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The Catholic Identity Conference: A Call for All Catholics to Rise Up

The recent Catholic Identity Conference, organized by The Remnant Newspaper, is a call for all Catholics to rise up and fight for the Faith. In days past, the heralds came to town and preached the Crusade, and our fathers left their families to “take up the cross” and die in the holy land fighting Muhammadans. In the same way, Mr. Michael Matt, editor of The Remnant, has called this a “time of honor,” when Catholics must manfully arise for the honor of fighting and dying under the banner of Our Lady of Victory and Christ the King. It was his initiative of #UniteTheClans that dominated the conference, bringing together a wide variety of voices for a wholesale call to arms. We will give an overview of some of these voices here [1].

Diane Montagna — LifeSiteNews

The intrepid Vaticanista provided her in-depth overview of the recently concluded Amazon synod. As such, she shared many personal stories of faithful Catholic journalism in the face of the menace gripping the Vatican. She personally confronted the press officials about their bias in taking questions and received boos when she publicly called the officials to account on female ordination. She related her conversations with Kräutler and his admissions about female clergy, as well as the mysterious appearance of (apparently) communist-leaning Christiane Murray as Vatican spokeswoman. She also talked about how she went to the church of Traspontina to personally interview the participants and confirm their belief that the idol was Pachamama. She ended her talk by relating the censures against the synod leveled by Archbishop Viganò and stating emphatically with him: “It is urgent to rediscover the meaning of prayer and penance.”

We owe her, Edward Pentin, and other faithful journalists our support for their boldness in continuing to press against the Vaticanspeak house of cards.

Michael Davis — Editor of Crisis Magazine

One of the notable appearances at the conference was the editor of Crisis Magazine, Michael Davis. Crisis has recently become much more sympathetic to the cause of Tradition, notably publishing Taylor Marshall’s Infiltration this past May. His talk was called “Liberal Conservatism: From Pontius Pilate to the Present Day.” In it, he criticized “liberal conservative Catholics” who have abandoned the fullness of the Catholic faith. These are those who “out of sheer cowardice, out of fear of the mob, take the side of evil.” In particular, he leveled his critique against one formative Catholic conservative, William F. Buckley, founder of National Review, who responded to Mater et Magistra with “Mater si, Magistra no.”

These are significant statements coming from the editor of Crisis, which was founded in 1982 in part by the late Michael Novak, a contributor also to National Review, who, with George Weigel, was an intellectual giant among the conservative Catholic movement of the United States. Mr. Davis repudiated the central assertion of the conservatives that “Western civilization is reducible to a set of abstract, post-Enlightenment principles.” Instead, he firmly confessed his allegiance publicly:

“There will be no restoration of Christian culture, no deliverance from the forces of secularism, progressivism, socialism and Marxism, until the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is restored to its rightful place at the center of public as well as private life … for asserting the neutrality of any space is to deny the sovereignty of Christ the King over His own creation.”

Chorbishop Spinosa — Rector at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon

Continuing the theme of unity against heretical depravity, the conference received the Maronite Catholic priest Chorbishop Spinosa.[2] He related with relish how truly appropriate is the celebrated Eastern procession on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, in which the great heresies are named and the children cry out, “Anathema!” Still, he said, the Eastern Catholic churches also face difficulties, and the Eastern schismatics are not flocking to the Church of Accompaniment, which repels them.

He decried the Vatican II “radical separation of doctrine and pastoral practice.” He condemned the Amazon Synod pretense of “inculturation” as “outright lies” and “opening the Church to destructive winds.” However, he cautioned that “if we are not united … we cannot win, and Rome will once again be sacked.”

He stressed the importance of unity in diversity. Being of the Maronite Catholic Church with a different rite from Latin, he admonished the cause of Tradition not to allow “acceptable differences” to divide the movement. He defined the necessary, essential unity as when “doctrine, Scripture and liturgy are traditionally preserved.” His was a welcome Eastern voice confirming his Latin brethren.

Father Jürgen Wegner, SSPX

Fr. Wegner is the United States district superior of the Society of St. Pius X. He shared a number of interesting points regarding the history of the Latin Mass movement and the role of Archbishop Lefebvre. He observed that when the New Mass was promulgated, Bugnini wanted a law of abrogation against the Latin Mass, but the secretary of state responded that “we do not wish to cast odium on the liturgical tradition.” But although it was not legally abrogated, nevertheless, it was de facto. It was known in the early days as the “Indult Mass,” indult meaning an exception to the law.

Fr. Wegner asserted that it was due to the work of Archbishop Lefebvre that the Latin Mass survived the early days of this struggle. At the time of 1988, the Latin Mass had virtually disappeared everywhere except for the SSPX and associated priests. In 1988, the Holy See was forced to change strategies: “from fighting Old Mass with the New Mass to fighting Old Mass with Old Mass — divide and conquer.” The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, he said, was created for this purpose. Nevertheless, although the Holy See stipulated that the FSSP priests should be accepted in each diocese, they were not accepted everywhere.

