QUESTIONS AND OBJECTIONS
Would not the Holy Spirit prevent an Ecumenical Council from doing the clear and serious harm Vatican II has evidently caused?
While God has never mandated evil, the fact is that He has allowed it, and every evil which has taken place has been permitted by God to happen. Through abuse of free will, men have always had the power to do evil and create misery for their fellow creatures. One would think that an Ecumenical Council of the Church, where one would normally expect infallibility to hold, should never be the cause of such trouble since that has never before happened in the history of the Church. However it cannot be truthfully said that such a thing has never happened before. It's just that one must go back a great deal further before one finds the previous occurrence of it.
In particular, one must go to the Biblical book of Numbers, Chapter 11 verses 3 through 34. The parallels between that episode and the present crisis in the Church are so striking as to be almost like reading a prophecy of current events. At God's direction, a council of all of the elders of Israel is convened, after which the elders wander off in all directions, never to be heard from again with the exception of two faithful elders who never left the camp of Israelites. Israel then goes through a crisis of having no manna to eat, but they have instead quail meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until they get so sick of it that it comes out their noses.
In this passage, the reason for all of this also comes out. The Israelites had gotten tired of the miraculous manna which God had sent them to feed on in the wilderness. So they began to desire a return to Egypt and slavery. How very like today where many Catholics were getting bored with their Catholic faith and wanted something new, so in judgment God sent them the spiritual "quail meat" of the Novus Ordo religion and false sacraments.
I have actually seen where one writer claims that "the amazingly quick collapse ... that has been manifested since the Second Vatican Council and the rapid changes which followed in its wake" actually supplies "proof of the weakness underlying much traditional Catholic observance and practice," as found in the Church before Vatican II. That is like blaming God instead of the Hebrews who got bored with the Manna. Perhaps God should have made His Manna come in six different flavors! Actually, a far more accurate reason for the quick breakdown is that heretical tendencies on the part of many bishops and cardinals as well as John XXIII were present and had already caused some rather considerable damage to the Church, even though the Holy Spirit was still protecting Her official pronouncements from error.
Obscure technical distinctions between the Vatican institution and the Catholic Church notwithstanding, I just find it too hard to believe that God would allow that, which so many honest, sincere people take to be His Church, to promulgate invalid sacraments.
Believe it. Have you ever heard of an interdict? It's been a few centuries since we have had one, so you may find the concept somewhat unfamiliar. On occasion, the Church has been obliged to punish a parish, diocese, or even an entire nation with an interdict. An interdict is a refusal of all sacraments to the people within the parish, diocese, or nation. It is an excommunication, not of an individual, but a large group of people for some serious crime or other serious reason.
The Catholic Faith was purchased for us at a most tremendous cost, first that of our Savior Himself who was crucified, and also in the huge cost in human suffering on the part of multitudinous saints and martyrs who endured torture, death, and dismemberment in order that not one particle of our faith be allowed to pass into oblivion. Most modern Catholics on the other hand became so apathetic about their faith that when it was taken from them they couldn't care less. Indifference to the Truth is probably one of the most offensive things to God, even worse than being violently opposed to it. "I could wish that you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth."
Those who have willingly gone along with the New Religion are therefore to be placed under an interdict and thereby deprived of the sacraments. This is carried out in practice by giving the faithless ones false, invalid sacraments, the validity of which they never really cared about anyway. Those having the faith of the martyrs have stuck with the Catholic Church and sacraments, even at the cost of losing their friendships, their families, their reputation or good name in the community, and anything else which the Vatican institution has ever felt empowered to take from them when they were forced to leave it. Since they cared enough to seek out the valid and Catholic sacraments of the Church, they are not under the interdict. Even now, anyone can get out from under that interdict simply by resolving to go exclusively to the valid traditional Catholic Rites.
How is it that it took until this book to find out what had happened at Vatican II to separate the Catholic Church from the Vatican institution; and on the other hand, what makes you so smart as to be able to find those tiny clauses about the Church "subsisting in" the Vatican institution and actually figure out the true import of those statements?
Actually, the phrases about the Church subsisting in the Vatican institution have long been known to the traditional community. Abp. Lefebvre is known to have devoted entire speeches and homilies to discussing those statements. The difficulty which he and all other traditional Catholics have had in applying that discovery correctly has been their interpretation of that statement in a Dogmatic sense rather than a disciplinary sense.
Part of the reason for this mistake is the title which the main document with that error has in most vernacular languages instead of its true Latin title. In the vernacular, it is called a "Dogmatic Constitution on the Church." Such a title is a complete misnomer since there is nothing about it which is actually dogmatic. Its true title is "Lumen Gentium," which means "Light of the Gentiles." The other part of the problem is the tendency on the part of those who are implementing changes in the Spirit of Vatican II to treat this document (along with all other Vatican II documents) as being of dogmatic or doctrinal value.
Taken as dogma the statement, as stated in the Vatican II documents, "The Catholic Church subsists in the Catholic Church," is not only heresy, but absolute nonsense, gibberish. So taken, the traditional community has reasonably (if mistakenly) concluded that the Vatican hierarchy must have already lost their Catholic infallibility (and authority) at some previous point. Their inability to find or agree upon this unidentifiable previous point has been one of the difficulties which now set loyal traditional Catholic priests and bishops at odds with each other.
It is the lack of any such previous point, coupled with the overall fact that Vatican II was only and strictly a "Pastoral" Council which helped me to realize that up until that point the Holy Spirit was still protecting the Vatican hierarchy from all of the heresies and pet theories held by the bishops, cardinals, and pope at that moment. Although many of them harbored heresies and even in some cases were consciously working to destroy the Church, the Holy Spirit still prevented them from promulgating false or invalid or uncatholic sacraments or teachings. What few changes which had been made in the celebration of the Mass, although they set very bad and dangerous precedents, did not in any way in and of themselves threaten its validity nor tamper with Christ's words at the consecration.
As a further example of how this statement can be understood either in a dogmatic sense (in which case it is heresy) or a disciplinary sense (in which case it legally detaches the Vatican institution from the Catholic Church), let us take a look at some teachings of John Paul II as criticized but amply summarized by Fr. Cekada in his booklet Traditionalists, Infallibility, and the Pope:
Taken dogmatically and as literally stated here, these teachings of John Paul II are heresy, precisely the same heresy at heart which drove the council fathers to write that the Church only "subsists in" the Church.
Now, let us see how those statements read if interpreted in a disciplinary sense:
As you see here, when interpreted in a disciplinary sense, the "heresies" in fact become an extraordinarily accurate description of the actual state of affairs. In this sense, John Paul II is more right than he knows!
Therefore, since they cannot have defined a heresy, their statement cannot have been a doctrinal or moral statement, but only a disciplinary one. It is impossible for them to change the nature of the Church or of any of the Church offices which they were holding up until that point, but it has always been possible for them to change their own personal relationship to their offices and thereby to the Church as well. Vatican II did not change the Catholic Church even one tiny bit (other than to make it considerably smaller in numbers) because that is an eternal institution which can never be changed, but it did change the Vatican institution quite drastically! First, it detached the Vatican institution from the Catholic Church, thus rendering the Vatican institution fallible and changeable in ways that the Church is not, and second, it opened the door for and introduced to that institution a false new religion, and third, it granted a universal charter for Catholic orders to exist having no connections with the Vatican institution, and fourth, by granting such a charter to faithful Catholic priests and bishops it delegated jurisdiction to them and legally conveyed to them the four marks and all other characteristics of the Church.
This sequence of events is essential in reconciling the fall of the Vatican institution with the promise of Christ to be with His Church always. Some pope did not just wake up some day and say to himself "I'm sick of always having to teach the truth all the time; I think I'll go teach some heresy today," and inexplicably find himself able to do that without any resistance from the Holy Spirit, the Cardinals, the Bishops, the Roman Curia, or anyone else. There absolutely had to be a formal, material, legal, and public loss of Catholic authority first. He and they had to resign, at least partially, from their sees in order to be free to propagate their own heresies and other pet theories, and they managed to do it in such a fashion that it took quite a few years for anyone to understand the true import of the fine print legalese by which they did it.
I do grant that the council fathers really did intend to promulgate the heresy that other religions share our apostolic faith and mission, and for that reason insisted on saying "subsist in" even though many other more conservative council fathers intervened in favor of saying "is" at those crucial points. The intention was heresy, but the result was their own partial resignation from their sees. The Holy Spirit, in guaranteeing correctness on faith and morals (infallibility) does not guarantee intent, but result. The words of the Vatican II documents must not be evaluated according to what the Council fathers intended, but what the words themselves literally state, which is one of the most basic tenets of Canon Law. Once they had legally resigned (at least in part), the Holy Spirit could leave them to their strong delusion, "that they should believe the lie."
The real beauty of this explanation is how everything falls right into place. So many questions get solved all at once: How did the Vatican institution become able to promulgate error and invalid sacraments? How come the Holy Spirit no longer protects it from error? On what legal or canonical basis do "independent" traditional Catholic priests operate their parishes? What guarantee is there that the various groups described here operating outside the Vatican institution will never fall into error? How could the recent popes and an ecumenical council be allowed to fall into error? Where exactly is the Church today? Who are the true Catholics? Indult? SSPX? Sedevacantist? Can each and all of those groups be truly Catholic, and if so how?
Why can't that statement in Lumen Gentium about "elements of sanctification" subsisting outside the Vatican institution apply to Protestant ministers or schismatic East Orthodox patriarchates as the Council Fathers obviously intended?
It is important to focus on what the grammar of that expression literally implies. An "element of sanctification," whatever that is, cannot be merely a "sanctified element." The grammatical difference between those two expressions directly parallels the difference between an "object of light," and a "lighted object." In each, the first implies "source" where the second does not. While the phrase "object of light" may be somewhat strange, it clearly refers to a source of light, e. g. a lamp, a flame, or a light bulb. A "lighted object" is merely any object positioned near a functioning light source; it has light shining on it, but it is not the source of the light that it has.
Certainly it is possible for a soul to be sanctified while outside the Visible boundaries of the Church, providing that the soul in question is invincibly ignorant of the truth. Such a soul would then properly be called a "sanctified element." However, that soul lacks the power to provide any sanctification to anyone else. His good example or behavior, as he abides by Natural Law and has true and perfect contrition for his sins, by which he unites himself to the soul of the Church, even while outside the body of the Church, only serves others as a guide towards false religion. No matter how sanctified such a soul is he simply lacks the power to be a source, or "element," of sanctification. He can no more sanctify others than a dog serve as Captain of a ship.
The quote from Lumen Gentium continues, "Since these are gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity." The "these" which are gifts belonging to the Church are the "elements of Sanctification and of Truth." It is interesting to note that neither the Protestants nor the East Orthodox are "forces impelling towards Catholic unity." The case of the East Orthodox especially merits study.
Here is a vast group of Christians, with seven valid Sacraments, a tremendous devotion to Mary, and an adherence to all but a very few tiny particles of the Magisterium of the Church. Yet despite certain recent Roman overtures of unparalleled (and, I might add, unjustifiable) generosity, to accept them into their communion pretty much "as they are," most of the schismatic East Orthodox will have no part of it. As it happens, their reasons for refusing to be "forces impelling towards Catholic unity" are directly traceable to one of those tiny particles of the Magisterium they reject. They have no belief that the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, is to have universal jurisdiction. They are willing to have him be the "Western Patriarch," perhaps even have a "first among equals" status (whatever that means), but they believe in a Church composed of a confederation of several groups none of whom have any real jurisdiction over another. They don't believe in submission to the Supreme Pontiff.
By contrast, consider the factions of the First Great Western Schism in the fourteenth century. That, too, was a schism similar to the schism between East and West, but unlike that schism, this one was between groups which each held to the entirety of the Magisterium. They all believed that there was to be one man, a bishop of Rome, a successor of Peter, a Supreme Pontiff who has universal jurisdiction, and to whom all Catholics must submit. The only question was regarding the identity of this individual. It was their mutual adherence to all of the teachings of the Church which made their reuniting possible. Ironically, it was one of the antipopes who actually convened the Council of Constance which solved these issues, terminated the schism, and elected a new single successor to lead the Church as all factions desired.
The various factions of the contemporary traditional Catholics are in exactly the same status as the various factions of the Fourteenth century Church. They are "elements of Sanctification and of Truth," and "forces impelling towards Catholic unity." Just as in the case of the Fourteenth century Church, it is impossible for any traditional Catholic group to say to another, "We believe this Doctrinal or Moral Truth which you deny; you and we must therefore part company." Traditional Catholics all seek a time when there would once again be a Bishop of Rome, a Successor of Peter, who is clearly recognizable as such, to teach and govern the entire Church as is his right and duty. They show their loyalty to the papacy by adhering to all the teachings of those whose hold on that office is beyond doubt (the reliable popes).
"Elements of sanctification," therefore, can only be bishops and priests in union with and submitted to the Supreme Pontiff. For such to exist, or "subsist," outside the visible confines of the Vatican institution necessarily implies that the boundaries of the Vatican institution no longer coincide with the boundaries of the Roman Catholic Church, and that the two (long historically united) are formally severed from each other as distinct entities.
Did not the Vatican II Schema Lumen Gentium also promulgate the heresy of Collegiality?
The schema does contain the claim that a "College of Bishops" is a permanent group which "exists all the time," even though a footnote (added after much wrangling about it at the Council) states that they do "not always act in full act," whatever that means. While that may sound harmless enough to the casual reader, a subtle distinction may help to clarify matters.
The Church has always used the word "Body" to describe what all the Catholic Bishops around the world constitute. The word "College" only describes them while an Ecumenical Council is in session. While so convened, the pope's authority and infallibility, to a very large measure, are shared with the College of Bishops, to the point that his role with respect to them ceases to be that of Monarch and becomes merely that of President, and in some cases even less. The Councils of Nicea and Constance are examples where, in the first the pope did not even bother to attend, and in the second three papal claimants surrendered that claim and another Pope was elected.
Again, as in the case of those "subsist in" statements, this claim is heretical if taken as a dogmatic truth. Furthermore it flies in the face of the plain facts of history, namely that only a few short periods of time has the Church been in a Council (even if one counts the various lesser councils and synods) and all the rest of the time there was no Council in session and the bishops were merely a Body, not a College. And once again, there is a purely disciplinary interpretation to these statements of the Vatican II schema.
The disciplinary interpretation is this: The statement "The College of Bishops ... exists all the time," is not an attempt to state a moral, doctrinal, or historical fact, but a mandate. From that point onward (until further notice) the Council is an ongoing entity. In other words Vatican II did not end with its official close in 1965, but is still in session to this day! How is that possible? Don't bishops all have to be gathered in one place in order to be in council? That used to be the case, but now with such contrivances as the telegraph, the telephone, and now e-mail and computer networks, all bishops can readily communicate with each other as if they were still face-to-face in one room.
Could that be the reason why so many things, such as the removal of the tabernacle to a place of dishonor, can be attributed to Vatican II even though the 16 official schemas say nothing of the kind? The once-Catholic Bishops are still a College, as mandated in this schema; Vatican II is still (secretly) in session. The so-called "Post-Conciliar Documents" which are obviously the bitter fruit of that ongoing Council have been misnamed; there is nothing "Post" about them at all! This is also the beginning of what it is about the Second Vatican Council which deprives the Vatican leadership of the monarchical role which Christ gave to Peter and his successors. The schema on Collegiality would further enlarge on that point, but these statements in Lumen Gentium alone are enough to turn "Pope" into merely "President," and even that only when he bothers to preside.
