I was recently listening to a sermon that was posted on the website of St. Gertrude the Great Church (www.sgg.org), a sedevacantist parish in Cincinnati, OH. The priest giving the sermon was none other than Fr. Anthony Cekada and the sermon was on a topic that I have written about before: why traditionalists can’t get along.
For all of my criticisms of Fr. Cekada and his beliefs, his sermon was actually very good because it pointed out several things that I agree with. First of all, he said that there was no unity in the traditional Catholic movement because there was no Authority to govern that movement and to keep it in check. By authority, he means the Pope and the Magisterium. He also spoke about disagreements on matters of doctrine, etc.
I can’t help, but think about the various parallels between the traditional Catholic movement and the Protestant reformation. Martin Luther was not a man that intended to break with the Church. In the beginning, he simply wanted to remedy some gross abuses that were occurring in the Church. It was only later that he became radicalized, took his flock with him, and left the Church. He was excommunicated by Pope Leo X in 1521. The rest, as they say, is history.
In the history of the Church, following Vatican II, one can see a similar principle at work. Some priests, lay people, and religious began to see that the Second Vatican Council was an unrelieved disaster for the Church. They formed their own little groups and started bringing together followers. Some of them found priests that were resisting the Vatican by their refusal to serve the Novus Ordo Missae. Then, of course, consecration to the episcopate came and went from various sources including Cardinal Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc and Castro de Mayer. Since these groups were various, there were disagreements among them.
Here is an example of what I mean by this. For example, the CMRI uses the rubrics of the Mass that was promulgated by Pope Pius XII in the 1950s. This means that they will include the restored Easter Vigil and Holy Week ceremonies. However, Fr. Cekada and Bishop Dolan do not celebrate the restored Easter Vigil and Holy Week ceremonies. Rather, they celebrate from the Missal that came before these reforms were adopted. Indeed, they would see these as the beginning of the reformation that would culminate in the Novus Ordo Missae and the Second Vatican Council with all of its apparent problems. One must also emphasize here that there are people that will use even older rubrics than this. We can even talk about the Old Catholics here, but I think that would be a very pointless discussion.
These disagreements occur across the board in the traditional movement. Yes, the Latin Mass is there and so are the traditional forms of the Sacraments, but what the traditional movement lacks above all is a Magisterium. Throw out the Magisterium and the teaching authority of the Church and what you have is a situation in which every priest, bishop, and religious can interpret the writings of the Popes for themselves without the guidance of somebody else. Although I am not certain of this, I also think that this could easily be applied to Canon Law.
It is interesting, therefore, to compare the Roman Catholic Church with the traditionalist movement. Many people think and believe that the Roman Catholic Church is a monolithic structure. In essence, they are correct. The Church is one and exists as one Body. But within that body, which is united with the Pope, there are many different areas and rooms. One can think of such things as the Charismatic Renewal or the various Orders of the Church that have flourished over the centuries such as the Benedictines, the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the Alexian Brothers, the Xaverian Brothers, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, etc. All of these Orders and groups have brought something unique and special to the Church as a whole. Yes, there is room for individualism in the Church as well as for a variety of differences. But all of these people are united to the Pope.
That is the major difference between the traditionalist movement and the Roman Catholic Church. One can preach as many sermons as one wants about the lack of unity, but one cannot solve the situation. If we are under the Pope, then the unity is automatically there because the Pope is Head of the Roman Catholic Church. The Church exists with Christ as it leader and the Pope as His representative on earth. The situation does not make sense otherwise no matter what theories or hypotheses one espouses.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
Sts. Peter & Paul, pray for us!
St. Pius X, pray for us!