Roman Catholic Blow-Out Department

This page, compared with the Orthodox and Classical Anglican blow-out departments, is intended for polemics and arguments along the lines of what is “true”Roman Catholicism, including sedevacantism, Feeneyism (extra ecclesiam nulla salus) the SSPX, the Roman missal of 1962 and the Novus Ordo, or even on the Ordinariates and Anglicanorum coetibus – issues proper to minorities of Roman Catholics.

Here is the space where you can say what you want as as violently as you want. Apologetics are welcome, but remember that you will catch bees with spoonfuls of honey and not barrelfuls of vinegar or vitriol. I will only moderate “true trolls” (usual criteria).

The value of this page will be in the comments.


21 Responses to Roman Catholic Blow-Out Department

  1. Father Raymond Mahlmann says:

    I am a Catholic priest of the Roman Rite.

  2. William Tighe says:

    Well, how about this:

    and especially its last sentence?

  3. Stephen K says:

    I came across this extract from a journal about the Council by Yves Congar OP over at
    I realized once again to what an extent the Catholic Church is Latin, to what extent she deceives herself, in good faith, by believing herself to be ‘Catholic’. She is nothing of the sort. Romanism, Italianism, Latinism, scholasticism, the analytical spirit, have swallowed up everything and have almost established themselves as a dogma. What a job!!

    I came to the same conclusion some time ago. It would be interesting to read more of his journal. In the brief extract he also has some other interesting things to say, about the Orthodox approach to Mary etc.

  4. Peter Jericho says:

    From the “other” page:

    Michael Frost says: …
    You appear to be specifically describing only those medieval scholastic prelates in communion with Rome as “Catholic”. To the exclusion of all others.

    Now, I don’t mean to deny this blog being what it is, but I have to ask: *why* is there a need to use the term “Catholic” (please note the capital C) in a sense that includes Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans?

    For reflection: on a Catholic forum where I spend a lot of time, there’s a general (or, at least, very widespread) practice of using “Catholic” to mean “in the Roman Communion”. That is to say, I would write “catholic” if I meant it in the sense of “Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans”. (And I realize of course that I’m not on that forum now, but I felt this needed to be mentioned.)

    • ed pacht says:

      When one is writing to those in agreement with one, it is certainly appropriate to do so using the labels one feels most appropriate. Roman Catholics writing to Roman Catholics certainly have no need to say “Roman” every time — in fact it could appear foolish and stilted, perhaps also theologically wonky to do so in that context.

      However, it does no good, and shows bad manners to refer to oneself as “Catholic” without qualifications in the presence of others (like myself) who truly believe themselves to be as Catholic as Rome — and it is downright rude to expect us to drop the “Roman” in speaking with you. RCs are perfectly free to discuss with Anglicans and others whether their Catholicity is the real deal, and even to argue strongly that it is not. If they believe so, they really should be saying so — BUT to build the conclusion into the language of the discussion is in effect to refuse discussion altogether.

      If I call Rome the Catholic Church, I am already yielding the point. I firmly believe the Catholic Church (capitals being necessary to what I say) to be larger than the jurisdiction of Rome. I am Christian. I am Catholic. I am Anglican only as a subset of Christian and Catholic, along with RCs and Orthodox, and perhaps some others.

      As to the use of capitals — if I were to make a consistent difference, my usage would need to be the very opposite of what you want: capital “Catholic” for the whole church and small letter “Roman catholic” or “Anglican catholic”, etc. for the subsets. However, since accepted usage would make that look weird, I am perfectly happy to always use the Capital. That doesn’t clash with my theology. Your preference does.

      I don’t mean to be contentious, but merely to attempt an answer to your question. This is why I (and others) use the language as we do.

      • The trouble is that we all tend to use the same words to mean different concepts. I use the word “Catholic” to describe my Church (the ACC), and I am sincere in doing so in accordance to the belief I hold that the ACC participates in the Communion of the Church. If I say that to a Catholic in communion with the Pope, he will say at best that I am mistaken, and at worst that I am misrepresenting his Church and deceiving the faithful.

        This is a problem of language and competing human organisations all offering more or less the same “product”. The real problem seems to be competition and then instinct of self-defence when someone bigger than us wants to put us out of business. We need another way of expressing things and getting out of the “competition” paradigm. We are small communities and just want to be able to exist and live in peace, and our purpose is peaceful and respectful of others with other beliefs.

        We cats will always be “dogged” by the big aggressive dogs, like small communities or businesses faced with the state, the banks, big business and plutocracy. We can’t “compete” on their terms by appearing to claim to be them.

        We have to come up with something original. This is why I am looking for analogies in life outside religions or the Church.

