OLD CATHOLICS, EAST ORTHODOX, AND THE SPECTRE OF DISSENT
Much as I would love to begin here at last the grand epic of the survival of the Roman Catholic Church through these strange times by disguising Herself as the traditional Catholic movement, there yet remains one last ghost which needs to be looked directly in the eye so it can then be summarily dismissed. This "ghost" is the principle of dissent which some traditionalists have mistakenly come to identify themselves with, even to the point of taking the likes of Joan of Arc, Athanasius, or Savonarola as their Patron Saints.
Dissent of many sorts has occurred throughout the history of the Church, leaving in its burned-over trail a plethora of schismatic and heretical little factions all over the world. There is a world of difference between what these schismatic and heretical groups have done and what Catholics of the traditional Catholic movement are doing, though it may not be at first readily apparent. Once seen, however, it is unmistakable. In order to better understand and appreciate the "dissent" which the traditional Catholic movement has been obliged to resort to, it is necessary to introduce the reader to each of those other groups and their case histories.
As is also to be seen in this chapter, the Novus Ordo Church of the People of God traces its roots to these dissenting groups. In the many places and ways the traditional Catholic movement differs from these dissenting groups, the Novus Ordo religion shows itself to be merely just another member of this pathetic and sordid lot. This chapter, therefore, is the story of some of those outside the Vatican institution who are also not Catholic.
The fact that the Church of the People of God should be trying to get "ecumenical" with these groups, and for that matter, with utterly non-Christian groups such as Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, Jews, and so forth does not mean that members of these non-Catholic groups are also members of the Vatican institution, at least in a strict sense. They are still outside the Vatican institution in the sense that they each have their own hierarchies which do not in any real way answer to the leader of the Vatican institution. Here, I am primarily concerned with those who still think of themselves as "Catholic" or at least "Christian" in some sense, even though they are not. It is the Roman Catholic Church Herself who has formally proclaimed that they are not Catholic, back in the days when She and the Vatican institution were both identically the same thing.
For one thing, one must make a distinction between dissent and rebellion. A dissenter is one who disagrees with an authority figure, but who still believes in the principle of authority, just not in the exercise of it as performed by a particular authority figure or leadership group from whom they dissent. A rebel is one who does not believe in authority at all (unless it's one's own). Even though dissenting opinions are typically the product of rebellious minds and hearts, the followers in a dissenting religion may often not even think of themselves as dissenting at all, and most certainly are not in any way rebelling against authority. This chapter is not about rebellion but dissent, and the following chapters, as shall soon be seen, are not about either one.
Another word for those who dissent is "heretic." Again, I remind you that a dissenting heretic is different from a rebel, who would also be properly called an "apostate." Sometimes the traditional Catholic movement is caricatured as being one of dissent, and here we have our problem: "The Church has gone astray; it must be restored!" Thus goes the cry of a great many heretics. How are traditional Catholics different?
It is interesting to note that all heresies are either one of only two categories, or else a combination of the two categories. Let us start with a short review of the history of some of the heretical claims. In the opening few centuries of Church history, people living had known those who had known those to whom the Divine Revelation had come in the first century. Heresies in those days necessarily had to focus on some new revelation or supposed "secret" doctrines. The Gnostics, who were in some ways the first ecumenists, came up with idea that there was good in all religions, and so attempted to invent a synthesis of Christianity and other religions, both those of the exotic Far East as well as the Greek and Roman mystery religions.
The Gnostic religion, for example, borrowed the Eastern idea that spirit is good and matter is evil, and blended that with the Gospel so as to claim that an evil God created the Universe and a good God sent Jesus who, being entirely spirit (according to Gnostic doctrine), left no footprints. In this case, the "new" revelation was actually just a "new" exposure of certain individuals to other religions unknown to the early Palestinians. The result was a group of documents called the Nag Hammadi texts which the Gnostics simply added to their version of the Bible. The Gnostic heretics also used the strategy of the "secret doctrine" by claiming that there were secret doctrines, known only to the high initiate few, but concealed from the general run of Christianity. Indeed, their name itself refers to themselves as the "knowing ones" because they saw themselves as that initiated few. This is exactly the sort of thing condemned by no less than the Apostle John when he spoke of "antichrists many" in his Epistles. These "secrets" not only amounted to heretical beliefs, but even extended to grotesque and sinful liturgical practices and excesses, shocking even to Pagan Rome. It took centuries for society at large to differentiate authentic Christianity from these Phibionite and other deviant sects, and it was from this that came many of the ancient criticisms leveled against the Church.
Next came the Arians who again made no claims to restoring any early Church but only pronouncing on a question which had not really been asked, namely "Is Jesus God?" Up until that point, Christians had simply taken it for granted that Jesus is God, namely God the Son, the Second person of the Trinity. Arius attempted to reason it out with his rational, but human and limited mind, and ended up saying "I simply can't believe that some mere man walking about on the earth could somehow also be the Eternal God." To Arius, if the Apostles thought that Jesus was God, he could only pat them on the head condescendingly like a good dog and say, "Ah, isn't that cute? How quaint, actually imagining that Jesus might be God. But WE know better. We are enlightened because we have read up on our Greek and Roman (pagan) philosophy and we know that none of the great Gods and Heroes who walked the earth could ever be equated with that ultimate and remote Divine Entity."
