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Feast of St. Theresa of Avila, 2013
Re: Answering your question: “Resistance to what?”
Dear Father Themann,
We have listened carefully to your April 2013 conference given at St. Marys, and which the SSPX sent to the faithful on its mailing list, as a free two-CD set, accompanied by a long written summary of your talk. In this present letter, through which we respond to your conference, all citations refer to disc 1, track 2 unless otherwise noted.
We are aware of many priests and laity who have pointed out errors and crucial omissions in your conference. We join our voices to theirs, attempting to mitigate the confusion your conference has caused.
We apologize for the length of our letter. But when you talk for 2½ hours, you can’t expect our answer to be only two pages.
We hold that Bishop Fellay’s attempt to make a purely practical agreement with unconverted Rome is not the SSPX’s chief problem, but is a symptom of the SSPX’s problem. The problem itself is the continual liberalizing of the SSPX over time.
Your False Explanation Regarding Matters Of Prudence
Your entire talk hinges upon the (false) absolute division you make between “questions of principle” and “questions of prudence”. 10:40. Here are your words in one of the places you emphasize this point:
Does the question of accepting a canonical structure boil down to a question of principle, or a question of prudence? It is very important to answer this question correctly, or nothing else makes sense. Id.
This is your first error regarding prudence. The truth is that all questions of prudence are questions of principle applied to particular circumstances.1 So for example, when someone hands you a gold coin for safekeeping and then later asks you to return it, you will know how to respond to his request by applying a universal principle to the particular circumstances. In this example, the universal principle is: return property to its owner.2 So, using the virtue of prudence, you would apply that universal principle to the circumstance that you have the man’s coin, and so you would return the coin to him.
Thus, your first error is to wrongly attempt to separate “questions of principle” from “questions of prudence”. The truth is that every matter of prudence is acting on principle! Don’t you see that, if you and the SSPX say that your actions need not be “questions of principle”, then you would be saying you think you are free to act in any way you choose?
But there’s more. Your second error regarding prudence, is your misunderstanding how changed circumstances3 affect prudent actions. When ceasing to follow a prior principle (like no deal with unconverted Rome), you seem to think that it is an adequate explanation to simply invoke changed circumstances. But although circumstances might change which principle applies, there is always a different principle which then does apply.
Let us illustrate this point by an example: start with this general principle: return property to its owner. But man’s fallen human nature can cause exceptions to this principle.4 Suppose, a man gives a gun to you for safekeeping and then suppose he becomes crazy and so asks you to return his gun because he wants to commit murder. In that circumstance, prudence requires that another principle takes precedence and must be applied, viz., never give a gun to a madman.5 So, after Archbishop Lefebvre realized his mistake in signing the 5-88 protocol with Rome, he laid down the following principle, which he maintained until his death:
It is, therefore, a strict duty for every priest wanting to remain Catholic to separate himself from this Conciliar Church for as long as it does not rediscover the Tradition of the Church and of the Catholic Faith.
Spiritual Journey, Archbishop Lefebvre, p.13.
Here is another way Archbishop Lefebvre formulated the same principle:
[W]e prefer to continue in Tradition; to keep Tradition while waiting for Tradition to regain its place at Rome, while waiting for Tradition to reassume its place in the Roman authorities, in their minds. This will last for as long as the Good Lord has foreseen.
Episcopal consecration sermon, 1988.
Archbishop Lefebvre’s firm principle beginning in May 1988 – no agreement with unconverted Rome – is a principle analogous to the principle (in our example) return property to its owner. So if someone asks you why you refused to return the property given to you for safekeeping, it would be completely inadequate for you to simply say that there were “changed circumstances”. Rather, you would have to invoke the superseding principle and explain how the new circumstances caused the application of the superseding principle. In other words, you would have to explain that no one should give a gun to a crazy man and that this particular man had become crazy and wanted his gun in order to commit murder.
So you are only freed from following the first principle of action because you are bound by the (second) superseding principle. In your conference, you say that circumstances freed the SSPX from Archbishop Lefebvre’s principle, apparently (in your view) leaving the SSPX free to do whatever it chooses to do. But prudence requires that we always act according to principle.
If you really think that changed circumstances free the SSPX from following Archbishop Lefebvre’s principle, then clearly state which (second) superseding principle Bishop Fellay is applying and how the circumstances require this.
Because you fail to invoke any superseding principle of action and fail to explain how (supposed) changed circumstances require the SSPX to follow this superseding principle, your explanation is woefully incomplete.
You make two errors regarding what prudence is:
You fail to understand that all questions of prudence are questions of principle and that in acting on principle.
You misunderstand that when circumstances prevent us from following one principle, it is because we are bound to follow a (second) superseding principle.
Your defense of Bishop Fellay depends on these two key errors about what Prudence is. What you said is true that, when a person misunderstands prudence (as you have shown you do) then “nothing else makes sense” when analyzing the negotiations with Rome. 10:40.
Because your position hinges on what prudence is, and because you made two serious errors showing you misunderstand this virtue, your conference was completely inadequate as an explanation of the SSPX’s recent conduct. However, we regret that this fact does not end the errors you made during the conference nor the harm you are doing. Below, we continue our open letter, attempting to help the faithful and correct the misunderstandings you have caused.
You (and the current SSPX) Have Accepted The Conciliar Church’s Error That There Is Something Wrong With The SSPX’s Status.
You say that “The Society of St. Pius X, once upon a time, had a canonical structure when it was first founded and it was deprived of that canonical structure unjustly.” 11:00.
When you use the phrase “deprived … unjustly”, that phrase shows you are saying that the SSPX was really deprived of its canonical structure. This is similar to the fact that, if someone unjustly deprives you of your car, it means that you really and truly don’t have your car any longer.
You further emphasize your erroneous opinion (viz., that the SSPX is really deprived of its canonical structure), when you add that the SSPX had this canonical structure “once upon a time”. This phrase “once upon a time” indicates you hold that the SSPX now lacks a canonical structure. In like manner, one could say that the SSPX was faithful to Archbishop Lefebvre once upon a time.
So we take it as plain that you think the SSPX no longer truly has its canonical structure. But your opinion is false. The truth is that the SSPX still has its canonical structure because Rome unjustly attempted to (but did not really) deprive the SSPX of its status – but only in appearance.
You can see your error by understanding the words of Archbishop Lefebvre. In his prudential determination regarding how to act, when the conciliar church falsely and invalidly purported to “deprive” his Society of its canonical structure, Archbishop Lefebvre invoked this principle.
In the Church, law and jurisdiction are at the service of the Faith, the primary reason for the Church. There is no law, no jurisdiction which can impose on us a lessening of our Faith.
Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, by Michael Davies, vol. 1, p.151, quoting the 9-3-75 Letter to friends and benefactors #9.6
So, as Archbishop Lefebvre correctly reasoned, his Society was not truly deprived of its canonical structure, because law and jurisdiction cannot be used to harm the Faith and the Society which was supposedly “suppressed” entirely because it stood almost alone defending the Faith.
Reverend Dr. Boyd A. Cathey, a canon lawyer, made this same point when he analyzed the SSPX’s canonical case and publicly defended Archbishop Lefebvre at the time. Father Cathey concluded his analysis as follows:
[T]he multiple irregularities and the obvious failure to render justice to Archbishop Lefebvre can only lead to one conclusion: the Society of St. Pius X continues to enjoy canonical existence; the measures taken against it and its founder lack validity.
Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, vol. 1, p.450.
Do you and the current SSPX leadership disagree with this conclusion? Do you think that the SSPX was really and truly “deprived” of its canonical structure? Or do you agree that the SSPX still possesses its canonical structure, as it has from its earliest days and further, that the conciliar church only apparently and falsely “deprived” the SSPX of this structure? As you say: “It is very important to answer this question correctly, or nothing else makes sense.” 10:40.
Whatever you hold, what you say in the quote [11:00] at the beginning of this section, is that the SSPX was “deprived” of its canonical structure. Your error shows you failed to distinguish between the true and the real on the one hand, and the false and merely apparent, on the other hand. Please distinguish between these.
As shown above, the SSPX already enjoys the same canonical structure it has had since its earliest days. Thus, there is no canonical structure it could seek from Rome – since the SSPX has this structure already! Nothing is lacking except for Rome to convert so that it will see the truth about the SSPX’s canonical structure (as well as see many other things). If fact, it would be false and misleading for the SSPX to pretend, when talking with Rome, that the SSPX lacks a true and real canonical structure already!
Bishop Fellay’s Important Secret Friends In Rome Told Him A Story Which Could Be Plainly Seen From The Start, As Inconsistent.
