A New Mercy: Mercy As “Way of Life”…

What Religion Is This?

by Christopher A. Ferrara
November 8, 2016

 

Mercy, said Francis, is not God's forgiveness of sin through Baptism or the absolution of a repentant sinner in the confessional, in the manner Christ ordained when He commissioned His Church (cf. John 20:23). Rather, he opined, "the mystery of mercy is not to be celebrated in words alone, but above all by deeds, by a truly merciful way of life marked by disinterested love, fraternal service and sincere sharing."

“The mystery of mercy is not to be celebrated in words alone, but above all by deeds, by a truly merciful way of life marked by disinterested love, fraternal service and sincere sharing.”

In a brief address to an “inter-religious audience” at the Vatican on November 3, Francis spoke on “the theme of mercy,” but without a single reference to the King of Mercy, Jesus Christ, the sole merciful savior of mankind, nor any reference to the sacraments of the Church that Christ established precisely to show His mercy toward men of good will. 

Alluding vaguely to “the Christian message” while saying absolutely nothing about the grace of repentance that must precede the grace of justification and the regeneration of the soul of fallen man, Francis sketched instead a concept of mercy seemingly designed to accommodate any and all religions, so-called.

Mercy, said Francis, is not God’s forgiveness of sin through Baptism or the absolution of a repentant sinner in the confessional, in the manner Christ ordained when He commissioned His Church (cf. John 20:23). Rather, he opined, “the mystery of mercy is not to be celebrated in words alone, but above all by deeds, by a truly merciful way of life marked by disinterested love, fraternal service and sincere sharing.”

What does this have to do with Divine Mercy for the sinner who repents and turns to God, which was supposedly the theme of the Year of Mercy now concluding? The address seems instead to conflate Divine Mercy with human acts of kindness devoid of any motive of supernatural grace.

Indeed, Francis goes on to say that “The Church increasingly desires to adopt this way of life, also as part of her ‘duty to foster unity and charity’ among all men and women…” The Church is depicted as an organization that has only recently begun to discover fully what mercy means! It means, according to Francis, a “way of life” — again, without reference to Divine Mercy toward repentant sinners.

Mercy as a “way of life” — rather than a divine action toward the sinner — is something that anyone, no matter what he believes, can possess. Thus, says Francis, “[t]he religions are likewise called to this way of life, in order to be, particularly in our own day, messengers of peace and builders of communion, and to proclaim, in opposition to all those who sow conflict, division and intolerance, that ours is a time of fraternity.”

Note well: “the religions” are referenced indifferently, as if they were all on equal footing with respect to the quality of mercy, which is reduced, in essence, to social work and brotherhood.

Continuing this indifferentist, pan-religious refrain, Francis declares that “mercy” as he conceives it — quoting himself — is that quality which is “more open to dialogue, the better to know and understand one another; eliminates every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect; and drives out every form of violence and discrimination (Misericordiae Vultus, 23). This is pleasing to God and constitutes an urgent task, responding not only to today’s needs but above all to the summons to love which is the soul of all authentic religion.”

Not a word here about the supernatural grace of charity obtained and maintained through the sacraments instituted by Christ, nor the divine action involved in God’s mercy thus obtained. Rather, again, we see only an appeal to do-goodism depicted as the “soul of all authentic religion.”

As Francis further declares (once again quoting himself), “mercy” also means the practice of environmental conservation:

Mercy extends also to the world around us, to our common home, which we are called to protect and preserve from unbridled and rapacious consumption. Our commitment is needed for an education to sobriety and to respect, to a more simple and orderly way of life, in which the resources of creation are used with wisdom and moderation, with concern for humanity as a whole and coming generations, not simply the interests of our particular group and the benefits of the present moment. Today in particular, ‘the gravity of the ecological crisis demands that we all look to the common good, embarking on a path of dialogue which requires patience, self-discipline and generosity'” (Laudato Si’, 201).

So, “authentic religion” now expands to include not merely the one and only religion that God established, but also any and all religions whose adherents do good, including caring for the environment. “Mercy” thus defined would therefore be an element, according to Francis, of virtually all religions that advocate doing good:

“The theme of mercy is familiar to many religious and cultural traditions, where compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life; in the words of an ancient proverb: ‘death is hard and stiff; life is soft and supple’ (Tao-Te-Ching, 76). To bow down with compassionate love before the weak and needy is part of the authentic spirit of religion, which rejects the temptation to resort to force, refuses to barter human lives and sees others as brothers and sisters, and never mere statistics. To draw near to all those living in situations that call for our concern, such as sickness, disability, poverty, injustice and the aftermath of conflicts and migrations: this is a summons rising from the heart of every genuine religious tradition. It is the echo of the divine voice heard in the conscience of every person, calling him or her to reject selfishness and to be open….”

When Francis finally gets around to mentioning Divine Mercy, he appears to make God’s forgiveness of sin available to anyone who practices mercy on a human level whether or not it involves an act of supernatural charity motivated by divine grace:

“How important this is, when we consider today’s widespread fear that it is impossible to be forgiven, rehabilitated and redeemed from our weaknesses. For us Catholics, among the most meaningful rites of the Holy Year is that of walking with humility and trust through the door – the Holy Door – to find ourselves fully reconciled by the mercy of God, who forgives our trespasses. But this demands that we too forgive those who trespass against us (cf. Mt 6:12), the brothers and sisters who have offended us. We receive God’s forgiveness in order to share it with others. Forgiveness is surely the greatest gift we can give to others, because it is the most costly. Yet at the same time, it is what makes us most like God.”

But, as the Church has always taught, in fallen man the imago Dei — the likeness to God — can be restored only by the grace of justification following the grace of repentance for sin. And the ordinary means of justification are Baptism and, after Baptism, absolution of mortal sin by way of Confession, about which Francis has nothing whatever to say to an audience desperately in need of the helps only the Church that Christ established can provide.

Thus does the Catholic faith — the one, true, divinely revealed religion — fade into insignificance in the grand scheme of “authentic religion” reduced to doing good and forgiving others without any obligation to assent to revealed truth, avail oneself of the divinely instituted sacraments, or indeed profess any particular religious belief at all. Catholics may be reconciled in their Catholic way (certainly not by merely walking through a Holy Door with humility and trust), but anyone who simply forgives, on a human level, attains the divine likeness.

Driving home the point, lest anyone miss it, Francis concludes by declaring: “May the religions be wombs of life, bearing the merciful love of God to a wounded and needy humanity; may they be doors of hope helping to penetrate the walls erected by pride and fear.” All religions “bear the merciful love of God,” no matter what errors or superstitions they involve. All that matters, according to Francis, is that their adherents show forgiveness and brotherhood toward others and care for the environment.

Referring to the recent debacle of the Pope’s visit to Sweden to “commemorate” the Protestant Rebellion launched by Luther, the respected traditional Catholic scholar Roberto de Mattei observed: “What surfaced during the ecumenical meeting between Pope Francis and the World Lutheran Federation on October 31st in Lund, seems to be a new religion.”

A new religion indeed. And certainly not the religion established by God Incarnate in the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. But then, as Pius XI warned about those who would embrace the then-nascent “ecumenical movement” with its pan-Christian gatherings:

“Certainly such attempts can nowise be approved by Catholics, founded as they are on that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule. Not only are those who hold this opinion in error and deceived, but also in distorting the idea of true religion they reject it, and little by little, turn aside to naturalism and atheism, as it is called; from which it clearly follows that one who supports those who hold these theories and attempt to realize them, is altogether abandoning the divinely revealed religion.

