Thursday, August 08, 2013

Radical Catholic Reactionary Hilary White's Incorrect Claim About the Origin of the Inane Epithet, "Neo-Catholic"

By Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong (8-8-13)

Lately there has been a big stink about an article by radical Catholic reactionary Hilary White, at, in which she ran down the pope (which is what radical Catholic reactionaries do, by nature). It has been noted that her affinities and biases were made clear in her article for the notorious RadCathR rag, The Remnant, entitled, "Revenge of the Neo-Cats" (23 Nov. 2011).

Origins of terms (particularly ones meant to be denigrating) are important. They tell a lot about what is in the head of those using them. They also often reveal things that even those using the terms are seemingly unaware of.

I found it interesting that in perusing the above article, Hilary White couldn't even do her research and correctly identify who it was who coined the ridiculous term, Neo-Catholic. She states: 

It was first coined in a 2002 book called The Great Fa├žade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty, by Christopher Ferrara and Thomas E. Woods Jr.

Now, she must have some basis for believing this, one presumes. It can't be from the book itself, since it states clearly in its footnote 6 on p. 10:

This term was first suggested by the renowned Presbyterian convert Gerald Christian Matatics, who is now a Catholic traditionalist. Mr. Matatics, while still a Protestant, was a careful observer of the phenomenon of "neo-evangelicalism," by which the more traditional Protestants underwent a process of liberalization that he was aghast to see in the Catholic Church after his conversion.

Thus, it is ironic that my copy of this book was given to me by Matatics himself, when we met and talked for a good hour one day, after I attended one of his lectures, given to literally about seven people.

In passing, it's fascinating to note that the book employs a far more radical usage of Neo-Catholic than White does in her article: much closer to being simply a thoroughgoing theological modernist, or liberal, or progressive. To illustrate with just one example, drawn from the same page as the footnote above:

. . . willingness of this group to accept the introduction of novelties affecting virtually every aspect of the Faith as it is lived and practiced by Catholics in the pews, even if those novelties patently lack any continuity with ecclesiastical tradition and are palpably offensive to the sensus catholicus.

The other thing to note about the book is that co-author Thomas Woods, Jr. now distances himself from it, and from Ferrara. He wants to be taken seriously as a serious historian, so to be associated with the relentless patent nonsense in that book is rather contrary to that worthy goal. He eventually woke up to that reality, whereas Ferrara, undaunted, continues dishing out foolishness in this regard, just as he has, lo these many years.

But I'd like to go back to the actual originator of Neo-Catholic, Gerry Matatics. As Catholic apologist Karl Keating recently noted, this illustrious person, whom Ferrara described in 2002 as "a Catholic traditionalist" became, a few years after that, a sedevacantist (literally, "the seat is vacant"), meaning, a person who thinks that there is no pope at the present time. Sadly, his descent into Theological Kookiness didn't even end there. Keating noted a report by Matatics from May 2014, detailing what he now believes. In Matatics' own words:

. . . the inconsistencies of even "traditionalist" forms of counterfeit Catholicism . . . do not completely adhere to the perennial principles of the Catholic Faith. (That of course resulted in my coming to see, by God's grace, that in fidelity to such Catholic principles I could no longer morally attend, not only such FSSP "Masses," but as well the Masses offered by the SSPX or similar clergy, or even those offered by unauthorized "sedevacantist" clergy of the SSPV, CMRI, et al).

See the trajectory there? He started out by doubting Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Mass, and being a champion of the Tridentine Mass, but in due course came to believe that there is no pope at all. At length, he decided that no priestly ordinations whatever are valid, so that there is no Mass at all, anywhere. That's an odd conclusion to arrive at, from one who was originally part of a movement that strongly advocated the Tridentine Mass. Now he is perpetually in mortal sin and can scarcely be described as a Catholic at all, let alone a "traditionalist" one.
Perhaps "Neo-Atheism" will be his next step (with the obligatory halfway house of ultra-liberal Anglicanism). And this is the guy who coined Neo-Catholic (and who helped his friend Scott Hahn become a Catholic in the mid-80s). How the mighty have fallen . . .

