Rethinking the Motu Poprio

Recently I was on a Catholic Apologetics forum and left. The discussion started like this (I am paraphrasing, and intentionally not using names, so you can take my assertions to be as factual as you want them to be):

Random Person: Protestant Christians are our brother Christians

Guy who seemed to be establishing himself as a leader: I love Protestants but they are not our brothers and they are not Christians

Me: I’m out.

Why was I out? Well, because the latter statement was dead wrong, and I could immediately tell by the tenor of the discussion that if I said so, I’d be labeled a modernist, would not be listened to, accused of watering down the truth, etc.

I’ve come to see more of the truth in Pope Francis’s critiques of traditionalists generally. They lead to comments like that, or an argument I once got into about why we needed to reject Dei Verbum (!!!). It was an odd discussion to have, because I immediately realized that outright rejection of a document from a Church council was an immediate and obvious non-starter that lead to major holes in Catholic ecclesiology, but was not nearly educated enough to respond to specific complaints. Were it a debate, I’d have lost. And yet I’m still absolutely convinced that you can’t simply reject Vatican II and remain Catholic.

Recently I watched a debate on Pints with Aquinas between a sedevacantist and an SSPX supporter. The consensus is that the sede won. And he would; his position takes the basic tenets of SSPX supporters to their logical conclusion. I didn’t use to think this, but over time I’ve come to realize that if you have an ecclesiology that allows for the Church’s Magisterium to lead people into sin, then you’re on the road out of Catholicism. It might be to Protestantism, Orthodoxy, or sedevacantism, but it isn’t Catholicism as understood by the majority of the world, or the Pope, or the people in the pews, or as would have been understood by the Saints.

More examples of “traditionalist rigidity”: Recently I recommended Michael Lofton of the youtube channel Reason and Theology. The response I got was that Lofton has embraced modernism.

If any of you regularly watch his channel, this should immediately be taken as a reductio ad absurdum. Simply listen to the man speak, and listen to his arguments. He may be right, he may be wrong, but Michael Lofton is not a modernist. What Lofton is, along with Erick Ybarra, is one of the only people in the world currently capable of consistently maintaining Catholicism in a post-Vatican II Church. Yet because Lofton didn’t reject Vatican II – a Church Council – he was considered a modernist!

It’s ludicrous, and I’m more and more thinking that Francis has more of a point than I was originally giving him credit for. This attitude is dangerous, is shockingly widespread among traditionalists, and is going to lead people out of the Church. There is a supreme irony in somebody lecturing me about listening to authority in a discussion where they’re arguing we need to reject Dei Verbum.

Anyway, that’s all. If you’re wondering how I can, in the face of Vatican II, remain Catholic, you can thank – or blame, if you prefer – Ybarra and Lofton, who provide satisfactory answers to the objections of the Orthodox and Sedes (and sedevacantist arguments are shockingly similar to Protestant arguments in many ways as well). Check them out if you have a moment.


3 thoughts on “Rethinking the Motu Poprio

  1. I have heard toxic trads talked about, but I am not sure I have ever ran into any. I’ve run into many Episcopalian Catholics if you know what I mean. I suspect there are a couple Trads at my parish. They have a certain “Pharisee” feel about them. When we have our monthly post Mass breakfast downstairs they always gather amongst themselves and I have never talked to them and they have never even looked at me even when I was new, nor do I see them welcoming other new people.

    I have heard it said that Vatican II is often talked about and debated but seldom actually read. I have heard it said that this is true especially among those that reject it because they see it as the Church’s first slip into modernism. I have reads Dei Verbum, Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes. I have pretty good reading comprehension and if those documents are a concession to modernism and a failure of the Church then I am Little Bo Beep.

    I, too rarely, post on the Fisheaters forum. They have an interesting page on what they call Toxic Traddism here


    1. I am pretty traditonalist myself, and I think the novus ordo is simply inferior to the TLM.

      With that said, the novus ordo is still a valid Mass whatever I think.

      Now I have actually spoken to and interacted with trads who simply want to throw out Vatican II completely. Then there are the Barnhardt types who refuse to admit Francis is Pope (I am not an Ann Barnhardt admirer).

      Francis is a poor Pope. God will judge him for that; my opinion isn’t relevant.

      If Francis when talking about the issues with a rigid traditionalism means a traditionalism that denies the authority of the Magisterium and, by extension, the Church, because they dislike the direction the Church has moved in…he’s exactly right!

      I once had that precise conversation with someone. He had a list of reasons that he posted about why we the sedes had a point, ending with “And he says rigid traditionalism is harming the Church” or something.

      I pointed out to him “You are literally here using traditionalism to justify rebellion against the Church, right now, on this thread. Francis is right!”


      1. Well, this is interesting – and related.

        Parishoners of my church got an email from our priest about the death of a prior priest of St. john the Evangelist (and Immaculate Conception, St. John’s sister parish served by the same priest) a Fr. Christopher Riehl. The name seemed familiar to me, so I looked him up.

        Seems my church is semi-famous and not in a good way. I know the gentleman being quoted in the article. He is a fellow Knight (former Grand Knight, in fact) and organizer of our pro-life march.

        Seems I have been sitting right in the middle of it the whole time. I assume a number of these people are still around. To think I could have been doing a traditional Mass and Gregorian chants instead of the Gloria (at least the way we do it) which I grit my teeth and crawl through every week.


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