Words Matter: Calling a thing X when it is really Y and then equating X with Y is either confused or dishonest

From Dr. K’s fourth and final (maybe) review of the Socci book (emphasis mine):

ADDENDUM 5/30/19: Some are claiming that in my revisions to this review, I am “backtracking” and “sanitizing” my original position. This is not so.

Well, I have all the screencaps. The point of this post is not to discredit the overall reputation of the good doctor. If you read to the end, I think you will agree that I give him a pretty wide berth. But bad behavior needs to be called out, even when it’s someone on “your side” who is engaged in it.
Original review, emphasis mine:

I read this book expecting to be a little skeptical of an author who would argue that Benedict XVI did not validly resign the papacy. After all, it sure looked as if he intended to do that in his famous speech of abdication, and the world seems to have accepted it as such. Socci, however, persuaded me otherwise with his careful analysis of Benedict’s XVI’s various utterances on the subject (and there are a surprising number of them!), Archbishop Gaenswein’s speeches, and, above all, the interpretations of canon lawyers — none of them traditionalists, by the way — who have proved in detail that the resignation lacks several conditions for validity.

Revised review, emphasis mine:

I read this book expecting to be skeptical of an author who would argue that Benedict XVI did not validly or fully resign the papacy. After all, it sure looked as if he intended to do that in his famous speech of abdication, and the world seems to have accepted it as such. Socci, however, gave me much to think about with his careful analysis of Benedict’s XVI’s utterances on the subject (and there are a surprising number of them!), Archbishop Gaenswein’s speeches, and, above all, the interpretations of canon lawyers — none of them traditionalists, by the way — who argue that the resignation lacks several conditions for validity.

No backtracking in sight, am I right? Later in the revised review, he made everything perfectly muddy clear:

I still consider and acknowledge Pope Francis to be the Roman Pontiff

Note well that the wrongdoing is not primarily in changing the review, provided that he really messed up and didn’t mean what he wrote the first time. I’m not sure how that can be, given the clear words he used, but it’s possible. I suspect he was probably struck at some point with the logical inconsistency of signing the Open Letter addressed to a man who isn’t pope. But I digress. The real wrongdoing in the revisions is claiming that it was merely a clarification, and that both reviews are of the same essence.
Either words have meaning, or you’re a Modernist; you can’t have it both ways. There is no harm in saying, “I used to think X, but now I think Y, I changed my mind.”  But there is enormous harm in saying, ‘I used to think X, now I think Y, but it’s the same thing; X=Y.” Honest people don’t do that. Also note, the fact that my own position on the matter is aligned with his original review and I’m mad that he changed it has zero bearing on the rational argument I just laid out.
Let me tell you what I think is really going on here. I didn’t figure this out my own, rather it was suggested to me by two contributors in the combox, and then developed into a bit of a theory. It may come off as sounding condescending, but my intent is to give the good doctor the benefit of the doubt, because everything I read and am told about him is that he’s an honorable man, to a fault. So what immediately follows here is the most charitable explanation for what has transpired in the past two days.
The theory goes like this: The situation in the Church today, where we have two living bishops in white, is itself such a dramatic tear in the fabric of reality that it’s very hard for any serious Catholic to accept as “the new normal.” When presented with fresh information that further disrupts the already chaotic backdrop, the unguarded mind tends naturally toward something between confusion and panic. There are powerful psychological forces at play in situations like this, which I will explain in a moment.
We have to remember that the vast majority of people do not have the kind of situational awareness and tactical information processing skills that many readers of this blog might take for granted. This bearing, let’s call it “Frosty,” comes about through a combination of nature and nurture. However, this trait is lacking in probably 90% of the population, and it has little or no correlation to IQ. For those who lack Frosty, the discovery of a truth that is shocking puts their brain into a short circuit. Instead of switching over to frosty mode and ice cold if-then protocol, they just can’t handle it. It’s a tidal wave of cognitive dissonance (which you can read about HERE) that gets processed into confirmation bias (which you can read about HERE) and eventually ends up as Belief Perseverance, where the person maintains or reverts to a position that has been firmly shown to be false (HERE).
The most spectacular examples can be found in cases of pilot error, battlespace miscalculations, and most recently, 2016 election night video montages (you could say that the entire Resist/NotMyPresident movement is an example of it in the broader culture). But it also sounds to me like a perfect description of what’s going on here with the good doctor, if we are going with the charitable explanation. If it’s true, he bears little or no culpability for his actions, because his actions were the result of subconscious psychology.
Or else he just got scared or threatened, and changed his review out of self-preservation.
Look, it’s easy for me to sit here and criticize someone who has way more skin in the game than I do. I’m certainly thankful that I don’t have any kind of dependence on the institutional Church that would be threatened by what I write here (which I’m now attaching my real name to, if you check the byline). I do have sympathy for those who are caught up in all this with job, friends, family on the line. However, it always comes back to the fact that the salvation of souls is the supreme law of the Church. Souls are being lost. Act, and God will act.
I’m afraid I must end this post by calling out the final paragraph added to his final revision, because it contains a really dangerous message:

