True and False Ressourcement
In 1575 the Lutheran heretics sent a letter to the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople, Jeremias II. In their hubris, they assumed that the Greeks would confirm their false doctrines of the “Five Solas.” They had claimed these Solas had restored the faith of the early church. They were surprised to learn that the Greeks condemned their doctrines like Trent.
But it’s more complicated than that. Rome and the west have always been in a position of resourcing the Greek and other eastern traditions. 1575 was the high water mark for one of the most significant movements of this kind, known to history as the Renaissance. The so-called “Byzantine Papacy” (537-752) is another movement like it, and so is the so-called “High Middle Ages.”
The complicated reality is that the heretics and the Catholics from the west both want to mine the treasures of Greek wisdom, but for entirely different ends. The heretics have always wanted to find justification for their heresies in the east, whereas the orthodox have striven to bring about a higher Catholic synthesis of east and west. The heretics seek to use the Greeks to destroy the Latin tradition. But the orthodox restore Greek in order to exalt the veritatis splendor of Greco-Roman Christendom.
The Trad Weakness about Vatican II
This is most acute when we evaluate one of the weakest points in our Trad movement: our critique of Vatican II. This weakness results in part from an error which Kennedy Hall calls “No Salvation Outside Thomism.” There is a certain post-Tridentine excess that overreacted to the heretical resourcing of the Greeks and became a hyper-Latinising, hyper-Thomism, especially after 1870, which helped to create hyperüberultramontanism which is the false spirit of Vatican One. If this obtains in our movement, we fail in our critique of Vatican II to distinguish between the orthodox ressourcement of the east and the neo-Modernist version. As I discuss in my book, City of God vs. City of Man, it was for this reason that the Eastern Catholic bishops sided with the European Alliance, instead of our Trad godfathers, Archbishop Lefebvre and the Coetus Internationlis Patrum. (This is why at OnePeterFive we are trying to reverse this false alliance with a more sound Trad attitude of the east, but that’s beyond the scope of this essay).
Unfortunately, I have this seen this equivocal critique from Archbishop Lefebvre in his book Letter to Confused Catholics. Obviously the main point of the archbishop is absolutely correct and prophetic: namely, the Council was an occasion for the Neo-Modernist conspiracy to impose their ugly Neo-Iconoclasm on the faithful, leading to the loss of souls from the Ark of Salvation.
However, the Archbishop fails to make the distinction necessary to gain an ally in the eastern Bishops who also oppose Neo-Iconoclasm, and have their martyrs and the Sunday of Orthodoxy to prove it.
Orthodox Collegiality vs. the Neo-Modernist #SchismaticWay
This is evident in the SSPX critique of collegiality. If we understand Collegiality in terms of the Schismatic Way, collegiality is an obvious error that Lefebvre also suffered from, as the French episcopate attempted to destroy him with calumny and a conspiracy of lies. However, in order for this critique to hold water against the faithful Catholics in the Communio crowd, we must distinguish between the truly orthodox tradition of collegiality and the obvious insanity of the Neo-Modernist schismatic way. Thankfully, the Schismatic Way is uniting Catholics from all stripes to oppose the regime of Iconoclasm which is in power at the Vatican.
A Greek Bishop Throws Down the Gauntlet
Recently, Greek Catholic bishop Manuel Nin, the apostolic exarch to Greece, has emerged to take a stand. He makes the proper distinction about collegiality and voices his concern about the Schismatic Way. The first distinction he makes is that true orthodox collegiality is episcopal:
When it is stated that: “… you in the East have always had synodality…”, is there not a danger of misunderstanding when, looking at the Eastern Churches, one confuses synodality with episcopal collegiality? The latter, in the East, is associated with the exercise of authority, the pastoral ministry, the service within the Christian Churches that takes place in the assembly of bishops belonging to a particular Church and is headed by a patriarch, an archbishop or a metropolitan.
So the first aspect of a traditional and orthodox collegiality, according to Bishop Nin, is that it concerns the bishops alone to be in power. He further adds the following:
If the West understands synodality as a place or as a moment where everyone, laity and clergy, act together in order to arrive at some ecclesiastical, doctrinal, canonical, disciplinary decision, whatever it may be, it becomes clear that such synodality does not exist in the East.
What the Schismatic Way presents is another rehash of Vatican I and Vatican II: a mob mentality which utilises the press to put pressure on the bishops to reach a certain conclusion. This is not traditional lay involvement in ecumenical councils, which traditionally is for the lay nobility to 1.) protect the bishops with their armies and 2.) input their own wisdom in a limited way, but only for the sake of the depositum fidei.
