THE BEGINNINGS OF TODAY'S STAND FOR THE FAITH
The traditional Catholic movement got its start in 33 A. D. when it was started by our Lord Jesus Christ. So the Church has always been and so She shall always be. Sometimes She enjoys political influence and other times She is the underdog. Vatican II is often seen (even by its proponents) as a decision of the Church to return to "underdog" status. Certainly that has been the result. The Vatican institution presents itself to the world as being an underdog, but while its influence is definitely on the decline, it is still very much one of the political Powers That Be. The real Catholic Church on the other hand really has been made into the underdog, especially with respect to the Vatican institution.
While the existence of the Church in Her present form as the "traditional Catholic movement" legally began at Vatican II, there were a number of perceptive Catholic priests, bishops, and lay writers who sensed that something was up and attempted to sound the alarm even decades in advance. Alas, far too many Catholics slept peacefully through that alarm on their Blessed Assurance that She shall succeed until the End of Time. While it is true that the Church shall succeed either with or without the vigilance of any one of Her members, whoever is not vigilant will not be a part of that success.
In the earliest years of the fall of the Vatican institution, the Catholic Church expressed her will in those who conservatively held fast to the existing traditions. The Wanderer was reminding its readers that even though such changes as pulling the altars away from the wall or demolishing statues of the saints had been approved, that did not mean that they had to be pulled away or demolished, or that precious parish funds should ever be devoted to such ridiculous projects. They would merely concede that permission had been granted to do something which would virtually never be a sensible thing to do anyway. Among both clergy and laity there were both liberal and conservative factions, the liberal having already lost their Catholic faith (if indeed they ever possessed it), and the conservatives who were in fact the only truly faithful Catholics. Neither group understood what had happened at Vatican II regarding the detachment of the Vatican institution from the Catholic Church.
Most important is that there wasn't at that time any distinction between "conservative" and "traditional" Catholics. They both were the same thing and saw the increasing chaos in the Church as a temporary aberration rather than any sort of new "direction" the Church could ever have been "meant" to take. In that they were correct, but regrettably, "temporary" has turned out to be considerably longer than expected by either. They lobbied for things to remain as stable in their parishes as possible, and when they found sympathetic priests they united behind them, and when they didn't they transferred out of their parish to another with a more sympathetic priest. Most true lay Catholics who preserved their faith through those early days can tell many stories of having to move from parish to parish, and transfer their children from Catholic school to Catholic school as "the changes" swept through, destroying parish after parish.
Faithful priests would deliberately drag their feet about buying any new Liturgical books or ordering any architectural changes, often with the claim that they could not afford these things. Some even became excessively generous to the poor in their community by running soup kitchens and food pantries so as to keep themselves "too poor" to implement the changes so they could faithfully serve parishioners who were by then already coming as much as a hundred miles to worship in their truly Catholic Masses. They would change their schools to boarding schools, both again in order to keep themselves "too poor" to implement the changes or buy the new Liturgical books, as well as to cater to families who lived many miles away and who wanted to send their children to a truly Catholic school.
But most of all, they kept the Mass and other sacraments going as they had been ordained to, and remained faithful to an oath which all living Catholic priests (with a clear right to that title) have taken against the heresy of Modernism. One such Father was Reverend John J. Keane who had been assigned to Saint Rita's parish in the town of Lowell, Massachusetts back in the days before "the changes" had swept through the Archdiocese of Boston. Although many other priests in that diocese were getting in step with the new religion, Fr. Keane kept on with the traditional (Catholic) Mass and sacraments, and the laypeople, of that diocese increasingly went to St. Rita's.
In December of 1971, the ex-Catholic leaders of that diocese lowered the boom and declared that only the new (Novus Ordo) Rites would be used. Fr. Keane soon found himself without an assignment. By October of 1973, he had established a small chapel in West Roxbury, Massachusetts called Saints Roger and Mary Chapel, where he simply continued doing what he had always done at St. Rita's. He had started out with a congregation of about 150 faithful Catholics, but within six years he had about 650 parishioners at Sts. Roger and Mary alone, along with another 100 at St. Patrick's Chapel in Scituate, and another 200 at St. John the Baptist Chapel in Lawrence. Over the course of those six years while his ministry grew, negotiations with the diocesan "authorities" continued in an on-again-off-again manner which got nowhere until finally in May of 1980, "Cardinal" Medeiros finally attempted an official suspension of Fr. Keane which only had the effect of drawing yet more Catholics to Fr. Keane's parishes. As Fr. Keane himself put it, "What the Cardinal has suspended is his right of recognition of what I do." Fr. Keane thereafter simply continued to do what he had always done. Fr. Keane's story is only quite typical of the story of many hundreds of truly Catholic priests all around the world.
More unusual is the case of a Redemptorist priest in Belgium, the Abbe Paul Schoonbroodt of Steffeshausen. Like all other faithful priests of this period, he continued to use the traditional sacramental forms and teaching in the three parishes he headed while others around got in step with the new religion. What was unusual about his story was how the Belgian bishop over him, Bishop G.M. Van Zuylen, left him undisturbed and unmolested clear up until his retirement in 1988. It was only when the next bishop took over that Fr. Schoonbroodt came to be under accusation of all of the usual vacuous claims made against faithful priests by the Modernist hierarchy of the Vatican institution. They promptly "excommunicated" him.
