For posterity and review, I have added seven older original articles I had written for previous blog or fora platforms.
The posting of new original articles will now resume going forward.
For posterity and review, I have added seven older original articles I had written for previous blog or fora platforms.
The posting of new original articles will now resume going forward.
by Sean Johnson
A few days after my rebuttal to Fr. Laisney’s letter “Striking Contrast” appeared on my original blog platform (Athanasius Contra Mundum), my stalker of 2 years made his first appearance attempting to run anonymous damage control in favor of the SSPX.
Known variously as “Gregory,” “Patric,” Henry4,” “St. Gertrude,” et al, this response of his is contained below, followed by my response.
Readers who would like to read Parts I & II in proper sequence should read the previous blog post first. I apologize for the inconvenience.
The Anonymous Response:
Seán Johnson’s seven page rebuttal against Rev. Fr. Laisney’s one page analysis, is seven long pages of “missing the point”.
The canonical is a reflection of the theological. And while the theological governs the canonical, in essence, the two are one and the same (a marriage). Mr. Johnson makes the mistake – which negates his whole line of reasoning – of insisting on a distinction being made between them.
To make this point clearer let us take a look at Archbishop Lefebrve’s approach in contrast to Bishop Williamson’s approach:
Archbishop Lefebrve: Canon Law “A” is followed until he is forced, by grave necessity, to draw upon Canon Law “B”. Result: Canon Law respected at all times in both spirit and action.
Bishop Williamson: Canon Law “A” is not followed, never-the-less, he draws upon Canon Law “B” even though grave necessity can only exist if Canon Law “A” had been followed first.
Result: Canon Law is not respected, both in spirit and action.
This is the difference that Fr. Laisney is drawing to our attention.
In defence, Mr. Johnson argues that it is “pointless” for Bishop Williamson to follow Canon Law procedure because it is obvious that a grave necessity exists. Fr. Laisney, in contrast, argues that regardless of our subjective feelings on the matter, legally there is no grave necessity until the fact has been canonically tested.
Remember, to pick and choose bits of Canon Law while ignoring their relationship with each other, is to dismiss Canon Law altogether. Therefore, Fr. Laisney’s assessment, that Bishop Williamson’s respect for Canon Law is “nowhere to be seen”, is a fair and correct one in this case.
Furthermore, Fr. Laisney is merely pointing out that you cannot act on what “may” happen. In justice, you can only act upon what “has” happened and it must be an established fact in accordance to Canon Law; not an individual’s opinion or fear.
But we are in a time of crisis; you ask the impossible, maintains Mr. Johnson.
If it is now impossible to begin a priestly union within the structures of Canon Law, then perhaps one should accept that it is not God’s will. It is very clear to all of us, that God provided Archbishop Lefrbvre with manoeuvring room within Canon Law and blessed his work as proof. In contrast, if His Lordship Bishop Williamson has to dispense with following any Church Law in order to consecrate and start a priestly union, then a red flag is waving…
With regards to Bishop Fellay, Bishop de Galerretta and Bishop Tissier de Maleris: all three are members of Archbishop Lefebrvre’s priestly Society and therefore a canonical continuation of what he instituted. The consecration of Bishop Rangel in 1991 was also a continuation of this same “operation Survival”.
Bishop Williamson, on the other hand, is now working outside of this canonical continuation. And although he admits himself he has no mandate and no authority to do so, it hasn’t stopped him from acting as if he has. There lies Fr. Laisney’s concern.
“But it’s a question of the faith!” echo’s Mr. Johnson’s one last cry.
Be careful. That’s what Luther said too. God does not work outside His own law.
This is what Sean John doesn’t get. He’s passing comments on a subject on which he is entirely ignorant.
Simply put it is only an act of necessity once everything else has been tries and failed. Bp. Williamson hasn’t even tried. He uses ‘salvation of souls’ to dispsense himself for all other law; its a trump card he rolls out on a whim.
He gets to decide which laws to follow and which to ignore. He is his own pope. He is schismatic.
The same poster subsequently adds this:
“I think fairness would have been to leave the rebuttal rather than delete it. You could apace always have moved it later. A word of advice. If you have to write seven pages in an attempt to rebut Fr. Laisney this, in itself, shows you have no argument. The fact you couldn’t provide a couple of sentences or bullet points in response – like Fr, Laisney or the one posted by me, amply demonstrates you you clueless in what you write. If you can’t respond in a couple of succinct sentences or shoot it down with a few bullet points, but need 2-3 pages of waffle, you simply have no response.”
We have, therefore, a series of 12 bare assertions in the space of a single page. I cannot call them arguments, as that term supposes some sort of rationale offered in support of the assertion being made. But let me respond to each, that I not be accused of evading them:
The first and last comments of the anonymous poster assert that, since the length of my response exceeds the length of the original letter, it indicates that I “have no argument.” The idea implicit in this assertion is that length has been supplied as a cover and substitute for want of substance.
In making this assertion, the anonymous poster shows he is no logician, since the conclusion simply does not follow, and is easily refuted. If an author makes a series of errors in the space of a single page (as both Fr. Laisney and his apologist here do), it will obviously require more effort to unwind and expose the errors, that it took to simply state them. For example, if I make the statement, “There is no God, there is no soul, and original sin does not exist,” could you refute those three errors in less than the 14 words it took me to make them? Obviously not. So much for the assertion that the length of the rebuttal demonstrates my “errors.”
The second incredible assertion contends that there is no distinction between theological and canonical causes excusing from obedience to superiors in a state of necessity. This manifestly false assertion arises from my response to Fr. Laisney’s Letter, in which I disproved the latter’s assertion that Archbishop Lefebvre never thought theology could dispense one from obedience to Canon Law (i.e., that theological considerations like the doctrine of necessity could dispense one from the strictures of the law).
Were this true, that there were really no distinction to be made between theological and canonical causes excusing from obedience to superiors, and that there was no difference between canon law and theology, then the anonymous poster will be at pains to explain why the SSPX itself authored not only a 2-part theological study justifying the 1988 episcopal consecrations, but also a 5-part canonical study of the same. If there is no distinction, why the two studies (which make remarkably different arguments)? The truth of the matter is that moral theology is one of the sources of the Canon Law, but remains quite distinct from it.
Having eliminated the distinction between theology (i.e., the doctrine of necessity) and canon law, the anonymous poster then goes on to claim that, unlike Archbishop Lefebvre (who, it is claimed, went from canon to canon is seeking justification for his episcopal consecrations), Bishop Williamson “skipped steps” and unjustifiably went right to “canon law B.”
In making this assertion, the writer demonstrates that delusion is the consequence of his having previously eliminated the distinction between the theological and canonical justifications for the 1988 and 2015 episcopal consecrations: He pretends that Bishop Williamson has relied upon a canonical justification (i.e., “canon law B”). The reality is that Bishop Williamson has made no attempt whatsoever at canonical justification, but rather, as was the case with Archbishop Lefebvre, has relied entirely upon the higher principles of theology (i.e., the doctrine of necessity) to justify his consecration of Bishop Faure. Nowhere will the anonymous poster be able to discover a canonical defense being offered by Bishop Williamson, which proves the point.
With Fr. Laisney, the anonymous poster then attempts to “emotionalize and subjectivize” Bishop Williamson’s perceptions of the existence of a state of grave general spiritual necessity (i.e., as though necessity was just in Bishop Williamson’s imagination), so as to pre-empt recourse to episcopal consecrations to supply for the need of the faithful trapped therein. He is wrong to do so. The criteria for determining the presence of grave general spiritual necessity are objectively verifiable:
Grave general spiritual necessity exists whenever:
A) Several souls
B) Find themselves threatened in spiritual goods
C) Of great importance (e.g., faith or morals)
D) And are without hope of help
E) From their lawful pastors
With the SSPX (in the same article), I would ask the anonymous poster, who can deny that today a state of grave general spiritual necessity exists? Him, apparently! But along these lines, it is interesting to note the parallels between Rome and the accordists, who seem to take the strategy of denying the existence of a state of necessity as a statement of fact, rather than contesting it at the doctrinal level (except with this falacious distinction in Menzingen, that necessity can be relied upon by them, but nobody else; we will return to this theme based on a subsequent assertion by the anonymous poster later in my response).
The interlocutor then accuses me (in Paragraph 8) of “picking and choosing” between canons, which is tantamount to dismissing canon law altogether…therefore Fr. Laisney is correct to observe Bishop Williamson’s disrespect of canon law.
The only thing impressive about that assertion, is that the author manages to compress so many errors into just a couple sentences. First of all, my rebuttal to Fr. Laisney doesn’t include a single canonical argument (i.e., It relied entirely on proving the existence and justified application of the doctrine of necesity). Secondly, the author cannot accept that, since he has previously eliminated the distinction between theology and canon law (apparently without realizing that, were he correct in doing so, he would effectively make canon law irreformable, since canon law would be identifiable not merely with its doctrinal foundation, but with doctrine itself, in which there can be no change!). Thirdly, having demonstrated nothing, he concludes (despite my evidence to the contrary, in the rebuttal to Fr. Laisney) Bishop Williamson’s disrespect for canon law to be manifest, without, however, even addressing the evidence I have given in support of Bishop Williamson’s respect for canon law. Perhaps this is mere oversight, but it seems more likely to represent a spirit of partisanship and dishonesty.
Echoing Fr. Laisney’s Letter, the anonymous poster maintains that Bishop Williamson has “jumped the gun” in consecrating for fear of what “might” happen between Rome and Menzingen.
Let us pretend, for the sake of making a point, that in fact there really were no compromises already consumated (such as those listed in my rebuttal to Fr. Laisney), and that, as he and his apologist assert, all the apprehensions of danger truly existed only as possible future contingencies (a point I do not at all concede). Even in such case, Bishop Williamson would have been justified according to Catholic doctrine in providing for the needs of the faithful caught in necessity, for as the SSPX (and the Church) always taught:
“The common good must be considered in danger not only when 1) many effectively suffer harm, but also 2) when they are able to suffer it. In the first application to our case, people lose the faith; in the second, they are able to lose it if, in fact, only one objective cause exists which renders this damage possible.14 The spread of errors and heresies already condemned by the Church is sufficient for judging the danger to the common good. These expose the old generations to the loss of faith and deprive the new generations of the integral transmission of doctrine. Both old and young are robbed of the goods due to them by the hierarchy according to the norms of divine law, natural and positive…”
Is this clause applicable to the case of Menzingen? Has it really placed the common good of the faithful at risk, rendering this line of action defensible? Menzingen flatly admits in its response to the Letter of the Three Bishops that it recognizes the threat to the common good in pursuing its goal of a practical accord, and announces it is moving forward anyway:
“We have not refused a priori to consider, as you ask, the Pope’s offer. For the common good of the Society, we would prefer by far the current solution of an intermediary status quo, but clearly, Rome is not going to tolerate it any longer.”
What is this but an admission of an intention to proceed along a path in which the danger to the common good is practically certain, thereby meeting the standard of taking action to prevent harm to the common good?
Of course, all of this is neither here nor there: My rebuttal to Fr. Laisney listed 10 compromises already consumated, and the anonymous poster somehow manages to completely ignore all 10 of them. This is either a problem of honesty or solipsism. A more scholarly approach would have been to attempt to show why the examples of compromise I provided are really no compromise at all. In my opinion, that would have been practically impossible, but it would at least have been honest. Instead, the approach is to ignore them, and stick to the party line.
Then in paragraph 10, the anonymous poster evinces an incredible blind spot, contending that if the situation left Bishop Williamson no wiggle room to consecrate, it indicates that God has not willed he should proceed. What is lost on the author is that Archbishop Lefebvre did not rely upon canonical “wiggle room” in proceeding with the 1988 consecrations, but rather on the theological justification of necessity (and even in the face of the Pope’s “no”)! That the author can neither see nor admit this follows again from his previous elimination of the distinction between theology/doctrine and canon law. Until he readmits the validity of that distinction, as the SSPX and all sane theologians always have, he will be trapped in this blindness.
The author, sensing a weakness in Fr. Laisney’s Letter with regard to the example of the 1991 consecration of Bishop Licinio Rangel, contends that this manifests no disrespect of canon law, because it merely evinces a continuation of “Operation Survival.” And here lies the pretext Menzingen hopes will save them from the obvious hypocrisy of condemning an episcopal consecration based on exactly the same reason (i.e., the doctrine of necessity) adduced by Archbishop Lefebvre, namely, that only that resistance stemming from “Operation Survival,” and within the confines of the SSPX, is justifiable.
The error in such a line of argumentation is demonstrated by observing the historical cooperation of the SSPX with various independent clergy and religious having no organic connection to Operation Survival. On the contrary, Archbishop Lefebvre’s support of the work of priests such as Fr. Omler, Fr. Urban Snyder, Fr. Ringrose, etc is all very well known. Therefore, that Archbishop Lefebvre can be shown (both before and after 1988) to be supporting these clergy having no basis or relation proximate to Operation Survival demonstrates that he viewed their resistance as being justified by the doctrine of necessity, and not some fictitious organic connection to Operation Survival.
This being the case, two conclusions are unavoidable: Firstly, that Bishop Fellay is arrogating to himself a monopoly on “justifiable” resistance to Roman modernism to which he has no right, in stark contradiction to the example, pastoral practice, and historical evidence surrounding the life and positions of Archbishop Lefebvre. And secondly, that if it was the doctrine of necessity which legitimated the ministries of the various independent clergy and religious groups having no organic link to Operation Suicide, then the same most certainly applies to the case of Bishop Williamson. Any other conclusion is arbitrary and unjust.
The anonymous author next proceeds to levy the same accusation against Bishop Williamson that the Ecclesia Dei and modernists hurled at Archbishop Lefebvre: That Martin Luther also appealed to the faith to justify his actions. Unwittingly, the adversary, in attempting to distinguish between the two bishops, has ended up drawing out yet another parallel between the two, vindicating my claim made in the article “Is Menzingen Unifying the Resistance?,” in which I observed that all the continued inept attempts at contriving fictitious distinctions between the bishops only serve in the end to illustrate an incredible unity between the two. This present attempt is but one more example of this phenomena.
The author then proceeds to the ad hominem argument, claiming I am ignorant of the subject matter I am discussing. Quite an ironic statement, in light of all the foregoing! What can one do in the face of such a comment except chuckle? Normally, the one making such an allegation would at least attempt to establish his own competence or authority on the subject matter. Instead, this character chimes in anonymously, makes no attempt to establish his own credibility, makes a series of “drive-by” comments, and moves on. All I will say in response to this contention is that I have been writing publicly on these matters for the last 3.5 years, and in my own name for the last two years. I therefore leave it to the readers to form their own opinions of my competence (while observing, conversely, that the anonymous poster has failed to demonstrate his own).
Demonstrating this incompetence, the anonymous poster makes the fallacious claim that “necessity only exists once all other recourse has been exhausted.” What does necessity have to do with recourse? When necessity is present, the duties of clergy are engaged regardless of recourse to competent authority, and quite independent of it:
“St. Thomas Aquinas explains: In virtue of the power of order, any priest has power indifferently over all [men] and for all sins. The fact that he is not able to absolve all from all sins depends on the jurisdiction imposed by the ecclesiastical law. But since necessity is not subject to law [cf. Consilium de Observ. Ieiun., De Reg. Iur. (V Decretal.) c. 4], in case of necessity, he is not impeded by the discipline of the Church from being able to absolve even sacramentally provided that he has the power of order [Supplement, Q. 8, A. 6].”
“It is certain that God binds nobody in a state of necessity, but the human legislator “can say ‘no’ without reason and in violation of natural and eternal law”6 and therefore they can in fact forbid an action required by the state of necessity. But, since the pope’s “No” is powerless to do away with the grave general necessity of souls and hence the associated duty sub gravito go to their help, the subject, especially if he is a bishop or priest, then finds himself in the moral and absolute impossibility of obeying, because he could not obey without himself sinning and harming others. Hence, it is the character of the state of necessity “to create a sort of impotency whereby it is impossible to do something commanded or not do some- thing forbidden.”7”
“St. Thomas says that whoever acts in a state of necessity “is not setting himself up as a judge of law” or of the legislator, nor is he even claiming that his point of view is better than that of authority, but he is merely “judging the particular case in which he sees that the words of the law [and/or the command of the legislator – Ed.] must not be observed,” because their observance in this particular case would be gravely harmful. Hence, the state of necessity frees the subject from the accusation of arrogating to himself a power that does not belong to him (ST, I-II, Q.96, A.6, ad. 1,2). G. Gerson, for his part, reminds us that “contempt of the keys must be evaluated on the basis of legitimate power and the legitimate use of power.”14
Hence, a priest who does not obey the pope forbidding him to absolve in a state of necessity, or a bishop who does not obey the pope forbidding him to consecrate bishops required by the grave spiritual necessity of many souls threatened in their faith and morals and without hope of help from their lawful pastors, cannot be accused of “contempt of the keys.” This is so because the pope’s action against divine law (natural and positive) is not making “lawful use” of his authority.”
This is sufficient to demonstrate that, not only is the poster ignorant as to the constituent and objective elements which comprise grave general spiritual necessity per se (as was shown further above, against his claim that Bishop Williamson was subjectively imagining a non-existent state of necessity), but also that -per the study of the SSPX and teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, quoted immediately above- there is absolutely no duty to have recourse to the superior in case of necessity, because the duty (sub gravi) to come to assistance of the faithful cannot be opposed by these authorities.
In fact, directly contradicting the anonymous poster’s claim that recourse must be had to the superior in a state of necessity, Suarez observes:
“Hence, by his own initiative, he refuses submission “without recourse to the superior,” that is to say, without any dispensation or approval on the part of the said superior. The reason, writes Suarez, is: ‘that in such a case the authority of the superior cannot have any effect; indeed, even if he were to will that the subject, after having had recourse to him, should observe the law, the latter would not be able to obey him because he must obey God rather than man and hence in such a case its is out of place (“impertinens”) to ask for permission.‘”
These last several quote are also sufficient to dispense with the anonymous poster’s final contention that, by not having recourse to the superior, Bishop Williamson is arbitrary in the laws he chooses to follow, and is in fact (because of this) schismatic.
To make the claims the anonymous poster has made are impious and calumnious. The quotes provided (citing saints, doctors, and eminent theologians, and written and published by no less by the SSPX itself!) demonstrate the anonymous poster to be animated by a spirit of partisanship and hypocrisy contradicted by the teaching of the Catholic Church, and opposed to arguments formerly defended by Menzingen itself.
It is to be hoped that the General Counsel will recognize that it’s credibility is being greatly diminished by now offering apologetics which contradict 25 years of former consistency. In this regard, one is reminded of the words of Bishop de Galarreta at the 2011 meeting of superiors (sans +Williamson) in Albano, Italy regarding the suicidal nature of proceeding towards a practical accord in the wake of the failed doctrinal discussions:
“Such an approach would show a serious diplomatic weakness on the part of the Fraternity, and indeed more than diplomatic. It would be a lack of consistency, honesty, and firmness, which would have effects like loss of credibility and [the] moral authority we enjoy. The mere fact of going down this path will lead us to mistrust and division. Many superiors and priests have a problem of conscience and will oppose it. Authority and the very principle of authority will be questioned and undermined…Accordingly, this is not the time to change the decision of the Chapter of 2006 (no practical agreement without resolving the doctrinal issues), and it is neither right nor prudent to embark on preparing minds otherwise…
For the good of the Society and Tradition, this ‘Pandora’s Box’ must be closed as quickly as possible, to avoid the discredit and demolition of authority, the disputes, dissensions and divisions, perhaps with no return.”
(Fr. Rioult, “The Impossible Reconciliation.” English language edition, p. 32.)
Obviously, that advice was ignored, and the results were as predicted.
[In response to the episcopal consecration of Bishop Jean Michel Faure]
Long-time American diplomat and former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, was known to have said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” By this, he meant that the confusion and perplexity subsequent to significant and unexpected events allows an opportunity to push through measures and policies which, without the benefit of the distraction provided by the crisis, would otherwise not find enough support to pass.
American politicians have made such efficient use of this tactic so as to spawn suspicion that some of these crises are now deliberately “manufactured” in what are called “false flag operations” to push through policies which otherwise would not have enough broad-based support. Examples of such crises (whether naturally occuring or false flag) would be: 911 (to tighten government control over its subjects and remove civil liberties under the pretext of fighting terrorism); the “Holocaust” (to create an Israeli state in Palestine as international and worldwide banking headquarters, under the pretext of protecting the Jewish people from another “genocide;” The Sandy Hook Massacre (Used by advocates of gun control to pass Draconian restrictive gun laws, up to and including banning private possession by law abiding citizens, and imposing imprisonment for refusal to comply); etc.
You get the technique: “How can we use this situation to progress our ambitions?” is the tactic Kissinger taught the world.
Of course, the episcopal consecration of Bishop Faure is anything BUT a crisis to the faithful Catholics still following the teaching of Archbishop Lefebvre (and therefore of all the saints, Fathers, Doctors, popes, and Our Lord Jesus Christ). Rather, it is a Godsend which has guaranteed the preservation of Tradition, regardless of what Menzingen and unconverted Rome work out going forward. But if you are one of the anesthetized zombies in the pews, mesmerized by seven years of branding and conferences like “Resistance to What?,” then the consecration is likely something which catches you a bit off balance.
Per Kissinger, how can Menzingen use this to their advantage?
It is becomming apparent that Menzingen is using the March 19 consecration of Bishop Faure to further its agenda of achieving a practical accord with unconverted Rome. What is for them (and Rome) a “crisis” (because tradition has eluded their capture), is to us a great cause of joy. Yet the strategy appears to be to contrive distinctions between the episcopal consecrations of 1988 and 2015, in an attempt to show Rome just how “different” they have become from the members of the Resistance and the “old SSPX” (while simultaneously trying to reassure their clergy and faithful that they are still the same old SSPX, and still following in the footsteps of Archbishop Lefebvre).
The latest attempt comes from long-time accordist, Fr. Francois Laisney (SSPX – Singapore). After posting it here, we will follow with an evaluation of the reasons adduced for the “distinctions,” in order to appraise their weight and value.
The Letter of Fr. Laisney:
“A Striking Contrast by Fr. Francois Laisney (SSPX – Singapore)
There is a striking contrast between the recent episcopal consecration by Bishop Williamson and those done by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988.
Archbishop Lefebvre had founded the Society of St. Pius X, as a proper “society of common life without vows,” duly canonically approved by Bishop Charriere on 1st November 1970. There is no similar “society” with Bishop Williamson, the “sacerdotal union Marcel Lefebvre” has no real authority – Bishop Williamson himself said that such authority was now impossible – absolutely no canonical standing and no rules.
Archbishop Lefebvre always strove to respect Canon Law, and obtained the approval of the proper authorities for his seminary of Econe and other priories until the illegal suppression of the SSPX in 1975 made it impossible; even then he filed two appeals at Rome, which Cardinal Billot buried. Since such appeal has “suspensive power,” the SSPX legally still exists in fact though often not recognized. It has been practically recognized since. This clearly shows that Archbishop Lefebvre had never neglected Canon Law, never thought that “faith” would dispense him from the Canon Law! But where is such respect of Canon Law on Bishop Williamson’s part? It is nowhere to be seen.
The Society of St. Pius X has lived and grown for 18 years, showing its vitality by its six seminaries, its solidly established chapels, schools, missions, organized in districts as is normal for a Catholic religious society. It had in 1988 more than 200 priests, plus more than 200 seminarians, brothers, sisters, oblates, etc. The “loose association” of priests with Bishop Williamson does not have even three years existence, with no regular order, practically no seminaries (the one in the Phillipines in south of Manilla was closed because their hostess was so disgusted by the disorder!): they already have big divisions among themselves (to the point that some have already made civil lawsuits against others) and some are already openly sedevacantists, thus manifesting no unity among themselves: hence no solidity.
It is claimed that Bishop Faure “intends” to open a seminary: how can he claim a “survival operation” for something that does not yet exist? What a contrast!
Archbishop Lefebvre had already asked Cardinal Ratzinger in the early 80s for the consecration of a bishop, and for a whole year before the 1988 consecrations, he made every effort to have it done with the proper papal mandate – to the point that the Pope approved on May 5th 1988 the principle of a consecration by Archbishop Lefebvre. He then, on May 6th, asked for the practical realization of this approval, requesting a date for the seminary: he had himself already postponed several times the date; Rome waited three weeks to give him a date, and the very letter offering a date asked for new candidates which made it impossible to be ready for that date: this dishonesty manifested that Rome did not intend to observe the approval given on May 5th, and by indefinate delays would [make] it void. This [convinced] Archbishop Lefebvre not to delay any more his “survival operation.” But where are the efforts of Bishop Williamson to obtain any approval by the Pope? Absolutely none! What a contrast!
The recognition of the authority of the Pope was very clear and concretely manifested by the protocol; only the dishonesty of Rome made this protocol void. But the recognition of the authority of the Pope by Bishop Williamson is only a theoretical recognition, denied in practice and by his many declarations rejecting ANY submission to the current Pope.
St. Augustine says that what makes a martyr is not the fact of suffering and death but the cause for which one dies (thus there [are] no Muslim martyrs!)[.] Archbishop Lefebvre resisted real abuses AFTER they were done, not before! But Bishop Williamson and his followers resisted BEFORE any compromise by the SSPX was made, and even three years later such compromise is anywhere to be seen. Archbishop Lefebvre resisted BIG and evident scandals, such as the novelties of Vatican II (religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality), the new liturgy, with its communion in the hand, and many other “approved” practices and finally the huge scandal of Assisi in 1986. Bishop Williamson opposes some ambiguous words ina proposed April 2012 declaration, which was made void and completely discarded within months: the disproportion of the cause is [again] striking.
To assure the survival of the SSPX, Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops between 35 and 52 years younger than he was in 1988. Bishop Williamson intends to assure a survival…consecrating a bishop who is just one year younger than himself, very past secular retirement age and very close to bishops’ retirement age! Again, what a contrast!”
So there you have it. What now to make of these arguments? Let us progress through them systematically and methodically, making sure to address each, so as to be able to offer a conclusion regarding the cumulative weight of the primary thesis: That there is a striking contrast between the circumstances which gave rise to, and justified, the episcopal consecrations of 1988.
The first attempt at contrasting the 1988 and 2015 consecrations offered by Fr. Laisney is that, whereas the SSPX had received canonical approval from Bishop Charriere, thereby legitimizing the Society, Bishop Williamson has neither a “society” properly speaking, nor canonical approval.
My immediate response to this line of argumentation is to ask myself, given what I know of Archbishop Lefebvre, “Had Bishop Charriere refused canonical authorization for the pius union, would he have scrapped the entire enterprise, and gone back into retirement?” There is nothing in Archbishop Lefebvre’s behavior or history to suggest that he would have followed such a course. Rather, the evidence (particularly the 1988 episcopal consecrations themselves) suggests the contrary: Archbishop Lefebvre, basing his actions firstly on the doctrine of necessity (having subordinated canonical considerations to the theological), is what justified and motivated his actions, and he would certainly have held the course and supplied for the needs of the faithful caught in the state of general grave spiritual necessity, regardless of whether canonical approval would have been forthcoming. In fact, this has always been the position of the SSPX (as evinced by the 2-part theological SiSiNoNo study which appeared in the Angelus for May and July, 1999 titled “The 1988 Episcopal Consecrations: A Theological Study.” Available online at http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/SiSiNoNo/1999_July/The_1988_Consecrations.htm). The canonical considerations are always subordinated to the theological. Notice (as the very letter of Fr. Laisney evinces) that this is no longer the case in neo-Menzingen.
But that said, one is forced to question the relevence of Fr. Laisney’s initial distinctions regarding the 1988 and 2015 episcopal consecrations. They seem irrelevent to the issue, insofar as they do nothing toward establishing that which he sets out to prove: That the 1988 and 2015 consecrations are not at all alike. His observations might be relevent in a conversation regarding which “society” has a better canonical or theological foundation, but have nothing to do with establishing a distinction in motive, purpose, scope, or consequence for the consecrations themselves. My response, then, is that these first observations regarding canonical approval, and the existence/lack of a proper society, are neither here nor there, and out of place in a conversation regarding episcopal consecrations.
Fr. Laisney’s next attempt at distinguishing the 1988 and 2015 consecrations pertains to the respect Archbishop Lefebvre had for the canon law of the Church (as allegedly contrasted with Bishop Williamson’s lack of respect for the same), and he observes that Archbishop Lefebvre “never thought that ‘faith’ would dispense him from the Canon Law!”
There are therefore two distinct claims being made within this attempt to distinguish the behavior and position of Archbishop Lefebvre from that of Bishop Williamson: Firstly, that the former respected canon law, where the latter does not. Secondly, that Archbishop Lefebvre never thought the faith would dispense him from the observance of the law.
Firstly, let us readily admit that Archbishop Lefebvre certainly had great respect for the canon law of the Church, and all things being equal, would have preferred to work with canonical approval. But to claim Bishop Williamson lacks such respect is manifestly false and unjust, as proven by the June 1, 2014 conference in Post Falls, ID, in which His Excellency explains to Resistance faithful that his call for a loose confederation of priests is not based firstly upon any personal or strategic preferences, but because he considers himself to lack the authority to found a proper religious congregation (Part 1 of that conference is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Leiw7INHz0E). For 90 minutes, His Excellency explains Archbishop Lefebvre’s great deference for authority, and it was his desire to follow in Lefebvre’s shoes that keeps him from founding a religious congregation without canonical approval. Furthermore, His Excellency was forthright in this regard, despite putting himself into open conflict with Fr. Pfeiffer and other hard-liners in order to hold that line. So to attempt to contrast Archbishop Lefebvre with Bishop Williamson based on an alleged lack of respect for canonical authority is patently absurd.
Secondly, it is equally obvious (despite the contention of Fr. Laisney to the contrary), that Archbishop Lefebvre certainly placed the faith above canonical considerations. How else could he justify the 1988 consecrations in the face of the Pope’s “no,” except by appealing to the theological principles of necessity, which transcend and trump canonical considerations? In the 2-part theological study cited above, which has long represented the “gold standard” of SSPX apologetics pertaining to justifying the 1988 consecrations, we find among so many other excellent quotes, this nugget:
“Jurisdiction ‘as if from itself’ seems to have flowed from the Pope in the history of the Church whenever a grave necessity of the Church and of souls demanded it. In such extraordinary circumstances, says Dom Grea, the episcopacy proceeded “resolute in the tacit consent of its Head rendered certain by necessity” (op. cit. vol.I, p.220). Dom Grea does not say that the consent of the pope rendered the bishops certain of the necessity. On the contrary, the necessity rendered them certain of the consent of the pope. Precisely why did the necessity render the consent of their Head “certain,” consent that in reality those bishops were ignoring? – Evidently because in necessity the positive judgment of Peter is owed. If from Christ, on the strength of his primacy, Peter has the power of extending or restricting the exercise of the power of episcopal order, from Christ he also has the duty to extend or restrict it according to the necessity of the Church and of souls. In the exercise of the power of the keys, Christ remains always the “principle agent” and “no other man can exercise [the power of the keys] as principle agent” (St. Thomas, Supplement, Q.19, A.4), but only “as instrument and minister of Christ” (ibid., Q.18, A.4). The keys of Peter are also “keys of ministry,” and therefore not even Peter can use the power of the keys arbitrarily, but must be attentive to the divine order of things. The divine order is that jurisdiction flows to others by means of Peter, yes, but such that it is supplied “in a manner sufficient for the salvation of the faithful” (St. Thomas, Contra Gentiles, Bk.4, c.72). Therefore, if Peter prevented it from being supplied sufficiently for the need of souls, he would act against the divine order and would commit a most grave fault (St. Thomas, Supplement, Q8, AA.4-9ƒƒ.).”