As the human element of the Church has come to accept and participate not only in pan-Christian but also pan-religious spectacles, such as this address by Francis, we can consider Pius XI’s warning a prophecy fulfilled, along with the prophecy undoubtedly contained in the integral Third Secret of Fatima.   Source – fatima.org

Comment:

Well, we’ve had a new Mass, new catechism, new rosary, new canon law, new morality,  blah blah, so why not a new “mercy”? 

Church Militant aka Soldiers of Christ…

Featured Image

Catholics protest at Tim Kaine’s parish: If priest won’t ‘instruct parishioners’ on Church teaching, we will

RICHMOND, Virginia, August 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Roughly a dozen pro-life activists protested Sunday outside of pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine’s Catholic parish. 

“Sen. Kaine has failed in his duty as a Catholic public servant to defend the preborn and Fr. Arsenault has failed in his duty as pastor to admonish Sen. Kaine and to instruct the rest of his congregation on the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding the sanctity of human life,” Virginia pro-life activist Maggie Egger told LifeSiteNews in an email.

“I, along with a group of Catholics from various parishes around the Diocese of Richmond, went to St. Elizabeth’s yesterday to do what Sen. Kaine and Fr. Arsenault will not: defend our preborn brethren by exposing abortion as the decapitation and dismemberment of tiny human beings, instruct the parishioners of St. Elizabeth’s on the teachings of the Church, and inform them that Sen. Kaine publicly supports the decapitation and dismemberment of tiny human beings under the guise of being ‘personally pro-life,’” Egger said.

Kaine’s parish, St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, gave him a standing ovation at Mass after he became Hillary Clinton’s running mate. His pastor, Father Jim Arsenault, praised Kaine in an NPR interview.

“I know that he’s definitely against capital punishment and works to help defend those who are on death row,” Arsenault said. “The church has a teaching with regard to we’re pro-life, and we believe in that seamless garment of life. We respect sometimes lawmakers make difficult decisions.” Arsenault was commenting on how as governor of Virginia, Kaine oversaw several executions. The priest told NPR that he thought the issues most important to Kaine were women’s pay and “social justice issues.”

Frances Bouton, one of the event’s organizers, told LifeSiteNews that the protest didn’t disrupt Mass and the pro-life activists felt St. Elizabeth’s was an appropriate venue to protest given it was where Kaine was praised so heavily after becoming the Democratic vice presidential candidate. She said the protestors waited until the 9 a.m. Mass had begun and latecomers had arrived before setting up outside the church.

Most of the people at the Mass saw the anti-Kaine signs outside St. Elizabeth’s when Mass was over, Bouton said, but none of them spoke to the protestors.

“We understand that the priest had told his parishioners … not to talk to the media. We don’t know whether that also included … us,” she said.

“There were some people who stood at the top of the stairs and spent time reading our signs” after Mass, Bouton said. “Some of them took a long time to read the signs.”

The protestors’ message to St. Elizabeth’s was “by honoring Tim Kaine you are supporting all that he supports,” Bouton said.

Kaine touts his Catholic faith and Jesuit education but supports abortion and same-sex “marriage.” As governor of Virginia, Kaine opposed partial-birth abortion and authorized the state’s “Choose Life” license plate option. Nevertheless, “I don’t think ultimately we ought to be criminalizing abortion,” he said at the time, and maintained his support for abortion as governor.

But once he became a U.S. Senator, the role of Kaine’s “personally pro-life” views in his politics became nonexistent.

Planned Parenthood gives him a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate, when he has supported the abortion giant. NARAL Pro-Choice America also gives him a 100 percent for his time in the Senate. Kaine co-sponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill to undermine pro-life laws across the country.

Upon announcing Kaine as Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential candidate, the Clinton campaign immediately said Kaine had decided to support taxpayer-funded abortion in order to assume that role. Several days later, Kaine denied doing so

Kaine said he has become “comfortable with the notion that I can have my personal views but I’m going to support the president of the United States — and I will.”

“In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Catholics and people of good will are called to perform acts of mercy,” the protestors said in a press release. “In the Catholic Church, we are given specific corporal and spiritual works of mercy — seven of each.  The corporal works include feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and burying the dead.  But it is two spiritual works of mercy [that] we hope to perform in front of St. Elizabeth’s Church — admonishing the sinner and instructing the ignorant.”

There are a lot of “low-information Catholics” who “just haven’t been [properly] catechized,” Bouton said, and when “they don’t see bishops” calling out pro-abortion politicians, they are led to believe one can separate faith and public actions as a politician. “In this particular circumstance,” it’s a scandal that Kaine’s priest is praising him, Bouton said, and this can lead to further confusion.

Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo has said Catholics have a duty to determine their worthiness to receive Holy Communion “through an upright and informed conscience.” He has not ordered priests in his diocese to stop admitting Kaine to Holy Communion.

Canon 915 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law instructs that those “persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

“No parishioners talked to us … a few took pictures,” Egger said. “And when Fr. Arsenault was asked a question on his way past us to the rectory, he wouldn’t even look up at us.”  Click here to read the original Lifesitenews report with more photos of the group…

Comment:

WOW!  Now, those are Catholics, Confirmed Soldiers of Christ! 

Shouldn’t we be doing this sort of thing in Scotland and the wider UK? We’ve tried the letter-writing, we’ve tried petitions to enforce Canon 915, we’ve done the hand-wringing all round; nothing has worked. Would direct action make any difference – didn’t seem to make any difference to the priest in the above parish or his parishioners, let alone the bishop. Dead consciences. Still, it is, is it not, the sort of “in your face” militancy that just might hit home on our turf, if only because the clergy and hierarchy hate adverse publicity.  To be exposed as negligent, with “Canon 915” screaming forth from posters, just might have an impact.  Certainly, on the few occasions when we have publicly gathered a few faithful to protest (e.g. when St Patrick’s church in Glasgow was handed over to Buddhists for a concert) we felt that, at least, we had alerted those with open minds and hearts to the scandalous nature of the event.

Time to do more of this, perhaps close to elections – to name and shame the pro-abortion “Catholic” MPs/MSPs?  

Ideally, of course, it shouldn’t be left to us; we would be happy to follow the lead of the pro-life groups but they tend not to like this sort of thing.  A tad distasteful, although not half as distasteful as the sight of a murdered baby in a stainless steel dish, or the sight of the “Catholic” legislators responsible lining up in the Communion queue on Sundays.

So, ought we to consider following the example of these American cousins of ours? What thinkest thou, folks?

Pope Betrays Chinese Catholics

[Pope Francis] is preparing …to grant the communist authorities the privilege of selecting [episcopal] candidates. And he is exiling to an island in the Pacific the highest ranking Chinese archbishop in the curia, contrary to the agreement. But in China, Cardinal Zen has already taken the lead in the rebellion by Sandro Magister 

Communist appointed bishop in 2010

Communist appointed bishop in 2010

ROME, August 14, 2016 – In China, among the one hundred and nine Catholic bishops there are eight who have been consecrated at the behest of the communist authorities and who have never received the pope’s approval, thereby incurring excommunication, a couple of them with children and lovers.

But for none other than these eight, by the end of this summer or at the latest before the end of the jubilee Francis is ready to perform a spectacular gesture: a pardon.