I think too many people in this debate are expecting (and in some cases, believe they have attained) clear answers where there are none and may never be until we quit this life or until the inexorable progress of events shows, beyond gainsaying, where the truth lies.

“Expecting clear answers where there are none and may never be…” ???
Well yeah, we do expect clear answers, because God is not a jerk. He doesn’t leave us in the dark wondering where to find the Church. This line of thinking veers dangerously close to denying the Visibility of the Church, one of the principle errors of the Protestant Revolt. You can read about it HERE. I’m sure that’s not what the doctor meant to say, yet that is the plain meaning of the words he wrote. Words matter!
The Lord our God is about order, clarity, and truth. Seek these, and you seek Him.
When you find chaos, ambiguity, and deceit, flee. Especially when these are the primary character traits of an antipope.

44 thoughts on “Words Matter: Calling a thing X when it is really Y and then equating X with Y is either confused or dishonest”

  1. Thank you, thank you ! Clear as a bell are your words, which indeed matter. I figure you and Anne Barnhardt are siblings, in spirit. Many of us rely on your feeding us as your gift of tactical information processing is superior to ours. Keep up the good work please as I add you to my prayer list.

  2. Yes, thank you Mark. I agree with Mary, we need the likes of you and Ann to sort things out and explain. I fear a time when information may not be readily available as it is now. Prayers for guidance and protection from our Blessed Lady.

  3. I agree with you. The last paragraph is the worst. This is a learned, orthodox theologian who says we might never know the answers to certain key questions, such as: who is the legitimate Pope?
    We fellows need to man up just a bit. “God did not leave us orphans”. He does not intend for us to live in ignorance. “There is no temptation given unto man but that is common unto man. And God is faithful; who will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear”. God will not compel us to live in blind ignorance of the Truth.
    Again, man the heck up people. The facts are there, before, during and after the “Conclave” (so called), clear as day. Choose. One side or another. If Bergoglio is Pope, reverence him. If Bergoglio is antipope, Benedict XVI true Pope, act accordingly.

  4. Very nice. Agree wholeheartedly. We must be charitable, as always, but we also have to be honest, and it’s quite hard for me to say, in all honesty, that there’s been no backtracking. That’s a very hard one to swallow. Still, I’ll give K the benefit of the doubt here and conclude not that he’s dishonest himself but that he’s still processing his thoughts. Even in my own case, it was still very hard for me to accept that Bergoglio is an antipope after I had recognized the force of all the arguments showing that he is. Conclusions like that have no little effect on a person’s life.

  5. Yep.
    I would also add normalcy bias to your lineup:
    “The normalcy bias, or normality bias, is a belief people hold when considering the possibility of a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the likelihood of a disaster and its possible effects, because people believe that things will always function the way things normally have functioned. This may result in situations where people fail to adequately prepare themselves for disasters, and on a larger scale, the failure of governments to include the populace in its disaster preparations. About 70% of people reportedly display normalcy bias in disasters”
    We are dealing with a real disaster with this bishop of Rome…

    1. I hadn’t considered normalcy bias, because I was focused on the acute reaction to Socci’s book. But you’re right: The episode takes place amid the swirling ruins, which can’t be ignored.

