You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,/Know when to walk away and know when to run. Don Schlitz
Almost weekly, PL receives a query concerning the whereabouts of Big Don's "Roman Catholic Institute." Since its noisy rollout last spring, it seems as though TradWorld has noticed there's been virtual radio silence in Cultilandia. The Readers, you'll recall, opined the ill-fated enterprise was dead on arrival, memorialized solely by a hard-to-find link on the pesthouse's home page. Until the March 2018 MHT newsletter though, we'd had no solid confirmation of our guess. But there we found on p. 2 an unmistakable sign of the Lowly Worm's quiet resignation to the premature death of his brainchild (our emphasis):
The position of the clergy of Most Holy Trinity Seminary is that one cannot approach validly ordained Novus Ordo priests for confessions except in danger of death.Our question was as immediate as it was obvious: Why didn't the Donster attribute the "position" to his "Roman Catholic Institute"? Aren't all the resident "clergy" nesting in the squalid bog members of the "Institute"? Of course, if commuter Tony Baloney is considered pesthouse "clergy" then, O.K., the "Institute" should not be referenced because the Cheeseball hasn't joined (and never will as long as he's Dannie's boy).
But if the "Roman Catholic Institute" were alive and kicking in Don's mind, conscious or otherwise, wouldn't it have been far more strategic to impute the "position" to the umbrella group with its three fancy directories — theological, liturgical, and pastoral? Checkie wouldn't have dared to protest: he likes playing "professor" (LOL) too much.
By the same token, the "position" would have greater persuasive weight coming from an official-sounding organization rather than from a troupe of clowns with dubious academic and religious qualifications. Additionally, by a public attribution, Don could've reminded his audience that he regards the "Roman Catholic Institute" as a vital force in Tradistan, notwithstanding the ice-cold shoulder it received from "clergy" outside the torrid swamp.
Yet our quondam Tradzilla can't even manage to pretend his "Roman Catholic Institute" is viable, not even in an article that parrots one of its principles. See for yourself. On p. 3 of the newsletter, we read:
A Novus Ordite...who wants to return to the Catholic faith must first repudiate Vatican II and its reforms before he can receive sacraments from us.Compare that to practical application of principles #8 in the "Roman Catholic Institute's" Pastoral Directory:
Those who are returning from the Novus Ordo to the beliefs and practices of Roman Catholicism may not receive sacraments until...they manifest their resolve to utterly repudiate Vatican II and its reforms...Get a load of the symmetry of thought, the similarity of vocabulary! We concede it's not verbatim, but there's more than a faint echo. Plainly the newsletter text has its origin in Donnie's directory. Nevertheless, Big Don didn't see fit to credit the "Institute" of which he is the "Superior General."
Now, why is that?
Did the existence of the "Institute" simply slip his mind?
But how can that be?
Indulge us while we remind you of what he wrote in May 2016 about his long-awaited answer to the SSPX (emphases ours):
Shortly I will found an organization of traditional Catholic priests. This is something which has been sorely lacking for decades, and accordingly is something which I have desired to do for a long time.
The constitutions have been written. I have been working on them since 2004. We are now merely putting the finishing touches upon them. They comprise twenty-eight pages and over 11,000 words.
I have tried to incorporate every precaution into these constitutions so as to prevent any deviation from doctrine or morals, any possible internal strife about theological positions or pastoral practice. My forty-one years of the priesthood and experience with the traditional movement have taught me quite a few lessons.
Essentially this organization will give a “body” to what already exists in spirit, i.e., a common mind and way of acting among our priests regarding the nature of the current apostasy from the Catholic Faith, and what to do about it.
Also written is the Theological Declaration, which is a description of the heresies and errors of Vatican II, as well as a statement of the theological positions one must take against them. It is very detailed, in such a way that there is no room for future disagreement. What has plagued the Society of Saint Pius X is the vagueness of their theological positions in reaction to Vatican II, which permitted the constant flip-flopping regarding Vatican II and its changes.If we are to take Big Don at his word, the "Institute" was over twelve years in the making plus who-knows-how-many years of knocking around the screwball idea before actual work began! And to hear Don talk, there was a lot of toil and sweat invested: 28 pp. and a +11K word count. Why, he makes it sound like a veritable encyclopedia! The way we see it, the organization, what he misnamed the "Roman Catholic Institute" after finally getting around to announcing it in April 2017, was his life's dream. Therefore, the $64,000 question is:
Perhaps, some may argue, his recent heart problems impaired (or enhanced) his (selective) memory. But, honestly, does that excuse really hold water?
How do you ignore the "body" of your life's dream — unless you know it's deader than a week-old corpse?
Before March's newsletter, we'd already recorded random signals that the rector was moving on. First, we'd been struck by the newsletter's deafening silence about the "Institute" as well as by the absence of post-nominal initials after the printed names of the members. Second, the "Institute's" blog contains only the three directories, with nothing added since July 2017. Third, in the membership roster, the new Boy "Bishop" remains "Fr.," and the new subdeacon appears as a "seminarian" (click here). It all added up to one thing: the Swampland Swami was reacting to the quietus of the "Roman Catholic Institute" just as a severely traumatized father might respond to the news of a coffin birth: He was trying to put the ghastly phenomenon permanently out of mind!
We've never made a secret of our contempt for the Donster. Nevertheless, realists that the Readers are, we admit he's not utterly clueless, that is, he does learn "quite a few lessons" on occasion. By that we mean, he's got sense enough to stop beating a dead horse. Oh, for sure, he'll irrationally fight manifestly losing battles if he imagines he stands the minutest chance of prevailing, witness the moribund rear-guard action in Arizona or the doomed feints against the lovely — and debt-free, we hear — Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel in Tampa.
Regardless, after the last, weak flicker of hope has died out, for all his woofing and pawing the ground, Big Don can smell the time to close the casket and deep-six a stinking, rotting mess. He did it with the big $30K plan he proposed in April 2011 (click here, p. 7), and he's doing it again with the "Roman Catholic Institute." (Gee, did you notice how schemes Donnie introduces in April fizzle out? Eliot was dead right when he wrote in the "Burial of the Dead" part of The Waste Land, "April is the cruel[l]est month.")
According to our reading of the situation, it must've dawned on him by mid-summer 2017, after no new recruits signed on, that the "Institute" was stillborn. Nobody came forward to answer Sinburn's call: Not the mercurial My-Way Carlito, not the standoffish Zappster, not fanboy Lurch, not the tractable Wannabe, not the bag-boy Uneven Steven, not the Forlorn Finn, not the ever-anxious Jellyfish. Nope, not a single name was added to the roster of quavery yes-boys.
Outside swampy B'ville, it seems, there's no interest in embracing Don's "common mind and way of acting" or in preventing "any possible internal strife about theological positions or pastoral practice," particularly if the Donster's calling all the shots.
Numbers don't lie. The majority has spoken. Tradistan and its satellites have voted a big, fat thumbs-down on the rector's fevered dream of his own junior SSPX. With the practically admitted demise of the "Roman Catholic Institute," watch for Big Don to become preoccupied with a new initiative. Make sure you don't waste your money and end up with him in another dead end.