Lively Debate

Lively Debate posted in Eleison Comments on July 6, 2013

The problem of crippled authority (see these “Comments” of June 1 and 29) is rousing some lively reactions amongst readers. On the one hand valiant Catholics tell me that I AM a bishop, therefore I must ACT as a bishop by taking command of the “Resistance” movement. On the other hand a valiant priest with long experience of “sedevacantism” warns me not to let loose parallel churches by consecrating any more bishops, except in the case of World War, physical persecution or paralytic old age (well, there are those who would claim that the last has already set in . . .).

Of course the problem goes back to Vatican II, when at the bottom end of a 700-year slide the Conciliar churchmen by abandoning Church doctrine split Catholic Truth from Catholic Authority, and by so doing so discredited official Church authority that souls like those mentioned above no longer see the need for it. But central Church authority, given the natural diversity and original sin of all mankind, is absolutely necessary to ensure Church unity (and therewith survival) not only in the Truth but also in the sacraments and in Church government.

That is why a bishop or priest needs not only the sacramental power of his Orders, power he can never lose for all eternity, but also the power of jurisdiction, which is the power of saying (dictio) what goes, or what is right (ius, iuris). This second power does not go with his Orders, and he cannot give it to himself, he can only receive it from on high, from a Church Superior, ultimately from the Pope, and the Pope from God. Hence when valiant souls tell me that I AM a bishop (by my Orders) so that I am delinquent if I do not ACT as such by telling (dictio) the “Resistance” what to do (ius), most likely they are confusing the two distinct powers of the bishop.

However, they may be instinctively hitting upon another doctrine of the Church and of common sense, namely that of supplied jurisdiction: in an emergency where for whatever reason the Superiors are not providing the jurisdiction needed for the salvation of souls, the Church supplies it. For instance, a priest may have no jurisdiction as is normally needed to hear Confessions, but if a penitent asks him to hear his Confession, then in case of need the priest may hear it and the sacrament will be valid. Now for sure and certain the vast emergency created in the Church by Vatican II has even been aggravated by the notorious mid-April Doctrinal Declaration from SSPX HQ, which is documentary proof of the crumbling of the last standing fortress of the true Faith.

But supplied jurisdiction has a weakness, because not being official, it is much more open to dispute. For instance, Conciliar Rome denies that there is any such thing as a Church emergency created by Vatican II, and they put corresponding pressure, all too successful, on the Society of St Pius X to submit itself to Conciliar authority. Such is the need for authority to be official. Even Archbishop Lefebvre lost maybe a quarter of the priests that he ordained, because he had no power to stop them from simply walking away. Such is this unbelievable crisis of the Church. So if a priest or layman asks me to give him commands, he may himself dispute it a few months later, or as soon as he receives what he considers to be a command he need not obey.

But the crisis remains real, and it is only going to get worse until God intervenes to bring the Pope to his Catholic senses, which God will do when enough Catholics are begging him to open the Pope’s eyes. Between now and then the sharpening emergency is set fair more and more to fortify unofficial authority, but may Almighty God help us to avoid unnecessary anarchy.

Kyrie eleison.

Farewell, Wimbledon

Farewell, Wimbledon posted in Eleison Comments on December 15, 2012

So I have moved out of Wimbledon, which at least corresponds to the reality of my supposed “expulsion” from the Society of St Pius X. But the move is not without its sadness, because I spent there nearly four years after my real expulsion from Argentina, and they have been happy years, despite everything. Perhaps the main happiness has been the company of the priests in SSPX headquarters in England, St George’s House. They have been very good company. May God bless each of them.

However one thing I must say. People ask why I left the Society. I did not leave the Society. The Society left me, by abandoning the principles for which I joined it. Once again, the parallel with Vatican II is exact. Just as countless Catholic priests, religious and layfolk were abandoned by the churchmen who opted in the 1960’s for the Council, so a number of faithful priests and laity are being abandoned in the 2010’s by the leaders of the Society as these choose to head for peace with their “new friends in Rome” – quote of the Society’s First Assistant. The blindness is astonishing, for those who can see. It is all too natural for those who cannot see. May God have mercy on them. I do believe that these leaders have never understood what Archbishop Lefebvre was all about. They are children of their age.

