Last week there was some trouble on our blog after a quote from the great defender of Truth (and tireless adversary of Modernism), Pope St Pius X, was published. In the ensuing discussion a commenter accused all those Catholics who try to follow in the footsteps of Pius X, renouncing the errors of Modernism that are out to destroy the Faith, as giving out “traditionalist diatribes”! One of our team responded very perceptively with: “Our precious Faith is founded on Sacred Tradition. To be Catholic is to be traditionalist. End of.”
So what is all this about?
Once upon a time, simply to call oneself Catholic was probably explanation enough. Anyone listening would have known that here was a person who believed that the Catholic Church was the One True Faith, and that She alone, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, contained “words of Eternal Life”. The Holy Mass was not a happy-clappy ‘community celebratory meal’, as liberals refer to it, but the actual re-enactment of Christ’s saving Sacrifice at Calvary. Dissent, novelties, banality and worldliness did not form part of what it meant to be ‘Catholic’.
Nowadays, however, with so many liberals, progressives and modernists running amok in the Church, it is not enough any longer. Hence, to make one’s position clear, those who hold to and defend the fullness of the Church’s timeless doctrines, beliefs, practices and sacred liturgy, often have no alternative but to use the adjective ‘traditionalist’ before the name, Catholic. But in reality this is an appellation that the enemies of Sacred Tradition twist to brand all faithful Catholics, in marking them out as intransigent, bigots, or (their favourite adjectives) ‘intolerant’ or ‘judgemental’. Father Z’s famous Fishwrap – the most unCatholic newspaper in the whole Catholic media – has a hilarious long list of derogatory names for Catholics who hold to what the Catholic Church teaches! They should take a look at this:
“It is…Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as ‘profane novelties of words,’ out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: ‘This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved”(Athanasian Creed).
But now we come to another group in the Church: those who like to follow a middle way; in other words, neither proclaiming themselves in favour of Catholic Traditional values, nor running with the progressives and dissenters. These are the moderates, who like to blow “neither hot nor cold”. [And please note: I am not referring here to people who simply cannot take all these disagreements in the Church and simply want to live their Catholic Faith in peace. Many of these are old people, too tired and world-worn to get into discussions of this sort. Or else they are those who feel the need to stick solely to a life of silent prayer and practice. These are not moderates, but still faithful Catholics doing their own bit for the Kingdom of God on Earth.]
In a most insightful article on Courageous Priest the other day: The Error of Being Moderate: “A Compromised Truth is Always Falsehood”, Father Erik Richsteig had this to say about moderates in the Church:
“One of my former bishops was described, even by himself, as an extreme moderate. I would have called him a pathological moderate, but, hey, that’s just terminology. He was and is a nice fellow and a good man, but he made the mistake of assuming the the middle ground was always the truth. He also made the mistake of thinking that he was always in the middle ground. (Often his positions were liberal/progressive.)
This is a common way of looking at the world. Heck, I looked at the world that way during my stupid liberal college days. You just find what you consider to be two opposite and extreme positions, create a continuum and stake out a mid-ground between them, and then you are safe. Except, that it makes a lot of false assumptions.”
He then goes on to explain what these “false assumptions” really are:
“Falsehoods of Moderation
The first falsehood is that is assumes the things are opposites, like good and evil, male and female. Good and evil are not opposites. That view is heretical. Evil is a privation of good. It is nothing, a defect. Moderation between a thing and its privation is just less defective. Male and female are not opposites. The are complementary sexes of the same species. Neuter or androgyny aren’t a virtuous middle between two extremes, but rather something else entirely.
The second falsehood is to assume that the extremes are natural opposites. Consider fascism and Marxism. They are opposites, right? Wrong, they are both versions of socialism. They differ but that doesn’t make them opposites. Much of the time, the moderate will just pull two relevant things or positions out of a cocked hat and say, “Look at these two extremes. I am in the middle, so I must be right.” But the secret is that there is no middle between the two positions. […]
Watered Downed Gospel
Compromising on the Gospel in not possible. What is arrived at is something else with no power to save. To try, to present a watered down false Gospel does nothing but earn the presenter a great big millstone. […]”
Yes, truly, you have to be a “courageous priest” to speak like that today!
Finally, some sagacious words from Pope Benedict XV:
There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim ‘Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,’ only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.” — Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)