This passage not only demonstrates the superiority of the faith (i.e., theology) over the canon law, of which it is the source, but also that the Archbishop, SSPX, and Fr. Laisney himself have long understood that the theological argument trumps the canonical. Has it not always been taught by St. Thomas Aquinas and the SSPX that “necessity is a cause excusing from the law” (see same study referenced above)? And for Fr. Laisney now to claim that the faith (i.e., theological considerations) cannot dispense one from the canon law is simultaneously to discard a defense the entire SSPX apostolate has relied upon from the beginning. Therefore, as Fr. Laisney’s comment stands, it is a self-indictment, and admission that he (and the entire SSPX, for that matter) haven’t a leg to stand on. Is this really an argument he wants to make?
Finally, with reference to the two arguments Fr. Laisney is making regarding the alleged disrespect for canon law, and the manifestly false idea that the faith (i.e., the doctrine of necessity) cannot dispense with canon law, I am again forced to wonder what the applicability is to a discussion allegedly initiated to distinguish the differences between the 1988 and 2015 episcopal consecrations. Rather, it seems his efforts thus far have been geared towards a criticism of the Resistance and Bishop Williamson generally, rather than comparing/contrasting anything specificly relevent to the scope, purpose, or justifications for the consecrations themselves (except in this last respect, to seemingly pull the rug out from under both sides with regard to appealing to the doctrine of necessity as the ultimate justification, which is as suicidal as it is erroneous).
The third argument adduced by Fr. Laisney in support of his contention there exists striking contrasts between the two consecrations of 1988 and 2015 once again misses the mark. Rather than comparing/contrasting the consecrations, he instead compares/contrasts the SSPX at it existed in 1988, versus the Resistance in 2015. The only relevence I can perceive in going down that path is that perhaps Fr. Laisney is implying that, because of the fruitfulness of the SSPX by 1988, the greater numbers (i.e., 200 priests, 200 seminarians, 6 seminaries, etc.) necessitated the consecrations (i.e., because it was too much work for Archbishop Lefebvre to handle all this himself?).
If this is his argument (i.e., a practical justification for the consecrations), it is one I have never seen the SSPX offer before. The SSPX has always primarily justified the 1988 episcopal consecrations on the basis of the state of grave general spiritual necessity. To try to justify episcopal consecrations from practical considerations (which would exist in a position grossly subordinate even to the canonical, much less theological justifications) would certainly be insufficient grounds for disobeying a direct command of the pope to abstain from consecrating, and therefore a more serious disregard for the canon law than the fictitious accusation levied against Bishop Williamson. For these reasons, this third attempt at contrasting the 1988 and 2015 consecrations, besides being completely irrelevent to them, is the weakest of Fr. Laisney’s arguments, and quickly dispatched.
Fr. Laisney goes on to fulminate about the lack of unity within the nascent Resistance, commenting that there are lawsuits between Resistance members, and open displays of sedevacantism. Again: Is this a critique distinguishing the consecrations themselves, or a generalized criticism of the Resistance and resisters? As far as I can tell, the consecrations are not the focus of the plaintiff’s energies. Nevertheless, since he has made the statement, I might observe that lawsuits between SSPX and laity are nothing new, nor between clergy. And so far as the emergence of a few sedevacantists among the clergy, does Fr. Laisney pretend not to remember how sedevacantism was also known at Econe in the early days? Where does he think “the nine” came from? Yes Fr. Laisney, we all remember the early days, before the SSPX became so monolithic in its doctrinal unity, and for what its worth, I rather tend to think this parallel within the nascent Resistance tends to unite it to the history of Econe and Archbishop Lefebvre’s enterprise, rather than distinguishing it.
The fourth attempt at contrasting the 1988 and 2015 episcopal consecrations misses the mark yet again (see a pattern here?), instead represeting something more akin to “heckling.” He asks how Bishop Faure can intend to found a seminary to carry on “Operation Survival” for something that dies not yet exist. I suppose my response would be, “The same way Archbishop Lefebvre intended to provide for the survival of the true priesthood, and instruct the little band of seminarians who approached him in 1969, by founding a seminary which did not yet exist.”
In his fifth attempt to compare/contrast the 1988 and 2015 episcopal consecrations, Fr. Laisney finally hits upon something directly relevent to the consecrations themselves: He observes that Archbishop Lefebvre exhausted himself in an attempt to have his episcopal consecrations canonically sanctiond and approved by Rome, yet observes that Bishop Williamson made no effort to do the same.
Our first response comes from the SSPX itself, as contained in part 2 of the same theological justification for the 1988 episcopal consecrations cited above:
“But it is the pope himself who is favoring or promoting a course for the Church infected by neo-Modernism which threatens the goods fundamental to souls, goods indispensable for the salvation of souls, e.g., faith and morals. If the pope himself is the cause or partial-cause, and even, given his supreme authority, the ultimate cause of the grave and general spiritual necessity in which there is no hope of help from the lawful pastors, then what effect will recourse to the pope obtain in such circumstances? He will be physically accessible, but morally inaccessible. Recourse to him will be certainly physically possible but morally impossible, and if it be attempted, it will result naturally in the pope’s saying “No” to the act which the extraordinary circumstances require “in order that adequate provision be made” (ST, op. cit. in Part 1) for the grave general necessity of souls. Any different behavior on the part of the pope presupposes, in fact, repentance and a humble admission of his own responsibility given that the act in question – i.e., the consecration of bishops -would not be required if the pope himself was not in some measure co-responsible for the state of grave and general necessity.” (http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/SiSiNoNo/1999_September/The_1988_Consecrations.htm)
Which is to say that, whereas in the case of 1988, Rome was carrying on a ruse with Archbishop Lefebvre, pretending it was considering giving him a bishop, events (and the Archbishop himself) later made clear this was disingenuous, and that Rome was only waiting for him to die (and the traditional movement with him). Once Archbishop Lefebvre caught onto the ruse, the perceived need for appealing to them (or even remaining in frequent contact with them) was discarded.
Bishop Williamson, having lived through this affair, knows well that appealing to Rome would be pointless (as was clearly stated in the reading of the Apostolic Mandate at the consecration, and as the SSPX used to admit, per the theological study quoted from The Angelus above).
Therefore, while this distinction made by Fr. Laisney (the first one at all relevent to the subject he claims to be discussing) is valid, it is also without value or persuasion, not only in light of the quote provided above which illustrates the futility of appealing to modernist Rome, but also because it comes across as a disingenuous and arbitrary condemnation: Fr. Laisney is perfectly aware that the four SSPX bishops made no attempt to appeal to Rome for permission to consecrate Bishop Licinio Rangel for Campos in 1991 (and used practically the same Apostolic Mandate in 1991 as was used by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, and Bishop Williamson in 2015. Therefore, if the consecration of Bishop Faure is morally repugnant today, the consecration in which Bishop Fellay participated in 1991 was morally repugnant then.
Fr. Laisney’s 6th attempt at contrasting the 1988 and 2015 consecrations resumes the pattern of irrelevency, deviating from a discussion of the consecrations themselves, and reverting back to the already refuted allegation that Bishop Williamson rejects the authority of the Pope, and despite the latter’s own words, renders only a theoretical recognition of the Pope’s authority.
In making this argument (already refuted by referring to the June 1, 2014 Post Falls conference, in which His Excellency explains he has not the authority to found a religious congregation, and would only do so were the Pope to call him to Rome and authorize his congregation – a segment which also gives the lie to those who want to pretend he refuses any contact with Rome whatsoever), were it not already known to the reader that Fr. Laisney was an SSPX priest, one would instinctively think this accusation came either from an Ecclesia Dei priest (which has long accused the “recognize and resist” position of practical sedevacantism, or a sedevacantist priest (who does not want to allow necessity as excusing from obedience to superiors in a widespread and sustained manner). I would only add, the point already having been refuted above, that to argue along these lines is rather to enforce the suspicion of a growing convergence with the Ecclesia Dei position, by making use of their arguments, and a drift from the position of Archbishop Lefebvre (who never gave the doctrine of necessity a shelf life).
Fr. Laisney’s 7th attempted distinction is the most dumbfounding of all: In it, he pretends that whereas Archbishop Lefebvre only reacted after major scandals forced his hand, Bishop Williamson, on the other hand, reacted BEFORE any compromise was made. Apparently, Fr. Laisney would have you believe that anything short of a signed deal is not a compromise. What he seems to be unwilling to admit, is that the reason the SSPX is so close to a deal with Rome today is precisely because of the COMPROMISES THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN MADE! For example: The changing of the prudential precondition from the conversion of Rome; the expulsion of Bishop Williamson; the contradiction of the 2006 General Chapter declaration; the installment of six weak conditions (only three of which are considered essential) for the acceptance of an accord; the branding campaign whereby peace is made with Vatican II, all the scandalous statements of Bishop Fellay admitting that Vatican II belongs to the tradition of the Church; that religious liberty in Dignitatis Humanae was “very limited” (and therefore implicitly acceptable); that the fight for tradition has been shifted away from the fight for Christ the King, and reduced to the fight for the Mass (a la Ecclesia Dei); that so many of the Roman scandals are passed over in silence; that the distinction between the Conciliar Church and the Catholic Church (or eternal Rome vs Modernist Rome) has been eliminated; etc; etc.
No Fr. Laisney, there has been quite a bit more water under the bridge (and it all remains there!) than merely the scandalous April 15, 2012 doctrinal declaration (which, had it not been for Bishop Williamson throwing a monkey wrench into the gears, would already have had you accepting the legitimacy of the new Mass -which in your critique above, you seem to hint that it is communion in the hand, and not the Mass itself, that you object to- and the hermeneutic of continuity, with Vatican II deepening and enlightening “certain” aspects of the Faith).
In Fr. Laisney’s final attempt at distinguishing the 1988 and 2015 consecrations, he is successful in actually addressing the subject for only the second time in eight attempts. He observes that Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated men much younger than himself, whereas Bishop Williamson consecrated a bishop roughly the same age. Fr. Laisney then questions rhetorically how Bishop Williamson can say he intends to ensure the survival of tradition by consecrating someone the same age as himself.
The problem here lies in Fr. Laisney’s limited conception of what “ensuring the survival of tradition entails.” Fr. Laisney conceives of preserving tradition across time, hence his emphasis on age (i.e., temporal continuity). Bishop Williamson conceives of ensuring the survival of tradition in numbers (i.e., providing for another bishop in case something should happen to him). Both are ways or preserving tradition. But I would ask Fr. Laisney, “Would you have been happier had Bishop Williamson consecrated 4 young priests? Had that happened, would you not now be complaining that one bishop would have been sufficient? And had Bishop Williamson consecrated a younger man (or men), would you not be complaining that they did not have the requisite experience and learning to hold such an office?
It should be expected that letters like that of Fr. Laisney will become more and more common. That just as Menzingen is using the consecration of Bishop Faure to aggrandize itself to Rome, by showing these Romans how different they are from the Resistance (and therefore, from the old SSPX) for the purposes of securing a practical accord, so too will authors like Fr. Laisney use the opportunity to aggrandize themselves to Menzingen, tripping over eachother in displays of loyalty to the regime, but mostly in hatred of everything the old SSPX Bishop Williamson represents.
So far as the merits of the letter itself are concerned, the “striking contrast” (insofar as it exists) applies more to the differences between the neo-SSPX and the Resistance, than anything specific to the episcopal consecrations of 1988 and 2015.
Regarding those consecrations, they were nearly identical in all respects: They both featured practically the same Apostolic Mandate; they both based themselves on the state of necessity; they both explicitly announced the withholding of any apostolic mission (i.e., jurisdiction); and they both took place from a desire to provide for tradition.
In another article (“Initial Thoughts on the Episcopal Consecration”), I observed that Bishop Fellay would have to choose his response to this consecration very carefully, so as not to tie his hands regarding his own ability to perform an “unauthorized” consecration at a later date, should he ever snap out of Rome’s spell. Unfortunately, he has basically forecasted to Rome (by these types of letters) an idea that going forward, all unapproved consecrations are not an option, or, that consecrations can only be performed with the consent of Rome. It is difficult, in the new Regime, to imagine Menzingen being willing to perform a consecration to perpetuate the SSPX without the permission of Rome. That being the case, what can clergy and laity expect from Menzingen in the future?
No bishops at all?
Bishops picked by Rome?
Those seem to be the only alternative futures for a Menzingen which has eagerly placed its head into the noose, and now pulls the loop tight.
Truly, this effort is well named “Operation Suicide.”
(Regarding Certain Objections Made to Bishop Williamson’s Comments on the Novus Ordo)
(Feast of St. Athanasius)
[Available for purchase in booklet form here: http://ca-rc.com/a-catechetical-refutation]
In reading theology, the mind must be capable of keeping up with the distinctions that are being made, or one will come to erroneous conclusions about what is really being said. If the mind cannot keep pace, it is better to set the work aside, and find other reading material, than to persist and fall into error.
In the weeks which have passed since the original publication of this Catechetical Refutation on CathInfo.com, only one person (a priest) has attempted to contest it at the doctrinal level (and even he addresses only 2 of 24 points, which seem to be refuted a priori in the Refutation itself).
Against that opinion is that of another priest, eminent in moral theology, and well respected among all traditionalists (SSPX and Resistance):
“I have read your study and approve very much of the principles that you follow, as well as the resolution of the question. There can be no doubt as to your conclusion, and you base it solidly on the explanation of Archbishop Lefebvre. Some might question your distinction between assistance at Mass and assistance at the New Mass in determining the moral object of the act. However, subjectively, and formally, for those who assist at the New Mass the morality is determined by the intention, which is, as you point out, to assist at Mass. The fact that it is the New Mass is a circumstance. Consequently, your distinction between the new rite of Mass, as being intrinsically evil, and the assistance at it, as human act, is perfectly valid. A person who is not aware that is is intrinsically evil does not consent to anything evil, and does not commit a formal sin, regardless of how bad it might be materially.
May God bless you for your clarify of thought and distinctions…”
It not being possible, therefore, to refute these arguments at the doctrinal level, the next attempt to discredit this Catechetical Refutation was to misconstrue it into some kind of endorsement of the Novus Ordo Missae (i.e., by “overlooking” all the distinctions contained throughout the present work, explaining repeatedly the evils of the New Mass).
That my opponents will not have a second opportunity to obfuscate and distort the message of this Refutation, two principles ought to be constantly borne in mind by the reader as he progresses through this work:
If at any point in this study the reader should begin to suspect – despite my explicit declaration to the contrary – that Novus Ordo attendance is somehow being promoted, it is an indication that he/she has not understood the point being made, and should stop in their tracks and re-read the passage in question, giving it an interpretation consistent with these two principles.
(Octave Day within the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus)
On June 28, 2015, Bishop Williamson gave a conference after a confirmation Mass in New York, in which he was asked by a lay faithful attendee whether or not it was permissible for her to attend the Novus Ordo Missae.1
A strange question, you might think, coming from an attendee of a Resistance confirmation/Mass/conference, until you recognize that this occasion being a confirmation, she was not a regular attendee, but rather a guest or relative of one of the confirmands.
This woman went on to provide some additional details: That she attended the traditional Latin Mass on Sunday, but also attended the Novus Ordo Missae during the week; that the Mass was celebrated by a priest who certainly had a true faith in the Mass; that it is celebrated with unusual “reverence,” etc.
Less well known, however, is the fact that the traditional Latin Mass this woman attends on Sunday is also celebrated by the same (bi-ritual) priest who celebrates the Novus Ordo Missae during the week.2
These additional details are important for context, insofar as they plainly evince an ignorance on the part of this woman regarding the doctrinal deficiencies and evils of the Novus Ordo Missae. I say plainly evince, because it is scarcely conceivable that she has been taught these things by her bi-ritual priest (i.e., Is it imaginable that he would be condemning from the pulpit at the traditional Latin Mass on Sunday the evils of the Novus Ordo Missae he was going to be celebrating on Monday?). Is it not much more likely that he has been explaining to his faithful non-doctrinal reasons for praying the Tridentine Mass (e.g., artistic beauty; historical continuity; a preference for Latin; etc), especially since, as a conciliar priest, he is in no position to make doctrinal criticisms of the Novus Ordo Missae, even if he wanted to, for fear of sanctions?
In the weeks and months that have followed since June, Bishop Williamson has defended his response by various arguments, primarily within the pages of the weekly Eleison Comments,3 while his adversaries have used these subsequent explanations as means to contrive new objections.
It wasn’t until April 8, that Br. Raymund de Pennefort, T.O.P. posted a quote of the Archbishop taken from the recording of a spiritual conference in 1979, which fully vindicated and corroborated the pastoral approach taken by Bishop Williamson on June 28:
“I still have some considerations to make about precisely what the judgment is that we should make regarding those who say this New Mass and those who attend the New Mass. Is there not also a need to have a reasonable judgment which corresponds to the pastoral care that we must have regarding the souls who still do not realize the error that they could be committing?
It is not just the fact of the attendance or celebration of the New Mass. It’s true that in many other cases where the fault is objectively grave and subjectively it is not because ultimately the conditions of a grave moral culpability do not exist; it is necessary that there is serious matter, knowledge, and full consent. We admit that there is serious matter (materia grave) and that there is full consent. But if there is no knowledge, no knowledge of the seriousness of the sin, then the person is not aware of the grave matter (materia grave). They do not commit a subjective sin.
They commit an objective sin, but not a subjective sin. I think that people who are accustomed to utter profanities or repeat blasphemies without realizing that it is blasphemy do not know it. They repeat what they hear in their environment, vulgar things to which is associated the name of God, and they are not aware of it -well, one can point it out. They can understand it, but then they could be committing an objectively serious offense but subjectively not be guilty.
Therefore you should not judge all people. You must know how to examine each case. It’s precisely the role of the confessor; he must examine, he must be informed… Sometimes, in certain cases, we might even think that it is not always very pastoral to point it out to some people … If for example we are aware that these people, if we point out the error that they are committing, these people will continue to do it [attend the New Mass-translator] … it is sometimes necessary to proceed prudently in order to open their eyes to tell them what to do and not always be harsh in the way we act regarding souls. Souls are delicate objects that we cannot mistreat. When we say “you commit a grave sin”, “you will go to hell”, etc., we take a chance of doing more damage to a soul by mistreating it than by making it understand things gently. Rather than making one understand, explain it to them, open their eyes about the error being committed. It is a pastoral question, I would say, but it is necessary to be a shepherd to these people as well and not condemn them immediately.” 4
This quotation, representing a nearly identical pastoral approach between Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Williamson, ought to end the discussion, and would seemingly preempt the need for such a work as this. And in fact it does.
But when one kills a vampire, he not only drives a stake through his heart, he then cuts of his head, to be sure the monster never rises again.
And, as at present there exists such a multiplicity of sophisms and confusion (both feigned and real), it seemed best to proceed with the article anyway, in an attempt to address as many of these concerns/objections/sophisms as possible within the limitations of a single article. To facilitate this objective, I decided to proceed in the form of a “catechetical refutation” (i.e., A progressive and cumulative question/answer format, divided as well as possible by topic and subject matter).
Having done so, the conclusions we (and you the reader) shall be obliged to reach will be the following:
Let us now move to an evaluation of these various objections.
The Objections and their Refutations:
1.“Bishop Williamson should not have withheld the truth from the woman regarding the evils and dangers of the new Mass.”
Were we watching the same conference? I count 12 distinct warnings in response to the woman’s question about new Mass attendance, repeated in a span of only 11.5 minutes:6
1:02:17 – “There’s the principle and there’s the practice. In practice the new Mass is a key part of the new religion, which is a major part of the worldwide apostasy of today.”
Conclusion: The new Mass is bad.
1:02:34 – “Archbishop Lefebvre, in public, would say stay away. Keep away from the new Mass.” Conclusion: The new Mass is bad.
1:03:10 – “In certain circumstances, like those you mentioned, exceptionally, if you’re not going to scandalize anybody…” Conclusion: The new Mass is dangerous.
1:03:29 – “The conclusion many of them are going to come to [i.e., people who see you go to the new Mass] is that the new Mass is OK.” Conclusion: The new Mass is not OK to go to.
1:04:35 – “The principles are clear, and the wrongness of the Novus Ordo Mass is clear.”
Conclusion: The new Mass is bad.
1:05:00 – “The Archbishop said if you want to look after your faith, stay away from the new Mass.” Conclusion: The new Mass is bad.
1:08:40 – “The new religion is false, and it strangles grace.” Conclusion: The new Mass is bad.
1:10:30 – “But I hope its clear that I don’t therefore say that the NOM or Novus Ordo religion are good; that’s obviously not the case.” Conclusion: The new Mass is bad.
1:10:40 – “Generally, it’s a tremendous danger because the new religion is very seductive…and it’s very easy to go with it and lose the faith.” Conclusion: The new Mass
1:12:24 – “Stay away from the Novus Ordo, but exceptionally, if you’re watching and praying, even there you can find the grace of God.” Conclusion: The NOM is dangerous; stay away from the NOM.
1:13:24 – “But it does harm in itself, there’s no doubt about it.” Conclusion: The Novus Ordo is bad.
1:13:45 – “It’s a rite designed to undermine the Catholic faith.” Conclusion: The Novus Ordo is bad.
2.“Yes, but Bishop Williamson contradicts himself, because mixed in with those warnings and statements, he nevertheless gives the woman permission to attend the Novus Ordo.”
There is no contradiction.
Rather, Bishop Williamson is distinguishing between the objective principle and the subjective application of it.
The objective principle, outlined by all the examples above, is that nobody should attend the Novus Ordo. As demonstrated above, this was emphasized repeatedly in the course of his answer.
But subjectively, there can be exceptions to the principle because of circumstances (e.g., extreme spiritual necessity, ignorance, etc.).
3.“Where do you come up with this distinction between the objective principle, and the subjective application (especially as applied to New Mass attendance)?”
This is found in the Catholic science of “casuistry.” According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, casuistry is:
“The application of general principles of morality to definite and concrete cases of human activity, for the purpose, primarily, of determining what one ought to do, or ought not to do, or what one may do or leave undone as one pleases; and for the purpose, secondarily, of deciding whether and to what extent guilt or immunity from guilt follows on an action already posited.”7
“Since the special function of casuistry is to determine practically and in the concrete the presence or absence of a definite moral obligation, it does not fall within its scope to pass judgment on what would be more advisable, or on what may be recommended as a counsel of perfection.”8
“The necessity of casuistry and its importance are obvious. From the nature of the case, the general principles of any science in their concrete application give rise to problems which trained and expert minds only can solve. This is especially true regarding the application of moral principles and precepts to individual conduct. For, although those principles and precepts are in themselves generally evident, their application calls for the consideration of many complex factors, both objective and subjective. Only those who unite scientific knowledge of morality with practice in its application may be trusted to solve promptly and safely problems of conscience.”9
There can therefore be no question regarding the legitimacy of Bishop Williamson distinguishing between the objective principles, and their subjective application to individual cases.
4.“Fine and well, but the SSPX has always taught that there are no exceptions to the ban on Novus Ordo Mass attendance, so I don’t see where this distinction between the objective principle, and its subjective application, gets you.”
Response: Not so fast.
If you reflect, for a moment, you will recognize that the writings of the SSPX and other traditionalist groups regarding new Mass attendance are always directed to traditionalists, and that, therefore, the question of exceptions for ignorance cannot arise. But you should not conclude from this that the SSPX, Archbishop Lefebvre, et al, would not excuse the ignorant (or those in necessity) from attending the Novus Ordo.
In fact, quite the contrary, you will see that even in the most stalwart writings of Fr. Peter Scott (SSPX), the Avrille Dominicans, Fr. Chazal, etc., that they leave intact from their prohibitions on new Mass attendance the excusing justification of ignorance.
For example, Fr. Peter Scott (while still Rector of the Holy Cross Seminary in Australia) made this very strong condemnation of new Mass attendance:
“However, regardless of the gravity of the sacrilege, the New Mass still remains a sacrilege, and it is still in itself sinful. Furthermore, it is never permitted to knowing and willingly participate in an evil or sinful thing, even if it is only venially sinful. For the end does not justify the means. Consequently, although it is a good thing to want to assist at Mass and satisfy one’s Sunday obligation, it is never permitted to use a sinful means to do this. To assist at the New Mass, for a person who is aware of the objective sacrilege involved, is consequently at least a venial sin. It is opportunism. Consequently, it is not permissible for a traditional Catholic, who understands that the New Mass is insulting to Our Divine Savior, to assist at the New Mass, and this even if there is no danger scandal to others or of the perversion of one’s own Faith (as in an older person, for example), and even if it is the only Mass available.”10
But notice even within this blistering prohibition on new Mass attendance, Fr. Scott still consistently excepts the ignorant (i.e., In the bolded/underlined portions above).
One can find the same careful exception in the article by the Avrille Dominicans, published shortly after the June 28 conference in an attempt to clarify or reiterate the ban on Novus Ordo Mass attendance (which even contains a section called “Can one assist at the New Mass in Certain Circumstances?”):
“Even if the New Mass is valid, it displeases God in so far as it is ecumenical and protestant. Besides that, it represents a danger for the faith in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It must therefore be rejected. Whoever understands the problem of the New Mass must no longer assist at it, because he puts voluntarily his faith in danger, and, at the same time, encourages others to do the same in appearing to give his assent to the reforms.”11
The most committed Resistance priests also maintain this exception. For example, in a February/2016 letter by Fr. Chazal, we find this passage:
“As for trying to explain away what happeneth and what doth happeneth not in Novus Ordo masses, I think it is a total minefield. Anything good we can say about attending the New Mass would come with so many caveats, conditions and distinctions. Basically, only ignorance is an excuse for taking part in it.”12
And of course, there is this quote from Bishop Tissier de Mallerais’ “Biography” regarding the position of Archbishop Lefebvre on the matter of Novus Ordo Mass attendance:
“In 1975, he still admitted that one could ‘assist occasionally’ at the new Mass when one feared going without Communion for a long time. However, in 1977 he was more or less absolute: ‘To avoid conforming to the evolution slowly taking place in the minds of priests, we must avoid -I could almost say completely-assisting at the new Mass.’”13
Notice the same careful qualifications: Bishop Tissier says he was only “more or less” absolute; Archbishop Lefebvre himself says “I could almost say completely.” In other words, Archbishop Lefebvre’s position was not absolute; he did not say “completely.” What is this but a recognition that the archbishop’s position did not intend to bind completely (e.g., the ignorant or extreme necessity)?
The proof of this interpretation comes another two years later, while giving a spiritual conference (in French) in 1979 –two years after his “almost complete” and “more or less” absolute position was already elucidated:
“I still have some considerations to make about precisely what the judgment is that we should make regarding those who say this New Mass and those who attend the New Mass. Is there not also a need to have a reasonable judgment which corresponds to the pastoral care that we must have regarding the souls who still do not realize the error that they could be committing?
It is not just the fact of the attendance or celebration of the New Mass. It’s true that in many other cases where the fault is objectively grave and subjectively it is not because ultimately the conditions of a grave moral culpability do not exist; it is necessary that there is serious matter, knowledge, and full consent. We admit that there is serious matter (materia grave) and that there is full consent. But if there is no knowledge, no knowledge of the seriousness of the sin, then the person is not aware of the grave matter (materia grave). They do not commit a subjective sin.
They commit an objective sin, but not a subjective sin. I think that people who are accustomed to utter profanities or repeat blasphemies without realizing that it is blasphemy do not know it. They repeat what they hear in their environment, vulgar things to which is associated the name of God, and they are not aware of it -well, one can point it out. They can understand it, but then they could be committing an objectively serious offense but subjectively not be guilty.
Therefore you should not judge all people. You must know how to examine each case. It’s precisely the role of the confessor; he must examine, he must be informed… Sometimes, in certain cases, we might even think that it is not always very pastoral to point it out to some people … If for example we are aware that these people, if we point out the error that they are committing, these people will continue to do it [attend the New Mass-translator] … it is sometimes necessary to proceed prudently in order to open their eyes to tell them what to do and not always be harsh in the way we act regarding souls. Souls are delicate objects that we cannot mistreat. When we say “you commit a grave sin”, “you will go to hell”, etc., we take a chance of doing more damage to a soul by mistreating it than by making it understand things gently. Rather than making one understand, explain it them, open their eyes about the error being committed. It is a pastoral question, I would say, but it is necessary to be a shepherd to these people as well and not condemn them immediately.”14
There can be no doubt, therefore, that neither the SSPX, Archbishop Lefebvre, Avrille, Fr. Chazal, Fr. Peter Scott, etc. ever intended to bind the ignorant (or those in necessity).
Consequently, one cannot justly charge Bishop Williamson with having departed from this teaching.
5.“But none of this applies to the woman who asked Bishop Williamson the question: She attends the Traditional Latin Mass on the weekends! How could she be in ignorance or extreme necessity?”
It is clear that the woman in question was ignorant of the evils of the Novus Ordo, otherwise she would not have asked the question (unless you would contend that her desire was to extract from Bishop Williamson permission to do something she already knew was evil. And any answer to that question would pertain to the internal forum).
That aside, the reflexive impression of many was that this woman could not possibly be ignorant of the evils of the new Mass, because she was attending the traditional Latin Mass on a weekly basis (presumably at either an SSPX or Resistance Mass venue), and was even attending Bishop Williamson conferences in Resistance venues!
However, this presumption is factually wrong: The woman is not an SSPXer or Resistance faithful, but instead attends both the traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo celebrated by a bi-ritual priest.15
That being the case, what do you think she has been taught regarding the differences between the Tridentine and Novus Ordo Masses? Or, more to the point, about any evils inherent in the new Rite?
In the conciliar world, the differences between the two, or the reasons for saying the Tridentine Mass instead of the Novus Ordo, are all explained as matters of personal preference: The Tridentine Mass is more reverent; it precludes abuses; features Latin; there is no Communion in the hand; etc.
But the Novus Ordo itself being evil? Forget about it. How can a bi-ritual priest condemn at the Tridentine Mass on Sunday the evils of the Novus Ordo Mass he is going to say on Monday? He would as much as announce himself a hypocrite.
All of this adds up to a pretty obvious conclusion: The woman was most certainly in a state of ignorance (or at least imperfect understanding) of the evils of the new Mass.