The only substantial reason given for their “expelling” me was disobedience. But the only substantial disobedience on my part was the repeated refusal to close down these “Eleison Comments.” Yet when I asked the Superior General on two different occasions to specify which precise numbers of the “Comments” were so problematic, each time he did not give an answer, no doubt because he would have had to admit that the real problem was one of content, namely my resolute opposition to his suicidal approach to Conciliar Rome. Instead he continues to pretend, that the problem is one of discipline, thus diverting attention away from the real problem. And I am not the first priest and I will not be the last that he treats in this way. May God give him light. He risks chasing out many of his true friends in order to please his true enemies, just like Pope Paul VI did with Archbishop Lefebvre. The parallels never end. The Newchurch and the Newsociety are the same malady of our age.

So what now? I borrow a friend’s flat in the vicinity of London for a few weeks at best, for a few months at worst, until I can find suitable property to rent for 6 or 12 months. At this point I still do not believe in making any permanent arrangements. Alas, I shall not be easy to contact because my friend has to be discreet out of care for his neighbours. In any case snail mail will reach me through P.O. Box 423, Deal CT14 4BF, England. (but please don’t send Christmas cards. I send none). From December 13 to January 3 I plan to make an apostolic visit to Canada and the USA, Deo volente, and immediately after that a visit to France for the Feast of the Epiphany.

Also changing will be some aspects of how my spoken and written words are published. The format and method of delivery of “Eleison Comments” may change too, but what I hope will not change is their appearing every Saturday through December and into the New Year. . Thank you for all your contributions to the St Marcel Initiative. In case you were concerned, I can promise you that they have not gone astray. Happy Christmas.

Kyrie eleison.

Deep Problem

Deep Problem posted in Eleison Comments on November 17, 2012

Many Catholics do not conceive of the full depth of the problem posed by the Conciliar Revolution of Vatican II (1962–1965) in the Catholic Church. If they knew more Church history, they might be less tempted either by liberalism to think that the Council was not all that bad, or by “sedevacantism” to think that the Church authorities are no longer its authorities. Did Our Lord question the religious authority of Caiphas or the civil authority of Pontius Pilate?

The problem is deep because it is buried beneath centuries and centuries of Church history. When in the early 1400’s St Vincent Ferrer (1357–1419) preached all over Europe that the end of the world was at hand, we today know that he was out by over 600 years. Yet God confirmed his preaching by granting him to work thousands of miracles and thousands upon thousands of conversions. Was God confirming untruth? Perish the thought! The truth is that the Saint was correctly discerning, implicit in the decadence of the end of the Middle Ages, the explicit and near total corruption of our own times, dress rehearsal for the total corruption of the end of the world.

It has merely taken time, God’s own time, several centuries, for that implicit corruption to become explicit, because God has chosen at regular intervals to raise Saints to hold up the downward slide, notably the crop of famous Saints that led the Counter-Reformation in the 16th century. However, he would not take away men’s free-will, so that if they chose not to stay on the heights of the Middle Ages, he would not force them to do so. Instead he would allow his Church, at least to some extent, to adapt to the times, because it exists to save present souls and not past glories.

Two examples might be Molinist theology, made virtually necessary by Luther and Calvin to guarantee the protection of free-will, and the Concordat of 1801, made necessary by the Revolutionary State to enable the Church in France to function at all in public. Now both Molinism and the Concordat were compromises with the world of their time, but both enabled many souls to be saved, while the Church allowed neither to undermine the principles which remained sacred, of God as Pure Act and of Christ as the King of Society respectively. However both compromises allowed for a certain humanising of the divine Church, and both contributed to a gradual secularising of Christendom. Compromises do have consequences.

Thus if a slow process of humanizing and secularizing were to go too far in that world from which alone men and women are called by God to serve in his Church, they could hardly enter his service without a strong dose of radio-active liberalism in their bones, calling for a vigorous antidote in their religious formation. Naturally they would share the instinctive conviction of almost all their contemporaries that the revolutionary principles and ideals of the world from which they came were normal, while their religious formation opposed to that world might seem pious but fundamentally abnormal. Such churchmen and churchwomen could be a disaster waiting to happen. That disaster struck in mid-20th century. A large proportion of the world’s 2000 Catholic bishops rejoiced instead of revolting when John XXIII made clear that he was abandoning the anti-modern Church.

So nobody who wants to save his soul should follow them or their successors, but on the other hand the latter are so convinced that they are normal in relation to modern times that they are not as guilty as they would have been in previous times for destroying Christ’s Church. Blessed are the Catholic souls that can abhor their errors, but still honour their office.