Another faithful priest is Fr. Paul A. Wickens of Livingston, New Jersey. To this day, he continues to function as he always had in his parish, Saint Anthony of Padua Chapel, and also Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel in Somerset. What makes him worth some small additional mention is that he is the author of a small book entitled Christ Denied (See Bibliography), which traced the current apostasy to the heretical writings of Teilhard de Chardin and indirectly, to Evolutionism. This book, written very shortly after the election of Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II) had very high praise for the incoming pope in the hope that some of the damage done during the reign of Paul VI might be undone. He is also known for his friendly relations with the Society of Saint Pius X (of which more will be said later) and also Fr. Nicholas Gruner who is the main driving force behind the Catholic magazine, The Fatima Crusader.
Yet another such priest is Fr. Grommar DePauw, professor of Canon Law and Dean of Admissions at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, peritus at Vatican II, and parish priest of Ave Maria Chapel of Westbury, New York, who founded the "Catholic Traditionalist Movement (CTM)" which despite its name is only one more small group within the traditional Catholic movement. He does have the distinction of being one of the very first priests to take action in this crisis, by founding CTM back in 1965. Soon after, Fr. Francis Fenton founded the "Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement (ORCM)" along similar lines. Again, it's the same old story: no recognition from his ex-Catholic diocese, only a suspension which is of no effect or validity or legal or moral force. By mentioning these four faithful priests, I do not mean to slight any of the other hundreds of such faithful priests all around the world, but only to illustrate with the stories of these four priests the stories of all faithful priests during this early period.
Fr. DePauw was not the first to sense the foul winds of heresy blowing through the Church. As early as 1951, Fr. Georges de Nantes of France, later to be known as the Abbé de Nantes, had read Fr. Yves Congar's book, True and False Reform of the Church and realized from the high esteem that such a heretical book could be held that disaster loomed close ahead. He warned the French Cardinals about it but they just laughed at him and ignored him. In the 1960s when John XXIII published Pacem in Terris and Paul VI published Ecclesiam Suam, his fears were confirmed, particularly by the latter document which exalted individual conscience and contained an evident blueprint for destruction concealed as an attempt to "purify" the Church. Before too much longer he was suspended.
Abbé de Nantes then prepared a brief defending his position and the truth against the new Vatican II religion, requesting of his local bishop that it be forwarded to the Holy Office for consideration. That bishop refused to pass it along, but subsequently de Nantes himself sent it directly to that Office which found it free of error. All the same, since those at the Vatican did not like its necessary and inescapable conclusions, they took the unprecedented step of calling the Abbé de Nantes "disqualified," an altogether unknown penalty in all the history of the Church (and the New Vatican as well), which has never been applied to anyone else. He went on to publish several important books of accusation against Paul VI, John Paul II, and the New Catechism.
Also in France, a village curate with a doctorate in Canon Law by the name of Abbe Louis Coache began sensing that problems were ahead as early as the opening months of the Second Vatican Council. He published a newsletter entitled Letters of a Country Priest which advocated (and soon brought about) a revival of open-air Corpus Christi processions. By 1969 he was also suspended but the processions, despite their current lack of recognition, continue to this day. Other early pioneers who quickly recognized the approaching danger were a French intellectual who, using the pen name of "Jean Madiran," began publishing a journal called Itineraires in which to this day is published the most scholarly articles in defense of the traditional Catholic Faith, and Marcel De Corte, a Belgian philosopher who wrote a book entitled The Great Heresy which compared the incoming false religion to a "cancerous sickness in which the cells multiply fast in order to destroy what is still healthy in the Mystical Body."
Nor were such insights confined to the clergy. In 1964, a Norwegian psychologist by the name of Dr. Borghild Krane realized that the fall of Latin liturgy was close and began rallying Catholics around its defense. On the 19th of December, 1964, with her friend Dr. Eric de Saventhem as the first President, she founded an international foundation called Una Voce, "With One Voice." By early 1965, chapters had already opened up in France, and within the next few years, in several other countries including the United States. Operating almost entirely within the Vatican institution, the principal aim of Una Voce is to "ensure that the Roman Liturgy, as codified by Pope St. Pius V, is maintained as one of the forms of Eucharistic celebration which are recognized and honored in universal liturgical life." They also promote the study and use of Latin, because that is the official language of the Church, and of Gregorian Chant, because that is the official music of the Church. Una Voce has continued to expand to this day and now has hundreds of chapters in over twenty countries.
In 1967 there was another perceptive layman by the name of Walter Matt, who while serving on the editorial staff of The Wanderer, came to disagree with his fellow editors (who were also members of his family) about accepting the new "Mass," which the rest had decided to accept, however grudgingly. As a result of his stand for the Catholic Mass, he departed from that paper and founded another publication, a biweekly called The Remnant which was intended to cater to the spiritual needs of the faithful Catholic remnant, namely traditionalists and conservatives. In the years to come, his publication would come to work very closely with Una Voce, and other Catholic traditionalists who prefer to work for the rehabilitation of the Vatican institution from the inside.
