Tag: Catholic doctrine, dogma, Deposit of Faith

Resistance Policy – I

Resistance Policy – I posted in Eleison Comments on March 15, 2014

In today’s disastrous state of Church and world there are, amongst others, two central principles in play, the one permanent and primary, the other temporary and secondary, but both are central. Their interplay should be decisive to guide our actions.

The permanent principle is that “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. XI, 6). This is because all men come from God endowed with a free-will which they are meant so to use as to be able to go to God when they die, and enjoy the beatific vision of God for eternity. These obligatory terms of our earthly existence constitute an extremely generous offer on God’s part, given how relatively little is required on our part (Is. LXIV, 4), but the very least that we can do, a bare beginning, is to recognize his existence. Given the goodness of his Creation all around us, it is “inexcusable” not to recognize it (Rom. I, 20), and therefore without the most elementary faith in him it is impossible to please him.

The temporary principle is that the Shepherd is struck and the sheep are scattered (Zach.XIII, 7), text quoted by Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt. XXVI, 31). After 4,000 years of man’s repeated decadence, God took a human nature to found a Church to enable men to save their souls for the last 2,000 years of men’s existence on this earth. For the first thousand of those years the decadence was seriously interrupted, but after a few more centuries it picked up again to the point that with Vatican II the very leaders of God’s own Church, the Popes on whom it was designed to depend, became seriously infected by the decadence. Thereupon it became much more difficult for men to see how God meant them to save their souls.

Therefore on the one hand, objectively speaking, the permanent truths of salvation have not been changed one little bit by the fall of the Conciliar Popes, and these truths must be maintained if any souls at all are still to be saved. It was Archbishop Lefebvre’s glory to uphold those truths against the fallen churchmen and world, while it is his successors’ disgrace to be compromising them for the sake of rejoining those churchmen and their world.

On the other hand, subjectively speaking, that disgrace is mitigated by the temporary eclipse of those great truths, due to the fall of the Popes. It is not easy even for bishops to see straight when the Bishop of Rome is seeing crooked. It follows that those who by the grace of God – and by nothing else – see straight, must have a 360-degree compassion for souls caught in a confusion not entirely their own fault. Therefore, it seems to me, if James is convinced that to save his soul he must stay in the Newchurch, I need not hammer him to get out of it. If Clare is persuaded that there is no grave problem within the Society of St Pius X, I need not ram down her throat why there is. And if John can see no way to keep the Faith without believing that the See of Rome is vacant, I need urge upon him no more than that that belief is not obligatory.

Yet in all this scattering of the sheep, somebody must maintain and make available to them the objective Truth if the poor stones are not to have to do it (Lk. XIX, 40), because upon at least the seeking of that Truth depends the saving of our souls. However, let Catholics seek it with all due regard for the blindness of their fellow-sheep, for at least as long as the Shepherd remains struck.

Kyrie eleison.

Church’s Infallibility – I

Church’s Infallibility – I posted in Eleison Comments on February 8, 2014

Probably sedevacantists’ main problem is the Church’s infallibility (Conciliar Popes are horribly fallible, so how can they be Popes?). However, infallibility needs to be looked at for more than just to alleviate sedevacantism. The modern problem of preferring authority to truth is vast.

“Infallibility” means inability to err, or to fall into error. The First Vatican Council defined in 1870 that the pope cannot err when four conditions are present: he must (1) be speaking as Pope, (2) on a question of Faith or morals, (3) in a definitive fashion, and (4) with the clear intention of binding the whole Church. Any such teaching belongs to what is called his “Extraordinary” Magisterium, because on the one hand Popes rarely engage all four conditions, and on the other hand he teaches many other truths which cannot err or be wrong because they have always been taught by the Church, and therefore they belong to what Vatican I called the Church’s “Ordinary Universal Magisterium,” also infallible. The question is, how does the Pope’s Extraordinary Magisterium relate to the Church’s Ordinary Magisterium?

Mother Church teaches that the Deposit of Faith, or public Revelation, was complete at the death of the last Apostle alive, say, around 105 AD. Since then no further truth has been added, or could be added, to that Deposit, or body of revealed truths. Then no “extraordinary” definition can add one iota of truth to that Deposit, it only adds, for the sake of believers, certainty to some truth already belonging to the Deposit, but whose belonging had not been clear enough beforehand. In a fourfold order comes firstly, an objective REALITY, independent of any human mind, such as the historical fact of the Mother of God’s having been conceived without original sin. Secondly comes TRUTH in any mind conforming itself to that reality. Only thirdly comes an infallible DEFINITION when a Pope engages all four conditions to define that truth. And fourthly arises from that definition CERTAINTY for believers as to that truth. Thus whereas reality generates the truth, a Definition merely creates certainty as to that truth.