  6. Dr. Kwasniewski hasn’t made another revision in his review, but he has made a comment to his review as of 6 hours ago:
    “I found some key parts of Socci’s book highly persuasive, although not irrefutable; some things I found a stretch; and some of it downright puzzling. His arguments compel me to take seriously a thesis I would once have dismissed. However, I am not endorsing his book from cover to cover; indeed, among other things, he seems to see no difficulties with Ratzinger’s theology, and only with Bergoglio. What’s more, he does not grapple with any of the alternative positions, such as the universal acceptance theory, which enjoys an honorable pedigree in canonical and theological authors.
    Frankly, this period — for anyone who is taking it seriously at a detailed level — is bewildering in the extreme. I wonder at those who think they have arrived at perfect certainties about the situation at the Vatican, for I think we are far from having such clarity.
    Some people on the internet have denounced me for a supposed “180 degree turnaround” in my position about Socci after I edited my review in order to avoid giving anyone the wrong impression of where I stand. They assume they know my mind on this subject, even though I have said so little about it, and consider my reaffirmation of Francis’s papacy — which I have always held — to be the result of threats, self-interest, or other unworthy motives. I pray that the Lord will forgive them for their rash judgment and cynicism.”

  7. You know this gentleman went through schooling and study to get to this point in his life. His biography, https://www.peterkwasniewski.com/about
    He does on his own take the mantle of greater burden to protect our faith. I am not learned as he, and not fully schooled by superior people, but sometimes having too many brain cells can be a burden. He has in my opinion, as small as mine is, gotten way ahead of himself. I would have thought a person of his stature would have thought the process out to the end before even posting the original on Amazon. He put himself on the fish hook, and now is trying to wiggle off. Not possible now, his greater stature manufactured will not allow that. He is caught.
    As for most of us simpletons, well we know where to find the truth.
    Have a pleasant day, sir.

    1. YES.
      Only…I would wonder if those “superior people” are really superior.
      They certainly didn’t teach him prudence.
      Prudence says: “Don’t shoot yer **** mouth off when you haven’t thoroughly thought things through.”

  8. Dr. K is amongst the long list of theologians/canon lawyers who depend on their writings & professional careers for their income & status to be maintained at a level that pleases them. They will not make a stand for Christ as they should do as the fear is they would most likely join the ranks of Professor Rist, Cardinal Pell, Professor Seifert, José Galat, Fr. Minutella (to name but a few), who have suffered at the hands of our Dictator Antipope by being sent to prison, excommunicated, incarcerated into institutions to be brainwashed to accept LGBT, losing their jobs …..
    Their choice not to rock the boat is wrong & only prolongs this wretched Apostasy still further. This ongoing crisis (since before VII) must be challenged & brought to an end in the manner that God wills it to be, i.e. for Truth to be upheld, His Commandments accepted & adhered to, His Sacraments ministered without deviation & joyfully received & the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the re-inaction of His Sacrifice on Calvary taught as it had been prior to VII with full understanding & awe

    1. May God forgive you and all the others here for your rash judgement. There is much you don’t know about Peter K and the kind of sacrifices he has made in making a stand for Christ. If you knew you would be ashamed. It’s easy for all of you to “rock the boat” when the personal risk is low, but I wonder how many of you would be willing to rock the boat (as Peter K has) when your kids’ next meal is riding on it? Remove the plank from your own eye.

      1. Everything I’ve written here is for his own benefit, and if not, may God correct me. I wish the man no ill will, and acknowledge all the good he has done. I don’t take pleasure in what I’ve had to do here.

