Polemics

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Polemic between
Dr. Timothy Mitchelland Mr. Atila Sinke Guimarăes
on two different subjects:

On the book In the Murky Waters of Vatican II
and on the book An Urgent Plea: Do Not Change the Papacy


Brief Chronicle of Events

On May 10, 2001, the weekly newspaper The Wanderer published two pieces by Dr. Timothy A. Mitchell, an article entitled “The Murkinee of the Murky Waters”, and an ad entitled “With an Apology to David Letterman” with the subtitle “Ten Reasons Why So-called ‘Murky’ Teachings Have Themselves Become Murky”. Both were against the book In the Murky Waters of Vatican II by Mr. Guimarăes.

The mainaccusation of Mitchell was that Guimarăes would have mislead his readers, since, according to the accuser, it is not implicitly affirmed that the Church of Christ is different from the Catholic Church in the dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium of Vatican II, which is what Guimarăes sustains in his book. Basing himself on this accusation Mitchell presents a supposedly satirical poem in his ad spoofing Guimarăes’ work.

On June 15, 2001, the bi-weekly The Remnant published an article entitled “Answer to Pro Ecclesia” by Mr. Guimarăes. The writer responded to Dr. Mitchell by presenting a concrete fact: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, some months before, had given the same interpretation of the text on the Church of Christ in Lumen gentium that Guimarăes had presented in his book. Then, he challenged Mitchell either to disagree with Cardinal Ratzinger or to publicly acknowledge his mistake.

On July 26, 2001, The Wanderer published an article entitled “The ‘Church of Christ’ and the ‘Catholic Church’ Are One Reality” by Dr. Timothy Mitchell. In the piece the writer did not address Cardinal Ratzinger’s interpretation of the text in question and returned to his thesis. He intended to prove that there is no ambiguity in the text of Lumen gentium, but his explanation was somewhat ambiguous and quite confusing…

Mr. Guimarăes did not revisit this matter with Dr. Mitchell.

On June 7, 2001, The Wanderer published two different pieces by Dr. Timothy Mitchell, an article, “Pope John Paul II Should Not Respond” and an ad entitled “Another Apology to David Letterman” with the subtitle “Ten Reasons Why the Holy See Will Never Change the Papacy”. This time, the article and ad were against the book An Urgent Plea: Do Not Change the Papacy by Mr. Atila Guimarăes, Mr. Michael Matt, Mr. John Vennari and Dr. Marian Horvat.

In the article Dr. Mitchell imagined that the Pope had never touched upon the subject of changing the Papacy. He also supposed that the book under analysis dealt with a large number of different themes. Based on these two presuppositions he raised the conclusion that John Paul II, for lack of time, would never answer the plea of the authors. Using this conclusion as foundation, Mitchell wrote another piece of buffoonery published in the ad.

On July 2001, the monthly newspaper Catholic Family News published the article “Response to a Court Jester”. The editor, Mr. John Vennari, invited Mr. Guimarăes to make this response. In the piece Mr. Guimarăes showed that Dr. Mitchell was profoundly mistaken in his presuppositions since John Paul II had officially broached the topic of a change in the Papacy, a fact documented in the book under discussion. Further, Guimarăes pointed out, the work does not analyze many themes, as Mitchell imagined.

Therefore, it appeared as if either Mitchell did not read the book he had criticized, or he did not understand anything of what he read. If Mitchell did not read the book and nonetheless made a critique and joke about it, then he was playing the part of  a court jester; if he had read it and was unable to understand its major premises, then questions could be raised about the health of his mental state.
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Agreement on one point: that Mitchell is playing
the part of a jester



Until this most recent update of this Web page (February 2003) The Wanderer had not published any other article by Dr. Timothy Mitchell on this matter. The magazine Pro Ecclesia, whose editor is Mitchell, in its No. 3, October/November 2001 issue, was filled with attacks against Guimarăes and his last reply to Mitchell as well as insults against the four co-authors of An Urgent Plea: Do Not Change the Papacy.

