Una Voce: SSPX “Complicated” the Preservation of Old Mass in Scotland!

From Scottish Catholic Observer, January, 27th 2017…
TradMasswithsaintscolourThe traditional way to celebrate Mass is Extraordinary
DOROTHY CUMMINGS MCLEAN looks at how a new generation in Scotland is being attracted to the traditional rituals of the Latin Mass

While researching the diversity of Catholicism in Scotland, I was surprised by the overlap. Not everyone who goes regularly to Ukrainian Mass is Ukrainian. Syro-Malabar priests learn the Latin Rite to serve the Latin Rite majority. Catholic students are at home both in their university chaplaincies and in parishes. Polish-speakers are happy to go to Mass in English, and there are Scottish-Polish Catholic fellowship groups. Finally, there are those Latin Rite Catholics, of whatever nationality, who feel drawn to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and practise Catholic devotions we now call ‘traditional.’

The history of the revival of the Traditional Latin Mass in Scotland begins in the heady days after the Second Vatican Council when dramatic changes swept through the Church’s liturgical and devotional practises.

In hindsight, the Missal of 1965 wasn’t revolutionary, but it sparked both the foundation of Latin Mass preservation societies and a spirit of liturgical experimentation. The Mass Paul VI promulgated in 1969 was so different from the Mass they knew that many Catholics felt deeply bereaved.

One such Catholic in Scotland was an influential convert named Mary Neilson (1912 – 2002). A member of a wealthy Presbyterian family in Edinburgh, she was (temporarily) disinherited by her parents when she converted to Catholicism in 1938.

Undaunted, she embarked on a career as a welfare officer, social worker and health researcher. In 1965, dubious of the changes proposed for the Latin Mass, she turned her considerable energies towards the preservation of the Old Rite. Not only did Miss Neilson help to establish the Scottish branch of the International Una Voce Federation, she offered her home in the West End as a centre of traditional worship.

The ‘Old Mass’ was said privately there by priests in good standing from 1970. When Miss Nielson died, she left the house to the Fraternity of the Priest of Saint Peter (FSSP), who maintain its chapel.

The preservation of the Traditional Mass has been complicated in Scotland by the presence of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). The association of the ‘Old Mass’ with the SSPX, disobedience and schism has been hard on Catholics who practise the traditional devotions: to this day we suffer suspicious looks and sardonic remarks. [emphasis added – in disbelief!]

Fortunately, this prejudice has not been universal: in 2004, for example, Edinburgh’s Fr Michael Regan invited the FSSP to celebrate the Traditional Mass in St Andrew’s, Ravelston.

The promulgation of Summorum Pontificum in 2007 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was a golden moment for lovers of traditional devotions. This short document praises earlier forms of the Latin Rite, declares that the Missal of 1962 was never abrogated, describes its Mass as the ‘extraordinary’ form of the Latin Rite and gives generous provisions for its use. Pope Benedict’s enthusiasm for tradition brought a new generation into contact with the Extraordinary Form and its community.

Civil servant Mark Hamid, 28, first encountered the Extraordinary Form in Oxford in 2007. “It was a revelation,” he told me.

As a university student, he invited the FSSP to bring the Extraordinary Form from Edinburgh to St Andrews. The Mass was made available to students from 2011 until 2016, when attendance dropped off. This was in part because there were more activities for students on Sunday afternoons, but also because of the popularity of the Extraordinary Form (EF) Mass now celebrated in Dundee. Since then Hamid has organised the ‘Two Shrines Pilgrimage,’ a Scottish version of the Walsingham pilgrimage organised by England’s Latin Mass Society.

Glasgow physicist Gerald Bonner, 30, first witnessed the Extraordinary Form in 2011 at an Australian Catholic students’ conference in Sydney. Initially he found it confusing. “I probably attended about five EF Masses before really getting into the rhythm,” he admitted.

Asked what he gets from the EF, Mr Bonner was expansive. “The rich beauty of the prayers and the ritual in the EF reveal so clearly that the Mass is the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary,” he said. “The chants, the silences, the posture of the priest all serve to draw you into that mystery and make it easier to participate in it fully.

“While most of these things are possible in the Ordinary Form, they are more reliably found in the Extraordinary Form, which is less dependent on the style of the priest.”

The EF has also had a positive effect on Mr Bonner’s experience of the Ordinary Form which, due to time constraints, he attends more often: “Not only do I understand its roots better, I can participate more deeply having experienced the Old Rite.”

