What It Is
And Why It Is
“Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren
to dwell together in unity: like the precious ointment on the beard
of Aaron, which ran down to the skirt of his garment: as the dew
which descendeth upon
the Lord hath commanded blessing, and life
for evermore.” (Psalm 132:1-3 DRC)
COMPOSED & EDITED DECEMBER 2010 TO APRIL 2011.
Intended by the Author of This Book
for the Greater Glory of the Adorable Triune Catholic God,
Worship of the Sacred Heart of King Jesus Christ of
for the Praise of the Immaculate Heart of Queen Mary, the Blessed Ever-
Virgin Mother of God,
unto the Protection & Propagation of the Holy Roman Catholic Church &
Her Most Precious Heavenly Dogmas,
under the Euphonious Patronage of St. Cecilia, the Eloquent Patronage
Ven. Mariana de Jesus Torres, Virgins &
“Domine, non est exaltatum cor meum, neque elati sunt oculi mei. Neque ambulavi in
magnis, neque in mirabilibus super me. Si non humiliter sentiebam, sed exaltavi animam
meam; sicut ablactatus est super matre sua, ita retributio in anima mea.Speret
in Domino, ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.” (Psalmus CXXX,Vulgata)
St. Francis Xavier, Patron of Catholic Missioners, Ss. Catherine of Alexandria & Francis of Sales, Patrons of Catholic Philosophers & Apologists, respectively, and St. Peter of Verona, the Glorious Martyr, may you be pleased to guide this arrow to its target, either unto eternal life or eternal death! “Now thanks be to God, who always maketh us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and manifesteth the odour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are the good odour of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one indeed the odour of death unto death: but to the others the odour of life unto life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16b DRC)
St. Francis of Assisi, Humble Seraph of the Incarnate God, and St. Dominic the Preacher, Dogged Cherub of the Triune Deity, pray for your children that they may not fail the test but suffer the malice of the wicked gladly and so gain the Crown of Life!
+++ 1. Fundamentalism in a Nutshell +++
Catholic fundamentalists do the same thing to the Magisterium that Protestant fundamentalists do to the Bible. They pretend that everything the Magisterium/Bible says is perfectly easy to understand and that they are never wrong about what the Magisterium/Bible means when it comes to things that are vital to get right.
But Catholic and Protestant fundamentalists are alike in another way, too. Because both of them treat anyone who dares to disagree with them like a despicable enemy. After all, if the Magisterium/Bible is always easy to grasp and you are never awry about what the Magisterium/Bible means when it comes to something vital --- and you take offense pretty quickly --- then what else could you think about the person who disagrees?
Now, I have nothing against the word ‘fundamental’. It’s a very useful term. Unfortunately, conservative Evangelic Protestants wrote a book called The Fundamentals in the early 20th century. Then this title came to stand for their religion & behavior in the eyes of the rest of the world. And the rest of the world thought it all very amusing, annoying or stupid. It therefore became a ‘bad’ word to them.
Yet I’m not interested in all of that. What I’m interested in is the exact parallel between the two sides. Protestant fundamentalists despise Catholicism, that’s true. And Catholics, in return, disdain Protestant heresy. Nevertheless, the two very different things are --- when it comes to the idea of ‘fundamentalism’ --- precisely the same in principle.
I’m also not interested in the fact that post-Vatican 2 ‘catholics’ sometimes accuse real Catholics of being ‘fundamentalists’. Because their use of the term is not how I use the term. Vatican 2 folks use the name ‘fundamentalist’ to slam real Catholics for holding fast to ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ or for opposing so-called ‘birth control’, etc. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has perpetually affirmed the position of real Catholics on these topics in a clear & explicit fashion… and the Vatican 2 people know it.
So that’s not my concern, and that’s not what I mean by ‘fundamentalist’. No, what I’m talking about are things that the Catholic Church has neither clearly & explicitly affirmed nor clearly & explicitly condemned. That is where the line must be drawn with Catholic fundamentalists --- what I’ll call ‘CFs’ for short. And that is what this article is all about.
2. How CFs Misinterpret the Magisterium: Act Like
+++ Everything Stated Is Easy to Understand +++
Catholic fundamentalists may or may not be truly Catholic. I’m not going to argue this point. Yet every one of them purports to be Catholic. And so I’ll take them at face value for the time being. Because whether truly Catholic or not, every single one of them has this horrendous flaw in common:
They pretend to interpret what the Magisterium says infallibly.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m fully aware that the Magisterium can speak infallibly, and that this infallibility centers around the person of a pope. Which in turn means that, in as much as a Catholic reports accurately what the Magisterium has said, then this Catholic, too, is infallible in what he has conveyed.
But therein lies the catch… because has he accurately reported what the Magisterium says?
That’s what it really boils down to. And this is where Catholic fundamentalists get tripped up. CFs may not realize that the very first pope, St. Peter, had this to say about the writings of St. Paul, not to mention the rest of Sacred Scripture, too:
“…as also our most dear brother Paul… hath written to you: as also in all his epistles… in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:15b, e, 16a, c-f DRC, all annotations or emphases added in this or other scriptural quotes)
Any well-instructed Catholic knows that Sacred Scripture is inspired by God and thus without any error. That is to say, understood rightly, nothing in Scripture is wrong.
Yet, again, therein lies the catch… because is Sacred Scripture understood rightly?
That this is a real concern is plain from Peter’s letter. There “are certain things hard to be understood” in Paul’s “epistles,” as well as in “the other scriptures…” And what is the consequence for not understanding the Bible rightly? It is stark: “…destruction.” And how would anyone get into this fix? Because they are “unlearned and unstable…”
We repeat: they are “unlearned and unstable…”
It doesn’t take a genius to see that this same problem applies to those who read the Magisterium. For instance, my dear reader, have you ever bothered looking closely at what the Magisterium has written? Most of it is intricate and abstract, dated and archaic, or unique and arcane. It was not spoken for a child to comprehend. Nor was it said with the average layman in mind, even if he’s full-grown. Rather, it was written for those who are trained thoroughly as priests or bishops or who are very well-versed in theology and related disciplines --- which means, then, that it was not written for “the unlearned…”
Not only that, but papal documents of a religious nature are usually addressed to bishops and to no one else. Not that someone other than a bishop is necessarily denied the chance to read them, but that it is the bishop who is supposed to pass on relevant facts from papal documents to those Catholics who are in his diocese, especially his priests; the priests in turn passing on what is relevant to their parishioners in a way that they can understand. In this way all Catholics learn what they need to know, per their ability to grasp it.
3. How CFs Misinterpret the Magisterium: Act Like It’s
+++ Impossible to Get the Magisterial Meaning Wrong +++
This fact is lost on Catholic fundamentalists. For the most part, CFs presume themselves to be perfectly capable of interpreting and comprehending what the Magisterium says, correctly, and without any possibility of ever being wrong. They presume this because they are “unlearned and unstable…” (2 Peter 3:16d DRC)
We repeat: they are “unlearned and unstable…”
This is the other side of the same coin. Just above in the chapter previous we focused on how most if not all CFs are, in the words of St. Peter, “unlearned…” Now we zero in on the fact that most if not all CFs are also, in the words of the first pope, “unstable…”
Catholic fundamentalists could be one or the either, although, in my opinion, most of them are both “unlearned and unstable…” Either flaw will cause them to draw false conclusions from the words of the Magisterium. However, the merely “unlearned” man will cease to be unlearned once he is instructed properly. Whereas the “unstable” man will remain this way regardless of how much instruction he receives. This is because his primary problem is not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of virtue… he is wickedly proud.
As a result, anyone who disagrees with the “unstable” man must --- from his unstable point of view --- be mistaken. I mean, if it’s impossible for you to be wrong, then how could the person who disagrees possibly be right? And if your obviously infallible interpretation of what the Magisterium says is unchangeable --- the perpetual gold standard for what makes a Catholic truly Catholic --- then anyone who dares to disagree with you is obviously fallible, consequently changeable, and thus not Catholic.
But it doesn’t end there. Because, more often than not, real Catholics are strong-willed. They have to be in order to stand firm against an entire world that excoriates them. So CFs --- who claim to be truly Catholic during our viciously anti-Catholic times --- are frequently bull-headed, and rather aggressive. Ergo, anyone who disagrees is not just wrong or even non-Catholic… but is a vicious enemy and to be excoriated in return.
In the meantime, they forget something very basic. So basic, in fact, it’s irrefutable:
That not a single one of them is God, and not a single one of them is Pope.
Or, to put it differently:
None of them are omniscient (an all-knowing God) and none of them are infallible (a never-wrong Pope).
As a result, whenever the Magisterium is intricate and abstract, dated and archaic, or unique and arcane, then Catholic fundamentalists don’t have omniscience to know for sure what the Magisterium intended to say, and these same CFs don’t have infallibility to be absolutely certain they aren’t wrong when interpreting it. Hence, all real Catholics are in the same boat when trying to comprehend what the Magisterium is saying when it comes to statements that are “hard to be understood…” (2 Peter 3:16c DRC)
Which means, then, that all real Catholics must either 1) take the time to become very intelligent, holy & well-trained, or else 2) defer to those who are sufficiently intelligent, holy & well-trained --- these souls working it out carefully with each other in charitable discussion & debate --- before daring to say they know for certain what the Magisterium is saying in a difficult passage and before daring to say they know for sure that the man who disagrees is therefore ‘non-Catholic’ or to be excoriated as a ‘vicious enemy’.
4. The Nitty Gritty Details of CF Misinterpretation:
+++ Act Like There’s Only One Possible Meaning +++
So how, exactly, do Catholic fundamentalists go about misinterpreting the Magisterium? We’ve seen the broad outline… but what are some of the nitty gritty details? First, they act like there is only one possible interpretation to a passage or word.
For instance, CFs take the Council of Trent where it says, “If anyone saith that true and natural water is not of necessity for baptism [if anyone says real and natural water isn’t necessary for baptism], and, on that account, wrests to some sort of metaphor those words of our Lord Jesus Christ [and for this reason turns Jesus’ words into a metaphor]: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost’ [John 3:5]; let him be anathema [let him be cursed].” [Session 7, Decree on the Sacraments, On Baptism, Canon 2. Annotations added in this and the following quote.]