But the reality and its truth already belonged to the Ordinary Magisterium, because there is no question of any Pope defining infallibly a truth outside of the Deposit of Faith. Therefore the Ordinary Magisterium is to the Extraordinary Magisterium as dog is to tail, and not as tail to dog! The problem is that the Definitiom of 1870 gave such prestige to the Extraordinary Magisterium that the Ordinary Magisterium began to pale in comparison, to the point that Catholics, even theologians, scratch around to fabricate for it an infallibility like that of the Extraordinary Magisterium. But that is foolishness. The Extraordinary presupposes the Ordinary Magisterium, existing only to give certainty (4) to a truth (2) already taught by the Ordinary Magisterium.

Let the point be illustrated from a snow-capped mountain. The mountain in no way depends on the snow, except for it to be made even more visible than it already is. On the contrary the snow depends completely on the mountain to be where it, the snow, is. Similarly the Extraordinary Magisterium does no more for the Ordinary Magisterium than to make it more clearly or certainly visible. As winter closes in, so the snowline descends. As charity grows cold in modern times, so more definitions of the Extraordinary Magisterium may become necessary, but that does not make them the perfection of the Church’s Magisterium. On the contrary, they signal a weakness of believers’ grasp of the truths of their Faith. The healthier a man is, the fewer pills he needs. Next week, the application both to sedevacantism and to the present crisis of the SSPX.

Kyrie eleison.


GREC – IV posted in Eleison Comments on April 27, 2013

A lady having read the first “Eleison Comments” on GREC (EC 294, March 2) wrote to complain that I misrepresented GREC, the Parisian group of Catholics founded in the late 1990’s to bring together Traditionalists and mainstream Catholics so that they could think and talk peacefully with one another for the good of Mother Church. I am happy to correct errors of fact which she pointed out. I have no problem admitting personal faults of mine which she highlighted. However on one major point I must disagree with her.

As for the errors of fact, Mr Gilbert Pérol was French Ambassador to the Italian government, and not to the Vatican. Also he was not a “lay collaborator,” but a personal friend of Fr Michel Lelong, a White Father. Also GREC was launched not “in the salons of Paris,” but in the flat of the Ambassador’s widow, Mrs. Huguette Pérol, who, I was told, takes full responsibility for having founded GREC, purely to help the Church, and with the help of people “competent and concerned to be faithful to the Gospel and to Tradition.”

As for my faults, she wrote that I was “full of myself” and “ignorant,” that I lacked modesty and diplomacy, that I showed insufficient respect for the dead, and that I wrote with a sarcastic tone befitting neither an educated person nor a priest. Madam, how happy I would be if these were the worst faults for which I shall have to answer before God. Do pray for my particular judgment.

However, as to the sarcasm, let me plead that if I mocked the nostalgia of Catholics today for the Catholicism of the 1950’s, I was thinking not of Ambassador Pérol in person, but of the multitudes of present-day Catholics, who, not realizing why God allowed Vatican II to split the mainstream Church from Catholic Tradition in the first place, wish to return to that sentimentalized faith of the previous decade which led directly to Vatican II! Madam, the crucial point has nothing to do with subjective persons, it has everything to do with objective doctrine.

That is why I must disagree with you as to the competence of the people helping Mrs Pérol to found GREC. That a professional diplomat like Ambassador Pérol should have resorted to diplomacy to solve major problems of doctrine is misguided, but understandable. That a Conciliar priest like Fr Lelong should have encouraged such a diplomatic undertaking is graver, but still understandable, given how Vatican II undermined all doctrine by officialising subjectivism within the Church. What is much less easy to accept is the “competence and concern for the Gospel and Tradition” on the part of priests who were trained under Archbishop Lefebvre to understand the doctrinal disaster of Vatican II. Such priests should never have encouraged, let alone taken any active part in, an essentially diplomatic effort to solve an essentially doctrinal disaster, however well-intentioned that effort may have been.

And yet, even in their case the French proverb to some extent applies: “To understand everything means to forgive everything.” The Archbishop was of an earlier and saner generation. They are all children of the world shattered by two World Wars. All credit to them for resorting to his person for their priestly formation, and while he lived he raised us all up. But they never truly absorbed his doctrine, and so once he was dead they began within a few years to fall back. But he was right, and they, and GREC – forgive me, gracious lady – are wrong. Please God they may come right.

Kyrie eleison.

