A Rebuttal to Pope Francis Is Tearing the Catholic Church Apart ROUGH DRAFT

The Common Places of Siliconía
11 min readAug 13, 2021


From the above op-Ed from Michael Brendan Dougherty, editor of the National Review:

“I have faith that one day, even secular historians will look upon what was wrought after Vatican II and see it for what it was: the worst spasm of iconoclasm in the church’s history — dwarfing the Byzantine iconoclasm of the ninth century and the Protestant Reformation.”

The fact that an Irish Catholic with a degree from a Jesuit University (Fordham) is making the hysterical claim that Vatican II was worse than a religious epoch-making revolution which plunged Northern Europe into a thirty year long war and killed off ⅕ of the German population, which violently divided France for a century, and which continues to this day in Northern Ireland is stunningly laughable. Claiming that Vatican II was worse than the Protestant Revolution is indicative of the breathless hyperbole that has always accompanied the Traditional Latin Massers (Traddies or TLM’ers for short). Only they can save civilization. Only they know the way, the truth, and the life. Only a return to the Old Ways can save us from the decadence of the Modern Ways.

The problem with this is quite clear to anybody that ever took a Hermeneutics or Historiography class at University or has studied Confucian Philosophy — How do we know that the Old Rites that we are reconstructing are identical with the actual Old Rites? How do we close the hermeneutical gap? How do we know that our reconstruction of the Past is accurate? I’m not a historiographical nihilist. I do believe we can reconstruct the past with some sense that what we have built is the same as what used to be. But I’m also aware of the fact that we may be wrong.

When we reconstruct the Tridentine Rite Mass we bring the form and letter of the Rite to life, but we absolutely miss the Historical Context that that Rite exists in the context of The Counter-Reformation and Heresy Fighting. The Church Militant language is rather ridiculous in a day and age when Catholics and Protestants are only at each other’s throats in Northern Ireland or at some pulpits in various Hardline Conservative Protestant houses of worship in America. It is as ridiculous as the Protestant fear that JFK was going to take orders from the Pope. (Although, as an aside, I do believe that Kennedy’s Catholicism is what got us mired in Vietnam.) Church Militant language can only exist in a world where the Roman Catholic Church has political power. The RCC hasn’t had political power since 1870 when the Italian state swallowed up the Papal States. And good riddance. Would the Son of Man who upturned the lenders’ tables in the Temple really want the temporal authority that dwells in Rome?

The Roman Catholic Church now wields aesthetic power. And it wields a tremendous amount of aesthetic power and prestige. Perhaps less so in The Global North, where the Faithful have watched decades of clerical abuse flaunt itself hypocritically, denying communion to Joe Biden over abortion all the while cruising for gay sex and molesting children. The Faithful have fallen away because of a realization that the Church is merely an institution and in the day and age of the Internet, most Catholics of the Global North have no faith in institutions. But in the Global South, where Francis is from? In the Global South, the People of God have faith in the institution of the Church. Obviously, not everywhere. (It has been next to impossible to get my Mexican Universidad Iberoamerican friends to attend so much as even an Easter Mass.) But I have seen with my own eyes, the power of the Church in Latin America and in the ex-pat Filippino communities. Perhaps this middle-aged child of Vatican II views Liberation Theology through too rose-colored a lens.

Is the Novus Ordo Mass a hodge podge of quirkiness? Yes.

Is the Guitar Mass lightweight? Yes — although this is a failure of White Catholics to come up with decent Worship music. I’ve attended Mass in New Orleans where the band had a background in Blues, Jazz and Gospel, and they fucking killed it. Perhaps I am being a bit profane here. But that is the result of my authentically Texas Gael upbringing — lo sagrado con lo profano.

Is the talk show host nature of modern homiletics trite and annoying? Oh hell yeah. But not every priest has that vapid “Lemme tell you what my funny niece did” style. My godfather was educated in the 1950s at Louvain. He was a master of the powerful homily — be brief, be brilliant, be gone. He trained an entire generation of priests in the 1980s. But you know what happened? Conservatives in the diocese where I grew up painstakingly ran Larry’s priests out of the diocese. The bishop even went so far as to ban one priest from brewing beer. This particular priest was recognized by the American Beer Brewing Community as the best brewmaster in America. He won the Ninkasi Award. And Bishop Olson banned him from brewing beer. So Jeff quit. And so you’re left with uninspired prattle by priests who have fallen quite far from Fr. Michael McGivney’s model of the fighting priest and pillar of the parish.

