Good news, everyone, we are still at war with Eastasia…

A reader just alerted me to the fact that the October 2013 interview with Scalfari has once again been scrubbed from Pope Francis’s Vatican dossier.*

What a relief!

Now all the erstwhile defenders of its contents can revert back to agreeing that it’s rife with error and should have been retracted–until, that is, they are notified that it is, once again and after all, a ‘trustworthy’ portrait of the pope’s encounter with Scalfari, at which point the weathervane of orthodoxy will require them to defend every jot and tittle.

If it’s this easy to play hopscotch with the online version, perhaps it wouldn’t be too much to ask of the Holy Father–or Fr. Lombardi, as his orphic “spokesman”–to release an official retraction in L’Osservatore Romano, the published pages of which still contain the original interview in full.

Then again, it might be more “pastoral” for Pope Francis to clarify this fascinating bibliographical odyssey in his next interview with Scalfari.

Or perhaps this escapade is this Holy Father’s way (fresh on the heels of the World Cup) of teaching us the art of “holy cunning”, of cultivating wisdom to read the signs of the times, of helping us do away with a hankering for absolute truth in favor of developing dynamic discernment–in a word, of making the most delicious stone soup the Church has ever known.

The moral of the story, I guess, is that, because the reaction was too negative (again), it was decided (again) that it’s best to continue as if nothing ever happened. You know how fickle some focus groups can be. Nothing says “Catholicism” like breakneck media tweaking and busybody broadcasting.

* Here’s an archived version of it in English, if you’re curious.

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About Codgitator (Cadgertator)

Catholic convert, of a Zorbatic bent. Freelance interpreter/translator. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of two-going-on-three. Multilingual, would-be scholar and fairly consistent fitness monkey. Writing and academic interests: interface of religion and science, history and philosophy of science, ancient and medieval philosophy, cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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26 Responses to Good news, everyone, we are still at war with Eastasia…

  1. Flambeaux says:

    ROFLMAO!
    I’m past the point of worrying. This is just funny. The Keystone Kops were a crack para-military organization compared to this bunch of incompetent ninnies.

  2. I agree! At this point I’m not even agged, I’m just having fun charting the drunken course these days. :)

  3. It would take an entire freight train load of Shea butter to salve the intellectual wounds resulting from this cacodoxy which seems as though it was created in a vadelect Vortex that leaves the heads of all of the papal apologists Akin.

    ABS is vacating the no-drinking-on-a-school-night rule*

    • permanently
  4. Alright, let it be stated once and for all that [[[redacted Comment]redacted comment]redacted comment].

  5. Branch says:

    I think Michael Voris has unfortunately given in to the normalcy bias: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mvPZuoBDxE

  6. drprice2 says:

    Still puzzled by Voris, but I’ve never been a close watcher of his. Thus, I don’t really have a dog in the hunt.

    He was gracious and generous with his time to my daughters’ American Heritage Girls troop when they visited CMTV a few years back, so I’ve always appreciated that.

  7. Murray (mgl) says:

    I’m not much of a Voris watcher either, but I suspect his reservation may be due to his precarious location out on the very edge of mainstream respectability. When I last paid attention, Voris was routinely being execrated by aehS kraM for his failure to uphold the scrupulous charity and the measured, good-faith dialogue for which the latter is justly well-known. Voris is barely tolerated, usually ignored, and swatted whenever a mainstream commentator needs a crowd-pleasing target. No doubt he’s observed that Shut up, he explained is the standard mainstream response to doubts or criticisms expressed towards some of the Holy Father’s stranger actions. Videos like the one above could just be an attempt to refocus his critics’ attention, because I doubt that he’s really that blind.

  8. Murray (mgl) says:

    While we’re sharing random links, I came across this Facebook post by Dave Armstrong (via the RadTrad on Twitter): Radical Catholic Reactionaryism is a more serious and harmful error than even Modernism/Liberalism/Heterodoxy.

