Examining a theological train wreck…

Why still be a Catholic? A Critique of Peter Kwasniewski’s Answer to a despondent Novus Ordo Seminarian

On May 18, 2021, the semi-trad web site One Peter Five published a moving, desperate cry for answers by a Novus Ordo seminarian. Entitled, “Seminarian: ‘Is There Any Reason Why I Should Remain Catholic?'”, the appeal showcases the impossibility of being a Roman Catholic in the Vatican II Sect, sincerest efforts notwithstanding.

In a nutshell, the reason it is not possible to be a Catholic in the Vatican II religion is that the Vatican II religion is not Catholic — it’s as simple as that. One might as well try to be a Catholic in the Anglican church, the Lutheran sect, or the Masonic Lodge. It can’t be done. The answer as to why that is so lies in the fact that the Vatican II Church is not the Roman Catholic Church but an anti-Catholic counterfeit that has some Catholic, some Protestant, some Modernist, and some Masonic elements to it.

In essence, one can probably say that the religion of the Vatican II Church is very similar to what was known as “Liberal Catholicism” in the 19th century, and which was roundly condemned by the Popes at the time, most notably Gregory XVI and Pius IX, but we shall not dwell on that now.

Instead, we’ll first have a look at what the seminarian actually wrote:

In an introductory note to the piece, One Peter Five‘s editor Steve Skojec, who is currently asking himself the same question as the seminarian, explains:

…we received this submission from an anonymous seminarian, and have chosen to run it as such. It is the cry — and the challenge — of a child to a neglectful father: “Why weren’t you there to protect me when that was your job?” It’s the cry — and the challenge — of a man who has given his life to a cause, only to discover that the guardians of that cause no longer believe in it.

It’s a cry of the heart and a challenge to our shepherds that many of us know all too well. It is a calling out that expects no answer, and to which none is likely to be given. We implore your prayers for the author, and for all of the faithful who find themselves where he is in these dark times.

The unnamed seminarian begins as follows:

I’m finishing up my theology studies and planning to leave the seminary. I know I shouldn’t go into public ministry. I’ve become disillusioned and resentful. I don’t believe in what the Catholic Church [=Novus Ordo Sect] is teaching, and I don’t want to help perpetuate what it is doing. After almost 10 years of discerning a call and pursuing a vocation, it seems like I’ve wandered down a dead end road, and ended up stranded in the woods. I was naïve enough to assume that the Catholic faith was practiced in the Catholic Church, but experience has taught me that the faith is no longer welcome in the Church.

The gentleman hits the nail on the head: What was exclusively known as the Roman Catholic religion until roughly 1960 is simply no longer the religion believed or practiced in those same ecclesiastical structures today. Anyone who doubts it can go to his local Novus Ordo parish and ask the pastor if he could hand out free copies of old papal encyclicals such as Mirari Vos, Quas Primas, Mortalium Animos, or Humani Generis to the people — and see how that goes.

A historical perspective on how this happened has recently been shared by Sister Mary Bernadette, CMRI, in an exciting video interview:

The seminarian continues:

I would advise against pursuing a vocation in the Church today, and I wouldn’t even recommend the Church to anyone. What could anyone expect to find but spiritual abusers who refuse to enter the Kingdom of God and try to prevent others from doing so?

Honestly, not much of my faith has survived the seminary. I could not tell you one teaching of the Catholic faith that isn’t always changing….

Why evangelize? Evangelize to what? We’re not allowed to catechize anymore. There is too much resistance to the faith from the Church. What’s the point? What are we doing? The Church is no longer hoping to convert the world to Jesus Christ, but we are converting the Church to the Spirit of the World. The salt has lost its flavor and it is being cast aside and trampled underfoot. The lamp is dimming, the coals are dying out, and charity is growing cold. The substance of the faith has been drained out of the Church and watered down. The Church has been hollowed out. Triumphalism is defeated, the Barque of Peter is sinking, and it could be downhill from here.

