A Response to “VLM” on Cathinfo Regarding Fr. Paul Robinson’s Book

A Response to “VLM” on Cathinfo Regarding Fr. Paul Robinson’s Book

A Response to “VLM” on Cathinfo Regarding Fr. Paul Robinson’s Book


Sean Johnson



[Today, a post appeared on Cathinfo which sought to rebut certain criticisms of Fr. Paul Robinson’s new book made by a member of that forum.  Below are my thoughts on that rebuttal, written in the form of a response.]


That Fr. Robinson was initially content to let the Foreword go to publication with the Saint/Blessed appellations affixed to JPII and Paul VI is the problem, and the SSPX having belatedly forced the publisher to amend the Foreword hardly diminishes that concern.

In fact, it almost seems as though that late amendment was in reaction to the scandal caused; that had there been no outcry, there would have been no amendment.

Yes, I am aware that it was earlier claimed that the publisher sent the book to press, allegedly without informing Fr. Robinson of the contents of the Foreword (and with Fr. Robinson himself apparently expressing no interest or concern as to what may have been written therein?).

That is hardly believable: I myself had a mere booklet published a couple years ago, with the Foreword written by a priest renowned for his excellent moral theology (whom I suspect you know well).  Even so, I still communicated with him 3-4 times on that subject to get every word right, before giving the “green light” to the publisher.

But I am to believe, apparently, that Fr. Robinson gave a Novus Ordo publisher the proverbial “blank check,” without any reservation whatsoever?  To me, that is an additional indictment, rather than an exoneration, of Fr. Robinson, as it seems to suggest that were a conciliar publisher to insert something conciliar into the Foreword, it would not be very concerning to Fr. Robinson.

I am often criticized for giving too much benefit of the doubt, but this is really stretching credulity.

In any case, I think your argument misses the forest for the trees:

In seeking to defend Fr. Robinson’s book, you have just come to the defense of three heretical Popes, and with arguments which are puzzling to me, to say the least:

  1. It seems that you defend the quote of Paul VI by portraying him as anti-evolutionary and realist.  But you neglect to mention that Paul VI was a rabid modernist, one characteristic of which is that he often equivocated (i.e., saying something very traditional in one place, while proffering a contradictory thesis elsewhere). 

Tell me if you think this quote by Cardinal Montini (made one year before becoming Paul VI) is “anti-evolutionary:”

“The Council should trace the line of Christian relativism, laying down how far the Catholic religion must act as the iron guardian of absolute values, and how far it can and must bend in its approach, in its connaturality with human life as it exists in time.[1]

That is the textbook definition of doctrinal relativism (i.e., doctrinal evolution).

In my opinion, therefore, your attempt to salvage the “appropriateness” of the reference is ill-advised, as it seems to evince a certain contentedness to mislead readers into believing that Paul VI was both realist and anti-evolutionary, though I suspect you know otherwise.

As an aside, it does not help your case that the majority of Paul VI’s “Credo of the People of God” was written by Jacques Maritain (who himself had fallen from his former Thomistic realism, into a modernist “personalism”).[2]

And if you are aware of all these things, then why bother writing a defense?  To do so suggests an insular “circle the wagons” mindset, which places the truth and good of souls second.

2. Your defense of the John Paul II quote fares no better: 

You mention that the quote from Fides et Ratio praises St. Thomas Aquinas, and the use of right reason and philosophy which rejects opinions contrary to the faith. 

Yes, it does. 

However, you omit to inform your readers that Pope John Paul II was a hypocrite, who, despite any lip-service he gave to St. Thomas Aquinas, was himself a phenomenologist who believed exactly the opposite of what St. Thomas (or any scholastic realist, for that matter) believed:

Husserl (founder of phenomenology[3]), whose system was embraced by JPII, posited that we make:

…some key conceptual elaborations which…assert that in order to study the structure of consciousness, one would have to distinguish between the act of consciousness and the phenomena at which it is directed (the objects as intended). Knowledge of essences would only be possible by “bracketing” all assumptions about the existence of an external world.[4]

Surely you can understand how that kind of warped philosophy is directly responsible for ecumenism and universal salvationism: All religions are but manifestations (“pneumena”) of the one true God, whom some call Allah, others Buddha, etc.

