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They’re at their wits’ end…

The Trouble with Jorge:
Semi-Trads at the Breaking Point

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The Semi-Traditionalists are reaching their breaking point over “Pope” Francis. Jorge Bergoglio has been putting out so much blasphemous, heretical, and scandalous blather that Christopher Ferrara, the popular Remnant columnist, author, speaker, and retired attorney, can’t write commentaries fast enough to keep up with him.

The next recognize-and-resist self-help conference, scheduled for Sept. 9-11, won’t do much more than simply get the usual people together for their little “we’re the real Catholics” powwow and have exactly zero impact on the Vatican II Sect, which they still claim is the Catholic Church.

Why do we say zero impact? Because that’s what the record shows:

No, folks, the much-touted “resistance” ain’t working out, and there’s a reason for that: It’s the wrong “cure” — because it’s the wrong diagnosis. Oh, sure, countless “traditional Masses” are offered all over the place, and for those who only care about the externals of a beautiful liturgy — rather than about the true, unadulterated Faith that refuses to be united to a manifest heretic/apostate — this is surely a consolation.

In many ways, however, the phenomenon of the “Francis papacy” is a great blessing for all of good will, because Jorge Bergoglio brings the absurdity of the false “recognize-and-resist” position out to the fore like no one before him ever did and perhaps no one after him ever will. The silly “recognize-him-as-a-valid-Pope-but-oppose-his-religion-and-do-your-own-thing” chickens are now coming home to roost, but this is a mercy Almighty God is showing those many pious souls who mean to be good Catholics but are caught in the recognize-and-resist insanity of mainstream traditionalism.

But alas, not everyone is allowing the clear evidence to determine his position — such as Mr. Ferrara, for example, who is taking Orwellian doublethink to a new level: In his June 30 installment of his Fatima Perspectives column at fatima.org, Ferrara, apparently at the end of his wits, demotes Bergoglio further, from “Undertaker Pope” earlier to now nothing short of “Anti-Catholic Pope” (!). The semi-traditionalist pundit sighs:

This is the Vicar of Christ? Never in 2,000 years, never even during the pontificates of personally corrupt Popes, have we seen a man such as this on the Chair of Peter. This is not even a question of malice or cunning. We clearly have in Francis a Pope who, incredibly enough, does not have a very high regard for Catholicism, does not mind telling us so, and seems blissfully unaware of the rather apocalyptic paradox of an anti-Catholic Pope.

(Christopher A. Ferrara, “An Anti-Catholic Pope?”Fatima Network, June 30, 2016)

One does not know whether to laugh or cry. At first sight, it seems that Ferrara might be starting to question whether Jorge Bergoglio “is the Vicar of Christ”, and this would be an encouraging sign. After all, as he correctly notes, we are not talking here about a merely morally bad “Pope” but about a non-Catholic “Pope” — and the difference is crucial.

Unfortunately, in the same breath Ferrara then asserts his belief in the “apocalyptic paradox” of an “anti-Catholic Pope”, thus shattering our high hopes from a moment ago. But there is a silver lining to it nonetheless: Ferrara is now at least willing to use the word “anti” in close proximity to the word “Pope”, with only one word in between, so perhaps in the near future he’ll finally figure out that an anti-Catholic who is also the head of the Catholic Church is an intolerable and impossible contradiction. At least that’s what the Catholic Church requires us to hold, based on her teaching about the nature of the Papacy. Have a look at this brief video:

The idea that Jorge Bergoglio is or could be the Pope of the Catholic Church leads to a contradiction of her teaching. Calling the contradiction a “paradox” — whether “apocalyptic” or not — does not change the fact that it’s a contradiction, and contradictions are false. Mr. Ferrara has succumbed to a perfect example of doublethink: He affirms two inherently contradictory ideas at the same time and in the same sense. He does this because he refuses to be a sedevacantist but at the same time also cannot deny what the empirical facts are screaming about Francis’ “Catholicism”. (On this latter point at least he is one up on Michael Voris, who just killed off any last remaining vestiges of credibility by declaring in all seriousness that Francis “isn’t the problem”.)