As someone who’s seen it first-hand and from the inside, this seminarian knows what he’s talking about. His sobering words remind us that beyond all the theoretical debates, real souls are impacted by the Novus Ordo revolution in their very real lives, all the time. With God’s help, the Vatican II Sect must be fought every single day, because it is on a daily basis that it robs people of Faith, hope, and charity, and thus of eternal happiness in Heaven. It is truly a battle for souls.

The seminarian goes on to explain that he is “getting [his] degree and leaving”, but before he does so, wants to ask one question:

Is there any reason why I should remain Catholic?

Further, is there any reason for anyone to remain Catholic, or become Catholic? I dare you to tell us
one good reason.

I dare you to answer this question: Is there any good reason why anyone should practice the Catholic faith in the Catholic Church? I dare you. Is there any reason, besides fear of the judgement of God–something which we are no longer allowed to believe in–why I shouldn’t warn people to stay away from the Catholic Church?

Our Lady Help of Christians please do something, anything… But, either way, I should probably leave, I’ve lost my faith and I’m not wanted here.

(“Seminarian: ‘Is There Any Reason Why I Should Remain Catholic?'”, One Peter Five, May 18, 2021; italics given.)

The seminarian says much more than can be quoted here, so the interested reader is advised to read the full article at One Peter Five.

This poignant cry of despair by someone who really wants to be Catholic but now bluntly states that he’s lost the Faith as a direct result of the Novus Ordo Sect doing its work of destruction on souls, is utterly heartbreaking. We must never lose sight of the fact that whenver some Novus Ordo apologist talks about how many converts have come into the “Church” recently, that for each new addition there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, leaving. Most leave gradually, quietly, seeing no purpose to being Catholic if it means being Novus Ordo. And they don’t leave for real Catholicism — wish that they would! — they defect into Protestantism, indifferentism, esotericism, agnosticism, neo-paganism, or atheism.

It is much easier to convert a fervently anti-Catholic Seventh-Day Adventist than an indifferentist, ecumenical let’s-all-just-get-along believer who is convinced that everyone is part of the “People of God” and that “it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained” (condemned by Pope Gregory XVI, Encyclical Mirari Vos, n. 13). Yet it is the latter kind of convert the Vatican II Sect tends to produce, and this has never been more visible than in the least eight years, ever since Jorge Bergoglio began squatting in the Vatican guest house. Indeed, what would be the point of Catholicism if it were chiefly a mundane humanitarian association with cringeworthy liturgy and once-a-year fish fries?

Two days after One Peter Five published the seminarian’s cri de coeur, the same web site also released what purported to be a response to the heart-wrenching cry. It was written by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, a popular lecturer and author in semi-traditionalist circles who used to teach at Wyoming Catholic College and fancies himself a traditional Catholic theologian. Just how traditional or Catholic his ideas are, we have powerfully demonstrated on this web site again and again. Alas, we will have to do it one more time as we provide a critical response to Kwasniewski’s good-willed but misguided attempt to help the seminarian:

With that promising of a title, one expects the content of Kwasniewski’s response to be no less impressive. Interestingly enough, however, it turns out that every single reason the former theology professor brings up for why one should be and remain a Catholic is tied to the pre-Vatican II (i.e. real) Catholic Church. Not a single reason he gives has anything to do with the Novus Ordo Church, which, as Kwasniewski and the seminarian believe, is the Catholic Church of today and of the last few decades.

What this means is that Prof. Kwasniewski has unwittingly confirmed the validity of the seminarian’s crisis of Faith: There is no reason to be a Catholic if the Vatican II Church is the Catholic Church! Kwasniewski can’t — or at least didn’t — offer a single reason for why one should be a Catholic based on the reality of the “Catholic Church” today. Let that sink in for a minute!

Instead, Kwasniewski had to redirect the focus of the seminarian to what Catholicism used to be (from the Novus Ordo perspective). Kwasniewski’s unspoken hope is that it will one day be that again. Meanwhile, he pretends that traditional Catholicism still somehow exists in the Vatican II Church; yet, as the seminarian only too well knows, it does not in the official ecclesiastical organs. Therefore, even if we grant that true Catholicism may exist in certain individual souls who are unhappily attached to the Novus Ordo Church, that is beside the point. It does not exist in the dioceses, the eparchies, the parishes, the seminaries, the monasteries, the convents, the chanceries, the bishops’ conferences, the nunciatures, or the Roman curia — and most definitely not in the “papal” magisterium. That is the point, and that is what the seminarian was getting at when he lamented that “the faith is no longer welcome in the Church.”

