The Priest: “The Forgotten Man of Vatican II” – Bishop Fellay…

“By celebrating the old Mass, I discovered what the priest is.”Image

Several times lately we have received this moving testimony from priests who are getting to know us. This short sentence sums up the essence of the profound mystery that has struck the Church:

  1. The Church has been in a crisis since Vatican II because the priesthood has been slighted. This is one of the fundamental elements of this crisis.
  2. One of the most decisive points for the Church’s restoration is and will be the priesthood. Of all the churchmen of the 20th century, Archbishop Lefebvre was probably the one who understood this most clearly.
  3. In founding the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, he sought nothing but the restoration of the priesthood for the sake of restoring the entire Church, and
  4. to do this by re-establishing the intimate, unsuspectedly profound link that exists between the priest and the Mass.

The priest was the forgotten man of Vatican II, as Fathers of the Council have frankly admitted. In the Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, while entire chapters were dedicated to the bishops and especially to the laity, one of the great “discoveries” of Vatican II, only a few paragraphs refer to the priest, and when they do it is to subordinate him to the bishops or to the universal priesthood of the baptized.

As early as 1971, the International Theological Commission would say: “Vatican II modified the image of the priest in two regards. The Council treated of the common priesthood of all the faithful before treating of the ministerial priesthood…. Moreover, it highlighted the place of the bishop, the center of each particular Church and member of the universal college of bishops. The place of the priest in the Church became blurred.”1

Loss of identity, an uncertain place in the Church…and yet the decree Presbyterorum Ordinis gives the same definition of the priesthood as the Council of Trent! But the context is such that another idea is put forward, that of the priest as preacher, as Martin Luther would have it, and not the priest as the one who offers the Sacrifice. This would lead Fr. Olivier, a recognized expert on the subject, to say about the crisis that befell the priesthood after the Council: “The real problem is so unusual in Catholicism that one can easily understand the instinctive blindness that has allowed a perception of the cause to be avoided: the will to be faithful to two Councils that completely diverge from each other is simply impossible.” 2

To this new presentation of the priesthood, a new Mass with an intentionally Protestant savor corresponds perfectly… The conjunction of these two elements, the definition of the priesthood and the new Mass, have sufficed to provoke the most severe crisis touching the priesthood in the Church’s entire history.

Let us say it quite simply: the priesthood has been cleverly denatured. The “president” (præesse), the “preacher” (prædicare) are indeed sacerdotal roles, but they are not the essential: this belongs to the “sacrificare” (the “sacrificer”).

Insofar as the priest has not understood that his reason for being is sacrifice, that his ordination ordains him for the offering of sacrifice, the sacrifice of Our Lord on the cross, the priest will not truly know what he is or who he is. The priest without the Mass, without sacrifice, is an eye that sees not, an ear that hears not, feet that do not walk.

The Church’s enemy will never better succeed in striking her heart, for the heart of the Church, that which communicates supernatural life to the entire Mystical Body, that which diffuses life throughout the whole organism, is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. For a Mass protestantized in the name of ecumenism, according to Bugnini’s very words, a corresponding priesthood was required…

The priests we quoted at the beginning of this letter have understood this in a lightening flash when they came in contact with the traditional Mass. And then, they tell me, they are both frustrated and happy. Frustrated, because “they” hid from them this treasure, they deprived them of it. Happy, inundated with happiness at understanding the extraordinary grandeur of their vocation, the thrilling reality of their participation in the priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ “in persona Christi.” The priest is associated, immersed even, in the sacrificial act of Our Lord, Sovereign Priest, and he thus participates with his whole being, which he surrenders to Jesus, priest and victim, for the salvation of souls, for the redemptive act. All of this was made away with in the New Mass.

Poor priests who know not what they are!

Very dear faithful, we do not doubt that you rejoice with us when priests discover what they are. These are beautiful victories over the crisis in the Church, strongholds and citadels reconquered for Church Militant, joining ranks with the new priests Divine Providence gives us every year. This year there will be seventeen, ten in this month of June, and seven in December. In such occurrences, we see accomplished in a tangible way one of the goals of our Society, whose end is the priesthood and everything related to it.

It should be the constant concern of the superiors to maintain among the members a lively will to accomplish and to reach this end. As in every society, from time to time it is necessary to stop and examine the road traveled, to verify if and how the end of the society is being pursued, and to consider the state of its members. This work is done particularly during the course of the “Chapter,” an assembly which for us, the SSPX, meets every twelve years. It is also on this occasion that the capitulants, numbering forty, elect the Superior General, who will lead the Society, assisted by his council, for the next twelve years.

We have no need to insist upon the importance of such an event for our Society. During the six months preceding the Chapter, our Statutes command us to offer prayers to obtain from Divine Mercy His grace, His light, and the help of the Holy Ghost.

We invite you to join our prayers and sacrifices by a novena, and if you can, by a day of fasting. The novena will commence on July 2. It consists of the prayer of the Veni Creator, three invocations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and one to St. Pius X. The day of fasting has been set for Friday, July 7.

Please receive our warmest thanks for your most touching and faithful generosity, without which the Society would not have the means to develop and to grow, a growth that is somewhat miraculous… We count on your prayers, and ask Our Lady to obtain for you by her intercession all the graces and spiritual support you need.

May God bless you abundantly.

The Feast of Pentecost 4 June 2006 + Bernard Fellay Source

Footnotes

1. The Priestly Ministry [French] (Paris: Cerf, 1971). 2. Daniel Olivier, The Two Faces of the Priest [French] (Paris: Fayard, 1971), p. 106. 

Comment

I came across the above letter a few days ago, and decided to publish it for blog discussion, because I can’t help wondering how many priests would actually disagree with Bishop Fellay, having bought into the “active laity” propaganda, hook, line and extraordinary minister.  What do you think? ARE priests “the forgotten men of Vatican II” or have most of them forgotten (or never really understood) the true nature and purpose of the glorious Catholic priesthood?

 

 

67 responses

  1. To start with, priests who are thinking about this matter could compare the traditional absolution with the Novus Ordo absolution.

    Traditional: “May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you; and by His authority I absolve you from every bond of excommunication (suspension) and interdict, so far as my power allows and your needs require. [making the Sign of the Cross:] Thereupon, I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

    Novus Ordo: “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.”

    Notice the diminution of the authority of the priest, fully in keeping with the denaturing of the priesthood sought by the internal enemies of the Church at VII. Why? Because the priesthood was offensive to Protestants! That was the cover story, at any rate, the spurious and insidious rationale that justified the sacking of the Church. And an even bigger shame: all the clergy who fell for it.

    • Great Pretender,

      I’ve never noticed that difference before in the Sacrament of Penance. It’s a wonder priests don’t pick up on all the differences like that in the new sacraments when they are studying them. However, the new rite does still say “and I absolve you” etc so it is the correct form.

      • Josephine,

        Just like the Consecration: retain the correct form, but remove the Catholic surroundings/theology in which it is embedded.

        • Great Pretender,

          I agree. That’s the trick they use to give the impression nothing has changed.

  2. I’m afraid I don’t have much sympathy for priests these days. They deserve to be “the forgotten men”. They’ve allowed lay people (mainly women) to do priestly work, e.g..giving out Holy Communion, even taking HC to the sick who should be the first to get the priest, so I don’t think they mind being “forgotten”. It makes life a lot easier for them and I’ve actually heard priests saying that, they couldn’t manage their parishes (sometimes they have more than one) if they actually had to do the priest’s work themselves. They’re quite happy with the easy life. Coffee after Mass while the laity take Communion to the sick. As I say, I’ve not much sympathy for them, sorry. I know there are some good priests out there but even they see nothing wrong with delegating priestly tasks to lay people. They must think the saints like St John Vianney were extremists!

    • I know priests who do work exceptionally hard. There is one priest I knew, I didn’t particularly like him, but he gave the job all his effort. He rose at 6am and retired at 10pm. He ran two parishes. He even marked assignments for Maryvale in his spare time and he was involved in various other commitments as well. He certainly did not have an easy life.