Even as late as the seventh century, the only way to create a new heresy was to claim some new revelation or some new insight or other new thing. In this case the new revelation came from an angel of light who called himself the Archangel Gabriel and told the "great prophet" Muhammad all of the things which he wrote down in the Quran. This kind of heresy hasn't stopped, but has slowed down somewhat since the appearance of the other kind of heresy which is the one I really want to talk about, but let me finish this out with a few more contemporary examples.
In the early 1800's two new religions came into being, each claiming to be based on some new revelation. In Persia, a new prophet named Baha'ullah appeared, claiming to advance the faith from that of Muhammad to that of a higher truth, and so founded the Bahai faith. In the United States, another new prophet named Joseph Smith claimed to advance the Christian faith, founded the Mormon Church, and introduced many new claims clearly unknown to Jesus and the Apostles. Later on, we have Mary Baker Eddy and Madam Blavatsky and their new revelations. In the twentieth century, we have Reverend Moon who claims to be the Third Adam, something which the Bible obviously never provided for in any way.
We also have Charles Manson who claims to be God and Satan reunited, David "Moses" Berg who taught his "flirty fishies" to use promiscuity as an evangelistic tool, Scientology which all comes from the mind of L. Ron Hubbard, Atheism which was invented by several Germans, an "Aquarian Gospel" written by Levi H. Dowling who consulted the Akashic records (apparently, a memory written in the "fabric" of space) as a basis that we all get reincarnated, the Urantia book which mystically reveals things known or believed only by 1930's "pop" science, and numerous messages from the Ascended Masters passed along by Mark L. and Elizabeth Claire Prophet.
Note that in each of these cases, there is some "truth" which is so great and lofty and sublime that even Jesus and the Apostles could not have known and would not have been ready for, or else could only reveal to the initiated few, but which can now be made public. None of these heresies intrinsically involve any claim that the Church has gone astray, although some most recent ones do gratuitously make such a claim as an extra added bonus. The point is that in the earliest centuries of the Church, this was the only kind of heresy available. Christians still remembered what the early Church was like, and the ancient "Church Fathers" were those saintly ones who wrote down (thereby documenting) details of the ordinary day-to-day functioning of the Church. As the remembrance of the early Church faded, the age of the ancient Church Fathers also ceased.
It took clear to the eighth century (at which point the age of the ancient Church Fathers was drawing to a close) before another form of heresy first put in an appearance. This started with the Iconoclasts who were the first to put forth the claim that the Church had somehow fallen from the holy purity She had back in the beginning, and that a restoration to that primitive state was in order. These people condemned to destruction many beautiful works of art which adorned the churches around the world and reminded many believers of the Christian saints and biblical events which many, being illiterate, would otherwise forget about, or even not have learned about in the first place.
In that heresy, there were in fact two different heresies at work. One, a local heresy unique to itself, and the other, a general heresy which has been repeated over and over again and which is the basis for all heresies apart than those ones I have just mentioned which were based on new or secret revelations. The local heresy in this case was that images were in themselves bad, and the general heresy was that which I would call "restorationism," that false kind of restoration. It is those of this heresy who must proclaim that "The Church has gone astray; it must be restored!"
Before the Iconoclasts came into existence, everyone knew what the Church had been in the beginning and could see that She had not been changed. It would have been utter nonsense in those days to claim that "Well, Jesus and the Apostles taught and believed one thing, but the Church today teaches and believes another, so we need to go back." That is why all of those earliest heresies had to claim instead that "Well, Jesus and the Apostles did not know or reveal everything, but now is the time that things they did not teach can at last be "revealed," or "figured out," or "made public," or "discovered," or "created," or "channeled," or whatever the case may be.
This false "restorationism" is at the heart of a great many heresies from that of the Iconoclasts onward. In the eleventh century, the Churches of the East, while admitting that they had long been subject to the Bishop of Rome, suddenly advanced the claim that it had not been so in the beginning. In the sixteenth century, the Protestants claimed to be restoring the Church to a Biblical form, and one hears that claim in many small Protestant churches to this day, "We're building a New Testament Church, just like Jesus and the Apostles!" The Jansenists, Döllinger, and the Old Roman Catholics all did likewise.
The Iconoclasts blamed the third century Church for introducing images. The schismatic Eastern churches blamed the fifth century Church for giving preeminence to the Bishop of Rome. The Protestants of the sixteenth century have had a field day being able to move the blame around anywhere from Constantine to Saint Thomas Aquinas and back again, as suits their purposes. The Jansenists blamed the tenth century Church for reducing the penances. Döllinger blamed the sixth century Church for forbidding the clergy to marry.
What do all of these heretical claims have in common? All of them without exception state that the change came somewhere "way back when" a very long time ago (centuries at least). Why do they do this? Let us see just what would happen if the opposite were to take place. If, in 1925, some prominent figure were to claim that the Church changed from one thing to another a mere ten years previous (that would be in 1915 A. D.), can you imagine what would have happened? Let me state it for you straight out.
