Trust the Fatima Center at your own risk…
Want Catholic Advice? Don’t Ask Father Albert
Until the sudden death of “Fr.” Nicholas Gruner in 2015, the Fatima Center had a TV program called Your Questions Answered by Father Gruner. After his passing, a new, similar broadcast was begun, entitled Ask Father. It is hosted by Fr. Albert Kallio, O.P., who is a member of the Fatima Center‘s Advisory Council of Priests. His biographical blurb provided by the Center reads as follows:
Fr. Albert Kallio, O.P., is a professor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery in Silver City, New Mexico. He met Fr. Gruner in 1979, actively seeking Father’s advice regarding his vocation while in the seminary. Father Albert entered the Dominican Order in France in the late 1980s and was ordained a priest in 1994. Over the years he kept in touch with Father Gruner whom he credits with helping him make the right decision and thus agreed two years ago to be part of our Advisory Council of Priests, saying “Yes, I would be willing to be on this council, to honor Our Lady of Fatima and also repay the debt of gratitude I owe Father Gruner”. He has travelled the world preaching the Order’s mission, particularly about Our Lady and consecration to Her. Most recently he served as pastor at Our Lady of Peace Church in Vernon, British Columbia. He has spoken at various Fatima Center conferences and he hosts our Q&A Fatima TV program: Ask Father. We are happy he agreed to be on our council and continue to rely on his help in doing this work of spreading Our Lady’s Message.
(Joanna Swords, “Fatima Center Vignettes: Do We Have a Priest? Yes! A Whole Council of Priests”, The Fatima Center, July 6, 2018; italics and bold print given.)
On Apr. 25, 2017, the Fatima Center published its 31st episode of the program, which you can watch below (it is only a few minutes in length). We will then provide some commentary to show the theological problems with the answers given by Fr. Albert:
Before we proceed to critically dissect Fr. Albert’s words in this video, it seems wise to issue a clarification or disclaimer: The intent in the remarks that follow is not to “judge Fr. Albert”, so to speak. It is not to presume to know or judge the state of his soul, to humiliate him, or to detract from whatever good things he has done. These things are between him and God. Our concern is only to show how, objectively, the advice he gives in this video is bad, dangerous, and harmful to souls, manifesting a theology at odds with genuine traditional Catholic principles. We do this out of love for God, out of concern for Fr. Albert himself, and out of concern for the woman to whom his response was addressed and all other souls who are in any way affected by the false theological ideas put forward by Fr. Albert and others like him.
We will now quote some of the things the Dominican priest says in his response to the questioner and provide a critical commentary. Keep in mind that the question Fr. Albert is responding to is essentially about the validity of Novus Ordo annulments.
“My advice to you is to continue to look [to] the Church.”
Obviously, this is good advice. Yes, look to the Church. But considering that Fr. Albert believes that the Vatican II Sect is the Catholic Church, it is an extremely dangerous answer. No matter what else he may say about “the Church”, and no matter what qualifications and disclaimers he may give, as long as it is admitted in principle that the Novus Ordo Sect is the Catholic Church, the groundwork for spiritual disaster has been laid. The reason is that if that abominable Modernist sect were indeed the Catholic Church, then a lot of serious consequences would follow. For example, it would then follow that we must submit to it entirely; we have to entrust our souls to it; we are obligated to affirm of it whatever the traditional Catholic Faith affirms of the Church, such as the following:
…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.)
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.
(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Quas Primas, n. 22)
History, the light of truth, and the witness of the ages, if only it be rightly discerned and diligently examined, teaches us that the divine promise of Jesus Christ: “I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Matthew xxviii, 20), has never failed the Church His Bride, and therefore that it will never fail her in time to come…. Wherefore, with a fatherly heart, from the summit of this Apostolic See, We exhort all those who glory in being the followers of Christ, and who place in Him their own hope and salvation and that of human society, that they should ever join themselves more firmly and more closely to this Roman Church, in which alone Christ is believed in with whole and perfect faith, is worshipped with the sincere worship of adoration, and is beloved with the perpetual flame of burning charity. Let them remember, and in particular those who preside over a flock separated from Us, that the faith which their fathers solemnly professed at Ephesus is preserved unchanged and is strenuously defended, as in past ages so also in the present, by this supreme Chair of Truth. Let them remember that the unity of this genuine faith rests and stands firm only on the one rock set by Christ, and can be preserved safe and intact by the supreme authority of the successors of Blessed Peter.