Francis missed another stunning gesture by just a hair’s breadth last September 26, during his journey to Cuba and the United States.

That day, his touchdown in New York on his way to Philadelphia coincided with the landing of Chinese president Xi Jinping, who was expected at the United Nations. Everything had been calculated for the two to cross paths “accidentally” at the airport and exchange a greeting. Xi was aware of this ardent desire of the pope, but in the end he let it drop and the meeting did not take place.

From that moment on, however, the secret contacts between the Vatican and Beijing underwent an acceleration. In October and then in January a delegation of six representatives of the Holy See went to the Chinese capital. And in April of this year, the two sides set up a joint working group that now seems to have come to an understanding over a point that the Vatican takes very seriously: the appointment of bishops.

Since it has been in power, in fact, the Chinese communist party has wanted to equip itself with a submissive Church separate from Rome, with bishops of its own appointment ordained without the pope’s approval, beholden to a Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association that Benedict XVI called “irreconcilable” with Catholic doctrine.

A Church of the regime, therefore, on the verge of schism with its eight excommunicated bishops, contrasted with an “underground” Church with about thirty bishops earnestly faithful to the pope, which however pays all the costs of clandestinity – oppression, surveillance, arrest, abduction.

And in the middle the vast gray zone of the remaining dozens of bishops who were ordained illegitimately but then were more or less reconciled with Rome, or were ordained with the parallel recognition of Rome and Beijing but must still remain under the iron control of the communist authorities.

The bishop of Shanghai, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, ordained in 2007 with the twofold approval of the pope and the government, has been under house arrest for four years for the simple offense of having resigned from the Patriotic Association. Two months ago he retracted, but he is still deprived of his liberty. The eighty-five-year-old Joseph Zen Zekiun (in the photo), who has more freedom of speech in Hong Kong, has called “inevitable” the suspicion that this retraction was also desired by the Vatican, just to reach an agreement at any price.

That an agreement has already been reached was confirmed in recent days by Zen’s successor in the diocese of Hong Kong, Cardinal John Tong, with an open letter released in Chinese, English, and Italian that bears all the marks of wanting to prepare the faithful to make the best of a bad lot:

> Card. Tong: Communion of the Church in China with the Universal Church

Because the solution at which Tong hints is one of those against which Cardinal Zen has already raised covering fire to the point of threatening conscientious objection:

> Card. Zen: My concerns over China-Holy See dialogue and repercussions on Chinese Church

The example that is brought up most often is that of Vietnam, where the candidate for bishop is proposed by the Vatican but the government can veto him, and then on to other candidates until the government approves one of them.

But for China, the solution of which Cardinal Tong appears to have knowledge sees the roles reversed. The candidate will be selected and proposed to the Vatican by the Chinese episcopal conference. Only that this conference is a creature of the communist party, completely at the beck and call the regime, devoid of “underground” bishops and with one of the excommunicated eight as its president.

“Let us dare to believe that Pope Francis will accept nothing that could endanger the communion of the Church in China with the universal Church,” Tong wrote.

But the pope’s pardon of the eight illegitimate bishops will certainly not suffice to reassure him, Zen, and most Chinese Catholics.  Source – Sandro Magister – And click here to read Cardinal Zen’s outspoken blog post dated 17 January, 2016

Comment

If a Communist Government may choose candidates to be bishops in the Catholic Church during a period of Vatican II “Springtime”,  what was the problem with the episcopal ordinations carried out by Archbishop Lefebvre at a time of crisis?  Why the fuss?

Our sympathy must go to the Catholics doing their best to keep the Faith in the (real) Catholic  Church in China, forced to operate underground due to the ongoing persecution of priests and faithful, and now betrayed, it seems, by the Pope himself. 

Am I missing something? Is there any justification for this apparent betrayal?  

“Deaconesses”: Phoebe A Red Herring

“Deaconesses,” Strictly Speaking, Never Existed
On Francis’ New “Deaconess” Panel

by John Vennari   – Catholic Family News

woman_minissterIf “deaconesses” are approved, we will face an embarrassing imitation of contemporary Protestant practice – ministerettes in goofy robes pretending to be men, usurping activities that belong to the priest alone. 

There never was nor can there ever be the office of “deaconess” in the Catholic Church.

When I use the word “deaconess” in this context, I mean a female counterpart to the male office of deacon. There was never any such office.

If the term “deaconess” appears in Church history, we find it to be an imprecise term that will vary not only from age to age, but from one geographic location to the next. Father Aimé George Martimont, author of the scholarly and definitive work on the subject titled Deaconesses, An Historical Study, observes “The Christians of antiquity did not have a single, fixed idea of what deaconesses were supposed to be.”1

Yet on August 2 of this year, Pope Francis created a commission to study the possibility of allowing women to serve as deacons in the Catholic Church. Pursuing such a venture can only ignite further chaos in the Church and confusion among the faithful.

Extremely Limited Function

There was never an office of deaconess in the Latin Church.2 We do come across references to deaconesses in various Greek and Eastern Rites. Yet the office is not uniformly found in the Oriental churches, and all mention is sporadic between the second and tenth centuries. Some Eastern Church territories, such as the church in Egypt, Ethiopia and the Maronites never accepted any office of deaconess.3

The women who were called “deaconesses” were not ordained in any sacramental sense of the word, but received a kind of blessing for certain ecclesiastical service. These “deaconesses” were primarily consecrated women whose work was highly restricted – usually limited assistance to other females. This included assisting women at baptisms and other services where the presence of men would have offended modesty.

“Moreover,” writes Father Martimort, “it must be even more strongly emphasized that deaconesses were never allowed to teach or preach in public.”4

It is of no use to appeal to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans in which Phoebe the “deaconess” is mentioned. The mind of the Church on this matter is summarized in the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. We read, “The Angelic Doctor commenting on the New Testament … saw Phoebe in the Epistle to the Romans only as one of those women who ‘served’ Christ and the Apostles, or who carried out works of charity in the manner of widows of 1 Timothy 5:10.”5

As for the Latin Church, we provide three ancient and authoritative texts that demonstrate how foreign was any idea in the early Church of women deaconesses, women’s ordination, and women serving in the sanctuary.

As early as the 4th century, there is the fiery directive from the bishops of the Council of Nimes in 396 A.D.:

“Equally, it has been reported by some that, contrary to the apostolic discipline – indeed a thing unheard of until now – it has been observed, though it is not known exactly where, that women have been raised to the ministry of deacons. Ecclesiastical discipline does not permit this, for it is unseemly; such an ordination should be annulled, since it is irregular; and vigilance is required lest in the future anyone should have the boldness to act in this fashion again.”
The Council of Orange in 441 A.D. spoke likewise,

“In no way whatsoever should deaconesses ever be ordained. If there already are deaconesses, they should bow their heads beneath the blessing which is given to all the people.”6

Then there is the forceful decree Necessaria rerum of Pope Gelasius, addressed to the bishops of southern Italy, dated March 11, 494. While not dealing directly with deaconesses, it manifests how alien was the idea of women in the sanctuary performing any form of priestly function:

“It is with impatience that we learned this: divine things have suffered such a degradation that female ministers serving at the sacred altars have been approved. The exercise of roles reserved to men has been given to the sex which they do not belong.”7

What would the Bishops of Nimes, the Council of Orange and Pope Gelasius say about the plethora of lady-readers, altar girls, “let us pray to the Lord” prayer leaders, liturgical dancers and Eucharistic ministerettes now fluttering in great numbers throughout post-Conciliar sanctuaries?

