Audio CDs available
Report from the 2013 Catholic Identity Conference
A Magnificent Event!
The Second Catholic Identity Conference was held in Weirton, West Virginia on the weekend of September 20-22. It was even better than last year’s event. The symposium included a variety of speakers from different but complementary backgrounds. The many attendants came from various parts of the country, some driving from as far as Nebraska, some flying from as far as Oregon.
Catholic Historian Dr. John Rao gave a sophisticated presentation titled, “Global Confusion and the Coming Catholic Resurgence” Dr. Rao believes we are on the cusp of a Catholic resurgence, even if events will have to get worse before they get better. It was an encouraging talk, reminding us to look at the present crisis within the context of a larger history. We are now living out the results of what he calls the “independence principle”; that is, man declaring himself independent from both society and from the supernatural. Among a number of other points, Dr. Rao explained that there has been the temptation of Catholics for more than 150 years to allow the massive modern confusion to overwhelm them, wherein they end up fighting the battle on the enemy’s terms, and even try to ‘baptize’ some of the modern confusion to make it “Catholic”. There are other Catholics who will fight only this or that aspect of the modern revolution, and fail to combat its totality. Things are coming to a head in many areas, and the cold and brutal result will serve as a good. For anything that forces us to a renewed sense of reality cannot but be pro-Catholic.
"Bicker, Backbite and Bellyache: Devising a More Catholic Response to Universal Christophobia” was the title of the talk given by Michael Matt, Editor of The Remnant. He spoke on a number of topics, including our fight for the Tridentine Mass, a need for greater affability among traditional Catholics, and practical ideas for Catholic home life. Regarding the Mass, he stresses that we should not simply argue the Old Mass as a personal preference, but take a more objective approach: the deficiencies of the New Mass itself, as well as the splendor of the True Mass. He also reminds us the enemies of the Church have tried to snuff out the Church in the past, and believed they had come close. But they are never victorious, and the periods of trial are followed by a great Catholic revival. Yet there is no doubt, there may be persecution and suffering for Catholics before this rebirth is granted to us.
Catholic Family News Editor John Vennari spoke on "Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton: Prophet Against the New Orientation." Msgr. Fenton, the Editor of the American Ecclesiastical Review from 1944 to 1963, and who Mr. Vennari calls the greatest American theologian of the 20th Century, saw clearly at the time the liberal theology surfacing in the 1940s, 50s, and early 60s and combated it. His writings are an immense source of clarity, and help us to form the proper habits of thinking in the midst of the present chaos. What is most helpful, Fenton supplied the answers to the modernist, ecumenical orientation of Vatican II even before the Council was called! Vennari takes us through Msgr. Fenton’s magnificent exposition of the two kingdoms: “The Kingdom of God vs. the Kingdom of Satan” and demonstrates how an understanding of this teaching reinforces the truth that outside the Church there is no salvation, and also wars against the present pan-religious orientation now gripping the highest echelons of the Catholic hierarchy.
Micheal Voris of ChurchMilitantTV spoke on “Homosexuality and the Catholic Church”. A disturbing presentation indeed, for however bad you thought was the current problem of homosexuality in Catholic priesthood, Mr. Voris explains that it is worse than you knew. He recaps the attempts in the secular world to “legitimize” homosexuality that stretch back to the late 18th Century; coming up through the 1920s and 30s, to the Stonewall Riots and beyond. A main tactic, as outlined by homosexual strategists Kirk & Madsen, is 1) to have people get used to seeing homosexuals everywhere, which is primarily accomplished by means of movies and television; 2) to portray homosexuals as “victims”; and 3) to “convert” people away from any anti-homosexual sentiment. The Catholic churchmen’s cave-in regarding contraception after Humanae Vitae really feeds this movement, for it introduces the idea that the sexual act can be legitimate for recreation only, and rejects the primary procreative purpose. Voris recounts hair-raising accounts of homosexuality within the clergy, hierarchy and seminaries, including a homosexual-priest Rector from the last seminary in Ireland (now closed) who formed priests for over 11 years.
Well-known author and attorney Christopher Ferrara spoke on "Saint Thomas Wins Again: How Physicists Have Outsmarted Themselves in the Search for An Alternative to God" The talk spotlighted a school of thought within quantum physics that claims the principle of non-contradiction does not operate at the sub-atomic level. The implications of this claim would mean the most basic fundamental principle of reason, always considered universal – in other words, it applies to everything – is not actually universal, and thus Thomism is outdated, as the modern superstition claims. Mr. Ferrara starts with a helpful “Reality 101” review of basic Thomistic metaphysics, moves on to modern (false) philosophical principles that try to subvert this reality, and then gets into the nuts and bolts of quantum physics. He demonstrates that the scientists themselves, in order to solve their many conundrums, must in the end return to the acceptance of the principle of non-contradiction, which remains a universal principle – and they must return to the reality and sanity of Thomistic metaphysics.