  3. I agree Michaela. There is a horrible ‘9-5 office hours’ only attitude among some of them, a career choice as opposed to a vocation. Which may explain why some ‘change careers’ at the drop of a hat and go off with women (or worse).
    A friend of mine went to his N.O. parish for years, and was always having problems getting Confession. The priest told him to come at the appointed time on Saturdays (which wasn’t always convenient for my friend) and sent him away. Appalling. What more important thing could a priest do, after the Mass, than hear someone’s Confession? 5 minutes, that’s all it would have taken.
    The same priest refused to baptise my friend’s baby individually, and wanted to do it in a ‘job lot’ with several other babies (presumably another time-saver – what do these priests need all this spare time for? Watching TV?). I’m glad to say this was the last straw as my friend left the parish, had his baby baptised in another parish, and now attends the TLM elsewhere.

  4. A retired, though still functioning, priest, who is now in his early nineties, never ceases to astonish me with his utter contempt for, and detestation of, the TLM. He thinks the vernacular mass is the glory of Vatican 2. He and his ilk are what some of us have to endure on the lonely pathway to salvation.

    • Mikidiki
      I wasn’t going to mention it, but the very same priest I referred to above, when asked if he would offer the TLM, said it would ‘violate his conscience’. ‘Violate his conscience!’ as though he were asked to do something filthy!

  5. This blog has often noted the change from an interior orientation, a life of prayer, to an exterior one, a life of “social justice,” cultivated by the “reforms” of VII amongst the clergy (and religious and faithful as well). Here is what Father Eugene Boylan said about this in Difficulties in Mental Prayer:

    “It is impossible to tend properly and completely to perfection without leading an interior life…If there is anything wrong with our priests and religious of today [c 1943]…the cause is surely to be found in the lack of an interior life…For many of us [i.e. priests and religious] the spiritual life, and esp. the religious life, is a life of external practices and works in which greatness and success are measured in much the same way as in any other walk of life.”

    If this wrong orientation was already a problem in 1943 – in fact, it was already a problem in 1907 when The Soul of the Apostolate was first published in its initial brief form – no wonder the clergy during the VII period were so susceptible to and so easily lured into “reform.” They had already lost their foundation years before.

    The SSPX, on the other hand, stresses the sanctification of its members, i.e. that very interior life which is the only proper soil for Our Lord’s Vineyard.

    • Great Pretender,

      That’s the single most important thing that stood out for me when I moved to the SSPX Masses – the fact that the preaching is centred on our sanctification, with the priests quoting from the lives of saints and imparting information about various Catholic devotions. Last Sunday, for example, our priest said he was devoting his sermon to talking about practical means of devotion to Our Lady, this being the Month of Mary, and he gave a brief outline of the importance of the Miraculous Medal, Brown Scapular and Rosary. What a change, I used to think when I first attended the Society chapel, from being told that I had to end poverty in the Third World, if only by supporting SCIAF! Unbelievable baloney, week in and week out.

      • Is it not a priest’s ministerial and ordained responsibility to preach on the Word of God at Sunday Mass? I’ve noticed that the bloggers rarely make reference to the Gospel, why is that?

        • Perplexed,

          Saint Augustine said: “I would not believe the Gospel if I did not first believe the authority of the Catholic Church;”

          It is always a mistake to separate Christ, the Gospel and the Catholic Church. Everything is rooted in the Gospel.

          And please note, the fact that Martians are not mentioned in the Gospels did not prevent the Pope from preaching about them a couple of days ago.

          I hope that answers your question….

          Next …

          • Thank you, editor, for the answer to my question. I am interested in the matter of the “protestantization of the priesthood”. Could you provide me with links/bibliography? Many thanks and God bless!

            • Perplexed,

              The following extract, and link to the entire article at the end, might help you to appreciate the sad protestantisation of the priesthood:

              “The definition of the priesthood given by Saint Paul and by the Council of Trent has been radically altered. The priest is no longer one who goes up to the altar and offers up to God a sacrifice of praise, for the remission of sins. The relative order of ends has been inverted. The priesthood has a first aim, which is to offer the sacrifice; that of evangelization is secondary…

              A confusion has been made with regard to the relation of the priesthood of the faithful and that of priests. Now as the cardinals said who were appointed to make their observations on the infamous Dutch catechism, “the greatness of the ministerial priesthood (that of priests) in its participation in the priesthood of Christ, differs from the common priesthood of the faithful in a manner that is not only of degree but also of essence.” To maintain the contrary, on this point alone, is to align oneself with Protestantism.” Source.

              It seems self-evident, really, when you think about it, that since the architects of the new Mass explicitly stated that it was intended to please Protestants (by removing the “obstacles” to unity from the Mass, key “obstacle” being the sacrificial nature of the Mass) that by protestantising the Mass, literally, the priests would be protestantised. And that has happened, without a doubt.

              I’ll be interested to learn your thoughts about the linked article (which is actually a chapter from a book.)

        • The Gospel, i.e. the ‘Good News’ is the teaching of the Catholic Church.The Protestant view of the Gospel is deliberately narrow. When we proclaim Catholicism, we proclaim the Gospel, inadvertently, because they are the same thing. Proclaiming the Gospel is not a separate endeavour.

  6. What an inspiring article. Bishop Fellay is a true bishop just like they used to be.

    • Crofterlady,

      I couldn’t agree more. I think Bishop Fellay is a saint. I’ve never read anything of his without feeling inspired. Just imagine the good he would do at a meeting of the Scottish Bishops Conference.

  7. It is certainly true that the role and dignity of the priesthood has been maligned and reduced since Vatican II.

    In my experience, many N.O. priests portray themselves as mere administrators, no more than uniformed lay people if you will. The lay people are understood to be on the same level as him, except they are simply “part time” workers. The lay people do not view the priest with any particular importance or respect.

    Rather than acting in place of Christ during mass, the N.O Priests often tend to act instead as a children’s entertainer or a stand-up comic. There is an obvious desire among many to pander to, and entertain the lay people – even during mass.

    The atmosphere and goings-on of the N.O tends to differ starkly between parishes, but one thing you can almost always rely on is that the priest will fall back on jokes / anecdotes or larking about at some stage, as if painfully aware the substance of the N.O. – or even his own presence – is not sufficient to command people’s attention. I have seen even Bishops do this during mass.

    Priests today come across more as “everyone’s friend” / an entertainer. Their role does not seem to carry any specific dignity or authority. is it any wonder than, that so few young men desire to become priests these days? Why would they?

    I have only met a total of three “traditional” priests – 2 SSPX and 1 FSSP – and there is a very discernible difference in their presence and how they carry themselves, compared to the typical modern priest. This difference is of course fundamentally rooted in the difference between how they understand their role.

    Of course, it would be unfair to criticise all modern priests in a broad-brush fashion – but I have only ever met one who takes his role seriously enough to actually wear the clothing of the priesthood, the cassock. In contrast, I have met many who dress like the man in the street – surely this betrays a desire to hide their identity, or a view that their role is unimportant and so can be stepped in- and out of at will.

    The call of God aside, I can well appreciate why a devout young man may be inspired or impressed by an SSPX priest. Equally I can understand why few men in the west are attracted to the modern priesthood. Roles and authority aside, the traditional priesthood is clearly masculine, the modern variant effete.

    Individuals aside, even the collective reputation of the modern priesthood is in tatters following abuse scandals. The priesthood is viewed by non-Catholics – and indeed by many Catholics – as dysfunctional and containing a large amount of homosexual predators. In contrast, traditional views of the Catholic priest always portrayed him as a man of authority who had given his life to perform an important role for others’ benefit. Even disparaging views still acknowledged this importance and this role, even if they did at times twist it into portraying the priest as a sinister inquisitor / commissar figure.

    I agree with +Fellay that the priesthood is a central matter with regards to the restoration. A big danger for the N.O Church is the threat of knee-jerk further protestantisation in response to the chaos that the initial protestantisation has caused. And so a “death spiral” occurs.

    For example, I have heard many N.O Catholics and even priests criticise celibacy and wish it away – it is clear that they think this is the barrier to vocations. Yet, they do not seem to realise the incoherence of this view, given the Church did very well for many centuries with celibate priests – and yet the ways/temptations of the world have always been with us. I suppose its human nature to cast around for a scapegoat, rather than to simply admit being wrong.