But let us now turn to Kwasniewski’s actual words. He begins by noting that he himself has been “wounded by members of the hierarchy [and] has also stared into the abyss of corruption and apostasy that mark the Church on earth in our times.” So at the very outset already he acknowledges that the church he believes in is apostate. In doing so, “the Kwas”, as some of his friends call him, surely further confirms the seminarian’s anguish.

Dr. Kwasniewski then introduces those 6,000 reasons to be Catholic he’s promised:

Even if we take the most conservative estimate, dodging the “saint factory” that revved up in the 1980s under John Paul II, the Catholic Church venerates at least 6,000 saints officially recognized as such (some would say over twice that many, depending on how you tabulate them). Each one of these saints is a masterpiece of God’s grace triumphing in the frailty and fracturedness of fallen human nature. Each one is a bright light in the encircling gloom. Each one tells us what the Christian is called to be and can, in fact, become by fidelity to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Each one gives the lie to fatalism, nihilism, and cynicism. And each one is an unanswerable argument for the truth of the Catholic Faith.

(Peter Kwasniewski, “A Reply to the Discouraged Seminarian: There Are 6,000 Reasons to Remain Catholic”, One Peter Five, May 20, 2021)

There is no question that the holiness of the Church is proved, among other things, in the lives of her saints, which are a powerful motive of credibility for the truth of the Roman Catholic religion (see Fr. Joseph Clifford Fenton’s Laying the Foundation, pp. 448-49). It is most unfortunate, therefore, that in the same breath in which he extols the saints as providing sufficient reason to be Catholic, Kwasniewski also undermines his entire argument by dissing the “saint factory” of (what he claims is) the Catholic Church today.

He basically says, “Hey, look at the Church’s saints, they prove she is the true Church! Just don’t look at the saints of the last few decades, they don’t really count!” If the saints of the past testify to the truth of the Catholic religion (and they most certainly do!), why then would that religion, that Church, be able to solemnly declare as saints men and women who were not in fact such? In other words, why would true saints (such as St. Monica, St. Dominic, St. Gregory VII) testify to a church that also venerates false saints (such as Mother Teresa, Paul VI, John Paul II)? How credible is a church that produces saints and sinners and then declares the sinners to be saints?

What makes a retired college professor with a Ph.D. in philosophy offer such a lousy argument? Quite simply, it’s the impossible task he has set for himself: He “must” uphold the Vatican II Sect as the true Catholic Church, otherwise he’d have to become a sedevacantist. Thus he’s continually compelled to present reasoning that, although superficially plausible, ultimately does not make sense, contains contradictions, or leads to absurd conclusions.

Furthermore, consider that by restricting his argument to the pre-Vatican II saints — for even those canonized by Paul VI or John XXIII lived their saintly lives before Vatican II — Kwasniewski is confirming only that the pre-Vatican II Church is the true Catholic Church, for it is that Church in which these saints were members and that their holy lives gave testimony to. By preventively excluding the saints or “saints” after Vatican II, Kwasniewski is once again confirming the occasion of the seminarian’s despair: It’s an apostate church, one in which Catholicism is not practiced, and one that does not produce (unquestionable) Catholic saints.

Next, Dr. K makes matters worse. Instead of quoting a traditional Catholic theologian regarding the holiness of the saints as a powerful motive of credibility, whom does he use? That old Modernist, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger!

Here is what Kwasniewski subjects his readers to:

The only really effective apologia [=defense] for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb. Better witness is borne to the Lord by the splendor of holiness and art which have arisen in the community of believers than by clever excuses which apologetics has come up with to justify the dark sides which, sadly, are so frequent in the Church’s human history.

(“Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger, in Vittorio Messori, ed., The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1985], pp. 129-130.)