They also take the same Council where it says, “If anyone saith that baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation [if anyone says it’s not necessary to be baptized in order to be saved]; let him be anathema.” [Ditto the reference above, Canon 5]
Then Catholic fundamentalists reason, “Aha! Water is necessary for baptism. (Canon 2) And baptism is necessary for salvation. (Canon 5) There’s no room left for an exception and thus nothing else it could mean. (Assumption) Therefore, ‘baptism of desire’ is infallibly ruled out, even for a catechumen! (Conclusion)”
Incidentally, so-called ‘baptism of desire’ for catechumens (or ‘BOD’ for short) is the idea that someone learning to be Catholic --- but not yet baptized in water --- could die ‘accidentally’ and still be allowed into Heaven. The better (and historical) name for it is ‘baptism of fire’, which claims the ‘accidentally dead’ catechumen received the Spirit but not water, both of which happen together simultaneously when Baptism is done correctly. Incidentally, I think BOD is erroneous, yet it has inarguably occurred in part at least once when Cornelius received the Spirit before the baptismal water. (Acts 10:44-48)
Meanwhile, CFs are ignorant of the fact --- or else discount the fact, despite knowing it to be a fact --- that Roman Catholics have believed in something like ‘baptism of desire’ for catechumens since the 4th century, and that it has been the dominant opinion amongst learned theologians and leaders of the Church since at least the beginning of the second millennium. Indeed! That this opinion was held by most if not all of the bishops at the Council of Trent, upheld in the catechism that resulted from this Council a few years later, and has continued to be held by saints & bishops until our very own times.
So how could the Council of Trent have “ruled out” the idea of ‘baptism of desire’? Either Trent wasn’t actually talking about BOD, or else saints & bishops have been in flagrantly careless or knowledgeable disobedience toward its infallible canons on the Sacrament of Baptism and hence the saints since then aren’t really saints after all and the bishops since then should have been admonished by the popes and, if not repentant, officially excommunicated for their formal heresy!
Yet the explanation is simple. Trent never once explicitly mentioned ‘baptism of desire’ or ‘baptism of fire’. Most if not all of its participating bishops believed in the notion of BOD for catechumens, following the lead of St. Thomas Aquinas and other scholastic theologians of the early 2nd millennium. Ergo, BOD was not what these Tridentine bishops were talking about in Canons 2 & 5, and the Holy Ghost was not using them as puppets --- i.e., speaking through them --- to define a subject that they had no intention of addressing. (Not to mention that the charism of infallibility doesn’t work that way. That is to say, in the exercise of infallibility the Spirit neither dictates language nor inspires words, but, instead, merely prevents the infallible man from perpetrating error in what he says.) Rather, Trent was addressing the newly arisen Protestant Rebellion. Many of these heretical rebels dared to say Baptism was not actually necessary for Salvation, or that real & natural water was not actually necessary for its administration. (Go here for an article with much more detail on this subject.)
Consequently, the Council was rebutting Protestants and their baptismal heresy --- not Catholics and their BOD opinion. And thus we see how it’s not always true that there is only ‘one possible interpretation’ for a magisterial statement. Rather, that it is sometimes logically demanded that there be another reasonable meaning for magisterial words.
5. The Nitty Gritty Details of CF Misinterpretation: Too Many Possible
+++ Meanings? Defy Facts & Insist Only Yours Can Be Right +++
Notwithstanding, Catholic fundamentalists are not finished. Sometimes they may acknowledge (if only begrudgingly) that other interpretations of magisterial words exist. All the same, they then act like their interpretation is the only interpretation that could possibly be right… and even though the plain facts and solid logic are against them.
For example, CFs see where the Council of Trent says, “…the saints, who reign with Christ, offer up their prayers to God for men; and that it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them, and to have recourse to their prayers, aid and help for obtaining benefits from God, through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Who alone is our Redeemer and Saviour…” [Session 25, On the Invocation, Veneration, and Relics of Saints and on Sacred Images, as promulgated under Pope Pius IV.]
They also see where the Council of Florence states, “…no one conceived of man and woman was ever freed of the domination of the Devil, except through the merit of the mediator between God and men, our Lord Jesus Christ; He who was conceived without sin, was born and died, through his death alone laid low the enemy of the human race by destroying our sins, and opened the entrance to the kingdom of heaven…” [Pope Eugene IV in Cantate domino, the words of which came from the Council of Florence.]
“Aha!” think Catholic fundamentalists. “Jesus alone is our Redeemer. (Session 25) His death alone defeated Satan. (Cantate Domino) No one else can take part in the Act of Redemption or in God’s Victory against the Devil. (Assumption) Therefore, it is forbidden to call Mary the Co-Redemptress. (Conclusion)”
‘Co-Redemptress’, by the way, is what many Catholics call the Blessed Virgin Mary in order to honor her as the one creature more than any other who has cooperated with God in obtaining His great graces for mankind, helping to redeem certain individuals from the neverending debt of mortal sin. It has been upon Catholic lips for at least the last five centuries. Vatican officials began to employ it as early as the start of the 1900s. And never has any pope or council condemned this title’s use explicitly by name.
I once privately debated a fellow Catholic on the term ‘Co-Redemptress’. He winced painfully, but conceded that the Magisterium had never explicitly condemned the title’s use for Mary. He also admitted --- reluctantly --- that the ‘Co-’ in ‘Co-Redemptress’ does not have to mean ‘equal with’ Jesus Christ, Who we both acknowledged as the Sole Redeemer of Mankind. As a result, the Magisterium could not have forbidden talking about someone like they participate in the Act of Redemption as a subordinate agent.
So what happened then?
A couple of months later he acted like he hadn’t admitted these points. He just suddenly declared the Magisterium’s words meant what he wanted to think they meant. That was a year ago (you can read about the debate over the Co-Redemptress title here) and since he now excoriates me as a formal heretic, refusing even to talk to me at all, period, I’ve no choice left and am forced to denounce him as a schismatic.
Yet his error is easy to see. For when the Magisterium calls Jesus “alone… our Redeemer”, did they mean to say that Jesus alone is essential to redemption (all others in His Ecclesial Body being not essential to His Act of Redemption), or that Jesus alone is capable of redemption (every other part of His Church Body unable to contribute to His Redemptive Act)? If the former, then, rightly understood, Co-Redemptress is a perfectly legitimate title. If the latter, then it is heretical. Yet how can it be heretical when the Magisterium has never explicitly said so and when Catholics by their prayers & sacrifices may obtain the conversion of obstinate souls to the Catholic Faith?
Aren’t these prayers & sacrifices a cooperation with Jesus in His Redemption? Isn’t it true that, apart from Catholic prayers & sacrifices, most obstinate souls would never get graces sufficient to convert them to God’s Church? Thus, isn’t it inarguable that God has Catholics --- mere men though they are --- participate with Jesus in redeeming souls that are headed for damnation otherwise? Nevertheless, the graces for conversion won by these participating Catholics come from one source and one source alone, Jesus… without Whom no conversion and redemption could ever take place to begin with!
Which is why God said to the Devil, “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head…” (Genesis 3:15a-c DRC, all emphases added.) Who is this “woman”? The Virgin Mary, as any Catholic knows. Yet the Magisterium said “Jesus… through his death alone” defeated Satan --- and not that “Mary all by herself” or even “Mary in conjunction with Jesus” defeated the Devil.
So how can we reconcile this infallible magisterial statement with the inerrant words of God in the Bible? Isn’t the infallible Magisterium contradicting inerrant Scripture? Doesn’t the Magisterium declare it was “Jesus… alone” Who defeated Satan whilst Scripture clearly implies that it is Mary --- “she”, not he, no clear mention of Jesus or the Messias even made --- who will crush the Devil’s head and thus destroy him?
The solution is simple. We use our God-given minds, get logical, and acknowledge that there is another legitimate way to interpret the words of the Magisterium here --- a way that reveals how Mary cooperated with her Son by giving Him the Flesh & Blood that He used to defeat Satan. A cooperation so great and so profound that we can truly say, as did God to the Serpent in Paradise, “…she shall crush thy head,” and even though it was He, her Son, Jesus, Who solely & literally defeated the Devil upon the Cross with His Death!
In other words, God could have redeemed men without Mary. But in choosing Mary as His Son’s Mother, He allowed her to participate in His Son’s Act of Redemption like no other creature. All good Catholics participate with Christ in Redemption to some degree. Mary simply does so more than any other creature by far. Yet without Christ’s Death no amount of participation on the part of good Catholics could ever gain the redemption of a single human soul. Jesus alone is absolutely necessary to the Act of Redemption… the participation of others is useful only inasmuch as it derives from His Death. Jesus alone died on the Cross literally. Catholics join with Him mystically, dying to themselves along with Christ upon the Cross via their individual baptisms & mortifications in His Body.
6. The Nasty Facts About CF Cruelty Toward Others: Pretend
+++ a Man Means Something Bad & Admit No Other Possibility +++
Unfortunately, Catholic fundamentalists don’t stop at mangling the words of the Solemn Magisterium. They also twist the words of others. Sometimes these other persons are innocent bystanders who never intended to grapple with the CF. Although sometimes these others might purposely walk into the hornet’s nest to help the CF out of his delusion, or to protect the unwary from believing in that CF’s delusion.
Whichever, the attack is frequently savage and does not obey the rules of just warfare. The Catholic fundamentalist is --- for all his bold rhetoric against modernism --- a child nonetheless of the modern era, and so follows the usually barbaric practice of many infidels, wherein he burns all his enemy’s fields and destroys every barn or storehouse, cuts his trees to the ground for no other reason than sheer brutality, and kills his people indiscriminately whether they be combat soldiers or wickedly deserving of death… or are merely civilians caught in the crossfire and not active combatants in the war at all.