There would have been tens of millions of Catholics worldwide who remember what the Church was like before, during, and after 1915. Not one of them would recall anything happening to their Faith or the Church that year. Pope Benedict XV was on the throne and spending much of his time trying to contain and limit the evil caused by the "Great War" (what we now call World War One), and to encourage nations to try to get along with each other and make peace, nothing all that unusual for the Church. The catechism remained the same; the liturgical rites remained the same. Nothing interesting happened to the Catholic Church that year. Our "prominent figure" would be at once seen, by all who hear him, to be making an absurd and foolish claim, and no one would take him seriously anymore.
But, if he were to claim that the Church changed from one thing to another a thousand years previous (that would be 925 A. D.), who could refute him? Since most people are not familiar with Church history, many of them would be truly surprised to learn that there has never been such a change. But if only they could step through the history of the Church, Council by Council, Pope by Pope, year by year, sure enough no such event would be found to have ever taken place. Unfortunately, the vast amount of scholarship this would require is way beyond the reach of any layman, or even most priests and bishops. As the Church continues down through time, the size of this tremendous amount of data one must study and be familiar with in order to prove that can only grow exponentially with the age of the Church.
If even the greatest lights of the Church today are scarcely able to take in and digest all of this overwhelming amount of information, how much less can the proverbial "man-in-the-street" who not only has a soul to save, but a family to feed? The heretical restorationist takes advantage of this ignorance on the part of most people by claiming that somewhere, way back in the "forgotten" mists of antiquity, the Church went askew, and somehow nobody seems to have cared or even noticed.
Let's take a short look at why and how he might do this. For some selfish and twisted purpose of his own, he invents some conception of what he wants the Church to be like. He then goes to the early sources, the Bible, the early Church Fathers, and sometimes other documentary miscellany from the period, and looks for quotes that fit his invented conception. No matter what that conception is, it is never hard to find some seeming basis for it, provided that he is careful to reject, or ignore if possible, any evidence from his sources which refutes his claim. He then publicly contrasts this fictitious "first century Christian Church" with the Church as known in his own day and devotes the rest of his life to trying to persuade everyone to "restore" the Church to his twisted vision of the first century Church.
Suddenly, along comes Vatican II and one sees the supposedly "Catholic" hierarchy following the exact same pattern. Practically the entire leadership of the institution which had long been the Catholic Church all agreed and conspired to turn "the Church" into something it had never been. Interestingly enough, one of the claims they made for this transformation is that it would restore the Church to Her first century format! Suspicious indeed is the heavy borrowing of liturgical details and other "incidentals" from other false restorationists, such as Martin Luther, Thomas Cranmer, and certain Jansenists.
The people who pushed for these changes and who finally got them were themselves false restorationists, for the heresies of modernism and liberalism are also false restorationisms. But all of these higher critics who dissect the Bible, deciding for themselves which statements attributed to Jesus were actually said by Him and which were not, are by their very nature and admission modernists. They claimed they wanted to go back to some supposed primitive Church model. And this is what sort of mind set all of the key periti at the Council pretended to have, Karl Rahner, Hans Küng, Edward Shillebeeckx, and all the rest.
I have frequently mentioned the schismatic East Orthodox and also certain Eastern Catholic Rites, and the history of these bears some short explanation, since the two are closely intertwined:
In the early days of the Church, the original Apostles traveled to many diverse parts of the world, each taking with them their first-hand knowledge of Christ which they had gained in their several years with Him. Paul's missionary journeys are well known since they are written up in the Bible in some considerable detail. Peter seems to have operated in Jerusalem and then Antioch for some period of time before moving over to Rome. Mark (the writer of the Gospel bearing that name) went to Alexandria. Thomas (the famous "doubting Thomas") went to Parthia, and then India, founding a congregation in the Malabar coastal area. James (who wrote the Epistle of James in the Bible) remained in Jerusalem. John first went to Ephesus, and later wound up on the prison island of Patmos. The others went to various other places.
Each of them, filled with the words and actions of Christ, drew from that rich reservoir the particular liturgical elements most suited for the various cultures they evangelized. The liturgies, although substantially the same, contained certain local variations. Some of these apostles were more successful at establishing the Church in their missionary land than others, and the more successful of these arranged to have successors to their respective Sees. These successors are now commonly referred to as Patriarchs. In the early Church, the main patriarchs were established in Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.
The Patriarch in Rome was also the Pope, and it was to him that all questions went when they could not be settled by lesser authorities. It is in the fifth century that the Church in the East began to call itself "Orthodox" in reference to their rejection of certain fashionable heresies in the East, namely that either Jesus Christ was two persons (God and Man) or else that He had only one Nature (God only, or Man only, or some weird mixture, or even the claim that God and Man are both of the same Nature) which were condemned at the Council of Chalcedon. The correct doctrine, promulgated at Chalcedon and accepted by all orthodox ("right teaching") Christians of the East and West alike is that Jesus Christ is one Person with two Natures. In this matter, even the schismatic "East Orthodox" are in fact still quite orthodox.
