Having assembled a “who’s who” of (mostly) American traditionalism for this year’s Catholic Identity Conference, the annual symposium organized by Michael Matt and The Remnant, attendance this past weekend in Pittsburg was bustling — more than 700 people, and it was sold out for weeks. Despite a rather somber overall tone — occurring just weeks after Francis’ declaration of war on traditionalism — and with global tyranny on the march, unopposed — this was certainly no Trump rally. Yet it wasn’t defeatist, either. This assortment of booksellers, homeschooling mothers, retirees, and college students had little to celebrate, save the consolation that it’s back to the catacombs for us pesky rigid Catholics.
Attendees were treated to more than adequate accommodations at Pittsburg’s Doubletree Inn — Green Tree, albeit when combined with the full cost of admission, made for a $1,000 weekend (excluding airfare). For most, it was either a first opportunity to assist at Holy Mass offered by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, or a first Pontifical High Mass, or both. Despite the fairly steep price tag, there seemed to be a real cultivating of solidarity among a geographically dispersed group of faithful Catholics who are freely — joyfully, even — traveling into a dark, unknown abyss — together.
The names were standard fare for anyone long in the movement of restorationism. Schneider. Vigano. Marshall. Ferrara. Kwasniewski. Rao. Pendergraft. Mosher. Yet, there were a few new (notably, Abby Johnson) presenters, and I dare say some unexpectedly electrifying commentary, even from familiar faces. Diane Montagna, for example, amplified her standard “shock and awe” to reveal some of the frankly unsavory details behind the Traditionis Custodes timeline. Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, after delivering a well-footnoted and characteristically academic exegesis on the nature of obedience, struck a downright fiery tone, in which he encouraged the so-called Ecclesia Dei orders to resist, even to the last breath. Abby Johnson brought the house down with a spirited rebuke of the abortion-tainted COVID-19 “vaccines.” And Father John Echert, a military chaplain, and the original “parking lot” priest, well outperformed the expectations for his presentation on globalism and the apocalypse, with many attendees citing his as their favorite discussion of all.