For instance, some CFs have great hatred for Benedict XV. He was Pope in the early 1900s during World War I. Combing through his first encyclical, they found these words as translated into English: “For the whole of mankind was freed from the slavery of sin by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ as their ransom, and there is no one who is excluded from the benefit of this Redemption…” [Benedict XV’s Ad beatissimi apostolorum, Paragraph 1]
Then these CFs reference the Council of Trent: “But, though He died for all, yet do not all receive the benefit of His death, but those only unto whom the merit of His passion is communicated.” [Session 6, Decree on Justification, Chapter 3]
“Aha!” say they. “Benedict XV said all of mankind benefits from Christ’s Redemption. (Ad beatissimi apostolorum) But Trent said only some men benefit from Christ’s Death. (Session 6) Benedict meant the opposite of Trent since there’s no other interpretation of his words that is possible. (Assumption) Therefore, Benedict was a salvation heretic and became an antipope. (Conclusion)”
These Catholic fundamentalists insist there is only one way that Benedict’s words can be rationally understood. Their ringleader will not listen if shown another possibility… and no matter how politely or sympathetically. (I know because I tried.) As a result, they not only savage Benedict out of the blue (who is the noncombatant bystander, and unable to defend himself since he is long dead) but savage the person, too, who dares to defend Benedict (helpful Samaritan walking into the hornet’s nest, which happened to be me).
Yet how is Benedict XV to be rationally understood so that his words are orthodox?
Easy --- don’t assume out of thin air that “benefit” has to mean everyone is saved regardless of whether or not he’s Catholic.
Don’t assume that the word “benefit” can only mean everyone is saved regardless of whether or not he’s Catholic.
Lots of Catholics have spoken through
the last 2000 years as if Christ’s Sacrifice benefits all human beings.
Is the benefit being spoken of something that happens right now, here on earth… or only something that occurs at our individual judgments, after our deaths on earth? And the danger addressed by Trent was that some foolish people were teaching these verses meant that Christ saved everybody regardless of their lack of Catholicity, after their deaths on earth.
The catch is, how can Benedict XV be faulted for saying something in a way that’s mirrored in Sacred Scripture? If it’s wrong to say it that way now, then it was wrong to say it that way back then, too! Yet it can’t be wrong since God Himself spoke through St. Paul in the New Testament. Ergo, neither can Benedict be wrong for his choice of words. And since we can’t know for sure a man’s secret intentions, then, without explicit words to make his intention indisputably clear, then we have to take his words in an orthodox sense and not twist them to our bias as if they mean what we want to think they mean rather than what they actually were intended to mean. (Incidentally, you can read more about this controversy --- and its proper resolution --- by going here.)
The bottom line is this:
Benedict XV was talking about the entire world here right now being given the chance to enter into Heaven. Whereas, before Christ’s Death on the Cross, not even the best man in the world, who was a member of God’s Old Testament Church, could enter Heaven at his last breath. Why? Because the eternal debt of mortal sin (into which all are conceived because of Adam’s Original Sin, except for Jesus & Mary) had not yet been paid. Ergo, even the just man --- such as St. Noe --- was consigned to Hell at its outer limits, there to wait patiently for the promise of redemption to be fulfilled in Jesus’ Crucifixion. This hellish prison was known as the Limbo of the Fathers (“Abraham’s bosom” it’s called in the Bible, Luke 16:22 DRC) and, however much it may have been free of torment due to its souls being free of actual sinfulness or temporal debt, it was still part of Hell and they were still deprived of the Vision of God because of the eternal debt of their mortal sin.
Once Jesus had come and died on the Cross, though, the situation changed entirely. Now the just man could enter Heaven, seeing God Face-to-face, and there was no more need for them to stay in Hell in the Limbo of the Fathers, awaiting Redemption. What’s more, now even the bad man, who was wicked up until the moment of his conversion to the Catholic Faith, could --- wiping away all of his sins in baptism --- die suddenly and enter Heaven without any delay, provided he hasn’t stained his baptismal perfection.
That is an utter & complete change for the better for the whole human race, from which no man is exempted! It makes everything different from what it was before Christ came. And it’s why Catholics can talk as if Jesus’ Death benefits the entire world right now, without any exception… and even though only some souls actually go to Heaven, being those souls who are Catholic and in the state of grace. Because any man now has the opportunity to do so… provided he acts on that opportunity, becoming Catholic. Whereas, no man had the chance to do so prior to Christ, even the holy man!
But do Catholic fundamentalists admit this simple & orthodox fact? No. They insist --- illogically --- that there is only one way to interpret Benedict’s words. They pretend to be infallible and misjudge Benedict’s intention. And so they mangle his words in the first paragraph of his inaugural encyclical, twisting them into what they don’t know that he intended them to mean and defying all good evidence & reasoning to the contrary.
7. The Nasty Facts About CF Cruelty Toward Others: Savage a
+++ Man’s Words & Insist All Other Interpretations Are Bunk +++
Catholic fundamentalists mangle a man’s words in a slightly different way, too. Because sometimes they’ll admit there’s another way to interpret a person’s words. All the same (and just like they do with the Magisterium’s words), they’ll refuse to admit that these other ways are logical & reasonable --- and despite all of the evidence against them.
E.g, these same CFs have recently attacked Leo XIII, claiming he lost his papacy by what he wrote in 1880: “Yet, no one doubts that Jesus Christ, the Founder of the Church, willed her sacred power to be distinct from the civil power, and each power to be free and unshackled in its own sphere: with this condition, however… that union and concord should be maintained between them; and that on those questions which are, though in different ways, of common right and authority, the power to which secular matters have been entrusted [i.e., the state] should happily and becomingly depend on the other power which has in its charge the interests of heaven [to wit, the Church]. In such arrangement and harmony is found not only the best line of action for each power, but also the… dignity of the one is exalted, and so long as religion is its guide it will never rule unjustly; while the other receives help of protection and defense for the public good of the faithful.” (Leo XIII in his Arcanum, Paragraph #36, annotations added.)
Then they quote statements that Pius IX condemned in 1864: “The State, as being the origin and source of all rights, is endowed with a certain right not circumscribed by any limits… The Church is to be separated from the state, and the state from the Church.” (Pius IX in his Syllabus of Errors, Condemned Propositions #39 & #55)
“Aha!” they exclaim. “Leo XIII said the state is to be “distinct” from the Church and the state’s power to be “free and unshackled” (Arcanum) But Pius IX condemned the state’s separation from the Church and unlimited state power. (Syllabus, #39 & #55) There is no question Leo contradicted Pius. (Assumption) Therefore, Leo was a formal heretic and became an antipope. (Conclusion)”
Let’s tackle the CFs’ second beef first, as presented in the previous paragraph. When these Catholic fundamentalists attack Leo XIII for advocating ‘unlimited power’ for the state, they zoom in on Leo’s phrase from the quote above where he infers that its “power” is “to be free and unshackled…” Heresy! they cry. Direct contradiction of Pius’ condemnation in the Syllabus of Errors. And yet they discount what Leo said in immediate connection to the phrase that they attack. Accordingly, that the “power” of Church or state is only to be “free and unshackled in its own sphere.”
We repeat: “…in its own sphere.”
That’s where the limitation comes in. Beyond that “sphere” the state’s “power” is not “to be free and unshackled…”
Moreover, in saying that the state is to be “distinct” from the Church, Leo was not asserting that the state is to be ‘utterly separate’ from the Church, contrary to what the CFs allege. How do we know?
Easy. Because Leo himself says so in that very same long sentence we’ve been looking at! Namely: “…with this condition, however… that union and concord should be maintained between them; and that on those questions which are, though in different ways, of common right and authority, the power to which secular matters have been entrusted [i.e., the state] should happily and becomingly depend on the other power which has in its charge the interests of heaven [to wit, the Church].”
In other words, the state should defer to the Church and follow Her where “the interests of heaven…” are concerned. And what are “the interests of heaven…” on earth? Faith & Morals and the Government of the Church. That is to say, the scope of the state is law & commerce and the functioning of the civil body, while the scope of the Church is Faith & Morals and the functioning of Her Ecclesial Body. These are the two different respective “spheres” of Church and state, inside of which each should be “free and unshackled” to pursue their God-given responsibilities without unnecessary interference.
The kicker is this, though --- one of the CFs who attacks Leo admits as much. That is to say, this CF declares, “Please understand that nobody is arguing the Church hierarchy must decide every or even the majority of decisions in civil affairs. No, that would be silly. We recognize that the civil power has the responsibility --- and therefore the authority -- to manage the day-to-day operations of the state. The Church has more important matters to decide on than whether a green light means go or a red light means stop.” [X’s Condemnation of Leo XIII as an Antipope, Paragragh 17, retrieved during August of 2010. All emphases added.]
So why won’t this CF recognize that there is a perfectly reasonable way to interpret Leo’s words, a way that is irrefutably orthodox and which is saying the very same thing as what this CF said in the quote right above? And why won’t any of the comrades on his side acknowledge this extremely simple & rational fact?
Plain as day… because they’re Catholic fundamentalists and have already decided --- before investigating Leo thoroughly and hearing his defense fully --- that they hate Leo the Thirteenth, who they assume to be a modernist due to certain political policies that he took in the face of an increasingly antagonistic & modernistic world, and due to certain diplomatic statements that he made in order not to needlessly antagonize modernistic powers that were already persecuting the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church. Ergo, these CFs refuse to acknowledge that Leo could have a right & reasonable meaning for his words at the start of the paragraph in Arcanum… and so pretend that Leo’s wholly rational & orthodox explanation of his own words in the paragraph’s latter half (an orthodoxy they can’t deny!) is merely a ‘cover for his heresy’ in the first part. (To discover more about the logical solution to this controversy, please go here.)
Yet how can they justify doing this to Leo, divining supposedly ‘evil intentions’ for his easily explained --- and thus easily orthodox --- words at the beginning of the quote?
We say again for those who have ears to hear:
The Catholic fundamentalist presumes himself never wrong when it comes to judging the secrets in the hearts of people he doesn’t like. The answer to the question, then:
Because the CF thinks he’s infallible about the hidden motives of others… that’s how!