(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Lux Veritatis, nn. 1, 36)
Quotations from the Magisterium about the Church’s authority, indefectibility, infallibility, and safe guidance for souls could be multiplied exponentially, but these suffice to make the point.
In 1937, Pope Pius XI explained: “Whoever is moved by the spirit of God, spontaneously adopts both outwardly and inwardly, the true attitude toward the Church, this sacred fruit from the tree of the cross, this gift from the Spirit of God, bestowed on Pentecost day to an erratic world” (Encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, n. 20).
What is the attitude we must have towards Holy Mother Church? The following words from Fr. Frederick Faber (1814-1863) spell it out beautifully:
But we may forget, and sometimes do forget, that it is not only not enough to love the Church, but that it is not possible to love the Church rightly, unless we also fear and reverence it. Our forgetfulness of this arises from our not having laid sufficiently deeply in our minds the conviction of the divine character of the Church… The very amount of human grandeur which there is round the Church causes us to forget occasionally that it is not a human institution.
Hence comes that wrong kind of criticism which is forgetful or regardless of the divine character of the Church. Hence comes our setting up our own minds and our own views as criteria of truth, as standards for the Church’s conduct. Hence comes sitting in judgment on the government and policy of Popes. Hence comes that unfilial and unsage carefulness to separate in all matters of the Church and Papacy what we consider to be divine from what we claim to be human. Hence comes the disrespectful fretfulness to distinguish between what we must concede to the Church and what we need not concede to the Church. Hence comes that irritable anxiety to see that the supernatural is kept well subordinated to the natural, as if we really believed we ought just now to strain every nerve lest a too credulous world should be falling a victim to excessive priestcraft and ultramontanism.
…Only let us once really master the truth that the Church is a divine institution, and then we shall see that such criticism is not simply a baseness and a disloyalty, but an impertinence and a sin.
(Rev. Frederick W. Faber, Devotion to the Church [London: Richardson & Son, 1861], pp. 23-24; italics in original; paragraph breaks added.)
Here we see that we must have a childlike devotion to the Church, one that would be entirely deadly to our souls if the Church could mislead us. This is the traditional attitude towards the Church, one that Fr. Albert and his recognize-and-resist associates most certainly do not share, yet they are considered by so many to be authentic traditional Catholics.
And why do they not share this attitude? Because they refuse to abandon the idea that a church that teaches heresy and error, legislates sacrilege and impiety, treats the matrimonial bond like trash, declares public sinners to be saints of God fit for our veneration and imitation, turns the moral order on its head, finds “virtue” in adulterous relationships, etc., and therefore has to be resisted and guarded against — is nevertheless the Catholic Church founded by Our Blessed Lord for our eternal salvation. It is a blasphemy!
Those who insist that the Novus Ordo Church is indeed the Catholic Church, must then put their money where their mouth is and allow her to safely guide them to salvation. Yet this is precisely what Fr. Albert, the SSPX, and other clergy who share his position warn everyone not to do because they know very well that the Vatican II Church is harming souls and leading them to their eternal ruin.
“So my advice to you would be to try to find a priest who can lead you. God doesn’t show us, each one individually, all the truth, but He does show us who we should follow. And so, look for someone you can follow.”
This advice is preposterous.
“Find a priest who can lead you”? And where is the questioner to find such a priest if not among those ordained and commissioned by the very Church God has established — which church, we must sadly recall, Fr. Albert believes is the Vatican II Sect?
The holy Synod teaches, furthermore, that in the ordination of bishops, priests, and of other orders, the consent, or call, or authority of the people, or of any secular power or magistrate is not so required for the validity of the ordination; but rather it decrees that those who are called and instituted only by the people, or by the civil power or magistrate and proceed to exercise these offices, and that those who by their own temerity take these offices upon themselves, are not ministers of the Church, but are to be regarded as “thieves and robbers, who have not entered by the door” [cf. John 10:1].
Can. 7. If anyone says that the bishops are not superior to priests; or that they do not have the power to confirm and to ordain, or, that the power which they have is common to them and to the priests; or that orders conferred by them without the consent or call of the people or of the secular power are invalid, or, that those who have been neither rightly ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical and canonical authority, but come from a different source, are lawful ministers of the word and of the sacraments: let him be anathema [cf. n. 960]
(Council of Trent, Session 23; Denz. 960,967; underlining added.)