      • Peter Jericho says:

        Hi Ed (or should I say Mr Pacht). I sympathize, somewhat, with what you’re saying about capitalization. For example, “Anglicans are catholic and Protestant” makes even less sense than “Anglicans are Catholic and Protestant”.

        However, it seems clear to me that the real solution here is to fix the mistaken habit of capitalizing “protestant” (excepting, of course, when it is used as a proper name, e.g. the Protestant Reformed Churches in America). Unfortunately, not many people care to do that, so the misuse will probably continue.

        P.S. By way of comparison, I would call myself an apostolic Christian, but I would capitalize “Apostolic” in the name “the Armenian Apostolic Church”.

      • > Fr Anthony Chadwick says:
        … If I say that to a Catholic in communion with the Pope, he will say at best that I am mistaken, and at worst that I am misrepresenting his Church and deceiving the faithful.

        Yes sadly many Catholics would say that to you (or something like “Oh, so you think you’re in communion with the pope?”). It should be noted, however, that there are also a few of us who recognize that you’re simply defining the word differently.

      • Peter Jericho says:
        >However, it seems clear to me that the real solution here is to fix the mistaken habit of capitalizing “protestant” (excepting, of course, when it is used as a proper name, e.g. the Protestant Reformed Churches in America). Unfortunately, not many people care to do that, so the misuse will probably continue.

        Addendum: Herein lies the conundrum in which I generally find myself. Even those Catholics who are very strong on not calling Anglicans and Lutherans “Catholic” with a capital C, mostly do not bother to be consistent and call them “protestant” instead of “Protestant”.

      • ed pacht says:

        As I explained above, I have well-thought-out reasons for the usage I choose, and will continue to use it. I do not and will not, however, try to convince anyone else to follow my lead – that would be insufferable rudeness on my part – and I consider it just as rude when others insist on correcting my usage and on styling it as misuse. We can easily learn to understand one another without attempting to enforce that kind of conformity. There is no confusion. I understand what RCs are saying and it is not hard to discern what I am saying. We disagree on the issues themselves, and that is what discussion is about.

    • Michael Frost says:

      Peter, Here is a quote from the material found in every pew missal in RC churches across the USA:

      “Members of the Orthodox churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own churches. According to ROMAN Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these churches (Canon 844.3).” (capitalization emphasis added)

      So here is an official RC statement in an official RC publication, one at least partially addressed to various non-RCs who might be attending a RC liturgy. And they, not we, choose to put the word “Roman” in front of Catholic.

      Personally, I prefer the older usage. Take Melanchthon’s Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope. There it is the “Roman Church”.

      The key to RC ecclesiology is communion with the bishop of Rome. Nothing else matters. Thus at its very core that Church is tied most specifically to Rome. So whether we say Roman Church or Roman Catholic Church, anything that leaves out “Roman” isn’t being accurate about the essence of the ecclesial body under discussion. Thus we have the Polish National Catholic Church. Anglo-Catholics. Greek Catholics.

      To claim “Catholic” as being a sufficient designation is an insult to all the other bodies that believe they are also “Catholic”, and it denies the key to that Church’s uniqueness, the ties to and claims of the bishop of Rome.

      • Well, concerning “Roman Catholic”, that’s fine, but it has to be noted that that can be used to mean “Roman-Rite Catholic” (this happens a *lot* on an Orthodox forum I’m on).

        But concerning “Roman Church” … well there’s the Roman Communion (which contains 23 churches), and there’s the Latin Church. I can’t tell which one you’re referring to.

      • >and it denies the key to that Church’s uniqueness, the ties to and claims of the bishop of Rome.

        Not really. Anytime someone asks “Are you in communion with Rome?”, “Are you in the Roman Communion?”, or an equivalent question, I have no problem answering “Yes” in no uncertain terms. It’s just that I don’t see a need to explicitly refer to Rome every time someone asks what kind of Christian I am. (“Melkite Catholic” might be my best response.)

  5. Stephen K says:

    I was daydreaming today; I imagined an interviewer asking me what Catholicism was. I’ve tried to put this in my own words many times but I always find any attempt to definition unsatisfying and incomplete. Today it struck me that sometimes the simplest and most intuitive impression is the surest guide in such things. In other words, Catholicism is what Catholics do. And what do they do? Light candles, say repetitive litanies, burn incense, have ritualistic forms of worship, pray to saints and worship, in various degrees, God through visible effigies – hence statues and processions. The psyche that lends itself to this also tends towards various kinds of idolatries – Mariolatry, papolatry, Aquinolatry etc etc.

    What do “Protestants” do? Why, they read and memorise the Bible, preach and listen to sermons, cultivate sobriety, refuse to bend the knee to any man (or woman!), and the psyche that lends itself to this also tends towards various kinds of deliberate controlledness and even joylessness.