The Subject of the Synod is Christ and His Doctrine
The second distinction the bishop makes is that the term syn-hodos (“synod”) means to walk with Christ. It is not merely a mob rushing off the cliff of heresy: “It is not a march of ‘all together’ but rather a ‘march of all together with Christ.’” The instrumentum laboris does not distinguish between the spirit of the world and the Holy Spirit when it claims that the Schismatic Way is guided by the Holy Spirit, since it is literally polling the world, including non-Catholics, about what they want the Church to do and say.
The process of the Schismatic Way is all set up to impose the spirit of the fallen angels on the faithful, and claim that it is the work of the Holy Spirit! Only if Christ’s own doctrine is the subject to be defended and explicated against the spirit of the world, can the Holy Spirit be present.
It should be clearly emphasized that synodality in all Christian churches, be they Eastern or Western, cannot be a “cover” that shows us to the modern world (but also to each other) as if we were a modern Western republic, parliamentary possibly, where everyone can say anything and talk about everything.
The modern democracies are built on the lie of Liberalism that majority rule is infallible. This lie allows the fallen angels to whip up the mob for whatever the mob is blood thirsty for. We saw this at Vatican I and Vatican II. And Cardinal Martini’s dream of Synods on Synods on Synodality is imposing a perpetual revolution on the Church, world without end.
Catechism and Mystagogy
Bishop Nin describes traditional collegiality as traditionally used by the Fathers as “an instrument for catechism and mystagogy.” Because of the dominance of hyperültramontanism, Vatican II, under the strong influence from the Eastern Catholics bishops, attempted to restore something of episcopal integrity with such gems as Lumen Gentium 27, which implicitly condemns hyperültramontanism. But the Neo-Modernists used this for their version of synodality, seen in the aforementioned efforts of the French hierarchy to destroy Lefebvre.
Now we have single orthodox bishops who are slowly raising their heads against the heretics – Strickland, Burke, Schneider, Nin, Paprocki – but they are isolated against a sea of Modernists. What they need – and what we need – is a true collegiality between these orthodox bishops. Let them assemble a synod of their own, together, and bring about their own catechism and mystagogy, and give the faithful the spiritual mercy of the charitable anathema. Their orthodox synod can start with this gem from Vatican I:
If anyone shall assert it to be possible that sometimes, according to the progress of knowledge, a sense is to be given to doctrines propounded by the Church different from that which the Church has understood and understands; let him be anathema. (Dei Filius)
T. S. Flanders
St. Rose of Lima
Postscript reminder of the proven Trad solution to our crisis, the charitable anathema:
PRACTICAL STEPS FOR RESOLVING THIS CRISIS
- Every bishop has jurisdiction over the communion of his diocese
- Every bishop has the power and authority to anathematize heresy. If he judges it necessary, he can also do this from a diocesan synod (synodality!).
- Every bishop has the ability to identify and name the chief errors of our time. The Declaration of Truths, signed in 2019 by prominent bishops like Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider, has already laid out the most common errors and opposed them.
- Every bishop should issue the charitable anathema for all Catholics in his diocese. Taking the aforementioned Declaration of Truths, a bishop can simply issue a decree such as this:
If anyone does not confess the truths contained in this declaration according to the sense and understanding that the Church has always taught and teaches, let him be anathema.
- If this seems too extreme, why not simply do the same with the Professio Fidei that is already on the books? or the Oath Against Modernism that is an infallible oath promulgated for decades since Pius X?
- Every case of heresy must be judged properly with truth and charity. This can and should be done locally, not only by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican.
 At Vatican I Acton and Döllinger, aided by Joseph Ratzinger’s great uncle Georg, whipped up the press with their anonymous and sensationalist media pressure, which even O’Malley admits was filled with lies. Vatican I: the Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church (Belknap Harvard University Press, 2018), 149; Peter Seewald, Benedict XVI: A Life, trans. Dinah Livingstone (Bloomsbury, 2020), vol 1, 374.
 “Towards the close of the [Lateran V] council (1517) the noble and highly cultured layman, Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola, delivered a remarkable speech on the necessity of a reform of morals; his account of the moral condition of the clergy is saddening, and reveals the many and great difficulties that stood in the way of a genuine reform. He concluded with the warning that if Leo X left such offences longer unpunished and refused to apply healing remedies to these wounds of the Church, it was to be feared that God Himself would cut off the rotten limbs and destroy them with fire and sword. That very year this prophetic warning was verified.” K. Löffler, “Pope Leo X,” The Catholic Encyclopedia (1910).
Timothy Flanders is the editor-in-chief of OnePeterFive. He is the author of City of God versus City of Man: The Battles of the Church from Antiquity to the Present and Introduction to the Holy Bible for Traditional Catholics. His writings have appeared at OnePeterFive and Crisis, as well as in Catholic Family News. In 2019 he founded The Meaning of Catholic, a lay apostolate dedicated to uniting Catholics against the enemies of Holy Church. He holds a degree in classical languages from Grand Valley State University and has done graduate work with the Catholic University of Ukraine. He lives in Michigan with his wife and six children.