6.“Now I have you! Earlier, you said Bishop Williamson taught this woman the truth. But now you are saying that since she remained in ignorance, she can continue to attend the Novus Ordo! Either she was taught the truth, or she remained in ignorance. You can’t have it both ways!”
To be told the truth is one thing. Recognizing it as the truth is quite another.
If ever there was a man who understood the theological problems inherent in the new Mass, it was Archbishop Lefebvre. It was principally under his guidance that in 1969 the “Brief Critical Study of the New Order of Mass” (otherwise known as “The Ottaviani Intervention”) was drafted.16 Yet despite that, Archbishop Lefebvre did not rule out attendance at the Novus Ordo until 1977.
Why not? Had not this man perhaps the greatest comprehension of the inherent evils in the new Rite of anyone in the Church in 1969? What then explains the delay?
The answer is simple:
The soil must be prepared for the reception of truth. Our Lord told the Apostles, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”17
In matters of major importance, one needs psychologically to be sure the decision one is about to make is correct. And this certitude is the fruit of study, prayer, and consultation. In short, the virtue of prudence.
All of this takes time.
But if it took the great Archbishop Lefebvre, with all his intimate knowledge of the problems, false doctrines, and evils of the new Mass eight years to leave it behind (and obligate others to do the same), is it really reasonable to expect this woman who was just taught the truth by Bishop Williamson (probably for the first time) to have simultaneously recognized, internalized, and accepted it as truth?
Those who would answer affirmatively would seem to hold her to a much higher standard than even the Archbishop was held.
7.“Even if I conceded these points, don’t you at least agree that Bishop Williamson erred doctrinally when he said that one could find “spiritual nourishment” in the Novus Ordo?”
Presuming we are talking about a valid Novus Ordo Mass, the only way one could deny Bishop Williamson’s comment is to either dispute the validity of the Novus Ordo rite per se (which was not a position held by Archbishop Lefebvre), or, to deny that the transmission of sacramental grace is “spiritual nourishment” (which would be absurd).
This is because the Council of Trent (Session 7: On the Sacraments in General) enjoined the following propositions to be held by all Catholics as a matter of faith (i.e., de fide):
“CANON VI.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law do not contain the grace which they signify; or, that they do not confer that grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto; as though they were merely outward signs of grace or justice received through faith, and certain marks of the Christian profession, whereby believers are distinguished amongst men from unbelievers; let him be anathema.
CANON VII.-If any one saith, that grace, as far as God’s part is concerned, is not given through the said sacraments, always, and to all men, even though they receive them rightly, but (only) sometimes, and to some persons; let him be anathema.
CANON VIII.-If any one saith, that by the said sacraments of the New Law grace is not conferred through the act performed, but that faith alone in the divine promise suffices for the obtaining of grace; let him be anathema.”18
Moreover, the manuals have faithfully transmitted and applied these articles of faith ever since. For example, in one of the most popular pre-conciliar manuals of moral and pastoral theology, we find this quote:
“The grace of the sacraments is infallibly produced in those who are capable and fit recipients, by reason of the sacred rite itself (ex opere operato), independently of the worth or merits of minister or recipient…The grace which is here spoken of as given by the Sacraments is sanctifying grace.”19
Therefore, since it is infallibly certain that those who attend a valid Novus Ordo, and receive Communion in the state of grace, have received an increase of sanctifying grace (which is the “spiritual nourishment” par excellence), there can be no question as to the doctrinal correctness of Bishop Williamson’s comment.
Rather, the concern is with those who would fall into at least material heresy by denying this dogma of faith.
8.“Yes, but the quotes you provide above from the Council of Trent were talking about the Traditional Latin Mass, not the Novus Ordo!”
Actually, that it not correct.
The Canons of the Council of Trent from Session VII quoted above dealt with all the sacraments in general, and definitively declared how grace works through them (i.e., The Council was not here considering the sacrament of Holy Communion specifically, much less any particular Rite of Mass); this latter discussion was reserved to Session XXIII.
However, even if you had been correct, your argument essentially boils down to a charge that, “Trent could never have foreseen the advent of a Rite of Mass so estranged from Catholic theology, and would certainly not have intended its Canons and Decrees to apply to the Novus Ordo.”
Yet in arguing along those lines, you would be unwittingly proposing the modernist thesis of “dogmatic relativism,” (i.e., the idea that the dogmatic teachings of the Church are not immutable, as they are conditioned by their particular times and circumstances, and therefore only applicable to them). 20
And having therefore undermined the permanence and stability of dogma, it is but a short step to the very same dogmatic evolution condemned by Pope St. Pius X in Pascendi.21
I understand that you would recoil from embracing any such position. Yet it is the unavoidable consequence of declaring Trent does not apply to the Novus Ordo, because it could not have foreseen its advent.
9.“Yes, but didn’t Bishop Williamson admit the unorthodoxy of his own comments when he acknowledged that what he was saying was “practically heresy within Tradition?”
To interpret his words in such a manner is to imbue them with a false understanding, made plain by the context: His Lordship was simply acknowledging the incomprehension with which many traditionalists would greet the distinction he was making between the objective principle, and the subjective application (which can dispense from the dictates of the objective principle in certain extenuating circumstances, such as ignorance or extreme necessity).
Evidence that this is the proper sense in which we are to understand Bishop Williamson’s comment is found in the affinity of Bishop Williamson’s pastoral approach on this subject, with that of Archbishop Lefebvre’s (e.g., The quote from Archbishop Lefebvre contained in the Introduction to this article). If it is “practically heresy” for Bishop Williamson, then it is “practically heresy” for Archbishop Lefebvre, who makes the same distinction, and tempers his pastoral approach on the basis of this same distinction.
10.“You are trying to whitewash this whole thing, but if Bishop Fellay would have said what Bishop Williamson said, you would have been all over him!”
A couple thoughts on that:
Firstly, at the doctrinal level, had Bishop Fellay said the same things Bishop Williamson said, he would have been perfectly justified according to the Council of Trent, and at the pastoral level, perfectly in line with the teaching and example of Archbishop Lefebvre (as has been shown above).
Secondly, at this pastoral level, though such comments would have been every bit as much in line with the approach of Archbishop Lefebvre when uttered by Bishop Fellay as they are when uttered by Bishop Williamson, the larger context within which such comments would occur are completely opposite for each:
In the case of Bishop Fellay, these hypothetical comments would be made within the context of an accelerating rapprochement with Rome and Vatican II (allegations which I have demonstrated elsewhere),22 and one might be excused in that case for wondering whether His Excellency intended to “expand” or “broaden” Archbishop Lefebvre’s pastoral approach (which, by the way, is not an accusation I am making).
On the other hand, Bishop Williamson had just consecrated a Bishop to ensure the work of Archbishop Lefebvre would survive independent of Rome a mere seven months prior to his comments (and another bishop only five months later). On what reasonable basis, then, would one accuse His Excellency of going soft on the new Mass, or leading us back into conciliarism?
11.“I’m not buying it: The whole Resistance movement is in an uproar because of these comments!”
Actually, for the most part, this whole “tempest in a teacup” is only an issue for that small segment of the Resistance under the poisoned influence of Fr. Pfeiffer and Fr. Hewko (or those having some loose affiliation with him, such as the sedevacantist Fr. Cardozo).
The proof of this becomes evident upon a reconnaissance of the world’s various Resistance blogs, and even more evident in the opinions of the Resistance clergy themselves.
Regarding the blogs, it is conspicuous that only those in English-speaking countries (i.e., Mission territory for Fr. Pfeiffer/Fr. Hewko) are straining to keep the matter alive, obviously for reasons more political than doctrinal (despite their claims to the contrary).
But if one tunes in to the French, German, or most Spanish-speaking blogs, this matter has NEVER been an issue, despite all the publicity the English-speaking blogs have generated. Note also that most of these blogs contain links to other blogs, so it will not suffice to claim that the matter is unknown in the non-English-speaking Resistance world.
In regard to the few Spanish-speaking blogs who are wrongfully taking Bishop Williamson to task for his (perfectly justified) comments, most of these are not Resistance blogs properly speaking, but are instead affiliated with sedevacantists like Fr. Ceriani (an enemy of Bishop Williamson for several years) or Fr. Cardozo (who despite calling himself Resistance, omits the pope’s name in the Canon of the Mass, etc.).
12.“But a bad tree can’t bear good fruit! Bishop Williamson is saying it can!”
When, in the third part of Our Lord’s “Sermon on the Mount,” He speaks of good and bad trees and fruits,23 He is not imparting a philosophical maxim, but a moral lesson. He is warning his disciples against the works of false prophets, and alerting His followers how they may distinguish good men from bad (i.e., Judge their fruits; good men produce good fruits; bad men produce bad fruits, etc.).
The moral lesson applies to the human acts of men, not to things and objects (which are not capable of committing human acts). If you read the commentaries of the Fathers on these passages (e.g., In St. Thomas Aquinas’s Catena Aurea24) you will find unanimity on this subject.
It is false (and contrary to all human experience), therefore, to transform this moral lesson into a philosophical maxim. And the proof of this is easy to discern: Does not every good tree also produce some bad fruit? Do not many bad trees also produce some good fruit? And even within the same apple: Do not many bad apples still contain some good flesh? And does not many a good apple contain some blemish?
Transforming this moral lesson into a philosophical maxim would attribute a factual error to Scripture, and is fatal, therefore, to the inerrancy of sacred Scripture (which is a dogma of the faith25), and therefore heretical.
In other words, it is not appropriate to attempt to apply to a Rite of Mass (rather than a man) the comparison of a “good or bad tree” (or as good or bad fruits, the loss of faith it engenders in the faithful who attend it).
13.“OK, then I will rephrase my question: If the new Mass is evil, how can Bishop Williamson claim that good can come from it?”
Leaving aside the fact that this claim has already been shown (in #7 above) to be infallibly correct according to the Council of Trent, perhaps a bit of philosophy would be in order to help you understand how this can be.
It was just shown that every good tree also produces some bad fruit, and that bad trees are capable of producing good fruit, and that even within the same piece of fruit, one can usually find good and bad flesh. Even if the whole apple be corrupted, it still retains a relative goodness (e.g., For the soil which it will fertilize; for the insects or birds it will feed; etc.).
These observations from the natural world reveal a philosophical conclusion:
St. Thomas Aquinas teaches in the Summa Theologiae that, “Evil cannot wholly consume good.”26
Therefore, it matters not what species of evil we attribute to the Novus Ordo (e.g., Intrinsic, moral, physical, etc.). Some good survives within it, or as a consequence from it.
If, therefore, the evil of the Novus Ordo is not absolute, and wholly consuming of the good (and St. Thomas opines that such an evil is impossible27), then the good which can come from the Novus Ordo (e.g., sanctifying grace), is that element which produces the spiritual benefit.
Which is all another way of saying that good is not really coming from evil at all, but rather from the good still contained in the evil Rite of Mass.
14.“But if you are right about that, then you would seem to be at odds with the claim, always made within Tradition, that ‘those people still trapped in the Novus Ordo benefit not from the Mass, but despite the Mass.’”
As always, we need to make distinctions:
In this case, the distinction is between the Rite of Mass, and the sacrament of Holy Communion (or if you will, between the cause of the benefit –the Novus Ordo-, and the effect or benefit itself: Sanctifying grace in Holy Communion).
It is the continuous position within Tradition that one does not benefit from the Novus Ordo Rite of Mass.
But it has never been the position of Tradition (nor in light of Trent, could it ever be the position of Tradition), that a soul in the state of grace could not benefit from a validly confected sacrament:
“CANON VI.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law do not contain the grace which they signify; or, that they do not confer that grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto; as though they were merely outward signs of grace or justice received through faith, and certain marks of the Christian profession, whereby believers are distinguished amongst men from unbelievers; let him be anathema.
CANON VII.-If any one saith, that grace, as far as God’s part is concerned, is not given through the said sacraments, always, and to all men, even though they receive them rightly, but (only) sometimes, and to some persons; let him be anathema.
CANON VIII.-If any one saith, that by the said sacraments of the New Law grace is not conferred through the act performed, but that faith alone in the divine promise suffices for the obtaining of grace; let him be anathema.”28
It is important, therefore, to recognize that in saying “Those trapped in the Novus Ordo benefit not from the Mass, but despite the Mass” we are not thereby questioning the benefit of the sacrament itself (i.e., sanctifying grace infallibly transmitted through reception of Holy Communion), but simply observing that that benefit is transmitted despite an evil Rite.
15.“I’m not sure about this distinction you are making. Hasn’t the SSPX (and Archbishop Lefebvre) always said that the Novus Ordo is intrinsically evil?”
There is much confusion surrounding the use of this term “intrinsic,” because the word is capable of being used in both an illegitimate (secular/common) sense, as well as multiple legitimate (philosophical and theological) senses.29
In the secular/common (or illegitimate sense), “intrinsic evil” is often used to convey the degree of heinousness or magnitude of evil associated with an act. But this sense is erroneous in the field of theology:
“Intrinsic evil refers to actions that are morally evil in such a way that is essentially opposed to the will of God or proper human fulfillment. The key consideration here is that intrinsically evil actions are judged to be so solely by their object, independently of the intention that inspires them or the circumstances that surround them. “Intrinsic” has nothing to do with how heinous the act is (although all heinous acts are intrinsically evil), but rather that the act is wrong no matter what its circumstances. A good example of an intrinsically evil act would be deliberately willed abortion.”30
Furthermore, we need to distinguish intrinsic evil as applied to things/objects (e.g., Novus Ordo) and intrinsic evil as applied to human acts (attending the Novus Ordo).
Speaking firstly of the concept of intrinsic evil as applied to the Novus Ordo Missae itself (i.e., to objects/things, rather than to human acts), the SSPX, Archbishop Lefebvre, and Bishop Williamson have always taught along these lines:
“At best, [the new Mass] provides a deficient spiritual diet to the faithful. The correct definition of evil—lack of a due good—clearly shows that the New Mass is evil in and of itself regardless of the circumstances. It is not evil by positive profession of heresy. It is evil by lacking what Catholic dogma should profess: the True Sacrifice, the Real Presence, the ministerial priesthood.”31
It is in this sense, therefore, that the SSPX has taught that the Rite itself is intrinsically evil.
But does it necessarily follow, therefore, that all those who attend the Novus Ordo are themselves committing an intrinsically evil act?
There are three determinants of the moral goodness or evil of human acts (object, intention, and circumstances).
For an act to be intrinsically evil, the object of the act must be evil:
“The key consideration here is that intrinsically evil actions are judged to be so solely by their object, independently of the intention that inspires them or the circumstances that surround them.”32
For, as St. Alphonsus de Liguori teaches:
“The object gives the act its essential moral goodness or badness. Thus, the moral object of the act, if bad, makes the whole act bad.”33
Therefore, in order to determine whether or not attending the Novus Ordo is an intrinsically evil act, we must determine the moral “object” of such an act. If this object is evil, then such attendance will always be evil, regardless of circumstances or intention of the subject.
Yet, isolating the object gives rise to no small controversy, as Conte explains:
“The moral object is the most difficult font [source] of morality to understand; it is the font most often misrepresented or misused in moral evaluations. And it is the font most often attacked by those who wish to undermine the teaching of the Church on morality.”34
Why this is so should become evident: By mixing “circumstances” into the identification of the “object” of a moral act, one can either declare an evil act “intrinsically evil” (and therefore never permissible) or declare an intrinsically evil act only relatively evil by obscuring the true object. That is to say, that confusing the object by mixing the circumstances of the human act into the identification of the object can lead either to rigorism, or to laxism.
As regards our particular question (i.e., Whether Novus Ordo Mass attendance is an intrinsically evil act), what is the object of the act in question?
Is it simply “Mass attendance” or is it “Novus Ordo Mass attendance?”
The way in which one identifies this object as one or the other will determine whether Novus Ordo Mass attendance is, or is not, an intrinsically evil act. Obviously, we are in need of a definition of the term “object,” and we find an excellent one in the manual of Fr. H. Davis, S.J.:
“The object here means that to which the will immediately and primarily directs itself and its activity, such as walking, praying, almsgiving.”35
Note that in these examples provided by Fr. Davis, S.J. he is only describing as the basic object the primary act willed, not including in his description of the object circumstances such as “walking to grandma’s house,” or “praying to God,” or “almsgiving to orphans.”
These bolded words are circumstances added onto the basic object of “walking, praying, or almsgiving.”
That is to say, the object is what, in the first instance, the person is setting about (i.e., willing) to do. But notice that the way in which I might describe what the person is setting out to do (i.e., the object) may be different than what the subject themselves considers themselves to be setting out to do.
So, in determining the precise object of the human act, from whose perspective must we assess the question?
“To identify the object of an action, one has to put oneself in the shoes of the one acting, and to describe the action from [their] perspective.”36
Therefore, what must be our assessment and/or identification of the object of the human act as regards Novus Ordo Mass attendance?
Therefore, we can say with the SSPX, Archbishop Lefebvre, or Avrille,37 et al, that as regards the Novus Ordo Rite itself, it is inherently (or intrinsically) evil, but as regards Novus Ordo Mass attendance, since the object is good (i.e., Mass attendance), attendance cannot be intrinsically evil.
16.“I suspect you are deliberately oversimplifying the moral object of Novus Ordo Mass attendance in order to avoid concluding that it is an intrinsically evil act.”
It is true that intrinsically evil acts (e.g., abortion, blasphemy, suicide, etc.) cannot simply be reduced to their essential action, as was the case in the above examples of running, walking, praying, etc., in which we distinguished these objects from their circumstances.
So for example, in the case of abortion, we cannot conclude that the moral object is simply “killing” (morally neutral), and designate the added description “of the unborn/of the innocent” as mere circumstances. If this were true, the act of abortion would not be intrinsically evil (because as we have shown above, it is an evil moral object which designates a human act as intrinsically evil), yet that the Church has declared abortion is intrinsically evil tells us the object must include not merely “killing,” but also “of the unborn.” This latter description of killing “the unborn” is essential to the act of abortion, such that eliminating “the unborn” from the description of the moral object causes the human act to be something other than “abortion.” It must therefore be included.
Why then, you will ask, do I refuse to designate the moral object of Novus Ordo Mass attendance as “Novus Ordo Mass” attendance, and insist it is merely “Mass attendance?”
Recalling that the moral object of a human act is “that to which the will immediately and primarily directs itself and its activity;”38
And recalling further that “to identify the object of an action, one has to put oneself in the shoes of the one acting, and to describe the action from [their] perspective;”39
We are then confronted with a classic scholastic axiom which proves the point: “Nothing is desired in the will, unless it is first apprehended in the intellect.”
Or stated differently, “Nothing is desired unless it is pre-known. The ignorant has no desire.”40
St. Thomas Aquinas himself intersperses his Summa Theologiae with this axiom. As one of the learned Resistance clerics to whom this article was sent for review in private distribution comments:
“The axiom you mention is all over the Summa. In Latin it runs either “Nulla ignoti cupido” (“There is no desire of the unknown”), or, “Nihil volitum nisi praecognitum” (Nothing is desired unless pre-known”). So it is certain that a Mass-attender is attending Mass only as he knows it.”41
The consequence of this undisputed axiom is definitive in the matter of properly identifying the moral object in the case of an ignorant conciliarist attending the Novus Ordo Mass:
The moral object can only be simply “Mass attendance,” since the ignorant conciliarist, having no apprehension of “Novus Ordo” cannot set out in the will to commit it as a human act.
It necessarily follows that “Novus Ordo” could not be part of the object.
Stated differently: If one is oblivious to the existence of such a thing as the “Novus Ordo Mass” (i.e., Such a thing is not known in the intellect), then it cannot be desired in the will.
And if it cannot be desired in the will, then no sound moralist would contend that it could form part of the moral object of a human act.
To say otherwise is to suggest a philosophical and moral impossibility:
That there could exist in the will a desire for something which is not first apprehended in the intellect.
No traditional priest (least of all Archbishop Lefebvre) would, or could, ever say such a thing.
It is clear, therefore, that to maintain that the moral object is “Novus Ordo Mass” attendance (rather than simply “Mass attendance”) is erroneous, and can only be maintained at the expense of rejecting an axiom of Thomistic and scholastic philosophy around which the Church, Tradition, and all approved theologians have expressed unanimity since the time of St. Augustine.42
There is no escaping this conclusion.43
It is therefore impossible to say that an ignorant conciliarist attending the Novus Ordo commits an intrinsically evil human act (or that such attendance is intrinsically evil).
17.“Are you trying to tell me Novus Ordo Mass attendance is good?”
Not at all! I am simply stating that we have to distinguish between evil inherent in the rite itself (intrinsically evil) and the type of evil present in the human act of Mass attendance.
Since that which has a good object cannot be intrinsically evil, it remains for us to assign the species of evil Novus Ordo Mass attendance falls under.
According to Fr. Bernard Wuellner’s “Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy,” there are within the category of “moral evil” (which is defined as: “Privation of rectitude in human acts; a sin”)44 three sub-species of evil:
Formal evil: A bad human act, performed with knowledge that it is evil and with consent;
Intrinsic evil: An act or intention that of its very nature, essentially or necessarily, is not in conformity with the norm of morals and the eternal law;
Material evil: Something that is objectively a moral evil, but which is in a given instance performed without knowledge of its evil or under duress without consent to the evil.45
Therefore, having just eliminated the possibility of Novus Ordo Mass attendance being intrinsically evil, we are left with material evil and formal evil, and it is the absence or presence of our subjective knowledge of its objective evil that determines which of these types of evil those who attend the Novus Ordo are guilty of:
In the case of conciliarists (and some indultarians), who are largely, completely, or partially ignorant of the doctrinal problems inherent in the new Mass, they commit only a material evil.
For SSPXers, Resistance faithful (and some indultarians), who are fully aware of the doctrinal problems inherent in the Novus Ordo, they would commit an act formally evil (and therefore sinful, possibly gravely).
18.“Well I want to go back to this quote of Archbishop Lefebvre from 1979 you are making so much of: Even if that was his opinion in 1979, he got more strict over time, and by 1981 was requiring all seminarians to sign a “Declaration of Fidelity” which says “I shall never advise anyone in a positive manner to take an active part in such a Mass.”46
A couple observations in this regard:
We have already demonstrated above47 that Archbishop Lefebvre’s prohibition on new Mass attendance was never intended to apply to the ignorant (or those in extreme spiritual necessity), else how could all of those sources quoted in the objection cited have been made, all of them appearing after 1981?
More than this, we also demonstrated in our rebuttal to the same question, that Archbishop Lefebvre drew his “red light” on new Mass attendance not in 1981, but in 1977 (i.e., Two years before the 1979 quote in question):
“In 1975, he still admitted that one could ‘assist occasionally’ at the new Mass when one feared going without Communion for a long time. However, in 1977 he was more or less absolute: ‘To avoid conforming to the evolution slowly taking place in the minds of priests, we must avoid -I could almost say completely-assisting at the new Mass.”48
That being the case, it is impossible to object to the applicability of the 1979 quote on the basis that Archbishop Lefebvre became stricter on Novus Ordo attendance between then and 1981.
Finally, it is worth observing that, if Archbishop Lefebvre’s position regarding Novus Ordo Mass attendance evolved over time (despite his having clearly understood its objective evil back in 1969, when he was steering the committee of bishops and cardinals who were to produce the Ottaviani Intervention), it evinces clearly that the matter of Novus Ordo Mass attendance is one of prudence, and not doctrine.
To oppose this contention, we would be forced to admit that either Archbishop Lefebvre’s position was incoherent (i.e., Allowing for many years attendance at the Novus Ordo, despite clearly understanding its evils), or, that Archbishop Lefebvre changed his doctrinal position (which means he was in doctrinal error from 1969 – 1977, which the Ottaviani Intervention clearly shows was not the case).
19.“But what about the part of the SSPX’s “Declaration of Fidelity” that says, ‘I shall never advise anyone in a positive manner to take an active part in such a Mass?’ That’s exactly what Bishop Williamson did!”
To construe Bishop Williamson’s permission for this woman to continue attending the Novus Ordo as “advising someone in a positive manner” to attend the Novus Ordo is surely a distorted perception of the case.
To “permit” is not the same as “to promote.”
The former conveys a concession being made due to circumstances, or a toleration being extended; the latter conveys the idea of desiring that one attend the Novus Ordo.
No sane mind would contend Bishop Williamson was promoting new Mass attendance by extending a concession or dispensation from the objective preclusion due to circumstance (in this case ignorance). If they did, they would likewise be bound to contend the same of Archbishop Lefebvre, in light of the 1979 quote above, which would be madness.
More than this, we have the explicit testimony of Bishop Williamson himself that his intention was to dispense this women, in light of her distress, for fear of causing more damage to her, and the hope of her arriving fully at Tradition (see footnote 14), and this approach is precisely that contained in the 1979 quote of Archbishop Lefebvre previously referenced.
Essentially, one would have to contend that the 1981 Pledge repealed the 1979 pastoral approach, but there is no evidence available anywhere to suggest this was Archbishop Lefebvre’s intention (and the quotes provided above by Fr. Peter Scott, Avrille, Fr. Chazal, et al explicitly militate against any such contention).
Therefore, one cannot accuse Bishop Williamson with violation of the 1981 Pledge of Fidelity, unless he imbues the words of that Pledge with a false understanding.
20.“Well surely you believe Bishop Williamson is wrong to try and make his point by citing “miracles” in the Novus Ordo?”
There are two questions that need to be addressed in this regard: One prudential, and one doctrinal.
The prudential question is whether or not one could or should trust the conclusions of conciliar churchmen, who are generally swept away by modernism, regarding approved Eucharistic miracles. In this regard, one should possess a healthy dose of reserve and skepticism, in much the way one would regarding Marian apparitions approved/denied by the conciliar magisterium. Their judgment is simply not trustworthy. Far more prudent to reserve judgment in this regard until sanity returns to the Church, and reliable churchmen are trusted to reach reliable conclusions.
The doctrinal question asks whether it is theologically possible for God to perform a Eucharistic miracle within the context of the Novus Ordo. Presuming we are speaking of a valid Novus Ordo, then there is no doubt that God can and does perform a Eucharistic miracle at each and every Novus Ordo through transubstantiation (i.e., The changing of the bread and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ).
It makes no difference that the Eucharistic miracle of transubstantiation occurs through the mediation of a priest, rather than directly from the hand of God, for as the old Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:
“God’s power is shown in the miracle directly through His own immediate action or, mediately through creatures as means or instruments.
In the latter case the effects must be ascribed to God, for He works in and through the instruments; “Ipso Deo in illis operante” (Augustine, City of God X.12). Hence God works miracles through the instrumentality: Of angels, e.g., the Three Children in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3), the deliverance of St. Peter from prison (Acts 12); Of men, e.g., Moses and Aaron (Exodus 7), Elias (1 Kings 17), Eliseus (2 Kings 5), the Apostles (Acts 2:43), St. Peter (Acts 3:9), St. Paul (Acts 19), the early Christians (Galatians 3:5).
In the Bible also, as in church history, we learn that animate things are instruments of Divine power, not because they have any excellence in themselves, but through a special relation to God. Thus we distinguish holy relics, e.g., the mantle of Elias (2 Kings 2), the body of Eliseus (2 Kings 13), the hem of Christ’s garment (Matthew 9), the handkerchiefs of St. Paul (Acts 19:12); holy images, e.g., the brazen serpent (Numbers 21) holy things, e.g., the Ark of the Covenant, the sacred vessels of the Temple (Daniel 5); holy places, e.g., the Temple of Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 6:7), the waters of the Jordan (2 Kings 5), the Pool of Bethsaida (John 5).
Hence the contention of some modern writers, that a miracle requires an immediate action of Divine power, is not true. It is sufficient that the miracle be due to the intervention of God, and its nature is revealed by the utter lack of proportion between the effect and what are called means or instruments.”49
There is therefore no doubt at all that, according to the mind of the Church, Eucharistic miracles are not only possible, but present in every validly performed Novus Ordo consecration.50 It appears, rather, in light of the foregoing passages, that the objection to the possibility of Eucharistic miracles within the context of the Novus Ordo emanates (partially) from an erroneous and restrictive conception of miracles, which would confine authenticity only to those instances resulting from the direct and immediate action of God (to the exclusion of the mediate instrumentality of men or angels), which the final paragraph of our excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopedia refutes as erroneous.
21.“Fine, but Bishop Williamson is not talking about transubstantiation. He is talking about bleeding Hosts, etc. in the Novus Ordo being authentic miracles. To allow that possibility is to charge God with deceiving souls into accepting the Novus Ordo!”
Firstly, let us observe that a miracle is a miracle, whether it occurs through the mediation of men or angels (e.g., transubstantiation), or transpires directly from the hand of God Himself (e.g., bleeding Hosts, etc.). In other words, it gets you nowhere to distinguish between the type or species of Eucharistic miracle, since both are the mediate or immediate action of God. If one is possible, so is the other.
Secondly, implicit in your concern is the idea that a Eucharistic miracle within the context of the Novus Ordo could only be used by God to promote this illegitimate and illicit Rite.
But in fact, it is exactly the opposite which is true:
“the great primary ends of miracles are the manifestation of God’s glory and the good of men; that the particular or secondary ends, subordinate to the former, are to confirm the truth of a mission or a doctrine of faith or morals, to attest the sanctity of God’s servants, to confer benefits and vindicate Divine justice.”51
Certainly, you are aware that of all the doctrines undermined or contradicted in the Novus Ordo, the belief in the Real Presence is that which is most attacked by the very right itself, with ruinous consequences for belief in this dogma of the Faith.52
It therefore makes all the sense in the world that, if God wants to reaffirm belief in the Real Presence, performing such a miracle within the context of the Novus Ordo, where this dogma is under siege, is both logical and apropos.
Jesus comes not to heal the strong and healthy, but to heal the weak:
“Jesus hearing this, saith to them: They that are well have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. For I came not to call the just, but sinners.”53
We can see that God works throughout history in precisely this way, creating miracles where the faith is under attack, or sending his Blessed Mother to transmit a message to men. In this latter case of apparitions, history shows that when the Church was strong, there were relatively few approved Marian apparitions:
Leaving aside apparitions approved only by the local ordinary, the Church approved only four Marian apparitions from the time of the Protestant Reformation until the mid-19th century,54 which is not surprising given the vigor of the Catholic counter-reformation during this time.
But by the time Protestant rebellion had transformed into the much more subtle and seductive errors of full-blown liberalism in the early 19th century, the Church authorized ten apparitions between 1830 – 1933 (i.e., More than twice as many appearances by the Blessed Mother in only one third the time).55
This analogy demonstrates what you would probably already recognize: That God creates miracles (or send His Mother to send a message) in those times and places where the Faith is most under attack.
If therefore we are cognizant of God’s “modus operandi,” it makes every bit of sense that Our Lord would perform a miracle within the context of the Novus Ordo, where belief in the Real Presence is most attacked (not to promote the Novus Ordo, but to defend the dogma it implicitly denies).
