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
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.