A Catechetical Refutation

A Catechetical Refutation

A Catechetical Refutation:

(Regarding Certain Objections Made to Bishop Williamson’s Comments on the Novus Ordo)
Sean Johnson
(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:

  1. There can be no contention that the author is in any way defending the New Mass, which is continuously referred to as evil;
  2. That the defense of ignorance as an exceptional cause for attendance at the Novus Ordo applies only to Conciliarists, and never to traditionalists.

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.

Semper Idem,

Sean Johnson


(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:

  • The advice Bishop Williamson gave to the woman on June 28 (as well as his subsequent explanations following therefrom in the Eleison Comments) contains no doctrinal error;
  • Quite the contrary, Bishop Williamson’s advice to this woman (as well as his subsequent statements and explanations on the subject) is in perfect harmony with the perennial doctrine of the Church;
  • Neither is there any rupture between the comments of Bishop Williamson and the traditional teachings of the SSPX or Archbishop Lefebvre on these topics;
  • Most of the confusion on these topics has been politically motivated and proliferated, while on the other hand, the elevated nature of the doctrine touching upon moral theology, sacramental theology, scholastic philosophical definitions, and pastoral prudence go well beyond the education of the average layman (and even some priests), representing a potential source of confusion even for those of goodwill.
  • That Bishop Williamson opposes the Novus Ordo Missae every bit as much in 2016 as he (or Archbishop Lefebvre) did in 1988.
  • That at worst, Bishop Williamson could be charged with a minor imprudence in choosing to tackle a complex issue publicly, which was sure to be capitalized upon (and distorted) by his adversaries, and misunderstood or confused by the simple faithful.5

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 is dangerous.

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

And again:

“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

And finally:

“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.”


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?

  1. It is obvious the immediate object upon which the will has fastened upon is simply “Mass attendance.”
  2. The will of the ignorant conciliarist does not set out to “attend the Novus Ordo Mass,” but simply to “attend Mass” (just as in Fr. Davis’s examples above, the object of the will was not immediately set upon “walking to grandma’s house,” or “praying to God,” or to “almsgiving to orphans,” but simply upon walking, praying, or almsgiving).
  1. Therefore, the italicized words are only the circumstances (e.g., where one is walking; to whom one is praying; for what purpose one gives alms), not objects of the human act, and therefore have no bearing on the intrinsic goodness or evil of these acts.
  2. So too with the object of “Mass attendance:” It is in itself a good object, and it is only by mistakenly mixing and conditioning the object with circumstances (e.g., Novus Ordo Mass attendance; Byzantine Mass attendance; etc) that one is able to declare the act evil.

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).


Anticipated Objections:

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!


1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKH6KHvJO5c

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.

6 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKH6KHvJO5c

7 http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03415d.htm

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid.

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]

12 http://tradcatknight.blogspot.com/2016/02/fr-chazal-no-cross-no-victory.html

13 Tissier de Mallerais, Bishop Bernard, “The Biography Marcel Lefebvre.” Angelus Press (2004), p. 464.

14 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKH6KHvJO5c&feature=youtu.be

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)

18 http://www.thecounciloftrent.com/ch7.htm

19 “Moral and Pastoral Theology (Vol. III: Sacraments)” by Fr. H. Davis, S.J. (Sheed & ward, 1943, p. 3)

20 https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33189

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

24 https://thedivinelamp.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/wednesday-june-22-st-thomas-aquinas-catena-aurea-on-todays-gospel-matt-715-20/

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.”

28 http://www.thecounciloftrent.com/ch7.htm

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

31 http://sspx.org/en/new-mass-legit

32 https://catholiclabor.com/spirituality-of-work/morality-usccb/intrinsic-evil/

33 St. Alphonsus Liguari, “Theologia Moralis,” n. xxxvii, with reference to 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

34 https://ronconte.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/in-roman-catholic-moral-theology-what-is-a-moral-object/

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.

40 https://repetitioestmaterstudiorum.wordpress.com/2009/11/

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 –


45 Ibid.

46 http://www.ecclesiamilitans.com/2016/04/04/declaration-of-fidelity-to-the-positions-of-the-society-of-st-piusx/

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.

51 Ibid.

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.

55 Ibid.

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

58 https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apostletters/1994/documents/hfjp-iiapl19940522ordinatio-sacerdotalis.html

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