    Now it is clear that these are…..not so much caricatures, but…….very broad strokes. Indeed, the truth has for some time dawned on me that religious expression is spectral – i.e. expressed along a spectrum not by a sharp dichotomy – and is also individualistic – i.e. no two people will be exactly alike. I also recognise that the pietistic expressions I have attempted to describe are products in a sense of intellectual and theological systems or propositions, so it is not simply a case of praxis, but also doxa.

    Still, it seems to touch at the root of the question at one level at any rate. If we use this criterion, we immediately see that that there are many Romans who are not Catholic and many others who are. But more closely we see that amongst all people we will see “Catholicist” elements and “non-Catholicist” elements. None of us are pure exemplars of anything…perhaps.

    Once upon a time, “Catholic” meant “Western Christian”. It has meant for about 500 years, “Roman”. It is thankfully now meaning something else, because in some ways the whole modern progressive program – which I, in an admittedly idiosyncratic way, endorse – has released the spirit of whatever is Catholicism from its purely artificially Roman prison.

    I want to push the proposition further, however. I want to propose that the good people on this forum should not have to feel oppressed by the obligation to be “Catholic” or part of a broad “Catholicism”, except if it is taken very generously. I believe the single most toxic doctrine that has infested and poisoned, not only the Roman Catholic institution and its millions of adherents over the centuries (certainly since c. 1100) but also, in a way, since 1453, all Christianity, is the proposition that the Roman Catholic Church has metaphysical and theological continuity with a brainstorm in Jesus’ mind, and that it is divinely founded. Any sane view of history should show that that is preposterous and impossible.

    No Christian sect or church or institution, I believe, can claim this, and it is, to my way of looking at things, a huge blasphemy, and an idolatry.

    Therefore, I believe the theme of many threads here which I often detect, i.e. a case or argument to show how Catholic this or that position or church is, is misconceived. There is nothing “divine” about “Catholicism” (or its opposites, whatever they are or may be described). Being “Catholic” is not a privileged state – it is just an inevitable or expectable expression of how humans have often and may express their religious instincts.

    It is far more to the point, I think, to try to show that one is “Christian”.

    • JH Newman made a distinction between “natural religion” and “revealed religion”. Man does not spontaneously take to the one only God who exacts complete submission from man who has the only consolation of a book, moral rigour and discipline. Man is naturally pagan and connected with nature. Monotheism has to make concessions to humanity for it to “work”. Therefore Catholicism is Christian monotheism that makes concessions to our pagan instincts. That’s about it in a nutshell. Who would not baulk at the prospect of becoming Muslim – Saudi Arabia style (public executions and mutilations and all) and taking eyes for eyes, teeth for teeth, for the sake of a “divinity” who is probably not the loving God and Father of Christ and us all through Christ? I see strict puritan protestantism as a kind of “western islam”.

      • Stephen K says:

        That is also a very valid perspective, Father. Indeed, I have heard “protestantism” characterised this way – as a kind of western islam – before, and I see why it is so said. The other thing you say, that is, about the natural paganism and connection of nature is also something I had in mind about “Catholicism”. I think that is also true and why one often hears it said that “catholicism” is “incarnational”.

        But notwithstanding that, I think it is important to remember the spectral and complex array of religious expression – in the Roman Catholic Church, for example, you have “Islamic” puritanism in the ever-more-rigorous expressions of monasticism – in say, the Trappist version of the more moderate Bendictinism. And so on. There would no doubt be examples in other denominations, and the natural fall of Low, Broad and High Anglicanism – as there no doubt is in Lutheranism – also spring to mind.

        What I am proposing is not that puritanism is better than paganism, or that sobriety is better than sensualist religion; no, I am saying that, to the extent that “catholicism” is the latter rather than the former, it is just an expression amongst several, even if it is the more easy or natural path. What I am suggesting is that the toxic claim on the name “Catholicism” by the Roman Church in particular may have given everyone a guilt complex to the extent they feel they fall short the less “catholic” they are. I think that is a tragedy and the cause of continued cultural religious neurosis.

  6. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was a fraud, charlatan and nasty bastard and I am astounded that this complete fake has enthralled so many otherwise intelligent, reasonable Roman Catholics and influenced the traditionalist movement in a detrimental way, particularly with regard to the liturgical books of 1962. Discuss.