You tell us that Bishop Fellay’s secret sources said that: “Benedict XVI wants to recognize the Society unilaterally.” 23:00. You add that: “it would be just like the freeing of the Mass”. First of all, the traditional Mass was not really freed, because it was neither truly abrogated nor truly restricted as Rome pretends (and thus, there was nothing to free). What the motu proprio did do, was supposedly reduce the restrictions but only for those using the traditional Mass for purely nostalgic reasons. More on that topic later in this letter.
But regarding Pope Benedict XVI’s purported willingness to “recognize” the SSPX “unilaterally”, didn’t it occur to you and to your superiors that, if it had been really true that “Benedict XVI would recognize the Society unilaterally”, then there would be no need for the SSPX to make any proposals, negotiations and doctrinal preambles? Didn’t this occur to any of you? If these supposed sources were true, then the Society would not have to do anything! According to Bishop Fellay’s secret friends, Pope Benedict was (supposedly) seeking “no concessions from you; you will simply be recognized, as you are, unilaterally.” 23:19.
If the SSPX needed to make an offer (such as the offer it made on 4-15-12), then Bishop Fellay’s secret sources should have been seen from the start as obviously wrong, when they told him that any “recognition” would be unilateral. If you say that the 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble was not an “offer” but only a statement clarifying truth, then why withdraw a statement which clarifies the truth? Bishop Fellay says he withdrew the preamble on August 28, 2012.7 Nor did the errors in his doctrinal preamble cause Bishop Fellay to withdraw it, because he did not repudiate it, and the SSPX sent you to St. Marys to try to defend the preamble’s contents.
Bishop Fellay (and you) cannot have it both ways: either his important secret friends should have been seen from the start, as giving false information which Bishop Fellay should ignore, or there was no need for Bishop Fellay to make an offer, as he did. Either way, an uncompromising traditional Catholic would have been indifferent to their claims and would not have responded to Rome by bargaining. Instead, he simply would have said: “the pope can do justice (to the SSPX and Catholic Tradition) any time he wants to do so.”
The SSPX’s Explanations Are Inconsistent, Regarding The Current SSPX’s Willingness To Negotiate A Purely Practical Agreement With Rome.
But what has changed is that Bishop Fellay no longer places as a precondition for canonical structure that Rome convert, that is, that Rome acknowledge the errors of Vatican II and the evil nature of the mass [sic]. … Therefore, there is a change in Bishop Fellay’s prudential policy. It is the only change in policy, and it is a prudential policy, not a change in principle.
42:10 (emphasis added).
As shown above, the current SSPX’s rejection of no agreement with unconverted Rome is a change in principle upon which the SSPX was acting. You are wrong when you falsely say here that it is “not a change in principle”.
Besides, you really should coordinate your explanations with Fr. Rostand, your superior, so that the explanations don’t contradict each other. You say (above) that the SSPX did change and is now willing to make a deal with unconverted Rome. By contrast, Fr. Rostand says there is no change. He says the SSPX still requires the conversion of Rome but that the conversion of Rome does not mean that Rome will convert. Fr. Rostand says:
The General Chapter discussed for a long time on what do we mean by a conversion of Rome. Well, I think it means mostly that Tradition would be supported enough to continue its growth and to be able to continue to work.8
It should be obvious to anyone that, for unconverted Rome to allow tradition to grow and work is very different from Rome itself being converted. Fr. Rostand is trying to “define” away the fact that the SSPX has changed this firm principle. Do you agree with Fr. Rostand’s position – that the “conversion of Rome” has nothing to do with Rome converting?
Bishop Fellay Continues To Be Ready To Make An Agreement With Unconverted Rome, If He Considers The Terms Favorable.
The casual observer might be excused for making the false supposition that Bishop Fellay has “learned his lesson” and will never again consider making an agreement submitting the SSPX to unconverted Rome. Bishop Fellay says things which are carefully designed to give the impression that he will never again attempt to make an agreement with unconverted Rome. But that impression is false for three reasons:
To imagine that some people continue to pretend we are decided (still) to get an agreement with Rome. Poor people. I really challenge them to prove they mean [sic]. They pretend that I think something else from what I do. They are not in my head.9
The second reason showing that Bishop Fellay is still open to submitting the SSPX to the practical control of unconverted Rome, is that he has never admitted he was wrong in his actions last year seeking this agreement. When a person admits he was wrong in some matter, this indicates he is less likely to make the same mistake again.
Here is the typical way Bishop Fellay phrases the matter now to escape personal responsibility: “we thank God, we have been preserved from any kind of Agreement from last year [sic]”.10 Bishop Fellay talks as if the SSPX was spared from the destruction of a hurricane, rather than spared from the destruction which would have flowed from his own attempts to reach an agreement submitting the SSPX to unconverted Rome.
Although Bishop Fellay indicates here that an agreement last year would have turned out badly because Pope Francis became pope, this in no way forecloses a future agreement with unconverted Rome when the terms are “favorable”. This consideration leads us to the third reason, immediately below:
If Bishop Fellay holds your extremely flexible position regarding prudence, then nothing will keep him from deciding to make an agreement with unconverted Rome at any future time that suits him, since he has no principle controlling his actions. All he would need to do is declare that circumstances have changed.
Archbishop Lefebvre Recognized His Mistake In Signing The May 1988 Protocol And From Then Until His Death, He Maintained The Principle No Agreement With Unconverted Rome.
Showing he learned his lesson, Archbishop Lefebvre maintained until his death that he would not even discuss an agreement with Rome until Rome converted. Archbishop Lefebvre repeatedly showed his resolution not to do what Bishop Fellay seeks and has sought. When asked by Fideliter magazine, “What do you think of a possible re-opening of a dialogue with Rome?” Archbishop Lefebvre made the following clear reply:
We do not have the same outlook on a reconciliation. Cardinal Ratzinger sees it as reducing us, bringing us back to Vatican II. We see it as a return of Rome to Tradition. We don’t agree; it is a dialogue of death. I can’t speak much of the future, mine is behind me; but if I live a little while, supposing that Rome calls for a new dialogue, then, I will put conditions. I shall not accept being put in the position where I was during the [May 1988] dialogue. No more.
I will put the discussion at the doctrinal level. ‘Do you agree with the great encyclicals of all the popes who preceded you? Do you agree with Quanta Cura of Pius IX, Immortale Dei and Libertas of Leo XIII, Pascendi Gregis of Pius X, Quas Primas of Pius XI, Humani Generis of Pius XII? Are you in full communion with these popes and their teachings? Do you still accept the entire Anti-Modernist Oath? Are you in favor of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ? If you do not accept the doctrine of your predecessors, it is useless to talk! As long as you do not accept the correction of the Council, in consideration of the doctrine of these Popes, your predecessors, no dialogue is possible. It is useless.
Fideliter, quoted by Fr. Laisney in Archbishop Lefebvre and the Vatican, pp. 223-224 (emphasis and bracketed date added).
So, if Bishop Fellay was following Archbishop Lefebvre, he would treat seriously Rome’s request to talk but he would keep the discussion at the doctrinal level, as Archbishop Lefebvre vowed he would, after his May 1988 mistake. This is why Archbishop Lefebvre declared the principle that “it is, therefore, a strict duty for every priest wanting to remain Catholic to separate himself from this Conciliar Church for as long as it does not rediscover the Tradition of the Church and of the Catholic Faith.” That is, Archbishop Lefebvre declared any good priest must not make a deal with Rome until Rome rediscovers the Tradition of the Church.
The current SSPX is embarrassed by Archbishop Lefebvre’s strong principle. So you say that the current SSPX’s actions are just “normal”. You say that for the SSPX “to have some dealings with Rome is normal.” 7:19. But Bishop Fellay does not simply seek “some dealings” (to use your phrase). 7:19. Bishop Fellay wants to make an agreement submitting the SSPX to the practical control of Rome and even to the local bishops, as he admitted in his 6-8-12 DICI interview.
Do you agree with Archbishop Lefebvre when he said that superiors (Rome) form subordinates (the SSPX), and that subordinates (SSPX) don’t form the superiors (Rome)? Because Bishop Fellay is looking to subordinate the SSPX to Rome’s practical control, the inevitable consequence is that Rome will form (i.e., corrupt) the SSPX.
Even Bishop Fellay used to recognize the suicide of making a practical agreement with unconverted Rome. Here is what he said in 2003, about the practical agreement which Rome made with the priests in Campos, Brazil:
[O]ne will dominate the other. The stronger will dominate, and since there is a movement of submission to Rome, it is Rome who dominates, it is the present day Church. This Church is governed by principles, by a powerful group which drives the Church in a very precise direction. This direction is the immense fuzziness, otherwise known as the spirit of Vatican II. To make such an agreement, as they have, implies that they have placed themselves in the movement of Vatican II, in this floodtide which is moving the conciliar Church.11
You Misrepresent Archbishop Lefebvre’s Repudiation Of The May 1988 Protocol.
