Fortes in Fide, Vol. 1, No. 5

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THE VOICE  now in 10th year

A Catholic Traditionalist journal dedicated to:
the Truth in Catholic Journalism; the complete annulment of Vatican Council II and all its directives and subsequent documents; the full restoration of the Roman Catholic Church to the status-quo of pre-Vatican II.

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NOTE (1998):  The above information is obsolete.  Mr. McGovern deceased in early 1978.  The HTML conversion of this issue of Fortes in Fide is dedicated to his memory, as his publication, The Voice, was certainly among the most interesting and useful traditional Catholic newspapers of that time (the 1970s).

This review is translated from the French
and is printed in France.  We beg your indulgence
for any printing errors which may appear from time to time.



     On 25 October 1964, while the Second Vatican Council was still in session, I wrote a personal letter to Pope Paul VI.  This letter had also been signed by more than 430 French priests.  Its intention was to expose the doctrinal, liturgical and moral errors which were already starting to emerge throughout the Catholic world, under the guise of the Council's move towards "aggiornamento."
     This letter, signed - let me make it absolutely clear - by over 430 priests of all ages, remained unanswered in spite of my having taken it to Rome myself, so that there could be no question of its not having been delivered to the Pope.  And what is more, I know for a fact that he did receive it.
     I wrote another letter on 10 November 1970.  This time I took steps to make the authorities answer me by making the letter public, although it had originally been addressed to the Pope in person.
     Yet again: total silence.  The only answer I received was a letter from Cardinal Duval, Archbishop of Algiers and my former diocesan, begging me to put an end to what he termed "my abuse of the Holy Father."(1)
     To me, and to all my fellow Catholics who no longer understood the changes which had been imposed upon us with such callous brutality, and to which Paul VI seemed utterly indifferent, his attitude was bewildering.  This is why my second letter ended with the twofold question, "Who are you?  How do you plead?"
     Because I am still waiting for an answer from the only person able to enlighten us, and whose duty it is to do so, I propose to try to deduce what this answer might be from the actions, words and the calculated silences of Pope Paul.


     What underlies this entire business (and a very serious business it is for all of us) is that most precious of all possessions: our eternal salvation.  To gain this supreme treasure, we ought to be willing, with the help of God's grace, to sacrifice everything we hold most dear, including our very own lives.  Starting from such a premise, there can naturally be no question of our being reproached with irreverence and disrespect in our attempt to solve the riddle that Paul VI represents.
     Let us never forget that one of the specific responsibilities of the papacy is the confirming of our faith.  We should also bear in mind here that Paul VI has never shown the slightest sign of responding to our distress, when we have asked him specific questions about that very faith he is supposed to strengthen.(2)  Not only has he not replied, he has continued to preside, not over the self-destruction of the Church, a term that is unacceptable in that it would be utterly blasphemous if taken literally(3), but rather the destruction of the Church by those among its members whom he has appointed to and maintains in positions of authority.


"And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him . . .  Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time."
Apocalypse 12, 9-12

"Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour."
1 Peter 5, 8

     How many of us remember, how many genuinely believe, that each and every one of us is constantly threatened by a being who is both evil-minded and endowed with an intelligence and strength that immeasurably exceeds our own?  And who, furthermore, has no other aim than to do us harm?  Let loose on earth with all the hosts of hell "it was given unto him to  make war with the saints, and to overcome them" (Apocalypse 13, 7).
     And yet it is he, the devil, Satan, the serpent of old, who from the very beginning has tried to drown the emergent Church in a torrent of blood.  It is he who throughout the ages has raised up heretics to destroy the Church from within.
     Happily, as we read in the book of Job, Satan can pursue his aims only insofar as God permits.  Unhappily, we have at the same time been warned by the Fathers of the Church, that whatever the magnitude of the persecutions permitted when the Church was in its primitive stage, God has postponed until the last days an even more insidious betrayal which uses persuasion rather than violence.
     St. Cyprian, writing in the third century, warned that "there is an evil even worse and more deadly than persecution: the insidious poisoning of men's minds."  In the seventeenth century, the French bishop and theologian, Bossuet, wrote: "There are two sorts of persecution of the Church: the first kind is the violence used against it during its earliest beginnings under the Roman Empire; the second is a subtle corruption which will occur during the last days."
     Recalling Our Lord's words to Peter on the eve of His Passion, "Behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat" (Luke 22, 31), Pope Pius XII said, in his address to the clergy and parish priests of the diocese of Rome, delivered 23 March 1949, that these were "words of the utmost significance for the times in which we are living.  They are applicable not only to the shepherds but also to their flock in its entirety.  Faced with the OVERWHELMING RELIGIOUS DISPUTES WE ARE WITNESSING, we can rely only on those of the faithful who pray and make every effort, even at the price of the greatest sacrifices, to live in conformity with God's law.  All the others - on the supernatural plane and this is the plane of which we speak - are vulnerable, open to every blow struck by the enemy."  Let such people not forget that they will be swept away.


     If the extreme seriousness of the crisis in which we are living is to be fully understood, it is essential for us to bear in mind the many warnings various popes have not ceased to give since the eighteenth century.  Two hundred years ago they were acutely aware of a conspiracy against the Church by the Freemasons.  And a very real plot it was.  Its sole aim was nothing less than the destruction of the Church.  But despite all the subtle connivings of Freemasonry and its adherents, the plotters themselves, through that divine Providence which constantly watches over the Church, revealed their own plans.
     At the very heart of the Masonic movement lay a faction, even more secret than the others, which rapidly gained control.  These were the Illuminati formed in 1778 by Adam Weishaupt, Professor of Canon Law at the University of Ingolstadt in Bavaria.  They were known in France under the name of Martinistes, and elsewhere as Perfectabilists.
     In 1785, one of Weishaupt's close associates, an apostate priest called Lanz, was carrying important instructions from his leader when he was struck dead by lightening.  The papers found on his body led to the exposure and trial of the leading conspirators.  Details were made public by the Elector of Bavaria whose intention was to warn other Christian powers of the plot against them, for the Masonic sects planned, as a preliminary to their ultimate aim of destroying the Church, the destruction of those states and monarchs which protected her.
     During the nineteenth century, the Alta Vendità, the main branch of the Carbonari(4), the Italian nationalist movement founded in Naples and which had strong links with international Freemasonry, succeeded the Illuminati as overall controllers of those secret societies conspiring against the Church.
     Carbonarist documents covering the period 1820-1846 came into the possession of Pope Leo XII.  They were published by a French writer, Jacques Cretineau-Joly, in his book entitled L'Eglise Romaine en face de la Révolution (The Catholic Church and the Revolution), at the request of Gregory XVI and his successor, Pius IX.  In a brief of commendation addressed to the author, the latter (25 February 1861) gave as it were his blessing to the belief that the documents were authentic, but at the same time withheld permission to publish the real names of those involved in the conspiracy.  We know them only by their Masonic pseudonyms: Nubius Volpe ("Fox"), Piccolo Tigre ("Tiger-cub"), etc.
     Bear in mind that Pius IX's brief of commendation established beyond any shadow of doubt that the documents published by Cretineau-Joly were genuine.  The following quotations are taken from those documents.
     "What we have to work for, seek, expect, in the same way that the Jews expect the Messiah, is A POPE THAT WILL FULFILL OUR PLANS."
     Nubius, the leader of the Alta Vendità, wrote to Volpe on 3 April 1844 as follows: "My dear Fox, there has been a very heavy load given to us to bear.  We can only achieve our aim by slow and calculated advances, albeit scarcely discernible as yet, towards the VICTORY OF REVOLUTION ACHIEVED BY MEANS OF A POPE."
     The secret orders continued: "This Pope, whoever he may be, must never approach the secret societies.  On the contrary, it is they who must make the initial approaches to the Church, in order to accomplish the destruction of both Church and Pope.  The task we are embarking on will not be accomplished in a day, perhaps not even in a hundred years, but while individual soldiers within our ranks may fall the struggle goes on.  We should not count on converting popes to our cause, to make them share our beliefs and disseminate our ideas.  To think that we could is a ludicrous fantasy.  Moreover, whatever may happen in the future, should, for instance, cardinals or prelates intentionally or unintentionally learn any of our secrets it would be a grave mistake to desire that one of their number should be made Pope.  It that were to happen, all would be lost.  For ambition alone would have led him to apostasy: his need to consolidate his own power would compel him to eliminate us."
     Let there be no misunderstanding here.  None of us should forget that these conspirators' plans for destroying the Church were dependent upon "a pope that would fulfill their plans.  Not a pope giving cause for scandal, like Alexander VI (Borgia), but a pope susceptible to outside influence."
     These instruments of Satan had no doubt about their ultimate success, as witness the following: "We have no doubts about our bringing this venture to a successful conclusion.  The question is when and how.  The unknown man has not yet been revealed.  Nevertheless, nothing must make us deviate from the plan we have contrived.  On the contrary, all must pursue this one sole end as if it were to be crowned by success tomorrow, despite its being as yet hardly drafted in outline."

The Methods to be used.

     Let us now examine the evidence revealing the methods devised by the plotters to achieve their aims.
     "Thus we must, to make absolutely sure that we have a pope with the requisite set of opinions, ensure first and foremost that he is provided with a generation of subjects worthy of the pontificate on which our hopes are fixed.  Abandon all attempts to recruit the old and the middle-aged.  Concentrate instead on the young, and especially children wherever possible, for it is youth in the broadest sense that we have to enrol in our ranks, without their becoming aware of what is happening.  This is a dangerous course of action, but a sure one: it must be followed carefully, step by step and for this two things are absolutely, unquestionably necessary.  You must seem as simple as doves, but be as wise as serpents.  Never utter one single word in the presence of those you are seeking to influence that could be taken as being irreligious or impure: maxima debentur puero reverentia.  Once you have established a reputation in colleges, schools, universities, seminaries; once you have won the trust of teachers and pupils, so contrive it that those who are foremost in zeal among the clergy, come to you for advice . . .
     "A reputation of this kind will enable our doctrines to sink deep into the hearts and minds of the young priests, and to become rooted in religious houses everywhere.  Within a few years those same young priests will, in the inevitable course of time, have taken over the principal functions within the Church: they will be the administrators, governors, judges, counsellors to those in the highest authority, be called upon to elect the pope.  And this pope, like the majority of his peers, will of necessity be imbued with the Italian and humanist principles we are about to disseminate in the manner I have just described . . .  Let the clergy march forth beneath your banner, believing that it is still emblazoned with the Keys of Peter.  Cast your nets like Simon Bar Jonah, cast them so that they trawl in the very depths of every sacristy, every monastery - and if you are circumspect, you will be guaranteed a catch more miraculous than his . . .  You will have preached revolution in cope and tiara, marching with cross and banner, a revolution such as will require only the slightest extra impetus to set the four corners of the world on fire."

Constant warnings by the Popes.

     Precisely because they had acquired certain knowledge of the conspiracy and the methods the enemies of Christ intended to use, the popes have never ceased to put Christendom on its guard.  Take, for example, Pope Leo XIII's warning against Freemasonry in his encyclical of 1884, Humanum Genus: "In the present age, those who connive at the dissemination of evil seem combined together in one tremendous endeavour, inspired and abetted by a Society that is both strongly organised and spread far and wide, the Society of Freemasons.  It is a fact that they no longer make any attempt to conceal their intentions, and they vie with each other in seeking to demonstrate their audacity in their attack upon the august majesty of God . . .
     "Faced with such dire peril, confronted with an attack of such cruelty and hostility to the Christian Faith, it is our duty to give warning of this peril, to denounce our foes and with every means at our disposal to resist their plans and the energy they put into furthering them . . .
     "This danger was denounced for the first time by Clement XII in 1738 and the constitution promulgated by that pope was renewed and confirmed by Benedict XIV.  Pius VII followed in their footsteps and Leo XII re-affirmed in his apostolic constitution, Quo Graviora, all the acts and decrees of his predecessors concerning this matter, ratifying and confirming them in perpetuity.  Pius VIII, Gregory XIV and Pius IX have on many occasions delivered the same message."

