Karl Keating Responds to Criticism from The Remnant

Hyperbolic Traditionalists
Karl Keating
September 1, 2013

After Catholic Answers Live aired, on August 12, its second two-hour program devoted to “radical Traditionalism,” a priest from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a religious society that celebrates Mass exclusively in the Extraordinary Form, wrote to us:

“Thank you for your fidelity in addressing this issue despite false accusations from some of ‘attacking’ traditional Catholicism. I thought your distinctions were clear between ‘radical Traditionalists’ and those in full communion with the Church.”

This priest had no problem understanding the program, which, like a May 31 program on the same subject, featured Tim Staples and Patrick Coffin. He understood the distinction drawn between fringe groups of “radical Traditionalists” and the much larger body of regular Traditionalists.

The same can’t be said for Michael Matt and Christopher Ferrara. Matt is the editor of, and Ferrara is a writer for, The Remnant, a fortnightly newspaper that some consider to be the chief Traditionalist publication in the U.S. The day after the August 12 program aired, Matt and Ferrara uploaded to the Remnant-TV website a video castigating Catholic Answers.

“The Church is in the state of absolute chaos,” said Ferrara, leaning into the camera, “and here they are wasting radio time.” Wasting radio time? Ferrara didn't mention that out of 1,600 airtime hours broadcast by Catholic Answers Live since the show’s debut, only these four hours have been devoted to the topic of radical Traditionalism: that’s one quarter of one percent. Is that too much for an issue about which we get many questions?

We have devoted far more program hours to the New Age movement, but we get far fewer questions about New Age beliefs and practices than we do about radical Traditionalism. Where has Ferrara voiced concern that we are "wasting radio time" on the New Age movement--or on the many other topics that we've devoted more than four airtime hours to?

More problematic than Ferrara’s arithmetic is his language: “The Church is in the state of absolute chaos.” The word “chaos” is hyperbolic; the adjective “absolute” raise the hyperbole to its highest possible degree. The phrase “absolute chaos” suggests that the Church everywhere outside Ferrara’s immediate sphere is as bad off as it possibly can be and is ready to expire.

That may be his view, and it may be Michael Matt’s, but it is not the view held by the large majority of Catholics, whether Traditionalist or non-Traditionalist. Most Catholics acknowledge serious abuses within the Church but also acknowledge extensive good. Judging from their choice of words, Matt and Ferrara seem to see almost nothing good. How could they, if the Church is in "absolute chaos"? (If they do see much good in the Church, then why do they so cavalierly use loaded terms like "absolute chaos"?)

In the video Matt complained that the term “radical Traditionalism” shouldn’t be used at all because it was coined by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a leftwing organization that, despite its name, does nothing to alleviate poverty but delights in discovering “hate groups.” (Matt's implication seemed to be that Catholic Answers is sympathetic to, or even in cahoots with, SPLC--else why mention SPLC at all?)

In 2006 SPLC produced a report on what it called the “Radical Traditionalist Catholic, Anti-Semitic Movement.” A dozen organizations and many individuals were mentioned. Some truly qualified as anti-Semitic; most didn't. One of the organizations listed was The Remnant. Thus Matt’s animus toward the term “radical Traditionalism.” But the term didn’t originate with SPLC. It was in use years before that group used it. A term doesn’t lose its value just because a scurrilous organization uses it in the title of a report.

The fact is that there are radical Traditionalists, people who can be distinguished from run-of-the-mill Traditionalists by their beliefs, actions, and attitudes. The two Catholic Answers Live programs discussed such folks—among them, for example, sedevacantists, those who reject Vatican II, and those who say the vernacular Mass isn't really a Mass at all.

In their video Matt and Ferrara complained about an unnamed blogger who had been cited by Philip Lawler at his own blog. They said the unnamed blogger unfairly characterized Traditionalism. “We don’t reject Vatican II!” said Matt. But then the blogger didn’t claim that Matt and his associates did.

The blogger was Taylor Marshall, and his blog post appeared on July 30. He listed nine attributes that he thought distinguished radical Traditionalists from regular Traditionalists. I don’t agree with everything on his list. He said, for example, that a sign of radical Traditionalism is “the denial of the charismatic gifts and the charismatic movement.” I think this is incorrect. One can find Catholics all across the spectrum who deny not so much the existence of charismatic gifts but the utility or prudence of the charismatic movement.

