In the modern world, we often hear people describing themselves as “liberals”, “conservative,” and others things when it comes to their political views. What is less obvious is that this kind of “labeling” is also adversely affecting the Church, and if these divisions aren’t addressed promptly, more and more people will be led astray by the wolves who disguise themselves in sheep’s clothing. It is becoming more and more evident that a new Protestant Reformation is beginning in the Church, and the lack of adequate response to these issues will soon lead to large-scale heresy and schism, just like in the 16th century.
The issue I am referring to here is the “traditionalist” movement that began after the Second Vatican Council and has gained more and more popularity in recent years. Before anyone accuses me of being judgmental, it should be clarified that here I am only referring to the type of traditionalism that is not in full communion with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
It is perfectly fine to identify as a “traditionalist” Catholic, but there is a fine line between orthodoxy and schism here that needs to be pointed out. There are Church-approved groups that identify themselves as more “traditional” than the majority of Catholics, and this is perfectly okay. (For anyone who identifies as a traditionalist but is in full communion with the Church, the rest of this “rant” doesn’t apply to you, but you should really consider whether it’s time for Catholics to stop labeling themselves).
Some so-called “traditionalist” groups – such as the Society of St. Pius X, have gone too far. And these so-called “traditionalists” are the ones causing the divisions in the Church in the modern world; their leaders are the wolves that appear as sheep.
Like the Pharisees, they believe they are a small and elite group that holds the Truth apart from Christ’s Church. They fail to draw the distinction between ecclesiastical law and divine law, and as a result, scrupulously follow what they wrongly perceive as God’s irrevocable commands. The Pharisees, too, often blurred the line between moral and ceremonial law, which can be considered the ancient equivalents of divine and ecclesiastical law in the Church.
To put it simply, the problem with so-called “traditionalism” is implied in its name: the making of tradition into an “-ism.” In other words, these people are willing to give up everything, including their proper obedience to the Church’s Magisterium, for the sake of what they wrongly perceive Apostolic Tradition to be.
The SSPX and other schismatic “traditionalist” groups attract many supporters and sympathizers because of their outward appearance of holiness. They manipulate Catholics who are dissatisfied with the Church’s current practices by offering a more “traditional” Catholicism. They persuade people by making it seem like they are leading these Catholics to the Truth, but they are really leading them away from Christ because of their schism with the Church. Instead of encouraging people to obey God’s commands and the rightful authority of the Pope and the Magisterium, they simply cause others to turn away from the Church. Yet Jesus was very clear: whoever rejects Peter rejects Him.
While it seems on the outside that these schismatic “traditionalists” are leading people to God, they actually turn their converts against the Church, and against Christ Himself. Is this ringing any bells here?
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are” (Matthew 23:15).
Truly, it is clear who the modern-day Pharisees are, it is clear who the wolves disguised as sheep are.