Traditionalists Battle for Future of Catholic Church

Some Catholics worried pope’s policies are setting church on path to decline.

By Patrick J. Buchanan —

Are Catholic truths immutable? Or can they change with the changing times? This is the deeper question behind the issues that convulsed the three-week synod on the family of the 250 Catholic bishops in Rome that ended October 24.

A year ago, German Cardinal Walter Kasper called on the church to change—to welcome homosexual couples and to permit cohabiting and divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion.

Retorted traditionalists: This is heresy.

Had the pope followed his friend Kasper and ordered Catholic teaching and diocesan practice changed, he could have provoked a schism inside the Church.


Such a change in doctrine would have called into question papal infallibility. Defined at the Vatican Council of 1869-70, that doctrine declares that when the pope teaches ex cathedra, on matters of faith and morals, he is protected from error by the Holy Ghost. Doctrinal truths, taught by popes in communion with the bishops, down through the ages, cannot change.

But if Catholic truths about the indissolubility of marriage and intrinsic immorality of homosexual unions can be changed, then, either the church has been in grave error in the past, or the church is toying with heresy today.

On October 24, The Washington Post described the synod as a “brawl over Francis’s vision of inclusion.” And reporter Anthony Faiola compared the synod deliberations to a tea-party rebellion in Representative John Boehner’s House caucus, and the pope to a change agent like President Barack Obama who finds himself blocked and frustrated by conservatives.

The October 24 document from the synod ignored the call for a new church stance toward homosexual unions. And it did not approve of giving communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, whom the church considers to be living in adultery.

Yet, in the Sunday, October 25, sermon the pope seemed angered by both the defiance of the resisting bishops and the conclusions the synod reached. To Pope Francis, the traditionalists appear to be placing the strictures of moral law above the Gospel command of mercy.

“None of the disciples stopped, as Jesus did,” said Francis of the blind man. “If Bartimaeus was blind, they were deaf. His problem was not their problem. This can be a danger to us. . . . A faith that does not know how to grow roots into the lives of people remains arid and, rather than oases, creates other deserts.”

The pope seems to be saying that the dissenting bishops, no matter their command of moral law, are lacking in charity, the greatest of the three theological virtues.

Where does the bishops’ synod on the family leave the church?

In confusion, and at risk of going the way of the Protestant churches that continue to hemorrhage congregants.

With its acceptance of birth control at the Lambeth conference of 1930, the Church of England started down this road, as did its sister, the Episcopal Church. The process led to the decline of both.

From birth control, to divorce and remarriage, women priests, gay clergy, homosexual bishops, same-sex marriage, the Episcopal Church first broke apart and now appears to be going gently into that good night.

Indeed the Church of England began its schism, when Henry VIII broke with Rome after Pope Clement VII refused to approve his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn. According to Cardinal Kasper, Clement should have cut Henry some slack.

In this battle between traditionalists in the synod and the bishops who favor acceptance of some or all of Kasper’s recommendations, the pope seems to stand squarely on the side of the reformers.

Yet, it was the Protestant Reformation that destroyed the unity of Catholicism, five centuries ago, as it divided nations and led to conflicts of religion and nationalism, such as the Thirty Years War.

How the Catholic Church can avoid greater confusion among the faithful—after the pope’s virtual blessing of the Kasper recommendations, and the synod’s rejection of them—escapes me.

What does the pope do now?

If he ignores the synod’s dissent and moves the church toward the Kasper position, he could cause a traditionalist break, a schism. Third World bishops might well refuse to change.

If he does nothing, he will disappoint Western bishops, priests and secularists who have seen in his papacy hope for an historic change in Catholic teaching and practice.

If he permits the bishops to follow their consciences in their dioceses, he will advance the disintegration of the church.

The inevitable result of any of these courses that the pope chooses will be, it seems, to deepen the confusion of the faithful.

As for Pope Francis himself, he, too, must choose. He can emulate Cardinal Wolsey—or Thomas More.

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Patrick J. Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate and author.

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6 Comments on Traditionalists Battle for Future of Catholic Church

  1. The hatred of 1st century universal Christianity is our curse. Those who add or delete any of our Lord’s commands are lost. With hundreds of false bibles and over 41,000 DIFFERENT religions claiming to be Christian; it’s obvious the hour glass is almost empty.