    It struck me because a young priest of my acquaintance posted last week on Facebook that Michael Voris should be condemned for heresy. When I (and others) asked in what sense Voris had obstinately denied some truth defined by the Church, the reply was that a) Voris “loves (what he believes to be Church teaching) more than Jesus,” and b) that he had denied the Church’s indefectibility. Under closer examination, both claims fall apart, but it seems very close to what Armstrong is arguing here. (The same priest later posted a more general criticism of Catholics who want greater “orthodoxy” that was even more similar to Armstrong’s article linked above.)

    Long story short, “reactionaryist” Catholics are embittered, think they know better than everyone else, and should be quarantined lest they spread a “quasi-schismatic poison and cancer.” They try to “change the Church into [their] image, which is a far greater sin than what the liberal does.”

    I think these things are genuine spiritual risks for traditional Catholics, but this really seems like straining gnats. The Church is populated from top to bottom with modernists (actual or de facto), most lay Catholics disagree with fundamental Church teaching on pelvic issues and the Real presence, baptisms are down sharply from 2001 (let alone 1960) Confessionals are empty, confusion is rampant, nuns are spreading heresy … but those guys who actually try to live their Catholic faith to the best of their abilities, they’re the real problem!

  9. Armstrong blocked me a while back on Facebook, so I can’t see the linked page. (Quick, somebody tell Pope Francis that I’m being marginalized! I’ll even send him an honorary jersey for the high altar!) Without putting too fine a point on it, Armstrong is an idiot–provided he genuinely believes that his confabulated Catholic category is more dangerous than what has been denounced by a string of popes for centuries.

    [19 July 2014 -- I've updated this comment to emphasize the crucial qualifier.]

  10. Murray (mgl) says:

    Yeah, I’ve never read Armstrong before to my knowledge–though I’d heard of him as a well-regarded apologist–but I was shocked at how sloppy and poorly argued his post was, and even more so that this young priest was offering an even more muddled version of Armstrong’s argument to his flock on Facebook. Yes guys, orthodox Catholics are the biggest problem we face. Sheesh.

  11. Everybody is rattled, and it shows in sloppy rebuttals. Thank you, Pope Francis.

  12. Hi Murray,

    Well, it is “shock[ingly] sloppy and poorly argued” if it isn’t properly understood in the first place or presented in a gross caricature, as you have done here. Rather than actually dealing with my argument (I know, that is more and more a novelty these days: dialogue rather than caricature, ire, and the quick, derisive dismissal), you quote a priest who says that Michael Voris is a heretic and believes in defectibility and then say “it seems very close to what Armstrong is arguing here” — thus clearly proving that you did not grasp my post (to put it mildly), since I neither asserted nor argued either thing in it, nor anywhere else, and in fact DENY both assertions.

    Nor was I arguing against “orthodoxy”: which would be ridiculous since I fancy myself rather solidly orthodox. I stated again and again that radical Catholic reactionaries were orthodox. That is not the problem I was addressing, but rather, the danger they pose because they are orthodox and should know better, and can cause more harm in the sense that they move among the orthodox in a way that the modernists / dissidents do not. I wrote: “I am arguing based on the premise of ‘to whom much is given, much is required.'”

    This is most of the misunderstanding. I explained my reasoning in the combox:

    “Much of my comparison of the RadCathR and the modernist, I should note, hinges on the subjective / objective distinction. Objectively, the modernists are much worse, die to incomparably greater numbers and influence. Subjectively, the RadCathR is (as argued). This was the perspective of my piece. Since it is two different things being discussed, from two different angles, they don’t contradict each other, and both are true.”

    I utterly detest both errors, and have written and condemned both many times (though more so the errors of the “right” for the reasons explained in the post). Anyone who thinks it is odd that orthodox folks could be roundly criticized for hypocrisy and other “rigorist”-type errors more so than liberals being raked over the coals (in terms of relative time spent) ought to examine Jesus’ differential treatment of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

    The former were orthodox (so much so that Paul called himself one, and Jesus even told His followers to abide by their teaching, but not to do what they do). He criticized them for legalistic excess, misplaced priorities, and hypocrisy, which is almost exactly how I approach RadCathRs. But with the Sadducees (sort of the liberals of that time) He merely engaged in a few minor squabbles about the resurrection of the dead (which they denied).