Ian and Kristiina Watt, 26, of Glasgow are professional musicians who became Catholics two years ago after approaching the FSSP priest in Edinburgh. “We were interested in the Traditional Mass before coming into the Church,” Ian said, “attracted by its beauty and historical continuity, two aspects of Catholicism which influenced both our conversions.”

Kristiina added: “As a musician, the beautiful Catholic legacy of art and music intended for the traditional Mass was often a source of inspiration and assurance for me during the period leading up to our [reception].”

“I don’t know if it is correct to speak of ‘Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) communities’ as such,” Ian said, “but the presence of the TLM seems to be a sign of overall health in a diocese or parish community.

“For example, the parish at which this Mass is offered most frequently in Glasgow, six times a week in addition to the daily parish Ordinary Form (OF) Mass, is notable for its provision of regular solid catechesis, scheduled Confessions before and after every Mass, weekly Vespers and Benediction, seasonal devotions and outreach to the homeless and vulnerable, all provided by just one parish priest with the help of volunteers.”

Immaculate Heart of Mary, Balornock, is an example of how traditional devotions can be fully integrated into a Scottish parish. In 2007, Summorum Pontificum inspired its pastor, Fr Morris, to say the Extraordinary Form twice a week.

These Masses attracted a ‘small but stable group of the faithful,’ reported the church organist Fraser Pearce. “Soon after this the parish gained the support of Una Voce and things grew from there.”

As no OF Masses were cancelled to make room for the EF, there was no protest. Today there are daily EF Masses (except on Mondays) at Immaculate Heart.

“We have lots of social events and outings in addition to catechetical talks on Sunday evenings, and people who attend either Mass share together in these,” Mr Pearce said. Immaculate Heart also runs its own food bank—’We have fed up to as many as 15 families a week’—and delivers donations of household goods.

The parishioners help the Sisters of Charity in their Glasgow soup kitchen and host three annual meals for homeless men. “We seek to imitate Our Lord in practising the corporal acts of mercy while keeping in mind that our primary mission is the salvation of souls,” Mr Pearce explained.

“These meals are usually preceded by a short service in which we pray for the souls of those men who have died since the previous occasion.”

In addition to Masses in both Forms, Vespers and Benediction, Immaculate Heart parish offers the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Mondays and the Rosary and Confession on Friday evenings.

“We also have First Saturday Devotions as requested by Our Lady of Fatima,” Mr Pearce said. The parish even has a ceremony crowning the statue of Our Lady in May.

“Immaculate Heart runs a full programme of all the traditional devotions that were part of Catholic life until recent years,” Mr Pearce explained.

And who are the Catholics who flock to all this old-fashioned stuff?

“People of all ages, professionals, unemployed people and students from across the West of Scotland,” Mr Pearce said. “We have several young married couples and a good few converts who come into the Church looking for the fullness of the traditional Faith and found it here. We have people who travel from as far as Edinburgh and Ayr several times each week.

“In the last nine months we have gained many new parishioners as well as friends of the parish who are able to visit depending on circumstances… I don’t think that anyone is attached by nostalgia.”

I myself have gone to the FSSP Sunday Mass at St Andrew’s, Ravelston, since I moved to Scotland. I like to say that I ‘married into the Mass,’ since I never went to the EF before I married my convert husband. Having read a lot of classical Catholic theology, I soon felt at home in the traditional rite.

In no way has this cut me off of from the rest of the Church. Indeed, if I can’t make it to the noon Mass at St Andrew’s, I can usually be found at Polish Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral.

Comment: 

Today’s Scottish Catholic Observer was given to me after Mass in the SSPX chapel in Glasgow by a gentleman who was incensed by the nasty falsehoods about the SSPX.  I’ve now read the piece for myself and to say that it’s laughable for Una Voce to claim that the SSPX is, or was, ever, detrimental to the preservation of the ancient Mass, is like saying that Charlie Chaplin was comical.  Hilarious, more like. 

But for the SSPX there is no way in this world that Summorum Pontificum would ever have come to pass.  That’s a fact. Not an alternative fact, just a fact. And without that green light from Pope Benedict,  the supposedly “traditional leaning” clergy would have remained just that – “supposedly”. As it is, there are plenty who don’t offer the old Mass or make any attempt to learn it, because they know their bishop doesn’t approve. Career priests. It’s great that Fr Morris of Immaculate Heart did grasp the opportunity when it came along, but one swallow, as the old saying goes, doth not a summer make. The archdiocese is not advertising the Immaculate Heart Masses and we don’t need Sherlock Holmes on the case to work out why. 