Yves Dupont is another Catholic layman who sensed that the Second Vatican Council was taking a heretical turn even while the Council was in progress. In 1962, he began publishing a small Australian journal called "World Trends," in which there were intensive studies of the prophetic teachings of the accepted private revelations of the Church. In various issues of World Trends, he accurately predicted many of the events which would take place in the wake of Vatican II. He also founded Tenet Books, a small Catholic publishing concern which reprinted various Catholic classics and some of his own writings. He authored the widely selling book, Catholic Prophecy, and also an English translation of the very rarely published encyclical of Pope Pius X on a subversive movement known as "the Sillon."
There were of course many other tens of thousands of faithful priests who also started out the same as Frs. Keane, Schoonbroodt, Wickens, and DePauw, but as the pressure increased many of them either resigned or retired or knuckled under and finally went along with the new religion, albeit reluctantly. In these categories would be included the saintly "Padre Pio" (albeit only on one isolated occasion, after which he was permitted to retain the traditional Mass of his order), and the great teaching bishop, Fulton Sheen. Many others simply got old and died off, and were replaced in their parishes by youngsters who never knew what the Catholic faith was. Although the new "mass" had been promulgated on April 3, 1969, it was not until October 28, 1974, that Paul VI himself finally lowered the boom worldwide and prohibited all Catholic worship, with only a very few exceptions. By that time, faithful Catholic priests were either forced to retire, get in step with the new religion, or be finally suspended just like Fr. Keane.
Up until that time, faithful Catholics were able to claim that all of the madness and phony sacraments were somehow not really official and that the pope was with them (the faithful Catholics), even if he was unable to speak in their defense. Any truly Catholic pope would have been with them since to be with the Catholic faith is to be with all true Catholics and therefore separated from all heretics. Neither friend nor foe of Paul VI really realized what they were dealing with. Until October 28, 1974, faithful Catholics who resisted the changes attributed them to false bishops and false cardinals, a few of whom such as Bugnini or Villot, were exposed as Freemasons. "The pope" was always seen as a passive observer either too overburdened with other things to do or otherwise unable to help the Church in Her agony, but never as the lead culprit behind it all. On that day, the mask fell away as Paul VI did the most blatantly anti-papal thing any supposed successor of Peter has ever done. Once that happened, it couldn't have been more obvious than if Paul VI were to have admitted (as if he were capable of such stark honesty) that "It is I who permits the smoke of Satan to enter the Church."
Of course, there were many other laymen keeping the faith and doing heroic things to preserve it in the face of change. Most notable of them is Thomas A. Nelson, who once prayed to his Lord saying, "There must be something that you need done that I can do," and within three weeks founded TAN Books and Publishers, Inc. in Rockford, Illinois on October 13, 1967 so as to publish and distribute great Catholic books at a very inexpensive price. Most of the Catholic books he prints (or more accurately, reprints) are classics written long before Vatican II and approved by many truly respectable and reliable bishops and popes. As many found Catholic teaching more and more hard to come by in their ex-Catholic parishes, they took solace in their Catholic reading and discovered many deeper truths which previous generations had largely forgotten about. The classics he publishes include no less than the Catholic Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible, the writings of such great saints as St. Francis de Sales, the Cure of Ars, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Margaret Mary, Thomas a Kempis, and so very many more, and also of great contemporary Catholic historians such as Hilaire Belloc and William Thomas Walsh. His publications have been one of the greatest sources of what limited unity Catholics still enjoy during this chaotic period. All true Catholics love the books he publishes, and are strongly encouraged to purchase and read as many as possible.
In Brazil, a political group called Tradition, Family, and Property, or TFP for short, was founded by another layman named Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. In the beginning, TFP had been founded with the purely political goal of protecting the nation of Brazil from the scourge of communism, and also from its religious ally, the so-called "Liberation Theology." In time, the TFP became international, functioning in many nations, and became more religious in nature as it became a kind of lay order for traditional Catholics who are concerned for the establishment of the reign of Christ. To this day, the TFP publishes literature teaching the true Faith and warning against blasphemies in the public forum, and also organizing protests and fund-raisers etc. for the cause of the traditional Faith.
Another layman also managed to distinguish himself, but soon his distinction became a source of embarrassment to traditional Catholics. His name was Francis Konrad Shuckardt. Back in the 1960s, he was very active in the Blue Army, being elected to its International Council in 1963. While the various liturgical and other changes started coming out faster and faster, he began speaking out against them as a member of that International Council. Alas, the Blue Army found itself unable to go along with both the Catholic faith and the Vatican establishment, and forced to choose, they ejected Shuckardt and with him the Catholic faith in 1967. Upon his expulsion from the Blue Army he and a close friend of his by the name of Denis Chicoine founded what they called the "Fatima Crusade" in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Over the next three years, these two men went about the lecture circuit advocating the traditional Catholic faith and gathering true Catholics from all over the countryside to their small but rapidly growing parish in Idaho. During that time, their parish was serviced by heroic priests of the sort already described in this chapter, namely Lawrence Brey, Burton Fraser, George Kathrein (who later joined Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the Society of Saint Pius X of which more will be said later), Pinneau, and Clement Kubish. That should have been enough, and up until that point one fails to find any fault with the man's career as a prominent spokesman for the Church.
