Dead on Arrival:
The Remnant‘s New Strategy on “Pope” Francis
Being a Semi-Traditionalist is pretty difficult these days: You have to somehow try to reconcile authentic, traditional Catholic teaching with the idea that the world’s most notorious Modernist, Jorge Bergoglio, is the Pope of the Catholic Church. Squaring the circle will prove easier than this, so it is not surprising that all the various attempts at making Francis into a Catholic cannot but end in failure. The problem is that so much damage is being done in the process, damage to Catholic truth and to a proper understanding of Catholic teaching on the Pope and the Church. A great illustration of this we saw recently in Mr. John Vennari’s declaration that he would refuse to allow the “Pope” to teach religion to his children! (Ponder that one for a while.) Think whatever you like about Novus Ordo Watch, but don’t claim for a minute that Vennari’s could be considered a traditional Catholic position.
Yet, all of this is justified and accepted by so many “traditional Catholics” only because of an a priori refusal on their part to admit Sedevacantism as even a possible solution to the problem of the Vatican II Church. Yes, we know, sedevacantism isn’t pretty; we know it’s inconvenient; we know it’s challenging. But if you’re holding your current position because it’s convenient or easy, you’re holding it for the wrong reason. Look at and study the evidence — that is what you owe to your intellect, not to mention the Creator of your intellect. And keep in mind that whether you look into the matter or refuse to do so has no bearing on its truth or falsity anyway. If sedevacantism is false, it doesn’t become true just because you’re looking into it; and if it is true, it doesn’t cease to be true just because you wish it weren’t.
In other words, studying the issue puts you in a win-win situation. And besides, would you really want to have an invalid “priest” give you “last rites” when you die — just because you weren’t willing to research the issue when you had the opportunity? …Didn’t think so. And unlike Francis, surely you think the Last Judgment is a big deal.
The latest strategy on how to deal with the elephant in the living room comes from Mr. Michael Matt, editor of The Remnant, a fortnightly paper that endorses the absurd “recognize-and-resist” position of those who “recognize” the Novus Ordo Church as the true Church while at the same time “resisting” all its non-Catholic teachings, laws, and practices. In the above video, published on November 19 2013, Matt makes the case that “Resistance” traditionalists need to quit allowing the secular left to commandeer Francis’ words when these can be interpreted in an orthodox sense. Furthermore, Matt argues, traditionalists need to stop bickering amongst themselves and rally behind the “Pope” every time he does or says something Catholic, instead of allowing the left to take over the “narrative” on Francis.
Yes, in all seriousness, this is Matt’s proposed strategy.
Let us now look at and dissect some quotes from this video presentation, which is entitled “Pope Francis and the Three Amigos”:
One thing that I’ve noticed is that there seems to be a willingness on the part of traditionalists to overlook some of the things the Holy Father has said which, one could argue, are mitigating or more favorable.
Matt then goes into Francis’ stance on the indult Mass (i.e., the use of the 1962 Missal as permitted by Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum) and ends by saying: “The prevailing opinion in Rome is that the Holy Father will simply allow the status quo to continue. He won’t particularly support the traditional Latin Mass; on the other hand, he is not apt to attack it or to stop or undo Summorum Pontificum….”
This is a bit of a head scratcher, considering that Francis has already forcefully moved against the “Traditional Latin Mass” (indult version) with regard to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, whose use of the 1962 Missal he put under a general prohibition when a few liberals in the order complained to Rome. Did Mr. Matt forget this already? It’s ironic that Matt should fail to mention this in the very context of criticizing others for “overlook[ing] some of the things the Holy Father has said” or done. It’s also somewhat amusing that the very topic Matt chose as an example of people not giving Francis credit where it’s supposedly due is that of the 1962 Mass, simply because of a nice (but by no means enthusiastic) message Francis had “Archbishop” Guido Pozzo read to the Summorum Pontificumpilgrims in late October ’13. (Francis’ dissing of the Traditional Mass as “just a fad” came after Matt released his video, and it’s not exactly helping his case now. Also, Matt has since criticized Francis for his handling of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, but it is still interesting that at first he glossed over it.)