No Continuity

As we follow the work of Father Martimont – whose calm, meticulous, thorough scholarship includes vast historical references from liturgical texts, euchologies (Eastern Rite), pontificals, ecclesiastical legislation, homilies, letters and other pertinent documents – we learn “the continuity of true ecclesiastical discipline was lacking in the case of deaconesses.”8 There is no continuity from the ancient days of the Church until now. Only a modernist pick-and-choose antiquarianism – forbidden by the Church – could “justify” any thought of establishing the office of deaconess.

Even in Eastern Rites the practice was not observed “always, everywhere and by everyone.” The presence of deaconesses was so infrequent and scattered that we see in the writings of St. Jerome, a man who traveled widely in the East and knew it well, he “nowhere spoke about deaconesses, not even in his letter 394 to the priest Nepotian, to which he indicates the proper attitude to adopt toward virgins and widows.”9

As noted earlier, the institution of deaconesses was most often involved with the baptism of adult women. In various Eastern Rites at the time, in a ritual that connects baptism with Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, adults were baptized naked – a practice happily long extinct.10

Thus writes Father Martimont, “’As long as adult baptism were the norm, the necessity that brought about its creation [the office of deaconess] was geographically limited and rapidly becoming obsolete.” Even during this time the woman assisting the adult women being baptized did not necessarily have to be a “deaconess” but could be a pious matron of the congregation.11 Again, the practice only occurred in various churches of the Eastern Rite, never in the Latin Rite.

A concise summary of the deaconess’ limited function is contained in the Canonical Resolutions of James of Edessa (Eastern Rite) written somewhere between 683 and 708 A.D. The instruction proceeds in a dialogue format:

Addai: Does the deaconess, like the deacon, have the power to put a portion of the sacred Host into the consecrated chalice?

James: In no way can she do this. The deaconess did not become a deaconess in order to serve at the altar but rather for the sake of women who are ill.

Addai: I would like to learn in a few words what the powers of the deaconess in the Church are.

James: She has no power over the altar, because when she was instituted, it was not in the name of the altar, but only to fulfill certain functions in the Church. These are her sole powers: to sweep the sanctuary and to light the lamps, and she is only permitted to perform these two functions if no priest or deacon is available. If she is in a convent of women, she can remove the sacred Hosts from the tabernacle [= cabinet], only because there is no priest or deacon present, and give them out to the other sisters only or to small children who may also be present. [Comment: Keep in mind this is within the context of the Eastern Rite where the consecrated Eucharist is not touched by human hands, but delivered to the communicant by means of a small spoon – JV] But it is not permitted to her to take the Hosts off the altar, nor carry them to the altar nor indeed in any way to touch the table of life [the altar]. She anoints adult women when they are baptized; she visits women who are ill and cares for them. These are the only powers possessed by deaconesses with regard to the work of the priests.”12

Even if we come upon ancient Eastern Rite rituals that speak of “ordination” of deaconess, the word “ordination” is here used in a loose sense that has nothing to do with the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The Patriarch Severus of Antioch, writing in the sixth century, explains, “In the case of deaconesses … ordination is performed less with regards to the needs of the mystery than exclusively with regard to doing honor.” He continues, “In the cities, deaconesses habitually exercise a ministry relating to the divine bath of regeneration in the case of women who are being baptized.”13

Anachronism and Ambiguity

The office of deaconess – sporadic as it was – virtually disappeared by the time of the eleventh century. So much so that Greek and Eastern Canonists of the Middle Ages did not even know who or what deaconesses were, for by then deaconesses had long since ceased to exist.14 The office had become an obsolete curiosity.

Nothing could be more anachronistic than an attempt to “revive” the office of deaconess in a manner unrelated to its limited practice in the early Church, and use it as an official title to formalize today’s raging novelty of women in the sanctuary and “lay ministers” of the Eucharist. ratzinger-lutheran

Yet this is precisely the aim of Francis’ new deaconess panel, which consists of six men, six women – a politically-correct gender-balanced structure rather than a panel of scholars of unquestionable competence regarding the Catholic Faith of all time.

The panel includes Phyllis Zagano, senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University in New York, a bold advocate of women’s ordination.15 It’s not hard to guess what the panel’s conclusions may be – a forgone conclusion in favor of approving some form of “deaconesses.” As we know from the British satire Yes, Prime Minister, “The government never publicly opens the debate until it has already privately made up its mind.”

We are painfully aware of the distasteful tactics of modern discussions that seek to introduce more revolution: Muddying the historical waters, imprecision of terms, clever use of anachronisms, calculated ambiguity, significant silence concerning any historic fact that frustrates the forgone conclusion of the panel’s ultimate aim. Combine all this with the massive ignorance of today’s un-catechized Catholics who are children of the Vatican II revolution, under the sway of the bucking-bronco Bergoglio pontificate that favors novelty and deprecates alleged “small-minded rules.” The results can only be lethal for doctrinal and liturgical integrity.

“Fraught with ambiguity”

There is no need to re-study the matter of deaconesses, especially when the definitive work of Father Martimort already demonstrates that the ancient, sporadic office of deaconess has nothing to do with women performing priestly functions.

We can do no better than close with the final paragraph of Father Mortimort’s superb work. He writes: “The complexity of the facts about deaconesses and the proper context of these facts prove to be quite extraordinary. There exists a danger of distorting both the facts and the texts whenever one is dealing with them secondhand. It is also difficult to avoid anachronisms when trying to resolve the problem of the present by reference to the solutions appropriate to a past that is long gone.”

Father Martimort concludes: “For the fact is that the ancient institution of deaconess, even in its own time, was encumbered with not a few ambiguities, as we have seen. In my opinion, if the restoration of the institution of deaconesses were indeed to be sought after so many centuries, such a restoration itself could only be fraught with ambiguity.”16

Any move toward the establishment of “deaconess” stands already condemned by the consistent teaching of the Popes, manifested in that of Benedict XV who warned, “We wish to have this law of the ancients held in reverence,‘let nothing new be introduced, but only what has been handed down.’ This must be held an inviolable law in matters of Faith.”17

A new office of deaconeness introduced in the post-Conciliar Church will resemble nothing of history and contain nothing that has been handed down. The practice existed only sporadically in various geographical locations of the Eastern church, was severely restricted in its activity, and had disappeared by the 11th century.

If “deaconesses” are approved, we will face an embarrassing imitation of contemporary Protestant practice – ministerettes in goofy robes pretending to be men, usurping activities that belong to the priest alone. The office of deaconess will further accustom Catholics to see women in roles of ecclesiastical leadership and pave the way for more discussion of “women priests.”

The introduction of the destructive novelty of “deaconess” can only lead to further degradation of the Church and the priesthood. It must be firmly resisted. Source

Comment:

We’ve covered this topic from time to time in the newsletter, pointing out that female deaconesses in the early Church had a very limited role indeed, and never did this role involve participation in liturgy, similar to male deacons.  The Pope has already stressed that there can be no women priests. Assuming that he is not changing his mind about that, does he not, then, realise that he is giving false hope and propaganda material to the proponents of women’s ordination by creating this entirely unnecessary “study” into the possibility of allowing “deaconesses” in the Church?  I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with John Vennari’s closing remarks that “the introduction of the destructive novelty of “deaconess” can only lead to further degradation of the Church and the priesthood [and] must be firmly resisted.”  What about you? Do you agree? 