    I am currently reading a book “The Latin Mass explained” by Msgr George Moorman, originally published in 1920. I have learned much from it. When the book discusses the consecration, I was struck by these parts:

    Overcome with a sense of his utter unworthiness, it is with reverence and awe that the priest proceeds with the sublime action

    and

    It is impossible for a lay person to conceive the sentiments that fill the mind and heart of the priest at this solemn moment

    I think these quotes are very illustrative of what the priesthood has lost and how popular perception of it has changed.

    • Gabriel Syme,

      Well said. Such a clear yet concise summary of the tragedy that has befallen the contemporary priesthood. Like you, I’ve heard priests and people arguing for an end to celibacy – although, to be fair, I also know good priests who uphold it. In fact, I’ve noticed that being friends with me seems to put priests off the idea of marriage altogether 😯

      Say nothing, folks!

  8. Madame Editor,

    I am reminded of a priest in a parish of my Novus Ordo days who commented on my deference to him, saying that he was just an ordinary man like myself. I reminded him that he was a priest of Melchisedek, which I am not, and that he could do something that I could not do. This puzzled him, and I explained that he could transform bread into the body of Christ.

    His reply? “You can believe that if you want”.

    If he is a typical representative, what has the priesthood come to?

    And on the subject of the delegation of priestly duties, one of this priest’s extraordinary ministers told me that in taking Holy Communion to the sick, she would ask if they wanted to be annointed with holy oil. When I remonstrated that extreme unction was a Sacrament and only a priest could administer it, she said: “Well, if it makes them feel good, I do it”.

    • Leprechaun,

      You might recommend that your priest “friend” listen to what Archbishop Schneider has to say about Communion in the hand, in the hope that he realises his heresy:

  9. Lep,

    That reply of your former priest is really sickening, but it says it all. Doesn’t that make all his Masses invalid, since he does not consecrate with the intention of the Church?

  10. I’m reminded of Felix Mendelssohn’s War March of the Priests. He wasn’t Catholic, but I think the music conveys the idea.

    Priests are called to fight for good, and fight against evil – using supernatural means. The primary means are the Sacraments (Penance especially).

  11. I’ve long thought that many priests do not really believe in the Real Presence. If they did they would not treat the Sacred Hosts the way they do. Also, I’ve noticed that, in common with many of the laity, they do not genuflect when crossing before the Blessed sacrament in the tabernacle.

    As somebody mentioned above, it can be very difficult to get Confession outwith advertised times. Recently in Aberdeen, my nephew tried several churches but could not find a priest to hear his confession. He was returning to his ship that evening and had to go without. Somebody will answer before God for such a dereliction of duty.

    As also mentioned above, so many priests are now namby pamby and not at all manly. When I was serving in the army many years ago I well remember how chaplains would TELL the men to confess! “You might meet your Maker today”, they would say or “what you need me boy, is a good Confession”. Manly, forthright priests!

    • Olaf419,

      I am always annoyed when I see priests and servers crossing in front of the Tabernacle without genuflecting. It makes me wonder what, if anything they believe about the Real Presence.

      About confession in Aberdeen, did your nephew go looking on a weekday as I think most confession times are held on Saturdays.

  12. Not all the priests outside the FSSP and The SSPX are those who are lazy, or those who do not believe in the True Presence.

    When I became Catholic, certainly this was what I found in my circumstances. But individually we cannot be everywhere and it is very easy to be convinced by what touches ones own life, that this therefore is the norm.

    My experience then is not what I find now. Older priests tend to have lost the Catholic faith, but there are younger ones, for whatever reason, and they most definitely are very hardworking, believe in the True Presence for example, and are trying very hard to bring alive for the people, many of the older devotions.

    • Spero,

      Of course, not all diocesan priests are lazy etc. But all the ones I know have gone along with the revolutionary introduction of laity carrying out priestly tasks, such as handling the Blessed Sacrament, even to the extent of charging them with taking Holy Communion to the sick. They tell me that they just couldn’t manage without their help. I have witnessed, personally, the ease with which a diocesan priest will say “I can bring Holy Communion to your [sick relative] on X day but if that doesn’t suit, a Eucharistic minister (sic) can visit instead.” I’m sure they could hear my “No way” up there in Inverness.

      There has to be, therefore, a question about what it is they really and truly believe about the Real Presence. As one American (diocesan) bishop said a few short years ago, on the subject of kneeling for Communion: “If we knew Who it is that we receive, we would not kneel, we would crawl” I couldn’t imagine HIM telling a lay person to take Holy Communion (often in their handbag) to a sick parishioner.

      I do keep hearing this about younger priests being more faith-filled but I’ve yet to meet or hear of one who has dispensed with the extraordinary ministers.

      We are way beyond the stage of paying lip service, Spero. We have an horrendous pope, a man who would baptise an alien from outer space and send a personal video-taped message to a conference of Protestants, who refuses to “judge” homosexual behaviour but would deny a “traditional” Catholic the right to attend Mass in the ancient rite. We have NO leadership from the clergy outside of the SSPX and even their leadership, for the most part, is restricted to extolling us to pray and practise the solid Catholic devotions, Rosary, Brown Scapular, Miraculous Medal etc. which is all great stuff but not quite the “Soldier of Christ” message, the “defend and spread the Faith” exhortation that Confirmed Catholics need to hear – often.

      The diocesan clergy advertise ecumenical events and ask for volunteers for “Eucharistic ministry”. As long as the allegedly orthodox young priests I keep being told about are going along with this counterfeit Catholicism, they are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Sadly.

  13. N O T I C E . . .

    WordPress is playing up again so please everyone copy your comment before you click “Post Comment”. That way, if your comment fails to appear, you can re-try. Usually when this happens, as it does from time to time, the comment goes up at second attempt. If not, you can save it on your computer until the blip is fixed.

    It may not happen to you, but I’ve trained myself to copy all my comments before clicking “Post Comment” and it has paid off a few times. Takes seconds and is worth it – especially if you’ve typed a lengthy comment.

  14. Editor; No I do not know of any priests who have dispensed with the extra ordinary ministers of Holy Communion—————- yet.
    It is difficult to come into a parish after years and years of wrong practice and sweep everything and everyone ( some whose egos are defined by all this ” involvement ” in the church ) away. There would be a revolt that might see the priest relegated to the sticks.
    Lay people nowadays are full of their “rights”, in the Church as everywhere else. From a realistic stance, it will require a huge shift in the way folk generally believe nowadays, for them to even glimpse the humility that would be needed for them to approach the Mass, and in particular, the Blessed Sacrament: at this time it is beyond their ken.
    It cannot be so easy for priests who would change things for the better. Two generations have not had any Catholic teaching and they are a force to be reckoned with because they have what previous generations have not: confidence that what ever they believe is right; and the temerity to tell anybody who has a different opinion where to go!!!

    • Spero,

      I have thought a lot about this, and my feeling that all is required is for the priest to educate the people “tactfully” (for want of a better word) and explain that he would prefer not have lay people giving out Holy Communion.

      My gut feeling that this would work was consolidated a few years back when I heard of a priest in London (I think – England, certainly) who was appointed to a new parish and called an informal meeting of the EMCs where he explained that he would not be using them for this purpose but was keen to have their help in other areas of parish life. As far as I know, it worked, and there was no animosity.

      If, after all, it’s true that so many of these lay people take on the role of EMC because “the priest needs me” then it stands to reason that if the priest explains as kindly as possible, in a spirit of educating his people, that he really doesn’t need them, and would prefer not to have anyone in that role then they would surely accept his decision without acrimony. Anything less would indicate pride on their part. THAT he might be encouraging pride in the souls of his parishioners should be a major source of concern to any priest.

      I do recognise the truth in your closing sentences. Spot on. But the onus remains on the priest to protect the Sacred Species. End of!

  15. Editor,

    I agree with the other bloggers, Bishop Fellay is an outstanding shepherd.