The editor of The Remnant goes on to caution his followers against criticizing Francis too much or too often:
…I think we do have to avoid a certain pitfall or a certain trap which would have us join the left, if you will, in piling on every time the Holy Father says or does something that is not necessarily in accord with what we believe the Holy Father should be saying and doing; that we sort of add our voices of dissent to those who are gleeful and very much celebrating the fact that the Holy Father seems to be drifting in a more liberal direction.
You’ve got to love how Matt puts it: “…something that is not necessarily in accord with what we believe the Holy Father should be saying or doing; … seems to be drifting in a more liberal direction” — sounds almost like he had a lawyer proofread his script before the broadcast to make sure he stays extremely vague, completely subjective, super-soft, and keeps all his bases covered. It’s odd that Matt, who claims to represent the traditional Catholic perspective, makes it a matter of what “we believe” the Pope should be doing. Isn’t “what we believe” in line with authentic Catholicism? If so, then it’s not really a matter of what “we believe” should be done by a Pope but a matter of what, quite objectively, ought to be done by him. Either Matt holds Francis to the Catholic standard or to no standard at all; and if Matt’s standard isn’t Catholic, then who cares about what he “believes” a Pope should do or say?
In any case, Matt doesn’t want you to “pile on” whenever Francis shows — pardon, seems to show — his true liberal colors, because that would mean “adding your voice” to that of the leftists who are celebrating his liberalism. Huh?! Perhaps to Mr. Matt this is all a game, but it’s really not. For goodness’ sake, Francis is on the record saying he does not believe in a Catholic God! He believes the Old Covenant is still in force! He believes the Church only has the right to give “opinions”! He believes observing Ramadan results in “abundant spiritual fruit”! He allows the Tango to be danced during “Mass”! He presides over “Mass” at World Youth Day where “Holy Communion” is distributed in disposable plastic cups! He appoints a public sodomite to head the Vatican Bank!
And in the face of all this, Michael Matt’s brilliant advice is, “Don’t join the left by piling on”?!? Why is anyone listening to this man?
Let’s instead consider the advice of Pope Pius VI, who wrote in a decree against the proto-Modernists of his time:
In order not to shock the ears of Catholics, the innovators sought to hide the subtleties of their tortuous maneuvers by the use of seemingly innocuous words such as would allow them to insinuate error into souls in the most gentle manner. Once the truth had been compromised, they could, by means of slight changes or additions in phraseology, distort the confession of the faith that is necessary for our salvation, and lead the faithful by subtle errors to their eternal damnation.
Moreover, if all this is sinful, it cannot be excused in the way that one sees it being done, under the erroneous pretext that the seemingly shocking affirmations in one place are further developed along orthodox lines in other places, and even in yet other places corrected; as if allowing for the possibility of either affirming or denying the statement, or of leaving it up to the personal inclinations of the individual – such has always been the fraudulent and daring method used by innovators to establish error. It allows for both the possibility of promoting error and of excusing it.
Whenever it becomes necessary to expose statements that disguise some suspected error or danger under the veil of ambiguity, one must denounce the perverse meaning under which the error opposed to Catholic truth is camouflaged.
(Pope Pius VI, Bull Auctorem Fidei, 1794)
So much for the “mitigating or more favorable” things one could say about Francis. Catholics had better heed the advice of Pope Pius VI instead of Michael Matt’s. We must “denounce the perverse meaning under which the error opposed to Catholic truth is camouflaged,” not spin it in ways that make the heretic look good!
Also, just how does Michael Matt think the elect can be kept from being deceived (cf. Mt 24:24)? By this sort of laughable strategy he proposes? “Whenever the wolf can be made to sound like the shepherd, let’s emphasize that, lest people believe he’s actually a wolf”?! Is this a Catholic attitude? How does Matt think there will actually be a deception at some point?
The editor of The Remnant continues elaborating on his new strategy:
So when he [Francis] says or does something that is constructive, that is helpful, that is Catholic — that we can use, in other words — I think Tradition-minded Catholics have to be there, support the Holy Father, and point out the fact is… the press is only interested in what Pope Francis has to say that serves their agenda.