It is interesting to note that there has been repeatedly given from Rome commands that the specific Rites as observed by the various patriarchates were not to be contaminated with each other's disciplines. These commands became especially necessary when, due to the success of the Church in the West, and of the European nations which by law embraced Christianity and became therefore "Christian nations," or "Christendom," certain priests and bishops in the East were beginning to Westernize their Rites. Also, certain Eastern Rite Churches at various times tried to force other Eastern Rite Churches to change their liturgy to be like that of the stronger Eastern Rite Church. Such attempts to westernize the Eastern patriarchates or make the Eastern patriarchates uniform among themselves were wrong in precisely the same way that it would be wrong to "fix" the Sermon on the Mount as given in the Gospel of Luke to read exactly like the Sermon on the Mount as given in the Gospel of Matthew. What matters is that all Christians must draw their liturgical "water" from that same well of Christ's "Living Water," not that all should have similar sized and shaped cups to draw it with.
Indeed, one would do well to remember those prohibitions against mixing Eastern Rites with each other, or with the Western Rites the next time some Fr. Bozo decides to introduce some change, such as "communion under both kinds" or "standing during the consecration," or even the use of leavened bread, on the basis that such things are supposedly being done in the Eastern Rites. While it is true that Eastern Rite Catholics use leavened bread and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord under both forms, and also do a lot of standing in their worship, the way communion is handled is quite different from how it is given under both species in the Novus Ordo Rite (with or without leavened bread), and the people do also kneel as well as stand, but the one thing they cannot do is sit down for the simple reason that pews are not provided (except a very few for the feeble and elderly). What one sees in Pope Benedict XIV's prohibition against mixing different Rites is a tremendous respect for each of the Rites of the Church, Eastern and Western alike. None of them is to be compromised or blended in any way, even with other Rites every bit as Christian and legitimate as their own.
Even so, tensions persisted between East and West, particularly since the wise and just legislation which existed to prevent any Rite from growing at the expense of any other Rite frequently went unenforced or even ignored by many priests and bishops of both East and West. It is important to note that the liturgical and disciplinary differences between East and West were not in and of themselves either the cause or the result of dissent. For most of over a thousand years, the Church both East and West was united. Each side more or less respected the distinctive characteristics of the other while both presented to the world a united front.
There were dissenting groups in the East, particularly those who were condemned as heretics at the first eight Ecumenical Councils of the Church. These were the groups which denied that Jesus Christ was God, or that He was Man, or else claimed that he had only one Nature or else two Persons. Also there were those who claimed that Christian art was bad (Iconoclasts) and those who claimed that everyone including the Devil would eventually be saved (many of the Armenians). It turns out that the same weakness which caused these heresies to spring up in the East also eventually caused the separation of those orthodox believers into the Eastern Schism. That weakness was a tendency to go just a little too far in allowing the secular rulers to choose who gets the power positions in the Church, namely the bishops and patriarchs.
Normally, it is the job of the Church to make that choice, not anyone else. While one must admit that the Church is at liberty to show deference to a secular ruler by selecting a candidate for a See who is pleasing to that secular ruler, the Church can by no means be morally obliged to do so. What happened in the East was not quite so much a "dissent" as an "acquiescence," to a nearer and stronger "authority" than the Christian hierarchy way off in Rome. Perhaps that is why it is that even after nearly a thousand years of separation, the schismatic East Orthodox churches deviate from sound doctrine in only a very small number of ways. Nevertheless, an element of dissent quickly grew in the East, somewhat helped along by the tensions caused by liturgical and disciplinary differences.
There is an extremely short list of areas where the Eastern Church expressed dissent. It is interesting to note just how willing the schismatic Church in the East was to renounce its short list of heresies in order to be reunited with the Catholic Church for a brief period in the fifteenth century. In renouncing their schism and heresy they needed only to affirm the four following tenets of the Church: 1) the supreme primacy of the pope, 2) the validity of the use of unleavened bread for the Eucharist, 3) the existence of Purgatory, and 4) the procession of the Holy Ghost from both the Father and the Son. In later years, the West would also come to confirm as true and Christian: 1) Thomistic Theology, 2) the Infallibility of the Pope, 3) the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and 4) the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. None of the eight issues listed here were ever so much repudiated by the schismatic East Orthodox as simply left up to individual opinion. Real Eastern dissent was expressed in only those individuals who ran ahead of their leadership by condemning these eight Catholic doctrines rather than simply feeling that these issues were still merely a matter of personal opinion.
Some today might feel that the schismatic Eastern Orthodox Church might really have been the way to go since they are not undergoing any "spirit of Vatican II" changes right now. They had no Protestant rebellion and no Jansenists either. On the other hand, they have no central leadership (no pope, not even an office for a pope), and have had no Councils for over a thousand years with which to address any of the very many questions which have been raised up over that period of time. No, despite their valid Orders and Sacraments and sound teaching in all areas other than the tiny handful mentioned above, they are not part of the Church. They are schismatic, and in fact merely the Christian expressions of certain Eastern Despots rather than valid successors of the Eastern Apostolic Patriarchs.
Not to be confused with such are those of the Eastern Catholic Rites in union with Rome, who are not schismatic, and who properly are the successors of the Eastern Apostolic Patriarchs. While many in the Eastern Rites broke off and became schismatic, there were a few, most notably the Maronite Rite in Lebanon and Syria, which were always faithful to Rome. Over time, many members of the other Rites, both lay and clergy, renounced their very few heresies and returned to unity with Rome. In all other aspects, these Eastern Catholics kept their disciplines and liturgical practices. Most large and notable of them operating here in America today is the Byzantine Rite.
