A Paradox: The Traditionalist as the True Son of Vatican II

(Prefatory note: this post was inspired by an article* by Mons. Charles Pope on the radical deficiencies of Catholic catechesis in America during the past century and more.)

The “spirit of Vatican II” said that the Church as it existed in 1958 (let’s say) was hide-bound, clergy-bound, conformist, brittle, stifling, and infantilizing. The adult lay Catholic was treated as a child, lacking in personal responsibility for achieving personal holiness and maturing as a Christian. The institutions of the Church alienated him from a personal response to God’s grace.

The traditionalist often reflexively tries to reject this characterization. He states that he wants to restore all of the institutions that existed in 1958, or whatever date he picks. But shouldn’t the traditionalist agree with the indictment of Catholicism as lived ca. 1958? How, HOW, could the spirit of Vatican II have wrought such pure havoc if things were good?** How could religious orders and lay attendance at Mass, and devotion to the old liturgy, and public orthodoxy, etc., etc., have collapsed so readily unless the Church of 1958 was in fact victim to crippling institutionalism? The revolutionaries seized control of the institutions and proved their case.

It was the traditionalists, often lay men and women, who opted for the “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” response (Joshua 24:15). *They* ignored wicked and/or indifferent and/or imprudent Popes/bishops/priests and did what was right, arranging for clandestine Latin Masses and catechizing their own children. *They* took personal responsibility and refused to call black white and white black just because their “superiors” in the Church told them to. They, I argue, are the true fruit of Vatican II. In this light, perhaps we can think more kindly of the Fathers of Vatican II. Maybe among the villains and the Modernists and the world-pleasers and the wild-eyed Utopians, there were a few who said, “If this fight is to be won, it must be won by the laity. Sink or swim, it’s time to kick them off the diving board.”

*http://www.ncregister.com/blog/msgr-pope/4-failed-catechetical-models-of-the-past

**I owe this observation in part to Vin Lewis of All Roads Ministry(https://www.allroadsministry.com/), who is old enough to remember the so-called “good old days,” as well as a course on American Catholic theology that I took at Marquette University during my undergraduate days.

7 thoughts on “A Paradox: The Traditionalist as the True Son of Vatican II

  1. Vatican II was just a heretical council bent on being “nice” to other religions. Instead of pursuing conversions to Catholicism, it embraced a spirit of ecumenism, putting forth the idea that being a heretic, schismatic, or pagan was all right.

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  2. This jibes pretty well with some of The Rad Trad’s writings. One of the themes that comes up again and again is that an awful lot of problems find are rooted in unfortunate (and sometimes just plain wrong) aspects of the Counter-Reformation that were never adequately addressed.

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  3. I think a fair amount as well about what all has been happening the last several decades in the Church. I’m sympathetic to the idea that the faithful and priests must not have been so solid or otherwise the wheels wouldn’t have fallen off so quickly.

    But I’m also sympathetic to the idea that that has also always sort of been the case. If the parents leave the kids home alone with a fridge full of beer and unlimited cash eventually – with even the best of kids – troubles coming.

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  4. In his book attacking Fr. Malachi Martin, Clerical Error, Robert Blair Kaiser gives a very seedy story revealing that a group of priests who taught him in the 1940s were clearly have relations with a group of nuns near by. I don’t doubt that there was even tremendous corruption in the Church in the early 20th century. The problem with Vatican II is that it canonizes that corruption into doctrine. There is an enormous difference between a Catholic king who is an adulterer and believes it is wrong and a Catholic Senator who is an adulterer but does not believe it is wrong because of Vatican II et al.

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