How often we hear Conciliarized Catholics speak of “triumphalism” as if it refers to some sort of dreadful disease that must, at all costs, be purged from the Body of Christ lest it spread and, God forbid, the Church in our day come to resemble the Holy Catholic Church as the Roman Pontiffs presented her to the world for so many centuries, without apology, prior to the papacy of Pope John XXIII.

Before we continue, I should probably explain what I mean by “Conciliarized Catholics,” a phrase being coined in the present moment right here in this very space.

Unlike the categories described in my recent post on the Ideological-Theological Spectrum of Self-Identified Catholics, the Conciliarized Catholic covers everything left of “traditionalist.” Biology majors may wish to think of it this way:

Family: Catholic

Genus: Conciliarized

Species: Conservative, Progressive, Liberal, Whacko Liberal

All of the species under the genus “Conciliarized” have to large extent adopted an ecclesiology based upon the implicit assumption that the Church and her mission is only properly understood within the confines of Vatican Council II, as if the nearly 2,000 years of tradition and magisterium that preceded it have been made, unlike the old covenant (silly St. Paul!), obsolete. (See the Epistle to the Hebrews.)

With that clarification out of the way, let’s turn our attention back to “triumphalism.” According to Webster’s Dictionary:

Triumphalism: an attitude or feeling of victory or superiority… the attitude that one religious creed is superior to all others

So, to be clear, the “triumphalism” that Conciliarized Catholics reject out of hand refers to the audacious proposition that the Holy Roman Catholic Church, the one established by Christ the King, is superior to all other religions.

And why do they reject this?

I can find no better explanation than the one provided by my friend and brother in the Lord, Deacon Keith Fournier, Editor of Catholic Online, who recently penned a response to a letter-writing reader (who for the record is not me) in a post entitled, Comfortable in our Catholic Skin: Reject Triumphalism, Embrace the Call to Christian Unity:

If the fullness of truth subsists in the Catholic Church, that should not make us haughty, but humble! There is no room for triumphalism, rather the divisions among Christians should break our hearts and call us to our knees.

Just as the title to Deacon Fournier’s post suggests, the conciliarized mind imagines an insurmountable dichotomy between what they consider the duty to “work toward authentic Christian unity,” and the suggestion that the Catholic Church is superior to all other religions, in particular, protestantism.

In other words, they sincerely believe that if we understand and represent the Catholic Church in such triumphalistic terms, we will simply fortify the barriers that separate Catholics from other Christian communities, and the “authentic unity” we seek will never be realized.

This begs a question: What does the Conciliarized Catholic consider “authentic” unity? We’ll let Deacon Fournier answer:

I begin by affirming that I fully embrace the Catholic teaching that the fullness of truth is found within the Catholic Church. Because of that I also carry an immense burden to see the Prayer of Jesus in John 17 answered. There is a vital connection between the two affirmations.

Into a world that is fractured, divided, wounded, filled with sides and camps at enmity with one another, the Catholic Church is called to proclaim, by both word and deed, the unifying love of a living God. Of all Christians, Catholics have the highest obligation to work toward authentic Christian unity. There is an adage in the Gospels which has an important application in this arena, “To those to whom much is given, much more will be required” (Luke 12:48).

To those whose ecumenical fervor is based, and voluntarily so, almost exclusively on the approach taken by Vatican Council II (which inexplicably includes every pope who has reigned ever since), Deacon Fournier’s explanation likely makes perfect sense.

After all, Unitatis Redintegratio, the Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican II, speaks of a “longing for unity,” a “movement toward unity” and the desire for a “restoration of unity.” Furthermore, it speaks of “progress toward unity,” and tells us that the “attainment of union is the concern of the whole Church.”

In other words, by narrowly focusing on the text of Vatican II to the exclusion of all that predates it, one is naturally led to embrace the false notion that the Catholic Church has yet to attain the unity that Christ wills for His Church.

That the conciliarized mind can be so mired in confusion is understandable given the Council’s suggestion that Catholics must concern themselves with attaining “toward that full and perfect unity which God in His kindness wills.”

The problem with the Council’s manner of speaking in this decree is that it obscures the reality that the Catholic Church already possesses in herself, as a perfect society, the fullness of Christian unity, at least as the Church has always – at least prior to the 1960’s – understood “unity.”

In the ambiguous style that is all-too-typical of Vatican II, the authors of Unitatis Redintegratio are content to simply flirt with this immutable truth by stating, “We believe that this unity subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.” (UR 4)

Setting aside for the present discussion the Council’s diffident refusal to plainly state the objective truth that unity exists in the Catholic Church, the idea that we hope for this unity to in some way increase is utterly ludicrous; an apparent offshoot of the heretical Teilhardian notion that as the universe evolves toward the so-called “Omega point,” so too does Christ attain to His own fullness.