  9. An addendum, ref I Corinthians 1:
    The Christian Faith is meaningless and empty, absent Jesus Christ crucified and risen. Everything we have has meaning and value in and through Jesus Christ (alone) who offers us redemption and salvation through his crucifixion, resurrection and living power. Jesus Christ, beginning, middle and last. We walk with His Blessed Mother, with our own crosses, to Calvary with Him … and her.
    I Cor 1 talks about divisions and earthly wisdom, power and might. St. Paul glories not in Cephas (the Pope!), Apollos, or himself but in Jesus Christ his Lord alone. The foolish, the weak, the base put to shame the mighty, the noble, the wise. Jesus Christ does not need a big brain or big power. He needs faith and trust and love
    “As it is written: he who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor 1:31).
    This whole debate about the Pope boils down to this for me. All of the evidence points to an invalid abdication and *evil fruit* in the aftermath of the invalid Conclave. Does Jorge Bergoglio lead Catholics and the whole world to Christ? Or, does Jorge Bergoglio lead Catholics and the whole world to a personality cult, the cult of Man and one world government? Literally everything he does is oriented to the latter. Division and apostasy follows in his wake.
    Jesus Christ. I choose him. I follow the Pope (the true Pope) to the extent he leads me to Jesus Christ. I want only Christ. Speculations and divisions, much like in the days of St. Paul in I Cor 1, are not of our Lord.

    1. Another amen here. My thinking’s very similar. Given the evidence before us, it’s certain that Benedict intended to retain some part of the papacy; but a full abdication is what’s necessary for a valid successor; therefore, BiP and FiA.
      And in fact the awful things we see coming from Bergoglio do count as evidence of the BiP theory. When a necessary condition for a theory obtains, the theory becomes more plausible, and one of the BiP theory’s necessary conditions is that Bergoglio not be supernaturally protected. So if there’s evidence that he’s not, then it’s only more likely that the BiP theory is true. And, certainly, there is much evidence that he’s not.

    2. As the saying goes, if he is not an anti-pope/forerunner, what would a real anti-pope/forerunner do differently? The only thing that makes me hesitate is he just doesn’t come across as smart or subtle enough. I expect a little more from the forerunner, after all 😉

  10. Thank you, Mark and all here commenting. I appreciate the “Frosty” questions to ask when the Fabric of Reality seems to be unraveling: Is God a jerk? Does He not keep His promises? Does Truth change? Can I depend on the ‘Faith of Our Fathers’ when I am challenged by running up against mine and others’ valid cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, normalcy bias, and belief perseverance?
    Also, since words matter, kudos to whoever has begun to call the March 2013 meeting of Cardinals a ‘retreat’ since the ontological reality and evidence shows that it could not have been a conclave.
    Knowing that GRACE is what powers a Frosty bearing, I hope to ‘BiP’ until the end–something like the emergency locator signal on black boxes or life preservers so that Our Blessed Lady will find me and others in this storm: BiP, BiP, BiP,….

    1. GREAT point about Heavenly Grace being the source of Frostiness. Everything good that we have or that we do is powered by Grace. That’s true in every person, whether they believe it or not.

    2. I’m probably the guilty party w/r/t the “Cardinal’s retreat”. If you can figure out what that was, and how to categorize it, I’m all ears.

  11. Mark Keep up the good work! The last paragraph IS horribly dangerous – because you have a very learned, well respected man saying pretty much “stop trying to get a final answer to this unbelievably important question on who is the pope” — it matters greatly because as Ann has said based on Fr Linus Clovis — we are in the midst NOW of the actual True Church being here now and the ANTI CHURCH (of probably the Antichrist) — and so people are choosing sides now and will definitely in the future — will they follow the teachings of the Actual True Church of 2000 years or the new “mercy’ “man at its center” “antichrist” church of lurv everyone and everyone goes to heaven?!!!
    Things are going to get really serious in the next few years — and satan is obviously setting up the false church for people to follow because “love” and “acceptance”. (key liberal code words). Prayer!

