A Step Toward Disarmament

In two recent posts (see here and here), I discussed the present situation in the Church facing faithful Catholics and what, if anything, they ought to do about it. Part of that discussion focused on what I will broadly call “disarmament,” that is, the end of polemics and counter-polemics among various conservative-to-traditional “factions” or “camps” within the Church in the interest of combatting the greater malady: liberalism (also known as “progressivism”). This means, for the time being, setting aside or suspending important and reasonable disagreements concerning liturgy, spirituality, and theology in the interest of both defending and promotion the Catholic Church’s authentic teachings on marriage, sexuality, and the family. Let’s be clear: all three are under vigorous assault from renovationists within the Church and their cheerleaders in the wider, secular world. Some, I suspect, will interpret such a calling as a “selling out” of what not only I, but many other traditional Catholics, claim to stand for. Not so. Traditional Catholicism is not a foreign religion; it is not, in and of itself, a “new church” which fails to be intimately connected with Catholicism’s 1.2 billion adherents. If we are truly part of the Corpus Mysticum, then we are part of it with those who read First Things and Communio, regularly (if not exclusively) attend the Novus Ordo Mass, and believe the Second Vatican Council was both important and necessary. If that makes your blood boil, then let me suggest you find a new ecclesial haunt. If, however, that reality fills you with a refreshed sense of mission to promote the traditional apostolate in a spirit of charity for the betterment of the Church and, above all, the greater glory of God, then you are in the right place. For the time being, however, we have a more immediate work to tend to.

The Church is under attack. She needs us — all of us — to come to her defense. Those who believe that the recently concluded “Extraordinary Synod on the Family” was a victory for orthodoxy may be naive, but they won’t be forever. Liberal forces within the Church won’t remain dormant for long; they will have to be answered.

Similarly, those who hold that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, won’t allow harm to come to Christ’s Church should be commended for the loyalty so long as it is not a recipe for laxity. It is neither treasonous nor sinful to remind our priests, bishops, and pope that they are here to defend the rights of God and save souls, not find ways to accommodate the Holy Catholic Faith to this present age of relativism, hedonism, and distorted individuality. Remember: When we pray, we pray for the Holy Father, not against him. Those who are understandably concerned that a spirit of resistance is of the same species as a spirit of schism must come to understand that despite the messiness and confusion of the present situation within the Church, the only thing we the faithful are resisting is the devil himself. Countless times over twenty centuries he has sought to tear down the Church, inaugurating persecutions, schisms, and internal betrayals at every level. He will not win. We believe this because that is what our great God and Savior Jesus Christ has told us. And so we have no right to despair, but neither do we have the right to hide in our ghettos or, for that matter, invest useless time constructing faulty apologetics which are intended to lead ourselves and others into believing that everything is “A-OK,” for truly it is not.

With that grim, but not unconquerable, reality in mind, I intend to do my very modest part to put a halt to any and all distracting in-fighting which divides conservative and traditional Catholics.

The first step toward disarmament means I am dropping the epithet “neo-Catholic” from this blog’s vocabulary. Even if the term can, at times, help distinguish certain “branches” of Catholicism from others. At the same time I am asking all of you to do the same. If you have to distinguish conservatives from traditionalists, just use the term “conservative.” It may be a bit vague and undifferentiated, but it should be sufficient to capture those Catholics who stand firm on doctrinal orthodoxy with respect to marriage, sexuality, and the family. Even though there are particular aspects of how that doctrine is expressed and applied by some conservatives within the Church today which I — and other traditional Catholics — find problematic, that critique is for another day.

Second, I pledge to refrain from any polemics concerning the liturgy, theology, and spirituality without in any way surrendering my position on all three. Discussions concerning all three remain important, but they remain less so than establishing a united front among all of those who remain faithful to the Church’s magisterium. When these topics are raised on this blog, it will be for the purpose of demonstrating and promoting the traditional Catholic position, not critiquing — or denigrating — the positions of other conservative Catholics. For instance, it’s entirely possible you will read posts on here concerning natura pura and the social rights of Christ the King, but you will not see posts lambasting the work of Henri de Lubac or besmirching defenders of Dignitatis Humanae.

And last, I will police the comboxes on Opus Publicum for the sole purpose of cutting off any useless polemics at the knees before they boil over. This “cutting off” applies to not only traditionalist vs. conservative arguments, but also traditionalists vs. traditionalist internecine strife. Yes, there will still be room on here to have free and open discussion about the Church’s traditional liturgy, the implementation of Catholic Social Teaching in the (post)modern world, and other relevant topics so long as those discussions are conducted with charity and an eye toward greater understanding and enrichment. In short, it really should be “business as usual” around here, minus the jabs and stabs which are sometimes taken at conservative, but non-traditional, Catholics.

While I possess no authority to call on other Catholics — traditional or conservatives — to do the same, let alone direct their affairs, I do sincerely hope and pray that all of us can stop fighting with each other and instead fight for the Church. As I stated in an earlier post, the next Synod is a year away and we haven’t a moment to lose. Ask the Blessed Virgin Mary for help. Seek the counsel of the Saints. Read and meditate on the words of our Lord while drawing sustenance from the great prayerbook God has bequeathed us, the Psalter. Take action with your fellow Catholics. Write your bishop; organize prayer gatherings; offer Mass intentions for the triumph of orthodoxy; and please, for the literal love of God, do not brandish your sword against your brothers and sisters in Christ. Stand shoulder to shoulder with them. The present battle will not be won easily, but rest assured it will be won. Remember the words of our Lord from John 16:33: Haec locutus sum vobis ut in me pacem habeatis in mundo pressuram habetis sed confidite ego vici mundum.