This shows the impossible dilemma Fr. Albert entraps his audience in: If we admit, as we must, the Catholic principle that we are only permitted to go to those priests who have a deputation from the Church; and if we take as true Fr. Albert’s belief that the Novus Ordo Church is the Catholic Church; then it follows that we must look for a Novus Ordo priest, that is, a priest in full communion with the Vatican II hierarchy. In other words, Fr. Albert himself wouldn’t qualify, since he is not in communion with the person he claims is the legitimate Catholic bishop of Las Cruces, the diocese he currently resides in (until July 11, it was Mr. Oscar Cantú, who has since been appointed elsewhere). Nor does he submit to Francis, the man he believes is Pope.
However, Fr. Albert of course does not want anyone to consult a Novus Ordo priest; rather, he only refers people to priests of the recognize-and-resist movement, and in the video clip we are discussing he specifically recommends the Society of St. Pius X. In fact, it is the Novus Ordo hierarchy with its fake annulments and other doctrinal and moral aberrations that is causing all the problems to begin with, for which reason the questioner contacted Fr. Albert in the first place.
“Look for someone you can follow”? He can’t be serious. We must follow those who are the legitimate shepherds of the Church (insofar as we know who they are). We must follow them because they have a divine mission from Jesus Christ our Lord: “He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me” (Lk 10:16). The idea that we can choose whom to follow destroys the very concept of an ecclesiastical hierarchy. It is clearly ruled out, for example, by Pope Leo XIII:
By certain indications it is not difficult to conclude that among Catholics – doubtless as a result of current evils – there are some who, far from satisfied with the condition of “subject” which is theirs in the Church, think themselves able to take some part in her government, or at least, think they are allowed to examine and judge after their own fashion the acts of authority. A misplaced opinion, certainly. If it were to prevail, it would do very grave harm to the Church of God, in which, by the manifest will of her Divine Founder, there are to be distinguished in the most absolute fashion two parties: the teaching and the taught, the Shepherd and the flock, among whom there is one who is the head and the Supreme Shepherd of all.
To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation. Thus, it is an absolute necessity for the simple faithful to submit in mind and heart to their own pastors, and for the latter to submit with them to the Head and Supreme Pastor. In this subordination and dependence lie the order and life of the Church; in it is to be found the indispensable condition of well-being and good government. On the contrary, if it should happen that those who have no right to do so should attribute authority to themselves, if they presume to become judges and teachers, if inferiors in the government of the universal Church attempt or try to exert an influence different from that of the supreme authority, there follows a reversal of the true order, many minds are thrown into confusion, and souls leave the right path.
(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua)
This doesn’t exactly sound like “find someone you can follow”, and indeed Fr. Albert himself has no business giving advice to souls contrary to the very people he claims are the legitimate hierarchy, and with whom he is not even in communion. (Note that this is an essential difference compared to sedevacantist clergy, who do not — and never would — act in opposition to the legitimate hierarchy but only in its apparent absence.)
In speaking to cardinals, archbishops, and bishops of the Church, Pope Pius XII exhorted them:
…[R]emind the faithful: (1) That God placed shepherds of souls in the Church not to put a burden on the flock, but to help and protect it; (2) that the true liberty of the faithful is safeguarded by the guidance and vigilance of pastors; that they are protected from the slavery of vice and error, they are strengthened against the temptations which come from bad example and from the customs of evil men among whom they must live; (3) that therefore they act contrary to the prudence and charity which they owe themselves, if they spurn this protection of God and His most certain help. If among clergy and priests you find some infected with this false zeal and attitude, set before them the grave warnings which Our Predecessor, Benedict XV, uttered: “There is one thing which should not be passed over in silence: We want to warn all priests, who are Our dearly beloved sons, how absolutely necessary it is, not only for their own salvation, but for the fruitfulness of their sacred ministry, that each be most devoted and obedient to his own Bishop. As We deplored in passing, not all dispensers of the sacred mysteries are free from that proud and arrogant spirit which is characteristic of our times; and it frequently happens that shepherds of the Church are grieved and opposed, where they might rightly expect comfort and help [Encyclical Ad Beatissimi, n. 28]”.
