All patriots share a common language and disciples of the new church see themselves as patriots of a sort, battling for the autonomy of the “local” church against an archaic but persistent Roman dogmatism which threatens to spoil the longest running party in town — twenty years on and still raging. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that a few particular catch-phrases common to all newchurch rhetoric have assumed war-cry status of jingoistic proportions.
The first is the clericalist standard: “you just don’t understand.” This was regularly employed by the Team as it sought to quell the counter-revolution. One Parishioner recalled one classic exchange:
Father W told me that no priest believes all the teachings of the Church and that the Bishop had put him in Benalla to use his discretion to do as he wished. He talked about the Christian Church. I said, “Father, I am a Catholic. I’m a Christian but I’m a Catholic first. I’m a Catholic Christian. There are hundreds of Christian Churches and every one of them has broken away from the Catholic Church. If you continue with the way you’re teaching then you are not Catholic because what you’re teaching isn’t Catholic.” And he replied, “You are ignorant of the teachings of the Church. This parish is fifteen years behind. What’s going on here will be all over this diocese in ten years. The people of this parish are ignorant. They think they know the Faith but they don’t.”
Pius X made the following observation about this Modernist ploy:
… there is little reason to wonder that [they vent all their bitterness and hatred on Catholics who zealously fight the battles of the Church. There is no species of insult which they do not heap upon them, but their usual course is to charge them with ignorance or obstinacy.
As well as these comforting words from the Holy Father, the Benalla faithful could also take heart from the fact that their gallant English ancestors had endured similar taunts about intellectual inferiority from Archbishop Cranmer and his Protestant revolutionaries. The magnificent but failed Catholic uprising of 1549 in the West country of Cornwall and Devonish, for example, drew ridicule from the government:
The rebels were attacked by a propaganda campaign as well as with military forces … Nicholas Udall, a Protestant scholar … derided the rebels for their pronouncements against heresy which, he claimed, they did not understand. The changes were, he insisted, based on the “most godly council … with long study and travail of the best learned bishops and doctors of the realm.” Had the rebels had the learning or debating skill of St. Thomas More they could have pointed out that the traditional religion had the support of a numberless host of the best learned bishops and doctors, stretching back to the apostles themselves.2
The West country men, like the Benalla faithful, “were making a stand for something which deep within them they knew was right; it involved their roots and their eternal destiny.