Even during the Council, Abp. Lefebvre and many other Council Fathers picked up on the fact of that disciplinary impact, and what it would mean. Writing about the Third intervention which took place in October of 1963, concerning Collegiality, Lefebvre states, "It was clear that this was the aim envisaged - - to set up a permanent collegiality which would force the Pope to act only when surrounded by a senate sharing in his power in an habitual and permanent way. This was, in fact, to diminish the exercise of the power of the Pope. The Church's doctrine, on the other hand, states that for the College to be qualified to act as a college with the Pope, it must be invited by the Pope himself to meet and act with him. This has, in fact, only occurred in the Councils, which have been exceptional events." - - I Accuse the Council, page 13 (See Bibliography).
"Pastoral" doesn't really mean anything at all; the Second Vatican Council was really just like all the others.
On the contrary, "Pastoral" means a great deal. By its very nature it precludes all Moral or Dogmatic considerations, and therefore promises to pronounce no anathemas. For a Council, even an Ecumenical Council of the Church, to be "Pastoral" simply means that it is to be concerned strictly and solely with disciplinary, procedural, and administrative matters only. One must concede that it has always been theoretically possible for the Church to convene even an Ecumenical Council while limiting it to such purposes. It has been long understood that infallibility would not apply to such a Council, even if it were a General and Ecumenical (worldwide) Council of the Church, since infallibility only applies to Faith or Morals, not discipline. Such a Council would still, of course, be authoritative and binding on the faithful until its disciplinary measures should be revoked by a later pope or Council.
The fact that the Council refused to follow through as advertised by attempting to pronounce "decrees" and "dogmatic" constitutions is one of the great oversights and tragedies of the modern hierarchy. There is a special class of statements which have been formally promulgated as de fide teachings of the Church. Before any statement could ever be admitted to that exclusive and special class, it must first be subjected to rigorous tests of doctrinal correctness and historical accuracy.
Even after all of that, the statement only gets through by permission of the pope, who is at liberty to refuse to promulgate it even after it has passed all those other tests. Since Vatican II was convened as merely a Pastoral Council, none of these strict tests should have been necessary. Disciplines which prove disadvantageous to the Church can always be revoked or amended by new disciplinary rulings. One ancient Council had ruled that there shall be no new religious orders founded. Within ten years, a later pope abrogated that ruling and gave permission for the founding of a religious order. Since none of the usual tests should have been needed, none of them were provided. For anyone to come along afterwards and claim for the documents of Vatican II a doctrinal or moral infallibility, instead of mere disciplinary impact, is to allow these documents to have "cheated" in that they would gain access to that exclusive and special class of de fide statements of the Church without ever having to have passed the rigorous tests of doctrinal and historical accuracy which all other such statements have had to pass.
Instead of coming through the Shepherd at the front door of these rigorous tests, they leaped over the wall by means of various shenanigans and Church politics. Repeatedly at the Council, Fathers who took exception to the ambiguous or heterodox or even heretical wordings of proposed documents were silenced with the admonition, "But we are not holding a dogmatic Council, we are not making philosophical definitions. This is a pastoral Council aimed at the world as a whole. Consequently, it is pointless to frame here definitions which would not be understood." In other words, "Don't bother with trying to understand the fine print, Your Excellency/Eminence/Holiness, just sign here, if you please." How can documents formulated under such circumstances possibly ever have the weight of infallible doctrinal or moral authority? (They can't, of course; therefore they don't.)
There is one last claim to their being doctrinal and moral instead of disciplinary which must be dealt with. Michael Pavel wrote an article in which he attempted to prove that Vatican II was not merely a pastoral council but dogmatic like all the others. His argument is best described as a reaction to Michael Davies' argument, or rather a slightly caricatured version of Michael Davies' argument. The "Michael Davies" of Michael Pavel's article argued that the documents of the Second Vatican Council can more or less be ignored because they are strictly of a disciplinary or procedural or administrative nature only. Michael Pavel then turns that around and shows numerous places where John XXIII and Paul VI clearly intended these "decrees" and other documentary miscellany from Vatican II should be binding on the faithful (of the Vatican institution) and must be obeyed, and so therefore he concludes that they cannot be merely disciplinary.
The problem with that line of reasoning is that disciplinary rulings are also always expected to be binding on the faithful as well as dogmatic rulings. The only difference is that disciplinary rulings can be revoked by the Church whereas dogmatic rulings are confirmed forever and irrevocable. Actually, Michael Davies' true argument is much more sophisticated than as presented here (or in Michael Pavel's arguments). For one thing, Michael Davies explains that disciplinary rulings of course also must be obeyed, the only exception being where a disciplinary ruling flatly contradicts faith or morals, or else if it is detrimental to one's faith.
As one last nail in the coffin of the notion that Vatican II could ever be taken as part of the Extraordinary and Infallible Magisterium of the Church, I present the words of Paul VI himself as spoken by him in an address on January 12, 1966: "Some ask what authority - - what theological qualification - - the Council has attached to its teachings, knowing that it has avoided solemn dogmatic definitions backed by the Church's infallible teaching authority. The answer is familiar to those who remember the conciliar declaration of 6 March 1964, repeated on 16 November 1964. In view of the pastoral character of the Council, it has avoided pronouncing in an extraordinary way dogmas carrying the note of infallibility. Nevertheless its teachings carry the weight of the supreme ordinary teaching authority."
But isn't every council followed by a period of doubt and confusion on the part of the faithful? Won't people eventually get used to having Vatican II around and soon let things return to normal? Maybe the decline in religious interest is temporary.
This claim has sometimes been made in response to the figures cited by traditional Catholics that Vatican II and its associated chaos has caused in decreased mass attendance, baptisms, marriages, religious vocations, and increased marriage annulments. I have never seen a better example of putting two different things, not merely apples and oranges, nor even apples and baseballs, but apples and hand grenades, into similar sized and shaped little boxes painted the same color, and therefore referred to in the same way.
True, a certain amount of chaos has followed each Council, including Vatican II, but there the similarities end. With reference to each Council from Nicea to Vatican I, the chaos, confusion, loss of faith (as measured by every possible criteria), and disunity (doctrinal and rubrical as well as organizational) was always amongst those who rejected the Council, never amongst those who accepted it. With Vatican II, one finds that precisely reversed. All of the chaos, confusion, loss of faith, and disunity is amongst those who accept Vatican II and who show that by trying to implement, each one of them, their own interpretations of its directives.
But aren't things getting better now? I know that many crazy abuses and so forth have happened, but isn't the pendulum starting to swing back to normalcy?
This rumor keeps coming around again and again, and so far it has always been false. People keep thinking that their indefectible Church cannot go any further off course. Somehow it has got to start getting better! This false rumor gets a new breath of life every time some positive action takes place at the Vatican, such as the promulgation of Humanae Vitae (in 1968), Paul VI's admission regarding the Smoke of Satan being in the Church or regarding the auto-destruction of the Church (in 1972), the election of John Paul II (in 1978), some of the condemnations of Hans Küng and Edward Shillebeeckx and his apology for liturgical abuses (in 1980), the 1984 and 1988 indults, the promulgation of the new Catechism (1992), Veritatis Splendor (in 1993), Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (in 1994), Evangelium Vitae (in 1995), etc. but each time it is a beginning which has come to nothing.
Since the Vatican institution is no longer identical to the Roman Catholic Church, there is no reason or necessity for it to return to normalcy. The persons who spread that rumor only say it so as to put people back to sleep, spiritually, so they won't notice that their ship is still sailing for disaster, and for that matter, they are on the wrong ship in the first place! No such "swinging of the pendulum" is needed within the traditional Catholic movement. Their ship, unmistakably united to the Barque of Peter, is already sailing exactly right on course.
The only way the Vatican institution can ever be put back on course in any real or lasting way is for Vatican II to be revoked. Furthermore, all this talk of the Church being like a pendulum, or like a door swinging each way as if it needed to be boarded up with cedar planks (Song of Solomon 8:9) is sheer nonsense. The world may indeed be that way, but the Church is rooted firmly on the Rock of St. Peter. Anything which swings back and forth, or which obviously needs to swing back, as the Vatican institution does, is quite obviously not rooted on the Rock of St. Peter.
Hasn't the Church always had trouble? Why should we regard today's troubles as some sort of more serious crisis than before?
It is true that the Church has always had troubles and difficult times of various sorts. There has always been a certain criminal element which was trying to ruin or destroy the Church. Vatican II was a quantum leap in making that criminal element much more serious than ever before. A good way to illustrate it is with a town which is suffering somewhat from the presence of gang activity. So long as the gang is merely on the fringe of society, selling drugs or prostitution on street corners when no one's looking, the problem can be readily helped by granting more authority to the leadership of the town, such as by hiring more police officers or allowing the judges to give longer sentences.
Imagine how much more serious the crime problems in that town would be if a key member of the criminal gang were to be elected as Mayor, and as Mayor were to go on to appoint other members of his criminal gang as trial judges, Chief of Police, etc. This is exactly what happened to the Church (or more specifically the Vatican institution) at Vatican II. It used to be that you could follow the leader because he spoke for the true interests of the Faith, but that is no longer so.
Aren't you being schismatic by recommending that Catholics attend parishes which are not under the diocesan bishop, and by casting doubt on the papacy of John Paul II?
Let us start by reviewing the definition of what it is to be schismatic. There are two parts of the definition of the term. The first pertains to one's relationship to the Supreme Pontiff and the second pertains to one's relationship to fellow Catholic believers. With regards to the first, refusal of subjection to the Supreme Pontiff is schismatic as is giving such subjection, proper to that for a pope, to an impostor. Since there is legitimate doubt as to whether the Church even has a living pope at this time, only those who opine that John Paul II is a pope are obliged to submit to his authority, and that only insofar as it is not contrary to Faith or Morals or detrimental to their faith. Sedevacantists refuse submission to John Paul II for precisely the same reason they refuse submission to Reverend Sun Myung Moon. If a man isn't a pope, as the sedevacantists have reason to believe that John Paul II is not, then he cannot rightly receive the submission lawfully due to the Successor of Peter. In such times where there is confusion as to who, if anyone, is the pope (as the Church was so confused during the First Great Western Schism of the 1300's), it is the second part of the definition of schism which most applies.
This second part of the definition of schism is "refusal of communion with other members of the Church." By the word "communion" in this context, it is fellowship or association which is being referred to, not the Eucharist. It is the person who says to his fellow Catholic "I cannot eat with you; I cannot pray with you; I cannot discuss spiritual matters with you," who is being schismatic, not the one who is so snubbed. Contrary to the often repeated big lies of those who are critical of the traditional Catholic movement, it is not the traditionalists who are being the "separatists," but the Novus Ordo People of God.
Traditional Catholics do indeed separate themselves from the world and sinful, worldly associations, but from fellow Catholics, and even "Catholics-at-heart," they never separate themselves. It is the Novus Ordo People of God members who always schismatically separate themselves from traditional Catholics, oftentimes while refusing to separate themselves from the worldly associations. Traditional Catholics are all supremely and serenely confident that they have the Truth and know they have nothing to fear from the stupid and ignorant arguments of the Novus Ordo. It is not and never has been the traditional Catholics who have retreated from religious discussions, dialogue, or debate with the Novus Ordo People of God, but always the Novus Ordo People of God who cannot face traditional Catholics in religious debate.
It is always the Novus Ordo People of God who are obliged take the position of "Don't confuse me with the facts; Bishop Beezlebub has already made up my mind!" The only thing even remotely schismatic within the traditional Catholic movement is those few (and rapidly growing fewer) voices who continue to argue for only one's own faction at the expense of all other groups. As the traditional Catholic movement continues to grow and gather momentum, the voices of those schismatic few are increasingly getting drowned out by the Song of Praise rising from those traditional Catholics who have come to realize, at least on an unconscious level, that the traditional Catholic movement is the Roman Catholic Church. At any rate, that is a "schism" which is entirely internal to the Church, just like the fourteenth century schism, and not at all comparable to the schism between East and West which puts the East Orthodox completely outside the Church.
Aren't traditional Catholics acting just like the Old Catholics by setting up their own hierarchy and separating from Rome?
"Once upon a time there was a group of Catholics who wanted to reform the Church, claiming it should return to the purity of the 'ancient faith' as practiced by the early Christians. Their platform included planks to prepare the way for the reunion (not conversion) of all Christian confessions, a reform of the position of the clergy, a reform of the Church with constitutional participation of the laity, the forming of parish communities, the abolition of celibacy (due to the shortage of priests), the abandoning of confession and the use of the vernacular in the 'service of the altar.' Protestants were included in their theological faculty. Their congress was attended by three Anglican Bishops and members of the Russian clergy. They also refused to accept the infallibility of the Pope in defining dogmas. Now my question for you is this: does the above description describe Old Catholics, New [Novus Ordo] Catholics, or both? It certainly doesn't describe Catholic Catholics."
That fine bit of wisdom from the pen of Frank Denke (Angelus, July 1990, pages 8-14) shows well where the true division lays. On one side of the great divide are the schismatic East Orthodox, the Eastern heretics, the Moslems, the Protestants, the Old Catholics, and the Novus Ordo, and on the other side of that same great divide is the Church founded by Jesus Christ, taught by all the reliable popes, and today existing as the traditional Catholic movement. One feature which only the traditional Catholic movement has which no dissenting group can ever have is an actual and well documented change in "the Church" one could point at, and which is a well known and widely witnessed event in the memory of hundreds of millions now living, coupled with a stand taken by its members to hold fast to the traditions they and their parents were brought up in which all knew existed prior to that well-known change. By contrast, all these dissenters were forced to posit a fall from grace on the part of the entire Church so long ago that no one remembers it, followed by a long period during which there was no Church, during which Christ had no Mystical Body.
You "traditionalists" seem to me to be acting just like the Modernists who want to change the structure of the Church and feel free to disagree with the Pope.
Anyone who thinks that the traditional Catholics of whom I have written about in this book are being in any way even the least bit disobedient to the Pope, or trying to undermine the authority of his office, has entirely missed the point and must go back to square one. The whole point and purpose of the traditional Catholic movement (as such) is that its people are Catholics who refuse to disobey the Pope. It is our solemn and irrevocable attachment to the Barque of Peter which compels us to attend the traditional Catholic Latin Masses, even though many of them go unrecognized by the local diocesan "bishop." If that happens to entail anything which could be construed as being "disobedient" to John Paul II (or whoever), so what?
When such an individual (as John Paul II) speaks against the traditions of the Church, allowing bishops or priests to impose communion in the hand and altar girls, or even going so far as to push the bogus new "liturgy" and other "reforms" in the positively Satanic "Spirit of Vatican II," such an individual is clearly not functioning in the role of Peter confirming his brethren. If the post-Conciliar leadership of the Vatican institution is Peter at all, then it is Peter denying his Lord, and if not, then the Chair of Peter is empty and the sedevacantists are right.
In the absence of any clearly and uniformly Petrine voice, the entire Vatican hierarchy have become collectively like Aaron when he set up the golden calf for the Israelites to worship (Exodus 32). Traditional Catholics are simply those modern Israelites who refuse to worship the golden calf of the Novus Ordo Missae.
The notion that any traditional Catholics would wish to preserve their present leaderless state and lack of regular jurisdiction is patently absurd, merely a lie spoken by the Novus Ordo enemies of the Church. Traditional Catholics know all too well the exact function of each ecclesiastical office in the Church as Christ intended it to be, and merely await the time those offices come to be filled again. It is the villains of the Novus Ordo Church of the People of God who are redefining the offices of the Church and thus destroying them. It is they who reduce their "Pope" to mere "President of the College of Bishops," they, who practically force their "Bishops" to run their dioceses in whatever manner has been voted on and approved by their "Bishop's Congresses," and they, who force their "Parish Priests" to run their parishes by the whims of their "Parish Councils," their "Liturgical Committees," and their "Finance Committee."
