That we have gotten to the point where a social media Archbishop, Carlos Vigano, a social media priest who called for Pope Francis to be killed, Father James Altman, and a fellowship of other critics of Pope Francis are hosting a conference entitled “Is the Pope Catholic?” is yet another reminder of why it is so easy for Francis the Tyrant to humiliate radical traditional Catholics, and why all of these social media Catholic priests need to get off of upload and send buttons and focus on celebrating the sacraments as often as they can.
Pope Francis is always eight moves ahead of the cleric and lay social media Radical Traditional Catholics. These people telegraph and project every one of their moves over the internet. They are nothing but loud, messy, victim-playing reactionaries who have no strategy because they have no real leadership. The fake leaders they do follow are so stupid that some years ago, they were convinced by them to consolidate their forces into TLM parishes, which only made them easy to locate, target, and scatter (e.g., Traditionis Custodes). Pope Francis does not even have to be Machiavellian or a serious military tactician to take these people out because not only are they operating a money-grabbing click-bait soap opera grift, but they don’t even know they have been at war with the clergy for over a century. The only thing Francis the Tyrant has to do is cosplay the Central Intelligence Agency by occasionally taking out Traditional bishops and priests.
I don’t know if this ‘Is the Pope Catholic?’ conference is a new spin on Protestantism or the planning session of the conclave that will elect Vigano as the Anti-Pope. Still, it is the perfect summation of everything that is wrong about Radical Traditional Catholicism in North America, where rogue clergy has teamed up with rebellious laity to start their own gnostic sect called the Remnant Church.
Blame the COVID Overreaction for the Rise of Social Media Influencer Priest
The only good thing that happened during the global COVID-19 overreaction was that the liturgical sign-of-peace died. Aside from Catholic Bishops, including trad-Catholic hero Bishop Strickland, shutting us out of the sacraments, the worst thing that happened was the over-valuation of Catholic social media priests. From March 2020 and for at least the next year and longer in some places, many Catholics turned to YouTube to watch the liturgy of the Mass and adore the Holy Eucharist via live stream feeds. They began to form cults around Catholic priests, who they turned into social media influencers. A space that was once dominated by just a few priests who had the financial backing of Word on Fire and Ascension Press and a few independents was now being filled with traditional Catholic priests who were ready to tickle your ears with every unchaste opinion they had about anything you wanted to hear.
In two ways, this devolution of priests into social media influencers was a novel time for Catholicism in the United States. For the first time, a mass influx of laity began to consider priests, whom they could only watch on YouTube, as their pastors and spiritual fathers. It was one thing to be affirmed in your fears by lay-Catholic social media influencers, but a completely other thing to hear a priest proclaim to you through his low-quality laptop camera that he agrees with you about everything you think went wrong and is wrong about the hierarchy and new liturgy of the Catholic Church. Second, it created a fracture between the priest and the bishop. A Catholic priest is “constituted in the order of priesthood by the sacrament of Order, are bound together by an intimate sacramental brotherhood, but in a special way they form one priestly body in the diocese to which they are attached under their own bishop. . . .” (CCC 1568). Bishops are for dioceses, and priests and deacons are for their bishop. Yet, according to the devolution of the Catholic internet ordo, social media influencer priests such as Frank Pavone and James Altman can extend their boundaries through social media influence, allowing them to openly flaunt disobedience against their bishop.
“Show Us the Father, and that Will Satisfy Us” (John 14:8)
It never occurred to us that we were creating monsters. It never occurred to us that our adulation and clinging to their every word turned them against Christ and His Church. It never occurred to us that this type of attention would be harmful to a group of men who were already suffering from loneliness or that it would turn them into attention whores. It never occurred to us that we were telling them we value them more for their social media uploads, tweets, and posts than we value them as celebrants of the sacraments. It was very selfish of us to ask these men to forsake their calling to shepherd us to Christ Jesus through the sacraments to affirm our fears through social media.
If you are honest with yourself, you feel a little dirty – you feel like you are cheating a little when you are listening to a priest outside of the sacraments. You feel like you are stealing his time away from something more important he should be doing. It is like watching animals in a zoo or circus. While you are happy to engage with an animal, you may not have ever seen, a deep part of you wishes that the animal could be placed back in its natural habitat because you know it would be happier there and the environment would be better off with things in their natural order. If Laura Ingraham could turn her attention to her Catholic faith on this matter, she might encourage our priests the same way she encouraged the distracted Lebron James when she told him to just “Shut up and Dribble.”
The shortage of priests is so severe that a consistent complaint we are hearing from Catholics is that they cannot understand their priest because he speaks with a foreign accent. Yet, we have priests who have plenty of time to make YouTube videos and post their status, tell us about exorcisms, how bad Pope Francis is, when the world is going to end, why you would read the Catechism of Trent and a host of other picayune topics.
I am not saying that we need to beat a priest with eggs and tomatoes if we see him doing anything but celebrating the sacraments, because as the Church teaches, “The ordained ministers exercise their service for the People of God by teaching (munus docendi), divine worship (munus liturgicum) and pastoral governance (munus regendi)” (CCC 1592). On the contrary, we must clarify where we need them most to our faithful priests
This world is incredibly sick and lost, so we need our priests touching sick people with their hands, not giving us awkward blessings at the end of YouTube videos. There is enough noise on social media. We need our priests to be counter-cultural by meeting God’s people not where they are (on social media) but in their slavery to sin. We need them in the streets offering the sacraments. We need them wearing their clerics in the darkness and being the light of Christ to the world. We need their living example of holiness in our daily lives. In other words, social media is not real, so we would prefer if you would take the sacraments where real people are – like prisons, hospitals, schools, workplaces, and etc. Conferences debating whether Francis the Stressful is the Pope are not where we need you.