What an utterly disgraceful thing to say, and so offensive to pious ears! Here the Modernist Ratzinger, who is spending the last days of his life by LARPing as “Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI”, shows his true colors. Like all Modernists, he scoffs at the Church’s motives of credibility, which serve as the true religion’s rational foundation, calumniating and belittling them as “clever excuses which apologetics has come up with to justify the dark sides” of the Church!

The only two motives Ratzinger admits as having any value are holiness and beauty. How generous of him! But that contradicts the oath he swore before he could be ordained a priest in 1951, the Oath against Modernism instituted by Pope St. Pius X in 1910. It includes the following lines among many others:

…I profess that God, the origin and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of reason from the created world (see Rom. 1:19), that is, from the visible works of creation, as a cause from its effects, and that, therefore, his existence can also be demonstrated: Secondly, I accept and acknowledge the external proofs of revelation, that is, divine acts and especially miracles and prophecies as the surest signs of the divine origin of the Christian religion and I hold that these same proofs are well adapted to the understanding of all eras and all men, even of this time.

(“Oath against Modernism”, 1910)

Was the Kwas not able to find a better source for the point that he wanted to make than a man who, shortly after his ordination, was suspected of heresy by the Holy Office, and as we now know, for good reason?

Dr. Kwasniewski doesn’t attempt to correct Ratzinger’s brazen contempt for the motives of credibility. He is content to merely supplement the two motives Ratzinger concedes to have any value: “One could perhaps amplify this by saying there is a threefold apologia: the saints, the civilization produced by Catholicism, and the inner cogency and coherence of traditional Catholic theology, which displays a monumental solidity and a profound consistency.”

Unfortunately for the retired theology professor, an inner cogency and coherence in Catholic theology alone can hardly serve as a motive of credibility pointing to the truth of the Catholic religion, since all kinds of errors, too, can be coherent and consistent within their own system. Baruch Spinoza‘s pantheistic philosophy, for example, was highly coherent, yet false and deadly: “It would be quite possible for him”, writes the erudite Jesuit Fr. Frederick Copleston (1907-94), “to appeal to the coherence and explanatory power of [his] developed system as evidence of its truth (A History of Philosophy, vol. IV, reprint edition [New York, NY: Image Books, 1994], p. 212). Clearly, coherence and cogency alone do not suffice. They are necessary conditions for the truth of a system of thought, but they are not sufficient.

Notice also that Kwasniewski accords this coherence and cogency only to traditional Catholic theology, not to Novus Ordo theology. Of course not! How could he? But by drawing that distinction, by placing a condition on the “kind” of Catholic theology that is to be considered, he has undermined his entire argument, since it implies that Catholic theology as a whole — traditional and Novus Ordo — is not consistent, coherent, or cogent. Any system can pride itself on being perfectly consistent on condition that the inconsistent parts are first removed or left out of consideration. By reasoning in this manner, Kwasniewski has made his argument from consistency meaningless.

Once again, then, Dr. K’s argument points to the truth only of the real Catholic religion, not the Novus Ordo counterfeit. Once again he effectively confirms the seminarian in his despair, for his argumentation implies that the Novus Ordo religion — the very religion believed, taught, and practiced in the “Catholic Church” today — does not have a rational foundation pointing to it. (If it did, surely he would have used that as a further argument to help the seminarian!)

Kwasniewski then proceeds to illustrate how he would answer the question: “Why be a Catholic?”, applying the three-pronged approach mentioned above: the saints, the civilization the Church inspired, and the “theology of the Church in its apostolic, patristic, and scholastic plenitude….” Regarding the latter, he goes on to explain:

Whether we take up the formidable Summa theologiae of St Thomas Aquinas with its seried ranks of syllogisms or simply consult any standard catechism from the Counter-Reformation down to the eve of the Second Vatican Council, we will find one and the same Catholic Faith, always confessing the Holy and Undivided Trinity, the perfect humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ, the virginal maternity of Mary, the veneration of the saints, the life of grace, virtues, prayer, worship, and sacraments, the promise of eternal life in the bliss of the beatific vision. There is no deviation, no distortion, no dereliction in the Faith of the Church; it is there, it is knowable, it is livable, it is lovable.