Let’s interrupt right here for a second and draw attention to the inconvenient fact that The Remnant did precisely that during the reign of “Pope” Benedict XVI: They were only interested in covering what supported their agenda of promoting Ratzinger as the great “Restorer of Tradition”, ignoring or downplaying what contradicted this view. The following links will demonstrate The Remnant‘s double standard in this regard:
- Refinishing the Great Facade: The Vatican, the SSPX, and the “Restoration of Tradition”
- “One and the Same Rite”: How Benedict XVI Tries to Destroy the Traditional Latin Mass
- No Friend of Fatima: Unspinning Christopher Ferrara’s Defense of Benedict XVI
- Quo Vadis, SSPX?
What The Remnant did for years with Ratzinger, and initially attempted to do with Francis, is still being done today by Michael Voris, with whom Michael Matt & Co. have loosely aligned themselves. The secular press, of course, is doing the same thing, just in reverse. But, Mr. Matt: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Why can’t the secular press use the same tactic with Francis that you yourself used with Benedict XVI, to further its agenda?
Here we should also say a few things about Novus Ordo Watch. Some people may object and say, “But don’t you, likewise, only report select news items, those that you can use to help promote your position of sedevacantism?” To this we answer, “Yes and no.” There is a very important difference here: Heresy and apostasy are of such a nature that even one instance of them suffices to render void someone’s claim to being a Catholic. As Bp. Donald Sanborn said in one of his sermons on Vatican II, “A single pin bursts the whole balloon.” This is critical to understand.
Thus, when (for example) Joseph Ratzinger denies the dogma of Papal Primacy (in his Principles of Catholic Theology, pp. 216-217), it does not matter how many other dogmas he affirms, how zealously he opposes abortion, or how beautiful the vestments are he uses in his liturgies. It is irrelevant, for what makes a Catholic is not the adherence to some dogmas, but to all of them. Hence pertinacious denial or doubt of even one constitutes heresy, and heresy “is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church” (Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, par. 22).
For this reason, we would be seriously misleading people if we constantly posted news stories about how “Cardinal” Raymond Burke wants Nancy Pelosi to be denied “Holy Communion”, how some Novus Ordo bishop affirms the divinity of Christ, or how the “Pope” preaches against abortion. Doing so would cause the impression that these men can be considered Catholics after all, simply because they do not deny all dogmas. But that’s not how Catholicism works. Keep in mind what Pope Pius VI said, as quoted above, as well as the following papal admonitions:
There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the whole cycle of doctrine, and yet by one word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition.
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, par. 9)
Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected.
(Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Ad Beatissimi, par. 24)
So you see what a stark contrast there is between Novus Ordo Watch, which utilizes Catholic principles in its reporting of the facts, and the fake pseudo-Traditionalists who use a mixture of truth and error to advance their cause. The ultimate criterion always has to be the promotion of truth, never of error. But to keep hidden from people the heresies of the Vatican II “Popes”, whilst at the same time promoting their “orthodox side,” is a most terrible thing to do, and assists only in the spreading of error and confusion, leading people to submit not to the true shepherds of their souls but to hirelings that have usurped and eclipsed the shepherds’ rightful place (cf. Jn 10:11-14).
But let us return to the words of Michael Matt. There is more to comment on here, so let’s repeat some of what we already quoted:
So when he [Francis] says or does something that is constructive, that is helpful, that is Catholic — that we can use, in other words — I think Tradition-minded Catholics have to be there, support the Holy Father….
Do the Semi-Traditionalists realize how absurd they sound when they say things like this: “When the Pope says something Catholic…”? Clearly, in Michael Matt’s religion, the Pope is not the proximate rule of Faith but only a nice chap that sometimes says things that are Catholic. And when that happens — once in a blue moon, you know — then let’s all rally behind him and point out how wonderful of a Catholic he is!