This is what can happen when one adopts false premises. Matatics is simply more internally consistent than many other radical Catholic reactionaries. He followed the line of faith-challenged skepticism to its logical diabolical end: no Mass at all anywhere in the world (or if there was one somewhere, one would hardly be able to identify it).

I thought my readers might be interested in knowing a bit about the spiritual journey of Gerry Matatics: the person who actually coined Neo-Catholic, contrary to Hilary White's false claims as to where the term originated.

* * *


Julian Barkin said...

Hello Dave,

Good to see you writing again. A note and a question.

Note: For any readers of this blog, I'd highly advise you to read Scott Hahn's prolific book, "Rome Sweet Home" that details Hahn and his wife's conversion to the Catholic Faith. In it, you can see some of the interaction and the parallel conversion of Gerry and his wife to the faith, though Gerry has since rejected his Mother Church.

As for my Question, I'd better be the devil's advocate and ask it, as I'm sure the hate mail will start flowing your way. Better a Trad Behaving Badly fighter do this than the TBBs themselves: (In cocky, cantankerous voice) Well! Looks like you've jumped the bandwagon onto the Hate Train of Hilary White! How dare you! Well, if you think her terms are incorrect or she has the wrong info on them, I'd probably hate your thoughts on the whole Hilary White/Lifesite News/The Crescat/Mark Shea etc. debacle. Hmph! What say you on that you hater! Hah! (end cocky, cantankerous rant)

Can't wait to hear your reply or see your next post. Pax, Julian.

Dave Armstrong said...

I've never stopped writing. :-)

I don't hate people, but I hate falsehood, and that's all I was pointing out here, as well as making an observation about how Kooky Ideas often derive from folks who hold to Kooky Ideas.

I liked Matatics personally when I met him, and I'm sure Hilary White is a delightfully charming woman. That has no bearing whatever on my critiques of their ideas.

People can try to draw me in to foolish ad hominem fights if they wish. It doesn't work with me. I argue based on reason and fact. Whoever cares little about those two things doesn't have much to discuss with me, and I am very vigilant in the use of my time, as a matter of stewardship under God.

St. Paul warned us not to engage in stupid controversies or to hang out with divisive people.

I don't allow trolling, insults, or mere preaching on either my blog or Facebook page, but I'm always happy to allow (most) contrary opinions, expressed without hostility, in an intelligent, courteous manner.

Alex Dornan said...

Wow, you immediately start in with nastiness. Forget the accuracy of the reporting. Come on. This is vile.

Dave Armstrong said...

How can I forget the accuracy of the reporting of a reporter? Am I supposed to worship at the altar of inaccuracy?

Thanks for your textbook example of a
ridiculous use of hyper-polemics.

God bless!

Mark Alan said...

Hello Mr. Armstrong,

You have my sympathy when dealing with these truly do.

God Bless ya man!

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks, Mark. Please pray for me.

Stephen Spencer said...

The circular firing squad continues...

M said...

A side issue, how do you generally feel about those who don't like Pope Francis' style, who don't like the direction he's taking the Church, or the decisions he has made? Does that very thing alone make them a reactionary in your eyes (or close to one, or getting there)?

Better yet, say, hypothetically speaking, we have gotten a "bad pope", who really does make terrible decisions and undermines Church teachings (albeit unwittingly), how should Catholics properly react to that?

Honest question.

In my view, I do not think it is appropriate to bash or criticize the Holy Father out in the open, as if he were just another politician or public service provider. I think the main course of action for many of us Catholics in such a situation would be silence, prayer and sacrifice. If we have complaints, respectfully write a letter to your bishop, instead of airing out the Church's dirty laundry on the internet where things tend to get lost in a sea of public misinformation.

If we do find ourselves in such a situation (not impossible, right?), it would be with a great sense of sadness and trepidation that I would even begin to address the issue even in private. So I've always wondered, how would you react in such a situation, if in the future we were given a truly terrible Pope?

Dave Armstrong said...

how do you generally feel about those who don't like Pope Francis' style, who don't like the direction he's taking the Church, or the decisions he has made?