Summary of the first part.

     A plot was laid against the Church by her enemies within the shadowy depths of the secret societies.  Its aim was to destroy her from within.
     God, ever mindful of the Bride of His Son, has willed that the Supreme Heads of the Church should be made aware of this satanic plot, and of the methods devised for it to succeed.
     To achieve the destruction of the Church from within by means of "a Pope susceptible to outside influence" the secret instructions proposed the dissemination of "Italian and humanist principles" i.e. the tenets of Freemasonry.(5)
     The evidence is known to us from a letter written by the head of the main branch of the Carbonari, and dated 3 April 1844.


A. - Fogazzaro's "Il Santo."

     In 1905, sixty years after Nubius had written giving Volpe his instructions, a novel entitled Il Santo (The Saint) was published.  Its author was an Italian Modernist, Antonio Fogazzaro (1842-1911).  Subsequently placed on the Index, the novel reveals two very important facts.  They are:
     1. The success that had been achieved by the ideas put into circulation sixty years earlier by the secret societies.
     We learn from Fogazzaro that there had come into existence within the Church what the characters in his novel call "a Catholic Freemasonry."  And in addition, that this group felt sufficiently confident to bring out into the open opinions and views previously restricted to a closed circle of initiates.  It was, as Leo XIII had made clear in 1884, quite evident that "Freemasons no longer take the precaution of concealing their intentions . . .  They are engaged in their efforts to ruin the Church publicly, out in the open . . ."
     2. Il Santo also reveals the aims of this "Catholic Freemasonry", a genuine sectarian movement that had, in St. Pius X's words, "pierced to the very bowels and veins of the Church."  The ultimate aim was explained as follows by Fogazzaro, at the beginning of his novel: "Here we are, a given number of Catholics in and outside Italy, clergy and laity alike, who wish to see the Church reformed.  We have no desire to emerge as open rebels, our wish is to see such a reformation effected by lawful authority within the Church.  We seek reforms in religious education, the liturgy, the discipline of the clergy, and in the supreme government of the Church.  To achieve this aim we need to form a climate of opinion which will lead to the lawful authorities' acting in conformity with our views, even if this means waiting twenty, thirty, even fifty years."

B. - A Selection from other Modernist Writings.

     Fogazzaro is not the only writer to have provided information about the results obtained by the dissemination of Masonic ideas.  Statements made by others show beyond any shadow of doubt that these ideas had made considerable headway, and that there were a great many in the ranks of their supporters who expected that, in a very short time, there would be changes in Catholic doctrine and liturgy which would not only reform the Church, but would prepare it for absorption into a syncretist and universal Super-Church.
     St Yves d'Alveydre (1849-1909), a supporter of such a world-wide syncretist church, wrote that the constituents of the Universal Synarchic Church are these: the preaching Church with the Gospels which is ruled by bishops, popes and councils; the Church of Moses with the Torah, which is ruled by the Gaon in Jerusalem; the Church of the Vedas, ruled by the Agartha Lodge under direct angelic inspiration; the Protestant Church of Luther, Mohammed's Islam, and the Church of Shakia Muni (Buddha)."
     Abbé Jeannin: "The Catholic Church possesses the truth . . . but she imprisons it within an inextricable maze of dogmas . . . she clothes it in such a way as to conceal its true forms . . . [the Church] is truth draped in veils of many different shades.  The one and only universal religion for all time and all places, Catholicism has become confined in forms that suit certain peoples and periods, but not the present age in which men live."  Jeannin goes on to propose that "the Church, unassailable in its teaching which is the truth, must adapt it to meet the requirements of the liberated human spirit.  She can and must cast aside the threadbare veil that conceals the soul of her theology, she must repudiate the outworn formulas of the mediaeval Scholastics."
     Ex-Canon Rocca (1830-1884), an apostate priest, also aspired to "a new Christianity, sublime, all-embracing, deep, truly universal in its aims, containing within itself all knowledge.  Such a Church will, as Victor Hugo predicted, be capable in the end of creating a heaven wholly on earth, of putting an end to frontiers, to sectarian divisions, to racial, localised, and jealous churches, those prisoners of Caesar, the diseased cells within the mighty social body of Christ.  Christianity is not concerned with the building of some heathen temple: it is a universal religion into which all the others will be absorbed."  So sure was this apostate priest of the forthcoming evolution, that be went so far as to prophesy: "It is my belief that divine worship, as evidenced in the liturgy, ceremonies, rituals and doctrines of the Roman Church, will shortly undergo a radical transformation as the result of an Ecumenical Council.  This will simultaneously bring about the restoration of the venerable simplicity of the apostolic golden age, and provide the means for an adjustment that will harmonise with the new developments in modern civilisation and human awareness."

C. - Leo XIII's Encyclical on Freemasonry.

     A re-reading of Leo XIII's encyclical, Humanum Genus, shows how widespread were the Masonic dreams that he condemned.  Here is a selection.
     Ecumenism:  "The major error of the present age consists in the reducing of religion to a level where no distinctions are made, and where all religions are seen as being equal.  This principle alone is sufficient to cause the ruination of all religions, and of the Catholic religion, in particular, inasmuch as it is the sole true religion and cannot, therefore, without submitting to ultimate injury, tolerate that other religions should be placed on an equal footing with it."
     Naturalism:  "The objective of the Freemasons, towards which all their efforts are directed, is nothing less than the total destruction of that religious and social order born of Christian institutions, and its replacement by a new order moulded to their ideology, whose fundamental principles and laws are taken from naturalist philosophy.  The naturalists and the Freemasons give no credence to the Revelation we have been vouchsafed by God; they deny that our first parents sinned, and that consequently the movements of man's free will are, in some degree, weakened or disposed towards evil."
     Separation of Church and State:  "And thus, even were it to involve them in a protracted and laborious struggle, the Freemasons intend to reduce, within the innermost structures of secular society, that authority and magisterium of the Church; whence the consequence that they apply themselves to disseminate their ideas, and to fight for them without respite, namely the absolute necessity of separating Church and State."
     Education:  "In the education of children there should be no methodical system of instruction, nor should anything in the way of religious teaching be imposed.  It must be left to the child to choose the religion towards which it is most attracted, on reaching an age when it is capable of such a choice.  In preparing for participation in secular society a race of citizens of the kind they dream of, they will in no way tolerate, in the education and instruction of children, any intervention by ministers of the Church, whether as teachers or as supervisors."
     The Source of Power:  [For them] "all power resides in the people liberated from former constraints; those who exercise the powers of government do so only by the mandate or the consent of the people, in such manner that when the will of the people changes, the rulers of the state must be deprived of their power to govern, even though they may be opposed to such deprivation."
     Leo XIII's encyclical, and all the other works so far quoted, date from the end of the last century.  Fogazzaro's novel of 1905 came a little later and expressed modern (i.e. Masonic) ideas, in a more concise form.  He concentrated on the changes desired by Catholic Freemasonry and how that group hoped to see them realised.


     It is enough to re-read the express aims of the modernists to realise that they have now all been achieved, and in precisely the way the movement wished.
     What was it the movement wanted?  A reform of the Church of Rome.  Now accomplished: only the wilfully blind can fail to realise the truth of this.
     How did it hope the reform would be put into effect?  Without overt rebellion on their part; put into effect by lawful authority.  This is exactly what characterises the "Paulist" reforms.  They have been carried out "without overt rebellion", by the Second Vatican Council, i.e. "lawful authority."
     What were the changes the movement wanted?  They were:
- "Reforms in religious education"  We have the new catechetics and the new theology;
- "Reforms in the liturgy"  We have the new Mass and the new Sacraments;
- "Reforms in the discipline of the clergy"  Local authorities flout all the laws of the Church, and the central authorities in Rome have a new code of Canon Law in preparation;
- "And reforms in the supreme government of the Church."  These have also been realised in the emphasis on collegiality, the standing bishops' synod, national episcopal conferences, priests' associations and the innumerable secretariats for this and that.
     Faced with these facts which no honest person can deny, we are forced to draw the only conclusion possible: the Roman Catholic Church is under enemy occupation.

*     *     *

     WHAT EXACTLY DO WE MEAN WHEN WE SAY THE CHURCH IS UNDER ENEMY OCCUPATION?  Simply that the Church has been infiltrated by her enemies, who have appropriated most of the key positions in her government.  And it is a fact that it is only because the most important positions have been seized by the recourse to "overt rebellion, by means of lawful authority."


     1. Could it possibly be that the Holy See itself is occupied by a member of the Masonic Sect?
     2. Have not those members of the Church's governing hierarchy, who put into effect all these reforms desired by the secret societies thereby lost their lawful authority?
     Before an attempt is made to answer these questions let it be remembered by readers:
- that there is a binding obligation upon every loyal member of the faithful to organise a resistance movement against the occupying enemy, and also;
- some tenets of traditional theology concerning the Church and the papacy. 


     When a state or an institution is overrun by an invader, it becomes the first duty of each citizen or member to organise a resistance movement.
     God's holy Church is at present occupied by rulers who play the game of the enemy sects.  It is the duty, therefore, of each and every one of the faithful to play his or her part in organising resistance to these enemies.  Moreover, before we go on to consider the responsibility of Pope Paul VI in the situation, it is clear from the words of St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, that by the fact alone that his orders impose so many innovations which trouble the Church today, every Christian has the right to resist such orders, which are an abuse of power: "Just as it is licit to resist a Pontiff who makes an assault upon his subjects' persons, so is it equally licit to resist one who assaults their souls, or attacks the civil order, but especially is it lawful to resist one who attempts to destroy the Church.  I say that it is lawful to resist him, either by not carrying out his orders, or by preventing their being carried out.(6)
     Readers will find on the following pages a selection of classic texts which pronounce authoritatively on this question of resistance to ecclesiastical authorities.

*     *     *


It is, thus, clearly our duty to organise a movement of resistance.

     But how?  "Whom resist ye, strong in faith" - "resistite fortes in fide," as we are exhorted to do by St. Peter, the first Pope.  First and foremost, this means keeping intact our own inner faith and, next in priority, that of all those we are in a position to help.
     Keeping  our faith means not allowing our minds to lose their firm grasp of the deposit of Truth which has come down to us from the Apostles, in an uninterrupted transmission.
     Keeping our faith means nourishing it, strengthening it with the food of the Sacraments instituted by Our Lord, administered under the proper forms and with the correct intentions, in accordance with the unbroken practice of His holy and infallible Church.
     Keeping our faith means obeying the commandments in the way that has always been understood by the Catholic Church.
     In this respect, we should not allow ourselves to be confused by those misguided enough to try to make us believe that by resisting our vacillating superiors, we cut ourselves off from the Church and provoke a schism.
     Schism is cutting oneself off from the Church.  But how can we cut ourselves off from the Church by acting in the very way that ensures that we stay true to her teaching, her worship and her moral truths?  By acting in a way that indicates our desire to obey God rather than men?  Once again, I have to stress that only a misguided or dishonest mentality could pretend that we become schismatic by refusing to change our religion.