This is laughable, but in a tragic sort of way. With this “tactic”, Michael Matt is only ensuring that everyone will heap scorn on him and his position. Who can take this patent silliness seriously? Is this consonant with the traditional Catholic teaching on the papacy and the role of the Pope? “When he says something Catholic, support him”? Why not apply the same standard to the Rev. Thompson down the street at Baptist Fellowship Church? “When he says something Catholic, rally behind him!” Come on!
This is, quite ironically, the exact same strategy Matt is accusing the secular and “liberal Catholic” media of using: “Support the Holy Father” when he “says something useful” — useful to their cause, of course. So the end result would be the liberals quoting and promoting Francis everytime he says and does something for them, which Matt & Co. will then ignore — and then the “traditionalists” doing the same whenever Francis says and does something that they think they can use to advance their agenda, which the liberals will then ignore.
What is this if not the height of foolishness?
Next, we must say something about Matt’s use of the term “Tradition-minded Catholic.” It is a favorite expression used by the resistance traditionalists who must somehow distinguish themselves from Novus Ordos yet don’t want to say that they’re real Catholics and Novus Ordos aren’t. The term “Tradition-minded Catholic” serves their purpose very well because it is conveniently vague, that is, it has no clear definition and can therefore easily be used without falling into obvious contradiction or absurdity; it keeps one from being pinned down on what precisely one is saying; and it allows for softening assertions that would otherwise be deemed arrogant. Synonymous terms used in the same way are “Catholics attached to Tradition” and “Catholics faithful to Tradition.”
This is really where all Semi-Trad spin begins: right in the very terminology used. Pope Benedict XV made clear that the word “Catholic” needs no qualifier because one is either Catholic or not — there is nothing in between:
Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: “This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved” (Athanas. Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim “Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,” only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself.
(Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Ad Beatissimi, par. 24; underlining added.)
Indeed, let everyone only “endeavor to be in reality” what he claims to be!
So then, what is a “Tradition-minded” Catholic, Mr. Matt? “Tradition-minded” as opposed to … what? Can there be any other kind of Catholic? No, of course not. In a video posted in early 2014, Matt actually attempts to define and explain this term and distinguish it from “traditional Catholic.” While we give him kudos for at least trying, the obvious problem is still that there can be no qualifications for the term “Catholic”, as though any “non-traditional” Catholics were also Catholics. Besides, regardless of any definitions he may offer, Matt obviously doesn’t “own” the meanings of these terms, so no one is bound to agree with him.
In short: This is a complete mess. Yet, “Tradition-minded Catholic”, “Catholic attached to Tradition”, “Catholic faithful to Tradition”, etc., is the kind of nebulous and conveniently vague terminology constantly used by the Semi-Trad crowd, the people to whom we’re supposed to be looking for answers to understand what is really going on, and where the true Faith is to be found since it’s obviously no longer found in the Vatican institution.
It is ironic that just a few days after Matt published his new “strategy” on Francis, the latter comes out with his “Apostolic Exhortation” Evangelii Gaudium, in which he denounces Traditionalists — in typical Bergoglian style — as “self-absorbed promethean neopelagians”:
[Spiritual] worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism…. The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.
(Antipope Francis, Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, par. 94)
Poor Michael Matt; he is to be pitied. Here he is trying his best to be positive and bend over backwards to defend Francis whenever he “does something Catholic”, and only a few days later that very same Francis hurls the wildest epithets at him, accusing him and all Traditionalists of “spiritual worldliness”, “self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagianism”, “trusting in their own power”, “feeling superior to others”, a “narcissistic and authoritatian elitism”, not being “concerned about Jesus Christ or others”, an “anthropocentric immanentism”, and following an “adulterated form of Christianity.” And all of this is just six sentences. Maybe Francis should apply here the very same standard he uses with people drawn toward unnatural vice: “Who am I to judge?” Nah, not a chance. Francis hates everyone and everything that even so much as reminds him of Catholicism — he even rejects the Catholic God.