Setting aside further controversy on these contentious issues, Fr. Wegner did share an interesting note concerning the American Catholic Church. After he was appointed as the superior of the Society in the United States, he was warmly surprised to find a great number of bishops in favor of the cause of Tradition. In his negotiations with dioceses, he even found bishops who wished to evenly spread the Latin Mass parishes across their dioceses in order to maximize the influence of Tradition. He further noted, to the applause of the audience, that there are more Latin Masses in the United States than there are in the rest of the world.

Dr. Taylor Marshall

With characteristic acumen, Dr. Marshall named this moment in the Church as a “Maccabee moment,” recalling the time when the majority of Israel had apostatized to pagan idols. He quoted the words of I Macc. 2:27:

And Mathathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying: Every one that hath zeal for the law, and maintaineth the testament, let him follow me.

He then identified the modern Mathathias: Bishop Athanasius Schneider. His Maccabean followers were the young men who threw Pachamama in the Tiber. He contrasted what the Maccabee Catholics have with what the Modernists have: “They have Pachamama. We have Immaculate Mama, who crushes Satan underfoot and all idols. They have [the Pachamama] boat. We have the barque of St. Peter.”

He proceeded to identify the six main errors of this pontificate: eco-theology (pointing to the Earth instead of Heaven), sacramentalizing public adultery, the waffling teaching on capital punishment, Abu Dhabi indifferentism, female “ordination,” and finally paganism.

Before outlining the actions that must be taken against these errors, he gave an admonition to the movement of traditionalism: “everything we do now has to be positioned in a life of grace, prayer, humility, and no pride.” He warned of the judgment of the Lord on all the proud.

Taking this into consideration, he then outlined his seven-point action plan: know the Catholic faith (read your Baltimore Catechism, then that of Trent), attend a traditional rite (Latin Mass, Eastern Rite), daily Rosary, fasting and penance, bring the Faith into the public square, joyfully evangelize, and unite the clans. His talk, like all the others, garnered a standing ovation.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider

The mouthpiece of Tradition, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, formed the centerpiece of the conference, delivering the keynote address as well as a short talk against Communion in the hand. He has been increasingly vocal against the Vatican II springtime, which has been a welcome relief of honestly facing the crisis as it has been continuing to unravel for decades.

His comments on the liturgy were salient on this. He said the New Mass is “substantially a clear weakening of the truth of the sacrificial character of the Mass.” It represents a “shift to the Protestant meaning and sense of the meal … in the text [of the Mass] itself.” Indeed, “The Novus Ordo is the Extraordinary Form.

He observed that even Paul VI admitted that Communion in the hand would indeed weaken the faith but then allowed it in the same document. The good bishop compared this to a doctor who says to his patient about a treatment, “This will harm you” and then decides to give it to him anyway.

He censured Communion in the hand emphatically: “We cannot use the same gesture for the Holy Sacrament as common food.” It has a deeply psychological effect, eroding our faith in the Real Presence. Instead, we must receive Holy Communion on the tongue and on our knees. Like little children who cannot feed themselves, we receive the Holy Sacrament from Holy Mother Church.

Turning to his keynote address, His Excellency spent some time on the reflections from the recently canonized St. John Henry Newman regarding the Arian crisis and its parallels for our time. During this crisis, there was a “temporary suspense of the functions of the teaching church” in which the sensus fidelium of the laity supplied the lack of teaching from the other organs of the Magisterium, including the pope. Quoting Newman, he said:

Perhaps [this] was permitted to impress upon the Church, at that very time passing out the state of persecution to her long temporal ascendancy, the great evangelical lesson that it is not the wise and powerful but the obscure and the weak that constitute the real strength of the Church.

This was a time, says St. Hilary, “when the ears of the faithful are holier than the lips of the bishops.” Continually quoting saints and doctors who faced crises, His Excellency would look up to the audience and say, “How timely is this?”

St. Hildegard of Bingen to the priests of her day: “You evil deceivers! You who work to subvert the Catholic faith. You are wavering and soft and thus cannot avoid the poisonous errors of human corruption which you apply as you wish to divine law.” The bishop quipped how St. Hildegard today would be pilloried as a “schismatic neo-Pelagian rigid one.” The crowd laughed and cheered.

St. Hilary: “In these consists the particular nature of the Church: that she triumphs when she is defeated, that she’s better understood when she’s attacked, that she rises up when her unfaithful member desert her.”

He ended with a powerful story of a martyr priest and his flock going to execution under Diocletian and meeting their bishop on the way, leaving the pagan rites, where he had just apostatized. He then exhorted all the faithful offer up their sacrifices in reparation as this priest martyr did for his own apostate bishop. He called for a new council to condemn all of the errors of our time, and his face beamed as he looked out into the audience, speaking of the future triumph of Christ and His Church. With unshakable faith he declared: “This day will come.”

The time has come to unite the clans.

[1] All of the talks are available in full here for a small fee.

[2] “Chorbishop” is a title of honor in Eastern Catholicism given to a priest, similar to the Latin Monsignor.

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