catholic orthodoxy was the norm and the Latin Mass was available. That changed when I left home and traveled the country. Throughout the years and over my life, I've personally studied Theology, Canon Law, Church history, Catechism, and Scripture (Douay-Rheims). I was at a confirmation with an SSPX Bishop and was just as scandalized as was Dr. Kozinski by his sermon in which he slammed the Holy Father. I have a real discomfort factor at many Tradional Catholic communities that I encounter for the same uncharitable and ignorant traits projected by the so called "real" Catholics who demonize their fellow man (especially those "Novus Ordo" Catholics) because of the brand of liturgical worship that many of them once themselves regularly attended. They get Catechized not by infallible Church teachings, but by the private judgment of the congregation (i.e. SSPX, CMRI, SSPV, Independent, and sometimes even Indult) dime-a-dozen/self-appointed Traditional apologists or vagus/schismatic clergy that they subscribe to. They use parts of one Council or Catechism to justify their arguments and ignore the ones that don't benefit their position. I feel out of place at a Novus Ordo service and some modern practices just because it's something that I didn't generally grow up with, see dissenting behavior, and much irreverence in the Church, but one Conservative/Traditional Catholic value that I do my best to adhere to and focus on is "Charity." The self-professed Traditional Catholics can pray all the Rosaries, attend exclusively the Tridentine Mass, and resist modern practices all they want, but they cannot deny truth. With Charity comes Truth! At the end of the day, if the Charity is not there, then everything they do means nothing! Prayer and instruction is needed for our fellow Catholics, especially those less Catechized or misguided This comment by myself in no way justifies the actions of Catholics or clergy on the other end of the spectrum, but just proves to you Mr. Vree that Dr. Kozinski is not alone in his thinking. Instead of trying to invalidate his article and intellectualize your criticisms of it with the "bits and pieces" of Papal Bulls, Council Teachings, and Newsbytes. This is exactly the method that I was talking about earlier in how Traditionalists and Liberals for that matter justify their positions. May God Love You!

P.S. I humbly submit to Dr. Kozinski....Good Job!....May God Love You Also!
Posted by: Cannoliboy
June 07, 2007 10:01 PM EDT
Unfortunately I do not have the time to respond adequately to this debate but felt that it was important to signal my appreciation for Kosinski's contribution. At the risk of bringing down the editor's wrath on my head too, I feel that his response to Kosinski's thoughts, regrettably involved some fairly inelegant and discourteous hair splitting. Sure, Kosinski's analysis may need some refinement but by and large I think he has fairly accurately identified a spiritual malaise evident in some traditionalist or conservative and circles. I don't think that Kosinski intended or actually accused everyone or all traditionalists of being gnostic, nor did he accuse the Church of being gnostic. When he used the example "no salvation outside of us" he was attempting to identify a belief he has seen evidenced in the behaviour of some traditionalists. He used the word "us" to refer to a particular self-identified group and not the Church. I suspect that this belief is harboured by some traditionalist Catholics I have encountered . Importantly and correctly, he has identified a particular kind of spiritual temptation that has become a real problem for contemporary Catholicism (traditional, conservative, "progressive") and he has also helped me to appreciate that the remedy might be a humble fiat to the Church's traditions and teachings and to my relationship in Christ to other Catholics in this world and the next and especially the saints. Again I regretfully don't have time for a considered response except to say that I think Kosinski has made some very important points that we all should think carefully about. I might add that we (my family) generally do not attend Tridentine Mass regularly but that I certainly look forward to the day when mainstream liturgical practice in the Church better expresses liturgical tradition, reverence and vibrant authentic spirituality. Whether that is with a full return to the Tridentine Rite or through a revision and grounding of the Novus Ordo in the soil of tradition i do not know. Before you go and dismiss me as not the full bottle in terms of orthodox Catholicism, (Which I think Kosinski is warning about), let me say that I know of many orthodox Catholics who would agree with 90-100% of what is discussed in forums like NOR, who frequent both Tridentine and Reverent Novus Ordo Masses. There are many who suffer the abuses surrounding the Novus Ordo and return faithfully (and even heroically) to Mass out of love for the Church and in obedience despite their struggles with these abuses and the lukewarm spiritual atmosphere in most parishes. The liturgical tradition is rich and included benediction and other rituals that we sorely lack. Recently in Poland it was a joy to be present at so many beautiful and prayerful novus ordo (Polish style which is closer to tradition I think) Masses and Benedictions. This was the Mass and liturgy, in the hands of holy and orthodox priests that helped to form Lech Walesa and Solidarity. So please let us have a charitable, kindly, sensible discussion. And please Mr Vree, know that I very much enjoy and value NOR, looking forward to the daily email and the monthly edition with anticipation. It is never insipid, always interesting, meaty and sometimes controversial and argumentative. May God Bless NOR editors, contributors and readers and thanks again to Dr Kosinski for a valuable contribution. Posted by: aconway
June 08, 2007 03:21 AM EDT
Thaddeus Kozinski PHD,

I thought your article was interesting and informative on several levels. You bring-up some amazingly proficient points, but fall short-of-the-mark on many others. You seem to have a conspiratorial understanding of the Traditionalist movement and are, quite frankly, uncharitable at various junctures of your argument. Yet, we live in a day-and-age where uncharitableness is sometimes called-for. But at points in your article, it seems to me, you are in conflict with yourself: for instance, at intervals you highly praise and then disparage Traditional Catholicism. Still, I appreciated your article, found it well-written, and thought it was a good move on the New Oxford Review’s part to print it. I will say, at the outset, that I am far from perfect myself, and I humble myself (as you did, in your reply to the reply to your article) to the fact that many things that I have said or may say could be incorrect.
Trust me on this, Thaddeus, pride is something we all have to work on; whether Traditionalist or Modernist. We live in a world of vast temptations and spiritual warfare. You and I are not immune-- but I seem to think that we both love Christ as the ultimate meaning to our lives. Perhaps I was too harsh in my critique of Vatican II, and perhaps you are too harsh in your critique of Traditionalism.
I can tell you this: I have never met more humble, charitable, and less prideful people than I have at the Indult Mass. They would be flummoxed by our intellectualization of their faith, because for them (and, dare I say, for "us"), faith is prayer, and the ultimate prayer is the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the ultimate expression of this is, of course, the Latin Mass; formulated through centuries of triumphs and tribulations, and celebrated, almost without exception, by most of the greatest Saints. You seem to understand that latter point. It is your unfair characteristic of Traditionalists, in general, that has me concerned (if my concern even has meaning).
You provide examples of traditionalists, such as a “Bishop” of SSPX who you say attacked an encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, but you fail to acknowledge that traditionalism is a legitimate backlash against a crisis in the Church which is unprecedented. Instead, like the legitimate and Holy (if highly imperfect) Pope John Paul II, you find a boogey-man in Traditionalism, while ignoring the horrific abuses to the Eucharist and to the Faith being perpetrated in every diocese and in every corner of the world. You gloss-over (may I say “intentionally”) the horrific practice of accepting the Eucharist unworthily, without even a belief in the real presence, no less the confession of mortal sin requisite to accept the Eucharist. We live in a Church where it is the norm to accept the Eucharist unworthily. 90% of married “Catholic” couples use contraception, flying in the face of Paul VI’s heroic encyclical’s to the contrary, and yet you seem to imply that the Church’s main problem is with “prideful” Traditionalists who live by the moral precepts of the Church?
With all due respect, you seem to have found your own “angle of repose” in a Novus Ordo Mass community, that is also, apparently, traditional to the Church’s precepts. But, what of us that don’t live in that Ivory Tower? You touch upon that conundrum in your article, without fully addressing the pressing concern that some Catholics are absolutely blighted by certain dioceses which provide little spiritual pasturing to their faithful.
We are, all of us, on a road to either heaven or hell (yes, I believe they both exist). This life is a hard road. The vast majority of the faithful are less concerned with why this or that rite is correct, then with what they can do to be saved. But the fruits of the Novus Ordo leave a lot to be desired. Even our Pope has said that he believes much of the crisis in the Church has to do with the liturgy. I have absolutely no doubt that the mass of Paul VI (a good and bad Pope, in various ways) is valid, but what of the fruits? This was a mass created in a few years in a liturgical think-tank, which tried to replicate what they thought the mass was like before the Tridentine mass. They ignored the fact that the Latin mass was formulated through the centuries, and was a natural progression, since the time of Christ, whereas the mass that they were creating, in a liturgical think-tank, was a break in the Tradition of the Church, which the Holy Spirit Himself safeguarded throughout the centuries. They failed to remember that even the Bible itself was not codified until the fourth century, and thus was a product of the tradition of the Church. Similarly, the liturgy of the Church is a product of Tradition, though is not infallible, as the Bible is, but should be given protections against innovation. In March I took a spiritual pilgrimage to France, in particular to visit Chartres, and I can say that I have never experienced a more beautiful Novus Ordo mass than at Etienne, in the Latin Quarter of Paris, next to the Sarcophagus of St. Genevieve: it was all in French, of course, but the devotion was breathtaking; one young woman even prostrated herself on the ground during the Consecration. So, of course, a Novus Ordo mass can, and is often done, with great devotion, but that is the exception. I have also been to mass in Sedona, AZ; I won't repeat the deleterious to the faith experience there.