*     *     *


     Some people will say, "That's all very well, but we have been taught that the Church is where Peter is: "ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia."  If you disobey the Pope you cut yourself off from him.  And that implies that you also cut yourself off from the Church.  And cutting yourself off from the Church can't be anything other than schism, can it?"
     Our answer is that "of course cutting yourself off from the Church means schism.  But you do not necessarily cut yourself off from the Church when you oppose the Pope.  St. Robert Bellarmine, who is, after all, a Doctor of the Church, has reassured us on this point in the words quoted above.  And what is more, the Church's tradition has always taught - and the Church enshrining this tradition is the one Church of Christ - that the axiom, WHERE THE POPE IS, THERE THE CHURCH IS is valid, only inasmuch as the Pope behaves like a pope and head of the Church.  Otherwise, THE CHURCH IS NOT HIM AND HE IS NOT IN THE CHURCH."(7)
     Clearly, he who creates confusion as a result of the orders he himself has given, cannot be said to be behaving as a Pope, or as head of the Church.  Such orders automatically constitute an abuse of authority, and it is precisely for this reason that the traditional Church, Christ's one and only Church, teaches us through St. Robert Bellarmine, that "it is lawful to resist him either by not carrying out his orders or by preventing their being carried out."


     We are also likely to be asked: "At least acknowledge that by your opposition you are setting yourselves up as a state within a state, a church within the Church.  Aren't you therefore separating yourselves from the Church of Jesus Christ, whose visible head on earth is the Pope?"
     Our answer to this is:  No.  Resistance movements opposing an invader during an occupation have never set up a state within a state.  Like them, and for the same reasons, we are not setting ourselves up as a church within the Church.
     The reason for our resisting the occupying powers is our desire to remain what we have always been: we go on being what we were.  We were of the Church, we shall therefore stay in the Church.
     It is, on the contrary, those who accept the enemy occupation as part of the inevitable course of events, who grant recognition to traitors to a sacred mission, who obey the latter's orders and collaborate with them in the Church's destruction - it is these who have set up a new church or, more correctly, since there can no more be a new Church than there can be a new Jesus Christ, are setting up a counter-church within the Church: the abomination of desolation in the holy place.
     Anybody in his right mind will not have the slightest difficulty in understanding that the isolated resistance cells, which are beginning to emerge and to be organised throughout the Catholic world, whose members continue to believe and to practise what the Church has always taught, making no attempts to innovate, and preserving the true Faith intact - these cannot be a new church.  They constitute Christ's Church, they keep her intact, longing for God's hour, for which they are praying with such fervour, when they will be permitted to fling out the enemies that occupy her today.
     As for those who collaborate with that enemy which has infiltrated the Church, or who argue in favour of submission to treachery, they constitute, as we said above, not a new Church, but a caricature of the Church, that is a neo-Protestant or neo-Modernist aping of the truth.  It is they, in fact, who represent a counter-church, a synagogue of Satan with all its apparatus of new priests, new rites, new Mass, new sacraments, new catechisms and - to crown all - a new ecumenical Bible.


     How much more is this the bounden duty of all those who hold posts of responsibility within the Church: priests, bishops, the Pope.  When he placed his hands upon those of us who have been ordained to the priesthood, the bishop exhorted us "sacerdotem oportet praeesse."  And where should we be foremost if not in the defence of the faith?  According to Our Lord's own words every shepherd of his flock, be he priest or bishop, must, under pain of being dismissed as a hireling, be foremost in the ranks of the protectors of his sheep against wolves in sheep's clothing,(8) even if it means losing his life and - it hardly needs saying - his home, his daily bread, his settled way of life and thought.

     "Those who cut themselves off from the Church retain no vestige of spiritual authority over those who remain within the Church."
                             Johannes Driedo, as quoted by Vidigal


     The texts which follow have been selected from Catholic writers approved and, even more, commended by the Church.  They unequivocally justify the lawfulness, and indeed the necessity of overt resistance to decisions made by ecclesiastical authority, which disturb the Church's peace or jeopardise the tenets of faith.  They have been taken from the book by Arnaldo Vidigal Xavier da Silveira, Implicaciones teologicas y morales del nuevo Ordo Missæ (The New Ordo Missæ: Moral and Theological Implications) published in 1971.
     "When the shepherd changes into a wolf it is natural for the flock first and foremost to take steps to defend itself.  Under normal conditions there is no question but that doctrine is handed down from the bishops to the faithful and, insofar as matters of faith are concerned, it is not for those who lead to be judged by the led.  But within the precious inheritance of revelation there exist essentials, that every Christian knows of necessity through his or her baptism, and is obliged to defend."(9)
     "Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, the faithful may be brought to a better understanding of and belief in everything concerning faith and works, thus facilitating the development of dogma.  And so it was in the case when the faithful protested against Nestorius, which was of the greatest assistance in the furtherance of the definition of the divine motherhood of the Blessed Virgin."(10)
     The example of St. Paul's public opposition to St. Peter must be borne in mind in this connection, and St. Thomas Aquinas's opinion of the "Antioch confrontation" is worth quoting here: "If a proximate danger to the faith exists, prelates are answerable - and publicly - to those subject to them.  Thus St. Paul required St. Peter to give an answer publicly, because there was an imminent danger of scandal in a question of faith.  And, as St. Augustine writes in his Commentary: "An example to those who govern was set by St. Peter himself that they might not reject as inadmissable, when they deviated from the straight and narrow path, any correction administered by their subordinates."(11)
     In his commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, St. Thomas had this to say: "The rebuke was justified and significant, its motive being of the utmost gravity, in that it was a question involving A THREAT TO THE VERY TRUTH OF THE GOSPELS . . ."
     St. Paul delivered his rebuke IN THE CORRECT MANNER, viz. publicly and openly.  This is why St. Paul writes: "But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed", and this was because the evasions of St. Peter were an occasion of danger to all the faithful.
     In 2 Timothy 5, 20, St. Paul writes again, "Them that sin reprove before all."  This is to be understood as referring to public sins, and not to those committed in private, because where the latter are concerned fraternal correction is the proper form to adopt.
     St. Thomas adds that this passage of scripture holds a lesson as much for prelates, as for those they govern: "It provides prelates with an exemplar of humility, lest they refuse to accept a rebuke from their inferiors and subordinates: to these latter it provides an example of zeal exercised in freedom, lest they should fear to REBUKE THEIR PRELATES, PARTICULARLY WHERE THE CRIME COMMITTED IS A MATTER OF NOTORIETY AND COULD ENDANGER THE FAITH OF MANY."(12)
     Victoria, a distinguished sixteenth-century theologian, wrote: "In a work in which he defines papal authority as being superior to that of councils, Cajetan has this to say in his Chapter 27, 'IF A POPE IS DESTROYING THE CHURCH, THE DUTY OF OPPOSITION IS INESCAPABLE'."
     Sylvester Prieras, O. P. [1456-1523] under the heading "Pope", paragraph 4 [in his Dialogus de Potestate Papae, 1517] asks, "What should be done in cases where the pope destroys the Church by his evil actions?"  And in paragraph 5, "What should be done if the pope wishes unreasonably to abolish the laws of church or state?"  His answer is, "He would certainly be in sin, and it would be unlawful to allow him to act in such a fashion, AND LIKEWISE TO OBEY HIM IN MATTERS WHICH ARE EVIL; on the contrary, there is a duty to OPPOSE HIM while administering a courteous rebuke.
     "Thus, were he to wish to distribute the Church's wealth, or Peter's Patrimony among his own relatives; WERE HE TO WISH TO DESTROY THE CHURCH or to commit an act of similar magnitude, there would be a duty to prevent him, and likewise an obligation to oppose him and resist him.  THE REASON BEING THAT HE DOES NOT POSSESS POWER IN ORDER TO DESTROY, AND THUS IT FOLLOWS THAT IF HE IS SO DOING IT IS LAWFUL TO OPPOSE HIM."


     According to natural law, violence may lawfully be opposed by violence.  Now, through the acts permitted and the orders of the kind under discussion, the Pope does commit violence, because he is acting contrary to what is lawful.  It therefore follows that it is lawful to oppose him publicly.  Cajetan draws attention to the fact that this should not be interpreted as meaning that anybody whosoever can judge the Pope, or assume authority over him, but rather that it is lawful to defend oneself even against him.  Every person, in fact, has the right to oppose an unjust action in order to prevent, if he is able, its being carried out, and thus he defends himself.(13)
     Cornelius a Lapide (1567-1637), the great Jesuit biblical scholar, demonstrates that according to St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Bede, St. Anselm and many other Fathers of the Church, St. Paul remonstrated with St. Peter openly and in public, "so that the scandal given by St. Peter might in this fashion be rectified by an admonition that was equally open."
     He writes about this event at Antioch: "Superiors may be admonished by their subordinates in all humility and charity so that truth may be defended: this is the basis (Galatians 2, 11) on which St. Augustine, St. Cyprian, St. Gregory, St. Thomas and many others quoted support this opinion.  They teach quite unequivocally that St. Peter, although superior in authority to St. Paul, was admonished by him.  St. Gregory rightly states that, "Peter remained silent so that, being first in the hierarchy of the Apostles, he might equally be first in humility."  St. Augustine writes, "By showing that superiors admit that they may be rebuked by their subordinates, St. Peter gave posterity an example of saintliness more noteworthy than that given by St. Paul, although the latter showed, nonetheless, that it is possible for subordinates to have the boldness to resist their superiors without fear, when in all charity they speak out in the defence of truth."(14)
     This doctrine of the right to oppose bad pastors, including corrupt popes, is an unchanging teaching of the Catholic Church.  In his study of Canon Law, Wernz-Vidal, quoting Suarez as an authority, concedes that in extreme instances it is lawful to resist a bad Pope:
     "According to Suarez, the just means that may be used in opposing a bad pope are these: the greatest possible recourse to divine grace, the special protection of the Guardian Angels, the prayers of the universal Church, cautioning or fraternal correction given secretly, or even publicly, as well as lawful defence against physical or moral aggression."(15)
     Modern authorities support their predecessors.  For instance, Pleinador in his Short Course of Moral Theology, quotes St. Thomas Aquinas at length on this question: "The subordinate may also be held to have the duty of offering fraternal correction to his superior.  In fact, the superior also may be in a state of spiritual impoverishment, and there is nothing to prevent his subordinate from succouring him. However, this 'correction' administered by the subordinate to his superior must be applied in a fitting manner, i.e. without insolence or harshness, gently and respectfully."  Generally speaking, the superior should be given warning in private: "Nevertheless, it should be clearly understood, that if there exists a proximate danger to faith, prelates must be admonished by their subordinates even in public."(16)

CHURCH AND PAPACY: Theories selected from traditional theology


     The Church, Christ's Mystical Body, is a living organism which participates directly in the mystery of the Incarnation.  As a living organism it is composed, not of the stones of our cathedrals, nor the fabric of our chapels, but of all baptised believers who put into practice the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ.(17)
     Those who believe and practise, i.e. the faithful (from fides, "faith") who have the faith and who live the faith, are united with Christ, are incorporated with Him by baptism, live by His life, and make up His Mystical Body, which is the Church.
     This Church, Christ's Mystical Body, is both holy and infallible.
     These two characteristics of holiness and infallibility are, as far as the Church is concerned, the properties which of necessity derive from her very nature.  That is to say that God, having thought the Church to be what He wished it to be - the Mystical Body of His Son - could not bring it into being without its being both holy and infallible.
     That is easy to understand.  In effect, this Church, Christ's Mystical Body - "Mystici Corporis Christi quod est Ecclesia" - which has as its head the Son of God, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man, which is animated by the Holy Ghost, third Person of the Blessed Trinity, thus lives by the very life itself of God -  "divinæ consortes naturæ" - and cannot be other than holy and infallible by its very nature.
     Let us always bear in mind the fact that these two characteristics, holiness and infallibility, are not privileges God has granted to the Church, but are inherent properties of her being.  Thus the Church of Christ is in herself eternally, and quite regardless of changing circumstances, holy, immaculate and infallible.  She can be blemished only by her own members who are unfaithful to her.