You try to justify the scandalous liberalism of Bishop Fellay’s 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble, by attempting to make a comparison to the May 5, 1988 protocol which Archbishop Lefebvre signed.
But there are big differences. One important difference is the significant differences in content, such as the fact that Bishop Fellay says that the new mass’s promulgation was “legitimate” whereas Archbishop Lefebvre did not say the promulgation was legitimate.12 Later in our letter, we discuss this term and other terms of Bishop Fellay’s 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble.
Another important difference is what happened immediately after Archbishop Lefebvre signed the protocol. Archbishop Lefebvre was pressured into signing the protocol and he recanted within hours of signing it, as soon as he had some quiet in which to reflect.
He signed the protocol at 4:30 p.m., on May 5, 1988. Biography of Archbishop Lefebvre, p.554. He then spent a sleepless night, during which he composed his retraction letter. He declared: “Oh! How I wanted morning to come so that I could give Fr. du Chalard my letter of retraction which I had written during the night [of May 5, 1998].” Biography of Archbishop Lefebvre, p.555.
Your version is far different from what Bishop Tissier says (above) in the Archbishop’s biography. This is what you say:
After he signed the May 5th protocol, Archbishop Lefebvre wrote a letter to Cardinal Ratzinger the very next day. … But in this letter to Cardinal Ratzinger, he does not reject the protocol. He simply adds one more provision. … [Then, speaking in the person of Archbishop Lefebvre, you say:] I don’t take away what I said in the protocol … I ask for one more provision … [Then going back to your own person, you say:] He does not reject the May 5th protocol as such. He insists on one additional condition to test the faith, the good faith of Rome.
8:29 – 11:16 (emphasis added).
In this quote immediately above, you say repeatedly that Archbishop Lefebvre “does not reject the protocol”. But you are wrong. Archbishop Lefebvre said he rejected the protocol (viz., his word was that he retracted his agreement to this protocol). Biography of Archbishop Lefebvre, p.555. We assume you are not claiming that there is a relevant difference between the words “reject” and “retract”.
Archbishop Lefebvre called his May 6, 1988 letter a “letter of retraction”. Id. Is that consistent with your claim that “he does not reject the protocol”? Is his “retraction” consistent with your claim that he said “I don’t take away what I said in the protocol”? Hear your words beginning at 8:29.
Further, on May 6, 1988 after he retracted his agreement to the protocol, Archbishop Lefebvre called the protocol “infamous”. Biography of Archbishop Lefebvre, p.555. Do you think he did not reject what he called “infamous”?
You assert about the protocol that, on May 6, 1988, “He simply adds one more provision” which you also call “one additional condition”. Id. But the truth is that Archbishop Lefebvre not only retracted the “infamous” protocol, but he gave an ultimatum to the pope.
Here is how Bishop Tissier recounts what Archbishop Lefebvre did on May 6, 1988:
The following day, after Mass and Prime, he finished off his letter and put it in an envelope which he showed to Fr. du Chalard at breakfast: ‘Father, before leaving, it is essential that this letter be taken to Cardinal Ratzinger. It’s a little bomb.’
It was a new ultimatum: [Then Bishop Tissier quotes Archbishop Lefebvre’s letter to Cardinal Ratzinger]:The date of June 30 was clearly given as a deadline, in one of my previous letters.
I have given you a file concerning the candidates. There are still nearly two months to prepare the mandate ... The holy father can easily shorten the process so that the mandate can be sent by mid-June.
Were the reply to be in the negative, I would see myself obliged in conscience to go ahead with the consecration ....
Biography of Archbishop Lefebvre, p.555 (emphasis added; bracketed words added).
Archbishop Lefebvre’s May 6, 1988 ultimatum was simply repeating what he had determined to do before May 6th. In January, 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre had already decided to consecrate three bishops. Biography of Archbishop Lefebvre, in a section called, “New Ultimatum”, p.551.
“On February 2nd, Archbishop Lefebvre confirmed the news: ‘I am resolved to consecrate at least three bishops on June 30th, and I hope to have the approval of John Paul II. But if he were not to give it to me, I would do it for the good of the Church and for the continuance of Tradition.” Biography of Archbishop Lefebvre, in a section called, “New Ultimatum”, p. 552 (emphasis added).
On May 10, 1988, regarding the consecrations, Archbishop Lefebvre said “June 30th is the deadline. … As I said on the television in Germany: on June 30 there will be Episcopal consecrations with or without Rome’s agreement.” Biography of Archbishop Lefebvre, p.556 (emphasis added). Note the fact that Archbishop Lefebvre repeated his ultimatum on television, shows that he was keeping the public informed about what he was doing.
So you see, Father Themann, your story is very different from the narrative in Bishop Tissier’s Biography of Archbishop Lefebvre. What happened on May 5th, as Bishop Tissier explains, is that Archbishop Lefebvre was pressured into signing the protocol and he recanted within hours. He spent a sleepless night, during which he wrote his retraction of the protocol, which protocol he called “infamous”, later that day. Then, on May 6, 1988, he renewed his ultimatum that he would consecrate at least three bishops (not one bishop, as you say) and that he would perform the consecrations on June 30th, with or without the pope’s permission.
Regarding the reason for Archbishop Lefebvre retracting his agreement to the protocol, you specifically say:
[He] simply adds one more provision. And I will say it was a practical provision. In this letter, he says the pope must guarantee that we will have the consecration of a bishop by June 30th.
Disc 2, track 1, 9:00.
The explanation you give regarding why Archbishop Lefebvre changed his mind, is false. Whereas you say that Archbishop Lefebvre changed his mind regarding the protocol because there was no promise of a bishop, read the words of Archbishop Lefebvre (below), who tells us that he withdrew his signature as a matter of principle, because Rome had not converted.
During his Episcopal consecration sermon, Archbishop Lefebvre explains his reason for changing his mind regarding the May 1988 protocol. He starts out posing a question from a hypothetical person who does not understand the situation:
“And why, Archbishop, have you stopped these discussions which seemed to have had a certain degree of success?”
[Then Archbishop Lefebvre answers this question:] Well, precisely because, at the same time that I gave my signature to the Protocol, the envoy of Cardinal Ratzinger gave me a note in which I was asked to beg pardon for my errors. But if I am in error, if I teach error, it is clear that I must be brought back to the truth in the minds of those who sent me this note to sign. “That I might recognize my errors” means that, if you recognize your errors we will help you to return to the truth. What is this truth for them if not the truth of Vatican II, the truth of the Conciliar Church? Consequently, it is clear that the only truth that exists today for the Vatican is the conciliar truth, the spirit of the Council, the spirit of Assisi. That is the truth of today. But we will have nothing to do with this for anything in the world!
That is why, taking into account the strong will of the present Roman authorities to reduce Tradition to naught, to gather the world to the spirit of Vatican II and the spirit of Assisi, we have preferred to withdraw ourselves and to say that we could not continue. It was not possible. We would have evidently been under the authority of Cardinal Ratzinger, President of the Roman Commission, which would have directed us; we were putting ourselves into his hands, and consequently putting ourselves into the hands of those who wish to draw us into the spirit of the Council and the spirit of Assisi. This was simply not possible.
This is why I sent a letter to the Pope, saying to him very clearly: “We simply cannot accept this spirit and proposals, despite all the desires which we have to be in full union with you. Given this new spirit which now rules in Rome and which you wish to communicate to us, we prefer to continue in Tradition; to keep Tradition while waiting for Tradition to regain its place at Rome, while waiting for Tradition to reassume its place in the Roman authorities, in their minds.” This will last for as long as the Good Lord has foreseen.
It is not for me to know when Tradition will regain its rights at Rome, but I think it is my duty to provide the means of doing that which I shall call “Operation Survival”, operation survival for Tradition. Today, this day, is Operation Survival. If I had made this deal with Rome, by continuing with the agreements we had signed, and by putting them into practice, I would have performed “Operation Suicide”.
Does it sound to you like Archbishop Lefebvre is telling you that he was satisfied with the 5-5-88 protocol but merely was adding another condition (viz., that he receive a bishop)? The truth is that Archbishop Lefebvre realized he made a mistake in considering the idea of a practical agreement with unconverted Rome. He recanted his error and never wavered thereafter from his prudent determination to never make an agreement with unconverted Rome. See discussion below.