    • Stephen K says:

      Your statement is so intemperate, Patrick, it is probably impossible to discuss. How was he a “fraud” or a “charlatan” or “nasty bastard”? You can’t just fling these dummy-spits out into the ether without substance. I knew Archbishop Lefebvre personally, being one of his early students. He was not any of the things you called him. If you read the history as-a-whole, his positionings with contemporary French traditionalists, the Abbe de Nantes etc, the American “Nine”, and the rest, you should be able to see the interplay of factors such as how the growth of the Society of St Pius X, the wider traditionalist movement, the different personalities of Paul VI and John Paul II, all affected his role and thinking from stage to stage. He evolved along certain lines and had to deal with things politically and pragmatically, like so many do. There was nothing ‘fraudulent’ about him. The fact that rivals or some other traditionalists disagreed with Archbishop Lefebvre from time to time, or some look back and think he failed in this or that objective, does not demonstrate any of the things you called him. If his decision to require a uniform liturgy in his Society were his worst crime, then there’s nothing to make innocent children and the elderly quake in their beds and worry about the morrow. I never doubted his conscientiousness or fundamental honesty. He was captivating to listen to; he had and showed humanity, personal warmth, grace and charm, if also a steeliness and determination. I always thought him an attractive person, even after I came to the conclusion that his view about the Church and faith was not the right one. By all means pursue your own preferences in the Roman liturgy, but don’t try to justify them with such reckless vitriol towards a man you never knew.

      • What came to my mind as I read Patrick’s piece was the paraphrase of Voltaire’s words in the Essay on Tolerance — “Pense pour toi-même et laisse aux autres le privilège de le faire aussi.“. The words by Evelyn Beatrice Hall (1868 – 1956) often misattributed to Voltaire were “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it“. This is why I rarely censor comments on this blog. However, I do appreciate when someone has some argument to justify such a strong position.

        I met the Archbishop a few times in 1982 and 1983. He was gentle and Salesian is his spiritual approach. When provoked, he did adopt a firm and determined position. Like any all-male society, the SSPX was fraught with dividing lines between three fundamental positions: sedevacantism, negotiating with or submitting to Rome – and a range of positions in between. It is a culture of bullying and power. But I don’t blame that on the Archbishop. That is the proper of any institutionalised body of human beings. RC traditionalism was something like what people mock us continuing Anglicans about, alphabet soup and mutual excommunications. Archbishop Lefebvre’s fundamental motivation was to keep the SSPX together and credible with its own faithful. His decision to adopt the 1962 Roman books was to resist the radicalising drift towards sedevacantism and to offer a gesture towards Rome.

        Perhaps he should have adopted the sedevacantist position like Archbishop Ngo-Dinh-Thuc did (also for pragmatic reasons) and let the whole movement go the way of something like the Traditional Anglican Communion or so many brawling American bishops! He didn’t and tried to follow the “moderate” position.

        Like Pope Benedict XVI suffering pressure from the “hard line” of the Roman Curia so many years later, Archbishop Lefebvre was under tremendous pressure from the dominant priests and cliques.

        There have been any number of crappy conspiracy theories that collapse under the slightest criticism.

        Perhaps he should have given in to Paul VI’s pressure in 1976. Perhaps he should have become sedevacantist or Old Catholic and consecrated lots of bishops! I don’t believe that he was dishonest either, but he was between a rock and a hard place. Remember that in 1976 it was Paul VI’s intention to do away with all rites other than the Novus Ordo and reinforce his Pius IX style infallibilism. Les années de plomb (Patrick was not yet born) were quite an unpleasant time for Roman Catholics.

        Many opportunities were wasted, as they will continue to be wasted. There were opportunities for reviving Sarum in England, the pre-Pius XII Roman liturgy, but all have remained marginal. I don’t subscribe to any of the slogans as to who should be made Pope or canonised. I am not a Roman Catholic, and those matters are none of my business, even if they were for a time in my life.

        We above all need to think for ourselves and respect the same privilege in others.

  7. Alan Robinson says:

    By all means attack the action and ideas of a man, if you can substantiate them, but hurtful, unnecessary and vicious comments about someone’s character ill become a supporter of the Traditional catholic Liturgy – indeed,ill become anyone.

  8. Stephen K says:

    If you want to know why I sometimes appear critical of the Roman Catholic Church, it is because its officials and apologists including popes, bishops and priests, as well as laypeople, persist in the monstrous lie that Roman Catholicism is the “true religion” and they form the “true Church”. Without regard to the whole Christian experience or history or science, they persist in having as their sole or principal aim the preservation or even the restoration of Roman Catholic moral and civil authority at the expense of everyone else. There are in fact many “Catholic” churches, some of whom reject the notion of a “true” church and only the notion of a “living-loving” church. I am sure there are many good or well-intending Christians across the spectrum, including within the Roman Catholic Church, and other variants of the same. But for me, Christianity lies in grappling with the great challenge of how to love one’s neighbour. I read an article in the Guardian about how a single church in San Francisco opens its doors to the homeless. What are all the others doing?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s