Of course, Ferrara is in a rather unenviable position here: For decades he has vilified Sedevacantism as patently absurd, and most recently he gave his whole-hearted endorsement to the anti-sedevacantist propaganda mammoth True or False Pope? by John Salza and Robert Siscoe. Not to mention the fact that so much of his public work has depended upon Sedevacantism being false, especially his involvement with the Fatima Center of the (now deceased) Rev. Nicholas Gruner. The main goal of the Fatima Center has always been the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the Pope in union with the bishops of the world — something they cannot seriously fight for if they have to admit that there is no Pope to do the consecration and it’s not looking like the next true Pope will be right around the corner. Yet, imagine what could have been accomplished if all these Rosaries had been prayed not for the consecration of Russia but for God to grant His Church a true Pope again!

See what a difference the right diagnosis of a problem can make.

Instead, however, the Fatima Center continues to promote the absurd idea that Francis is the Pope despite his obvious hatred of Catholicism and relentless denials of and attacks on the true Faith. In fact, on July 8, 2016, the Fatima Network sent out an email newsletter to its subscribers entitled “The Final Battle: Pray for the Holy Father”. You can access a PDF copy of it here (highlights and markings on it are our own). In it, the unnamed author relates with great sorrow Francis’ latest blasphemies and attacks on Catholic doctrine and morality and then goes on to utter a blasphemy himself, namely, that the Catholic Church has stood firm on doctrine and morality until Francis! This is a blasphemy because the Catholic Church — not the Modernist Novus Ordo Sect — will always stand firm in her doctrine, morals, laws, and liturgy because she is indefectible and cannot abandon her divine mission, regardless of who the current valid occupant of the Papal Throne is.

We can see in the Fatima Network’s July 8 letter a clear example of how the semi-traditionalists actually — although surely unwittingly — deny the indefectibility of the Church, even though they think this is what we sedevacantists are guilty of doing. Not so! The Chair of St. Peter can be vacant — that much is compatible with Catholic doctrine — but it cannot fail. Listen to the explanation given by the great 19th-century Cardinal Johann Franzelin, as quoted and related by John Daly:

“It is necessary to distinguish between the See and its occupants … in considering the subject of its ‘perpetuity’,” says the leading Jesuit theologian of the nineteenth century, Cardinal Franzelin. “The See … is a perpetual right of primacy … and never ceases to conserve … the power which was established by God for the individual successors of Peter …; but the individual occupants of the Apostolic See are mortal men, and for this reason, though the See can never fail, it can be vacant, and indeed often is vacant. At such times the … institution of perpetuity certainly remains … but … actually belongs to no one.” (Franzelin: De Ecclesia; “Thesis on the Perpetuity of the Papacy.”)

(John Daly, Michael Davies — An Evaluation, 2nd ed., p. 105, fn. 15)

If we juxtapose this with what is stated in the July 8 email from the Fatima Center, we see that the candid admission of the semi-trads that the (putatively Catholic) Church has been unfaithful to Christ and no longer stands firm under Francis, is a clear denial of Catholic doctrine and an intolerable, outrageous, unspeakable blasphemy!

Of course we realize that the author probably did not intend to commit blasphemy — he is no doubt sincerely struggling to navigate through this terrible mess — but that is not the point. The point is that objectively it is a blasphemy and contrary to Catholic dogma. It is heresy. It cannot be held, and it cannot be promoted by anyone who claims to be speaking for traditional Catholicism and even Our Lady herself!

Still don’t believe it? Here is some more evidence to ponder:

Every one must perfectly understand, and clearly and evidently see, that such a state of things [as claimed by Protestants] is directly opposed to the nature of the Church instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ; for in that Church truth must always continue firm and ever inaccessible to all change, as a deposit given to that Church to be guarded in its integrity, for the guardianship of which the presence and aid of the Holy Ghost have been promised to the Church for ever.

(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes; underlining added.)

All who defend the faith should aim to implant deeply in your faithful people the virtues of piety, veneration, and respect for this supreme See of Peter. Let the faithful recall the fact that Peter, Prince of Apostles is alive here and rules in his successors, and that his office does not fail even in an unworthy heir. Let them recall that Christ the Lord placed the impregnable foundation of his Church on this See of Peter [Mt 16:18] and gave to Peter himself the keys of the kingdom of Heaven [Mt 16:19]. Christ then prayed that his faith would not fail, and commanded Peter to strengthen his brothers in the faith [Lk 27:32]. Consequently the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, holds a primacy over the whole world and is the true Vicar of Christ, head of the whole Church and father and teacher of all Christians.