Contrast Archbishop Lefebvre’s “infamous” acceptance of the protocol for mere hours, to Bishop Fellay’s refusal to recant his even more scandalous 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble even 18 months later!
Rome’s Remitting The Penalty Of The Excommunications While Maintaining That The Excommunications Were Justly Imposed, Demonstrates That Rome Has Not Changed In Any Relevant Way.
In the extended quote from Archbishop Lefebvre immediately above, he wisely saw that he must not make a deal with unconverted Rome because Rome considered him to be wrong and, as he said: “if I teach error, it is clear that I must be brought back to the truth in the minds of those who sent me this note to sign.”
This is still Rome’s view today. Pope Benedict XVI and his curia made this very clear in connection with the supposed (i.e., false and invalid) excommunications of the six bishops. Bishop Fellay considered his rosary crusade answered adequately when his founder’s name remained slandered. Rome’s decree remitting the penalty for the supposed excommunication says that the excommunication “no longer has juridical effect” for four of the bishops.13 However, the Vatican continued to maintain that the six traditional bishops were wrong and that the excommunications were justly imposed in the first place. In a 3-10-09 letter, Pope Benedict called the remission of the penalty a “discreet gesture of mercy towards four Bishops”.14
Archbishop Lefebvre (in the quote set forth above) was wise enough to focus on the fact that Rome was wrong on doctrine. He refused to submit his Society to the practical control of Rome as long as Rome still considered the SSPX to be wrong. By contrast, the current SSPX puts aside the truth that Rome still considers the SSPX wrong and sought an agreement anyway because the current SSPX cares way too much for Rome’s approval and for appearances. Here is how Archbishop Lefebvre viewed Rome’s (invalid) penalties:
The Cardinal [Ratzinger] made a threat: the consequence of an illicit Episcopal consecration would be “schism and excommunication”. “Schism?” retorted the Archbishop. “If there is a schism, it is because of what the Vatican did at Assisi and how you replied to our Dubia: the Church is breaking with the traditional Magisterium. But the Church against her past and her Tradition is not the Catholic Church; this is why being excommunicated by a liberal, ecumenical and revolutionary Church is a matter of indifference to us.15
Archbishop Lefebvre was concerned about Rome’s conversion. He considered the penalties (invalidly) imposed by Rome, to be “a matter of indifference”, because Rome still considered him doctrinally wrong. By contrast, the current SSPX exalts and takes great satisfaction at the mere change of appearances (i.e., the official purported remission of invalid excommunications)!
The 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble
You say that Bishop Fellay’s doctrinal preamble “does walk a delicate line. It doesn’t cross the line [viz., into error and compromise] but it does walk a delicate line”. 30:30. Later, you say: “Bishop Fellay writes the response [viz., the 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble he proposes], which admittedly walks right up to the line. It does.” 50:47.
No one who loves the Faith and is not under the influence of human respect would be willing to even come close to the line of error and compromise. This is like the fact that no one who loves God and is not under the influence of carnal passion would be willing to come close to a mortal sin against purity. One of the many reasons this is true is because of the danger of making an error in judgment which results in crossing the line.
Another reason why a man who loves the Faith and was not under the influence of human respect would never be willing to come close to the line of compromise and error, is that it is a scandal to approve a narrow part of a document which is riddled with errors – as Lumen Gentium is – especially while remaining silent about the hundreds of errors in Lumen Gentium, as Bishop Fellay remained silent about them when expressing his approval of part of that conciliar document. This same principle would apply to how we should treat the works of an arch-heretic conciliar theologian like Hans Kung: viz., if someone could find some narrow section of one of Kung’s books about which to express his approval, in order to please unconverted Rome, that is a scandal because the corpus of Kung’s writings is so infested with errors, as are also the documents of Vatican II.
Bishop Fellay tries to narrowly accept Lumen Gentium §25 under a particular aspect, in his 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble. Section 25 contains many errors, as does the rest of that document, as is proved in this book: Lumen Gentium Annotated, Quanta Cura Press, pp. 200-203, found at http://www.scribd.com/doc/158994906 /Lumen-Gentium-Annotated.
We note that, in Bishop Fellay’s 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble, he specifically agrees that the principal errors of Vatican II are, in fact, reconcilable with the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church, although he says it is “difficult”.16 A little later, Bishop Fellay says it is legitimate to “study” the text of Vatican II where it “appears” that it “cannot be reconciled with the previous Church’s Magisterium”. Id. Thus, Bishop Fellay is agreeing not to take the true Catholic position that these Vatican II teachings are completely false and are the opposite of the truth. See, e.g., the hundreds of errors in a single conciliar document, as shown in Lumen Gentium Annotated, cited above.
A further problem with Bishop Fellay’s words is that the phrase “entire and uninterrupted Tradition” has a different meaning for traditional Catholics, than it does for the conciliar church. The SSPX leadership used to warn against the very ambiguity Bishop Fellay employs here. The SSPX used to say plainly that conciliar Rome does not have the same understanding regarding the Church’s Magisterial teaching. For traditional Catholics, “uninterrupted Tradition” means the continuity of the doctrine which the Church has always taught. Now, by these words, Rome means a continuity of the same teaching office, viz., a pope and bishops.
Here is how the SSPX used to explain Rome’s conciliar understanding of Magisterial “continuity”:
But it is necessary to admit the plain truth and to recognize that [in the conciliar church] the word ‘continuity’ does not have this traditional sense at all in the current discourse of ecclesiastics. They speak precisely about continuity with regard to a subject that evolves over the course of time. It is not a question of the continuity of an object, of the dogma or the doctrine that the Church’s Magisterium proposes today, giving it the same meaning as before. It is a question of the continuity of the unique subject ‘Church’. Moreover Benedict XVI speaks not exactly about continuity but about ‘renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us.’17
This new conciliar meaning of “tradition” was explained more succinctly by Fr. Pierre Marie, prior of the traditional Dominicans in Avrille: “for [Pope Benedict XVI], Tradition is living. Tradition is what it is thought to be by the Bishops living today.”18
In the 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble, Bishop Fellay asserts that the “Second Vatican Council … illuminates – i.e. deepens and further makes explicit– some aspects of the life and of the doctrine of the Church”. In endnote 8 to this paragraph, Bishop Fellay gives the example of “the teaching on the sacramentality of the episcopacy in Lumen Gentium § 21” as something which “illuminates” the consistent teaching of the Church before Vatican II. It is plain from a review of Lumen Gentium’s §21, that Bishop Fellay here accepts many conciliar errors, including but not limited to:
the distinction of bishops from laymen, as being one merely of “function” (a Protestant theory);
the promotion of the Vatican II novelty that a bishop can only govern his diocese as a member of the college of bishops (the error of collegiality); and
the blurring of the effect of the sacrament of Episcopal consecration, with the spiritual gifts given uniquely to the apostles at Pentecost (see also the footnotes in the official text of this paragraph). Lumen Gentium Annotated, pp. 181-185.
Bishop Fellay Accepts Many Conciliar Errors In Lumen Gentium Ch. 3.
We notice you entirely omit mentioning that Bishop Fellay’s 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble accepts the new conciliar teaching regarding the authority and relationship of the pope and the bishops. Below are his words. He accepts:
the doctrine regarding the Roman Pontiff and the College of bishops, with its head, the Pope, as taught … by the Lumen Gentium dogmatic constitution of the Second Vatican Council, chapter 3 (De constitutione hierarchica Ecclesiæ et in specie de episcopatu), explained and interpreted by the Nota explicativa prævia to this very chapter.19
Bishop Fellay accepts many errors here, including but not limited to:
These and a great many other errors, are not corrected by the nota explicativa praevia. As Fr. Pierre Marie, prior of the Dominicans of Avrille, stated recently about this same chapter of Lumen Gentium:
Collegiality is found in Lumen Gentium no 22 (even after being ‘corrected’ by the Nota praevia), and is contrary to the teaching of Vatican I (Pastor aeternus) on the supreme power of the pope.20
These errors which you ignored during your conference and which Bishop Fellay accepted, are shown in greater detail to be the opposite of Catholic truth, in Lumen Gentium Annotated, pp.172-218.
Lastly on this topic, Pope John Paul II correctly singled out Vatican II’s teaching on the college of bishops (a teaching accepted by Bishop Fellay in the 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble), as one of the council’s novelties. Sacrae Disciplinae Leges, January 25, 1983. Thus, Pope John Paul II is declaring novel, what Bishop Fellay is accepting.