Kyrie eleison.

“Mental Sickness”

“Mental Sickness” posted in Eleison Comments on January 21, 2012

A long-standing correspondent wrote to me recently with a dozen arguments to show why the SSPX should come to some agreement with Rome, even if the doctrinal Discussions of 2009–2011 showed that the Rome-SSPX doctrinal disagreement is radical. Let me dwell here on one of his arguments, because I think it opens up the full dimensions of what the SSPX is up against.

He wrote that if the SSPX does not soon “normalize” its standing with Rome, then it runs the risk of losing the sense of what it means to belong to the Church. For there are layfolk and even SSPX priests who are comfortable with their present abnormal situation and have adapted to it, because the SSPX “has all that it needs, notably bishops.” Such adaptation, wrote my colleague, tends towards a schismatic mentality and a practical, if not theoretical, sedevacantism. I replied that in my opinion a much greater risk than that of acquiring a schismatic mentality is that of contracting “the spiritual and mental sickness of today’s Romans by getting too close to them.” A scandalous reply? Let me explain.

“Mental sickness” is the phrase applied to Roman churchmen with whom a second friend recently held long conversations. He said that they are intelligent and sincere men, fully capable of grasping the arguments of Tradition put before them, but he concluded, “They are mentally sick. Only, they have the authority.” Certainly he meant no personal insult to these Romans when he called them “mentally sick.” What he was uttering was something far more serious than a mere personal insult. He was commenting on the objective state of the Romans’ minds, as confirmed by his long conversations with them. Their minds are no longer running on truth.

A third friend also in contact with Romans said the same thing in different words. I asked him, “Could you not have gone to the root of the matter and opened up with them the basic question of the mind and truth?” He replied, “No. All they would have said was that they were the authority, that they were the Catholic Church, and if we wanted to be Catholics, it was for them to tell us how.” Such minds are running not on truth but on authority. Now milk is a beautiful thing, but imagine a car-owner quite calmly insisting on filling his car’s gas-tank with milk! The gigantic problem is that almost the entire modern world has lost all sense and love of truth. For the longest time the Church resisted this loss of truth, but with Vatican II that last resistance also collapsed.

For indeed the modern world is glamorous and weighty, and so is Rome! Here is how an Italian friend senses the glamour of the Vatican offices: “To step into the Roman palaces is a daring enterprise because the very air you breathe within is irresistible. The fascination of these hallowed halls comes not so much from the charming officials (by no means all of them are charming) as from the sense the halls exude of the 2000-year duration of Church history. Is the fascination from Heaven? Is it from Hell? In any case the mere atmosphere of the Vatican seduces visitors and tames their wills.”

And the fascination of the Vatican is only a small part of the total pressure of the modern world seeping into minds to disable them, and to make us follow its current. Dear friend of mine, I would rather be a schismatic sedevacantist than a Roman apostate. With the grace of God, neither!

Kyrie eleison.

“Greek Gifts” – II

“Greek Gifts” – II posted in Eleison Comments on August 27, 2011

“But, your Excellency, how could you in last week’s “Eleison Comments” (214) call in question, as you did, the sincerity and good will of the Roman officials who are only seeking to put an end to the alienation of the Society of St Pius X from the mainstream Church? You compared them to the Greeks deliberately deceiving the Trojans by means of the Trojan Horse. But all they want is to overcome the long and hurtful division between Catholics of Tradition and Church Authority!” Answer, one need not at all call in question these Romans’ sincerity and good will. There, in fact, is the problem! After nearly 500 years of Protestantism and Liberalism our age is so confused and perverse that the world is now full of people doing wrong even while being convinced that they are doing right. And the more convinced such people are that they are doing right, the more dangerous they can be, because with all the more force of subjective sincerity and good intentions they push towards doing objective wrong, and they pull others with them. The more sincerely today’s Romans are convinced of the rightness of their Newchurch, the more efficaciously they will destroy the true Church.

“But, your Excellency, God alone judges their intentions!” When it comes to defending the Faith, subjective intentions are comparatively unimportant. If Romans mean well in trying to pull the SSPX into the mainstream Church, I may like them personally but I will hate their errors. If they do not mean well because they know that they are trying to destroy the true Faith, than I shall not like them and I will just the same hate their errors. Their being likeable or not, or liked by me or not, is of little or no importance compared with those errors by which they are, objectively, destroying the Church.