Curiously, however, in it Mitchell publicly assumed the title of court jester. He even went so far as to represent himself as such in a cartoon (at right). Also, in several places in that issue he tried to show that he did not suffer any deterioration of his mental state.

At least both polemists agreed on one point: Dr. Mitchell was objectively described as a court jester. Taking this in consideration, Mr. Guimarăes decided to close the discussion with an adversary who is more comical than serious.



Tradition in Action


Articles in the Polemic



burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes  “The Murkinee of the Murky Waters”
and an ad “With an Apology to David Letterman”
by Dr. Timothy A. Mitchell


burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes  “Answer to Pro Ecclesia”
by Mr. Atila Sinke Guimarăes


burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes  “The ‘Church of Christ’and the ‘Catholic Church’ Are One Reality”
by Dr. Timothy Mitchell


burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes  “Pope John Paul II Should Not Respond”
and an ad “Another Apology to David Letterman”
by Dr. Timothy Mitchell


burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes  “Response to a Court Jester”
by Atila Sinke Guimarăes



Tradition in Action




The Murkenee
of “The Murky Waters”


Timothy A. Mitchell
Published in The Wanderer, May 10, 2001
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In an effort to substantiate his theory that there is “ambiguity in the texts of Vatican II’s official documents,” Atila Sinke Guimarăes began his book, In the Murky Waters of Vatican II with a few quotes from Lumen gentium chapter I, section 8.

“If,” he wrote, “an average Catholic” were to read the “first chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, he would be in for a surprise. ‘This …. sole Church of Christ which is the Creed we profess to be one, holy, Catholic and apostolic …. constituted and organized as a society , in the present world subsists in the Catholic Church, [and] is governed by the successor of Peter’ …. (LG 8b).

This passage, according to him, “implicitly affirms that there are two distinct realities – the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church – ….” But the Council does not teach this. It teaches precisely the opposite.

The Council is clear. On the contrary, the Fathers wrote, “they form one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element” (LG 8a). This is why they prefaced LG 8a with LG 8a – to note that the progressivists beg the question with their “two realities” theory and invalidate their conclusion. (This should be pointed out).

His misunderstanding ironically stems from the use of the inductive method instead of the Thomistic deductive method.

When this is realized, the theory of the progressivists that “the Church of Christ is not the Catholic Church” is reduced to a logical fallacy. Thus, Guimarăes was right to expose this distinction not as a true distinction, but as a “supposed distinction.”

He was wrong, however, in omitting paragraph 25 of Lumen gentium, which demands that a “religious assent” be given to the Pope when he teaches that the “Church of Christ” and the “Catholic Church” are synonymous. This omission surely qualifies as tendentious, according to chapter 8 of The Murky Waters. To omit the first half must have been just an oversight. For it surely confirms the traditional doctrine.



Advertisement published in The Wanderer, May 10, 2001,
paid for by Pro Ecclesia magazine


"With an Apology to David Letterman"

by Dr. Timothy A. Mitchell


Traditionalists have long argued the documents of Vatican II are ambiguous. But now is not the time for resistance. For the Church of Christ and the Church of Écone are in the process of reconciliation. There is no reason to resist these proceedings.

Toward that end, we at Pro Ecclesia have penned a David-like list of ten. It is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, i.e., a serious message lightly put. For these are our friends and comrades-in-arms in a crusade against a modernist world.

Ten Reasons Why So-called “Murky” Teachings Have Themselves Become Murky:
They promote ambiguity, when they quote texts selectively.
They further hinder clarity, when this is done tendentiously.
They claim the Church erred mortally, when She defined “reality.”
They beg the question logically, when reasoning conclusively.
They reason too conclusively, that “subsists in” just “theory” be.
They cogitate inductively, when Thomists think deductively.
They sometimes ponder carelessly, when teaching theoretically.
They do not grasp the Council be, an organ of authority.
They challenge God’s authority, when they speak of pope-palitry.
They denigrate the Papacy, when they suppose a heresy.
This message is a sample of the writings in Pro Ecclesia magazine. A complimentary copy is yours, if you write to the above address. Also, if you are a practicing Catholic, do not forget to make your Easter duty. Practice makes perfect.