     The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, successor of Peter, Christ's Vicar on earth, the visible head of the entire Church, i.e. of all the faithful and the clergy.
     Entrusted with the task of teaching the Church and confirming the faith of his brethren, the Pope is infallible.  But the personal infallibility of the Pope is not a right conferred on him by his office, it is a privilege granted by God at the request of His Son ("But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren", Luke 22, 32).  As soon as this is recognised for the privilege it is, limits are imposed.  Thus, the First Vatican Council, when defining the dogma of the Pope's personal infallibility, laid down in precise terms the conditions guaranteeing it:
     "Therefore, faithfully uniting ourselves with Tradition handed down from the very beginnings of the Christian faith . . . we teach and define as dogma revealed by God the following: that the Roman Pontiff, when he pronounces ex cathedra, that is, when fulfilling the task entrusted to him as chief shepherd and teacher of all Christians he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, that a doctrine of faith or morals must be believed by the whole Church, exercises, with the help of the divine aid promised to him in the person of St. Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed to His Church, when she defined any doctrine concerning faith and morals.  In consequence, such definitions made by the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not by virtue of a consensus within the Church.  If anyone, which may God forbid, should presume to contradict this our definition, let him be anathema."(18)
     We have printed in bold type the four conditions which such Papal teaching is required to meet:  1. The Pope must pronounce in his capacity of Teacher and Chief Shepherd;  2. He must define, i.e., make a judgement;  3. On a doctrine concerning faith or morals;  4. It is for the whole Church.
     Every time these four conditions are met, the Pope acts infallibly: he is saved from error and cannot teach erroneously.  But if all four conditions are not met and the Papal magisterium is not exercised ex cathedra, then he does not enjoy the privilege of personal infallibility.  At times when he is not so privileged, he is not preserved from error and can fall into it.  This has happened many times during the course of the Church's history.
     Bear in mind that for the Pope to be infallible, he is not obliged to make a formal pronouncement that he intends to speak ex cathedra.  By the very fact that he fulfills the four conditions laid down by the First Vatican Council, he is preserved from error, and his decisions are therefore infallible and irreformable.  Thus, to take only one example, all authorities agree that Pope Pius XI's pronouncement on conjugal onanism in his encyclical Casti Conubii, is infallible and irreformable.
     Some others (he was referring in fact to the Anglicans) having decided to promulgate "another doctrine" concerning conjugal morality, the Pope took the initiative, and pronounced solemnly and definitively against this practice.  The key text is as follows:
     "The Catholic Church, to whom God has committed the task of teaching and preserving morals and right conduct in their integrity, standing erect amidst this moral devastation, raises her voice in sign of her divine mission to keep the chastity of the marriage contract unsullied by this ugly stain, and through Our mouth proclaims anew: that any use of matrimony whatsoever in the exercise of which the act is deprived, by human interference, of its natural power to procreate life, is an offence against the law of God and of nature, and that those who commit it are guilty of a grave sin."  The Pope was here making a definitive judgement on this moral question.


     These topics have already been discussed in various issues of the French review Forts dans la Foi, but they are not readily available in England.  In the present article, therefore, it is intended to examine the whole question in considerable detail and depth.  Much of the material taken from Vidigal's Implicaciones teologicas y morales del nuevo Ordo Missæ referred to earlier.  A French version announced by the author some years ago is still eagerly awaited.  We cannot understand the reason for its not having appeared, especially as it has been printed and bound, and would be of the utmost usefulness in the situation in which traditionalist Catholics are placed today.  Let us hope and pray that it will soon be released.  If we may adapt the maxim quoted by Our Blessed Lord, a book of this kind is not written to be left slumbering in some publisher's warehouse, but is printed in order to be spread as far and as wide as possible, to give light to those who lie groaning in the darkness of our unhappy times.
     There are two reasons why the need to study the possibility of a heretical, schismatic or scandalous Pope is urgent.  First, because all the major problems troubling the conscience of Catholics nowadays lead to the same conclusion, viz. that the responsibility for the creation of these problems rests firmly with the present Pope, leading on inevitably to the question of whether he is still truly Pope.
     Second, because probably at no other period in the long history of the Church have the faithful been so woefully ignorant about the Pope and papal prerogatives.  To illustrate the nature of this ignorance I should like, if I may, to describe an incident in my own life.
     In my early teens I was a Catholic scout.  One day I went to ask the troop chaplain about something, and my ring on the presbytery doorbell was answered by another curate.  The following conversation ensued.  "Yes, what do you want?"  "I've come to see the scout chaplain."  "He's not here.  He's gone to confession at St. Anne's."  Total shock on my part.  I was literally scandalised by the priest's answer.  To my young mind there could only be one answer: if the chaplain had to go to confession, he must have committed a sin, and if he could sin, why should I get so upset when I committed a sin?  This was scandal in the theological sense of the word, and mine derived from my ignorance, at that time, of what it really meant to be a priest.  Our teachers, wanting to give us the highest notion of the priesthood they could, had set priests on such a high pedestal that we had almost ceased to see them as human at all.  As a result, when I came abruptly up against the facts of real life, and found out that my chaplain was a sinful man in need of God's forgiveness like the rest of us, I was genuinely scandalised.
     My reason for telling this personal anecdote stems from my conviction that many of my grown-up contemporaries are just as ignorant about the Pope as I was about my scout chaplain.
     Most Catholics think that the Pope is necessarily a saint (he is, after all, called THE HOLY FATHER), and holy to the point where he can do no wrong when he speaks of religion, because he is INFALLIBLE.
     And they are utterly wrong!
     It is true enough that the Pope's task is a holy one, but its holiness does not make the Pope carrying it out impeccable.  The history of the Church is enough to show us that, although the number of Popes who have been canonised is considerable, there are many more who have not been raised to the honours of the altar, and more than just a few who have given open scandal in their time - Alexander VI, Francesco Borgia, is only one example, although perhaps the most widely known.
     In the same manner, their personal infallibility does not always necessarily preserve them from error.  When they speak ex cathedra, confirming their brethren in the faith, making an exceptional pronouncement in their capacity of Chief Shepherd, then they are indeed infallible and preserved from error.  But Popes can be mistaken in their ordinary pronouncements, even when these are on religious matters.  This misfortune has occurred several times in the past, and one Pope was so deeply in error that he was condemned as heretical by an ecumenical council, presided over by a later Pope who was subsequently canonised, St. Leo II.
     Papal heresy is a question therefore which may profitably be studied, and in a deeply troubled period such as ours it becomes an urgent necessity.
     In the second part of his book, A. Vidigal makes an observation well worth quoting here.  He writes: "Several times in the troubled periods of the Church's history(19), the theological problem of the possibility of a Pope's falling into heresy has been discussed in practical terms.  Dogmatic and moral theologians and canon lawyers did their utmost to find a solution to this exceedingly delicate problem, but without reaching a unanimous and definitive conclusion.  Once these disturbed periods had passed, however, they tended to pay the problem very little attention.  Generally speaking, most authorities devote little more than a few lines to the subject, and treat it as if it were a curious speculation, a hypothesis that was scarcely likely to be tested in reality.  In recent centuries, the fact that the Holy See has been governed by a succession of Pontiffs whose authority was uncontested, led to the question's being virtually forgotten.  Very few theologians have made an attempt to explore it with any thoroughness since the seventeenth century.
     What were the positions adopted in the past by theologians who did discuss this grave problem?
     According to Vidigal, St. Robert Bellarmine lists five questions that have to be taken into account:(20)
     1. A Pope cannot be a heretic.
     2. When a Pope does fall into heresy, even if only in foro interno (i.e., in his own innermost mind) he loses the office of pontiff ipso facto.
     3. Although a Pope may fall into heresy openly (externally), he does not surrender his office.
     4. A heretical Pope is not ipso facto deposed; he must be deposed by a formal declaration made by the Church.
     5. A Pope is ipso facto deposed the moment his heresy becomes apparent.
     We shall now make a rapid examination of each of these opinions.


     Defenders of this opinion, basing it on reason as well as on scripture and tradition, assert that Our Blessed Lord will never allow a successor of St. Peter to sin against faith.  Cardinal Billot, who defended this viewpoint, makes out the following case:
     "Once the hypothesis that a Pope can become a known and public heretic is conceded as a possibility, it would follow that it must be admitted without hesitation that such a Pope would ipso facto lose his papal authority since, in betraying the faith, he would by his own will, have separated himself from the body of the Church . . .  I say 'once the hypothesis is admitted as possible' . . . but it seems much more likely that this hypothesis will remain a hypothesis only, and never become an actuality, by virtue of the words in Luke 23, 32, 'But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not, and thou being once converted confirm thy brethren'. . ."
     According to Vidigal this first solution has been upheld with considerable variations in emphasis.  Some authorities, the Franciscan theologian Matteucci (d. 1722) among them, held it to be one of the truths of faith, others, like Cardinal Billot himself, accepted it as being only the most probable opinion, while others, such as Suarez and Bellarmine, gave it less firm support because of the strength of the arguments for the contrary opinion.


     The first opinion, given above, may be countered first by noting that the passage quoted from St. Luke is generally accepted as applying only to those papal teachings which involve infallibility, and secondly by the evidence of tradition, which provides abundant support for the possibility of a Pope's falling into heresy.

1. Scripture

     As far as the exact meaning of the text from St. Luke is concerned, Vidigal emphasises that "many theologians are of the opinion that the absence of error in teachings promulgated ex cathedra is sufficient to ensure the fulfillment of Our Lord's promise.  They therefore conclude that there are not sufficient grounds for asserting that the confirming of his brethren postulates the Pope's indefectibility in the faith, as far as his own individual person is concerned.  Palmieri, for instance, sets out the argument as follows: 'It is not necessary to establish a real distinction between indefectibility and the confirming of the brethren; it is sufficient for the distinction between the two to be established by reason.  In fact, if the Pope is infallible in preaching the true faith, when it is solemnly proclaimed by him'(21), he is able thereby to confirm his brethren.  This is why the faith that teaches infallibly, and the faith which confirms, are one and the same for, being infallible, it possesses also the power to confirm.  Now the Pope's indefectibility in the faith is requisite precisely so that he can confirm his brethren.  Consequently, Christ's words can lead us to deduce only such necessity and sufficiency of this indefectibility as is required to attain this goal.  This is what is understood by the infallibility of authentic preaching."

2. Tradition

     Tradition provides an array of documentary evidence showing that a Pope can become a heretic.  The following are a selection only.

a)  The Case of Pope Honorius I.