1.“You mentioned in endnote #15 that Bishop Williamson didn’t even know the background of this woman (i.e., Not an SSPXer or Resistance faithful; attends Mass from a bi-ritual priest; etc.), so he could not claim to dispense her on the basis of ignorance or necessity. Moreover, I doubt very much when Bishop Williamson made his comments that he had the Council of Trent in mind. You are creating defenses for him after the fact!”
We have already seen (in the footnote you reference) that His Excellency made his comments based on the visible distress of the woman in question, and did so not to promote the new Mass, but to avoid giving her a command which he judged would do more harm than good in bringing this conciliarist towards Tradition.
As regards what doctrinal arguments Bishop Williamson may or may not have had in mind when he made his comments, it is correct, for example, to state that His Excellency did not have the Council of Trent in mind when he made his comment about receiving “spiritual nourishment” from a valid Novus Ordo.
But just as an experienced pianist does not think in terms of pushing “A flat major” or “quarter notes and half notes,” or as a fluent linguist does not transliterate in his mind word equivalencies between languages, but simply recognizes the meaning of the word in its own language, so too would the long experience and extensive doctrinal formation of Bishop Williamson have steered His Excellency toward the correct answers and doctrines, whether or not they were explicitly in his mind at the moment.
The proof of this is to note how closely his pastoral approach mirrored that of Archbishop Lefebvre (i.e., in the 1979 quote) in this matter of Novus Ordo Mass attendance (which His Excellency was also not conscious of at the time, but which has proven his fidelity to the pastoral approach of Archbishop Lefebvre after the fact).
2.“You are just one of Bishop Williamson’s defenders, and your whole article is motivated by human respect for a bishop who is obviously in error. You are just towing the party line!”
If you will consider the matter, it should occur to you that my article has been, from the first to last, based completely on doctrine.
Nowhere in 34 pages of argument will you find an appeal to arguments suggestive of human respect (e.g., Appeals to authority; outrage at the subversion and division the erroneous arguments of Bishop Williamson’s opponents are creating within the Resistance; ad hominems against His Excellency’s opponents; appealing for gratitude for all His Excellency has done in the past; etc.).
Rather, I would suggest to you the following:
Either you can defeat the doctrinal arguments which comprise the entirety of this article, or I would ask you to consider which of us should be accused of “towing the party line.”
If you are unable to accomplish this, on what basis can you maintain Bishop Williamson is making doctrinal errors?
3.“All these distinctions are smoke and mirrors: Nothing good can come from the conciliar church!”
In making this statement, you have just endorsed the “ecclesiavacantist” position (i.e.,
Those who believe that there is no “overlap” between the Catholic Church and the conciliar church; that they are two completely distinct entities).
Note that those who arrive at this position generally first embrace sedevacantism, which is rejected by the Resistance (even if, as was always the case in the SSPX, a few sedevacantists find their way into the Resistance). But note also that those few in the Resistance who wrongly embrace the ecclesiavacantist position, without having embraced the sedevacantist error, will nevertheless be placed in a retroactive trajectory back towards sedevacantism (i.e., Eventually it will occur to these people that the Papacy does not allow for “dual citizenship,” and that if Francis is the Pope of a Church completely cut off from the Catholic Church, it stands to reason he cannot also be the Pope of the Catholic Church).
Such is the fate of those who believe the conciliar church has no connection to the Catholic Church.56
While it is certainly true that, contrary to the thesis of Fr. Gleize (Professor of Ecclesiology at the SSPX seminary in Econe), Archbishop Lefebvre’s use of the term “conciliar church” definitely comprised something more than a mere “spirit of the council,” it is a demonstrable exaggeration to claim the two are entirely separate.
The explanation is this:
When we speak of a “conciliar church,” we speak of the churchmen teaching in virtue of their “authentic magisterium”57 which is not consistent with the teachings of the ordinary or extraordinary magisterium of all time, and of the institutions and rites designed to implement these false or questionable teachings (e.g., new sacraments; new Code of Canon Law; new catechisms; etc.).
But in such measure as the modernist churchmen do teach the truths of the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium (or promulgate new documents consistent with these), we say that these are, in such measure, coming from the Catholic Church (not the conciliar church).
An example of conciliarist churchmen still representing the Catholic Church (i.e., an area of overlap between conciliar authority and Catholic truth) would be Pope John Paul II’s 1994 promulgation of the encyclical “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” “ (”On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone”).58
In this case, the conciliarists promulgated a teaching always held by the Catholic Church (i.e., Their conciliar authority was used to promulgate Catholic truth). And in such measure, the unity between the conciliar and Catholic Church was harmonized. It is only to the degree that the conciliar church ruptures with the Catholic Church that we reject it.59
Therefore, it is demonstrably false to claim that nothing good can come from the conciliar church in the sense that the conciliar churchmen are per se incapable of presenting good and true teaching.
Insofar as they do, those teachings come from the Catholic Church, and we are obliged to accept them.
Why, ten months after Bishop Williamson’s comments, are we still discussing the issue?
It has to be acknowledged that, even if Bishop Williamson’s words to the woman in Mahopac, NY were, from top to bottom, perfectly orthodox, they nevertheless lent themselves to giving the impression of advocating New Mass attendance.
Bishop Williamson’s opponents were not slow in capitalizing upon this impression, and have worked feverishly ever since to foment division within the Resistance upon this point, in order to win back support which has been waning.
If Bishop Williamson is to be faulted at all in this entire episode, the fault would perhaps lie in this: That he provided an opportunity for his enemies to attack him (i.e., By delving into what Fr. Chazal has termed “the minefield” of considering how good can come from the Novus Ordo; of discussing excusing causes and circumstances which could justify it; etc.), when it was foreseeable that all the distinctions and caveats included in this Refutation would be missed by the faithful, who are generally incapable of making these necessary distinctions, and are therefore easily led astray by parties with an interest in doing so.
The more interesting question is to consider why the impression of promoting the Novus Ordo arose in the first place.
Several Resistance priests were privy to this article (in incomplete form) before its publication, and one of them admitted to me that to allow Bishop Williamson’s position seems (and only seems) to open the door to Novus Ordo Mass attendance.
I explained to him that, as a habit of the Anglo-Saxon mind, we Anglophiles tend to see things only as black or white, this or that, either/or, and therefore often times tend to view things as contradictions, which in fact proper distinction and nuance harmonize.
I mentioned as examples of this Anglo-Saxon habit of mind the Feenyite and sedevacantist errors (both peculiarly American inventions, with primarily American adherents).
The Feenyite “feels” (at the level of instinct) that to allow baptism of blood or baptism of desire is to mitigate against the dogma “no salvation outside the Church.” He cannot see how the two can be compatible.
The sedevacantist “feels”(at the level of instinct) that the conciliar and post-conciliar popes could not possibly teach the things they teach, and still be Catholics.60
So too in the case of Bishop Williamson’s comments in Mahopac: There is an impression; a feeling that what was said was not quite right (i.e., Because our faithful have always been taught the objective principles, but not the subjective excusing causes, such as extreme necessity or ignorance, which are acquired pastoral skills, and generally not relevant to laymen).
As proof of this last assertion, just consider how many people you know struggle with supplied jurisdiction, and cannot reconcile it with their understanding of obedience (or how it could validate sacraments for priests without ordinary jurisdiction), or consider how many were unable to justify Archbishop Lefebvre’s 1988 episcopal consecrations with the papal primacy it seemed to militate against.
Most people either accept or reject these things at the level of impression and instinct, rather than reasoned doctrine, and formulate arguments to validate their impressions ex post facto. If you doubt it, the next time you are in Church, ask the person next to you if he/she can harmonize these seemingly contradictory doctrines, and watch their confusion set in!
But interestingly enough, just as with the sedevacantist and Feenyite errors being primarily American extravagances consequent to the Anglo-Saxon “either/or” psyche, so too is the opposition to Bishop Williamson on these refuted objections primarily an American phenomena.
Where Fr. Pfeiffer and Fr. Hewko have traveled outside the Anglo-Saxon world, the seeds of division they have tried to sow have not born the fruit they hoped to harvest.
But in the Anglo-Saxon world, ahh….what fertile soil!
2 This information was provided to me by a Resistance priest in February, 2016.
3 Available here: http://stmarcelinitiative.com/eleison-comments/
4 http://brasildogmadafe.blogspot.com/ Note: Br. Raymund, T.O.P. has also translated the article into French and Spanish. The original French audio has since been uploaded onto YouTube, and can be listened to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKH6KHvJO5c
5 Incidentally, this charge of minor imprudence is not one the present author shares. Rather, I perceive it as an entry point into the broader issue of “ecclesiavacantism,” which sooner or later will need to be addressed, if traditionalists are to have a faith that corresponds with reality.
10 http://www.holycrossseminary.com/catholic FAQs crisis pg 2.htm [Emphasis mine]
11 http://www.dominicansavrille.us/attendance-at-the-new-mass/ Note: Regarding the charge that I would unwittingly attribute inconsistency to the Dominican’s article, by insisting upon my interpretation that Avrille allows an exception for ignorance (e.g., By citing the words quoted in opposition to the section titled “Can one Assist at the New Mass in Certain Circumstances?”), the explanation is simple: The paragraph I cited above is the
opening paragraph of the article, and what is said there conditions that which follows, so that ignorance remains an exception to the rule. The proof of this lies in the fact that the section titled “Can One Attend the New Mass in Certain Circumstances?” nowhere eliminates that exception (i.e., Because the section –and the whole article, with the exception of the words I cite from the opening paragraph- are keeping the arguments at the objective level, to avoid further confusion among the faithful). [Emphasis in the quote supplied is mine]
13 Tissier de Mallerais, Bishop Bernard, “The Biography Marcel Lefebvre.” Angelus Press (2004), p. 464.
15 This information was supplied to me by Fr. Gerardo Zendejas after the fact. After composing this particular passage, I reached out to Bishop Williamson to run this by His Excellency.
I received the following response:
“You mention in your introduction background details of the woman who posed the deadly question which I did not know at the time. All I knew at the time from how she presented herself and her question was that she was a distressed Catholic believing in attendance at the New Order Mass who would be more distressed still if she had been given a straight black and white ‘stay away’.
“The sheep are now so confused, in the world as in the Church, that the old proverb applies, ‘The wind must be tempered to the shorn lamb’.
“Hence even if in the abstract it is clear as clear can be that the New Rite of Mass as it stands on the pages of a New Missal is a deadly falsification of the central act of Catholic worship, nevertheless in the concrete the shorn state of the lambs requires the wind to be tempered from an episcopal mouth.”
It is thus clear that His Excellency was simply applying the pastoral approach of Archbishop Lefebvre. No reasonable Catholic could conclude, in light of this explicit rebuke of the Novus Ordo, that Bishop Williamson was “promoting Novus Ordo Mass attendance.”
Whether or not the readers of this article would themselves have determined whether or not this woman met the threshold for applying Archbishop Lefebvre’s pastoral approach or not is a prudential question which allows for some difference of opinion.
16 “A little known fact about the creation of this study was that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre chaired the working committee that drafted it. Historical details about this important event can be found in The Biography: Marcel Lefebvre by Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais.” http://fsspx.org/en/node/1248
17 John 16:12 (Douay Rheims)
19 “Moral and Pastoral Theology (Vol. III: Sacraments)” by Fr. H. Davis, S.J. (Sheed & ward, 1943, p. 3)
21 http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-x/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-x_enc_19070908_pascendi-dominici-gregis.html See especially #13: “In like manner, he who believes may pass through different phases. Consequently, the formulae too, which we call dogmas, must be subject to these vicissitudes, and are, therefore, liable to change.
Thus the way is open to the intrinsic evolution of dogma. An immense collection of sophisms this, that ruins and destroys all religion.”
22 “Response to an SSPX Priest (Part I)” here: http://www.cathinfo.com/catholic.php?a=topic&t=38885 and “Response to an SSPX Priest (Part II: Damage Control)” here: file:///C:/Users/K04868/Downloads/Response%20to%20an%20SSPX%20Priest%20-%20Part%20II%20(4).pdf
23 Matthew 7: 15-20
25 “And so far is it from being possible that any error can coexist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church, solemnly defined in the Councils of Florence and of Trent, and finally confirmed and more expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican.” Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus, #20.
26 http://www.basilica.org/pages/ebooks/St.%20Thomas%20Aquinas-Summa%20Theologica.pdf (See p. 334-5 on the question “Whether evil corrupts the whole good?”
27 Ibid. “The good which is opposed to evil is wholly taken away; but other goods are not wholly removed, as said above.”
29 And interestingly enough, St. Thomas Aquinas himself never even used the term “intrinsic evil” (“intrinsece malum”) at all. https://catholiclabor.com/spirituality-of-work/morality-usccb/intrinsic-evil/
30 I hesitated to use this citation, as it is based on the modernist (i.e., 1992) “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” yet since the present work is an online article, I wanted to use online citations where possible (i.e., so the readers can verify the citations more easily), I eventually decided to, since I do not anticipate any of my fellow traditionalists having any problems with the quote itself, despite the source. http://www.catholicbasictraining.com/apologetics/coursetexts/8a.htm
33 St. Alphonsus Liguari, “Theologia Moralis,” n. xxxvii, with reference to <Summa Theologiae,> 11-2, q. 18, a. 2. (Note: I do not own Theologia Moralis personally, and am relying on the integrity of the author of this article in having supplied it: http://www.ewtn.com/library/THEOLOGY/FR92202.htm#4
35 Fr. H. Davis, S.J. Moral and Pastoral Theology (Vol I: Principles), (p. 55).
36 John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, #78. Note: Though I could not find this question addressed in any traditional manuals, the correctness of the statement seems manifest, since it is the one willing the object whose morality we are considering.
37 “The Novus Ordo rite is inherently evil, and cannot bear in itself any good fruit.”
http://www.dominicansavrille.us/62-reasons-to-reject-the-new-mass-novus-ordo-missae/ Note: Neither does this
quote from Avrille run afoul of the Council of Trent, because it is not the Novus Ordo Rite which produces the “spiritual nourishment” (i.e., the increase of sanctifying grace), but the sacrament of Holy Communion itself. Whether such grace transmitted will be efficacious in the soul is another question entirely.
38 Fr. H. Davis, S.J. Moral and Pastoral Theology (Vol I: Principles), (p. 55).
39 John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, #78. Note: Though I could not find this question addressed in any traditional manuals, the correctness of the statement seems manifest, since it is the one willing the object whose morality we are considering.
41 See for example Summa Theologiae, 1, q.82, a.4, ad3: “For every movement of the will must be preceded by apprehension.”
Or see De Veritate, q.10, a.9, s.c.5: “We desire only what we know.”
42 De veritate, q. 10 a. 9 s.c. 5. Praeterea, nihil appetitur nisi quod cognoscitur, ut Augustinus probat in Lib. de Trinit. Sed habitus animae appetuntur ab aliquibus qui ipsos non habent.
On Truth: We desire only what we know, as Augustine proves. But some people who do not have habits of the soul desire them. Therefore, they know those habits, but not through their essence since they do not have them. Therefore, they know them through a species of them.
43 There are also supplemental proofs evincing that the moral object is simply “Mass attendance” (and therefore not intrinsically evil), such as those observations made in objection #4 above: If Novus Ordo Mass attendance was intrinsically evil, then there would be no circumstance which could excuse one for attending it. Yet point #4 shows several eminent authors (including Archbishop Lefebvre) refusing to make their ban on Novus Ordo Mass attendance absolute, as they ought to have done were attendance really intrinsically evil.
One can also point to Archbishop Lefebvre’s belated “nearly absolute” rejection of Novus Ordo Mass attendance in 1977: If it was intrinsically evil, he would have banned Novus Ordo attendance back in 1969. The argument that he only gradually understood it’s evils will not avail, as it was the Archbishop himself who steered the committee producing the “Brief Critical Study” back in 1969. If Novus Ordo attendance was intrinsically evil, he would have said so back then.
44 Fr. Bernard Wuellner, S.J. “Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy.” (The Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee –
47 See objection #4.
48 Tissier de Mallerais, Bishop Bernard, “The Biography Marcel Lefebvre.” Angelus Press (2004), p. 464.
49 http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10338a.htm [Note: I have reformatted this excerpt to better fit the body of the present article , but have not changed or omitted a single word]
50 Incidentally, this new article expressing sound doctrine was just released on the SSPX.org website. I do not reject the possibility it was placed there to flatter the conciliar authorities in the pursuit of a practical accord. Nevertheless, regardless of the motive, the doctrine is sound.
52 “And a New York Times/CBS poll revealed that 70% of Catholics ages 18-44 believe the Eucharist is merely a ‘symbolic reminder’ of Jesus.” Jones, Kenneth C. Index of Leading Catholic Indicators, p. 10 (Oriens Publishing Company, St. Louis, Missouri (2003).
53 Mark 2:17
54 http://www.miraclehunter.com/marianapparitions/approvedapparitions/vatican.html Note to reader: Be careful about the last apparition on this list; there is some question surrounding the authenticity of some of the seers involved.
56 Note that nowhere in the study of Bishop Tissier de Mallerais (likewise in the commentaries of Avrille on the same subject of “One Pope, Two Churches”) is this contention made. See this article of Bishop Tissier, republished by the Avrille Dominicans here: http://www.dominicansavrille.us/is-there-a-conciliar-church/
57 For a good explanation of what is meant by the term “authentic magisterium,” see the brief work by Dom Paul Nau “Pope or Church.” See also this article: http://archives.sspx.org/miscellaneous/infalliblemagisterium.htm
59 Let no sophistry hold out the quote of Archbishop Lefebvre from his book Spiritual Journey (p. 13) that “It is, therefore, a strict duty for every priest wanting to remain Catholic to separate himself from this Conciliar Church for as long as it does not rediscover the Tradition of the Church and of the Catholic Faith.” What Archbishop Lefebvre is speaking of here is refusing a merely practical accord before Rome has converted back to the Faith, not rejecting the truth promulgated upon rare occasions (such as Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) by conciliar churchmen.
60 This is not to say that Feenyites and sedevacantists are not intellectual, or are incapable of creating doctrinal defenses to their positions. Only that the cause which usually instigates the position is an instinct that somehow damage is being done to the Church by doctrines they are not able to harmonize with e
By Sean Johnson
August 24, 2014
When the 2007 reprint of Michael Davies’ classic became available from Angelus Press in 2007,
it never occurred to me to question the purpose of the release. I presumed that Davies was
augmenting his already solid work with additional argumentation and documentation.
In fact, it was only with the benefit of hindsight that the nature of the changes to Davies’ work
began to place themselves within the greater post-2012 context of SSPX convergence with the
Ecclesia Dei Communities.
Had we not just recently seen an unbelievable congratulatory notice to the Ecclesia Dei
communities for their 2013 priestly ordinations appearing on the SSPX Polish District website?
Had we not seen the scandalous study released by the General House to explain the ban on Fr.
Pivert’s book “Our Relations with Rome” (which is predominantly a compilation of quotes from
Archbishop Lefebvre) attempt to justify that ban thusly in Section 5 (Which defends the Ecclesia
Dei communities against the condemnations of Archbishop Lefebvre!)?1
More recently, we were offered the spectacle of witnessing SSPX officials posing for pictures
with Ecclesia Dei priests, and sharing “tradcumenical” conference venues with them; we witness Institute of Christ the King priests siting in choir at Bishop Fellay’s Belgium Mass (an
act of tradcumenism, not conversion); we see SSPX priests extending reciprocity, and attending
the first Mass of a newly ordained priest of the Institute of Christ the King in France (So much
for all the old SSPX apologetics against attending the indult Mass!); etc.
But this troubling convergence of the SSPX and Ecclesia Dei communities is not only a matter of
political convergence, but doctrinal as well. And it is the purpose of this article to highlight not
only the contradiction of the current posture in Menzingen towards the Ecclesia Dei
Communities, in contradistinction to the operative principle of the SSPX prior to 2012, but also
to draw attention to doctrinal deviations (particularly with regard to errors pertaining to
apostolicity, and the new Conciliar and post-Conciliar ecclesiology) this book seems to promote.
In general, we are witnessing the reduction of the combat for the faith against the Conciliar
errors (and are in fact showing signs and symptoms of infection from these same errors), from
the preservation of integral doctrine, to merely the preservation of the traditional Mass…a la
It was from this realization, that I was inspired to write the following article.
This September will see the 10 year anniversary of the death of Michael Davies.
A strong supporter of Archbishop Lefebvre until the time of the 1988 episcopal consecrations, he then opted to side with the indultarian Una Voce movement (becoming its President in 1992).
Having traded the battle for integral Catholic doctrine in preference for the permission to attend the 1962 Mass, he significantly toned down his rhetoric, lest his movement be seen to criticize the modernists, and jeopardize the indult.
Among other things, he is remembered for his famous saying, “It is the Mass that matters.”
Indeed, this saying could be the motto for every indult group in the Church, since it is the only thing their false obedience has been able to retain (and even in that respect, it is only to be considered a preference; a rite on equal footing with the Novus Ordo).
So, it was only natural that Michael Davies and the SSPX should drift apart.
Whether he was conscious of it or not, Michael Davies was only given his “table scraps” because the Romans perceived that others like him (i.e., battle weary, or scrupulous, or compromised Catholics) could be drawn away from the SSPX with the lure of an approved Traditional Latin Mass.
So pitched were the differences between the SSPX and various indult/Ecclesia Dei organizations, that they would not even march in the same direction at the annual Chartres (France) Pilgrimage for Tradition, nor would they travel the same route: Leaders would meet in advance of the opposed pilgrimages to ensure the two did not intersect!
This was symbolic of the completely opposite ends which the two groups had in mind: Securing the Mass, on the one hand, vs. securing the entire Faith, on the other.
But those were the good old days.
Recent years have seen mounting evidence of a convergence of aims and ends between the SSPX and the various indult groups in ways which would have been impossible under Archbishop Lefebvre: The notice appearing on the SSPX Polish District website congratulating the Ecclesia Dei communities’ recent 2013 ordinations2; the January 2014 letter from Menzingen in which Fr. Pivert’s book is condemned, with Menzingen offering strident defenses of the indult communities; the ‘trad-cumenical’ initiatives in which The Remnant participates at The Angelus conferences; etc).
But I would like to discuss one which flew under the radar: The 2007 Angelus Press reprint of the revised/expanded “Pope John’s Council” by Michael Davies.
Having just illustrated the divergence of opinion between Michael Davies and the SSPX since the 1988 episcopal consecrations (and the dumbing-down of the subject matter of Davies’ later books, which must always follow upon a regularization), it is a pleasant mythology spread amongst SSPXers that, towards the end of his life, Michael Davies “came back” to the SSPX, and again collaborated with them, having realized the limited and short-sighted nature of his indult position.
However, it is the purpose of this brief article to demonstrate that in fact, it is the opposite which is true:
That with the commencement in 2007 of the branding campaign (designed to cease-fire against modernism and the modernists in Rome, for the purposes of securing a Roman approval of the SSPX), the Society moved closer to Michael Davies’ indult position, rather than the other way around.
Observe that in 2001, the SSPX was condemning Dominus Iesus thusly:
“As a result, the document does not wish to repeat, firmly and univocally, that there is only one way of salvation, i.e., that established by Christ in His Church. Instead it gives us to understand, through its equivocations, that we must admit that “historical figures and positive elements of these [other] religions may fall within the divine plan of salvation,” and that, according to Vatican II, the false religions can be seen to exercise “a manifold cooperation” and even a “participated mediation” in the one mediatorship of Christ. There is one reservation, however: these “participated forms of mediation…cannot be understood as parallel or complementary to his.” In fact, the concept of parallel [equal] complementarity is very different from that of participated [subordinate] mediation.
This concept of participated, subordinate mediation has always been intrinsic to the Catholic religion. What is new in the Declaration, and what is unheard-of in the Catholic religion, is that this participated mediation is now no longer reserved to the Most Blessed Virgin, the Saints and the members of the Mystical Body, but extended to all the false religions (the sects and the pagan religions). This is in harmony with the “new theology,” which no longer understands the Mystical Body to be coextensive with the visible Church (plus the individual exceptions in the case of souls united to the Church “in voto,” by implicit and explicit desire), but broadens and expands Christ’s Mystical Body to embrace all humanity with all its false religious beliefs.
The fundamental concept of ecumenism can be reduced to this: “All religions are orientated to salvation, which is one, and is of Christ. These religions are ranked according to each one’s degree of participation in the fullness of truth and salvation which is found in its highest degree in Christ and his Church.” This is the basis supporting the superstructure of the
Declaration Dominus Jesus, and we cannot see in what way it differs from the thesis of Modernism, namely, that God reveals Himself “in the life of all the religions, individually and collectively, but most of all in the life of Christianity” (George Tyrrell, Per la sincerità in Rinnovamento [For Sincerity in the Renewal] July-Aug. 1907.”3
That was the SSPX in 2001 (i.e., Well before the branding campaign was commenced, and at a time when the plan to “proceed by stages” towards a “reconciliation” was in its infancy).4
But in 2007, the Angelus magazine announced that, with the new incoming editor (Fr. Higgenberger), a new editorial policy would feature a “more positive” and less critical approach regarding the crisis in the Church and the partisans of error.
That same year, Angelus Press released Michael Davies revised edition of “Pope John’s Council”, which contained an heretical notion of apostolicity, with Davies claiming that -in accord with Dominus Iesus– the Orthodox churches were “authentic local churches,” and that the Orthodox possess formal apostolicity.5
The book also contains an Appendix titled “The Declaration Dominus Iesus Regarding the Term Subsistit,”6 in which Davies (and the SSPX’s) confusion reaches new heights, going so far as to exclaim, “Some traditional Catholics have questioned the possibility as to how there can be true churches not in communion with the Pope…,” as though it were we who were confused on the matter!
Now to be clear, Orthodox bishops possess mere material apostolicity (i.e., episcopal continuity), but not formal apostolicity (which in addition to episcopal continuity, adds jurisdiction).7
Since Orthodox bishops possess mere material apostolicity, it necessarily follows their local churches are not to be regarded as authentic churches (i.e., Since their bishops, lacking formal apostolicity, lack jurisdiction).
At this point, a number of questions arise:
My conclusion is this:
The publication of this revised Michael Davies work was one of the first attempts by the branded SSPX at incrementally “shifting” the SSPX audience towards looking favorably upon recent magisterial documents;
It was useful for building the bridge between SSPXers, Romans, and indultarians.
The only other alternative is to believe that the SSPX has suddenly become doctrinally incompetent, and is oblivious to publishing errors, which is not likely.
In any case, it shows that Michael Davies definitely did not come back to a traditional SSPX perspective (as though Archbishop Lefebvre would have accepted Dominus Jesus any more than Bishop Fellay did in 2001), but instead, that the SSPX moved towards Michael Davies’ indult position.
More disturbing than this, is the fact that in the larger picture (in light of the other examples cited above, which is far from exhaustive), it evinces an SSPX embarked upon a trajectory of convergence with the indult communities.
Once that convergence is completed, via slow boil, will there really be any need to negotiate a practical accord?9
Indeed, as the Dominicans at Avrillé recently wrote, the terrain is already prepared for a recognition of tolerance “ad tempus” (in which no written accord will be necessary).
But at what price?
When the day comes that you see the indultarian and SSPX Chartres Pilgrimages for Tradition marching in the same direction, understand that there is much more symbolism there than meets the eye.
In view of the eminence and reputation of Michael Davies, many readers of this article may be reluctant to accept that so gifted a man erred in so obvious and fundamental a doctrine as that on the Church’s teaching regarding apostolicity.
The first error of Mr. Davies is that he overlooked (or ignored) the distinction between material vs formal apostolicity (even though, interestingly enough, he uses the term “formal apostolic succession” in an erroneous sense at the bottom of p. 97).
As recounted above, “material apostolicity” is mere episcopal continuity (i.e., episcopal lineage traceable down to the Apostles), whereas “formal apostolicity” adds to mere material apostolicity the power of jurisdiction, which comes from the Pope.
Since a schismatic “church” cannot possess jurisdiction (other than a supplied jurisdiction acquired through necessity), and therefore cannot possess formal apostolicity, it necessarily follows that schismatic churches can never be considered authentic or true local churches.
But Michael Davies says otherwise:
Davies cites in support of his contention that the schismatic Orthodox possess formal apostolicity the Apostolic Letter of Pope Pius IX, Arcano Divinae Providentiae (1868), in which he observes that the great Pontiff “invited the bishops of the churches of the Oriental Rite not in communion with Rome to be present at the First Vatican Council on an equal basis with the bishops of the Latin Rite in communion with Rome.”10
Now it is telling that this citation (obviously meant to justify Dominus Jesus, which follows as a separate appendix at the end of the book on pp 403-408) is entirely absent from the original 1970s version of “Pope John’s Council.”
But what is missed by Davies is that the Apostolic Letter is not an invitation to participate in Vatican I as schismatics, but an invitation to rejoin the Mystical Body of Christ in order that they could participate:
“On September 8, 1868, the pope wrote an Apostolic Letter, Arcano Divinae Providentiae Consilio, to the Eastern Orthodox patriarchs, which demanded fidelity to the commitment they made to reunion at the Council of Lyons in 1274 and again at the Council of Florence in 1439.”11
But Davies, confusing the matter even further, misreads this Letter as pointing to the Councils of Lyons and Florence as having allowed schismatics to participate as schismatics, not as uniates (as though schismatics could set policy and doctrine for the Catholic Church!), and not in the proper sense just previously quoted.
For example, the Orthodox participated in the Second Council of Lyons only because they consented to sign this declaration (which made them Catholics):
“The Holy Roman Church possesses the supreme and full primacy and principality over the whole Catholic Church. She truly and humbly acknowledges that she received this from the Lord himself in blessed Peter, the prince and chief of the apostles, whose successor the Roman Pontiff is, together with the fullness of power. And since before all others she has the duty of defending the truth of the faith, so if any questions arise concerning the faith, it is by her judgment that they must be settled.”12 13
That this participation and Council did not end the schism permanently or completely is only because, according to Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology, the representatives had no authority to bind the other Orthodox bishops back home.
But the simple fact is that those Orthodox who participated were converted Catholics at the onset by the signing of that declaration.
It is worth mentioning that in so far as certain Churches (e.g., the Greek Orthodox) become uniate or schismatic at various points in history, they likewise vacillated between true particular churches possessing formal apostolicity, and schismatic churches, possessing only material apostolicity (therefore not representing true local churches at such times).
But in the appendix titled “The Declaration Dominus Iesus Re: The Term Subsistit,” which represents a blatant defense of Lumen Gentium as well, the reader will be shocked to see how far this error regarding formal apostolicity and true local churches causes Davies to embrace the new ecclesiology:
“But what of the churches, dioceses, that have breached their unity with the Holy See? Do they cease to be particular churches? By no means.”14
Now, I will be unjustly fair to Mr. Davies here, because as the phrase stands, he does not distinguish between authentic and schismatic particular churches (which makes it merely ambiguous).