  2. The term “Traditionalist” Roman Catholic has always meant those who held to the Tridentine Mass and the teachings of the church prior to Vatican II. Now, Mr. Buchanan sows the seeds of destruction by confusing the masses with the term Traditional. There were NO Traditional Roman Catholic Bishops present at the Synod. The only ones present are the modernists that have destroyed the church with their new order of mass and sacraments. The old line Novus Ordo Bishops are not Traditional. The Sedevacntists Bishops are Traditional. Is this part of a psy-op to marginalize the true resistance (the true “Traditionalists”) against the modern day Communist revolution that is occurring within the once holy Roman institution? Hijacking a term to give it new meaning, just as in days gone by when gay meant happy and not pervert. Where did you learn this tactic, Mr. Buchanan?
  3. Dear American Free Press:

    Concerning your article entitled, “Traditionalists Battle for Future of Catholic Church; Some Catholics worried pope’s policies are setting church on path to decline” in Issue 45/46 of American Free Press.

    You asked the question: “are Catholic truths immutable? Or can they change with the changing times?”

    The answer, as any true Catholic knows, is simple. Catholic truths are based in divine revelation not the whims of man. Since as the Bible says, “God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” He is immutable and so are His teachings. If divine revelation changed and contradicted itself, then it would be in error but God can not deceive; error and God are incompatible. To confirm this point in Catholic teaching, I quote the following:

    The Oath Against Modernism give by His Holiness St. Pius X September 1, 1910:

    “Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical’ misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously…

    The purpose of this is, then, not that dogma may be tailored according to what seems better and more suited to the culture of each age; rather, that the absolute and immutable truth preached by the apostles from the beginning may never be believed to be different, may never be understood in any other way… I promise that I shall keep all these articles faithfully, entirely, and sincerely, and guard them inviolate, in no way deviating from them in teaching or in any way in word or in writing. Thus I promise, this I swear, so help me God. . .”

    Lamentabili Sane, The Syllabus of Errors (Condemning the Errors of the Modernists), Sacred Congreation of the Holy Office, July 3, 1907:

    22. The dogmas the Church holds out as revealed are not truths which have fallen from heaven. They are an interpretation of religious facts which the human mind has acquired by laborious effort.” – Condemned

    59. Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all times and all men, but rather inaugurated a religious movement adapted or to be adapted to different times and places.” – Condemned

    Dogmas are truths fallen from heaven; the infallible teaching of God. The Catholic Church does not infallibly teach anything that God does not also teach. This truth does not evolve with time or cultures. The truth is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow as God is the same.

    Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Bull Cantate Domino, 1442, ex cathedra:

    “ . . . the holy Roman Church, founded on the words of our Lord and Savior, firmly believes, professes and preaches one true God, almighty, immutable and eternal, Father, Son and Holy Spirit . . . Therefore it [the Holy Roman Church] condemns, rejects, anathematizes and declares to be outside the Body of Christ, which is the Church, whoever holds opposing or contrary views.”

    Concerning Inclusion:

    As far as inclusion, there is no inclusion into the faith with out accepting the dogmas of the faith. As Pope Eugene IV and other popes have stated, “Therefore it [the Holy Roman Church] condemns, rejects, anathematizes and declares to be outside the Body of Christ, which is the Church, whoever holds opposing or contrary views.” If you don’t follow the rules of the organization, you are not in the organization, its that simple. God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4) but If you reject His teachings, you reject God.

    Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos (# 13), Aug. 15, 1832:

    “With the admonition of the apostle that ‘there is one God, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph. 4:5) may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that ‘those who are not with Christ are against Him,’ (Lk. 11:23) and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore, ‘without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate” (Athanasian Creed).