Two Religions Confront Each Other – Catholics Must Now Choose…

Archbishop Lefebvre

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

“Two religions confront each other; we are in a dramatic situation and it is impossible to avoid a choice, but the choice is not between obedience and disobedience. What is suggested to us, what we are expressly invited to do, what we are persecuted for not doing, is to choose an appearance of obedience. But even the Holy Father cannot ask us to abandon our faith. We therefore choose to keep it and we cannot be mistaken in clinging to what the Church has taught for two thousand years. The crisis is profound, cleverly organised and directed, and by this token one can truly believe that the mastermind is not a man but Satan himself. For it is a masterstroke of Satan to get Catholics to disobey the whole of Tradition in the name of obedience.” (Open Letter to Confused Catholics, page 133 – emphasis added.)

In conversation over the weekend with Catholics who sometimes attend the Traditional Latin Mass, courtesy of Summorum Pontificum, including those who are admirers of the FSSP clergy,  I have been astonished at the vitriol which is still hurled, mercilessly, at the Society of St Pius X.  The main gripe against the Society rests on their alleged “disobedience”, the fact that they are not under the authority of the local bishops,thus failing to comply with Canon Law. This is the be all and end all to those who remain, whether culpably or not I can’t say, ignorant of the history of the SSPX and the writings of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre – not to say the correct application of Canon Law in an emergency situation. 

I thought, therefore, that it might be worth returning to this subject, which we’ve often discussed on this blog, in the light of this most recent conversation, in which the Society of St Pius X was repeatedly described as being “outside the Church” with some pretty abusive name-calling directed at the Society bishops and priests.  Below, therefore, is the chapter on True and False Obedience, from Archbishop Lefebvre’s Open Letter to Confused Catholics. But let me make my own position crystal clear at the outset.  I have long considered the crisis in the Church to be focused on the SSPX Vs Modernism. I’m now confirmed in that view. All the other allegedly “traditional” groups are mere distractions. They are (as one friend put it) “comfort-zoners” – they have compromised to gain admittance to the dioceses and, to a greater or lesser extent, have chosen to go along to get along with the Modernist Hierarchy.  You may disagree.  If you still disagree after reading the writings of Archbishop Lefebvre below, I’d jes LOVE to hear from you – Editor.

ArchbishopLefebvrequotepicture

Indiscipline is everywhere in the Church. Committees of priests send demands to their bishops, bishops disregard pontifical exhortations, even the recommendations and decisions of the Council are not respected and yet one never hears uttered the word “disobedience,” except as applied to Catholics who wish to remain faithful to Tradition and just simply keep the Faith.

Obedience is a serious matter; to remain united to the Church’s Magisterium and particularly to the Supreme Pontiff is one of the conditions of salvation. We are deeply aware of this and nobody is more attached to the present reigning successor of Peter, or has been more attached to his predecessors, than we are. I am speaking here of myself and of the many faithful driven out of the churches, and also of the priests who are obliged to celebrate Mass in barns as in the French Revolution, and to organize alternative catechism classes in town and country.

We are attached to the Pope for as long as he echoes the apostolic traditions and the teachings of all his predecessors. It is the very definition of the successor of Peter that he is the keeper of this deposit. Pius IX teaches us in Pastor Aeternus: “The Holy Ghost has not in fact been promised to the successors of Peter to permit them to proclaim new doctrine according to His revelations, but to keep strictly and to expound faithfully, with His help, the revelations transmitted by the Apostles, in other words the Deposit of Faith.”

The authority delegated by Our Lord to the Pope, the Bishops and the priesthood in general is for the service of faith. To make use of law,  institutions and authority to annihilate the Catholic Faith and no longer to transmit life, is to practise spiritual abortion or contraception.

This is why we are submissive and ready to accept everything that is in conformity with our Catholic Faith, as it has been taught for two thousand years, but we reject everything that is opposed to it.

archbishplefebvrequote if my work is of God

For the fact is that a grave problem confronted the conscience and the faith of all Catholics during the pontificate of Paul VI. How could a Pope, true successor of Peter, assured of the assistance of the Holy Ghost, preside over the most vast and extensive destruction of the Church in her history within so short a space of time, something that no heresiarch has ever succeeded in doing? One day this question will have to be answered.

In the first half of the Fifth Century, St. Vincent of Lérins, who was a soldier before consecrating himself to God and acknowledged having been “tossed for a long time on the sea of the world before finding shelter in the harbor of faith,” spoke thus about the development of dogma: “Will there be no religious advances in Christ’s Church? Yes, certainly, there will be some very important ones, of such a sort as to constitute progress in the faith and not change. What matters is that in the course of ages knowledge, understanding and wisdom grow in abundance and in depth, in each and every individual as in the churches; provided always that there is identity of dogma and continuity of thought.” Vincent, who had experienced the shock of heresies, gives a rule of conduct which still holds good after fifteen hundred years: “What should the Catholic Christian therefore do if some part of the Church arrives at the point of detaching itself from the universal communion and the universal faith? What else can he do but prefer the general body which is healthy to the gangrenous and corrupted limb? And if some new contagion strives to poison, not just a small part of the Church but the whole Church at once, then again his great concern will be to attach himself to Antiquity which obviously cannot any more be seduced by any deceptive novelty.” 

In the Rogation-tide litanies the Church teaches us to say: “We beseech thee O Lord, maintain in Thy holy religion the Sovereign Pontiff and all the orders of ecclesiastical hierarchy.”  This means that such a disaster could very well happen.

In the Church there is no law or jurisdiction which can impose on a Christian a diminution of his faith. All the faithful can and should resist whatever interferes with their faith, supported by the catechism of their childhood. If they are faced with an order putting their faith in danger of corruption, there is an overriding duty to disobey.

It is because we judge that our faith is endangered by the post-conciliar reforms and tendencies, that we have the duty to disobey and keep the Tradition. Let us add this, that the greatest service we can render to the Church and to the successor of Peter is to reject the reformed and liberal Church. Jesus Christ, Son of God made man, is neither liberal nor reformable. On two occasions I have heard emissaries of the Holy See say to me: “The social Kingdom of Our Lord is no longer possible in our times and we must ultimately accept the plurality of religions.” This is exactly what they have said to me.

Well,  I am not of that religion. I do not accept that new religion. It is a liberal, modernist religion which has its worship, its priests, its faith, its catechism, its ecumenical Bible translated jointly by Catholics, Jews, Protestants and Anglicans, all things to all men, pleasing everybody by frequently sacrificing the interpretation of the Magisterium. We do not accept this ecumenical Bible.  There is the Bible of God; it is His Word which we have not the right to mix with the words of men.

When I was a child, the Church had the same faith everywhere, the same sacraments and the same Sacrifice of the Mass. If anyone had told me then that it would be changed, I would not have believed him.  Throughout the breadth of Christendom we prayed to God in the same way.  The new liberal and modernist religion has sown division.

Christians are divided within the same family because of this confusion which has established itself; they no longer go to the same Mass and they no longer read the same books. Priests no longer know what to do; either they obey blindly what their superiors impose on them, and lose to some degree the faith of their childhood and youth, renouncing the promises they made when they took the Anti-Modernist Oath at the moment of their ordination; or on the other hand they resist, but with the feeling of separating themselves from the Pope, who is our father and the Vicar of Christ.  In both cases, what a heartbreak! Many priests have died of sorrow before their time.