(Pope Pius XII, Address on the Authority of Temporal Matters, Nov. 2, 1954)
We are never permitted to separate from the legitimate Catholic hierarchy and “do our own thing on the side”, so to speak. Fr. Albert’s recognition of the Modernists as the rightful Catholic shepherds who must, however, be resisted, destroys the very foundation of Catholic teaching about the Church.
If Fr. Albert thinks that we should all simply “look for someone we can follow”, would he allow people to follow “Pope” Francis, “Cardinal” Blase Cupich, “Bp.” Rembert Weakland, or “Fr.” James Martin, for example? Why not? What are the traditional Catholic criteria for making the choice? Fr. Albert does not tell us, and it is easy to see why: The only objective and Catholic criteria he could possibly come up with would lead people either straight into Sedevacantism or straight into the Novus Ordo Sect. It would be a no-win situation for him. Yet this is a crucial point, because it also shows that the resistance movement is theologically flawed at its very root, for it is effectively based on the subjective criterion (private judgment!) of following one particular bishop — Abp. Marcel Lefebvre — in defiance of those who are nevertheless recognized to be the legitimate Catholic shepherds. It simply doesn’t get any more schismatic than that.
“I would suggest, if you can find a traditional priest…. They will give you what the Church has always taught….”
If Fr. Albert means traditional priests like himself (i.e. resistance priests who recognize Francis as Pope), then it is manifest that they will not give you “what the Church has always taught”, as is evident from our present critique.
The concept of “what the Church has always taught” is also highly problematic, though it is definitely too convenient for resistance priests to abandon. It is such a smooth-sounding criterion that no one could possibly find fault with, right? The problem is just that it does not jibe with reality. What the resisters ought to speak of instead is, “what the Church used to teach“, but of course that wouldn’t fly because it would make it obvious that they believe in a defected church, which is a heresy. Yet, it cannot be denied that, as a matter of simple intellectual integrity, one cannot speak of “what the Church has always taught” if that (supposedly) same church doesn’t teach it now and hasn’t taught it in the last 55 years.
The beauty of the Catholic Church’s teaching office is that the conformity of magisterial teaching with what has been handed down by the Apostles — in other words, with “what has always been taught” — is a consequence of its exercise, not its precondition, as the recognize-and-resist traditionalists would have us sillily believe. They think of themselves as defenders of the traditional Catholic Faith, yet in truth they are whittling away at that very Faith more and more because they refuse to accept even as a possibility that the “Popes” since 1958 have not been valid or legitimate.
Finally, by directing a soul away from what he nevertheless recognizes as the legitimate ecclesiastical authority and instead to a “priest who can lead you” regarding the (in)validity of a marriage, Fr. Albert is flirting with a dangerous heresy, for the Council of Trent taught: “If anyone says that matrimonial causes do not belong to ecclesiastical judges: let him be anathema” (Session 24, Canon 12; Denz. 982). It’s not as though the Novus Ordo Sect didn’t have ecclesiastical judges — they do. Fr. Albert has just decided that he won’t go by their judgment, and that you shouldn’t, either.
This concludes our critique of Fr. Albert’s answers in Ask Father no. 31. For more information on the errors of the recognize-and-resist position so popular among people who mean to be faithful traditional Catholics, please see our extensive response to Fr. Paul Robinson of the Society of St. Pius X:
When Pope St. Pius X warned his flock against the Modernists, he made clear that although only God can judge the state of their souls, this does not keep us from judging what is externally evident:
Although [the Modernists] express their astonishment that We should number them amongst the enemies of the Church, no one will be reasonably surprised that We should do so, if, leaving out of account the internal disposition of the soul, of which God alone is the Judge, he considers their tenets, their manner of speech, and their action.
(Pope Pius X, Encyclical Pascendi, n. 3)
Although Fr. Albert is not a Modernist, the principle enunciated here is still applicable: We must criticize him because he is putting forward a dangerous, non-Catholic position, and he does so under the label of “traditional Catholicism”. Whether he does so in good faith, being sincerely and innocently convinced that what he is preaching is real Catholicism, or whether he does so maliciously, deliberately trying to deceive souls, is actually quite irrelevant to the fact that he is spreading serious errors and therefore causing harm to souls.
In either case, our advice is the same: Don’t ask Father Albert.
Image source: youtube.com (manipulated)
License: Fair use