Not that this Platonic Ideal of the Parish Priest has gone poof into the cosmos. I have seen this priest before. There is a Spanish Dominican running around Tainan, Taiwan who ministers to the Filipino community there. He preached a homily on the fourth Sunday of Advent, 2011 that sent shivers through me. It was the 500th anniversary of Antonio De Montesino’s rant against the Spanish conquistadores and their dehumanization of the New World Indigenous. This homily called out injustice and stood with The People of God. That is what we should be hearing. Not some dumb story about Niece Darcy and her cookie jar or whatever.

Good Lord, but TLM’ers are whiny. Why do all White Conservatives have such a victim complex? MBD has to ignore the complete eradication of Liberation Theology and VII priests at the American diocesan level over the past thirty years to make his claims that Francis is tearing the Church apart. The Church got torn apart by that Pollock. This is why I hard roll my eyes at TLMers. It’s thinly veiled Eurocentrism and White Supremacy.


At the root of all this is the “is it is or is it not my” heresy of Modernism. In effect, Vatican II was the absorption into the Church of the suite of Heresies called Modernism. I’m not going to waste a lot of time disputing that. My parents and godparents, all of them Irish-Catholics to varying degrees, were unrepentant Modernists. Such was the era. I, with my bizarre combination of Girard, Brunoism, Daoism, too much Deleuze, too little Nouvelle Theologie and a hefty dollop of Process Theology, am literally a Post-Modernist Catholic. I wholly admit that I have drifted off the mark of orthodoxy. But I am well aware that my interpretation of the Christ-Event and how we walk Gospel Road are not considered normal. Not everybody explains away the missing years of Christ with a story about how he became a guerrilla fighter in the Persian Army and harassed Rome on their Eastern Flank for fifteen years until his childhood friend got married and he returned home to Galilee like some Aramaic Martin Guerre. Here’s the deal, I’m 100% fully aware of my Post-Modernity and the arbitrary assemblage of my cosmovision. I’m fully aware that not everybody is the son of a nun, godson of a man who went to seminary with Gustavo Gutierrez. Not everybody spent the first ten years of their life going to Mass in a base de comunidad. I know where I come from. I don’t need to recreate some imagined community. But the TLM’ers do.

Michael Brendan Dougherty is simply not aware that his TLM’er community is EQUALLY as arbitrary and Post-Modern as The Conulaidhian Community. (My name for my upcoming Sex Cult. We’re always taking applications.) But Dougherty, like all Salafists can’t admit that his desire to return to the Origin is as constructed an identity as mine is. And so, he writes a 1400 word mewl in the NYT about how Francis is destroying the Church. All Salafists always do this — it doesn’t matter if they’re Gulf Arabs or Respectability Micks. They can’t admit that their identities are in fact as arbitrary and contingent as everyone else’s. And so they construct structures of whiney grievance as ornate and complex as the Neoplatonic Castles in the Clouds of Porphyry or Ibn ‘Arabi. And then they spread the propaganda, like Steve Bannon or Pat Buchanan, that only the return to The Latin Mass and the Church Militant can save our souls and our civilization. To this Post-Modern Catholic Anarchist, it’s transparent BS. To this Loyola educated philosophy major, it’s just weak thinking that good ol’ Dr. Pat Bourgeois would have mocked heartily. You boys cannot be certain that the Tridentine Rite is actually quite what you think it is. The old ways are gone and they aren’t coming back.

I grew up in a base community. Some of you were there with me. After watching the members of that Community step in and literally save my mother’s life when her own brothers and sisters abandoned me and told me “they didn’t need to see that” and “to fucking handle it”, I will take the jumbled hodge podge of the hippie guitar Mass People of God over the assholes in The Church Militant any day of the week.

III. The Real Old Ways:
Irish history is riddled with the corpses of revolutionaries who were stabbed in the back by their own people. For every Irish man or woman who stood up against oppression by the English, there exists another Irish man or woman willing to sell them out for twenty pieces of silver. In much the same way, the Irish American Community splits clean in two. On the Left, you have Joe Biden, Tom Hagan, my own father, and myself. On The Right, you have Pat Buchanan, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Michael Brendan Dougherty. The Left vs Right Divide isn’t new. It’s the old split between the Shanty Irish and the Lace Curtain Irish. Between John Boyle O’Reilly and the informer who turned him in when O’Reilly tried to organize the Irish in the British Army. Between my Grandmother’s people and my Grandfather’s people.

I have spent most of the day mocking this op-ed. But it is Friday and I am generally brain dead by Noon. As such, polemic satire is a decent pursuit of time and energy.

Just to start — Why would somebody who is supposedly so proudly Irish be so tone deaf to the song of Irish History that he would hold up English Intellectuals as proof of the soundness of his argument?