Some of the early Protestants bear some mention as further examples of dissent. Martin Luther started out merely protesting certain abuses which were taking place, but soon his vitriol began spraying in all directions as he later came to deny huge areas of Catholic doctrine. Since he quickly progressed from dissenter to rebel, he quickly lost all real interest to the history of the Church and certainly would have faded into the woodwork if only a certain secular ruler had not found Luther's ideas able to work to his advantage. Thomas Cranmer likewise would not have got anywhere with his ideas had not Henry VIII wanted a divorce.
All one has to do is look at the many and ever multiplying Protestant sects to see that there is no Church there, only ever so many more and more little churches dotting the countryside. Even regarding such basic issues as whether or not tongues, Rock music, healings, anti-Catholicism, and Christology, they differ so very much from one sect to another. They disagree with each other about almost everything under the sun, and even about issues which have been long since settled by the Church in the days when there was only One Christian Church. Furthermore, the modern false "ecumenical" movement got its start amongst the Protestants who realized that they must band together if they are to continue to be any sort of a political force in the increasingly secular world. The World Council of Churches (long known to be a Communist front) has nearly every major Protestant sect represented as formal members. No, the Protestant "church" is no solution since their entire structure leaves so very much up to the choice of the individual "pastor" or "believer."
The next major sources of dissent were the Jansenists and the "Old Catholics." The Jansenists were merely followers of a man named Cornelius Jansen who, in the name of a false interpretation of Saint Augustine's writings, taught that severe disciplines supposedly practiced in the early Church should be reinstated. These disciplines called for extreme and long penances, and very rarely (if ever) partaking of the Eucharist. Combined with that was a certain "Calvinism" which taught that God chooses to save some while choosing all others to go to Hell.
At length, one of their members by the name of Cornelius Steenhoven finally got what is generally taken to be a valid episcopal consecration in 1723. His consecrator was a missionary bishop, Dominique-Marie Varlet, who was known to be sympathetic to the Jansenist cause and in fact already suspended on account of it. From Steenhoven they made many more bishops and were able to set up a new "hierarchy" of their own in Utrecht, Holland. This shadow hierarchy, condemned by Rome as schismatic and heretical quietly continued to sustain itself for over a hundred years until further events forced them to combine forces with Johann Ignaz Döllinger and others who rejected the first Vatican Council.
It was Döllinger who gave the "Old Catholics" their present direction, insofar as they can be said to have any direction at all. Once Vatican I had proclaimed and defined the doctrine of the Infallibility of the Pope, several apostate priests and others, under the influence of Döllinger's writings organized and held a mock council in Munich in 1871. While Döllinger himself kept a certain distance from the new schism, he was clearly the main intellectual force behind it. It is interesting to note certain parallels between the Councils of Munich and Vatican II. Both advocated ecumenism, a reduced degree of authority for the Pope, and the reduction or elimination of Latin in the liturgy, along with other liberal ideas. Because of these parallels, some even refer to Vatican II as "Munich II."
One characteristic of the Old Catholics which is of particular significance here is their almost casual readiness to make bishops out of anyone who asks. It is this quality, along with the fact that the Old Catholics were not directly affected by Vatican II, which has caused some desperate Catholics to turn to them during the present crisis. The Old Catholics were not directly affected by Vatican II for the same reason the East Orthodox were not directly affected: They were (and are) in schism.
The present crisis is not the first occasion that disgruntled Catholics have turned to the Old Catholics for episcopal services. Around 1900, a group of Polish immigrants who felt that they were being given unfair treatment withdrew from the Church and soon thereafter turned to the Old Catholics and formed what is often called today the Polish National Church. A smattering of other national groups, such as the Philippine Aglipayan church, have done similar things for similar reasons.
Disgruntled Catholics are not the only ones to avail themselves of the services of the Old Catholic clergy. Other unscrupulous persons have obtained an episcopal consecration from Old Catholic clergy, often at the cost of simony. These "clergymen" would then each set up some little church of their very own with no connection to any other church, even Old Catholic, and lead some small and unfortunate congregation whatever way suited their fancy. Nearly all of these pathetic individuals trace their orders to Jules Ferette, Joseph Vilatte, or Arnold Mathew.
To many Catholics, disgruntled with the changes taking place in their Novus Ordo parishes, the Old Catholics can seem to have quite a viable claim: "Maybe the Church should not have proclaimed papal infallibility back at Vatican I. Then no one would even seem to have the authority to enforce the Novus Ordo Missae. Maybe Vatican I was the false council (somehow) and the Old Catholics are the true Catholic Church." One can see how easy it is to fall into such a pattern of thinking. Even certain great figures in the traditional Catholic movement, namely Francis Konrad Shuckardt, Abp. Pierre Martin Ngô Đình Thục, Fr. Francis LeBlanc, and even Fr. Hector Bolduc have at various times and places and to varying degrees aided and abetted or at least availed themselves of the services provided by the Old Catholics, however briefly and incidentally in some cases.