But Marshall did identify things that commonly are found among radical Traditionalists: “the denial of the Jewish holocaust,” “the outright denial of Vatican II as a valid council,” “disdain for Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis,” and “the belief that Latin Mass Catholics are ‘A Team’ and Novus Ordo Catholics are ‘B Team.’”

Those attributes don’t amount to a definition of radical Traditionalism, but they are useful indicators. The irony in all this was that Marshall was writing about Pope Francis putting a restriction on the celebration of the Latin Mass by the Franciscans of the Immaculate—a Traditionalist group of which Marshall is an associate member! In other words, Marshall is a Traditionalist himself.

Maybe this is why Matt and Ferrara didn't name Marshall, not wanting their viewers to look up his blog and see that they were claiming, loopily, that a Traditionalist was writing against his own position.

Michael Matt’s imprecision in saying that (an unnamed) Taylor Marshall claimed that Traditionalists such as Matt “reject Vatican II” is indicative of the looseness with which he and Ferrara have been writing and speaking about the two Catholic Answers Live programs. (The Remnant ran no fewer than three front-page articles against the programs.) Matt and Ferrara shoehorn their opponents into taking positions that they don't in fact take and into saying things they don't in fact say.

In their video Matt insisted that “the whole Traditionalist position is being attacked by neo-Catholics,” among whom he includes the staff of Catholic Answers. To him and to Ferrara, “neo-Catholics” either are oblivious to the multitudinous ills in the Church or are knowingly complicit in them. They go along to get along, don’t want to upset bishops by complaining about the hierarchy in public, and are cowed into silence out of fear of losing episcopal patronage or protection. They lack the gumption displayed by those associated with The Remnant.

In fact, people labeled “neo-Catholics” are simply orthodox Catholics who don’t share The Remnant’s unrelenting (and often skewed and uncharitable) grousing about the Church and about Catholics who don’t toe that publication’s party line and who don't follow its stylebook. In the minds of The Remnant folks, you can't be a traditional Catholic unless you use their rhetoric, focus on their issues, and share their priorities.

Let me end with a small amusement.

In their video Matt and Ferrara complained about the neologism “radical Traditionalism,” saying that it was misleading and unfair, that it painted with too broad a brush, that it lacked precision. Yet throughout their video they labeled their opponents with the even vaguer (and newer) “neo-Catholics,” a term that Ferrara admits he first popularized in a 2002 book.
To use Chesterton's words I'd say Mr. Keating the liberals in the Church made these problems, and you conservative will not let us fix them.

succinctly & accurately said, Tim.
Yawn. KK and his crew still will not address the issues.
Karl Keating describes Taylor Marshall as a traditionalist. I'm not sure that's true. He attends a TLM, but that doesn't make him a trad. Given that we trads are so mean and nasty, Marshall seems to have distanced himself from the greater trad movement, lest he catch the dreaded disease of uncharitableness.

I don't think that Karl Keating really understands tradition. Has he even tried to do so? Traditionalists make up a tiny percentage of the Church. But liberals and others who defy Church teaching make up a far larger number, and have a greater influence in the Church. Why doesn't he complain about them? It may be because the liberals don't seem complain so much about CAF, as trads do, but I'm not really sure. :shrug:

Christopher Ferrera gives a good rebuttal on the first page of the comments section (toward the bottom of the page).
I think its curious how Karl Keating loves to drop names all over the article as to whom support him and who doesn't and yet it was a seemingly anonymous FSSP Priest that told him he was absolutely right about everything.  ???

And yes, Mr. Keating the Church is a state of total and utter chaos the fact that you seem to gloss over or make fun of that fact makes all the more glearing as to why your "apostolate" is flailing.

Yeah, whatever.

As far as Taylor Marshall is concerned I have no criticism of the man he has been in many ways a stand up guy very much in defense of tradition, at least every time I have read him. I will not smear a man's reputation simply by being associated with Karl Keating.
Christopher Ferrara's response:
Quote:Mr. Keating focuses his reply to the videocast by me and Mike Matt on one phrase of mine: "absolute chaos."

Seriously? There is such a thing as a manner of speaking, especially in an unscripted, free-flowing conversation.

Fine, let's replace the phrase "state of absolute chaos" with "continuing process of decay," (Cardinal Ratzinger) "collapse of the liturgy," (Cardinal Ratzinger), "silent apostasy" (Pope John Paul II), and "so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy trivialized" (Pope Benedict XVI).