(Kwasniewski, “A Reply to the Discouraged Seminarian”)

Did you notice it? The retired theology professor lauds the fact that we “find one and the same Catholic Faith” in all of the Church’s theology, yet only “down to the eve of the Second Vatican Council”. Does Dr. K not see a problem here? That is precisely what the seminarian is getting at when he laments that “the faith is no longer welcome in the Church”. Once more, Peter Kwasniewski just confirmed the very thing the struggling young man is despairing over.

Before we continue, let’s also look at what Prof. K did not include in his reasons for being a Catholic: He did not say that he is a Catholic because (a) reason proves the existence of God, (b) history proves the existence of Jesus Christ, (c) Christ’s miracles prove His divinity and the truth of His revealed doctrine, and (d) history proves that the Church he founded is the Roman Catholic Church.

This, in a nutshell, is the rational foundation of the Roman Catholic religion, the objective reason for why one ought to be a Catholic. This foundation does not replace Faith; rather, it demonstrates that the Faith demanded by Christ and the Church is reasonable. Faith is not a blind leap but a rational act. It is necessary for salvation because “without Faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6).

What is Faith? Faith is “a supernatural virtue by which we, with the aid and inspiration of the grace of God, believe that the things revealed by Him are true, not because the intrinsic truth of the revealed things has been perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived” (Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, Ch. 3; Denz. 1789).

Because of this Faith, real Catholics reject the Counterfeit Church of Vatican II. The Kwas stumbles time and again because he attempts to shoehorn that Catholic religion into the Vatican II Sect, with predictably grotesque results.

Kwasniewski argues that the seminarian “lets the postconciliar distortion of Catholicism set the agenda for the discussion, and that is why he is disgusted and has no way of escape”. But that is not something for which the seminarian can be faulted if Dr. K’s premise is true, namely, that the Novus Ordo Sect is the Catholic Church. For in that case, what the retired theology professor self-assuredly calls the “postconciliar distortion of Catholicism”, cannot be a distortion of Catholicism but must be the authentic thing. Why? Because Catholics “receive their rule of faith from the Church, by whose authority and under whose guidance they are conscious that they have beyond question attained to truth” (Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Sapientiae Christianae, n. 21).

Kwasniewski tries to set the seminarian’s error straight by offering the following “corrected” version of the young man’s original words (Dr. K’s additions or modifications are indicated in italics):

I could not tell you one teaching of the Catholic faith that today’s Modernists in the Church aren’t saying must always be changing. I don’t think we’ve even begun to acknowledge the extent to which modernism has attempted to undermine the foundations of the faith, even though we know it can never do so, since God’s truth is indestructible, and the consistent teaching of the Church on any major issue is easily accessible. The human element of the Church (certainly not those in a state of grace or the saints in glory) is crumbling into quicksand, and we are scolded ad nauseam by the progressives and liberals that the Church still has to change more with the times, even though this view was condemned again and again by Church authority.

The very fact that Kwasniewski can affirm so nonchalantly that there are “Modernists in the Church” — not secretly but openly, as indicated by their public perversion of the Faith –, that alone is troubling enough. After all, Pope Innocent III made clear that “we confess the one Church, not of heretics but the Holy Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic (Church) outside which we believe that no one is saved” (Apostolic Letter Eius ExemploDenz. 423).

However, Kwasniewski goes into full-blown la-la land mode when he pretends that the Vatican II Church has not in actual fact undermined the foundations of the Faith but merely “attempted” to do so. His affirmation that “God’s truth is indestructible” is true enough but can’t solve the conundrum he’s maneuvered himself into since it doesn’t explain why the Vatican II Sect — in Kwasniewski’s world, the “Catholic Church” today — doesn’t uphold and defend that truth. To say that this truth “is easily accessible” is irrelevant — it is not what is taught by the magisterium of the institution the professor insists is the Roman Catholic Church in our day. Ease of access has nothing to do with it.