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Answer to Pro Ecclesia


Atila Sinke Guimarăes
Published in The Remnant, June 15, 2001

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Timothy Mitchell is the editor of the magazine Pro Ecclesia, which from time to time prints something against me. Recently, in an attempt to call more attention to his attacks, he published an ad and an article against my book In the Murky Waters of Vatican II in the weekly The Wanderer (May 10, 2001).

The ad, which tried to be funny, was titled With an Apology to David Letterman, with the subtitle: Ten Reasons Why So-called “Murky” Teachings Have Themselves Become Murky. I have no special comments to make on this ad. I only wish success to Mr. Mitchell in the career of comedian that he seems to want to pursue.

I also understand that The Wanderer is trying to open a comic section to attract new subscribers, since it is being said that many serious subscribers have abandoned it because they do not agree with its obstinate blindness in seeing how high-reaching the crisis in the Church has extended.

As for the short article by Mr. Mitchell titled The Murkinee of the Murky Waters, it can be summarized in one accusation which he levels against me. He says that in the aforementioned book, I would have mislead my readers when I analyzed a passage of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium of Vatican II, which affirms that the Church of Christ is not the Catholic Church, but rather subsists in her.

In The Murky Waters of Vatican II, I ask: How could the Church of Christ be more ample than the Catholic Church? It seems a very strange statement. Mr. Mitchell pretends that I dishonestly disregarded a part of the document that would prove exactly the opposite of what I affirm, which would be that, according to the Council, the Church of Christ would be identical to the Catholic Church. This bad-intentioned desire on my part would turn against myself my affirmation that the documents of Vatican II are ambiguous and “murky the waters” of Church teachings. It would be I who would be “murkying the waters” of the teaching of Lumen gentium.

I respond to Mr. Mitchell with a fact and some questions.

The fact. In an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung early October 2000, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – one of the idols of the blind-conservatives like Mr. Mitchell – complained about the non-objective critiques of his document Dominus Jesus. He stated that the document reiterated the same doctrine of Vatican II. The Cardinal explained that the Council did not use the expression of Pius XII, according to which “the Roman Catholic Church is the only Church of Jesus Christ.” Instead, he said, Lumen gentium preferred the expression “the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church ruled by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.”

This is because – this is still Ratzinger who is reasoning – it wanted to affirm “that the being of the Church [of Christ] as such is a larger identity than the Roman Catholic Church.” I am quoting quite literally Ratzinger’s words, according to the Zenith Agency dispatch of October 8, 2000.

Therefore, only a few months ago, the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made the same interpretation of Lumen gentium that I made in my book, against which Mr. Mitchell has launched the accusation of dishonesty.

Here I pose some questions to my comic adversary: Do you think that Cardinal Ratzinger is right or wrong? If he is right, why are you accusing me of misleading my readers when I offer them the same interpretation that Ratzinger made of the Church of Christ? If he is wrong, are you also willing to accuse the Cardinal of the Roman Congregation of “murkying the waters” of the correct interpretation of Lumen gentium?

I invite my reader to wait and see if Mr. Timothy Mitchell, who accuses me of dishonesty, will have the manly honesty to respond to these questions, acknowledge the reality, and retract his accusation.

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The “Church of Christ” and
the “Catholic Church” Are One Reality



Timothy Mitchell
Published in The Wanderer, July 26, 2001

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The Second Vatican Council used the philosophical term “subsists in” to clarify the ontological relationship of the “Church of Christ” to the “Catholic Church.”

Clearly, in the order of ontology, the Catholic Church is a broader entity, because the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church, not the other way around.

As such, the Catholic Church can exist without the Church of Christ, but the Church of Christ cannot exist without the Catholic Church.

This is academic and Matthew summed it up concisely: “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church [not churches] and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail” (Matt. 16:18).

They cannot prevail because of sanctifying grace – whose source is the Catholic Church and whose fullness (along with the fullness of truth) is hers exclusively.

But because there are elements of grace outside the Catholic Church (Christian baptism, for example), the source of grace (in the order of grace) combined with sacraments as administered by the Catholic Church would make (in the order of society) the Church of Christ (in the orders of grace and society) a broader entity.

