The following “Open Letter” to Greg Taylor by Samuel Loeman just appeared on Tradidi.com, and sums up my own position on the matter so well as to leave scarcely anything to be said.
What is most remarkable about the letter is not so much the quality of the various refutations (which are excellent in themselves), but rather the quality of judgment which underlies them, which is characterized by a certain “proportionalism” which, while recognizing certain issues exist, nevertheless refrains from going off the deep end in reaction to them.
Conceding well-founded criticisms in some areas (e.g., the good bishop’s fatalism and defeatism as handicaps to the growth and rebuilding of Tradition), and giving the benefit of the doubt as he must in other areas (e.g., Fr. Abraham), while refuting blatant untruths in still other areas (e.g., +BW “promoting” new Mass attendance), the letter on the whole stands as an example of the way in which a Catholic ought to think and write.
More than this, it exudes the virtues of “euboulia” (a cause and consequence of the virtue of prudence which permits one to take good counsel) and “gnome” (judging well), which alone makes any Catholic writer’s work worth reading.
If perhaps I might choose to say a couple things differently (or not address certain topics at all, for example, whether or not there may be a “sinister” motive for +Bishop Williamson’s defeatism and fatalism; a musing which was not an accusation, and which occurs within the context of a letter defending Bishop Williamson), Samuel’s thoughts nevertheless substantially reflect my own, and for that reason I have posted his letter here.
“Open Letter to Greg Taylor on Bishop Williamson”
by Samuel Loeman
I recently was shown your assessment of my position towards bishop Williamson, or at least of what you judge to be my position. Based on what I read, I don’t think you quite understand my position at all, a position which I believe is also held by quite a few other people in the Resistance, even though most of them prefer not to talk about this in public. So let me offer you some remarks which I hope may be useful to you, and if not to you, then at least to those who are not yet too set in their own ways to see things from a different perspective.
Early in your assessment you credit me with some “refreshing candour” for “seeing the problem”, which you claim to have seen since 2014 / 2015. Then you immediately add that I’m “not fully there yet”, while towards the end of your assessment you hope and pray that “perhaps in another four or five years” I may “further awaken to the danger”. Are you suggesting perhaps that I am following in your footsteps, although being a few years behind you in “seeing the problem” and “awakening to the danger”? Let me assure you that the difference between you and me is much more than a little time, and that I have no intention of going where you have gone.
First of all, back in 2014 / 2015 when you claim you started “seeing the problem” with bishop Williamson I was banned from the first Archbishop Lefebvre Forum after being too outspoken in what I thought was a mild criticism of the bishop. And at the start of 2016 I wrote a little analogy called “First Mate of a Cruise Ship”, which expressed that same frustration with and criticism of that same bishop, and for the same reasons, which I will elaborate on shortly. The point is, my position of “seeing the problem” today is the same as it was three years ago, while you have obviously moved on from “seeing the problem” to “hawking your visions of greater problems”.
In trying to explain the difference between these two positions, let me start by quoting you:
But we are talking about the promotion of the New Mass, the promotion of bogus conciliar “miracles”, the promotion of heresy condemned by the pre-conciliar Holy Office, the promotion of priests suspended for serious immorality, the promotion of a type of “the Church is broken and cannot be fixed” fatalism calculated to kill charity and apostolicity stone dead. These are things which no one has the right to “endure” without becoming complicit in them and jointly responsible for the harm which their promotion will bring about. The problem is much more serious than just “Why doesn’t Bishop Williamson do more to help promote the Resistance?” which is where some of us were at four or five years ago.
So, let us first look at what we both agree on. To use your own words, the problem that we both see today, and I believe we both saw this to some extent as early as 2014 / 2015, is that bishop Williamson suffers from a “fatalism calculated to kill charity and apostolicity stone dead”. The way I would put it is that the bishop refuses to build, and in doing so he makes himself part of the problem, instead of trying to be part of the solution. And for anyone who does not agree with such a fatalism and defeatism, having to rely on a bishop like that is a serious and frustrating handicap. This was especially so in those early days of the Resistance when he was the only bishop we had, and unfortunately it is still very much a handicap in the sense that today our other bishops seem reluctant to step out of bishop Williamson’s shadow. Still, there are some signs that they do not really share his fatalism and defeatism and will in time step out of his shadow, as proven by bishop Faure’s seminary and the SAJM. And I know for a fact that every single priest I have spoken to on this subject sees this same handicap in bishop Williamson, although some consider it more of a handicap than others.
