Refinishing the Great Facade:
The Vatican, the SSPX, and the “Restoration of Tradition”
“Thus saith the Lord: Stand ye on the ways, and see and ask for the old paths which is the good way, and walk ye in it: and you shall find refreshment for your souls. And they said: we will not walk.”
“No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or he will hold to the one, and despise the other.”
―Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 16:13)
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.”
―Saint Paul (Galatians 1:8)
“The practice of the Church has always been the same, as is shown by the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who were wont to hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium.”
―Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum (1896), n. 9
“When all this is considered there is good reason to fear lest this great perversity may be as it were a foretaste, and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days; and that there may be already in the world the ‘Son of Perdition’ of whom the Apostle speaks (II. Thess. ii., 3). Such, in truth, is the audacity and the wrath employed everywhere in persecuting religion, in combating the dogmas of the faith, in brazen effort to uproot and destroy all relations between man and the Divinity! While, on the other hand, and this according to the same apostle is the distinguishing mark of Antichrist, man has with infinite temerity put himself in the place of God, raising himself above all that is called God; in such wise that although he cannot utterly extinguish in himself all knowledge of God, he has condemned God’s majesty and, as it were, made of the universe a temple wherein he himself is to be adored. ‘He sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God’ (II. Thess. ii., 2).”
―Pope St. Pius X, Encyclical E Supremi (1903), n. 5
It looks like “Pope” Benedict XVI got more than he had bargained for. No doubt, he must have envisioned the lifting of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) excommunications to go a bit more smoothly: readmit the SSPX bishops, sweet-talk them into either accepting or at least not publicly opposing Vatican II, and thereby effectively destroying the SSPX’s open voice of resistance against the Vatican II Church. But at this point, his attempted quick-fix to readmit the Lefebvre Society has turned into an absolute nightmare that has accomplished nothing: The SSPX is still not fully integrated into the Modernist Church, Bp. Richard Williamson remains defiant in his beliefs regarding a secular historical matter, and now more “illicit” ordinations have been conferred in Ecône, Zaitzkofen, and Winona. It appears that Benedict is effectively risking a schism with the more open Modernists in Germany, where some conciliarists have already exited the New Church on account of the reinstatement of the SSPX bishops, and Novus Ordo clerics cannot emphasize enough how little they have in common with the “fundamentalist” Traditionalists (how true!). In short, this couldn’t have gone worse for Fr. Ratzinger, and one hopes that by now everyone who calls himself a Traditional Catholic has started to realize that, no, this is notthe beginning of the restoration of the Catholic Church.
A Great Facade of a “Restoration”
What the folks over at The Remnant newspaper must be seeing as a great obstacle to their beloved cause of reunion with (Modernist) Rome, may very well be the benevolent hand of Our Blessed Mother preventing the worst, turning an ill-conceived but well-meant 1.7-million-Rosaries-strong intention of having the “excommunications” lifted into what might perhaps be the last great public illustration of the absurdity of seeking union with a church that detests the Catholic religion, persecutes the Church’s true doctrines and saints, and seeks to bury the historic Catholic past under a mountain of apologies, heresies, dialogues, and ecumenical maneuvers.
Did Our Blessed Lord not tell us we could not serve two masters (Luke 16:13)? Just as the Vatican II Church, despite all sorts of attempts to promote the idea that “nothing has really changed,” can only justify itself and flourish at the expense of the old, true Catholic Church and Faith (October 1958 and before)—something very clearly seen every time Novus Ordo clerics publicly “weigh in” on the SSPX situation—so too a union with that cesspool of Modernism, officially known as the Vatican, would require a man to forge an alliance between Christ and Belial, between good and evil, and of course, this cannot happen. “Bear not the yoke with unbelievers,” St. Paul warns us. “For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
This odd situation in which the SSPX and the Vatican find themselves right now, and which might have disastrous consequences for the SSPX, serves very well to illustrate the folly of those who think either that the Old Faith can be instated in the Vatican II Church, which seems more antagonistic to it today than perhaps ever before, or that by admitting the SSPX to Modernist Rome, the SSPX would somehow become (more) Catholic, or that the Great Restoration of the Church is beginning to take shape.
On the contrary: What this situation demonstrates is that the Vatican establishment today is not the Catholic Church founded by our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but a false church, probably the “Church of Darkness” spoken of and warned against by the Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich (left), for whose demise she counseled us to pray: “They [the faithful] must pray above all for the Church of Darkness to leave Rome” (Aug. 25, 1820; quoted in Yves Dupont, Catholic Prophecy, p. 64). The news reports, the documentaries, the talk shows, the opinion pieces, esp. in the German media, on these events prove over and over again (1) that the Vatican II Church absolutely detests the old, true Faith and the old, true Church and wants to have nothing to do with it; (2) the utter folly of those would seek to be united to this Vatican II Church in order to be truly Catholic.
There is not one Catholic left in the Vatican, not one! The SSPX must abandon the nonsensical idea that an establishment that has manifestly abandoned the true Faith can in any way be the true Church; that the world’s chief Modernist and enemy of the Faith can somehow be the Pope of the Catholic Church with whom we must be in union; that the true Faith can somehow wander from Rome to a religious society whose self-declared mission it then is to guard that Faith until the day when the Holy See will convert. Nonsense! A church that does not have the true Faith is a false church! Catholics do not “negotiate” with the Pope; they submit to him! How could anyone seriously assert that to be truly Catholic, it is necessary to submit to Benedict XVI, a man who denies Catholic dogma and for over 20 years was head of the Vatican’s “Congregation for the Destruction of the Faith,” overseeing and maintaining a veritable junkyard of Modernist theology?
Yes, Benedict XVI denies dogma, which reaffirms the sedevacantist position that he is not a member of the Church because he does not hold the Faith and therefore is no true Pope. For example, in his 1982 book Katholische Prinzipienlehre (translated into English as Principles of Catholic Theology, and published in the U.S. in 1987), a few months after having been appointed by John Paul II to head the so-called “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” this “watchdog of orthodoxy” called into question the dogma of papal primacy:
Certainly, no one who claims allegiance to Catholic theology can simply declare the doctrine of primacy null and void, especially not if he seeks to understand the objections and evaluates with an open mind the relative weight of what can be determined historically. Nor is it possible, on the other hand, for him to regard as the only possible form and, consequently, as binding on all Christians the form this primacy has taken in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The symbolic gestures of Pope Paul VI and, in particular, his kneeling before the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch [the schismatic Patriarch Athenagoras] were an attempt to express precisely this and, by such signs, to point the way out of the historical impasse.
Rome must not require more from the East with respect to the doctrine of primacy than had been formulated and was lived in the first millennium. When the [schismatic] Patriarch Athenagoras, on July 25, 1967, on the occasion of the Pope’s visit to Phanar, designated him as the successor of St. Peter, as the most esteemed among us, as one who presides in charity, this great Church leader was expressing the essential content of the doctrine of primacy as it was known in the first millennium. Rome need not ask for more (right, Paul VI sits with his hands folded, listening as schismatic Patriarch Athenagoras reads while seated in a chair of equal height that signifies equal status).
[I]t would be worth our while to consider whether this archaic confession, which has nothing to do with the “primacy of jurisdiction” but confesses a primacy of “honor” … and agape [love], might not be recognized as a formula that adequately reflects the position Rome occupies in the Church. . . .
(Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1987], pp. 198, 199, 217; underlining added.)
This contradicts verbatim the dogma proclaimed by the Vatican Council in 1870:
If anyone then says that the blessed Apostle Peter was not established by the Lord Christ as the chief of all the apostles, and the visible head of the whole militant Church, or, that the same received great honor but did not receive from the same our Lord Jesus Christ directly and immediately the primacy in true and proper jurisdiction: let him be anathema.
If anyone thus speaks, that the Roman Pontiff has only the office of inspection or direction, but not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world; or, that he possesses only the more important parts, but not the whole plenitude of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate, or over the churches altogether and individually, and over the pastors and the faithful altogether and individually: let him be anathema.
(First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Chapters 1, 3; Denz. 1823, 1831; underlining added.)
An “anathema” is a severing from the Body of Christ, an expulsion from the Church. This the council hurled at anyone who would dare to deny the true dogma of papal primacy, as Ratzinger has done. So then: Let him be anathema!
Time to see the Forest, not just the Trees
Come to think of it, the irony is extraordinary: The man who presumes to issue and revoke excommunications is himself cast out of the Church! He is not, in any way, shape, or form, neither fully nor partially, a member of this glorious society established by Our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church. The longer people delay in recognizing this fact, the longer the charades in Rome can be kept alive, and the worse it will be for all of us. If no one had taken seriously Paul VI’s claim to be Pope right in the 1960’s, the New Church’s occupation of the Holy See would not still be going on today.
It is time to stop sitting on the fence and recognize what is truly taking place: A counterfeit church in the Vatican is masquerading as the Roman Catholic Church, which has gradually replaced true Catholic doctrine with a mishmash of Masonic, Modernist, Liberal, Protestant, and Jewish ideas. The proof is in the pudding, and now that Rome is trying to capture the SSPX, this is becoming even more evident than ever before, as Novus Ordo bishops and priests are only too happy to affirm their opposition to the true Catholic Faith of old, with which they indeed have virtually nothing in common.
Perhaps we ought to be grateful. Had it not been for Ratzinger’s SSPX faux pas, who knows when the world would have seen such explicit public opposition by the Novus Ordo bishops to the true teachings of the Catholic Church? The emperor has no clothes, no matter how many people—whether it be through ignorance, malice, human respect, or a fake marriage annulment from the New Church—are willing to keep the lie alive.
A Matter of the True Faith
Sedevacantism, though defined as the position that the men officially recognized as “Popes” after Pius XII were not in fact true Popes, is not merely about one man, the Pope. It is about the entire Church and the entire Faith. The entire Vatican establishment today is not the Roman Catholic Church, not even remotely. The true Church has been eclipsed, as predicted by Our Lady of La Salette in 1846; but even if we do not know what Our Blessed Lord has apparently seen fit to keep hidden from us at this point, it is nonetheless already a great consolation and a great grace to know where the true Church is not; namely, in Rome.
Many examples can be drawn upon to demonstrate how the the vacant see (sede vacante) situation in Rome impacts the Church and the Faith in their entirety, but few point this out as forcefully as a particularly egregious incident that occurred in the spring of 2009, in which the dogma of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross was brazenly denied by a leader of the post-conciliar church, who dismissed it as a mere psychological prop for human travails.
“Archbishop” Robert Zollitsch (below left), President of the Deutsche Bischofskonferenz (German Bishops’ Conference) appeared for a Holy Saturday interview with journalist Meinhard Schmidt-Degenhard on the program Horizonte of the secular German TV station Hessischer Rundfunk. In the course of discussing the significance of the Crucifixion, there was this exchange:
Zollitsch: [Christ] did not die for the sins of the people as if God had needed a sacrificial offering, a scapegoat, so to speak. He entered into solidarity with us men, with our suffering, with our death, even unto the end; and showed that even the suffering of man, every pain and even death are taken up [accepted] by God and transformed by God in [through] His Son Jesus Christ….
Schmidt-Degenhard: So you would now no longer phrase it in such a way that God offered His own Son because we humans were so sinful? You would no longer phrase it thus?
Zollitsch: No; He allowed His own Son to enter into the final mortal agony out of solidarity with us in order to show [us]: This is of how much value you are to me; I go with you, I am wholly with you in every situation.
(Our translation; original video clip in German here)
Some have attempted to dismiss the seriousness of Zollitsch’s remarks by saying that God had not needed to require the death of His Son for the satisfaction of sins, which, of course, could be interpreted in a Catholic way. (While nothing obliged God the Father to mandate the death of His Son as a sin offering, He deemed it the most appropriate way to appease His justice.) Likewise, Zollitsch’s comment about Christ’s solidarity with our sufferings may have an orthodox sense; unfortunately for those who attempt to exonerate Zollitsch in such a way, the interview didn’t end there.
