Editorializing about the SSPX under the guise of reporting

It is amazing how bad the reporting in larger liberal secular newspapers and services can be when it comes to Catholic issues.  Consider this abysmally deficient blurb from WaPo by someone whose name suggests he ought to be better informed, one Francis X. Rocca.

My emphases and comments.

Schismatics discuss Vatican demands, but future unclear

By Francis X. Rocca| Religion News Service, Published: October 10

VATICAN CITY — Leaders of an ultra-traditionalist group [What makes them “ultra-traditionalist”.  Will he go on to explain the why of the “ultra” or will he merely leave it steaming on the floor of his article?] that’s in schism with the Roman Catholic Church [Five minutes of research on the SSPX and schism would perhaps have modified this sentence.  Or does he have an agenda of his own?] met to consider the Vatican’s conditions for reconciliation, but failed to announce a decision or say when they would do so. [“Failed”? Why the word “failed”? They didn’t promise to release anything definitive.  So, what’s the writer’s game?]

In my opinion, this goes beyond reporting into editorializing under the guise of reporting.

In any event, you can read the rest there.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Spera_in_Deo says:

    I always see “ultra-conservative” Catholics as Sedevacantalists. Perhaps the mainstream media just doesn’t understand Latin. But they all seem to be experts in Canon Law and the history of the greatest organisation on the planet.

    One thing the SSPX definitely are is ULTRA-Careful; as they have seen what has happened to every other group who has relented and gone back.

  2. mattmcg says:

    The sad thing is, Francis Rocca should indeed know better. He’s an otherwise brilliant writer. About politics, that is. Shame he’s in the dark here.

  3. MarkA says:

    The WaPo going “beyond reporting into editorializing under the guise of reporting”? Color me Captain Renault.

  4. jbas says:

    Even trying to give the press as much credit as possible, it is just inescapably obvious to me that they consistently make factual errors in their Catholic Church reporting. This makes me wonder how wrong they are about other subjects with which I have less familiarity. When a statue was stolen from a local church, one TV station here reported it as a “relic” of “Saint Leon”. It’s as if they don’t even try. In this case, “ultra-traditionalist” and “failed” can be written off as subjectivity, but “schism” concerns a factual state. If they want to be liberal journalists, fine, but do some research, man.

  5. irishgirl says:

    I know I get irritated when I read articles about the Church in the secular press. They are either biased on the liberal side (as this WaPo article is) or the writer doesn’t have a clue about Catholic doctrine, history, or practice. Drives me nuts!
    I echo jbas’ comment: ‘Do some research, man’!

  6. Supertradmum says:

    No offense, but the man is neither objective, nor brilliant. More and more, we see partisan reporting, instead of good, old, and disciplined journalism. No oxymoron intended.

  7. Centristian says:

    Blessed Pope John Paul II, during whose reign the big showdown between the SSPX and the Vatican occured, was somehow, mysteriously, bizarrely, impossibly–and routinely–described by the media as “rigid”, “conservative”, “ultra-conservative”, “archconservative”, and a “traditionalist”, whereas, as far as I could observe, not one of those adjectives could ever have applied to him. I certainly can’t imagine Archbishop Lefebvre ever granting him any of those lables.

    After watching the media somehow manage to cast John Paul II in the role of conservative traditionalist, I am today convinced that as long as any pope stands firm against abortion and firm in support of an all-male clergy, he could tap dance on an altar shaped like Gumby in a bedazzled rainbow-colored poncho-chasuble and a smiley-face miter while playing “Tip Toe Through the Tulips” on a ukelele in the company of an Animist shaman, a Buddhist monk, a Hindu priest, and a female Presbyterian minister in the Church of Reconciliation at Taize and would nonetheless be described by the media as a “rigid ultra-conservative”.

    “Ultra-traditionalist” might actually rather accurately describe the SSPX, however. Most “traditionalists”, I think, keep their traditionalism in Church, whereas the SSPX and their followers do not. That may be what puts them over the top, so to speak.