Isn't it schismatic to set up a parallel hierarchy?
In actual fact, all of the traditional Catholic priests and bishops presently operating outside the Vatican institution (with a possible exception of Bp. Vezelis and what few priests are in association with him) are currently far too circumspect to actually set up any parallel hierarchy. Neither supplied jurisdiction nor delegated jurisdiction (such as that granted by Vatican II) provide any basis for setting up a parallel hierarchy. Many also retain the hope that the Vatican hierarchy might one day repent and return to their ostensible offices and Sees.
However, even a parallel hierarchy need not be considered a schismatic thing. For example, the Eastern Rite Catholics already have their independent parallel hierarchy. The Eastern Rites have their own dioceses, many of which overlap Latin Rite dioceses. An example would be someone living in the Archdiocese of New York (according to the Latin Rite), but also living (at the same time and place) in the Byzantine Archdiocese of Pittsburgh. In a sense the Novus Ordo has already created its own parallel hierarchy, a hierarchy which refuses to recognize many Catholic priests and bishops in its geographical midst.
What truly would make such a parallel hierarchy schismatic would be to become a hierarchy which is not answerable to Peter, as for example the English hierarchy under Henry VIII who in effect said to the Pope and the Roman hierarchy he ruled, "We will be the hierarchy of England; you can be the hierarchy of Europe!" They just wanted to get out from under the authority of someone who was clearly and indisputably the Voice of Peter.
Don't Catholic traditionalists tend to be disgruntled, cheerless, Neo-Nazis, Fascists, and other such unsavory types?
The Novus Ordo liars spread these rumors only because they know they cannot answer the theological claims of traditional Catholics. It is simply the kind of name-calling they resort to since they lack any substantive claims against the Church. Really, such rumors should be taken no more seriously than the rumors spread by the Church's enemies back in the early centuries to the effect that Christians eat their children.
Such malicious rumormongering is not confined to the Novus Ordo. The secular press is fast becoming similarly aware that traditional Catholicism represents all the truth and "hard sayings" of Christ they and their paying readership would much rather forget. When Mel Gibson stood up to be counted as a traditional Catholic at the time of the release of his movie, The Passion of the Christ, many made the false claim that this film was somehow "anti-Semitic." Also circulated at the same time was the absurd notion that Vatican II had somehow "absolved" Jews of crucifying Christ, as if any Jews were to blame in the first place, other than those personally involved all those thousands of years ago.
It is true that traditional Catholicism, being somewhat "outcast" by society at large (unjustly), may sometimes attract others, such as Neo-Nazis, bigots, or anti-Semites who are also "outcast" by society at large (justly), but when these types find themselves unable to spread their bigotry or anti-Semitism to traditional Catholics, in time they either convert or leave. Sometimes, one comes across such miserable creatures as "ex-traditionalists." Scratch the paint off any one of them and underneath what you invariably find is a bigot who voluntarily left Catholic tradition because he was unable to inveigle traditional Catholics into his bigotry.
Anyone who takes the time to actually go and meet traditional Catholics will find that they are quite normal, happy, cheerful people who go to church, receive sacraments, go to picnics and barbecues, work, have babies, and lead a perfectly normal life just like all truly devout Catholics used to do before Vatican II. The only thing missing from their lives is the sinful ways of the godless secular world. For example, their young people are typically still untouched virgins on their wedding day. It is only those of the Novus Ordo religion who still mistake the Vatican institution for the Catholic Church who have cause to be disgruntled and angry. Though none of them would admit it, such a confusion logically leads them to conclude that God has deserted them and annulled His promises. When they see those happy, blessed traditionalists experiencing the joy and peace of truly Catholic communion, they in their envy project their own anger and disgruntlement on them.
But haven't bad things happened in the traditional Catholic movement? You yourself wrote about how bad things got under Francis Shuckardt. Why should I risk having to live with that?
The sad fact is that there is no organization, group, club, church (either the True Church or any other), government, or nation which is somehow guaranteed to avoid having bad people who rise to positions of authority within it. While one would have liked the true Church to be somehow immune to that sort of problem, She never has been.
What one gets from traditional priests and bishops (even including Francis Shuckardt during his involvement with MSM), is reliable Catholic Faith and Morals and sacraments. Francis Shuckardt, for all his personal wickedness and depravity, is not known to have even once promulgated false doctrine. The same protection which kept Pope Alexander VI from promulgating error kept Francis Shuckardt honest as well, at least until his excommunication (in everything but name, and for all practical intents and purposes) in 1984. When such bad people come to be in charge, the situation only becomes just like it was in Jesus' day when the Pharisees still sat in the seat of Moses (sort of a predecessor to the Chair of Peter), and of whom Jesus said "do as they say, but don't do as they do" (Matthew 23:2-3).
There is no guarantee I can offer that no traditional Catholic priest or bishop will ever become a corrupt person as Shuckardt did, but in that same sense neither can such a guarantee be made with reference to any Novus Ordo presider, Jewish Rabbi, Islamic Imam, or Protestant minister.
Aren't there many other independent bishops and priests out there, and don't some of them claim to be traditional Catholics? What are we to make of them?
It is true that there are many validly consecrated bishops and many more validly ordained priests who trace their orders to schismatic sources such as the East Orthodox, the Old Catholics, or various other isolated bishops who, for whatever reason, departed from unity with Rome in the Pre-Vatican II days. It is also true that a few of them claim to be traditional Catholics. Some do so implicitly by performing traditional Latin Masses, and others do so explicitly, by announcing their union with the Magisterium of the Church and/or their repudiation of whatever heresies their predecessors in their "apostolic succession" might have indulged in which had occasioned their original separation.
Francis Shuckardt was such a person, tracing his orders to the Old Catholics. Not all such need be like him, and it is fair to ask what role his orders from a schismatic source had in his own personal fall from grace. There are others of this category, for example the Society of Christ the King (not to be confused with the Institute of Christ the King, an Indult group), who appear to be functioning quite properly as traditional Catholic priests and bishops, despite their orders coming from Archbishop Carlos Duarte Costa of Sao Paolo, Brazil, who withdrew from Roman communion on June 6, 1945. The question is, can they be accepted?
First of all, in an emergency, anyone with a valid priestly ordination and willing to perform a valid Rite of Extreme Unction can administer that in any case where there is immediate danger of death. Second of all, it is a historical fact that some priests and bishops who trace their orders to schismatic sources have been welcomed back into the Church, and even on some occasions, allowed to continue serving in their priestly or episcopal role, once regularized by the Church. Given the juridical free-for-all mandated at Vatican II, it would hardly do for traditional Catholics to stand on ceremony regarding the normal procedures for such a normalization, but the fact remains that those who obtain their orders from such a source will probably labor under a kind of "second-class citizen" status until such time as a future reliable pope officially regularizes them.
Part of this is justified from the standpoint of example. The particular priest or bishop may indeed do some good, in seeing to the needs of a desperate soul in their hour of need, yet their very ability to do this good thing is dependent upon the grievous sin of others, as if giving legitimacy to their sin of schism from Rome. Such a source of valid Holy Orders also forces those priests and bishops receiving them to choose between being soft on the heresies which made their ordination or consecration possible, and of being ungrateful to those to whom they owe their valid ordination or consecration. That places a certain quandary right close to the center of their spiritual lives.
Furthermore, it is all too easy for such priests and bishops to vary in a continuum from staunchly orthodox to flagrantly heretical or even invalidly consecrated or ordained. It is safest to say that even the best, noblest, and most orthodox of such are already on the wrong side of the dividing line, although some few might reasonably be recognized on a case-by-case basis as Catholic ministers, and thereby permitted to do some real good.
These schismatic bishops should not be confused with those I have written about whose "departure" from the Vatican structures came about after Vatican II granted jurisdiction to such as who do so in order to obey all the Church's teaching. Nor for that matter have all of those who departed after Vatican II done so for legitimate reasons. Some have departed so as to function as "married bishops," or to approve further outrages even worse than the Novus Ordo Missae. For example, the Immani Temple which was founded on July 2, 1989 by George Stallings, has done so for schismatic reasons, namely to reject priestly celibacy, to allow divorce, remarriage, and birth control, to allow inter-communion with non-Catholics, and to abolish auricular confession. Clearly, one is better off even in the Vatican institution's false new rites than with that schismatic group, if only for those reasons.
Times have changed. You can't turn back the clock. The old ways don't work any more. Why hang on to those obsolete structures and methods which may have served in the Dark ages well enough but are ineffective in these modern times?
Wrong, wrong, wrong! The old ways work now every bit as well as they ever did. The nature of Man, as created by God and injured by Original Sin, is exactly the same as it has always been in any known time of history (excepting only Adam and Eve before the fall). The bastions of the traditional Catholic Faith of which I have written about here are all places where the old ways are used, and used successfully. Many of the traditional parishes in the traditional orders I have written about have schools attached to them. These schools are taught by real Catholic nuns, guided by real Catholic priests, and run as all Catholic schools were run only a generation or two ago.
I strongly encourage anyone to check out any several of these schools for themselves. I have found that the children are courteous, respectful, studious, well-behaved, having a well-bred sense of right and wrong, always willing to share, and always playing fair in their games. These are not kids with problems and hang-ups, but happy, playful children who live in a well-ordered Universe and who know it. I have yet to meet any responsible parent, who upon seeing any of these traditional Catholic schools, would not want to send their own children there. What these children have is the true Grace which comes through the true Sacraments given in full union with the Church Christ established.
The moral crisis experienced in the 1960s and 1970s was every bit as much happening in most parts of Brazil as it was in the United States. In most parts of Brazil, Communism was running rampant (helped along by ex-Catholic clergy involved in "Liberation Theology"), Mass attendance, baptisms, marriages, and religious professions were on a steep decline while marriage annulments, conversions to other religions, violence, pregnancies outside of wedlock, and abortions skyrocketed. The citified places may have been somewhat more affected by these trends than the countrified places, but all were affected.
All, except one: The diocese of Campos. In Campos, they kept all the old ways: the old Mass, the old Sacraments, the old catechisms, the old rules. Not surprisingly (to this writer anyway), they had the same old success as well. Visit any school in any other part of Brazil and what do you see? Graffiti on the walls, vandalism, kids cutting classes, young girls pregnant (just like in America...). But visit any school in the diocese of Campos (especially while Bp. de Castro Mayer was still in charge, up until November of 1981, however a considerable amount of his influence yet survives even now) and what do you see? Clean, nice facilities, where doors don't have to be locked, truant officers don't have to be hired, and pregnancies are almost unheard of among the young girls.
The old ways still work, but (obviously) only when applied. When people started to say that the old ways weren't working any more, the fact was that they were already slipping out of common practice. Part of the problem is that a large proportion of the new generation never really understood the old ways, but thought they did. Where the older generations thought of discipline as correction and instruction, this ignorant generation thought of discipline as getting revenge, or getting even, or taking it out on the children, or even child abuse. Naturally, when they applied discipline in these twisted ways, they failed to have the success of those who used discipline as loving correction.
What about activity in such Catholic organizations as the Blue Army, the Legion of Mary, the Knights of Columbus, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, or Sodalities, etc.?
These organizations were created by the Catholic Church, and as such belong to Her. Therefore the Novus Ordo Church of the People of God has no right to them; in all justice they should become attached to traditional Catholic parishes. Since these Catholic organizations are currently being held hostage by the Novus Ordo "clergy," they are not a safe place for real Catholics. However, those traditional Catholics who are strong in their traditional Faith, wise to the deceptive argumentation used by the Novus Ordo, and who have a missionary spirit might do well to involve themselves in some of these organizations and even reach out for positions of authority within them.
The scriptural precedent for that is the example of the Apostle Paul who spent much time preaching in the (Jewish) synagogues (Acts 9:20, 13:5,14, 14:1, 18:19, and 19:8) because there were yet many persons to be found in the synagogues who wanted to find and serve the true God. We have the same situation today. There are still many "Catholics-at-heart" trapped within the Novus Ordo establishment, and the greatest concentrations of these are often found with these sorts of Catholic organizations. What a prize it would be to bring back to the Church an entire Council of the Knights of Columbus or the Legion of Mary!
Another open door of missionary opportunity is teaching in the various religious classes for their children, such as Confirmation class. To do any good, one must firmly take the stand that they will teach the entire Faith out of the standard catechisms of the Church (something they can't object to without admitting their heretical position) instead of the current diocesan gobbledygook, or else they can just go and get someone else. In some cases they will have to accept such an offer because they can neither inspire nor afford to pay any volunteers to teach these classes. By engaging in such missionary activity, one serves in that role of the angel by the empty tomb saying, "He is not here; He is risen!"
But didn't John XXIII promulgate heresy in his encyclical Pacem In Terris, Paragraph 14 when he wrote that "Everyone has the right to honor God according to the just rule conscience and to profess his religion in private and public life?" How can you say that the official pronouncements of the Vatican were protected up until 1964 when Lumen Gentium was promulgated?
One frequently finds in the writings of John XXIII and the early writings of Paul VI statements such as this. These statements wherever found are always ambiguous, being able to be taken in more than one sense. There is a heretical sense it can be taken, but also an orthodox sense as well. Taking this statement in particular, a reference is made to a person's right to practice his religion publicly in accordance to his conscience. The ambiguity rests on the use of the word "religion" which can be taken as a reference to the true religion (Catholicism) which everyone does indeed have the right from God to practice publicly as taught by many reliable popes. Unfortunately, the same statement could also be read in a heretical sense if the word "religion" is taken to mean just whatever religion a person happens to believe in, whether true or false.
Such ambiguity in the writings of John XXIII places him in the same category as Honorius I who, in trying to establish a sort of peace between the Church of his day and a heretical faction, also promulgated an ambiguous formula acceptable to both the Church and the heretical faction. It was this action which caused later reliable popes to condemn that ambiguous formula. Pope Honorius I is a classic and proper example of what I have been calling an unreliable pope: Even though the Church accepts him as a valid successor of Saint Peter, one cannot authoritatively quote his ambiguous declaration against the more precise and definitive declarations of the reliable popes.
If the Holy Spirit protects the pope from teaching error, why are ambiguous statements allowed?
Ambiguity is allowed only because it is unavoidable. In a certain deep sense, all teachings of any kind are necessarily ambiguous. A prime example of this would be the Apostle's creed. One does not gain from a reading of it a clear answer to such questions regarding the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Sacramental Priesthood, the Primacy of Peter, or even the routine authority of a bishop. The creed is ambiguous regarding these doctrines simply because they are not mentioned in it at all. Nevertheless, that ambiguity is precisely why so many of the more "high church" Protestants can recite that creed without a qualm despite their rejection of the above mentioned doctrines.
At the opposite extreme would be the case where a doctrinal or moral question is being asked throughout the Church, with factions arguing for different answers, and where the pope speaks about the question in a manner which pretends to address the question while failing to do so. The Church in the days of Pope Honorius I had a certain doctrinal question which was brought to his attention. The culpably ambiguous response he gave to that question allowed people on both sides of the question to believe that he might be in agreement with them. Between these two extremes there is such a smooth continuum that nowhere can one arbitrarily draw a line and say, "Beyond this degree of culpability a pope's Charism of infallibility forbids him to be ambiguous."
A very common and typical example between these extremes is where a question is put to the Pope and the Pope says nothing. This might reasonably happen because the Pope may wish to take some time to pray about the matter, meditate on it, consult with his theologians or Curial experts, or even if he should happen to believe that the current moment is just not an opportune time. A good illustration would be, suppose a pope were to be infallible in matters of mathematics. If a page full of math problems were presented to him, infallibility does not mean that he will answer all of them correctly, for he is quite at liberty to leave it blank, answering none of them at all. It only means that whatever problems he solves (if any) will be solved correctly. Out of a hundred problems, he might answer two, and those two answers would be correct while the other problems are all left blank.