But here is my biggest criticism of your well-argued and well-written article: you utterly (and, may I say, “deliberately”) fail to mention Modernism. You mention “modern” trends in the Church, but not the all-encompassing heresy of Modernism which is rending our Church from top-to-bottom, and which I know you have an understanding of (you even mention Michael Davies, the arch-critic of modernism, in your article). You mention Donatism. Donatism was a baby heresy compared to Arianism, which rent the Church a hundred years after Donatism. Arianism denied the very basis of our belief: the Trinity. Likewise, Modernism undermines the very basis of our belief: the need for Christ to be saved. If all faiths are equal paths to God, then I guess the Traditionalists have “overreacted”, and the modernists are correct.
The ecumenical gatherings of Assisi I and II, authorized by John Paul II, went beyond mere ecumenism (which is authorized under Vatican II) and started to smell of syncretism. Even in the church I used to attend here in Santa Fe, the Basilica-Cathedral of St. Francis, our local Dean has recently invited, and had Islamic Imams sing Muslim chants in a Cathedral once consecrated to God (not Allah, who is NOT the one, true God incarnate in Jesus Christ, despite what the syncretists say--originating at Vatican II).
Likewise, many of the modern “apparitions” of Mary are staging-points for syncretism, which is the twin-brother of modernism. Syncretism teaches that all faiths verge, and are a valid means to reach God, as opposed to Christ, who taught, Cf., “I am the way, the truth, and the life…no one goes to the Father, except though me.” I used to be a huge follower of modern “Marian” apparitions, after having had a personal, and, I would say, miraculous, encounter with Our Lady of Lourdes, which lifted me out of my atheism during college (I was a huge follower of Joyce, Beckett, Sartre, etc.) But, my enthusiasm went too far, and I started to believe in most modern Marian apparition. But then I shifted. My Catholic beliefs haven’t changed, but my outlook on modern, unapproved, “apparitions” has. I will use your indulgent attention (if you are still with me) to say this: be very wary of modern Marian apparitions, which are not approved by the Church. We traditionalists have such a love for Our Lady that we sometimes want to believe that she is appearing in the dozens of places all over the world that she is reputed to appear, including some very famous ones. Be wary. If something tastes sweet, but has a funny after-taste, like saccharine, be wary. It may have a sweet taste, but no substance. Fr. Rene Laurentin, a preminant scholar on Marinan apparitions, and voted, one of the “one hundred most influential Catholics of the last century”, even advocated on behalf of a “seer” who has been condemned by the Chuch: Vassula Ryden:


This is scary stuff. Vassula is a divorced, greek Orthodox, who appears frequently before the U.N., and says that Jesus told her to draw three figures, like three exclamation points, which represent Catholicsm, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism, and that she was given a vision that these three points started to come together; or, rather, the three points started to “bend” toward one another. That may seem fine, and comports with other unapproved “apparitions” with Mary, which are supported by literally millions of Catholics, including some Hollywood starrs, but it is opposed to Tradition. So, Dr. Kozinski, you can claim that Traditionalist Catholics are just over-reacting, and everything is fine in the Church, but I think you are—with all due respect—an ostrich with his head in the sand, thinking that all is, ultimately--at this day and stage of the Church--just fine and well with the Church. I think you need to reexamine the situation in the Church—perhaps dislocate yourself intellectually from the Ivory Tower that you have gotten yourself into, and look at the overall picture of the Church today.
Having said those harsh words, I will also say that your words about spiritual pride are correct, whether one is a Traditional Catholic or not. And, again, I thought your article was well-reasoned, and well-written. But you go too far in castigating a movement which is merely trying to find spiritual fulfillment in a world of materialism.

In Christ,
Chris Conlee
Posted by: conlee
June 09, 2007 02:11 AM EDT

Those are some great quotes. I agree with all of them, especially the one by Alice VonHildebrand.

However, I do not think that Vatican II was the problem. I think what we did with Vatican II is. The documents themselves are really quite beautiful; as is the Vatican II mass, when celebrated properly.

Fran: it is probably impossible to address issues as serious and important as contraception and schism without it getting emotional for people. We are talking about the core of how people deal with their families in the most intimate context possible. Regarding schism, the Church after all is a family, and those who love her are hurt when she is torn asunder.

It would be good if traditionalists (and liberals) stopped saying things like "NFP is largely the same as contraception." The only people who feel marginalized and attacked by these sorts of "socratic" questions are those who are in the trenches working VERY hard to promote NFP. These are the folks who are doing battle with the predominate contraceptive culture.

I agree that those who practice NFP to space children need grave reasons. However, the Church seems to say that grave reasons can include: emotional, financial, personal, and other reasons. Some people seem to argue that only impending bankruptcy or despondency are grave enough reasons. They are wrong. And those who prayerfully conclude that they need to space and use NFP to do so are doing NOTHING wrong at all.

One reason I feel so comfortable saying this: one need not worry about people using NFP "contraceptively." It is largely impossible. The sacrifice couples make in abstinence is just too high. A woman is most amorous when she is ovulating. A man finds a woman most attractive when she is ovulating. To abstain during this time is difficult in itself. That periods of abstinence can be quite long makes it EVEN MORE difficult. In my experience, couples will either end up becoming more generous to human life (the average size of a family that practices NFP is MUCH bigger than the average family), or they will become discouraged and fall back into sin. That is their choice. NFP is the best hope in evangelizing contraceptive Catholics. It works to space babies, yes. But it also works to help make couples more holy by teaching them the beauty of sacrifice for each other, and gently leading them to being more generous. I say again, critiques from the right regarding NFP are entirely unhelpful to the Church and those of us who try to convince others to use NFP, because they undermine the case we make to contracepting Catholics. This of course doesn't mention the fact that one risks discouraging and alienating those who practice NFP (the exact sort of people we should be encouraging... NOT criticizing)

Consider the point of view of faithful Catholics who have been criticized by traditionalists for promoting NFP, or for attending the new mass for a moment. Shouldn't it be obvious that getting criticized from the left is one thing. (We have come to expect that). From those who claim that we are not being good Catholics in some way... that is another thing entirely. I stand by the following statement: "Artificial contraception is intrinsically evil." Just making that claim, and arguing for NFP, is a difficult enough sell in our contraceptive culture. Those who criticize NFP from the right, as it were, go too far. I was a contracepting Catholic before a courageous priest shared the truth with me. If his message was "if you want to be saint, you really should abandon yourself to divine providence every time you have sex and be open to having 12 - 15 children" I know for a fact that the chances are I would still be a contracepting and heretical Catholic. The providentialist's claim would be so absurd that it wouldn't merit contemplation. How could I ever afford to educate a family of that size? How could I ever afford to HOUSE a family of that size?

