Meet David Bawden. He lives about 20 miles outside of Topeka, Kansas and calls himself Pope Michael I. He was elected to the papacy by a conclave of six people (one of whom was his father) in the early 1990s.
Bawden is a traditional Catholic who believes the Roman Catholic Church strayed into heresy and error during its Vatican II sessions in the 1960s. Because it has "embraced heresy," it is no longer the Catholic Church, or so the traditional Catholic believes.
You may think all of this is perfectly ridiculous (and it is), but Bawden is not the only "pope in exile" wandering around the planet. There is Pope Linus II in Hertfordshire, England, Pius XIII in Montana (now deceased) (and not to be confused with the new movie starring Jude Law), Pope Krav I in Croatia and Alexander IX in Argentina, among others. This Wikipedia entry is a good place to start your own research.
Since I grew up in the traditional Catholic world, I know about these things.
- That the end was near and we lived in the End Times.
- That the Roman Catholic Church had been destroyed from the inside out by heresy and error.
- That the pope, by embracing heresy, was no longer pope.
- That the mass, because it had been changed and was now said in the vernacular rather than Latin, was no longer valid.
- That all Catholics (from the pope and cardinals on down) who were part of the "New Church" with its "bastard rites and bastard sacraments" were in heresy and would therefore go to hell.
- That we alone - traditional Catholics - were "true Catholics."
You can read the official version of Schuckardt's life here, but you might also want to have a look at this article as well as this article.
I was reminded that people like Beck - and Pope Michael I and traditional Catholics and all the other doom and gloomers among us - have always been around, and will always be around, and that it's not the issue of the day that concerns them. It's the outrage. The feeling of outrage. The feeling of moral superiority - that they know something the rest of us don't. That they "get it" while the rest of us are clueless.
I could easily populate this post with an endless list of examples of hysteria and fear-mongering going back to Jesus himself, who seemed to believe the end was indeed near.
None of this is new.
It's been more than fifty years since the Second Vatican Council closed in Rome in 1965 and there are still traditional Catholics who are utterly convinced the Roman Catholic Church has been destroyed and is no more, despite the fact that it is still very much alive and actually prospering.
As we head into 2017 and whatever a Trump presidency will bring, there is a sense of doom and gloom among many of my friends, some of whom have been talking in rather apocalyptic language. My message is simple: It's not the end of the world as we know it. There is cause for concern and renewed vigilance, but the world is not about to collapse around us.
I've heard all of this before. In fact, I've heard it over and over and I wasted too many years engaging with the doomsayers, trying to reason with them, trying to comprehend what the fuss was all about. I've come to realize that some people enjoy a sense of impending catastrophe and that if there wasn't something awful on the horizon, they would invent it just so they could have something to rail against.
To each his own.
As for me and my house, we're going to go about our business and enjoy whatever time we have together in the quiet confidence that this too shall pass and all shall be well.