Bishop Fellay’s Acceptance Of The New Code Of Canon Law
Bishop Fellay’s 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble also promises to “respect … the Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II (1983)”. Thus, Bishop Fellay accepts (i.e., respects) the new code of canon law and indicates that it is good (for if it were not good, then it would not be a law at all).21
This is the same code of canon law which was such a grievous problem for the “old” SSPX.22 Bishop Fellay is accepting this new code of which Pope John Paul II said: “what constitutes the substantial ‘novelty’ of the Second Vatican Council … constitutes likewise the ‘novelty’ of the new Code [of canon law].” Sacrae Disciplinae Leges, January 25, 1983. So when Bishop Fellay pledges to respect the new code of canon law without any qualification and indicates that it is good without any qualification (i.e., otherwise it could not be the law23 ), Bishop Fellay is accepting the conciliar church’s practical implementation of Vatican II’s errors. Is this how you and Bishop Fellay fulfill your “duty to fight”? You admit that duty here: 48:40.
Bishop Fellay’s Purported “Test” Of Rome, In The 6-8-12 DICI Interview
Bishop Fellay made many scandalous and liberal statements in his 6-8-12 DICI interview.24 You try to distract from this liberalism by making it sound as if this interview is strong. This is what you say:
Not satisfied with the assurances that he can attack, continue to attack, ... he makes a test. In early June , Bishop Fellay grants an interview with DICI, in which he attacks Vatican II as erroneous. … He also criticizes the new mass.
In many places, Bishop Fellay makes these same false assertions you do, to justify this horrific 6-8-12 interview. For example, in his December 28, 2012 conference in Canada, Bishop Fellay says:
I made a test. I published an interview in DICI. It was the beginning of June. And there, I speak about the errors of Vatican II. And I speak about – let’s say the – how bad the new mass is.25
There are two problems with Bishop Fellay’s statement above and with your repetition of his falsehoods:
Bishop Fellay says above, that he speaks about “how bad the new mass is”. In fact, he makes no mention of the new mass in the entire interview, much less does he say how bad it is. (Read the interview yourself and see.)
The official authorities do not want to acknowledge the errors of the Council. They will never say so explicitly. Nevertheless, if you read between the lines, you can see that they hope to remedy some of these errors.26
As shown in this quote, Bishop Fellay’s only reference to the errors of Vatican II is to support his false claim that Rome has become more conservative and that Rome wants to “remedy” Vatican II errors! In other words, Bishop Fellay was only mentioning the errors of Vatican II as part of assuring the faithful that the hierarchy is becoming more conservative and everything is getting better in the Church.
You apparently never read the 6-8-12 DICI interview itself and instead were merely repeating without examination, these falsehoods which Bishop Fellay has repeated so often, e.g., on 12-28-12. Dig deeper! Inform yourself, especially before presenting yourself as an expert to hundreds of trusting people in St. Marys and later, to thousands of people throughout the U.S.; and now the SSPX is promoting your harmful conference internationally! Bishop Fellay’s repetitions of these same falsehoods do not make them true!
Your Failure To Accurately Address How Making A Deal With Rome Would Affect The Local Bishops’ Power Over The SSPX.
You say that:
It is precisely on the right of the Society to criticize Vatican II and the new mass, that caused the discussions [with Rome] to break. It was not the practical questions whether we’d be exempt from the bishops or whatever, that was not the problem. Rome was going to grant that.”
43:11 (emphasis added).
Are you aware that Bishop Fellay’s 6-8-12 DICI interview contradicts what you say? Bishop Fellay says that the local modernist bishops will have some veto power over the SSPX’s work:
There is a lot of confusion about this question, and it is caused mainly by a misunderstanding of the nature of a personal prelature, as well as by a misreading of the normal relation between the local ordinary and the prelature. … [L]et us say this clearly, if a personal prelature were granted to us, our situation would not be the same. … It is still true—since it is Church law—that in order to open a new chapel or to found a work, it would be necessary to have the permission of the local ordinary.
Do you think the SSPX would be “exempt from the bishops” (as you say) when the SSPX cannot open a new chapel, start a new school, etc., without the permission of the local modernist bishop?
The SSPX Now Conforms Its Rules Of Conduct To What The SSPX Believes To Be Achievable By Human Means.
Beginning May 6, 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre stood for firm principle – no agreement with unconverted Rome. He did not see any human way for Rome to convert and to see the errors of Vatican II. But he did not say – like the SSPX now says – that the precondition must be changed because Rome won’t accept the precondition we have.
Archbishop Lefebvre stuck to what was right, regardless of what Rome might do. Here is what Archbishop Lefebvre said:
[W]e prefer to continue in Tradition; to keep Tradition while waiting for Tradition to regain its place at Rome, while waiting for Tradition to reassume its place in the Roman authorities, in their minds. This will last for as long as the Good Lord has foreseen.
Episcopal consecration sermon, 1988.
You say that the current SSPX changed its longstanding principle that there would be no agreement with unconverted Rome because that would not happen “short of a miracle”. Here are your words:
Now, short of a miracle – and miracles can happen but you don’t use miracles, you don’t assume miracles in determining your prudential decisions. But short of a miracle, Rome is not going to accept that Vatican II has errors in it.
So Archbishop Lefebvre says we must stand firm, despite the fact that Rome’s conversion cannot be humanly expected in the foreseeable future. The SSPX now says we should change our principle to something humanly attainable – like peaceful co-existence with unconverted Rome.
You say that “it is our duty to fight”. 48:40. That is true. We fight by clearly and unyieldingly standing in complete opposition to conciliar errors. We don’t “fight” by asking for permission to tell the truth, as the current SSPX has been doing. We tell the truth regardless of what the conciliar church does. Further, we don’t constantly say favorable things about the conciliar church and Vatican II, as the current SSPX does, such as when the SSPX has been (falsely) saying that “there is no doubt that many Vatican II texts are traditional”.27
Continued Negotiations after June 2012
You try to give the impression that Rome just could not understand that the negotiations ended with Bishop Fellay’s (supposed) third “no”, at the June 13, 2012 meeting with Cardinal Levada. Here are your words:
October 27, 2012, … L’Osservatore Romano* published an unsigned article from the congregation of Ecclesia Dei, claiming that the commission is still waiting for an answer to the June 13 doctrinal statement, even though Bishop Fellay already answered now three times that he cannot sign it.
Have you not read this very Vatican Radio press release to which you refer? It includes the following:
The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei takes this occasion to announce that, in its most recent official communication (6 September 2012), the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X has indicated that additional time for reflection and study is needed on their part as they prepare their response to the Holy See’s latest initiatives.28
In other words, the Ecclesia Dei Commission told the world that the SSPX asked for more time. The SSPX has mentioned this press release many times and has never publicly denied asking for more time to prepare its response. You do not deny either, that the SSPX asked for more time. You simply act puzzled that they continued waiting for the SSPX’s answer.
This is not the first or only time Rome publicly said it understands the SSPX is preparing an answer, following the June 13, 2012 meeting. In July, Rome said it “awaits the forthcoming official Communication of the Priestly Fraternity as their dialogue with the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei continues.”29
Also, as late as October 2012, SSPX German District spokesman, Fr. Andreas Steiner, was still saying that the expulsion of Bishop Williamson would help the ongoing negotiations with Rome.30
Not only has the SSPX never denied Rome’s official, public claim that the SSPX has asked for more time to respond, but the supposed “no” you say that Bishop Fellay gave to Cardinal Levada during their June 13, 2012 meeting, is inconsistent with how Bishop Fellay describes this same meeting. Bishop Fellay narrates that Cardinal Levada told him that the SSPX must accept the truth and goodness of Vatican II. Bishop Fellay says that he responded: “That will be difficult.”31
When a traditional Catholic is told to accept the new mass (or to burn incense to false gods, or whatever), how could he respond that his acceptance of this mortal sin “will be difficult”? Do you think that Archbishop Lefebvre would have answered that way? Can you see Archbishop Lefebvre responding in any way other than: “That is impossible!”
The SSPX’s Principles Are Slowly And Steadily Becoming Weaker
Another way of answering your question, “Resistance to what?” is that we are resisting the current SSPX’s gradual change of many of its firm principles of conduct into “squishy” rules depending upon fuzzy circumstances. Previously, the principle was no deal with unconverted Rome. Now the new rule seems to be that: 1. it’s okay to make a deal with unconverted Rome if the current SSPX can get some promises from Rome; and 2. the current SSPX can trust that Rome will keep those promises, even though Rome did not keep its promises to the various compromised “traditional” societies which previously went with and trusted Rome).32
However, just like in the conciliar church, the current SSPX is not entirely consistent in this time of crisis, while becoming more liberal. So we don’t consider you as having shown the current SSPX to be “rock solid” simply because you can find some traditional statements some SSPX priest or website still makes. This is similar to the conciliar popes saying traditional and modernist things on the same subject, sometimes in the same encyclical. In other words, the problem with the current SSPX’s liberalism, does not disappear because the SSPX still sometimes talks conservatively too.