The clincher to Zollitsch’s abandonment of Tradition is when he expressly rejected the dogmatic formulation that “God gave His own Son, because we humans were so sinful.” The proofs are many, but to cite just a few, St. Paul writes: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment, so also Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:27-28). And in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica we read:
…the passion of Christ is the cause of our reconciliation with God in a two-fold manner: in one way because it takes away sin through which men are made enemies of God…In another way through its being a sacrifice most acceptable unto God, for this is properly the effect of a sacrifice that through it God is appeased, as even man is ready to forgive an injury done unto him by accepting a gift which is offered to him…And so in the same way, what Christ suffered was so great a good that, on account of that good found in human nature, God has been appeased over all the offenses of mankind.
The Council of Trent, in the second chapter of its Decree on Justification (entitled “On the Dispensation and Mystery of Christ’s Advent”), teaches of our Lord that: “Him God hath proposed as a propitiator, through faith in his blood, for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for those of the whole world” (Session 6, Chapter 2). In addition, the Catechism of the Council of Trent has this, among other things, to say about Christ’s Passion:
The pastor should teach that all these inestimable and divine blessings flow to us from the Passion of Christ. First, indeed, because the satisfaction which Jesus Christ has in an admirable manner made to God the Father for our sins is full and complete. The price which He paid for our ransom was not only adequate and equal to our debts, but far exceeded them.
Again, it (the Passion of Christ) was a sacrifice most acceptable to God, for when offered by His Son on the altar of the cross, it entirely appeased the wrath and indignation of the Father. This word (sacrifice) the Apostle uses when he says: Christ hath loved us, and hath delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness.
Furthermore, it was a redemption, of which the Prince of the Apostles says: You were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver, from your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled. While the Apostle teaches: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.
(Catechism of the Council of Trent: The Creed, Article 4)
Simply put, then, to deny, as Zollitsch does, that Christ was offered as a divinely-ordained sacrifice for sins is to deny the solemn, perennial teaching of the Church. But how does this show the interrelation of the false claimants to the Chair of St. Peter with the Church and the Faith in their entirety? Well, actually it does so in more than one way.
First, relating to the Novus Ordo hierarchy, there is the reaction of Benedict XVI and Zollitsch’s fellow “German bishops” or, more accurately, their non-reaction. Despite the international furor his remarks raised among many Catholics and “conservative” Novus Ordo laity around the world, there was not so much as a murmur of protest from the hierarchical top dogs.
Zollitsch was not summoned to Rome to repudiate his error nor was he removed from his position as conference head. And for that matter, to our knowledge no condemnation came from even one Conciliar “bishop” in any other country, either. In other words, Zollitsch’s heresy did not cause the slightest concern among the men who supposedly are the successors to St. Peter and the other Apostles. If anything, their silence suggests they concurred with his remarks or at least deemed them to be legitimate theological opinions.
How can this be? Could it be that they found nothing wrong in what he said? Yes, indeed it could be, and it is here that the Faith comes into play, because it suggests that the denial of this fundamental Catholic teaching is systemic within the Novus Ordo, from the top down. And as with so many of the ills that befell Catholics after Vatican II, there is a direct correlation with the “New Mass.” In fact, as it turns out there are few better examples of how the counterfeit church has instituted a false “lex orandi, lex credendi.”
In 2001 the Society of St. Pius X published a book entitled The Problem of the Liturgical Reform: A Theological & Liturgical Study, which argued that the Paul VI “Mass” of 1969 was heterodox and represented the substitution of a false description of the Mass as “Paschal Mystery” to replace the Catholic formulation of it as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In its foreword the book goes further, maintaining that “the official texts show quite categorically that the ‘Paschal mystery’ is the key to interpreting the entire Liturgical Reform” (The Problem of the Liturgical Reform [Kansas City, MO: Angelus Press, 2001], p. v).
In his review of The Problem of the Liturgical Reform, John Vennari shows the theological implications of adopting this novelty:
The section titled “The Passover of the Lord” explains that the “Paschal Mystery” embodies a new way of looking at sin and redemption. This novel approach holds that man’s sin is not something that offends God to the point where He requires satisfaction for these sins. Rather, sin injures man and requires man’s restoration. According to this mind-set, “man’s sin seems to harm only himself and society, without being prejudicial to God.”
What then is redemption if not satisfying God’s justice for man’s sin?
Answer, redemption is the Paschal Mystery revealing God’s unbreakable love for us, especially as shown in the Resurrection.
One of the many expressions of this new teaching is found in a 1994 statement from the International Theological Commission. Here the Commission does not hesitate to flirt with blasphemy, as it caricatures God as “merciless”:
“The death of Jesus is not the act of a merciless God glorifying supreme sacrifice; it is not the ‘price of redemption’ paid to some repressive alien power. It is the time and place where God ‘who is love and who loves us,’ is made visible. Jesus crucified declares how God loves us and proclaims through this gesture of love that one man has conditionally consented to the ways of God.”
In short, it means that there is no debt to be paid to God in order to satisfy Divine justice offended by sin. This false doctrine, applied to the new liturgy, results in the propitiatory aspect of the Mass being downplayed or effaced. It also results in the elimination or reduction of prayers asking for satisfaction for sin. Also, since “Redemption is seen as a full revelation of the Father’s free and superabundant love for us, the response which the celebration of the liturgy embodies can only be of thanksgiving and petition. The vicarious satisfaction of Christ and His mediation in prayer no longer prove to be absolutely necessary. Such notions have, therefore, been largely removed from the new missal, and notably from the Eucharistic Prayers . . .”
(John Vennari, “Unmasking the New Mass”, Catholic Family News, Sep. 2001)
So the “Paschal Mystery” error is one that has official approval from Modernist Rome; hence, it is completely in keeping with this heretical post-conciliar line of thinking that Zollitsch made his Holy Week statements, and it is also in keeping with it that the pseudo-pope Benedict XVI and his Novus Ordo bishops found nothing condemnable in those statements.
Clearly, then, the mystery of the false papal claimants is one that is about the entire Church and the entire Faith, rather than a side issue, for if these men are able to get their false teachings (such as the “Paschal Mystery”) accepted by a numerically overwhelming section of churchmen (some of whom actively sought the subversion of the Church at Vatican II), then what emerges is also a false church and a false faith that is only able to continue misappropriating the name “Catholic” because these men still hold the reins of power and lord over many of the visible structures of the Church, much as in the early Church the Arian majority for a time was able to hijack much of her outward organization by the forcible seizing of churches. It was with this sorry state of affairs in mind that St. Athanasius, in a quote near and dear to all true Catholics as very analogous to our own time, declared: “It is a fact that they have the premises – but you have the Apostolic Faith. They can occupy our churches, but they are outside the true Faith. You remain outside the places of worship, but the Faith dwells within you” (Letter of St. Athanasius to his Flock).
The Contradictory “Solution” of the SSPX
No Catholic likes to contemplate such a dire situation, much less conclude that such a massive takeover has occurred, but what are the alternatives? There are none that are viable, at least not that the present writer can see. The SSPX has long tried to square the theological circle, which has resulted in nothing but dangerous errors and confusion. For example, when Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (below right) ordained priests in 1976, he was ostensibly suspended a divinis by Rome and declared in response:
Here is one more proof that this new Church, which they themselves have now described as ‘Conciliar’, is destroying itself. His Eminence, Msgr. [Giovanni] Benelli himself, in his letter of last June 25th , so designates it. Speaking of the seminarians, he writes, ‘If they have good will and are seriously prepared for a priestly ministry in true fidelity to the Conciliar Church, finding the best solution for them will then be undertaken, but let them also make a beginning through this act of obedience to the Church.’
What could be clearer? We must henceforth obey and be faithful to the Conciliar Church, no longer to the Catholic Church. Right there is our whole problem: We are suspended a divinis by the Conciliar Church and for the Conciliar Church, to which we have no wish to belong!
That Conciliar Church is a schismatic Church because it breaks with the Catholic Church that has always been. It has its new dogmas, its new priesthood, its new institutions, its new worship, all already condemned by the Church in many a document, official and definitive.…
…The Church that affirms such errors is at once schismatic and heretical. This Conciliar Church is, therefore, not Catholic. To whatever extent Pope, Bishops, priests, or the faithful adhere to this new church, they separate themselves from the Catholic Church. Today’s church is the true Church only to whatever extent it is a continuation of and one body with the Church of always. The norm of Catholic Faith is Tradition. For our part we persevere in the Catholic Church.
(Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, “Reflections on Suspension A Divinis“, in “The Archbishop Speaks”, The Angelus, July 1978)
Though he was no doubt well-intentioned and only trying to resolve a theological conundrum of unprecedented proportions, what His Grace put forth here is is nothing short of ecclesiological schizophrenia. Unwittingly, he has bought into the Vatican II doctrine of the Catholic Church being made up of “elements” that can exist in conjunction with other, non-Catholic ecclesial elements: “Today’s church is the true Church only to whatever extent it is a continuation of and one body with the Church of always.” Surely, we are not going to salvage the True Faith and True Church by accepting Vatican II doctrine and then using it to “our advantage”!
Although Abp. Lefebvre passed away in 1991, his self-contradictory view of the Novus Ordo Church has continued to be maintained in one form or another by the leaders of the SSPX, perhaps nowhere more colorfully than in the writings of Bishop Richard Williamson (below right). His various excuses for the Modernism of John Paul II and Benedict XVI has included such nonsense as being asleep in a “liberal dream,” having a half-Catholic, half-Modernist brain (he likened it in one letter to “the curate’s egg”) and suffering from the ill effects of German philosophy. All have the same end and that is to mitigate the heresies of these men by saying that they’re not altogether culpable for their false teachings. This is at odds both with basic Catholic moral theology, which says men are presumed to be culpable for their acts unless there is compelling evidence (not idle speculation) to the contrary, and with Canon Law, which teaches that men with a seminary education cannot be excused from knowing Catholic theology thoroughly, expressing it correctly in the sense intended by the Church and adhering to it without the slightest reservation. (For a critique of his novel explanations and the direct sources showing his errors, see Fr. Anthony Cekada’s article, Bp. Williamson’s Mentevacantist Error.)
Now, such a perception of the papacy necessarily impacts how one views the Church and the Faith, every bit as much as in the sedevacantist view. The SSPX stance involves a pick-and-choose “Pope sifting,” in which the Society’s leaders decide what coming out of Modernist Rome is Catholic and what is not. Hence, the SSPX has its own marriage tribunals to determine whether a Novus Ordo annulment is or isn’t valid; similarly, this allows them to make judgment calls on whether a particular canonization is to be accepted or not, despite the fact that it is Church teaching that canonizations of saints are infallible, given that the faithful are being given the assurance of the Church that the person in question is not only someone who can intercede for us with God, but is worthy of our veneration and imitation.
The SSPX position is a contradictory and confusing theological mess with its major principles grounded not in sound Catholic theology found in theological manuals but in the theological whims of Abp. Lefebvre. It has continually kept the “Roman lie” alive throughout the decades, thus still conceding just enough legitimacy to the Modernists for them to be able to stay in charge.
The Witch Hunt against Bp. Williamson
The Remnant‘s star columnist Christopher Ferrara blames comments by SSPX Bp. Williamson about Nazi gas chambers for derailing the Vatican’s attempts to capture the SSPX—pardon, for delaying the “restoration of the Church”—in the following lines:
In sum, owing entirely to Bishop Williamson’s needless utterances, what should have been an unalloyed triumph for Tradition [sic] could be turned into a major tactical advantage against it by the Church’s harshest critics. Just as the movement to reverse the ecclesial self-demolition of the past forty years has achieved another decisive victory thanks to the courage of this Pope, the remarks of a lone traditionalist bishop on subjects far beyond his purview have given the Church’s opponents a major opening for demagogic coercion of the Pope and the Vatican in order to stall the movement and prevent further restorative action. The mind reels at this bizarre, almost diabolical turn of events. Our movement’s enemies could hardly have achieved a better result had they infiltrated the Society with a double agent.