Indeed one simple way to keep men professing Catholic truth is to maintain their communion with and obedience to the Roman Pontiff. For it is impossible for a man ever to reject any portion of the Catholic faith without abandoning the authority of the Roman Church. In this authority, the unalterable teaching office of this faith lives on. It was set up by the divine Redeemer and, consequently, the tradition from the Apostles has always been preserved. So it has been a common characteristic both of the ancient heretics and of the more recent Protestants — whose disunity in all their other tenets is so great — to attack the authority of the Apostolic See. But never at any time were they able by any artifice or exertion to make this See tolerate even a single one of their errors.

(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Nostis et Nobiscum, nn. 16-17; underlining added.)

the Church has received from on high a promise which guarantees her against every human weakness. What does it matter that the helm of the symbolic barque has been entrusted to feeble hands, when the Divine Pilot stands on the bridge, where, though invisible, He is watching and ruling? Blessed be the strength of his arm and the multitude of his mercies!

(Pope Leo XIII, Allocution to Cardinals, March 20, 1900; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 349; underlining added.)

Not least among the blessings which have resulted from the public and legitimate honor paid to the Blessed Virgin and the saints is the perfect and perpetual immunity of the Church from error and heresy. We may well admire in this the admirable wisdom of the Providence of God, who, ever bringing good out of evil, has from time to time suffered the faith and piety of men to grow weak, and allowed Catholic truth to be attacked by false doctrines, but always with the result that truth has afterwards shone out with greater splendor, and that men’s faith, aroused from its lethargy, has shown itself more vigorous than before.

(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Quas Primas, n. 22; underlining added.)

The cognitive dissonance involved in perhaps professing these truths externally — as they semi-trads might very well do — while at the same time thinking, acting, and speaking in contrary fashion is beginning to push people over the edge.

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But there is more to say about the July 8 email of the Fatima Network. The favorite semi-trad joker of “diabolical disorientation” is played once again, which effectively keeps people from inquiring into the compatibility of Catholic teaching with the claim that Francis is a true Pope. After listing some of Francis’ outrages, the author asks: “Can diabolical disorientation be any plainer?” But the real question that should be asked instead is: “Can the fact that Francis is not the Vicar of the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity be any plainer?” The author just conceded that to say Bergoglio is Pope is to say the Church has defected. But the Church cannot defect. Ergo, Bergoglio is not Pope. This is as plain as it’s going to get.

Also, one may be permitted to ask if “diabolical disortientation” is a fitting term for what has been going on in the Vatican since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958. No doubt it is diabolical, but is it really disorientation? Disorientation implies confusion and loss of sense of direction with hints of diminished culpability. But is “confusion” not too soft a word to use here? These people are not confused — they are evil. Of course one cannot make this assertion about absolutely everyone, but that’s not the point. Rather, the Vatican II Sect leadership at large is diabolical and knows full well what it is doing. Their systematic success in ruining souls alone gives it away. No, Francis is not disoriented — he is very much oriented, just not oriented towards good but towards evil. So let’s finally stop the “disorientation” copout.

But then comes the worst part of the Fatima Center letter. The author writes:

What should we do as now even the Pope has undermined the sacrament of Holy Matrimony and unsettled the minds of countless Catholics? We were told by Our Lady to pray for the Holy Father, who will have much to suffer. This we should do now in great earnestness. We must do all we can to repair the damage done by these terrible words uttered by the very man charged with strengthening the Faith of his brothers and sisters and upholding the traditions of which he is supposed to be the chief guardian.

(underlining added)

This is where it gets absolutely crazy, and where you can see why we keep saying that these people are the blind leading the blind. Our Lady said the Holy Father will have much to suffer. Hello! Is Francis “suffering much”? No, he is the one inflicting the suffering! Here our Lady herself gives us yet another reason why Francis cannot be the “Pope” who has “much to suffer”! What are the Grunerites doing with this? They are not listening, they are simply mindlessly repeating the same mantras they have used for decades, apparently unaware that they do not fit the narrative they themselves have constructed!

This goes not just for Francis but for all the Vatican II “Popes”: The Revolution that is rightly deplored and condemned by the Fatima Center was planned, begun, executed, maintained, accelerated, and intensified by the “Popes” themselves! Even “Cardinal” Mario Ciappi, whom the Grunerites like to quote on occasion, said explicitly: “In the Third Secret it is foretold, among other things, that the great apostasy in the Church will begin at the top” (source). At the top! Where might that be?