What’s funny is that what Francis wrote reads like the bombastic text of a freshman in college who’s trying to impress his professor with a slew of fancy words he’s just recently picked up, when he clearly has no genuine grasp of what the words actually mean or how to use them properly in context. If anyone is guilty of an “anthropocentric immanentism”, it’s Francis and his Modernist gang, not real Catholics or even Semi-Traditionalists. The same goes for his constant accusation of “pelagianism” — Francis is the one who thinks atheists can be saved simply by “doing good” (a Pelagian idea), not us Catholics. And quite amusingly, back in August ’13 Francis said of himself: “I like listening to Beethoven, but in a Promethean way…” (Interview with Antonio Spadaro).
It looks as though Bergoglio simply saw a chance to throw out more impressive-sounding terminology, hoping to make himself look intelligent and bury his critics in an avalanche of words that conceals and draws attention away from his heresies and other errors. But his efforts will remain fruitless, at least as far as Novus Ordo Watch is concerned. In 1910, Pope St. Pius X warned against those who use “dynamic language which, concealing vague notions and ambiguous expressions with emotional and high-sounding words”, draw the faithful into error (see Apostolic Letter Our Apostolic Mandate, par. 1). And Pope Pius VI denounced the heretic Nestorius, who “expressed himself in a plethora of words, mixing true things with others that were obscure; mixing at times one with the other in such a way that he was also able to confess those things which were denied while at the same time possessing a basis for denying those very sentences which he confessed” (Bull Auctorem Fidei). Sound familiar?
Francis is rather bold in his trashing of any semblance of Catholicism, going so far as to deride the supreme importance of doctrinal orthodoxy (cf. Heb 11:6; 2 Jn 9) by referring to what he calls a “supposed soundness of doctrine”, which, according to him, “leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying.” This is absolute Modernist trash! In one brazen sentence, Antipope Francis has just insulted and mocked 2,000 years of Catholic history, countless Popes and saints, and even the blood of the Church’s martyrs.
So in the context of all this, The Remnant proposes a game plan of supporting Francis when he sounds Catholic, lest he appear to be a liberal. This is just unbelievable. True, Evangelii Gaudium had not yet been released when Matt offered his brilliant strategy, but he hasn’t retracted it since, either, so the effect is the same.
One main thesis Matt puts forth in his video is that the liberal enemies of the Church are fighting “for real”, and so we ought to utilize his proposed tactic of emphasizing the (supposedly) Catholic aspects of Francis’ words and deeds to wrestle “the narrative on Francis” from them. To underscore this point, Matt shows a clip of the 1986 movie Three Amigos, a comedy in which three American actors in Mexico, thinking they’re making a movie, unwittingly run into a genuine bandito who wants to kill them. By analogy, Matt says, we must stop “playing” and quit hammering Francis to (as he puts it) “advance our own little agendas,” and instead unite to firmly oppose the liberals that are fighting for real to hasten the destruction of the Church by trying to claim Francis as their own.
When one looks at this sort of practical advice from The Remnant, based as it is not on real Catholic theological principles but sentimentalism and wishful thinking, it truly leaves one wondering how in the world these self-appointed analysts and commentators ever came to hold sway over the minds of so many people who consider themselves (and seek to be) traditional Roman Catholics. They may very well have the noblest of intentions, but the fact is that “they are blind, and leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit” (Mt 15:14).
This is an apt description of what goes on in the Neo-Traditionalist “Recognize-and-Resist” camp. Though their rhetoric often seems persuasive and has popular appeal, they present nothing theologically serious to substantiate their position that the Vatican II Church is the Immaculate Bride of Christ and the Conciliar “Popes” are bona fide Vicars of Christ. (If you want to know what would happen if we took them at their word, check this out.) Tragically, their half-baked theology has for decades entrapped souls in the noxious idea that the Modernists in Rome are the rightful Catholic authorities — that very idea which alone gives the Conciliar revolution all its driving force and thus makes the false hierarchy dangerous.
Just how sincere the various Semi-Traditionalist individuals are we will see on April 27, 2014, when Francis is scheduled to “canonize” the apostate John Paul II. Matt’s associate Christopher Ferrara is on the record stating that it is impossible for John Paul II to be canonized by the Novus Ordo Church. Will he then finally admit that the New Church is false and Francis an Antipope? We’re not holding our breath, but our challenge is on: “Time to Decide: The ‘Canonization’ of John Paul II”.