And the sad truth is contracepting Catholics are dealing with GRAVE matter. It is difficult to see how such people can get to heaven, and the alternative is not always purgatory. The stakes are VERY high. Furthermore, contraception will make one MISERABLE in this life. Trust me. The benefits of NFP in comparison are HUGE! Happiness is the result of living the Church's teachings.

John Paul II's writings, and the works of lay people like Janet Smith and Christopher West, are far more convincing to the person in our culture today. Again, the providentialist message would not have converted me. It would have driven me further away.

I have said my piece. This magazine has educated me on the issue of the war certainly, and on the importance of justice. However NOR is largely a traditionalist magazine, and people here will largely be hostile to NFP teachers, and folks who read Scott Hahn, and folks who are charismatic, and folks who are unsure if the war is manifestly wrong, and folks who support Ave Maria University etc. etc.. So be it. However, if it turns out that the magazine's readers or the magazine itself end up attacking NFP then I too will have to abandon it. The stakes are too high. Contraception is really... really... awful and the only way to convince people to get off it is to offer them an alternative that can also be a path to holiness. Praise God that alternative exists. Those who deny that it does in fact exist are wrong. I say again: "Those who claim NFP is just a lesser evil than Artificial Contraception, or who argue that NFP's use is inappropriate, do more harm to the Church's message than good.
Posted by: eakter
June 25, 2007 11:55 AM EDT
Dear Mr. Conlee:

Thank you for your thoughtful note.

Just let me say that I in no way think that things are "peachy keen" in the Church today. If you read my articles in Latin Mass, they should suggest to you that I aware of the problems in the Church, ESPECIALLY modernism!

What is troubling to me is that you interpret my critique of a particular phenomenon in traditionalism to mean a less than adequate grasp of the problems in the Church. This is not coherent. Moreover, there is nothing in my article that suggests that I don't understand the things you bring up in your letter, such as the gravity of the evil that has beset the Church--quite the contrary I think. Didn't you read my criticisms, both implicit and explicit, of the Novus Ordo in the article, for example? Look at the first line of the article for Pete's sake!

My main point is a paradoxical one: that one's reaction to Modernism can be Modernistic in spirit, even though it may be arch anti-modernist in its explicit philosophy and praxis. I haven't seen enough treatment of this issue, so I decided to take a shot at it.


Posted by: tjkozinski
June 09, 2007 11:09 AM EDT
Dr. Kozinski,

Like I said, you first praise Traditionalism and then launch a vehement attack against some Traditionalists (who you call "gnostic traditionalists".) So, it seems to me, you want to eat your cake and have it too. Your attacks are not reserved for mere sedevacantists (a position I, too, would never condone), but you further your attack against Traditionalists who attend indult masses. You share a personal anecdote, and speak of the spiritually deleterious time you spent with indult Catholics:

"I simply will not take my kids to the nearby SSPX parish, or even the Indult (at least not exclusively), because the unnatural consciousness is palpable in the former, and noticeable in the latter...Through circumstances outside of my control, I was enabled to see a large deformation in my spiritual consciousness and to begin the process of healing. I call this deformation gnostic traditionalism."

I guess we are on opposite cross-roads. I am fleeing the Novus Ordo, and you the Traditional mass, seemingly. I have sat through uncountable NO masses with swirling dirvishes, priestess-wanna-be eucharistic ministresses, communion in the hand, communion while talking and laughing, forgetting about its true meaning, no less even a slight interest in its significance, talking, laughing, backslapping, handholding, community gathering mentality during the mass, especially during the sign of peace. I have experienced enough of the horizontalism prevalent during the mass, while Christ remains ignored and forgotten on the cross above the altar (if He is even there).

You kick around a straw horse while a raging elephant is devastating our Churches. During the Arian crisis, it has been said (though this may be apocryphal) that St. Athanasius said, "they [the Arians] may have the churches, but we have the faith." Apocryphal or not, this Saint is known as the "Father of Orthodoxy" for his adamant defense of the Faith in the face of persecution and insurmountable odds. 80% of the Church, including the Bishops, believed in the Arian crisis at that time. Athanasius remained true to the faith though he was banished and even died on the road.

Today, we are in a similar situation. The Modernists have taken over our churches, yet the Catholic Church is still Christ's Church. Those who fight this heresy are lambasted, ostracized, accused of heresy (even when they try to remain within the bosom of the Church) etc.

So you can postulate slick arguments like, "one's reaction to Modernism can be Modernistic in spirit, even though it may be arch anti modernist in its explicit philosophy and praxis."

But if something looks like dung, smells like it, and when you step on it it squishes, it probably is dung. So, too, with Modernism. You can salt and pepper the shite out of something, or sugar-coat it (depending on your preference), but the substance underneath will remain the same. You mention orthodoxy and orthopraxy in your article. The only example of the latter, I have found, has been in the Novus Ordo Parishes I have attended, not the Traditional indult. Orthodoxy remains the cornerstone of the Traditional indult masses I've been to.

But, again, I think your heart is in the right place. You mentioned that you wrote for Latin Mass Magazine. I haven't read your pieces but I do enjoy reading Latin Mass. Keep up the work that you are doing that is pleasing to God. We only have one shot at this life. Everything we do has significance during this short life. This life is a test for the next, and the furnace that tests are mettle is love. If we have not love, we are as "clashing cymbals." Yet, it you look around you, nature, including man, seems to always be in conflict with itself; animals war with each other, and so do we.

Despite my disagreement with you on several points, know that I respect what you wrote. Again, I think your heart is in the exact right place.

God bless you,
Posted by: conlee
June 10, 2007 11:51 PM EDT
Chris Conlee's critique of T. Kozinki's article is intemperate and demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of Kozinski's well-reasoned and supported arguments. It is, for instance, no contradiction that one can praise Traditionalism, while at the same time providing an introspective critique of one or more aspects of that Traditionalism, which in actuality amount to perversions of Catholic Traditionalism.

This is the same as claiming -- as many in today's society do -- that one cannot at the same time praise the Catholic Church (in toto) and critique one or more aspects of the Church (e.g., the bishops' sex abuse cover-ups and Lavender Mafia, which are mere perversions of the Church by ecclesial powers-that-be). Introspection is always needed in any institution or movement. Kozinski has provided one here for Catholic traditionalism just as the NOR has done over the past five or six years with regards to so-called "Conservative Catholicism" (e.g., the Legion, Scott Hahn, R.J. Neuhaus, Hans urs Von Balthasar, et al.).
Posted by: charing cross
June 11, 2007 12:33 PM EDT
A few things occurred to me while reading this article and the subsequent posts:
1. I think at least some of the vehemence of so-called "traditional" Catholics may be because we lived through the change in the 60s. I think western society in general bowed to and obeyed a bunch of headstrong, sincere, but misguided kids who had no idea what they were doing but were determined to "change" things. Certainly some social changes would have been helpful, but as one writer above pointed out, most changes happen over time and as they are needed, not wholesale and simply for the sake of change.

I also think (having been one of those kids of the 60s and 70s)we didn't REALLY want our parents,our society, or our church to Change capital C. We wanted to be heard, we wanted to see some of what we perceived as inequities to be righted, but I don't think we were expecting that we'd come home one day to find our parents fooling around with the neighbors, the house in disarray, the Playboy Channel on tv, and a note telling us to have a drink or help ourselves to the pot. We really didn't want our moms to dress in miniskirts, and our dads to flirt with our girlfriends.