What we are examining here is an excellent example of one of the hallmarks of the modernist strategy; namely, employing words and phrases that sound very much like the language of the true faith, while surreptitiously recasting them to mean something entirely different.

The “method of propagandism” of which I speak was well-described by Pope St. Pius X in his all-but-forgotten yet masterful encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, as “perverting the meaning and force of things and words.”

It is a deception so entirely subtle that even well-read and sincere Christians are prone to falling prey. To be very clear, I am not accusing Deacon Fournier of employing the obfuscation tactics of the modernists in this matter; rather, I am suggesting that he, like so many others, has unwittingly become their victim.

“Unity,” as traditionally understood is not a quasi-numeric concept toward which the Church aspires like a rancher who is ten steer shy of a complete herd out on a roundup. The Council, however, employs the word in just such a way, as if to give the preposterous impression that the Church, from the day of Pentecost onward, was ever but one heretic away from losing its precious “unity.”

In truth, the unity that the Church has ever possessed in all perfection is such that it can never be lost, nor can it increase, and its relationship to ecumenism, properly practiced, was elucidated by Pope Pius XI in his 1928 Encyclical (also practically forgotten), Mortalium Animos, as follows:

“Unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of belief, one Christian Faith … There is but one way in which the unity of Christians may be fostered, and that is by fostering the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it.”

In other words, unity is not something the Catholic Church seeks as some as yet unrealized goal; rather, it is something she already possesses by virtue of who she is, the one true Church of Christ to whom He has granted singular authority, one law and one faith.

As for the way in which this unity may be realized by those Christians who imagine, for whatever reason, that they are justified in setting themselves above the one teaching authority, one law and one faith that Christ provides through the Holy Catholic Church alone, the answer is simple:

If they desire it, they must return; i.e., they must convert to the Catholic faith, otherwise, they – not the Church, but these individual heretics – will never possess the unity that Christ wills that all should have.

That kind of straightforward talk, shocking as it may be to ecumenically hypersensitive ears, is ultimately charitable.

Think about it: If we fail to make known to the world that the Catholic Church is entirely and exclusively superior to all other religions, why would anyone dwelling outside of her ever feel compelled to enter?

That kind of talk, once spoken by the popes, is also undeniably triumphalistic in that it is based upon the unshakeable conviction that Christ the King, He to Whom all authority in heaven and on earth belongs, and Whose victory over evil, darkness and confusion is unquestioned, established but one Church, the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

As Catholics, we need be neither timid nor ashamed to proclaim it.

No, triumphalism isn’t some dreadful disease to be purged, and there is plenty of room for it in the Catholic Church, in fact, it is inextricably part of her mission, because simply put, it’s the truth.


  1. Ziemek August 25, 2013 10:03 pm

    The Triumph we need proclaim isn’t about as, but about Christ The King who conquer the world. Who can object such triumphalism?

    Great post. And again, I apologized for bad English.

  2. Samwise August 26, 2013 12:04 pm

    Technically, the “triumphant Church” refers to the communion of saints enjoying the beatific vision.
    We on earth belong to the “Church militant”, that is, the Church fighting against the world, flesh, and devil.

    In between the Church militant and Church triumphant is the Church suffering or Purgatory, on their way to the beatific vision.

    Does this blog post presume to say that those who consider themselves already part of the Church triumphant have somehow passed on from the two prior states of the Church?

  3. Samwise August 26, 2013 12:11 pm

    That teaching above, BTW, comes directly from the Council of Trent:

    We cannot start rejecting all the councils…

  4. Samwise August 26, 2013 12:13 pm

    In case people would rather not look it up themselves:
    From the Catechism of the council of Trent:

    “The Church triumphant is that most glorious and happy assemblage of blessed spirits, and of those who have triumphed over the world, the flesh, and the iniquity of Satan, and are now exempt and safe from the troubles of this life and enjoy everlasting bliss. The Church militant is the society of all the faithful still dwelling on earth. It is called militant, because it wages eternal war with those implacable enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil.”

  5. James David August 26, 2013 1:16 pm

    To me, the bigger point is this: What are we unifing towards? Don’t we believe in ONE holy, Catholic and apostolic Church? Clarify for me Louie, are us folks, who just happened to be born Catholic more responsible for our souls? Isn’t it also our responsibility to lead others to the truth? What is that truth? If it is the Catholic Church then why don’t more Church leader and even laity just come out and say it? Maybe they don’t truly believe it. The Church is unity. When one seperates themselves from God, through sin, they are no longer unified in a true sense. The “other” Christian communities have seperated from the Church. They have broken the unity, so why not just say it? Oh, I forgot, we are all good. It’s just that us Catholics were fated to be held more accountable. Who believes this?