(Christopher A. Ferrara, “Triumph and Tribulation: Pope Under Fire for Lifting Excommunication of SSPX Bishops”, The Remnant, Jan. 31, 2009)
With this rhetorical overkill, Ferrara attempts to persuade people that the cause of “Catholic Restoration” has suffered a needless and almost diabolical setback caused by a loose cannon in the SSPX leadership that has now resulted in an unjust tainting of the Traditional Catholic cause (or what he thinksto be that cause) as “anti-Semitic.” But even as Ferrara himself later acknowledges, we live in a world that, deprived of true Catholic teaching for over 50 years now, believes traditional Catholicism itself to be anti-Semitic. Bp. Williamson’s comments merely jump-started the secular media’s investigation into traditional Catholicism, and they now seem to find their suspicions confirmed as they come across such “hateful” and “anti-Semitic” teachings as the necessity of being Catholic to obtain salvation (yes, including Jews!), the moral permissibility of the death penalty, and the timeless truth that false religions lead to damnation. This Modernist, liberal, neo-Pagan world has not heard these truths for many decades now (thanks to the Vatican II Church, crafted, to a significant extent, by Fr. Joseph Ratzinger), and they are stunned that anyone would have the audacity to disagree with their liberal program, that anyone would refuse to take part in their “progress” for humanity.
Certainly, Bp. Williamson’s comments were somewhat needless, but, in the opinion of this writer, they were by no means the cause, but rather the occasion, of the world looking at Traditional Catholics as anti-Semitic—they were merely the catalyst that accelerated what had to happen before long anyway: the world’s direct and explicit condemnation of traditional Catholic teaching as fundamentalist, anti-Semitic, rigid, intolerant, hateful, and radical—and therefore to be detested with all the might the otherwise oh-so-compassionate and tolerant world can muster.
The world’s problem is essentially with the New Testament, not just with this particular private opinion held by Bp. Williamson on a non-theological matter. One wonders what the world would say if a country that proclaims itself as holding no particular religion, or even as holding the Jewish religion, passed a law that sends to prison anyone who denies the Virgin Birth of our Blessed Lord, His Most Sorrowful Passion, His Holy Crucifixion, or His Glorious Resurrection. Presumably, no further comment is necessary here.
So, the problem here is not essentially one of Bp. Williamson’s private opinions regarding a secular historical matter. The problem is that the world, thanks in large part to the New Church of Vatican II, falsely believes Traditional Catholic doctrine to be anti-Semitic. True Catholic teaching has been buried for so long under the garbage heap of the New Church’s heretical maneuvering that the world isn’t even aware anymore of what the Vatican used to teach and believe as recently as 50 years ago. Now the Old Faith is coming to light again, and the world does not at all like what it sees; it had hoped the Old Faith had already become extinct. The persecution of Traditional Catholics as anti-Semites had to happen sooner or later, not based on the arguably hapless comments of a single bishop, but based on our holding fast to the divinely-revealed truths that no one can come to the Father except through Christ our Blessed Lord (John 14:6)—Jews included—and that the Holy Catholic Church is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), and all that these two dogmas entail.
Germany in Uproar over the “Regressive” Traditional Movement
Not surprisingly, the uproar over the SSPX “reconciliation”—and Bp. Williamson in particular—has been extremely great in Germany, a hotbed of Modernism already long before the official Modernist takeover in 1958. The ordinations at Zaitzkofen on June 27, 2009, added lots of fuel to the fire.
“Traditionalists” – “Anti-Semites” – “Extremists” – “Rebels” – “Ultra-Right-Wing Catholics” — German news sites and channels have been abuzz with keywords such as these whenever a story is published involving the SSPX. The whole secular world over there is up in arms about the SSPX’s “radical,” “right-wing” orientation. One adjective they have come up with to describe Traditional Catholics (and make no mistake about it, secular society at this point cannot distinguish SSPX-Traditionalists from sedevacantists) is the word rückwärtsgewandt—which literally means “turned backwards” but is probably best translated as “regressive.” And regressive, you see, is bad. It is bad because it is the opposite of progressive, and who would not want progress? (By progress, of course, they simply mean their revolutionary program that destroyed Christian society, specifically as regards permitting and even furthering perverted forms of sexuality.) These people cannot see how anyone could dare suggest that what they believe and stand for isn’t genuine progress. But who ever allowed them to commandeer the word “progress” and apply it to their own nefarious ideas and doctrines? Who gave them the right to hijack this notion and make it apply to their rejection of the old, the true, and the decent?
Make no mistake about it: Those who always preach “tolerance” and “love” and “compassion” only do so in regards to their own wicked agenda. They show absolutely no tolerance, love, or compassion for the old, true Faith or sound morality, both of which they loathe and detest unto the nth degree—and for which they have nothing but “hate speech” and contempt. But let us emphasize once more here that the primary cause of this downfall of Catholicism in Western society must above all be attributed to the Masonic-Modernist takeover of the structures of the Catholic Church in October of 1958, as well as the Second Vatican Council, which was called less than 3 months after said takeover. And is it not the height of irony and historical forgetfulness that one of the main movers and shakers at the revolutionary council is now being hailed as the “Great Friend and Restorer of Tradition” by some people who consider themselves to be traditional Catholics, namely, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger?
The Folly of trying to integrate Traditional Catholics into the New Church
The pseudo-Traditionalist newspaper The Remnant — which is turning more and more into “The Wanderer on Steroids” — has been beating the drums of a union between the SSPX and Rome for some time now. But when you try to force a “Restoration of the Church” man’s way – this is what it looks like! It’s an absolute disaster!
Think about this for a minute. What did The Remnant & Co. think this was going to look like? Could you imagine Benedict XVI appointing Bp. Williamson, say, Archbishop of Munich? And then what? Williamson would have under him clergy and laity who are not Catholic (not trying to judge intentions, only public profession of what they believe). Would he forbid the New Mass and tell the clergy they cannot accept religious liberty? Would he forbid certain clerics from preaching? Would he condemn ecumenism and “dialogue”? And then what? Then Benedict XVI would remove him, and that would be the end of that. Seriously, just how do all these people favoring a union with Rome envision this?
Or think of a different scenario. Imagine all goes “well.” Imagine the SSPX’s Bp. Bernard Tissier de Mallerais becoming Archbishop of Paris and kicking out the Modernists, leaving only fellow-SSPX or other traditionally-oriented clergy in his archdiocese. Let’s say he roots out all Modernism and Vatican II theology, and Benedict is about to overturn the entire council. Then, Benedict dies and the next conclave elects “Cardinal” Walter Kasper. Then what? Have they thought this through? Just how do they think this “restoration” will supposedly come about?
Surely, the “Resistance Traditionalists” envision a “personal prelature,” a sort of society in the Vatican II Church which is independent of local “bishops” and answers only to “the Pope.” But don’t they realize that this, too, would be totally dependent upon the mercy of the Modernists? Even if they found a “good Pope” under whom to get their personal prelature, what if, despite their “independent” status, they nevertheless met with hostile and uncooperative local “bishops”? (This “what if” is a very real possibility, as has been seen by the many openly belligerent reactions of Novus Ordo leaders toward the SSPX after the “lifting of the excommunications,” after everything was supposed to be on the path of unity.) And even if that problem didn’t come to pass, what would happen if the “good Pope” were succeeded by another Modernist? Then the game would start all over again. No, the “resistance position” is an endless cat-and-mouse game that offers no genuine solution to anything. All it does is keep the shenanigans in the New Church alive, thus giving legitimacy still to the men who claim to be Catholic authorities while not being Catholic at all! The true Catholic Church is at the mercy of God, not at the mercy of Modernists, for in the True Church, Modernists cannot legitimately hold authority at all.
No, God will restore His Church in His way and in His time, but it will surely first require the Great Persecution so that on a seedbed of martyrs the True Church can once again emerge gloriously in the sight of all doubters.
Looking at all the fanfare about union with Rome, one wonders: Why is The Remnant so hell-bent on joining a church that detests the true religion? Why do they want to join the revolutionaries who have not changed but, on the contrary, are sinking further and further into Liberalism, Modernism, and the spirit of Antichrist? Do the “Resistance Traditionalists” not realize that this terrible situation which they decry, and the forces opposing Benedict’s supposed desire to “restore Tradition” are precisely the very forces which Fr. Ratzinger & Co. are responsible for unleashing upon the world at Vatican II? This wicked spirit hasn’t just come out of the blue. It is precisely the Vatican II Church that bears the lion’s share of responsibility for this mass apostasy, and for the breakdown of many Christian societies–in short, for what the “Catholic” world has become–; and to now act as though Benedict were an innocent prisoner of the Vatican who is being opposed by evil forces, is the height of historical forgetfulness and revisionism–not to mention, absurdity!
Let us not forget, all this talk about “mending” Vatican II and the New Mass is not new. or example, almost 25 years ago, “Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger “lamented” the terrible state of “Catholic liturgy” and tried to instill optimism: “[I]t seems that certain abuses associated with the post-conciliar years are lessening. . . . It seems to me that a reconciliation is in process, and some people are becoming aware that they went too far and too fast.” (Vittorio Messori, ed., The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1985], p. 125)
Ah yes, these terrible “abuses” of the New Mass—as though the New Mass were not in itself a liturgical abuse—have long been decried and only made worse, and Benedict himself, of course, participates in them (as, for example, seen at the “Mass” at Yankee Stadium during his trip to the United States in April of 2008). A “lessening” of liturgical abuses since 1985 is not exactly what we have seen, but this is simply the kind of talk you get from Fr. Ratzinger when he wants to play the conservative he isn’t.
“An Enemy hath done this” (Matthew 13:28): A Much-Needed Reality Check
The New Church in Rome is a false church; it behooves all people who seek to be genuine Catholics to have nothing to do with it. Looking at the whole scenario reasonably and calmly, we can see that since the death of Pope Pius XII, apostasy has befallen the Catholic world, and the true Faith of Pope Pius XII and before has been anathematized, not only by various individual clerics, but systematically and “authoritatively” from the Vatican institution itself, so that we can only conclude that, as with the sower in the Gospel, “an enemy hath done this” (Matthew 13:28). Yes, the enemy is sitting in the Vatican itself, and Benedict XVI is the Enemy-in-Chief. The entire Modernist establishment is an enemy of the Catholic religion, having gradually undermined it from within, for decades now, and it is an act of extreme charity—and of the greatest urgency—to point this out and for all to finally recognize it! But alas, none are so blind as those who refuse to see: “Hear, O foolish people, and without understanding: who have eyes, and see not: and ears, and hear not” (Jeremias 5:21).
Also in 2009, along with his denial of Christ’s Sacrificial Death, “Archbishop” Robert Zollitsch publicly said that the SSPX are a different church than the one to which he belongs. What a refreshing admission! (See Patrick Schwarz, “Mein Gott, hilf!”, in Die Zeit, Feb. 12, 2009) It is really good to hear the truth being spoken so plainly. Indeed, the Novus Ordo religion has nothing to do with the Catholic religion, which Zollitsch is perceiving the SSPX as representing. (As already alluded to, the SSPX itself espouses theological positions at odds with true Catholic teaching, but for all intents and purposes, represents true Catholicism in the eyes of the Novus Ordos and the world.)
It’s actually amazing how much attention the Modernists can pay to things to which they really want to pay attention. They will not miss a single Hindu feast to congratulate their pagan “brethren” on; they will never miss a mudslide in Bolivia to send condolences for. But somehow, they missed the 100th anniversary of the great anti-Modernist encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis of Pope St. Pius X on September 8, 2007. How hard is it to see what’s going on here?
It is also a matter of the integrity and purity of our Faith―for if Ratzinger is Pope, we must submit to him, the way Catholics must to any true Pope. Our attitude cannot change from Pope to Pope, as though he were merely a figurehead, a glorified bishop to whom we owe no genuine submission of will and intellect, a man whose teachings, sacramental rites, and disciplinary laws can be sifted, reviewed, objected to, or relativized by anyone with a copy of Denzinger and an internet connection.