    1. Michael: “…people are choosing sides now…” Absolutely. A recent case in point is Mundabor’s blog. While he has long been a reliable detractor of all things Bergoglian, I was disheartened by his most recent post (“The Great Embarrassment”) in which he opines that questioning the validity of the Bergoglian papacy is “childish,” “embarassing,” and “an absurd non-matter.” In Mundabor’s view, such talk detracts from the “real” problem of the Bergoglian papacy, namely his manifest heresy and the silence of the prelature. (The possibility that Bergoglio’s manifest heresy is related to his NOT being pope seems to have escaped him.) In defense of his position he offers a few perfunctory and derisive refutations of selected caricatures of the available data set, ostensibly inferring that all the evidence that supports the invalidity of Benedict’s resignation is so easily refutable as to be laughable in the extreme. I had started to compose a reply to his post but I decided against it because his tone suggested that no matter how charitable I might be, I would get a snarky dismissive response, a la Steve Skojec or Hillary White. “Never teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.” His blog, his rules. As for me, I’m glad the time for choosing sides has finally come. There’s a big fight coming and it’s time to man up.

      1. Paul, in charity, send him the letter. He’s a great asset and I too am disappointed he continues to call the theory childish and entirely without matter. That is literally false, whether you subscribe to it or not. Anyway, your letter won’t get published but it will get read. Give it a go.

      2. I get the impression that some who do not want to look at the issue simply don’t want to go where the evidence may point. Agree or disagree, but it is simply ostrich behavior to believe there is nothing to see here. It may well be embarrassing, but it is hardly a childish or absurd non-matter knowing whom to follow on the road to your everlasting salvation.

  12. Many thanks for your kind encouragement, Mark. I will do my level best to be charitable and encouraging in my response to him. I, too, have found Mundabor to be spot on with regard to the “recent unpleasantness” in the Church, but I also believe it’s important to know exactly WHAT we’re fighting for and WHY. To misdiagnose the problem is to prescribe the wrong cure, and it’s essential that we get this right. Again, thanks for your kind encouragement.

    1. Perfect logic and a rational linear thought process are useless if you’re starting from a false base premise. Mundy, Hilary, Skojec and probably 95% of priests and bishops. It’s debilitating. Be assured of my prayers in your effort.

      1. Mark: I posted a response to Mundabor’s article “The Great Embarrassment” yesterday morning. In case he decides not to post it, I thought I’d include it here “for the record.”
        I have followed your blog for a while now, and while you are a reliable detractor of all things Bergoglian (and rightly so), I fear your brusque dismissal of what has come to be known (derisively) as the “Benevacantist” position is premature and perhaps counterproductive of the goals you wish to achieve. A dispassionate review of the available data set suggests that there is more than just a prima facie case to be made that Benedict’s resignation was invalid. Many of the “definitive” refutations of this belief that I have seen are little more than derisive broadsides against selected caricatures of the underlying arguments and evidence: red meat for die-hard partisans on either side of the argument, no doubt, but hardly conducive to discerning the truths that must unite us against our common enemy.
        The reasons I remonstrate with you on this are two. First, I assert that to misdiagnose the disease is to prescribe the wrong cure. It matters at a most fundamental level whether we are dealing with a valid, albeit heretical, pope or an anti-pope. Our goals and our approach depend on an accurate assessment of the enemy we are fighting, and Catholics who would come to the defense of Holy Mother Church have an obligation to come to agreement on WHAT they are fighting for and WHY. To get this wrong at the start is to fail at the start.
        Second, you have done yeoman’s work in the vineyard of the Lord in bringing to light the horrors of the Bergoglian regime and its origin in Modernism and its bitter fruit, the Second Vatican Council. What you say makes a difference to people, and this influence must be wielded wisely in the service of our common objective to restore Catholic Christianity to its rightful place in the spiritual and temporal orders.
        I urge you with heartfelt charity and sincerity to reconsider your editorial position with regard to those who question the legitimacy of the Bergoglian papacy. This is not to suggest that you adopt the “Benevacantist” position tout court, nor is it to suggest that you retreat in any way from supporting your conviction that Bergoglio is pope. It is, however, to suggest that there are already enough “traditional” Catholic web sites that conflate invective with argument. To join their number is to miss an opportunity to restore sanity to the current donnybrook over the Bergoglian papacy.
        Many thanks for your kind consideration.

    2. Quick Update, Mark: Mundabor has started to post replies to his “The Great Embarrassment” article. Mine is not among them, and his terse replies to anyone even “wondering” about the validity of Benedict’s resignation suggests that my appeal for comity was lost on him. Not unexpected but still disappointing.

