First, as promised, here is a quick update on my correspondence with Michael Matt regarding whether or not, in light of his #UNITEtheCLANS initiative, he will cease blacklisting writers who contribute to The Catholic Inquisitor. Following is his response:
That out of the way, here we’ll take a closer look at the initiative itself. I’ll cut right to the chase by sharing my conclusions at the outset.
#UNITEtheCLANS is basically two things: First, and of least interest, it is a social media marketing effort. Its objectives are plain enough – to increase attendance at the upcoming Catholic Identity Conference and, more broadly, to generate support for the Remnant apostolate overall.
To be perfectly clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with such an effort, qua marketing. I’ll leave it to others to consider its value in that regard.
The second aspect of the so-called “movement” is of far more interest, and that concerns the degree to which it reflects what Michael Matt sincerely believes and, therefore, what the Remnant truly represents and exists to promote.
So, what gave rise to #UNITEtheCLANS? What does it hope to accomplish? What problem does it intend to address? How exactly does it propose to do so?
The Remnant has generated a lot of material on this initiative. Perhaps the most concise explanation as to what #UNITEtheCLANS is all about was given by Mr. Matt in a recent video that was introduced to Remnant readers as follows:
Hot off the “Unite the Clans” debate of last week’s “Editor’s Desk”, Michael calls for yet another hashtag. This time it’s #ToHellWithVaticanII … Not necessarily to hell with all 16 documents, which nobody reads anyway.
Yes, the Remnant hashtaggery has most certainly been busy! We’ll return to Vatican II and its relationship with #UNITEtheCLANS momentarily. For now, let’s consider how Michael described the movement, beginning at roughly the 13:30 mark:
Maybe it’s just up to us, just the laity, need to unite the clans. And what is this, this idea of uniting the clans? All it is, is really nothing more than all of us doing the right thing, all of us following the dictates of Christian charity. That’s all I’m asking. I don’t think there’s any way we can doubt that this is what God wants. We’re just not in positions to understand all the nuances of all the different arguments all between the various, you know, the factions of traditional Catholicism.
Doing the right thing… So, what is the wrong thing that #UNITEtheCLANS aims to rectify? One may think once more of the aforementioned blacklist, but I digress…
The initiative was launched with the subheading: “The Remnant calls for worldwide support of all traditional Catholic priests.” In this case, it is clear that what is meant by “traditional Catholic priests” are those that offer the Latin Mass.
OK, but how are we being called to support them? The answer isn’t entirely clear. Amid the thousands of words that have been published on the Remnant website in promotion of the initiative, the most concrete calls-to-action that I could find are:
Subscribe to our YouTube channel; Follow Michael Matt on Twitter; Follow The Remnant on Twitter, Follow Michael Matt on Facebook, Donate to our Tax-Exempt Foundation, Register for the Catholic Identity Conference
No surprise here. As mentioned, #UNITEtheCLANS is first and foremost a social media marketing effort. It is also, however, an expression of Michael Matt’s convictions.
At one point, he calls for an end to “circular firing squads” and “anathematizing one another.” In the scope of things, this really isn’t a major problem, and so one may be left to wonder exactly what he has in mind.
It is evident that what he means to say is that we should refrain from criticizing any priest, or group of priests, that offer the Latin Mass. Period.
More specifically, if these men are largely silent regarding the plain truth about Francis and his heresies, if they are unwilling to speak about the grave danger to souls that the Novus Ordo represents, and if they are reticent about criticizing the Almighty Council, these things should be overlooked. Michael declares:
We need to take care of these guys and, as I see it, our insisting that they put their heads on the chopping block just to prove their ‘trad cred’ to you and me is profoundly myopic. The point is this: There’s more than one way to undermine a revolution.
Take care of them, how? Follow The Remnant, Donate to our Tax-Exempt Foundation, Register for the Catholic Identity Conference…
Michael does have a point; the line between prudence and cowardice can sometimes be difficult to discern.
That said, are we to pretend that it is “traditional” to boldly speak of Vatican II as if it is compatible with the Faith, to publicly call on John Paul II as a “Saint,” to openly declare that there is no heresy whatsoever to be found in Amoris Laetitia? In other words, are we to refrain from acknowledging such grave offenses against Christ simply because the priests in question offer the true Mass?
This, apparently, is what Michael Matt believes.
So, what gave rise to this #UNITEtheCLANS initiative; i.e., why now? In short:
The Amazon Synod is the pope’s very own pet project … The Amazon Synod will be, quite literally, the Devil at work.
Michael informed readers that Cardinal Burke – who, rather than issue the “formal act of correction” that he promised many times over, ran scared – said of the Synod’s working document that it is “an apostasy” and it “cannot become the teaching of the Church.”