     Was this Pope really a heretic?  It would seem that he tended to favour heresy without himself being genuinely heretical.  Nevertheless, what needs to be stressed in his case is that it provided an occasion for popes, councils, saints, bishops and theologians to make it quite clear that the hypothesis of a heretical Pope could not, theologically speaking, be dismissed.
     Among the evidence quoted by Vidigal is the following.  "The third Council of Constantinople, the sixth ecumenical council, announced that it had thoroughly examined the dogmatic epistles of Patriarch Sergius, as well as a letter written to him by Honorius I.  The Council went on to declare: 'after having taken account of the fact that they are not in conformity with apostolic dogma, and the definitions of the holy Councils and all the Fathers worthy of approbation and that, on the contrary, they uphold false and heretical doctrines, we reject them absolutely and denounce them as a grave threat to the salvation of souls'.
     After anathematising the leading proponents of the Monothelite heresy, the Council condemned Honorius: 'It is our judgment that Honorius, formerly Pope of Rome, has been cast out by God's Holy Catholic Church and made anathema, for we have been able to prove from his letters to Sergius, that he has followed the beliefs of the latter in all things and thus made plain his impious principles'.
     Pope St. Leo II (d. 683) writes, condemning Honorius for having favoured heresy: 'We declare anathema equally those who instigated these new errors: Theodore, Bishop of Pharan, Cyrus of Alexandria, Sergius (of Constantinople), Pyrrhus . . . and also Honorius, who was shown to be incapable of enlightening this apostolic Church by the doctrine of Apostolic Tradition, in that he allowed its immaculate faith to be blemished by a sacrilegious betrayal'.
     In a letter to the Spanish bishops, St. Leo again declares that Honorius had been condemned because, 'he failed to put out the smouldering fires of heresy, in accordance with the duty incumbent upon him as a result of his apostolic authority: nay, rather, did he fan them into flame by his negligence'.
     In a letter to the Visigothic King of Spain, Ervigius, St. Leo II repeats that, with the heresiarchs had been condemned 'Honorius of Rome, who permitted the unblemished faith of the apostolic tradition, handed down by his predecessors, to be besmirched'.
     R. Bäumer writes of the sixth ecumenical council and the case of Honorius: 'This condemnation was subsequently repeated by the Synod "in Trullo" of 692, and by the seventh and eighth general councils.  Leo II, who had accepted the decision of the sixth general council, extenuated the guilt of Honorius . . . (but) the record of Honorius's condemnation was even inserted in the Liber Diurnus and each Pope was obliged, on his election, to condemn the authors of the new heresy, and at the same "Honorius, who had been sympathetic to their errors."  The Liber Pontificalis itself and the Roman Breviary mentioned Honorius's condemnation in the second nocturn for the feast of Pope St. Leo II'.
     Finally, it is relevant to quote what Hadrian II said in the second half of the ninth century, i.e., more than two centuries after the death of Honorius: 'We read that the Roman Pontiff has always possessed authority to pass judgment on the heads of all the Churches (i.e., the patriarchs and bishops), but nowhere do we read that he has been the subject of judgment by others.  It is true that Honorius was posthumously anathematised by the Eastern churches, but it must be borne in mind that he had been accused of heresy, THE ONLY OFFENCE WHICH RENDERS LAWFUL THE RESISTANCE OF SUBORDINATES TO THEIR SUPERIORS, AND THEIR REJECTION OF THE LATTER'S PERNICIOUS TEACHINGS'.
     And Vidigal concludes:  There is, quite obviously, a solid historical basis for Monello's assertion that, by the eighth century, the tradition that A HERETICAL POPE MAY BE JUDGED BY A COUNCIL was already established."

b)  The Pontificate of Paschal II (1099-1118).

     Once again the whole of Christendom was shaken, this time by the investiture controversy.  The Emperor Henry V, after having imprisoned the Pope, forced him to make promises and concessions that were impossible to reconcile with Catholic doctrine.  After his release from captivity, Paschal II hesitated for a long time before he annulled the acts to which he had consented while under duress.  Despite a considerable number of warnings from saints, cardinals and bishops, he continued to postpone both his own retraction, and the excommunication of Henry V, despite the fact that it was universally desired.  A movement thereupon began that swept through the entire Church, which was directed against the Pope and which declared him to be suspect of heresy, and at the same time entreated him to turn back under pain of losing his pontificate.
     Vidigal then proceeds to quote the evidence and the historical facts relating to the struggle by saints, cardinals and bishops against Paschal II, thus demonstrating that the theology of this period of the Middle Ages admitted the hypothesis of a heretical pope and that such a pontiff could, in consequence, lose his pontificate.
     St. Bruno, Bishop of Segni and Abbot of Monte Cassino, was the leader of the opposition to Paschal II in Italy.
     Paschal was very well aware that St. Bruno did not deny the hypothesis that a Pope could be deposed.  He tried to pre-empt the issue by dispossessing the saint of his abbacy on the pretext that:  "If we do not remove him from his office he will, by the force of his arguments, relieve us of the government of the Church."
     And when Pope Paschal at last retracted, at a synod convened at Rome specifically to examine the question, St. Bruno declared: "Praise be to God, for behold the very Pope himself condemns this alleged privilege (that of investiture by temporal rulers) which is a heresy."  St. Bruno, in speaking out in this way, for the first time gave public expression to the extent of his mistrust of the Pope's orthodoxy.
     St. Bruno was not the only saint of the period to admit that Paschal could have fallen into heresy.  In 1112, Guido of Burgundy, Archbishop of Vienne and the future Pope Callistus II, called a provincial synod which was attended, amongst others, by St. Hugh of Grenoble and St. Godfrey of Amiens.  With the approval of these two saints the synod revoked the decrees the Emperor had forced on the Pope, and sent a letter to Paschal II telling him, "should you, in spite of our absolutely refusing to believe it possible, choose an alternative path and refuse ratification of our decision, may God protect you, for were this to be the case we should be obliged to withdraw our allegiance from you."
     These words are a threat to break with Paschal II, and are to be explained only by the fact that the bishops meeting at Vienne had in mind three main ideas:
     1. That to deny the Church's teaching about investitures was heretical.
     2. That the Pope had acceded to this heresy.
     3. That a Pope who was eventually proved heretical lost his office and, consequently, should not be obeyed.
     This interpretation is borne out beyond a shadow of doubt by the contemporary letters of St. Ivo of Chartres.

c)  From Gratian to the Present

     Gratian's Decretum contains the following canon attributed to St. Boniface:
     "No mortal man dare presume to attribute guilt to the Pope, for if it be part of the papal office to judge all others, he cannot be judged by anyone unless he stray from the faith."
     In his article in the Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, Dublanchy provides some significant information about the influence exerted by this particular canon during the Middle Ages, and what was believed during that period about the question of a heretical Pope:
     "In Gratian's Decretum this assertion is attributed to St. Boniface, Archbishop of Mainz, and already cited as such by Cardinal Deusdedit (d. 1087) and St. Ivo of Chartres.  After Gratian, the same doctrine is found even among the most convinced advocates of the Papal privileges.  Innocent III refers to it in one of his sermons.  Generally speaking, the great theologians pay little or no attention to this hypothesis, but the canonists of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries knew Gratian's text and commented on it.  None found any great difficulty in conceding that a Pope could be guilty of heresy and indeed of any other grave failing.  Their main concern was to establish why, and under what conditions, such a Pope could be judged by the Church."
     The following is taken from Innocent III's sermon mentioned above:
     "The faith is so vital to me that while I regard God as sole judge of my failings, in general, I could, nonetheless, for sins committed in matters of faith, be liable for judgment by the Church."
     And to provide even more complete refutation of the first opinion on the possibility of a Pope's heresy, here is another quotation from Bellarmine: "On this question, it must be observed that, although it is probable that Honorius was not a heretic, and that Pope Hadrian II, misled by falsified documents purporting to stem from the sixth ecumenical council, erred in judging Honorius to have been heretical, we cannot deny, nevertheless, that Hadrian, together with the Synod of Rome, and even the eighth general council, considered that IN THE EVENT OF HIS BEING FOUND HERETICAL THE ROMAN PONTIFF COULD BE SUBJECT TO JUDGMENT."

*     *     *


     The advocates of this second opinion firmly believe that there is an absolute incompatibility between heresy and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and they therefore maintain that a heretical Pope would ipso facto lose his office the moment he fell into heresy, even though this preceded his giving any outward expression to that heresy.

a)  Suarez's exposition of the main reason favouring this opinion.

     The Church is founded on faith.  It is, therefore, also the basis of the Sovereign Pontificate, and of the entire hierarchy of the Church.  In the works of Fathers such as St. Cyprian, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, Popes Gelasius and Alexander II, and St. Thomas Aquinas, it is frequently asserted that he who lacks faith cannot have jurisdiction within the Church.
     There is, Moreover, a simple and straightforward argument: a heretic is not a member of the Church, whence it follows that he cannot be head of the Church.  Going even further, if we consult the Apostles, Paul (Titus 3, 10) and John (II John 10, 11), the faithful should not even greet a heretic, still less obey him.
     Finally, a heretical Pope is one who simultaneously denies both Christ and the true Church, thus denying also his own office: as a result he deprives himself of that office.

b)  Objections to the second opinion.

     The main reason for rejecting this opinion is derived from the visible nature of the Church.  It seems impossible that loss of jurisdiction can be admitted because of a reason unknown to and beyond the control of the faithful, i.e., a heresy that is purely personal and internal.

c)  This opinion entirely abandoned nowadays.

     Concluding his examination of this opinion, Vidigal observes that while there exists a very close link between exclusion from the Church, and the loss of the office of Supreme Pontiff, a considerable number of theologians nevertheless are not of opinion that exclusion from the Church would ipso facto result in the loss of the Papal office.
     It must not be forgotten that this second opinion concerns a Pope fallen into heresy, but wholly internally.

*     *     *


     This opinion has been maintained by one theologian only, a Frenchman called Bouix (d. 1870).  He held that faith was not essential to the exercising of jurisdiction within the Church.  Consequently, heresy is not a sufficient cause for even an openly heretical Pope to lose his pontificate.
     This opinion, previously described by Bellarmine as "most improbable", has ranged against it almost the whole of the Church's unanimous tradition.  Vidigal points out that of thirty-six authorities consulted on this question, Bouix alone supports this viewpoint.  And what is more, it is contradicted by several scriptural texts.
     The Jesuit Cardinal Mazella was able to assert that none of the authors who admits the possibility of a Pope's being heretical, doubts or denies that such a Pope ipso facto loses his office, or at least that he should be deprived of it.
     Cardinal Billot writes in a similar vein: "Once a Pope's heresy is admitted to exist, all authorities concede that the link between communion with and subservience to that Pope is destroyed, because of the provisions in the divine economy which expressly enjoin the avoiding of heretics."
     In conclusion, it  must be stressed that the only supporter of this third opinion, Bouix, did nevertheless state very clearly and firmly, that if ever it should happen that the faithful were confronted with a heretical Pope, they should not remain passive but should offer resistance to his iniquitous decisions.

*     *     *


     Such a declaration cannot be a sentence, in the strictly juridical meaning of the word, because the Pope has no earthly superior with power to pass judgment on him.  It must, therefore, be a simple declaration of the fact that Jesus Christ has deprived the Pope of office.  The principal supporters of this view are Cajetan and Suarez.  The latter, despite his support for the first opinion we examined above, defends the fourth opinion in cases where a Pope did fall into heresy.

Arguments supporting this opinion.

     In no case, heresy included, is the Supreme Pontiff deprived of office by God immediately, before men have had an opportunity to pass judgment.  This is Suarez's interpretation of the views of Cajetan, Soto, Cano and Corduba.  In the first place, he declares, there is no divine law which says that a heretical Pope loses his office instantly.  There is not even an implicit law covering this eventuality, because such a law would lack any basis.  Moreover, neither popes nor councils have ever interpreted a divine law in this fashion.
     In the second place, a law of this kind, even if it existed, would be harmful to the Church.  In fact, were a Pope to be heretical in secret, so to speak, and were he thereby deprived of office, all his acts would be invalid.
     It may be objected that this reason is valueless in the case of a Pope openly and publicly heretical.  This is not the case, however, because if the Pope remains Pope while supporting an external heresy, albeit in secret, he can continue to be Pope in cases of long-standing heresy, as long as he has not been tried and sentenced.
     Another reason is that faith is not absolutely necessary for the exercise of jurisdiction.
     Moreover, though a heretic cannot be formally and substantially a member of the Church, the Pope is only the head of the Church in a vicarious sense, and, insofar as his duties are concerned, instrumentally.  Just as Christ can impart His grace through heretical ministers, He can, in similar fashion, act spiritually on the members of His Body, even though the head of the Church on earth is false to his charge.
     On the other hand, if the Pope is heretical and incorrigible, he ceases to be Pope the moment the Church pronounces sentence on him.  This is the consensus of opinion among Doctors of the Church, deduced from St. Clement I's first letter, in which he writes that St. Peter taught that a heretical Pope must be deposed.  The reason is that it would do the Church the utmost harm to be led by such a pastor, and to be powerless to defend herself against him in a situation of such extreme gravity.  And it would, besides, be utterly contrary to the dignity of the Church, if she were obliged to remain subject to a heretical Pontiff, without the power to rid herself of him: ita populus, sicut sacerdos or qualis rex, talis grex - as the priest or prince is, so will their people become.
     This conclusion raises several questions.  Suarez answers them as follows:

  •   Who should pronounce sentence?