The Neo-Traditionalists can only uphold their nonsensical program of “resistance” against the perceived “Popes” at the expense of Catholic doctrine on the papacy and the ordinary Magisterium, and hence you will never see them justify their position by appealing to the approved theological manuals in use before Vatican II — which even the Holy Office used –, preferring, instead, their own ad-hoc “theology” cobbled together from half-truths, twisted quotations, personal preferences, and wishful thinking.
Today, The Remnant seems oblivious to the level-headed analysis of the real Ratzinger they themselves provided as recently as a few weeks before the 2005 conclave, accusing him of “tearing down even as he makes busy with the appearance of building up” (ibid.). That’s right — Ratzinger doesn’t just tear down, he tears down while making busy with the appearance [!] of building up! To put it in different terms, he is further tearing down what’s left of the True Faith, while working hard to appear to be building a “Great Restoration,” which in reality is nothing but a Great Facade. And the folks at The Remnant now seem only too happy to assist him with it. Yes, the old facade of the Novus Ordo Church had become porous and needed to be refinished, as too many people were catching on. And if it should take a “Restoration of Tradition” to get the job done, so be it.
The Same Old Song: The “True” Spirit of Vatican II and the Mysterious “Light of Tradition”
One of the Modernist Vatican’s tricks to lure well-intentioned Traditionalists into the New Church has been the idea that the Second Vatican Council can and needs to be interpreted “in light of Tradition” so that the “true” spirit of Vatican II can supposedly manifest itself.
Contrary to what some may think, this whole idea of reading Vatican II “in light of Tradition” is nothing new–it is used whenever the New Church needs to throw a few crumbs to the conservative faithful to keep them in line. For example, John Paul II said in early 2000: “To interpret the Council on the supposition that it marks a break with the past, when in reality it stands in continuity with the faith of all times, is a definite mistake” (Address to the Conference Studying the Implementation of Vatican II, Feb. 27, 2000).
In his book The Great Facade:Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church, Christopher Ferrara tackles this quote and, disagreeing with it on the grounds that John Paul II emphasized the “authentic newness” of the council in the very same speech, more or less dismisses it as non-binding because it is “a single sentence from a speech . . . to a symposium on the implementation of Vatican II” (Christopher A. Ferrara and Thomas E. Woods, Jr., The Great Facade [Minnesota: The Remnant Press, 2002], p. 34). The funny thing is that when such a “single sentence from a speech” favors his position, Ferrara’s talk changes: “In 1988 Cardinal Ratzinger, addressing precisely the objections raised by traditionalists, told the Bishops of Chile that ‘The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council…’” (“Neo-Catholic Blues”, The Remnant, Feb. 25, 2009).
So, here we have it: A sentence from the “Pope’s” speech on the implementation of an ecumenical council isn’t good enough when it doesn’t favor the position Ferrara is arguing; but a sentence from a single “cardinal,” albeit the head of the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” to the bishops of a single country, can trump even the solemn words of promulgation of the council documents spoken by Paul VI —simply because, this time, they do favor Ferrara’s position. This is simply a skilled lawyer at work.
Now if John Paul II were truly a valid pontiff, as alleged by Ferrara, his statement would indeed be binding on the faithful because it would form part of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church and represent a teaching which, though not infallible, would still bind the faithful to give their internal assent under pain of mortal sin. So either Ferrara is ignoring this fact or is squeezing what he means by “binding” into a very restrictive sense, which defies what has been taught definitively by the Church and her eminent theologians since at least the First Vatican Council (1870).
It’s very instructive to note that John Paul II’s address is carried on Modernist Rome’s own website (see the above link), which shows the great significance it places on this “speech . . . to a symposium on the implementation of Vatican II,” a significance with which it intends, contrary to what Ferrara argues, to bind the consciences of its adherents.
The point here is to show that Ferrara is not going by principle, and because of this, he argues his readers straight into the Modernists’ den, sometimes rather subtly: “Here we have yet another confirmation that the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ — not to be confused with the literal texts of [the] Council read consistently with Tradition — serves the interests of the world rather than the cause of the Gospel” (“Triumph and Tribulation”, The Remnant, Jan. 26, 2009; underlining added).
Oh yes, no doubt, in the future Ferrara will discover the “real” council after all, quite contrary to what he argued here in The Great Facade:
…the documents of Vatican II are a hopeless muddle of ambiguity from which it is impossible [!] to discern the “real Council,” let alone the fabled “Church the Council envisioned….” The fact is that wherever the Council did not simply repeat the constant teaching of the Church, it offered nothing definite in the way of Catholic doctrine. The “real Council” is, therefore, a chimera.
Which side is up for Ferrara? If the council documents are “a hopeless muddle of ambiguity,” how can we know what meaning the council fathers intended? And if the meaning the council fathers intended is not in line with Tradition, how could we possibly now put a different spin on the texts that, while perhaps (according to Ferrara) reconcilable with Tradition, would not be consonant with how the documents were intended to be understood when they were solemnly promulgated by the “Pope”? Can the Church at one point in time promulgate evil teachings and directives and then salvage them later by changing the meaning of the words? Can Holy Mother Church take on the role of a spin doctor? Of course not. All of this is an exercise in insanity, and it makes a mockery of the authoritative Magisterium of the Church and holds the Bride of Christ up to ridicule.
Of course, the modernists in the Vatican would have us all believe now that all these awful liberal “interpretations” and false “implementations” of Vatican II were not in fact their own work! Well, who in the world has been implementing Vatican II since 1965 if not the Vatican? Who has been issuing document after document and decree after decree for the universal church in the last four decades? All this talk about a “misguided” interpretation of Vatican II that somehow needs to be “corrected” is nothing but smoke and mirrors. We must remember that the Vatican itself has been overseeing the implementation of Vatican II since the council ended, most especially the New Mass, which it imposed upon every parish in the world under pain of removal from office (ask Bp. de Castro Mayer!). Oh yes, you’d better believe that the Vatican oversaw the implementation of its “baby” with great care….
It is important to point this out lest anyone now fall for the latest Roman shenanigans about “clarifying” Vatican II teachings “in light of Tradition” to tempt the SSPX into the New Church. Don’t fall for it! It was the Vatican that forced Spain to change its Catholic constitution to embrace religious liberty—that very novel teaching that, according to some in the pseudo-Traditionalist world, was no real teaching at all, or at least none that anyone needed to embrace, or one that had not changed the previous doctrine. Rubbish! The proof is in the pudding.
So, what to do next time someone tells you that Vatican II only ought to be interpreted “in light of Tradition,” and all will be well? Simply point out, as Fr. Anthony Cekada has done, that“the only ‘light’ in which we should ‘interpret’ the Vatican II documents should be that of a bonfire — in which we burn every single copy” (“Seminary High Schools after Vatican II”, Quidlibet, Aug. 9, 2007).
Vatican II and the Church’s Magisterium
Dovetailing neatly with his ideas about the “proper” interpretation of Vatican II, in all seriousness, Christopher Ferrara (right) claims that Vatican II contains “no doctrinal error,” only “ambiguities,” totally forgetting the fact that the Church’s infallibility prevents a council from teaching not only error but even ambiguities that favor or invite error (otherwise, the purpose of infallibility would be defeated almost as much). Ferrara’s position here, however, stands in direct contrast to that of the SSPX, which claims that Vatican II does very much contain error.
To dismiss what he believes to be an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, Ferrara uses the old standard appeals made to a few selective quotes here and thereby a supposed “Pope,” while totally disregarding the official words spoken at the council when the documents were officially, formally, and solemnly promulgated.
Ferrara keeps emphasizing that though the council was a disaster, it taught no heresy or error. By saying this, he thinks he is saving the dogmas of the infallibility and indefectibility of the Church, but forgets in the process that he is sacrificing the very purpose for which infallibility and indefectibility were instituted. He does not realize that the purpose for the Church’s infallibility in preventing the promulgation of error (not just heresy) is precisely to prevent such a disaster as we have seen in Vatican II. Therefore, as far as the outcome is concerned, Vatican II might as well have promulgated heresy (it did, actually, but not for Ferrara). What would be the difference, in terms of the effect, pray tell? There would simply be no point for the Church to be protected from teaching error if at the same time she weren’t also protected from offering doctrinal formulations so unclear or ambiguous that one cannot tell whether the Church is teaching truth or error.
In his article “Neo-Catholic Blues”, Ferrara engages in an exchange with Novus Ordo apologist Jeffrey Mirus (left). It is a glaring example of how neither the Novus Ordo position nor the Neo-Traditionalist position (i.e., the “resistance” position of non-sedevacantist Traditionalists) can hold any water: Mirus offers old principles to vindicate new teachings, whereas Ferrara, trying to salvage the old teachings, comes up with new principles. Mirus is right (for the most part) on the overarching principles; Ferrara is right on the teachings. The sedevacantist response is quick and easy: We must retain both the old principles as well as the old teachings, hence the Vatican II Church is a fraud.
One of Ferrara’s greatest errors—and one of his new principles—is his outrageous idea, often not stated openly but nevertheless implicit in his arguments, that a Catholic is only required to submit to magisterial teachings that come with the note of infallibility attached—as though lesser magisterial teachings could simply be dismissed at will by anyone who has a copy of Denzinger’s 1957 Enchiridion Symbolorum and “finds” something to be in “contradiction” with past teaching. Can Ferrara back up his claim from the Catholic Magisterium? Can he quote one theology manual to that effect? Of course not. Instead, to prove his point, he appeals to a theological commission of the Second Vatican Council (“Neo-Catholic Blues”)!
On the question of whether Vatican II’s teaching on religious liberty is to be considered infallible (for all those acknowledging Paul VI’s claim to be Pope), Ferrara makes another big blunder. Instead of quoting principles regarding the infallibility of the Church, found in theological manuals, Ferrara takes an a posteriori approach: He first examines the text and then sees whether or not he agrees with it, whether or not the text is reasonable, and only then he decides whether or not he thinks it is infallible. This is manifestly not the way a Catholic may approach the Church’s teaching authority.
In effect, what Ferrara is really saying is that Holy Mother Church can promulgate a load of socio-theological junk in her conciliar documents and then add a footnote or an addendum somewhere that says, “By the way, none of this is binding.” As though a mother could offer her children poison to drink and then add, “But you don’t have to drink it!” Such a ridiculous and impious idea is intolerable, but Ferrara must endorse it as the only way to justify both his “resistance” position and his idea that John XXIII through Benedict XVI have been real Popes of the Catholic Church. But by the time one has to sacrifice Catholic teaching in order to uphold a certain position, it is clear the position is wrong and must be given up.
Catholic principles remain the same from ecumenical council to ecumenical council – that’s precisely why they’re principles, not assumptions, facts, or conclusions. But his efforts to save traditional teaching come with an unacceptable trade-off: he must replace the Catholic principle of submission to everything an ecumenical council teaches on faith or morals with a sort of “let’s see if this makes sense first” approach. Imagine if you approached any other council this way; where would we be? In fact, that’s pretty much what the so-called “Old Catholics” did with the First Vatican Council and the teaching on papal infallibility; the result was heresy and schism.
We can draw a one-sentence conclusion from the Ferrara-Mirus exchange: It vindicates sedevacantism by demonstrating that neither the Novus Ordo nor the Neo-Traditionalist position is justifiable from Catholic teaching.
As part of its campaign for a “Great Restoration,” The Remnant has been trying hard to paint a utopian picture of a reconciled SSPX that, slowly but surely, will convert the Vatican and lead them to “restore Tradition” to the Church and either to abandon or “clarify” Vatican II. (Left, Benedict XVI shares a laugh with SSPX leader Bishop Bernard Fellay in 2005; seated between them is the then-head of the Ecclesia Dei commission, “Cardinal” Darío Castrillón Hoyos.) Such an idea is an affront to genuine Catholic ecclesiology, of which the SSPX “resistance” position has made a mockery, and which they implicitly reject. Contrast the Neo-Traditionalist stand with the authentic teaching of the Church, here articulated by a leading pre-Vatican II theologian:
The charism of infallibility was bestowed upon the Church [not upon the SSPX! –N.O.W.] so that she could piously safeguard and confidently explain the deposit of Christian revelation, and thus could be in all ages the teacher of Christian truth and of the Christian way of life.