Nevertheless, the Old Catholics represent nothing but dissent and are not in any way a protection from the Novus Ordo religion. For one thing, most Old Catholic groups were obliged to sign on to the heretical "Utrecht Declaration" which affirms Jansenistic doctrines as a condition of receiving an episcopal consecration from the Old Catholics. For another, their Munich Council was practically a prototype for Vatican II. If anything it actually goes even further than Vatican II ever does. Some other problems are the fact that they have rejected the teachings of the indissolubility of marriage, the primacy and infallibility of the pope, and clerical celibacy. While in the beginning, the Old Catholics accepted the Council of Trent as the last valid council of the Church, they have since backed off from acceptance even of that council, owing to their attempts at ecumenical cooperation with Protestant churches, especially the Church of England. Finally, there is some doubt as to even the validity of their episcopal orders since their theology regarding the sacrament of Orders is defective and therefore their intent to consecrate is suspect. Döllinger himself was very much a liberal and a modernist, the same sort as those who gave us Vatican II and invented the Novus Ordo Missae.
In the course of our current Church crisis, one will often hear the words "Jansenism," "Jansenists" or "Jansenistic" used a lot. Properly and strictly, these terms only apply to those Old Catholics who have formally subscribed to the Utrecht Declaration, a document prepared and agreed upon by the founders of the Old Catholic Church. As it is, not even all who count themselves as Old Catholics or whose priests and bishops trace their sacramental orders to the Old Catholic bishops adhere to the Utrecht Declaration, and so cannot be called Jansenists. That term does not apply to anyone in the traditional Catholic movement, nor for that matter, the Novus Ordo Church of the "People of God." When this term is used in reference to anyone other than Old Catholics adhering to the Utrecht Declaration, it cannot be taken as a serious recrimination, but only as an empty epithet one hurls at an opponent when one has run out of more intelligent things to say.
The next dissenting group was a loose association of people who worked within the Bosom of the Church to try and overthrow the Popes and all of their teaching. For lack of any better name, this group may be referred to as the "Liturgical Movement." That is the direction taken by these unscrupulous persons when Pope Pius X began encouraging the lay faithful to have a fuller participation in the Mass, by which he meant that they should take a more active interest in what is going on as the priest performs the mysteries of God in the Mass. These people latched on to that encouragement and used it as a pretext for introducing the "Dialogue Mass," the first step in the direction of the Novus Ordo Missae.
Within this Liturgical Movement, perhaps five to ten percent of their work was legitimate, involving research into the origins of various details and customs of the feasts and other aspects of the liturgy. Their legitimate work served as a kind of "loss-leader" to establish themselves as "great scholars" and acquire reputations and the clout which comes with that. With the remainder of their work, they displayed their true intent which was to foist on the Church a brand new "Mass" of their invention. This was stated first in very cloudy, veiled language which sounded almost totally orthodox, but gradually as they gathered fame, approval, numbers, and just overall momentum, their nefarious plans were stated in more and more detail.
One of the more prominent names in the earliest days of this Liturgical Movement was Virgil Michel who founded and edited a modernist journal called Orate Fratres which expounded and advanced the cause of the Liturgical Movement even as far back as the reign of Pope Pius X, and clear until 1938 when Virgil Michel himself died. Taking over the helm from him was Fr. Gerald Ellard who praised his predecessor Virgil Michel as the "Pioneer of the Liturgical Movement in America." Fr. Ellard wrote three books over a period of sixteen years entitled, Men at Work at Worship, The Mass of the Future, and The Mass in Transition. One finds in these horrid tomes (published during the 1940s and 1950s) a startlingly detailed description of the Novus Ordo Missae, along with the claim (similar to the claims of previous dissenters) that this new "Mass" he is proposing is a restoration to some sort of primitive practice.
The dissent practiced by the Liturgical Movement followed a somewhat different course from the dissent practiced by the previous groups described here. Where the previous groups said boldly and honestly "we disagree" with Catholic authority, this group disagreed with Catholic authority in exactly the same way while saying "we are just expressing your truths in a manner which 'Modern Man' can better understand," a claim which any bishop able to read between the lines would have to have recognized as positively insulting. They would then search far and wide for some lame-brained bishop to give their books, magazines, and other articles imprimaturs, even of the bizarre and unprecedented sort which read "Views expressed remain the author's own though the book bears the Imprimatur."
While the Holy Spirit eternally protects the Catholic Church from embracing such heresies, since Vatican II there has been a non-Catholic portion of the Vatican institution which enjoys no such protection. As a result they have allowed the dissenting Liturgical Movement faction to take over and run their new Church. The Church of the People of God is therefore just another dissenting group which has withdrawn itself from the Catholic Church and Catholic communion just like all the others. The only difference is that, owing to the clever strategy of the innovators, the number of people this dissenting group has misled is substantially larger than the number of people in each of the other dissenting groups. Theirs is the religion I have already described in the previous chapter. Since I have already explained there why this dissenting group is not an acceptable alternative for Catholics, I will not repeat that information here.
