The Remnant, the Matt family apostolate which has provided news and commentary to traditional Catholics for nearly 50 years, is in serious trouble. Last week, regular columnist and lawyer Christopher Ferrara issued an urgent appeal to raise one million dollars to keep the newspaper (and its accompanying website) alive. Whether it will meet that goal or not remains to be seen. Having both contributed an article to the paper and previously subscribed, I can say without reserve that I have no interest whatsoever in seeing it fold. I do believe, however, that its survival, and the survival of many traditional Catholic endeavors, depends on refreshing what Catholic tradition means. Gone are the days when traditionalists can speak fondly of “the good old days”; most now living have no recollection of them. Moreover, simpleminded dismissals of certain theological and liturgical currents in the name of keeping alive a conception of both which is historically and intellectually untenable no longer flies. But most important of all, it is time for Catholic tradition to be presented in a positive, upbuilding manner, free of polemical potshots, hyperbole, and useless griping. Yes, the Church is in the midst of a grave crisis and our society has fallen into darkness, but neither abysmal fact provides any soul the right to suspend fundamental Christian charity.
None of this is to say that The Remnant is engulfed wholly by what one might call “traddie sins.” In fact, both Ferrara and lead editor Michael Matt have done a commendable job as of late calling on traditionalists to set aside their strategic differences in order to help preserve and promote the Catholic Faith. Too often, however, the newspaper detracts from such forward-thinking messages by choosing to roll around in the mud provided by non-traditional Catholic journalists. For instance, instead of limiting its recent string of critiques concerning Michael Voris and Church Militant TV to just the issues in play, The Remnant succumbed to parodying its target, thus cheapening their response and likely alienating (rather than convincing) those who have been misinformed by Voris. In fact, taking potshots on non-traditional (but not necessarily heterodox or liberal) Catholics seems to be a part-time hobby for the newspaper. How many people have been turned off because of it? And, more to the point, how much needful revenue has been sacrificed in the process?
Perhaps someone might respond by noting that there is a place for humor even in a traditional Catholic publication. Sure. The problem is when humor degenerates into mockery and the tone shifts from serious to shrill. For all of the talents many (though not all) of The Remnant’s regular writers bring to the table, lighthearted wit doesn’t usually appear among them. So it goes. A newspaper dedicated to the restoration of Christendom needn’t worry about that; what should concern it primarily is reinforcing fidelity to tradition rather than—inadvertently—feeding self-satisfied triumphalism. Today more than ever there are millions of (non-traditional) Catholics wondering what has gone awry in the Church while remaining painfully unaware of their lost patrimony. Bringing these men, women, and children into the fold of traditional Catholicism ought to be at the heart of The Remnant’s mission. Maybe it was once and surely it can be again. All that is required is for the paper’s main movers and shakers to make some editorial adjustments.
In closing let me reiterate that I want the The Remnant to survive. Nay, I want it, and other authentic traditional apostolates, to flourish. I pray that Ferrara’s appeal does not fall on deaf ears, just as I hope that the newspaper, going forward, will become an edifying voice for the Catholic Faith. This is a critical period in the life of the Church and, indeed, Western Civilization. A war nobody wanted is brewing; now is not the time for any soldier to abandon the field.