“How many problems in theology seem unsolvable – simply because they start from badly-posed questions.”
Dom Paul Nau OSB
Confused at the state of the world and the Church?
Frustrated by conflicting explanations and theories?
Looking for answers, but don’t know where to start?
Then it was FOR YOU that we established The WM Review one year ago.
This week we have been celebrating the first anniversary of our online journal, which is dedicated to explaining theology, history, and related matters from the true principles.
Image: Cardinal Manning, Public Domain – Wiki Commons
Saturday 11 June was the anniversary of the first original essay which we published:
This essay laid down some principles shared by all so-called “traditionalists” – namely those seeking to hold fast to Catholic tradition.
It was the start of a series, showing that all traditionalists should approach both theology and the liturgy with the same principles: we should hold fast to the tradition which we have received, and reject novelties, even if their proponents claim that they are based on Christian antiquity.
The reality is that while traditionalists are defined by the right attitude towards the traditional liturgy, many are terribly confused in their attitude towards traditional theology.
This is because it is very challenging, if not impossible, to hold to that traditional theology on the Church and the Roman Pontiff, whilst also holding that pope have promulgated evil rites and teachings for decades.
For this reason, many traditionalists do not know how they should explain their actions – and some adopt very false and harmful explanations.
Even worse, some become public proponents of such explanations and try to browbeat the rest of us into accepting them.
Enter the Experts
All traditionalists oppose the dismantling of their religion by modernists; but some would-be leaders of this opposition go further and tell us that we must rethink the papacy and the traditional theology.
(As if the Church needs our help in order to rediscover the true nature of her constitution and divine mission!)
Some have launched a new campaign under this banner, and are even pointing to a “misinterpretation of Vatican I” as a chief cause of problems today.
This rethinking is really rejecting the papacy, as traditionally understood.
This is not to say that the proponents of Rethinkery actually are rejecting the papacy themselves, at least yet: but at the very least they stand on a knife-edge, and they want you and me to join them there.
The partisans of “The Great Rethink” point to historical narratives, distorted by Protestants and other enemies of the Roman Catholic Church – and claim that this “history” means that traditional theology on the Church, the Papacy and the Magisterium have been proved wrong by default.
They distort the words of theologians writing centuries ago, perhaps before certain questions were settled – and claim the liberty to “rethink” traditional theology on their authority.
They tell us that theology was in decline before Vatican II – as if this means (if we were to concede a decline) that the Church’s oversight could allow a false ecclesiology to be taught as common doctrine. They use this idea to pour scorn on the treatise “de Ecclesia,” saying that we must replace “reductionist” Catholic ecclesiology with the product of their deep and profound “rethoughts”. In this, are they not following the path condemned by Pius XII in Humani Generis?
“What is expounded in the Encyclical Letters of the Roman Pontiffs concerning the nature and constitution of the Church, is deliberately and habitually neglected by some with the idea of giving force to a certain vague notion which they profess to have found in the ancient Fathers, especially the Greeks.” No. 18
Some present false dichotomies: saying that we must either “rethink” (reject) this traditional theology or accept the Conciliar revolution.
It’s clear that they think that this ideology is necessary to save the Catholic Church; and they want to save the Church because they love her.
I don’t want to call these men modernists, because this would be false in nearly all cases: but consider this shared tendency expressed in this definition of modernism from Fr Pietro Parente:
“A heresy, or rather a group of heresies, which have arisen in very bosom of the Church […] with the pretence of elevating and saving the Christian religion and the Catholic Church by means of a radical renovation.”[i] [emphasis added]
We don’t want to save the Church. She does not need saving. We want to be her loyal sons and let her save us. We will not be elevating or renovating our Holy Mother.
No doubt we should think the best of the men promoting these ideas. We should reach out to them in friendship and kindness, and pray for them.
But we must also expose and oppose these Rethinkers with great sternness.
Whirlpool of Confusion
In reality, though, these self-appointed Experts of Rethinkery are not doing any rethinking themselves.
It’s YOU who they want to rethink things.
They have already decided that the papacy must be diminished, and that the benighted adherents of traditional theology must do some rethinking.
Between the modernists dismantling the Catholic religion, and the partisans of “The Great Rethink” dismantling it in their own way, it is understandable that Catholics are confused.
