Uniting the clans?

President of Catholic Answers is featured Speaker at SSPX Angelus Press Conference

How times change!

Catholic Answers is a lay-run Novus Ordo apologetics organization founded by Karl Keating in 1979. It is located in El Cajon, California, and its current president is Christopher Check, who was appointed in 2015 with the endorsement of Keating. Catholic Answers is as mainstream Novus Ordo as it gets and, at least until “Pope” Francis came along, it was considered a conservative organization. When Jorge Bergoglio (Francis) moved into the Vatican in 2013, it became more and more difficult to keep up the facade of being conservative and Catholic while still being perfectly obedient to the Jesuit apostate.

Well-known apologists at Catholic Answers include Jimmy Akin, Tim Staples, and (formerly) Patrick Madrid. Here is a selection of Novus Ordo Watch posts on the apologetics of Catholic Answers:

The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) is a traditionalist priestly fraternity founded by Abp. Marcel Lefebvre that (quite rightly) rejects portions of the Modernist Second Vatican Council, the “New Mass” of Paul VI, and the post-conciliar magisterium, yet while insisting that the “Popes” and their underlings who promulgate all this stuff are lawful Catholic authorites, whom we nevertheless have an obligation to “resist”.

In 1988, after Abp. Lefebvre and Brazilian Bp. Antonio de Castro Mayer together consecrated four priests as bishops against the express prohibition of the Vatican under “Pope” John Paul II, declared all six bishops to have incurred automatic excommunication. This penalty was lifted against the four surviving bishops by “Pope” Benedict XVI in 2009. Since then, the SSPX has remained irregular with respect to the “Holy See”, and its ministry remains officially unapproved, as the Lefebvrists persist in sundry theological positions that are contrary to those of the Modernist Vatican.

Although they like to think of themselves as true-blue traditional Catholics, the Society’s theology is an utter train wreck that blends traditional Catholic teaching with ideas that are by no means reconcilable with actual Catholic Tradition:

“Pope” Francis has bent over backwards in recent years to make various concessions to the Lefebvrists, presumably to make them well-disposed towards him. (He is, after all, a Peronist.) Since 2015, he has graciously extended faculties for confessions and marriages to the Society, despite the fact that the Lefebvrists have been insistent for decades that they have no need of such faculties for their absolutions and marriages to be valid. We have discussed this matter in prior posts in some detail:

Despite Francis’ overtures to the very rigid traditionalists he otherwise loves to blast at every opportunity, he has never regularized the SSPX, nor has he ever declared them to be in that coveted “full communion” status with him. At the same time, with the publication of Traditionis Custodes, he has recently dealt a very harsh blow to all those who have attended the Traditional Latin Mass not at the SSPX but at diocesan and other NovusOrdo-approved venues. Francis just punished the obedient for their obedience, whereas the Society’s adherents have been left alone, as it were. Meanwhile, Francis wastes no opportunity to underscore his insistence on acceptance of Vatican II and the “New Mass”:

Having presented this little bit of background on Catholic Answers, the SSPX, and “Pope” Francis, it is rather surprising to see the 2021 Angelus Press Conference of the Lefebvrists advertise Catholic Answers president Christopher Check as one of its speakers (see title image of this post). Check is scheduled to speak on Friday, Dec. 10, on the topic of “The Age of Martyrs” (see agenda here).

Certainly, Check has participated at Angelus Press Conferences several times before (for instance, in 2011 and 2012), but that was before he became President of Catholic Answers. (Angelus Press is the SSPX’s publishing arm in the United States, and the conference is an annual main event for the Society’ U.S. district.)

Back in 2013, Tim Staples was interviewed on the radio program Catholic Answers Live to refute the errors of the Society of St. Pius X and also — at least he tried — Sedevacantism. That was under the presidency of Karl Keating. We responded and commented in this post:

In 2019, Catholic Answers Live broadcast two episodes on the Society, in which the prominent guest was Jim Vogel, the Director of Communications for the SSPX’s United States district.

Interestingly enough, host Cy Kellett and his other guest, the Novus Ordo priest Rev. Hugh Barbour, O.Praem., treated the whole topic of the SSPX with kid gloves. That was under the presidency of Christopher Check. Bizarrely, Barbour even contradicted Kellett’s observation that the Society is not in full communion with the “Catholic Church”:

Cy Kellett: Fair enough. So Father, tell me how this is all going to be concluded. How are we going to come into full communion again with one another?

Hugh Barbour: We already are in full communion. But, there is an impediment to our practice of the communion which we already share.