But from the context, previous quotes showing him arguing in favor of schismatic churches representing authentic churches, and the sentence immediately following that just quoted, in which Mr. Davies reverts to his already refuted erroneous interpretation of Pius IX’s Arcano Divinae Providentiae, we know what he means, and he finishes with the alarming statement that:
“There is thus no doubt whatsoever that the Dioceses of the Eastern Orthodox Churches constitute true particular churches despite being schismatic.”15
That statement is heretical, insofar as it directly contradicts the Church’s immemorial teaching on apostolicity, in addition to implicitly rejecting Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Mystici Corporis Christii (of which Dominus Jesus and Lumen Gentium are also violators).
No particular church can be said to be a “true particular church” which does not possess formal apostolicity, and therefore receive its jurisdiction from the Pope. It necessarily follows, therefore, that all true particular churches are in union with Rome, since otherwise, it is not possible for them to possess ordinary jurisdiction (the distinguishing feature of formal apostolicity). To say otherwise is to make of the Petrine Primacy an empty title, by implying jurisdiction (which only flows from Peter) is not necessary for a true particular church to have a legitimate apostolic mission.
And it is ludicrous to contend that there can be such a thing as a true particular church not in union with Peter, which is at once divided in government, worship, doctrine, and devoid of jurisdiction and legitimate apostolic mission, for to hold any other opinion is to negate the gravity of schism (and heresy) and make the injunctions of the Church and Pius XII, et al, frivolous and of no consequence for salvation.
Moreover, it is to encourage complacency and peaceful conscience in the hearts of those our Lord is trying to prompt to reach out to the only Ark of Salvation which is the Catholic Church, and in such measure, the position advocated by Davies, Dominus Jesus, and Lumen Gentium is antichrist.
Therein lies the true evil latent within the teaching of Dominus Jesus and Lumen Gentium, and the contorted path Michael Davies has traveled in order to attempt to justify them.
But having reached this point, we are brought back to asking ourselves the question: Why is the SSPX publishing a book promoting such ideas?
To my thinking, that question has already been answered above.
1.”5: The attitude toward the Ecclesia Dei communities is counterproductive. […] From the start of the book, Fr. Pivert claims that the Ecclesia Dei communities have supposedly abandoned doctrinal Tradition, nothing more, nothing less! From page to page, one discovers regarding [these communities] some very severe judgements [of the Archbishop] which are not put into their proper context. From the episcopal consecrations until his death, Archbishop Lefebvre hardly had the time to see how these communities would evolve. […]
“[Archbishop Lefebvre] also affirmed that he expected that the priests of the Fraternity of Saint Peter would soon adopt the New Mass. The facts have shown to the contrary that they have been able to resist all attacks. They were victorious in 1999, when Rome made an attempt at subverting them, and almost all of the 16 signers of a petition for bi-ritualism have since had to leave the Fraternity. Today, they’re over 250 priests celebrating the ancient rite. No one can say that Archbishop Lefebvre would have maintained the same apprehension today as in 1988. At the same time, when one searches in the correspondence of Archbishop Lefebvre, one also finds more moderate passages with regard to the Ecclesia Dei communities, admitting the fact that they are not “rallied”20 in spirit, and that they have the advantage of reminding the bishops on a daily basis what Tradition is…”
3. www.sspxasia.com/Documents/SiSiNoNo/2001 September/Dominus Jesus.htm
4 For an excellent account of the plan between Rome and the SSPX to “proceed by stages” towards a practical accord, please see the excellent book of Fr. Rioult titled “The Impossible Reconciliation.”
5 Davies, Michael. “Pope John’s Council” p. 97 (Angelus Press: 2007).
6 Ibid, pp. 403-408.
8 Luker –a personage on the now defunct Archbishoplefebvreforums confirms that a sticker has been superimposed on subsequent volumes, but that the only change the overlay makes is to remove the word “formal” from apostolic succession. Hence, an heretical statement has been “improved” to one merely ambiguous. Small consolation. Meanwhile, the entire ecumenical sense of this portion of the book is consistent with Dominus Jesus and Lumen Gentium).
9 In fact, as subsequent articles in this slim volume will explain, in light of the Resistance spawned in part by reaction to the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration, the new strategy in Rome/Menzingen seems to be to water down the SSPX to the point where modernist Rome, no longer feeling threatened by a toothless and subservient SSPX, will offer the Society a “unilateral recognition.” This recognition will allow Menzingen to say that it has been accepted without having to compromise anything. See especially the final article in this work for a lengthy (but fractional) list of compromises already conceded by Menzingen towards attaining this recognition.
10 Davies, Michael. “Pope John’s Council,” p. 98 (Angelus Press: 2007)
12 For citation, and interesting discussion of this issue from the Orthodox perspective, please see this thread: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=36485.0
13 “The council had six general sessions: on 7 and 18 May, 4 or 7 June, 6, 16 and 17 July. In the fourth session the union of the Greek Church with the Latin Church was decreed and defined, this union being based on the consent which the Greeks had given to the claims of the Roman church. In the last session the dogmatic constitution concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit was approved, this question having been a cause of disagreement between the two churches. The union however appears to have been imposed, on the Greek side by the emperor Michael VIII. He wanted the support of the pope in order to deter Charles of Anjou from an attack on the Byzantine Empire, while the majority of the Greek clergy opposed the union. The union was therefore fleeting, either because in the East the clergy steadily resisted it, or because the popes after Gregory X changed their plan of action.” https://www.ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/LYONS2.HTM
14 Davies, Michael. “Pope John’s Council,” p. 406 (Angelus Press: 2007).
By Sean Johnson
That which follows is a response to an SSPX priest regarding a recent conversation, in which were expressed some rather disturbing opinions. Originally communicated in an email, it has been edited to preserve the priest’s anonymity, and slightly updated to allow for recent events.
This correspondence was originally published publicly because the opinions expressed by the priest in question are more and more common among SSPX clergy, who give the appearance of preparing their minds for the acceptance of a Roman recognition.
These pages are designed to elicit precisely the opposite effect: To expose and refute the sophistries and “accordist” apologetics with the arrow of truth, which alone can save.
This article has since been translated into French, and can be found and downloaded from the USML website, Francefidele.org in booklet form.
Since that publication, I have added some additional information, as well as annotations.
Greetings Fr. Xxxxxxxx-
I reflected for two weeks before finally deciding to send you this email, but felt compelled to respond to some of the opinions you voiced in our private conversation which I found troubling.
Particularly, your comments that:
1) “Archbishop Lefebvre always wanted a deal.”
2) “A deal [with Rome] is what we want.”
3) “The GREC meetings were a good thing.”
4) “There have been no compromises in the SSPX.”
5) “Bishop Fellay won’t make a bad deal.”
To this list, I would add one additional cause of concern:
6) That you were unfamiliar with the SSPX branding campaign.
Regarding the statement that “Archbishop Lefebvre always wanted a deal.”
It is certainly true that for upwards of 20 years, Archbishop Lefebvre tried to negotiate for a juridical recognition of the SSPX. But it is equally demonstrable that in 1988, after having come to the (correct) belief that the Romans had no intention of safeguarding and promoting tradition, he changed his prudential precondition for an accord. That change of position was first publicized in Fideliter (November/December, 1988) in which Archbishop Lefebvre laid out his principle regarding any deal with Rome:
“We do not have the same outlook on a reconciliation. Cardinal Ratzinger sees it as reducing us, bringing us back to Vatican II. We see it as a return of Rome to Tradition. We don’t agree; it is a dialogue of death. I can’t speak much of the future, mine is behind me, but if I live a little while, supposing that Rome calls for a renewed dialogue, then, I will put conditions. I shall not accept being in the position where I was put during the dialogue. No more.
I will place the discussion at the doctrinal level: ‘Do you agree with the great encyclicals of all the popes who preceded you? Do you agree with Quanta Cura of Pius IX, Immortale Dei and Libertas of Leo XIII, Pascendi Gregis of Pius X, Quas Primas of Pius XI, Humani Generis of Pius XII? Are you in full communion with these Popes and their teachings? Do you still accept the entire Anti-Modernist Oath? Are you in favor of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ? If you do not accept the doctrine of your predecessors, it is useless to talk! As long as you do not accept the correction of the Council, in consideration of the doctrine of these Popes, your predecessors, no dialogue is possible. It is useless.‘” [Italics mine –SJ]
Two years later, in the famous January/February, 1991 edition of the same Fideliter, Archbishop Lefebvre reiterated his position regarding any deal with unconverted Rome:
In response to the question, “Why not try and reach out to Rome one more time?” Archbishop Lefebvre responded:
“It is absolutely impossible in the current climate of Rome which is becoming worse. We must not delude ourselves. The principles which now guide the conciliar Church are more and more overtly contrary to Catholic doctrine.”
A little later in the interview, Archbishop Lefebvre adds:
“Our true faithful, those who have understood the problem and who have precisely helped us to continue along the straight and firm path of Tradition and the Faith, were afraid of the approaches I made towards Rome. They told me it was dangerous and that I was wasting my time. Yes, of course, I hoped until the last minute that in Rome we would witness a little bit of loyalty. I cannot be blamed for not having done the maximum. So now too, to those who say to me, “You’ve got to reach an agreement with Rome,” I think I can say that I went even further than I should have.”
And finally, regarding the Benedictines of La Barroux (and others) who capitulated to unconverted Rome:
“I think in any case they commit a serious mistake. They sinned seriously in acting the way they did, knowingly, and with an unreal nonchalance.
I have heard tell of some monks who intend leaving Le Barroux, saying they can no longer live in an atmosphere of lies. I wonder how they managed to stay as long as this in such an atmosphere.”
Now history repeats itself, with Menzingen and Kansas City declaring to the whole world there has been no compromise (and when a unilateral recognition comes from Rome, they will champion it all the more, hoping the faithful miss all the compromises that have already taken place to “win” a unilateral recognition.
In any case, please note this interview of the Archbishop was only two months prior to his death (when he already knew he was terminal, and would find it all the more urgent to preach the truth before meeting his Maker).
Suffice it to say, that while it may be true to say Archbishop Lefebvre always wanted a deal, the preconditions for his willingness to discuss a deal changed fundamentally in 1988: A practical accord (or what is more likely today, a unilateral recognition granted after sufficient compromises have been made to convince Rome of the SSPX’s newfound harmlessness) was no longer on the table. The conversion of Rome was now required.
That Menzingen was willing to depart from the proven prudence of the Society’s founder in such a fundamental matter was the origin and genesis of the Resistance.
Regarding the statement that “a deal with Rome is what we want.”
That this opinion flies squarely in the face of Archbishop Lefebvre’s prudential precondition for an accord (i.e., the conversion of modernist Rome back to the Catholic faith) is sufficiently demonstrated above (particularly if you read the entire interviews, which I spared you in this email, as it will be lengthy enough as is).
But it is interesting to watch the morphing of the SSPX position over time in this regard.
For example, go to SSPX.org, and read this 2002 conference of Bishop Fellay:
In it are contained the following nuggets:
“Well, we absolutely don’t have the impression of “being outside of the Church.” I must say that very clearly. When Rome says, “Please come in!” we say, “We are sorry; we can’t.” Why? – Because we are already in! We exist because of our problems of conscience. It is because we have had to face scandals – things that were impossible to accept without damaging our conscience – tat we have had to say “No!” This is why the Society of St. Pius X has been ready to receive the punishments and sanctions from Rome at several levels – first in 1975 and 1976, then 1988. Every time it has been made clear to us that if we would give in to the injunctions of Rome we would commit suicide, that no proposal would solve our problems of conscience, that is, to avoid any and all sacrilege.”
And this precis:
“This famous “excommunication” which was supposed to be the final blow from the Roman authorities against the Archbishop has been, thanks to God, our protection. They built up a wall around us which was supposed to exclude us from the Church, but this wall has been our protection, at several levels. Firstly, as it was the final blow, they have no spare bullets to use against us. Secondly, by their own action, they have terminated any ways to influence us, to command us, or to oblige us to accept the unacceptable and this, thirdly, has given us a tremendous latitude at several levels.
At the level of saving poor souls drowning everywhere, we are free of the power of local bishops over us by virtue of the “excommunication.” If you are considered “outside the Church” a bishop cannot say at the same time, “I command you to get out!“
Notice that one no longer hears Bishop Fellay talking like this. And even when he was, did he really believe his own words, or was he just being a politician, and speaking in a way he thought we expected him to speak? The question must be permitted, in light of his secret meetings with GREC, in which he was privately negotiating for a practical accord, while publicly speaking the quoted words.
“At another level – which is also amazing – this has allowed us to speak to Rome, to give arguments, to reproach the Roman authorities in such a way that would have been absolutely impossible if we had had normal relations with these authorities [Italics mine – SJ]. In normal circumstances, it is always very difficult for a subordinate to make a remark to a superior, but especially about the pope, about cardinals, about Rome herself. The usual attitude of Rome is “be quiet,” or “obey.” It is still much like that, but now Rome is receptive to the fact that the Second Vatican Council can be discussed! This gives us some leverage.”
But what a different tune is being sung today in Menzingen (and all at a time under the worst pope in history)!
A couple years later, Bishop Fellay was still telling us:
“So when Rome comes to us with a big smile, that is their ulterior motive. That is, we grant you a place, but you must stay very quiet there and not move. So we come to them and we say, “Well, we are sorry, but there is no zoo.” The Catholic Church is not a zoo. This comparison may show you how deep is the difference of vision. As long as things are at that level, it is just unthinkable that we should be able to reach a basic or fundamental agreement. It is impossible.”
So a deal may indeed be what Bishop Fellay wants today (and all the usual agitators: Fr. Pfluger, Fr. Nely, Fr. Simoulin, Fr. Schmidberger, et al), but it is a very different song that used to be sung in Menzingen.
What a shame, that those of us who perceive the contradictions are branded “rebels,” while those who contradict themselves are attributed “graces of state” to be followed without question (just like at Vatican II).
Regarding the statement that “the GREC meetings were a good thing.”
I must admit, Father, this was a rather shocking statement.
One sees Bishop Fellay participating in “discreet but not secret” negotiations for a practical accord, all the while telling the faithful why we can never come to a practical accord with Rome!
Certainly there is a problem of candor and integrity here.
It would seem Bishop Fellay wanted to hide any contradiction with his favoring a practical accord, against the position of Archbishop Lefebvre (which required the conversion of Rome first).
We have here what appears to be an example of a prelate speaking out of both sides of his mouth, to further his personal desire for an accord, without alienating the faithful (who have now been slow boiled for many years, and who are now liking the warm water).
I hope you will read this article from the Avrille Dominicans regarding the GREC meetings, as it will be quite an eye opener for you:
Regarding the statement that “there have been no compromises in the SSPX.”
A statement like that tends to leave one speechless, and seeking always to see the good in others, I can only surmise that if such a statement could be made in good faith, it could only emanate from the mistaken belief that, so long as an accord is not signed in Menzingen, there have been no compromises.
In reality, though Menzingen will try to market the idea that Rome is simply offering a unilateral recognition of its own (alleged) good will, the reality is that Rome would not even consider such a thing, had not the following compromises already been made:
All of this (and so much more) is most certainly compromise, and the SSPX would not be on the precipice of a back-door accord (i.e., they will call it a unilateral recognition, in which the SSPX did not have to compromise anything……except the 20 compromises listed above, and another 300 which could be listed in a separate article all its own), were it not for these changes already having taken place, and evincing a new attitude (which the GREC meetings show is not so new after all) in Menzingen.
Regarding the statement that “Bishop Fellay won’t make a bad deal.”
Father, how can you not recognize in such a statement the acceptance a priori of compromise, when you are admitting there could be such a thing as a “good deal” with unconverted Rome?
As Bishop Williamson once said, “What good is good paper with bad men?”
If I was the Pope, I would give the SSPX whatever terms it asked for, and then go back and calm down my modernist colleagues by recalling to them Fr. Cottier’s words after his conquest of Campos:
“Reconciliation carries within itself its own internal dynamism (i.e., self-censorship) which will mature….eventually, we must expect additional steps, like concelebration.”
He was made a cardinal for his infidelity to tradition. Meanwhile, Bishop Rifan does indeed concelebrate the new Mass.
What blindness hides suffering this same fate from Bishop Fellay?
In fact, I think he really does not fear this course of evolution for the SSPX; I believe he has secretly been there for 20 years (and he is not alone: I know of one SSPX priest who, as a seminarian during the 1988 consecrations, would not attend them, because of issues of conscience. How long must he have waited for the SSPX to be so close to a recognition!).
There was a time before you were a priest when the SSPX clergy considered it a badge of honor not to be in communion with the conciliar errors, so long as Rome was engrossed in them, and promoting them:
For example: Did you ever read this letter to Rome, signed by all the SSPX District Superiors, begging to be included in the “excommunications?”
I sense you never knew this unbranded SSPX, but in fact it is what we were brought up on.
We were strong in the faith, and never scrupled about being outside the Church, schismatic, irregular, or any of the other phantoms you were taught are so odious (or which Fr. Simoulin trumps up to win sympathy for the not so new orientation in Menzingen; incidentally, you can see my response to him on that score here:
Where Archbishop Lefebvre used to praise us for our concerns about his dealings with Rome, calling us (in the interview cited earlier) “true Faithful,” and crediting us with keeping the SSPX on the straight and narrow path, neo-Menzingen condemns us as “rebels.” Yet we keep being told nothing has changed; we are just the disgruntled fringe the SSPX has always tried to shake out. But that assessment would not match the historical record I have provided in this letter.
That SSPX priests have been made oblivious to the shifting goal posts (i.e., Unconsciously drifting from supporting “no canonical recognition without first settling the doctrinal issues” [2006 General Chapter Declaration], to backing its opposite with “We have laid out six conditions to accepting an eventual practical accord” [2012 General Chapter Declaration], does not give me confidence their fidelity to tradition will last much longer, even in its diminished, compromised form.
Perhaps you can see now that given all these changes and compromises, the priests known as the Resistance are not (as you implied in our conversation) simply leaving because they are “disgruntled about their assignments,” but because they perceive the SSPX has left, or is leaving, them.
Conversely, perhaps you can see now how you (and the others who are going along with all the compromises) remind us of those priests and faithful who, little by little, gave up the integral faith after Vatican II under the pretext of false obedience, and followed the leaders to whom God had given graces of state (which these same leaders rejected).
As Bishop Williamson has observed, the crisis in the SSPX resembles in all aspects the crisis in the Church after Vatican II (or what he calls “Vatican 2B”).
An important question to reflect upon would be to consider whether it is God, or the devil, who wants an agreement (or recognition) between the SSPX and unconverted Rome. Can we not deduce the answer by predicting the likely deleterious effects which will follow upon a recognition or accord (and which are already evident within the SSPX in the examples of compromises already consummated above)?
Can a good tree bear bad fruit?
Do you know the tale of the frog and the scorpion? The scorpion needs to get to the other side of the lake, and a frog is the only one who can make the swim, so the scorpion asks the frog to let him jump on his back. And the frog responds, “But you are a scorpion. You will sting me.” To which the smiling scorpion responds, “Ridiculous: If I sting you, we will both sink and die.” Convinced he had made a safe deal, the frog lets the scorpion get on his back, and when they are in the middle of the lake, the scorpion stings the frog. Shocked and dying, the frog says, “Why would you sting me? We had a deal! Now we will both die!” To which the scorpion responds, “You are a frog, and I am a scorpion. It is in my nature to sting, and I could not do otherwise.”
That parable is directly relevant to any deal with unconverted Rome: There is no deal that can be made (any more than Catholics can dialogue and collaborate with communists): It is in the modernists’ nature to think they save you by killing you, and they have announced their intentions many times to bring you around to Conciliarism.
Archbishop Lefebvre (in the Fideliter interview quoted above, speaking about Cardinal Ratzinger’s intentions in carrying on negotiations) understood this. Menzingen either does not, or does not object to being captured and dissolved into Conciliarism.
Regarding your unfamiliarity with the SSPX “branding campaign.”
I was quite surprised when you expressed your unfamiliarity with the term “branding campaign.”
As much publicity and scandal as its revelation has caused, I can only surmise at this late stage, that to be unaware of this basic Resistance issue presupposes a desire to remain ignorant of it (and all the other Resistance arguments, such as those I have been recounting above).
Perhaps you think the observations of the Resistance (which ought not in the least be equated or synonymous with Fr. Pfeiffer) are of the devil?
Was not the same said of Archbishop Lefebvre after Vatican II?
Was not Rome saying of him: “By their fruits, you shall know them;” “Look at the divisions within them;” “they have sedevacantists among them;” etc.
Along those lines, I will say only this:
That the Resistance should have arisen all over the world, so spontaneously and independently, indicates that what has become known as “the Resistance” is not a delusion based on sophisms, distortions, and exaggerations (regrettably common as those may be in a certain Resistance camp), but rather that observable deviations, scandalous statements, and the reorientation in Menzingen was perceived, then resisted, all over the world.
More than one SSPX priest has told me they have not heard about even the most basic Resistance arguments and issues, and it amazes me that there could be an internal crisis of this magnitude, but which would inspire no curiosity into its causes or merits.
Just imagine one undergoing severe financial distress, but taking no care or interest in investigating the causes!
I hope that when you watch Fr Patrick’s Girouard’s sermon regarding his conversation with Fr Wegner about the latter’s conception and implementation the branding campaign, that you will be as scandalized as the rest of us who have become aware of it.
It is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKAEO1VQCTc
I hope you can appreciate how difficult it was for me to discuss these issues with you.
That said, because you know that I respect you, I hope you will receive it in the same spirit of amity and truth which motivated me to send it to you.
I have no intention of drawing you into a lengthy correspondence or debate. I have said my piece, and I am done.
I have spoken about these matters with enough SSPX priests to know that you will likely agree with very little that I have said, and will feel compelled to rebut these comments. If so, please be assured that I will read what you have to say.
Finally, if there was anything in the tone or tenor of this email which came across as disrespectful, I can promise you it was not intended. Fr. Xxxxxx can tell you that I have a lamentable inability to beat around the bush, and tact has never been my strong point.
For our purposes, it makes no difference that the quote immediately above comes within the context of Bishop Fellay explaining that he must refuse to consider a deal until/unless the traditional Latin Mass is “freed” for the whole Church:
On the one hand, one could debate whether Summorum Pontificum (which declared the traditional Latin Mass had never been abrogated, but then goes on seemingly to place restrictive conditions on its availability) really accomplished this end.
On the other hand, this interview (given in November 2004) occurred at a time when the precondition for a practical accord with Rome was still that of Archbishop Lefebvre (recounted in the Fideliter interviews above), which required the prior conversion of Rome, and which was to be reiterated 19 months later in the 2006 General Chapter Declaration.
The point and applicability of the quote, then, is that Bishop Fellay expressed an awareness that silence was the cost of recognition (and still is, as the branding campaign makes painfully obvious).
 Fr. Andreas Steiner (SSPX media spokesman in Germany): “The decision [to expel Bishop Williamson] will certainly expedite the talks.”
This quote was, in turn, taken from this German language periodical:
In English here: http://www.therecusant.com/sspx-ed-ordinations
 See Chapter 2 of the present work
 http://www.dominicansavrille.us/society-saint-pius-x-visits-prelates/ “According to the November 25, 2014 official communiqué of the Episcopal Conference in the Philippines (CBCP), which published the following photograph, Fr Carlos Reyes, the secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue, visited on November 18 the SSPX priory in Manila in order to meet with Fr Nely, second assistant to Bishop Fellay, and also with the priests of the priory. They hoped to achieve this goal: To develop cordial ties with this group, along the same lines as the September meeting held in the Vatican, and to reach full communion with the Church. Several canonical solutions were raised.”
 “If the minor premise were to have changed, that is to say, if there were to be a change in the situation of the Church in relation to the Tradition, this could lead to a corresponding change in the conclusion, without our principles having changed in the slightest! As Divine Providence is expressed through the reality of the facts, to know His Will we must attentively follow the reality of the Church, observe it, scrutinize what’s going on. However, there is no doubt that since 2006, we are witnessing a development in the Church, an important and very interesting development, though barely visible.” (Bishop Fellay, Cor Unum, March 2012)
 The “Steffeshausen Memorandum” was published on the internet, and then widely distributed, without the permission of the Avrille Dominicans. As such, I will not link to it here.
 This is the letter “A Charitable Response to Fr. Simoulin” which began this book.
 Fr. Ferrer (Secretary to Cardinal Cadizares) to the SSPX: “Do not agree with Rome, she cannot keep her promises to you.” http://strobertbellarmine.net/Reflections_about_the_Roman_Proposal___Complete_Transcript_with_Quotes.pdf
 For example: ‘For a future recognition of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, the full acknowledgment of the Second Vatican Council and of the Magisterium of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and of the same Benedict XVI is an indispensable condition’ (Handwritten letter of Pope Benedict XVI to Bishop Fellay, 2012). http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2012/09/important-with-popes-own-signature.html
By Sean Johnson
Shortly after my article, “Response to an SSPX Priest,” appeared on Cathinfo, it elicited an anonymous response from one writing under the pseudonym “Henry4.”1 As was the case with the anonymous response to my rebuttal of Fr. François Laisney’s letter, “Striking Contrasts,” there is strong evidence to suggest (though not prove) that “Henry4” was sent to Cathinfo (or was already monitoring) for the purpose of attempting a rebuttal, and that both rebuttals were the work of the same person.
What is the evidence that might suggest this?
Firstly, “Henry4,” in his rebuttal, seems to display a familiarity with the French language (as was the case with the anonymous response to the rebuttal of Fr. Laisney’s letter, in which several indicators of French heritage/culture are detected), as he produced a quote for comparison from that language from the French Society journal Fideliter. Certainly, the mere fact of familiarity with French does not indicate one was sent by another to offer a rebuttal. But let us combine this interesting fact with the next piece of evidence:
Secondly, “Henry4” had no previous posting history on Cathinfo: His only response/responses were to my article, and his membership on Cathinfo began only a couple days after my article posted.
Thirdly, “Henry4” has made no subsequent posts on any other topic in the seven weeks that have passed since his initial rebuttal.2
Fourthly, textual criticism also indicates a strong coincidence of opinion between the distorted interpretation of Bishop Williamson’s June 1, 2014 Post Falls, ID (USA) conference/comment (In which it is erroneously alleged by “Ennemond”/Jacques-Regis du Cray on another forum that, since Bishop Williamson is allegedly open to a practical accord with Rome, His Excellency ought not be opposing Bishop Fellay for his openness to the same3), and the same argument made against my article by “Henry4.”
Fifthly, the same argument against the length of my rebuttal to Fr. Laisney’s letter, “Striking Contrasts,” is again to be found in “Henry4’s” rebuttal to my article, “Response to an SSPX Priest” below.
In light of all this, it seems reasonable and probable to conclude that “Henry4” was either already monitoring Cathinfo for content particularly damaging to the new orientation in Menzingen, or, that the article was brought to his attention by another for the purpose of eliciting a “damage control” response.
Lest one find the suggestion outlandish, it should be observed that Fr. Olivier Rioult (USML) alleges that precisely such a function is already exercised (primarily in the French-speaking world, but also in the English) by Mr. Jacques-Régis du Cray (a former member of GREC). Writing under various pseudonyms such as “Ennemond” and “Come de Previgny” for venues like Fecit, Forum Catholique, Credidimus Caritati, Fideliter, La Porte Latine, Rorate Coeli, etc.
Fr. Olivier Rioult writes of him, “He is the voice of his master, the Abbe Lorans, communications officer of the Fraternity.”4
More than this, I was personally told by a US District official during a private meeting in the summer of 2013 that forum threads are sometimes brought to his attention by parishioners, and in such cases he may follow them if there is reason.
Is “Henry4” Jacques-Regis du Cray (alias “Ennemond,” alias “Come de Previgny”)? Or, is “Henry4” some other party exercising a similar function?
The question is interesting, as it would speak to motive. But more important than the identity and motives of “Henry4” are the arguments advanced in his rebuttal.
In order to place the following argument of “Henry4” into proper context, it is first important to know what precipitated his rebuttal (which will follow below in entirety):
I had been told (verbally) that a rebuttal to my article had appeared on Cathinfo by an anonymous poster writing under the pseudonym “Henry04” (Note: My mistake in the spelling of “Henry4’s” pseudonym explains his deliberate misspelling of my name as “Mr. Johnston” in the response that follows), who was claiming that a quote from Archbishop Lefebvre’s 1990 Econe “Address to Priests” disproved my contention that Archbishop Lefebvre refused to consider a practical accord after the 1988 consecrations.
Furthermore, I was told that he seemed to be calling into question the prudence and discernability of the standard Archbishop Lefebvre had set in 1988 as a precondition for considering any Roman proposals for a practical accord (i.e., the conversion of Rome).
That which follows is “Henry4’s” response in entirety.
After passing through it, I will analyze the arguments adduced in favor of his conclusion(s), in order that we may judge of their strength and value.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Johnson writes much but addresses very little, I would suggest the ‘blind spots are with him.’5
1) What he fails to see is this absolute pre-condition, that is, to refuse a priori any agreement with Rome, it matters not one bit how many quotes he can provide, rather, all that is required is for me to provide one, single contrary quote to demonstrate [that] this absolute pre-condition of the Archbishop he advances is false. I have such a quote and he knows it. Further, he sets a straw-man fallacy, I never wrote the Archbishop was willing to accept a practical accord in 1990, only that he was willing to consider the hypothetical one presented to him.
What Mr. Johnson also fails to grasp is that the more quotes he produces, the stronger mine becomes since it is against this back-drop of quotes that the question was asked. In other words the seemingly unyielding comments of the Archbishop led to the question the subtext of which is your excellency, are you really saying you will not come to an agreement with Rome under any circumstances.
It is worth pausing here to consider another quote of the Archbishop made 18 months earlier:
I would indeed have signed a definitive accord after signing the protocol if we had had the possibility of protecting [ourselves from the] modernism of Rome.6
So the Archbishop had previously considered the possibility of an agreement if there was sufficient protection for the Society (viz. local bishops etc.) and therefore understood the question being asked. The Archbishop answered the question “let them first make us such an offer!” – he would consider it, a comment he could not have made if the pre-condition was absolute. No the mere fact that he gives reasons why Rome won’t do it has nothing to bear on the matter, rather, the fact that he was willing to consider it amply demonstrates that the alleged precondition is not absolute. Case closed Mr. Johnston.7
Perhaps Mr. Johnson would care to examine the original French text that has no exclamation mark [which follows here]. The text will simply not stand the translation Mr. Johnston wants to give it.
Suffice to say that the Archbishop clearly entertained the idea and Mr. Johnson’s ‘interpretation’ cannot be sustained. The correct understanding is that given by Bishop Williamson “let them first make us such an offer, then we’ll think about it.”
Furthermore, one must ask would the Archbishop really have painted himself into a corner with no room to manoeuvre?8 It really would have gone against all his diplomatic instinct and experience. In any event, his biographer, Bp. Tissier de Mallerais didn’t think so:
Archbishop Lefebvre always sought to take advantage of favorable occasions to renew the connection with Rome…approbation.9 (Letter from January 6, 2014)
Plus there is the alleged conversation between Bp. Tissier de Mallerais and Fr. Jean, OFMC:
I remind Bishop Tissier that in Fideliter #66 Archbishop Lefebvre had said “I will set out my conditions, etc.” And…letter dated 11th September 2013, “He did say it, but he would not have done it.”