         Some believe this should be the responsibility of the College of Cardinals, and there is no question but that the Church could delegate this power to them, just as she does in Papal elections, especially if the power had been ratified by the Popes themselves.  Unfortunately, we can find no evidence that they ever were granted such a prerogative.  Consequently, it must be asserted that this right belongs, of itself, to all the bishops in the Church, because they are the ordinary Pastors and the Pillars of the Church, and so this duty would devolve upon them.  But, because by divine law this duty is not incumbent upon one bishop more than another, it must be acknowledged that all bear an equal responsibility, i.e., in Council.

  •   How is such a Council to be convened when the convening of councils rests with the Pope?

         There are several answers to this question.  First, it is not essential for the bishops to be brought together in a general council.  Meetings of provincial and national councils, convened by primates or archbishops are sufficient.  The essential is that they should all reach the same conclusion.
         Second, if the Pope alone is able to convene a general council to define matters of faith or to promulgate ecclesiastical laws, a council could, in this case (of Papal heresy), be convened by the sacred College.  And what is more, were the Pope to forbid the convening of such a council, he would not have to be obeyed, because he would be acting contrary to justice and the common good, and thus be abusing his power.

  •   This raises the question of the law by which the Pope could be tried by such an assembly.  Would its authority be higher than that of the Pope?

         Cajetan, faced with this problem, makes an extraordinary effort to avoid being obliged to admit that the Church, or the council, have an authority higher than the pope's, when it is a question of the latter being heretical.  He finally concludes that they do possess a higher authority, but only inasmuch as the Pope is considered as a private individual, rather than as Pope.
         This distinction is unfortunately not at all satisfactory, because it could be said that the Church can judge and punish a Pope only as a private person and not as Pope.
         To sum up, were the Church to depose a heretical Pope, the Church would do so not by virtue of any powers that exceed the Pope's, but juridically, and with the consent of Christ, she would declare him to be heretical and as a result totally unworthy of honours due to the supreme Pontiff.  He would be deprived ipso facto and immediately of his office by Christ.  Once he had been deprived in this way he would become subordinate to the Church and subject to punishment.

    St. Robert Bellarmine's refutation of this opinion.

         "The fourth opinion is Cajetan's.  According to him a manifestly heretical Pope is not ipso facto deposed(22), but can and should be deposed by the Church.
         In my view, this opinion cannot be upheld.  First and foremost, it has been established by arguments from both authority and reason, that a manifest heretic is deprived ipso facto of office.  The argument from authority rests on St. Paul's injunction to Titus (3, 10) to avoid further contact with a heretic after making two attempts at remonstrating with him, i.e., after the latter has made his obstinacy perfectly clear, but before any excommunication or judicial sentence has been passed on him.  St. Jerome wrote in a similar sense and added the warning, that while other kinds of sinners are excluded from the Church by sentence of excommunication, heretics cut themselves off from the Body of Christ.  Now, on the supposition that a heretical Pope remains Pope, how could he be avoided?  How could we separate ourselves from a member who is united to us?
         Cajetan admits one principle as certain, namely that anyone who is not a Christian cannot be Pope.  The reason is simple:  what does not belong to the body cannot be considered its head.  Now anybody who is a heretic cannot be a Christian.  This is the unequivocal teaching of Cyprian, Athanasius, Augustine, Jerome and numerous other Fathers of the Church.  It follows that a palpable heretic cannot be pope.
         Finally, the Fathers are unanimous in teaching not only that heretics are outside the Church, but also that they are ipso facto deprived of all jurisdiction and ecclesiastical rank.  Witness St. Cyprian: 'We assert without any qualification that no heretic or schismatic can possess any power or any rights'.  He also teaches that heretics returning to the Church must be received as laymen, even if they had formerly been priests or bishops.
         St. Optatus, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, all teach that heretics and schismatics cannot possess the power of the Keys, nor that of binding and loosing.
         Pope Celestine I wrote: "It is obvious that anybody, be he bishop or cleric, who has been excommunicated or removed from office by Bishop Nestorius, or by his adherents since they began to preach heresy, has remained and remains still in communion with us, and that we in no way consider such a one to have been deprived of his office.  In fact the sentence passed by anyone who has himself been shown to have been deposed has no power whatsoever to depose another."
         The same Pope wrote in his letter to the clergy of Constantinople as follows: "The authority of our Apostolic See ordains that no one, be he bishop or cleric or simple Christian, can be considered as having been removed from office, or excommunicated, by Nestorius and his followers since they first set out to preach heresy.  Nobody who has flouted the faith by such preaching has power to depose or remove from office anyone at all."
         The same teaching was repeated and confirmed by St. Nicolas I.  Finally, St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that schismatics lose all jurisdiction immediately, and that as a result anything they attempted, which required such powers, would be null and void.(23)
          Some theologians have raised objections to this ruling, arguing that the Fathers based it on old laws while in fact, since the Council of Constance (1414-1418), only those excommunicated by name, or those who make an assault upon the clergy, lose their power of jurisdiction.  This objection is without substance.  In fact, the Fathers cited are not invoking any human law, when they assert that heretics lose all power of jurisdiction: their argument was based on the essential nature of heresy.
         The Council of Constance was principally concerned with those who had been excommunicated, i.e., those whose power of jurisdiction had been removed by a judgement passed on them by the Church.  Heretics do not fall into this category because, before there is any question of their being formally excommunicated, they are outside the Church and thus deprived of all jurisdiction; and this is so because as St. Paul teaches (Titus 3, 10), they have condemned themselves, i.e., separated themselves from the body of the Church without being excommunicated, as was explained by St. Jerome.
         In addition to all these considerations, Cajetan's second assertion, which teaches that a heretical Pope can, in fact, be deposed by the authority of the Church, is as ill-founded as his first.  In fact, if the Church deposes a Pope against his will, it is precisely because her authority is greater than that of the Pope.  Cajetan denies this, for he maintains that the Church, when she deposes a Pope, has no authority over him as Pope, but solely over the bond uniting the individual to the office of Supreme Pontiff.
         Nevertheless, it remains true that to remove a Pope from office against his will is undoubtedly to punish him, and the power to inflict punishment belongs to a superior or judge.
         This second assertion cannot, therefore, be maintained.

    *     *     *


         This opinion is supported by many theologians of great authority, e.g., Bellarmine, Sylvius, Pietro Ballerini, Wernz-Vidal and Cardinal Billot.

    a)  Examination of this opinion by St. Robert Bellarmine.

         After refuting other opinions, Bellarmine expounds his position as follows:
         "The fifth opinion is correct because it is in accordance with that which teaches that a Pope who is a manifest heretic ceases, in consequence of his own actions, to be Pope and Head of the Church, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the Body of Christ.  This being the case, he can be tried and punished by the Church.  All the early Fathers are unanimous in teaching that all manifest heretics immediately lose all power of jurisdiction.  St. Cyprian, in particular, laid great stress on this point.
         It is likewise the conclusion of more recent Doctors, such as Juan Driedo, whose teaching is that there are only two categories who cut themselves off from the Church, viz., those who have been expelled as the result of a formal sentence of excommunication, and those who have grown away from the Church, and come to be in opposition to her, i.e., heretics and schismatics.  Driedo's seventh proposition maintains that those separated from the Church retain not one single vestige of spiritual power over those who remain in the Church.
         The same view is held by Melchior Cano.  He teaches that heretics are not members of nor part of the Church, and that it is not even thinkable that anyone could be head (of the Church) and Pope without being either a part or member of the Church.  But in the same passage he teaches clearly that secret heretics are still of the Church, for they are still outwardly members and part of it: consequently, a secretly heretical Pope is still Pope.
         This is also the view of all the other authorities we have quoted in De Ecclesia, Book I.
         This conclusion is based on the fact that a manifest heretic is not a member of the Church in any way, physically or spiritually, or, to put it another way, he is united to the Church by neither an interior nor by an exterior union.  Thus it is that even bad Catholics are still united to the Church, and are members spiritually by faith, and physically by their profession of faith and reception of outward and visible sacraments.  Secret heretics are also united with the Church, and remain members at least by exterior union.  On the other hand, good catechumens are united to the Church by an interior union only, but not by an external union.  But manifest heretics do not belong to the Church in any way whatsoever, as we have already proved."

    b)  Defence of this opinion by Father Pietro Ballerini.

         This eminent eighteenth century theologian, after having observed that a council of the Church could pass sentence on a heretical Pope only if he had already been deposed (i.e., if he had lost his office of Pontiff), continues:
         "No temporisation can be tolerated where there is a danger to the faith, especially when it is as proximate and grave as that presented by a Pontiff who supports heresy, even only in private.  In such a case, why wait until redress comes from a general council, the calling of which is not easy?  Is it not, fortunately, true to say that faced with such a danger to the faith, any subordinate at all may, by virtue of the principle of fraternal correction, warn his superior, oppose him openly, refute him and if necessary, challenge him and put pressure on him to repent?
         Who would be empowered to act in such a fashion toward a Pope?  The Cardinals, because they are his counsellors; the clergy of Rome or the Roman Synod if, while in session, either judge such a course of action opportune.  St. Paul's words to Titus (3, 10-11) are valid for every individual, even private persons: "A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: knowing that he that is such a one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgement."  Therefore, any person who, after one or two warnings, does not mend his ways, but remains stubbornly attached to his private judgement contrary to certain or defined doctrines - and because of his obstinacy, such an individual cannot avoid the accusation of some definite heresy, which his pertinacity reveals - then he has declared himself to be a manifest heretic.  He has shown that he has withdrawn from the Catholic faith and from the Church, in such a way that there is no need for any further declaration or sentence by any authority whatever to cut him off from the body of the Church.
         St. Jerome's argument, based on St. Paul's words to Titus, is absolutely clear: "This is why it is said that the heretic is responsible for his own condemnation, for fornicators, adulterers, murderers and other kinds of sinners are excluded from the Church by the priests, but heretics pronounce sentence upon themselves, and exclude themselves from the Church of their own volition: this exclusion is by the condemnation of their own conscience."  Consequently, the Pontiff who, after many public and solemn warnings from Cardinals, clergy or the Roman Synod, were stubbornly to persist in heresy, would separate himself openly from the Church, and he should be avoided in conformity with St. Paul's injunction.
         To avoid his causing harm to others, his heresy and his obstinacy should be denounced publicly, so that all may have an equal opportunity of being on their guard.  Thus, the judgement which he has made against himself will be apparent to the whole Church, demonstrating clearly that by his own free will he has withdrawn and separated himself from the body of the Church, and that he has in a manner himself abdicated from his Pontificate, an office which no man holds nor can hold who does not belong to the Church.
         It can thus be seen that in the case of even private heresy in a Pope an immediate and efficacious remedy exists, which does not require the summoning of a general council.  On this hypothesis, everything done to oppose him before his pertinacity and his heresy became manifest, would be done with  the object of bringing him back to reason, and would constitute a duty of charity, and not an act of jurisdiction. If, after his withdrawal from the Church has become manifest, a council were to pass sentence against him, such a sentence would be passed against a person who was no longer Pope, nor superior to the council."