There is no contradiction here, and so it is proper to say there are two distinct designations here, but they comprise one complex reality.

Lumen gentium is precise: This one complex reality “is comprised of a divine and human element,” and can be “compared, not without significance, to the mystery of the Incarnate Word.”

As such, the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church can be compared to the two natures in Christ and why the Catholic Church can no more be considered human than the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity can be spoken of as a human person.

The Catholic Church is divine as the Second Person is divine and has two natures: the Church of Christ, which is human and the Mystical Body of Christ, which is divine.

This is why Pope Pius XII said the “Mystical Body of Christ” is the “Catholic Church” and the Council said: The “Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church.”

Lumen gentium explains this unambiguously in 8a and 8b (Flannery’s edition), but both paragraphs must be read as a unit, if murkiness is to be avoided. Paragraph 8a sums up the Church’s teachings in five crisp sentences. We have presented them (in the interest of better understanding) in five one-sentence paragraphs as the whole paper is composed of one-sentence paragraphs:

“The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains His holy Church, the community of faith, hope, and charity, as a visible organization through which He communicates truth and grace to all men.

“But the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, the visible society and spiritual community, the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches, are not to be thought of as two realities.

“On the contrary, they form one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element.

“For this reason, the Church is compared, not without significance, to the mystery of the Incarnate Word.

“As the assumed nature, inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a somewhat similar way, does the social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ who vivifies it, in building up of the body (cf. Eph. 4:15).”

Clearly then, the progressivists who posit the erroneous theory that “the Church of Christ is not the Catholic Church” are wrong. For Holy Mother Church has expressed (and teaches) the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church comprise one complex reality.



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Pope John Paul II Should Not Respond


Timothy Mitchell
Published in The Wanderer, June 7, 2001


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In the April 30, 2001 issue of The Remnant, there appeared an “urgent appeal” to the Holy See not to change the papacy. Since there is no evidence that Rome is even considering such a radical move, one wonders why such a plea was penned by four scholarly writers.

The writers are: Atila Sinke Guimarăes, author of the 11-volume The Murky Waters of Vatican; Michael Matt, editor of The Remnant; John Vennari, columnist and commentator on Catholic matters; and Marian Horvat, professor and translator.

The article runs over six pages. It covers a myriad of topics, ranging from altar girls, so-called “inferior” Masses, the death penalty, ecumenism, Tradition, and the “Disciples of Christ.”

Page one of the paper blares: “The authors of We Resist You to the Face Beg Pope John Paul to Save the Papacy.”

Although there are materials by Archbishop John Quinn, Yves Cardinal Congar, Karl Cardinal Lehmann, and others, there is not one footnote (out of 39) to even give the slightest inkling that His Holiness has even thought of such an abstract possibility.

There is a scholarly term-paper-like analysis of the Papacy (including a discussion on the pontificates of Pius IX and Gregory XVI), the French Revolution, conciliarism, subsidiarity, modernism, Freemasonry, the People of God, and the like. But there is nothing to even give a hint as to why the authors think such a change is pending.

They hope the Pope or some representative of the Vatican will respond to their “filial request” to “open a dialogue.”

Whether or not someone will is academic. In absence thereof, Pro Ecclesia Foundation has responded – with a paid ad. We ask for a similar dialogue, but not with the Pope. He is far too busy.





Advertisement published in The Wanderer, June 7, 2001,
paid for by Pro Ecclesia magazine


"Another Apology to David Letterman"

by Dr. Timothy A. Mitchell


In the April 30 issue of The Remnant there is a disturbing plea to the Holy See not to “change the Papacy,” which presupposes the abstract possibility that such a change is being considered.

It was written by four scholarly writers and is interesting, although it does not really advance the thesis significantly.

