Catholic extremism and the coming American Schism

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Where Peter Is has a brilliant video on online Catholic extremism, particularly the right wing Catholicism in the USA and the conspiracy theories it has adopted in place of sound theology.

Their blog post containing the embedded YouTube video: “Peter the Rock and Online Catholic Extremism

That video points out where the centre of Catholicism is – not the left extremists, not the right extremists. And that centre is what will survive in the form of the real Catholic Church centered in Rome and led by the real Pope, currently Pope Francis.

One highlight of the above video – what on earth did Cardinal Sarah mean when he appeared to deny the papacy of Pope Francis? He resigned, his resignation was accepted, and then he tweeted that the only rock is Christ. Almost all Catholics are better catechised than that – God is the ultimate rock, therefore Jesus is the ultimate rock, but Jesus called Peter the rock on which he would build his Church. That is Catholic teaching. What on earth did Cardinal Sarah mean???

Cardinal Sarah resignation tweet
Cardinal Sarah resignation tweet

Some speculation on his successor here.

Where Peter Is also have a discussion of related issues in the blog post “The Chair of Saint Peter, the Rock”. That is a very important article to read regarding the authority and status of Pope Francis, and popes in general. Please take the time to read it.

The recent quickly removed (and then restored / re-published) article on Pope Francis by Aldo Maria Valli on the SSPX News site fits in well here, and I’ll comment on it in the context of the above amazing video from Where Peter Is.

I think the Valli article is a gross misrepresentation of Pope Francis, to the point of either deliberate ignorance or blatant dishonesty. It’s one more step down the slippery slope to nothing. Pope Francis recently commented on those who turned away from the Church after disagreeing with an ecumenical council. My favourites – “Pope” Michael was elected pope by his parents and neighbours. “Pope” Gregory XVII reduced the Mass to 5 minutes (offertory, consecration, communion) so they say Mass 12x/hour until they’re tired. God granted a special dispensation to one of the conclavist “popes” to have multiple wives.

To some extent, the SSPX are seasoned traditionalists, and have, till recently, been immune to the confusion that the new traditionalists have experienced, but they’re slipping away into the mess. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the SSPX has completely lost its moral compass – not just the misled SSPX cleric whose chapel I used to attend. The FSSP and ICKSP are losing their way too, if not already gone. The Burke/Schneider/Vigano triad has turned itself in a QAnon joke. 20% of white Catholics in the USA have bought into the QAnon conspiracy theories. The world has itching ears, and we know what the Bible says about that.

SSPX Econe 24 Sept 2020
SSPX Econe 24 Sept 2020

In the same tweet in which Cardinal Sarah said Pope Francis had accepted his resignation, he said the only rock is Christ, contradicting Jesus’ own words about Peter. The disgruntled have left the Church after every council. We’re just seeing it happen in real time because of social media and the internet. If this continues, there’ll be two Catholic groups – one led by Rome and a Pope, and one led from the USA by a “pope”.

I think that finally the traditionalist ideas about conspiracies and the fundamentalist Protestant ideas about conspiracies and the Pope have finally become mixed up together, especially in the USA where both have infected Catholicism at the same time. The ideas about Catholicism that were once unique to fundamentalist Protestantism are now rife within Catholicism – including things as blatantly bizarre as the rapture. My 20-year old blog about Seventh-day Adventism has things that could have been written about the current right wing movement in the Church – just remove “sabbath” and “Ellen White” (the Adventist prophetess-founder).

Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople
Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople

The irony is that Adventism and some of its splinter groups taught that Catholics and Protestants would unite in a new religion that will persecute true Christians and spawn an American leader who was an anti-Christ equivalent. To them “true Christian” = someone who goes to church on Saturdays. But with Catholics adopting fundamentalist Protestant positions in opposition to their Church, it’s starting to look like a new American right wing pseudo-religious (and mixed religion) movement might just make the Adventist-like groups think their founders’ prophecies are being fulfilled – just without the pope being involved, because the Pope remains Catholic.

The Eastern Catholics look on and think the Latins have gone mad; they’ll still be Catholic when the Americans start a schism. That will indirectly signal the first waves of Orthodox-Catholic unity, probably starting with the Russians, then the Slavic Byzantines, then the non-Slavic Byzantines. I’m not sure where the non-Byzantines will fit in – probably around the 2nd half of the timeline leading towards unity. It’s just my theory, and my hope.

I think the timeline for all of that will involve the wound festering for a few decades, a few popes who hold things together, maybe alternating in sympathies but never prompting the American collapse. I don’t think we’ll see East/West unity in my lifetime, but we might. It would be fascinating to watch an American schism – sad but fascinating. But if the ears continue to itch, the conspiracy theorists continue to promote their nonsense, it’s bound to happen. The USA has a magnificent history of sprouting new religions, Christian or pseudo-Christian or otherwise.

Pope Francis is the real pope. He is where the centre of Catholicism is – not the left extremists, not the right extremists. And that centre is what will survive.

This is a dark time for the Catholic Church. But has it ever been different? Or are we just seeing the disgruntled making their point so loudly because we now have social media and communication across the globe is instant?

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