However, he began to feel a need to become a bishop, and was soon willing to do anything to gain an episcopal consecration, even turn to a married gentleman by the name of Daniel Quilter Brown who was an "Old Catholic" bishop whose orders traced back to the positively disreputable Arnold Mathew who in turn had been condemned by name by Pope Saint Pius X. Brown had been born and raised a Catholic, but disenchanted with the changes, decided to become an Old Catholic and eventually got consecrated a bishop by them in 1969. Before long, Brown was befriended by Shuckardt who soon persuaded Brown that the Catholic Church was still alive (in himself at least) and that Brown should make him a bishop so that they could cut up the United States into a pair of dioceses presided over by each of them.
Finally, on October 30, 1971, Brown publicly abjured his errors of being affiliated with the Old Catholics and then tonsured Shuckardt while about 40 persons (presumably members of Brown's own congregation) were present to witness the event. The next day, Brown administered all seven degrees of Holy Orders to Shuckardt (Porter, Lector, Exorcist, Acolyte, Subdeacon, Deacon, and Priest). On the day after that (November 1, 1971), Brown consecrated Shuckardt to be bishop, with the 40 persons still present. Shortly thereafter, Shuckardt and Brown parted company once it became clear that Shuckardt had no intentions of sharing his primacy over the Traditional Catholics in America, but instead just crowding him out. Brown then returned to his Old Catholics, crawled back into the woodwork, and ceased to be of any further significance to this account, or to the Church in general.
Always one to take the initiative, Shuckardt founded an order of religious sisters, an order of religious brothers, and a seminary. Before long he ordained his friend Denis Chicoine and a small handful of others to the priesthood. His group came to be known variously as the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen, Christ the King Priory, and Tridentine Latin Rite Catholic Church of Saint Joseph, later shortened to Tridentine Latin Rite Church. Apart from having obtained his Holy Orders from the Old Catholics and his unfair treatment of his one-time friend Daniel Q. Brown, one finds few if any irregularities in his ministry during this early period. Things would change later on, but at that time almost none of his parishioners had any idea where he had got his episcopal consecration from. One cannot fault them for being involved with him in any way during these early years. Fortunately, there were many far more respectable things going on in the traditional Catholic movement.
Guérard des Lauriers was a Dominican priest who taught philosophy in the Lateran University in Rome, and who was a confidant of Pope Pius XII. In the firm tradition of his Dominican order, he had long been a mighty opponent to the changes and chaos which were coming forth from the Vatican institution. Upon seeing the new "mass" which was promulgated on April 3, 1969, he led a group of Roman theologians and experts in preparing a short but powerful document which criticized that new "mass" in detail. The next step was to bring this document around to quite a number of cardinals and bishops who were ready to back it with their reputations by signing it, and then it could be presented to Paul VI for consideration. Perhaps it might have been too much to hope that Paul VI would simply withdraw the new "mass," but at least one could have reasonably hoped that it would be mitigated to some degree by being made optional or being revised again to bring it more in line with the Catholic faith.
Unfortunately, an unidentified French priest on his staff of theologians (very likely the Abbé de Nantes) leaked this document to the press through Jean Madiran's publication Itineraires, and as a result, many of the cardinals backed off. One cardinal who had already signed on and who stood by his action was Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, then head of the Holy Office, the Vatican tribunal responsible for uprooting heresy and protecting the purity of the Catholic faith. To this short critique he drafted a short cover letter in which he stated that "the Novus Ordo Missae ... represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session 22 of the Council of Trent." Because of his firm stand with this document, the document soon came to be known as the Ottaviani Intervention. Because of the leak, only one other cardinal signed his name to this document, namely Antonio Cardinal Bacci, a famous Latinist who was then serving on the Vatican Congregations for Religious, Causes of Saints and Catholic Education.
The Ottaviani Intervention (See Bibliography) definitely bears reading since its criticisms of the new "mass" have the official status of the man who was then in charge of keeping the Church orthodox in doctrine at the time, the one Curial officer that even a pope is expected to have to check with regarding what he intends to promulgate as teaching on Faith or Morals (today's rough equivalent to him is Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) before releasing it to the public. Another writer, Fr. James Wathen, wrote a book about the new "mass" entitled The great Sacrilege, in which he picked up on the points brought out in the Ottaviani Intervention and developed them in some rather considerable detail. Yet another writer by the name of Patrick Henry Omlor actually anticipated many of the same points in his 1968 book Questioning the Validity of the Masses Using the New, All-English Canon (See Bibliography). Another important and vocal speaker on that topic in those days was Fr. Lawrence Brey, formerly of Shuckardt's acquaintance.
As for Cardinal Ottaviani himself, his entire career was one marked for its staunch orthodoxy. In 1953, he wrote a short pastoral letter about the relationship between Church and State entitled Duties of the Catholic State in Regard to Religion which remains to this day one of the clearest official defenses of the Catholic position on this issue ever committed to print. During the Second Vatican Council, he was one of the only four prelates (Bacci was another, the remaining two were very probably Bishops de Castro-Meyer and Sigaud) who voted against the Constitution on the Divine Liturgy which had provided the excuse for changing the Mass. Exactly 2,147 other such prelates (including Marcel Lefebvre) had all voted in its favor. While Cardinal Bea was pushing for his heretical schema on Religious Liberty (which was finally signed during 1965 sessions of the Council), Cardinal Ottaviani was pushing for a solidly orthodox schema on Religious Tolerance, which is the correct attitude towards other religions.
