Saturday, December 20, 2014


You better watch out! Popular Holiday Song (Gillespie and Coots)

Jolly old St. Nick needs to know who's been naughty so his trusty sidekick Krampus can prepare a fitting comeuppance when they arrive together in bleak Tradistan.  This year, we think the enormous untruth at the heart of the sede cults -- their claim to represent the unchanging Roman Catholic Church -- is worthy of the grisly creature's grim attention.

We're not talking here about malformed clergy gone rogue, the suppressed moral imagination of the lay folk who tolerate and support bad behavior, the self-regarding clericalism run amok, the absence of oversight and accountability, or the leadership's petty rivalries and dirty tricks.  What we have uppermost in our mind is Sedelandia's visible disunity of practice.

Tradistan is nothing but a tangle of isolated cult centers, with only a superficial resemblance to the true Catholic Church. Each little enclave is an entity to itself, with its own peculiar, if not deviant, notions about the liturgy and Catholic life. Before the reforms of Vatican II, Catholics could expect no surprises when they visited another church. Now, however, when we assist at a chapel other than our own, we immediately notice how strangely different it is. The impression is that of an artisinal commodity -- an object that thrives locally but cannot survive in the general community.

In one chapel, for instance, a morose priest -- a notoriously malformed, hectoring moralist -- languishes unzipped from reality. He cleaves to the rubrics of Pius XII, yet on Palm Sunday at his second Mass, he reads all the wrong Gospels. Obsessed with women's clothing, he concocts bizarre rules for ladies' summer footwear and threatens not to perform a baptism unless a young, female bystander, whom he deems improperly dressed, leaves. He denies communion to the faithful when he can't remember whether they went to him personally for confession. In the confessional, he has the wicked habit of postponing absolution so he "can think about it."

In other chapels under a different cult master, the Leonine prayers have been banned. In their place, we often hear weird, jury-rigged centonizations. (However, sometimes young clergy have been known to recite defiantly the prayers when at a mission, so even there we find no consistency.) Still in other chapels, we learn that the wandering bishop who controls them has been declared a "missionary" bishop with jurisdiction throughout the world! In another, the goofy priest attempts to coerce the male laity into making their confession to him face-to-face, not in the confessional. The one thing common to all these splinter groups is how differently the clergy say Low Mass. The casual observer notices wild incongruities in the time each priest takes, while the trained eye spies glaring inconsistencies of gesture and screaming defects.

The one thing that seems to unite all these warring practitioners is their fixation on money. They trot out more fund-raising efforts than a PBS station. Yet even the non-stop cash solicitation varies in intensity and purpose. Some of the clergy are content to go off their rocker only if they don't get their pay immediately before Mass. Others have greater ambitions for lavish building ventures, luxurious foreign travel, and fine dining. In these latter chapels, everything is monetized. The appeal for more money drowns out every other message, and no fund-raising opportunity goes untried. Each visit to these lucre-loving chapels greets Catholics were ever new projects worthy of their financial sacrifice, from apartments for foreign priests living abroad to garish holiday decorations.

This Christmas, the same disparity of practice will be on parade again for the disedification of the faithful. One chapel will go all out on a hugely expensive, grotesquely over-the-top Midnight-Mass extravaganza never seen in the good old days, while another will have to wait until Christmas Day to suit the shoddily vested, minimally formed priest's whims. Cultlings may tell themselves that this wild variation is Catholic and normal, but wiser heads know better. All this idiosyncrasy is repugnant to the true Catholic spirit and does not differ in kind from what we see in the Novus Ordo, the Protestant denominations, and the evangelical sects.

This year, put an end to the sede circus. Smash the fun-house mirror of Tradistan by refusing to give any more money until the hard-hearted clergy clean up their act. When they pass the hat, just drop in a lump of coal -- and then let Krampus do his job.


