Chastek and Crude on Parallel Churches

Crude recently commented on James Chastek’s article on the upcoming rumored suppression of the FSSP.

Short answer: I agree with Crude, and have some of my own commentary to add. Note that would respond to Chastek directly, but he does not allow it. C’est la vie.

Chastek says this:

As a rule, the lived experience within a traditionalist parish is of leaving the diocese, which latter is often caricatured as a Sodom of clown Masses, modernism, and Masons.

Hmmmmmmm. Well, my local parish, which I am mostly quite fond of, is not like that. I would go as far as to call my Priest a very good man. He is also a man who once gave a homily on Noah’s Ark that straight up said that God would never kill anybody in a flood, the very idea was preposterous, God was a God of love, so there must be some other reason the story was included. This happened; I was there. It was no caricature.

That said, the Priest at the Blue Army Shrine to Our Lady of Fatima is staunchly traditionalist, yet only says one Latin Mass a week. It varies, but traditionalists are not making up what they see.

Chastek also says this:

My wife and I couldn’t break into our last traditionalist community simply because – as far as we could tell – we were in perfect agreement with everyone about everything except homeschooling, exclusive traditionalism, or attending the parish school. 

This paragraph strikes me as extremely strange. There are a couple of things to note about it:

  1. Chastek emphasizes homeschooling as a major source of disagreement
  2. At the same time, he also mentions separately from homeschooling attending the parish school

Something very weird is going on here. The parish can’t BOTH be incredibly intolerant about homeschooling AND incredibly intolerant about people not attending the local parish school. That would be straight up contradictory! So Chastek can’t be right about this – they’re clearly very much okay with people choosing to opt out of homeschooling.

What they have an issue with – and this is speculation on my part, but educated speculation – is the decision for children to attend public schools. My guess? Chastek didn’t want to pay to send his kids to private school, but also didn’t have the ability to homeschool, and got heavily criticized for this.

The problem I have with Chastek’s response is that this is not a small issue! This is not some tiny insignificant detail that you can just agree to disagree about. How you raise your children is critical to the very core of the entire traditionalist project. Chastek’s reaction of “I don’t get it! That’s all we disagree about and they still have a problem with me!” in fact gets to the very heart of the problem – he doesn’t even grasp WHY the traditionalist movement has an issue with putting children in public schools. In fact, having your children indoctrinated for 35-40 hours a week by public servants is something the traditionalists ABSOLUTELY should have a very vocal issue with – in fact, I’m rather heartened to hear that they didn’t let it go.

I don’t really have anything else to add, except I fully co-sign Crude’s commentary. Just wanted to make a point about this aspect of it.

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17 Responses to Chastek and Crude on Parallel Churches

  1. dpmonahan says:

    Chastek said the attitude of “root and branch contempt” needs suppression, Crude accused him of wanting the community suppressed. Maybe since the church can’t juridically suppress “contempt” the logical conclusion is the suppression of the community, but Chastek didn’t write that.
    Trad communities that attempt to isolate themselves from the broader church are in fact a pastoral problem for even well-meaning Bishops.

  2. Crude says:

    Hey, I didn’t even notice that contradiction. You’re right, and that does seem to give more insight into what went on with the conflict.

    And just to do it all in one comment…

    Re: DPMonahan’s comment, two points.

    First, if Chastek wants to clarify that he does not want or support the suppression of the trad Catholic communities, I’m of course game for that. But he supports the Vatican’s rumored actions here, and they’re suppressing the community. That’s not an objection that matters much.

    But second, the idea that it is a pastoral problem for trads to wall themselves off from “the broader church”, and that this is what the Vatican is trying to approach, is simply wrong on multiple levels. Putting aside the very left-wing Churches flying rainbow flags and digging in deep in alliance with left-wing political parties (in some cases, like Austria/Germany, this has blossomed into open, daring defiance), the assumption is that the broader Church is a source of good rather than harm.

    But that assumption is simply wrong. “The broader Church” is often a moral hazard, and harmful to the faith.