I think they are misguided: duped by liberal media reporting and radical Catholic reactionary garbage.

Does that very thing alone make them a reactionary in your eyes (or close to one, or getting there)?

No, but the criticisms tend to be made by those who are in that camp or close to it. How I define my term is habitual, continual bashing of the pope, Vatican II, and the Novus Ordo Mass. Ecumenism is also another big target of the RadCathR.

Better yet, say, hypothetically speaking, we have gotten a "bad pope", who really does make terrible decisions and undermines Church teachings (albeit unwittingly), how should Catholics properly react to that?

Pray, urge retirement, contact bishops to put pressure on the pope, explain to the public that he is not "mainstream" or a good representative of the Church. We haven't had a bad pope in a long, long time.

Your view is that of a sensible, mature Catholic. Most of the criticism of the pope that we see today is not that at all. It's imprudent, arrogant, spiritually prideful, cynical, quasi-schismatic, secularistic, rather than with the eyes of faith, and with a solid knowledge of Catholic history and tradition . . .

Just another mad Catholic said...

Dear Dave

Do you have to be so hard on Rad Trads ? Many of them were brought up in very confusing times when Orthordoxy was practically non-existant in many places and they were constantly slandard and ridiculed for simply wanting to worship the way our Fathers worshipped for nearly 2000 years.

As Such they view the world with a bunker mentality and often have trouble differentiating friend from foe.

It doesn't help that after Pope Francis ascended to the throne of St Peter he allowed the sadistic attentions of Fr. Volpi to be turned loose on the FI, they (not unreasonably in my view) view what is happening with the FI as a possible precursor to what might happen to their own communities, having only been able to freely worship (without the Bishops permission) the way their forefathers did for 7 years.

I will say however that you are much more charitable with your treatment than Mark Shea.

Julian Barkin said...


While I do sympathize to a degree with the liturgical abuse point you are making with your argument, sadly, these people do not exhibit charity when they argue with people like Shea, Armstrong, et al. and view ANY perceived attack on the Latin Mass or things they don't like as a work of Satan. Many a times, it's not critical analysis, but detraction, slander, and calumny disguised under a thin veil of "concern," where anyone from young people up to the Pope himself is a target. Bishops, and the Pope aren't stupid and they are picking up on this. If you've read more of Armstrong's work, you would see evidence of such in his infamous "blue" texts.

Sadly, the extremists online and in person, in self-professed leadership, tend to outweigh the moderates online and the good people in the pews at most Latin Masses. Further, the more radical non-SSPX Trads Behaving Badly, do tend to be older adults of the generation you describe. The younger traditionalists didn't grow up with the upheaval and generally stay away from all this, not to mention hate the conflict and anti-Vatican II/Pope Francis attitudes of their more radical seniors/contemporaries. Even so, that does not excuse the TBB`s behaviour including their bunker mentality. It will only serve to backfire and get the Latin Mass shelved again, which is why people like Armstrong and I are doing our best to fight the injustices caused in the Catholic Blogosphere, and/or in person. If you have been on the receiving end of their behaviour, maybe you'd have more sympathy for us and why we do what we do.

As per the FFI issue, it seems like you fell for a typical bait example from the Trads Behaving Badly. Not everything true is being revealed by those sites.

Check out this, from one of the FFI's very own ACTUALLY ORDAINED AND PROFESSED priests/Friars:

After reading this post and the weblink, then tell us what you think with regards to your points on both the mentality of the TBBs, and the FFI issue. Have you gained more clarity on the items at hand?


Dave Armstrong said...

Do you have to be so hard on Rad Trads ?

I'm half as hard on them as they are on popes, Vatican II, the New Mass, and "neo-Catholics." This is a lot of the point here.

But when someone dishes it back to them they scream bloody murder, cuz we are being "uppity."

I don't bow to double standards; never have; never will. If unrighteous judging with little restraint is supposedly okay, righteous indignation over those things certainly is also.

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, etc.

Just another mad Catholic said...