    I believe, priests are the ‘forgotten men of Vatican II” , I think the priesthood has been shamefully devalued, despite all the flowery language used to describe it, to being just another ministry in the Church.

    The onus remains on the priest to protect the Sacred Species, very true, but, the priest can only do that if the parish priest and the liturgical/or whatever committee, allow him to introduce the appropriate changes. Unfortunately, parishes are more willing to give up good priests than risk offending the sources of parish-funding.

    Spero did an excellent job pointing out the challenges facing the good priests who, in addition to having to deal with hostile superiors, have to deal with two generations of protestantized Catholics who, “are a force to be reckoned with because they have what previous generations have not: confidence that what ever they believe is right; and the temerity to tell anybody who has a different opinion where to go”. If only they would read this blog…… 😀

  16. In the context of the posts I have been doing lately on the SSPX and the nature of schism, an interesting question was raised: to what degree must a Traditionalist deny the SSPX is in schism in order to be a “sincere” Traditionalist? The question was posed in light of my article that affirmed (albeit tentatively) that the Society of St. Pius X is in a state of formal schism. A reader who disagreed somewhat with my assessment made the comment that one could not be a “sincere” Traditionalist and at the same time believe that the SSPX is in schism. This is the question I want to deal with here – is this assertion in fact true? To what degree is one’s identity as a Traditionalist bound up with taking a specific position on the SSPX question?

    Let us recall, in the first place, that the status of the SSPX is ultimately a canonical question. It depends upon whether or not, in the events leading up to the 1988 excommunciations and afterward, the SSPX did or did not meet the canonical requirements that place one in schism. It is a question that is legal and juridical in nature.

    Now if we examine what it means to be a “Traditionalist”, we see that being a Traditionalist is an issue that is primarily devotional and affective. Whether we define it narrowly as those who are “attached to the Latin liturgical tradition” as John Paul II did in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, or more broadly as those who enthusiastically receive the entirety of Catholic tradition, cultural, liturgical, historical and theological, the fact remains that to be “Traditionalist” is ultimately a preference or affection for a certain manner of being Catholic that we hold as being superior to all other ways because it is most consistent with our history and the practice of the saints.

    Once we note the difference between the two issues, one juridical and one devotional, we can easily see that they do not have a direct correlation. Our devotion, affection or passion for a particular manner of practicing our Faith does not have any direct bearing on the legal question of any group’s canonical status. We easily understand this distinction in other areas of life: the fact that a referee might be devoted to one team does not mean that he is bound to take that team’s side in a dispute about the rules of the game; a college professor may disagree with the position we take on a research paper, but we expect them to grade it based on objective criteria (whether or not we have followed the guidelines), not on his personal dictates.

    A more famous example from our own history: in 1770, several British soldiers were on trial in Boston for their part in the Boston Massacre. Many colonists, fed up with British bullying, were clamoring for the death penalty. Yet John Adams, defense attorney for the accused, got the men acquitted by making a clear distinction between the colonists’ hatred of the British and the legal question of whether the soldiers were guilty of murder. He famously stated, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence” (‘Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials,’ December 1770).

    As in the case of the British soldiers, here again I would say that “facts are stubborn things.” However we feel about the SSPX, the position we take on their canonical status cannot and should not be influenced by our own passions on matters liturgical, theological, or whatever. When looking at whether or not the SSPX is in schism, I do not concern myself with how bad the Church was when they went into schism, nor whether or not they were right to seek to preserve the 1962 Missal, nor the particular virtues of Lefebvre or the vices of Bugnini, nor any of these sorts of considerations – I only consider whether the act of consecrating four bishops illicitly was a schismatic act, from a legal standpoint, in isolation from these other questions. Some have criticized me for taking this narrowly “formal” approach, but I think it is the only reasonable approach if we are trying to get some sort of legal-canonical precision.

    Therefore, I do not think it is fair for one to say that you must believe the SSPX is not in schism to be considered a sincere Traditionalist. Imagine being told, “If you do not accept the validity of the Medjugorje apparitions, you cannot consider yourself devoted to Our Lady.” The statement would be preposterous! However we feel about Medjugorje, we understand that whatever the status of that apparition is, it is distinct from Marian devotion itself, which is a much larger genus.

    Or, to use another example, recall Fr. Corapi before his fall from grace was one of the most well-respected and forceful voices of orthodoxy in the American Church. Yet (and I have seen this happening already), how silly would it be to say, “No one who really cares about bringing the American Church back to orthodoxy could possibly believe Father Corapi is guilty.” Regardless of how devoted we are to doctrinal orthodoxy, we know that our personal commitment is logically distinct from the question of whether Fr. Corapi was [behaving in an impure manner.] The two issues are logically different and how devoted we are to one ought not have any relevance to our position on the other.

    This question is actually ground zero of where Traditionalism stands today – and I emphasize today, because though things may have been different before 1984 (Quattuor abhinc annos), or 1988, today the SSPX cannot in any way claim to be the sole custodians of the 1962 Missal. There are numerous societies and fraternities in existence who use the 1962 Missal and are in good standing with Rome; the FSSP are the most well-known, but we could also site the Christi Pauperum Militum Ordo (Order of the Poor Knights of Christ), the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and other such groups. Beside these, since Summorum Pontificum, use of the Traditional Latin Mass has been exploding all over the western world. Only a few weeks ago I chronicled its extensive spread in southeast Michigan in parishes that have absolutely no affiliation with the SSPX. Many more parishes are beginning to offer the Extraordinary Form.

    In short, the faithful no longer have to turn to the SSPX for the Extraordinary Form. The SSPX do not have a monopoly on it, and frankly, I think this truth makes them uneasy because it pushes them a little bit further into irrelevance. All over the Church the Traditional Latin Mass is being rediscovered, there is an explosion of vocations from traditional parishes, a vibrant interest in Thomism among the young, and in many places none of it has anything to do with the SSPX. The Church is being renewed (albeit slowly) and the SSPX is getting left behind.

    Just as Marian devotion is a much broader genus than devotion to Medjugorje, so Traditionalism is much, much broader than the SSPX, or even than the Extraordinary Form. The EF Mass may have been the flash-point for Traditionalism to take hold, and the SSPX may have been the first standard-bearers, but this is no longer the case.

    The Traditionalist movement need not be bound up with the fate of the SSPX; indeed, it ought not be. The goal of Traditionalists at this point in time should be to nurture a Traditionalism that is a truly positive force for renewal within the Church in a manner that has nothing to do with the Society in its current state. In fact, this has ever been one of my overarching aims in writing this blog – to let the world know that there are Catholics out there who love our Tradition and are not SSPX or Sedevacantists. Too long have we let these groups, these little parts, speak for the whole. I pray for a speedy reconciliation for the SSPX, but my identity as a Traditionalist Catholic is not bound up with their Society or their fate.

    Which brings us to the final question – what is it to be a Traditionalist? This is a question that many are still working out the answer to. Beyond noting that it is important to make the distinction between Traditional and non-Traditional Catholicism (see here), what does it mean to be a Traditionalist? I can only answer this question based on my own convictions.

    Traditionalism to me means that the liturgical riches of the old rite are positive goods, capable of most perfectly sanctifying souls and creating saints, and should not only be preserved but promoted actively as a means of renewing the life of the Church.

    Traditionalism to me means that the lives, writings and deeds of the saints and fathers of old are more inspiring and helpful in the spiritual life than anything that has been churned out since 1962.

    Traditionalism to me means acknowledging that a disturbing spirit of compromise and ambiguity has pervaded the Magisterium since the Second Vatican Council, which has had the effect of watering down the Church’s teaching, confusing the faithful, and at least giving the impression that the Church’s position on many important issues has changed since the Council.

    Traditionalism to me means also acknowledging that, in some part, the popes and Magisterium themselves have contributed to this confusion by means of ambiguous statements, failing to offer decisive leadership when it was needed, and further confusing the faithful by actions and gestures that send a signal different from that taught officially.

    Traditionalism to me means acknowledging that traditional expressions of Catholic spirituality are the most suited to producing balanced, well-formed individuals on the path to sanctity.

