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Sunday, February 22, 2015

A New Stage in the Neo-Catholic Witch Hunt

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Karl, Karl, KARL! Karl, Karl, KARL!

During what I have called the Benedictine Respite, the traditionalist movement achieved a long overdue measure of justice from the Roman Pontiff. Benedict XVI liberated the Latin Mass from its forty-year-long false imprisonment, lifted the always dubious “excommunications” of the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), and ordered critical corrections to defects in the vernacular translations of the Novus Ordo Missae that traditionalists had long protested—first and foremost what Msgr. Klaus Gamber (with the future Pope’s approval) rightly called the “truly scandalous” alteration of Our Lord’s words during the first Mass from “for many” to “for all.”

It was Pope Benedict himself who noted with dismay the furious resentment he had provoked within the Church merely by doing justice to the SSPX. As he wrote in his letter to the world’s bishops explaining why he had lifted the excommunications:

"At times one gets the impression that our society [the Church] needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint."

Thus did even the Roman Pontiff experience something of what it is like to be a Roman Catholic traditionalist in the midst of the post-conciliar revolution in the Church, practicing the Faith as a member of the “one group to which no tolerance can be shown; which one can easily attack and hate.”

In a development as tragic as it was unprecedented, Benedict abandoned the Chair of Peter, surely in part because his gestures in favor of Tradition had incited so much hatred against him, which only added to the burdens of office he felt he could no longer sustain. The Chair has been turned over to the Pope of “Mercy and Compassion,” who delights the world media as he bashes traditional Catholics weekly and destroys the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate precisely on account of what Benedict was hated for: “a definite traditionalist drift.” Under the title “the Francis Revolution,” the post-conciliar revolution is back with a vengeance to the world’s rapturous applause. The season of justice for traditionalists has ended and the persecution resumes anew—assisted, as it has always been, by the polemicists of what can only be called the neo-Catholic constituency, which has defended every major step in the auto-demolition of the Church while hounding traditionalists incessantly for their opposition to this ongoing disaster.

Recently it seems these same neo-Catholic spokesmen are heedless of the manner in which their continuing witch hunt of traditionalists is playing into a dynamic of persecution in the same civil society that hails Francis as “the Great Reformer.” We have in the Church today the sorry spectacle of a kind of internal functional equivalent of the Southern Poverty Law Center, seemingly eager and willing to provide “evidence” that would warrant state investigation of their fellow Catholics under the expansive new categories “hate crime,” “homegrown extremism” and even “domestic terrorism.” One specialist in this business of demonizing his fellow Catholics is Mr. Karl Keating, who has made a career-within-a-career out of attacking this newspaper and the proponents of the views it represents.

There is something supremely ironic and not a little sad about Karl Keating’s writing career: that his most significant work, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, published back in 1988, is a vigorous apologetical approach to the errors of “Bible-based” Christianity that would now be viewed as completely unnecessary, if not an outright embarrassment, by the “ecumenical” Churchmen of the post-Vatican II era.

Reflecting the new mentality, Pope Francis opined as follows during a meeting with the “Ark Community,” a breakaway Anglican sect that purports to ordain women as priests: “We are sinning against Christ’s will because we continue to focus on our differences… [O]ur shared baptism is more important than our differences.” The idea that we sin against Christ’s will by focusing on the errors of the Protestant sects turns on its head the teaching of Pius XII, who condemned the false notion that in the Church’s approach to Protestants “things which are rather accidental be not so emphasized, that what is most essential, namely the defection from the Catholic faith, be scarcely any longer seen or felt.” Contrary to Francis, Pius insisted, in line with all his predecessors, that “by no means is it permitted to pass over in silence or to veil in ambiguous terms the Catholic truth regarding the nature and way of justification, the constitution of the Church, the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, and the only true union by the return of the dissidents to the one true Church of Christ.

Worse, the new attitude of utter laxity concerning Protestants and their errors implicitly rejects the infallibly defined necessity of holding the Catholic faith for eternal salvation (cases of inculpable ignorance aside): “Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity (Athanasian Creed).” In short, the novelty of “ecumenism” has destroyed the very reason for a work like Catholicism and Fundamentalism. The errors Keating so deftly exposes in that book simply no longer matter for salvation in the minds of the overwhelming majority of the members of the Catholic hierarchy. On the contrary, the Pope himself now opines that it would be a sin to focus on them!