    Being frank about this stirs melodramatic shock from many (cue Barron saying this makes one a protestant), but the funny thing is the very people who wouldn’t take this kind of talk from trads, happily take it from anywhere else. Say the Church has been racist, sexist, homophobic and more (indeed “systemically” so), and “the broader Church” leadership will hang their heads in mock shame, apologize, and promise to “do better” while refusing to suppress bishops blessing gay relationships, or even give much condemnation to the string of Church arsons we see in Canada.

    It’s only when the trads, or indeed anyone on the right, offers criticism of the Church, or even walls off its influence, that this becomes a major spiritual problem.

    Further, the broader Church has gone out of its way to distance itself from trads in every way, shape and form. I recall that the FSSP – which is the “broader Church” answer to the SSPX – was even told not to advertise the latin mass on social media. Cardinal Mahoney used to write about how the latin mass was only allowed to exist because the people who liked it were old and stuck in their ways and when they died the mass would be swept away too.

    To circle this back to a broader point I make: this is another extension of the unique problem of Vatican II conservatism. Problems the Church are seen as isolated one-off flaws in an otherwise well-functioning, pristine organization. The clergy at large are just *great* – the bad apples or negative influences are isolated problems. The institutions are *fantastic* – save for some mistakes made here and there. The Pope is *wonderful* and *well-meaning* – he just is misunderstood at times.

    To say otherwise could harm evangelization efforts (if they’re even made – the Pope’s no fan of those), harms the public image of the Church, and may upset our friends, family and associates in the Church or clergy. So why say it?

    Well, only because it’s true.

    • Crude says:

      Also, just to stress: I like Chastek. I like his takes. If this was just some weird personal foible of his I wouldn’t have even noticed it.

      What caught my eye is that his complaint is something I have seen pop up repeatedly among a particular group of Catholics. I’ve seen articles in magazines that follow the pattern. It’s not even Catholic-specific, but seems to be part of a particular kind of broadly conservative mindset.

    • dpmonahan says:

      By “broader church” I mean its system of sacraments and authority, which are established by Christ, which the Church has delineated in canon law, and which are the ordinary means of grace for Catholics.
      Isolating oneself from or operating on the margins of that is for heretics, cultists and frauds.

      • But the trads are in no way cutting themselves off from the sacraments – only the “broader church” can cut them off by stripping trad Priests of their faculty to administer sacraments, which they may well be doing.

        As for its “system of authority”, we’ll, the whole issue right now is that the authorities at the top of the Church hierarchy have been infiltrated and converged. There are trad movements in schism, but most are not; that they try and keep themselves separate from rhe incredibly woke and corrupt elements of the Church only makes sense.

      • dpmonahan says:

        A bishop has authority over the Catholics in his diocese by virtue the sacrament of orders and his formal communion with the Bishop of Rome, and he exercises that authority according to canon law. The bishop shares that authority with priests in his diocese by granting facolties.
        Lets assume your hypothesis that J.C. was being pressured over his kids education: a parish priest does not have the authority to command him to homeschool or to send his kids to Catholic school, he can only recommend it. A fortiori group of laypeople subjecting him to purity tests likewise have no authority in the matter and should mind their own business. They would all be operating outside the authority of the bishop and trying to create their own pseudo-authority.
        You seem to be arguing that if the bishop is a heretic then Catholics need to create their own pseudo-authorities but that would just be combating one fake authority (i.e. teaching something outside the scope of catholic doctrine) with a second fake authority.

      • “Lets assume your hypothesis that J.C. was being pressured over his kids education: a parish priest does not have the authority to command him to homeschool or to send his kids to Catholic school, he can only recommend it.”

        You’d think he would mention that the Priest threatened him over it or something, but he never does.

        “A fortiori group of laypeople subjecting him to purity tests likewise have no authority in the matter and should mind their own business.”

        This is nonsense. If your idea of a Catholic community is “A group that comes together to celebrate the sacraments but is otherwise totally uninvested in each other” I submit this is not only a bad way to run things, it is ahistorical. That was never how parish communities were supposed to be viewed and the fact you apparently see them that way is part of the issue.