    Finally, Traditionalism to me means positively affirming and valuing all parts of our history and tradition, not sweeping some under the rug, apologizing for others, and trying to pretend like the Church of the old days was fundamentally different from the Church as it should be today. Not to say that everything in Church history is praiseworthy, but over all, Traditionalism means agreeing that the way it was done then is better than the way it is being done now.

    Note that none of this has anything to do with whether or not a certain Society is or is not in the canonical state of schism.
    Posted by Boniface at 9:40 PM
    Labels: SSPX, Tradition, Traditional Latin Mass

    • John Collins,

      To claim that the Society of St. Pius X is in a state of formal schism is to say something that no pope has said. On the contrary, the illicit excommunications imposed by Pope John Paul II, were overturned: “On the basis of the powers expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, by virtue of the present Decree I remit the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae incurred by Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, and declared by this Congregation on 1 July 1988. At the same time I declare that, as of today’s date, the Decree issued at that time no longer has juridical effect.” Rome, from the Congregation for Bishops, 21 January 2009.

      So, there is no question of the SSPX being in schism, formal or otherwise. They are in an irregular situation, but they deny no dogma of the Faith, unlike many, bishops and priests “in good standing”. Indeed, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, acting on behalf of Pope Benedict in relation to the Society, said several times in one interview, that they were not in schism, and went further by insisting that “those who think that, do not understand the situation.”

      You argue that “[your] identity as a Traditionalist Catholic is not bound up with their Society or their fate.” Wrong. The crisis in the Church today is essentially a battle between Modernism and the SSPX. You list various groups who now offer the Traditional Mass (to which, revealingly, you refer as the ‘Extraordinary Form’) without clearly acknowledging that these groups would not exist – and there would BE no Summorum Pontificum – but for the Society. It was a pre-condition of the Superior General of the SSPX that before any talks could begin, both the illicit excommunications must be lifted (done) and the Mass freed from episcopal authority (done). You do acknowledge the fact that the other groups wouldn’t exist, I admit, in a passing reference to the SSPX being “first” but you do not explicitly say that these other groups are tolerated and “in good standing” as a means of keeping the faithful away from the SSPX, the lifeboat provided by God to protect our Faith in these faithless times. Do not forget that when Our Lady of Good Success appeared to the nun, Mother Marianna at Quito in the 17th century, for the purpose of revealing details of the Church crisis to come in the 20th century, she told her to “pray that my Son will send a prelate to restore the priesthood.” Enter Archbishop Lefebvre: I don’t see any other 20th century prelate who fits the bill – do you?

      Crucially, you also omit to mention that while the Traditional Mass is available more widely, the Faith in its entirety is not. Only in an SSPX chapel can parents be sure that their offspring will not read bulletins containing invitations to ecumenical and inter-faith events, will not be invited to volunteer to be Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, will not, in fact, be subject to ever more imaginative ways of undermining and ultimately destroying the Catholic Faith. All of the other “traditional” groups have had to compromise in order to gain recognition. You won’t hear them preaching that “outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation”. Goodness, I’ve known diocesan priests to be ticked off by his bishop for daring to preach about Hell. So, very far from being “irrelevant” as you suggest, more and more people are attending Society chapels – I know our chapel in Glasgow is growing week by week, and I’m looking forward to welcoming a new family, readers of our newsletter, on Sunday. Irrelevant? I don’t think so. I’ll tell you what really IS irrelevant – those who attack the SSPX. It smacks of desperation. The Society won’t change. It’s not going away. It’s becoming ever more popular. Annoying, isn’t it?

      As for your questioning what it means to be a “traditional” Catholic: prior to Vatican II that was the only type of Catholic on offer… ALL Catholics adhered to both Tradition and Scripture. Due to the errors emanating from Vatican II, a disconcerting majority of Catholics began to change their beliefs. Those who refused to go along with the errors (such as the new Mass, ecumenism, false religious liberty and inter-faith beliefs) came to be called “traditional” in recognition of the fact that they refused to abandon the traditional liturgy and teaching of the Church. It’s simple really. I never describe myself as a “traditional” Catholic without explaining that “traditional Catholic” is merely a shorthand description of someone who is a fully believing Catholic, who (in my own case, having initially ‘gone along to get along’ so to speak) now refuses to accept the errors of the past fifty or so years – errors which constitute the crisis in the Church foretold at both Quito and Fatima.

      I find your analogies confusing and misleading (and, by the way, I deleted your crude description of Fr Corapi – this is a fully Catholic blog and even mild crudities are not permitted. I presume it was a thoughtless remark, so I hope you understand why I removed it). Your attempt to dismiss the Society has led you into many false analogies and dichotomies, such as the rather strange dichotomy between “juridical” and “devotional”. If you think that concerns about Holy Mass represent merely “devotional” preferences, then, if that is what you think, you have lost the proverbial plot.

      I’m not sure I’ve addressed all of your points but this is the best I can do for now. If I’ve omitted anything and others don’t pick up those parts of your comment which require correction, I’ll have another go tomorrow, at some point.

      In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

    • The status of SSPX, schismatic or otherwise, is a most puerile argument – I live in the real world. Unfortunately, from personal circumstances, I am unable to get to SSPX Masses. But I am able, as a result, to witness, from time-to-time, the actions of clergy who so divorced from even the Catholicism of Vatican II, that I am incredulous. I therefore follow clergy whom I know to be sound – what other choice have I/we? The plain fact is that the hierarchies lied to everyone and their clergy, in the majority of instances, accepted what they were told without demur. However, I now sense a stirring amongst diocesan clergy and a dawning recognition that SSPX may well have been right all along. Rorate, some months ago suggested Traditional clergy and orders, including SSPX, should band together to counter the influence of the bishops’ conferences and the likes of Eccleston Square. Clearly some diocesan clergy are possessed of a status which precludes their bishop moving against them, but the majority are vulnerable. “United we stand …………… “.

      • Sixupman,

        While I sympathise with your reasoning, I believe that those who (I agree) are realising that the SSPX were right all along should humbly get behind them and support them. There is no room for any half-way house which is what the other groups represent, because, as we keep reminding everyone, they have all, in one way or another, had to compromise with the revolution in the Church in order to be tolerated. That includes the “Summorum Pontificum” clergy who are only being tolerated because they agree not to offer any Sunday Masses. The SSPX will not go along with that. There can be no “united we stand” mentality without true union. That would be akin to a kind of “Traditional Ecumenical” movement, and we all know how successful the ecumenical movement has been 😀

  17. John Collins (or Boniface)

    Than you very much indeed for a most interesting post upon which I for one wholeheartedly agree.

    For too long this blog has heard the strident tones of mainly ill informed SSPX bloggers pontificating on many matters. I do wish I too had the literacy skills to write as you do – if I did I would certainly put forward my position in the clear and succinct manner in which you do. (This is not a dig at Scottish education, only my own illiterate deficiency).

    Well said and I look forward to more contributions from your good self.

    • Benedict,

      What do you mean by “SSPX bloggers”. Are you referring to those of us who attend Mass at the SSPX chapels around the UK?

      Are those who attend Mass at St Aloysius, Garnethill in Glasgow, “Jesuit bloggers”? What about those who attend Masses offered by the other religious orders – are they “Dominican bloggers” and “Carmelite bloggers”? Please clarify.

      And, far from being “clear and succinct” John Collins has written in an eminently confused and confusing manner. With bells on. Still, he means well 😀

      Which,, I’m afraid, I am not sure can be said of your good self. Allow me to explain. If I accused someone of “strident tones” and being “ill informed” I would feel duty bound to offer at least one example, to substantiate my allegation.

      Otherwise, it might look like I was just being nasty, and not – in fact – “meaning well”.

      Do you get my drift?

  18. Benedict
    I hope that I am not misreading your comment, but it is meant to be sarcastic, isn’t it? To use the word ‘succinct’ whilst referring to a post in the region of 2.000 words long seems to me to be rather facetious.