+++ 8. Crucial Faults of CFs, No. 1: Scrupulosity +++
If I were a CF then I would accuse Catholic fundamentalists of purposely trying to destroy the Church. I would say they hated Catholicism and are some sort of Talmudic, Masonic or Communist plot to overthrow the True Religion. Or that, under the guise of orthodoxy, they eagerly work with Modernism to annihilate the Body of Christ. I would take their words, mangle them, and then use these misinterpreted words against them, attacking a mere caricature of what the CF really is.
But I’m not a Catholic fundamentalist. And I know CFs too well to be simplistic about their motives or to be unjust in my judgment about them. Not that I’m letting them off the hook and excusing their hideously wicked behavior. Catholic fundamentalists are indeed religious monsters… yet they don’t mean to be. They actually think that they’re helping the Faith; they truly believe they’re protecting the Church from Her enemies!
So where do they go so terribly wrong, how is it that they take such a fatal misstep?
And what is scrupulosity?
It is the vice of having scruples. And, in Catholicism, what is a scruple?
It is thinking something is a sin which is not a sin, or that something is a mortal sin which is only a venial sin.
Specifically --- in regard to Catholic fundamentalists --- scrupulosity is usually thinking that something is a heresy which is not a heresy, or that someone is in a formal heresy who is only in a material heresy.
The good thing about a scrupulous soul is that the person is very concerned about sin and avoiding it. Likewise, CFs are very keen on guarding against heresy (which is a breaking of the first three of the Ten Commandments, being a sin against the True Faith).
The bad thing about a scrupulous soul, though, is that the person has lousy judgment about particular kinds of sins. Likewise, CFs are incompetent when it comes to judging certain types of heresies or supposed heresies.
This is not only a danger to the scrupulous person (because he ends up, in the most dire of situations, committing real sins to avoid imaginary sins) but can also endanger people around him (because he may, in his concern for morality or faith, begin to badger others about imaginary sins, thus causing confusion and contention). Indeed, during our terrible times when no licit priests or bishops with jurisdiction are to be had, the CF becomes a law unto his own self. In ordinary times a scrupulous person could at least be held in check by his confessor, i.e., a priest. Now no authority exists to rein him in.
And so we have what we have today. An especially bold or clever-sounding CF arises and persuades other CFs that his position is correct. This leading CF imagines heresy where no heresy actually exists, or impugns a fellow Catholic of formal heresy where only a material heresy is real. Error is spread, reputations slandered, mistrust planted, hearts broken, and schism begun. The seamless garment of Christ is rent asunder.
+++ 9. Crucial Faults of CFs, No. 2: Rebellion +++
As just noted, the Catholic fundamentalist is a law unto his own self. Which is somewhat understandable. Every true Catholic during the Great Apostasy has had to grapple with a mystery… how can God’s Church be infallibly upholding the common dogmas of the Saving Truth if the pope and all of his bishops are blatantly denying at least one of these dogmas? Therefore, each of us --- however few we Roman Catholics may now be --- has been logically forced to respond with the following answer:
Because the purported pope isn’t actually a pope and his supposed bishops aren’t actually bishops or bishops with licit jurisdiction, their offices being temporarily vacant.
Hence, God’s Roman Catholic Body is actually upholding His Saving Truth; it only superficially appears like the Hierarchy of His Ecclesial Body is denying it.
Unfortunately, having come to such an audacious and (relatively) unprecedented conclusion, the particularly bold or too-clever-for-his-own-good CF then finds himself recklessly unafraid to make the next fateful move:
To rebel against what rightful authority still does operate nowadays, and to do so without proper moral justification.
This may baffle the reader. Because how can you rebel against nonexistent authorities? This is why we choose our words carefully. The Authority of the Hierarchy must still exist. It has to, or else God’s Church really has been overcome by the Devil, without any hope of victory for the Church in the future. Nevertheless, the ecclesial thrones of this Authority are only presently unoccupied and therefore only temporarily vacant.
Meanwhile, many if not most of the acts of this Hierarchical Authority are still in effect and operable. Again, they have to be, or else God’s Church has come to a screeching halt. It’s similar to Christ’s Human Body being in the tomb. It appeared lifeless. There was no longer any living motion in its members. Notwithstanding, His Human Body did not rot away. It could not since God’s Holy One cannot experience corruption. (Psalm 15:10)
The situation is identical with His Church Body. It appears lifeless. Without a presently functioning Hierarchy, there is little living motion in the religious life of its members --- we are bereft of most of the Sacraments. And yet this Ecclesial Body can’t just rot away. It remains incorrupt by virtue of its previous acts of Hierarchical Authority, which are still in effect, until such time as God returns a pope and his bishops to their thrones.
In other words, the Authority of their Ecclesiastical Offices continues to exist just as it always has, it’s only that these offices are vacant & unoccupied in the meantime.
Which means, in turn, that the previous occupants of these offices are still relevant and important. Indeed, since they literally represented Christ & His Apostles on earth, then --- even if they never did anything truly significant while in the Church’s Hierarchy --- they were and are, nonetheless, truly Our Lord & His Apostles ruling in the flesh over us.
Ergo, to acknowledge them is to acknowledge God; whereas, to deny them is to deny God. As a result, God won’t recognize us in Him if we don’t recognize Him in them!
Which means, then, too, that a Catholic must be extremely cautious in rejecting a man who all other Catholics up till now have accepted as a pope or a bishop. Recent antipopes are notorious & pertinacious in their heresy, not to mention simple & plain in what they deny when you boil it down to its essence… their lack of Catholicity is thus obvious & inescapable. Not so with men prior to the Vatican 2 Pseudo-Council. That is to say, there’s a reason no Catholic before 1965 dared to accuse a pope of being an antipope, antipopes not appearing until after Vatican 2 --- because such heresy, if it even exists, was not so obvious & inescapable since it was not so very notorious & pertinacious or simple & plain!
So how is it that some folks have the audacity to accuse these pre-Vatican 2 popes now? Is it because they have carefully discovered notorious & pertinacious proof of heresy?
Not at all. It’s because they are Catholic fundamentalists and a law unto their own selves. They exceed the blessed simplicity of the common dogmas of the Roman Catholic Faith --- found in the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments and the Our Father rightly understood --- and pretend to be able to fathom the deeper dogmas or more complex laws of the Church with a perfect infallibility, and without humble or careful contemplation. Moreover, they pretend to know the secret hearts of men without any possibility of mistaking these men’s motives or their words, accusing them of formal heresy.
And so we see Catholic fundamentalists resisting the Authority of the Hierarchy. Several of them claim to occupy St. Peter’s Throne, or to represent its Authority, in spite of the fact that their elections or appointments are without precedence, neither following present-day Canon Law nor even forms of ancient Canon Law when it comes to selecting a new pope or empowering his legates. (Not to mention that, obviously, not all of them can be true popes at the same time even if one of them really were a pope right now!) Other CFs have taken it upon themselves to topple legitimate popes of earlier times from their thrones, denouncing them as antipopes. A couple of them go so far as to claim to be the two witnesses of the Apocalypse --- without any vivid miraculous proof demonstrated in public to substantiate themselves --- behaving as if they can command other Catholics at pain of punishment despite not having any formal authorization for their deeds and not having been elevated to the Hierarchy or granted jurisdiction.
This is rebellion, my dear reader, pure and simple. And it stinks to high Heaven.
+++ 10. Crucial Faults of CFs, No. 3: Impatience +++
Ever tried to explain these things to a Catholic fundamentalist, my dear reader? You won’t get far. Not because the explanation lacks intelligence --- this and other writings prove how intelligent the explanation is. Nor because it indulges sophistry. That is to say, there is no smokescreen of words involved, designed to mislead. To the contrary, the explanation is straightforward & rational. The person of average mind can read it and, with only a little serious thought on his part, easily understand why it must be true.
Ah… but herein lies the stumbling block for the CF. For most of them are surely of at least average mind. And a few of them are distinctly clever. So they can’t possibly --- most of them --- have a problem comprehending what we have just said, here or elsewhere. That’s not the difficulty.
So what is the problem when it comes to getting Catholic fundamentalists to understand the error of their ways?
To wit, it’s not that they’re not smart enough. It’s that they don’t even want to take the time to understand… they aren’t even interested in making the effort to comprehend.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Not every CF is precisely the same. Some are better than others, morally speaking, while some are worse. And not every Catholic fundamentalist will necessarily have every fault listed here. Nevertheless, on the whole, it’s fair to say that CFs are an impatient bunch. And, again, this logically follows from their general worldliness. They may style themselves ‘catholic’ --- and maybe they really are, hating the plague of modernism in our world today --- yet they usually sport a fault that is so very typical of the Great Apostasy and our so very, very modern times.
Namely, they can’t sit still and just listen, or read, for even a few hours, something that may contradict their expectations and then take time to think things through very carefully, examining a hugely important issue from all sides of the equation before coming to a judgment.
Not that modern people are the only ones guilty of this sin. The scourge of impatience goes back to the very beginning, from the Fall of Man in the Garden of Paradise. It’s just that men during modern times are really superbly bad when it comes to this fault.
And some of it is to be expected. After all, does everybody have the same ability or propensities? No. Hence why God sets men above us as our leaders and our judges, who have the skill and make the time to consider important things carefully --- with proper patience, regardless of bias --- so as to lead others rightly and judge them correctly.
But that’s the catch, isn’t it? Because we don’t have an actively functioning Hierarchy right now at the present moment. We have no priest or bishop with jurisdiction over us, and thus no one to whom we must defer on earth in religion, recognizing in them the privilege of leadership & judgment, who act with the Authority of God.
And so Catholic fundamentalists go about exercising their own judgment in these things. The problem is, they have little or no capacity to bear the burden correctly, no real propensity for its responsibilities, and precious little humility to boot.
Consequently, they have no desire to discover the nuances in a disputed question or complex matter, or to hear out fully the side that is opposite to their biases. Everything for them must be open and shut, quick and easy, no need for strenuous effort, time or restraint to get it right, fair & wise. They are either unaware or disdainful that the Visible Head of the Catholic Church --- the Pope in his Vatican --- established many distinct offices staffed with learned priests and bishops to consider something with due deliberation before daring to decide on a particular subject.
