Traditionalist Catholics are often accused of being members of a "small cult." H.L. Mencken once observed, "A cult is any religion except for my own." While I do not hesitate to call Protestants, the adherents of Vatican II, and any other false system a "sect" (in opposition to the One True Church), I will not call them a "cult." Originally, the word cult signified a means of worship and the Church Herself applied it to the liturgy. Now it is used in a pejorative manner for any religious activity someone doesn't like. The term does, and should, have a restricted meaning for those organizations which use coercion to get and/or keep members.
According to Janja Lalich, Ph.D. and Michael D. Langone, Ph.D., there are several characteristics of a cult some of which are:
- The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
- Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
- The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
- The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
- The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.(See http://www.csj.org/infoserv_cult101/checklis.htm)
Using this as a guide, we can call Scientology a cult, but not the Vatican II sect. Ironically, some members of the Vatican II sect refer to Traditionalists as a "cult." The reason is clear: We believe in objective truth, and we possess it exclusively.
Is there such a thing as objective truth - truth which has always been and always will be the same - unchanging and constant - hence a truth which is absolute? Now, either words have meaning or they don't. If truth is only a matter of personal taste, if one is convinced that all reality is relative, there is hardly any point in continuing either discussion or search for truth. One is caught in the self-contradiction of proclaiming that the only truth there is---is that there is no truth. Unless we deny all logic and meaning we must conclude that Truth, as such, exists. Such a statement may seem puerile to a Traditionalist, but once an agnostic admits the possibility of truth, he is logically committed to seeking and adhering to this entity.
Once we accept the possibility of objective truth we can seek it out from only three possible sources. These are 1) the ancient and always constant Truths embodied in the Catholic Religion and demonstrated by right reason; 2) our own or someone else's gut feelings or psychological experiences as to what is true; and 3) some mixture of these two extremes. Either we accept objective criteria, or we accept subjective criteria, or we create a mixture of the two that for some reason or another we find personally satisfactory. We see here displayed the spectrum between Traditional Catholicism which offers us objectively defined truths, the beliefs of modern man which approach absolute subjectivity and Protestantism which is a mixture of some objective truths combined with subjective opinions. Vatican II, with its novel doctrine on religious liberty, places the post-Conciliar position on the nature of truth in the middle or modern category for it proclaims that man is free to believe anything he wants and that his very dignity lies in this freedom. How can man's dignity lie in his freedom to believe error?
But, the Vatican II sect will protest, if you're Catholics, then why are there so many splinter groups? Your just like Protestants. I've dealt with this charge before in other posts. It's glib, but it doesn't get you very far. Without a pope, it's only natural that when the Shepard is struck, the sheep will be scattered. We DO agree on far more than we don't agree. The Vatican II sect, which has an alleged pope, has disunity and there should be NONE. Ask any three Traditionalist priests if homosexuality is always wrong, or what is Transubstantiation, and you will get three identical answers. Ask the same of three Vatican II sect "priests" and you will likely get three different answers, depending on whether they are "conservative," "moderate," or "liberal."
The reason for my post today is to suggest something bold for Traditionalists. One way we could get more united to see our way through this time of the Great Apostasy, is to have universal recognition of each others Orders. All Traditionalist clergy, ordained after Vatican II obtain their Apostolic Succession from one of three Episcopal Lineages: Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (SSPX and SSPX-SO), Archbishop Peter Thuc (CMRI), and Bishop Alfred Mendez (SSPV).
Due to bickering and pride, some question the validity of the other lines. The Society of St Pius V (SSPV) will not recognize those ordained/consecrated by Thuc. The Society of St Pius X-Strict Observance (SSPX-SO) will recognize only Vatican II orders (!) and their own. They shun SSPV and CMRI. To their credit CMRI will recognize all three lineages. Rather than get bogged down with the reasons behind the "doubts" that were cooked up, I have a suggestion:
- Have Bishop Santay (SSPV), Bishop Pivarunas (CMRI), and Bishop Williamson (SSPX-SO) begin talking to each other via Skype to work out some differnces.
- To prevent any further aspersions against their Orders, IN AN ACT OF SUPREME HUMILITY FOR THE SALVATION OF SOULS, agree to meet and a designated place and time to conditionally re-ordain and conditionally re-consecrate each other!
- In this way, those who only recognize the Lefebvre lineage would now have to recognize the other two. Likewise, the Mendez and Thuc devotees, would have to recognize the other two lines.
- By achieving mutual recognition, Traditionalists will inch closer to the day when perhaps we can get as close to a unified front until the papacy is restored.
- Perhaps, in so doing, we would hasten the day when a pope comes to replace His Holiness Pope Pius XII (d. 1958).
I urge any Traditionalists who read my blog to bring this to the attention of your priests (and even Bishop) to let them ponder the potential good that could come from this act. I also wish to thank my friend Mike at www.dailycatholic.org for discussing this issue with me. He's a man strong in the true Faith. (Please say a prayer for the repose of the soul of his dear wife Cyndi, who recently passed.) There are those who say the fate of the Church is in God's Hands. True enough. But as St. Teresa of Avila observed, "God has no hands but ours." (Lit. "Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.")