James Vogel, Editor of The Angelus, dealt with "Status of the SSPX: A Doctrinal or Disciplinary Question". He points out that the present-day Vatican continually rejects the Society of St. Pius X because the SSPX questions and resists the liberal aspects of Vatican II; such as ecumenism, religious liberty and collegiality. Yet others within the Church who are in “good standing” – such as eminent theologian Msgr. Brunero Gherardini and Catholic Historian Roberto de Mattei – now voice the same objections to Vatican II as does the SSPX. For example, Vogel quotes Gherardini who says he cannot see how the Vatican II document on Religious Liberty can square with the continuity of the Catholic Faith of all time. The “liberty” spoken of in that document, and these are Msgr. Gherardini words, “has very little in common with Gregory XVI, Quanta Cura and the Syllabus of Pius IX, Immortale Dei of Leo XIII, Pascendi by Pius X and the decree Lamentabili released shortly before by [Pius X’s] Holy Office… the content of the preceding magisterium finds neither continuity nor development in that of Dignatis Humanae.” Vogel also points out that thousands of modern priests and most religious orders – such as the Jesuits – reject bedrock teaching of the Catholic Faith, yet receive no discipline or correction from the Vatican. This is a helpful talk for those who do not understand the SSPX, and who are wary of the SSPX due to the unjust bad press the SSPX receives.
Father Gregory Pendergraft, FSSP delivered an inspiring Saturday evening Address. He covered a number of themes, including an interesting take on present statements coming from Pope Francis. In a most respectful manner, he said that one of the good results from the confusing words now coming from Rome is that it may serve to reduce what he called the “hero-worship” of the Pope. This is the exaggerated adulation of the person of the Pope, that falsely elevates almost everything he says and does to the level of infallibility, which cannot be questioned. The Church has been suffering from this inordinate exaggeration for over 30 years. And it could be that the perplexing statements coming from Pope Francis will help Catholics see that not everything the Pope says and does is infallible; and Catholics may learn to make the necessary distinctions regarding the papacy that have not been evident in recent years. He also called for a return to teaching and living the true Faith; and presented a fascinating lesson from the Fourth book of Kings that is remarkably relevant for our time.
John Henry Westen, Editor in Chief of LifesiteNews, spoke on “How Soon Till Blood? Growing Christian Persecution in America” Mr. Westen took the audience through the growing threat against Christians in North America. This is especially evident in now branding pro-lifers as potential “terrorists”, and that various pro-life groups have received intimidating visits and questioning by government agencies. There is also the persecution of professional wedding-related agencies such as cake-decorators, bed-and-breakfast owners, photographers, caterers who are being sued or charged with human rights violations for living out their Christian tenets that wishes to not support homosexuality, and who do not want tp be in any way involved with a homosexual ‘wedding’. He paints a disturbing picture that shows much is in place for an even greater persecution to come. At the same time, in relating personal accounts of his own life, he discusses the fact that to suffer persecution is the greatest witness of our Faith, and often the greatest means to help convert others.
The final presentation was a serious but amusing tag-team of Michael Matt and John Vennari. The title, "Kings, Knights & Fathers: Whatever Happened to Catholic Men?" One attendee wrote on a blog about this session: “The conference ended on a lighter note with suggestions for keeping our children Catholic, and even with a few jokes! It goes to show that Catholics teaching and living the Church’s Faith are a joyful, happy bunch!” There was a strong focus on how to keep the family Catholic according to the perennial doctrine of the Church, while at the same time maintaining a fun and joyful atmosphere in the home. The Faith should not be simply a series of “you’re not allowed to do this or that” for our children, but the home should have a happy atmosphere, and should emphasize positive pastimes such as woodworking, playing cards, music, and other activities. Points for home schooling, emphasizing the fact that every aspect of the Faith can be defended by both revelation and reason, and even aspects of ‘courtship’ were discussed in this somewhat free-wheeling session.
Congratulations to Eric Frankovitch, Todd Wilson, their friends and helpers for organizing a grand symposium.
Audio CDs from the conference are available at: