I’m fully aware there were heated debates on matters of speculative theology between Franciscans and Dominicans in the Middle Ages on topics such as “Is the intellect or the will the is the primary faculty in the beatific vision? (I think the Franciscans said the will and the Dominicans said the intellect.) I’m also fully aware there were heated political factions in the 19th century between Catholics and that already there were debates in politics between “liberals” and “conservatives.” But far and away, Catholics in the 13th century and Catholics in the 19th century (and every century in between) did not use nasty titles modern like “traditional Catholic” or “liberal Catholic” or “neo-con” Catholic. They were all just “Catholics.”
I hate those terms. Why, then, do I use terms like “traditional Catholic” or “liberal Catholic” or “neo-con” Catholic in my blogs and podcasts?
We need to take a look back to the 8th century when Catholics had to publicly identify as either an iconodule Catholic or an iconoclast “Catholic.” The former held to the tradition of the previous 8 centuries, namely, that a Catholic could use an icon or a statue or a painting as a window to heaven in his prayer. On the other hand, an iconoclast “Catholic” rejected the use of icons, statutes or paintings under the guise of avoiding sins against the 1st commandment. (The iconoclast “Catholics” may have been formed Muslims on this topic, which is the reason I put “Catholic” in scare-quotes there.) The point is that there are a few crises in Church history when the divide between Catholics is so pronounced that we unfortunately have to delineate between the orthodox and unorthodox with terms like “iconodule” or “traditional” and “iconoclast” or “liberal.”
Pope St. Pius X was already using the terms “traditional Catholic” versus “modernist Catholic” over 100 years ago. In light of this, I certainly have no intention in proposing a terminology better than a canonized saint Pope who coined the term “traditional” and “modernist.” In fact, these terms are more applicable today than they were 100 years ago, for 90% of Catholics 100 years ago were traditional Catholics whereas now those numbers have flipped (and then some!) However, like all attacks on language in the 20th century, the term “traditional” and “modernist” carries some baggage. For example, it is easy to think of a “traditional Catholic” as being stuck in a specific time in history instead of transcending any period of Catholicism. Similarly, the term “modernist Catholic” could sound like someone who is using new means of evangelization like blogs and podcasts. (Clearly, I have no problem with that.)
Sadly we need terms like “traditional Catholic” and “liberal Catholic” since we’re not talking about political differences but differences that weigh into our salvation (much like the iconoclast debates in the Eastern Churches in the 8th and 9th century.) Yes, the Popes and Ecumenical Councils decided at Nicea that these issues mattered to salvation. We traditional Catholic hope for what some ancient prophets have said would one day be “the Great Council” which would define Church dogma against more heresies than ever seen before in the history of the Church. Naturally, we hope for a Council to weed out modernism which certainly must be the target of such a “Great Council” (if these ancient prophets are correct) since modernism is the “synthesis of all heresies” as Pope St. Pius X said.
I do not plan on replacing the term “traditional Catholic” or “liberal Catholic.” However, because of the baggage that comes with both terms (as explained two paragraphs above) I am going to start occasionally replacing in my blogs and podcasts the term “traditional Catholic” with “Apostolic Catholic” since we trads are not stuck in the 1950s or 18th century but we are stuck with the Apostles. The more and more see hidden material heresies of the hierarchy become manifest material heresies, the more I see that only the traditionalists are defending the teachings that Jesus Christ gave to the Apostles. I mean really.basic.teachings found in the Creed…not advanced liturgical debates. Hence, I am going to usually refer to “traditional Catholics” as “Apostolic Catholics.”
Similarly, let’s remember that liberal means “generous” in Latin. One thing I have learned in the news cycle and political cycle of 2020 is that liberals are nothing close to generous. They are promoting lies and are living a lie. Even on terms we thought they were good on (child-trafficking and immigration) they are proving a total detriment to children on the border. Just do a cursory google of “Biden and children on the border of Mexico” or “Clintons trafficking children from Haiti” and you will understand that liberals leave a path of destruction for people of every race, creed and age in their path. (The dozens of hits on mainstream media telling you such accusations are “baseless” should be your first clue they are true.) Thus, I will usually avoid the term “liberal” Catholic as there is nothing generous about them.
“Regressive Catholic” is a good term for wishy-washy Catholics today since they are stuck in the 1970s. “Secular Catholic” is probably an even better term for them since they are desperate to be accepted by the world and the flesh and the devil—all three of whom hate liberal Catholics for their moral compromise in trying to “fit-in.” Yes, this makes them laughably weak even to the very communists taking over this country in a health-communism and woke-mob-of-racist-accusations coup right now.
If a liberal Catholic takes offense at the term “secular Catholic,” simply ask him, “Would you rather be associated with the current culture in the United States or the Apostles?” Let him answer for himself. (It will undoubtedly be a complex answer for the liberal Catholic, as it will involve something of the Holy Spirit “surprising us” with new dogma as time develops. Yes, all heretics think they found something new and fresh…when in fact it’s always old, tried and rotten.)
So, here I’m going to use the two opposing terms Apostolic Catholics and Secular Catholics in most of my writings, videos and podcasts from now on. These will sometimes replace traditional Catholics and liberal Catholics, respectively. Indeed, I wish we lived in happier times when such name calling was not necessary. But when salvation is at stake (as it was when Catholics went by odd terms such as iconodule or iconoclast) we must now identify the camp in which we fight.
p/c in featured image at top from Twitter handle from @glass_zealot