Dissent did not end with the rise of the Church of the People of God, but since the Church was so drastically reduced in size by the mass defection of Catholics to the People of God, the newer dissenting groups have been correspondingly smaller. The first of these dissenting groups came about while the Liturgical Movement was still a minority voice within the Vatican institution, but by which time real Catholic faith had also become a minority voice. A number of Fr. Leonard Feeney's followers, reacting against the increasing liberalism and erosion of the doctrine that outside the Church there is no salvation, began to fight that erosion (an erosion which really did need to be opposed) by denying the Catholic teachings of Baptism of Desire and of Blood. These particular religious errors would only be attractive to those whose Catholicism is still strong enough to see the value of the more basic truth that indeed, outside the Church there is no salvation. But by their overreaction of denying the Catholic teaching regarding Baptism of Desire and of Blood, they have distanced themselves from the authentic teaching of the Church, albeit only to that limited extent. They were also one of the last of the groups created before Vatican II granted a charter to all Catholics functioning outside the Vatican institution.
At about the same time, a number of Chinese bishops and priests broke away from Rome as a result of pressure from the Communist Red Chinese Government. They founded what is called the Patriotic Chinese Church, but are also in schism very much like the East Orthodox. Again, as in the case of the schismatic East Orthodox, it wasn't so much dissent as acquiescence to a nearer "authority" than far off Rome. Needless to say, the Patriotic Chinese Church is not in a position to speak ill of the Chinese Government no matter what it does (even in mandating abortions!) nor warn its parishioners against the heresy of Communism.
Dissent from the traditional Church continues today in the form of dissenting groups and troublemakers who seem to exist merely to give authentic Catholicism a bad name. A woman by the name of Sinéad O'Conner, after a mildly successful career as a rock star (during which she also made some religious publicity for herself by tearing up a picture of John Paul II on TV), decided to get herself "ordained" as a priestess in 1999 by Bishop Michael Cox (a "black sheep of the family" bishop whose episcopal orders regrettably trace to one of the heroes of this account) specifically with the intention of using her "ordination" to say the traditional (Latin) Mass. Of course this has nothing to do with real Catholicism nor the real Church even as it exists today as the traditional Catholic movement. She deliberately turned to a bishop who might seem to be associated with the real Church today (albeit crudely and mistakenly and only because of his episcopal lineage) instead of the fake Church of the People of God, where she could easily have turned instead. In 2002, a feminist group of seven other women obtained just such an "ordination" from a People of God "bishop," but Sinéad herself had never been interested in this approach.
To understand the historic precedent for such conspicuous evil and scandal being committed in the name of the Church, one must return to the ancient history of the Church in the opening centuries of the Church. Perhaps one may recall that the ancient Pagan Romans and others would spread lies about the Church saying that they ate their children or indulges in wicked rites with cannibalism, lewdness, and the like practices taking place. This was done to provide an excuse for the miserable treatment the ancient Roman Emperors were giving to the ancient Christians, and allowed the public to feel "not so bad" about seeing these fine upstanding fellow citizens being fed to lions and so forth. However one thing that helped this false rumor along was certain secretive groups, such as the Phibionites, who, pretending to some "secret" or "inner" Christian initiation, indeed practiced such things. Though the Church had stronger unity then than now, it was quite easy for certain local groups to take advantage of the great geographical distances between themselves and everyone else in order to practice local distortions of Christianity that often took years or even decades for the Church to root out. Today, such similar aberrant persons and groups take advantage of the present chaos and lack of universal leadership to do the same thing.
Another "group" of dissenters, taking a more mild, but still unsatisfactory position is the "home-aloners." This "group" is not really a group at all since they have absolutely no organization or hierarchy at all. They consist of merely a number of scattered individuals who privately say the Rosary and read the prayers of the Mass to themselves and make a "spiritual communion" by reciting a prayer of desire to receive communion. Unfortunately, what we have at work here is not so much bad interpretations of Canon Law (although there is certainly an element of that), but paranoia. The typical home-aloner is isolated from all other members of the Church, even other home-aloners, on account of their paranoid fear that the other person might not really be a Catholic. Such fear is rooted in despair that the Church is really gone and can never be restored. Such despair is a sin, and is furthermore heretical in nature since it denies that Christ is still with His Church.
The last sort of group of dissenters are those groups which attach themselves to false popes. By false popes I do not refer to the doubtful popes John XXIII, Paul VI, and the John Paul's, but to other "popes" appearing in various places around the world. An attempt to enumerate these popes can be somewhat confusing since some of them take similar names or numbers. There are two (or maybe even three) Gregories XVII, and although there was only one Clement XV, one of the Gregories XVII was named Clemente, and also there is a Hadrian VII. Here are the main false popes and what can be said of them:
In addition to that list there are unconfirmed reports of an "Emanuel I," a "Peter II," a "Leo XIV," and an extreme attempt on the part of the followers of the "Cardinal Siri Theory" to claim that Cardinal Siri, as the Secret Pope and last valid Cardinal of the Church may have left behind somewhere a private, handwritten document which secretly appoints a successor, which (and who) may some day come to light. Of these supposed individuals, absolutely nothing has been discoverable to this author.
Many of these "popes" were elected in a vision rather than by any live persons, or else by laymen, but certainly not any bishops or cardinals of the Church. Sometimes it seems as if these "popes" have nothing better to do than excommunicate the hell out of each other, and everybody else. These false popes, to a man, are each such jokes that it is a wonder that anyone takes any of them seriously. If only reliable papal authority were to reside at the Vatican, these popes would have no followers. It is only the deep desire of every Catholic to be in union with "the pope," as a living authority, and the lack of anyone clearly identifiable as such in the Vatican (or anywhere else), which compels some Catholics-at-heart to adhere to these losers.
