In These Strange Times

As expected, I have engaged in well over a dozen “Synod Talk” threads, e-mail exchanges, and conversations. Because Michael Voris did not invite me to accompany him and Church Militant TV to Rome, I have no “inside information” to give. I don’t even have a compelling analysis to offer of what has been reported in the secular and Catholic media. There’s simply not enough time to read it. It may take months, perhaps even years, to know exactly what transpired at the “Extraordinary Synod on the Family,” including all of the events leading up to it. Perhaps Roberto de Mattei will pen The Extraordinary Synod: An Unwritten Story someday. For the moment, what I do know is that the Synod is not an “event” which can be dismissed lightly. Even if the conservatives “win the day” (whatever that means in this context), poison is flowing throughout the Corpus Mysticum. Doctrinal changes are off the table, but “practical reforms” in the name of “the pastoral” will remain in play indefinitely. As we have seen play out since the Second Vatican Council, a shift in praxis becomes a de facto shift in doctrine. We can scream “The doctrine still exists!” until we’re blue in the face, but that hardly means it matters.

Some are taking this Synod as a reason for despair. To a certain degree I don’t blame them, but only because they have been spoonfed the nonsensical neo-Catholic narrative that “everything is fine” in the Church today and that no matter what, so long as there is a pope in Rome, nothing bad will ever happen to their fortress faith — one secured mightily from the onslaughts of empirical reality.

Now the neo-Catholic narrative is crumbling and conservative Catholics have a difficult choice to make: Do they continue on with the narrative, adjusting it to make room for “the pastoral on steroids,” or do they admit, with some embarrassment and a great deal of worry, that the narrative was false all along? In other words, is this the moment when the conservatives realize that the traditionalists had the better read on the past five decades all along? Let’s set aside liturgical matters for the moment. They, too, are important, but they are not supremely important. Traditional Catholicism has been, and remains, dedicated to the restoration of the Church’s authentic doctrinal, theological, and spiritual patrimony. It is not an ongoing quarrel over aesthetics.

Since the close of Vatican II, traditionalists have confronted — sometimes harshly — the renovations which were taking place in the Church, resisting directly where possible those changes without compromising the Faith. As such, traditionalists became a thorn in the side of the neo-Catholic narrative. Instead of confronting traditionalist claims, the “good conservatives” typically mocked and derided them. If you want a recent example, look no further than Matthew Schmitz’s petty swipe at Rorate Caeli over at First Things. Instead of taking seriously Rorate‘s concerns about the Synod, he mocks the blog as “the funniest Catholic satire site.”

I pray that Schmitz’s attitude soon becomes the exception instead of the rule. It should be clear by now that conservative and traditional Catholics are in this together. We may continue to have strong disagreements over liturgy, the “new theology,” the status and meaning of Vatican II, and so forth, but with regard to protecting the integrity and truth of the Catholic Church’s witness on behalf of families in the face of a culture beset by hedonism, individualism, and a grotesque disrespect for the sanctify of life, we are one. We must be one. Otherwise the liberals who are hellbent on genuflecting before the Zeitgeist have already won.