What Mr. Johnston wants everyone to believe is that this absolute pre-condition, which would have been incredibly profound for the Society, was never explicitly expressed by the Archbishop, or promulgated by the Superior General or written into the Society’s statutes, but has to be inferred from a few documents, while ignoring all the rest of the Archbishop’s works. This simply isn’t rational.
2) I’m not sure why Mr. Johnston considers my final paragraph as a second objection i.e., not possible to judge when Rome will have returned to tradition sufficiently to declare that Rome has converted. What I wrote was this “I would ask the conversion from what to what, how is it to be judged and by whom? What are the concrete steps you want to see executed?” I did not suggest it was not possible to ‘judge.’ I asked specific questions which Mr. Johnston avoided answering.
Mr. Johnston did write the following: “When Rome corrects Vatican II in light of tradition.” Well OK, but how and by whom? Allow me to elaborate.
One of the comments in this thread suggests the repeal of Vatican II by the Pope. Neil Obstat claims “The Pope could do this…” Playing devils-advocate I’ll say that Vatican II was a valid Ecumenical Council, legally convened, with deliberations, votes, and declarations. I claim the Pope does not have the power to repeal a Council (I’m sure everyone here would make a similar claim if Pope Francis attempted to repeal Trent). If there’s a claim that it was only a pastoral Council, I reply with it still reaffirmed existing dogmas.
So this is what I’m looking for Mr. Johnston. The practical steps that Rome will have to go through in order for you to judge that they have ‘converted.’ Start with the Council documents, then the N.O. Mass, N.O. saints, etc., what does Rome need to do? And given Unity of Faith leaves room for various opinions in those controversial questions which the Church has not finally decided, what various opinions are/are not deemed acceptable, who gets to judge? And you need to be careful or you could be requesting things (like the example in the previous paragraph) that may not be possible.
A final note, Mr. Johnston writes “Rome will have returned to tradition sufficiently.” This implies a complete [conversion] is not required for an agreement, only a ‘sufficient’ conversion is required. How is this to be measured?
[Henry4 then responds to a Cathinfo post by “Wallflower”]
Wallflower, no you do not follow me. This is not about Archbishop Lefebvre actually coming to an agreement with Rome, but whether or not he would have considered the one posed by the questioner (a hypothetical one). The very act of considering one – irrespective of whether or not it is dismissed – renders Mr. Johnson’s absolute pre-condition false. That is all.
Has there been a time in the history of the Church where there has been no scandal? I came across a quote from Bishop Williamson which I think apt: “If, by some miracle, Pope Francis rang me up next week and said: ‘Your Excellency, you and I have had our divergences, but right now I am authorizing you to found a society. You go right ahead for the good of the Church.’ ‘Holy Father, can I have that in writing? Do you mind if I come to Rome and get that with your signature?’ ‘Yes, of course.’ ‘Alright, then I’d be on the next plane to Rome. I’d be on the next plane to Rome!’
So, if Bishop Williamson is still willing to deal with Pope Francis, that’s fine by me too.”
Let us now pass in review of these arguments, in order that we may judge of the weight and value of each:
“Henry4’s” first argument is that it matters not how many quotes can be compiled testifying to Archbishop Lefebvre’s post-1988 refusal to entertain a merely practical accord with modernist Rome. Rather, he contends that the existence of a single contrary quotation (i.e., one allegedly evincing openness to entertaining the possibility of coming to a practical accord) will prove the falsity of that assertion.
Such a statement would seem to violate the dictates of common sense (i.e., It would imply that the exception can disprove the rule; that a stray comment could stand as the Archbishop’s true position, against a mountain of comments to the contrary). And though we shall demonstrate below that “Henry4” has not understood the meaning of the quote he supplies as allegedly representing this “contrary statement,” nevertheless, we must first demonstrate the falsity of the principle of interpretation he erects.
To accomplish this, we must discover and articulate the exegetical rules and principles by which we can develop an objective methodology for the interpretation of Archbishop Lefebvre’s words, and we need look no further than the SSPX.org article titled “How to Interpret Archbishop Lefebvre” (which is itself taken from the 2008 book of Fr. Gregoire Celier, Benoît XVI et les Traditionalistes).10
To paraphrase Fr. Celier, the proper methodology to interpreting the words of Archbishop Lefebvre include:
So, having discovered our interpretive principles (penned by a probable ally of “Henry4” no less), let us apply them to “Henry4’s” claim that “All that is required [to prove Archbishop Lefebvre was still open to considering a practical agreement after 1988] is for him to provide one, single contrary quote to demonstrate [that] this absolute pre-condition of the Archbishop [Sean] advances is false.”
The quote “Henry4” advances in support of his contention is the following:
Someone was saying to me yesterday, ‘But what if Rome accepted your bishops and then you were completely exempted from the other bishops’ jurisdiction?’ But firstly, they are along way right now from accepting any such thing, and then, let them first make us such an offer!11
Interpretive Criteria #1: Placing the Quote Within Context
The article from which this quote is extracted begins with the Archbishop announcing the subject matter he is about to address: Whether relations and negotiations with Rome are ended. He proceeds to tell a story about a conversation with Cardinal Oddi, in which the latter is proposing for the Archbishop to re-enter negotiations for a practical accord. The Archbishop rebuffs the cardinal, and tells him he must return to Tradition. So, the article begins with the idea that the time for negotiations and practical accords is over with (i.e., He is not willing to consider them, since by the very fact of the consecrations, he has preserved Tradition, and had no more need to negotiate).
Moreover, Archbishop Lefebvre’s rebuff to the Cardinal occurs within a paragraph subtitled “A lightweight solution” (i.e., a practical accord), which is followed by the next section subtitled “The heavyweight problem” (i.e., Which it goes on to explain is that Rome is persisting pertinaciously in the doctrines of Vatican II). It is important to note that these subtitles were provided by SSPX.org, not the Archbishop. This strongly suggests that it was also the understanding of the SSPX at the time this article was posted, that Archbishop Lefebvre had dismissed the idea of a practical accord, and was sticking to the conversion of Rome as a precondition for “reconciliation.”
The next section is subtitled “Ours is an ancient Struggle,” in which the Archbishop equates the battles of the post-French Revolution papacies against the modern errors, with the battle of the SSPX against modernist Rome.12 Having drawn such a parallel, is it conceivable that the Archbishop was open to some sort of “concordat” with the enemy he has just identified and accused of treason? Hardly.
Next, we pass to the section subtitled “We must not waver.” Archbishop Lefebvre leaves no room for doubt that he is absolutely closed to the idea of a practical accord with unconverted Rome, announcing:
Hence, we should have no hesitation or fear, hesitation such as, “Why should we be going on our own? After all, why not join Rome, why not join the pope?” Yes, if Rome and the Pope were in line with Tradition, if they were carrying on the work of all the Popes of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, of course. But they themselves admit that they have set out on a new path.13
Archbishop Lefebvre concludes this section with the words, “It is clear. Hence we must not waver for one moment.” What must we not waver in? In carrying on the faith independent of Rome, so long as it persists in the errors of Vatican II.
The next section is titled “A false charity.” Here, the Archbishop warns against the notion of collaborating with the Ecclesia Dei communities, whom he accuses of “shaking hands with the Church’s destroyers.” Now, if Archbishop Lefebvre is categorically refusing to collaborate with those who are “shaking hands with the Church’s destroyers,” how can any sane interpretation pretend that the Archbishop was nevertheless open to considering collaborating with the destroyers themselves?
The following section is subtitled “We cannot compromise.” But “Henry4” would have us believe nonetheless, that the Archbishop was open to compromise to secure a practical accord. After stating that is was compromise which killed Christendom, Archbishop Lefebvre says:
It was the Liberals, it was those who reached out a hand to people who did not share their Catholic principles.14
Are we to believe that Archbishop Lefebvre, having just spoken these words, is nevertheless open to “reaching out a hand” to the liberals in Rome who are killing the Church (i.e., the very analogy he is making in this section)? Well, in order to accept “Henry4’s” interpretation of the quote in question, that is exactly what one must do! Can one do that without blushing?
Finally, after all this, we come to the subsection in question, titled “No easy solutions” in which “Henry4’s” quote appears. Note firstly, however, that even the title given to this section seems to dismiss the idea of a convenient practical accord; something “Henry4” assures us (despite all the foregoing) Archbishop Lefebvre was always open to.
Immediately preceding the quote “Henry4” furnishes us with, appear these words (and please be sure to see the footnote #15, which explains these words):
“But humanly speaking, there is no chance of any agreement between Rome and ourselves at the moment.”15
Then comes “Henry4’s” quote:
Someone was saying to me yesterday, But what if Rome accepted your bishops and then you were completely exempted from the other bishops’ jurisdiction?” But firstly, they are a long way right now from accepting any such thing, and then, let them first make us such an offer! But I do not think they are anywhere near doing so.16
The address then closes with the Archbishop expressing his gratitude for the perseverance of the SSPX.
What should be obvious to all is that according to Fr Celier’s first rule of interpreting the words of Archbishop Lefebvre (i.e., that they be placed within their proper context), the entire address runs contrary to the sense “Henry4” would give to Archbishop Lefebvre’s words, and would at the very least impute to Archbishop Lefebvre a remarkable sense of incoherence which was never typical of his writings (i.e., an additional violation of Fr. Celier’s 3rd methodological criteria).
We must conclude, therefore, that “Henry4’s” contention that the quote provided evinces a post-1988 openness of Archbishop Lefebvre to entertaining the idea of a practical accord is wholly unfounded, and contradicted in toto, not only by the article he pulls the quote from, but also the preponderance of recorded sermons, conferences, interviews, and writings of the Archbishop from the time of the episcopal consecrations.
He has violated his ally’s first rule of interpretation, and by attempting to hold out the quote in a univocal sense, illegitimately rends from it a meaning wholly at odds with the context in which it is situated.17
Perhaps sensing the insufficiency of his argument, “Henry4” tries to find another post-1988 corroborating quotation, which he thinks he finds in this comment from Archbishop Lefebvre in Fideliter:
I would indeed have signed a definitive accord after signing the protocol if we had had the possibility of protection from the modernism of Rome.18
But what “Henry4” seems not to notice is that, though this Fideliter interview is indeed taken from 1989, the quote is from Archbishop Lefebvre reflecting back in time to before the consecrations. In other words, it is not an example of Archbishop Lefebvre expressing an openness to considering a practical accord in 1989, but a quote of the Archbishop reminiscing back to the days when he was willing to consider such.
So much for “Henry4’s” attempt to augment his erroneous interpretation with yet another error.
Interpretive Criteria #2: We Must Allow That an Author’s Thought Can Evolve Over Time
In support of his unsustainable contention that his quote shows Archbishop Lefebvre still open to entertaining a practical accord in 1990, “Henry4” suggests:
Furthermore, one must ask would the Archbishop really have painted himself into a corner with no room to manoeuvre?19 It really would have gone against all his diplomatic instinct and experience.
But in making this argument, “Henry4” is violating Fr. Celier’s 2nd rule for interpreting the words of Archbishop Lefebvre: That a writer’s thought can evolve over time.
Nobody (least of all myself) is suggesting that Archbishop Lefebvre was never open to a practical accord. What is being argued by me is that, once Archbishop Lefebvre became convinced that Rome was negotiating in bad faith, he decided upon the consecrations as being necessary for the preservation of Tradition. And having accomplished the episcopal consecrations, thereby preserving Tradition, it was no longer necessary for him to continue negotiations. And because it was no longer necessary to negotiate, and because time was now on Tradition’s side, the Archbishop changed his prudential precondition, and required the conversion of Rome before considering the juridical status of the FSSPX.
Fr. Celier also tells us that in detecting such evolution in thought, it is legitimate to cite the author in this regard as acknowledging such evolution.20 Do we have any such admissions from Archbishop Lefebvre evincing such an evolution?
We have several:
So now too, to those who say to me, “You’ve got to reach an agreement with Rome,” I think I can say that I went even further than I should have.21
And again along the same lines:
I can’t speak much of the future, mine is behind me, but if I live a little while, supposing that Rome calls for a renewed dialogue, then, I will put conditions. I shall not accept being in the position where I was put during the dialogue. No more.22
And finally: In response to the question “Why not try and reach out to Rome one more time?” Archbishop Lefebvre responded:
It is absolutely impossible in the current climate of Rome which is becoming worse. We must not delude ourselves. The principles which now guide the conciliar Church are more and more overtly contrary to Catholic doctrine.23
Therefore, we have plain and explicit admission of an evolution in thought in the matter of the prudential precondition.
For “Henry4” not to acknowledge that in fact such an evolution had taken place in 1988, despite his awareness of mountains of quotes from the Archbishop in support of that premise,24 and his post-1988 consistency in this regard, suggests that “Henry4” is either arguing in favor of a partisan position, in violation of the interpretive rules of Fr. Celier, or, that he is somehow unaware of violating them.
In any case, it is clear that in alleging (at least implicitly) that there was no change in Archbishop Lefebvre’s posture towards Rome before and after the consecrations, the spin he would give to his pet quote (and attempting to augment it by citing the Archbishop’s pre-1988 “diplomacy”), “Henry4” has again violated Fr Celier’s rules of sound interpretation, by not allowing that “an author’s thought can evolve.”
Interpretive Criteria #3: “One must accord to an author a personal intention to be intellectually coherent.”
Do we see in “Henry4’s” rending of the quote in question a crediting of the author “with a personal intention to be intellectually coherent?”
In fact we see the exact opposite: That by holding out the quote cited, with the interpretation given it (i.e., That it evinces a post-1988 willingness in Archbishop Lefebvre to entertain a practical accord prior to the conversion of Rome), the imputation of incoherence, in contradistinction to the remarkably consistent and coherent message of the Archbishop evincing an opposite intention (not only in the work from which the quote was extracted, but also in almost all the other works published and recorded by Archbishop Lefebvre treating of this subject, after the episcopal consecrations).
Therefore, once again, the meaning and interpretation “Henry4” would give to the quote he produces in favor of his position can only be maintained at the expense of imputing incoherence to Archbishop Lefebvre, and thereby fails in satisfying this 3rd criteria of sound interpretation.
With Fr. Celier, we must conclude that:
Therefore, if some expressions, some statements penned by an author seem out of tune, then one ought a priori, unless there is a well-founded reason, to reconcile them with the recurring and constant statements of that author. Ordinarily, indeed, it is methodologically sound to interpret what is…novel in terms of oft-repeated thinking, and not vice-versa.25
Therefore, it is utter nonsense to contend, as “Henry4” does, that the existence of a single contrary quote can disprove the mountain of quotes of Archbishop Lefebvre tending to demonstrate his refusal to consider a merely practical accord after 1988, as such a contention can only be maintained by violating all of the sound rules for interpreting the words of Archbishop Lefebvre by his ally, Fr. Celier.
What, then, are we to make of the quote “Henry4” supplies?
I contend that, precisely because “Henry4” has not obeyed these sound principles of interpretation, he has arrived at a false, univocal misunderstanding of the literal words provided.
What About the “Corroborating” Quote from Bishop Williamson? “Henry4” takes the quote in question:
Someone was saying to me yesterday, “But what if Rome accepted your bishops and then you were completely exempted from the other bishops’ jurisdiction?” But firstly, they are a long way right now from accepting any such thing, and then, let them first make us such an offer! But I do not think they are anywhere near doing so.26
…and thinks to find corroborating evidence for his interpretation in similar words uttered more recently by Bishop Williamson:
The correct understanding is that given by Bishop Williamson ‘let them first make us such an offer, then we’ll think about it.’27
If, by some miracle, Pope Francis rang me up next week and said: ‘Your Excellency, you and I have had our divergences, but right now I am authorizing you to found a society. You go right ahead for the good of the Church.’ ‘Holy Father, can I have that in writing? Do you mind if I come to Rome and get that with your signature?’ ‘Yes, of course.’ ‘Alright, then I’d be on the next plane to Rome. I’d be on the next plane to Rome!’28
The argument being made by supplying these quotes is that they allegedly demonstrate that, just as Archbishop Lefebvre was open to considering a practical accord with unconverted Rome in 1990 (i.e., after 1988), so too is Bishop Williamson open to considering a practical accord in 2014.
But then the converse must also be true: That if it can be shown that the quotes taken from Bishop Williamson are wrongly understood by “Henry4”, then so too is the quote from Archbishop Lefebvre wrongly understood.
Which is correct?
The truth of the matter is not difficult to discover for those who really want to discover it: The authentic rules for interpreting the words of an author (whether it be Archbishop Lefebvre, Bishop Williamson, or myself) are general and universal principles, and they will apply just as much to the quotes of Bishop Williamson, therefore, as to the words of Archbishop Lefebvre.
Applying these rules to the quotes “Henry4” provides from Bishop Williamson, therefore, yields results as untenable as those he assigns to Archbishop Lefebvre:
It is therefore untenable to contend that the quoted words of Bishop Williamson illustrate an openness to considering a practical accord with unconverted Rome. To construe them as such is to, once again, violate each of Fr. Celier’s three rules for legitimate interpretation: Placing the words in proper context,32 allowing that an author’s position can change over time,33 and to grant to an author the desire to remain consistent.34
However, unlike the case of considering the words of Archbishop Lefebvre, who went to his eternal reward long ago, Bishop Williamson is still among us (Deo gratias!), and we need not rely upon the principles of interpretation, when we may go directly to the source, to inquire as to whether “Henry4’s” understanding of His Excellency’s words are correct.
In that vein, I wrote to His Excellency and asked: Greetings Your Lordship –
Some of your opponents refer to the June 1, 2014 Post Falls conference (in which Your Lordship made the comment that he would only found a religious congregation if he had the approval of the pope, and would be on the next plane to Rome if that were the case) as evincing a willingness on your part to accept a practical accord.
They ask, therefore, “Why does His Excellency oppose Bishop Fellay for pursuing the same?”
My understanding was that, those comments being made within the larger context of a 90 minute presentation to Resistance faithful explaining why Your Lordship did not consider himself to possess the authority to found such a congregation (which could only come from Rome), the purpose of the comment was not to express an openness to a practical accord with unconverted Rome, but to explain to the faithful the importance of authority (which leaves the loose confederation model of Resistance as the only option).
Have I understood Your Lordship correctly?
His Lordship replied: “Basically you have understood me correctly.”35
If therefore I have understood Bishop Williamson correctly, then “Henry4” has not understood him correctly. And if “Henry4” has not understood Bishop Williamson correctly, then neither has he understood the quote of Archbishop Lefebvre correctly (which he mistakenly thinks to be corroborated by Bishop Williamson’s words).36
That being the case, it is manifestly false for “Henry4” to contend his single, misunderstood quote proves that Archbishop Lefebvre remained open to a practical accord after the episcopal consecrations. Rather, the opposite conclusion is rather obvious: Archbishop Lefebvre was not open to the consideration of a practical accord after 1988 (just as Bishop Williamson was not open to one in June/2014, or today).
What About the Alleged Statement from Bishop Tissier to Fr. Jean OFM (Morgon)?
“Henry4” makes one final argument in an attempt to salvage his contention that Archbishop Lefebvre remained open to the possibility of negotiating a practical accord after the 1988 consecrations, with the following quote from an alleged conversation between Fr. Jean, OFM (Morgon), and Bishop Tissier de Mallerais:
I remind Bishop Tissier that in Fideliter #66 Archbishop Lefebvre had said “I will set out my conditions, etc.” And…letter dated 11th September 2013, “He did say it, but he would not have done it.
“Henry4” is therefore making an argument which is capable of being read a couple different ways (and we will address both, that we not be accused of evading one or the other):
Let us consider these objections in turn:
By Stating “I will set out my conditions,” Archbishop Lefebvre is Manifesting a Continued Openness to Considering a Practical Accord:
Well, let’s see what happens when, obeying the sound interpretive methodology of Fr. Celier, we place those words back into context:
Archbishop Lefebvre: “supposing that Rome calls for a renewed dialogue, then, I will put conditions. I shall not accept being in the position where I was put during the dialogue. No more. I will place the discussion at the doctrinal level: “Do you agree with the great encyclicals of all the popes who preceded you? Do you agree with Quanta Cura of Pius IX, Immortale Dei and Libertas of Leo XIII, Pascendi Gregis of Pius X, Quas Primas of Pius XI, Humani Generis of Pius XII? Are you in full communion with these Popes and their teachings? Do you still accept the entire Anti-Modernist Oath? Are you in favor of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ? If you do not accept the doctrine of your predecessors, it is useless to talk! As long as you do not accept the correction of the Council, in consideration of the doctrine of these Popes, your predecessors, no dialogue is possible. It is useless.37
Several observations, therefore, can be made with regard to the assertion of “Henry4” that the presence of the words “I will put conditions” evince an openness to a practical accord:
Bishop Tissier’s Conjecture:
And what of the other possible reading of “Henry4’s” quote of Bishop Tissier (i.e., That, given Bishop Tissier’s long association with Archbishop Lefebvre, and his intimate knowledge of the Archbishop as an unofficial biographer, that Bishop Tissier’s alleged statement that Archbishop Lefebvre would not have held such a strong position (“he did say it, but he would not have done it”) ought to carry significant weight?
Presuming the quote is authentic and accurate, several problems present themselves with ascribing to Bishop Tissier’s opinion:
We refuse a purely practical agreement because the doctrinal question is fundamental. Faith comes before legality. We cannot accept a legalization without the problem of the faith being solved. (…) “It is a new religion that is not the Catholic religion. We do not want any compromise with this religion, any risk of corruption, not even any appearance of conciliation, and it is this appearance that our so-called “regularization” would give us.38
The principle of non-contradiction states that two contradictory assertions cannot both be true at the same time, and in the same sense. If in 2012, Bishop Tissier was faithful to the true position of Archbishop Lefebvre (i.e., Archbishop Lefebvre would not have negotiated), then he was not true to Archbishop Lefebvre’s position in 2013 statement to Fr. Jean, OFM.39 He cannot have been right on both occasions.
Now I am told by clerics of impeccable reputation (and in the presence of witnesses whom I can produce) that the same Bishop Tissier, removed from his support base in France, and isolated from allies in Chicago, has gradually come to terms with the eventuality and inevitability of a practical accord. He has accepted that Bishop Fellay cannot be stopped in his drive for a “regularization, but rather than leave in order to maintain his fidelity to the prudence and position of the SSPX’s founder, is instead “preparing himself” for this new reality in the SSPX.
The alleged quote to Fr. Jean, OFM would evince precisely such a “devolution.”
The point being, that the gratuitous conjecture Bishop Tissier is alleged to have imparted to Fr. Jean, OFM (only one year after making the Rivarol quote above) says more about the depressing evolution within Bishop Tissier, than it does about the true position of Archbishop Lefebvre, of which he used to be one of the strongest supporters.
Menzingen is happy to assist with this “preparation” by creating a sanitized Archbishop Lefebvre, to whom SSPX clerics can extend their professions of loyalty (especially useful in stifling any lingering qualms of conscience the imposture of claiming fidelity to the Archbishop may cause, while flagrantly departing from his position, may present).40
No longer is it “Archbishop Lefebvre, the great anti-modernist.” It is now “Archbishop Lefebvre, the great Churchman.”
It therefore must be concluded by any objective reading, that the evidence adduced by “Henry4” (being incompatible with both the equitable principles of textual interpretation, and the personal testimony of Bishop Williamson) is inadmissible, insufficient, and contrary to the reality of the portrait of Archbishop Lefebvre which emerges when Fr. Celier’s methodological rules for interpretation are obeyed.
Equally untenable is the suggestion that the quote from Bishop Tissier de Mallerais evinces a post-1988 Archbishop Lefebvre still willing to negotiate a practical accord (or upon another reading, an Archbishop Lefebvre who, regardless of what he was teaching the world, was still willing to negotiate, regardless of all he said to the contrary).
In what appears to be a thinly veiled rejection of the standard Archbishop Lefebvre had set in place before he would be willing to resume discussions of a practical accord to address the juridical status of the Society (i.e., the conversion of Rome back to tradition), “Henry4” attempts to divert the conversation, and asks:
I would ask the conversion from what to what, how is it to be judged and by whom? What are the concrete steps you want to see executed?” I did not suggest it was not possible to ‘judge.’ I asked specific questions which Mr. Johnston avoided answering.
In fact, that is not true. I responded with the famous Fideliter quote of Archbishop Lefebvre, that the Council would need to be corrected in light of the doctrine of the preceding Popes.41 If those concrete steps are good enough for Archbishop Lefebvre, then they are certainly good enough for me. Failing this, there can be no pretension to a Rome allegedly coming back to tradition, which would nevertheless still teach and promote the false doctrines of Vatican II.
But I suggest that the real problem here is not that “Henry4” rejects Archbishop Lefebvre’s standard because he thinks it too ambiguous and amorphous, but rather that he does not have faith that it is achievable. He (as with all semi-traditionalists of the GREC mentality) despairs of the recovery of the Church. And it is for this reason that he and his allies have instead pushed the requirements of the Faith aside, in favor of a diplomatic solution to a doctrinal problem.42 Evidence of this despair of the recovery of the Church is discovered in the writings and words of all the primary and most influential “accordistas,”43 from Bishop Fellay’s “Letter to the Three Bishops” to Fr. Simoulin’s “Avoiding a False Sense of Resistance,” to Fr. Nely’s response to Fr. Brendan King,44 to Fr. Pflugers alleged conferences to the Brothers in Flavigny.45 All fear the crisis will go on indefinitely, resulting in schism.
But if for these men, this fear of schism exists, it is because they have not understood or embraced the Catholic perspective and teaching of Archbishop Lefebvre:
Question: “Are you not afraid that in the end, when the good Lord will have called you to Him, little by little the split will grow wider and we will find ourselves being confronted with a parallel Church alongside what some call the “visible Church”?
Archbishop Lefebvre: This talk about the “visible Church” on the part of Dom Gerard and Mr. Madiran is childish. It is incredible that anyone can talk of the “visible Church”, meaning the Conciliar Church as opposed to the Catholic Church which we are trying to represent and continue. I am not saying that we are the Catholic Church. I have never said so. No one can reproach me with ever having wished to set myself up as pope. But, we truly represent the Catholic Church such as it was before, because we are continuing what it always did. It is we who have the notes of the visible Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. That is what makes the visible Church.46
This recurring fear of schism (feigned or real) is the hallmark of all who are losing (or have lost) their understanding of the true state of the Church, and “reconciled” to their own demise. I can think of none better than Fr. Violette’s condemnation of practically the same argument being made in 2003 by Fr. Aulagnier:
The solution to this crisis will come from Rome when the Roman authorities come back to the integrity of the Faith. But until then we do well to continue our resistance. How long this will take is not our problem but God’s. But we cannot for the sake of a fake unity join those who promote errors, who reduce the Church to a human institution, or simply one religion among others thus destroying it. So we continue Tradition and continue to denounce those who reject it in the name of a new conciliar church. As Archbishop Lefebvre said: by cutting themselves off from the previous popes, the modern Roman authorities are the ones who are schismatic. When Rome returns to the Faith the only matter for discussion will be who will become a bishop and who will he replace?47
I urge all to read the brief article just cited in entirety, and let the irony not be lost among you, who will observe in all the refuted reasons of Fr Aulagnier for coming to a practical accord with Rome in 2003, the very same arguments being made by Bishop Fellay in 2012-2015!
Let it not also be lost among you that Fr. Aulagnier was expelled from the SSPX for expressing these views in a conciliar newspaper.48
Yet, how can that be: If Fr. Aulagnier was merely taking a posture allegedly advocated by Archbishop Lefebvre (And please don’t tell me it was because he gave the interviews without permission. Why would one need permission, in the SSPX, to give an interview perfectly consistent with the position of Archbishop Lefebvre?)?
And how can it be that in 2003, Fr. Aulagnier was considered a traitor by all those faithful to the principles of Archbishop Lefebvre, and expelled from the Society, while in 2012-2015, Bishop Fellay is considered a hero for doing the same thing (Please, dear reader, read the article cited in endnote 47, and you will find all Bishop Fellay’s reasons for a practical accord roundly condemned in 2003 by Fr Violette)?
Let us speak plainly, then, and simply acknowledge that these men who are promoting a suicidal accord with unconverted Rome would blush to make the statement just quoted by Archbishop Lefebvre (i.e., in endnote 46). Let us acknowledge that, if they are telling us that we need to be “realistic,” this is the same thing as admitting that Archbishop Lefebvre was not realistic. And if one does not believe that Archbishop Lefebvre’s principle of action vis-à-vis Rome was“realistic,” and today is tending to lead us upon a trajectory towards schism, then how convincing is their claim to still be following in the Archbishop’s footsteps?
Would you follow in the footsteps of one whom you believed to have led you along a trajectory towards schism?
Much easier to remake a sanitized version of Archbishop Lefebvre, and profess fidelity to this new creation, then to continue with troubled consciences and fears of schism.
2 As of the date of this writing (12/30/15).
5 In my initial rebuttal, I noted the incredible blind spot evinced by one who would attempt to quote from Archbishop Lefebvre’ 1990 “Address to Priests” in an attempt to show him entertaining the possibility of reaching a practical accord with unconverted Rome, as the entire Address is an exhortation to hold the course.
6 Fideliter #68, March – 1989.
7 Misspelling deliberate by Henry4, as in any forthcoming misspellings.
8 Note the French spelling given to the word “maneuver.”
9 The last couple words of this quote from Henry4 after the word “Rome” were cut off in the copy/paste of his rebuttal which was sent to me, but his argument is substantially made in the portion given.
10 http://sspx.org/en/how-interpret-archbishop-lefebvre When this article first appeared on SSPX.org, it was peremptorily dismissed by many Resistance faithful as representing a blatant attempt to “reinterpret” the writings of Archbishop Lefebvre, and make them consistent with the new orientation in Menzingen. To some degree it was. But originally, it was meant to target the sedevacantists’ misappropriation of certain quotes of Archbishop Lefebvre as evincing openness to their theses. In any case, the principles contained within this article are rock-solid, despite the accordist leanings of its author, and serve to refute both sedevacantist and accordista (i.e., Those favoring a merely practical accord with Rome) apologists, who would desire to arrogate Archbishop Lefebvre to their cause(s).
11 http://archives.sspx.org/archbishop lefebvre/two years after the consecrations.htm
12 “This is the fight we are in the middle of today. Exactly the same fight.” http://archives.sspx.org/archbishop lefebvre/two years after the consecrations.htm
15 Ibid. Neither do the last words “at the moment” give Henry4’s contention any wiggle room. Henry’s contention is that, in the quote which immediately follows, it evinces that, at this time, Archbishop Lefebvre was open to considering an hypothetical accord. But the quote I have just provided above in this footnote says the exact opposite. Can one interpret the words “there is no chance of a practical accord” as evincing an openness to the same? Or, can one bypass the contradiction by asserting that the words I am quoting show that the Archbishop was merely saying an accord is not possible now, but nevertheless, hypothetically, I would be open to one? It is the whole purpose of testing this allegation against the rules and methodology of sound exegetical interpretation to demonstrate such a contention is impossible (and unjust). Only by illegitimately removing the words from the context of the article can one arrive at such a conclusion, which is neither legitimate nor accurate.