Your Weak Definition Of “Traditional Catholic”
You display the current SSPX’s characteristic softness when you use the phrase “traditional Catholic”. This is only one of countless indications of the weakening of the current SSPX. You refer to the “Ecclesia Dei side of the traditional Catholic universe” [24:30], showing you consider the indult/motu compromise groups to be part of the traditional Catholic community. Then you say something similar at 25:00, where you call the Ecclesia Dei groups who don’t think Vatican II is the problem, one “side of the traditional Catholic spectrum”.
If the indult groups were traditional Catholic, then they would not be wrong and compromisers, as they are! Traditional Catholics are those who embrace all of Catholic Tradition. But because you call the Ecclesia Dei groups “Traditional Catholic”, although they deny that Vatican II has errors and deny that the new mass is evil, your definition apparently includes everyone who embraces some amount or aspect of Catholic Tradition. Under that fuzzy definition, even Pope Francis would be a Traditional Catholic, e.g., because of his professed devotion to the Rosary and his recently stating that he prays 15 decades each day.
Your weak definition of the phrase “traditional Catholic” is a typical example of the current SSPX’s movement in many ways toward those compromise groups. Another example of this movement is the SSPX’s Polish District website announcement of the Ecclesia Dei groups’ ordination schedules last spring. (If you want a copy of this SSPX announcement, email us at: Father.Themann.Answered@gmail.com.) By promoting the Ecclesia Dei groups’ ordination schedules, the current SSPX is encouraging the priests and faithful to attend those ordinations. It no longer advises its priests and faithful to keep a distance to avoid contamination by the many errors of the compromise societies, nor does the current SSPX warn about the errors of these compromise societies.
Your Strange Definition Of The Phrase “Conciliar Church”
You say that, when the SSPX uses the phrase “conciliar church”, it “means the structure/hierarchy in so far as it is infected with modernist errors.” 8:15. But Modernism has been around for a long time and existed back in St. Pius X’s time. But the conciliar church did not exist then, nor did that phrase. The truth is that the phrase “conciliar church” specifically refers to the human element of the Church only since Vatican II, and imbued with Vatican II, not modernism generally. You can see the error of your definition if you simply reflect that even you would not refer to modernist bishops of the 1950s as the “conciliar church of the 1950s”. Why? Because the phrase “conciliar church” refers to the council.
Another error in your erroneous definition of the phrase “conciliar church”, is that your definition only mentions “errors”. The truth is that this phrase refers to the entire milieu of softening, weakening and betrayal of our Lord by omission and by implication, not only by explicit errors. The phrase “conciliar church” encompasses all of the changes and novelties of the Vatican II church, not merely the “contrary novelties” which Bishop Fellay professes to oppose in his 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble.
Moreover, you err further when you contrast the traditional Catholic understanding of the phrase “conciliar church”, with the meaning understood by the sedevacantists. 8:15. You say that “when a sedevacantist uses that term, he means a different thing from the Catholic Church, ... a different structure”. 8:15. You are wrong to view it as unique to the sedevacantist position to hold that the conciliar church also refers to “different structures”. In this view, you are not faithful to Archbishop Lefebvre’s use of the phrase “conciliar church”. For example, he wrote on July 29, 1976: “This Conciliar Church is a schismatic church because it breaks with the Catholic Church of all time. It has its ... new institutions.”33
You fail to understand that traditional Catholics correctly use the phrase “conciliar church” to refer to different conciliar structures/institutions such as the standing diocesan councils, national councils of bishops, parish councils, etc. Those are “different structures” and it is important for (non-sedevacantist) traditional Catholics to use the phrase “conciliar church” to refer to these different structures.
So it is clear that the phrase “conciliar church” refers to the Vatican II church in particular. We notice that the phrase “conciliar church” has almost entirely fallen out of the current SSPX’s lexicon, apparently to de-emphasize the fact that the conciliar church is the church of Vatican II.
This is an inconvenient truth for the current SSPX, because the current SSPX attempts to de-link the phrase “conciliar church” from Vatican II in particular, as a means of de-emphasizing that Vatican II is the problem. The current SSPX says that it “accepts 95%” of Vatican II’s teachings34 and that “there is no doubt that many Vatican II texts are traditional”.35
The current SSPX’s whitewashing of Vatican II contrasts greatly with the truth. See, e.g., what is proved in Lumen Gentium Annotated, about that Vatican II document:
It is clear that Lumen Gentium teaches things on virtually every page which are inconsistent with the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church. It is evident from reading Lumen Gentium that much of its text is orthodox, at least when an orthodox meaning is imposed upon the ambiguities in the text, while ignoring the context which indicates another meaning instead.
Lumen Gentium Annotated, p. 310 (emphasis added). Do you agree that it betrays our Lord and the Faith to agree to accept ambiguous statements of Vatican II by imposing a meaning on the text which is against the context which shows a different meaning of those statements? An intellect which adheres to the truth and to our Lord would reject all such ambiguous statements.
We are well aware that, the current SSPX has made a number of vague references to the errors of Vatican II recently, to quell the objection that the current SSPX has gone soft on Vatican II. However, the current SSPX’s mention of Vatican II’s errors comes with little or no depth, detail or analysis. Bishop Fellay’s 12-28-12 conference is a typical example. He mentions no substance, explanation or details about Vatican II’s errors. Instead, he promotes the error that the hierarchy is becoming more conservative.36
The Lack Of Firmness Shown In SSPX’s Request That Rome Free The Mass
One of the conditions for beginning discussions with Rome was that the traditional Mass be freed from all restrictions. 17:00. You say that the 2007 motu proprio does that and therefore is not an indult [18:30] and the current SSPX holds this condition fulfilled.37 However, the motu proprio (in article 2) still does not free the Mass to allow it to be offered on any day whatsoever, e.g., during the Sacred Triduum. There are other serious restrictions too. Id.
Further, the motu proprio is only for the nostalgic priest, not for any priest who opposes the new mass on principle, because the pope declared that a priest could not “exclude celebrating according to the new books … as a matter of principle”. 7-7-07 letter of Pope Benedict XVI. Thus, the motu proprio does nothing for traditional Catholics. Although you legalistically say this condition is not technically part of the law because it is contained in the pope’s accompanying letter, nonetheless the truth is that it is part of the law as interpreted and enforced by the lawgiver, and was part of the application of the law which the Ecclesia Dei Commission used to prevent the Good Shepherd Institute from using the traditional Mass exclusively.38
The SSPX’s erroneous position about the 2007 motu proprio, reminds us of another related sign that the SSPX is weakening, viz., the current SSPX does not warn about (but instead uses!) the very terminology of the 7-7-07 motu proprio which indicates that the new mass is good, since the new mass is called the “ordinary form” and the ordinary option must be good or it is not even an option. (In other words, committing a mortal sin is not an “option”.) Thus, the weakening SSPX finds itself using the language of the conciliar church, calling the traditional Mass the “extraordinary form”.39
The Current SSPX’s Squishy New Policy About Attending The Indult/Motu Masses.
Another example of the current SSPX making its formerly firm principles of conduct into “squishy” rules always based on the situation, is the SSPX’s new stance on the “approved” traditional Masses. It used to be that the SSPX would say that “The Motu Proprio Mass, like the Indult Mass, is therefore not for traditional Catholics.”40
Contrast that with the current SSPX, where clear principles are rare and becoming extinct, and where everything, more and more, depends on squishy circumstances. Here is Bishop Fellay in a 2009 interview41 :
Q. What advice can you give to the faithful concerning these priests [offering the “approved”, i.e., Ecclesia Dei Latin Masses]? What should be the approach of the laity be towards them?
A. The faithful must be very cautious and not get themselves into embarrassing situations. They should consult our priests before approaching these priests. The circumstances are so variable: every priest is different and until it is clear that the attitude of the priest toward the Mass is authentic, the faithful must remain gracious while maintaining a cautious position.
So, the only “firm” principle that Bishop Fellay can now manage to come up with, is that a priest must have an “authentic” attitude! That “rule” is meaningless and sounds like conciliar rhetoric.
You describe the third condition that the pope required of Bishop Fellay on 6-30-12. According to your conference, Rome required that the SSPX agree that:
[T]he new mass is valid and legitimate. The new rite of mass is not only valid, which of course we [i.e., the SSPX] have always said, but it is legitimate, it is licit, it’s good, which we [i.e., the SSPX] don’t accept.
