The Symbiotic Relationship Between Liberals and Conservatives

By the standards of traditional Catholics, a major controversy has erupted recently in the pages of The Latin Mass magazine and The Wanderer newspaper.

The Latin Mass published my article "Humanae Vitae: Heroic, Deficient or Both?" which prompted The Wanderer to print extra copies of their May 23rd edition containing 4 separate articles attacking: me personally, the article itself, The Latin Mass magazine for having the "temerity" to publish it, and editor Fr. James McLucas, for taking the magazine on a "dangerous and presumptuous" tangent.

You can read the original article at the website of The Latin Mass magazine. That page also has the 2 rebuttals that were published simultaneously, my response to the 2 rebuttals, and Fr. McLucas' response to The Wanderer. The Seattle Catholic website has put together a single page with links to all the articles and responses in chronological order. This site includes Tom Drolesky's analysis of what has happened to The Wanderer and my reply to The Wanderer which they have promised to publish in the next issue.

I believe an examination of the process at work here will be of interest not only to Catholics, but to all those who try to maintain and defend objective standards when the organization to which they belong decides to "reach out" and "grow."

When my father got his copy of The Wanderer, he called and left a message saying, "This is Archbishop Weakland calling to thank you for distracting The Wanderer for at least a week." Archbishop Weakland seems like a natural enemy of The Wanderer since he's an liberal bishop who has oppressed conservative Catholics throughout his tenure in Milwaukee. Now that his sordid little homosexual affair (with massive cover-up payments) has been exposed in the media, conservative Catholics are trying, in a spirit of Christian charity, to restrain their glee.

So why should a conservative Catholic newspaper like The Wanderer take a time out from exposing these "thieves and robbers" masquerading as shepherds, in order to attack a relatively unknown traditionalist? The answer is clear: because traditionalists like myself are the real enemy. Liberals, in contrast, are the conservatives' best friends. In fact, liberals and so-called conservatives live together in a symbiotic relationship.

Let's consider just a few examples: Would anyone consider George Bush to be a conservative if it were not for Al Gore? Al Gore by his mere existence guarantees the conservative bona fides of George Bush. If George Bush were compared to any objective standard of conservatism, he would fail every criteria. But by the relative standard of placing him next to Hillary/Bill/Al, he's farther to the right, even if that is still out in left field.

The same situation exists to an even greater extent in the Catholic church. Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, he who has occupied so many headlines recently, is often called a "conservative" bishop. I lived in Boston, and I can tell you that, even leaving aside the current scandals, he is nothing of the sort. For example, after a shooting at an abortion clinic (by a delusional psychotic gunman), he prohibited public pro-life displays in the diocese. He doesn't want to be "confrontational," any more than he wants to be confrontational with the Kennedys when it's photo-op time at a funeral.

The same Cardinal Law who last month led all the American cardinals to Rome for a face-saving PR opportunity had previously led the same group over to Rome a few years back in an (unsuccessful) attempt to pressure Rome into approving the "inclusive-language" Bible readings that he was responsible for producing. Cardinal Law is considered a conservative only because liberals like Archbishop Weakland are even worse. Without the cover provided by bishops like Weakland in Milwaukee and Mahoney in Los Angeles, Law would have been exposed as a modernist years ago.

Traditionalists function in just the opposite way. Instead of offering conservatives a painless self-affirmation, they show what the conservatives would be if they hadn't sold out. So in the political field, the bitterest venom of the National Review is reserved for Pat Buchanan. Tory newspapers in England wore out their word processors using terms like "racist, xenophobic, anti-semitic and homophobic" to describe Jean-Marie Le Pen. The haste with which conservatives around the world fled from association with Joerg Haider would have been comical were it not so unseemly.