16 http://archives.sspx.org/archbishop lefebvre/two years after the consecrations.htm
17 Readers may be familiar with this tendency to remove words from context in the case of the followers of Fr Feeney, who see in John 3:5 incontrovertible proof that baptism of desire and/or blood are heretical. Having dislodged the quote from the corpus of Catholic doctrine, they come to erroneous conclusions.
18 Fideliter #68 (March, 1989).
19 Note the French spelling given to the word “maneuver,” though as one reader pointed out, the spelling given to the word is also the common and preferred spelling in Great Britain.
20 http://sspx.org/en/how-interpret-archbishop-lefebvre “Contrary proof can be, for example, a statement (explicit or implicit) by the author that he was previously wrong, or the revisiting of the same subject matter, long afterward, along radically different lines.”
24 Henry4 says: “it matters not one bit how many quotes he can provide”
27 Henry4 gives no citation for this attribution, but it matters not to the value of our criticism.
29 Bishop Richard Williamson, “Letters from the Rector” (February/2001).
30 As an aside, it was at a January,2001 meeting convened at the SSPX seminary in Flavigny, in which the Dominicans of Avrille presented a study reflecting their opposition to any practical accord with unconverted Rome, which has been the source of their persecution by Menzingen ever since (i.e., Just as Bishop Williamson had to be expelled if an accord were ever to be reached, so too must Avrille be cast into the outer darkness.
31 “Bishop Williamson and Fr. Faure have not been members of the Society of St. Pius X since 2012 and 2014, respectively, because of their violent criticisms of any relations with the Roman authorities.” http://www.dici.org/en/news/communique-of-the-general-house-of-the-society-of-st-pius-x-concerning-the-episcopal-consecration-of-father-faure/ Note: Leaving aside the distortion made here by Menzingen that it is “relations with Rome” which Bishop Williamson rejects, rather than Menzingen’s negotiating a practical accord with Rome before the latter’s conversion back to the true Faith, the quote demonstrates that it was because of his rejection of these negotiations that His Excellency was expelled.
32 In this case, the quoted words took place within the context of a 90 minute conference explaining to Resistance faithful why His Excellency had not the authority to found a proper religious congregation; a demand made by some Resistance faithful and clergy. His Excellency stated that, only if the Pope would say such a thing, could His Excellency found such a congregation. He was not saying by the words quoted that he was open to the idea of a practical accord.
33 Like Archbishop Lefebvre, Bishop Williamson was open to negotiations before the 1988 consecrations, and closed to the idea afterwards, so long as Rome remained mired in, and promoted, modernism.
34 The bullet points demonstrate this remarkable consistency.
35 The full text of His Lordship’s response:
That reply of mine presupposed that if the Pope made such an offer, it would be that he really meant it, and that it was not a political trap. In other words there would be a genuine desire of Tradition on his part, in which case true Catholic authority would once more be coming from him, which is by no means the case with the Pope Francis whose good graces BpF is seeking.
Archb. Lefebvre said to the four bishops before consecrating them, put your bishoprics back in the Pope’s hands as soon as he comes to his senses. That moment would have to come which has by no means yet come. I trust this answers your question. Basically you have understood me correctly.”
36 Incidentally, I would recommend Fr. Celier’s three principles of authentic interpretation to certain Resistance critics of Bishop Williamson, who seem to see (or desire to see?) in His Lordship’s June 28, 2015 words on the Novus Ordo Missae an intention to endorse Novus Ordo Mass attendance. To attribute such an intention is so blatantly contrary to the spoken explanations of Bishop Williamson as to not even require a rebuttal. If you won’t believe what the man says he meant, why would you believe me?
37 http://www.ecclesiamilitans.com/2014/02/page/2/ (Note: I cite the Fideliter #66 quote from this site, as it also contains snipets of Bishop Tissier opposing a merely practical accord): – Bishop Tissier
de Mallerais : “We refuse a purely practical agreement because the doctrinal question is fundamental. Faith comes before legality. We cannot accept a legalization without the problem of the faith being solved. (…) “It is a new religion that is not the Catholic religion. We do not want any compromise with this religion, any risk of corruption, not even any appearance of conciliation, and it is this appearance that our so-called “regularization” would give us.”
(Interview in Rivarol, 1st June 2012).
38 Rivarol, 1st June 2012
39 And, keeping in mind Fr. Celier’s rules for authentic interpretation (particularly attributing to an author the intention of remaining intellectually consistent, we recall that Bishop Tissier had, only two months prior to the Rivarol interview quoted above, participated in the “Letter of the three Bishops to the General Counsel of the FSSPX,” in which he (along with the other two bishops) articulated substantially the same position.
40 For an admission that the SSPX’s new openness to a practical accord is a flagrant contradiction with the position of Archbishop Lefebvre, one need only refer to Bishop de Galarreta’s “Reflections on a Roman Proposal,” in which it is admitted that in going down this new path, “To move towards a practical agreement would be to deny our word and our commitments to our priests, our faithful, and Rome in front of everyone. This would have hugely negative consequences ad intra and ad extra. There is no change in the doctrinal point of view from Rome that would justify ours. On the contrary, the discussions have shown they will not accept anything in our criticisms. It would be absurd for us to go in the direction of a practical agreement after the result of discussions and findings. Otherwise, one would think that Msgr. Rifan and Father Aulagnier were right. Such an approach would show a serious diplomatic weakness on the part of the Fraternity, and indeed, more than diplomatic. It would be a lack of consistency, honesty and firmness, which would have effects like loss of credibility and moral authority we enjoy. http://strobertbellarmine.net/Reflections_about_the_Roman_Proposal___Complete_Transcript_with_Quo tes.pdf
41 “I will place the discussion at the doctrinal level: ‘Do you agree with the great encyclicals of all the popes who preceded you? Do you agree with Quanta Cura of Pius IX, Immortale Dei and Libertas of Leo XIII, Pascendi Gregis of Pius X, Quas Primas of Pius XI, Humani Generis of Pius XII? Are you in full communion with these Popes and their teachings? Do you still accept the entire Anti-Modernist Oath? Are you in favor of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ? If you do not accept the doctrine of your predecessors, it is useless to talk! As long as you do not accept the correction of the Council, in consideration of the doctrine of these Popes, your predecessors, no dialogue is possible. It is useless.” Fideliter, November/December (1988).
42 In this regard, one marvels to read in the “Letter of the General Counsel to the Three Bishops” the latter being upbraided for their alleged lack of faith in the Church, (i.e., that Rome will ever convert back to the true Faith), while in the very same letter, Bishop Fellay says we must be “realistic” (“To require that we wait until everything is regulated before reaching what you call a practical agreement is not realistic.”).
43 A term invented by the Hispanic Resistance to describe SSPX proponents of a merely practical accord with unconverted Rome.
45 “These conditions [= the prior conversion of Rome] are ideal but unrealistic.” http://www.therecusant.com/fr-pfluger-jan14
In fairness to Fr. Pfluger, I should mention that he has denied, in private correspondence, the veracity of the notes of these conferences, which subsequently emerged on the internet. Upon further inquiry, he declined to specify in what respect the “Notes” (as they have come to be known) were inaccurate. Given that the “Notes” were the combined common denominator of several SSPX brothers, it is impossible to accept that they are a total fabrication. More reasonable is it to accept that Fr. Pfluger was using mental reservation to save himself from the charge of dishonesty (i.e., He could have found something in the “Notes” which was not 100% accurate, and used it to honestly make the denial he did), while on the other hand, the “Notes” provided by the brothers are nevertheless largely accurate.
48 http://la.revue.item.free.fr/interview aulagnier wanderer anglais.htm
For the sake of brevity, I had originally intended to publish this article in a series of installments, the first of which appeared back on November 17, 2016.[i] However, because of the passage of time, the interruption of the previous Sodalitium Pianum blog platform, and the widening scope of subject matter incorporated into the article since that time, I have decided, for the convenience of the reader, to merge the various installments into a single cohesive article, which you will find below. Initially appearing in its entirety within the the Ipsa Conteret newsletter (now no longer available), it is reproduced here simply for archiving purposes in its original format.
On November 7, the Rorate Coeli blog posted an interview of Bishop Fellay by diocesan priest (Fr. Kevin Cusick, of the Archdiocese of Washington), on the occasion of the blessing of the new SSPX seminary in Dillwyn, Virginia.[ii] Not surprisingly, most of the Resistance commentary centered on this excerpt:
“I asked the bishop if he had good news to share about the status of the personal prelature rumored to be on offer in Rome in order to integrate the Society fully and permanently into the life of the universal Church. The bishop described the current arrangements as “almost ready” and one of “fine tuning”, his demeanor and expression exuding confidence and serenity. When I asked if the situation was one merely for prayer he was very quick to assert that developments in the canonical proceedings had progressed beyond that point. But, he said, “the problem is not there” but with the matter of Vatican II.”[iii]
Certainly, this passage is worthy of attention for many reasons:
In letting the priest’s comment slide about a hopeful future integration of the SSPX into the universal Church, Bishop Fellay seems to have bought into the new ecclesiology of Vatican II, which features communion by various degrees, rather than the traditional “in or out” membership of Pius XII and Mystici Corporis Christii, et al.
Bishop Fellay seems not to believe –despite his words to the contrary- that he is already fully part of the Catholic Church. Were it otherwise, canonical recognition could not be for him the urgent issue it so obviously is. He feels himself and the SSPX to be defective in some way; he believes that the SSPX suffers not merely from the appearance of illegality, but from illegality properly speaking;
Insofar as Bishop Fellay admits that the canonical proceedings have advanced beyond the need for prayer, while simultaneously acknowledging the doctrinal problems remain with regard to Vatican II, it seems that the canonical proceedings have eclipsed the doctrinal considerations; that these doctrinal discussions are really just negotiations in search of verbiage acceptable to both sides (which would represent a very large victory for the Vatican, and a catastrophic loss for the SSPX and the Church.[iv]
Regarding these doctrinal considerations, while the Resistance media has focused commentary on the passage quoted, it seems to have omitted commentary on what I consider Bishop Fellay’s single most significant comment in the interview:
“We must arrive at a point where one can “disagree and still be a Catholic” when it comes to the mentioned points of Vatican II at issue.”[v]
And what are these “mentioned points of Vatican II?
Well, a few paragraphs prior, Fr. Cusick reveals Bishop Fellay’s thoughts on the matter:
“He went on to elaborate, however, that the documents of Vatican II are at issue, a matter with which many readers are already aware, the remaining sticking points being those documents treating religious liberty, ecumenism and reform of the liturgy. The Society has been very firm and consistent over the years that these teachings are incompatible with the integral tradition of the Church.”[vi]
There is some incoherence here, because just after informing Fr. Cusick that the SSPX has always “been very firm and consistent over the years that these teachings are incompatible with the integral tradition of the Church,” Bishop Fellay nevertheless states the need to “arrive at a point where one can ‘disagree and still be Catholic’ when it comes to the mentioned points of Vatican II at issue!”
My friends, they have a name for this willingness to “agree to disagree” on essential matters of the Faith:
Its called “doctrinal pluralism.”
Yet doctrinal pluralism is so clearly contrary to the faith, that no Catholic may presume to accept it. Doctrinal pluralism is synonymous with religious indifferentism (which is itself a rejection of the idea of one true Church instituted by God, and membership in which is necessary for salvation). In presenting itself to the world as a tolerant posture recognizing the (alleged) good in all religions, it is in fact a Masonic artifice derived from the rejection of them all (i.e., naturalism):
If all religions are false, then what principled objection can there be to a co-existence of competing beliefs, (and all the more so within the same confession)? In that case, why not just be “nice?”
And if it is true that a certain pluralism can exist in matters liturgical (e.g., the different approved rites of the Church) or canonical (e.g., different codes of canon law for the Latins and Orientals), it is absolutely prohibited in the domain of doctrine, in instances where the Church has already spoken to settle the matter (as is the case with regard to the ecumenism and religious liberty mentioned by Bishop Fellay), and for obvious reasons:
Not only would a freedom of opinion in decided matters of doctrine present a rupture of the unity of faith within the universal Church, but it would also represent an implicit attack upon the teaching authority of Peter (and therefore of the dogma of Papal Primacy): “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”[vii]
What Bishop Fellay Used to Tell Us:
Bishop Fellay used to recognize and oppose (at least outwardly, and/or seemingly) this idea of doctrinal pluralism in the Church:
“The authorities see there is a crisis, but they don’t want to use the right means to solve it. We are still here. I might say, we are stuck here! Currently, there is no conviction that tradition is the right way. They see the fruits; they even say the fruits are good! They say the Holy Ghost is there! (Not too bad!) But, they don’t say, “That’s the way to go.” Instead, they say, “Tradition is a way amongst other ways.”
Their perspective is pluralism. Their thinking goes something like this:
Oh, look, if we have progressive people who do silly things as members of the Church, then we should also have a place for those who like tradition – a place in the middle of this circus, of this zoo, a place for dinosaurs and the prehistoric animals
– that’s our place(!) – “But just stay in your zoo cage,” they will train us…”[viii]
Almost two years later, Bishop Fellay was still condemning doctrinal pluralism:
“I think Rome’s friendliness towards us is because of its ecumenical mentality. It is certainly not because Rome is now saying to us, “Of course, you are right; let’s go.” No, that is not the way Rome thinks about us. The idea they have is another one. The idea is an ecumenical one. It is the idea of pluricity, pluriformity.
Zoo cage Catholicism
To illustrate this ecclesiastical pluralism, I use the analogy of a zoo. Up until the time of the Second Vatican Council, there was only one species of member in the Catholic Church – genuine Catholics. If somebody did not want to be a Catholic, if someone wanted to teach something else than what the Church taught, he was excommunicated. However, if you read the theology books published since the Council, you can almost say and think anything you want and still be in good standing. At the Council itself there was a general will to broaden the limits – the borders – of the Church.”[ix]
What a different position Bishop Fellay seems to take in the new interview!
The apparent metamorphosis is all the more striking when one stops to consider that the acceptance of doctrinal pluralism evinces an even greater evolution of position in the SSPX than had it “merely” accepted Benedict XVI’s “hermeneutic of continuity,” because in the latter, one agrees to pretend there is no contradiction, but in the former, one openly recognizes and accepts the existence of doctrinal contradiction (i.e., the acceptability of mutually exclusive doctrines somehow artificially co-existing within the same religion).[x]
But the idea is not only a violation and attack upon the unity of the Church (which must always be united in the one true faith), but even an attack upon sound reason, in violation of the principle of non-contradiction (i.e., Two contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense).
Taken to its logical conclusion, violation of this principle would imply the entire world could be incorporated into the Catholic Church without any doctrinal conversion:
If the necessity and unity of faith is replaced by doctrinal pluralism, then what keeps the Pope from recognizing the Dalai Llama as “Catholic,” if all that is truly required is legal recognition?
In fact, Bishop Fellay acknowledged this consequence of doctrinal pluralism for the Church in the same interview just cited, when he observed:
“This idea of broadening the Church’s borders, of putting everybody in, allows Cardinal Kasper to say what he said in L’Osservatore Romano: “The Orthodox, as they have all the means of salvation, do not need to convert.” He says it black on white. You have others like Mother Teresa, who said that the important thing for a Buddhist is to be a good Buddhist. Okay, so be a good Buddhist, or a good Hindu, or a good Muslim, and everybody goes to heaven.”[xi]
And how did Bishop Fellay react to Rome’s plan to carve out a cage for the SSPX in the pluralist zoo?
“But if this is the new concept of the Church, then why not grant a little cage to the dinosaurs? If you already have all the birds and all kinds of animals, why not have a little place for the “fossils” which they think us to be? There is a condition, though: the dinosaurs have to stay in their cage. Imagine crocodiles or dinosaurs all over the zoo! Never!…So we come to them and we say, “Well, we are sorry, but there is no zoo.” The Catholic Church is not a zoo. This comparison may show you how deep is the difference of vision.”[xii]
Yet 12 years later, Bishop Fellay can openly declare (apparently without adverse reaction from his clergy or parishioners?) that:
“We must arrive at a point where one can disagree and still be a Catholic when it comes to the mentioned points of Vatican II [religious liberty, ecumenism, liturgical reform] at issue.”[xiii]
That statement would appear to be a complete contradiction of his previous position, and a wholly unacceptable position for any Catholic to profess.
How does one account for such an apparent evolution in the Superior General?
One possibility is that there really never was any true evolution at all; that while the rank and file SSPX clergy and laity were led to understand Bishop Fellay as being opposed to a juridical recognition before Rome converted back to the Faith (among other reasons, because of the problem of doctrinal pluralism), the bishop himself never really viewed doctrinal pluralism as an impediment to the juridical recognition of the SSPX.
In the pages that follow, we will supply the evidence in support of this thesis.
Compiling the Evidence:
In constructing our argument, we will rely upon the following evidence in support of our thesis that Bishop Fellay never truly viewed the implicit acceptance of doctrinal pluralism as an impediment toward the juridical recognition of the SSPX:
Our method, therefore, will be the cumulative presentation of evidence, none of which may be definitive in proving our point when considered in isolation, univocally, or individually, but which evidences, considered en masse, will present such overpowering indications that Bishop Fellay has made peace with doctrinal pluralism, that our conclusion will not be disputed by any objective and reasonable reader, which is this:
That, to whatever degree doctrinal pluralism may be odious to Bishop Fellay personally (or to the Catholic Church itself), it was never going to be permitted to stand as an obstacle to a juridical recognition of the SSPX, regardless of whatever the SSPX had said on that matter in the past, and without reference to the objective consequences this implicit acceptance has for the unity of the doctrine of the faith, and the common good of the SSPX, and the future recovery of the Church at large.
An agreement struck upon such a basis, then, becomes simple theological gamesmanship: A matter of “finding the right words.”
Ambiguous Quotes of Bishop Fellay Regarding Doctrinal Pluralism:
In Section II above, we supplied quotes of Bishop Fellay which seemed to indicate a rejection of any agreement based upon the principle of doctrinal pluralism. In this section we return to analyze Bishop Fellay’s words on this subject a bit more closely.
On December 9, 2002, Bishop Fellay gave a conference in Kansas City on SSPX relations with Rome.[xiv] He spoke of Rome’s desire to create a pluralist “zoo” as a solution to the juridical problem for the SSPX with these words:
“But, they don’t say, “That’s the way to go.” Instead, they say, “Tradition is a way amongst other ways.” Their perspective is pluralism. Their thinking goes something like this: Oh, look, if we have progressive people who do silly things as members of the Church, then we should also have a place for those who like tradition – a place in the middle of this circus, of this zoo, a place for dinosaurs and the prehistoric animals – that’s our place(!) – “But just stay in your zoo cage,” they will train us,
You can get your food – the Old Mass; that’s for the dinosaurs, but only for the dinosaurs. Don’t give that food to the other zoo animals; they would be killed!
That is why we cannot reconcile where this mentality is prevalent.”[xv]
Sounds like a pretty clear condemnation of doctrinal pluralism, right? And in fact, I have used it as evidence of such in other writings (e.g., Where I have pointed certain apparent contradictions between Bishop Fellay’s current and past positions in this regard).
The problem is that, upon closer inspection, this seeming rejection of pluralism is limited to liturgical pluralism. It is the reader himself –not any words supplied by Bishop Fellay- who must logically expand that condemnation of liturgical pluralism to extend to doctrinal pluralism generally. But you will not find that expansion anywhere in Bishop Fellay’s conference itself.
Have I misread or exaggerated the quote (i.e., “That Bishop Fellay was only giving an example of pluralism in the liturgical domain, does not mean he was accepting of it in the doctrinal domain.”)?
Well, hold that thought for a moment, and fast-forward to another conference given by Bishop Fellay less than two years later, when in November/2004 (at the same venue), he returns to the subject of pluralism.[xvi] After beginning this section of his talk by briefly comparing/contrasting the pre-Vatican II doctrinal unity with post-conciliar pluralism,[xvii] Bishop Fellay begins to speak of pluralism and negotiations with Rome (which is once again reduced or confined to a matter of liturgical pluralism):
“So the Tridentine Mass for everybody? – No! For the dinosaurs in their little cage? – Fine. So when Rome comes to us with a big smile, that is their ulterior motive. That is, we grant you a place, but you must stay very quiet there and not move. So we come to them and we say, “Well, we are sorry, but there is no zoo.” The Catholic Church is not a zoo.”[xviii]
Hence, the rejection of pluralism is again situated within the context of liturgical pluralism, not doctrinal.
Let us also take a look at a third statement attributed to Bishop Fellay, which seems to reinforce the idea of Bishop Fellay’s openness to doctrinal pluralism:
In February/2013, the French La Sapiniere blog published a bombshell “Open Letter to Bishop Fellay from Thirty-Seven French Priests,”[xix] which was subsequently translated into English by The Recusant.[xx] In the course of revealing many previously unknown and scandalous comments of Bishop Fellay and the General Council (i.e., Frs. Pfluger and Nely), the letter says of Bishop Fellay:
“You said in front of the [SSPX] priors of France: ‘I am tired of arguments over words.’”[xxi]
I have never seen the factual veracity of this damning allegation contested by Menzingen, and it certainly could not be for lack of knowledge of its existence: Fr. Daniel Thiemann explicitly references the “Letter of Thirty-Seven French Priests” in the Q&A section of his famous 2013 “Resistance to What?” conference in St. Mary’s, Kansas (attacking its credibility for anonymity and questioning the actual number of signatories, but having very little to say regarding its substance, and nothing on this particular point).[xxii]
If therefore Bishop Fellay is battle weary, and “tired of arguments over words,” it would certainly suggest an openness to doctrinal pluralism (or at least a determination not to permit that consideration present an obstacle to the attainment of juridical recognition). In fact, the “Open Letter” cites corroborative evidence of this in the form of quotes by Fr. Pfluger and Fr. Nely (1st and 2nd Assistants to the Superior General) to this effect (with the former being “shaken” by the failure of the doctrinal discussions, and the latter commenting to one of the Society negotiators that he could have fudged the lines a bit to come to the desired result).[xxiii]
The same “Open Letter” alleges:
“Another Capitulant [2012 General Chapter member] said to a colleague: “It is necessary to recognize that the Chapter failed. Today it is okay to have a liberated Society inside the Conciliar Church. I was devastated by the level of reflection of some Chapter members.”[xxiv]
Surely, this passage can be attacked as hearsay, and for its anonymity. And yet it has the ring of truth, insofar as it matches the situation of the SSPX today, being gradually and incrementally regularized in exchange for so many concessions made.[xxv]
And more damning than all of this, and prima facie evidence of the very allegation we are endeavoring to prove, is the undisputed fact of Bishop Fellay’s willingness to accept a practical accord from unconverted Rome today: If he has determined to accept juridical approval by a magisterium mired in modernism and condemned doctrines, than he has determined the acceptability of “co-existing” with the other animals in the “zoo.”
His previous writings evince an awareness of the problem of doctrinal pluralism, and his present actions (for a good many years now) evince a willingness to proceed despite it.
Thus, the careful reader must situate Bishop Fellay’s Dillwyn, VA comment that “we arrive at a point where one can disagree and still be a Catholic when it comes to the mentioned points of Vatican II [religious liberty and ecumenism] within the context of his earlier comments cited above, to come to the conclusion that not only does Bishop Felay not object to doctrinal pluralism today, as he ought, but that he never has.
In this, Bishop Fellay is manifesting the hallmark symptom of the liberal mind: The willingness to tolerate mutually exclusive doctrinal propositions simultaneously.
Bishop Fellay’s Support of the GREC Initiative:
On February 14, 2009, Fr. Jean of the traditional Morgon (France) Capuchins drafted a letter to Bishop Fellay which, among many other remarkable features, exposed for the first time to the general public, the existence of the Groupe de réflexion entre catholiques, more commonly known by its acronym: GREC. This letter eventually made its way to the folks at “Tradition in Action,” who subsequently translated the letter into English.[xxvi]
The GREC was (is?) a collaborative effort of conciliar, Roman, and SSPX clergy and lay members dedicated to finding a political solution to the canonical status of the SSPX:
“GREC was started in 1997 at the initiative of Huguette Pérol, widow of the ambassador of France to Italy Gilbert Pérol.
For twelve years, the group met monthly, inviting various speakers and organizing a much-noted 2003 colloquium on the theme “Tradition and Modernity”.
As Fr. Michel Lelong (conciliar GREC member) writes in his 2011 book “Towards a Necessary Reconciliation,”
“Two other priests contributed decisively to the creation and life of our Catholic think tank. One of them who has since returned to God was the Dominican, Fr. Olivier de La Brosse, the other, Fr. Lorans of the SSPX. I got to know them in 1997 during a dinner to which we had been invited by Mrs. Pérol. On that day GREC was born.”[xxviii]
Fr. LeLong also mentions other SSPX collaborators as Fr. Emmanuel le Chalard, and Bishop Fellay himself (who was kept abreast of developments by Fr. Lorans[xxix]), and later, Fr. Gregoire Celier,[xxx] and the SSPX’s unofficial lay spokesman, Mr. Jacques-Regis du Cray,[xxxi] et al.[xxxii]
What was to be the method?
According to the review of Fr. LeLong’s book by “Gentiloup:”
“The GREC “think tank” was founded in 1997 with the goal to integrate SSPX with Modernist Rome… GREC’s goal is not ambiguous. It is clearly defined throughout the book by different protagonists as being “Interpreting Vatican II in the light of Tradition,” according to the formula John-Paul II gave to Archbishop Lefebvre in 1978… The ‘Charter’ of the group was defined by Mr. Pérol shortly before his death: it is “to interpret Vatican II in light of Tradition,” which Benedict XVI himself calls the Hermeneutic of Continuity, in opposition to the Hermeneutic of Rupture as Archbishop Lefebvre ruefully observed at the end of his long quest to reach a tentative agreement with the Conciliar Church.[xxxiii]
While it is interesting to note that the GREC only placed itself in a state of abeyance (i.e., a temporary suspension), which strongly suggests such abeyance was lifted in 2011 with the conclusion of the doctrinal discussions,[xxxiv] and equally interesting to recall that all during this period (1997-2009), Bishop Fellay was telling the world there could be no practical accord with unconverted Rome (a principle which even manifested itself in the 2006 SSPX General Chapter Declaration[xxxv]), even as he endorsed and promoted the GREC initiative toward that end from the beginning, evincing thereby a stunning duplicity of character (!), these observations have been dealt with elsewhere, and are not directly on point.
What is directly relevant to our thesis is that, in offering his support and encouragement to the GREC initiative, which had as its goal a practical accord –not a doctrinal conversion in Rome (which is itself clear and unambiguous evidence of the acceptance of doctrinal pluralism) – Bishop Fellay was accepting JPII’s 1978 “hermeneutic of continuity” (i.e., Interpreting the conciliar and post-conciliar aberrations “in the light of Tradition”) as the means by which the SSPX’s juridical issue could be resolved.
But in doing so, he was only accepting a disguised doctrinal pluralism. An overt acceptance of doctrinal pluralism was much too overt to escape notice and raise alarms within the society.
And there can be no doubt as to the fact of Bishop Fellay’s acceptance of the hermeneutic, insofar as he signed the AFD, which contained this clause:
“The affirmations of the Second Vatican Council and of the later Pontifical Magisterium relating to the relationship between the Church and the non-Catholic Christian confessions, as well as the social duty of religion and the right to religious liberty, whose formulation is with difficulty reconcilable with prior doctrinal affirmations from the Magisterium, must be understood in the light of the whole, uninterrupted Tradition, in a manner coherent with the truths previously taught by the Magisterium of the Church, without accepting any interpretation of these affirmations whatsoever that would expose Catholic doctrine to opposition or rupture with Tradition and with this Magisterium.”[xxxvi]
Unpacking this hermeneutic of John Paul II, which the GREC has fastened upon as the “solution” to the Society’s canonical problem, is Bishop Williamson (paraphrased):
“Some players have blue uniforms, and some players have green uniforms. Nevertheless, all players having green uniforms shall be interpreted as having blue uniforms.”[xxxvii]
In this way, the violation of the principle of non-contradiction is subjectively averted, but not objectively. Objectively, this dishonest method robs words of objective meaning and signification; it is self-imposed delusion and insanity.
And for what end?
Answer: It is a game that is played, allowing both sides to maintain their contradictory positions: To each other, they will say they have reached an agreement; to their own people, they will say they have not capitulated. But there is a punishment for this kind of trickery; an inherent curse which attaches itself to all who live this kind of lie, and which is often quoted by Bishop Williamson:
“Those who do not act as they believe, will end by believing as they act.”[xxxviii]
This is the key to understanding the “internal dynamism” of reconciliation which Fr. Cottier explained impacts all who go this route with Rome, following upon his conquest of Campos:
“Many Lefebvrists maintain that “our” Paul VI Mass is not valid. At least now this group will not be able to think such a thing. Little by little we must expect other steps: for example, that they also participate in concelebrations in the reformed rite. However, we must not be in a hurry. What is important is that in their hearts there no longer be rejection. Communion found again in the Church has an internal dynamism of its own that will mature.[xxxix]
Why does the internal dynamism of reconciliation “mature?”
Because having already moved from a position of certitude to doubt, and then again from doubt to reconciliation (via this dishonest hermeneutic, which makes of all who consent to use it double-talkers), the ego has lost itself, and floating in a dazed and confused state, ends up concluding, “I guess we don’t really disagree at all.”
The process of reconciliation is finally concluded at this point.
What is to be retained for the purposes of this article, is that Bishop Fellay’s willingness to participate in GREC placed the practical solution ahead of doctrinal considerations; it agreed to disagree on the doctrinal question, and in doing so, embraced pluralism.
I have just showed you how that matter will conclude in the end.
The Resumption of Talks with Rome in the Wake of the Failed Doctrinal Discussions:
Shortly after the doctrinal discussions between Roman and SSPX theologians regarding disputed points of Vatican II began in 2009, Bishop de Galarreta gave a sermon at the seminary in La Reja, Argentina, which was no doubt designed to address concerns among the laity, who were in the initial stages of doubting the point and purpose of these “discussions:
The SSPX had made a pilgrimage to Rome in 2000, which represented the first public manifestation of a willingness to come to a practical accord, per the GREC model (though none knew it at the time); a tainted motu proprio in 2007 declated the traditional Latin Mass had never been abrogated (but nevertheless went on to abrogate it, and also degrade it by subordinating it to the Novus Ordo); the “excommunications” of the four SSPX bishops were “lifted,” not declared null (an implicit admission by the SSPX and Rome that they were valid), while the “excommunications of Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer were left in place).
Meanwhile, Bishop Williamson had been sequestered indefinitely, and (so it was thought at the time) removed as an obstacle to the doctrinal discussions and an eventual practical accord.
