Saturday, August 26, 2006

Will such 'traditionalists' burn in hell?

I posted below a picture of the holy father, and his brother, in non-clerical attire, presumably from before his election as Peter's successor, and in a private moment in any case.

Via Jimmy Akin's site, I tracked back to where he got the photo, on what I have to call a "hyper-traditional" website -- where, in addition to this photo and some tut-tutting, appeared photo selections revealing these "traditionalists'" mean streak:

* A photo of Pope Benedict wearing stylish sunglasses (oh, the horror!)
* A photo of the late holy father meeting women -- on the other side of the world -- in native garb and hence with bare breasts
* A photo of the late holy father being entertained -- not in church -- by Bob Dylan and circus performers (how dare he?!)
* Several photos of the late holy father, as a cardinal, on a hiking/camping outing with a group of men and women -- scandalously, the cardinal is wearing hiking shorts and a tshirt!

Now, for these self-styled "traditionalists" (I use quotes because I do not concede their claim to the term, but acknowledge it is what they call themselves), this is vital evidence against the previous and current successor of Peter . . . that they are part of something evil. They are -- in a word -- at best weak tools of evil, if not active conspirators against the Church.

Enough space given to the accusation. Surf the 'net all night if you crave that sort of thing. Suffice to say: that is an extremely grave accusation.

Now, Catholic teaching is clear: sins against the truth can be, and are, mortally sinful in proportion to the wrong done. Consider the sections of the Catechism cited below:

2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

2482 "A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving." The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: "You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

2483 Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead into error someone who has the right to know the truth. By injuring man's relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.

2484 The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.

2485 By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. the deliberate intention of leading a neighbor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity. The culpability is greater when the intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences for those who are led astray.

2486 Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.

2487 Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven. When it is impossible publicly to make reparation for a wrong, it must be made secretly. If someone who has suffered harm cannot be directly compensated, he must be given moral satisfaction in the name of charity. This duty of reparation also concerns offenses against another's reputation. This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the extent of the damage inflicted. It obliges in conscience.

Were I this sort of "traditionalist" -- taking such a severe line, I would be very afraid -- what did our Lord say? "By the measure with which you measure, you shall be measured."

I quote again from Paragraph 2485, above: "The culpability is greater when the intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences for those who are led astray." Well, might I not reasonably suppose that if I used a website to offer snarky comments, let alone direct attacks on the dignity, authority and credibility of the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, how could that not have "deadly consequences for those who are led astray"?

In short: what if I'm wrong in attacking the pope? If one person were deterred from becoming Catholic -- and went to hell because of my vitriole against the pope -- what can the consequences be . . . for me?

Of course, if you tend toward the idea that God's grace assures very few end up in hell, then I suppose you have nothing to worry about. But that is hardly the view of this variety of "traditionalist": they are always on about the extreme peril of hell for anyone not actually a Catholic. And I am not quarreling with that at present. I'm simply recalling the Lord's words: "by the measure with which you measure..."

If I were this sort of "traditionalist," I should be very worried about being wrong about my attacks on the pope. I should fear burning in hell for so grave an offense.

By the way, for anyone who cares--I do consider myself traditional, no quotes. I say that with no chest-beating, because I am sure I can be outdone in piety or discipline, but I believe in, and try to practice, a fidelity to the full Tradition of the Church, which is and should be timeless, and therefore translates well into any language or context. I see nothing wrong with cassocks and chant, and think we need more of such things, to regain some balance. I am skeptical of claims of a "golden age," but also of the smug assurance that all is well. But authentic Tradition is not intrinsically neophobic, pessimistic; and for the life of me, I know nothing of anti-papal "tradition." Sounds more like you know who dressed as "an angel of light."

Oh, and don't even try to bring any of that snarkiness or conspiracy-mongering into this thread. If you want to justify this sort of behavior, do it from moral or theological principles, which are timeless and very easy to verify -- and which involve no derogation of anyone's reputation. Don't even try to justify this behavior by trying prove the "factual" case, i.e., the pope really is a pawn of Jewish-Freemason Conspiracy. Take that to the cornfield, where it'll do some good.