Toward the end of his video presentation, Matt drops an uncalled-for snide remark against those who hold that Francis is a Freemason. He denounces
…the conspiracy nuts who want to say that Pope Francis is a, whatever, a Freemason; he is probably the triggerman on the grassy knoll who shot John F. Kennedy; or he’s the mastermind behind 9/11….
This is a completely disingenuous statement on Matt’s part. He, more than most people, knows of the grave threat Freemasonry has been posing against the Catholic Church for almost 300 years. He knows about the secret documents of the Italian Alta Vendita lodge that outlined a Masonic plan to infiltrate and subvert the Church, which documents were leaked to and ordered published by Pope Pius IX. He knows about the dangers of the Lodge from the countless warnings of the Popes (such as Leo XIII in Humanum Genus), from the testimony of his own associate John Salza (a former Freemason), and from the book Unholy Craft, of which he (Matt) himself is the publisher!
To underscore the seriousness of the threat, let us have a look at a key passage in Pope Leo XIII’s 1892 encyclical against Freemasonry:
Everyone should avoid familiarity or friendship with anyone suspected of belonging to masonry or to affiliated groups. Know them by their fruits and avoid them. Every familiarity should be avoided, not only with those impious libertines who openly promote the character of the sect, but also with those who hide under the mask of universal tolerance, respect for all religions, and the craving to reconcile the maxims of the Gospel with those of the revolution. These men seek to reconcile Christ and Belial, the Church of God and the state without God.
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Custodi di Quella Fede, n. 15)
Pope Leo was far from alone in denouncing the Masonic plots against the Church. Numerous Popes of the 19th and 20th centuries repeatedly warned against it, and Matt is very well aware of this. In a prior blog post, we quoted from sundry papal encyclicals denouncing the anti-Catholic conspiracy perpetrated by the Masons. Were all these Vicars of Christ conspiratorial fools, too?
And what of great saints and holy people like Our Lady of Good Success, St. Vincent Strambi, and Bl. Anna Maria Taigi? Did they not also warn Catholics of the grave threat posed by the Masonic sects?
Thus I make it known to you that from the end of the 19th century and from shortly after the middle of the 20th century, in what is today the Colony and will then be the Republic of Ecuador, the passions will erupt and there will be a total corruption of customs, for Satan will reign almost completely by means of the Masonic sects.
How Bl. Anna Maria Taigi collaborated with the Popes of her time through the mediation of St. Vincent Strambi is related in the fascinating book Wife, Mother & Mystic by Fr. Albert Bessieres, SJ.
For Michael Matt to make fun of the whole matter by trying to make people who think Francis is a Freemason look like idiots who would also say he shot President Kennedy is as unbecoming as it is telling. What rules the day at The Remnant is not a cool examination of the facts in light of Catholic teaching, but a dearly-held pet agenda that determines how various facts are spun, emphasized or ignored; and if this agenda runs afoul of reality, that’s just too bad for reality.
It certainly bears noting, in this context, that “Pope” Francis got a glowing endorsement from the Freemasonic Rotary Club in Argentina, which made him an “honorary member.” But whether he be an actual member of the Masons or not is irrelevant, because he’s certainly doing the work of Freemasonry. And this is exactly what the Masons of the Alta Vendita lodge wanted: a “Pope” not who was actually a Mason himself, but one who would nevertheless push Masonic teachings as Catholic doctrine:
We do not mean to win the Popes to our cause, to make them neophytes of our principles, and propagators of our ideas. That would be a ridiculous dream, no matter in what manner events may turn. Should cardinals or prelates, for example, enter, willingly or by surprise, in some manner, into a part of our secrets, it would be by no means a motive to desire their elevation to the See of Peter. That elevation would destroy us. Ambition alone would bring them to apostasy from us. The needs of power would force them to immolate us. That which we ought to demand, that which we should seek and expect, as the Jews expected the Messiah, is a Pope according to our wants….
Now then, in order to secure to us a Pope in the manner required, it is necessary to fashion for that Pope a generation worthy of the reign of which we dream….