In that manner ambiguity lives in all of those questions which are "left blank" by the Pope, regardless of where his reasons for leaving them blank may range from the perfectly innocent "because the question hasn't yet been raised," to the gravely sinful "because I am too weak and wimpy to take a stand."
Precisely what mental gymnastics, logic stretching, and special pleading can you possibly come up with to reconcile Religious Liberty with Catholic doctrine?
Let me first quickly review the statement in the schema on Religious Liberty at which point Abp. Lefebvre balked and ceased signing any more documents in that council (Gaudium et Spes was the only other document he hadn't signed so far and there were no more to come). That is the statement which said, "This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that in matters religious no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs. Nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits." This passage itself is highly suggestive of at least several heretical notions, for example if no individual or group of any sort has a right to coerce another person in religious matters, does that not seem to imply that parents have absolutely no right to demand that their minor and dependent children go to Church or behave themselves while there or avoid stealing candy or obey any other of the ten commandments?
The particular notion in this passage which I intend to take on is the notion that everyone of any belief has the absolute right to express their beliefs in the public forum, even for the purpose of proselytization to their false religion. As brought out quite clearly in the booklet Archbishop Lefebvre and Religious Liberty (See Bibliography), this is the exact notion which Abp. Lefebvre found just too heretical to sign his name to. Numerous popes and councils and all of Church tradition have all universally affirmed that "error has no rights" and heretics must not be allowed to confuse the public by being allowed to spread their heresies through the public forum. It is this notion I will attempt to reconcile.
How can this be reconciled? On the one hand, Church tradition teaches that something is a manifest evil, and on the other hand this document seems to teach that the identical self-same thing is a manifest good. First of all I am not talking about Religious Tolerance which deals with the nature of some compromise accepted by the Church in this or that society simply because it's the best it can get there, or which is politically feasible, but what is spoken of in that document as an absolute right on the part of the heretic, independent of any social or political considerations. A little analysis would help clarify the issue. There is in this situation a conflict between two goods, namely the good for the heretic who is after all a soul to be saved, and the good of the public, or society at large. By referring to these two goods as first and second principles in this response, I am not referring to their relative importance but the chronological order in which I introduce them into the discussion.
For the first is the principle that the conscience of an individual ought not be violated, even when malformed through upbringing in a false religion. What the Church must seek to do is to reform the conscience to bring it in line with reality as made and described to us by God. Typically, that is a gradual process, and until it is complete there are bound to be some false scruples which ought to be respected. One does not in good conscience force an individual who was raised in a false religion which forbids the eating of meat, to eat meat until such time (if any) as that person's conscience comes to be completely reformed on that particular subject. Nor does one in good conscience scandalize such a person by eating meat in their presence. (Romans 14:1-3,14-17,21-23) To violate a conscience is to destroy it, to sear it, as it were, with a branding iron (1 Timothy 4:2), thus rendering it insensitive or nonexistent.
The second principle is the necessity of protecting society at large from false, heretical, and destructive notions. There are many cases where the Church can respect this first principle without violating the second, such as in the case of the Jews who do not go out making proselytes and haven't throughout most of Church history. As long as they kept to themselves, married amongst themselves, didn't bother anyone else, and made absolutely no attempt to convert anyone who did not actively seek them out, the Church should have had no problem with allowing them to live within a Catholic society. On the other hand, a Protestant fundamentalist may believe that he is morally obliged to go out and make converts and publicly deny Catholic doctrines such as the Real Presence or purgatory or the sinlessness of Mary. At this point, the second principle kicks in. A heretic can do a large amount of harm to society (i. e. a great many other souls) by teaching his errors publicly, and must therefore be stopped, both in the interest of social order as well as the eternal welfare of those who could lose their souls from listening to him.
Classically, the Church has always subordinated the first principle to the second since the second concerned not only the great many more souls in society, but also the future of that society and of the Church in that society, whereas the first only concerned a single soul of an individual who may very possibly be acting out of bad faith rather than truly obeying his conscience anyway. The ideal thing would have been to silence the heretic, except in public debates between the heretic and a qualified doctor of the faith who would also happen to have debating skills at least on par with the debating skills of the heretic, so that everyone in the community can see for himself that the heretic is completely off base and laugh him out of town. Possibly the heretic himself might even be brought to the true Faith by the sheer force of logic and the Truth. Brute practical necessity has usually forced the Church to try first to explain the truth to the heretic, and if that fails, to order the heretic to remain silent under the threat of dire consequences, or if that fails, to have him permanently removed from society, utilizing if necessary, the Law of the secular authorities. Regrettably, some secular authorities had the heretic publicly put to death by slow torture and thus made them into false martyrs.
With all of this in mind, I now tackle the Vatican II document. The document itself does not in any way make it clear that the principle of respect for an individual's malformed conscience is and must still be the lesser of the two principles, and concern for Catholic society at large the greater principle. One could (and indeed must, if this notion is to be reconciled with Catholic doctrine at all) take it as an assumed that the lesser principle is still subject to the greater, and that this document is merely concerned with seeing to it that the greater principle does not simply negate the lesser, but that, without surrendering the greater principle, one nevertheless does their level best to accommodate the needs of the lesser principle as well. In the case of the Protestant fundamentalist heretic who feels obliged in conscience to preach his errors publicly, I maintain that society must be protected, but if the Church is truly all that concerned about respecting the malformed conscience of the heretic, I see no reason why they could not arrange for providing some contrived situation in which the heretic can be fooled into thinking he has discharged his duty to propagate error while in fact he has not. Allow him to preach his errors to an audience who cannot hear him or who are otherwise known to be incapable of believing his errors, but hired to act as though they are very interested to hear what he has to say.
I realize that such an example sounds very far-fetched, and furthermore I know of no instance where it has ever taken place, but the theoretical possibility of such a scenario quite literally represents the only way such an objectionable notion as that in the Vatican II document could ever be served in a truly Catholic way. Either you must accept that admittedly ludicrous and absurd attempt at a reconciliation, or else you are constrained to agree that the third phase (1965) of Vatican II has propagated religious error and cannot be regarded as a product of the Roman Catholic Church. There are no other options. "Error has no rights," even though sincerely erroneous people do have rights provided that others can be protected from their errors.
But didn't Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre finally end up signing even those last two Vatican II schemas? I read somewhere that he did.
At the end of Vatican II, all bishops, cardinals, and other prelates were required to sign a document by which they testified to their presence and participation in the Council. Marcel Lefebvre himself was among those who signed this document. Fortunately, we have his own explanation of those events as he understood them at that time: "This idea of interpreting the signatures as signifying an approbation of the conciliar documents was born in the badly intentioned brain of Father de Blignieres.
"The approbation or refusal of the documents was obviously accomplished for each document in particular. The vote was in secret, accomplished on individual cards, and made with a special pencil, which permitted the electronic calculation of votes. The cards were then collected by the secretaries from the hand of each voter.
"The large sheets which were passed from hand to hand among the Fathers of the Council and upon which everyone placed his signature, had no meaning of a vote for or against, but signified simply our presence at the meeting to vote for four documents.
"One would really have had to have thought that the Fathers who voted against these texts changed with the wind by trying to make believe that they would have approved of that which they refused but a half-hour beforehand." - - The Angelus, January 1991, page 5.
If you don't believe in Religious Liberty, then does that mean that you don't think people should have the freedom to worship God any way they please? What if a nation should decide to mandate a religion other than Catholicism?
First of all, keep in mind that many nations already do mandate other religions. The communist nations all mandated (and what few remaining still mandate) Atheism as their state religion. The Muslim nations all mandate Islam. Protestant nations have at various times mandated Protestantism. Not surprisingly, the Church is strongest in such nations where She is not allowed since they treat Her precisely as She was treated in ancient Rome during the first few centuries. Unfortunately, Her existence in those countries is undocumented and we may never know the extent of Her influence in those places for a very long time. Under the test of persecution, just like the test of scholarship, most false beliefs soon melt away and disappear, but the true religion only thrives all the healthier.
People may call us "bigoted" or "prejudiced" because we believe that a Catholic nation should not permit any other religion to be recognized within its public and governmentally approved forum. We Catholics cannot afford to be afraid of being called names. In point of fact, it is only the proselytization by false religions which is to be limited, not the private practice of them. Many other religions, such as Judaism, Jainism, or Hinduism do not proselytize at all, but only gain members through the cradle, or by attempting to explain themselves to those who, on their own initiative, actively seek them out. It is therefore quite possible for such religions to exist peacefully within a Catholic state, but certain others such as Buddhism, Islam, and Fundamentalist Protestantism, do proselytize, and a Catholic state ought to limit that aspect of those religions, at least in the public forum. In particular, official public and civic recognition cannot be given to these or any other false religions by the Catholic state, in precisely the same sense that no school of Obstetrics which teaches the "stork theory" of child delivery should ever be accredited.
This is not a matter of trying to legislate people into the Church. The laws of any nation, by their very nature, can only regulate the exterior acts of a person, never their interior life. It is only one who has an interior life as a Catholic who is saved by being a Catholic. It is unrealistic for anyone to think they could mandate the interior life of another. Indeed, any attempt to force grown people to be "Catholics" without their interior consent would only produce false Catholics of the sort who gave us Vatican II. But we can regulate what people do exteriorly, in the public forum, and in particular limit their attempts to lead other astray.
Someone may want to say, "What are you Catholics afraid of, that people might find something out?" The response is, "All that we are afraid of is that these cranks and crackpots, having been unable (and often unwilling even to try) to convince the experts of their insanities, may then turn their efforts to those who are not qualified to see the flaws in their arguments, and thereby succeed in leading many astray and causing strife and social disorder." What would happen to the economy of a nation in which everyone was at liberty to choose for themselves what constituted legal tender? If one could say currency and another say bottle caps and another say tiddlywinks and so forth, and all such opinions had to be treated as being of equal validity? That would be sheer chaos!
A Catholic nation should protect its citizens from divisive, seductive, and stupid ideas and belief systems in the same manner as responsible parents should protect their children from them as well, or that laws against false advertising protect us from ineffective or dangerous "patent medicines." When everyone in a society has the same idea as to which way is up and which way is down, then each person knows where he or she stands in it. People who feel free to worship God any way they please could quite readily "please" to worship God by committing human sacrifice or ritual molestations, or any of a great many other abominations. In the name of "religious freedom," in the United States of America, cults have been allowed to brainwash and kidnap minor children from their parents, certain families have been permitted to get their children "high" on hallucinogens, and small children have been allowed to die rather than receive a blood transfusion or other medical treatment. None of those horrors could ever take place in a Catholic nation.
This is not a question of making everyone be the same like "cookie-cutter Christians" or members of a religious cult; it is only that everyone should live in the same Universe. People will differ in personality, interests, priorities, hobbies, and tastes as God intended, even as people within a single economy (as opposed to the "economic diversity" mentioned above where everyone decides for himself what constitutes money) will have different amounts of money, different ways of earning it, and different ways of spending it, but all are in agreement as to what is and what is not money.
It doesn't seem fair to me that the Catholic religion should be given special treatment by the civil governments.
On the contrary, it is God who is totally fair by desiring that all civil governments give recognition only to the Catholic religion. He will judge all persons by the same standard, namely that standard taught by the Catholic Church. He plays no favorites. Even if God should excuse a particular soul from a specific duty on account of a legitimate ignorance or other reason on the part of that soul, the soul in question is not being judged by a different non-Catholic standard from the rest. Rather, that too is just another part of the Catholic standard. Catholic Moral theology teaches us that we are responsible for attempting to seek the Truth and to live in accordance with what we have learned, but also that we cannot be held responsible for any Truth which we have genuinely sought, but which Providence has failed to provide.
The Protestant will not be judged by Protestant standards; the Buddhist will not be judged by Buddhist standards, but all shall be judged by the Catholic standard. What could be more fair than to see to it that all souls are equally informed of the one standard by which they shall all be judged?
It seems quite arrogant of you to insist on the traditional Catholic standard as the only right standard.
Such dogmatism does not originate with me. Whenever Moses said, "Thus says the LORD, ..." there was no room for anyone to say rightly, "I think the LORD might be saying something else; tell you what, Moses, you go on thinking that the LORD told you that and I will go on believing that the LORD told me this and we can just respect each other, agree to disagree, and try to get along by talking about other things, how about that?" When Jesus said "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life," such a statement escapes total arrogance only by virtue of the fact that it is true because Jesus is God. The reliable popes have continued this arrogant-seeming dogmatism by pronouncing anathemas on all who disagree with their teaching magisterium. I in turn merely reiterate the teachings of the reliable popes, especially as they apply to the present situation of the Church.
Such seeming arrogance of the Church in Her persistent insistence on being the final and authoritative arbiter as to what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong, and what is good and what is bad, is more than justified. It is no different than the "arrogance" of a person who insists that everyone is obliged to believe that 2 + 2 equals 4, in a room full of fools who think that 2 + 2 can equal anything anyone likes. I can no more deny any Catholic teaching than make 2 + 2 equal to 5.
What right do you "traditionals" have to judge the pope? Didn't Vatican I say that "the judgment of the Apostolic See, whose authority is unsurpassed, is not subject to review by anyone; nor is anyone allowed to pass judgment on its decision. Therefore, those who say that it is permitted to appeal to an ecumenical council from the decisions of the Roman Pontiff, as to an authority superior to the Roman Pontiff, are far from the straight path of truth?" If it did, how can you violate that?
First of all, I maintain that no traditional priest, bishop, lay writer or speaker, or religious is known to have ever "judged" any popes. It is the reliable popes themselves who have condemned any and all who would attempt to do the very things which were done "in the Spirit of Vatican II" (See Appendix A: The Pope Condemns Vatican II). "Traditionals" have consistently shown their unreserved loyalty to the pope by their total refusal to participate in sacrilegious activities already condemned by the reliable popes in no uncertain terms, such as participation in Novus Ordo or other non-Catholic liturgies and worship. Being between reliable popes, we Catholics lack the juridical and formal authority to judge the doubtful popes in any way which could ever bind the conscience of another.
Even so, it is quite proper that the post-1964 actions of the Vatican leadership are subject to criticism, not only owing to the obvious nature of their frequent departure from the footsteps of Saint Peter, but also to the simple, clear, conciliarly established fact that they have partially resigned from their sees and have schismatically separated themselves from their Catholic predecessors. The fact that a man should serve one day as a pope does not give him unconditional and lifelong immunity from all criticism which would hold even if he resigns. The Vatican leadership must walk in the footsteps of Saint Peter in order to wield the authority of Saint Peter, and insofar as any of them have, we "traditionals" have never been critical of them in any way, but insofar as they have clearly deviated from the footsteps of Saint Peter, they no longer wield Saint Peter's authority, nor enjoy his immunity from criticism.
On the other hand, many who are highly placed in the Vatican institution have appealed to Vatican II in an attempt to overturn the judgments and teachings of numerous reliable popes. If you want to quote that Vatican I statement at anyone, quote it at those who have used Vatican II to repeal what Pope Pius XII said about the liturgy in Mediator Dei, or what Pope Pius XI said about ecumenical efforts in Mortalium Animos, and so on through Popes Pius X, Leo XIII, Pius IX, Gregory XVI, Pius V, and so many others.
Didn't some expert in Aramaic claim that translating "for you and for many" as "for you and for all" in the consecration form of the Mass was harmless because the original language Jesus used had no distinct words for "many" and "all?"