        “You seem to be arguing”

        Stop. I don’t SEEM to be arguing anything. I am ACTUALLY arguing that Catholics isolating themselves into traditionalist communities when the hierarchy is converged by leftists and heretics is a good thing and should be encouraged.

      • dpmonahan says:

        No, that is not my idea of Catholic community. But I don’t think a father’s decision of how to educate his kids is the business of the guy the next pew over. The guy in the next pew has no authority over another man’s children.
        If you want to argue that trads should isolate themselves from the church to preserve the apostolic tradition, how then do you propose they do that outside of the authority of the successors of the apostles?

      • Crude says:

        I agree with Malcolm here, but also…

        >heretics, cultists and frauds

        That runs contrary to what the Pope says, to what Bishop Barron says, and frankly a good share of the clergy. Right now there’s a struggle to so much as deny communion to politicians openly engaged in conflict with the Church on fundamental moral teaching, because a sizable contingent of clergy (and possibly the Pope himself) would rather chew thumbtacks than deny left-wing Catholics the Eucharist, or discipline them at all.

        The supposed essentialness of the Church and the necessity of scrupulous obedience to “the system” is neither stated nor believed by its leaders.

        Now, I do believe the Church is essential, as are its morals. I don’t get that from the Pope, or from Cupich, because they’re not teaching that.

      • “No, that is not my idea of Catholic community. But I don’t think a father’s decision of how to educate his kids is the business of the guy the next pew over.”

        I disagree; how the next generation is raised is the business of the community. Historically, parish communities were actually first in the line of importance in front of nuclear families, which is biblical. The education of the next generation is not some side issue that doesn’t affect people. To act like education is an act that affects only you and takes place in a bubble is foolhardy.

        That said, obviously such criticism would annoy people; that’s human nature. But I don’t think it can just be ignored – you’ll just have to accept that some people will be annoyed about being criticized. This is something that can’t be let go. It’s too important.

        “…how then do you propose they do that outside of the authority of the successors of the apostles?”

        I don’t. Why do you think I do? I never said they should.

        I think that the authority undermining traditionalist communities is the problem.

  3. My wife and I couldn’t break into our last traditionalist community simply because – as far as we could tell – we were in perfect agreement with everyone about everything except homeschooling, exclusive traditionalism, or attending the parish school.

    I’ve often found myself in a similar position re: agreeing about most things but disagreeing about some others, and I’ve never found it difficult to “break into” any traditionalist community I wanted to join. I wonder “we couldn’t break into the community” actually means “we annoyed everybody by getting defensive and argumentative” or “we didn’t feel welcome because people were expressing views we disagreed with”.

  4. The Deuce says:

    This illustrates why I, as a “Catholic-curious” Christian who was raised Protestant, haven’t joined the Catholic Church despite coming to the realization that Catholic doctrine is right about many key points. Like many of you, Edward Feser’s writings on Thomism and classical theism have been absolutely formative to me intellectually. I’ve also come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church is right about the canon of Scripture, and likely the Real Presence among other things.

    But I see the Catholic Church running away from its own tradition and trying to destroy it even as I’ve gone towards it.

    As an outsider, the Catholic hierarchy’s attempt to stamp out the Latin mass just seems bizarre at first glance. Why on earth would they have a problem with Catholics attending mass in a different language in the manner it’s been done for most of Church history? It seems harmless at worst. But, of course, their real problem is that the Latin mass connects Catholics with the unbroken thread of Catholic doctrine, and it is that belief in Catholic doctrine that the leaders want to stamp out.

    Why are the trads consider to be “walled off” from the broader Catholic Church by virtue of holding fast to traditional Catholic doctrine in the first place, while parishes that fly rainbow flags are NOT described as “walled off”? It’s apparent that it’s the broader Catholic Church that’s doing the actual “walling off” here by aligning with those who openly flout its doctrines above its most faithful members.