Doctrinal Declaration – II

Doctrinal Declaration – II posted in Eleison Comments on April 13, 2013

The Doctrinal Declaration of April 15 of last year, drawn up by the Superior General (SG) of the Society of St Pius X as a basis for the Society’s reintegration into the mainstream Church, has emerged nearly one year later into public view. It was designed by the SG to please both the Conciliar Romans and Traditionalists (“It can be read with dark or rose-coloured glasses,” he said in public). It did please the Romans who declared that it represented an “advance” in their direction. It did not please Traditionalists who saw in it (what they knew of it) such ambiguity as to represent a betrayal of Archbishop Lefebvre’s stand for the Catholic Faith, to the point that they considered that the Romans need only have accepted it to destroy his Society.

In fact when the SG met the Romans on June 11 in Rome to receive their decision, he fully expected they would accept it. Numerous observers speculate that if they did not accept it, it was only because the intervening publication of the April 7 Letter of the Three Bishops to the SG warned the Romans that he would not be able to bring the whole Society with him into the bosom of their Conciliar Rome, as he may have given them to understand he would do, and as they wanted him to do. They did and do not want another split to start Tradition all over again.

Be all that as it may, space remains here for nothing but one major argument that the proposal of the Doctrinal Declaration, had it been accepted by Rome, would have destroyed the SSPX. Archbishop Lefebvre declared, and proved, that Vatican II was a break or rupture with previous Church teaching. On that premise arose, and rests, the Traditional Catholic movement. So, confronted by the on-going resistance of that movement to his beloved Vatican II, Benedict XVI proclaimed at the outset of his pontificate in 2005 the “hermeneutic of continuity,” whereby the Council (objectively) contradicting Tradition was to be (subjectively) so interpreted as not to contradict it. Thus there would be no break or rupture between it and Catholic Tradition!

Now see the seventh paragraph (III, 5) of the Doctrinal Declaration. It declares that Vatican II statements difficult to reconcile with all previous Church teaching, (1) “must be understood in the light of Tradition entire and uninterrupted, in line with the truths taught by the Church’s preceding Magisterium, (2) not accepting any interpretation of those statements which can lead Catholic doctrine to be exposed in opposition or rupture with Tradition and that Magisterium.”

The first part here (1) is perfectly true, so long as it means that any Conciliar novelty “difficult to reconcile” will be flatly rejected if it objectively contradicts previous Church teaching. But (1) is directly contradicted by (2) when (2) says that no Conciliar novelty may be “interpreted” as being in rupture with Tradition. It is as though one said that all football teams must wear blue shirts, but football team shirts of any other colour are all to be interpreted as being nothing other than blue! What nonsense! But it is pure “hermeneutic of continuity.”

Now, do the soldiers holding the last fortress of the Faith that is organised worldwide realize what their Commander is thinking? Do they realize that his solemn declaration of SSPX doctrine shows him to be thinking like an enemy leader? Are they happy that they are being led to think like the enemies of the Faith? All ideas must be Catholic, while non-Catholic ideas will be “interpreted” as Catholic. Wake up, comrades! Enemy thinking is in Headquarters.

Kyrie eleison.


GREC – III posted in Eleison Comments on April 6, 2013

Wishing to put himself in the place of God, modern man seeks to replace God’s order of the world with his own. But God’s order is real, outside of and independent of man’s mind. So modern man unhooks his mind from that reality, and selects from it only such pieces as he wishes to build into his own fantasy. Now the highest order of God’s Creation is best expressed in his Church’s doctrine. Therefore all churchmen or laymen today undergoing the influence of everything “normal” in the world around them suffer from a deep refusal or ignorance of the nature and necessity of doctrine.

Here is the essential problem of GREC, as presented in two previous issues of “Eleison Comments” (294 and 295). The Groupe de Réflexion Entre Catholiques was founded in 1997 in the salons of Paris to promote friendly meetings and exchanges between Catholics of Tradition and Catholics of the mainstream Church, in order to create a climate of mutual trust and respect which would facilitate a reconciliation between them, and an end to their unnecessary estrangement. Such a purpose gravely overlooks the importance of doctrine, not necessarily with malice aforethought, of which God is judge, but whatever foolish men may think, doctrine can no more be left out of account than can reality.

In Fr. Lelong’s book on GREC, For the Necessary Reconciliation, he tells how two Society of St Pius X priests and its Superior General “made a decisive contribution to the launching and continuance of GREC.” Even before it was launched, Fr. Du Chalard gave to Fr Lelong a friendly reception in his SSPX priory, and “in following years never ceased to support GREC in a discrete and attentive way.” At the launching of GREC, Fr. Lorans, then Rector of the SSPX Institute in Paris and exercising from Paris a decisive influence from then until now on SSPX publications, welcomed the idea of “dialogue between Catholics,” and very soon obtained from the SSPX Superior General in Switzerland approval for his participation in GREC. From then on Fr. Lorans played a leading part in all of its activities.