Vatican II, the Novus Ordo Missae, the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the 1993 Ecumenical Norms, the endless Modernist encyclicals… all of these things were imposed by the “Popes”, not some evil “disobedient bishops”, who could have simply been removed at any point anyway! No, it was the false Vatican II “Popes” who began it all and have kept it all going, and it is their underlings who have been ensuring that their soul-destroying program would be executed flawlessly. That is the truth. How tragic that many good-willed souls in the recognize-and-resist camp have allowed themselves to be used as the apostasy’s “useful idiots” inasmuch as they have continually upheld the credibility and authenticity of the Revolution by their recognition of its diabolical authors and abettors as legitimate Catholic authorities!

It is bad enough that so many are misled, but what is infinitely worse is that some are willfully blind.

For example, when it came to interpreting “Cardinal” Ciappi’s clear statement that the apostasy began “at the top”, the Fatima Center’s own leader, “Father” Nicholas Gruner, found himself unable to figure out that this was a veiled reference to a putative Pope. Here is what Mr. Gruner said about this verbatim:

These are the very words of Cardinal Ciappi (personal Papal Theologian to Pope John Paul II). The result of “the great Apostasy” starting “at the top” is corruption of the clergy and the laity in doctrine, in morals and in liturgy.

Today, the Church is in great crisis. Its very leaders — priests, bishops, and even Cardinals — cause scandal within and without the Church; heretical statements are proclaimed and immorality practiced — such as homosexuality, pedophilia, abortion, contraceptives, and divorce, just to mention a few.

(Rev. Nicholas Gruner, “God Have Mercy on Us All”Fatima Crusader, vol. 71, Autumn 2002)

Did you notice? Gruner mentions “priests, bishops, and even Cardinals” — yet curiously omits the mention of “Pope”, whom even the public-school-educated masses of our day would associate with the “top” of the Catholic Church. Back in 2002 it was precisely John Paul II and his predecessors of unhappy memory who were primarily responsible for “corruption … in doctrine, in morals and in liturgy” and for endless scandals, but perhaps Mr. Gruner was aware that pointing to the obvious heretical and impious liturgical wildcat in Rome wouldn’t go very well with the “the Holy Father will have much to suffer” spiel.

The bottom line is this: In Resistance Land, the Pope is the problem. In Sedevacantism, the Pope is the solution. Now guess which of these two positions is compatible with Catholicism! The Resisters already have a “Pope”, but at the price of an emasculation of the Papacy to the point where it has lost all its inherent binding authority; it is a “Papacy” that can no longer govern the wills of its subjects, who each determine on their own whether to accept or reject what the “Pope” mandates, as though he were in essence no different than a Protestant pastor. Sedevacantists, by contrast, only need the vacant Papal Throne to be filled, and all problems will at that point be solved, at least potentially. That’s because we sedevacantists actually believe in the Papacy. We did not sacrifice it so we could have an individual to point to and say, “There’s our Pope!” No, we preferred the Faith over expediency. The result is that the recognize-and-resist adherent is caught in a hopeless situation that is unsolvable even in principle, whereas the sedevacantist with great hope, patience, and joy simply awaits the blessed day when God, who can turn rocks into the children of Abraham (see Lk 3:8), decides to bestow upon His Church a true Pope again. This is the essential difference between the resistance and the sedevacantist positions, and its importance cannot be overstated. The resister is caught in a dead end of contradictions; the sedevacantist finds himself surrounded by mystery with an end that is not dead but wide open.

A few more words about the Fatima Center / Gruner apostolate are in order.

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It may have escaped many pious souls, but there is a presumptuous identification by the Fatima Center of its work with the Mother of God herself — as though Our Lady had appointed “Fr.” Gruner (pictured left) as her official spokesman, or as though his work had the divine stamp of approval on it or came with a special endorsement from Our Lady herself. Yet, that is precisely the message that is constantly communicated, sometimes openly, sometimes covertly. So, for example, the Fatima Network calls itself “Our Lady’s Apostolate”, its web presence is tagged “Our Lady of Fatima online” (see the email newsletter linked above), the Fatima Crusaderpublication presumes to be “Our Lady’s magazine”, and its conference web site is entitled “Our Lady’s Army of Advocates”.

This incessant identification of the Gruner operation with Our Lady herself is as presumptuous as it is disturbing, and it seems that good-willed and pious souls have been manipulated in this fashion. The subliminal message that is being communicated is this: Gruner = Fatima; Fatima = Gruner. In other words, whoever opposes the Gruner operation, opposes Our Lady!

