In my Smoke of Satan I take up a discussion of how the ever-present schema of “liberal” (progressive, left) vs. conservative (traditional, right) which followed upon the close of Vatican II is wholly inadequate for explaining the present-day crisis of faith within the Church of Jesus Christ, though it is most unfortunate that usage of these terms persist among many Catholics and in the media today. Of late I have stumbled upon yet another label currently in vogue in the blogosphere, namely “neo-Catholics.” An attempt to discredit these Catholics has been made by two prominent traditionalists, Christipher Ferrara and Thomas Woods. One who has suffered the injustice of being labeled such by “Traditionalists”, Mark Shea, summarizes the views of this brand of Catholic, as follows [my take in brackets]:
- The Second Vatican Council was a positively good thing. ….The pastoral strategy given by Gaudium et Spes is authoritative and, more importantly, correct. The problems in the Church following the council are not the fault of the conciliar documents themselves, but can be blamed on misinterpretation, misimplementation, or ignorance of them. [agreed]
- The Bugninine liturgical reform was a positively good thing. [I highly doubt this] The problems following the promulgation of the new Mass are not the fault of the content, form or circumstances of origin of the new Mass itself, but can be blamed on liturgical abuse at the diocesan and parochial level. [True enough, but not the whole story] When celebrated reverently, there is "nothing illegitimate or doctrinally inexact" about the reformed liturgy. [True]
- The ecclesiastical tradition of the Church has no permanent objective content. All "little T" traditions can and should be modified according to perceived pastoral or evangelical expediency. [can, but not necessarily “should”]
- The pope can and should positivistically innovate in matters of liturgy and devotion. [not the teaching of the Church]
- Ecumenism is a positively good thing and a "solemn and binding duty" on all believers. [Ecumenism properly understood]
- Modern philosophical (e.g. phenomenology), artistic, and cultural (e.g. World Youth Day) forms can and should be used as vehicles for the Gospel, and there is nothing intrinsically and qualitatively superior about the forms used by the Church in the past (e.g. Thomism, Gothic architecture).
- The 1992 Catechism is a "sure guide" to the faith, and can be considered a final authority on any matter it addresses. [True]
- Disagreement with the above statements puts a Catholic in danger of "private judgment", "being more Catholic than the pope" or "Protestant mentality". [False]
Division within Christ’s Church is a clear attack by the evil one. Satan’s strategy here is the time-honored one of divide et impera - divide and conquer. Remember, too, Jesus' words to the Pharisees: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” What are we to make of this branding of those who do not fit ones' personal interpretation of what is Catholic? Though I take it up at length in my book, the abbreviated version is, quite simply, membership in the Mystical Body of Christ presupposes personal conversion....