Yes, his name was Joachim Jeremias who wrote a book entitled The Eucharistic Words of Jesus in which he claimed that neither Hebrew nor Aramaic had distinct words for "many" and "all" and so therefore Jesus could have meant "all." Clearly, his book is simply an "artifact," a falsified thing brought into existence solely for the purpose of providing those who are pushing for the new liturgy some pseudo-scholastic "source" whom they can quote in defense of their indefensible position. By saying what he said in that book he lost all respect within the scholastic community, since the Aramaic and Hebrew languages do in fact have distinct words for "many" and "all" as do all known languages. One thing to bear in mind is that the Catechism of the Council of Trent states in its section on the Form of the Eucharist, "The additional words for you and for many, are taken, some from Matthew, some from Luke, but were joined together by the Catholic Church under the guidance of the Spirit of God. They serve to declare the fruit and advantage of His Passion. For if we look to its value, we must confess that the Redeemer shed His blood for the salvation of all; but if we look to the fruit which mankind have received from it, we shall easily find that it pertains not unto all, but to many of the human race. When therefore (our Lord) said: For you, He meant either those who were present, or those chosen from among the Jewish people, such as were, with the exception of Judas, the disciples with whom He was speaking. When He added, And for many, He wished to be understood to mean the remainder of the elect from among the Jews or Gentiles.
"With reason, therefore, were the words for all not used, as in this place the fruits of the Passion are alone spoken of, and to the elect only did His Passion bring the fruit of salvation. And this is the purport of the Apostle when he says: Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many; and also of the words of our Lord in John: I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me, because they are thine." - - pages 227-228, TAN Books edition. To me, that ends all room for controversy as to whether "for all" or "for many" is to be used in the consecration formula. Rome has spoken; the cause is finished.
Not content with that, some have recently tried to revive this argument by claiming that "for many" might be some sort of idiom in the Aramaic language for "for all," but that is a very weak claim for which there is no scholastic support whatsoever, and which furthermore flatly contradicts the Church's teaching, as seen above.
But didn't the liturgy grow and change throughout the history of the Church? If such an amount of change was lawful then, how is it not lawful now?
One must concede that there was a certain amount of flexibility and fluidity which existed in the liturgy of the opening centuries of the Church. Even the canon of the Mass could not have had its present form in the first century since it names saints who come several centuries later. The same was true with Scripture, much of which was still being written over the course of that crucial first century. But as details came and went and changed, those details which proved fruitful to the edification of the saints and which were in agreement with the living knowledge of the Fathers were retained while the other details were allowed to fall into obscurity.
By the time Pope Gregory the Great put the final finishing touch on the canon of the Mass, it had been pretty much honed to perfection, and after another thousand years, it was formally canonized, having proven itself over that time. As other details came to be honed to perfection, they too have ceased to change. The main difference between the changes possible in those early years and the changes attempted now as a result of Vatican II is exactly comparable to the difference between an infant experimenting with crawling and walking versus a grown person whose walking and running abilities have proven useful and while still retaining them, suddenly deciding to experiment with crawling and other infantile modes of transport.
For example, in the earliest days of the Church, there was no particular location for the Eucharist to be stored between Masses. It could be near the altar, or near the baptismal font, or hidden in some back place, or just wherever else was convenient. It wasn't that anyone was trying to be different or creative, but merely that no one had given the matter any thought. At some point as the High Middle Ages approached, somebody decided that the most appropriate and fitting place was on the altar. There was true merit in this discovery and it caught on. Soon all new churches being built had the tabernacle being placed on the altar. However, those older churches where the Eucharist was stored at just any place were allowed to keep their configuration.
So it remained until Vatican II. Now the tabernacles are being ripped out and being placed in locations which have already proven inferior to the place on the altar, in terms of the edification of the faithful. As one can see, the fact that some flexibility existed in the old days does not in any way justify attempts to seem (and it really is only seeming) as flexible as things had been in the oldest days of the Church.
Why allow the liturgical reform of Pius V while forbidding the liturgical reform of Paul VI?
The attempt to set the two liturgical reforms as being parallel is nothing but a deception. What Pope Pius V called a "reform" was merely the Mass as it had already been for centuries. The changes only applied to various local forms which had sprouted in the previous 200 years, which amounted to a small prayer here, or an additional rubric there, or even a saint who is only locally honored. For the reform of Pius V, no new prayers were written, only each prayer as said in most regions was universally applied, and even that much was only done where the different traditions were less than 200 years old. If anything, the reform of Pius V strengthened the uniformity of worship throughout the Church.
By contrast, the deform of Paul VI smashed "the Mass" into smithereens, with each one being a unique religion unto itself. It did the very opposite of what the Pius V reform did, and had the very opposite effect. Many prayers were mutilated or even rewritten for the Paul VI "Mass" by people who obviously had no understanding or appreciation of the liturgical history of the Church. Pope Gregory the Great would have no trouble recognizing the Mass of Pope Saint Pius V, for apart from the commemoration of certain saints or feasts unknown in his time, it is the Mass precisely as he knew it. On the other hand he would find the Novus Ordo Missae to be totally unfamiliar and unrecognizable as Catholic worship. Without a doubt he would certainly condemn it.
Finally, the Tridentine Mass was not written at that time, but merely confirmed then as the universal Mass of the Church. That Mass had already existed for ages. It is called Tridentine only because the Council of Trent formally confirmed the Mass as it had been said from the beginning clear up until then.
But no pope should be able to bind future popes, or else their authority is not truly equal. Each pope stands in the Shoes of the Fisherman and his authority is supreme. If Pope Pius V could bind his successors with Quo Primum, then his successors would have had less authority than he did, and would not be true Popes. Why couldn't a later Pope (such as Paul VI) replace or undo the liturgical decrees of a previous pope (such as Pius V)?
First of all, popes most surely can bind their successors in certain things. For example, when Pope Pius XII infallibly proclaimed the doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1950, he thereby bound the consciences of all future popes who are therefore in no position to teach the contrary.
For another example, there is the Gelasian decree in which a fifth century pope attempted to name for all time which books constituted scripture and which did not. Was he attempting to bind all his successors to the same set of Biblical books? Of course he was! Could a later pope validly change that list by adding new books to scripture, deleting any long accepted New Testament writings, or rewriting any Bible books? Of course not!
The unification of scripture at that point so very clearly resembles the unification of the Liturgy under Pius V. Prior to that point there was still some amount of local variation between various dioceses and even parishes. In the case of Scripture, there were a number of congregations which still used the Epistle of Barnabas, the Revelation to Peter, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, and even the letters of Polycarp, Ignatius, and Pope Clement I. There were even some outright forgeries, such as the Revelation to Paul, the Acts of Andrew, or the Gospel of James, which were also beginning to receive some recognition. On the other hand, some Christian communities still had their doubts about the Revelation to John, the letters of Peter, John, and Jude, and the letter to the Hebrews.
The Gelasian decree settled once and for all on the exact list of New Testament Scripture as we have it today. Likewise, there were still a number of local variations in the Liturgy, resulting from some prayer or rubric being introduced here, but not there, or being omitted or changed there, but not here, and worst of all, some priests, for fear for their lives, were beginning to Protestantize their Liturgy, so as to avoid any trouble, by deleting prayers and rubrics on their own initiative. The Quo Primum decree merely did for the Liturgy what the Gelasian decree had done for Scripture.
Quo Primum was meant to be as permanent as the Gelasian decree since it fixed for all time a part of the Revelation of God, which is higher than Faith and Morals (and those would have been high enough) because Revelation is the source of Faith and Morals. But now within the Vatican institution, there is a plot to silence or ignore Quo Primum. Those asking for the Indult have learned not to mention Quo Primum. The leaders of the Vatican institution know that Quo Primum can never be revoked, so their current strategy is that whenever anyone mentions it, the conversation automatically terminates immediately. Any possibility of granting an Indult of which they were talking about promptly disappears.
But Quo Primum defines a matter which is, if anything higher than Faith and Morals, and for that reason can never be abrogated. That is the one reason that the Novus Ordo People of God must schismatically separate themselves from traditional Catholics. We bring up Quo Primum, and they cannot answer that.
Finally, the idea that a Pope limits the authority of the later Popes by promulgating an irrevocable doctrine, which no later Pope has the authority to undo, is fallacious. The Church does not invent Truth; She discovers Truth. Even before Pope Pius XII confirmed the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary, no pope was ever at liberty to promulgate a denial of that doctrine. The reason is that the doctrine is based on a historical fact. God does not go back in history and cause Mary to be assumed into Heaven or not simply because some pope decides to confirm one doctrine or the opposite two thousand years later!
All twentieth century popes, from Pope Saint Pius X onward have supported the Liturgical Movement, which culminated in the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae! How do you explain that?
When Pope Pius X condemned those Modernists who labored even within "the bosom of the Church" in his encyclical, Pascendi, everyone may have thought that the enemy had been routed and driven away. The reality of course is merely that the enemy merely moved to a number of other places, including most notably, the Liturgical Movement. Pope Pius X seems to have gone to his death without ever discovering this particular hideout of the enemy. Had he but known the true intentions of its members, he would have promptly condemned it and shut it down.
The ostensible purpose of the Liturgical Movement was to prepare new vernacular translations of the Mass to go alongside the Latin in the Missals for people to use, and to prepare the overall structure and format of Missals, including introductory notes on how the Mass is conducted and what themes each day's readings focus on, and even the artwork to be used. They were also supposed to make recommendations regarding what hymns would be acceptable (and for what occasions) for use in the Mass. As a sidelight, they were also expected to do some research into the ancient Liturgical sources so as to be best guided by them. That is why one can look at such prefatory matter in their Roman Missal and often see such statements to the effect that "in ancient times, such-and-such was done, or prayer was said, etc.," which may or may not be true. In any case those bishops granting the edition of the Missal an Imprimatur were typically not competent to judge the scholarship of those passages.
It is important to differentiate between that innocuous public image of itself the Liturgical Movement presented to many, including the popes, versus the nefarious actions of its personnel behind the scenes. In order to gain a reputation as "great scholars," a certain proportion of their research work was no doubt legitimate, exploring the actual origins of various Liturgical practices and details. However, a considerable portion of their "studies of the ancient sources" were scholastically dishonest, misquoting and misapplying ancient texts so as to make it seem as though they were discovering that the ancient Christians were practicing a sort of "Novus Ordo" worship.
Among themselves, they knew themselves to be one of the main, if not the main place, where dissenters were hiding within the bosom of the Church. When one explores the actions and words of some of the early leaders of the Liturgical movement such as Virgil Michel and Fr. Gerald Ellard, one sees (at least in retrospect) a master plan to supplant the Mass with a ceremony very much like the Novus Ordo (and this described back in the 1940's and 1950's) and seek out many novelties, especially those calculated to reduce "offense" to the Protestants and other heretics and schismatics.
When Pope Pius XII wrote Mediator Dei, he was already having a number of doubts about the direction the Liturgical Movement was taking and made a point of specifically condemning a number of the things they were contemplating such as the turning of the altar into a table, forbidding the use of black vestments, or resorting to any other "forms of antiquity." Unfortunately, Pope Pius XII evidently lacked the scholastic competence to detect the false scholarship by which those of the Liturgical Movement were merely injecting into their "antiquarian" model the design they had for what the new "Mass" would one day be. He may never have known just how totally inauthentic this design really was, and how much it was really modeled on Thomas Cranmer's "Mass," and that of various other Protestants and Old Catholics.
However, his papal instincts and infallibility being fully intact, he did sense that going "back" to such an "antiquarian" model would be catastrophic to the devotional piety of the faithful of the Church. He wrote Mediator Dei primarily to the Liturgical Movement hoping thereby to redirect it to more constructive ends. Little did he realize just whom he was dealing with. He had been led to believe that he was dealing with honest scholars who had found a lot of interesting details about the worship of the early Church, most of which would be of mere academic interest. But who he was really dealing with was a coterie of deliberate liars who had already fabricated a new "Mass," which was in reality merely an early draft of what would later emerge as the Novus Ordo Missae and which would have been totally unacceptable to him and unrecognizable to the ancients. He was dealing with two-faced dissidents who smiled to his face and said "Oh yes, Your Holiness, we shall revise our plans accordingly," but who then returned to their camp and continued the damage they were already preparing, totally unaffected by the guidance the Pope had given them.
Feeling that he had gotten the Liturgical Movement back on track with his encyclical, he finally allowed a small revision they proposed to be made to the Liturgy, namely the revision of the Holy Week Liturgy. I strongly suspect that this approval was a grievous mistake, obtained under false pretenses at the advice of his secretary Montini (future Paul VI), and that it was on account of this subterfuge (along with many others which were at last coming to light) which led to his refusal to grant the Cardinal's hat to Montini, sending him to Milan instead.
When Pius XII died, there was no "true" Liturgical movement which died or changed, rather the existing Liturgical Movement simply began to show its true colors as never before. Suddenly, they could do whatever they wanted. The seemingly innocuous 1963 Vatican II document, the Constitution on the Liturgy, became a carte blanche permission for these subversives to replace the Mass with a ceremony of their own design. I truly believe that had Popes Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI, and Pius XII truly known the nature of the Liturgical Movement, they would have shut it down, or at least replaced its crew with reliable persons of unquestionable orthodoxy.
Do you mean to claim, therefore, that the Novus Ordo Missae is intrinsically invalid?
No, only that the Novus Ordo Missae lacks intrinsic validity, which is not the same thing. It has happened on occasion that some traditional writers, having proven its lack of intrinsic validity, then continue as if its intrinsic invalidity has been proven. Such serious sloppiness on their part can only be counterproductive since it makes them seem deceptive, and that unnecessarily so: The fact that the new "Mass" lacks intrinsic validity (to say nothing of its uncatholicity) alone is sufficient reason for Catholics to avoid it; there is no need to "prove" it to be intrinsically invalid, even were such a thing possible.
Whenever one finds Papal references to the corruption of the Canon of the Mass, and especially the words of the consecration, one repeatedly finds that changing the words is always condemned as being sinful but that validity is only lost where the meaning is changed, not where the meaning is kept, or at least simply becomes ambiguous provided that an orthodox interpretation is possible. Such an ambiguous consecrational formula does however become doubtful, which is not the same as being necessarily invalid. Those who regard the New Mass formula as disallowing an orthodox interpretation ought to consider the following extreme and probably nonexistent, but theoretically possible scenario:
A validly ordained priest, using valid matter and having valid intent is saying the New Mass in the vernacular. Out of his own eucharistic piety, he says the New Mass consecrational formula as written except he also subvocalizes some additional words (subvocal words in parenthesis) by saying: "Take this, all of you, and drink from it: This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the New and Everlasting Covenant, (the Mystery of Faith); it will be shed for you and for all (of the many) so that sins may be forgiven." Such a formula, although conspicuously illicit and sinful, would certainly seem to be valid, since the exact meaning of the original is retained despite the use of the new formula. Even the subvocalizations might not be necessary provided that he clearly means the above by the words he says.
It is therefore reasonable to allow the New Mass a kind of "extrinsic validity," that is, the priest may have the ability to supply to it the validity which does not intrinsically exist therein, through his own eucharistic piety.
You wouldn't allow the Novus Ordo alongside the Tridentine Mass, would you? It doesn't seem fair to want equal rights for the Tridentine Mass, but then not be willing to grant the same to the Novus Ordo Missae.