This awareness is the “act-now-before-it’s-too-late” moment that sparked Michael’s call to unite, “for God’s sake,” as he said.
This naturally leads one to wonder why there has never been, and is no, similar call on his part to #UNITEtheCLANS in opposition to Amoris Laetitia, a text that has already been anointed by Bergoglio as “authentic magisterium,” with its official (and sacrilegious) interpretation even having been entered into the AAS at his direction.
I mean, if it’s not apostasy to declare that the Divine Law is too difficult for some persons to keep and that God Himself wills adultery, then what is?
In part, that Michael Matt isn’t making hay (or hashtags) over this particular apostasy makes perfect sense. You see, Amoris Laetitia is old hat, and remember, #UNITEtheCLANS is a marketing effort. The Amazonian Synod and the growing angst that it is engendering among neo-cons, by contrast, is all the rage today.
So, let’s give Mike credit where credit is due. He’s clever enough to know that if you want to create a viral hashtag, you do it by tapping into the latest hot topic, not yesterday’s news.
It also makes sense given that Michael’s goal is to build the biggest tent possible, and the “clan” known as the Society of St. Pius X is still desperately clinging to the utterly embarrassing proposition that Amoris Laetitia isn’t heretical. Evidently, Michael Matt agrees, saying just last October:
Even in Amoris: Which dogma has Francis officially and unequivocally denied? Name one! You see the problem? One cannot be a public and pertinacious heretic by default, weakness, innuendo or ambiguity.
Furthermore, the SSPX (and Burke and Schneider and Mueller) barely even mention that despicable text anymore; they seem to have found their peace with it. So, clearly, building a movement around it wouldn’t be nearly inclusive enough.
More to the point, it makes sense based on Michael Matt’s firmly held beliefs, one of which was summed up rather well when he stated:
Just fifty years after Vatican II, the Catholic Church is ceasing to be Catholic.
Think about this, folks. He is telling us that the institution presently based in Rome under the headship of Jorge Bergoglio – the same that Archbishop Lefebvre identified as a counterfeit church – is the Catholic Church, and what’s more, it is ceasing to be Catholic.
In other words, the indefectible Church is defecting right before our very eyes! Does this sound like Catholic tradition to you?
He tells us, on the one hand, “to Hell with Vatican II,” but then he clarifies by saying that he is specifically referring to “the event,” as if it is little more than a regrettable moment in history. Strangely, he even goes so far as to note that he does not mean to say that all sixteen conciliar documents should be condemned.
Unfortunately, Michael doesn’t tell us which of the sixteen documents, in his view, merit being cherrypicked from the conciliar trash heap and accepted as authentic expressions of Catholic tradition, in spite of the Biblical warning concerning “a little leaven.” I would be interested in knowing which ones he has in mind.
Given that the text of Vatican II neither defined doctrine nor bound the faithful in any way, there is no reason whatsoever to refrain from jettisoning the entire diabolical lot; in fact, the presence of so much poison demands nothing less. That’s the Catholic view of the conciliar text.
On some level, it seems, Michael Matt just might get it. Maybe. He states:
For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the new orientation of the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council has been, quite literally, the Devil at work.
Hello? Setting aside the fact that the real Catholic Church admits of no such thing, this “new orientation” is based on nothing other than the sixteen documents produced by the Council! And yet Michael wants us to embrace some of them, even though he recognizes that they accomplish the work of the Devil?
Why is Michael Matt so all over the place?
The immediate reason is simple: His goal isn’t to defend the Truth whole and entire, it is to #UNITEtheCLANS, and he apparently does not wish to alienate those “clans” that are cut from “full communion” conciliar cloth.
At this, readers may recall the comments that were made by the District Superior of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in Germany, Fr. Bernhard Gerstle:
The Fraternity of St. Peter agreed to undertake an impartial study of the documents of the Council and has come to believe that there is no break with earlier magisterial teaching.
So much for to Hell with Vatican II! Fr. Gerstle is either a functional idiot or a shameless sellout, but hey, he represents a “clan,” and by God we mustn’t criticize his dangerous opinions! In this, Fr. Gerstle was contrasting the FSSP with the more rigid SSPX.
Elsewhere, Michael Matt said of the Society’s founder, “Lefebvre’s choice was simple: Novelty, or Tradition.”
Yes, and guess what, that’s our choice as well. Even so, Mr. Matt saw fit to make a special plea for unity to “those among us who truly and in good conscience believe the SSPX to be in schism.”
Seriously? Anyone who truly believes that the SSPX is in schism hasn’t a clue about what schism really is. Such a person has an ill-formed conscience, not a “good” one, and they are only fooling themselves if they self-identify as a “traditionalist.”