And this is where The WM Review comes in.
We are here to clear away the fog.
Our primary purpose is to try to explain this traditional theology to those who are confused by the chaos. We show how this theology is reconcilable with traditionalists’ best instincts on the current crisis.
We are not talking heads or Catholic media personalities. We’re not here to tell you that you’re stupid if you don’t agree with us. We don’t want to tell you what to think on our own authority, and we don’t expect you to believe anything we say unless we can prove it with proper Catholic authorities. That’s why we say: “Always read the footnotes.”
The partisans of Rethinkery are answering the wrong questions – and they barely seem to realise what the right questions are. This is a shame, because sometimes half the answer can be found, when the right question is posed in the right way.
And this is key: we want to point you to the sources which the Church has given to us, and help you to learn for yourself.
We want to strengthen the faith of Catholics, and to give or restore to you the joy of being a member of Christ’s Mystical Body, holding to our faith in its entirety.
To do this, it is vital that we start from the right principles and proper sources. We must use these to judge our situation, not the other way around.
If anything must be rethought, it’s the faulty interpretations of the facts – not the theology of the Church.
We have so many projects which we want to complete:
1. Increasing the quantity of original essays on theology and history
2. Continuing translation and republishing classic texts that shed light on our situation
3. Expanding into different media
4. Preparation of a comprehensive “manifesto” of traditional ecclesiology and its application to our current situation.
But there are many costs associated with keeping this project online.
There are the running costs of domains, web-design, web-hosting and other such things – not to mention the enormous amount of time and resources devoured by researching, thinking, writing, redrafting, editing and publishing.
It is extremely difficult to fit this work in around family and professional commitments.
The limited time and resources we have to draw on are nothing like those of the so-called experts and Rethinkers.
If you are in a position to do so, will you make a donation today to help us maintain this project of spreading the true principles of traditional theology?
As we expand The WM Review we would like to keep providing these essays and articles free for everyone.
A one-off gift today, at whatever level you can afford, will enable The WM Review to continue the work that I have outlined above, which has proven so critical for clearing away confusion.
A monthly donation is another excellent way to help this happen. A small number of monthly donations make a MASSIVE difference, and allows us to plan ahead in an orderly way.
Of course, with larger gifts, more can be done to defend these truths of Catholic theology. Larger gifts justify us taking time away from other projects and commitments, and allow focused time on researching, writing and editing.
If you have benefitted from our content please do consider supporting The WM Review financially.
Here at The WM Review, we will never ask you to rethink or diminish any aspect of the Church’s faith.
Rather, we want to give you the right tools and principles from traditional Roman Catholic theology, to help you ask the right questions and make sense of current events.
With these proper Catholic principles in place, you will rediscover that childlike love and trust in the one, holy, catholic, apostolic and Roman Church; your faith will be “renewed like the eagle’s”; and you will enjoy a peace which the world cannot give.
Without the right questions, you won’t make sense of the right answers. Please help us continue asking and answering the right questions.
God bless and thank you all for your support and friendship,
S.D. Wright and M.J. McCusker
Editors of The WM Review
PS: There are many men of good will associated with the different traditionalist “camps” that operate today.
I hope you can see how The WM Review’s theological outreach to all traditionalists will help spread the true principles needed to keep the faith in the current crisis.
The loss of faith at present is shocking. While converts keep entering the Church, it is impossible to ignore certain high-profile rejections of the Church – and even apostasy – based on the bankruptcy of the “rethinking” theology and its inability to account for the current crisis.
Our work can and has, through God’s grace, helped to strengthen souls in the faith in their moment of personal crisis, and helped to secure them in the peace and joy which God alone can give.
We should think the best even of the main partisans of these false ideas: we should pray for them and try to help them see the disastrous course which they are taking.
But even now the forces of Rethinkery are mobilising their efforts, and the gulf in financial resources is enormous.
Without the loyalty and generosity of readers like YOU, who support us and share our work with others, The WM Review is limited in our reach. How much funding this anniversary appeal generates will directly affect our capacity to continue and expand our work.
The more we can raise, the more can be done with this project to strengthen the hearts and wills of our fellow Catholics, and work for the greater glory of God.
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See here for The WM Review Reading List in full.
[i] Pietro Parente, “Modernism”, 190-1, in Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee 1951.