Not that such offices and bureaucracy can’t be misused as a means of wickedness or obstruction. But that’s not the point. A hammer can be misused, too, to murder someone or to ward off the police from the scene of a crime. Is, then, a hammer to be derided as a useless tool or criminally evil?
Obviously not. The very idea is ridiculous. And so we call it nonsense, too, to mock the necessity of highly trained & competent men to consider carefully an issue that confronts members of the One True Religion. Yet this ridiculous notion is a common weakness of people in America --- being the country within which I reside --- and whose citizens often ridicule learning and intellect. This includes those who claim to be truly Catholic. They tend to stick their noses even higher in the air than the people they demean as ‘eggheads’ or ‘ivory tower academics’, and who, they suppose, are so terribly conceited because of their great learning.
+++ 11. Crucial Faults of CFs, No. 4: Spiritual Pride +++
Which naturally brings us to the next thing on the list:
The mother of all sins, it is no accident that it’s at the heart of everything and that I’ve placed it at the center of this list of seven of the faults of Catholic fundamentalists.
Nevertheless, don’t get me wrong, dear reader. I’m not naïve --- CFs aren’t the only ones who are sinfully proud. All of us suffer from spiritual arrogance. Only great saints escape its grasp entirely… and even then, being very holy and thus filled with humility, they don’t dare to think they’re perfect or that they couldn’t fall back into its horrible grasp.
Yet I’m not talking about the everyday wickedness of a merely venial human pride, nor even an ordinary manifestation that is typical of many persons and leads to Hell. No, I’m talking about an extraordinary manifestation of this iniquity… a human arrogance that is mortal and hence truly deadly when it comes to our everlasting fate, and which is unique in its particular attributes and the circumstances in which it grows. How so?
We noted near the beginning of chapter three how Catholic fundamentalists are, to use the words of our first pope, “unlearned and unstable…” (2 Peter 3:16d DRC, emphasis added) Now if they were solely “unlearned” then teaching them the truth would solve the problem --- all you’d have to do is explain to them carefully & politely where they are wrong and they would quickly correct themselves. But most of them are not simply “unlearned”; they’re “unstable”, too. As we also observed in chapter three:
“…the merely ‘unlearned’ man will cease to be unlearned once he is instructed properly. Whereas the ‘unstable’ man will remain this way regardless of how much instruction he receives. This is because his primary problem is not a lack of knowledge, but a lack of virtue… he is wickedly proud.”
Because the wickedly proud man goes beyond what is actually commanded and presumes himself able to determine a difficult truth, or to rule out all possible exceptions to a commandment, without the clear & explicit guidance of an Infallible Authority --- and then expects everyone else to agree lest he anathematize them. (This is scrupulosity.) And the wickedly proud man goes beyond what a pope has actually ruled and presumes himself right to reject later Infallible Authority based on his gross misinterpretation of earlier infallible decrees --- and then expects everyone else to agree lest he anathematize them. (This is rebellion.) And the wickedly proud man goes beyond what the urgency of a given situation demands and presumes himself justified in belittling the logical points of his opponents or overlooking important details in order to make quick judgments that dovetail with his religious prejudices --- and then expects everyone else to agree lest he not only anathematize them thoroughly but mock them cruelly. (This is impatience.)
In every case we see the finger of pride.
And while an inculpable ignorance can excuse much of the guilt involved in these very serious objective sins, it would be arrogance on our part to assume that no knowledge exists in the typical CF of his error and thus that no guilt is involved in his manifest sins. Without careful investigation or intimate familiarity with a particular fundamentalist, we cannot rightly presume the CF is without fault in spite of his material iniquity. Nor can we do the opposite --- presume out of thin air that he is wholly culpable. Chances are, most CFs fall somewhere between completely guilty and totally guileless. All the same, the transgressions typical of Catholic fundamentalism are often very grave despite the fundamentalist being possibly excusable: that is to say, his objective sins have very serious consequences despite his possible lack of guilt for them due to ignorance.
For instance, in wrongly accusing a fellow Catholic of being a heretic, the CF will then divide up against this fellow Catholic or refuse to acknowledge such-and-such a pope as sitting upon the Throne of St. Peter since that pope seems to him, the CF, to have upheld what he thinks is heresy. Which in turn tears the seamless garment of Christ, as the early Church fathers used to put it. I.e., Christ’s Body --- the Roman Catholic Church --- is supposed to be One, united in both Government and Charity. Yet if Catholics reject a head of Christ’s Body (reject His Body’s Government) or reject fellow members of Christ’s Body (reject His Body’s Charity), refusing to worship with them, then how is Christ’s Body united and thus One in Government & Charity?
Do you see?
The Unity of the Catholic Church is destroyed by these objective actions!
It matters not how ‘sincere’ the Catholic fundamentalist is… his behavior is objectively schismatic, having very real consequences in our material world. Nor does inculpability change the wholly objective outcome of his actions… he is divisive and rebellious, regardless of how guiltless he may be due to his unavoidable mistake in judgment.
It’s like a man killing an intruder who is actually his wife, arriving home unexpectedly late. He may be guiltless for this horrible deed --- thinking her a dangerous thief as she fumbles quietly at the back door --- yet objectively horrible the deed is as she lies gasping in her blood however good were his intentions or unavoidable his ignorance!
Notwithstanding, I predict that sooner or later most Catholic fundamentalists will fall into culpably mortal sin whether or not they were excusable to start with. As already noted, this is because most of them are not just “unlearned” but are “unstable” as well.
In other words, ignorance is not their sole problem.
The CF knows neither his moral limits nor his mental limits --- he cannot tell right from wrong in complicated situations and he cannot see that he’s in deeper than he can swim, unable to distinguish truth from falsehood when it comes to dogmas that are not simple or explicitly addressed in the Apostle’s Creed. Yet even worse than this… because he won’t back down and admit that he could be mistaken. He insists on his correctness even in the face of overwhelming logical & factual evidence that his position is, at the very least, quite fallible… if not positively erroneous!
This is the essence of spiritual arrogance. It is why I call my website The Epistemologic Works, the emphasis being on that unique word, epistemologic. Because if a person can’t discern between true and false or right and wrong, and can’t tell where his knowledge is absolutely certain and where it’s only a fallible opinion, being nothing more than a preference or probability in his sight… then that person is inevitably ruled by pride.
A pride that is at the heart of any false religion. For schism leads to heresy and heresy leads to schism. The two are interchangeable and at the origin of every false religion if only we go back far enough in time. And while inculpable ignorance guards to a degree against this causal link between the two different things (which are merely two sides of the same coin), the man who is “unstable” in addition to being “unlearned” is the most perilous of all men --- especially when he dares to call himself Catholic. Because, sooner or later, in his ignorant pride he will depart from whatever Catholicity he has left and, if still calling himself Catholic, may fool others into thinking he’s Catholic. Indeed, he might convince them that he alone is Catholic and no one else is.
In short, in his spiritual pride he not only will start a false religion… but he could possibly lead others into practicing this false religion, too!
+++ 12. Crucial Faults of CFs, No. 5: Busybodyness +++
Which then leads us to the very next fault on the list: busybodyness.
The Catholic fundamentalist thinks himself better than practically any other soul on earth nowadays, and he is annoyed that others are so lazy or mutinous or wicked against God that he would have to endure their iniquity. Some of this is understandable; after all, who wants to put up with evil? The true Catholic is grieved by the wickedness of the world.
Nevertheless, the CF is also actually secretly pleased that he contrasts so favorably with other people’s depravity. That is to say, it makes him feel great about himself to be so holy in comparison to everyone else’s horribleness. How do I know? Easy. Because I spent several years around CFs, and they were working hard to turn me into one, too. Their souls are thus an open book in my sight. And I tell you the facts --- the CF is spiritually proud to be so good when he looks at others and sees how rotten they are!
Now, mind you, by “secretly pleased” I don’t mean that Catholic fundamentalists try to hide their pleasure. If you’re around CFs long enough, it’s plain as day how much most of them are happy to think themselves better than everyone else. No, what I mean by “secretly pleased” is that not even they --- the fundamentalists --- realize up front how good it makes them feel to consider themselves so much better than the rest of the world. It’s a ‘secret’ even to them… they’re oblivious to their own conceit.
However, this conceit makes many of them into busybodies. When around others who are supposed to be Catholic, they then think it’s their privilege --- indeed, their obligation! --- to poke their nose into every little fault they imagine themselves to see in another. After all, who else is holy enough to know to chastise these others who are evil? Isn’t God pleased that they’re using their holiness to help their neighbor by admonishing him?
Again, some of this is understandable. If we lived in normal times then all local Catholics would tend to think the same and act identically when it comes to every little aspect of religion. This is because we’d be under a bishop and his priests, who would sanction or govern our customs & behavior and also give us examples of how to live. But we don’t live during normal times. This is the Great Apostasy and the thrones of the Hierarchy are empty. What’s more, continuity has been broken to some extent --- the teaching of one generation by the previous generation has been interrupted temporarily. For instance, I converted in a vacuum. I had no real Catholic to talk to, no true Catholics to imitate. Practically all of my Catholicity has been derived from the study of the early Church fathers, intensive prayer, and the private shaping of the Holy Ghost.
Ergo, when the few real Catholics who exist nowadays happen to get into contact or meet each other, there can be genuine confusion about --- or surprising diversity of --- certain practices and issues. One Catholic might greet another with such-and-such a phrase, another Catholic might use no such greeting at all. One Catholic might pray at certain times of the day, another Catholic might vary considerably or use alternate prayers. Particular Catholics might eschew television altogether, while others might indulge certain safe entertainment or edit it to make it inoffensive. And so forth and so on.
It gets really tricky when the habits of the modern world are involved. For over a century ostensible Catholics were appropriating the attitudes & behavior of worldly people during recent times. This then causes the few Catholics who exist during the Great Apostasy to have sometimes widely different notions about what is good and acceptable, and what is not. After all, how are they to tell for sure when Catholics of fifty years ago were behaving in such ways? And who is to say otherwise when no bishop or priest with jurisdiction is around to set everyone straight?