We wanted, and needed, our parents, our government, and our church to think about what we said, and then in the accumulated wisdom of their years, hold the lines that needed to be held - even if if meant we got mad, stamped our little feet, and went away for a while. We were going to go away anyway. The Church made a terrible mistake in trying so desperately to hold on to people who were simply going to dance with the Devil. The really sad thing is that when these same people realized their folly and rushed back to find the comfort and steadiness and purity of the Church they knew as children, it was gone - and in its place something that has little or no bearing the Church of nearly 2000 years at all. If I were not to know that I was in a Catholic Church because a sign said so, in many churches today I would have no idea. Which brings me to point 2:

A friend of mine and I were discussing the pros and cons of the change to the NO Mass. He agreed with me that when he first returned from his sojourn into earth religion and Buddhism and so on, he was shocked to find the church so changed. But, having no Tridentine Mass to attend, and having a reasonably reverent NO mass available to him, he has found his peace with the NO mass. When I continued to express dismay - having no NO mass near me that is even remotely "Catholic" - he interrupted our series of emails with a request to drop the subject, because since he had a mass that was "good enough," it wasn't the kind of problem I was making it out to be! The advice, then, when confronted with a priest who dresses up for Halloween, or who refuses to give you Communion if you kneel, is "go find another church if you don't like it."

When I was in Catholic grade school, we were taught that one of the distinguishing elements of the Catholic Church was that no matter where you went around the world, the Catholic Mass was always the same - ancient, beautiful, and changing little. No matter where you went, the language was the same, the gestures were the same, the event was the same - and you would feel welcome.

I believe this is another reason why Traditional Catholics may seem to be overly-committed to the Tridentine rite. If the older form of the Mass had been (gradually) replaced with something equally beautiful, equally meaningful, and most importantly, CONSISTENT from Church to Church, perhaps the adjustment would have been easier.

Finally, I can't help but think that the main point of the article - that Traditional Catholics are perhaps not being humble and submitting, and are in fact practicing a form of pride and elitism by clinging so profoundly to the traditional ways - is moot. As soon as ANYONE feels he or she (including Mr. Kozinski) thinks he or she has "the right attitude," he or she has immediately failed to have the right attitude. He is displaying as much pride in his overtly humble acceptance of the NO Mass as is the traditionalist, who finds he or she cannot attend the NO mass without risking the sins of anger and despair.

Let me also cast a vote for never having heard from any Traditional priest any condemnation of the Pope or attitude of superiority. Instead, rather than reminding ourselves incessantly that we are "the people of God," we are reminded incessantly that we are to pray and do penance and live by the rules of the Church, putting God first, our families second, and ourselves last.
Posted by: nrobert2
June 11, 2007 05:52 PM EDT
Thank you, Mr. Kozinski, for describing so well this particular type of spiritual pride. As I read your article I knew the NOR editors would hate it without cause and, sure enough, they invented gnats to strain from it. The attitude of their response to you is identical to that which I receive from gnostic traditionalists when I suggest they try adopting "a Socratic stance" as you say.

Posted by: rdohanian
June 12, 2007 04:29 PM EDT
I read a quote somwhere that the SSPX risks turning itself into the Jesuits (everybody else is, at the moment, including the troublesome "new movements"). If only the Jesuits would go back to being Jesuits then this might not happen!

Fellay's recent jibe that B16 has a "pathological" obsession with Judaism strikes me as childish. Who in the West hasn't got this obsession?

For the moment, I see no motu proprio and the Holy Father is presumably trying to broker a deal that represents a development in this area but is struggling to deliver.

Our local Bishop is the UK representative on ICEL and has just spent $4 million on yet another N.O. reordering of his Cathedral. The sancatuary is provocatively N.O. when a less provocative solution might have been adopted in line with B16's vision (blurred though that may be at times). The ordering was a simple statement: motu proprio - never!

Posted by: caesium
June 14, 2007 06:34 AM EDT
I, for one, do not understand the "traditionalists'" (those who reject Vatican II) perspective.

Admittedly, I am young. Admittedly my opinion means little. However, I learned that Jesus was the Son of God and died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins from the so called "Vatican II Church" (I always thought She was simply The Church). I learned that contraception, abortion, and euthanasia were immoral from the so called "Vatican II Church." I learned that Scripture was the inspired and inerrant word of God from the so called "Vatican II Church."

It is John Paul II's writings on marriage and the family that have transformed my life the most. I will always pray for his intercession, and will always be grateful to him. One of my children is named after him. I pray for his canonization.

My life has been transformed by my acceptance of the Church's teachings. When I read "traditionalists," I really get the feeling I am reading protestants. There comes a point when our pride takes us out of the Church. That is where many of the "traditionalists" are. They read like the opposite side of the coin as liberals, and sometimes they even say the same things.

For instance, there is a liberal and heretical nun teaching at Yale Divinity who tells her students that NFP is just Catholic birth control.

Traditionalists say the the same thing. Both of these groups are either woefully ignorant, or they are liars. NFP is NOT Catholic birth control for many reasons: (see Janet Smith's lecture on the topic, the writings of John Paul II, as well as many other sources)

NFP is just one example where both the liberals and traditionalist's apostasy has led them into agreement with each other. Both groups hated John Paul II. Both groups have a distaste for following the dictates of the magesterium. As the current article so eloquently points out, both groups tend towards gnosticism.

All faithful Catholics need to pray for the schismatics and the liberals even while we demand our Bishops preach the truth, clean up the filth in the Church, and restore the beauty of our liturgy.

There can be no authentic reform of the Church from outside of Her. The Body of Christ must be unified.
Posted by: eakter
June 14, 2007 09:07 AM EDT
Concerning the editorial reply to Dr. Kozinski:

I find it interesting that the NOR argues that members of the SSPX are not in schism because the Pope and relevant bishops have never made an official declaration of this.

Yet, NOR argues that members of our military in Iraq are opposed to Church teaching when the Holy Father has not made an official declaration of this.

On the contrary, Pope Benedict welcomed President Bush recently and continues to welcome our military weekly at his audiences with no public correction of their actions.

Posted by: rdohanian
June 15, 2007 03:22 PM EDT
Response to eakter:

You need to read more about Traditional Catholicism to distinguish between the schismatic and those faithful to the Church.

But I will try to explain the difference between a heretic stating "NFP is Catholic birth control" and a faithful Catholic (not necessarily traditional) saying this.

The heretic says it with the intention of lumping NFP with ABC (artificial birth control) to give the impression that the Church is hypocritical to allow the former and not the latter. The heretic wants ABC legalized in the Church.

The faithful Catholic says it with the intention of distinguishing NFP from GFP (God Family Planning). He wants to emphasize the difference between a couple trusting themselves with their fertility - with God as a backup plan (NFP), and a couple trusting God first and foremost (GFP).

NFP couples maintain control, which is allowed by the Church, and promoted as an alternative to those who would practice ABC. GFP couples relinquish control to God, which has always been highly commended by the Church, and practiced by the saints.

[NFP is, in fact, Catholic birth control; that is, a Church allowed practice of deliberately performing the marital act when the woman is most likely infertile, or, when the woman is most likely fertile (depending on whether the couple desires to have some control over contraception or conception). Calling it "natural" is confusing because natural can mean both "as opposed to chemical" and "according to natural instincts". NFP is natural in that it is not chemical; but it is unnatural in that the man and the woman abstain when their natural bodies are telling them the opposite. This doesn't occur in nature. So, apart from any agenda on either side, "Catholic birth control" seems a more technical description than "natural family planning" to me.]

Some teachers of NFP became so "gnostic" in their teaching, that they began saying that couples who left the control of their fertility in the hands of God were irresponsible, even selfish and sinful. This understandably caused a backlash by GFP couples. Some were so outraged that NFP had caused Catholics to see something which is always good (the acceptance of a child) as evil, that they concluded NFP must be from the devil and wrongly said so in public.