In the midst of an unparalleled crisis of faith and discipline that has rendered his best work irrelevant, however, Keating has devoted much of his remaining literary output to unprovoked personal attacks on traditionalist writers and commentators who have documented the crisis he resolutely ignores and have called for an integral restoration of doctrinal and liturgical Tradition. His favorite target has been this newspaper, concerning which he exhibits a preoccupation that seems proportionate to the extent to which its positions have been vindicated by events and its influence has grown in consequence.

Keating has just stepped down as President of Catholic Answers, citing a desire “to devote more time to writing and speaking.” If his latest book is any indication, it appears that Keating will devote the rest of his writing career to perfecting the art of character assassination. When he wrote last year that Michael Matt’s late father would disown the Remnant were he alive today, I thought Keating’s anti-traditionalist polemic could not sink any lower. I was mistaken. The New Geocentrists, which Keating has published under his own trade name (Rasselas House), purports to be a critique of the geocentric theory (that the earth is the center of the physical universe). But the book is merely a vehicle for Keating’s descent even deeper into the ad hominem sewer that has become his literary habitat.

In the opening pages of this more than 300-page-long attempt to make a number of people look bad, including me (I receive a brief mention for having given a friendly interview to Robert Sungenis concerning geocentrism), Keating indicts himself as a character assassin: “The focus is more on the people than on their scientific and religious claims. Their claims are not neglected, but I make no attempt at comprehensiveness and feel no obligation to do so.”        Confronted with the ad hominem nature of his work, Keating confirmed it in the very process of denying it: I also write about the actions and eccentricities of Bob and other geocentrists because these things are useful in judging whether these people are trustworthy interpreters of positions they disagree with.” What do the actions and eccentricities of people have to do with the merits of a particular scientific theory? Nothing, obviously. They are cited for the admitted purpose of an ad hominem attack that evades serious discussion of the theory on the merits: don’t believe geocentrism because its proponents are kooks.

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Here Keating indulges in the fallacy known as “poisoning the well,” a species of the ad hominem argument by which one recites assorted embarrassing facts about a person—in this case his strange opinions—rather than debating the objective merits of the position he defends. The argument is just this crude: Mr. X, who believes in geocentrism, holds a number of kooky opinions on other subjects. Therefore, geocentrism is false. The shyster trial lawyer specializes in this sort of argument, often skirting a contempt of court citation for attempting to prejudice the jury. (To be distinguished are legitimate attacks on a person’s credibility as a scholar of the subject at hand, which can be shown by demonstrating errors in his work on that subject. To the extent Keating does this in the book, his approach is unexceptionable.)

For the record: I don’t subscribe to the geocentric theory, but I defend the right of Catholics such as Mr. Sungenis to hold it and recognize that the science involved is far more complex than Keating’s few basic arguments against it would suggest, even if I am still convinced that the geocentrists must be wrong somewhere. At any rate, the theory is of little interest to me beyond my surprise that its advocates are not so easy to refute. I like the idea that these contrarians cannot simply be dismissed with a sneer by the Enlightened Ones such as Keating, who has to resort to ad hominem attacks to make his case—such as it is—against “the New Geocentrists.”

But then, Keating’s book is really not about geocentrism as such, although he makes some effort (but by his own admission not a comprehensive one) to address the theory on the merits. Geocentrism is merely the entrée to Keating’s attempted serial murder of his targets’ reputations by making them all look ridiculous or evil and by loosely associating each of them with the opinions of all the others through depiction of a rogues’ gallery of undesirables, even though there are no connections between many of them. (Mr. Sungenis, for example, has not written anything for The Remnant in eight years and has no professional or other working relationship with this newspaper or me). Keating, then, employs the sleaziest of polemical tactics: guilt by association, even if the association occurs only between the covers of his book. Indeed, a number of the “New Geocentrists” he targets (me, for instance) are not even geocentrists! No matter, Keating somehow manages to rope them all into his meandering roundup of the usual suspects (plus a few new ones).