The situation is thus difficult. It takes great humility and wisdom to know where to draw the line and take a firm stand, and where to be tolerant and leave well enough alone.
Catholic fundamentalists do not have this humility and wisdom. CFs aren’t cookie cutter imitations of each other, but most of them tend to want to make cookie cutter imitations out of other Catholics, and they forget (or never knew) that Catholics have never been called upon by either God or His Church to admonish for most venial sins. I.e., the hallmark of good & sensible Catholics has been to bear with one another’s burdens --- which includes putting up with his fellow Catholic’s faults, as long as those faults are not mortally sinful or threatening truly grievous harm to another (such as, for instance, heresy that is revealed). Moreover, if the fault is private and not public, then --- even if mortally sinful (and as long as it does not threaten truly grievous harm to another, being hidden away and not forced on others) --- the Catholic is to leave that man’s private fault alone, not exposing it to public scrutiny.
In other words, it’s often none of his business, apart from praying charitably for his fellow Catholic’s venial faults or private sins, that he might be released from them.
This is in stark contrast to how the typical CF acts. He is all over a fellow Catholic for his venial faults, either not knowing that they’re only venial or thinking, mistakenly, that he is to admonish for every little sin even if it’s only venial. Furthermore, if privy to a fellow Catholic’s private sin, he will often stick his nose into this Catholic’s private business without invitation from that Catholic or else broadcast the private sin to the rest of the world publicly, exposing his shame to other purported Catholics needlessly.
Too, the CF admonishes harshly… and cruelly. He doesn’t care if he hurts the feelings of the one he rebukes, it matters not to him if his words sound cold or severe. He doesn’t try to speak softly or considerately or in private. To top it off, the Catholic fundamentalist justifies this kind of cruelty by claiming that it’s more important to ‘please’ God by admonishing a sinner than it is to worry about being considerate or nice to your fellow human being. To wit, the CF conveniently excuses his own sin of cruelty (a breaking of the fifth commandment) by pretending that love of God (the greatest commandment, Matthew 22:36-38) trumps love of neighbor (the second greatest commandment, Matthew 22:39). As if God doesn’t expect both to be obeyed simultaneously!
In short, the CF is the very thing that the Bible warns against where it says, “He that pricketh the eye, bringeth out tears [he that hurts the eyes makes tears flow]: and he that pricketh the heart, bringeth forth resentment. He that flingeth a stone against birds, shall drive them away: so he that upbraideth his friend, breaketh friendship [in the same way, he that rebukes his friend severely or bitterly loses that friend]… If thou hast opened a sad mouth [if you have said something badly or meanly which causes sorrow in another], fear not, for there may be a reconciliation: except [except for] upbraiding, and reproach, and pride, and disclosing of secrets [telling everybody about his private faults or sins], or a treacherous wound: for in all these cases a friend will flee away.” (Ecclesiasticus 22:24-25, 27 DRC)
The CF also tends to violate Sacred Scripture where it warns, “Hast thou heard a word against thy neighbor? [Do you know something bad about your neighbor?] Let it die within you [let it stay secret with you], trusting that it will not burst thee [working hard not to be a gossip or a blabbermouth].” (Ecclesiasticus 19:10 DRC)
To sum up, the Catholic fundamentalist frequently despises his neighbor, thinking himself better than any other human being who does not share his fundamentalist tendencies. He may really love God, but he does so imperfectly, being proud and foolish. He scolds his neighbor needlessly, harshly or unwisely in order to (says he) love God by admonishing the sinner. Yet he hates God by hating his neighbor, which is what he does by needlessly, harshly or unwisely rebuking others! For he who gravely disobeys God’s commandments cannot rightly or truly love God, and he who hates his neighbor hates, too, the God in Whose Image the neighbor is made.
Which is not to say that admonishment of one’s neighbor is not ever necessary, or that it cannot be an act of love toward another man, especially one’s fellow brother in Christ’s Catholic Body. But it is to say that admonishment must be done rightly --- not foolishly.
+++ 13. Crucial Faults of CFs, No. 6: Apathy +++
Yet this kind of behavior shouldn’t surprise us, my dear reader. For while some CFs may genuinely care about other people to some extent, most of them care very little for most of the people in this world… if at all. I’m afraid Catholic fundamentalists are pretty much like everybody else when it comes to human affection: if they know the person well and like him, then they love him. But if the person is a stranger or rubs them the wrong way, then they couldn’t give two figs for him and may even despise him.
This is human nature in a fallen world.
However, real Catholics are not to be like the rest of the world. And while I’m in no position to preach, being too prone to indulge my carnal inclinations, I can’t pretend that a lie is true or hide the critical facts from your sight. Let it be understood, then:
Christians are to be imitators of Jesus --- His Roman Catholic Faith --- and to love their neighbors, even their enemies. This can mean a lot of things. But if nothing else it’s got to mean at least this one thing --- that Catholics really do want (and really do earnestly pray for) the conversion of their neighbors and enemies to the Catholic Church!
Because there’s no other way to save a precious & priceless immortal soul.
Do CFs realize this? Yes, when it comes to exclusive salvation in the Catholic Church. No, when it comes to truly loving their neighbors and wanting them to stay out of Hell. Mind you, they will sometimes talk a good talk, saying the right words. Yet when it comes to the pinch, in a real life situation, their merely human passions tend to get the upper hand. Their words and their actions at these moments betray the actuality…
That they really don’t mind at all if the rest of the world goes to Hell en masse. In fact, many of them act positively gleeful about the prospect!
Now, maybe the entire world will go to Hell during our times. This is the Great Apostasy, and hearts are like stone toward Jesus’ Catholic Religion. Neither you nor I can stop that all by ourselves. But should real Catholics want the whole world to go to Hell, or should they be callously indifferent toward a single costly soul --- not to mention untold numbers of invaluable souls --- failing to attain to Heaven forevermore?
If you are Catholic at all, my dear reader, the answer is clear. Apathy is not an option. Not everyone has the gift of tears, weeping disconsolately over the loss of precious souls, but this doesn’t mean, then, that everyone without the gift of tears is to shrug his shoulders as if he doesn’t care! Indeed, what does God tell us about this?
In Sacred Scripture He says, “For God so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him [that whoever believes what Jesus actually taught], may not perish, but may have life everlasting.” (John 3:16 DRC) Elsewhere He says, “The Lord delayeth not his promise [God doesn’t take too long to keep his promise], as some imagine [like some people think], but dealeth patiently for your sake [has patience with you for your sake], not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance.” (2 Peter 3:9 DRC) As well, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved [wants everybody to be saved], and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4 DRC) And again Jesus tells us about the Good Samaritan who, despite being a heretic and hence outside the Hope of Life Eternal, nevertheless stopped to help a dying man laying at the side of the road who had been attacked by thieves --- unlike two Old Testament Church leaders who had merely passed him by out of fear, indifference or haste. Jesus then asked the person to whom He was sharing this story, “‘Which of these three [men], in thy [your] opinion, was neighbor to him that fell among the robbers [was nice to the fellow beaten up by the robbers]?’ But he [the person to whom Jesus was talking] said, ‘He that shewed mercy to him [the Samaritan that was kind to the fellow that got beat up].’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do thou in like manner [go and do just what the helpful Samaritan did].’” (Luke 10:36-37 DRC. See Luke 10:25-37 for the whole context.)
The point is clear. Catholics are to be like the Good Samaritan who cared. Indeed, how shameful if a heretic --- a man in false religion --- morally outshines the man in God’s True Religion! And the most important way we show we care is that we yearn and pray for the conversion of those outside the Catholic Church, that they, too, might enter the Sole Hope of Salvation and so obtain the Kingdom of Heaven by dying a good death.
There is no other option for Roman Catholics. You may not be able to weep for the loss of priceless human souls… but you can at least exercise your free will and do what is right, acting like you care. You can show this by your words and by your prayers.
Whatever you do, don’t be like a fundamentalist. A person very dear to me was once accused, wrongly, of grave sin by a CF. The CF told me, “I still pray for [this person’s] salvation, of course, but I’m telling you the truth… I don’t think [this person] is going to be saved.” He then demanded, unjustly, that this person admit to this grievous sin (which would have been a grievously mortal sin in and of itself since the person wasn’t guilty of such a terrible iniquity!) and was appalled that I had the audacity to defend the person. Moreover, he refused to discuss the dispute with me properly until the matter came to such a head that he saw nothing was to be gained by digging in his heels further…
But by then it was too late. I’d seen enough and knew that his idea of justice was very, very different from what God through His Church says justice is to be. I could not trust such a man or work in harmony with someone who could do this to others. I especially could not countenance working with someone who could write off another soul’s salvation so blithely.
Because it doesn’t matter how unlikely a man’s conversion may seem, or how bad-willed and hard-hearted he may appear. Jesus told the shocked disciples that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. “Who then can be saved?” they asked in amazement. And Jesus responded:
“With men it is impossible; but not with God: for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:26c, 27b-d DRC. See Mark 10:17-27 for the full context.)
The lesson is plain. God’s Grace can overcome all things. This doesn’t mean everyone will be saved… a human being still has free will and can fight against God to the point of his eventual damnation. It does mean, though, that we as mere humans ought not to go around expecting that someone is almost sure to end up in Hell, and then act like it is so or talk like it is so. We don’t know. We are required to act in meekness and patience, and optimistically hope for the conversion of a wicked soul until that person dies in his sins or unbelief, no evidence of conversion having ever been given. Then --- and only then --- can we act like that person is, with all certainty of probability after his death, in Hell. This is because no one can die not being Catholic, or die Catholic but in the state of mortal sin, and go to Heaven. Hence, if it’s a reasonable public fact that a person is not Catholic or not in the state of grace, and we have no hard evidence that he converted before he died, then it’s a moral certainty (although not infallibly certain!) that he’s in Hell. All the same, we must at least earnestly pray for the conversion of such poor souls in the meantime, actively loving them while they are still alive on earth by doing so.
