Someone recently asked me, in not so many words, “Don’t you think it’s a little ironic for you to post a papal teaching (and again here) against ‘hyphenated Catholicism’ when ‘traditionalist’ Catholics insist on their own special qualifier?”
I agree with the objection, which is why I am on record as having forsworn the title of a “traditionalist Catholic”. Hence, while there is a dogmatic necessity in being “pro-Tradition” simply by virtue of being Catholic, this does not entail that one must employ special “brand names” for oneself. Our duty is simply to maintain the bonds of faith, worship, and government by holding fast to the fullness of the Magisterial Biblical Tradition. From there we can let the querulous Catholic apparatchiks try to pigeonhole us for their own petty aims.
Indeed, I think the only reason there’s been a proliferation of hyphenation in the Church, is because there are deep, unresolved tensions between the majority of the Church’s lived Tradition and the pastoral aggiornamento which Vatican II tried (and keeps trying and trying and trying) to effect. This is not to suggest that “all our problems started with Vatican II,” but is simply to say that Catholics feel more balkanized than ever because the Second Vatican Council fostered an unprecedented pluralism about every issue in the Church. As a result of this panoply of ill-defined perspectives and preferences, the faithful have no choice but to grab onto this or that “aspect” of the Church, like castaways salvaging whatever they can from the good ship Vatican 2.0, which has been beached for decades on the shores of the Isle of Conciliar Monomania. The Church is no smaller than Vatican II (sorry, SSPX), yet She is also so much larger than that one council.
As things stand, however, the influence of Vatican II is grotesquely disproportionate relative to the entire scope of traditional Catholic praxis. The great paradox is that, by being a council about everything, Vatican II has become a council unto itself, rather like a type-II (!) supernova which implodes under its own hyper-reactive supermass. All that remains is a black hole which bends all ambient light and information (or traditional piety and theology) around itself before destroying them in its super-dense maw. If I may indulge the conceit a little further, I think this description of stellar evolution by NASA is most illuminating:
In general, the larger a star, the shorter its life, although all but the most massive stars live for billions of years. When a star has fused all the hydrogen in its core, nuclear reactions cease. Deprived of the energy production needed to support it [i.e. deprived of an immersion in the larger life of Tradition], the [conciliar] core begins to collapse into itself and becomes much hotter. Hydrogen is still available outside the core, so hydrogen fusion continues in a shell surrounding the core [I’ll take the New Springtime for $500, Alex!]. The increasingly hot core also pushes the outer layers of the star outward [to the peripheries, you might say], causing them to expand and cool, transforming the star into a red giant.
If the star is sufficiently massive, the collapsing core may become hot enough to support more exotic nuclear reactions [especially in the clerical higher ranks] that consume helium and produce a variety of heavier elements up to iron. However, such reactions offer only a temporary reprieve [Quick, somebody organize another synod!]. Gradually, the star’s internal nuclear fires become increasingly unstable – sometimes burning furiously, other times dying down. These variations cause the star to pulsate and throw off its outer layers, enshrouding itself in a cocoon of gas and dust [I couldn’t have said it better myself]. What happens next depends on the size of the core.
No crew can navigate by a single star, no matter how large and radiant it is, nor can any ship keep moving when the crew constantly hears contrary, and even contradictory orders. Unless we want to keep treading water in the kiddie pool of conciliar navel-gazing, there must be a dogmatic resolution of the pastoral resolution for which Vatican II was convoked in the first place. Two esteemed advocates for such a resolution are Bp. Athanasius Schneider and Msgr. Brunero Gherardini, though I am sure there is no shortage of zealous laymen, standing behind every jot and tittle of the non-dogmatic-because-merely-pastoral-yet-pastoral-and-therefore-dogmatic conciliar documents, who will be happy to put those clerics, among others, in their rightful place (i.e. back in the cellar with the boot marks still smarting on their faces). Because remember, it’s only acceptable to publicly criticize our pastors when they are of a “traditionalist” bent, or, worse yet, betray a “crypto-Lefebvrian drift.”