It is evident from Christ’s promises that the magisterium, the teaching office of the Church, was endowed with infallibility so that she might be able to carry out her mission properly, that is, to safeguard reverently, explain confidently, and defend effectively the deposit of faith. But the realization of this purpose demands the extension of infallibility in related matters…. The security of the deposit requires the effective warding off or elimination of all error which may be opposed to it, even though only indirectly. This would be simply impossible without infallibility in the matters listed above [i.e., those matters which are so closely connected with the revealed deposit that revelation itself would be imperiled unless an absolutely certain decision could be made about them].
…The Church’s infallibility extends to the general discipline of the Church. This proposition is theologically certain. By the term ‘general discipline of the Church’ are meant those ecclesiastical laws passed for the universal Church for the direction of Christian worship and Christian living….
The imposing of commands belongs not directly to the teaching office but to the ruling office; disciplinary laws are only indirectly an object of infallibility, i.e., only by reason of the doctrinal decision implicit in them. When the Church’s rulers sanction a law, they implicitly make a twofold judgment: 1. ‘This law squares with the Church’s doctrine of faith and morals;’ that is, it imposes nothing that is at odds with sound belief and good morals. This amounts to a doctrinal decree….
1. From the purpose of infallibility. The Church was endowed with infallibility that it might safeguard the whole of Christ’s doctrine and be for all men a trustworthy teacher of the Christian way of life. But if the Church could make a mistake in the manner alleged when it legislated for the general discipline, it would no longer be either a loyal guardian of revealed doctrine or a trustworthy teacher of the Christian way of life. It would not be a guardian of revealed doctrine, for the imposition of a vicious law would be, for all practical purposes, tantamount to an erroneous definition of doctrine; everyone would naturally conclude that what the Church had commanded squared with sound doctrine. It would not be a teacher of the Christian way of life, for by its laws it would induce corruption into the practice of religious life.
2. From the official statement of the Church, which stigmatized as ‘at least erroneous’ the hypothesis ‘that the Church could establish discipline which would be dangerous, harmful, and conducive to superstition and materialism.’” [see Pope Pius VI, Bull Auctorem Fidei, Denz. 1578]…
The well-known axiom, Lex orandi est lex credendi (The law of prayer is the law of belief) is a special application of the doctrine of the Church’s infallibility in disciplinary matters. This axiom says in effect that formulae of prayer approved for public use in the universal Church cannot contain errors against faith or morals.
(Msgr. G. Van Noort, STD, Dogmatic Theology II: Christ’s Church [Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1957], pp. 111-116; online here.)
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, which every Catholic must accept. This is not a controverted position only held by this one theologian but the teaching of the Catholic Magisterium before Vatican II, which this theologian merely enunciates. And this very teaching is – at least implicitly – rejected by the SSPX and other “Resistance Traditionalists”. At one and the same time, we have here a refutation of both the SSPX and other kinds of “resistance” positions; but also an unmasking of the church in Rome as a false church, as something other than the Roman Catholic Church, as its doctrines and laws are manifestly at odds with previous Church teaching. It was no coincidence that many of the very Modernists under investigation by the Holy Office during the reign of Pope Pius XII became the rising stars of the Modernist revolution at Vatican II under John XXIII and Paul VI. In fact, had Pius XII lived to see the 1960s, Fr. John Courtney Murray, chief architect of Vatican II’s decree on religious liberty, Dignitatis Humanae, and Jacques Maritain, the philosophical mentor of Paul VI, would have been censured by the Holy Office, as their condemnation was already being prepared in the 1950’s and was preempted only by the Modernist takeover in 1958:
Although the atmosphere was soon to change, the Holy Office was still preparing an official condemnation of [John Courtney] Murray, Jacques Maritain and others [sic] Catholic thinkers. It was only the death of Pope Pius XII on October 8, 1958 that prevented this from happening.
(Rev. Robert Nugent, “The Censuring of John Courtney Murray”, Part 2, The Catholic World, vol. 242, no. 1445 [March/April 2008])
Catholic Principles Have Consequences: If Paul VI was Pope, Rejecting Vatican II is Not an Option
Regarding the question of accepting Vatican II, the indefatigable Chris Ferrara comments:
…the Society [of St. Pius X] has never said it does not recognize the Council. Indeed, its own founder participated in the Council and signed its documents, including its document on the Jewish people, Nostra Aetate. Never did Archbishop Lefebvre say that the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council is not to be recognized as such. Nor does the Society say that today. Rather, to quote Bishop Fellay’s statement on the subject in the very letter to the Vatican that immediately preceded annulment of the excommunications, the Society’s adherents “express some reservations” about the Council.
(Ferrara, “Neo-Catholic Sour Grapes”, The Remnant, Jan. 31, 2009)
Here Ferrara, who, again, is a lawyer by profession, is merely playing semantic games with the word “recognize.” Perhaps Ferrara could show us a Catholic theology manual that allows Roman Catholics to “recognize” ecumenical councils of the Church without at the same time accepting them and submitting to everything they teach? Since when are Catholics allowed to “express some reservations” about ecumenical councils? And who gets to decide which “reservations” are acceptable and which aren’t? Just substitute “Council of Trent” for “Second Vatican Council” in the quoted paragraph above and see how absurd it becomes.
Ferrara continues his line of argumentation: “Well, at this point who doesn’t express some reservations about the Council?” Yes, in all seriousness, this is his defense: Instead of appealing to Catholic teaching regarding ecumenical councils (which, obviously, he cannot do), he resorts to using the “everybody does it” fallacy.
It is important always to remember when reading Ferrara that the man is a lawyer—and argues like one. His job is to defend his client, his position—and he will do that using whatever arguments seem good to him to persuade the reader. But one thing is certain: This is the Holy Catholic Church’s darkest hour, and the last thing we need is “theological shysterism” to defend a position that contradicts Catholic teaching and continues to recognize the false Modernist hierarchy, thus empowering them to continue the deception even after 50 years.
If anything, the fact that there is so much confusion and criticism about the Second Vatican Council, including by Fr. Ratzinger himself, should tell us that the whole council isa joke and not a genuine ecumenical council of the Catholic Church at all. And as far as “recognizing” and “accepting” councils goes, for those who believe Paul VI to have been a true Pope, the real question is not one of infallibility per se — since Catholics are obliged to submit to all magisterial teachings, not just those that are infallible — but one of authority. Were the documents of Vatican II promulgated with authority (supposing, for a moment, that Paul VI was Pope and had that authority), and do they thus command our obedience? The answer is a clear yes. In fact, each and every decree at Vatican II ended with the following words:
Each and all these items which are set forth in this dogmatic Constitution have met with the approval of the Council Fathers. And We by the apostolic power given Us by Christ together with the Venerable Fathers in the Holy Spirit, approve, decree and establish it and command that what has thus been decided in the Council be promulgated for the glory of God.
(Second Vatican Council, “Dogmatic Constitution” Lumen Gentium, Nov. 21, 1964; underlining added.)
Though the Vatican web site does not show this formula on every single Vatican II document (very much, however, for Unitatis Redintegratio, the decree on ecumenism, Lumen Gentium, the “dogmatic constitution” on the Church, and Orientalium Ecclesiarum on the Eastern churches), it is nevertheless a part of every Vatican II document, as Fr. Austin Flannery explains in his book on the council: “Each council document ends in the following fashion [as quoted]… To save space, the above have been omitted from this volume…” (Austin Flannery, O.P., Vatican Council II, Vol. 1: The Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents, new rev. ed., [Northport, NY: Costello, 1996], p. xx). A scan of this page in the Flannery book can be seen here.
It is simply a matter of fact that those who recognize — pardon, accept — Paul VI’s claim to be the Pope of the Catholic Church must also agree that all those documents at Vatican II that he promulgated have been “approved, decreed, and established” by the authority given us by Christ and have been “promulgated for the glory of God”! Can anyone take such a claim seriously? Does Ferrara believe this? Is he really comfortable maintaining that what has been “decreed”, “established” and “promulgated for the glory of God” by the Vicar of Christ, is, as he calls it, a “hopeless muddle of ambiguity” (The Great Facade, p. 308)?
Clearly, there is no middle ground: Either Vatican II was the work of the Holy Ghost, or Paul VI was an impostor. The former is blasphemy; the latter is an acceptable—even if not always easy—conclusion.
A very good essay explaining the authority of the Magisterium in matters of non-infallible teachings is Mgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton’s “The Doctrinal Authority of Papal Encyclicals”, originally published in the August 1949 edition of the American Ecclesiastical Review. Spoiler Alert: You won’t find Ferrara’s or the SSPX’s positions vindicated there. Yet, if the New Church of Vatican II is essentially still the same as the Church of Pope Pius XII and the Popes before him, then the same principles must still apply today and across the board.
The Neo-Traditionalists need to put their money where their mouth is: If they insist that Benedict is the Pope and that his church is the Bride of Christ, then they must allow everything that the Catholic Church has traditionally taught about the Papacy and the Church to determine their submission, and they must quit playing their silly game of being the Church’s theological baby-sitter.
A further essay of great importance regarding this matter of a Catholic’s obligation to submit to all magisterial teachings, whether infallible or not, is “Must I Believe It?” by Canon George Smith. Canon Smith beautifully explains the origin of our duty to submit to teachings that are not infallible:
Turning now to the Church, . . . we are confronted by an institution to which Christ, the Word Incarnate, has entrusted the office of teaching all men: “Going therefore teach ye all nations…teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Herein lies the source of the obligation to believe what the Church teaches. The Church possesses the divine commission to teach, and hence there arises in the faithful a moral obligation to believe, which is founded ultimately, not upon the infallibility of the Church, but upon God’s sovereign right to the submission and intellectual allegiance (rationabile obsequium) of His creatures: “He that believeth…shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” It is the God-given right of the Church to teach, and therefore it is the bounden duty of the faithful to believe.
(Right Rev. George Smith, “Must I Believe It?”, The Clergy Review 9 [April, 1935], pp. 296-309)
Continuing with his idea that a Catholic can reject or criticize certain parts of an ecumenical council, Ferrara makes a big deal of the fact that Ratzinger himself has been critical of certain parts of Vatican II:
Those expressing reservations even include the current Pope himself, whose criticism of Gaudium et spes as Cardinal Ratzinger is widely known. In fact, the theologian Tracey Rowland, Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne, has devoted an entire chapter of her new book to a discussion of Cardinal Ratzinger’s critique of Gaudium et spes, including his view that it presents a “colorless doctrine of freedom” based upon “an unhistorical reading of Scripture but also an unhistorical and therefore unreal view of man,” which “cannot therefore stand up to theological or philosophical criticism.” The Cardinal even declared that when Gaudium et spes speaks of human freedom, it “falls into ‘downright Pelagian terminology’…” It would appear that, as Father Jonathan would have it, even the Pope has some homecoming to do.
Thinking that it bolsters his case, Ferrara hammers this point home. Apparently he has forgotten that critiquing a council is nothing special for Ratzinger; he does the same with the Council of Trent and Vatican I, for example, even if indirectly. At the beginning of this article, we already saw Ratzinger rejecting Vatican I’s dogma of papal jurisdictional primacy. Let us look at this quote again, this time emphasizing not so much the denial of the dogma itself as the critique of the council that is concomitant with it:
Certainly, no one who claims allegiance to Catholic theology can simply declare the doctrine of primacy null and void, especially not if he seeks to understand the objections and evaluates with an open mind the relative weight of what can be determined historically. Nor is it possible, on the other hand, for him to regard as the only possible form and, consequently, as binding on all Christians the form this primacy has taken in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The symbolic gestures of Pope Paul VI and, in particular, his kneeling before the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch [the schismatic Patriarch Athenagoras] were an attempt to express precisely this and, by such signs, to point the way out of the historical impasse.