Kwasniewski elaborates on his position:

To let the modernists in the hierarchy of the Church define the meaning of being Catholic would be the equivalent of letting the Jacobins of the Revolution define the meaning of being French, or the Democrats of 2021 define the meaning of being American. The wolves in sheep’s clothing of today warp the teaching of Catholicism by means of an “official theology” that has and can have no magisterial standing, although it wishes it could. How do we know that it has no standing? For one simple reason: the Faith cannot contradict itself: as St. Vincent of Lérins classically expressed it, growth over time in the understanding of religion does not mean mutation or substantial change. Catholicism is a religion of faith and reason, where the one never contradicts the other.

Again, this is simply a denial of reality, a reality that has crushed the discouraged seminarian. Kwasniewski is in his own world of theological make-believe. That “official theology” he (rightly) decries has very much magisterial standing in the Vatican II Church. It is what is believed and taught, legislated and practiced throughout the world under the mantle of “Roman Catholicism”, with Kwasniewski & Co. simply constituting a small minority of dissidents.

Kwasniewski labors under the illusion that each Catholic gets to determine for himself what the Catholic magisterium is: Just look at what the Pope and bishops teach, compare it to what was taught until the eve of Vatican II, and if there is a contradiction, throw out the more recent in favor of the less recent because there cannot be a contradiction.

Ladies and gentlemen, this kind of theological balderdash is what in recognize-and-resist circles passes for top-notch “traditional Catholic theology”!

The true doctrine of the Catholic Church regarding magisterial submission is the following:

…To determine, however, which are the doctrines divinely revealed belongs to the teaching Church, to whom God has entrusted the safekeeping and interpretation of His utterances. But the supreme teacher in the Church is the Roman Pontiff. Union of minds, therefore, requires, together with a perfect accord in the one faith, complete submission and obedience of will to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff, as to God Himself. This obedience should, however, be perfect, because it is enjoined by faith itself, and has this in common with faith, that it cannot be given in shreds; nay, were it not absolute and perfect in every particular, it might wear the name of obedience, but its essence would disappear….

In defining the limits of the obedience owed to the pastors of souls, but most of all to the authority of the Roman Pontiff, it must not be supposed that it is only to be yielded in relation to dogmas of which the obstinate denial cannot be disjoined from the crime of heresy. Nay, further, it is not enough sincerely and firmly to assent to doctrines which, though not defined by any solemn pronouncement of the Church, are by her proposed to belief, as divinely revealed, in her common and universal teaching, and which the [First] Vatican Council declared are to be believed “with Catholic and divine faith.” But this likewise must be reckoned amongst the duties of Christians, that they allow themselves to be ruled and directed by the authority and leadership of bishops, and, above all, of the Apostolic See.

And how fitting it is that this should be so any one can easily perceive. For the things contained in the divine oracles have reference to God in part, and in part to man, and to whatever is necessary for the attainment of his eternal salvation. Now, both these, that is to say, what we are bound to believe and what we are obliged to do, are laid down, as we have stated, by the Church using her divine right, and in the Church by the supreme Pontiff.

Wherefore it belongs to the Pope to judge authoritatively what things the sacred oracles contain, as well as what doctrines are in harmony, and what in disagreement, with them; and also, for the same reason, to show forth what things are to be accepted as right, and what to be rejected as worthless; what it is necessary to do and what to avoid doing, in order to attain eternal salvation. For, otherwise, there would be no sure interpreter of the commands of God, nor would there be any safe guide showing man the way he should live.

(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Sapientiae Christianae, nn. 22, 24; underlining added.)

We have shown before on this blog that the teaching of St. Vincent of Lerins on this cannot be used to oppose magisterial teaching:

On a historical note: The appeal to St. Vincent of Lerins was also made by the heretic Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger (1799-1890), who used it to exempt himself from belief in the dogma of papal infallibility defined at Vatican I, which he claimed was “not in line with Tradition”. Dollinger was excommunicated by the Archbishop of Munich in 1871 and, tragically, never returned to the Church before his death.