Many of these dissenting groups have very traditional-looking Masses, sometimes even quite beautiful. Some detractors of the traditional Catholic movement have made the claim that since many of these dissenters and the traditional Catholics both share the tridentine Mass (or some other traditional form of the Mass, such as an Eastern Rite liturgy), they ought to be regarded in a similar fashion. In answer to that it must be pointed out that these dissenting groups all have embraced various heresies which have already been condemned by the reliable popes, whereas one searches the entire length, breadth, height, width, and depth of the traditional Catholic movement in vain for even the faintest ghost or hint of any deviation from the Authentic Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church as taught most emphatically by well over 250 reliable popes and 20 Ecumenical Councils. As to why so many of these dissenters would happen to use the traditional Mass instead of the Novus Ordo Missae, the reason is quite obvious: If you wanted to counterfeit American currency, you would not use pink, triangular pieces of paper and put Mickey Mouse on the front and Disneyland on the back!
Even so, many of the current liturgical aberrations decreed by the ex-Catholic Vatican institution have their roots in these dissenting groups. It is not only in the Protestant "Masses" of Luther, Calvin, or Cranmer, but also in the Old Catholics as well. For example, many in France who were Jansenists either openly or at least sympathetic to Jansenism, were making many local revisions to their Gallican Rite such as tearing out the high altars and the side altars, reducing the use of altar cloths, candles, and crucifixes, and forbidding silent prayers and private Masses and even such devotions as Benediction. Things got so bad that the Parisian Oratorian Pierre-Francois d'Areres de la Tour had to write, "They do everything to diminish the cult of the Blessed Virgin, to weaken the respect due to the Pope. They pride themselves on using only Scripture in their liturgies, and in declaring themselves followers of Christian Antiquity, they frequently quote the canons of that age, boldly criticize everything, attack the legends, visions and miracles of the saints." See once again the same pattern of false antiquarianism on the part of the dissenters.
In all of these heretical and schismatic groups, one can see that separation from the Church invariably casts one adrift, free to wander off into heresy. Although different groups have wandered off at varying speeds, the East Orthodox quite slowly, the Protestants quite rapidly, and the church of the People of God somewhere in between at a fairly moderate pace, all have wandered away from the truth. It is a truism that in every division of the Church, there are two sides which must gradually grow more and more different in belief and practice. In the separation which has occurred between the Catholic Church and the People of God, it does not require any great amount of insight to see that the traditionalists of the traditional Catholic movement are holding fast to the Barque of Peter while the People of God are steadily drifting into every sort of error and insanity. A thousand years from now, should the world last so long, the spiritual descendants of the traditionalist priests will be saying precisely the same Mass and teaching the same doctrine as they do today, and by then no doubt in full and living union with the then living pope of the Roman Catholic Church. What the spiritual descendants of Fr. Bozo would be like should any still exist by such a time is something far too horrible to contemplate.
The Church is something meant to be able to exist for all eternity. An institution that embraces change is an institution which will change over time into something utterly alien to what it started out as in the beginning and will eventually disappear. Only an institution which latches on to tradition can last forever as a bastion of stability. That is why tradition can only be built upon, never negated. That is why the church of the People of God cannot last. That is why Catholics cannot be a part of that ex-Catholic Church, the People of God or any other false or dissenting "Christian" Church.
Many of these dissenting groups have claimed to be trying to "restore" the Church to some ancient primitive form. Their attempts to return to the primitive Church structure have invariably been every bit as inauthentic as an older child's attempt to imitate a baby by shaking a rattle and shouting "goo goo ga ga!" Even if someone should concoct something someday which somehow really resembled the early Church, there does not exist anyone who was alive back then and who can confirm that "yes, this is exactly the Church I remember." All of these dissenters must claim that the Church as it existed back then has been allowed to disappear for a protracted amount of time, many generations at least, in fact always enough for people to forget what those times were really like to those who lived in them.
In claiming that, those dissenters are denying that Christ is really alive in His Mystical Body, the Church. The Church is, after all, not merely an idea or a concept or a system which someone could just read from a book and reconstruct. She is the Mystical Body of Christ, a continually living entity in which there is continuity from age to age. The Catholic Church has a living continuity which will be carried forth without any change from the pre-Vatican II days clear to the most distant future by people who remember one and can even now see the beginning of the other.
The key point of this chapter is that the traditional Catholic movement is not and has never been about dissent, and even less, rebellion. Dissenters and rebels have always been merely a source of trouble. The dissent of such a large majority, whether of the Arian heretics of ancient days, or the Vatican institution's church of the "People of God" today, is no less dissent for all its large numbers of people. The traditional Catholic movement is no more capable of being schismatic than a faithful Catholic pope who teaches the entire counsel of God as taught by his reliable predecessors. If, on occasion, certain individual traditional Catholics have ever turned to any of the dissenting Christian groups described in this chapter (and some most definitely have), it is only because in their desperation and confusion they simply did not know where to turn. The last 35 years or so have been a very confusing time for all concerned, so my recommendation to any future judicial authority in the Church is to "go easy on them." I have spent enough of this book talking about that which is not the Church. In the chapters which follow, I now present to you, dear reader, the Roman Catholic Church!
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