When likeable men are peddling horrible errors, it is all too easy either to say that the errors are as likeable as the men, in which case the men incline us to liberalism, or to say that the men are as horrible as their errors, in which case the errors of the Conciliar Popes incline us to sedevacantism. But the reality today is that it has never been easier in all the history of mankind for men to be likeable at the same time as their errors are horrible. Such is our age. This situation could get worse only under the Antichrist, but it is his forerunners that are already driving the world to its ruin.

In the meantime the Romans who on September 14 are due to meet with the leaders of the SSPX are sure to be convinced of the rightness of the Newchurch as reshaped by Vatican II, in which case they are in grave error, but they may be chosen for their personal charm, to help draw the SSPX towards official Rome. Then be not surprised, dear readers, if the SSPX will be made to seem as though it is spurning Rome’s noble offers and good intentions, but that will not be the case. Any spurning by the SSPX will only be of horrible errors. Long live true Rome! Long live sweet Romans! But perish their errors!

“Your Excellency, what is their essential error?”

Putting man in the place of God. They are sliding into apostasy, and taking numberless souls with them.

Kyrie eleison.

True Pope? – II

True Pope? – II posted in Eleison Comments on May 7, 2011

By no means everybody agrees with the opinion laid out here one week ago (EC 198) whereby subjective good faith or good will on the part of Conciliar Popes prevents their hair-raising objective heresies from invalidating them as Popes (see Prof. Doermann for John-Paul II’s teaching of Universal Salvation, see Bishop Tissier for Benedict XVI’s emptying out of the Cross). The opposite opinion is that these heresies are so hair-raising that #1, they cannot possibly have been uttered by true Vicars of Christ, or #2, no amount of subjective good faith can neutralize their objective poison, or #3, subjective good faith is excluded in the case of Conciliar Popes trained in the old theology. Let us gently take each argument in turn:—

Firstly, just how far the Lord God can allow his Vicars to betray him (objectively), God alone knows for sure. However, we do know from Scripture (Lk. XVIII, 8) that when Christ returns, he will hardly find the Faith still on earth. But is the Faith yet, in 2011, reduced to that point? One may think not. In which case God may allow his Conciliar Vicars to do worse yet, without their ceasing to be his Vicars. Does not Scripture declare at exactly the moment when Caiphas was plotting the crime of crimes against God, namely the judicial murder of Christ (Jn. XI, 50–51), that he was High Priest?

Secondly, it is true that the objective heresy of well-intentioned heretics is much more important for the Universal Church than their subjective good intentions, and it is also true that many objective heretics are subjectively convinced of their own innocence. For this double reason when Mother Church is in her right mind she has a mechanism for forcing such material heretics either to renounce their heresy or to become fully-fledged formal heretics, and that is her Inquisitors, whom she endows with her God-given authority to define and condemn heresy, to maintain the purity of doctrine. But what happens if it is the highest authority in the Church that is swimming in objective heresies? Who is there above the Popes that has authority to correct them? Nobody! Then has God abandoned his Church? No, but he is putting it through a severe trial, all too deserved by the tepid mass of today’s Catholics – and, alas, Traditionalists?

Thirdly, it is true that both John-Paul II and Benedict XVI received a pre-Conciliar training in philosophy and theology. But by their time the worms of Kantian subjectivism and Hegelian evolutionism had already for over a century been eating the heart out of the concept of objective and unchanging truth, without which the concept of unchangeable Catholic dogma can make no sense. Now one may well argue that both those Popes were morally at fault – say, love of popularity, say, intellectual pride – for falling into material heresy, but moral faults cannot replace authoritative doctrinal condemnation for purposes of turning them from material into formal heretics.

Therefore since only formal heretics are excluded from the Church, and since the only sure way of proving someone to be a formal heretic is not available in the case of Popes, a certain range of opinion on the problem of Conciliar Popes must remain open. “Sedevacantist” does not deserve to be the dirty word that liberal “Traditionalists” have made of it, but on the other hand the arguments of the sedevacantists are not as conclusive as they might wish or pretend. In conclusion, sedevacantists may still be Catholic, but no Catholic is yet obliged to be a sedevacantist. I for one believe the Conciliar Popes are valid Popes.

Kyrie eleison.