As I have written before, narcissism is more than just vanity.  For example, the male models in the comedy movie Zoolander are vain.  But alas, Derek Zoolander is not smart enough to be a narcissist.  (I don’t suggest anyone watch a movie as immoral as that, but it was a young-adult favorite of my friends and me.)  True narcissism includes much more than the silly vanity of a Hansel McDonald.  Due to low self-esteem, the real narcissist begins to manipulate those in his life with calculated gaslighting.

Gaslighting is also an over-used term today.  It doesn’t mean simply winning a debate using evidence.  (Evidence is always the pathway to the truth, even if it hurts feelings.) Rather, gaslighting happens when a narcissist attempts to get his opponent to doubt reality.  Whether successful or not, the gaslighter sometimes seeks to convince the victim that misuse of the victim is for her good.  This begins by the perpetrator trying to get the victim to doubt not just “her reality” but actual reality, as seen in the 1944 movie, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman as the victim.  (It’s another movie I would not suggest you watch, but unfortunately I have seen it.)

What does this have to do with the synod?  Earlier this month in Rome, during the Assembly of the Synod Bishops on 10 Oct 2023, US reporter Diane Montagna asked at 43:24 Cardinal Tobin (current Archbishop of Newark NJ) about a truly all-inclusive Church.  She basically asked if alphabet people were so welcome in the Church, then why not TLM Catholics?  “Many Catholics who go to the Traditional Mass… have even been banished from their parish Church…” asked Miss Montagna.  She continued, “What would you say to those Catholics who do not feel welcome?”

Cardinal Tobin answered, in part, as follows: “When I was Archbishop of Indianapolis, we had to close some parishes… After a year or two, I received a letter from Indiana… It turns out it was one of the people who was very very upset about the closure of their parish… And then after two years or three years… in a very good new community, they said ‘This was good for us.  We didn’t know it at the time.'”

Tobin then went on to speak about the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) so one can presume the Cardinal’s above reply to the reporter references the TLM.  Whether the letter was true or not, I do not know.  But the answer speaks volumes about how liberal bishops see Apostolic Catholics losing their sacraments:  It is good for you; you just can’t see it at the time.

That’s truly an astonishing answer.  See the above video just after the preset YouTube time-stamp above if you don’t believe he said that.

On the other hand, if I were a Cardinal or Pope, and I replaced every NOM (Novus Ordo Missae, or the Mass in your vernacular tongue) in the world with the TLM, I might say something very similar: “Replacing your NOM with the TLM is good for your soul.  You just can’t see it right now.”  So, if even I admit that, then what is the difference with how I would handle modernists as a traditionalist, versus how a modernist currently handles traditionalists?  Aren’t both examples of gaslighting?

No, because gaslighting is when one attempts to get an opponent to doubt reality.  Reality is determined by evidence, and in this case of a liturgical debate, evidence comes from Church history:  The fact is that an Apostolic Mass (even thought admittedly not always in Latin) was always better for Catholics’ souls than a Mass written by Protestants.  (That Pope Paul VI had Protestants help write the Novus Ordo Missae is public, not something pulled off a trad website.)  Yes, I believe an Apostolic Mass (whether Western or Eastern) is objectively better for your soul than a Mass written by Protestants (even though I believe all are valid.)

Another reason we know the changes to the Catholic Church in the 1960s were not “good for souls” is the simple statistics, as seen in the above graphs displaying religious vocations in North America and Europe.  Also, see my blog on Africa here for the stats disproving the notion that evangelization in Africa increased after the 1960s.  Thus, implying that the removal of an ancient Mass is “good” for the soul of a Catholic (but you just can’t see it at the time!) is apex gaslighting.  When I heard him say that while driving, I had to rewind it a couple times at the boldness at the claim on removing the TLM:  It is good for you; you just can’t see it at the time.

But Cdl. Tobin’s claim can’t be coordinated to reality.  The TLM is the Mass (at least in seminal form with only small changes through time) that produced nearly 2,000 years of saints, martyrs and basic priestly vocations.  Destroying the ancient Mass can never be “good” for Catholics, regardless of how calmly the blow is delivered.