There are some who have put forth the claim that Cardinal Ottaviani later backed down and withdrew his support for the Ottaviani Intervention. That claim is entirely based on a letter which the Cardinal is supposed to have written to some French clergyman by the name of Dom Gérard Lafond which has him saying that he never saw the document which he had written a cover letter to, and that whatever fears he had about the new "mass" had been put to rest. By all evidences, that letter is simply and purely nothing but a cheap and poorly done forgery.
There is one other group which bears mention here, even though they come somewhat later chronologically, and that is the Society of Traditional Roman Catholics (STRC), founded in 1984 by Martin Kupris and James De Piante in order to work for the full restoration of traditional Catholic rites in North Carolina. They publish a small quarterly paper called The Catholic Voice which soon caught on and is now read by many traditional Catholics all around the world. Fr. Kevin Vaillancourt is currently the editor of this fine paper. Unlike many other groups which come along later, this one seems to keep well the clear vision and unity held by all traditional Catholics during this early period. Most of the surviving early heroes of this battle for the Faith are now most friendly with this group.
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was a bishop of uncommon accomplishment as a missionary in Africa and as the Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, one of the largest missionary orders. He had been born on November 29, 1905, ordained a priest on September 21, 1929 having doctorates in Philosophy and Theology from the Gregorian Pontifical University, and initially installed in a parish in the French town of Lille. Shortly afterwards he began his ministry in the African town of Libreville in Gabon and in 1934 became Rector of the Seminary there where he instituted a first-class educational system which boasts three bishops and two heads of state among its alumni. He was consecrated bishop on September 18, 1947, and began serving in Dakar, and there as bishop, and later archbishop, he founded many seminaries and twenty-one new dioceses.
In 1962 he was voted Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers, a missionary order, and also asked by John XXIII to serve on the preparatory commissions for the upcoming Second Vatican Council. The preparatory commission on which he served prepared seventy-two totally orthodox schemas for consideration at that Council, and the first session (1962) accomplished nothing but the rejection of each and every one of them, one by one. By 1968 he was no longer able to function as their Superior General because of the new ways and constitutions which were being forced on that order (along with all others). As a result he then resigned with no other ambition than to live in a small apartment in Rome on his small pension and quietly devote the rest of his life, as the titular Archbishop of Tulle, to prayer and contemplation. But God had other plans for him.
Throughout his priestly career he had established a reputation for himself as a staunch supporter of the (traditional) Catholic faith. Almost no sooner did he go into retirement he was approached by young men who simply wanted to know where they could get a good priestly formation. For a short while, he simply directed them to the University of Fribourg where an old friend of his, Mgr. Francois Charriere, Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg had suggested. Before long, however, it became clear that Fribourg was increasingly infested with the new spirit of Modernism and not a suitable place for his seminarians. What happened next can only be described as an extraordinary act of God.
In 1968, a man by the name of Alphonse Pedroni happened to learn through a chance encounter that a property in the small Swiss hamlet of Ecône which had belonged to a novitiate of the Canons of Saint Bernard was up for sale, and that a communist group was interested in buying it, and in demolishing its chapel to make way for a shopping mall, bar, movie theater, or discotheque. With some money he and four friends of his came up with, he managed to buy the novitiate with the intent to give it to the Church in some way. By October of 1970, he and his four friends had decided to donate the property to the retired Archbishop to be used for his new seminary. Verbal permission from the local regular bishop (Mgr. Charriere) to found a seminary in his diocese had already been granted on June 6 of the previous year, and again in writing on August 18.
On November 1, 1970, Lefebvre gained official recognition in the form of a Decree of Erection issued by Mgr. Charriere, and on February 18, 1971, he obtained a Statute of Pontifical Right from Cardinal Wright, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, who wrote that "this Association ... has already exceeded the frontiers of Switzerland, and several Ordinaries in different parts of the world praise and approve it. All of this and especially the wisdom of the norms which direct and govern this Association give much reason to hope for its success." For the next several years after that, the seminary progressed nicely with many more seminarians coming for a traditional priestly formation and all blessings and support from Rome, and even the incardination of some of its priests into various dioceses.
However, since none of these priests were willing to say the new "mass," they soon found considerable opposition, first from the other French bishops who were totally taken in with the heresy of Modernism, and then later with higher and higher "authorities" within the Vatican establishment. In early 1974, the villainous Modernist elements began to circulate the false rumor that Ecône was some sort of "wildcat seminary" even though its official canonical status was a documented fact. In November 1974, Ecône was officially visited by representatives of Paul VI who found no fault with Lefebvre or his seminary, but determined to find some fault with him they said some scandalous things which were offensive to the pious sensibilities of the seminarians and which did not bode well for the future of the practice of the Catholic Faith in Vatican City.
In response to these things, on November 21, Lefebvre gave a short speech of encouragement to his seminarians. Although intended only for their ears, the press soon picked up on it as being the first truly well-stated manifesto of the traditional Catholic Faith in these times. It has since come to be known as a "Declaration." It read in its entirety:
We cleave, with all our heart and with all our soul, to Catholic Rome, the guardian of the Catholic Faith and of the traditions necessary for the maintenance of that Faith and to Eternal Rome, mistress of wisdom and Truth.
On the other hand we refuse and have always refused to follow the Rome of the neo-Protestant trend clearly manifested throughout Vatican Council II and, later, in all the reforms born of it.