Rome must not require more from the East with respect to the doctrine of primacy than had been formulated and was lived in the first millennium. When the [schismatic] Patriarch Athenagoras, on July 25, 1967, on the occasion of the Pope’s visit to Phanar, designated him as the successor of St. Peter, as the most esteemed among us, as one who presides in charity, this great Church leader was expressing the essential content of the doctrine of primacy as it was known in the first millennium. Rome need not ask for more.
[I]t would be worth our while to consider whether this archaic confession, which has nothing to do with the “primacy of jurisdiction” but confesses a primacy of “honor” … and agape [love], might not be recognized as a formula that adequately reflects the position Rome occupies in the Church. . . .
(Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1987], pp. 198, 199, 217)
Here we see Fr. Ratzinger throwing the First Vatican Council out the window, and in doing so, he simply follows “Pope” Paul VI, who did the same thing. Will Chris Ferrara join Ratzinger and Montini in rejecting Vatican I? Would he at least find it acceptable to have “reservations” regarding anything Vatican I teaches? Of course not.
What Ferrara has done, in effect, is used Ratzinger’s authority to help justify his own criticism or rejection of Vatican II, when he in truth rejects this very authority (of Ratzinger) when it comes to criticizing any other council. In other words, Ferrara appeals to Ratzinger’s authority when it helps his case, while rejecting it as “non-infallible” or “non-binding” whenever Ratzinger’s utterances contradict his position. This is not a fair or balanced way to argue anything of importance. In fact, it is dishonest.
To sum up, the “Pelagian terminology” canard is not going to help the “Resistance Traditionalists” either, as for Ratzinger this is simply one more criticism of one more council. Who cares? What seems to have been forgotten here is a very fundamental principle regarding the interpretation of texts: A text must be interpreted according to the mind of the person who wrote it. Bp. Donald Sanborn makes this point in a recent article:
Does Bishop Fellay hope to put a band-aid on these documents in the form of some benign interpretation? First let us define interpretation: it is not spin. It is not to place upon the words of Vatican II a meaning which was not intended by the Fathers of Vatican II. It is, instead, to discover the meaning which was in the minds of the framers of these documents. Similarly, when we interpret Sacred Scripture, we are striving to discover the meaning of the sacred writer, but never to twist his meaning into something that fits our fancy….
Does Bishop Fellay really think that Ratzinger is going to say that the decree on ecumenism really means that the Roman Catholic Church is the one, true Church, outside of which there is no salvation, and that all non-Catholic religions are false sects, and that ecumenism really means that all who are in these false sects must abjure their errors before God, and become Roman Catholics in order to be saved?
(Most Rev. Donald Sanborn, “Here Comes the Bride: The Music Starts Again for the SSPX”, pp. 6-7, March, 2009)
So, in the case of Vatican II, what matters not is what sort of hermeneutical key the Modernists may have dreamed up to get the SSPX into their fold, but how Paul VI understood the documents when he promulgated them. And considering what he did after the council (for example, his kneeling before the schismatic Patriarch Athenagoras, as seen above), we know that what he had in mind was not orthodox but heretical.
But what does the Vatican II Church itself say about Vatican II and new teachings? A good place to start is John Paul II’s “Apostolic Constitution” promulgating the new “Code of Canon Law” in 1983:
The instrument, which the Code is, fully corresponds to the nature of the Church, especially as it is proposed by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in general, and in a particular way by its ecclesiological teaching. Indeed, in a certain sense, this new Code could be understood as a great effort to translate this same doctrine, that is, the conciliar ecclesiology, into canonical language. If, however, it is impossible to translate perfectly into canonical language the conciliar image of the Church, nevertheless, in this image there should always be found as far as possible its essential point of reference.
From this there are derived certain fundamental criteria which should govern the entire new Code, both in the sphere of its specific matter and also in the language connected with it. It could indeed be said that from this there is derived that character of complementarily which the Code presents in relation to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, with particular reference to the two constitutions, the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium and the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes.
Hence it follows that what constitutes the substantial “novelty” of the Second Vatican Council, in line with the legislative tradition of the Church, especially in regard to ecclesiology, constitutes likewise the “novelty” of the new Code.
(Antipope John Paul II, “Apostolic Constitution” Sacrae Disciplinae Leges, Jan. 25, 1983; underlining added.)
These lines speak for themselves. The very reason why a new code of canon law was promulgated is because the novel teachings — not just novel language, Mr. Ferrara! — of Vatican II needed to be reflected in the body of laws governing the Novus Ordo Church. Duh! And note that these words come from the Chief Modernist of the Vatican II sect himself, not spoken to a buddy over a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, but promulgated in what purports to be an Apostolic Constitution of the Catholic Church. That’s why the language of promulgation is rather solemn:
Trusting therefore in the help of divine grace, sustained by the authority of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, with certain knowledge, and in response to the wishes of the bishops of the whole world who have collaborated with me in a collegial spirit; with the supreme authority with which I am vested, by means of this Constitution, to be valid forever in the future, I promulgate the present Code as it has been set in order and revised. I command that for the future it is to have the force of law for the whole Latin Church, and I entrust it to the watchful care of all those concerned, in order that it may be observed.
(John Paul II, Sacrae Disciplinae Leges; underlining added.)
What more needs to be said?
Still not convinced that there were new doctrines in Vatican II? The same John Paul II had more to say on this topic. In the “Apostolic Letter” motu proprio Ecclesia Dei of July 2, 1988, regarding the excommunication of the SSPX bishops, John Paul II said:
Indeed, the extent and depth of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council call for a renewed commitment to deeper study in order to reveal clearly the Council’s continuity with Tradition, especially in points of doctrine which, perhaps because they are new, have not yet been well understood by some sections of the Church.
(John Paul II, “Apostolic Letter” Ecclesia Dei, n. 5b; underlining added.)
Ah, yes, there are “points of doctrine” that “are new”! Excuse me, but John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla, is someone who would know. Those who hold Benedict XVI’s views on this subject to be authoritative must likewise, then, regard those of John Paul II as equally authoritative and recognize that John Paul II saw those novelties not as destructive but as an essential part of the fabric of the Novus Ordo Church.
Bottom line: If John Paul II was Pope, this is what goes. It doesn’t matter if some lawyer from New Jersey objects or insists that somehow Benedict XVI’s interpretation is to be preferred to John Paul II’s, simply because it seems to better fit his lawyerly line of argumentation. Vatican II taught new doctrines, something confirmed by the highest authority in the New Church, and we have seen the practical impact of these new teachings in the disciplinary life of the New Church for the last 45 years. The new doctrines, after all, are precisely the reason why the disciplinary laws were changed — to match the new teachings.
So, let no one who recognizes the Vatican II to be a true council of the Catholic Church blame it all on the “spirit” of the council, for whence does the spirit of the council originate, if not from the letter?
The “Resisters” and the “New Ecclesiology”
Let us return to Ferrara’s article “Neo-Catholic Sour Grapes.” He writes:
According to EWTN the Pope’s decision has not brought the Society “into communion” with the Church, but “those talks are expected to continue.” Clearly Catholic, not excommunicated, yet still not “in communion” with the Church. What must a poor traditionalist do these days to possess that elusive quality of “ecclesial communion”?
…Liberal Catholics and neo-Catholics alike will never admit that the Society is “in communion” with them until the Society becomes as they are. When the French bishops say that the Society’s acceptance of Vatican II is non-negotiable, when “Father Jonathan” says that the Society must “come home,” when Lawler says that the “process of reconciliation is far from complete,” when EWTN says that the Society is still not “in communion” pending further talks, they are all using a cipher for what they all more or less mean to say: that the Society, along with every other traditionalist, must accept the liberalization of the Catholic Church as permanent and irreversible.
But they are wrong, as every major decision of this Pope makes clearer. In less than forty years from its inception, the Novus Ordo has collapsed in a heap of scandal and liturgical decrepitude; it has no priests to replace the ones that are aging and dying. The Pope knows the Church’s future lies in the recovery of her past, so recently abandoned, and the Holy Ghost is bringing about what He will after forty years of immense folly in the Church. So let us have no more nonsense about “communion” and “reconciliation” from the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks of the post-conciliar revolution. The Society of Saint Pius X is home, and in fact it never left home. There has only been a great deal of confusion in the rest of the household of the Faith.
Apparently The Remnant has not yet understood that, since Vatican II, there is a new ecclesiology being taught and believed in Rome and the entire Novus Ordo Church. It is, in fact, one of the new doctrines Ferrara refuses to admit exist. Sedevacantist writer Fr. Anthony Cekada, a former member of the SSPX, has aptly termed it “Frankenchurch,” inasmuch as it posits
a ‘People of God’ and a ‘Church of Christ’ not identical with the Roman Catholic Church and broader than it — a Frankenchurch created from ‘elements’ of the true Church that are possessed either ‘fully’ (by Catholics) or ‘partially’ (by heretics and schismatics).
(Rev. Anthony Cekada, “Resisting the Pope, Sedevacantism and Frankenchurch”)
That’s right: Gone are the days of one either being in communion or outside of communion. Now one can be in communion “partially” or “fully”, and that goes for the SSPX now as well. “Welcome – partially, that is!” Ferrara blames this position simply on liberals. Unfortunately for Mr. Ferrara, the liberals he is chastising for still not admitting that the SSPX is in (full) communion with Rome have a giant backing them up: their fellow-liberal Benedict XVI.
Yes, the “Holy Father” said the following in his Wednesday audience on January 28, 2009, three days before Ferrara posted his article:
Precisely in fulfillment of this service to unity, which qualifies my ministry as Successor to Peter in a specific way, I decided several days ago to grant the remission of the excommunication to which the four Bishops, ordained in 1988 by Archbishop Lefebvre without a Papal mandate, were subject. I fulfilled this act of paternal compassion because these Bishops repeatedly manifested their active suffering for the situation in which they had found themselves. I hope that this gesture of mine will be followed by an earnest commitment on their behalf to complete the necessary further steps to achieve full communion with the Church, thus witnessing true fidelity to, and true recognition of, the Magisterium and the authority of the Pope and the Second Vatican Council.
(Benedict XVI, General Audience, Jan. 28, 2009; underlining added.)
That’s right, Mr. Ferrara: “Further steps” are still necessary for the SSPX to “achieve full communion” with the Modernist Church, involving the “true recognition” of the “Second Vatican Council.” Thus saith the “Great Restorer of Tradition,” Benedict XVI. And just following these words, Benedict concludes with a bombshell, further reinforcing his reputation as the Great Friend and Restorer of Orthodox Catholic Doctrine: “May the Shoah teach both old and new generations that only the arduous path of listening and dialogue, of love and forgiveness leads peoples, cultures and religions of the world to the desired goal of fraternity and peace in truth. May violence no longer degrade the dignity of man!” No comments should be necessary, but it is hard to resist the temptation to quote Pope St. Pius X condemning the French Sillonist movement:
True, Jesus has loved us with an immense, infinite love, and He came on earth to suffer and die so that, gathered around Him in justice and love, motivated by the same sentiments of mutual charity, all men might live in peace and happiness. But for the realization of this temporal and eternal happiness, He has laid down with supreme authority the condition that we must belong to His Flock, that we must accept His doctrine, that we must practice virtue, and that we must accept the teaching and guidance of Peter and his successors.
(Pope St. Pius X, Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique, Aug. 15, 1910)
Pope Pius XI himself also taught rather un-ecumenically what the real means of achieving peace is: “When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony” (Encyclical Quas Primas, n. 19).
Only a deceiver or a madman could see a “Restoration of Tradition” here.