  19. I found John Collins’ post both confused and confusing in the extreme. His main thesis is clear enough, that the status of the SSPX is ultimately a canonical question. Having claimed (tentatively) that the SSPX is in a state of formal schism and this claim having been contradicted by bloggers, it is fair enough that he should attempt to justify his position by arguments based on canon law. But when he begins to ‘examine what it means to be a traditionalist’ he reveals an ignorance not only of what it means to be a traditionalist, but also of what it means to be a Catholic. According to his ‘broader’ description of traditionalists, they are those who enthusiastically receive the entirety of Catholic tradition, cultural, liturgical, historical and theological. He has omitted the adjective ‘doctrinal’, but even so, his conclusion, after considering all this, is that it amounts to nothing more than a subjective preference or affection for a certain manner of being Catholic that we hold as being superior to all other ways. The word ‘enthusiastically’ in this context is meaningless but his use of it is revealing as it helps him to bolster up the claim that being a traditionalist is merely a matter of ‘affection’ and ‘preference’.

    ‘A certain manner of being Catholic’ sounds very much like the modernist rubbish about ‘ways of being church’. There is only one Church and one ‘manner of being Catholic’. If one departs from the body of revealed and received Catholic truth one is not adopting another ‘manner of being Catholic’, one is simply a heretic.

    • Christina,

      That is an outstanding post very clear for those of us grappling with these issues.

      Thank you for it.

    • Christina,

      “‘A certain manner of being Catholic’ sounds very much like the modernist rubbish about ‘ways of being church’.”

      Absolutely spot on. I found John Collins’ remarks to be in the unmistakeable category of “clutching at straws”.

      The attitude of the Modernists to the SSPX is akin to the attitude of the mainstream political parties to UKIP – sheer panic!

  20. Without any doubt the crisis of the priesthood is at the centre of the crisis in the Church. I think in these coming days we would all do well to consider the immense Christian fortitude and tireless apostolic work of Archbishop Lefebvre. At an age when most people have retired, he abandoned his life to Divine Providence, for the defence of Tradition, and the formation of holy Catholic priests.

    Late in his life, in his short book entitled Spiritual Journey, the Archbishop revealed to the priests and seminarians of the Society his vision of the future the “Dream of Dakar”,that had inspired his actions:

    “…The dream was to transmit, before the progressive degradation of the priestly ideal, in all of its doctrinal purity and in all of its missionary charity, the Catholic Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, just as He conferred it on His Apostles, just as the Roman Church always transmitted it until the middle of the twentieth century.

    “How should I carry out that which appeared then to me as the sole solution to revive the Church and Christianity? It was still a dream, but there appeared to me already the need, not only to confer the authentic priesthood, to teach not only sana doctrina approved by the Church, but also to transmit the profound and unchanging spirit of the Catholic priesthood and of the Christian spirit essentially bound to the great prayer of Our Lord which his Sacrifice on the Cross expresses eternally.” – Spiritual Journey, iii

    The Society was placed under the patronage of Saint Pius X precisely because of that holy Pope’s concern for the integrity of the priesthood and the sanctity that flows from it (see p.436 of Bishop Tissier de Mallerais’s biography of the Archbishop).

    The great Saint expressed his understanding and appreciation of the irreplaceable role of the ordained priesthood in his 1903 Encyclical E Supremi:

    “Hence although all are included in the exhortation “to advance towards the perfect man, in the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ” (Ephes. iv., 3), it is addressed before all others to those who exercise the sacerdotal ministry; thus these are called another Christ, not merely by the communication of power but by reason of the imitation of His works, and they should therefore bear stamped upon themselves the image of Christ.

    “This being so, Venerable Brethren, of what nature and magnitude is the care that must be taken by you in forming the clergy to holiness! All other tasks must yield to this one. Wherefore the chief part of your diligence will be directed to governing and ordering your seminaries aright so that they may flourish equally in the soundness of their teaching and in the spotlessness of their morals. Regard your seminary as the delight of your hearts, and neglect on its behalf none of those provisions which the Council of Trent has with admirable forethought prescribed.”

    Any Bishop seriously concerned about ending the unprecedented crisis in the Church would be well advised to have a framed copy of those words facing their desk.

    I think everyone here knows what took place twenty six years ago, on June 30 1988, at Econe. On the same day that Archbishop Lefebvre, in his own words, “handed on what I have received”, in order to continue the work of traditional priestly formation, an 18 page document was published in Rome which, whatever the intent behind it and the justifications given, could not but help to undermine the sacred Catholic priesthood. The document allowed bishops to develop programs whereby deacons or appointed lay people would lead Sunday prayer services.

    http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Archbishop-Lefebvre/Archbishop_Lefebvre_and_the_Vatican/Part_II/1988-06-30.htm

    Yes, twenty six years ago, while Archbishop Lefebvre was trying to provide pastors and the means of salvation for Catholic souls, Rome was providing for the absence of priests.

    Is somebody now going to mention something about “New Springtime”? Previously unimaginable, virtually universal devastation, more like.

    • Leo,

      Another academy award-winning post from you – clear as crystal.

      Your point about the timing of Archbishop Lefebvre’s action in consecrating the bishops, is very well made.

      If the fact that on the very same day, the powers-that-be in Rome were preparing openly for priestless parishes doesn’t wake up the sleeping and apathetic faithful, nothing will.

  21. Leo,

    I was really taken aback to read the end of your very interesting (as ever) comment, to think that on the very day that Archbishop Lefebvre was consecrating his four bishops to restore the priesthood, the Vatican were preparing for “the absence of priests” as you say. It really is hard to get my head round it all. I keep getting shaken on this blog and this is the latest. When I say “shaken” I really mean that I am learning all the time and that is a good thing, since knowledge is power.

    That is something to remember, that I never knew before and I won’t forget. On the very day the Archbishop was trying to provide priests for the future, “Rome was providing for the absence of priests.” It is just too incredible for words.

    • Josephine,

      Knowledge IS power and we should use it to awaken our fellow Catholics to what Leo aptly describes as the “previously unimaginable, virtually universal devastation…” in the Church right now. Otherwise know [by modernists] as Leo mentions, as “the New Springtime [of Vatican II]. Otherwise known [by fully believing Catholics] as Theology for the Brain Dead…

  22. Quite a few recent posts both on the General Discussion thread, this one, and another – I don’t remember which, have repeated a claim made many times over on the blog that is summed up by Editor in these recent words: Only in an SSPX chapel can parents be sure that their offspring will not read bulletins containing invitations to ecumenical and inter-faith events, will not be invited to volunteer to be Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, will not, in fact, be subject to ever more imaginative ways of undermining and ultimately destroying the Catholic Faith.

    My problem is with the first word ‘Only’ from which one must draw the conclusion that all the listed horrors following are to be found in any TLM celebrated outside the SSPX and under SP. This is emphatically not the case in my experience, which was considerable.

    I have been fortunate to have attended TLM in various parishes in my part of the world where nothing but unimpeachable orthodoxy was taught from the pulpit by older priests whose training in homilectics in pre-Vat.II seminaries was universally thorough. I’m afraid that not all young traditional priests nowadays seem to have had such a rigorous training in this important subject which is so essential if the priest is to teach his congregation the faith effectively. One wonderful old priest I knew well is now retired, another is dead – may he rest in peace, and another continues to be a beacon of light in his diocesan wilderness. In none of their churches were any of the above listed horrors to be found, and they were, and are, heroic. I could go on listing such priests, but you get the gist. It’s true that many exceptions exist, but it isn’t fair to generalise about this.

    Another claim which has been made recently is that ‘these groups’, i.e. FSSP, ICKSP etc., ‘would not exist without the SSPX and nor would there have been any Summorum pontificum’. Ultimately, I have no doubt, it will be seen that Archbishop Lefevre was indeed the ‘Prelate’ that Our Lady referred to, and the SSPX has been the heaven-sent ark for the survivors of the current catastrophe.