How many more have been forced to abandon the parishes where for years they had practised their ministry, victims of open persecution by their hierarchy in spite of the support of the faithful whose pastor was being torn away! I have before me the moving farewell of one of them to the people of the two parishes of which he was priest: “In our interview on the… the Bishop addressed an ultimatum to me, to accept or reject the new religion; I could not evade the issue. Therefore, to remain faithful to the obligation of my priesthood, to remain faithful to the Eternal Church… I was forced and coerced against my will to retire… Simple honesty and above all my honor as a priest impose on me an obligation to be loyal, precisely in this matter of divine gravity (the Mass)… This is the proof of faithfulness and love that I must give to God and men and to you in particular, and it is on this that I shall be judged on the last day along with all those to whom was entrusted the same deposit (of faith).”

In the Diocese of Campos in Brazil, practically all the clergy have been driven out of the churches after the departure of Bishop Castro-Mayer, because they were not willing to abandon the Mass of all time which they celebrated there until recently.

Divisions affects the smallest manifestations of piety. In Val-de-Marne, the diocese got the police to eject twenty-five Catholics who used to recite the Rosary in a church which had been deprived of a priest for a long period of years. In the diocese of Metz, the bishops brought in the Communist mayor to cancel the loan of a building to a group of traditionalists. In Canada six of the faithful were sentenced by a Court, which is permitted by the law of that country to deal with this kind of matter, for insisting on receiving Holy Communion on their knees.  The Bishop of Antigonish had accused them of “deliberately disturbing the order and the dignity of religious service.”  The judge gave the “disturbers” a conditional discharge for six months! According to the Bishop, Christians are forbidden to bend the knee before God! Last year, the pilgrimage of young people to Chartres ended with a Mass in the Cathedral gardens because the Mass of St. Pius V was banned from the Cathedral itself. A fortnight later, the doors were thrown open for a spiritual concert in the course of which dances were performed by a former Carmelite nun.

Two religions confront each other; we are in a dramatic situation and it is impossible to avoid a choice, but the choice is not between obedience and disobedience.  What is suggested to us, what we are expressly invited to do, what we are persecuted for not doing, is to choose an appearance of obedience. But even the Holy Father cannot ask us to abandon our faith.

We therefore choose to keep it and we cannot be mistaken in clinging to what the Church has taught for two thousand years.  The crisis is profound, cleverly organized and directed, and by this token one can truly believe that the master mind is not a man but Satan himself.  For it is a master-stroke of Satan to get Catholics to disobey the whole of Tradition in the name of obedience.  A typical example is furnished by the “aggiornamento” of the religious societies. By obedience, monks and nuns are made to disobey the laws and constitutions of their founders, which they swore to observe when they made their profession. Obedience in this case should have been a categorical  refusal. Even legitimate authority cannot command a reprehensible and evil act. Nobody can oblige anyone to change his monastic vows into simple promises, just as nobody can make us become Protestants or modernists. St. Thomas Aquinas, to whom we must always refer, goes so far in the Summa Theologica as to ask whether the “fraternal correction” prescribed by Our Lord can be exercised towards our superiors. After having made all the appropriate distinctions he replies: “One can exercise fraternal correction towards superiors when it is a matter of faith.”

If we were more resolute on this subject, we would avoid coming to the point of gradually absorbing heresies.  At the beginning of the sixteenth century the English underwent an experience of the kind we are living through, but with the difference that it began with a schism. In all other respects the similarities are astonishing and should give us cause to ponder.  The new religion which was to take the name “Anglicanism” started with an attack on the Mass, personal confession and priestly celibacy. Henry VIII, although he had taken the enormous responsibility of separating his people from Rome, rejected the suggestions that were put to him, but a year after his death a statute authorized the use of English for the celebration of the Mass.  Processions were forbidden and a new order of service was imposed, the “Communion Service” in which there was no longer an Offertory.  To reassure Christians another statute forbade all sorts of changes, whereas a third allowed priests to get rid of the statues of the saints and of the Blessed Virgin in the churches. Venerable works of art were sold to traders,  just as today they go to antique dealers and flea markets.

Only a few bishops pointed out that the Communion Service infringed the dogma of the Real Presence by saying that Our Lord gives us His Body and Blood spiritually. The Confiteor, translated into the vernacular,  was recited at the same time by the celebrant and the faithful and served as an absolution.  The Mass was transformed into a meal or Communion. But even clear-headed bishops eventually ac-cepted the new Prayer Book in order to maintain peace and unity.  It is for exactly the same reasons that the post-Conciliar Church wants to impose on us the Novus Ordo. The English bishops in the Sixteenth Century affirmed that the Mass was a “memorial!” A sustained propaganda introduced Lutheran views into the minds of the faithful. Preachers had to be approved by the Government.

During the same period the Pope was only referred to as the “Bishop of Rome.” He was no longer the father but the brother of the other bishops and in this instance, the brother of the King of England who had made himself head of the national church.  Cranmer’s Prayer Book was composed by mixing parts of the Greek liturgy with parts of Luther’s liturgy.  How can we not be reminded of Mgr. Bugnini drawing up the so-called Mass of Paul VI, with the collaboration of six Protestant “observers” attached as experts to the Consilium for the reform of the liturgy? The Prayer Book begins with these words, “The Supper and Holy Communion, commonly called Mass…,” which foreshadows the notorious Article 7 of the Institutio Generalis of the New Missal, revived by the Lourdes Eucharistic Congress in 1981: “The Supper of the Lord, otherwise called the Mass.” The destruction of the sacred, to which I have already referred, also formed part of the Anglican reform. The words of the Canon were required to be spoken in a loud voice, as happens in the “Eucharists” of the present day.

The Prayer Book was also approved by the bishops “to preserve the internal unity of the Kingdom.” Priests who continued to say the “Old Mass” incurred penalties ranging from loss of income to removal pure and simple, with life imprisonment for further offences. We have to be grateful that these days they do not put traditionalist priests in prison.

Tudor England, led by its pastors, slid into heresy without realizing it, by accepting change under the pretext of adapting to the historical circumstances of the time.   Today the whole of Christendom is in danger of taking the same road. Have you thought that even if we who are of a certain age run a smaller risk, children and younger seminarians brought up in new catechisms, experimental psychology and sociology, without a trace of dogmatic or moral theology, canon law or Church history, are educated in a faith which is not the true one and take for granted the new Protestant notions with which they are indoctrinated?  What will tomorrow’s religion be if we do not resist?

You will be tempted to say: “But what can we do about it? It is a bishop who says this or that. Look, this document comes from the Catechetical Commission or some other official commission.”

That way there is nothing left for you but to lose your faith. But you do not have the right to react in that way.  St. Paul has warned us: “Even if an angel from Heaven came to tell you anything other than what I have taught you, do not listen to him.”

Such is the secret of true obedience. 

" ...pray insistently without tiring and weep with bitter tears in the secrecy of your heart. Implore our Celestial Father that, for the love of the Eucharistic Heart of My Most Holy Son and His Precious Blood shed with such generosity... He might take pity on His ministers and bring to an end those ominous times, and send to the Church the Prelate who will restore the spirit of Her priests." Our Lady of Good Success to Mother Mariana in the 17th century, foretelling the crisis in the Church in 20th century.