Egg Meets Face: The Real Benedict
Sometimes Benedict XVI does great favors to the sedevacantists. One recent such favor came from a letter he sent to his Novus Ordo bishops regarding the lifting of the 1988 “excommunications” against the SSPX bishops. In this letter, he makes clear what his objective is in reconciling with the SSPX, and this letter is so explicit that those who defend Benedict as the “Great Restorer of Tradition” now have an enormous amount of egg on their face — “Eggs Benedict”, one might say. Ratzinger’s bluntness is remarkable (bold print has been added for emphasis):
The discreet gesture of mercy towards four Bishops ordained validly but not legitimately suddenly appeared as something completely different: as the repudiation of reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and thus as the reversal of what the Council had laid down in this regard to guide the Church’s path. A gesture of reconciliation with an ecclesial group engaged in a process of separation thus turned into its very antithesis: an apparent step backwards with regard to all the steps of reconciliation between Christians and Jews taken since the Council – steps which my own work as a theologian had sought from the beginning to take part in and support.
The remission of the excommunication has the same aim as that of the punishment: namely, to invite the four Bishops once more to return. This gesture was possible once the interested parties had expressed their recognition in principle of the Pope and his authority as Pastor, albeit with some reservations in the area of obedience to his doctrinal authority and to the authority of the Council.
Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time. A logical consequence of this is that we must have at heart the unity of all believers. Their disunity, their disagreement among themselves, calls into question the credibility of their talk of God. Hence the effort to promote a common witness by Christians to their faith – ecumenism – is part of the supreme priority. Added to this is the need for all those who believe in God to join in seeking peace, to attempt to draw closer to one another, and to journey together, even with their differing images of God, towards the source of Light – this is interreligious dialogue.
But I ask now: Was it, and is it, truly wrong in this case to meet half-way the brother who “has something against you” (cf. Mt 5:23ff.) and to seek reconciliation? Should not civil society also try to forestall forms of extremism and to incorporate their eventual adherents – to the extent possible – in the great currents shaping social life, and thus avoid their being segregated, with all its consequences? Can it be completely mistaken to work to break down obstinacy and narrowness, and to make space for what is positive and retrievable for the whole? I myself saw, in the years after 1988, how the return of communities which had been separated from Rome changed their interior attitudes; I saw how returning to the bigger and broader Church enabled them to move beyond one-sided positions and broke down rigidity so that positive energies could emerge for the whole.
Certainly, for some time now, and once again on this specific occasion, we have heard from some representatives of that community many unpleasant things – arrogance and presumptuousness, an obsession with one-sided positions, etc. Yet to tell the truth, I must add that I have also received a number of touching testimonials of gratitude which clearly showed an openness of heart. But should not the great Church also allow herself to be generous in the knowledge of her great breadth, in the knowledge of the promise made to her?
There we have it: The plan is to integrate the SSPX as a matter of “unity in diversity,” just as predicted by Novus Ordo Watch shortly after Fr. Ratzinger’s election:
(2) As time goes on, Benedict XVI will bend over backwards to appear conservative, even traditional; he will do everything in his power to reconcile with and fully regularize the Society of St. Pius X and similar traditionalist groups. He will allow all Novus Ordo priests to say the traditional Mass and perhaps even command that the traditional Mass be said on a regular basis in every Novus Ordo parish. (This reintroduction of the traditional Mass in regular parish life will be absolutely essential.) He will lure good-willed but confused and battle-weary traditionalists by letting them voice their concerns concerning Vatican II and the New Mass and fully accept their reservations concerning these. He may even reform the New Mass into a more conservative liturgy. He will say that it is time to come to the aid and comfort of the one faction in the Church still marginalized and neglected for so long, namely, the traditionalists. He will pretend to have an open mind and heart for them and do everything in his power to regularize their status, with the ultimate goal of having all traditionalists be part of the New Church, under the tacit banner, however, of “unity in diversity.”
(5) Benedict XVI will be very successful in this endeavor. He will be successful mainly because many traditionalists are tired of fighting. They are worn out from the battle. They will welcome the illusion of a “traditional Pope” who will finally “restore the Church.” Benedict will take advantage of this unique moment.
(6) But all of this will be facade. It will serve only one purpose: to lure the faithful Catholic remnant into the New Church and invalidate the last valid Latin-rite sacraments, all while the last Catholic bishops are dying. This tactic will reveal itself as extremely cunning and successful, for there is no better way to destroy traditionalism than by apparently acceding to its every demand. Thus they will succeed in deceiving everybody, except for the elect, which is impossible (see Matthew 24:24). The few faithful Catholic souls who will then still have refused to join the New Church will be easy to deal with, for their number will be small. They will be marginalized, ostracized, and persecuted in ways without precedent. They will be derogated as “extreme right-wing lunatics” and “rabid fundamentalists” who are “very uncharitable” and “can never be pleased.” They will be denounced as enemies of the Catholic Church, even though they are but the enemies of the New Vatican II Church. They will be put on a par with the followers of the David Koresh cult. They will be denounced as leftovers from the Inquisition and witch-burning times. They will be denounced as antisemitic. Quite possibly, even publications formerly known as traditionalist will join in the bashing. Once this has succeeded, everything will be in place; the last stage of the Great Persecution of the Holy Catholic Church will have begun.
(Novus Ordo Watch, “What to Expect of ‘Pope’ Benedict XVI”, May 20, 2005)
It is sad and frightening to see such a prediction come true before our very eyes. At least, there is now no more doubt that what Ferrara earlier this year mocked as unfounded conspiracy mongering is indeed the intention of Benedict XVI: to lead the SSPX back into the New Church, under the banner of “unity in diversity,” to neutralize its resistance and synthesize its “one-sided positions” so that the “Pilgrim Church” can continue to walk, together with “all believers,” straight to hell. OK, so he didn’t say “straight to hell,” but our Faith tells us that this is where it is leading.
Meanwhile, Ferrara has commented on Benedict’s letter. Instead of recognizing it for the monumental manifesto of Modernism and Hegelianism that it is, Ferrara claims that the “Pope Stands with Traditionalists” (see “Pope Stands With Traditionalists”, The Remnant, Mar. 15, 2009). Instead of objectively and reasonably dealing with Benedict’s apostasy manifested in the letter, Ferrara simply pushes it aside as “de rigueur nods to ‘ecumenism’ and ‘interreligious dialogue,’ ill-defined pastoral initiatives which have gone nowhere and produced nothing but confusion and inertia.” He then goes on to assure all Traditionalists—on his own “authority,” of course—that “Catholics remain free to express their objections to these novel concepts, whatever they mean, and the novel practices adopted in pursuit of them.”
Yes, you read that right: “Whatever they mean.” Yes, in all seriousness, Ferrara, who has now become Benedict’s de facto defense lawyer, wants to make you the “jury” believe that we don’t really know what ecumenism and interreligious dialogue mean, which he downplays as merely “ill-defined pastoral initiatives” that in no wise contradict our Faith. Well, excuse me, Mr. Ferrara, but Benedict XVI just defined them in his letter:
Hence the effort to promote a common witness by Christians to their faith – ecumenism – is part of the supreme priority. Added to this is the need for all those who believe in God to join in seeking peace, to attempt to draw closer to one another, and to journey together, even with their differing images of God, towards the source of Light – this is interreligious dialogue.
That’s what they mean. Yes, these are “pastoral initiatives,” indeed, but ones that are founded upon and imply all sorts of serious theological errors, including heresies. Precisely what sort of errors and heresies are included, the Vatican itself has amply demonstrated since Vatican II. The absolute highlights of the apostasy of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue were probably the Assisi Interfaith Prayer for Peace gatherings in 1986 and 2002, called and led by John Paul II, Master Apostate of the Vatican II religion, who is scheduled to be “beatified” — that is, declared “Blessed” — on April 2, 2010, by none other than the “Great Restorer of Tradition,” Benedict XVI — if Mrs. Poltawska doesn’t mess it up for him, that is.
So, if there ever is any verbal confusion about what “ecumenism” and “interreligious dialogue” mean, we need only look at what the Vatican II “Popes” have done in their name. Whenever people’s words are unclear, we look at their actions to understand what it is that they mean. This common principle is even admitted by Ferrara, at least when it helps the case he’s arguing: “… the Pope is showing by his deeds what the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ means” (“Neo-Catholic Blues”).
Ah, so if that is the case, then the “Pope” is also “showing by his deeds” what ecumenism and interreligious dialogue mean. Unfortunately for the Remnant crowd, it all isn’t very pretty. While a lawyer may quickly dismiss the ugly truth as “de rigueur” — meaning “required by etiquette” —, responsible Catholics refuse to be hoodwinked by such lawyerly tricks, recognizing full well that apostasy is apostasy, and it cannot simply be swept under the rug by means of a silly appeal to “etiquette.” What would the early Christian martyrs say to this? They refused to give even the appearance of burning even one grain of incense to a pagan deity, and had to pay the ultimate price for it. Had they not done so, would Ferrara have volunteered to be their defense counsel before Almighty God, dismissing a mortal sin of idolatry as “de rigueur nods” to a false god?
Ecumenism, we recall, already existed before John XXIII and his ominous council, but Pope Pius XII strongly condemned it, not, as Ferrara tries to do now, simply as a “neologism” whose meaning escapes everyone, but as a movement that thrives upon and disseminates noxious and dangerous doctrinal errors:
However, some of the initiatives that have hitherto been taken by various individuals or groups, with the aim of reconciling dissident Christians to the Catholic Church, although inspired by the best of intentions, are not always based on right principles, or if they are, yet they are not free from special dangers, as experience too has already shown.
For care must be taken lest, in the so-called “irenic” spirit of today, through comparative study and the vain desire for a progressively closer mutual approach among the various professions of faith, Catholic doctrine—either in its dogmas or in the truths which are connected with them—be so conformed or in a way adapted to the doctrines of dissident sects, that the purity of Catholic doctrine be impaired, or its genuine and certain meaning be obscured.
Therefore the whole and entire Catholic doctrine is to be presented and explained: by no means is it permitted to pass over in silence or to veil in ambiguous terms the Catholic truth regarding the nature and way of justification, the constitution of the Church, the primacy of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, and the only true union by the return of the dissidents to the one true Church of Christ. It should be made clear to them that, in returning to the Church, they will lose nothing of that good which by the grace of God has hitherto been implanted in them, but that it will rather be supplemented and completed by their return. However, one should not speak of this in such a way that they will imagine that in returning to the Church they are bringing to it something substantial which it has hitherto lacked. It will be necessary to say these things clearly and openly, first because it is the truth that they themselves are seeking, and moreover because outside the truth no true union can ever be attained.
(Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, Instruction De Motione Oecumenica, Dec. 20, 1949)
It is noteworthy that Benedict XVI in his recent letter to his Novus Ordo bishops, repeats precisely the error condemned in Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Mortalium Animos. Benedict says: “…we must have at heart the unity of all believers. Their disunity, their disagreement among themselves, calls into question the credibility of their talk of God.” Pope Pius XI, to the contrary, warned Catholics precisely against people who say such things:
All Christians, they add, should be as “one”: for then they would be much more powerful in driving out the pest of irreligion, which like a serpent daily creeps further and becomes more widely spread, and prepares to rob the Gospel of its strength. These things and others that class of men who are known as pan-Christians continually repeat and amplify; and these men, so far from being quite few and scattered, have increased to the dimensions of an entire class, and have grouped themselves into widely spread societies, most of which are directed by non-Catholics, although they are imbued with varying doctrines concerning the things of faith. This undertaking is so actively promoted as in many places to win for itself the adhesion of a number of citizens, and it even takes possession of the minds of very many Catholics and allures them with the hope of bringing about such a union as would be agreeable to the desires of Holy Mother Church, who has indeed nothing more at heart than to recall her erring sons and to lead them back to her bosom. But in reality beneath these enticing words and blandishments lies hid a most grave error, by which the foundations of the Catholic faith are completely destroyed.
(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Mortalium Animos, n. 4)
Note the final sentence. The Pope makes clear that underlying the ecumenical program is a “most grave error”—doctrinal error, we might add—that serves to destroy entirely the very foundations (!) of Catholicism. No, Mr. Ferrara, such grave errors are not simply dismissed as “neologisms” about whose meaning we have no idea.