All these reforms have contributed and are still contributing to the destruction of the Church, the ruin of the Priesthood, the abolishing of the Sacrifice of the Mass and of the Sacraments, the disappearance of the religious life, to naturalist and Teilhardian teaching in the universities, seminaries and catechetics, a teaching born of liberalism and Protestantism and often condemned by the solemn magisterium of the Church.
No authority, not even the highest in the hierarchy, can force us to abandon or diminish our Catholic Faith, clearly laid down and professed by the magisterium of the Church for nineteen hundred years. "But," said St. Paul, "though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Galatians I. 8).
Is not that what the Holy Father is telling us again today? And if there appears to be a certain contradiction between his words and his deeds as in the acts of the dicasteries. We abide by what has always been taught and turn a deaf ear to the Church's destructive innovations.
It is not possible profoundly to modify the "lex orandi" without modifying the "lex credendi." To the new Mass there corresponds a new catechism, a new priesthood, new seminaries, new universities, the charismatic and pentecostal Church - - all opposed to orthodoxy and to the age-old magisterium of the Church.
Born of liberalism and modernism, this reform is poisoned through and through. It begins in heresy even if not all its acts are formally heretical. Hence it is impossible for any informed and loyal Catholic to embrace this Reform or submit himself to it in any way whatsoever.
The only way of salvation for the faithful and the doctrine of the Church is a categorical refusal to accept the Reform.
It is for this cause that with no rebellion, no bitterness, no resentment, we carry on our work of training priests under the star of the timeless magisterium, convinced that we can render no greater service to the Holy Catholic Church, the Sovereign Pontiff and future generations.
It is for this cause that we hold firmly by all that has been believed and practised in the Faith, in morals, in worship, in the teaching of the catechism, the moulding of a priest and the institution of the Church, that eternal Church codified in her books before the modernist influence of the Council made itself felt, awaiting the time when the true light of Tradition shall scatter the darkness clouding the skies of eternal Rome.
In so doing, by the grace of God, the help of the Virgin Mary, of St. Joseph and St. Pius X, we are assured of remaining faithful to the Holy Roman and Catholic Church, to all the successors of Peter, and of remaining "fideles dispensatores mysteriorum Domini Nostri Jesu Christi in Spiritu Sancto." Amen.
One can see in this declaration an embryonic understanding of the distinction between that which is really the Catholic Church (Eternal Rome) on the one hand, and the Vatican institution which has gone over to the false new religion (Modernist Rome) on the other. All the same, Lefebvre went to his death without ever understanding exactly what had happened to the Church at the second Vatican council.
Much as having such a declaration on record caused Ecône to gain prominence among real Catholics, it also occasioned excuses for the ex-Catholic Vatican institution to start trying to shut it down. Paul VI's declaration against the tridentine Mass had gone on record only few weeks before then. All of this was only the beginning of Lefebvre's troubles. Of greater concern was the retirement of Bishop Charriere which meant the loss of an important ally, and his replacement with Bishop Pierre Mamie who was no particular friend to the traditional Catholic Faith.
There were other bishops who held the line and remained Catholic despite the pressure from all sides to get in step with the new religion. Most heroic of those bishops was Antonio de Castro Mayer, who along with another holy bishop Dom Geraldo de Proenca Sigaud, who was Bishop of Jacerzinho, and their political ally Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira kept parts of Brazil faithful during the years that the rest of Latin America was falling for the heretical "Liberation Theology."
Bishop de Castro Mayer was born June 20, 1904, obtained his Doctorate in Philosophy from the Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained on October 30, 1927. As a priest in the diocese of Sao Paulo, he served as a professor in a provincial seminary, Canon of a Cathedral, and General Counselor of Catholic action. On May 23, 1948, he was consecrated a bishop and assigned to the diocese of Campos, Brazil, just north of Rio de Janeiro. Even as far back as 1950, this perceptive bishop was writing pastoral letters which warned against the heresy of Modernism which was even then devouring seminaries and other organizations of the Church. Letter after letter was written filled with such high quality information, yet readable by the common man in his diocese. In 1956 he founded a minor seminary in the small town of Sao Sebastinoa de Varre Sai which expanded in 1967 to become a major seminary. In time, he had instituted a number of Marian devotions and catechism classes throughout his diocese. By the late 1960s his diocese had become the best educated (in their faith) diocese in the entire world, and not a moment too soon.
Elsewhere, most people were spiritually asleep, simply doing whatever they were told by their Catholic authorities without even thinking. When their authorities ceased to be Catholic, most of them simply continued following their ex-Catholic "authorities" into religious error, which is what the revolutionaries were counting on. There is a very good reason that such modernists, liberals, and other such revolutionary heretics must work from the inside. These people are motivated by their own lusts and sensuality and all of the seven deadly sins, including sloth. They lack the willingness or wherewithal to build up anything from scratch as the Church had to. The only way these people ever get into any power is to take over power positions of organizations which were built up by the labor and sacrifice of others who do not happen to be modernists, liberals, or revolutionaries like themselves. That is why they try to take over the Church instead of merely building some other Church on their own. They want the results but aren't willing to pay the price.