But this is where our agreement ends and where I have to start disagreeing with you. First, let me briefly go over your list of accusations.
You claim that bishop Williamson “promotes the New Mass”. I disagree. Have you ever read Archbishop Lefebvre’s analogy of a prisoner in a concentration camp, whose only food was poisoned meat? The Archbishop explained that it would be good for this prisoner to prolong his life by eating this poisoned meat, because the little nourishment that it contained still outweighed the damage that the poison would do to him, and in eating this poisoned meat the prisoner would be able to prolong his life a little, until hopefully help and better food would arrive. The Archbishop gave this example explicitly in answer to the question of NOM attendance. So, based on this example, would you say that the Archbishop promoted eating poisoned meat, and that he thus promoted attending the NOM? I would say “no” in the sense that he did not encourage everyone to start eating poisoned meat, but “yes” in the sense that he argued that in very rare occasions eating this poisoned meat would be better than eating no meat at all. Likewise, bishop Williamson never promoted that we all start attending or accepting the NOM, but he did claim that in very rare occasions, attending the NOM may be better than not attending a Mass at all. And if you still think this position is a betrayal of the Archbishop’s position, I would suggest you tread carefully. I recently received a testimony of one person from your neck of the woods who assured me that in 1990 (!!) the Archbishop was presented with a case of a faithful but isolated woman in Scotland, and that the Archbishop’s advise to this woman was exactly what bishop Williamson advised this lady in Mahopac. The point here is though, that bishop Williamson never “promoted” the New Mass the way you have repeatedly presented your case against him. Could it be that your bias against bishop Williamson is clouding your judgement or even that you are willing to stretch the truth a little to create a better case against him?
And while we are on this subject, let me debunk the accusation that usually follows on the previous one, i.e. that bishop Williamson is leading us back to the NOM by telling us to “do whatever you need to do to nourish your faith”. This is usually presented as a veiled statement to support anyone attending the NOM if he wishes to do so. But I disagree. I understand this as simply another way of saying “salus animarum suprema lex” or “the salvation of souls is the supreme law”. These two statements can mean the same thing, and if I understand bishop Williamson correctly, then it is in this sense that he made this statement: “whatever it takes” means it is the “supreme law”, and “nourishing your faith” is necessary for the “salvation of your soul”, since without faith it is impossible to please God. At the same time I recognize that his statement can be interpreted in a different way as well. But the way such a statement is interpreted shows more about the one interpreting than about the one being interpreted! And as a Catholic, we are always supposed to try and interpret each others words in the best possible way. You obviously have chosen to do otherwise, for reasons that are quite obvious in light of the rest of your crusade against bishop Williamson.
Next you claim that bishop Williamson promotes bogus conciliar miracles. But have you ever defined what a “conciliar miracle” is, as opposed to a “traditional miracle”? Have you ever proven that God is unable to perform miracles that are in your opinion too close to or even “in” the Conciliar Church, whatever that “in” means, and whichever meaning of “Conciliar Church” you subscribe to? Have you ever proven that God is bound to use a “traditional host” to perform His Eucharistic miracles, and that He simply cannot use a “conciliar host”, even if it is valid? Have you ever demonstrated that the devil is able (and allowed) to fake a Eucharistic miracle, contrary to what bishop Hay taught on this subject? Or could it be that you consider these alleged miracles “bogus” a priori, because the alternative would raise too many difficult questions for you, and because it is an easy “white lie” to boost your case against bishop Williamson? To put it more bluntly, you accuse the bishop of disagreeing with your own unproven assumptions. Is that a crime then?
Regarding “the promotion of heresy condemned by the pre-conciliar Holy Office”, I must admit I don’t know what you are referring to. But given the fact that you and your friends use the words “heresy” and “heretic” so easily and so frequently, I don’t expect much substance in this accusation either.