Mr. Keating rather ludicrously reduces observations of the profound ecclesial crisis we are now experiencing to "grousing," which illustrates precisely the state of mind Mike Matt and I were discussing.

As for Mr. Keating's protest that the CA radio show has devoted more time to the New Age Movement than to "radical traditionalism," this only establishes another example of his organization's misplaced emphasis. The New Age movement? Seriously? How about the hundreds of millions of Catholics around the world who simply no longer care what the Pope teaches about how to live their lives in conformity with the divine plan, and who exhibit precisely the "silent apostasy" John Paul II lamented after fifty years of imaginary conciliar "renewal" of the Church? What about the "radical neo-Catholicism" of these liberalized masses of people in the pews, who are helping to perpetuate the culture of death by slowly contracepting the Western world into oblivion, voting to elect radically "pro-gay" and pro-abortion politicians to public office everywhere?

It is simply despicable to assign "Holocaust denial" as an attribute of "radical traditionalism." The world's foremost Holocaust denier, David Irving, is not even Catholic, and there are Catholics of all stripes, including those in Novus Ordo parishes, who foolishly deny that 6 million Jews died under the Hitler regime. As for me, I have written an article denouncing as perverse attempts to minimize the number of Hitler's Jewish victims, which census data clearly show to have been about 6 million indeed. NOTE: Bishop Williamson was expelled from the "radical traditionalist" Society of Saint Pius X, and his views on the Holocaust were repudiated by the Society.

Finally, a careful reading of Mr. Keating's article will show that, like Messrs. Coffin and Staples, he is rather shifty about how to distinguish what he calls "regular traditionalists" (good) from "radical traditionalists" (bad). He offers only a reference to sedevacantism and certain "useful indicators." I detect the whiff of demagoguery.

None of this is to detract from the good work Mr. Keating has done. But really, it is time for Catholic Answers to wake up and smell the crisis in the Church and to recognize that the attempt to innovate her in every department after the Council has been a disaster. Only a restoration of what has been lost can repair the damage, as we see precisely with those traditionalist orders which are brimming with vocations while the seminaries of the Novus Ordo continue to close, along with Novus Ordo parishes and schools.

The urgent work of restoration was begun under Pope Benedict, who freed the Latin Mass from its absurd Babylonian captivity of forty years. We should all be praying that the process of restoration gains momentum under Pope Francis, even if the "beach party Mass" in Brazil, where consecrated Hosts were distributed in plastic Dixie cups and the "liturgical music" included pop and R & B stylings, does not appear to bode well for an end to what Cardinal Ratzinger rightly called "the collapse of the liturgy."
(09-03-2013, 11:58 AM)Unum Sint Wrote: And yes, Mr. Keating the Church is a state of total and utter chaos the fact that you seem to gloss over or make fun of that fact makes all the more glaring as to why your "apostolate" is flailing.

No kidding.  (also corrected the typo, Unum.  :))
(09-03-2013, 12:18 PM)guacamole Wrote: As for Mr. Keating's protest that the CA radio show has devoted more time to the New Age Movement than to "radical traditionalism," this only establishes another example of his organization's misplaced emphasis. The New Age movement? Seriously?

I'm really disappointed by this response from Mr. Ferrara.  The "New Age" movement is an incredible danger to the souls of many, and there's Catholic and non-Catholics alike who see zero issue with it.  This, and spiritual warfare, are severely neglected by several groups within the Church and society as a whole.  In fact, the "100 million" Catholics Mr. Ferrara mentioned are impacted by this hocus pocus buill sh**.  I'm incredibly glad that Catholic Answers has devoted time into addressing the evils of "New Age" (which is "old age" garbage with a fresh coat of paint to make it seem "fresh").  The occult is no laughing matter, and that a Catholic outreach organization is actively speaking out against such practices is a very good thing.

The proper response shouldn't by "why are you talking about that", it might be better to say 'thank you for teaching others about this evil.  And what is also missed is Catholic Answer does teach about the evils of contraception and that same-sex "marriage" is wrong.
(09-03-2013, 10:40 AM)Tim Wrote: To use Chesterton's words I'd say Mr. Keating the liberals in the Church made these problems, and you conservative will not let us fix them.


spot on

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