Those activities began on a small scale and in private. In May of 2000 was held GREC’s first public meeting to which Fr. Lorans contributed, with 150 people attending. Meetings became more and more frequent, with SSPX priests participating. Church authorities at the highest level were regularly consulted and kept informed. Fr. Lorans for his part made possible “a contact of deepening trust” and friendly exchanges with the SSPX Superior General. From 2004 GREC meetings were opened wider still to the public, and in September of that year a “theological working group” was set up with Fr. Lorans participating, and another SSPX priest and a theologian from Rome, both of whom would later be taking part in the Doctrinal Discussions between Rome and the SSPX from 2009 to 2011. GREC may well have seen in these Discussions the realization of its fondest hopes – at last the theologians were meeting in a climate which GREC had done so much to create “for the necessary reconciliation.”

Thanks be to God, the Discussions gave back to doctrine its proper primacy. They demonstrated that between Catholic and Conciliar doctrine is an unbridgeable gulf. But was GREC’s way of thinking then blocked within the SSPX? Far from it! SSPX Headquarters switched overnight from “We pursue no practical agreement without a doctrinal agreement” to “There can be no doctrinal agreement, so we pursue a practical agreement”! Alas, the springtime uprising of protest last year from within the SSPX was smothered and confused again at the General Chapter of July, but SSPX HQ’s continued pursuit of a practical agreement has hardly been smothered.

“Our help is in the name of the Lord,” in particular in the Consecration of Russia. Nowhere else.

Kyrie eleison.

Undignified Dignity

Undignified Dignity posted in Eleison Comments on March 16, 2013

A reader has argued in favour of the Vatican II teaching on religious liberty. Even if the subject has often come up in “Eleison Comments,” her arguments are surely worth going through, because it is vital for Catholics today to grasp thoroughly the falsehood of that teaching. What the Council taught in paragraph #2 of its Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae), is that all men are to be free from all coercion by any other men or group of men when it comes to acting in private or in public in accordance with their beliefs. Moreover every human State must make this natural right into a constitutional or civil right.

On the contrary, all the way up to Vatican II the Catholic Church consistently taught that every State, as embodying God’s civil authority over God’s human creatures, is obliged as such to use that authority to protect and favour God’s one true Church, the Catholic Church of the Incarnate God, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Obviously, non-Catholic States will be condemned rather for their lack of faith than for not giving civil protection to that faith. Likewise Catholic States may refrain from prohibiting the public practice of false religions where such prohibition will do more harm than good for the salvation of the citizens’ souls. But the principle remains intact: God’s States must protect God’s true religion.

In fact the Conciliar teaching implies either that States are not from God, or that there is no one true religion of God. Either way it is implicitly liberating the State from God, and so putting the liberty of man above the rights of God, or, simply, man above God. That is why Archbishop Lefebvre said that the Conciliar teaching was blasphemy. And it is no use saying that the other paragraphs of DH contain good Catholic teaching. One gash by the iceberg was enough to sink the Titanic. DH#2 alone is enough to sink Catholic doctrine. But let us see the arguments in defence of the Council’s teaching.

1 DH is part of the Church’s Ordinary Magisterium, which must be taken seriously. DH came from the Church’s Magisters, or masters, yes, but not from the infallible Ordinary Magisterium, because DH contradicts the Church’s traditional teaching, as shown above. 2 DH merely makes clear human rights that are granted by natural law.Natural law puts the rights of man below, and not above, the rights of God. 3 DH does not negate the Catholic model for Church-State relations.It most certainly does! Paragraph #2 liberates the State from its intrinsic obligation to the one true Church. 4 DH is written in the context of the modern world where everybody believes in human rights. Since when must the Church be adapted to the world, and not the world to the Church? 5 DH does not teach that man has a right to error. If God’s State must grant a civil right to practise, in public, false religions, then God is being made to grant a right to error. 6 DH is a plea to modern governments to grant half a loaf, which is better than no bread.True Catholic doctrine is so logical and so coherent that to give away any of it is to give away all of it. And what sheep saved itself by offering itself to the wolf? 7 Catholics must not retreat from the modern world into a doctrinal ghetto.Catholics must do whatever they have to do, go wherever they have to go, in order not to give away the rights of God or compromise his honour. If that means martyrdom, so be it!

Kyrie eleison.