    Concerning What Francis says on Charity and true Charity:

    Francis says: “A faith that does not know how to grow roots into the lives of people remains arid and, rather than oases, creates other deserts.” The faith/divine revelation does not grow (change) to accommodate people’s choices. No, People must accept the truth and change their lives that is why Jesus said: “..If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt 16:24)

    Many do not understand what true charity means so I rely on the following:

    Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos #9, Jan. 6, 1928:

    “Everyone knows that John himself, the Apostle of love, who seems to reveal in his Gospel the secrets of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and who never ceased to impress on the memories of his followers the new commandment ‘Love one another,’ altogether forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt form of Christ’s teaching: ‘If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him: God speed you.’ (II John 10) . . . The foundation of charity is faith pure and undefiled . . .

    13. . . . We desire that Our children should also know, not only those who belong to the Catholic community, but also those who are separated from Us: if these latter humbly beg light from heaven, there is no doubt but that they will recognize the one true Church of Jesus Christ and will, at last, enter it, being united with us in perfect charity.”

    Catechism of the Summa Theologica of Saint Thomas Aquinas by R.P. Thomas Pegues, O.P., page 119: “ . . . for if these temporal goods become an obstacle to a life of virtue and are a cause of sin, we cannot desire them neither for ourselves nor for others without prejudicing the virtue of charity.”

    Charity is a virtue. It is the happiness of God that we must wish for ourselves and for others above all earthy desires (temporal goods). By accepting and not correcting people while they continue to commit sin, heresy, or apostasy, we do not perform charity; “charity rejoices not in iniquity” (1 Cor 13: 9). In true charity, we must rebuke these based on divine revelation, the teachings of the Church; “But the spiritual man judgeth all things: and he himself is judged of no man.” (1 Cor 2:15)

    Concerning Francis I:

    Francis I is not a pope but an anti-pope. He does not uphold the doctrines of the Catholic Church, and teaches heresy in many ways. He prays with Jews, Muslims and others outside the true faith and accepts many doctrines in opposition to the Catholic Church. Jesus said in 1 John 2:23 “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. He that confesseth the Son, hath the Father also.” Jews and Muslims deny the Son and therefore do not worship the Father.

    The confusion of the ‘faithful’ is that they are following a man who they think is Catholic but is not because they do not know the faith. Vatican II taught the opposite of Church teaching, contradicting many infallible magisterial documents and creating a new religion. The true Catholic faith is found in the teachings of true popes for over 2,000 years.

    Heretic—a baptized person who obstinately rejects a dogma of the Catholic Church. Heretics are automatically excommunicated from the Church (ipso facto) without any declaration for rejecting an authoritative teaching of the Faith.

    The following magisterial teachings define that a heretic can not be the head of the Church:

    Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (# 23), June 29, 1943:

    “For not every offense, although it may be a grave evil, is such as by its very own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.”

    Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (#15), June 29, 1896:

    “ . . . it is absurd to imagine that he who is outside the Church can command in the Church.”

    Concerning a pope who falls into heresy prior to or after his election:

    Pope Paul IV, Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, Feb. 15, 1559:

    “6. In addition, [by this Our Constitution, which is to remain valid in perpetuity We enact, determine, decree and define:-] that if ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop, even if he be acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, or, as has already been mentioned, any legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy:

    (i) the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless;
    (ii) it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity (nor for it to be said that it has thus acquired validity) through the acceptance of the office, of consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through possession of administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or Veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any period of time in the foregoing situation;
    (iii) it shall not be held as partially legitimate in any way . . .
    (vi) those thus promoted or elevated shall be deprived automatically, and without need for any further declaration, of all dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power . . .

    10. No one at all, therefore, may infringe this document of our approbation, re-introduction, sanction, statute and derogation of wills and decrees, or by rash presumption contradict it. If anyone, however, should presume to attempt this, let him know that he is destined to incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul.”

    For more information on the true Catholic faith see Most Holy Family Monastery

    or write to:

    Most Holy Family Monastery,
    4425 Schneider Road
    Fillmore NY 14735

    or call toll free (800) 275-1126 or (585) 567-4433

  4. The church of Rome is in a special bind, though it’s not entirely unique to it.

    Rome has argued its legitimacy rests on being semper eadem, unchanging in core teachings over twenty centuries. But this is clearly not true. Especially after Vatican II. To marry a Protestant for example was a mortal sin. Then it wasn’t. Et cetera et cetera et cetera.