I was not suggesting that you bow down to double standards but I was trying (as a young Trad) to illustrate the mentallity of many trads who as I said have difficulty telling friend from foe and due to decades of being on the recieving end of the WORST kinds of abouse from the heretics and apostates in the hierachy, not to mention having their concerns ignored by Paul VI and John Paul II TAKE any criticism of their position as coming from the mouths of heretics, even if it is from those who ought to be their natural allies.

Put simply, it's at the root of it a psychological problem rather than a X.Y, Z sentence in A.B.C document or Papal quote. The best way to diffuse their anger is probebly to have a beer with them & chat about common secular interests whilst your kids and theirs play tag in the back garden.

Mr Barkin

I am PR man by training, Facts don't matter a bean here, Trads are quite simply scared (not unreassonably in my view)that in the future a Bishop could use the suspension of Priests being able to say the Extraordinary Form as a pretext for forbidding his Priests to say it.

As I have said before, these in the main part are people who lived through the dictatorship of heretical and apostate Bishops who in typical liberal dictotorial fashion did their upmost to destroy the Church's liturgical patromon, eliminate concept of the Mass as a Sacrifice and to try and turn it into with no reference to the Gospel of Our Lord. I think of Bishop Donald Trautman who before Summorum Pontificum refused permisison for a requium Mass in the Old Rite for a Man who had dedicated his life to the Extraordinary Form and who had arranged everything so that all the Bishop had to do was give perimission.

Furthermore think about the SSPX, I assume that everyone here wants them to be cannonically regularized ? Nevermind the facts how do you think Fr Volpi's actions LOOK to the SSPX Priests and Faitful ? it looks like the 70's all over again with liberals abusing the vow of obedience to try and destroy the Church.

As I said, facts are irreleivent, these are people who think that Pope Francis is going to be John Paul II all over again with the liberal wackos running the asylum. They think HOW Come the rebellious LCRW crowd haven't had the rule book thrown at them. To use an analogy, a lot of trads can be compared to abused dogs that need alot of tender loving care before they can be reasoned rationally with.

Dave Armstrong said...

. . . TAKE any criticism of their position as coming from the mouths of heretics, even if it is from those who ought to be their natural allies.

I agree with this and think it is a profound insight, that may perhaps explain the lion's share of garbage I and others have received back when we critique, or even when we try to build bridges.

The replies are irrational and extreme, and usually hyper-insulting. I just went through it twice in the last week.

And why? Because of emotionalism . . . if someone has been maltreated, I suppose that is a natural and understandable response. One thinks of the analogy of the treatment of black people or Native Americans. Lots of open wounds there still, making discussion about the issue tough and often like walking on pins and needles.

I also agree that the best way is to become a friend. It's pretty difficult to do online, because of the limitations of the medium. Anyone who meets me at my parish, I'd be happy to talk to and have a beer, if the insults and silliness can cease and we can have a real face-to-face, heart-to-heart talk.

Dave Armstrong said...

Of course, as an apologist, I'm always gonna critique false ideas, so I cannot totally escape people reacting when they get their toes stepped on (i.e., their ideas) or sacred cows slain, etc.

I can't get away from that. It's always gonna be present wherever apologetics are in play.

But I'm all for being friends, too. It's just that it ain't all that easy to do online, and there is some negative feeling towards apologists, too, that I have to deal with all the time (sort of an occupational hazard).

Guady Serrano said...

HI there Dave,
I just finished reading the article from the Remnant and I went to the Life Site news website and wrote a comment to them stating that it seems puzzling to me that a person is says she is pro life openly attacks the church, especially Pope JPII. I have often struggled with Life Site News because they share the truth about life and the family but openly attack the Church. I think Hillary displays a lot of misinformation and false witness to the Holy Church. I stand with you Dave on this because I have a mixed opinion on Life Site News because of these comments and it has lots of credibility issues. Probably, they will delete my comment.

Also, I do think that those who critique Vatican II and display a tone of arrogance and almost vile hatred toward the 'modern Church are like Protestants with rosary beads. I know you are very open to the Traditionalist movement and I also know that you are a faithful son of the church. These Rad Trads or whatever they are called aggravate me because of the attitude that they know more about the church.