…Seek out the Pope of whom we give the portrait. You wish to establish the reign of the elect upon the throne of the prostitute of Babylon? Let the clergy march under your banner in the belief always that they march under the banner of the Apostolic Keys. You wish to cause the last vestige of tyranny and of oppression to disappear? Lay your nets like Simon Barjona. Lay them in the depths of sacristies, seminaries, and convents, rather than in the depths of the sea, and if you will precipitate nothing you will give yourself a draught of fishes more miraculous than his. The fisher of fishes will become a fisher of men. You will bring yourselves as friends around the Apostolic Chair. You will have fished up a Revolution in Tiara and Cope, marching with Cross and banner – a Revolution which needs only to be spurred on a little to put the four quarters of the world on fire.
(Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita; document ordered published by Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII)
A good complementary and very instructive video on this subject is Bp. Donald Sanborn’s talk The Pendulating Papacy, in which His Excellency explains the problem of various Popes in the last three centuries who thought that the best way to deal with the modern, anti-Christian world was to accommodate and pacify them in whatever was possible without contradicting Catholic teaching. The Masons of the Alta Vendita were clearly looking for such an “accommodationist” Pope, such as Clement XIV. (What they eventually ended up with, Angelo Roncalli as John XXIII, was somewhat different from what they had envisioned in the Permanent Instruction, but it still fulfilled their dream quite well.)
We know that the main architect of the “New Mass”, Annibale Bugnini, was a Freemason (he was publicly exposed as one; see also The Bugnini File here [PDF]); we know that Cardinal Rampolla was one, and he was elected Pope in 1903, which election, however, was legitimately annulled by means of the veto of the Austrian-Hungarian emperor; we know about Bella Dodd and the Communist infiltration; we know about the Anti-Apostle 1025; we know about the accusations against Cardinals Roncalli and Lienart; and allegedly an entire list of the names of dozens of Masonsin the Vatican was handed to “Pope” John Paul I in 1978. (On this see also the essay Freemasons and the Conciliar Church [PDF] by John Weiskittel.)
Most Traditionalists know about this. Certainly the folks at The Remnant do. For Michael Matt to sit there now and act as though the idea of Francis being a Freemason were beyond the realm of the credible is absolutely reprehensible. He claims that to believe such a thing is the stuff of “conspiracy nuts” and compares it to believing such foolishness as Francis having killed U.S. President John Kennedy in 1963 or having orchestrated the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
This is a perfect example of what we mean when we accuse Matt of using emotionally-appealing rhetoric to conceal an absence of serious Catholic theology. Here we have caught him red-handed trying to appeal to people’s emotions (“Surely, you wouldn’t want to be a conspiracy nut, now would you?!”) rather than going by Catholic principle (analyzing the ideas promoted by Francis in light of the Church’s condemnation of Freemasonry), when he clearly knows better and has no qualms about jumping on the Freemasonic-conspiracy bandwagon himself whenever it helps his cause.
And there we have it again: Ultimately, it’s his cause that’s driving The Remnant‘s position, not the truth of a given matter. This is simply disgraceful. Matt’s newspaper has descended into nothing more than a mendacious propaganda machine pushing a particular editorial position at all costs. The truth is welcome only insofar as it helps to promote that position.
Instead of heeding Michael Matt’s advice regarding how to deal with “Pope” Francis, we suggest people instead hearken to the words of Pope Clement XIII and identify Jorge Bergoglio as an enemy of the Faith who cleverly distorts true doctrine so as to deceive the masses:
It often happens that certain unworthy ideas come forth in the Church of God which, although they directly contradict each other, plot together to undermine the purity of the Catholic faith in some way. It is very difficult to cautiously balance our speech between both enemies in such a way that We seem to turn Our backs on none of them, but to shun and condemn both enemies of Christ equally. Meanwhile the matter is such that diabolical error, when it has artfully colored its lies, easily clothes itself in the likeness of truth while very brief additions or changes corrupt the meaning of expressions; and confession, which usually works salvation, sometimes, with a slight change, inches toward death.