Now that has got to be a new category dreamed up by a Novus Ordo mind: “an impediment to our practice of the communion which we already share.” See, they are in communion, they’re just not practicing it, or perhaps just not “fully”! Never mind they do not believe the same things; never mind they do not share the same worship; never mind they do not accept the same final authority in matters of government. (The Lefebvrists, at least in practice, consider themselves the final arbiters of what a faithful Catholic is permitted and required to believe and do, as illustrated in our recent podcast, TRADCAST 031.)

On July 22, 2021, roughly a week after Francis released his Traditionis Custodes document gradually phasing out the Traditional Latin Mass, Check posted an article that questions the prudence of the move and is slightly critical of his “Holy Father”:

One of the SSPX’s claims to fame, so to speak, is their defiant opposition to the “Pope” when they deem this necessary. It is known that the SSPX will always offer the Traditional Latin Mass, regardless of what Rome forbids or decrees, even to the point of excommunication — a penalty they simply declare to be void.

Why has Catholic Answers become so soft on the Society of St. Pius X — so “sweet”, as Barbour and Kellett themselves put it in their second broadcast? And why do the Lefebvrists care to have the President of Catholic Answers speak at their conference, given that his organization defends every official Novus Ordo aberration Rome pumps out? Tim Staples even defended the “Pachamama” ritual Francis presided over in the Vatican Gardens just ahead of the 2019 Amazon Synod!

Inviting a Novus Ordo speaker to its convention is not an entirely new thing for the SSPX, however. At its 2019 Angelus Press Conference, the Society raised eyebrows for featuring the Rev. Sean Kilcawley, a Novus Ordo priest who is an expert in John Paul II’s so-called “Theology of the Body”, something traditionalists across the board, incl. the Lefebvrists, have always viewed with horror. Granted, the lecture he gave wasn’t on the Theology of the Body but on the dangers of online pornography, yet it didn’t help to discover that Kilcawley was perhaps not the best candidate for that topic either:

It seems evident that Check’s Catholic Answers wants to help mainstream the Society of St. Pius X, but what’s in it for the Lefebvrists? Are they really so desperate to be “regularized” in such a manifestly irregular Modernist church?

We must never forget what the SSPX authorities said in 1988, just after they were declared to be in schism from “Pope” John Paul II. In an open letter to the Vatican prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, “Cardinal” Bernard Gantin, the SSPX Superior General, Fr. Franz Schmidberger, together with all the district superiors around the world, affirmed:

As for us, we are in full communion with all the Popes and Bishops before the Second Vatican Council, celebrating precisely the Mass which they codified and celebrated, teaching the Catechism which they drew up, standing up against the errors which they have many times condemned in their encyclicals and pastoral letters….

On the other hand, we have never wished to belong to this system which calls itself the Conciliar Church, and defines itself with the Novus Ordo Missæ, an ecumenism which leads to indifferentism and the laicization of all society. Yes, we have no part, nullam partem habemus, with the pantheon of the religions of Assisi; our own excommunication by a decree of Your Eminence or of another Roman Congregation would only be the irrefutable proof of this. We ask for nothing better than to be declared out of communion with this adulterous spirit which has been blowing in the Church for the last 25 years; we ask for nothing better than to be declared outside of this impious communion of the ungodly. We believe in the One God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, and we will always remain faithful to His unique Spouse, the One Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church.

To be publicly associated with this sanction [of excommunication] which is inflicted upon the six Catholic Bishops, Defenders of the Faith in its integrity and wholeness, would be for us a mark of honor and a sign of orthodoxy before the faithful. They have indeed a strict right to know that the priests who serve them are not in communion with a counterfeit church, promoting evolution, pentecostalism and syncretism….

(Source: “Open Letter to Cardinal Gantin”, in Archbishop Lefebvre and the Vatican, pp. 136-138; underlining added.)

The Society of St. Pius X has never retracted these words, so why is Catholic Answers saying now there is “full communion” between the SSPX and the Vatican?

Regardless, it is evident that the Society is happy to be accepted by Catholic Answers, and Catholic Answers is likewise happy to have this sort of quasi-affiliation with the Lefebvrists by having its president speak at the Angelus Press Conference.

For those wondering if the SSPX’s anti-sedevacantist star apologist John Salza will be speaking at this year’s conference, we can affirm: No, he won’t. And it seems safe to predict that he won’t be speaking at any future SSPX conferences either.

What a madhouse!

Image source: web.cvent.com
License: fair use

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