Are they fooling Michael Matt too?
Probably not, but he cannot speak this truth because, well, his goal is to #UNITEtheCLANS, and the truth in this case is a stumbling block that stands between potential supporters and the entrance to the Remnant’s big tent.
At this, readers may also recall comments made last November by Fr. Joseph Bisig, Rector of the FSSP’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, who said of the Fraternity’s founding members’ departure from the SSPX:
Our superior [Archbishop Lefebvre] became schismatic. We felt like orphans abandoned by our father.
Fr. Bisig went on to say:
I pray very much for my old, good friends (in the SSPX) to join the Church and to come in without any conditions, but to accept the authority of the living magisterium.
What condescension! Join the Church, as if the SSPX, in spite of their faults, is not to be considered Catholic? That some actually hold this opinion, one supposes, is among the reasons why Michael Matt feels the need to stroke those who, in allegedly “good conscience,” consider the Society schismatic, and that would include Michael Voris and any number of his constituents (i.e., another boatload of potential Remnant supporters).
And where, pray tell, does one find this “living magisterium” that Fr. Bisig thinks we must accept? Well, in the sixteen documents of the Council, of course, and in their official interpretation as provided by men like Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and the blasphemous heretic Jorge Bergoglio!
Now you know why men are leaving Fr. Bisig’s seminary crediting “Saint” John Paul II for their vocation.
And this is the kind of thing we should simply overlook in order to unite for some ill-defined common cause? If this isn’t a call to false unity nothing is.
All of this said, Michael Matt’s effort to fill the biggest Remnant tent possible – lies overlooked and Truth be damned – is really just a symptom of a much deeper problem; namely, the plainly observable fact that his convictions have become, or always have been, unmoored from Catholic tradition.
Remember what Michael said about the need for “uniting the clans”:
We’re just not in positions to understand all the nuances of all the different arguments, all between the various, you know, the factions of traditional Catholicism.
Speak for yourself, Mr. Matt! This isn’t rocket science, folks. We have at our disposal nearly two-thousand years of rock solid, immutable Catholic teaching upon which to hang our hats: We have twenty infallible ecumenical councils, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and volumes of dependable papal magisterium. Every individual person of average intelligence over the age of reason with an internet connection is in a fine position to understand whether a given “nuance” is Catholic or not.
Furthermore, this notion that “it’s just up to us, the laity” to right the ship is a joke; that’s not the Barque of Peter.
Jesus Christ established a hierarchical Church, one that is to be ruled by His Vicar on earth, the pope, the same whom “He enriches above all other pastors with the supernatural gifts of knowledge, understanding and wisdom, so that he may loyally preserve the treasury of faith, defend it vigorously, and explain it and confirm it with reverence and devotion” (cf Mystici Corporis 50).
The laity can no more re-establish order in the House of God than a toddler can do so in his childhood home when mom and dad are strung out on crack.
Michael claims, “all I’m asking” is for all of us to “follow the dictates of Christian charity.”
I think he means it. The problem is that he evidently does not hold the traditional Catholic understanding (if you’ll pardon the redundancy) that the first demand of Christian charity is to love God with one’s whole heart, whole soul, and whole mind.
That means honoring and defending the Truth whole and entire, which is none other than the person of Jesus Christ, whose Mystical Body on earth is the Holy Catholic Church, in season and out of season, even if doing so causes one’s numbers of supporters and benefactors to dwindle.
What Michael Matt is really asking is for his readers and others to set aside any and all concern about whether or not the Council is evil; whether or not Bergoglio is even pope, whether or not the SSPX is in schism, whether or not the Novus Ordo is a valid Catholic rite, etc., and all ostensibly in order to “unite” against a Synod that has yet to take place.
I’m not buying it.
This is nothing more than an effort to grow the Remnant enterprise. That wouldn’t be a problem if not for the fact that the Remnant exists for the purpose of promoting the belief system and the worldview of a man who, in spite of any sincere intentions otherwise, does not actually embrace Catholic tradition in its fullness.
This much is plain, based not on conjecture, but on his very own words.
In conclusion, my advice to readers is to avoid and to warn others about the true nature of this #UNITEtheCLANS nonsense. A far better thing to do – that is, a truly traditional endeavor – is to cease considering yourself a member of any of the “clans” that Michael Matt mentions.
As I’ve written any number of times in the past, I’m not on Team SSPX, though I remain grateful to them for opening my eyes to much in the past. I currently assist at Holy Mass offered by the Fraternity of St. Peter, my only option, but I am not on Team FSSP. I’m not on Team ICK, IPB, or any such thing.
I’m on Team Catholic. Period. End of story.
That’s where all us need to be and where all of us need to stay. Let’s unite there.