Now, now. . . I wouldn't write Mel Gibson off so quickly. He's in an irregular situation, to be sure. But then, if such an irregular situation is to be excusable anywhere in North America, it's got to be in southern California, where God is visiting upon those people His righteous anger in the persons of Roger Mahoney and Tod Brown:
The most evident mark of God’s anger and the most terrible castigation He can inflict upon the world are manifested when He permits His people to fall into the hands of clergy who are priests more in name than in deed, priests who practice the cruelty of ravening wolves rather than the charity and affection of devoted shepherds....(I'll use any excuse to post that quotation).
When God permits such things, it is a very positive proof that He is thoroughly angry with His people, and is visiting His most dreadful anger upon them. That is why He cries unceasingly to Christians, "Return, O ye revolting children...and I will give you pastors according to My own heart" (Jer. 3, 14:15). Thus, irregularities in the lives of priests constitute a scourge visited upon the people in consequence of sin.
--Saint John Eudes, The Priest: His Dignity and Obligations, (P. J. Kenedy & Sons, New York, 1947) pp. 9-10.
Anyways, Mel Gibson should be, until proven otherwise by his denial of the legitimacy of the current Supreme Pontiff or other manifest statement which is and always has been irreconcilable with membership in Holy Mother Church, regarded as a "true Roman Catholic," albeit one in an unfortunate situation which is NOT entirely of his own making. I would guess I'd be more comfortable--and spiritually safer--assisting at a Mass by Fr. Somerville or whomever says Mass at the Gibson family chapel in Malibu these days than I would at Fr. Tran's ideal Mass at St. Mary's by the Sea or in a pew next to Warren Beatty at Our Lady of Malibu.
For two reasons, we must be tolerant and understanding of those traditionalists who are outside the ordinary boundaries of the Church, because we live in an extraordinary time.
The last reason first, because it's the simpler of the two—it's only through coming to understand who they are and why they stand where they do that we "regulars" can engage them justly and charitably and help them back into a regular situation.
And the first reason, last, because it's more complicated: They find themselves on a rocky path not because they sought it, but because the episcopal servants of Holy Mother Church themselves forced them off the highway. And yet, I would guess a lower percentage of them have turned back on the journey of sanctification than those of the "go-along, get-along" variety who shuffled for a time behind the false (but more often, just hapless) shepherds.
Oh but it's disobedience!!! There's nothing worse than disobedience!!! We can tolerate all manner of liturgical dancing and pontifical Koran-kissing and LA Religous-Ed Conferencing, but we can't tolerate ANY traditionalist disobedience!!!
Really? We must recognize that obedience, while it is a Christian virtue, is not the only virtue, and that to emphasize the disobedience of the Mel Gibsons of the world to the point that it seems to negate all other virtues and their own sound professions of faith is to commit a heresy. As Chesterton so aptly observed nearly a century ago (and I reread recently, but, God help me, I can't find it right now), it's useful to think of a heresy is not so much a falsehood, but an incomplete truth. It is the exaltation of one aspect of the faith over all others. To make obedience, in and of itself, particularly without reference to the commander or the substance of the command, without reference to the state of the commanded or the circumstances in which a command is given, the sole criterion by which we determine whether one is Catholic or not, is to commit a heresy.
This is not to be taken as a blanket apologia for all irregular traditionalists; I lack the knowledge, the experience and the standing to make such a thing. However, it is a renewed call for the smug, cock-sure, and arrogant neo-Catholics of the world, from the Catholic Answers crowd and Pete Vere to certain members of my own family (a group from which I exclude Wolftracker), to splash some cold water on their faces and reevaluate the situation before they find themselves at judgment day answering to Our Lord for their part in prolonging the divisions within the Church and, ultimately, prolonging the larger evils in the Church that our irregular brethren will be such great allies in battling.