Developments seemed to be following a conscious process.
Would the doctrinal discussions simply be a rubber stamp to an agreement already decided upon?
To pre-empt or calm these budding concerns, Bishop de Galarreta stated:
“Everything is being recorded by their side and by ours, and it is also being filmed. So, though for obvious reasons we cannot relate everything that we are saying and studying, everything will be documented: there will be a testimony that is written, recorded, and filmed—before you, before the Church, before God.”[xl]
Leaving aside the fact that not a word of these negotiations has ever been released to the public, despite Bishop de Galarreta’s assurances (which makes the honesty of them suspect), there was never any hope that such discussions would ever bear fruit, without the conversion of one side or the other, as they held mutually exclusive positions: Either Dignitatis Humanae is, or is not, compatible with the teachings of the pre-Conciliar magisterium; etc.
As Bishop Williamson said in an interview with Mr. Pierre Panet regarding these discussions (at about the same time Bishop de Galarreta was giving his assurances):
“I think that will end up as a dialogue of the deaf. The two positions are absolutely irreconcilable. 2+2=4 and 2+2=5 are irreconcilable. Either those who say 2+2=4 renounce the truth and agree that 2+2=5 — that is, the SSPX abandons the truth, which God forbids us to do — or those who say 2+2=5 convert and return to the truth. Or the two meet halfway and say that 2+2=4-1/2. That’s wrong. Either the SSPX becomes a traitor or Rome converts or it’s a dialogue of the deaf.”[xli]
Nothing could be more obvious.
Yet, Fr. Pfluger was “shaken” by the failure of the doctrinal discussions, and Fr. Nely complained that the SSPX’s theologians were “too closed up” during the discussions.[xlii]
This suggests that their hopes were not disappointed by failure of the SSPX theologians to convert their Roman adversaries, but rather, that the highest authorities of the Society were willing to go beyond “mere” doctrinal pluralism (you believe what you believe, and we will believe what we believe), and actually compromise their own doctrinal position itself.
Minimally, it evinces a hope that “the right words” would have been found to allow Rome to declare that the SSPX had accepted Vatican II, while Menzingen could declare it had retained its opposition to the conciliar errors. Which is to say, Menzingen hoped equivocation and ambiguity (the same tactics used at Vatican II) could have been implemented to reach such a result.[xliii]
Not to be deterred by the failed doctrinal discussions, Menzingen mobilized to plow ahead towards a practical accord with unconverted Rome. It called a meeting of all major superiors (sans Bishop Williamson, of course) in late 2011 to discuss what at that time was being called the “doctrinal preamble” (and later known as the Doctrinal Declaration), which would later be shown to include all the ambiguities and equivocations the General Council had hoped would have been agreed upon during the doctrinal discussions.
The salient point is this: The doctrinal discussions had completely failed to bring the Romans around to sound doctrine, but this did not dissuade Bishop Fellay from plowing ahead towards a juridical accord. But it was not a dialogue of the deaf after all:
Menzingen had compromised.
It consented implicitly to the heterodox principle of doctrinal pluralism: We will each continue to believe what we believe, and find the right words to satisfy both sides. But in reality, by adopting this “practical” principle of action, the SSPX had morphed from doctrinal intransigence, to doctrinal pluralism, and agreed to take its place in the pluralist conciliar religion, alongside the other “flavors” of “Catholicism.”[xliv]
Nothing says it better than this statement distributed by Bishop de Galarreta at the October/2011 meeting of major superiors in Albano, Italy:
“But we have just seen in doctrinal discussions what is their design: pure modernism revised and corrected. In particular there will be implied that we would accept three principles implicitly:
Relativism of truth, even dogmatic, need for pluralism in the Church. For them we have the experience and charisma of Tradition, good and useful to the Church, but only partial truth. Their system and modernist dialectic (claiming the contrary) allows them to integrate us in the name of “unity in diversity”, as a positive and necessary element, provided we are in full communion (obedience to authority and respect for others and ecclesial realities) and that we remain open to dialogue, always looking for the truth. Proof of this is that they are ready to accept after the statement, both sides, a doctrinal opposition to faith – real and essential. How implicitly accept this principle, by explicit integration in their system and the official interpretation they give, then it is the foundation of modernism and is destructive of all natural and supernatural truth? It is accepting the relativism of Tradition, the only true faith.”[xlv]
That Bishop Fellay brushed off these concerns, and proceeded towards signing the Doctrinal Declaration a few months later, is perhaps the strongest evidence of his acceptance of doctrinal pluralism: Actions speak louder than words.
The next time you hear someone claim that the SSPX is being “accepted as it is,” understand it is a lie. In accepting doctrinal pluralism, the Society is accepting the foundational principle of liberalism and ecumenism; it is accepting the Masonic “tolerance” preached by Voltaire; it is accepting the religious liberty of Dignitatis Humanae.[xlvi]
The Society might not like to be told this, but neither can it deny it.
The April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration:
In the spring of 2012, a letter of Bishops de Galarreta, Tissier de Mallerais, and Williamson was written to the SSPX General Counsel (Bishop Fellay, Fr. Pfluger, and Fr. Nely), and was subsequently “leaked” to the internet, in what has since become known simply as “The Letter of the Three Bishops.” The letter was a compilation of concerns and objections to the General Council signing of a practical accord with unconverted Rome. Among the many objections contained in the Letter was the following:
“But, some will say to us, Benedict XVI is really well disposed towards the Society and its teaching. As a subjectivist this can easily be the case, because liberals subjectivists can tolerate even the truth, but not if one refuses to tolerate error. He would accept us within the framework of relativistic and dialectical pluralism, with the proviso that we would remain in “full communion,” in relation to the authority and to other “ecclesiastical entities.” For this reason the Roman authorities can tolerate that the Society continue to teach Catholic doctrine, but they will absolutely not permit that it condemn Counciliar teachings. That is why an even purely practical agreement would necessarily silence little by little the Society, a full critique of the Council or the New Mass. By ceasing to attack the most important of all the victories of the Revolution, the poor Society would necessarily cease being opposed to the universal apostasy of our sad times and would get bogged down.”[xlvii]
These three bishops understood that the acceptance of the Doctrinal Declaration was the acceptance of doctrinal pluralism, and that a merely practical accord would be disastrous for the faith of the Society and the entire Church.[xlviii] They also obviously understood the process of “internal dynamism” which would “mature,” as a consequence for entering into pluralism (as evinced by the last three sentences of the quote provided above).
Had not Fr. Cottier already exposed the plan and the process to plain view after his conquest of Campos?
“Little by little we must expect other steps: for example, that they also participate in concelebrations in the reformed rite. However, we must not be in a hurry. What is important is that in their hearts there no longer be rejection. Communion found again in the Church has an internal dynamism of its own that will mature.”[xlix]
The advice of the three bishops was quickly repudiated by Menzingen, which argued (among many other astonishing arguments) that:
“If the pope expresses a legitimate will concerning us which is good and which does not order anything contrary to the commandments of God, have we the right to neglect or to dismiss this will?”[l]
Had the process of “internal dynamism” “matured” to such a point already in 2012 (at least among the General Counsel of the SSPX) that they could not see that the acceptance of the doctrinal pluralism which the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration imposed under the disguise of the “hermeneutic” (which allows each side to maintain its own position, initially, at least) was in fact the very order “contrary to the commandments of God” they claimed not to see?
Could they not perceive how roundly it contradicted St. Paul’s injunction to the Ephesians:
“One body and one Spirit; as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”[li]
But with the signing of the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration only one day after having received the Letter of the Three Bishops (A letter which the response from the General Council said had caused them to accept a deal without further delay!), it was clear that Menzingen undervalued the concern about doctrinal pluralism, and was perfectly willing to represent but one more flavor of Catholicism in the conciliar pantheon.
By June of 2012, the “reconciliation” process of the SSPX was already in shambles. Though Bishop Fellay had survived the General Chapter that same month (with a little help from Rome[lii]), he wrote a letter to Benedict XVI, stating:
“I must admit to no longer knowing what to think. I had believed that you were disposed to leave till a later date the resolution of outstanding disagreements over certain points of the Council and liturgical reform, rather like when the Council of Florence, in order to achieve union, overlooked the question of the Greeks allowing divorce following adultery, and I committed myself in this perspective despite the fairly strong opposition in the ranks of the Society and at the price of substantial disruption. And I fully intend to continue to do my best to pursue this path to reach the necessary clarifications.”[liii]
Some might argue that this statement of Bishop Fellay does not evince a willingness to enter into doctrinal pluralism, but rather that it simply means what it says: That the doctrinal questions between the SSPX and Rome would be worked out later (Just as Rome had proposed to do in the case of the Orthodox in the example cited by the bishop), not that we would “agree to disagree.” The problem with that argument is that it ignores the fact that, in making that offer to the Orthodox, it always considered that, eventually, the Orthodox would have to consent to accept Catholic doctrine regarding marriage/divorce. In making that analogy, therefore, one must allow that Bishop Fellay will eventually be expected to consent to the Conciliar doctrines.
That Rome has stated this explicitly (numerous times) shows the correctness of this interpretation: Either the statement of Bishop Fellay evinces a willingness to enter into doctrinal pluralism, or, it evinces something even worse (i.e., pluralism as a segue to total capitulation). We already know from Fr. Cottier (now Cardinal Cottier) above precisely how Rome anticipates and wills things to evolve in this regard.
When Bishop Fellay said that we must arrive at a point where one can disagree and still be a Catholic when it comes to the mentioned points of Vatican II at issue (religious liberty, ecumenism, and collegiality), the comment was overshadowed by other parts of Fr. Cusick’s interview.
It shouldn’t have been.
The statement as it stands is an endorsement of doctrinal pluralism.
To show that the statement was not taken out of context, or pre-empted by previous comments of Bishop Fellay seemingly contradicting and repudiating the notion of doctrinal pluralism, we took a closer look at some of those statements, to show that in fact such statements may not have been what they first appeared. We then corroborated this new reading of Bishop Fellay’s statements by stepping back to take a broader view of Bishop Fellay’s actions regarding a practical accord during his tenure which seemed to support our conclusion: His support of the GREC; his willingness to resume discussions regarding a practical accord with Rome in the wake of the failed 2009-2011 doctrinal discussions; his signing of the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration; his letter to Pope Benedict XVI.
In each of these actions, we demonstrated how they implied an acceptance of doctrinal pluralism, thereby supporting our thesis, which we restate here:
The evidence tends to show that doctrinal pluralism was never truly an impediment in the mind of Bishop Fellay towards a practical accord with Rome.
We leave the reader with this parting thought from Archbishop Lefebvre on the inevitable consequences of accepting doctrinal pluralism:
“The Pope desires unity outside the faith. It is a communion. Communion with whom? What? What? It is no longer a unity. This can be done only in the unity of the faith. This is what the Church has always taught. Why there were the missionaries, to convert to the Catholic faith. Now you must not convert. The Church is no longer a hierarchical society, it is a communion. Everything is distorted. It is the destruction of one notion of the Church, Catholicism. This is very serious and this explains why many are Catholics who abandon the faith.”[liv]
Did you catch that? A unity in government, but not in faith/doctrine, implies the whole religion is false, and causes the loss of faith for many who will come to the realization that religion is nothing more than theological gamesmanship.
But for those who have been given, and not forfeited, the grace of faith, an acceptance of a pluralistic solution is anathema. It would mean the voluntarily surrendering of your faith to a process of dissolution (even if you desired to retain it); to the relentless process of “internal dynamism” which is only fully “mature” when you have reached apostasy.
It happened to Rome.
It will happen to those Rome converts.
[iv] Because the SSPX will have regressed from its former doctrinal intransigence and clarity, to a state of doctrinal ambiguity, as in fact was the case with the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration.
[vii] Ephesians 4:5
[x] The conciliar justification for this “unity in diversity” is the new “communion ecclesiology” of Cardinal Journet and Yves Congar at Vatican II, which found its expression and sanction in the new theology of Lumen Gentium (and later in Dominus Iesus). For an interesting article on “communion ecclesiology,” see here: http://cdn.theologicalstudies.net/58/58.3/58.3.4.pdf
[xvii] Ibid. “To illustrate this ecclesiastical pluralism, I use the analogy of a zoo. Up until the time of the Second Vatican Council, there was only one species of member in the Catholic Church – genuine Catholics. If somebody did not want to be a Catholic, if someone wanted to teach something else than what the Church taught, he was excommunicated. However, if you read the theology books published since the Council, you can almost say and think anything you want and still be in good standing. At the Council itself there was a general will to broaden the limits – the borders – of the Church.”
16 http://www.lasapiniere.info/archives/100 (Note: This blog is managed primarily by Fr. Olivier Rioult, a Resistance priest formerly of the SSPX French District).
[xxii] See here at minute 12:30 http://sspx.org/en/media/audio/resistance-what-3b-question-and-answer-1864
Regarding Fr. Pfluger: Effectually, Fr. Pfluger [the First Assistant to Bishop Fellay] says he personally suffers from the canonical irregularity of the Society. He confided to a colleague, in June of 2012, “to have been shaken by the doctrinal discussions.” At the end of his conference at Saint Joseph des Carmes, he said, in a contemptuous way, to whoever wanted to hear him: “To think that there are still some people who do not understand it is necessary to sign! [an agreement with Rome].”
Regarding Fr. Nely: Father Nély [the Second Assistant to Bishop Fellay], in April of 2012, in Toulouse, declared to twelve or so of his colleagues [SSPX priests], that “if the doctrinal relations with Rome failed, it is because our theologians were too closed-up” but he said to one of these theologians: “You could have been more incisive.”
[xxv] ablf3.com/attachments/response-to-an-sspx-pries1-pdf.197/ (See a very abridged list of 20 concessions/compromises in this article).
[xxviii] Lelong, Fr. Michel. “Towards a Necessary Reconciliation,” p. 24.
[xxix] “DICI editor Fr. Alain Lorans, one of the four founders of GREC, was the spokesman for the SSPX District of France. He immediately obtained permission from Bishop Fellay to participate in the dialogue “for a necessary reconciliation.” He was very attentive in keeping Bishop Fellay up-to-date with the progress of the dialogue.” http://www.therecusant.com/grec-book-review
[xxx] Fr. Gregoire Celier is a disturbing character. Among other things, his 2007 book “Benedict XVI and the Traditionalists” carries within it a Foreword written by Mr. Jean-Luc Maxence (a public Freemason and blasphemer). That’s two strikes against Fr. Celier: Participation in the GREC which has as its goal the reintegration of the SSPX into the conciliar church, and close friendships with the Lodge. Now given that most French politicians like Gilbert Perol (who conceived of the idea of the GREC) are in fact also Freemasons, we must be allowed to wonder whether the GREC itself is a Masonic artifice devised to conquer Archbishop Lefebvre’s Society, and eliminate the traditional Resistance. And certainly, in light of this strong evidence, we are also permitted to wonder about Fr. Celier’s connections to the Lodge, without being accused of rash judgment (which is only rash in the absence of such evidence). See also this thread on ABLF3.com: http://ablf3.com/threads/fr-gr%C3%A9goire-celier-agent-of-influence.807/
[xxxi] Jacques-Regis du Cray, in addition to his overt GREC activities, has also served Fr. Lorans in the capacity of unofficial internet monitor and SSPX spokesman, combatting Resistance arguments with the reconciliationist/GREC spin, as was recounted in Fr. Olivier Rioult’s book, “The Impossible Reconciliation.” Still active on the internet, particularly in France, but also frequently on Rorate Coeli under various pseudonyms as “Come de Previgny” and Ennemond,” Mr. du Cray presumably continues to exercise this unofficial and de facto role for the SSPX under Fr. Arnaud Rostand (successor to Fr. Lorans as SSPX Communications Director, responsible for internet communications, among other things).
[xxxiv] For evidence of the de facto resurrection of the GREC, see this article which reports on several GREC members reconvening for a colloquium much like that of 2003 mentioned above: http://sodalitium-pianum.com/g-r-e-c-reborn/ See also this thread on ABLF3.com: http://ablf3.com/threads/grec-reborn.815/
[xxxv] Likewise, the contacts made from time to time with the authorities in Rome have no other purpose than to help them embrace once again that Tradition which the Church cannot repudiate without losing her identity. The purpose is not just to benefit the Society, nor to arrive at some merely practical impossible agreement. When Tradition comes back into its own, “reconciliation will no longer be a problem, and the Church will spring back to life.” http://archives.sspx.org/superior_generals_news/2006_general_chapter/declaration_of_2006_general_chapter.htm
[xxxvii] I could not find the source for this analogy in the Eleison Comments; possibly it was in one of the many YouTube conferences/videos.
[xlii] See endnote #11
[xliii] “Ambiguity is the language of the modernist.” Pope St. Pius X in the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis.
[xliv] This observation ought to be remembered before all others, when hearing the Society claim that they are being “accepted as we are.” It is the most concrete doctrinal compromise among many pointed out elsewhere: The regression from doctrinal intransigence to doctrinal pluralism is a glaring manifestation of liberalism at the highest levels of the Society, and they are taking the whole edifice with them in the name of obedience, authority, and unity.
[xlvi] It will not suffice to rebut my comments by pointing out that by the same rationale, I am unwittingly accusing Archbishop Lefebvre of accepting doctrinal pluralism, since he too was at one time willing to accept a practical accord with unconverted Rome: All Archbishop Lefebvre’s efforts were directed to the conversion of Rome. Once he realized Rome was no longer interested in converting, and promoting Tradition, he ceased the negotiations (and declared his unwillingness to resume them until Rome came back to the Faith). Conversely, Bishop Fellay has pursued his negotiations for a practical accord on the basis of an alleged “act of justice,” and as a perceived good for the SSPX, despite Rome’s manifest hostility towards Tradition, and clear signs it has no intention of coming back to Tradition. Has not Pope Francis explicitly stated, “There is no turning back the clock?”
[xlviii] Note that since 2012, Bishops de Galarreta and Tissier de Mallerais have fallen victim to their own prognostication, even before the final consummation of the deal. Both now support the very accord they so vigorously opposed in 2012. Recall Bishop Williamson: “Those who fail to act as they believe, will end by believing as they act.” The internal dynamism of all the partial and incremental concessions and regularizations have taken their toll on these men. It would be a miracle of grace if they were able to recover.
[li] Ephesians 4: 4-5
[lii] Recall that Rome had gotten cold feet regarding the deal, having witnessed the rebellion against the deal caused by the leaking of the Letter of the Three Bishops, the reaction against the response to it by the General Counsel, and the airing on the internet of the April 15, 2012 Doctrinal Declaration, and all just before the convocation of the General Chapter. In order to help Bishop Fellay survive that Chapter as Superior General, in order to make a later attempt at an accord, Rome rejected the signed Declaration, and counter-offered a new deal which it knew Bishop Fellay must reject: The integral acceptance of Vatican II. This would create the illusion of Bishop Fellay rejecting the deal, with the result of restoring confidence among the ranks in his leadership. That in June, Bishop Fellay would still write the letter to Benedict XVI evinces he may not have been aware of this tactic.
[liv] Fideliter, #79 (p. 8)
Fr. Nicolas Pinaud, USML
Your reaction to the declaration of seven of your ten deans on Sunday, May 7, has incited me to write to you publicly because it reminds me of the facts and attitudes I had hoped to have definitively left behind since the masquerade of my ecclesiastical trial.
“You condemn and reject completely and firmly the subversive way in which this statement was circulated.”
You will describe it in detail: – Preparation in secret – selection of confreres – surprise and destabilization of superiors – taking the faithful hostage – judgment of superiors.
Your prose reminds me of that of the Secretary General in his circular of 7 March 2013:
“… a handful of priests determined to make the Brotherhood explode …” or, more recent, the words of Abbé Berteaux in his sermon of April 24, 2016, claiming the post of executioner for the Abbe Roy, who had expressed his anxiety. “Yes, I’m worried. Many priests, like me, are worried. If we have so far kept the silence, it is always in this hope that those leaders who direct us at this time can find the way, can rediscover the light.”
Will not you disagree when you so brutally overwhelm these seven deans. Seven Deans! Would the appointments be so unsound that seven revolutionaries have been invested with this function?
Do you know them?
Fr. Aldalur never ceased to show the greatest respect for Bishop Fellay, who presided over the festivities of the 25 years of his school in 2014. He reserved for him a triumphant reception in Lourdes for the pilgrimage of 2015, and also on the occasion of the pilgrimage to Le Puy in 2016. At present, he is spending all his time on the installation of the SSPX in its new Basque acquisition.
Fr. Beauvais silently submitted to his last changes without ignoring their motivation.
Fr. Camper is spending body and soul for the new installation of the FSSPX in Lyon.
Are not the Abbé France and the Abbe Legrand models of discretion and sacerdotal devotion?
Can one be more respectful and obedient than Fr. Gaudray? He is one of those who, in the past, went to Menzingen to express their concerns. At the end of my Austrian detention, he advised me to do everything to avoid leaving the SSPX. “At least let us save the appearance of unity,” he told me.
As for the Abbe de la Roque, he was one of the four theologians chosen by Bishop Fellay [to participate in the doctrinal discussion of 2009-2011 -SP], a sign of his competence and of the confidence which the Superior General displayed in him. The two Dominicans of Brignoles still remember that the Abbot de la Roque refused them Communion on the grounds that they had perjured themselves by leaving their community. Recently, questioned by Martial Bild, Fr. de la Roque recalled the rules of obedience to the Superior General, whom he defended vigorously.
Truly, all are examples of respectful submission. There is no shadow of a rebel among these confreres.
But if there is a real question that arises, it is this: How could such confreres have succeeded in publicly opposing what the superiors seek to impose on them unjustly?
The problem is not the secrecy. Secrecy, moreover, which is very relative, since the Abbe de la Roque had asked you for straightforward and clear explanations for several weeks, and had warned you that, without an answer, he would provide the explanations himself. Reading Chardonnet n ° 326 of March 2017 could not leave you of illusion on this subject:
“As far as any satire, it would be indispensable to question Pope Francis on the content of his faith, even before considering the prudential appropriateness of a canonical recognition. For it can not depend on the divine will for one to place his salvation eternal in the dependence of someone who does not profess the Catholic faith. To establish a legal unity without real unity would be a contradiction.”
These words have a price to pay!
Moreover, we learn that Fr. de la Roque had warned you of this declaration before it was made public, and had even indicated to you the names of those who subscribed to it. This allowed you time to contact each of the signatories without being able to convince a single one to renounce it. It must be noted that the argument of authority is exhausted. All that remains is the solution advocated by Fr. Berteaux:
“When there is mutiny, these are the martial laws – it is the exceptional court – it is necessary to cut in the life- we shoot on the field!”
For two and a half years, with a suppleness that had to be challenging, you endeavored to make believe that the unity of spirits reigned in the district of France. This illusion was shattered Sunday May 7, 2017.
What is the problem? It is very simple: it is the accusatory inversion of subversion. You are guilty of that of which you accuse your confreres.
Who is subversive? Not these deans who are of a measured and respectful style, but above all, Bishop Fellay and his accomplices who defend him against the evidence. You are inexcusable because you attended the 2012 Chapter. You heard it, maybe even listened to, the statement of the Fr. de Jorna.
I am wondering if servility would not be one of the major selection criteria to become District Superior?
As for the issue of subversion, it was dealt with in detail during my trial and has never been disproved to date. (Pp. 247-255).
You write: “God can not bless such an initiative whose deadly fruits are now manifesting themselves.” Are you so sure of yourself, to the point of knowing the divine judgment, in this affair? As for your “From now on”, who are you making fun of? It will be seven years since Msgr. De Galarreta warned you in Albano, you were there, that it was necessary “to close as soon as possible the ‘pandora’s box’ [negotiating for a practical accord with unconverted Rome -SP] for the good of the Brotherhood, in order to avoid the discredit and the demolition of authority, disputes and divisions, perhaps without return.”
You reproach these deans for not having had the prudence to submit their text to their superiors. We are no longer in 2012 or 2013. This invitation to trust was inaudible that it was disregarded. The Cor Unum of March 2016 acknowledged a “mistrust of our members, not only of the authorities of the official Church (!), but also to their own superiors. It seems to us that often these attitudes, somewhat desperate, from personal injury, frustration, disappointments with regard to superiors…”
Should we see in these deans, seven desperate, seven wounded, seven frustrated, seven disappointed?
Would not the pilot survey, announced in the same Cor unum, have reached its goal? For you are not unaware that the seven signatories were not the only ones informed. Tomorrow, it is not impossible that you are confronted with a declaration of priors expressing their support to the seven deans, and the day after tomorrow, confronted with a declaration of vicars in solidarity with their Priors and their deans; the day after, we should not even exclude a declaration of support from the Brothers … Are you even certain that your own house in Suresnes
Does not harbor some subversive spirit?
As long as you persist in holding as nothing the content of this declaration and to despise it as “an insignificant thing, good only to be thrown away,” you never find unity – except by expelling all the priests who maintain “that it can not the divine will to put one’s eternal salvation under one who does not profess the Catholic faith.”
Two of the superiors of communities you overwhelm without the slightest authority over them, have undoubtedly not forgotten what they heard at Menzingen, during a respectful visit of confidence: “We know there will be breakage, but we will go all the way.”
In your letter of May 10, you dare write “that the end does not justify the means. An illegitimate means can not be used to attain a good end.”
Ignorant of what your superiors are capable of? Among other means, would identity theft be a legitimate means?
A few weeks after being placed under house arrest in Jaidhof, the Abbe de Cacqueray invited me to be very careful: “They are capable of anything to destroy your reputation.” I leave it to you to identify who “they” are. But unfortunately I personally found that you yourself were not entirely innocent in this area.
There is still much to be said, but to conclude, allow me to relate some of the words you spoke at Bailly on 11 October 2014 on the occasion of the Days of Tradition. This was one of your first interventions as a superior of the district of France; It is still available on La Porte Latine (54 ’51’ ‘).
It is not a monument of ecclesiastical literature, you will agree, but nevertheless these words sums up your attitude so well as to justify saving them from oblivion:
“I beg you to believe that the Fraternity does not give up fighting … Do not listen to birds of misfortune. …
The day when the Fraternity will say to you: ‘The Council after all is not that bad.’
The day the Fraternity will tell you: ‘the new Mass if it is well celebrated, go ahead.’
On the day when she says: ‘Religious liberty has been misunderstood, we must modulate all that has been said’
So throw away the camp and abandon the Fraternity as soon as possible. But we are absolutely not there thanks to God, and I am sometimes worried about seeing some people who live in the virtual:
– ‘The Brotherhood will betray’
– Give me an example. Are your priests silent?
– ‘No, but they could’!
With that one is beautiful! You know, one day I had a parishioner who belonged to the resistance, over there (in South America) I betrothed him. One day he arrives with his fiancée, a tall fellow.
– ‘Here, I want to talk to you both’
They come before me and then I say to the fiance and his fiancée was there:
– ‘Say, I have a question for you, but please, Miss. It seems that you deceive your fiancee ‘
He becomes pale.
– ‘If, I assure you, I have heard about it it, you cheat your fiance’
The fiancé became livid.
“But finally the Abbe, why do you tell me that?”
‘I’ll tell you why?’ You see, for months, you say that my Society to which I belong is in an adulterous position, that she is about to give up the fight. Well you see it’s disagreeable that I tell you that you might be unfaithful to your fiancee. Well it is very disagreeable to me that you say without proof that my Society is on the point of abandoning the fight ‘ The poor old man, he found a little color because he realized that what I had said was just one example.
I implore you: the district must regain its unity … “
Without proof? Are you really honest or just amnesic?
Did not Bishop Fellay say that the Council was 95% acceptable?
Did not Bishop Fellay acknowledge the legitimacy of the promulgation of the new Mass? To recognize the new Mass as legitimate means that the new Mass is not bad in itself. [Note: This is not necessarily true. “Legitimate” has several meanings and is itself ambiguous, which is why Rome and Menzingen used it in the Doctrinal Declaration, so each side could apply its own meaning to satisfy its own consituents -SP]
Did not Bishop Fellay sign in his answer of April 14, 2012 to the three bishops: “In the Society, we are making the errors of the Council into ‘superheries,’ it becomes like absolute evil, worse than anything, In the same way that the liberals have dogmatized this pastoral council.”
Let us quote Fr. Pflüger, in his memorable recollection of the Brothers: “In the Creed, one does not profess that one renounces Vatican II and religious liberty! ”
Is it sufficient or do we have to multiply examples and quotations? Yesterday was your fiancé wrong to worry as your deans and others do today?
You answer the accusations of adultery against the Society of Saint Pius X by a false example of infidelity which should not convince any of your deans.
Should we not rather inquire, Father, whether you would not be a real deceived husband?
“When in 2015 the first Archbishop Lefebvre Forum disappeared from the web without a trace, it left behind a hole in the online Trad world. Someone made a rather poor attempt to fill this vacuum, but very quickly his forum became a magnet for pseudo-sedes and gossiping women, who were being made most welcome by the moderator. So I decided to try and do better, by launching ablf3.com.
Initialliy the ablf3 forum did very well, with quite a few people making a real effort to raise the bar. We had a drop in numbers when some of Fr. Pfeiffer’s cult followers were booted out because of their dishonesty, and when the other cult followers subsequently decided to leave of their own accord and gather elsewhere. But as the numbers dropped the quality of the forum went up considerably, and for a while, if I may believe the feedback I received, the forum was very useful to quite a few people.
Until a few months ago, it became clear that through lack of serious contributions the forum had become a work of mainly two regular contributors. At the same time I noticed that a certain “forum with a US postal attitude” had also experienced a drop in good quality mail and an increase in “junk mail”. From this I conclude that many serious Catholics either have switched off their computer altogether, or decided to just “go with the flow” (i.e. downstream), or at least to let others do the work.
…a few people made an attempt to unite and strengthen the Resistance by launching a newsletter, by and for the Resistance. Unfortunately, despite the positive feedback after the first issue, it turned out that once again very few people turned up for the “working bee”. And since I have no intention to follow the bad example of another newsletter, i.e. of becoming a one man show, that project with great potential has now been all but abandoned.
So I decided to stop flogging a dead horse and to turn off my computer as well.
However, quite a few people contacted me asking me…to keep fighting. Among them were a few priests, one of whom asked me to come back and to turn the forum into a blog…his advice was “what cannot be changed must be endured”, or in the words of St. Thomas More : “You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds. What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can.” And this is the reason why I started this website : to try and help others make the best of a bad situation…
With this website then I will try to collect, translate and organize whatever I believe will be useful for Traditional Catholics in general, and the Resistance priests and laity in particular. Over the coming weeks I will try and recover the best posts and articles of the ablf3 forum and make them available on this website. I am open to suggestions or requests anyone may have, and I am especially open to people wanting to lend a hand (although I won’t be holding my breath). There are plenty of ways in which others can help : from giving feedback to passing on news and even writing articles or letters. Whether many people will pitch in or not, I will try my best not to be found sitting on my behind when Our Lord returns and calls each one of us to account for our time.”
26 May, 2017