  6. Rod Larocque August 26, 2013 3:09 pm

    It continues to amaze me how modern clerics have become enamoured of liberal ideology to the point where they reinterpret everything to save their liberal theories and assumptions.
    They can look right at the facts, loss of vocations, drop in mass attendance, general ignorance of the faith, and yet not see that liberalism in modernist form, is responsible and must be rejected.
    It truly is a diabolical disorientation and a blindness.
    Triumphalism is a perogative of the Church as it is the Body of Christ, doing His saving work on earth, as Christ the King.
    Kings do have the right to triumph, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it, but glory in this grace of God.

  7. Samwise August 26, 2013 3:18 pm

    How did you folks skip from Church militant to triumphant? Rapture?

  8. Ziemek August 27, 2013 8:14 am

    I have a question to Samwise. This post is about ,,Triumphalism”, not ,,Church triumphant”, so why you change topic of discusion?

  9. Samwise August 27, 2013 12:06 pm

    @ Ziemek,

    Jako kolega bieguna, mogę powiedzieć, że żyjemy w Kościół Wojujący.Kościół triumfujący jest na niebie tylko, jak cierpienie Kościół jest dla czyśćca. Patrz?

  10. Samwise August 27, 2013 12:10 pm

    Czy jesteś zwolennikiem Wojtyła Karol? Proszę zobaczyć moją stronę

  11. Ziemek August 27, 2013 4:46 pm

    To Samwise.

    I don’t know English very well, but if we want to speak, mabe that be a better choice. You write to me ,,Jako kolega bieguna”, in polish it means ,,As a colleague of North Pole”, and I guess you want write ,,As a colleague of men from Poland”, what is ,,Jako przyjaciel Polaka”. You also write ,,Wojtyła Karol”, you should ,,Karola Wojtyły”. I probably use English much worse, but it be easer for you.

    To you question about being follower (you my use word of diffrent meaning in english, but this English word is legitimized translation of polish word ,,zwolennik”) of Karol Wojtyła answet can not be short. In Poland religion is often only a part of national identity, not in the sens of government, but in the sens of people. Using hard words, God is often a tribe god, not a Savior of Mankind. That way of thinking is in Poland at lesast 200 years old, time when polish romantics poets like Mickiewicz and Słowacki, make polish people ,,The Christ of the Nations”. In this light John Paul II was considered as ,,OUR Pope”, loved for his nationality, not anything else.For this reson I think that be better to Church in Poland, that he be from another country, not from Poland.

    I know this is not answer to you question, but it is important to know.
    For answer about me fallowing Karol Wojtyła, the most obvius answer is that I am a pour servant of Jesus Christ and I want be like He want me to be. It is my ultimate answer.
    About teaching of John Paul II, I don’t know it to much, in Poland not many people care about this, but it is self but that I will be call traditionalist in contrast to him.
    If you ask me about me favorite Pope, that will be Saint Peter.

    About Church Triumphant of course, nobody on earth belong to it, and no one of use not, that he will belong to it after death. But Triumphalism is something diffrent, like speaking that is only one Church established by Jesus Christ, or that Church is a Body of Christ.
    At lest the second is called ,,triumphal” in articel of Dr. Zarowny cited in post . (As interesting fact John Paul II was phenomenologist, he write one of his thesis on concepts of Max Scheler And if ,,triumphal” is speking of Church as Body of Christ, I want to be triumphal.

    God bless you Samwise!

  12. Samwise August 27, 2013 5:27 pm

    Haha North Pole! my mistake–I only know a little bit.
    Just wait until WYD comes to Krakow in 2016, then Poland will know it and be fully united in “Jezus Chrystus jest Panem, i Piotra jest jego wikariuszem”

    Fr. Donald E. Lomasiewicz married my wife and me at St. Isidore Church in Grand Rapids, MI. Great Polish, English and Spanish Church! Deeply devoted to our lady of czestochowa. We just took our 5 mth old son there recently for anniversary!

  13. Ziemek August 27, 2013 9:59 pm

    It will be a pleasure to meet you :).
    Greating for your wife and son!

  14. Samwise August 30, 2013 4:25 pm

    Through the intercession of St. Jerome,
    May the faithful who belong to your Name, O Christ, find the knowledge of you in the holy Scriptures without which they would be ignorant. Help us to pray with Lectio Divina, that is, the inspiration that accompanies the invocation of the Holy Spirit as we hear Scripture at Mass or prepare for Liturgy by studying beforehand. Teach us to pray, and to know your Incarnate Word, the only Son of God who lives and reigns forever and ever.

  15. Pedant September 24, 2013 11:59 pm

    Louie, very well put—all of it with one exception, and this is in regard to use not substance (quibbling?—perhaps.) “This begs a question…” would have been better phrased, “This raises a question…” “To beg the question” is a form of logical fallacy and does not mean “to raise the question.” It would seem you have fallen prey to BTQ Abuse. I hope this helps.

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