Herewith, a response to that thesis:

Ten Reasons Why the Holy See Will Never Change the Papacy:

An “altar girl” is not a priest, that says it all, to say the least.
All masses are “superior,” there is not one “inferior.”
There’s been no change doctrinally, concerning the “death penalty.”
‘Tis the same Mass, sit we or stand, or take communion in the hand.
The Church is ecumenical, because the Lord died for us all.
“Tradition” has authority, when in line with the Holy See.
Reform of Church and Papacy does not involve the laity.
“Disciples of Christ” often be quite ignorant, invincibly.
The same applies to others too, they simply may not know what’s true.
And this applies especially to matters of liceity.

This message is a sample of the writings in Pro Ecclesia magazine. A complimentary copy is yours, if you write to the above address.

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Response to a Court Jester

Atila Sinke Guimarăes
Published in Catholic Family News, July 2001
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In an article recently published in the weekly The Wanderer (June 7, 2001, p.11), Mr. Timothy Mitchell attacks the document An Urgent Plea: Do Not Change the Papacy. He also publishes an advertisement in which, for the second time, he tries to be funny, imitating a well-known late-night talk show host. As in his prior attack, here also I exempt myself from refuting the supposedly comical ad of Mr. Mitchell. I allow him free rein to exercise his gifts of court jester, a role for which he seems to have been contracted by The Wanderer.I will respond only to his article.

I had the honor of signing the document mentioned above, together with my friends, Michael Matt, John Vennari, and Marian Horvat. In view of the present attack, John, the valorous editor of Catholic Family News, proposed that I make a brief response. Here it is.

Mr. Mitchell claims that our document is not based on any clear and evident desire of John Paul II to reform the Papacy. He affirms: “Since there is no evidence that Rome is even considering such a radical move….” And, further on, “there is not one footnote (out of the 39) to even give the slightest inkling that His Holiness has even thought of such an abstract possibility.”

However, the truth is the exact opposite of what Mr. Mitchell affirms.

First, the most important point of the Encyclical Ut unum sint is precisely the proposition of John Paul II to reform the Papacy. The eleven most salient points for such a change presented in the Encyclical are cited in Section IV of An Urgent Plea.

Second, in his book The Reform of the Papacy, Archbishop John Quinn based his suggestions and commentaries for changing the way the Petrine Primacy functions on the same Ut unum sint. Section V of our document cites five excerpts from Msgr. Quinn’s work that directly cite or interpret the aforementioned Encyclical of John Paul II.

Third, in the same section, we cite, by way of example, two books and six articles that recently reported the reform of the Papacy as an imminent fact. Among those articles is “A Papacy for a Global Church” by Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J.

Fourth, in Section VII (footnote 35) we cite, again by way of example, five responses coming from non-Catholic sources that reply to the invitation of John Paul II to study new ways to exercise the papal ministry in order to please the Schismatics and Protestants.

In face of this considerable index of proofs, the droll Mr. Mitchell affirms publicly that he did not find “even the slightest inkling” that the Pope wants the mentioned reform.

Further, Mr. Mitchell makes another surprising affirmation: “The article…. covers a myriad of topics.” On the contrary, our document is monothematic, it deals only with the reform of the Papacy. The introduction, all the parts, and the conclusion are focused on this single point. In one note (n. 32) we cite an article by Michael J. Matt, in which he opens a fan of cases where legitimate resistance to errors of a Pope is justified.
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This cartoon and caption was published on the front page of Pro Ecclesiamagazine (No 3, 2001). It seemed the fitting point to close this debate.
However, this note serves merely as exemplification, and is not an integral part of the text, as any reader with good sense can understand. Therefore, once again, Mr. Mitchell is completely wrong.

Given these two blatant errors that Mr. Mitchell commits with regard to the content of the document An Urgent Plea, I believe that two hypotheses can be raised.

First, Mr. Mitchell did not read the book that he criticized. In this case, it would be a complete lack of seriousness to publish his critique. We are in the presence of a court jester. This type of intellectual buffoonery also seems to me to be an affront to the readers of The Wanderer, who have the right to expect at least a semblance of truth in what contributors to the paper write.

Second, Mr. Mitchell did read the document and understood absolutely nothing. Here the matter is more delicate. It would seem that watching too many late night television shows would have had deleterious consequences on the mind of Mr. Mitchell. In that case, out of consideration for his mental state, I cease to argue.


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