I commend you on your work and your ministry and am passionate about the Catholic faith. One question: What do I do about Life Site News, because they are controversial and I don't know if I can trust their credibility when a writer like Hillary attacks the Church.

As always, your website is awesome and I have learned so much and want to continue to learn and to pray for our Holy Mother church and her wonderful Beauty and blessings she offers.

Christophe M said...


The writer on the last post is Christophe, when you see Guady, this is my wife's email. Not sure how to change the google address to publish my comment.

Dave Armstrong said...

Great comment, Christophe. I agree.

I think all we can do is write to the site, respectfully, and write articles on our own pages protesting against their errors. That's the way that change comes: when people feel pressure.

We must do it with love, for sure, or else the impact is greatly minimized.

Christophe M said...


When I went to Life Site news, I noticed that they deleted my post (not surprising) and attacked Mark Shea and another female (not sure the name. Many people continue to call apologists like you Neo Catholic which is inaccurate. I tried to write back but they will probably delete the message. I said that I was trying to be kind but that fidelity to the Church was essential....

Life Site also said that there was a recent conversation about Pope Francis celebrating mass with an openly gay activist priest..amd kissing him with a kiss of peace. What do you make of it? How do you respond? It seems as Catholics we are living the siege mentality and fight over these things.

Could you comment on this incident and the role that Hillary seems to play in it? Is she a RADCatholic or is she faithful to the church? Many are defending her saying that it is important to talk about this but I'm not sure what to do about this...

Dave Armstrong said...

I haven't studied the gay priest incident, so can't make an informed comment. I'm sure someone will in due course, and that it'll turn out to be much ado about nothing, as with all other such "papal scandals" that I have examined.

Hilary White seems like what I would call a radical Catholic reactionary, from what I've seen. I had another post on Facebook, where she flat-out bashed Vatican II. Frequent use of "Neo-Catholic" is almost always an indicator of that status.

I distinguish it from "traditionalists."

Wait for Jimmy Akin to write an article about the incident. He does great work.

Johnblog said...

Long time reader and now at times a fence sitter on all this. But this article just left me scratching my head. Oh good, Dave has a start to new chapter to vol II of the pope explained--which I bought and read--; nope its about Ms White...its about terminology again, kind of; nope its about Matatics. Frankly it seems like they have really gotten under your skin because you are now writting like them. It seems a strong and derogatory adjective is used whenever refering to them. And you want to be friends and rightly consider yourself the professional. This last reply was a doosy for didnt study the article about the pope and cant comment and yet you open the main article saying white ran over the pope?? Just saying...

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for your comment.

Now if you want to actually discuss the issues involved instead of psychoanalyzing me and how I write, feel free!

Guady Serrano said...

to John Blog,

I defend Dave here. Ms. White was out of line and disobedient. Why do 'orthodox' catholics have to be labeled 'liberals by Rad Trads when the Rad Trads are actually disobedient. I'm not suggesting that the pope is always right in non faith and morals (see Dave's article on ultramontanism) but as Catholics we obey the pope or we don't. We accept the Church teaching of Vatican II or we don't. We accept all that the magisterium has taught since Christ revealed it to the church or we don't. I find it interesting that you chose to say that Dave has not studied the issue yet. Maybe he has not had the time to but even if that is the case and even if Pope Francis made a poor decision and I don't think he did, he still is the Vicar of Christ on earth I and submit to his will...As St. Alphonsus said: "The voice of pope is the voice of God. I submit to God's will".

Ms. White is dangerously treading on direct disobedience just like Archbishop Lefevre acted and this breeds arrogance...

I think that you are right to ask questions and to be critical of things that Dave may say...but that is the beauty of dialgous, honest discussion and I hope that you can continue to have it with him based on the Word of God, the teachings of the bishops and the pope and the holy magisterium

May God always bless you and bring you His love and peace.

Christophe M said...

Again, Dave, I put in the wrong email for my comment. This is Christophe writing again..

Johnblog said...