    Also, I changed the title a bit upon reflection and some good criticisms in the combox, to make it less harsh, and more qualified. It is now (and has been for over five days): “Radical Catholic Reactionaryism is at Least As Serious an Error as Modernism / Liberalism / Heterodoxy (from one particular perspective, anyway)”

    I still wanted to leave an impression that it is very serious error. Since the RadCathR detests the errors of modernism, it is meant to give them a jolt and to realize that from where we sit their errors are quite serious, too.

    Armstrong blocked me a while back on Facebook

    Well, I was basically kicked off this page (or, rudely asked to leave, if there is a difference) a while back after I proved that Elliot was lying about the pope, by citing what turned out to be imaginary words (after which he begrudgingly retracted his argument). This post may not even be allowed as a result. Gotta love that selective presentation: mention one thing and not the other. I have a policy of not allowing RadCathRs on my Facebook page, but they are free as ever to comment on my blog.

    Thus, Elliot is quite “free” to comment there (and we’ll see if this post is allowed through). If not, in any event, this whole exchange will be posted on my blog (and linked to Facebook), so both sides can be fully aired and readers can be allowed to determine where the truth lies, and either of you can reply if you wish.

    Without putting too fine a point on it, Armstrong is an idiot . . . [then he repeats more of the straw man accusations, upon which he came to his conclusion: if they are true]

    May God bless you with all good things!

    Here is the link to my blog article regarding all this:

  13. The URL (that I forgot to add in the above) did not post. Just go to the top of BiblicalCatholic [dot] com . . .

  14. I just discovered (for the first time) that the domain URL I gave is no longer valid. So just click on my name above and you’ll go to my blog, with my reply-post at the top.

  15. Tony Jokin says:

    Hello Dave Armstrong,

    I am not here to defend the accusation against Elliot which is between the two of you. However, I have read your facebook post and would like to raise the following concern.

    In your facebook post, you describe the “reactionary rad-trad” as someone trying to shape the Church in their image. So they like the rigorist heretics (Donatists & Montanists) of old, are a plague in the Church that should be isolated and removed before they do damage.

    But this is where we run in to a problem.

    The Donatists and Montanists were not appealing to some traditional praxis from before. They did not have the backing of a decision made by the Church on the matter to appeal to. They were simply saying “this is what we believe on the matter and we disagree with what the Church has decided on this particular issue”.

    Contrary to that, the “rad-trad” is merely someone who is obstinately holding on to decisions and practices by the Church that were held for 2000 years. These decisions and practices of the Church were always looked with negativity from the outside world and there were those inside the Church who questioned the Church on such positions numerous times using arguments like the ones used today. The Church had clarified why she defended those decisions and practices and valued them. The faithful Catholic grew up learning to think like the Church and the defense of her decisions and practices came to them naturally. Many suffered persecutions and ridicule from their liberal family members as they defended the Church.

    But now the Church has not only gotten rid of some of those decisions and practices but also adopted the very things that were warned against. The Catholic faithful who had learned to defend the Church of old, remember the reasons why these things were there before. They can see that the reasons still apply today and notice that the Church is acting like they were arbitrary decisions. To make matters worse, they see young generations being lost by the droves to indifferentism. It is hard to find a young Catholic today who realizes what a grave heresy Protestantism actually is. In very recent times, it is becoming harder to find a young Catholic who understands that sodomy is a grave sin. All of these are clearly fruits that were warned would transpire if the Church changed her positions.

    So rad-trads aren’t looking to shape the Church in their image. Neither do they think they know better. They simply want to see the Church go back to the image she was shaped in to by the saints (who did know better) for 2000 years. They want to see the wisdom of the saints that they defended so passionately be respected and adhered to rather than described as “men of their times (but we know better)”.

    Instead they see many like you who consider themselves orthodox and treat traditionalists as some rigorist heretics in the Church. Today, there is reason to think that even the Pope may suspect traditionalists as you do. All of this persecution comes for adhering to the tried and tested Catholic wisdom from countless saints (who did know better) which had been accumulated over 2000 years.

    Surely, even you must at least see that the situation is not as simple as you make it to be.