This, of course, is something that has surely helped the semi-traditionalist camp keep people away from Sedevacantism for years. Sedevacantists claim there is no Pope, so that would mean no appeals to the “Pope” for the consecration of Russia, which is the be-all and end-all of the Grunerite apostolate. This, in turn, would mean that “Fr.” Gruner is wrong, and since Gruner = Fatima, this would mean Our Lady is wrong! But since Our Lady cannot be wrong, the Grunerites must be right and the sedevacantists wrong! Alas, this can only be the reasoning of people who, no matter how pious they might personally be, have subconsciously abandoned adherence to Catholic doctrine as the rule of Faith and replaced it with a quasi-cult of Fatima, and not even the true Fatima necessarily but merely the Grunerite interpretation thereof!

Speaking of Mr. Gruner and the consecration of Russia, it is perhaps useful to call to mind what Gruner said on the day of the election of Jorge Bergoglio as “Pope” Francis (March 13, 2013): He expressed his conviction that, because of letters he had received from Bergoglio as an auxiliary and “archbishop” in Buenos Aires and because of a “prophecy” made by one Antonio Ruffini, “Pope” Francis would be the one to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Have a look (starts at 10:32 mark):

Obviously, one cannot fault either Ferrara or Gruner for not knowing at the time how disastrous Francis would turn out to be, but even today the same Fatima Center is still pushing for the blasphemous apostate Bergoglio to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. That’s the “Anti-Catholic” and “Undertaker Pope” (Ferrara’s words) who has uttered “remarks that either deny or call into question longstanding Church teaching” and made other comments that “can only be described as blasphemous” (Fatima Network email newsletter of July 8). That’s the same Francis who has been speaking “terrible words about Our Lord” and who “has undermined the sacrament of Holy Matrimony and unsettled the minds of countless Catholics” (ibid.).

This is the man who is supposed to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and thus effect world peace? The very same Jorge Bergoglio who has been accelerating the destruction of the Catholic religion and Christendom with every breath he takes? The man who publicly mocks and humiliates Christ? What is wrong with these people?!

Of course, the Grunerite mantra is always the same: “Pray for the Holy Father!” …Well, how’s it been working out so far? Things have only gotten worse, much worse. That “praying for the Holy Father” thing isn’t working out! Why not? Does God not hear our prayers? Oh, but He does! The problem is, Francis isn’t the Holy Father. And no prayer in the world can change that.

But to say that Francis isn’t Pope, and there is no Pope and we don’t know how God will resolve our current situation, presents a sheer insurmountable problem for the whole semi-traditionalist enterprise, for a whole host of reasons, but there are two that stand out: (1) the Society of St. Pius X’s impending reconciliation with Rome under Francis of all people; (2) the colossal embarrassment and other consequences for the semi-trad star apologists to have to admit that sedevacantists are right (at least about Francis), just after the release and wide endorsement of True or False Pope?. Although admitting only that Francis isn’t the Pope is much different from saying there hasn’t been a Pope in over 50 years, nevertheless this admission would mean an acceptance of the sedevacantist principle, which is the foot in the door to saying that none of his five predecessors were valid Popes either. A third salient difficulty would be that the Fatima Center could basically shut its doors, or at least would have to change its program significantly and reduce its operations to a fraction of their current size. Obviously, the Fatima message is still urgently needed, but the “consecration of Russia” program is dead on arrival for the time being.

But here too a serious reality check brings both hope and clarity: The simple truth is that the Fatima message and the triumph of Our Lady of Fatima in no wise depend upon the operations or the success of the Grunerite Fatima Center. Gruner & Co. have no monopoly on the “authentic” Fatima anything. It is nothing short of manipulative to insist otherwise. This is very good news for Catholics everywhere: Our Lady has no need of the Fatima Center! Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, it is not “Our Lady’s” apostolate, although it may very well have been intended as an apostolate for Our Lady; but those are two entirely different things.

And thus, the semi-trad apologist is at a crossroads. The agony over Francis that the recognize-and-resister must now endure is the just wages of his false position. He must decide: Will he continue in cognitive dissonance until he loses his mind, or will he finally bite the bullet and recognize that what cannot be true, is not true? Should he decide for the latter, he will find in us his greatesty ally and supporter. There will certainly be no gloat fest on Novus Ordo Watch but only a friendly “welcome home” sign.

Just please do — finally — come home, before you truly lose your mind.

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Consecration of Russia? Didn’t think so…