Why does Fr. Robinson feel the need to sift an overtly modernist, second-rate philosopher in order to find something “traditional” to attribute to him?

Was citing St. Thomas Aquinas (or any other traditional author, for that matter) for some reason undesirable?  It certainly seems like it.

One could certainly form the suspicion that Fr. Robinson wanted to demonstrate a willingness to resort to modernist authors to gain Roman approval and send yet another signal to Rome that things are not what they used to be in the SSPX.

And before you “remind me” that it was Fr. Hafner who wrote the Foreword, and not Fr. Robinson, I tell you quite frankly that I do not believe Fr. Robinson was ignorant of what Fr. Hafner intended to publish, as was initially stated, but I digress…

3. The defense of Benedict XVI’s quote, portraying him as a scriptural realist, does not persuade for the same reasons: a disciple of Hegel[5] who believed that the thesis/antithesis dialectic found truth and resolution in a synthesis of opposites (e.g., Thesis: Traditional Latin Mass; Antithesis: Novus Ordo; Synthesis/Resolution: 1965-1967 Missal) is hardly an authority to be speaking of the realism which he rejects.

You accuse the author of the thread in question of beating at straw men, and of ignorance (hinting at bad disposition) for rendering an opinion before having read the latest edit of Fr. Robinson’s book, but you are wrong to do so:

Not only is the point on which you seek to refute him (i.e., the matter of the “saint” appellation) contained in the original Foreword (which he has certainly read, and therefore by your own standard, entitled to render an opinion on the matter), but it was the SSPX itself which initially objected to that appellation.  Why then are you now defending the quotes of these modernist Popes as though they were traditional, when a few weeks ago the SSPX was making the same objection on this point that the OP is making today?

I will tell you why, since I have been online long enough to recognize this debate tactic:

You tried to get in a cheap “gotcha,” knowing the author of the OP had not read the book (and therefore could not know that the SSPX had slyly removed references to the saint appellation in the Foreword); you wrongly try to discredit him on that score, even though the topic at hand pertains exclusively to the Foreword. 

That’s an old Bill Clinton trick: If you can’t win the argument, assassinate the character.

I can assure you that your attentions and energies are misspent in debating him, when they would be much more productive bringing Fr. Robinson back into line (or perhaps he is no longer considered out of line, but perfectly in line with the neo-SSPX?).

Meanwhile, I fully recognize that in focusing on this petty “saint” issue, you are diverting the conversation away from much more serious matters:

  • What in the world is going on in the head of Fr. Robinson?
  • Why is he mesmerized by the dead modernist, Fr. Jaki?
  • Why, with 600 (allegedly non-modernist) colleagues, is he turning to Fr. Hafner for a Foreword?
  • Why did he have this Novus Ordo publisher publish his work?

(Note: The only other instance of an SSPX priest having his work published by a non-SSPX publisher of which I am aware was Fr. Celier’s notorious “Benedict XVI and the Traditionalists,” which did such damage to the SSPX 11 years ago.  He actually had his Freemasonic friend, Jean Luc Maxence -a blasphemer (!) and hater of Archbishop Lefebvre- write the Foreword to it.[6]

Could it be that when the SSPX suspects a great scandal will arise from a book they want published, they try to deflect a certain amount of responsibility by having it published out of house, in case they should later want to avail themselves of plausible deniability?)

  • Why is the SSPX not condemning him publicly, but instead circling the wagons in his defense?
  • Why is the SSPX not spending the same amount of energy with which it has marketed and defended Fr. Robinson’s book reaffirming its belief in the traditional, patristic understanding of Genesis?

I could write articles speculating on answers to these latter questions, but the point is sufficiently made already.



[1] Amerio, R.  Iota Unum, p. 67

[2] http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/2008/06/credo-of-people-of-god-written-by.html

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Husserl

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Wilhelm_Friedrich_Hegel

[6] Google: “Jean Luc Maxence Fr. Celier,” and you will get some scary results.  Yet I have never read or heard that Fr. Celier received any disciplinary consequences from Menzingen for this outrage.  On the contrary, SSPX.org has excerpted from that perfidious work, for example in the article “How to Interpret Archbishop Lefebvre” here: http://sspx.org/en/how-interpret-archbishop-lefebvre