A little later, you say that “Bishop Fellay consistently insisted on the fact that … the new mass is not legitimate.” 41:00.
However, you recognize that Bishop Fellay stated in his 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble that the new mass is “legitimately promulgated”. Nothing can be “legitimately promulgated” which is not legitimate. So, for example, although a government has the right to promulgate laws for its subjects, it is plain that no government has the right to promulgate an ordinance banning the Catholic Faith. That ordinance could never be legitimately promulgated because that ordinance would not be good. See footnote 21. * In fact, no lawgiver can ever legitimately* do anything which is evil. Thus, Bishop Fellay’s acceptance of the “legitimate promulgation” of the new mass, acknowledges the new mass’s (supposed) goodness.
Notice also that when he talks about the new mass, Bishop Fellay’s 4-15-12 Doctrinal Preamble keeps silence regarding the evil of the new mass. Assuming Bishop Fellay really held (in 2012) that the new mass is evil, was he silent about this crucial truth to gain the “benefit” he was seeking from Rome? Is this what you mean when you say that “it is our duty to fight”? 48:40.
You say that you don’t know of any SSPX priest who would say that there is nothing wrong with the new mass. 21:48. No, the current SSPX is not that candid and perhaps the current SSPX would not literally hold that position (yet).
However, the current SSPX does indirectly say many kind things about the new mass. For example, Bishop Fellay has indicated his strange opinion that sometimes our baptismal character indicates that the new mass is good:
Bishop Fellay asserts the above novel idea, which we don’t believe has ever been taught as Catholic doctrine, concerning the character imprinted on our souls by baptism. The catechism and St. Thomas (Summa, IIIa, Q.63) say that this character (which is an indelible mark) does two things: 1) it marks us as belonging to Christ; and 2) it enables us to receive other sacraments.
Bishop Fellay asserts the novelty that this baptismal character also causes us to recognize the goodness of the traditional Mass. Bishop Fellay says that, when we attend the traditional Mass, there is a “click”, which is our baptismal character causing us to recognize that this Mass is pleasing to God and is truly Catholic. Bishop Fellay then says “most of the time there is absolutely no ‘click’ with the new mass.”42
There are two problems here:
Bishop Fellay’s statements are not the traditional Catholic teaching about the role of the baptismal character. Catholics are led to recognize what is good and evil through grace, virtue and especially the gifts of the Holy Ghost, not by the “clicking” of our baptismal character.
Bishop Fellay’s comments are soft on the new mass, because his comments indirectly say that at least occasionally our God-given sacramental character (which supposedly helps us to discern what is good) will give a “click” in recognition that the new mass is good!
One supposes that Bishop Fellay would say that this purported “click” would occur when the new mass is used under the “best”, strictest conditions. But if the new mass is good under strict conditions, then the new mass is good in itself!
Bishop Fellay asserts that the priest’s ordination character gives a priest the same reaction, only stronger, to the traditional Mass and, sometimes, also to the new mass. His assertion is apparently a novelty for the priestly character also. Id.
On another occasion, Bishop Fellay indicated that the new mass is good when used under the “strictest” conditions. The SSPX quoted Cardinal Canizares as saying:
On one occasion, Bishop (Bernard) Fellay, who is the leader of the Society of St. Pius X, came to see me and said, “We just came from an abbey that is near Florence. If Archbishop (Marcel) Lefebvre had seen how they celebrated there, he would not have taken the step that he did”… The missal used at that celebration was the Paul VI Missal in its strictest form.43
We leave aside that Bishop Fellay apparently attended a new mass, despite the duty of all Catholics to avoid all sacrilege! In this statement quoted by Cardinal Canizares, Bishop Fellay says that, if Archbishop Lefebvre had seen the new mass celebrated strictly, then he would not have taken “the step that he did”. This “step” must refer either to founding the SSPX or opposing the new mass.
What Bishop Fellay necessarily implies is that Archbishop Lefebvre was reacting against particular abuses occurring in the celebration of the new mass and that Archbishop Lefebvre would not have otherwise considered it necessary to found the SSPX (or to oppose the new mass), if only the new mass would have been celebrated without abuses. In other words, Bishop Fellay is indicating that Archbishop Lefebvre would have considered the new mass acceptable in its “strict” form!
Here is another example of Bishop Fellay’s softness on the new mass, this time from a 2013 interview.44 He states: “[W]hat needs to be corrected [regarding the new mass] … can be done by an instruction from the Congregation for the Divine Cult and the Discipline of the Sacraments.” Id. As an example of what needs to be corrected, Bishop Fellay mentions the need for a more accurate translation of the new mass into the vernacular. Id. In two ways, Bishop Fellay indicates that the new mass is not inherently bad and is not itself the problem:
The example he gives about what needs to be corrected regarding the new mass, does not address the inherent evil of the new mass but only translations and abuses; and
The Vatican Congregation does not have the power to remake the new mass itself.45 Thus, when Bishop Fellay says the Vatican Congregation can make the necessary corrections related to the new mass, he is implying that the new mass itself does not need to be simply destroyed or entirely and radically changed.
SSPX Liberalism Did Not Begin In 2011.
In your hypothetical third objection [39:10] which you treat as if it came from persons opposed to the current SSPX liberalism, you suppose it to be granted by them that “up until 2011, so the argument goes, Bishop Fellay put doctrine in first place. Now he puts the practical agreement, the canonical structure in first place.” As is true of most people resisting the current SSPX’s liberalism, we hold that Bishop Fellay’s slide into liberalism began much earlier.
We have been concerned for years before that, e.g., when Bishop Fellay accepted one of Pope John Paul II’s favorite phrases, referring to the Jews as our “Elder Brothers” in early 2009.46 However much Bishop Fellay might rationalize to himself that he gives this phrase a different meaning in his own mind, than the conciliar church does, it is a grave scandal. As St. Thomas teaches, there should be such a bright line separating us from heretics, that “with us and heretics, the very words ought not to be in common, lest we seem to countenance their error.” Summa, IIIa, Q.16, a.8, Respondeo.
Likewise, in 2009, Bishop Fellay was already so weak that he said that, after the deal with Rome, his “hope is that we be sufficiently protected to exercise the apostolate to be able to do good, without being always stopped from action by juridical reasons.”47 Obviously, hoping, without ensuring we can do good, is insufficient, especially knowing that unconverted Rome is solidly anti-Traditional in attitude and doctrine and has repeatedly broken its promises in order to squelch Tradition. See, e.g., footnote 32 above. Father, it speaks volumes about you that you think Bishop Fellay’s words here are the words of a man who puts doctrine first!
Although Bishop Fellay’s liberalism has been increasing for a long time, the reaction of priests and laymen recently, has been greater because Bishop Fellay’s recent liberalism has been greater. For example, Bishop Fellay said last year that:
[Religious liberty] is used in so many ways. And looking closer, I really have the impression that not many know what really the Council says about it. The Council is presenting a religious liberty which, in fact, is a very, very limited one: very limited!48
Notice that Bishop Fellay is not condemning religious liberty. He says that the Council’s religious liberty “is a very, very limited one: very limited!”
A little later in this video interview, Bishop Fellay addresses “which principle is involved to” justify Catholics demanding freedom to practice the true religion. Bishop Fellay says “We would argue that there might be another principle which would be more accurate to justify [seeking freedom for the Catholic Church].”149
Gregory XVI and Pope Pius IX condemned religious liberty as “insanity”. See, http://www.scribd.com/doc/46116957/Social-Kingship-of-Our-Lord. By contrast, Bishop Fellay says that there “might be” [!] another principle which would “be more accurate”! Is this how Bishop Fellay fulfills his “duty to fight”? Is he putting truth first?
Further, not only did Bishop Fellay fail to condemn religious liberty, but he said that this (false) “right” declared by the council, “is a very, very limited one: very limited!” In this also, what Bishop Fellay says is false. Here is what the council itself says:
“[N]or is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others....”50
Vatican II teaches that this religious liberty “continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it.” Id. Vatican II does say that religious liberty has “due limits” but makes clear that these limits concern peace and safety: “nor is the exercise of this right to be impeded, provided that the just requirements of public order are observed.” Id.
So the council says that this (false) “right” to religious liberty is entirely unlimited as long as society does not erupt in violence! Instead of being “very, very limited”, it is the same very broad “right” espoused by the Freemasons in Article 10 of the French Revolution’s 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man: “No one can be molested for his opinions, even for his religious opinions, provided their manifestation does not trouble the public order established by law.”