I’m very pleased that the Immaculate Heart Masses are on offer. I do my best to attend them whenever I can, but I’ve explained to the organisers that where their parish Masses clash with a Mass on the same day in the SSPX chapel, if I’m free to attend Mass on that day I will be attending the (much less conveniently situated) Society chapel precisely for the reason given above – that, but for the Society suffering false allegations of “schism” and being sidelined for years now, they would not have their several Masses a week in Immaculate Heart.  

Further, while it’s better than nothing to have the TLM offered in a diocesan parish alongside the novus ordo, I’d be more pleased if the novus ordo were banished altogether, but, as we can see from the article, even those who are attending the old Mass in the Immaculate Heart are quite happy to attend the novus ordo as well. 

That’s why we still need the SSPX – that’s why we needed them in the beginning to preserve the TLM until Summorum Pontificum came long and the bandwagon started to fill up. Because, like it or lump it, it’s only in the SSPX chapels that we can rely on hearing, seeing and experiencing undiluted Catholic doctrine and liturgy.  It’s the only place where you will never hear anyone insult the ancient Mass by referring to it using the Modernist label “Extraordinary Form” .  NEVER.   Want to convince us otherwise? Let’s go…  

Traditional-Leaning Priests Mentally Ill… Mgr Loftus (Echoing Papa Francis)

funny-mental-illness-cartoonfamily-sufferIt’s been a while since we’ve reported on the dreadful writings of Monsignor Basil Loftus, whom we dubbed “Mgr Leftus” because he has, without doubt, abandoned the Catholic Faith of 2,000 years for the newer, if manifestly fewer, modernist version. I haven’t read his column for ages, but this morning, Sunday, 22nd January, a reader insisted that I take a copy of  his latest offering, because it really is, literally, a very nasty piece of work.  Having read today’s claptrap, I thought I’d post some extracts for discussion, knowing full well that there’s no point in writing to his bishop (Diocese of Aberdeen and Diocese of Leeds – as if we don’t have enough heretics of our own up here, they brought him up from England) because both bishops totally ignored the Open Letter we sent to them, some years ago.  True to type, they have allowed him to continue, unchallenged, to attack Catholic Faith and Morals, to the great scandal of many of the faithful. Shame on them. 

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that at a time when society is emphasising that we must de-stigmatise mental illness, the Pope and Mgr Leftus would think twice about using it as a term of abuse. Wouldn’t you? But no. Far from it. 

The good Monsignor spends most of today’s column citing, with obvious approval, Pope Francis’ assertion that young men who apply for seminary “with the intention of adhering to a pre-Vatican II liturgy” (i.e. the traditional Mass) are undesirables (if not deplorables!)

Stretching back to 2015, Mgr quotes the Pope addressing a meeting of priests in the Diocese of Rome: “to ordain these types of seminarians is like placing a mortgage on the Church”  and cites the Pope’s warning to bishops a short time later that they must “think twice” when a young man is ‘too confident, rigid and fundamentalist’ telling them to beware when admitting candidates to the seminary, because ‘there are mentally ill boys who seek strong structures that can protect them, such as the police, the army and the clergy.’ [All quotes taken from Francis’ concern over liturgical young fogeys, The Catholic Times, 20 January, 2017] 

Speaking to bishops, says Mgr L, Pope Francis opined that “Tridentine-rite liturgies celebrated by priests who had never known the Church under the old rite were ‘a manifestation of moral and psychological imbalances.’  And, a delighted Mgr L goes on, the Pope warned newly appointed bishops in 2015:  “Be careful when a seminarian seeks refuge in rigidity – because underneath this there is always something bad.”

cartoonhearingvoices

The traditional Mass is described as “its own shop window” in today’s savage attack,  not to be”reinforced”  in seminaries “or by the use of outdated episcopal carnival-costumes” (that is this terrible priest’s standard way of describing the sacred vestments). 

The entire article exudes evil. As one American bishop said (and I quoted him, with source, in our newsletter at the time) “To be indifferent to the old rite is one thing; to hate it comes straight from Hell”. 

Now, there’s a thought for the good Monsignor.  Instead of blethering on about “rigid fundamentalism” he ought to try it sometime. Would make much more interesting reading that the baloney he churns out week after week in the Anything-But-Catholic Times.  

Comments invited… 

Papacy: Elect One Pope, Get One Free?