    (1)  Provided infra is a translation of this second letter to the Pope, Cardinal Duval's letter to me and my reply.
    (2)  The following is a chronological list of the most important letters of which we are aware: 25 Nov. 1964, from Fr. Noël Barbara and 431 French priests; 15 Aug. 1967, from Fr. Gommar A. de Pauw, Director of the Catholic Traditionalist Movement, Westbury, New York; Corpus Christi 1969, from Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci; 10 Nov. 1970, from Fr Noël Barbara; 11 June 1970, from Monsieur Jean Madiran; 27 Oct. 1972, from Jean Madiran; 10 Apr. 1973, from Abbé Georges de Nantes.  All these letters reached the Pope.
    (3)  Self-destruction.  It is not difficult to understand how and why the expression is blasphemous, given that a Church directly guided by the Son of God made man and inspired by the Holy Spirit cannot, by definition, contain anything which would contribute to its own destruction.
    (4)  The name of the society means "charcoal burners."  It was a code name of the kind common at the time.  Alta Vendità refers to the principle branch of the Carbonari whose meetings were, again, designated by the code-word "sale" (vendità).
    (5)  Barbier, op. cit. p. 7, writes: "It may be said without any exaggeration that the principles of democracy and those of Freemasonry are identical, and that the former re-affirms and develops, frequently without the supporters of the former being aware of what is happening, all the aims of the latter.  Those aims may be summarised as the demolition of the supernatural, and its replacement by total naturalism."
    (6)  Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Lib. II, cap. 29.
    (7)  Cardinal Cajetan, quoted in Journet's L'Eglise du Verbe lncarné (The Church of the Word Incarnate), Vol. 2, p. 840.
    (8)  The sheep in the Gospel text represent the bishops.  The sheep's clothing symbolises the externals of episcopal authority.
    (9)  Dom Prosper Guéranger, Année Liturgique (The Liturgical Year), Feast of St Cyril.
    (10)  Herve, Manuel de Théologie Dogmatique, III, p. 305.
    (11)  Summa Theologica, IIa, IIae, XXXIII, a.4, ad2.
    (12)  Ad Gal. 11, 11-14, lect. III.
    (13)  F. Victoria, Obras, p. 486-7.
    (14)  Cornelius a Lapide, Ad Gal., II, 11.
    (15)  Wernz-Vidal, Jus Canon., Vol. II, p. 436.
    (16)  Peinador, Cursus brevior theol. moral., Tom. II, Vol. 1, p. 287.
    (17)  Certain believers, of course, belong to the Church only "in voto."
    (18)  Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Denzinger 1839, 1840.
    (19)  Examples are during the eighth century (Honorius), the twelfth (Paschal II), and during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Alexander VI).
    (20)  Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Lib. II, cap. XXX.  All quotations are from Vidigal (cf. supra) p. 144-176 and have been translated by the writer.
    (21)  This preaching of authentic faith solemnly proclaimed is what is termed "extraordinary teaching" by the Pope, i.e., his teaching ex cathedra.
    (22)  It is incorrect in this context to understand "deposed" in the sense of being stripped of rank by some superior authority or jurisdiction.  Bellarmine is using it here to mean loss of office in a general sense.
    (23)  Ila. IIae, XXXIX. 3.

    "A sentence passed by anyone who has revealed himself as someone who should be deposed, cannot depose another."
                                 Pope Celestine I

    Dr. F. ANTICO
    has brought out in the open the serious crisis within the Church.

    Is Vatican II already outdated?

         Doctor Franco Antico, Director of Civiltà Cristiana is also Secretary general of the World Alliance, P.E.R.C.  The letter of which we here publish the translation appeared on page 4 of the November 13, 1976 issue of Realtà Politica (21 Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, Rome), No. 43.  The article is of utmost interest and we feel it deserves to be widely diffused.
         This letter was translated into English by a friend of ours to whom we wish to express our gratitude, as well as to Dr. Antico.
                                 FORTES IN FIDE

    *     *     *

    Dear Editor,
         For some time I have followed with particular interest all that has been published in Realtà Politica concerning Archbishop Lefebvre.  In the numerous articles which have appeared in your meritorious weekly magazine I have found much profound and often fresh food for thought, and always uppermost is your concern for the well-being of the Church:  Holy Mother Church which, within the reality of history, incarnates Christ's Redemption and proclaims God's rights to all the world.
         At a time when the heat of the controversy seems to permit pause for reflection, allow me to express my opinion, which, in fact, reflects that of Civiltà Cristiana, the Italian organization which was the first to take a definite and courageous stand on a matter which has for the most part, been so badly handled.
         The essential lines of the judicial aspect of the question are certainly confused: nevertheless, for me the situation is sufficiently clear: On November 1, 1970, His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre founds the St. Pius X Sacerdotal Fraternity, canonically established in the diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg.  The Seminary of Econe, a legitimate issue of the Fraternity and thus entirely legal, prepares its seminarists for the priesthood by educating them in an atmosphere where Tradition is respected, a strict discipline is maintained, and theological study is both methodical and thorough.  The Seminary of Econe is decidedly embarrassing to the innovators.  Why?  Simply because its role is to produce serious priests who, entirely orthodox, are fully aware of all that the Ministry entails, and who are absolutely firm and intransigent in the True Faith.  To be frank, what this amounts to in no uncertain terms is that these non-progressive priests, as opposed to those now being educated in French Seminaries and unfortunately in some Italian Seminaries (suffice here to evoke what took place in the Almo Capranica College in Rome), have become a most unpleasant "stumbling block" to all those who are dedicated to the concept of a new and different church which by its very nature would be in opposition to the True Church.  In fact, a glimpse of what such a church might be like was afforded us recently by a group of exegetes meeting in Rome.  During their discussion, the theme of which was "Evangelization and Human Promotion", the following assertion was made: "The Church should be broadminded enough to admit the positive elements of Marxism in view of establishing a new cultural synthesis compatible with Christianity."
         The French bishops who hoped to doom Archbishop Lefebvre's work to failure by de facto compelling him to leave France and exiling him to a tiny out of the way village in Switzerland where, until recently, he was virtually unknown and unheard of, are now completely dumbfounded.  Whereas the seminaries of many large French cities are for the most part deserted, and some of them closed and sold, young aspirants to the priesthood flock to Econe, overflowing the already spacious living accommodations.  For this reason many young men seeking to become priests in the true sense of the word, have had to be turned away.  Thus it is that Econe stands as a clear and unequivocal symbol of a denial; indeed, a veritable thorn in the side of the Hierarchy who, for the past twenty years have been favourable to "prudent, didactic pedagogical experiments": experiments which by their very nature have been leading us down the path towards anarchy, and far from having encouraged or increased vocations, have been the cause of drying them up at their source.  On the other hand and at the opposite end of the spectrum, there is Econe: a seminary open to a few reasonable and sensible changes, but primarily dedicated to the principles of a strict spiritual formation, overflowing with students despite or perhaps because of the fact that it honours the values inherent to mankind, such as a spirit of sacrifice, devotion to duty, Faith, an orderly discipline, charity, and acceptance of a Hierarchy.  Econe seems to be as fertile in vocations as it is embarrassing to the innovators.  In fact, such a seminary is an unbearable affront to French Bishops as well as to all those who support the "post-conciliar new wave."  For these people, it is therefore essential that Econe disappear.  To this end, various endeavours will surely follow in rapid succession.
         At the present time, official visits give way to meetings, committees are established to study the question, Bishops and Cardinals come and go, and yet none has yet been able to find a valid pretext for censure.  On the contrary, even the seminary's most opinionated adversaries are forced to bow to the evidence and admit that Econe is a veritable seedbed of holy priests.  In one of Aesop's fables, we meet a wolf who, wanting to kill and devour a lamb, resorts to all sorts of specious arguments to justify his actions.  In like fashion, Bishop Mamie of Lausanne-Geneva-Fribourg urged on by certain Roman Prelates, notably Cardinal Tabera, now deceased, takes upon himself the initiative of suppressing by a letter dated the sixth of May 1975, the St. Pius X Sacerdotal Fraternity, and consequently the Seminary of Econe.  This most foolhardy Bishop does not seem to realize that in so doing he committed a colossal blunder.  Indeed, his decision is in opposition to the precise provisions of Canon 493 of the Code of Canon Law.  Bishop Mamie mistook the St. Pius X Fraternity for one of the "confraternitates" or "Sodalitia Fidelium" which Canon Law deals with in Canons 707-719 of "De Laicis."  Through this mistake, Bishop Mamie has committed an arbitrary act, as well as an unwarranted exercising of his Episcopal function.  It is a very serious error.  As a matter of fact, the Fraternity as all "Societas Clericalis virorum in communi viventium sine votis" (canons 673-674 and 488, 3-4), can only be suppressed by the Holy See which alone has the power to suppress that which has been legitimately established by diocesan law Canon 493).
         Bishop Mamie's decree is therefore null and void and of no judicial value.  Hence if the decree is invalid, which it certainly is, the Fraternity has not been dissolved and Archbishop Lefebvre, as Superior General, maintains all the privileges which derive from his position, including the legitimate right exercised in the territory of his Episcopate, to ordain the seminarists of Econe.  Since no legitimate suppression has in fact occurred, there can be no question of rebellion on the part of someone who believes null and void an act which in fact is null and void.  Thus Archbishop Lefebvre has chosen to abide by a sure legal standard and he is acting as if no such decree existed, simply because in fact it does not legally exist.  Consequently, on June 29th 1976,  Archbishop Lefebvre legitimately ordained his priests.  He could have equally well ordained them before Bishop Mamie's letter as after or for that matter for as long as the legal procedure against him is not legitimized by an eventual decree emanating from a competent authority and conforming to the usual forms of Canonical procedure required in such cases.
         Hence, it is proof of bad faith to accuse Archbishop Lefebvre of having violated a code of Canon Law and of having scorned Pope Paul's desires which requested him to abstain from "improper conferment of sacred orders" (L'Osservatore Romano, August 30-31, 1976). It is clear that in this case there is no question of improperly conferred ordinations. On the contrary, Archbishop Lefebvre's ordinations have been validly conferred and above all, they are legitimate because they are in conformity with Canon Law.
         It follows that if such a violation has not occurred either with regard to a code of Canon Law or with regard to an alleged Papal invitation (in any case, devoid of any legal obligation), Archbishop Lefebvre's "suspense a divinis" is also null and void because it is founded on a false motivation based on a non-existent rebellion.