    Fr. Barron saying that those who defy the modernist Catholic hierarchy’s war on tradition are engaged in “protestantism” is hilariously ironic, because he himself would have been considered a far more extreme heretic than Luther or Calvin by the Catholic Church at the time of the Protestant Reformation, and in fact his own modernist and post-modernist beliefs are the culmination of degenerate intellectual trends that were, I have come to acknowledge, largely set in motion by the Protestant revolt against the Catholic Church’s authority.

    And a priest who claims that God “would never kill people” in a flood presumably also believes that God would never kill people via plagues or an angel of death, and therefore that the Passover didn’t happen and fundamentally misrepresents the character of God. And I’m sorry: However great a guy you are, if you believe that Scripture and the Church have always been fundamentally wrong about both Salvation History and the moral character of God, then you do not believe in Christianity itself and are not a Christian. You are unsaved, outside a state of grace, because you have received the news of the One True God and rejected it.

    Ditto for Mahony saying that the trads would just die out along with the Latin Mass. Why would you predict that the thread of Catholic doctrine and tradition is going to cease to exist unless you believe it is false? And if you believe that Catholic doctrine was false in the past, then you believe it is false now.

    After all, ALL of the purported spiritual authority of these men derives from the Deposit Of Faith passed down to them through history by the Apostles. If the Deposit Of Faith was fundamentally false at any point in the past, then it carried no divine authority, and therefore it has no divine authority to pass on today.

    And that brings me back to why I haven’t joined the Catholic Church. As I’ve become more Catholic, the leadership of the Catholic Church has become non-Catholic, and indeed anti-Catholic, more protestant than the original Protestants. From the outside perspective of someone who doesn’t have to try to balance submission to the authority to these men with living out the faith, it is readily apparent that they are apostates. And I don’t mean that as hyperbole. They clearly don’t believe in the truth of Catholicism, nor even in CS Lewis style “mere Christianity.” They don’t believe that Jesus is God Incarnate or that He died to save us from our sins, that He was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy that was infallibly inspired by God, etc.

    So as an actual Christian believer, with a wife and children who I wish to guide towards Christ, I have to weigh the fact that I’ve come to believe in the truth of many key sticking points of the Catholic faith vis a vis Protestantism against the fact that the actual leaders of the Catholic Church are waging open war on all of it.

    To join the Catholic Church would be to subject my children to the influence of apostates who are preaching their own man-mad religion (which is really just warmed-over secular progressivism with a faux-Catholic “flavor”) and actively seeking to destroy their faith and damn their eternal souls.

    It’s a tough situation, and it’s darkly ironic that the Catholic leadership claims to be doing this out of a desire to be “relevant” and to “assist evangelization efforts.” The reality is, almost nobody joins the Catholic Church or any church unless they have become convicted that what the church teaches is TRUE, and the current Catholic Church is doing everything it can to keep us away and to drive out those of us who remain within it.

    For now, my plan is to teach my children the truths of the faith as best as I can, including those parts I have learned from the Catholic legacy, and to tell them to keep their eyes open in case the Church returns to its senses within their lifetimes.

    • There’s no denying that the situation in the Catholic Church is very bad at the moment; I think, to find a parallel, you’d have to go back to the Arian crisis, when the (vast) majority of bishops were other open heretics or in communion with open heretics. But as Arianism ended up as a mere footnote in history, so too I expect modernism to end up as a mere footnote in history. FWIW, if there are any traditionalist groups near where you live, my advice would be to join one of those, and not pay any more attention to the mainstream Church than you have to.

    • Crude says:

      Well, glad to hear you find so much in the Church of value! Been a while since I heard from you besides.

      And I’ve had Catholics use the “Your attitude/beliefs about these things make you a PROTESTANT” line on me, and every time I ask: what’s wrong with protestants? Then I remind them that Francis celebrated the reformation and put out commemorative stamps.

      And every time, it stymies them, because what can they say? It’s a very trad-specific insult that they can’t deploy against anyone else. They can’t even fall back to “Well nothing is wrong with it but it means you’re not Catholic” because having a clear delineation between Catholic and non-Catholic would undermine them more than it would trads.

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