The real aim of the book is the character assassination of traditionalist Catholics in line with the neo-Catholic establishment’s ongoing SPLC-type inquisition. This is shown by the scattershot nature of Keating’s text, which cobbles together an assortment of sly innuendos and suggestions of lunacy on the part of his various subjects. There is, of course, the old reliable implication of “anti-Semitism,” which Keating conveniently defines as broadly as possible, recounting his quibble over various dictionary definitions by email with Sungenis. Keating attributes “suspicion of Judaism” to The Remnant—an allegation vague enough to encompass everyone from a true anti-Semite to Christ Himself and the Apostles in their conflict with the Pharisees, and even the Catholic Church in her traditional liturgy and the pronouncements of numerous Popes before Vatican II on the Church’s relations with the Jews.

Then there are the obligatory snide references to Freemasonry, sedevacantism, 9/11 conspiracy theories, the controversy over whether Quo Primum was abrogated by Paul VI, “anti-evolutionism” (as if this were a bad thing), criticism of Vatican II, supposed rigorism respecting the salvation of non-Catholics, a supposedly "idiosyncratic view of Fatima," and, for good measure, aversion to democratic government and—oh the horror—“the wistful desire for monarchy.” Yes, if you want to make someone look crazy in our enlightened age of total depravity, you simply must throw in a reference to Christian monarchy. Boo. Hiss. (Keating, not being much of a thinker, has never considered what even the anti-Federalists opposing ratification of the Constitution could see back in the late 1780s: that the President is nothing but a thinly disguised elective monarch whose potentially tyrannical powers could well exceed the alleged tyranny of George III and that, in fact, the monarchical principle is alive and well in what we now call “the Chief Executive.”)

What do all these subjects have to do with “the New Geocentrists”? Not a thing. The very title of the book is a ruse. Worse, it seems Keating has been scouring comboxes for the strangest opinions he can find on the part of certain subjects—none of them mine or The Remnant’s. He would have the reader believe that it is relevant to his purported discussion of geocentrism that one of his targets (I will not embarrass him by naming him) expressed doubt about the moon landing, speculated that NASA satellites could have created crop circles, and opined that the Monica Lewinsky affair was a setup by Jewish political operatives. The reader is supposed to gasp in horror at these kooky ideas with the effect that all of “the New Geocentrists” Keating invites us to revile are tainted by them.

The Remnant is denounced at least a dozen times for reasons having nothing to do with its airing of a debate over geocentrism (which included criticism of the theory by Father Brian Harrison). For example, there is this summary condemnation: “The Remnant is getting to be more and more of an embarrassment to traditional Catholicism as time goes on, and it becomes increasingly clear that it is a journal devoted to seventeenth-century antiquarian thinking.” The “source” for this allegation is an unpublished letter to the Editor of The Remnant by one Charles Brusca, which Keating turned up on the Internet at the writer’s personal website. Brusca, whose letter Keating cites at least eleven times, is a priest of the schismatic Old Catholic Church. How is that for irony? Such is the depth of Keating’s “research.” I guess he was in a hurry to get the thing done, so any cut-and-paste from the Web sufficed for his rhetorical purposes.

Indeed, Keating all but admits that discrediting The Remnant was one of the primary aims of this rambling, self-published screed. In its opening pages we find this bit of fustian melodrama: “There is satisfaction in being privy to knowledge that is unknown to the generality of mankind. It is no accident that one of the publications that repeatedly has given geocentrism room in its pages is called The Remnant.” Dum da-dum-dum! Dum da-dum-dum-dummmm!

In a comment I made on an interview Keating gave to Catholic World Report about his book I noted how odd it is that Keating has spent so much time writing a book in order to bash a few orthodox Catholics while having nothing substantial to say about the state of the Church described only days ago in an historic open letter by an Archbishop Emeritus of Kazakhstan, Jan Pawel Lenga:

One can observe at all levels of the Church an obvious decrease of the ‘sacrum.’ The 'spirit of the world' feeds the shepherds. The sinners give the Church the instructions for how she has to serve them. In their embarrassment the Pastors are silent on the current problems and abandon the sheep while they are feeding themselves. The world is tempted by the devil and opposes the doctrine of Christ…. In our days the voice of the majority of the bishops rather resembles the silence of the lambs in the face of furious wolves, the faithful are left like defenseless sheep."

“Rather than being preoccupied with a few people who think the earth is at the center of universe,” I wrote,

should we not be turning our full attention to a current state of affairs prophesied by the future Pius XII in 1931? Quoth the future Pope (as recounted in his biography by Msgr. Roche):

“A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, ‘Where have they taken Him?’”