The problem is that Ferrara simply cannot get the lawyer out of himself. He has firmly put into his mind the idea that this now is—or must be—the “Great Restoration of Tradition,” and whatever does not fit through this stencil he has created, must be minimized, neutralized, ridiculed, belittled, or ignored altogether. But this is no way to fight in the battle for the Church. At the very outset there must be a calm and objective acceptance of the facts. One thing is for certain: You won’t get it from The Remnant.
Benedict XVI’s letter is another great example of a man who has a Hegelian mind, a mind, that is, in which contradictions (thesis vs. antithesis) are not a problem but in fact lead to a “higher level of truth” (synthesis). And so Benedict XVI produces both orthodox and heterodox statements, on and off, just as St. Pius X warned us the Modernists do:
In their writings and addresses they seem not infrequently to advocate doctrines which are contrary one to the other, so that one would be disposed to regard their attitude as double and doubtful. But this is done deliberately and advisedly, and the reason of it is to be found in their opinion as to the mutual separation of science and faith. Thus in their books one finds some things which might well be approved by a Catholic, but on turning over the page one is confronted by other things which might well have been dictated by a rationalist.
(Pope St. Pius X, Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, n. 18)
So, for example, we see the “Great Restorer of Tradition,” just after lifting the “excommunications” against the SSPX bishops, announce: “I have received with joy the news of the election of Metropolitan Kirill as the new Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. I invoke the light of the Holy Spirit upon him for a generous service to the Russian Orthodox Church, entrusting him to the special protection of the Mother of God” (Benedict XVI, General Audience, Jan. 28, 2009).
Yes, the “Pope” in Rome invokes the Holy Ghost upon the leader of a false religion, not that he would convert to the true Church and be saved, but rather for a “generous service” to that very false religion, further ensnaring souls in error and thus keeping them on the path to damnation. And to this evil end he dares entrust him to the “special protection” of the Blessed Virgin Mary! What blasphemy! It is a miracle that the Holy Ghost did not strike him dead on the spot for uttering such appalling wickedness!
Likewise, back in 2005, Benedict uttered the staggering blasphemy that the Christian martyrs died, not for the one and only true Faith, but for the Masonic doctrine of religious liberty! “The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one’s own faith” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, Dec. 22, 2005).
But see how sneaky Benedict is. He does concede that the martyrs “died for their faith” but then he subtly changes how the Church has always taught and understood this, and adds that because of this, they died for religious liberty, because, so Benedict falsely claims, the God they died for is the god of religious liberty! How abominable! What an incredibly devilish way of taking a historical truth and neutralizing it, making the glorious martyrs of the only true Faith into servants of the Masonic god of religious liberty!
But, fear not, everyone, for the Remnant crowd tells you that you are seeing unfold before your very eyes the “Great Restoration of the Church” — with Fr. Ratzinger directing the renovation himself.
True and False Restoration: Refinishing the Great Facade
There is no doubt that Our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will restore His Church when He so pleases. His Holy Catholic Church, mystically entombed since the false election of John XXIII in 1958, will rise again gloriously, condemning the false church of Vatican II and all the impostor “Popes” and clergy masquerading as Catholic authorities. A true Pope will once again ascend to the Throne of St. Peter, and the world will marvel at the mystical resurrection of the Bride of Christ. True Catholic doctrine will flourish, the bogus “Second Vatican Council” will be condemned and its adherents anathematized, and the New Mass will be outlawed. Perhaps, indeed, the First Vatican Council of 1870, which merely adjourned but was never closed, will be continued, condemning all the errors of the 20th and 21st centuries, thus vindicating Catholic truth, which will once again radiate throughout the globe.
What The Remnant, on the other hand, is promoting, is but a sad and sorry mockery of the Church’s True Restoration, which treats the Church as a merely human institution. Ignoring or minimizing the truth about Fr. Ratzinger, who has one foot in a mosque and another in a synagogue, we are made to believe that the Novus Ordo Church can be transformed into the Catholic Church, because now the man they formerly decried as “the most industrious ecclesial termite of the post-conciliar epoch” (Ferrara, “Ratzinger Personally Consecrates Neo-Modernist Bishop”, The Remnant, Feb. 2005) has decided to add some more incense and put on some traditional vestments, and, voila, the “Great Restoration” has begun!
Perhaps the Neo-Traditionalists are not aware, but the “restoration” theme is not new for Fr. Ratzinger. Back in 1985, when asked about whether the (Novus Ordo) Church hierarchy intended to set in motion a sort of “restoration” that would allow us to return to the “authentic” understanding of Vatican II, Ratzinger replied as follows:
If by “restoration” is meant a turning back, no restoration of such kind is possible. The Church moves forward toward the consummation of history, she looks ahead to the Lord who is coming. No, there is no going back, nor is it possible to go back. Hence there is no “restoration” whatsoever in this sense. But if by restoration we understand the search for a new balance after all the exaggerations of an indiscriminate opening to the world, after the overly positive interpretations of an agnostic and atheistic world, well, then a restoration understood in this sense (a newly found balance of orientations and values within the Catholic totality) is altogether desirable and, for that matter, is already in operation in the Church.
(Vittorio Messori, ed., The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1985], pp. 37-38); italics in original.)
What a clear and frank admission that as far as any “restoration” promoted by Ratzinger is concerned, it’s definitely not the kind of restoration any Traditionalist in the New Church would like to see, but just a sort of “search for a new balance” between Catholicism and Modernism, between Christ and the devil — in other words, they’re buying a little more incense to make the fog of Vatican II thicker. And fear not, for this veritable “restoration” has already been “in operation” since at least 1985.
Memo to The Remnant: “You missed it! The overture to the ‘Great Restoration’ began somewhere between John Paul II’s visit to the synagogue in Rome and the bare-breasted woman reading the Epistle at the ‘papal Mass’ in Papua New Guinea. You should have been reading Ratzinger instead of Denzinger!”
So, this whole “restoration” business is nothing new. Do not be deceived. Ratzinger today is still the same sly old fox he’s always been; nothing has changed.
But Our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ warned us about the dire times to come:
For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him. For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you, beforehand. If therefore they shall say to you: Behold he is in the desert, go ye not out: Behold he is in the closets, believe it not. For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even into the west: so shall the coming of the Son of man be.
Perhaps we can use these words and understand in them, likewise, the coming true Restoration of the Church: It will be glorious and apparent to all, not needing anyone to point it out. It will be a genuine vindication of the True Faith and the True Church, not an admixture of truth with error, an unholy and impossible communion of Christ with anti-Christ.
So be on your guard, for there will be those that point to a false restoration (right) and say, “Here it is! All will be well!”
Believe it not.
The Great Facade and the Great Facade
In 2002 there appeared a critique on the Novus Ordo era entitled The Great Façade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church, co-authored by Christopher A. Ferrara and Thomas E. Woords, Jr. One of the subjects to which the authors pay particular attention is the “neo-Catholics,” those pseudo-conservative members of the Novus Ordo who have erected a false façade for the Modernists by consistently excusing their departures from Catholic orthodoxy and attacking traditional Catholics. John Vennari, in his review of the book, writes that to build the façade the neo-Catholics take an approach maintaining that
the post-conciliar popes have approved of all post-conciliar novelties; so therefore, they are not novelties. The post-conciliar Popes have championed a break with traditional teaching and practice; so therefore, there is no break with tradition. Those insolent Catholics who point out the obvious, that novelties are novelties, that a break with the past is a break with the past, are schismatics of the worst sort.
(John Vennari, “The Regime of Novelty Decimated”, Catholic Family News, August 2002; reprinted here.)
It should be noted that for the authors none of the novelties or breaks with Tradition ever amounted to heresy, or at least was never imposed in a binding way on the faithful, hence — so the claim goes — there has been no real break from orthodoxy but only a “facade” of such instead. This stance permitted them to stake out a “centrist” position that acknowledged the Conciliar hierarchy as legitimate successors to St. Peter and the Apostles, but simultaneously assailed them as a “regime of novelty” that had to be opposed. This has come to be referred to as the “recognize and resist” position, which, when practically applied, amounts to such actions as minimizing systemic scandals as abuses, pretending the “Pope” is ignorant of all of them no matter how public they may be, and suggesting that the “Pope” is really the friend of Tradition but that he is surrounded by clerics with contrary agendas who actively strive to ruin his plans for restoration (such as the fictional rift between Benedict XVI and “Cardinal” Walter Kasper), etc.
Three years after the book’s publication, Woods expressed a desire “to mend fences” with the neo-Catholics, himself becoming one and taking up the banner of Benedict XVI’s “great restoration”. While Ferrara has held an ostensibly more hard-line stance writing for The Remnant and The Fatima Crusader, his position also softened considerably in April of 2005. In February of that year he had these scathing words to say about “Cardinal” Ratzinger and his phony appeals to traditional Catholics:
Yes, “our only friend in the Vatican” has struck again. More and more it becomes apparent that this man is perhaps the most industrious ecclesial termite of the post-conciliar epoch, tearing down even as he makes busy with the appearance of building up. The longer Ratzinger “guards” Catholic doctrine, the more porous the barriers that protect it become.
(Ferrara, “Ratzinger Personally Consecrates Neo-Modernist Bishop”, The Remnant, Feb. 2005)
Just two months later, Ferrara changed his tune when Ratzinger became “Pope” Benedict XVI:
Many Catholics (myself among them) have objected, with good reason, to certain of the theological views of the man who was once known as Cardinal Ratzinger. We have protested, quite rightly, the former Cardinal’s attempt to “deconstruct” the Message of Fatima. We have even, in keeping with our duty as confirmed soldiers of Christ, expressed our conviction that as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Cardinal did not act in any serious way to protect the Church against her neo-Modernist enemies and he even favored some of their errors.
But now we encounter Pope Benedict XVI, and the incomparable grace of the papal office. And that grace was evident in the Latin benediction, rich with traditional Catholic content, to which Pope Benedict proceeded without ado as he stood on the balcony before a crowd of 100,000 relatively subdued Catholics (compared to the rowdy party atmosphere we were accustomed to seeing during the last pontificate), of which crowd I was privileged to be a part. There were tears in my eyes as I heard the Latin words absolving us of our venial sins and explicitly imploring for us the grace of final perseverance. What a joy it was to hear such words from the mouth of a Roman Pontiff again.
(Ferrara, “Is this the End of our Exile?”, The Remnant, April 19, 2005)
There in a nutshell is the crux of the problem: Ferrara contra Ferrara. Notice that even the language has been toned down. Whereas before the election he refers to Ratzinger as an “ecclesial termite” bent on destroying the Church while appearing to build it up (as we continue to see today), he softens the language considerably afterwards, saying simply that Ratzinger didn’t protect the Church adequately against the Modernists and even approved of some of their errors (of course, even that sort of record should eliminate him from papal consideration). Gone is any implication that Ratzinger himself may be a conscious enemy of the Church, a termite who, infiltrating the Church, busily attacks her very foundations, while pretending to do just the opposite.
Incredibly, Ferrara recounts how with tears in his eyes he is awestruck by the appearance of “Pope” Benedict, who has been magically transformed into a veritable angel of light and now truly “our only friend in the Vatican” by “the incomparable grace of the papal office.” It’s as if suddenly all Ferrara’s common sense, prudence and objectivity have been tossed aside. What, had Ratzinger suddenly lost his free will? Had Ferrara never heard of bad Popes who had resisted the charism of the office? Did Ferrara not realize that the words “rich with traditional Catholic content” he heard uttered from the balcony at St. Peter’s were only the latest and most dangerous stage of Ratzinger’s “tearing down even as he makes busy with the appearance of building up”?
It was against this backdrop that this lengthy essay, “Refinishing the Great Façade: The Vatican, the SSPX, and the ‘Restoration of Tradition'”, was written, with the intent to help people see through the artifice of Ratzinger’s faux “restoration”, which is nothing more than a great façade of Catholic-looking externals while retaining and further diffusing the Modernist poison inside, leading ultimately to nothing more than a traditional side altar in the one-world Modernist religion.