Faithful GFP Catholics do not condemn NFP (as it is Church approved) but object when teachers of NFP promote it as a practice that is good in itself, when traditionally the Church has viewed it as an imperfect remedy. At the very least, they believe GFP should be presented as an alternative to NFP to engaged couples. Not to do so, in their eyes, is to say that we are not all called to be saints.

This is an inadequate explanation, but it may allow you to think a little better of at least some "traditionalists".

Posted by: rdohanian
June 15, 2007 05:33 PM EDT
the Gnostic Traditionalist article has been good at one thing: creating a spirited debate!

I would just ask everyone to slow down in their use of the words "gnostic", "schismatic", and "hate John Paul II" when they speak of Traditionalists.

I know no Traditionalists who those terms apply to. I do, however, know Traditionalists who question some of the policies of John Paul II, but think him a prayerful and, even holy, Pope notwithstanding.

Pointing your finger at SSPX and yelling "schismatic" is also not pragmatic. Even the Cardinals in the Church would never do that. Slow down, my friends.

Moreover, applying the term "gnosticism" to Traditionalists is highly misplaced. As the Editor points out in response to the article, supra, the early Orthodox church fought tooth-and-nail against the gnostics. Today's Traditionalists are philosophically comparable to the Orthodox Church as it has always existed. Many Traditionalists just want to believe as Catholics have always believed for goodness sake!

It is the modernists who have made a whipping boy out of Traditionalists because they have their modernist reputations and even jobs to hold onto, so they need a scape-goat, and feel threatened by traditional Catholics who hold to age-old truths.

I will be the first to say that there are many fine priests who celebrate the Novus Ordo, but there are so many others who are submerging the church in a sea of filth, especially pederasty. Many of the stories are known only locally. For instance here in Santa Fe we had a priest who was recently arrested for sleeping with a twelve year old girl. It wasn't big news, but there it was. He was a perfect modernist priest until he was arrested. There are many other priests lurking in the shadows with skeletons in their closets.

Traditionalists simply adhere to the truths which have always existed in the Church, and today they are castigated for it, accused of "spiritual pride", etc.

Far from restricting spirituality, (or creating "catholic pharisees" as Thaddeus accuses) traditionalism has created great saints. Look at St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. Contemporaries, they were nourished by the Traditional Latin Mass, and became spiritual doctors not in spite of this mass but because of it. That is not spiritual rigidity, but spiritual freedom. Or, St. Francis of Assisi. Not many know this, but St. Francis traveled around advocating the Latin Mass, since at that time there were various rites which existed. St. Francis advocated a spiritual uniformity in rites, and the rite which he advocated is the same rite that Traditionalists pray. Yet, who would accuse St. Francis of spiritual rigidity?

Yet, there are those who would accuse today's Traditional Catholics as being "Catholic Pharisees" for just wanting to maintain tradition.

Personally, I love a Palastrina Mass as much as I love a mass with only Gregorian chants. I believe other Traditionalists believe the same. Mozart wrote great masses as well as Hyden. One needn't be restrictive with a Latin Mass. But the music in many of our Novus Ordo masses is like listing to a drum being played off-key with an electric piano; it's like, come on, folks, get real. Where's the majesty and solemnity? Our Lord deserves better!

Posted by: conlee
June 15, 2007 10:24 PM EDT
Hey, what's going on? When I clicked on "Last Month's Issue", I found that the Kozinski article has been purged from the table of contents. I had to use the search function to find it.

Posted by: rdohanian
June 16, 2007 02:27 PM EDT
Note from web editor: Fran, your comment is just silly! Since this is June, and Dr. Kozinski's article appears in the June 2007 issue, clicking onto "last month's issue" (May 2007) obviously won't get Dr. Kozinski's article listed in the Table of Contents. No "purge" has or will occur. --msr Posted by: media007
June 18, 2007 12:27 PM EDT
A response to Fran:

Thank you for your kind response. However, I think you have failed to make your point.

There is no difference between a liberal who says NFP is nothing but Catholic Birth Control, and a Traditionalist who says the same thing. Anyone who says NFP is in any way morally or otherwise equivalent to birth control does not know what they are talking about.

You make the Church's approval of NFP sound like the Church is tolerating a lesser evil. NFP is not a lesser evil than ABC. NFP is not an evil at all! Allow me to make my case.

First: NFP is in itself a school of holiness. Allow me to explain from personal experience.

Practicing NFP "contraceptively" as simply an alternative to ABC is impossible. NFP (which is GFP for God designed the cycle!) requires LONG periods of abstinence. They understate the periods necessary in the literature. Once we began charting we quickly figured out that the period of abstinence for us would be 10 - 14 days every cycle.
Posted by: eakter
June 19, 2007 10:54 AM EDT
Oops... I clicked post your comment by accident. The remainder of my comment follows:

10 - 14 days is a long time. It is difficult to see how someone could maintain that over years and not notice the sacrifice necessary. Getting onto NFP helped make me more generous. I now have 3 children. That is definitely a "so far" answer. We will have more.

These long periods of abstinence every month are an opportunity for marriage building (taking walks, communicating, playing scrabble etc.) Thus, NFP can be marriage building.

Furthermore, NFP requires personal discipline. If I would be happy to have another child right now. However, my wife would not support that decision. 3 children under the age of 4 is a lot. She would like the baby to about 1 year old before we conceive again. As this is the period usually provided for by God with EBF (ecological breast feeding - which didn't work for us - baby wasn't getting enough nutrition) her request seems reasonable. She is just overwhelmed right now.

Thus, engaging in periodic abstinence I am making a sacrifice, FOR HER. If I simply disregarded what she wanted, and said "listen, you need to be more generous" what sort of husband would I be? Not a good one.

NFP is GFP. If a couple can afford (emotionally as well as monetarily) children, then they should just not abstain during the fertile time. In such a case, they are still "practicing NFP." They are engaging in natural family planning, and planning to have a child.

Posted by: eakter
June 19, 2007 11:01 AM EDT
There's been some spirited debates on Mark Shea's blog, Catholic and Enjoying It!, and it brings out the "gnostic Traditionalists" out of the woodwork. Apparently I'm less of a Catholic because I attend an NO Mass and the traditionalists have just what I need.

It sounds like the opposite-but-equivalent proud spirit in the charismatic renewal. Oswald Sobrino has a good blog, Catholic Analysis, but he is frequently slipping in anti-traditionalist slams, like they don't possess the Holy Spirit and they engage in rubrics righteousness and they're the Elder Brother. I point out the motes and planks, because he is entirely uncritical of the charismatic movement; and this charismatic renewal pride is also "no salvation outside of us" just like the extreme traditionalists. You don't have to be schismatic or sedevacantist to go there. It's making the leap between judging a rite inferior to judging people inferior. Screwtape whispers this same message of pride into the ears of both charismatics and traditionalists.

Anyone involved with a particular spirituality or lay ecclesial movement also has to watch out for this.

Since there's a lot of TLM lovers and traditionalists here, I would recommend following Oswald Sobrino's blog Catholic Analysis and charitably offering feedback so that he remembers who his brothers and sisters are. He is in seminary as a lay person and is a JD and MA, so I am sure he would appreciate the intelligent and charitable participation that I often witness here.
Posted by: kentuckyliz
June 19, 2007 11:14 AM EDT
I should add: another red flag is anyone calling their group or movement or new church the "faithful remnant." I see that in traditionalists (even having a newspaper by that name), the Marian movement, the charismatics, and in the separated brethren every time there's another split to form a new, purer ecclesial community. ("Hey, let's go make the 13th tribe!") Posted by: kentuckyliz
June 19, 2007 11:19 AM EDT
Response to web editor:
Mea culpa for the rash judgement. I'll check my calendar more often. :-)

Posted by: rdohanian
June 19, 2007 06:08 PM EDT
Sorry Fran, but you are not with the Pope and with the Church on this one.