Such statements display a false assumption that both rites are equally good and Catholic, and therefore deserve equal treatment. The Novus Ordo Missae is without a doubt a non-Catholic and totally inferior service which Catholics have no more right (let alone duty) to participate in than at any other non-Catholic religious service. The only reason any traditional Catholic would ever advocate having both allowed equally side-by-side is that then everyone would see the difference and voluntarily choose the Tridentine Mass, and allow the Novus Ordo Missae to die a natural death. Alternatively, they may be merely arguing for the best they might conceivably get while the present delusion holds sway.
A fair question to ask is "could a reliable pope allow the Novus Ordo Missae to continue on an Indult basis?" Certainly in its existing form he cannot, owing to the frequent invalidity it has. Were the alternate "Canons" ruled out, and any other fixes made to keep out the heresies, it might at least be valid, but then new problems present themselves. If such a Mass is made to look reverently Catholic by using Latin, incense, bells, facing the altar (instead of the people in attendance), and having Gregorian chant, at that rate why not just go the rest of the way and use the Tridentine Rite? If such things are not done, then the ceremony continues to have a decidedly non-Catholic flavor to it which resembles an Episcopalian or Lutheran service, and the Church has no business creating such an irreverent atmosphere.
One could argue for using an Indult to have something like it on a temporary basis while gradually introducing those who have only known the Novus Ordo to the details of the Tridentine Mass. That is purely a judgment call for the next reliable pope to make.
Why make this big deal about Latin? I happen to like the New Mass in its vernacular, which I find much easier to understand than all that old Latin.
If you have actually read this book, you should be aware of the fact that the use of Latin versus any other language is an extremely small point within the list of issues the traditional Catholic movement has with the Novus Ordo Church of the People of God. It is only those who are not traditional Catholics who caricature traditional Catholics as being obsessed with the use of Latin, as if that were the only issue.
As to the case where someone actually likes the Novus Ordo Missae, it is not a question of which Mass one likes; it is a question of which Mass is Catholic! One well-known and basic requirement of a Catholic is to attend Mass each Sunday and Holy day of Obligation. The Novus Ordo Missae, like a Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, or schismatic East Orthodox service, is not, and could never be, the lawful object of a Catholic's Sunday obligation. Nor can attendance at the Novus Ordo fulfill that Sunday obligation. All Catholics are morally obliged to attend the Tridentine Mass, or alternatively the Uniate Eastern Rite Masses (in the case of the Eastern Rite Catholics).
The difference is not merely one of language or liturgical styles. It is one of worshipping God in a manner which pleases Him, and in a manner which He himself directed, as opposed to "worshipping God" by using a ceremony invented by men whose hatred for God and for His holy Church is a documented fact. It is the difference between being united to the Barque of Peter and the Eternal City versus being in formal schism (and heresy) within a "Church" which is changeable, wobbly, totally ephemeral, and destined to collapse. Novus Ordo "worship" does not please God nor obtain any graces or favor from Him. The Novus Ordo "worshippers" have become just like the children in the street who say, "We played the flute for you, but you didn't dance. We told sad stories for you, but you didn't cry," - - Matthew 11:16-17.
Long ago, well before Vatican II, I was abused and mistreated by a Catholic priest. Why should I go back to that?
There is a hidden, and mistaken, assumption implicit within such an outlook. That assumption is the notion that Vatican II somehow changed such cruel and abusive priests (I must admit they did exist, and still do) into wonderful fine people who wouldn't hurt a fly. The notion that heresy can turn a bad person into a good person is, as one would have to realize upon even a moment's reflection, patently absurd. Furthermore, there is no fact or statistic to support the claim that Vatican II ever changed any of these horrible priests for the better.
Those horrid priests who abused and mistreated children at least still tried (sometimes even by means of their abuse and mistreatment) to teach those children the true Faith. When Vatican II came along and changed everything, these same horrid priests simply continued to abuse and mistreat children in all the same ways they already did, only now they are trying (sometimes even by means of their abuse and mistreatment) to teach those children a false and non-Catholic religion.
If anything, the total number of priests who engage in such behaviors has only skyrocketed since Vatican II, even while the total number of priests (including doubtfully ordained Novus Ordo presiders) has declined. Granted, some proportion of that increase might be traced to their being more victims willing to admit to their victimization than in days gone by, but even in the old days it was easy to detect the bad priests by their frequent transfer from parish to parish, always one step ahead of scandal.
The fact is that classically, very few such bad priests could ever get through seminary. It is not that hard for the faculty of a seminary to detect that a certain seminarian is likely to cause problems and bring scandal on the Church and that seminary. And after all there were any number of bright young men willing to take his place in the seminary classrooms. Today's modernist liberal Novus Ordo seminaries are so starved for seminarians that almost no one gets turned away. They have to take what they can get. Predictably, they only get all the more such creeps.
My heart is especially heavy for those who have been abused or mistreated by such priests. Such persons cannot help but have a certain distaste for anything Catholic, owing to their bad experience in the Church, and my heart goes out to them. Those bad priests will have much to answer for.
Why should we be so concerned about such things as the way the Mass or sacraments are said, when so many more important things such as abortion or starvation require more urgent attention?
The Biblical precedent applicable here is Israel's war against Amalek, as told in Exodus 17:8-16. An interesting point about this war is that when Moses held up his hands, Israel prevailed, but when Moses let down his hands, Amalek prevailed. When Moses got too tired to hold his hands up, they sat him down and two other men held his hands up. It may seem a bit odd that God should place such significance on what a man does with his hands, and that almost all alone at the top of a hill instead of down fighting on the battlefield, but there it is. Moses' raising of his hands represented his efforts as leader of the Israelites to push back the Amalekites, while his letting his hands fall meant his relaxing at his post.
Traditional Catholics today serve in that same capacity as the two men who held up Moses' hands. It is traditional Catholics who keep the Pope's teaching alive, by living it to the fullest and so teaching others. It is the growing strength of the traditional Catholic movement which is turning back the tide of modernism, liberalism, hedonism, and utter dissipation which became so fashionable during the same period the Church was being destroyed.
People who fight abortion or hunger etc. do perform a useful function. Theirs is the function of those on the battlefield fighting the war while traditional Catholics hold up the hands of Moses by keeping their Tridentine Masses and other traditions.
If the Vatican institution returns to the Tridentine Mass for its Western Rite portion, would that mark the end of the crisis?
If that were done, but Vatican II allowed to remain on the books unchanged, with its advocacy for false ecumenism and religious liberty, then that is probably the greatest challenge which the Church could face in the years to come. The problem is that the return to the Catholic Faith on the part of the Vatican institution must be total for the current crisis to end, but all too many Catholics may be content with merely a return to the Catholic Mass. The battle to rehabilitate the Vatican institution does not stop until Vatican II is revoked and the other issues discussed in my concluding chapter have been addressed.
In defending so many different kinds of traditional Catholic orders and not taking sides in their disputes, aren't you acting just like the Protestants who agree with each other in "the essentials" but feel free to disagree with each other about "the non-essentials;" doesn't that make you therefore a pan-traditionalist?
When Protestants try to get Ecumenical, since they are not really willing to unite around the true faith of the Catholic Church, they will always have things about which they disagree. Their idea of solving this problem is to settle on a few key doctrines which they see as "the essentials" on which all members must agree, and then allowing them to retain their various opinions about everything else which they label "the non-essentials." One problem with that approach is that often they are not able to agree as to which doctrines or morals are essential and which are not.
For example, they might all agree that Trinitarian theology, Heaven and Hell, God's creation of Man, the nature of Sin, and the inerrancy of the Bible are all essential, but one will come along and say that Baptism in water is essential while another will say it's not, or one will say that Signs and Wonders (e. g. Tongues, Prophecies, Healings, Miracles, etc.) either must or must not occur while others will say that those things don't matter.
Another problem with that approach is that one quickly finds that the fewer "essentials" one requires religious bodies to have in order to be a member of their ecumenical club, the more religious bodies one can include in their club and therefore the larger they become. It is only a matter of time before their standard becomes so broad and so general and so vague, their "essentials" so very, very few that practically everyone is by definition in their club and together they have virtually nothing left to say to those few remaining outside it.
That is not what I have done here. The disagreements which Catholic orders have are quite important. In many cases they are much more important or "essential" than many other minor teachings of the Church (in whatever sense that any teaching of the Church could ever be regarded as more or less important than another). The liberty which the various orders described here have to disagree with each other is solely and strictly based on the fact that the Church has never provided a formal, doctrinal, and definitive answer to these specific questions. There are many precedents of course, but some of these precedents point towards one solution, others towards another, and other precedents toward yet another. When the next reliable Catholic pope answers these questions, all Catholics will submit to his rulings and these disagreements will no longer be permitted.
It is interesting to note that all of their differences boil down to questions regarding how a Catholic is to respond to the present crisis. All of the older questions have long since been settled by the Church and one finds among the various bishops, priests, orders, and lay faithful of all of these groups a valid Catholic position in total uniformity regarding everything the Church has defined as morals or doctrine. It is that uniformity regarding the established teachings of the Church which sets apart the Catholic Church in all of its present groups from all others.
I am not a "pan-traditionalist" since there are many "traditional" forms of worship which are not Catholic at all, such as the Voodoo worship traditions of Benin or even the noble traditions of the Jews. Even some groups which try to pass themselves off as "Catholic," such as Old Catholics, the Patriotic Church of China, the Eastern Orthodox, Plinio Corrêa De Oliveira's TFP group, and so forth are still rejected here (although I still harbor hopes for the rehabilitation of the TFP) because of their refusal to adhere to established teachings of the Church. I am not a "pan-traditionalist" but a "pan-Catholic." I believe in the Catholic Church in its entirety, not merely this or that portion.
I find it difficult to see any "Oneness" amongst the various groups you write about since they seem to bicker with each other so very much and even say horrible things about each other.
Remember, the "Oneness" of the Church does not necessarily imply that all Catholics are just "buddy-buddy" pals with all other Catholics. One also has to be aware of the principle of false animosity. If you wanted to make person A and person B enemies of each other, you simply go to person A and tell them that person B has been saying all sorts of terrible things about him. You then go to person B and say the same things regarding person A. Until persons A and B should figure out what has happened, they will be at odds with each other, and indeed may even add to that enmity themselves by actually speaking out against each other. The entire feud is based on nothing and means nothing.
It is also a fact that exterior factors can put Catholics at odds with each other. For example, if two nations should go to war against each other, and if both have Catholic soldiers enlisted in their armies, you could, and typically would, have Catholics shooting at each other at the command of mere secular rulers. Indeed, the most virulent divisions currently within the Church are similarly traceable to such exterior causes. The division between Catholics who are within the Vatican institution and Catholics who are outside it is directly caused by that Vatican institution because they tell those Catholics within it to "have nothing to do with those who are outside our institution, and in exchange we will allow you to practice your Catholic faith under our roof and with our blessing." Catholics who are outside that institution have quite reasonably and sensibly responded in kind, and thus is created that division.
Similarly, the division between the SSPX. and other groups operating outside the Vatican institution is based on the hope that they might continue to be defended by the laws of the Vatican institution and therefore in a better bargaining position with the current Vatican leadership, providing that they distance themselves from all sedevacantist groups. In like manner, the division between the SSPV and other sedevacantists, is based on the hope that they might again one day be recognized by the SSPX, providing that they continue to distance themselves from the Thục-line bishops which Lefebvre had criticized shortly before the division between the SSPX and the SSPV happened.
Another factor, and the only one which represents a certain degree of true schism within the Church, is the different attempts to understand the nature of the current Church crisis and ascertain just what is to be done about it. While all Catholics must be (and in fact still are in these confusing times) united in belief regarding each and every teaching of the Church as promulgated and defined by the reliable popes, the current crisis has brought up many new questions, and there does not presently happen to exist any Catholic authority which is both willing and able to settle these questions authoritatively. Splendid arguments have been made for all sides of such questions as "do we have a pope, and if so in what sense," "can there be marriage annulments, and if so on what basis, and need the Vatican institution be involved," and "at which point do we draw the line and say that such-and-such an edition of the Roman Missal is the last official one, rendering all precious editions obsolete and therefore seeing all later editions merely as products of the non-Catholic Vatican institution."
There is also a tendency to react against the false ecumenism of Vatican II. It is important for the Church avoid all pretense of unity with false religions, as Pope Pius XI taught in Mortalium Animos. However, in the zeal to avoid the false ecumenism of Vatican II, traditional Catholics have sometimes neglected that true ecumenism which is internal to the Church and essential to the principle of the Church being One (along with being Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic). It is not a trivial thing to draw the lines where they truly belong. With the Vatican institution being so lenient with false religions as it is, traditionalists often respond by preferring to risk erring on the side of being too strict rather than too lenient. At least they have the satisfaction of knowing that no one within the circle they draw is not a Catholic. And all would agree that there almost certainly exist some real Catholics outside the narrow circle they each have drawn, even though they might be uncertain as to precisely who. Of their own parish or congregation or society, they can be certain; of anyone else's they can only guess.
Also, not being aware of the charter and delegated jurisdiction Vatican II granted for Catholic orders to function apart from the Vatican institution, many such Catholic orders tend to feel as if they are functioning in an irregular fashion. While each may be satisfied with the reasons for its own seemingly irregular functioning, they are often uncertain as to the reasons for the similar seemingly irregular functioning of the others.
Drawing from that is also a fear for the future of the other groups, on behalf of their followers. That fear seems to have a certain logic to it. After all, if so great an institution as the visible Church (for which they mistake the Vatican institution) should be allowed to fall so rapidly into error, what is to stop any of these smaller groups from succumbing from the particular danger each of these groups face? What is to prevent the Indult crowd from being swept up into the modernism which is so pervasive throughout the rest of the Vatican institution? What is to prevent the SSPX from coming to believe the heretical position that popes can be routinely disobeyed? How can we know that the sedevacantists will not become so accustomed to functioning without a living pope that they cannot recognize a true, valid, and reliable pope even when one should appear? Each group is aware of the precautions they have taken against their own particular danger, yet they see all too readily the weaknesses in the precautions the other groups are taking. They all lack knowledge of the fact that their stability is guaranteed not by the precautions they have taken, but by the promises of God to His Church, which all traditional Catholics from each of these groups together constitute.
Still one more factor to consider is that each faction seeks to unite all Catholics under their opinion. This exactly parallels the situation in the First Great Western Schism when all who favored the Pope in Rome from the Pope himself on down sought to unite all Catholics under their Pope, and at the same time all who favored the "Pope" in Avignon from that "Pope" on down sought to unite all Catholics under their "Pope," and again the same for those who favored the "Pope" in Pisa. Notice that the Council of Constance did not favor one over another but instead elected a new Pope acceptible to all. Nobody had to see their rival win, and every Catholic got what all truly desired. So I am sure it will be with the present situation.
Finally, one must remember that extremely few ever possess the gift to see into the heart of another. All traditional priests and bishops are quite conscious of their own efforts at remaining orthodox and catholic in their teaching and practice, but none of them can see within the hearts of the others. When another starts reaching conclusions about the unsettled questions which differ from what one has concluded, it is very easy to suppose that the other fellow has taken an uncatholic turn in his thought processes.
It is easy to see that none of these "divisions" entail any real long term threat to the unity of the Roman Catholic Church since, when the next reliable Catholic pope rules on the unsettled questions, all Catholics will accept the pope's ruling, and in their union with the pope they shall be united to each other as well. One can properly pray that those who were right will forgive those who were wrong and avoid gloating over them, and that those who were wrong will swallow their pride and accept what is right. Also, as more and more Catholics come to understand the true natures of the Catholic Church and the Vatican institution, the abused authority of the Vatican institution will be seen for what it is and the division between those inside and those outside the Vatican institution will fade along with all other divisions. The Church is eternally One, even when She seemed to be Two or Three, and even now when She seems to be Several.
How can you justify the sedevacantist's rejection of the Pope?