    As I see things, there are “traditional Catholics” (Grandma who goes to Mass every day and says her Rosary and makes her devotions and says grace before every meal but who might not have been to a “Latin Mass” since 1969), “Traditional Catholics” (capital “T”…orthodox Roman Catholics who prefer to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form and wouldn’t mind seeing it restored as the Ordinary Form of Mass), and “Traditionalist Catholics” (the above becomes intensified as an “ism”…orthodox Roman Catholics who attend the Extraordinary Form of Mass, exclusively, regarding the “Novus Ordo” Mass as a bastard rite, deficient and just plain wrong no matter how it’s celebrated. It’s a cause, not merely a preference).

    If there are “ultra-Traditionalists”, I would suppose it would be the last group coupled with something of a reactionary world view that stretches beyond the chancel, into the political and social spheres. That would certainly be the case with the SSPX. Yes, we want to restore the “Old Latin Mass” but only because we want to restore the “old” everything: the “old” style of clothes, the “old” style of music, the “old” style of courtship, the “old” style of government, the “old” king, the “old” flag, the “old” style of architecture, the “olde” style of writynge, &c. In short, the we want to restore, completely, the “old order”. Perhaps that’s what makes the SSPX “ultra-traditionalists” as opposed to mere “traditionalists”.

    I somehow doubt the writer thought about all that when choosing that term, however.

  8. Jack Orlando says:

    Words mean things, as journalists know Ultra, as far as I know, originated with the French Ultras in the Restoration, Charles X and his bunch. They rejected any compromise; they rejected the legitimate authority of the Legitimist king, Louis XVIII, who had allowed a parliament. They wanted everything to return to 1750. And they were overthrown in July 1830.

    On one hand, most of the SSPX people whom I have met do not reject compromise and do not reject legitimate authority. They are good people who just want the TLM, doctrinal clarity, and otherwise reverence in worship. They aren’t ultras.

    On the other hand, I have met a small handful of those who do NOT attend Mass with the SSPX but instead the EF — a Mass under the jurisdiction of a bishop in full union with Rome — who consider V2 to be a “poisoned cake”, that it must be utterly abolished, that we must return to 1950, who utterly refuse to attend the OF under any circumstance, and who even have denigrated and defamed good priests offering the MEF, including Father Z, to say nothing of Holy Father. In short, they reject both legitimate authority and any honorable compromise that might work toward a modus vivendi — and they consider themselves the ones who judge what is a compromise. Such can be found in some of the commenting on the otherwise useful rorate-caeli and the good theanglocatholic[dot]com, posting repeatedly and commenting with bile and vitriol, always deaf to argument, and regarding those who disagree to be satanic heretics. Their absence from WDTPRS[d0t]com, I suspect, is not of their choosing.

    I’m sorry to say that every Sedevacantist whom I’ve met is an ultra of ultras. Even the French Ultras didn’t deny that Louis was King.

  9. SimonDodd says:

    “[SSPX is] in schism with the Roman Catholic Church”; Fr. Z comments, ‘Five minutes of research on the SSPX and schism would perhaps have modified this sentence. ””

    If SSPX isn’t in schism, why does it exist, and why is it contemplating a doctrinal preamble to bring it back under submission to the Holy See?

  10. TheAcolyte says:

    SimonDodd: A 5-minute review of their website, http://www.sspx.org, would reveal that they were founded (and officially approved by the Roman Catholic Church) to form priests. the “doctrinal preamble” is a mechanism for ending the liberal-political ostracization that the liberals have imposed upon the SSPX – starting in the early 1970’s with the worried French Episcopacy.

  11. Jucken says:

    “They are good people who just want the TLM, doctrinal clarity, and otherwise reverence in worship.”

    If this guy is right, then apparently what they really want is power – which could be even further proof that they are really just a political organization with a religious façade.

    La conclusión generalizada entre ellos es que la oferta que les hace la Santa Sede “es peor” que la que ya les habían hecho Juan Pablo II y el entonces cardenal Ratzinger en 1988 […] Los actuales dirigentes tradicionalistas aseguran que, si su líder no aceptó aquella propuesta que era más ventajosa, ¿como van a aceptar sus sucesores ésta que es peor y, en un momento, en que la Fraternidad está más fuerte?
    (rough translation: the general conclusion between them (the “lefebvrists”) is that the offer made by the Holy See “is worse” than the one that John Paul II and then cardinal Ratzinger had already made in 1988 […] The current traditionalist directors assure that, if their leader did not accept the more worthwhile previous offer, how are his successors supposed to accept this one that is worse, in a moment when the the Fraternity is stronger?)

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