Because callous apathy toward, or smug cynicism about, their eternal fate is not a legitimate option for real Catholics. Ever!
+++ 14. Crucial Faults of CFs, No. 7: Mockery +++
Bringing us to the seventh and final fault of Catholic fundamentalists listed here, mockery. Because if a group of persons doesn’t care for most of the people outside their group, saying they are sinners --- and justifying their group’s lack of kindness by their love of God and their hatred of sin --- then what reason has this group to be perfectly decent when they talk to, or about, these outside people?
Still, you might say, what does it matter? Sticks and stones might break a man’s bones, but words can never truly hurt anybody. Isn’t this a very small fault?
That’s a typical reaction from worldly people; it is not, however, to be the outlook of a wise Catholic. Jesus said, “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment [for every useless word people say, they will answer for it to God at the end of their lives when God judges them].” (Matthew 12:36 DRC)
And St. Paul the Apostle tells the bishop he appointed over Crete (and thus us, too), “Admonish them [the Catholics under your rule]… to speak evil of no man [don’t talk bad about anyone], not to be litigious [don’t fight, wrangle and file lawsuits], but gentle; shewing all mildness [exhibiting all meekness & humility] towards all men.” He then goes on to explain why. “For we ourselves also were [for] some time unwise, incredulous [unbelieving, not being Catholic], erring [falling into religious falsehoods or immorality], slaves to divers [many different kinds of] desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” (Titus 3:1a, 2-3 DRC) That is to say, we should show patience & kindness to non-Catholics --- as well as to bad Catholics --- because we ourselves were just like them before we became holy Catholics! Hence, we, of all people, should show the same kindness to them in their sins that God showed us in our sins.
Yet St. James the Righteous removes any remaining doubts about this matter where he says, “For in many things we all offend [we all do bad things]. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man [if anyone never says something bad, then he’s perfect]. For we put bits in the mouths of horses, that they may obey us, and we turn about the whole body [the tiny bit in the mouth makes the entire horse go where it leads]. Behold also ships [look at ships, too], whereas they are great [while they may be huge], and are driven by strong winds, yet are they turned about with a small helm [they’re made to go in a different direction by a small steering control]… Even so the tongue is indeed a little member, and boasteth great things [even so the tongue is just a little thing, yet it can do big things]. Behold how small a fire kindleth a great wood [see how small a flame it takes to make an entire forest on fire]. And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity [the tongue causes lots of sin and harm]… For every nature of beasts [for all kinds of animals]… hath [have] been tamed, by… man: but the tongue no man can tame, [it is] an unquiet evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:2-4d, 5-6a, 7a, c-8 DRC)
The truth is plain. Our tongues are evil and cause lots of trouble, more than any other part of the body. We talk evil and say things that unnecessarily inflame or hurt others. Yet not even the smallest word that is merely useless will go unaccounted at our judgments by God. He will punish every single word from our mouths (verbal) or hands (written) that is not inarguably good! How then can we expect God to overlook a word which mocks?
Not that all CFs are mockers. Some may not exhibit this moral deficiency openly. Many of them do, though, and --- based on my years of interaction with them in private --- I can tell you that all of them would be openly flippant or mocking at some time or another, if only given the chance or bold enough to do it. The significance is this:
The mouth is a revealer of what is in the heart.
As Jesus taught, “But the things which proceed [come] out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those things defile a man [make a man filthy].” (Matthew 15:18 DRC) And He scolded the wicked Jewish leaders, “O generation of vipers [you snakes], how can you speak good things, whereas you are evil [how can you possibly say something good when you’re nothing but evil]? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh [what the heart is filled up with shows up in what the mouth says].” (Matthew 12:34 DRC)
Now, again, I am too prone to indulge my carnal inclinations to be above reproach in this matter. That is to say, I’ve mocked people in the past. Of this I am ashamed. I strive hard to avoid repeating these sinful mistakes and control my tongue. Nevertheless, for all my moral imperfection, I still can’t pretend that a lie is true or hide the critical facts from your sight. Which is why I am not silent about this problem, and why I tell you, my dear reader, that mockery is simply the tip of the iceberg. It is the telltale flag that warns of something even bigger underneath.
In short, mockery may or may not be a very big fault in and of itself (though it’s usually bigger than most people want to think, as we saw from the warning of St. James about the danger of the tongue’s fiery poison). But mockery --- or sins of the mouth in general --- is a canary in the coalmine which tips us off that other iniquities lie hidden beneath the cool veneer of contemporary civilization. To wit, in the case of the CF, the other six faults already gone into prior to exposing this fault --- scrupulosity, rebellion, impatience, spiritual pride, busybodyness, apathy… and now mockery. And so we repeat:
What comes out of the mouth (or through the keypad) reveals the contents of the heart!
Thus, for instance, when a particular CF recently rebuked a pope of the late 1800s for supposed heresy, starting out by saying in response to a quote of his, “Excuse me, Mr. Antipope”, it doesn’t matter that he really thinks this Bishop of Rome was a heretic and hence outside the Catholic Church. The point is that he indulged flippant, disrespectful & undignified language, something Catholics are not normally to use regardless of the supposed wickedness of the person they might disrespect or insult!
This is a crucial thing to understand. I know of nothing in the writings of the Magisterium where the Pope, his Vatican or an Ecumenical Council has indulged this kind of flippant talk, and there is only one place in the Bible that I know about which shows a holy man mocking someone outright. This is St. Elias in 3 Kings 18:27 where he ribs the 450 priests of Baal for being unable, despite all their prayers, wild dancing and bloody mutilation of their bodies from morning to noon, to get Baal to send miraculous fire upon their pagan altar. Whereas, to the contrary in Sacred Scripture, we find how St. Michael himself --- mighty angel though he is and head of God’s Heavenly Army --- in “disputing with the devil, contended about the body of Moses [fought over the corpse of St. Moses], [however] he durst not bring against him the judgment of railing speech [nonetheless, St. Michael didn’t dare to tear the Devil down with bitter, disrespectful and insulting talk], but said [instead]: ‘The Lord command thee.’” (Jude 1:9b-e DRC)
This last example is particularly telling. Some CFs are fond of talking tough against the Devil, ranking him down and practically indulging gutter language about him. This is a familiar thing to me, because in my earlier life I was raised a conservative Charismatic Evangelic Protestant. These kinds of people claim to follow Christ but are heretics against the infallible teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. And they love to insult Satan, talking real big as if they’re going to beat him up or something. How curious, then, that many Catholic fundamentalists like to behave similarly.
And yet St. Michael --- who if anyone could justifiably talk big and rank Satan down verbally, then it would be him, mightiest of all archangels that he is! --- refused to do so when fighting with the Devil over the body of Moses. Instead he merely said, “The Lord command thee.”
Do you see the hubris of CFs, dear reader? If St. Michael doesn’t dare to talk like this against the Devil… then how is it that both Protestant and Catholic fundamentalists often have the audacity to do so, and despite this contrary example in Sacred Scripture? Granted, some saints spoke revealingly about demons and were sometimes militant sounding. St. Anthony of the Desert comes to mind. Notwithstanding, such saints didn’t indulge mere insults and disrespectful talk. They spoke confidently, knowledgeably and truthfully… not immaturely, bitterly and flippantly.
The point is, if St. Michael wouldn’t talk insultingly and flippantly toward Satan, then why would a CF talk this way toward a man he thinks is an antipope? Isn’t the Devil a hundred times over more wicked than the most evil of men, being a liar and a murderer from the beginning, and the origin of all evil in this creation? Won’t he rule over Hell forever and ever as he and his minions are tormented everlastingly? Doesn’t he deserve such treatment, if anyone does? Then how is it okay to talk about a supposed antipope in any way less dignified than St. Michael did toward the highest ranking of fallen angels?
This is another finger of pride. A finger that is the most visible iniquity that others encounter when they hear this CF speak or read his words. Which in turn, then, indicates other problems of wickedness underneath the surface. Because a wickedly proud man will frequently contradict what virtue actually dictates and presumes himself obligated or privileged to poke his nose into another man’s business and reprimand him for venial, private or imaginary faults --- and then expects everyone else to agree lest he upbraid them, too. (This is busybodyness.) And the wickedly proud man contradicts what is actually commanded and presumes himself right to disregard the ultimate fate of precious immortal souls, as if they are already damned while still on earth --- and then expects everyone else to agree lest he castigate them. (This is apathy.) And the wickedly proud man contradicts what wisdom & dignity demand and presumes himself justified to belittle his opponent and insult him needlessly --- and then expects everyone else to agree lest he not only belittle them, also, but insult them cruelly. (This is mockery.)
This is the hand of evil, my dear reader. The humble Catholic cannot allow himself to be poisoned by its touch.
+++ 15. The Nutshell of Fundamentalism Cracked Wide Open +++
The nut of Catholic fundamentalism is now cracked open for all to see who have eyes to see. And while CFs are tiny in number --- mere hundreds, probably, or a few thousand at the very most --- they threaten everyone with serious harm. Real Catholics because they either end up becoming CFs, or else, standing firm against fundamentalism, they wind up being slandered by CFs; and non-Catholics because the already faint testimony of actual Catholicism during the Great Apostasy is smothered by this kind of division. Because true religion without unity is an impotent testimony. (John 17:21, 23) We say, then:
Catholic fundamentalists are schismatics. Some of them tend to this crime more than others; some fail to commit the crime of schism merely because they lack the chance to do it; some are so bullheaded and feckless that they will perpetrate this crime at the least provocation and at the drop of a hat. But crime it is in every case, because schism is a sin against charity, tearing the Roman Catholic Body of Christ apart. It is objectively grave, as Sacred Scripture makes clear, and only rare extenuating circumstances can make it less than mortal in the one who commits it, or who would commit it if it were possible.