In the well educated diocese of Campos, on the other hand, all of the people knew their faith well enough that when the false new "mass" was promulgated in 1969, almost nobody went to it. Any priests who wanted to say the new "mass" and propagandize for Liberation Theology found themselves without a congregation. From time to time, such a priest would arrive, try to drum up business for the new religion for a while, and after failing to get any support from the lay faithful they would finally end up just going away to greener pastures. Bishop de Castro Mayer had taught the Catholics of his diocese well. Other than such rare visitations, all Masses said within this diocese remained the Catholic tridentine Mass. The seminary up at Varre Sai kept all of the old ways, teachings, and disciplines, although it soon had to be moved to the City of Campos to prevent its coming under control of the revolutionaries. They wanted to deprive Bishop de Castro Mayer of the seminary by having his diocese cut in two, Varre Sai being in the portion which the Bishop would no longer have under control. Needless to say, once the seminary was moved to the City of Campos, there was never again any talk of splitting up the Diocese of Campos into two dioceses.
Such a state of affairs persisted in Campos clear through the 1970's and clear up until November of 1981 when, forced into retirement, Bishop de Castro Mayer was replaced by Bishop Carlos Alberto Navarro. Throughout those years, Bishop de Castro Mayer ruled his diocese in a totally Catholic manner and yet also managed to keep peace with the Vatican institution and Paul VI and the John Paul's. Some might wonder how this happened since there really had been no special permission from the Vatican institution for this diocese to remain Catholic.
One must take into account the fact that revolutionaries are, when pushed to the wall, practical people just like everyone else, and they had a very good pragmatic reason for allowing this faithful bishop to keep his diocese Catholic: Money. As the other dioceses in Latin America lost their Catholic faith with the new false liturgies and also by embracing Liberation Theology, they lost the regular attendance of most of their members and most of the financial generosity of what few people were remaining. By the mid-1970s, the typical Latin American diocese could only stay out of the red by selling off an average of about three disused Catholic Church facilities per fiscal quarter. Very few dioceses could sustain themselves financially over an extended period, and only one did so without ever having to sell off anything: Campos. Much as the ex-Catholic bishops hated de Castro Mayer for being such a reproof to them, they needed him. After all, SOMEBODY had to finance all of their horsing around! And there were after all only a limited number of Church buildings left over from the times when Catholics in huge numbers gave and sacrificed freely of their time and money to build them.
Alas, in November of 1981, the peace between the Last Catholic Diocese and the ex-Catholic Vatican institution came to an abrupt end with the installation of bishop Navarro. The man was a complete martinet whose marching orders were clearly to abolish all Catholic faith, worship, and piety from "his" diocese. Over the next five years he went from parish to parish attempting to convert each to the new religion, first with veiled threats, then with open threats and public challenges, and finally with official legal action he would get with the support of corrupt judges. Neither priest nor parishioner would ever have anything to do with the new "mass." No priest would say it even if ordered. If the bishop himself came and started to say it in any Church, the parishioners there would all quietly get up and file out of the Church.
Finally, priest and parish alike would be compelled to give away the keys, a last Mass would be said, and the Blessed Sacrament would be removed from the tabernacle and carried in procession to another place. The bishop would then find himself in charge of a practically empty church building. Often, he would find it cheaper to close it down and sell it off rather than bring in some new "priest" to say the new "mass" for the five to ten casually dressed tourists who might show up instead of the hundreds of regular parishioners who had attended each tridentine Mass there.
The parish, without a building, would work to get a building and in the meantime meet in some of the most funky places, such as movie theaters and school classrooms. One parish had just completed their Church building only a couple months before they were driven out and had to start building all over again. Other than having to foot the bill for a new facility, priest and parish continued to function exactly as they always had. The systematic removal of Catholic priests and congregations and faith from the Church buildings happened in parish after parish until August 31, 1986, when Padre Fernando Rifan of the City of Campos said his last Mass in his regular church, Nossa Senhora do Rosario do Saco, handed over the keys, and joined the couple dozen or so priests who were similarly exiled. The faithful priests, who had come to call themselves the Society of Saint John Vianney (after the patron saint of parish priests), were now all in exile, along with their bishop de Castro Mayer. Clearly one can see the force of even one faithful bishop. One can also see that it is not the priests (and bishop) and parishioners of Campos who changed their religion, but the Vatican "authorities," particularly as seen in the person of bishop Navarro. More details of the events in Campos, Brazil can be read in the book, The Mouth of the Lion (See Bibliography).
The traditional Catholics opt for the Church of living memory; they do not chase after some hypothetical ancient Church, now long lost and forgotten, but staunchly stand by the Faith as it was already known to all Catholics of previous generations and who were (and are) still alive to witness to the fact that the Faith as practiced by traditional Catholics is absolutely identical to the practice of the Catholic Faith as they knew it growing up.
Sometimes one hears the claim, "These parishes with their tridentine Masses and traditional worship are only an imitation of the Catholic Church as She existed before Vatican II; they are not the real thing but only a copy." As I have already proved, the Vatican institution is no longer identical to the Roman Catholic Church, but merely a secular organization of which some Catholics happen to be members and others are not, and which furthermore has a great many members in it who are not Catholics. As I have also proved, the new "Novus Ordo" religion which is believed and practiced by the "People of God" and which is the primary thrust and interest of the Vatican hierarchy is not at all the Roman Catholic religion, but in fact just some other religion much like Lutheranism or Episcopalianism or Mormonism or whatever. There remains only one kind of Church which even looks like the Roman Catholic Church, and that is all of these traditional parishes in which the teaching is solidly Catholic, uncompromisingly orthodox, where only Catholic morality is taught and practiced, and where all sacraments follow the tridentine norms.