  13. Paul Muessig,
    I agree completely. If Mundabor’s premise is true – that Jorge Bergoglio is true and valid Pope, that Emeritus is a figment of his and our imagination, the second man in white, living alongside the new man in white, is not really what he seems, that all is as it ever was on the Throne Of St. Peter – then we must reverence that man on the Throne of St. Peter; we must not call him an evil clown, dolt, fool, ignoramus, donkey head, pervert, demon from hell, Lucifer’s spawn etc. We must reverence him as Holy Father and follow where he leads, perhaps in need of gentle, humble godly correction from time to time, but follow we must.
    What Mundabor is doing is quite damaging to the Papacy, cornerstone of the Church. He shows us we can call our father an idiot. He encourages us to laugh at our father in all his nakedness (Gen 9: 21-25). I do not see him as an ally at all for that reason. I must know who the true Pope is, and then reverence him (not follow blindly, but reverence as my own father … more).
    This is exactly why this question of *validity* must not be set aside for our great great great great grandchildren to decide one day in the smoldering wreckage of what was once considered the Catholic Church. God gives us all this question, this day, to decide ourselves. God gives us grace and reason to decide questions of the Faith. And as we accept this fundamentally flawed premise (Pope Emeritus remaining forever within the enclosure of St. Peter … alongside another Pope … and other Emeritus Popes) we find our “ontological reality” sundered and our former unified Faithful splitting into angry factions and calling their “Holy Father” an “evil clown”.

  14. Where is the “logical inconsistency” in holding that Bergoglio is a heretic and that he is probably not pope? Must a man be pope in order to be a heretic?

  15. I wouldn’t put too much stock in Mundabor.
    The guy/gal/whoever it is has 1 or 2 silly ideas about Catholic orthodoxy, such as rejecting Catholic Tradition and the Fathers a priori from the conversation as if none of them matterm so that Mundabor can continue to hold fast to scientific idols like Charles Darwin.
    Similarly, Mundabor hasn’t ever bothered to look into what the actual criticisms of Benedict’s resignation are. He just presumes that Benedict’s desires make everything kosher, despite Benedict’s great errors, as if Benedict can suddenly redefine the Papal Office to be something else other than what Christ instituted it as. Mundabor actually still thinks we’re fixated on the word ’emeritus’ like he is as if that were the foundation of the entire argument.

  16. I would consider believing in sedevacatanism if the sedevacantists did anything to persuade me that they themselves had believed in sedevacantism. E.g. if they believe that there has been no Pope for 60 years and there are no cardinals to elect the Pope they should immediately take some steps to finally elect one (e.g. organising a general election by the faithful of Rome). Nowever, despite the gravest crisis – in their oen opinion- they do nothing – therefore I believe they are not credible and do not believe in what they claim.
    Referring to the ,Ratzingerians” – if they believe in what they claim they should: 1) address publicily Benedict XVI, providing all the circumstances that may indicate his resignation was null and void, and emphasizing the risk of schism if he remains silent, asking him to publicily deny that he is the Pope within the set time limit, 2) if he denies they should determine the Francis case, and, establishing there is sede vacante, they should proceed accordingly i.e. take all reasonable efforts to elect new Pope (first, applying to the Cardinals to elect one, then – if they refuse – proceeding with a general election).
    Otherwise, there would be only “academic” complaining and pretending (as for several years) that nothing can be done, no real actions.

    1. The Seat is not vacant. It remains occupied by Benedict XVI. Until his death. Or until he properly manifests a full and complete renunciation/resignation.
      Bp. Gracida recommends, as you do, that the correct antecedent reflecting this reality must be firmly established by those in authority … while there is still time … while Benedict XVI still lives.
      He has a letter on his web site, reflecting this urgency that he recommends all pass on to their local Priest and Bishop. Abyssus Abyssum Invocat is his web site.

      1. I know his website. In my opinion if there are doubts – the situation should be clarified before the Benedict’s death. Even if we suppose that the 2013 resignation was subject to the error or another cause of invalidity, at any time Benedict can manifest / could have manifested his will to resign, validating the resignation / renunciation.

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