Update: In the thread at Jimmy Akin's site is a discussion relevant to whether then-Cardinal Ratzinger was even wearing a shirt-and-tie, as the photo seems to depict. A commenter say's he's actually wearing a northern-European style of clerical shirt that has pointy collars that in a shaded image as this, can give the appearance of a dress-shirt-and-tie. Don't know, not important to debate; but I want to be fair in how I describe the picture...


Anonymous said...

Traditionalism is a label fanatics hide behind. There is so much hatred and wrath among self-described "traditionalists" in the church that it's creating major scandal. Non-Catholics who view the church in terms of these wacko
self-appointed watchdogs of protocol have no choice but to think we're all a bunch of cult captives. It is so harmful to the church when Catholic fundamentalists go on a tear.

Colleen said...

Q: What do you call "Catholics" who think they know liturgy better than the Pope, who question the validity of the Mass the Pope says every day, or even the validity of current Pope himself?

A: Protestants!

Anonymous said...

I saw the pictures of the then Cardinal Woytila (sp?) in hiking gear and I have only this to say - he had no taste in clothes! lol

Anonymous said...

Fr Fox,
Came over from Jimmy's blog.
I wanted to thank you for your explaination on the authority of Mary in relationship to that of the pope's.
You hit the words I wish I'd have used.
Dean Steinlage

Orange_Cross said...

En sophia peripatite pros tous exo, ton kairon exagorazomenoi. Ho logos umon pantote en kariti, halati eptumenos, eidenai pos dei umas eni ekasto apokrinesthai.

The Digital Hairshirt said...

Fr. Fox, right on with your perspective! Well said!

Tim said...

I am amazed at the shrillness of some Trads. They really need to quit taking themselves so seriously.
I dislike division in any Christian circle and this one particularly disturbs me.

Legion of Mary said...

I think fair and charitable criticism of the Novus Ordo is a good thing. I get tired of people telling me the Novus Ordo is "traditional" or an organic development from the Traditional Latin Mass.

Pro Ecclesia said...

Some people are just intent on acting as if they are "more holy" than the successors to the apostles. I know that I have fallen into that trap, and I thank you, Father, for your fraternal (or is it paternal?) correction on one such occasion.

Fr Martin Fox said...

This is not a direct challenge to anyone who posted here, but...

It seems to me no one has addressed the real "barb" of my post, which is: why aren't these folks in real fear of hell; alternately, why shouldn't they be?

Doesn't anyone else sense some "cognitive dissonance" (I think I'm using that term legitimately here)?

Mark Anthony said...

Unfortunately, "rad trads" (aren't labels fun?) would have no fear of Hell in this circumstance because they could not accept even the possibility that their view on this (or any theological) matter is wrong, much less a lie. Their ignorance is most likely invincible and so unable of inspiring doubt or fear. I suspect that they firmly believe they continue in the tradition of the great apologists and defenders of the faith of the Church.

Gregaria said...

That, or there may be some other reasons. 1) They may be so confused (for any number of reasons) about what real Church teaching is that they simply decide to go all out in the more traditional direction in order to be on the safe side of things. 2) They may be truly frightened of going to hell and, again, go all out in the more traditional direction to be safe. 3) They may be frightened of going to hell and so they try to make themselves feel better by telling everyone else that they are going to hell instead. The last reminds me of bullies who feel belittled or frightened and pick on other people just to make themselves feel better.

So, really, for those who may be "traditional" for the above reasons, the best remedy, at least as far as non-"traditionalist" Catholics are concerned, would seem to be prayer and good example which will hopefully lead them to accept the mercy of God and let love, instead of fear, rule their lives.

Anonymous said...

Those traditionalists have nothing to do. It's like as if everything is just purely fun for them. They shoudl quit playing around cause it is no longer funny.