    This became obvious to traditionalists like Leonard Feeney and others. Papal bull after papal bull taught nulla salus extra ecclesiam: there is no salvation outside the church. If you’re not in the “ark” you’re doomed. In the modern age Rome simply widened the definition and said you foolish Protestants are in the church (sorry, I won’t capitalize that, there *is* more than one); you’re just not smart enough to realize it, and of course your own ideas on that subject mean nothing. And most in the church of Rome today would probably have been excommunicated if not burned at the stake for beliefs they mistakenly think unchanging and fixed today. Little bit of a dilemma there.

    And traditionalist Catholics tried to pretend things were at least consistent prior to Vat 2, but they weren’t. It might have been Chiniquy, I forget, who pointed out that the “church fathers” were in constant vehement theological dispute among themselves, to the point of mutually excommunicating each other. One doctrine indeed :-/

    It puts both so-called “mainstream” Catholics like the estimable Mr. Buchanan and the tridentine traditionalists in kind of a bind. They can try to pretend they’re holding true to core teachings—but the claimed original dogmatic core is itself is a myth. The biggest opponents of papal infallibility many centuries ago were the popes themselves, since they did not want themselves to be restricted by the decrees of their own predecessors. So such papal pronunciations—which by the way I think even included denunciations of the radical heresies of democracy or religious liberty—don’t have the foundation people claim they do, ex cathedra (an only latecoming 19th century detail) or not. As great Protestant observed, a pope can err, a council can err. And the record bears that truth out.

    At least the sedevacantists were honest enough to their own original beliefs, but others were left in the bind of effectively finding themselves in an RC-theoligized Protestantism. Of course a real sedevacantist would admit things were probably far more serious too back when popes held orgies in the papal palaces and all kinds of stuff you won’t hear about in some official catechism.

    The same issue really confronts both Protestants and Catholics in other forms, since it’s actually not hard to find core contradictions in the Bible itself (there’s lots of good collections, be honest with yourself with them), from errors of misquotation to failed prophecy after failed prophecy. Some see homosexuality as the sign of a Gomorrhic end nigh, but not only has it always been around in the same basic form, but if you know gays and were honest, the truth is they really don’t choose to be that way, and many of them fought desperately to pretend they weren’t, sometimes to the point of suicide. The legitimate liberal objection is, all those issues—especially the Biblical contradictions—are fair game for reconsideration.

    Many refuse to examine such problems as a dogmatic point of faith, but that comes at the price of honesty, which is finally too high. If that’s too much for you, fine, but at least admit it’s not all black and white, and the other “side” has at least raised fair questions. Remember people have been predicting the fiery end “within this generation” for now two millennia, and have been wrong, so the odds are against you. Even if ETs landed on the White House lawn tomorrow, that doesn’t mean the advent of demons and apocalypse, it more likely just suggests the universe is way too large to fit into one extremely tiny book as defined by one extremely tiny planet. Time to think much farther outside the box, it seems to me.

    The problem of course is the needless but predictable terror that if one found problems in the “foundation” of faith, be it the Bible itself or the false idea of an unchanging creed, all is lost. It’s not. We don’t yet all have the full picture and need the humility to be patient and admit that, to be willing to question the limitations of our own creeds (kind of like the blind men and the elephant), be they Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, or anything else. We really are all human, and nobody is unworthy because they were born into a different belief from yours—and Jews and Christians are just as capable of atrocities (Crusades, genocide of the Philistines, and more) as anyone else. Any God worthy of the name would understand an honest struggle no matter where you find yourself. Remember the old joke about Peter telling an arrival to be very quiet going past where the [fill in the blankers here, not just Catholics] were, since “they think they’re the only ones here.” In the words of another Protestant, J.B. Phillips, your God is too small indeed.

    You can’t be brave and honest about things like 9/11 and Sandy Hook and not about everything else too.

    God bless everybody, no exceptions. If you’re willing to really look the Bible in the eye, you might at last admit any God less than that would be unworthy of worship. Peace.

  5. There has been no true pope since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958; we are, sadly, in an extended period of sedevacante.

    As ridiculous as this sounds on the face of it, please read Cum Ex Apostalatus Officio, a dogmatic papal bull of Pope Paul IV.

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