You MUST read these Catholic Truth newsletter. If you want to be a good pope, read them...

This box contains all my copies of the Catholic Truth newsletters, Francis. A MUST-read, if you want to be a good pope…

I’m finding myself getting short on patience, to put it mildly,with those who keep telling me that “Benedict is still pope” – having me choking on my morning tea – and, as if that’s not annoying enough, I get regular emails containing the same message from the other side of the world. Anything, rather than accept the fact that it is perfectly possible for a pope to be a bad pope. I mean, we’ve argued the Sedevacantist  theory to death, now we’re faced with more Theology For Dummies thanks to the rise of  Benevacantism…  Is there no end to it?  

Anyway, when I complained to Athanasius about this annoyance, he emailed as follows, and subsequently gave permission for me to use his pearls of wisdom to kick start this discussion: note: Pope FRANCIS is the pope, a terrible pope, no question about it, and while we will certainly permit those of a different view to express their opinion, allow me to say at the outset that we are not about to go round in circles with this. The purpose of this thread is to nip this nonsense in the bud, so anyone who doesn’t “get it” reasonably quickly, can expect to be erased from the face of this blog, in due course. Be warned! No more Mzzzz Nice Gal!

ATHANASIUS WRITES…

Below is Pope Benedict’s declaration of Papal Renunciation with highlighted words showing that he renounced both spiritual and pastoral aspects of the Papacy and then confirmed this by speaking of the election of a new SUPREME PONTIFF, where “Supreme” means over everything, not shared. He even stated that he was renouncing the ministry entrusted to him by the conclave and we know that was the Petrine ministry in all its aspects. These conspirators are just trouble making schismatics. 

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects.  And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

Comments invited…  

Pope Benedict: No, No, NO Regrets!

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI “never became so human” as he does in a new book interview he has given the German journalist Peter Seewald, a work which achieves a “final deconstruction” of how both friends and foes have seen him in the past.

This is according to Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, Benedict’s personal secretary, in a Sept. 12 address at a launch of the book in Munich.

Entitled Benedict XVI — Last Testament, the 200 or so pages of conversations were published in various languages last Friday and will be published in English in November. Seewald has previously interviewed Benedict for Salt of the Earth, God and the World, and Light of the World.

Archbishop Gaenswein, who is also prefect of the Pontifical Household, drew particular attention to two key passages relating to Benedict’s resignation which he described as especially “illuminating” and “new knowledge.”

The book, as Archbishop Gaenswein pointed out, tackles three key areas: “the roots of the reasons and motives” and the “exact circumstances of Benedict’s puzzling resignation”; his relationship with Pope Francis; and the German Pope’s “personal point of view” on the different “crises and ‘scandals’ of his papacy.”

Regarding his resignation, Gaenswein states that the Pope Emeritus reiterates that “it was not an escape” and insists that “nobody” was demanding his resignation. “It was clear to me that I had to do it and that this was the right moment,” Benedict says in the book. “It was a complete surprise for everyone.”

Benedict says he “knew: I can’t do it anymore” and saw that the time had come to “disengage from the large crowds of people and adjourn into this greater intimacy.” It was “not an inner flight from the demand of the faith, which leads the people to the cross,” he explains in the book. “The step is not a flight but another way to remain faithful to my ministry.”

Asked if he ever regretted resigning, he replies: “No. No, no. I see that it was right every day” and that everything went even better than he had planned. For this reason, he said he couldn’t see himself as a failure. As to theories that some wanted him out and manoeuvred him to resign, the Pope emeritus replies curtly, “total nonsense!” Click here to read entire article

Comment:

Apart from wishing that someone would explain how a pontiff who “resigns” from his office is not flying from the duty of that office, but simply finding “another way to remain faithful” to that office, my reaction to the above report was to ask…

Surprised, anyone?  

Only those who mistakenly believe that Pope Benedict was a “hard-liner” and a “traditionalist” could possibly be surprised. Catholic Truth readers and bloggers have long known that Pope Benedict is a modernist, albeit a modernist with a tad more of the dignified demeanour befitting the papal office than we’ve witnessed to date in his successor. 

So that’s the question for us to ponder in this thread. Given Pope Benedict’s reported remarks about his willing “resignation”/abdication and his praise for Pope Francis, is there anyone in the house who is actually surprised to read the above extracts from this latest book? 

Benedict on “Providential” Pope Francis

Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict have expressed appreciation for the friendship that has grown between them on the occasion of the publication of Elio Guerriero’s biography of Pope Benedict XVI. Both popes clearly value their friendship for the support and encouragement that it brings to them both.  