You are a providentialist. Please check out Dr. Janet Smith's lecture on how NFP is not akin to ABC and is not in any way heretical. Also, please read Theology of the Body and Love and Responsibility closely.

You are also uncharitable and insulting to argue that people who practice NFP cannot become saints.

You address none of the arguments I raised (albeit quickly) that argue that NFP can itself be a school of sanctity.

Holiness does not come from "being more Catholic than the Church."

Saints are rare. People who rely on the Church as their guide and accept God's will for their lives by rejecting artificial birth control are taking the proper step. Those of us who accept and live the Church's teachings on sex and sexuality account for about 10% of US "Catholics."

I think it is very arguable that you are doing harm rather than good by criticizing such good Catholics and painting them out to be doing the lesser of two evils as opposed to living Church teaching.

The Church remains the Church. The truth the truth. Your position is arguably contrary to Pope John Paul II (whom I say again Traditionalists despise), the Theology of the Body, and the tradition of the Church. (NFP has always been approved)

I know Saints are rare. I know a saint wouldn't attack faithful Catholics living and trying to promote Church teaching. That is what promoters of NFP do. You are wrong to criticize them.

Posted by: eakter
June 20, 2007 10:32 AM EDT
Response to eakter:

I do not see where I was attacking NFP couples in trying to explain GFP couples, but I apologize if my poor writing made you think this.

Your impassioned protests and personal attacks lead me to believe that you are not presently of the mind to take a "Socratic stance" on this issue for the purpose of dialogue. So let us pray for each other for now. God bless you and your family.

Posted by: rdohanian
June 20, 2007 10:52 AM EDT
"There is a species of person called a 'Modern Churchman' who draws the full salary of a beneficed clergyman and need not commit himself to any religious belief."

Evelyn Waugh
Posted by: conlee
June 21, 2007 11:24 PM EDT

Strange little post. It makes no sense... just a non squitur.

I worked for the Church for a time myself. I found teaching in the Church's schools very trying, because so few of my colleagues believed Church teaching, and those of us who did were routinely mocked and attacked.

Of course, in my years there, there was one student whose parents attended an SSPX chapel (instead of a Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome).

They were just as insulting as the liberals.

A good book I think everyone here needs to read:

"More Catholic than the Pope" by Patrick Madrid.
Posted by: eakter
June 22, 2007 01:29 PM EDT
Or... just read the words of the Supreme Pontiff regarding SSPX:

"I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfill the grave duty of remaining united to the vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offense against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the church’s law" (Ecclesia Dei 5c).
Posted by: eakter
June 22, 2007 01:51 PM EDT
It occurred to me that perhaps someone who appreciates Dr. Kozinski's approach in this article may be able to help me.

Is there a forum on the internet where one can discuss things Catholic in a thoroughly Socratic manner? A forum where the moderator insists posts are devoid of personality and will help members rewrite them until they are?

Posted by: rdohanian
June 24, 2007 03:33 PM EDT

I posted the quote merely to stimulate the earlier discussion on modernism. Here are some more which I found at the Athanasius blog:

"The people never on any account asked for the liturgy to be changed, or mutilated so as to understand it better. They asked for a better understanding of the changeless liturgy, and one which they would never have wanted changed."

Cardinal Ottaviani

"Under Pope Pius XII, the liberal theologians had been on the defensive, but now as a result of the Council, the situation has been reversed. Pope John, like Frankenstein, brought into existence a creature he could not control."

Michael Davies

"The drivel of heretics, both priests and laymen, is tolerated; the bishops tacitly acquiesce to the poisoning of the faithful. But they want to silence the faithful believers who take up the cause of orthodoxy."

Dietrich VonHildebrand
Posted by: conlee
June 24, 2007 09:57 PM EDT

First of all, I tend to agree with you on NFP. I don’t know how the segue into that topic got started, but I tend to think of Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae as a courageous document, which went against his own liberal advisors, and defined (in a positive way) his papacy.

However--and maybe I’m overreacting to your brief comment--when you say the documents of Vatican II are “quite beautiful”, are you speaking of parts or for the whole? I, too, believe there are many beautiful passages in VII, but as a whole, I would say there is much ambiguity, redundancy, superfluous adage, and, quite frankly, content deleterious to the faith, without being heretical, per se, and perhaps not (though I’m not sure on this point) contradictory to the faith.

I have read through most of VII, but, perhaps, not the Document on Social Communications (although it is, I understand, the shortest).

I’ll start with my most controversial comment first: that there MIGHT be content deleterious to the faith in the documents of VII. Certainly not deleterious to the protestant, muslim, or other faiths (although many of those faiths are deleterious to the person who holds the faith), but deleterious to making new and faithful Catholics.

Let’s look at Lumen Gentium. Is says:

“But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place among these are the Moslems, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.” (Ch. II:16)

Now, that’s really a nice thing to say to the Moslems, but has one Moslem ever converted to Christ because of it? A personal anecdote: One of my best friends in the world, a person who I grew up with, went to Jr. High, and High school, and college together with, etc. Was born a Muslim in Afghanistan, and is sincerely a good guy. We just spent a lot of time with each other last week, during another friend's wedding, and are still the best of friends. Now, according to VII I shouldn’t worry about his soul, because his religion is “first place” among God’s salvation plan. That’s how I read VII. And it’s really a slap in the face of all the great missionaries who ever walked the earth. It’s a slap in the face of the Apostles, who Christ told to go out convert the nations, which were largely pagan at that time, and someone such as St. Francis of Assisi, who specifically tried to convert Muslims. My friend is my “conversion project”, as another traditional catholic friend of mine, Charles Coulombe, put it a few years back when speaking of a non-Catholic friend of his. But if I read VII literally, I wouldn’t care a stitch for my friend. That is the beginning of modernism, which also doesn’t care a stitch for the Sacrifice of Christ.

There are those who think of VII as sacrosanct, untouchable, and comparable to sacred Scripture. That is, historically, a misevaluation of Ecumenical Councils (“ecumenical”, as opposed to the dozens of other, non “ecumenical councils”, which were not as lucky to earn that appellation, although no council has been truly "ecumenical" since the split in the eleventh century). Most of the 21 Ecumenical Councils were formed to combat error, or deal with disciplinary problems. VII was the only one not so formed, but rather was formed to “update” the church, and “open it to the modern world”.

VII went to far as to say that DOCTRINE itself was dispensable if it didn’t comport with the modern world, and wasn’t part of the “deposit of faith”:

“[I]f the influence of events or of the times has led to deficiencies in conduct, in Church discipine, or EVEN IN THE FORMULATION OF DOCTRINE (which must be carefully distinguished from the deposit itself of faith), these should be appropriately RECTIFICED at the proper moment.” (Decree on Ecumenism, II:6) (emphasis added).

I don’t know of one instance in the history of the Church where doctrine itself has been dispensed with, but apparently VII thinks that it is, occasionally, called-for.

The “deposit of faith” is not always marshaled by an ecumenical council. Who would say it’s a deposit of faith that Jews and Muslims must wear distinctive dress? Yet that is what the Fourth Lateran Council taught in 1215; this was the 12th Ecumenical Council. Policies of this or that council do not, necessarily, equate the earnest and abiding desire of the Holy Spirit. Yet, that is what many modern prelates would have us believe: that to question VII is pure heresy. I say that’s pure nonsense! I think the Church made a huge error in changing the Liturgy, for instance, but it is not too late to retrace our steps, slow down from modernism, and get back to Tradition.

