Hobblehoy made a very good post, which I believe deserves its own thread.
If my wife hadn't pointed it out to me (Her: "It has upvotes already -- I should probably read it!" Me: "Schiavo thread? Not exactly a subject I'm interesting in...")
Here is the gem of a post, with my comments in the post that follows:
Perhaps I may make a complete idiot of myself for entering into this exchange, but after much reflection I feel myself compelled to make the following general remarks, which are not aimed at anyone in particular, although they chiefly concern the American sedevacantist world (since it is the only one I've ever known so far):
1. I believe there has to be a balance between zeal for defending the integrity and purity of the practice and profession of the faith, which in these sad days sometimes entails an ardent battle against errant clerics and layfolk (which is true for other traditionalist circles and the N.O. diocesan predicament), and a spirit of prayerful recollection that does not allow such zeal to become a hindrance to the cultivation of the interior life.
2. The individual Catholic has a right and duty to correct in all humility, verity and charity those clerics who presume to have a sort of authority wherewith to bind their consciences when these same clerics have proven themselves unworthy and incompetent to exercise such authority by manifest abuse, especially because said authority does not exist as every "independent" cleric is bereft of jurisdiction in the external forum. These individual Catholics, moreover, are obliged by fraternal charity to warn their fellow brethren of clerical abuses that may scandalize or endanger their souls and those souls under their care (as in the case of parents, educators, &c.).
3. The above cannot be effectively or efficiently done without the prior cultivation of those acquired moral virtues that will ensure clarity of mind in the midst of the most obfuscating of questions, and stability of heart before the most unnerving of trials. In addition to the prayer and good works that the cultivation of such virtues requires, there needs to be a certain amount of discretion in expressing oneself when it comes to these grave matters.
Now, having made those general remarks, I shall now address a particular point that was made by Mike:
I took a look at the VoV site, it is indeed disgusting. There is no cause whatsoever to talk about priests and bishops that way, I don't care what their problems are. When St. Francis met a priest who was openly living with a concubine, did St. Francis go and write a website about him mocking him? No, he bent down and wept and begged the priest not to tarnish himself, as he was consecrated to God. I understand being outraged by a priest's actions, but this feels like calculated destruction of someone's reputation.
Sometimes the tone of the criticism in question does unnerve me, and it is quite saddening, but it is saddening precisely
because it is an understandable reaction to abuses that are utter baneful and should be denounced. These abuses actually took place. All pious sentimentality in the world will not change that FACT.
Yes, the example of St. Francis is to be imitated, because Holy Orders confers upon a man a dignity that is wholly hallowed and ontologically superior to even the dignity of the Angelic choirs. However, St. Francis never faced the possibility of reverencing Episcopi vagantes
or clerics who attained to Sacred Orders without a Papal mandate. As I have said before, it is precisely because the present day clerics do not have a Canonical mission nor jurisdiction in the external forum that they cannot publicly bind individual consciences or ascribe to themselves the dignities and prerogatives of the Bishops and Priests that ruled over the faithful in ages past by authority of the Supreme Pontiff.
These clerics must
prove themselves worthy of the pastoral care of the faithful before the souls for whom the intend to care with whatever supplied jurisdiction the Church can give, and this onus is all the more grave precisely
because of the sanctity of Holy Orders. As they say in the courts, the burden of proof falls upon them. If they prove themselves unworthy or incompetent by manifest abuse, injustice, immorality, imbecility, &c., then they lose the right to be reverenced until they do penance and restitution for their misdeeds, just as a Church that has been violated or polluted cannot be licitly used for Holy Mass and other sacred rites until it is reconciled according to the rites of the Roman Pontifical.
This is what the clerics who have deserved such violent censure have done, and they appear to be pertinacious in their error, since they have yet to apologize to the injured parties. Good will must be presumed in the spirit of charity, but there is just too much evidence to maintain this stance when it comes to the clerics whom the VoV site and Pristina Liturgica criticize.
It would be nice if their tone was a bit tempered, but I cannot blame them for that, because they have witnessed (or have been subject to) a systematic victimization that is simply inexcusable.
They doing a very important service for the sedevacantist faithful for the reasons I have already mentioned. The authors of those sites are not clerics who pretend to bind consciences, so they don't have the burden of proof in that regard. When it comes to their allegations about particular instances, they have provided ample proof. They just reporters of unhappy happenings.
One may argue, "Well, what good can this do for their spiritual life? Are they personally more holy because of their internet reporting?" Well, such an argument is a mendicant for questions, since it is impoverished of answers. First of all, no one created or creatable intellect has the cardiognosis whereby to judge the state of souls, or to gauge the spiritual progress of the individual Christian; we cannot be judges of consciences. Secondly, the faithful need to be aware of these problems in order to arrive at a prudent and well-informed choice when it comes to the practical aspect of certain key praxes immediately pertaining to the faith: what Chapel to attend, to which Seminary to send young men, to which collection basket to give what amount of money, &c. Without the ability to make such practical judgements, one cannot have the stability necessary in order to cultivate the interior life, especially when there is danger of scandal that will either tempt one to despair and abandon the faith, or lull one into a Quietist and apathetic torpor that will merely perpetuate the sort of mediocrity that had allowed these abuses to occur in the first place.
When a man decides freely to attain to Sacred Orders in these confusing times for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls, and his actions and attitude betray a contrary motive and result in outright abuse, then the faithful must make a practical judgment in order to avoid scandalizing themselves and others.
Do the VoV and Pristina Liturgica sites do a good service, in light of the things mentioned above? Yes, in my opinion.
Are they above censure? No: no one is above censure. They could temper their tone, but they were the ones who witnessed this, and it is understandable that they express themselves the way they do.
All I can do is pray for them, as well as for the clerics who have caused all this mess, and especially for those clerics who have suffered because of it.
Again, these are my personal opinions. I may be wrong, so don't cite me as authority (please!).