    Nevertheless the fight for tradition began, not in 1970, when the SSPX was founded, but on December 19th 1964 in Paris when the The Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce (or FIUV) was founded by Georges Cerbelaud-Salagnac in order to promote the Tridentine Mass from the Pre-Vatican II Missale Romanum (1962). The following year the Latin Mass Society was founded in England ‘to seek the preservation of the Immemorial Rites of worship and the use of Latin…….’. It was from the beginning a grim fight against heavy odds. As Cardinal Heenan was silenced, priests capitulated under the yoke of ‘obedience’ but the early LMS pioneers doggedly continued, seeking priests who had the courage to celebrate the Mass of their ordination for those few faithful who had not bought into the sham. The 1972 ‘indult’ was the fruit of their early labours, and, with all its attendant problems, this indult at least kept access to the traditional liturgy open, and its memory alive, until the SSPX was founded. Make no mistake, there would not have been so many sufficiently wedded to tradiition to move over to the SSPX chapels when they became available if the banner had not first been carried by priests and laity who often struggled against great difficulties. If you”ve ever been told you’re ‘not fit to be in the house of God’ for trying to get a pre-SP traditional Mass going, you’ll know what I mean!

    Rant over.

    • Christina,

      I’ve heard that before about the pre-SSPX Masses and the LMS but isn’t it true to say that Rome wasn’t worried at all until the time in the 1980s when Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated his bishops – I also don’t see the bishops worrying about people attending other traditional Masses, only the Society’s. I have never heard a satisfactory explanation of why that is. I’ve been an attender at the indult Masses and SP Masses and never heard a sermon that the priest wouldn’t have given at the novus ordo Mass. I’m sure my experience is less than yours and I’m not on a mission for the SSPX but I can’t say I’ve found any of the other groups particularly impressive.

    • Christina,

      In the quote from me which you cite in your post at 3.07pm today, you will note that I do not mention preaching at all. I specifically mention parents wishing to protect their offspring from parish bulletins which advertise ecumenical events and invite them to apply to be Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion or “Eucharistic ministers” as they are now routinely called.

      I mention this fact a lot because parents of young families have said that to me. Even though the SP priests I’m thinking of here in Scotland are to be counted as the very best (who preach sound sermons, by the way – as I’ve either heard myself or been told by trusted friends) the fact is, the modernism seeps through in all sorts of ways.

      I have, on occasion, though not for quite a while now, attended the TLM offered by the then Parish Priest in the Glasgow parish where Una Voce provided Mass which was later offered by a SP priest, enthusiastic to learn the traditional Mass. This priest was noted for his sound sermons and for his concern to be as faithful as possible to Tradition – e.g. he encouraged kneeling for Communion and reception on the tongue even at his novus ordo. He sometimes wondered why the SSPX people didn’t support his Sunday Mass so I took him on a tour of the back of his church, pointing out the SCIAF box and advertising posters, the “Catholic” newspapers on sale, the notices about forthcoming ecumenical events and various diocesan announcements – Lentfest, e.g. – which he, like all the other clergy of the archdiocese is, presumably, obliged to support. The young parents I know with small children are very protective of the spiritual and moral well-being of their offspring. They don’t want them to be exposed, at all, to the modernism which might infect their souls.

      So, it’s not about some of the priests not being sound – there are a few here in Glasgow who preach as faithfully as they can, but they are all constrained at one level or another. It’s certainly not the norm to hear sound sermons. I still receive telephone calls from readers who are puzzled and annoyed at some of the rubbish they hear. But even the minority of priests who preach orthodoxy have to be careful. Nobody wants to be on the carpet in the Bishop’s office. And I have yet to hear of any diocesan priest or priest of one of the other traditional groups, who helps his congregation to make sense of the crisis in the Church by, er… mentioning it! That’s one major difference between the Society and the others. Not that it’s hammered home week in and week out but from time to time (as with the recent “canonisations”) the SSPX priests take time to explain why this or that is a problem for Catholics. Indeed, the St Peter’s Society priest here in Scotland was interviewed by the Catholic Herald a few short years ago, and took the opportunity to praise Archbishop/Cardinal O’Brien to the skies. I couldn’t believe what I was reading – and reported it in our newsletter at the time – but that’s the key issue for the non-SSPX clergy. In order to be tolerated, let alone accepted, they have to compromise in one way or another.

      As for the LMS – I do not wish to detract from their early efforts. Perhaps as you say, they were the springboard for many who later supported the SSPX but the simple fact is that the Bishops – in droves – peddled the lie that the old rite had been suppressed and – certainly here in Scotland – Una Voce (LMS equivalent), did not mount any serious challenge, always so weakly grateful for any concession, which usually took the form of a weekday Mass in some far flung parish or in a parish in a part of town where nobody wants to leave their car unattended for too long. In Glasgow, for example, the TLM was offered in districts where the Rottweillers go about in pairs. Maybe it’s different in England?

      Finally, there is no question about it, the Bishops are terrified of the SSPX while they know they can fob off the Una Voce people. And the reason they are terrified is because they know it’s about much more than the Mass – it’s about the faithful experiencing, once again, the entire ethos of the Faith. For one thing, you won’t find The Universe or the Catholic Herald – or even the Scottish Catholic Observer – on sale in any SSPX chapel. I rest my case 😀

      • Basically, LMS might be likened to the dog whining for crumbs from the bishops’ table.

        Re my earlier post concerning Rorate and fraternisation between Traditional clergy and orders, I never mentioned “compromise”. In the days of Fr. Black, it was practised on a small scale in the North of England. The hierarchy are practising, as often stated in a policy of ‘managed dissolution’, so I suppose it might come about by natural process, but why wait that long?

      • Editor, I’m sorry that (once again) I didn’t see this insertion when I wrote below in responses to Margaret Mary and Mikidiki.

        Thank you for that crystal clear explanation. I understand better now why there sometimes seems to be a spirit on the blog that would demean, and even ridicule the efforts and position of anyone who claims to be a traditionalist but who doesn’t attend one of the SSPX chapels. I don’t mean to say that that spirit emanates from you, but some people, who, I suspect, aren’t equipped by experience to pontificate on the matter, do become quite insulting, particularly about the LMS, the faults of which I know all too well. In the nature of things they are a very mixed bunch, from true traditionalists (who go to the ‘dark side’ – i.e. SSPX – according to a newly-ordained priest in a well-known ‘traditional’ spot) as soon as they get the chance, to others who think this Pope’s fine, and all is currently fine and dandy. What does always annoy me, as it’s so unfair, is the tendency to generalise overmuch about these things.

        About the stuff at the back of the church – to be honest I’ve never looked at it in those churches I’ve visited, as recounted below, where the priest is an occasional TLM celebrant, but I agree 100% with your views. However, again from an experience perhaps more limited than yours, in two of the churches with which I was familiar, the priests did refuse to put out anything of the sort you describe. In neither of them was there a collection for CAFOD either. Also I did know a very holy Jesuit priest (RIP) who preached a sermon about the crisis in the Church and he was subsequently suspended by his superior from all future preaching duties.

        In the end, not everyone is served by an SSPX chapel yet, so I would urge a little more encouragement of those who do their best to remain true to the Mass and tradition as far as they can in their own particular circumstances.

        • Christina,

          Thank you – that’s all good. For the record, I have, in the past, encouraged readers to attend the Una Voce-provided Masses and, in fact, they are advertised on our Mass page on the website.

          Having said that, however, I have more recently been saying (including on the blog) that things are now so bad that, given what I’ve said above about SP and other Traditional priests having to compromise/keep a low orthodox profile in one way or another to be accepted, that I think we all owe it to Archbishop Lefebvre to openly support the SSPX and, where possible, to attend the Society chapels. The crisis is now so bad that, it seems to me, the battle is now between the SSPX and Modernism, and if everyone who possibly could, attended the Society chapels, that would send an unmistakeable signal to the pope and bishops.

          That’s not in any way meant to belittle the others providing the TLM, but it is to recognise that we have moved way beyond asking for a TLM (especially on a weekday or monthly). It’s all or nothing, now, and we ought to make sure that message gets across to the hierarchy.

          But yes, as you say, not everyone is near an SSPX chapel and of course in that case, they should be encouraged to attend another TLM – but, also, they should be warned about the need to be vigilant about the diocesan trappings which they are likely to encounter, which, of course, are now highly likely to include statues and prayer cards in honour of certain “saints”. You’ll get my drift!

