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Two Treatises

A pair of recent books attack the Vatican and its current policies form the core of radical traditionalist teachings.

As in the long-ago days of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, today's radical traditionalist Catholics make their fiercest arguments through the publication of treatises. Two recent works, in particular, throw down the radical gauntlet.

The first major bombshell dropped by contemporary radicals is the anti-Vatican diatribe, We Resist You to the Face, which was published in tandem in 2000 by Catholic Family News , a similar publication called The Remnant , and the group . The "you" of the title refers to the late Pope John Paul II, depicted in photos in the book as a bug-eyed man in civilian apparel.

The book's basic argument is that the church has been on the wrong course since Vatican II, especially on three issues: "desacralization," meaning changes in the Mass; "egalitarianism," meaning democratizing policies that weaken "papal monarchy"; and "ecumenism," a concept of religious unity under which even those with "false religions" can be saved. The book ends with a statement that is clearly schismatic: "Catholics who truly love the Church have the duty to resist" all manner of "progressivism," particularly if it comes from the pope. After citing approvingly an order from 638 A.D. expelling practicing Jews from Spain, the final essay in We Resist You also argues that the most egregious mistake now being committed by the post-Vatican II church is "not combating the errors of the Jewish religion."

Not least because of its title, Alphonse Matt, publisher of the conservative Catholic newspaper, The Wanderer, describes We Resist You to the Face as "an angry, aggressive statement" (Matt's estranged nephew, Michael J. Matt, runs The Remnant, a radical traditionalist Catholic publication). For Alphonse Matt, whose family has been in the Catholic publishing business for three generations, the book's authors are "on a schismatic trajectory that can only have tragic consequences."

The corollary to We Resist You is The Great Façade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church. Published by The Remnant Press (which also publishes The Remnant) in 2002, The Great Façade was written by two men. Christopher Ferrara was the lawyer for the parents of Terri Schiavo, the woman in a persistent vegetative state who became a cause célèbre for Christian Right leaders who unsuccessfully fought to prevent her feeding tube from being removed in 2005. His co-author, Thomas E. Woods, was once a member of the neo-Confederate League of the South, a Southern secessionist group with white supremacist ideology that Woods now says he has nothing to do with.

The book, which developed out of a series of essays in The Remnant, expands on the arguments made in We Resist You. In it, Ferrara and Woods savage post-Vatican II church leaders for having led a "debacle" culminating in the "widespread infiltration" of the church by LGBT people, part of an "ecclesiastical disease that is raging out of control." The Great Façade also attacks "Judaized, semi-gnostic" sects said to be deforming the church through their ecumenical events, and warns of the Masonic threat, citing The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, an anti-Semitic tract. And The Great Façade decries changes made in 1964 to the Mass to excise the words, "We pray for the perfidious Jews."

Ferrara remains a true believer. But his co-author Woods told the Intelligence Report in late 2005 that he had cut his ties to Ferrara and had "spent the past 18 months trying to mend fences with people we attacked in The Great Façade." Woods, who is now the associate editor of the more mainstream magazine, The Latin Mass, declined further comment last September on the theological views he espoused in The Great Façade. But in earlier correspondence with the Report, Woods said he had "no interest in being involved in a 'traditionalist movement' that permits no disagreement even on matters not strictly of faith," adding that he would not "work toward the establishment of a Catholic monarchy in the U.S."