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, right, hugs Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica during the ceremony marking the start of the Holy Year, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. Pope Francis pushed open the great bronze doors of St. Peter's Basilica on Tuesday to launch his Holy Year of Mercy, declaring that mercy trumps moralizing in his Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Benedict XVI, right, hugs Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica during the ceremony marking the start of the Holy Year, 2015.  (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

 

Pope Benedict XVI on Pope Francis

Pope Benedict XVI spoke about his friendship with Pope Francis in a rare interview with  his biographer Elio Guerriero, published in La Reppublica (paraphrased by CNA):

“Speaking about Pope Francis, Benedict said that obedience to his successor “was never in discussion,” but that since Francis’ election, a feeling of “deep communion and friendship” has arisen between the two.

“At the moment of his election I experienced, as many, a spontaneous feeling of gratitude toward Providence,” he said, explaining that after having two Pope’s from Central Europe, “the Lord was turning, so to speak, his gaze to the Universal Church and invited us to a more extensive communion, more Catholic.”  [emphasis added by Editor CT]

Benedict said he was deeply moved by Pope Francis’ “extraordinary human availability to me” from the beginning. He noted how immediately after Francis was elected, the new Pope attempted to call him at his residence in the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae monastery. Having failed to reach him, Francis called again right after greeting faithful from the balcony of St. Peter’s, this time succeeding. Pope Francis “spoke to me with great  warmth,” Benedict recalled, noting that since that day “he has given me the gift of a wonderfully paternal-fraternal relationship.”

Not only does Francis frequently send “little gifts” and personal letters to Benedict, but he also makes sure to visit his predecessor before embarking on every major trip he takes:

“The human benevolence with which he treats me, is for me a special grace of this last phase of my life for which I can only be grateful. What he says about availability to other men, are not only words. He puts it into practice with me. May the Lord in turn make him feel his benevolence every day. This I ask the Lord for him.”

Pope Francis on Pope Benedict XVI

John L. Allen has provided excerpts from Pope Francis’s preface to Elio Guerriero’s biography of Pope Benedict XVI:

“His discrete presence and his prayer for the Church are a continual support and comfort for my service. Who better than him can understand the joys, and also the difficulties, of service to the universal Church and the world of today, and be spiritually close to the one called by the Lord to carry that weight? For that reason, his prayer is especially precious, and his friendship especially appreciated.”

About there being two popes in the Church

“Since they love each other, it’s a beautiful novelty. In a certain sense it expresses in a particularly clear way the continuity of the Petrine ministry, without interruption, like links in a single chain forged by love. The holy people of God, on the path, have understood this very well. Every time the emeritus pope has appeared in public, at my invitation, and I was able to embrace him in front of everyone, the joy and the applause of those present has been sincere and intense.”

On the continuity between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI

“Everyone in the Church has a great debt of gratitude towards Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI for the depth and balance of his theological thought, always in the service of the Church, up to the highest responsibility; the contribution of his faith and culture to a magisterium capable of meeting the expectations of our time was fundamental. The courage and determination with which he faced difficult situations have shown the way to react with humility and truth, in the spirit of renewal and purification.”

The loving mercy of God is “the most urgent message of a Church reaching out, even to the peripheries, of a world marked by conflicts, injustices and disrespect for the human person. The entire life of thought and works of Joseph Ratzinger has aimed at that end, and in the same direction, with the help of God, I’ll try to continue.”

Comment [EWTN]

The role of the successor of St Peter has been described as one of the loneliest jobs in the world. The pope alone bears ultimate responsibility before God for the universal Church:

“The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power.” (Lumen Gentium, 22).

For any man occupying the throne of St Peter this realisation must at times be a great burden. It is good that Pope Francis has Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI close at hand supporting him in prayer and friendship.  Source

Comment

Clearly, those who claim that Pope Benedict must be concerned about the statements and actions of Pope Francis are plain wrong.  He actually sees the Francis pontificate as “providential”, apparently in the sense that this is a good pontificate.   At Catholic Truth, we were never under any illusions about Pope Benedict.  We spoke out to highlight his errors, just as we comment on the many errors of Pope Francis. But where do the reports of Pope Benedict’s ongoing  support for and pledge of unconditional obedience to Pope Francis leave those who consider Benedict to have been a faithful pontiff who must be suffering through the Francis pontificate? 

Joanna Bogle Explains Third Secret

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.)