So, my friend, don’t be so eager to please the modernists with statements such as, “the Documents of VII are quite beautiful”; sit-back, reflect, and ask yourself: isn’t there a small possibility that the Traditionalists are right: that the Council of Vatican II was unleashed by the well-meaning Bl. John XXIII, who like Michael Davies said, unleashed a “Frankenstein” which he could not control? Isn’t is possible that the 1960s liberals and modernists were just so precisely poised to usurp this council, which, though it does not teach error, has been a great catastrophe for the Church?
Posted by: conlee
June 26, 2007 09:44 PM EDT

Wow... you have raised some very good points and arguments. I will try and address them the best I can. I think, after reading your post twice, that I am largely in agreement with you, with a couple of caveats.

Every Muslim I know (and I have a small in my family... although they are VERY secularist and luke-warm as it were) is a "conversion project" for me. I have been accused by friends of being a "bible Catholic," so here it goes:

Jesus says: "I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me."

That says it all doesn't it? I evangelize every non-Christian I meet regarding the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. There is no way to heaven without Him.

Second, I try and convince my protestant friends of the importance of historic Christianity. It drives some evangelicals nuts when I call the Catholic Church true historic Christianity, but such is the case!

I think Vatican II, PROPERLY READ, supports my actions in these cases. What it is saying is that we may hope for the salvation of non-Christians through some means which is a)known only to God, and b) available to them only through the merits of Jesus Christ. St. Faustina's revelations of the Divine Mercy may be one example of this.

Thus, if my father never becomes a Christian despite all my prayers and arguments, I can still have hope that, when he dies, he may go to heaven. However, I had better do everything possible to bring him to Christ and the Church, for that provides the only normal means of salvation that we can truly count on. Furthermore, as a Christian, if I do not proclaim the Truth, I will be held to account at my judgment.

Thus, the statements in Vatican II regarding Judaism and Islam (which are also in the new Catechism) do not detract from a missionary spirit and a desire to bring people to Christ. IF READ PROPERLY (I put this in caps not to "yell" it, just emphasize it) Reading the Council properly means reading it in the context of the larger Christian tradition, and in a way that does not contradict Sacred Scripture.

The problem is that liberals interpret the above statements of VII to mean "it doesn't matter what religion one is." That is an interpretation of the documents that doesn't comport with Christian tradition, and is therefore erroneous. We must work for the conversion of the entire world. Many, many Catholics in the Novus Ordo world do just this. Take a look at any Catholic author/actvist who sells well and you will see a desire to convert the world for Christ. A short and very partial list:

1) Scott Hahn
2) Patrick Madrid
3) Marcus Grodi

The list can go on and on. There has been a resurgence in Catholic apologetics of late, and the NOR has been largely critical of it (for reasons I just can't fathom!)

I think it can be argued that you read the paragraph regarding the "Formulation of Doctrine" in the most negative light possible.

The translation on the Vatican website reads thusly:

"6. Every renewal of the Church(27) is essentially grounded in an increase of fidelity to her own calling. Undoubtedly this is the basis of the movement toward unity.

Christ summons the Church to continual reformation as she sojourns here on earth. The Church is always in need of this, in so far as she is an institution of men here on earth. Thus if, in various times and circumstances, there have been deficiencies in moral conduct or in church discipline, or even in the way that church teaching has been formulated-to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself-these can and should be set right at the opportune moment."

Now, if we read the above paragraph carefully, we see that the council teaches that if Church teaching has been FORMULATED in a way that is not necessarily helpful to ecumenism, it can and should be reformulated, or the problem rectified.

It does NOT say that Church teaching can be CHANGED.

For a perfect example of this read the joint statement on justification signed by the Catholic Church and the ELCA. It is notable that the Missouri Synod Luteran's refused to sign on, saying the document does not in any way show that the Catholic Church has changed Her position. They are entirely correct. The Church has not "changed" Her teaching regarding the nature of salvation.

However, that document does give us an example of formulating the truth in a way that is more palpable to some protestants. The Joint Statement ultimately solves nothing, but it is a tiny step towards unity, and we took it with no sacrifice of the Church's truth, by "reformulating" Church teaching.

So, for instance, it is TRUE that there is no salvation outside the Church. It is also TRUE that by mysterious means that we cannot necessarily understand, and only by the merits of Jesus Christ and the ministry of His Church, people who die "non-Catholics" MAY be saved. Of course, if saved, they become Catholic in the most important sense!

As the editor points out above "The Ecumenical Councils of Lateran IV (1215) and Florence (1431-1445) defined the doctrine that 'outside the Church there is no salvation.' Beginning with St. Cyprian in the third century and going to St. Irenaeus, St. Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Thomas More (and others), all believed that 'outside the Church there is no salvation.' Do you really believe those Councils and those saints are gnostics?

The Church has modified this doctrine -- a development of doctrine -- and we're glad the Church did." (Editor NOR)

I agree with the editor entirely, and NO Dr. Kozinski is not arguing that Thomas Aquinas is a gnostic.

So, I think it is clear that Vatican II is not asking us to do away with doctrine. Of course, that is when Vatican II is PROPERLY read. (i.e. through the lens of the larger Christian Tradition)

I do not think Vatican II is equal to Scripture in some way. However, until a new council is called, these are the documents than run the Church, and, I say again, they DO NOT contain heresy. (When properly read).

The most cogent criticism of Vatican II I have read is that the documents are purposely vague, and therefore can be interpreted by the reader to mean heretical (and usually liberal) things. This can only happen when we obstinately refuse to the read the documents through the light of the Church's greater tradition. This is what the liberals do. Thus they read the council incorrectly.

Regarding your final point, I think the modern world and the what poorly formed and liberal clergy and theologians have done to the Church by abusing and mis-interpreting the teachings of VII are, in fact, a catastrophe. However, there are sings that things are getting better, not worse.

I think it is arguable that we run the best chance of converting the liberals and modernists, or defeating their ideas, by acknowledging the authority of the VII documents, and arguing from them and from the larger Christian tradition, always with our "biggest ear" to Scripture.

However, I find myself in large measure in agreement with you (at least in the larger points). I think we can sum up our one area of disagreement thusly:

1) You believe Vatican II is the problem.

2) I believe that what the apostates, liberals, and heretics DID with Vatican II is the problem.

Posted by: eakter
June 27, 2007 01:04 PM EDT

Thank you for your well thought-out response.

Certainly I wouldn't say that VII was THE problem, or only problem. Certainly the Church was already headed on a modernist trajectory well before VII, and you are quite correct that a major component of the horrible situation in the Church today is a misapplication of VII.

Really, the best book on the topic is "The Great Facade" by Christopher Ferrara, and Dr. Thomas E. Woods Jr. Neither is a member of SSPX or a sedavacantist. Each is loyal to the Pope. That book brilliantly dissects VII. Here are a couple of excerpts:

"In sum, neo-Catholics gladly defend and practice a form of Catholicism that would have horrified any Pope before 1960. To appreciate this, one need only imagine Pope St. Pius X attending what today's neo-Catholic would consider a 'reverent Novus Ordo Mass," with women, their heads uncovered, serving as 'lectors', altar girls assisting the priest and handling the sacred vessels, the priest facing the people over a table, horrendous and doctrinally suspect vernacular translations proclaimed entirely in a loud voice, ecumenically oriented 'Eucharistic prayers' that omit every reference to the Mass as propitiatory sacrifice, banal hymns and even pop music, the handshake (or hug) of peace, Communion in the hand, and lay men and women distributing the Sacred Host and Precious Blood to standing communicants. How would St. Pius X react to this spectacle? Obviously, he would react as traditionalists do; and, as Pope, he would order it to cease immediately. But for the neo-Catholic, the same spectacle poses no problem whatever, and in his view of the situation calls only for 'obedience' to the ruinous innovations that produced it." pg. 21

"Meanwhile, the Vatican does next to nothing about the doctrinal dissent and sexual scandal that riddle the Catholic hierarchy, yet is quite careful to monitor the traditional seminaries of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter for any signs of deviancy from postconciliar correctness. At the same time, traditionalists are herded into reservations known as 'indult Mass center', where the received and approved ancient liturgy of the Roman Rite is treated as if it were a strain of anthrax that must be contained at all costs." pg. 394.