  16. Remember, Tony:

    It’s okay for anti-radtrads to shape a Church to their liking (i.e. devoid of annoying “radtrads”), but it’s wrong for committed Catholics to heed long-standing papal guidance by opposing creeping Modernism wherever it is. Once you internalize that precept, everything will make sense.

    As for Mr. Armstrong’s claim that I was “lying,” well that’s a typically sensationalistic claim coming from him. When I became convinced of the inaccuracy of the translations I had cited, I retracted my post. But that didn’t generate enough shaming and bloodlust for his monthly chest-pounding circuit, so I require the additional smear of being called a liar.

    (Meanwhile, Armstrong never could explain why he at first defended the statements under dispute, but then jettisoned them as erroneous once a bad translation could be cited. I shall have more to say about the “Pope Icarus” saga, believe it or not, God willing, once I find the time.)

  17. Hi Tony,

    Just to clarify; I don’t use the term “radtrad” any longer. I coined “radical Catholic reactionary” myself because many legitimate “traditionalists” resented being lumped in with them (and they had a certain point that I granted, though I continue to think that a gradual spectrum exists). Secondly, as stated, I don’t call them heretics. I made it a point to “include “Catholic” in my coined term. This is sin that goes towards schism (traditionally called rigorism).

    I could quibble with many characterizations or assumed premises or conclusions of your post, but all in all, I’d say that what you describe is mostly within the purview of legitimate traditionalism, which I am in agreement with most of the time.

    I don’t think the situation is “simple” at all, as an observer of these movements for now 17 years and author of two books on this issue and many scores of papers. The post in question was a “jeremiad”: which is screaming from the rooftops that something is wrong and unbalanced. That genre is not known for being subtle and nuanced, but rather, as shocking and graphic, with sweeping language understood to be such. I even quoted Jeremiah’s prophecies to illustrate my point in the thread.

  18. Brother B.C. You are such rad trad reactionary that Bishop Emeritus Ratzinger anticipated the danger resulting from your conversion;

    Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, Ignatius Press, 1987

    We must be on guard against minimizing these movements. Without a doubt, they represent a sectarian zealotry that is the antithesis of Catholicity. We cannot resist them too firmly.

    We = Revolutionary Catholic Hierarchy

    They = Catholic Traditionalists

    O, the use of the word reactionary? That is the word used by those who succor the revolution.

  19. drprice2 says:

    Focusing on the “radtrad” danger when we are entering our third consecutive generation lost to modernism (see, e.g., Eastside Catholic HS in Seattle) strikes me as an unfortunate set of priorities. A little like focusing on unhealthy food storage methods on the Titanic after the iceberg has cracked the hull.

    Mileage will vary on that one, I suppose.

  20. Murray (mgl) says:

    Having set off this to-do, I believe I owe Dave Armstrong a reply, though I’ll have to find the time.

    I will say that I may be guilty of reading Dave Armstrong through Father D., to coin a phrase. Father D. is the young priest of my acquaintance who asserted that Michael Voris should be excommunicated for heresy–based on exactly zero evidence–and it does seem like he was springboarding off Armstrong’s RadCathR argument, or something very close to it. But if he muddled Armstrong’s argument (and Father D. was very muddled indeed), that’s not Armstrong’s fault, so I need to re-read Armstrong without that lens.

    And can I just say that I am utterly, completely unmoved by the hackneyed rhetorical device of Spot The Pharisee? As an online Catholic argument grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving the Pharisees approaches one. Pretty much everyone who has ever taken part in an argument among Catholics has been accused of Pharasaism at some point, which is a pretty good indication that its coinage has been completely devalued.

    For the moment, though, Tony Jokin’s comment above says it all. If the traditional practice of the Faith is Pharasaical now, it was Pharasaical for over 1,900 years; likewise, if it was fruitful then, it is fruitful now.

  21. Tamsin says:

    To those for whom the Modernist revolution is almost complete, yes of course Radtrad reactionaries are the “mortal” danger. (I think I need bigger scare quotes on that)

  22. Tamsin says:

    Murray, agreed. ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this Pharisee.’

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