This has nothing to do with disagreements over particular issues. The viciousness of these attacks is due simply to the fact that these men take positions they really believe in. They can't be counted on to toe the party line. Without agreeing with Pat Buchanan on every issue, you can see that he has a vision of America that he continually compares against objective standards of adherence to constitutional principles. This is precisely the exercise that "conservatives" want to avoid at all cost. With liberals in place to justify their existence, they can safely ignore issues such as the lack of constitutional authority for 99% of the federal government.

It is a truism (and also true) that there's not a dime's worth of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. Is your life really different in any way because George Bush is president rather than Al Gore? To tie the religious and the political realms together: has the moral climate improved now that President Bush has embraced Ozzy Osbourne at the White House? Has even one baby been saved from abortion? Has the government gotten smaller? Is the "sovereign family" any safer from government intrusion? To ask the questions is to answer them.

Well the exact same situation holds true in the Catholic church. There is not a dime's worth of difference between the so-called "liberal" bishops and the so-called "conservative" bishops. Does any diocese in the US (or the world, for that matter) allow the generous celebration of the traditional Latin Mass and the other sacraments according to the traditional rite? Does any diocese promote traditional marriage theology? Does any diocese take a critical stand against the fuzzy-logic philosophy of Vatican II? If you attend Mass in a "conservative" diocese, will you find it any more reverent or supernatural, will there be any fewer abuses of the liturgy? The answer to all the above questions is an emphatic "No!" as any practicing Catholic can tell you.

Here's where the rubber meets the road: Would I put my child in any government-run school, anywhere in the United States, regardless of whether the particular state or the federal government were run by a Democrat or a Republican? Absolutely not. Likewise, would I put my child in any diocesan-run school in any diocese of the United States, regardless of whether it was run by a liberal or by a conservative bishop? Just as emphatically no.

I speak from many years of experience. My older children suffered through 12 years of Catholic schooling in four different dioceses, none of them considered liberal. I have seen at first hand the way that parochial schools destroy whatever Catholic Faith the children bring with them when they enter. In many ways it is worse than government schooling because you are deluded into thinking that your children are getting something different. The reality is that they are being indoctrinated into the exact same mindset. You can tell that your child is attending a Catholic school when he comes home with a lot of anti-Catholic propaganda. He wouldn't get that from a government-run school.

To return to the original topic, as a conservative Catholic newspaper, The Wanderer reserves some of its most biting attacks for traditionalists. Last year they ran a 13-part series by Stephen Hand filled with scurrilous innuendo against traditionalists. Hand had been a traditionalist until only weeks before he wrote the series, when he suddenly decided he had been "blinded by the right" and turned against his former friends. (You can read the reply to that series here.)

To be fair, The Wanderer has done a huge amount of good. For example, it has been far out in front of the pack exposing the slew of clerical scandals. It has tirelessly exposed the lies and deceits of the liberals who are actively working to destroy the Church, just as Republicans serve a useful function by exposing the lies and deceits of Democrats.

Ultimately, however, The Wanderer supports the same program as the liberals.

It's mission is seen simply as fighting against "abuses" that go "too far." Just as a neo-conservative Republican and a Great Society Democrat support the exact same program, but one is a few years behind the other, The Wanderer supports all the programs of the liberal reformers, they're just a few years behind the times:

  • Promotes Vatican II? Weakland, Yes; Wanderer, Yes.
  • Promotes Novus Ordo Mass? Weakland, Yes; Wanderer, Yes.
  • Promotes ecumenical "dialogue"? Weakland, Yes; Wanderer, Yes.
  • Supports altar girls, communion in the hand, eucharistic ministers, etc.? Weakland, Yes; Wanderer, Yes.

What would Republicans do if they didn't have Democrats around to justify their existence? Would they then be forced to examine the nature of our constitutional government and how we have come to stray so far away from it?

And what would The Wanderer do if it didn't have bishops like Weakland, Mahoney and the rest of the liberal crowd to use as scapegoats for all the recent failures of the Church? Would they then be forced to examine 2000 years of Catholic tradition and notice how we have abandoned it since Vatican II?

June 6, 2002

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