If VII didn't unleash such a situation on the faithful, what did? If VII had never happened, certainly we would still have modernists in the Church, but the Mass would have remained intact, which has always been the greatest stablizing and unifying bulwark for Catholics throughout the world, and there wouldn't have been the ambiguous documents of VII which the modernists have used to impose their every whim. We wouldn't have had the spectacles of Assisi I and II, we wouldn't have clown masses, banjo guitar strumming masses, etc. There would be greater reverence for the Eucharist even if the faithful otherwise followed modern trends in the world. The Church would have been a greater bulwark against the secular trends in the world instead of a cooperator in many of the same trends.

So, yes, I think VII was a major disaster. But I also agree with you that it is often applied incorrectly, and in ways the signers of the documents would have never imagined. But, then again, the documents are written in such an ambiguous way as to lead to misapplication.
Posted by: conlee
June 27, 2007 10:06 PM EDT
One last thing:

There was once a man full of righteous indignation because of real and perceived abuses going on in the Catholic Church. He loved Our Lady with a deep love until the day he died. He believed the Eucharist was the Body of Christ, and, in fact, he had been a priest. But, he couldn't abide in the Church any longer because of what he perceived as her corruption. So, he branched-off and formed a new church. His name was Martin Luther, and he was actually an arch-heretic, probably causing countless souls to be lost.

We must be very, very careful not to let righteous anger lead us away from the surest means of our salvation: the Roman Catholic Church, which is presently being headed by a remarkable man: Pope Benedict XVI.

Make no mistake, if I criticize the Church, I do so from within, and only as an act of love, done within the imperfect confines of my own conscience. We must work to reform the Church, but only from within.

I don't get the sedevacantists. Do they not realize, historically, that we have had some very rough going in the Church, and some downright nasty popes. Men with concubines, men who exhumed the bodies of predecessors, and placed the corpse on trial, etc. But they have all been valid popes. I don't much like modernism, but I have no doubt that certain modernist popes of late are valid popes, and even very good men, and possibly saints, who are living the faith the best way they can given the epoch that they were born into and the strains of the modern world. I may not like every action of the last five popes, but I humbly submit myself to them, as the successors to Peter, who was himself a very imperfect man. Peter even denied Christ three times, and yet Christ made him His first Vicar.

I submit myself to the supernatural entity of the Church, which is nevertheless filled with fallible human beings, who slip, who sin, who give in to temptations, who sometimes fail in miserable ways. They are human beings. Like Peter, they fail our Lord. But if you take all of the Bishops of the United States, and look at them as a group--albeit a group with human frailty--you are not going to find a more moral upright group of men in our country. Sure, there are modernist bishops, even bishops who do not abide by their vows of chastity, etc. But compare them to a group of CEOs, Presidents, politicians, etc., and there is no question that our Bishops are, by and large, Godly men.

Let's pray for our priests, bishops and Pope.
Posted by: conlee
June 30, 2007 07:32 PM EDT
Chris Conlee:

I think your last post is excellent, and it is that kind of humble, obedient, and deferent attitude to the Church, in ALL her members-to which I see the attitude of the gnostic traditionalt as a grave threat. It is not just the explicit sedevacantists who pose a problem.

I do not mean to condemn the gnostic traditionalists, though, you must understand. They are more victims than perpetrators, to my mind. As I say in my article, ever since Vatican II, we lovers of Tradition have been placed in the eminently non-traditional stance of having to choose what is not supposed to be chosen, but only received. Even if we choose rightly, dismissing the novelties or the post-conciliar Church and adhering firmly to Tradition, we must make this choice with the consciousness of being “on our own,” apparently in spite of the guidance and counsel of many who presently rule Holy Mother Church. The mere consideration of such a choice is deeply spiritually traumatic. The false dichotomy with which Catholics appear to be faced is bound to cause psychological and spiritual disorders, even amongst the most good-willed, spiritually vigilant, and psychologically balanced of Catholics.



Posted by: tjkozinski
July 01, 2007 08:14 PM EDT

First, thank you for your kind words.

Although, again, I agree with much of what you say, but I must disagree with points.

I don't think Catholics care much anymore about the dichotomy between "modernist" and "traditional". If Catholics go to Church anymore--which is a small minority--they go out of mere nostalgia.

So, the "false dichotomy" of which you speak is nearly non-existent among the average Catholic. Though, you may be correct, that it exists for a tiny minority of Catholics.

I also don't think that "psychological and spiritual disorders" should be so non-chalantly assigned to traditionalists. Conversely, I think the disorders tend to exist in the modernist, which castigates the traditionalist, while maintaining a position of false superiority, because he has, for now, the upper-hand. He hates tradition, because it threatens his very livlihood, etc. He is happy to live his life as if God does not exist, because, for him, the world and its fruits are more important. That, to me, is a "psychological and spiritual" disorder. Like I said, the traditionalists I've known want just one thing: to live a life pleasing to our Lord, and to worship Him as the greatest Saints have for nearly 2,000 years.

So, I don't think choosing traditionalism is "bound" to cause any problems, as far as I've seen--quite the opposite. I see an incredibly loving, fruitful, fulfilled, humble community at the Indult that I go to. I'm not saying there is not a fringe element out there that does not take traditionalism to the point of denying the pope, I just, personally, have never encountered that element, nor do I seek them out.

God bless,

Posted by: conlee
July 04, 2007 03:19 AM EDT
I think The Lord may have given us some guidance in Matt.13:52. "A scribe instructed in the Kingdom of God is like a householder who brings forth from his master's treasure something old and something new.

Latin was never meant to be tossed out altogether. It could have been kept with the modifications of externals like vestments and altar furnishings. I don't miss the old black
funeral mass accoutrements, but love the "In Paradisum..." and even the "Dies Irae" - as long as there's plenty of white vestments and flowers
Posted by: Henry Patrick
July 04, 2007 07:04 AM EDT
I think the conflict between Mr. Kozinski and the editor could be resolved if Mr. Kozinski puts the word "gnostic" in quote. As for the rest, it would have been much better if he stops after five or six paragraphs. The more he elaborated, the more controversial he became.

In the ensuing debate, unfortunatley, his main message tended to get lost, and many threw out the baby with the bath water.
Posted by: blueskies
September 11, 2007 05:14 PM EDT
Much has transpired since this article was first published almost 1 year ago.

Having now assisted at the Traditional Latin Mass several times (all since the Motu Proprio was issued) I can safely say that my opinion has changed. Reading through the prayers of the old Mass, it is clear that they are a) more beautiful, b) more reverent, and c) more rich. Attending the Tridentine Rite has brought me closer to God, and God's Truth.

I do not think therefore that regular attendance at the TLM could be anything but positive. In other words, experience has taught me that I think the author is wrong to refer to traditionalists as "gnostic."
Posted by: eakter
June 15, 2008 07:15 PM EDT
I've got to say I know exactly what you mean by a "devilish pride". I've grown up with the Novus Ordo, and after I found the Latin Mass in my adulthood I was inexplicably drawn to it.
I find it far more beautiful. However, I found the people to be cold, and horribly prideful when I engage them. It was a sort of attitude as if "I found this first, so I'm a better Catholic". This article definitely hits the spot.
Posted by: porgovan
May 22, 2009 10:46 AM EDT
Stuart Reid of the British Catholic Herald is giving this article a second look (07/31/09):
Posted by: Jack_Straw
August 05, 2009 11:35 PM EDT
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