Further on in his reply to the anguished seminarian, Prof. Kwasniewski again tries to have it both ways. He speaks of “the modernists … who have virtually expelled themselves from the Church.” Notice the shrewd use of the adverb “virtually” — it creates sufficient ambiguity for him to be able to say that they are and aren’t in the Church, depending on what specific thesis he is arguing.

He doubles down, saying:

The Church of Christ has been occupied by impostors, by modernists who are not believers. They wear the clothes, they hold the offices, but they do not hold the Faith, and do not pass it on. The seminaries of these impostors are mind-bendingly manipulative as they try to suck out the spirit of right judgment and the love of tradition.

This is utterly insane ecclesiology. According to Prof. K, a Catholic bishop can be the legitimate and valid bishop of a diocese and yet be an impostor, a Modernist, an unbeliever. Here were are not talking about a man’s secret denial of the Faith — which is is not incompatible with holding office in the Church — but about a public defection from the Faith. This Kwasniewski admits, since he is speaking, first of all, within the context of public defection, as per the seminarian’s expressed complaints; and also because he concedes that the Modernists in question do not in fact hand on the Faith, which proves that it is a public, not a secret, matter.

So, for Kwasniewski, the Novus Ordo hierarchs are Modernists and impostors, but somehow they are also Catholics in the sense that they are members of the Church. So much for the Catholic Church being a visible institution. Never mind that Pope Pius XII had made clear that one condition for being a member of the Church is that one must “profess the true faith” (Encyclical Mystici Corporis, n. 22). If people can profess any heresy they please and still remain visibly part of that society, then the Catholic Church is no more visible than the Anglicans, the Masons, or the Boy Scouts: visible in terms of an organizational structure, but certainly not perceptible as the Ark of Salvation, the “light of the world”, the “city seated on a mountain [that] cannot be hid” (Mt 5:14), the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15).

The argument implied by Kwasniewski’s position is that everyone who at one point was baptized into the Catholic Church remains in the Catholic Church until there is a formal declaration of his expulsion, regardless of what he believes, professes, or does in the meantime. We refuted that popular error with concrete historical examples over a year ago in another response to the Kwas:

Further on in his reply to the seminarian, Dr. K advances “traditional Catholicism” as the solution. Of course it is the solution, but not in the way Kwasniewski means it, namely, apart from and in opposition to the (supposedly) valid Catholic hierarchy. He writes:

Regardless of what the churchmen who occupy ecclesial posts may do or say, the Catholic Faith is still believed, practiced, lived, across the world in places where the authentic Roman liturgy, trustworthy catechisms, true devotion to Our Lady and the saints, and a love for Catholic culture are still to be found. They do exist, here, there, across the map like sprinkled drops of holy water from a cosmic aspergillum, in greater numbers than one might think possible in a time of such decadence. Whether it be a dedicated priest in an out-of-the-way rural refuge or a parish run by a religious order in a million-peopled metropolis, such circles, or dare I say cenacles, of faithful Catholics will never disappear. If fifty years of relentless hostility and lack of support have not been able to crush traditional-loving Catholics, who, though a minority, are more numerous, well-informed, and committed today than at any time since the Council, nothing will crush them in the future. Divine Providence will not permit it, because the true Faith must last until the end of time. The Faith is alive, and in a humble way, thriving: but you will seldom find such evidence of supernatural life in the mainstream parishes, chanceries, and seminaries.

The idea of remnants of Catholicism being found here and there, scattered all over, in cenacles, in houses, in lurking places, so to speak, all that can be admitted as compatible with Catholic teaching. But what cannot be admitted is that such remnants of Catholicism should exist in opposition to the legitimate shepherds of the Church, which is exactly what Dr. K is putting forward.

His reasoning that “Divine Providence will not permit” these little oases of Catholicism to disappear entirely is nothing short of absurd when at the same time it is Kwasniewski’s position that Divine Providence has permitted the (supposed) Roman Catholic hierarchy to defect, such that the Faith is no longer believed, professed, taught, or practiced by those who hold the offices which were established by God (!) for the safeguarding and perpetuation of the Roman Catholic religion:

To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Thus, it is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to the Head and Supreme Pastor.