  1. This stirs up some reflections in me, in no particular order:

    *"Tradistan", aptly named, is a divided mess, and we know the word "Catholic" means "universal". And so, since "Tradistan" lacks obvious unity, I believe this calls for one to pull out all the stops to pray, study, fast, etc. until a clear unity becomes obvious. This would include organizing conferences or online negotiations to overcome theological disagreements and to build true coalitions. The various "traditionalist" chapels are acting like pacifiers to give the illusion that there is at least a hint of normalcy during this time of grave crisis, whereas instead we are in a very strange emergency.

    *The "traditionalist" priests, as far as I'm aware, have no ordinary jurisdiction (Of necessity I state with exception Pope Michael who I currently follow, and any of his priests, who I wouldn't apply the term "traditionalist" to and who I mention so as to not appear agnostic in my posts). Therefore, there is no obligation to support them financially, as they are not lawful pastors. Lawful pastors must be supported financially. Unlawful ones, it would logically show, should not be. Therefore although Pistrina, in your writing it suggests there is a kind of freedom of decision in this regard, I'm going to propose that there is no real freedom here. Of course the exception might be out of charity, or maybe due to emergency assistance. But habitually? A lack of funding should act as an incentive to immediately correct the emergency situation of the Church using the aforementioned means of prayer, etc. We don't merely have a problem of evil clerics, but we have a question of who the pope is and which group is Catholic. This is a very serious unresolved crisis, in my opinion. Given the indefectibility of the Church, one of the various positions out there is the correct Catholic position to take. This position needs to be found and promoted and all others authoritatively shown to be unCatholic.

    Today's "Sedelandia" I could see morphing into a bunch of divided conclavist factions in the near future. I think that some of the clergy alluded to in your article would have probably held elections like Pope Michael (and others have), but most "sede vacantists", in my opinion, are practically sedeprivationists, or think the novus ordo in some way has a control over elections of the Church. In some sense, it seems like disunity is a tenet of faith for some in "Tradistan" (or rather "Sedelandia"), which would prevent moving towards an election, as they don't believe they could get others to come to an election. Of course, this thinking is a bit contradictory, because if they are in communion with other sede vacantists, then those other sedes would come to such an election. If they're not in communion with them, the other sedes wouldn't be invited to such an election.

    Patience, perseverance, prayer, study, true dialogue without lashing out in anger at one another. These tools and others need to be applied more, and I think at times there is a lack of them in "Tradistan".

    1. Another comment: I think people forget how small "Tradistan" is. I think this is leading to a distorted sense of a "big fish in a small pond" effect. Some "hardline" clerics are only able to be so "hardline" because they are only responsible for a few people at a small number of chapels. True, they could continue to act as such in a bigger setting, but we never really know until we're in that situation. As you've written before, the novus ordo has some accountability, while it seems at times "Tradistan" does not. I suggest that with bigger numbers, "Tradistan" would be forced to be more accountable, and with their current division and numbers, it is easier to be less accountable. The effect of more people should be considered. And, too, this is why I have considered the necessity of missionary action, because I think with more people to come and pray and study solutions to various "traditional" problems, more solutions could arise. However, my experience has been that there is an anti-missionary spirit in "Tradistan", which again points to me their lack of Catholicism ("universality") and confidence in their positions. If their position is truly Catholic/universal, is one that anyone could and should/ought to take upon them. Every person is required to hold the correct position, though there may be a lot of confusion preventing the correct understanding of it.

      So, "Tradistan" must not lose sight of there being only one correct position, and must move towards it as immediately as possible and invite others to it. I think maybe some people lost sight of the end goal and don't keep their "eye on the prize". Various divisions are necessary, but they should be looked at with sorrow, with hope of immediate true unity, and as [hopefully] temporary.

      About these problems, perhaps we can reflect on what JFK said: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country". In a similar manner, "traditionalists" must ask what they can do for God, how they can cooperate with God to solve this crisis, and how God wants Catholics to react correctly to Vatican 2, and what God wants each of us to do in order to save his or her soul.

  2. Good thoughts for everyone to ponder, no matter which position they hold.

    Tradistan in rotten to the core, and the only remedy is to chuck most of it and follow only the few decent priests who have stayed out of its orbit.