Then you accuse the bishop of “promoting priests suspended for serious immorality”. I guess you are referring to the fact that bishop Williamson has taken Fr. Abraham under his roof. Is that equivalent then with the bishop “promoting” this priest? Is this the same kind of “promoting” you referred to when you accused the bishop of “promoting” the NOM? In that case a better word would be to “allow” or to “tolerate” under certain conditions. Despite all the hot air over this case, I have never heard of anyone who actually knows exactly what this priest has been accused of. “Serious immorality” is a rather vague accusation, and Chinese whispers is able to turn anything into anything else. Without having any knowledge of the accusations and the facts of this case, and considering that the parishioners of this priests seem rather happy to have him administer the sacraments to them, I fail to see what your problem is [*]. And whatever your problem may be, it sounds to me like at best it would be a prudential matter, rather than a doctrinal matter. Even if the bishop was wrong in being too soft on this priest, what is that to you? Could it rather be that a little character assassination is useful to your cause of “exposing” the bishop as a “heretic”?
Are you starting to see the difference between you and me? I disagree with bishop Williamson in his fatalism and defeatism, I find many of his priorities very odd and counterproductive, and based on some private responses I have received from the bishop I even suspect there could be more wrong with him than merely his “fatalism and defeatism”, but unless and until I have solid proof of this there is nothing I can do about it. And unlike yourself, I will not stretch the truth a little here and there in order to “create” evidence against him. Hence the expression “what cannot be changed must be endured”.
With regards to your comment that no one has a right to endure these things without becoming complicit, I must disagree once again. If bishop Williamson were to teach serious and harmful errors, then you are correct that we must oppose these errors. But when we are talking about prudential matters or simply differences of opinion, then no such obligation to pick a public fight exist. As an example I will mention here his promotion of Maria Valtorta’s “Poem”. Every single person I know personally, and every single person I “know” online (bar one) is very clear in their opposition to this “Poem”. But to you being opposed and disagreeing is obviously not enough. Do we also have to call him a “heretic” for it, excommunicate him, suspend him and refuse to receive the sacraments from him? You will be very hard pressed to argue that one based on the Church’s own teaching and example.
You see, there are certain things which are serious enough to be condemned and opposed, and of which we would become guilty by our silence. But on the other hand there are also certain things which we must endure in others. The problems with bishop Williamson that I have seen and am able to demonstrate, despite their serious inconveniences and annoyances for us, are of the type that must be endured. But in your desire to go beyond enduring such problems, you are trying to “create” problems of the type which must be opposed. Hence you so easily call any different opinion a heresy, and everyone who disagrees with you must be a heretic. It is an unhealthy attitude for which you will one day have to answer. Remember that with that same measure you will one day also be judged yourself!
I will briefly mention another example of the difference between us. In January 2017, in a conference in Australia, you personally started a rumor that after Fr. Raphael Arizaga spoke out against the New Mass, bishop Thomas Aquinas put pressure on the owner of that monastery to “kick out” Fr. Raphael. You even had the guts to admit in the same breath that you weren’t quite sure of the facts, but that “it looks like” that is how it went. Nevertheless, the accusation being made public, it was quickly added to the character assassinations that are almost daily repeated through the propaganda speakers of the compound. Yet, I know that the evidence exists that proves that Fr. Raphael left that monastery of his own accord and that bishop Thomas Aquinas had nothing to do with it. I cannot understand why such lies as these are allowed to fester and spread into little scrub fires. I disagree with the silence on the part of those who are able to expose these lies, and I often wonder why they keep silent. But that does not mean that I will therefore pretend the accusation is true. I refuse to run with these kind of cheap shots, unless the accusations they contain are first proven true beyond a doubt, and important enough for us to get involved in the first place. Either way, the choice of ammunition you make use of in your crusade tells us a lot about what really motivates you!
To summarize, I believe our bishops have indeed to some extent lost their zeal for souls as shown by their unwillingness (even outright refusal) to build and to speak up in public. I very much disagree with their “cruise control” attitude and I find it a real handicap. I even consider it possible that underneath it all there is a more sinister reason than just a “fatalism and defeatism”. But in the absence of concrete and solid evidence I refuse to stretch the truth and “create” my own evidence against them. You on the other hand have chosen to interpret anything and everything in the worst possible way, and to hold it up as proof against anyone that does not publicly “support” Fr. Pfeiffer and “condemn” bishop Williamson. And to top it off, you turn any disagreement with others into a matter of “heresy”. It has become quite ridiculous! While bishop Williamson’s attitude to some extent is exacerbating the problems in the Church and in the SSPX rather than help solve them, your attitude is certainly exacerbating the problems in the Resistance rather than help solve them. Your exaggerations and calumnies will do nothing to solve the problem or to mitigate it’s bad effects on the faithful, on the contrary.