” …pray insistently without tiring and weep with bitter tears in the secrecy of your heart. Implore our Celestial Father that, for the love of the Eucharistic Heart of My Most Holy Son and His Precious Blood shed with such generosity… He might take pity on His ministers and bring to an end those ominous times, and send to the Church the Prelate who will restore the spirit of Her priests.”
(Our Lady of Good Success to Mother Mariana in the 17th century, foretelling the crisis in the Church in 20th century.) 

Theological Terrorism: Hierarchy Turning Christ’s Church Upside Down

From now on, says [Cardinal] Schönborn, all the previous magisterial texts concerning marriage and the family “have to be read in the light of Amoris Laetitia. [AL]” Read more here

But, hang on… The Church has always tested the authenticity, the veracity of teachings by examining them in the light of Catholic Tradition: that which has been believed always, everywhere, by all.  (Commonitory ch. II, §6; NPNF Series II Vol. XI p. 132)(ch. 2)   The author of the Commonitory used the pseudonym “Peregrinus” – he was later identified as St Vincent of Lérins. 

Nothing can be binding doctrine that does not pass that key test. If it’s new, if it has not been part of Christian belief from the beginning, then it cannot, by definition, be binding. Any elementary theology student of Christianity ought to be able to explain that, never mind a Cardinal or ten of the Catholic Church.

St Vincent of Lérins: We know true teachings because they have been believed everywhere, always, by all.

St Vincent of Lérins: We know true teachings because they have been believed everywhere, always, by all.

We speak often enough about the diabolical disorientation – the turning away from the right path – predicted by Our Lady at Fatima, but it is now crystal clear that the enemies within the Church are determined to literally turn the Church and Christ’s teaching upside down.  No longer do we apply the litmus test of judging beliefs against what has always been believed in the Church, always, everywhere and by all, but we must put those traditional teachings under scrutiny to see if they comply with the New Morality.

For how long will the few faithful priests and teachers who are still among us,  be able to go along with this new religion? It’s especially difficult for lay teachers with responsibility to pay the mortgage and feed their families. They’re in a minority within the Catholic teaching profession: the apostasy is widespread now, and I hear stories regularly of scandalous goings-on in Catholic schools, with the extra-curricular behaviour of Catholic teachers being no better (and often worse) than their secular colleagues. So there’s no use suggesting that they band together to form some kind of organisation. We’ve been there, done that, and found so few available candidates that we decided not to waste money printing the T shirts. And the traditional leaning clergy, generally speaking, seem to be doing their best in the circumstances in which they are living and working, but are, naturally enough,  not very keen to raise their heads too far above the parapet.  Misbehaving clergy are not considered a problem; they’re often found giving talks to the Glasgow Glitterati, and invariably enjoy promotions, but a priest who is suspected of being a tad too traditional-leaning is looking at early retirement (best scenario) or possibly even a new career.

While the Archbishop of Glasgow is busily preparing courses for his priests and teachers to learn how best to spread the immoral teachings found in AL, it might be worth reflecting on the fact that while there’s plenty of talk in the blogosphere about whether or not it is possible to depose a pope (notably Pope Francis) nobody seems to have considered the possibility of removing a bishop. There is a process, but, of course, it’s unlikely to happen these days. Still, making the necessary noises might be useful. Is there any point in pursuing this possibility – or is there really nothing  we can do for the foreseeable future to end the theological terrorism of a particular bishop? 

Comments invited… 

Bp Williamson Blindly Leading The Blind

Bp Williamson

Bishop Williamson was expelled from the SSPX in 2012

Martin Blackshaw, aka Blogger Athanasius, writes:

I know Bishop Williamson is yesterday’s news, but I thought it worth remarking on his latest Eleison Comments (EC – Number CDLXV (465) June 11, 2016) to demonstrate once again the blindness that comes upon those who surrender themselves to a truly schismatic spirit.

On cue as always, this spiritual director of an increasingly fragmenting “Resistance” minority is seeking to rekindle suspicions of betrayal in the minds of Society priests and faithful as the very real possibility of a reconciliation with Rome gains momentum.

Like the authors and implementers of the conciliar reform, Bishop Williamson knows well how to manipulate words and human emotions to suit his own agenda. On this occasion he directs all at the end of his comments to familiarise themselves with arguably the most hard-hitting and forthright interview with Archbishop Lefebvre from 1990, one year before His Grace’ death. 

And just so that we all know what conclusions we should reach from that interview, Bishop Williamson takes up almost the entire length of his EC page preparing us to read according to his mind, i.e. without context or objectivity.

Two things need to be borne in mind here. The first is that the Archbishop gave his interview 26 years ago at a time when liberals in the Roman Curia still held the upper hand and were insisting on SSPX recognition of Vatican II reform as fundamental to “reconciliation”. That situation has drastically altered with Pope Francis, who acts unilaterally and determinedly with respect to the SSPX to the great chagrin of said Curial liberals.

We saw this when the Pope directly intervened with the Argentinean government to ensure recognition of the SSPX as a valid Catholic organisation, thereby countering the actions of Pope Benedict’s Papal Nuncio who had written to the President of that Country before Francis’ election to encourage rejection of the SSPX.

This brings me to the second point which is that Archbishop Lefebvre was more than a little angry over the two-faced betrayal of certain senior prelates who said one thing to him in private and the opposite in public. Francis’ maverick style of Papal governance greatly reduces the possibility of a similar betrayal this time around.

It is also worth recalling that in 1988 His Grace was dealing directly with then-Prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Ratzinger, who was both theologically unsound and personally untrustworthy. I believe the Cardinal, when he became Pope Benedict, expressed some regret himself over the way he had handled the 1988 negotiations. Perhaps that was why he dispensed altogether with the lie that the ancient Mass of the Church required a Papal Indult for celebration, a lie that his predecessor John Paul II perpetuated to the great detriment of truth and justice.

At any rate, a close inspection of the Archbishop’s words in the aforementioned interview, hard hitting as they are, leaves us in no doubt that His Grace had left the door firmly open to further negotiations with Rome should circumstances change for the better, a turn of events that he did not foresee in the immediate future.

Before highlighting the appropriate passages from this and a similar interview from 1989, one year after the consecrations, it is important for us all to reflect on the Archbishop’s assurance that the Society is a work of God and will not therefore disappear as a result of the machinations of the Church’s enemies.

Bishop Williamson and his rebellious cohorts at first tried to turn this to their advantage, claiming that they represented a fulfilment of the Archbishop’s prophetic promise against a Judas-like “sell out” by a compromised Bishop Fellay.

Of course time has proven this to be a total falsehood; the so-called “Resistance” movement comprising today of a motley crew of bitter little groups at war with each other as well as with everyone else who does not share their particular point of view. Many indeed no longer have even a weekly or monthly Mass to attend through shortage of partisan priests. 

Pope Francis: SSPX is Catholic - it is evident.

Bishop Fellay – Superior General of the SSPX

Bishop Fellay, for his part, is well chastened after his 2011 negotiations with the Roman authorities under then-Pope Benedict XVI, who, just as they had done with Archbishop Lefebvre, gave the impression that they were willing to accede to the requests of the SSPX only to back track at the last moment and demand that the Society acknowledge the validity of the conciliar reform, including ecumenism.

His Excellency is a much wiser man for that encounter and that’s why on this occasion he has decided to include all thirty SSPX superiors in the scrutiny of a supposed offer of Personal Prelature with no strings emanating directly from Pope Francis.

