Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I Am the Traditional Traditionalist

Whaddya mean The Traditional Traditionalist? Who do you think you are, Palm?

Okay, settle down. I'm kidding. At least, I'm mostly kidding.

For starters, this moniker is about skewering the "I'm more traditional than you" game that's played too often in traditionalist circles. For a bunch of lay people who have absolutely no authority in the Catholic Church whatsoever (that includes me) traditionalists sure can spend a lot of time denouncing each other.

Also, I have explained in my essay "What is Traditional Catholicism?" what I think is at the heart of being a Catholic traditionalist, why I think that not even all orthodox Catholics are really traditionally minded, and why I think a traditionalist attitude is a good thing for a Catholic to have. But the bottom line is that, in my opinion, not all self-proclaimed traditionalists are really traditionally minded either. So I've upped the ante: I am the Traditional Traditionalist. The rest are mere wanna-bes.

One of the main problems that I see within the traditionalist movement is a lack of self-criticism. In fact, publicly criticizing other traditionalists is the quick road to being persona non grata in these circles. The great irony, of course, is that too often those who have no fear of openly criticizing even the Pope will not tolerate more than a modicum of internal criticism, for fear that the already fissiparous movement will fracture even further.

For my part, I see a number of aspects within the traditionalist "movement" that I consider very untraditional. For example, I wrote two lengthy pieces to The Remnant concerning the phenomenon of so-called "independent" priests, that is, Catholic priests who have separated from their bishops but continue to exercise their priestly ministry (see them here.) Frankly, I can think of few things less traditional than a Roman Catholic priest unilaterally separating from his duly appointed bishop, unless said bishop has openly renounced the Faith in which case the priest would not be "independent" per se but would have the Bishop of Rome as his ordinary until the situation was normalized. My critique was, in my opinion, pretty much unanswerable on traditional grounds. But these priests continued to be praised to high heaven in those pages.

I also think it's a big problem for the credibility of traditionalist movement when commentators savage men like Scott Hahn for expressing opinions on biblical interpretation (in this case, the whole Garden of Eden motif that Hahn lays out in A Father Who Keeps His Promises) while another "traditionalist" Gerry Matatics has publicly espoused exactly the same view. Leaving aside whether the view deserves the critique (I happen to think so), have you ever heard any traditionalist writer take Matatics to task on this issue? No? Why not? Because Matatics is One Of Us (or at least he was, until he went sedevacantist) and only a traitor to the Cause would dare publicly call for some consistency in the main traditionalist rags. But come on, folks, Catholic traditionalism is supposed to be all about principled stands, not this sort of tribal protectionism.

I confess I also started to get a little cynical when I saw certain traditionally-minded Catholics loudly denounce the Pope for his lack of effective discipline in the Church, while at the same time they are cowed by their own out-of-control teenage children. My oldest is 12 and perhaps I'll be just as ineffective in keeping him under control. But the bottom line is that I do see certain traditionalists raising polite, well-mannered, devout, upright, and traditionally minded teens. Those are the ones who I think have at least the start of enough moral capital to speak about broader issues of Church discipline. For the others, well, those who can't corral a couple of rowdy teenagers ought to spare the rocks at the Holy Father if he fails to corral several thousand bishops.

Bottom line is that on this blog, I'm not going to stop at offering reflections on what might be amiss in neo-conservative Catholic circles. If I see something that's amiss in traditionalist circles, I'm going to write about that too.

And who am I to declare myself worthy to critique such things? I'm nobody....just a guy with a blog and an opinion. Isn't that the beauty of the Internet? I don't claim anything with respect to being an authoritative commentator on these matters.

So am I the Traditional Traditionalist? You decide. If you find my opinions and observations on this blog helpful, great. If you think I'm a dope, fine. Let me know either way. I can't promise that I will respond to everybody's feedback, but I certainly promise to read it all and—if it's backed up with sound argumentation and solid evidence—take it seriously.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your right on the money! It's time to start selfconvicting and admitting that we aren't perfect. Please, let's give the poor holy Father a break, let's reclaim Vatican II,(Vatican II documents never say that non Catholics go to heaven, infact, it says the exact opposite), May God bless you for this. It's time we stopped yelling at the Pope, (Repremands are only appropriate for when he does something stupid like PRAYING IN A MOSQUE, not for when he is having a hard time with his job; which must suck), and start yelling at the rebel bishops and ourselves. After all, if we don't obay the Holy Father, are we any better?
Long live the Catholic Church!!!!

Ps. If it sounds like a teenage Prodestant is writting this comment, that's because I used to be one not Long ago. I am a Catechumen who is hopeing to be Baptised,(parrents are Baptist), Confirmed and Communicated this Easter. I'm doing it inthe Novus Ordo rite, (yuck), but that's fine. Unfortunately my Parish is so newagey that they are planning on holding Easter Vigil in the Baptist Church!!!! Please pray for my parish and offer a Mass if you are a Priest so that Satan will not rob me of being made a Catholic inside a Catholic Church.