No doubt, you have chosen the easier way, being able to “put up a fight”, to “vent your frustration” and to pat yourself on the back for it, but that does not make it the right way in my humble opinion.
And since you mentioned it, I do not believe you have a sense of humour at all, but rather, you have an unhealthy addiction to sarcasm, which according to Fr. Faber is a “nearly incurable habit”, adding that “no one was ever corrected by a sarcasm, crushed, perhaps, if the sarcasm was clever enough, but drawn nearer to God, never.” It also tells me that you have a far more serious problem on your own side of the fence, one that is more likely to affect your own salvation: pride!
To finish, I leave you with some words of the Archbishop for you to ponder. I have added a few hints in brackets:
The second temptation which the devil awakens in the minds of some of our priests and which provokes the present split within the Society [within the Resistance] can be summarized as follows: “We had confidence in the early Society [in the early Resistance], in its principles and in its action; however, we see now that its mind is changing and that is why, in fidelity to yesterday’s Society [yesterday’s Resistance], we abandon today’s Society [today’s Resistance, which you now childishly call the “fake” Resistance].”
In order to justify this attitude it is necessary to show us the evidence of these changes. And so the most insignificant facts will be exploited and amplified to the point of becoming true calumnies. (…) Accusations were also levelled against myself. It likewise became necessary for them to deceive the faithful, that they might follow them. An action truly based on lies. [I could compile a long list of such insignificant facts (aka mud) being exploited and amplified to the point of becoming true calumnies and lies!!]
In the past, it was the “sedevacantists” and those who refused to pray publicly for the Pope who sought to put today’s Society in opposition to yesterday’s Society.
In the case of Fr. Morello [Fr. Pfeiffer], the principle is the same, but the alleged changes that he claims to have noticed would rather be at the spiritual and moral level [even though Fr. Pfeiffer is trying hard to present them as doctrinal issues]. This attitude of Fr. Morello [Fr. Pfeiffer] is rooted in a particular state of mind, a natural need to have personal, exclusive disciples, for he is convinced that he has a special charism to sanctify souls. [Fr. Pfeiffer acts as if he himself were God’s greatest gift to the Church]
This attitude had already been manifested, towards religious, by the desire to found a proper congregation [or seminary], according to his own ideas [and against his bishop]. Unfortunately the seminarians were victims of this possessive tendency and some of them turned into “his party”.
The decision to transfer Fr. Morello [Bishop Williamson’s decision to disapprove of Fr. Pfeiffer as a seminary rector] caused the separation of this group from the seminary [from the rest of the Resistance]. It was necessary to find reasons to justify the departure from the Society [from the Resistance]. Which was not difficult: “We are the pure ones, the others are impure.” [We are the “true Resistance”, the others are the “fake Resistance”]
Henceforth, the spirit which seizes them is truly diabolical and leads them to seek proofs of every kind of defects and vices. [which “proofs” they stretch and repeat almost daily, hoping that it will become the truth if repeated often enough]
I make myself no illusions. Soon I myself will be slandered as I have already been slandered by all those who have separated from the Society. [It is not enough for them to separate from the Resistance and go on their merry way, their whole focus is changed towards fighting “the fake Resistance”] The process is always the same. It is a matter of justifying at all costs the scandalous act of hijacking a group of priests, seminarians and faithful. [Justifying the cost of calumniating and red lighting every priest that does not join their side against bishop Williamson, no matter how many souls will follow their bad counsel and miss out on the sacraments!]
Archbishop Lefebvre, Ecône, 16 July 1989, On the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel [!!].
Food for thought.
[*] The problem is not so much that Bishop Williamson has taken Fr. Abraham under his roof (though I suppose Greg Taylor could have tickled men’s ears in that regard too), but that he has placed him on public Mass circuits after Bishop Fellay removed him from same.
On the one hand, it is correct as Samuel points out, that none who have condemned the bishop over this matter have the facts of what, precisely, Fr. Abraham was accused and/or convicted of having done. On the other hand, if whatever it was, was of a pedophiliac, pederastic, and/or homosexual nature, is there anything in that domain so “mild” that placing Fr. Abraham back into public ministry should not elicit the concern of the faithful? -SP