In the 10-31-12 SSPX priests’ newsletter, Cor Unum, the SSPX tried to explain away Bishop Fellay’s statements on religious liberty by telling its priests that:
Bishop Fellay had the intention of making them [viz., Catholic News Service, who was interviewing him] understand that true religious liberty is much more limited than they think and that it does not involve a right to error. 51
Do you really believe the SSPX’s explanation here? Bishop Fellay says “The Council is presenting a religious liberty …”. Do you think he really meant “true religious liberty”?
Father Themann, we have merely made a small start in presenting the vast catalogue of evidence (from the SSPX’s own mouth), answering your question: “Resistance to What?” We have only scratched the surface of the evidence which we could give and it is as plain as day that the current SSPX has been slowly weakening for a long time.
We limit ourselves to one more example. This one is from Bishop Fellay’s 6-8-12 DICI interview, in which he makes many scandalous and poisonous statements. Bishop Fellay says that he “would like to hope that ... Vatican II belongs to Tradition”.52 Saying this, Bishop Fellay avoids telling the essential truth: that Vatican II does not belong to Catholic Tradition. Instead Bishop Fellay “hopes” it does!
Any true traditional Catholic knows that Vatican II is a “counter-syllabus” and is the French Revolution in the Church. Bishop Fellay’s “hope” that Vatican II is traditional, is like “hoping” that Martin Luther’s teachings are completely orthodox – we know it is a false and vain hope.
You Falsely Deny That SSPX Priests Are Being Muzzled.
You were asked this question: “Has there been any official edicts from the superior general for the Society not to talk about certain sensitive types of matters?” Disc 2, track 2, 49:00.
And you responded: “People have actually asked me that and the answer is ‘no’, of course not.” Id.
Many, many times your superiors have given their priests directives which muzzle them against the increasing liberalism of the SSPX. At the end of this letter, we enclose one of countless examples which might “refresh your memory”. This example is a 6-7-12 letter from U.S. District Superior, Fr. Rostand, discussed below.
This 6-7-12 email letter arrived right before Bishop Fellay’s 6-8-12 DICI interview would be made public. This interview was packed with liberalism and compromises from beginning to end.53 Bishop Fellay knew there could be a strong reaction from some of his more anti-liberal priests. Therefore, the districts contacted their priests to make sure they were muzzled.
Three days before the 6-8-12 interview, Fr. Rostand had a conference call with his priors to organize them to muzzle their priests. See, the 6-7-12 Rostand letter (below). Then Fr. Rostand followed up with his priors by email letter, reminding them to keep a short leash on their priests. Id.
Fr. Rostand’s letter gives a few “reminders” to his priors and tells them to “communicate these reminders to your priests”. Id. Fr. Rostand cautions his priors that his “reminders” are for the priests only. Id. He reminds his priors that his “reminders” should neither be disclosed to laymen nor published or posted on the internet. Id.
Fr. Rostand reminds the priors that no priest is permitted to prepare any formal written article connected to the situation in Rome. Id. These “formal communications” are “reserved to the General House” in Menzingen. Id.
However, Fr. Rostand tells his priests they should speak about the SSPX’s situation with Rome but should only “speak generally” and should repeat what is contained in the “public communications by the superiors”. Id. Fr. Rostand reminds the priors that “if a priest is unsure of what may be said/should be said, then that priest should contact the District House for further information” about what to say. Id. (emphasis added)
Fr. Rostand reminds the priors that they should not give their “own opinions” and they should “avoid bitterness and undue criticism of our brother priests”. Id. Fr. Rostand tells his priests that:
The charity of respect for, and loyalty to, our lawful superiors, demanded by the virtue of obedience, means allowing them the opportunity to present and explain things at the opportune time.
Lastly, Fr. Rostand reminds his priests of the SSPX rules for preventing the sharing of information by the laity. He says:
Beware recording/publishing of sermons, etc., which can easily be used against us
Remind the faithful that they are not to record54 or publish (or even simply pass along to a friend via the internet) without your express consent.
Remind the faithful that this is not an arbitrary decision, or one designed to keep sermons hidden, but rather exists to prevent the spread of discord, and the fomenting of a revolutionary spirit.
Now Fr. Themann, because you are not a prior, perhaps you have never seen this 6-7-12 letter before, and perhaps you have never heard about the similar district directives to the priors. Perhaps you have naively thought that your own superior was the only one muzzling his priest-subordinates. Because of your non-superior status, you really were not in a position to speak with knowledge about an edict passed down by the superior general, through the district superiors, to the priors, and then to the regular priests like you.
For that reason, you should have expressed your lack of information with which to answer the question one way or another, instead of denying that the superior general is muzzling his priests.
But do you really claim to be ignorant that the SSPX priests are being muzzled by their superiors? Either way, to the laity whom you misled for 2½ hours earlier this year, the result is the same. But there will be a difference for you at your Judgment.
The “Reaction” Which You Say Is Lacking, To The SSPX Liberalism
Besides your false denial that the SSPX priests are being muzzled, you give this “proof” that the SSPX has not changed: “[I]f I would start announcing the mass times across the street at the novus ordo church, all of you in this room would react.” Disc 2, track 2, 50:00. You also say it shows that the SSPX has not drifted into liberalism because if the SSPX did drift, then SSPX priests would “react”. Id.
Some priests did react. They are sometimes called the “Resistance”. Actually your example is rather close to what the SSPX did on its Polish District website. As mentioned above, that SSPX website posted the ordination schedules of the Ecclesia Dei compromise groups, earlier this year. This website was run by Fr. Karl Stehlin, who has now been promoted to District Superior of Asia.
It is true that most SSPX priests did not react publicly to the SSPX’s accelerated liberalism beginning in 2012. But the current SSPX situation is, as it were, the 1960s within the SSPX. Fifty years ago, in the 1960s, most good priests did not react. Instead, living silently with compromise, they gradually became callous to, and then embraced the conciliar revolution.
We should not expect the majority of priests or people to react to the slow liberalizing of the SSPX any more than the majority of priests or people reacted to the slow liberalizing of the conciliar church in the 1960s. Those who think that traditional Catholic priests and laymen today are somehow a stronger, better group than the average priests and laymen in the 1960s, give themselves way too much credit. Some of us writing this letter can make this comparison from our own knowledge.
Cardinal Ratzinger recognized that gradualism is the key to avoiding a resistance. Quoting and citing him, the Remnant summarized his opinion as follows:
the imposition of the Novus Ordo upon the faithful in a mere six months was a great mistake. Cardinal Ratzinger believed it should have taken at least ten years. Why? Cardinal Ratzinger knew that a fundamental change on the scale of introducing a new Mass must be gradually revealed to the faithful over a long period of time if they were to eventually accept it. The New Mass being imposed practically all at once over six months was not enough time. This rapid implementation led to many leaving the Church and the formation of resistance groups such as the SSPX.55
Cardinal Ratzinger is correct. The slower the revolution moves, the fewer people will react. The SSPX revolution has been moving slowly for many years. For example, GREC began only a couple of years after Archbishop Lefebvre died.56 It was only when the SSPX got impatient in 2012 and tried to move too fast, that it encountered open resistance. The SSPX has learned to be more patient since then.
Use Of SSPX Internal Documents
Multiple SSPX priests disclosed the three SSPX internal documents used above, because of the deception they contain. We hold that the justness of their revealing these deceptive documents (and us using them here) is similar to Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII commanding the publication of the Alta Vendita private papers of the freemasons, for the good of the Church.
Unlike your own approach to prudence, we are acting on principle, in matters of prudence. Here are the principles we used when publicly disclosing these three internal SSPX documents. We hold the principle that private documents should generally remain private, just like a person’s particular sins should generally remain hidden.
However, there is a superseding principle which applies here and in the case of those two good popes’ publication of the freemasons’ private papers. That superseding principle is that the privacy of papers should not be used as a cloak of darkness to assist in subverting souls.
This is like the superseding principle that a person’s private sins must be disclosed on some occasions, e.g., if it is the best way you have to prevent a child molester from being hired as your young nephew’s piano teacher, for private lessons.
So, if you and the SSPX leadership don’t want SSPX internal documents revealed, then tell the truth, especially on matters having a significant effect on many souls!
A Final Word About Your Conference
Because you talked so long (2 ½ hours!), our letter was unavoidably long. We addressed many of your points in this open letter, attempting to help the faithful and correct the scandal you have caused. We certainly have not addressed all of your errors but we addressed as many as we did to give the faithful a basis for assessing whether they should consider you a suitable guide and whether they should consider you and the SSPX worthy of their trust.
Again, you can contact us at and we would be glad to discuss this further.
We will pray for you; please pray for us!
Yours truly in Christ.