Strange how divine providence works! That the most liberal Pope ever to sit upon the Chair of Peter should be pursuing a no-strings settlement with the SSPX, a setup that could pave the way for much good in the return of Tradition to the Church. It’s true that God’s ways are not ours. To reject such a proposal out of hand before even exploring the detail would be imprudent of the authorities of the SSPX to say the least. At worst, it could be taken as a formal declaration from the SSPX that it no longer acknowledges any legitimate authority or good will in the Holy See. Now that would be very worrying indeed.

But it won’t happen. Bishop Fellay is a sound prelate who is faithful to the Church and to the spirit of Archbishop Lefebvre. His Excellency together with his superiors will scrutinise this supposed offer from the Pope and will accept it if the demands of the SSPX are met and protection for the apostolate is guaranteed. We are not, after all, at war with the Roman Pontiff, just faithful to the Traditions handed down and vehemently opposed to the Modernism that has invaded the Church.

Would it not be in line with the actions of divine providence, which confounds the proud, to begin the restoration of all things in Christ by a provision made for the further strengthening of Tradition in the Church by a liberal Pope? It is, I argue, much more likely than that elusive Damascus-like conversion of the Modernist hierarchy that Bishop Williamson and other self-appointed rebels claim was Archbishop Lefebvre’s view of things.

Let us now read sections of those interviews that show the Archbishop Lefebvre’s thoughts on the crisis in the Church was not remotely akin to these isolationists.

ArchbishopLefebvrequotepictureArchbishop Lefebvre’s address to his priests given in Econe, Switzerland on September 6, 1990. Transcribed and slightly adapted from the French.

“Someone was saying to me yesterday, “But what if Rome accepted your bishops and then you were completely exempted from the other bishops’ jurisdiction?” But firstly, they are a long way right now from accepting any such thing, and then, let them first make us such an offer! But I do not think they are anywhere near doing so. For what has been up till now the difficulty has been precisely their giving to us a Traditionalist bishop. They did not want to.”

Would anyone seriously argue that this is the situation we face today? Are not the Bishops of the SSPX recognised as Catholic Bishops by Rome? Of course they are. There is a dramatic change in this regard from the Archbishop’s time. And note how the Archbishop demands that they first make this offer, indicating that he was not opposed to considering it. Yes, His Grace was always open to positive approaches from Rome, even if he was careful to weigh them with some suspicion.

Extracts from Archbishop Lefebvre’s interview of 1989 with emphasis by me that demonstrate what the Archbishop wanted from Rome. The same as Bishop Fellay today.

“…I think that is what actually caused a certain change in their attitude towards us. They were afraid of the episcopal consecrations, but they did not believe that I would actually do them. Then, on the 29th of June 1987, when I spoke about them in public, Cardinal Ratzinger was nevertheless a little upset. At Rome, they were afraid that I would really get to consecrating bishops, and that is when they made the decision to be a little more open with regard to what we had always been asking for – that is to say, the Mass, the Sacraments, and the pontifical services according to the 1962 rite of John XXIII. At that moment it seemed that they would not make any demands upon us to go along with the Second Vatican Council. They made no mention of it, and they even alluded to the possibility of our having a bishop who would be my successor.

Now, that was definitely a somewhat profound, radical change on their part. And so the question arose to know what I should do. I went to Rickenbach to see the Superior General and his assistants to ask them: What do you think? Should we accept the hand being offered to us? Or do we refuse it? “For myself, personally,” I said, “I have no confidence in them. For years and years I have been mixing with these people and for years I have been seeing the way in which they act. I have no further confidence in them. However, I do not wish people within the Society and Traditional circles to be able to say afterwards, you could easily have tried, it would have cost you nothing to enter into discussion and dialogue.” That was the opinion of the Superior General and his assistants. They said, “You must take into consideration the offer which is being made and not neglect it. It’s still worthwhile to talk with them.”

At that moment I accepted to see Cardinal Ratzinger and I insisted strongly to him that someone should come and make a visitation of the Society. I thought that such a visit would result in the benefits of maintaining Tradition being made clear at the same time that its effects would be recognized. I thought that that could have strengthened our position at Rome, and that the requests that I would make to obtain several bishops and a commission in Rome to defend Tradition, would have more chance of succeeding.

Nevertheless I wished to go as far as possible in order to show what good will we had. That is when they brought up the question of the Council again, which we did not want to hear of. A formula for an agreement was found which was at the very limits of what we could accept.

Then they granted us the Mass and the Sacraments and the liturgical books, but concerning the Roman Commission and the consecration of bishops, they did not want to accept our requests. All we could get was two members out of seven on the Roman Commission – without the president, without the vice-president – and I obtained only one bishop whereas I was asking for three. That was already virtually unacceptable. And, when, even before signing, we asked when we could have this bishop, the answer was evasive or null. They didn’t know. November? – They didn’t know. Christmas? – They didn’t know …Impossible to get a date.

That is when, after signing the protocol, which paved the way for an agreement, I sat down and thought. The accumulation of distrust and reticence impelled me to demand the nomination of a bishop for the 30th of June from amongst the three dossiers which I had left in Rome on the 5th of May. Either that, or I would go ahead and consecrate. Faced with such a choice, Cardinal Ratzinger said, “If that’s how it is, the protocol is over. It’s finished, and there is no more protocol. You are breaking off relations.” It’s he who said it, not I.

…Realizing the impossibility of coming to an understanding, on the 2nd of June I wrote again to the pope: It is useless to continue these conversations and contacts. We do not have the same purpose. You wish to bring us round to the Council in a reconciliation, and what we want is to be recognized as we are. We wish to continue Tradition as we are doing.

…No doubt we suffered from the departure of some priests and seminarians. But, that is a little like the pilgrimage of Chartres, which this year split in two, into a traditional and a conservative pilgrimage. We may thank the good Lord for having allowed those who are not completely in agreement with us, who do not completely understand what we are fighting for, to leave us. In this way we are stronger and surer in our actions. Without that we would all the time be mixing with people criticizing us, who do not agree with us, within our own congregations, and that would cause division and disorder.

Question: If Rome had accepted to give you just one bishop, the protocol of an agreement could have issued in an agreement, and one may be surprised that such a concession, which after all doesn’t commit them to very much (one bishop amongst three thousand in the world), should have been refused you.

Archbishop Lefebvre: Yes, it is extraordinary. It can only be explained by their fear of Tradition. It is unbelievable, but they are afraid of a traditional bishop working against the errors of the Council and they cannot bear it.

The entire interview with Archbishop Lefebvre can be read here

One final observation that I believe some of the more Traditional leaning in the hierarchy are today reflecting upon is this amazingly foresighted statement of the Archbishop from that interview:

“…the pope has just named Msgr. Kasper a bishop in Germany. He was Secretary of the Synod of 1985 presided over by Cardinal Danneels of Brussels. Kasper was the leader, the mastermind, of the Synod. He is very intelligent and he is one of the most dangerous of Conciliarists. He is a little like the bishop of Trier who is President of the German Assembly of Bishops, and who is very dangerous also. They are absolutely men of the left, who, deep down link up with the Rahners and Hans Kungs but who take care not to say so. They keep up appearances in order to avoid being associated by anyone with the extremists, but they have the same spirit…”

How Cardinal Burke, Bishop Schneider and others must now be reviewing this warning from 26 years ago and realising just how holy and prophetically wise Archbishop Lefebvre was. Times have changed and the SSPX has many more friends in the hierarchy than it did way back then. We need to recognise this fact, trust in God and let Bishop Fellay and his assistants assess matters accordingly.

Comments invited…