(Pope Clement XIII, Encyclical In Dominico Agro, n. 2)
The best thing we can do, therefore, is to expose Bergoglio as the charlatan that he is, and not to focus on the nice “Catholic” things he says once in a while, as Matt would have us do. Such a strategy would only help the enemies of Christ and Catholicism, not the Catholic Church at all.
It is Matt’s new strategy itself, therefore, that is worthy of the “Three Amigos” (see picture below), all of whom are willing to bend, stretch, distort, or ignore Catholic teaching and/or the facts, as needed, to avoid the conclusion that the Vatican II Sect is not the Catholic Church and its hierarchy is fradulent and invalid:
All of us who love the true Catholic Faith are in deep agony over what has happened since the death of Pope Pius XII on October 9, 1958, and we know that the Neo-Traditionalists and their followers are as well. But the solution is not spin doctoring, coming up with novel, pseudo-theological theories to explain away inconvenient facts, or offering strategies that are at odds with traditional Catholic practice and effectively aid and abet the Modernist infiltrators.
In his wonderfully-edifying book In the Likeness of Christ, Fr. Edward Leen explains that Holy Mother Church, too, is undergoing the Sacred Passion of her Divine Spouse just as He did: “…the Church is ever re-enacting, during all the ages, the life story of her Divine Spouse — undergoing in the Mystical Body what He suffered in His Natural Body…” (Leen, In the Likeness of Christ [New York, NY: Sheed & Ward, 1936], p. 290).
If we want to be faithful members of the Body of Christ, we must be willing to suffer whatever it may please Him that we undergo for His sake. In our difficult times, this includes the frightening but nevertheless verifiable truth that the establishment in the Vatican today is not the Catholic Church; it is a false Modernist Sect that took over with the election of the False Pope John XXIII on October 28, 1958, and which propelled itself into the Catholic world chiefly by means of the wicked Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo Missae, or “New Mass”, of False Pope Paul VI.
Yes, Sedevacantism is a difficult conclusion to come to. We are well aware of that. We weren’t born Sedevacantists, you know. But the “solution” proposed by the Society of St. Pius X, The Remnant, and other “Resistance” outposts is simply not compatible with Catholic teaching.
Yes, Christ promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against the Catholic Church (see Mt 16:18); but this does not mean that whatever comes from the Holy See can be either Catholic or heretical and just needs to be sifted and resisted as needed by each Catholic, so that in the end we adhere to a journalist from Minnesota or a lawyer from New Jersey over the Vicar of Christ. Rather, it means that the true Church will never defect in her teaching but will always be guaranteed to be the beacon of truth and orthodoxy.
Commenting on Mt 16:18, Papal Knight and convert from Judaism David Goldstein explains: “This means that all the evil forces, such as false doctrines, would never be able to put an end to [the Catholic Church] being the ‘pillar and mainstay of the truth,’ as St. Paul designated the Church (1 Tim 3:16)” (Goldstein, Letters of a Hebrew Catholic to Mr. Isaacs [St. Paul, MN: Radio Replies Press, 1943], p. 249). Yet, the Resistance proponents, especially Bishop Richard Williamson, believe precisely that false doctrines have been promulgated by the Holy See, and that the solution is to “resist” them, yet all the while considering the authority giving us these errors to be valid and rightful.
But really? Is this a Catholic position we can hold? Let’s see what Pope Pius IX said about the Holy See and the guarantee of always preaching true doctrine:
Now you know well that the most deadly foes of the Catholic religion have always waged a fierce war, but without success, against this Chair [of St. Peter]; they are by no means ignorant of the fact that religion itself can never totter and fall while this Chair remains intact, the Chair which rests on the rock which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion.
(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Inter Multiplices, n. 7; underlining added.)
We Sedevacantists believe this. But does Michael Matt? Bp. Williamson? Fr. Francois Chazal? Fr. Joseph Pfeiffer? John Vennari? Christopher Ferrara?
There are a thousand excuses not to embrace sedevacantism, indeed, and only one reason to embrace it. But that reason is: because it’s true. And for those who love the truth, that is more than enough.