“Now I beseech you, brethren [I beg you, brothers], by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing [be in agreement with each other religiously], and that there be no schisms among you; but that you be perfect in the same mind [be in perfect agreement with each other about those things in religion that are crucial to hold in harmony], and in the same judgment [that you agree about right & wrong].” (1 Corinthians 1:10 DRC)
This is what the Holy Ghost says through St. Paul the Apostle regarding schism. And the same Holy Ghost through St. Jude the Apostle said about the men who make schism:
“For certain men… despise dominion [don’t like authority over them]… Woe unto them [they’re going to have a lot of trouble], for they have… perished in the contradiction of Core [because they will end up dead in schismatic rebellion just like Core and his followers died in their schism against the divinely established authority of Ss. Moses & Aaron --- see Numbers 16 for details].” (Jude 1:4a, 8b, 11a, c DRC)
Moreover, an early Church father taught us:
“Let there be nothing among you which
is capable of dividing you, but be
united with the bishop and with those who lead, as an example and a lesson of
incorruptibility… Do not attempt to convince yourselves that anything done
apart from the others is right… Let all of you run together as to one
And the Angelic Doctor instructs:
“Now the unity of the Church consists in two things; namely, in the mutual connection or communion of the members of the Church, and again in the subordination of all the members of the Church to the one head… Therefore schismatics are those who refuse to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff, and to hold communion with those members of the Church who acknowledge his supremacy… The essence of schism consists in rebelliously disobeying the commandments: and I say ‘rebelliously’, since a schismatic both obstinately scorns the commandments of the Church, and refuses to submit to her judgment… For… schism is essentially opposed to the unity of ecclesiastical charity… This is what Jerome says in his commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians: ‘I consider the difference between schism and heresy to be that heresy holds false doctrine while schism severs a man from the Church.’ Nevertheless, just as the loss of charity is the road to the loss of faith… so, too, schism is the road to heresy. Therefore Jerome adds that ‘…there is no schism that does not devise some heresy for itself, that it may appear to have had a reason for separating from the Church [every schismatic comes up with a heresy, too, so that he can appear to justify himself for dividing from the Church].’ ...Now… of all sins committed by man against his neighbor, the sin of schism would seem to be the greatest, because it is opposed to the spiritual good of the multitude [of all sins against a neighbor, schism is the worst since it hurts everyone spiritually]… It is written: ‘Depart from the tents of these wicked men,’ those, to wit, who had caused the schism, ‘and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be involved in their sins [separate from schismatics religiously so that you are not guilty of their sin of schism also].’ [Numbers 16:26] …According to Wisdom 11:11, ‘By what things a man sins, by the same also he should be punished’ [Septuagint translation]. Now a schismatic… commits… sin… by separating himself from communion with the members of the Church, and in this respect the fitting punishment for schismatics is that they be excommunicated.” (St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, Second of the Second Part, Question 39, Articles 1-2, 4. All annotations & emphases added.)
Yet what is schism, exactly? As St. Jerome indicates, quoted above by St. Thomas Aquinas, it is a refusal to acknowledge, worship with, or obey, in some serious matter, the one who has religious authority over you (this is what CFs do when they call Benedict XV or Leo XIII antipopes), or a refusal to acknowledge or worship with those who are your fellow Catholics (this is what CFs do when they wrongly brand Catholics as heretics, refusing to worship with them and even shunning them entirely). Whichever, unity is broken --- either you cut yourself off from the body’s head or else you sever yourself from the rest of the body while pretending to be still connected to the head. And can any particular part of a body stay alive without connection to the rest of the body?
We repeat for the sake of driving home a truth that is crucial to having eternal life:
Can any one single part of a body stay alive & well without actual connection to the rest of the body?
The answer is clear, not to mention the result of just plain common sense:
No! Any part of the body severed from the head or the rest of the body will die.
This, then, is the hideous peril of schism from the head or from the members of the Catholic Body of Jesus Christ. It is also why schismatics are invariably, under normal circumstances, either excommunicated automatically by the rule of Canon Law or else excommunicated formally by the pronouncement of the Hierarchy. Because the potential schismatic must be made to know how serious is the crime of schism, and of how deadly it is to those around him. Indeed, so deadly that, if not excommunicated either formally or automatically, nevertheless, then God Himself will condemn to hellfire the unrepentant schismatic on the day of his death.
Still, I have a friend who --- eager to be charitable --- insists we should overlook those who might mistakenly anathematize fellow Catholics or who might wrongly reject a former pope such as Benedict XV or Leo XIII. He then cites the Western Schism as proof. Even saints were on opposite sides at that time, he points out, clinging to opposing claimants to the papal throne. And aren’t our own times just as confusing? Therefore, even if wrong, CFs must be excused for their schismatic behavior.
This sounds plausible since things are very confusing today. Notwithstanding, there’s a big, huge, gigantic difference between the Great Apostasy now and the Western Schism back then. Specifically, no one back then said someone wasn’t a pope because he espoused formal heresy.
No one during the Western Schism of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries rejected a man as pope because he publicly professed formal heresy. Whereas today, during the Great Apostasy, that is precisely why the antipopes are antipopes!
In other words, the confusion of the Western Schism was confusion over arcane procedural rules for the election of a pope, as well as the less-than-stellar actions of those involved in that election which began the confusion for 39 years from 1378 to 1417. No general Catholic man is required to understand such procedural rules or have intricate knowledge of cardinals’ moral behavior in order to save his own immortal soul.
In stark contrast, the confusion of the Great Apostasy is confusion over common dogma of the Roman Catholic Faith, as well as the traitorous actions of those who were supposed to be shepherds but who not only have failed to protect the sheep from this confusion but instead perpetrate the confusion themselves. Yet a common dogma is a teaching that every man must know & profess in order to be Catholic in the first place. Ergo, if a common dogma is notoriously and pertinaciously denied, then no real Catholic can consider the denier to be Catholic, and the man doing the denying most certainly cannot be the visible head of that which he has visibly abandoned by professing formal heresy!
To put it still another way, the matter in contention during the Western Schism was not intrinsic to salvation and thus a truly invincible ignorance protected any simple & sincere Catholic from the guilt of objectively grievous sin by being on the wrong side, supporting a man who was not really a pope. This is why even saints wound up opposing each other back then, about who was actually sitting on St. Peter’s Throne, while still being saints. It is not the same today, however. Now the matter in contention is intrinsic to salvation and hence no one --- not even if invincibly ignorant about it --- can avoid damnation in the situation unless he first embraces the common dogmas of the Catholic Faith whole & entire, and thus also recognizes where the antipopes are denying a common dogma.
Which gets us down to brass tacks. Because, of course, that’s what Catholic fundamentalists claim they’re doing when they anathematize a fellow Catholic or denounce a former pope. Nonetheless, here again is where CFs go so terribly awry:
They either 1) consider something a heresy which is not a heresy; or else 2) they imagine that someone is formally heretical who is really only materially heretical.
Neither example justifies the CF in denouncing Catholics as heretics. And if you’ve looked carefully at what we saw in chapters four to seven, then you know it’s true. Not that this is an exhaustive study of Catholic fundamentalism. But it’s enough to show the man of good will what it is and why it is so deadly… and thus how to avoid it. I don’t pretend to be a pope, a bishop, a priest, or have any jurisdiction of any kind over other Catholics. I’m not trying to command or punish based on authority. If I speak publicly, it’s because I have something worthwhile to say. If I speak without permission from the bishop of my diocese --- which isn’t even possible nowadays since we have no lawful bishops with jurisdiction --- it is because every Catholic is called upon to speak in defense of the True Faith at one time or another, and because now, of all times, it is crucial that the man speak up who has a solution to the grave problems we face.
I therefore tell everyone plainly:
Catholic fundamentalism is a hideous plague and leads souls into damnation.
This is because CFs inevitably tend toward schism, which in turn causes a man to eventually embrace heresy. There is nothing more dangerous to a man’s immortal soul today than this kind of fundamentalism. Only modernism is more deadly and only then because it is way more widespread and hence far more likely to ensnare most people. The tragedy nowadays is this:
That, having navigated the perilous waters of the Great Apostasy, pulling himself free from the reptilian grasp of modernism, the man who becomes truly Catholic then faces yet another of the Devil’s traps, a trap even more diabolic than before! Namely, the lure of Catholic fundamentalism, which can look so very correct and enticing to the fervent soul, militantly opposed to the rest of the world as it seems to be… when, in fact, it is even more wicked than the rest of the world itself, posing as godliness and virtue. When, in fact, the dyed-in-the-wool CF is even more spiritually arrogant and awry --- because so apparently close to the Saving Truth --- than all others, who lay little or no claim today to being truly Catholic in the most ancient & accepted sense of the word. That is to say, the CF is worse because he looks so much like the real thing on the surface. Furthermore, Catholic fundamentalists have far more religious testimony, far more spiritual light and far more heavenly graces at their disposal than most other people in this world now, people terribly lost because their darkness & confusion is so very, very, very great.
A CF may seem sincere. Yet sincerity can never save a single human soul all by itself. You must have ecclesial charity and unity, as well as be grounded in the common dogmas of Catholicism via a correct knowledge of the Apostle’s Creed. Nor should you dig into deeper dogmas beyond your ability to grasp without safe guidance. Were CFs to heed these warnings, then their spiritual illness would not afflict our world today.
Nevertheless, my dear reader, you and I are not Catholic fundamentalists. Not if you’ve carefully read what I’ve written, and not if you agree with it wholeheartedly. So while we recognize the horrible danger of Catholic fundamentalism, rejecting it vehemently, we must not behave like CFs --- we must not presume them to be certainly damned or act as if their potential damnation doesn’t matter.
Because their immortal souls are made in the Image of God and hence utterly precious in the Sight of Heaven. Ergo, we must love them… and even though they act like our foes. We hence pray eagerly for their conversion from wickedness & darkness that they may become our brothers in faith --- and in charity --- truly united in the hope of salvation.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Most Immaculate & Pure Heart of Mary, pray for us! All You Saints & Angels in Heaven Above, intercede on our behalves! May the Holy Foot of the Celestial Mother of God smash the Serpent’s Head and so bring peace & prosperity to Her Son’s One & Only Roman Catholic Church, the visible body of which no man can be outside of, nor severed from its visible head, and have any chance of attaining to the Gift of the Beatific Vision and Life Everlasting!
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