First of all, sedevacantists do not reject the pope. What they reject is any claims to the papacy on the part of certain men whose teaching and public example differ quite markedly from the that of St. Peter and all the reliable popes. If only John Paul II would do the works of a true and reliable pope! If he were to withdraw all of the Novus Ordo sacramental forms and return all the ancient sacraments, have the rebellious clergy deposed and the loyal clergy conditionally ordained or consecrated as applicable, revoke the entirely of Vatican II and all that even claims to follow from that, and make peace with all traditional bishops presently functioning outside the Vatican institution, then every Catholic sedevacantist would loyally stand behind him as the Vicar of Christ's most obedient sons!
That may sound like a lot to ask, but really, having a monarchical rule over the Church means that all that a true and reliable pope needs to do personally is mandate these things with the full weight of his Petrine authority. If the Novus Ordo bishops and cardinals want to get together and attempt to outvote him, all they demonstrate by so doing is their already present lack of submission to the Supreme Pontiff. If they care to find some way that Vatican II gives them the right to outvote the pope, then they demonstrate the difference between the structure of the Vatican institution (as mandated at Vatican II) and that of the Catholic Church (as mandated by Christ).
So long as John Paul II doesn't do those works which a true and reliable pope must do, sedevacantists look at him and they look at the Chair of St. Peter, and it is as if the two have never met. They may not have understood how any authority had been lost, but they were quite correct in discerning that there had been some sort of a loss of authority. So long as he upholds Vatican II, he deprives himself of universal jurisdiction and undermines, weakens, or even eliminates the authority he otherwise would certainly have. And without that absolute Catholic authority, why should he be granted the infallibility exclusively reserved to those successors of Peter whose authority is absolute?
For example, John Paul II has taught on many occasions that divorce, contraceptives, abortion, "mercy-killing," infanticide, homosexual "marriages," and priestesses are all evils which must be condemned. Great! Wonderful! Let us all stand up and give the man three cheers and a round of applause! For some reason, John Paul II himself maintains a guarded orthodoxy regarding these controversial issues. Even the sedevacantists give the man credit where credit is due. Certainly, all true Catholics must agree to what he has taught about these things. Yet this same John Paul II himself, by upholding and carrying out the Vatican II directives on "Religious Liberty," has gone to each and every nation which still based their laws on Catholic Morals, and told them to rewrite their constitution so as to allow other religions to come in on an equality with the Catholic faith. Many of these other religions teach that divorce, contraception, abortion, "mercy-killing," infanticide, homosexual "marriages," and priestesses are acceptable! By so doing he has deprived his own perfectly good advice in these areas of the authority it rightly deserves.
Sedevacantists are not disloyal to the pope; they merely fail to see in the current Vatican leadership the lawful object of that loyalty which is rightly owed only to the Vicar of Christ. They have treated this period starting with the death of Pope Pius XII as an interregnum, which is the appropriate course of action, even in the event the Church should someday conclude that any of the doubtful popes were true (but very weak) successors of Peter.
On the practical level, sedevacantists are a great deal more concerned with the fact that a great many bishops, archbishops, and cardinals have entirely vacated their sees, or indeed any claim to being Catholics at all, and the rest fare only marginally better. Their real fight is not so much against John Paul II himself (or any other doubtful pope) as it is against such local "diocesan" bishops who harass them on account of the true sheep who are departing from those false shepherds. Nevertheless the principle remains true that a commander is, to some degree, responsible for the behavior of those who answer to him.
I hear that sedevacantists don't pray for the Pope.
That is entirely false. First of all, lacking a living Pope at the moment, they certainly do pray and desire that God would one day soon send a true and reliable Catholic Pope who would undo all of the mess decreed at Vatican II and restore all things in Christ. If one wants to say that they don't pray for John Paul II (or whoever may come to succeed him as leader of the Vatican institution), even that is not true. They pray that the man should repent of the heresies he harbors and become a true Pope, for the good of his own soul and for the good of the Church.
What sedevacantists refuse to do is pray with John Paul II (or whoever) since they and he are praying for contrary things. They pray for the restoration of the Church, and of Christendom, and for the Kingdom of God, and for souls to come to the Catholic Church and be taught, edified, and saved. Sedevacantists (and all true Catholics) pray that the world may come to a uniform knowledge of the Truth but John Paul II and his associates pray that the world may become peaceful by having everyone set aside any search for Truth. Furthermore, John Paul II personally prays with the leaders and representatives of false religions, so that whoever prays with him might be, indirectly, praying with them.
At the Mass, in the Canon of the Mass, there is a point at which the priest may be uniting his prayer of that Mass with the prayers of the Pope. The sedevacantist priest saying Mass simply proceeds the way all priests do when the Church is between popes, namely they omit any name of the Pope with whom they unite their prayer.
Doesn't your claim regarding the fall of the Vatican institution mandated at Vatican II negate all the other sedevacantist theories?
It is still conceivable that some future reliable pope may rule or conclude that authority was lost at some previous point, during either the reign of John XXIII or the first part of Paul VI, due to heresy on their part. The problem with opining that authority was lost at any previous point is that there are so many such previous points at which authority might have been lost that traditional Catholic sedevacantists have difficulty agreeing as to which of these points was where "the pope" lost his office.
There is quite a list of possible places:
... The list could go on.
Unfortunately, the loss of authority at any of these points is such an invisible and debatable thing that, in the absence of any formal proclamation from a future reliable pope, it would have to be regarded as mere theological speculation. Clearly, somewhere amongst these events there was a very real defection from the Faith on the part of a majority of the Catholic hierarchy. What was needed was a way to remove, or at least indicate the possible removal of, all of them from their offices in the external and public forum. The Pope could not excommunicate all the bishops since he was as far gone as they; the bishops and cardinals could not get together and conclude that the Pope had excommunicated himself and thus hold a conclave since they were collectively as far gone as he. This author would venture the theory that Vatican II was God's way of accomplishing that which no one was willing or able to do.
How can you justify the SSPX's disobedience to the Pope?
Their disobedience is quite strictly limited to those disciplines which contradict Faith and Morals. Insofar as the teachings and disciplines of John Paul II are in accord with Catholic Faith and Morals, or at least reconcilable with it, they are quite happy to work with him and in fact among his most ardent supporters. It is unfortunate that this loyalty is scarcely reciprocated at all, and that only by Cardinal Ratzinger who has gone to bat for them at least twice, and of course the friendly overtures conducted by Cd. Hoyos. Disciplines that forbid the conveyance of a valid apostolic succession (by attempting to condemn the 1988 and 1991 episcopal consecrations) run counter to the Catholic doctrine that the Apostolic succession is meant to persist until the end of time. Disciplines that require attendance and participation in non-Catholic worship (such as the Novus Ordo) run counter to the Moral principle that Catholics must only attend Catholic worship.
The main real reason this group comes under so much fire is on account of their size. They are, after all, more than twice as large as all other traditional (Western Rite) Catholic groups put together. It is because of this considerable size that most Catholics, when they think of traditionalists, think of the SSPX. Sometimes, their position is seen as an unstable compromise, straddling the fence between that of the sedevacantists and that of the Indult crowd. But actually their role is quite different from the roles of those other groups. Their unique role requires that they remain just close enough that diplomacy is possible, just far enough that diplomacy is necessary, and sizable enough that diplomacy is urgently sought after.
So often it seems that the SSPX is always just barely escaping a charge of being schismatic or excommunicated from the Vatican institution on what strikes me as little more than obscure technicalities of Canon Law.
That is true; only a couple small technicalities of Canon Law separate them from outright "excommunication" from the Vatican institution. However, it is precisely for such strange and exceptional situations as theirs that those technicalities were written into Canon Law in the first place. The technicalities exist in order to protect any group of Catholics from any injustice at the hands of potentially corrupt Vatican officials. If anything, the new Code of Canon Law actually strengthens those technicalities. Under the new Code, unlike the old Code, Lefebvre doesn't have to prove that he was right in consecrating those four bishops, only that he thought he was right. How ironic that the same man who strengthened those technicalities has wished that he could have eliminated them, at least with respect to the SSPX!
How can you justify the SSPX's refusal to study the theological implications of the current crisis?
If the SSPX were to study the theological implications of the current crisis, they might either become sedevacantists or go and join the Indult crowd, neither of which alternatives would allow them to serve in their diplomatic role in the potential rehabilitation of the Vatican institution. It is their refusal to fall either into the camp of the sedevacantists or the Indult crowd which makes possible their future "zigzagging," as Abp. Lefebvre himself had done.
How can you explain Abp. Lefebvre's continual zigzagging between calling the Vatican leadership alternately the Successor of Peter and the Antichrist?
As an Archbishop, charged with the mission of rehabilitating the Vatican institution, he needed (and his present successors in the SSPX leadership need) to be responsive to events in the Vatican. Unlike the sedevacantist crowd, for whom the Vatican leadership almost never does anything right, and the Indult crowd, for whom the Vatican leadership almost never does anything wrong, Abp. Lefebvre and the SSPX respond to recent events in the Vatican. It is like a parent punishing a child who is naughty and rewarding a child who is good. A parent who always spanks or always spoils teaches the child nothing, but a parent who rewards good behavior and punishes bad serves as a good parent and teacher. It is this quality which gives the SSPX a unique parental function with respect to the Vatican institution that neither the Indult crowd nor the sedevacantists can fulfill.
Lefebvre would punish Paul VI, and then the John Paul's by referring to them as Antichrist and pulling his priests and religious just a little bit further away from them whenever they made a move which betrayed the Church and the Faith. When Paul VI or the John Paul's would make a move in the right direction, or which in some way affirmed the Roman Catholic Church or Faith, Lefebvre would reward them by referring to each of them in turn as the Successor of Peter and by bringing his priests and religious just that little bit closer again.
In the early days of the founding of Ecône, he was perfectly happy to give Paul VI his blessing, since that blessing was being returned. As trouble mounted up with the apostate French hierarchy, he distanced himself from them but continued to show his loyalty to Paul VI. As Paul VI got into the act, Lefebvre began to take a hard line against him, ultimately culminating in his comments during the Mass at Lille. When, a short time later, Paul VI finally granted Lefebvre the desired audience, there was a brief peace between them which ended shortly thereafter when Paul VI forgot that momentary reconciliation and renewed his unjustified attacks on the SSPX. The last couple years of Paul VI were almost certainly the one period of time that Lefebvre had come the closest to deciding to become a sedevacantist. Certainly many of his seminary students at that time unintentionally picked up on the feelings he had right then loud and clear.
The leadership of John Paul I being so short, Lefebvre does not appear to have formed much of an opinion about him one way or the other. When John Paul II took office, his prompt willingness to receive Lefebvre in an audience, and his deep sympathy for traditional Catholics brought Lefebvre much closer to the Vatican leadership, and into being willing to work with Cardinal Seper, despite the latter's catastrophic statement that "They are making a banner of the Mass of St. Pius V!" Lefebvre might have been more put off by the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law had he not been then quite busy removing the sedevacantist priests from the ranks of the SSPX. Cardinal Ratzinger's appreciation of Lefebvre for removing the sedevacantist priests and the 1984 Indult may have brought Lefebvre just that small bit closer to the Vatican institution, but as continued negotiations achieved nothing, Lefebvre stopped his move to the arms of the Vatican.
When John Paul II performed his Assisi fiasco in late 1986, it may have been at that time that Lefebvre privately resolved to consecrate bishops to succeed him. When he announced his intention to consecrate bishops and they responded with unheard of gestures such as sending Cardinal Gagnon to visit the SSPX, and negotiations which at last seemed to be going somewhere, Lefebvre brought his priests and religious as close to the Vatican institution as they had ever been since the early days of the founding of Ecône, but as negotiations broke down and he realized what was really going on, he hardened his stance and renewed his determination to consecrate the bishops. In the context of these events and his mission to rehabilitate the Vatican institution, his zigzagging actually makes a great deal of sense.
How can you justify the Indult crowd's unity with John Paul II and the Vatican hierarchy?
They have been given a very special favor, in that they have been permitted to keep their Catholic Faith and worship despite their membership in the Vatican institution. Towards them, one could reasonably argue, John Paul II behaves just enough like a pope that they might not be sinning by praying in union with him. Really, they pray not so much in union with him personally, as they do with the office he ostensibly represents, although personal loyalty to the man, owing to his benign and kindly nature is certainly also a factor.
If there are any soldiers fighting on the front lines and personally facing the dangers of the war to rehabilitate the Vatican institution, it is the Indult priests and lay faithful. It is they who have written all the letters, signed all the petitions, appealed all the cases to the Vatican, and they who have made it possible for the Catholic Church to continue to subsist within the Vatican institution, as mandated at Vatican II.
How can you justify the Indult crowd's (and even that of Abp. Lefebvre on some occasions) attempt to make the Tridentine and Novus Ordo Rites coexist side by side?
Granted, a request for the true and a false religion to coexist side by side is quite untenable, from a doctrinal standpoint. However, from a practical and diplomatic standpoint I cannot think of a more effective way to terminate the existence of the Novus Ordo. Think of it this way: A car dealer who has had a long and mostly successful career buying and selling Fords or Chevrolets is suddenly told that from now on he must only deal in toy cars. Grudgingly, he goes along with this, even though his customer base shrinks rapidly. At the same time, a black market for real cars develops. Perhaps he is granted permission to sell a real car or two once in a while, if some customer puts in an order, pays a very high price for it, and is willing to wait for delivery. Only on that basis can toy cars continue to sell. Now suppose that the new rule he must follow is that toy cars and real cars must be equally available side by side on the same showroom floor, and for the same price. Guess which ones will sell!
If, for example, the decree went forth that all parishes in the Vatican institution must have an equal number of Tridentine and Novus Ordo Masses, and at equally convenient times etc., for a period of three years, and after that the parishes may increase or decrease the number of either kind of Masses depending on how well attended they are, one can easily see that the Novus Ordo would die a natural death inside of five years.
How can you justify the Indult crowd's membership in a non-Catholic church?
Understand that the Vatican institution is not a church, but a strictly human organization with at least two different churches sharing its roof. Membership in that institution is no different than membership in the Republican party. The fact that there existed a well-known Republican Governor of the State of New Jersey who was a pro-abortionist does not therefore mean that all Republicans are pro-abortionists, nor do they share in that Governor's sin by being members of the Republican party. Likewise, membership in the Vatican institution does not make every Indult Catholic a practitioner of Religious Liberty, Ecumenism, or the Novus Ordo Missae.
You have written much here of unofficial ordinations and consecrations and unpleasant controversies; where is the love that Jesus Christ spoke of? Why couldn't this have read more like the New Testament?
The story of a hardworking goldsmith who devotes his entire life to making some beautiful work of art in gold would similarly differ from the story of those who practically have to resort to theft to prevent that golden masterpiece from being melted down and lost to all posterity. Christ Himself instituted the Church and all of its sacramental treasures. The heroes of this account are not instituting a new Church but preserving the priceless public treasure entrusted to them by Christ.
Why is the individual Catholic at liberty to conceal his attendance at parishes within other factions of the Church?
Since the entire traditional Catholic movement is simply the One Catholic Church, the divisions between the factions, expedient as they may be for the purposes of God in restoring order, have no moral right to exist. Morally, the situation is exactly equivalent to how it would have been back in the pre-Vatican II "good old days" if two neighboring priests, both in union with Rome and their diocese, were to have had a feud going on between them where Fr. X refuses to give the sacraments to anyone he finds out to have obtained any sacraments from Fr. Y, and vice versa. Since that division has no moral right to exist (and presumably their bishop(s) should sooner or later get around to dealing with them about this), an individual who has received sacraments from Fr. Y is quite at liberty to conceal that fact from Fr. X, using silence or evasive answers. While Fr. X may be quite properly concerned with seeing to it that a parishioner is not receiving sacraments from a non-Catholic priest, so long as the parishioner has only received the sacraments from Catholic priests, Fr. X has no need or right to know which Catholic priests the parishioner has received sacraments from.