MBD is a fucking Respectability Mick who suffers under the same delusion that all Right Wing Irish Catholics in America suffer under — that Euro and Anglo Centric thought is superior to their perceived maudlin prattle of their ancestral Hibernia and our ancient, prehistoric kinship with the Milesians. In short, Dougherty just doesn’t want to go to Mass with Hispanics.

The idea that the Latin Mass is ancient is an anachronism. It is a relic of The Counter Reformation. If Dougherty truly wanted a taste of Ancient Catholicism, he would be better off learning Old Irish and posting up with the puffins as a hermit on Skellig Michel. The Green Martyrdom has more claims of being authentically Christ-like than anything that ever came out of Rome. Dougherty is little more than an informer, a Gypo Nolan with a Jesuit education.

IV. A Catholic Monarchy for the Coming Climate Anarchy— For the above Op-Ed to come off as the plea of an innocent victim, MBD has to leave out that the Traddies are always accompanied by virulent Illiberalism. Striding a few steps behind any TLM’er is some form of Catholic Monarch. More than a few Traditionalist Catholics that I have personally met pine for an imagined feudal past, steeped in Neo-Thomist Medieval fantasies where of course, they would be knights or monastically ensconced in some hermitage translating Aristotle from the Arabic. Or more pertinent to the past twenty years, Templars fighting off hordes of faceless Mamluk Moors bent on ravishing Alballine Europe and Her heaving bosom of Honey and Milky White Purity. The fantasies are as LARPy as the Lost Causers who want to revisit the perpetual defeat of The American South at a local Civil War Battlefield near you. In reality, the Middle Ages sucked for almost everyone. These imagined realities that people are nostalgic for and fantasize about never work out the way you want them too. A little bit of Tragic Realism would teach you that. And this is how Catholics are supposed to think in the first place, anyway!

If we reestablished feudalism, there would be a very high likelihood that you would be a gruel eating serf, scraping money together to purchase an indulgence for your dead beloved mother to get her soul out of purgatory. You would probably not be Sir Perceval, Godly Knight of the Realm.

But I mean, fuck it. If we’re going to live in a fantasy land, I propose a little something like this:

“I hereby establish a glorious Catholic Monarchy here in the Kingdom of Texas. The first thing we do is promulgate the Edict of Dallas. We massacre to a man, woman and child the Evangelical Protestants. Burn them! BURN THEM LIKE CARLOS SHOULD HAVE BURNED LUTHER AT WORMS!!!!

Except for the nice liberal Protestants. They’re made of asbestos and can stay.”

Cuz if we’re gonna be illiberal, fuck it, we might as well go all the way.

Everybody wants authoritarianism, but what if we actually had a Catholic Monarch? It would probably wipe most of the Traddie Catholics out in the first wave of establishing the Kingdom. They would be viewed as an organized threat to the Power of the Crown and be burned, banished, or beheaded.

The only institution numerically large enough to counterbalance the Chinese is actually the Catholic Church. So, if we establish a Catholic Monarch of Texas, He would automatically have Mexico, Brazil, and The Philippines on His side and a good portion of Sub-Saharan Africa. All the rare earths in The Congo? All property of the Catholic Monarch of The Kingdom of Texas. Think about how badass this would be. We would have a Nuclear Armed Catholic Monarch. Think how fucking fantastic that would be! A Nuclear Armed Carlos V. But from Texas. It would be like The Hapsburgs, but without all that sister-fucking, hemophilia, and skronky chins. A Queen and six concubines would handle that problem. The Catholic Monarch of The Neo-Hapsburgian Kingdom of Texas would fly a flag that resembled the Mexican Eagle, but perched atop an alligator. With some ICBMs in each talon, and the beak would be bloodied with the entrails of heretics and Gnostics.

And He would encircle the Chinese Communist Party and they would bow their heads at His Theocratic Majesty and pout in the corner. “Ok I guess we’re the Middle Kingdom. Except Middle for mediocre, not Middle for the center of the world. We bow to the Excelsior King.”

Oh hell, yeah. And then He’d put a Space Base on Mars and Call it Giordano Bruno Station.

Fuck. Yeah.

V. Latin is for high school kids. Real Catholics Learn Chinese

4. I grew up in a base community. Some of you were there with me. After watching the members of that Community step in and literally save my mother’s life when her own brothers and sisters abandoned me and told me “they didn’t need to see that” and “to fucking handle it”, I will take the jumbled hodge podge of the hippie guitar Mass People of God over the assholes in The Church Militant any day of the week.