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Are you an Ultramontanist? July 22, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, Papa, sadness, scandals, secularism, self-serving, the return, Tradition.

The good Boniface at Unam Sanctam Catholicam has a post asking a most pertinent question in the present environment in the Church – are you an ultramontanist?  This does not mean you accept the Dogma of papal infallibility.  That is not what the ultramontanism run amok in the present context means.  I will let Boniface explain:

There is a lot of talk these days about a kind of pervasive Ultramontanism in the Neo-Catholic world; not Ultramontanism in the classical sense, for understood classically, Ultramontanism, like the term “Integralism“, was just a phrase denoting Catholicism affirming the infallibility of the pope.In current parlance, we are not talking about fidelity to the Holy Father, but rather a kind of crass, undiscriminating Ultramontanism that is best characterized by the embarrassing spectacle of Neo-Catholic apologists tripping all over themselves to affirm every single prudential decision of the pope as not only good, but the best possible decision. In the judgment of the modern Ultramontanists, every utterance of the pope, no matter how banal or off the cuff, is treated as a profound insight; every administrative act or symbolic gesture he makes are examples of brilliant leadership; every prudential judgment and non-authoritative teaching treated as infallible truth. [thus the incredible claims that some would accept a papal claim that black is actually white, or 2+2=5]
No matter what they might say, there is a very easy test to see if the person you are talking with actually subscribes to the kind of crass Ultramontanism I have described above. Ask them to:
First, cite one prudential action of the pope which you disagree with[Kissing the koran]
Second, cite one action or statement of the pope that you agree with, though you admit that good Catholics can be in disagreement about[Pope Benedict’s quoting of the Emperor Michael II Paleologos against the cruelties of islam was actually an act of charity, not a controversial interfaith blunder.  But you can believe it was a blunder if  you want. Heretic.]
If you or your interlocutor cannot do either of these two things, they are Ultramontanists, no matter what they might say to the contrary.

I think it’s a pretty good test.  And I feel very strongly that unchecked ultra-ultramontanism is seriously unbalancing the Church.  But it is a favorite pastime of many prominent American Catholics, including most of the top Catholic bloggers.  The danger we have seen is when obedience and fealty to the papacy as an institution and understanding of the narrow limits of papal infallibility morphs into ultra-ultramontanism, we tend to see very wild swings in emphasis, and even belief and practice, from one papacy to the next.  And that only exacerbates the already existing crisis in the Church, spreads confusion and scandal, and leads more souls to fall away – or at least increases the risk of some falling away.

And the even larger problem is that, in spite of all the canonizations, recent popes have taken a number of prudential actions, and even some actions or more import than mere prudence, that are very difficult to reconcile with Tradition and in fact represent great novelties in the life of the Church.  Those novelties have tended entirely in one direction, towards progressivism/modernism/indifferentism.  And thus we have the crisis.  So it is not a far reach to say that ultra-ultramontanism is playing a big role in precipitating the crisis in the Faith, and preventing effective action to promote the timeless Truth Christ has revealed through His Church in opposition to the crisis.

And then we have TFG.  That’s the problem taken to a whole different level.

UPDATE: There is also a reverse corollary, regarding sede vacantism. One could just sort of flip the questions around.


1. Dismas - July 22, 2014

Hi. My name is Dismas. I am an Ultramontanist.

“Hi, Dismas!”

Yep. I’m also an integralist, a rad-trad and a non-crypto-Lefebvrian.


It all began in my childhood…

Baseballmom - July 22, 2014

Are you a medj-head too?????

Dismas - July 22, 2014

Cookin’ stuff up!

2. Jo Lapiana - July 22, 2014

Isn’t a heretical pope and oxymoron? When, in the past 50 years, have we had a pope that was not spewing one thing or another that was vehemently against Catholic teaching? When did communism, once aggressively fought against by our Church, become the acceptable and much sought after norm? How is it some keep trying to give VATII a pass, insisting it was just “poorly implemented?” It was designed to DESTROY the Catholic Church and specifically the Holy Sacrifice of The Mass. It has succeeded brilliantly. I do not classify myself as a sedevacantist just one very very angry Catholic who believes that my Church was hijacked 50 years ago.

“You shall know them by their fruits.”

3. maggycast - July 23, 2014

What is TFG? Thanks! God bless~

Tantumblogo - July 23, 2014

Probably a bad idea. It started as a reference to Obama. But it popped into my mind as This Francis Guy.

4. Terry Carroll - July 23, 2014

A priest I know “opined” that, perhaps, we have TFG precisely to break the growth of ultramontanism.

Consider, for example, how many discussions just STOP with St. JPII or BXVI “said…” Points aren’t engaged, rational argument doesn’t occur, ALMOST EVERYTHING today is some kind of “argument from authority” and the authority cited is, too often, nothing more than “The Pope said…” NOT EVERYTHING a Pope “says” is either true or even worth thinking about! There are very carefully and wisely defined circumstances when what the Pope “says” is Truth. Even Encyclicals must be received and judged in context. “Kissing the Koran” happened, but what that act “says” doesn’t become true just because it happened.

Things aren’t true just because TFG does or says something, and the same must be said of his predecessors. Theology of the Body, as just one example, is not “theological progress” just because St. JPII thought so. It must be received and understood in continuity with what went before, not just accepted because we like its implications for our conjugal lives and because “St. JPII said so.” There is much there that is not easily reconcilable with traditional teaching on marriage and sexuality. It doesn’t become reconcilable just because “JPII said so” and other mediocre theologians agree with him.

We need to reclaim the gift of rational argument and discourse, which ultramontanism effectively undermines.

Judy - July 23, 2014

You make some wonderful observations, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

5. Luis - July 23, 2014

Unfortunately, this Pope is dramatically weakening the respect that bishops and Popes should command. It also makes it much harder to witness because the conservatives who might make up our natural cultural allies will bring a traditional “eww, Catholics are corrupt” viewpoint when we try to evangelize them.

6. Tim Thunell - July 23, 2014


Tantumblogo - July 23, 2014

Already answered in the comments.

7. Augustine Thomas - July 24, 2014

I guess there’s something wrong with me, because I do see problems in the borderline heresy that Pope Francis constantly babbles on about, but I don’t see any in BXVI being honest about the bitter fruits of Islam.

8. Branch - July 25, 2014

I know this is a bit off topic, but I came across this by Fr. Geiger and I’m wondering what you make of it:


I’m wondering if this is authentic guidance or more of a self-serving action considering how lockstep he is with the current ‘direction’ of the Church.

Tantumblogo - July 25, 2014

What has he said? Not much, really. He’s built up his favorite straw man to epic proportions again, climbed into his cab, fired up the engine, and started swinging the wrecking ball to knock that mean old traddie straw man down in a subsequent post.

This looks like a continuation of his jihad against the caricature of traditionalists he’s been engaged in for years. I would almost describe it as an obsession at this point. The suffering that has resulted is simply tragic. Note that it is really only his opinion of the most dire errors of this caricature that has driven the entire intervention and resulted in all that has followed. It is also only his opinion of what constitutes traditional and the associated “errors” that informs all the by now hundreds of pieces he has written on this subject. Much of that opinion is gross exaggeration or simply not true.

There is more I can say, but don’t really have permission to make it public. To say he is controversial in his order would be the greatest of understatements.

I’m not sure how he plans to tie this effort into spiritual direction, but one thing I know for sure – you can’t get spiritual direction over the internet.

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