Thank you for nice comments. Ms White, well she reported the Pope met with someone. Obviously there is a lot of baggage there I am not familiar with about her other writing and Lifesite in general. But if we are discussing this article then it is probably best to address it in that context vs the history of Ms White. Did she make an error, sure, does it really matter in context...likely not. As for lables I think its much to do about nothing. When I see "radical" the first thing that comes to mind is other Catholics are jihadists? But who cares, people label others all the time and in the end I think it is just a distraction.

Yes we need to follow the Pope but I think he would agree everything he says--like his favorite color--is not mouth of God teaching. He thanked people for criticizing that must be ok? You know honest and faithful people can have a hard time reconciling pre and post VII teaching. More prayer...

Johnblog said...

Point taken Dave, but how about this. Matatics is a pretty rare if not lone example and I have seen reactionaries kick sedevacantism types off discussions boards, so getting that far you need extra motivation. And that extra stuff appears to be mystics and old news reports about councils, freemasons, etc. Maybe you know more specifics about Matatics. What better punishment for Church is there than bad preachers!? Is White one step away from observation...unlikely.

Dave Armstrong said...

My point was that even the very term, "Neo-Catholic" come from a source who is so far out in right field that he doesn't even attend Mass and is no catholic at all.

Matatics is a warning as to what MIGHT happen when people want to think in these erroneous ways, not what MUST or WILL.

Christophe M said...

I actually was referring less to this article than to the actual one that Hillary wrote on the website 'The Remnant' which has some troublesome statements that she makes...I'm not saying the pope is beyond reproach or without sin. But, he has the charism of infallibilty on faith and morals, when a council is called by the pope. The pope can be wrong on some areas (except faith and morals) and obviously I don't advocate that everything he says is infallibe and true but...

1. He is the pope and deserves respect if not for the man but for the office.
2. I understand that many people have a hard time with Vatican II but to express it in a negative way is not fair and not right. I do not consider Hillary a traditionalist (labels are ugly terms a lot of times but we still need to define our terms). Dave is correct to point out that Hillary would be a radical catholic reactionary because she puts in question Vatican II and almost mocks Pope JPII.
3. My point with Hillary is both the term Neo-Catholic to refer to people who are trying to follow the Church (orthodox-right teaching) is problematic but she is writing for website that has credibility (I think) and has many Catholic writers on the staff who are 'faithful sons of the church'. I also know that the Catholic Church is the largest promoter and defender of the unborn in the world but I question how a journalist in Rome can be so defamatory towards the council and JPII in particular (with a few cheap shots towards Pope Benny) and be 'a faithful son of the Church'. I do not know her motives nor her heart. Be aware that respectfully disagreeing with the pope is possible but to demean and attack her very foundation is wrong and misguided.I think Life site news loses credibility here and makes them look like ultra conservatives who are unwilling to accept anything the coucil teaches (or at least accept very little of the Council)

Johnblog said...


But was he that far gone when said term was "coined"? Plus you said yourself the definition has evolved anyway.

So why sweat the 2% of catholics who use it? Your book helped me see better...thanks.

Johnblog said...


Great points, but I think you can separate white the reporter from white the blogger and hence not impugn an entire web site. Has she done those things as a reporter or a blogger? Has she been excommunicated or rebuked by her bishop? Not that I agree with her approach on all her writing, but it is somewhat tiring to observe this Catholic circular firing squad....

Dave Armstrong said...

And it's tiring to see people not get my point, which was made quite clear enough, I think.

Johnblog said...

If I said your responses push people towards being even more "radtrad", would that surprise you?

Dave Armstrong said...

Nothing surprises me in the apologetics world.

My job is to speak and defend truth, to the best of my ability, by God's grace and in submission to Him and the Church. How people react is beyond my control. IF I speak truth and folks are open to truth, they will receive it. If not, they won't.

In any event, it's not my concern. My burden is to teach truth, by God's grace.

Christophe M said...

I prefer to be faithful to the Church than to not be. I prefer to follow the witness of Christ and her Church for 2000 years than have as a model Monsignor Lefevre who was disobedient and led many people away from the Church. If people choose to go RAD TRAD (as different from traditionalists like Dave is), then they put themselves outside the Church (Just as St. Augustine said about the Dontanists).