Why is there almost nothing said in this book about the various visions and apparitions which talk about this, or the new apparitions?
There are a number of subjects which I have deliberately avoided in this book, apparitions being one of them. Fatima, for example, and particularly the mysterious and unknown, yet perennially famous "Third Secret" may very well indeed be all about the "current crisis in the Church," but the "current crisis in the Church" is not about Fatima. So much has been written about Fatima by people who know so much more about it than I do that there is nothing I could add to it. Since private revelations, no matter how accurate some of them have proven to be, are not binding on the Faithful, I cannot in good conscience base my book on any of them. For the sake of argument, suppose that by some bad fortune, the "Third Secret" were to be one day revealed to be something way out in left field, and Fatima thereby discredited, what would become of every "Catholic" book which is based on it? Not that I seriously believe that could ever happen, but can one afford to be so careless when trying to understand the current crisis in the Church? In point of fact, I am actually quite impressed with some of the better known private revelations, including Fatima, and hope that the reader may indeed take some time to become more familiar with them.
The new apparitions, such as Medjugorje, are an entirely different ball of worms. Only one of these (Betania) has ever been approved, and that only by the questionable Post-Catholic Vatican Hierarchy. Some of them (such as Bayside) have been so far off base as to be disapproved even by the current Vatican Hierarchy (and rightly so). Since all of these say really off the wall things and/or deny obvious truths regarding morals, doctrine, or even the current status of the Church, they really prove to be of little use except as examples of human or even demonic inventions. Furthermore, visionaries tend to be sources of division as different Catholics are unable to agree on which visionaries to trust. Unity will be achieved in the Church only by fixating on the Universal and Historic Magisterium of the Church and nothing else because that, unlike Madame So-and-so's latest message from the Blessed Virgin Mary, is something all Catholics are constrained to agree with and adhere to.
Why is there almost nothing is said in this book about the plots of Masons, Jews, and Communists who have infiltrated the Church, nor about the "Three days of Darkness," the "Antichrist," or the "Man of Sin" or other End-time prophecies about what has brought about this current crisis?
The specific nature of the plots of various persons who seem to be members of these or other groups hostile to the Church are not terribly important to me. The Church has always had enemies trying to overthrow it by various means; none of these people have come up with anything new. The real question in my mind is "Why should God now allow the enemies of the Church to have the apparent success they have had at, and since, Vatican II?"
It must be admitted that conspiracies of a sort do in fact exist. There are many powerful figures in the media, in politics, in finance, in industry, and even seemingly lacking all of these things as they quietly function in the seminaries and other official institutions of the Vatican, who work together to try to destroy the Church. However, I find that meditating too long on such things only promotes a paranoid state of mind in which no one and nothing can be trusted, thinking becomes impossible, and one finally becomes immobilized and unable to do anything for the Kingdom of God for fear of falling into the hands of the Enemy.
There have always been conspiracies and there shall always be conspiracies, until the End of the World. Were we Catholics ever to find a truly effective means for rooting all of them out, I suspect that such an effort would only place God Himself in the rather bizarre and awkward position of having to intervene in order to protect His enemies from His friends. I don't for a moment imagine that would ever happen. Just as the Church is the Body of Christ, conspiracies might be properly spoken of as the "Body of Satan." Each "Body" shall persist in this world for as long as the spirit which moves it is permitted influence here, Jesus forever, and Satan until the End of this World.
Our part is to be that Body of Christ, and to live in a manner which is appropriate for that Body. If we do that and help all others that we can to do the same, we have discharged our entire duties in this earth. We leave it to God to set the times and seasons for the limits on the conspiracies to be expanded or contracted as suits His plan.
For some reason, excessive prophetic speculation seems to have the same deleterious effect on those who engage in it as speculation about conspiratorial plots. In either case, one ends up getting that feeling that one is stumbling about through a dark room littered with dangerous objects to trip over or fall into. No amount of meditating on these things ever seems to turn up the lights in the least.
A somewhat more interesting question is "Why should so many traditional Catholics be so concerned with these plots or prophecies?" Remember that although the Vatican institution was legally separated from the Catholic Church in 1964, virtually no one at the time, or for quite some years after that time realized it. In ignorance of that fact, Catholics simply made an unspoken assumption that the Vatican institution is still identical to the Roman Catholic Church. Indeed, with such assumptions rooted in their minds, they have found themselves at a loss to explain how the "Catholic Church" could become so uncatholic, and yet on the other hand what justification could ever be found for obtaining their sacraments outside it.
Even all of the books I recommend in my bibliography were written as if it were the Catholic Church which was doing all of these uncatholic things, when in fact it was merely the Vatican institution and not the Roman Catholic Church at all. The prospect of some pope just waking up some day and saying to himself, "I am sick and tired of always having to teach the truth all the time; I think I'll go teach some heresy today," and being able to get away with it, with no resistance from the cardinals, the bishops, the Holy Spirit, or anyone else, is truly frightening. Considering what horrible and sordid persons some popes in the past have been, one marvels that none of them have ever done such a thing before. Now that we finally seem to have it happen, one has to wonder why "popes" who have such obvious good will should be the first to be able to do this. One instinctively knows that there must be more to this than meets the eye.
In the absence of the knowledge of the separation between the Vatican institution and the Catholic Church, one grasps at straws as they try to explain to themselves what has happened. Either the conspiracies somehow just got dramatically smarter than ever before (which hypothesis leads one to be concerned with the plots of the Masons, the Jews, Communists, or the Illuminati etc.) or else we have entered some special time in prophecy leading up to the End of the World, such as the "Three days of Darkness," the "Final Aposotasy" or the arrival of "The Antichrist" (which hypotheses leads one to be concerned with End-time prophecies), or some combination of the three. The latter two at least leave God in control while the first has it that Satan has just figured out how to outsmart God, at least for the time being.
Now that it is known that the Vatican institution is no longer identical to the Catholic Church, and precisely when and how that legally took place, there really is no need for those other two hypotheses. Their importance can only be expected to decline in the minds of most traditionalist Catholics, excepting only such few who are of a particularly nervous or excitable disposition.
What about the rumor that Cardinal Liénart was a Mason?
Even the significance of this strange rumor is probably lost on most Catholics. However, for the record, the rumor is simply not true. Some years ago, the Angelus offered a considerable sum of money as a reward to anyone who could provide evidence (for example membership rolls of a Masonic lodge, photographs of the Cardinal with other Masons inside the lodge, or wearing distinctive Masonic garments, etc.) that the Cardinal who consecrated Marcel Lefebvre had been a Mason. The reward was never claimed, for the reason that no such evidence exists. That the Cardinal was probably quite sympathetic, or even friendly towards Masons and Masonry, or even their confederate or stooge, is quite probable, owing to the liberal, anti-Catholic actions of his later life. But as to the claim that he was a formal member, that is definitely not true.
Of a little more interest is the real reason some people spread this rumor. The rational goes like this: If the person who consecrated Lefebvre is a Mason, then perhaps out of Masonic villainy he deliberately withheld a valid intent to consecrate Lefebvre as a bishop. This would cast doubt on the validity of the ordinations of all priests of the SSPX that he ordained. One can readily see that the only people to gain from spreading this "conspiracy theory" are those of the Novus Ordo establishment who seek to undermine Lefebvre's work and divide the Church.
Really, this rumor is so ridiculous that I hesitated to even put it in this part of this book. For the sake of argument, let us suppose the extreme worst case, that Cardinal Liénart was a Mason who deliberately withheld a valid intention to consecrate any and all bishops (including Lefebvre) that he consecrated, so as to do his part to destroy the Apostolic Succession. The fact remains that there were two other bishops in that ceremony serving as co-consecrators. Either one of them alone would have been enough to convey a valid consecration to Lefebvre. That is precisely the reason why the Church generally provides for the presence of co-consecrators whenever making a bishop.
The main reason I include mention of this rumor is that this is the perfect example of why conspiracy theories are not discussed in this book. It is too easy for those who really do belong to the conspiracies to manipulate certain traditional Catholics by spreading certain conspiracy theories of their own.
Why don't any of the modern apparitions speak of the traditional Catholic movement?
Apart from the apparitions which have been approved by the pre-Roman Schism Catholic Church (before 1964), I strongly doubt that any of the well-known apparitions have any source in the supernatural realm, although it is possible that some may be positively Satanic in origin. Our Lady, assumed into Heaven and dwelling in the very sight of God, knows where the Church is, but "Our Lady," as presented in the mouths of these new seers, knows nothing more than the seers themselves (which isn't much).
An example to illustrate this point would be the numerous and bulky "messages" by Don Stefano Gobbi. Turning to the only mention (and that without even a name) of any of the great heroes who are helping the Church through this difficult period, one would surely expect to find Our Lady praising this hero and recommending his canonization. But let us see what we find in message 385, dated June 29, 1988. "The heart of the Pope is bleeding today because of one Bishop of the holy Church of God who, through an arbitrary episcopal ordination carried out against his will, is opening up a painful schism in the Catholic Church."
Clearly, this is a reference to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, but notice something missing? History recounts that there were two bishops performing an episcopal consecration, Marcel Lefebvre and Antonio de Castro Mayer. Yet the message only says one! Clearly, Gobbi's "Our Lady" is limited to the same information sources that Gobbi himself had access to. That source was the newsmedia, both Vatican and secular, TV, radio, and print, which all unanimously stressed Lefebvre to the total exclusion of de Castro Mayer. It was all "Lefebvre, Lefebvre, Lefebvre!" without so much as a word about who that other bishop was, or even the fact that more than one faithful bishop supported and participated in that action. That right there alone is proof positive that Fr. Gobbi's messages absolutely do not have their source in the supernatural (either divine or demonic)! It is interesting to note that some short time after putting the first edition of my book on-line, the Vatican institution, in a rare moment of sanity, declared Fr. Gobbi's messages to be not the least bit supernatural in their origin.
Furthermore, John Paul II was hardly bleeding his heart that day. When Philosopher and personal friend of Paul VI Jean Guitton paid a visit to Lefebvre several days prior to the consecrations, he asked "Monsignor, John Paul II is actually in Vienna in Austria. Let us suppose that he decides to take a helicopter and he arrives at Ecône during the ceremony. Would you then consecrate the four bishops?" Lefebvre answered him saying "Well, of course not. I would throw myself in his arms." He then reminded Jean Guitton that he was not a schismatic and not rebelling against Peter. John Paul II never took that helicopter. Instead, he spent the day in some now long-forgotten bit of administrivia which at the time he felt was much more important.
Have you shown this book to any experts so as to get their approval or advice, or to try to bring them over to your opinion?
What experts? Seriously, what experts? There are none. Turn to the Vatican hierarchy for advice on these complex issues? Very few of them can even give a simple straight answer as to what the Mass is. If I try to send this book to any diocesan "bishop," he will find himself out of his depth in trying to refute my claims. His only recourse will be to say "I'm too busy" (which, given the way their lives are run for them, may not be that far from the truth) and sit on it indefinitely.
As a matter of fact, I have had several of the bishops and other persons I mention herein verify the viability of my theory, and I have had one of these bishops read the entire book so as to check it for any heresies, and made whatever corrections necessary. Even if, in the final analysis, my theory should prove to be wrong, at least it is not heresy. All I can do is put my theory on the table for all to see, and if, after a reasonable period of time, it continues to go uncontested, the Church will at some point have to accept that it is true.
What are your opinions regarding the issues that divide traditional Catholics today? Are you Indult, SSPX, sedevacantist, or what?
I do not believe that I belong properly into any of those categories. I am an enthusiast for the Catholic Faith who rejoices in the gathering strength of all present groups within the Church. Each of these groups represent an attempt to interpret the present day crisis in the Church which has been made in the absence of the specific knowledge I possess. For whatever reason, I have been granted to see the overarching truth which unites all true Catholics. I am merely one who has the peace which comes from knowing.
This whole Church crisis reminds me of a magic trick where a perfectly ordinary duck is placed in a box which the magician showed to be "perfectly ordinary" by holding it up and showing us the inside and tapping on its walls. We all see the duck go into that box, and at some point later on, we all see him pull a rabbit out of that box. The box is too small for both animals, and it was in plain view all the time. The magician was trying to make it seem that he was changing a duck into a rabbit.
Let the Church be compared to that duck. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's a duck. Just as we know that duck cannot really be changed into another animal, the Church cannot be changed into anything other than what Christ created it to be (otherwise known as indefectibility). Just as we know that the duck will not be killed (if only so as to have the use of his trained duck for the next performance), the Church cannot be done away with because God promised it wouldn't be. And yet, at the end of the trick, the magician pulled a rabbit out of that box.
A conservative of the Novus Ordo religion is like someone who tries to convince himself that the rabbit is really still a duck. He twists his brain into a pretzel trying to rationalize to himself that this is just a duck with an unusually large head, unusually long ears, an unusually short and thick neck, unusually hairy feathers, unusually leg-like wings, an unusually small and hard-to-see bill, and maybe if you give it enough time you might hear it quack. A liberal would be someone who says he likes rabbits better than ducks anyway.
A sedevacantist is someone who admits that the animal is obviously a rabbit. What he can't figure out is how the duck got changed into a rabbit, or if the duck might have been destroyed and replaced with a rabbit, or if the duck might have been driven into some ghostly, phantasmal invisible existence. All he knows for sure is that the animal coming out of the box is far too much unlike a duck, to be the duck. The SSPX just says, "Ducks don't change into rabbits, and that's all I'm going to say."
A conservative says what he says out of a pious belief that the duck must always be a duck (the Church is indefectible). He calls the sedevacantist a heretic because the sedevacantist seems to be saying that the duck has been changed into a rabbit (the Church has defected), or that the duck has been done away with (the gates of Hell have prevailed against the Church), or that the duck has been driven into some ghostly, phantasmal invisible existence (the Church is no longer visible).
A sedevacantist says what he says as a result of his highly detailed and accurate knowledge of ducks and their nature, and also his knowledge of rabbits. He calls the conservative a blind lunatic who is out of touch with reality, because he can plainly see that the animal in question is obviously a rabbit, not a duck. Both sides fault the SSPX for not siding with them or taking a stand one way or the other. The SSPX returns the complement.
Where do I fit into all of this? Like G. K. Chesterton's Fr. Brown, I know that ducks do not change into rabbits, nor disappear, nor turn invisible. I also know how to tell a duck from a rabbit, and that the animal in question is a rabbit. Knowing all this, I proceeded look for the point at which the duck was being smuggled out of the box and the rabbit smuggled into the box. By rolling back the film and studying it carefully, I have found the exact point at which the substitution took place, and if one looks carefully, they can see it for themselves. Finally I have traced the whereabouts of the duck and found it hidden in the magician's pocket. In this book, I have reached into that magician's pocket and pulled out the duck for all to see, alive and well, and every bit as much like a duck as it ever was.
In retrospect, it all seems so obvious. The rabbit is obviously not a duck. The duck cannot be killed, made to disappear, or made invisible. Therefore the duck must be somewhere else, alive and well. Q. E. D. I then proceed to look for the duck, and find it, since it is not hard to find, once one knows to start looking for it. One just has to wonder how so many Catholics could get caught up in such pointless activities as examining the hairs of the rabbit for traces of duck ancestry, or speculating on the life of an invisible duck, when all along the duck was simply somewhere else alive and well.
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