Now, either these traditional parishes DO in fact themselves together constitute THE One, Holy, Catholic (and Roman), and Apostolic Church, or else they do not, but are only some sort of imitation. I offer here proof that these traditional parishes are the Catholic Church. Proof is by contradiction: let us suppose that the traditional Catholic parishes are merely imitation Catholic Churches and not actually the Catholic Church at all. Since there is no other group out there which embraces the Catholic faith, there is no other candidate for being the Catholic Church. One must therefore conclude that the Catholic Church no longer exists. She has vanished off the face of the earth! But Catholic doctrine (de fide) teaches that the Church shall endure forever and cannot cease to exist. That is a contradiction! Either the Church exists or else the Church does not exist, but not both. The claim that these "independent" traditional Catholic parishes are only imitations of the Catholic Church but not the real thing leads to contradiction, and therefore it is false. This only leaves the alternative proposition, namely that these traditional parishes DO in fact constitute THE One, Holy, Catholic (and Roman), and Apostolic Church. Q. E. D. Therefore, it is heresy to claim that the traditional Catholic parishes are all merely imitations of the Catholic Church since that would be a denial of the de fide Catholic teaching that the Church shall endure until the End of Time.
If there is any imitation "Catholic Church" around, it would be the various dissenters such as the schismatic East Orthodox, certain "High Church" Protestants such as the Episcopalians, the Old Catholics, and the Church of the People of God. One finds within each of these a divergence from the Catholic Faith, Morals, Worship, and Discipline which is not possible within the Catholic Church, and which is simply not to be found amongst the traditional Catholic groups and orders. Whether it be imitation tradition, "ancient ways," or even the imitation hierarchy, the phoniness of each is easily seen through.
One important observation is the fact that in these early days of Catholic resistance to ex-Catholic Vatican shenanigans, there was no truly great leader. One cannot point to any man and say of him, "He started the traditional Catholic movement; without him it would not exist." Although one of these figures, namely Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, would later go on to become of rather considerable importance to this historical account, even in some ways the "backbone" of the traditional Catholic movement (and therefore the Church), as this era drew to a close he was still pretty much relatively unknown, just the Rector of a small but truly Catholic seminary located way out in some Swiss boondock. What that observation means is that the traditional Catholic movement is not of man's making but God's making. It was God Himself and not any mere man who was and still is at the helm of His Church, and keeping it alive through the actions of all of these holy bishops, priests, religious, and laymen.
A pattern one does see here over and over again in the lives of the faithful priests and bishops is that since in all sincerity they were mistaking the Vatican institution for the Roman Catholic Church, they all did their level best to try to stay at peace with it while continuing to do what they had been ordained to do. It was only when such peace became completely impossible for them to obtain that they found themselves forced to choose between their Catholic Faith and what they imagined to be the Catholic Church. Without even realizing it, those who chose to "lose their life for Christ's sake" by standing fast by their Catholic Faith regardless of what the Vatican institution told them to do or thought of them remained completely within the visible structures of the Roman Catholic Church and thereby found their life. Conversely, those who tried to "find their life" by appeasing the Vatican hierarchy, even to the extent of sacrificing their Catholic Faith soon found themselves outside the visible structures of the Catholic Church (even while they were as yet within the visible structures of the Vatican institution) and thereby lost their life.
In all fairness to the Vatican hierarchy, I must make note of the fact that, as promised by the Vatican II documents, part of the Church would continue to "subsist in" the Vatican institution, which means that they would be allowed to continue their Catholic faith and worship with the full permission and blessing of the Vatican establishment. Apart from such "foot-dragging" priests such as Schoonbroodt or bishops such as de Castro Mayer, there were only three places that Catholic worship was officially allowed by the end of 1974: 1) Elderly and retired priests ("dogs too old to learn new tricks") were allowed to say tridentine Masses by themselves (without a congregation), 2) an "Indult" (special permission) had been granted to Cardinal Heenan (of parts of England and Wales) to be allowed to use the 1967 edition of the Roman Missal on an occasional basis, and 3) the Eastern Catholic Rites which were not in any way affected by the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae nor any others of the new "sacraments" because they were only meant to replace the sacraments of the Latin (Western) Rite. The 1967 Roman Missal was the last edition promulgated by the Vatican establishment which was still within the confines (however barely) of acceptable discipline and also their last intrinsically valid Mass. Already by late 1967, the new and invalid vernacular "eucharistic canons" were being sent out to parish priests as supplements to the 1967 Missal.
If one wants to make the claim that only such traditional parishes as are approved by the Vatican hierarchy count as the Catholic Church, one then ends up believing in a "Catholic" church which only exists in certain places as permitted by some entirely secular establishment (which is what the Vatican institution really is), but not all over the world. Such a church, in lacking universal jurisdiction over the entire earth simply cannot be the entirety of the Catholic Church because it is not Universal, which is what "Catholic" really means. Such a church, as so defined, cannot therefore be the Catholic Church, but at most only a part of it, and that, at least, I must admit it is.
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