In the same open letter Archbishop Lenga quotes a document that would certainly elicit a sneer from Keating and his fellow Enlightened Ones: the Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, a Masonic blueprint for subversion of the Church that both Blessed Pius IX and Leo XIII thought it urgent to publish widely for the admonition of the faithful. Here is what the Archbishop quoted, along with his comment thereon:

It will not be superfluous to remind my brothers in the episcopacy of an affirmation made by an Italian masonic lodge from the year 1820: “Our work is a work of a hundred years. Let us leave the elder people and let us go to the youth. The seminarians will become priests with our liberal ideas. We shall not flatter ourselves with false hopes. We will not make the Pope a Freemason. However liberal bishops, who will work in the entourage of the Pope, will propose to him in the task of governing the Church such thoughts and ideas which are advantageous for us and the Pope will implement them into life”.

This intention of the Freemasons is being implemented more and more openly, not only thanks to the declared enemies of the Church but with the connivance of false witnesses who occupy some high hierarchical office in the Church. It is not without reason that Blessed Paul VI said: “The spirit of Satan penetrated through a crack inside the Church”. I think that this crack has become in our days quite wide and the devil uses all forces in order to subvert the Church of Christ.

It would appear that this courageous Archbishop, elevated to that rank by Pope John Paul II, would qualify as a target of Mr. Keating’s endless anti-traditionalist jihad.

In the closing lines of all his rambling about a few Catholics he considers outré and whose reputations he would like to destroy, Keating asks: “Will this resurrected cosmological theory gain a larger following, becoming a long-term thorn in the side of the scientific establishment, or will it disappear once time takes its current proponents from the scene?” Keating seemingly has no idea how laughably trivial the question is in the context of this terrifyingly stormy epoch in Church history. Nor does it seem to occur to him that in churning out this screed at such a time he reveals himself to be something of an eccentric.

It is telling indeed that while Keating seems to relish portraying traditional Catholics as crackpots, he apparently sees nothing of the crackpot in Modernist subversives like Cardinal Walter Kasper or Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, who plays lame saxophone on TV, has wrecked the Church in his native Honduras, and is now taking his show on the road as a member of Pope Francis’s progressive-dominated Council of Eight, telling the loony left Jesuit magazine America that Pope Francis will “renovate” the Church “to the point where it becomes irreversible.”Nor, along those lines, does Keating see any lunacy at work in a “Synod on the Family” whose controllers produced a document that declares the Church should “value” the “homosexual orientation,” admit public adulterers to Holy Communion, and start appreciating all the positive elements in civil marriages, adulterous second “marriages,” cohabitation, and even “homosexual unions.” Nothing strange there, eh Karl?

And so it ends with Mr. Keating. He has never devoted even a fraction of the time he has wasted attacking traditionalists to opposing public enemies of the Church who have been in the process of demolishing her from within before his very eyes and throughout his tenure as President of Catholic Answers. Even now, in the twilight of his career, he continues to revile a tiny minority of traditional Catholics while the Church is under siege from internal enemies who seek to destroy every last bastion of the Faith. The man’s behavior remains as sad as it is mysterious.

It is a good thing, then, that Catholic Answers has a new President. I offer my congratulations to him in the hope they will be accepted as the olive branch they are meant to be. Perhaps now that organization will be able to come out from under the cloud of its former head’s grand obsession with “radical traditionalism” as opposed to the real danger that confronts the Church in our time, described by Msgr. Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei: “A foreign way of thinking has entered into the Catholic world, stirring up confusion, seducing many souls, and disorienting the faithful. There is a ‘spirit of self-demolition’ that pervades modernism...” The result, which Keating has spent his entire career ignoring, is a Modernist crisis now so profound that the very mission Catholic Answers was founded to conduct has been abandoned by Rome itself.

 

 

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Last modified on Saturday, February 28, 2015
Christopher A. Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara: President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., Mr. Ferrara has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century. Having served with the legal team for high profile victims of the culture of death such as Terri Schiavo, he has long since distinguished him a premier civil rights Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Ferrara has been a lead columnist for The Remnant since 2000 and has authored several books published by The Remnant Press, including the bestseller The Great Façade. Together with his children and wife, Wendy, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.

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