The much anticipated “Unite the clans” discussion between Michael Matt and Taylor Marshall (an FSSP supporter) has just concluded. Watch below:
Among other things, the pair discuss the need for “Traditionalists” to quit bickering with one another and turn their ire towards the pope. In essence, the SSPX, FSSP, ICKSP, etc. should “unite” around their opposition to Francis.
(No mention was made about whether Bishop Williamson and the Resistance would be included in this effort.)
Matt also frets about not wanting to be “alone” in the fight for Tradition. Marshall expresses a desire to have “an army” of Traditional Catholics and wanting to “revive” a Catholic culture instead of thinking the world is about to end.
(Question: how can this be done without the consecration of Russia?)
The two then talk about how SSPX and FSSP Catholics shouldn’t ask their priests if they should go to the other groups masses. “Just go!” seemed to be their attitude. All trads should also go on pilgrimages together and recognize they are part of a whole, Matt adds. The SSPX and FSSP are “both” part of God’s divine providence.
A couple thoughts.
Firstly, opposition to something is not enough to “unite” souls around. The only thing that unites, in the truest sense, is doctrine. What Marshall and Matt are proposing is a doctrine-less unity. It is, in fact, trad-ecumenism, despite Matt’s opposition to the term.
Liberal Catholics like John Courtney Murray tried the whole “unite against” concept at Vatican II. Murray thought that conservative Protestants and Jews were allies to the Church and could help ward off secularism. In other words, “unite the clans against atheism.”
And how’d that work out? The Church ended up rounding off its teachings and now doesn’t even want to convert non-Catholics while secularism has grown in leaps and bounds. If only the Church stayed true to its teachings on Christ the King things would be different.
In the same sense, Marshall and Matt’s “Unite the clans against Francis” will also fail, as it is not based on truth. If the SSPX goes along with this proposal it’s going to continue to round off their previously hard sayings. An “eirenism,” as the Holy Office in the 1940s warned, will set in, if it hasn’t already.
Second, this doctrine-less unity would inevitably result in un-principled Catholicism. For instance, the SSPX position has always been that the “Extraordinary Form of the Mass” is basically a made-up term and that Vatican II is a rupture with the past. The FSSP believes in the “Extraordinary Form” of the mass, and that Vatican II can be read in continuity with the past.
Matt and Marshall are basically telling Catholics that none of this matters. The greater cause of “unity” outweighs these “minor” squabbles. SSPX’ers should intermingle with, attend the same conferences, and go on pilgrimages and attend masses led by FSSP priests who believe things they don’t.
Do principles matter anymore? This sloppy reasoning is reflective of Matt’s desire (perhaps tiredness) to not be “alone” in the fight.
But recall that Catholicism has always been about principles (and right reason) and has ever focused on living by the truth regardless of numbers.
In his book Liberalism is a Sin, Fr. Salvany says that it would be better to have a small group of extremely fervent, pious men than a large army mixed with hot and cold men. The devil told St. Alphonsus that if there were two more of him, the entire world would fall out of his dominion. Why is Matt so worried about being alone or not having large numbers of Catholics fighting along with him?
On the other hand, ponder for a moment what the world (and Church) would look like if there were several more Bishop Williamsons around or if the entirety of Tradition united around the Resistance instead of this melange of Matt-and-Marshall Catholics who, like Peter did to Christ, follow Abp. Lefebvre from a distance, peeking in once in a while to see what’s going on but not following in his footsteps.
It’s an odd thing that Matt, Marshall, and others like Chris Ferrara stop advancing in seeing the crisis in the Church and where the solution lies. Matt was confirmed by Lefevbre and yet he attends a diocesan mass. This sort of spiritual stunting is all too common today. Men become aware of the crisis, begin attending the local Latin Mass, then maybe start going to the FSSP, and then they stop thinking. They stop applying the principles that got them to where they are and become content. If they kept thinking, they’d arrive in the Resistance camp, which clearly understands that God is not divided, that he raised up Archbishop Lefebvre in these times, and that Lefebvre’s message (transmitted today by the Resistance) is what all Trads should unite around.
God is not pleased with the multitude of “Trad” groups. He raised up one saint for us to follow in these times. The other groups (FSSP, etc) are creations of lesser men. If those who follow those groups truly want to go where God’s providence lies, they’ll unite around Archbishop Lefebvre and those who continue his fight today – Bishop Williamson, Bishop Faure, Bishop Aquinas, and Bishop Zendejas.