  23. I get the impression, Benedict, that in answering John Scott (May 16th at 10.55 pm) you are answering yourself! Maybe I watch too many Hercule Poirot episodes……

  24. Margaret Mary, in answer to your question of 16 May at 12.01: Yes, my nephew did seek Confession on a weekday as his boat was only ashore for 12 hours. I still think it’s a sad day when a sailor cannot avail of Confession. Perhaps if priests didn’t treat the priesthood like any another job, they would have Mondays to minister to their flock! I don’t get a day off from being a dad!!

  25. Margaret Mary – it was probably me you heard it from! I saw so much of that early struggle to save the Mass, and have nothing but gratitude, respect and affection for all involved. It saddens me when SSPX people belittle their work. We are indebted to them, whether we realise it or not.

    It’s true that Rome wasn’t openly worried until Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated the bishops, but that is because Rome confidently expected the Una Voce movement to die out as those ‘attached to the previous forms’ died out. Rome was wrong, as Rome had to be, given what was at stake, but Rome, it’s true didn’t really see it until the consecrations were carried out.

    The bishops certainly do worry about people attending other traditional Masses, witness the treatment so often meted out to those priests who celebrate TLM under SP. It’s frustrating that I can’t name names and give examples, but I know you would be surprised to hear about some of them. The bishops worry about people attending the other traditional Masses because they can mendaciously dismiss the SSPX as ‘schismatic’ and ‘outside the Church’, whereas the SP Masses are the grit in the oyster and they want to get rid of them as much as they ever did. It has been noted that historically, where a bishop has installed a priest to celebrate a Sunday ‘indult Mass’ in reaction to an SSPX chapel being opened within his diocese, opposition to other priests wanting to celebrateTLM has often been increased.

    Like you, I’ve never heard a sermon at an SP Mass that the priest wouldn’t have given at a Novus Ordo Mass. But that is because those I have heard (with one exception) have been the sermons of orthodox priests who still preach about the Real Presence, death, judgement, hell and heaven, the reality of sin, the necessity of repentance, confession, etc., at ALL their Masses. One priest who has now gone to his eternal reward found his old copy of the ‘diocesan syllabus’ and used it week in and week out at his Masses. The Catechism of the Council of Trent was the basis of this syllabus and it ensured that the Catholic faithful were thoroughly catechised from the pulpit throughout the year. This is why Catholics pre-Vat.II knew the faith, and so did the fortunate little group attending the indult Mass in this good priest’s parish.

  26. Christina

    Goodness me! How blessed you are to benefit from all these orthodox priests who still preach the Traditional Faith at all Masses. Every sermon my Novus Ordo PP, a Monsignor Canon, gives is loaded with ecumenical heresies and religious Indifferentism. His references to “other Christian faiths” and “the values of other religious beliefs” constantly feature in his homilies, as do the words discipleship and non judgmental love. Interestingly enough, a word which he never uses is “Catholic”!

  27. Do I detect a note of sarcasm, Mikidiki? Or am I being paranoid? Perhaps I should explain a little more how I have been able to benefit from ‘all these orthodox priests’.

    For more than five years I had to travel around the UK most weekends, and, as I felt an obligation to attend Mass in any rite promulgated by the Church, I always googled to find the nearest local parish to wherever I would be, and the times of Masses. I do not recall a single NO Mass, with one exception, that wasn’t exactly as you describe, and worse. Many times I have been near to tears, and in some of them I have had to walk out. Bloggers won’t be surprised to hear that some of the worst were in Scotland.

    Incidentally, shortly after my visit I heard that the exceptional priest was moved to another parish by his bishop because the parishioners ganged up to complain about him, including, unbelievably, the gripe that ‘He doesn’t let us talk in the church’.

    I was indeed blessed in that I also had access to the lists of all the places where Indult, and later SP, Masses were celebrated, so if they were near enough to my weekend venue, then I didn’t need to google and I was able to go to TLM. So it is in these churches, all of them in the north of England and in Scotland and Wales that I heard complete orthodoxy from the pulpit. The one exception was in Wales, where I heard that ‘Our Lord comes to you in His word (the readings) exactly as He comes to you in Communion’. Nobody else batted an eyelid.

  28. Christina
    I sincerely apologise if my earlier comment contained even a trace of sarcasm. It was not meant to; however, on re-reading it I do see that you may have a point.
    No, I was genuinely astonished that you were able to benefit from many orthodox priests. TLM Masses, at which you say they officiated, are, where I am based, merely vague memories from a yesteryear when reverential worship in recognisably holy places was the norm.
    It could be that I, living in an area where the stark choice is a NO Mass or no Mass (I.e to lapse) have become resigned to attending protestantised Masses defiled by guitars, fiddles, drums and tambourines and often interrupted by outbursts of clapping as if one were part of an audience attending a gig or a concert.
    I repeat, truly, you are blessed. Others, such as myself, are not as fortunate.
    Best wishes.

  29. Christina, I never knew that Cardinal Heenan was silenced! Can you elaborate a little?

    Also, where would I get that list you mention: the indult list for Mass times?

    • Crofterlady,

      There are no indult Masses any more – Summorum Pontificum ended the bishops’ right to grant permissions and freed priests to offer the Mass without permission. If you check our Mass page, there is a list of Masses in Scotland provided either by Una Voce or since Summorum Pontificum. I think it’s up to date but there are phone numbers so you can contact the organisers to check.

      One of these days someone will read our website 😀

  30. Crofter Lady, I live in England, so the SP Masses are for England and Wales and some abroad. they are listed here http://www.lms.org.uk/find-a-mass/mass-listings and the SSPX Masses you will already know about. You’ll be surprised at how many there are. . Come away down to England for a wee holiday!

    I’m sorry that I made the remark about Cardinal Heenan being silenced, as it is rather misleading in that it seems to carry more weight than I intended. I was making something of an assumption based on the correspondence between him and Evelyn Waugh published in the latter’s book ‘A Bitter Trial’ which reveals the deep disquiet in both men about the liturgical changes underway at the end of Waugh’s life. The second book of Cardinal Heenan’s own autobiography ‘A Crown of Thorns’ is also instructive, given the Cardinal’s bleak description of the state of the Church just after Vat II contrasted with the closing paragraph of the book, referring to 1973 (one year after the imposition of NO) when he unbelievably rejoices that everything in the garden of the Church is (then) lovely.

    It is a fact that I have evidence that the LMS representative in Salford at the time of the liturgical changes had a stout ally in Bishop Holland whose letters to her encouraged her to keep up the good fight.He called her ‘the Lord’s little Swordswoman’. His letters to her ceased abruptly when the NO was imposed. That makes me assume that he was ‘silenced’, either from above or by his own ‘obedient’ conscience.

    • Salford has only one Sunday TLM [St. Chad’s, Ex Holy Name]; one Saturday a.m. [near SSPX chapel]; one Friday, Bury [centre]; the last isolated between Bury and Bolton.

      As it happens, I visited Salford Cathedral shop, yesterday, to buy two 60th. ordination anniversary cards and revisited the Cathedral. The congregation space has been reduced to that of a small parish church, whilst the ‘worship’/altar space is huge – presumably to cater for mass concelebrations and Chrism Masses. A practical reflection of the state of the Diocese? I have to add that they have not stinted on the cost of refurbishment – very posh, but sterile.

  31. Sixupman: that particular Sunday Mass was established, by the then Bishop Kelly, probably because an SSPX chapel had been opened in Manchester. That this happens has been well noted on the blog before. Although Bishop Kelly, and later Bishop Brain, continued to grant permissions in writing for Masses in other churches in the diocese when requested, notably when the Norbertines were still present there, some people claimed to have been told that the only old-rite Mass in Salford approved by the Bishop was the one celebrated at Holy Name. It’s a pity, then, that now only people at the southern edge of the diocese have access to a Sunday Mass, and a pity, too, that an entire congregation of between 30 and 70, routinely attending a monthly Sunday Mass in the north in Samlesbury, had to migrate from Samlesbury to nearby Penwortham in the archdiocese of Liverpool, thanks to a kindly PP who allowed an ICKSP priest to say the Masses there.

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