…[I]t is to give proof of a submission which is far from sincere to set up some kind of opposition between one Pontiff and another. Those who, faced with two differing directives, reject the present one to hold to the past, are not giving proof of obedience to the authority which has the right and duty to guide them; and in some ways they resemble those who, on receiving a condemnation, would wish to appeal to a future council, or to a Pope who is better informed.

(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua)

In the tempest of earthly events, and in spite of the deficiency and weakness which may dim her luster to our eyes, [the Church] has the security of remaining imperturbably faithful to her mission to the end of time.

(Pope Pius XII, Allocution to Cardinals, Dec. 24, 1944; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 1142.)

In light of the real traditional Catholic magisterial pronouncements, it is clear that Kwasniewski’s position can in no wise be sustained. Although he is entirely right in upholding traditional Catholicism as God’s revealed and perennially-valid truth, he wrecks it all by his forlorn effort to squeeze it into the Counterfeit Church.

Kwasniewski’s predictable but unimpressive attempt to draw a parallel with our Blessed Lord’s Passion on Good Friday won’t allow him to escape from his quandary either: “Do I stay at the foot of the Cross with St. John and Our Lady and persevere to the promised resurrection, no matter how bleak things appear, or do I walk away shaking my head because the Messiah wasn’t what we were expecting Him to be, and His mission looks like it’s all over?”

If the Vatican II Church were the Roman Catholic Church and its head were indeed the Vicar of Christ, then it would be all over, for then the promises of Christ would have failed (see Mt 16:18; Lk 22:31-32; 1 Tim 3:15). The seminarian’s cry illustrates exactly that. No one who understands Roman Catholicism to be what everyone understood it to be until the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, can look at the Vatican II Church today and maintain that that is the same Church, still teaching the same Faith, still dispensing the same sacraments, still sanctifying souls. If that rotten Modernist-Masonic sect that sits in the Vatican in our day is the indefectible and infallible Ark of Salvation, then indefectibility and infallibility have no meaning, and neither does salvation. And that is what the seminarian was getting at.

The only way to escape this whole conundrum is to posit that the apparent Catholic hierarchy in our day is not in fact the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Most notably, the man who appears to be the Pope is not in fact the Pope. This position is known as Sedevacantism. It brings many other questions and difficulties with it, it is true, but the fact remains that, given the traditional Catholic magisterial teaching, there is no escaping the conclusion that the Modernist usurpers do not hold valid office in the Church and the new religion they adhere to is not the Roman Catholic religion. For that reason we speak of the Modernist Sect, the Novus Ordo Church, the Vatican II Church, etc., to contrast it with the Roman Catholic Church of Pope Pius XII and his predecessors.

This past Wednesday, June 16, we released a podcast in which we also talk about Peter Kwasniewski’s ill-fated attempt to help the anguished seminarian. It is only 21 minutes in length and well worth a listen:

In the fourth century, the great Doctor of the Church St. Ambrose gave us a perennially-valid theological maxim connecting the Pope with the visible Church. The maxim is: “Where Peter is, there is the Church” (Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia). It is a condensed version of what he actually wrote, namely: “Therefore, where Peter is, there is the Church: Where the Church is, there is no more death, but eternal life.” (See Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus, vol. 14, col. 1082.)

This shows how important it is, first of all, to know who isn’t Peter! Our handy little “Francis Papacy Test” is a helpful tool in that regard.

Should this good seminarian happen to be reading these words, or should someone who is reading them be in touch with him, we hope and pray that he will discover the true Catholic Faith among the last remaining Catholics, and will understand that the Great Apostasy in which we clearly now find ourselves, is not the refutation of Catholicism but the fulfillment of its prophecies about the latter times:

It is absolutely crucial to understand this, lest we suffer shipwreck in the Faith.

“Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory?” (Lk 24:26). The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, and as such, she will suffer as He did, so as to “fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church” (Col 1:24).

We need not understand everything or have all the answers; but we must believe because God, who cannot deceive or be deceived, has revealed it to us.

“Fear not, only believe” (Mk 5:36).

Image source: composite with elements from youtube.com (screenshot) and shutterstock.com
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