    *     *     *


         Concerning certain subjects such as Liturgy, Catechism, and interpretation of Holy Scripture, which may seem irrelevant, but which in reality are the fundamental causes of the hostility against Archbishop Lefebvre, an executive of "Civilta Cristiana" in a press release dated August 29, 1976, already clearly expressed his opinion which is in every way identical to that of Archbishop Lefebvre.  For the very real and permanent value that such an opinion brings to all Catholics wishing to remain faithful to the twice millenary teaching of the Church, it is well worthwhile that I quote it here:
         1. - The very ancient Roman Liturgy of the Holy Mass, codified by St. Pius V which is a perfect expression of our Eucharistic Faith (the True Presence, the renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross, the priestly ministry) has never been abolished; even less has it been forbidden by any Authority.  It is therefore perfectly legitimate to both celebrate and attend this Mass.  Within the Catholic Church there are certain co-existing rites (i.e., Ambrosian, Mozarabic, Artiochian, Alexandrine, Chaldean, etc.) and one does not easily understand how it could be possible that the Roman Rite which has nourished and fortified Occidental Faith since the early centuries of Christianity, could be forbidden or abolished, and if so by whom and for what motives?  Moreover, the Second Vatican Council itself, so often evoked by the innovators, in the Constitution De Sacra Liturgia (No. 4) declares textually that the sacred Council in faithful homage to Tradition avows that the Church honours and gives equal rights to all recognized rites.  Furthermore, it desires that in the future they be preserved and promoted by every available means . . .  "Traditioni denique fideliter obsequens, Sacrosanctum Concilium declarat Sanctam Matrem Ecclesiam omnes Ritus legitime agnitos aequo jure atque honore habere, eosque in posterum servari et omnimodo foveri velle . . ."
         2. - The Catechism of Christian Doctrine drafted by St. Pius X in accordance with the decrees of the dogmatic Council of Trent (Session XXIV, de Reform., Ch. 7 and Session XXV) sums up the immutable and unalterable truths of the Church.  Hence, no Authority can forbid or limit its use, either now or in the future.
         3. - The authentic translation and interpretation of Holy Scriptures consecrated by the century-old Tradition of the True Church are beyond tampering with and any attempted manipulation of them is an outrage of an extremely serious nature against the Catholic Faith, the more serious in this case because it is perpetrated by priests and above all, by Bishops and certain Ecclesiastic Institutions.
         In addition to this, it seems to me important to bring out in the open the critical stand adopted by Civiltà Cristiana, with regard to certain tendencies which have appeared in the post Vatican II Church.  Concerning this subject, an executive of Civiltà Cristiana, assisted by priests and theologians, jurists, moralists and canonists affirms in the already cited press release: "The Second Vatican Council gave birth to a so-called post-conciliar spirit which has progressed and caused a frightful crisis within the Church; a crisis which is easily recognizable by the reapparition of Neo-Modernism, which has already repeatedly been condemned by the Supreme Magisterium of the Church.  (Decree of the Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office, Lamentabili July 3rd, 1907; St. Pius X Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, Sept. 8, 1907; St. Pius X Motu Proprio Sacrorum Antistitum Sept. 1, 1910; etc.).  There are those who today would, if they had their way, sweep aside twenty ecumenical councils.  What absurd conceit!  Those who wish to transform everything are waging a particularly relentless battle against the Council of Chalcedon 451 and the Council of Trent 1545-1563, and the first Vatican Council which started in 1869.  For these people, the Catholic Church was born today; issue of the "post conciliar spirit."  They seem to feel that from this spirit, and only this spirit, the Church should receive the advice and inspiration which in fact are the prerogatives of the Holy Ghost, Third Person of the Holy Trinity.  It is not difficult to perceive the truly enormous damage that this so-called post conciliar spirit has given rise to in the Church, "Christ's Mystical Body" (Mystici Corporis, June 29, 1943).  This hapless "post conciliar spirit" has spawned a multitude of doctrinal and moral aberrations, as well as liturgical and juridical manipulation, at a time when the very structure of the Church is menaced and shaken.  The truth of the matter is that this "post conciliar spirit" has laid the foundations for a new anthropocentric religion, which in fact has little or nothing in common with the True Catholic Faith; that is to say the Faith confirmed by past councils and supreme Magisterium, the Faith handed to us from apostolic times, and upheld by Apostolic Primates during the course of twenty centuries.
         It suffices here to add that Pope Paul himself, on a number of occasions, deplored and still deplores the crisis which has arisen in the Church today: that is, in the Church which may be rightfully called the "post-Conciliar Church."  Such oft-repeated expressions as "a process of autodemolition has been set in motion", "Satan's smoke has already filtered in through many fissures", "Tradition is being ignored or cast aside" are from Pope Paul's lips.
         What does all this signify if not that there is widespread recognition of the fact that there exists a serious crisis within the Church today, and that the Post Conciliar Church, contaminated as it is by the so-called "Post Vatican II Spirit", is no longer acceptable to those who wish to hold fast to the True Faith.

    *     *     *


         The Second Vatican Council wanted to clearly specify its eminently pastoral nature and for this very reason, it sought to address itself to "contemporary man, taking into account the exigencies, opportunities, and various deviations peculiar to the modern world."  (The Second Vatican Council's 28th Inaugural address, Session No. 1, October 11, 1962.)
         The fundamental concept, expressed at the beginning of the council by Pope John XXIII, was very frequently repeated, either during the council itself or during its epilogue: Vatican II has spoken to contemporary man, therefore the council must concern itself with present day times, and new conditions and procedures which have become an accepted part of the world today . . . (Ibid No. 49.)  The principal goal of this council is not to discuss such and such a point of doctrine, nor to diffuse or repeat the teachings of the church's doctors and ancient theologians . . ." (Ibid No. 54)  "To do this, there is no need of a council." (Ibid 55)  "What is necessary is that the Church's teaching be presented in such a way as to fulfil the requirements and the needs of modern day life . . ." (Ibid 55)  Furthermore: "The Church has spoken to contemporary man such as he is." (Pope Paul's homily, No. 459), Session 9, Dec. 7, 1965.)  Pope Paul both frequently and clearly underlines what may be called the "human principle" in modern times.  He refers to these two things again and again in clear, certain terms: "Acknowledge our humanism: We, perhaps more than anyone else believe in the cult of man" (Ibid 456).  By its decrees as well as by its constitutions Vatican II unequivocally restates its official nature, and addresses itself not only to believers but to "all men without distinction" to explain how it envisages the presence of the Church and its action in the context of today's world." (Gaudium and Spes No. 1320)  Further, "The uneasiness assailing mankind today." (Ibid 1329)  "In truth, the maladjustment from which the contemporary world suffers . . ." (Ibid 1350)  "Our era is marked by man's many achievements and successes . . ." (Ibid 1365)  "The ever widening scope of human relations constitutes one of the most important aspects of the modern world . . ." (Ibid 1391)  From these quotations, it is easy to see that the frequently repeated terms "our times", "contemporary man", "modern world" are determinant and important to the ultimate goals of the council.  In fact, these terms express the council's major preoccupation.
         Vatican II is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, addressing itself to contemporary man, but contemporary man with the passing years will fast become the "man of times gone by."  Indeed, the years pass rapidly; here we are already fifteen years after Vatican II was first announced by Pope John XXIII in an Apostolic Constitution (December 25, 1961).  It is undeniable that present day man no longer exactly resembles the man of fifteen years ago, and there is every chance that he will bear even less resemblance to the man of the future.  One can say as much for the world that rushes from one life style to another.  Today's problems are very different from those of fifteen years ago.  The purpose of previous ecumenical councils, which were both dogmatic and irrevocable, was "to erect an insurmountable barrier against all possible heresy that might attack or undermine the integrity of the Sacred Mystery . . ." (Cardinals Ottaviani's and Bacci's letter, Corpus Domini 1969).  By their very nature, these ecumenical councils placed themselves beyond the limits of time.  Unlike past councils, Vatican II, geared for men of a particular point in time, is already outdated and will become more so with the passing of each day.  Ultimately, it will have neither kept pace with the march of time, nor with men of the past, inexorably dogged by the frenetic passage of the years.
         If certain experiments now acknowledged as being inept should be discarded, let them be discarded, or at least, their essential points corrected.  We should set to the task fearlessly and courageously, casting aside false pride; all the more so because of the temporary nature inherent to this council; indeed, it is the council itself which "set its own bonds", thus presenting to the world the strange physiognomy of a council tied to a point in time and as subject as time itself to the caprices and fashions of an ever-changing humanity which seems increasingly unable to submit to any eternal law.
         My dear Cotturone, I could now close this letter which I am taking the liberty of sending you, but I feel that there are two more points worthy of consideration:
         The first is that it must be pointed out that things are going badly - extremely badly.  We are going downhill fast and I even wonder if we are not perhaps in the process of living through the agony of our country - our Catholic Italy - our freedom, and our very civilization.  Whose fault is it?  Certainly (and we say this with deep pain), and perhaps most of all, it is the fault of the Hierarchy.  It did not evaluate the danger and it failed to give God's people the full understanding of its dignity.  Alas, it failed too often to take a stand and pronounce itself on subjects which were serious and important, even vital to Christianity.  Unhappily, the Hierarchy is guilty of having forgotten or shirked the duty inherent to the state of the Shepherd: that of guiding and leading the flock - not running behind and following it!  First, our "shepherds" tolerated a state of doctrinal confusion, then the weakening and finally the tearing down of all the dikes which were erected as veritable bulwarks against the City of God being encroached upon, and finally, the Hierarchy's permissiveness facilitated the unchecked expansion of that which is not and can never be compatible with God's kingdom.  We are left in a spiritual wilderness where countless souls are lost and where men are stripped of their honor and their dignity as God's children.
         Our frightful civil crisis is nothing else but a logical and necessary consequence of the spiritual crisis: We will pay for both by torrents of tears and unless God spares us, by torrents of blood as well.  After which, perhaps, spring will flourish again: a spring that new martyrs will have obtained for us.
         The second matter which I submit to your consideration has to do specifically with Archbishop Lefebvre:
         It must be said, resaid, and understood that Archbishop Lefebvre has engendered no crisis at all.  The present crisis is old and goes well back in history, to the French Revolution, and nearer our time, to the end of the last century and the beginning of this one . . . (St. Pius X, Pascendi, 1907).(1)  If we jump ahead a bit to the last twenty years, we clearly see that the deficiency of authority in the Church ushered in a period during which all the putrid waters, which for centuries had been held at bay by the enlightened wisdom of many Popes, began to overflow and contaminate our civilization.
         Thus, many are the Catholics who have now lost confidence in the safe shores of our Lord's doctrine.  They have plunged headlong into a frantic pursuit of new ports and from time to time, carried away by the storm, they believed they had discovered them in psychology, positivism, or sociology either Freudian or Marxist.  In all of these or in one of them, they saw the mirage of a new redemption and they forgot or cast aside the Kingdom of God, proclaimed by His Son, which in fact is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega.  Dazzled by false diamonds of error, they were no longer able to distinguish the Way, the Truth, and everlasting Life.
         Before Almighty God and before history, Archbishop Lefebvre, from the height of his episcopal authority, has the merit of having sent out a signal of alarm to the Church.  It is of the utmost urgency to hasten to the ramparts.  The hour is grave and there is no time for either weakness or hesitation.  Archbishop Lefebvre is, in a sense, the "notary" of the crisis within the Church: He has taken note of it and denounced it.  In the beginning, backed by only a few followers, and later by distinguished collaborators who have become more and more numerous, he has now placed the Christian world face to face with the reality of the crisis.  I am a witness of this work which dates from the days of the council.  It is then that I first saw Archbishop Lefebvre and a handful of others like him who were devoting themselves to the task of salvaging that which could still be salvaged.
         It is an established fact that if Archbishop Lefebvre's work were to stop here and now, his mission has already rendered three services precious to God's cause: First of all, his courageous action has strengthened the faith of countless Catholics; secondly, he has slowed down the reckless adventurous spirit of certain people in quest of promotion; thirdly, he has pointed out to the Cardinals who will meet in the next Conclave, the absolute necessity of choosing a Pope who is convinced of the extreme gravity of the present state of the Church and who is determined to remedy the evil not by looking either to the right or to the left, but simply upwards.
         I close this letter by a wish, which at the same time is a prayer: may Almighty God find pleasing the perfume of heroic virtue practised by the martyrs of our modern day persecution.  May their sacrifices serve to bring back to the right road the blinded stupid lackeys of this persecution.  Finally, may it be given to us whom the new lapsi have baptised "termites of Holy Scripture", the strength to evangelize the real termites who are corroding Holy Mother Church from inside.

    Franco ANTICO


    (1)  Note added by Professor G. Chabot, Lausanne:
         Franco Antico has omitted to call to our attention one of the most important landmarks along the way which led to the crisis within the Church: the censuring of "Action Française" by Pope Pius XI in 1926.  The catastrophic consequences of that "affair" for the Church of France and for the Church as a whole, have since been recognized, analyzed, and denounced by many lucid, impartial writers.  Suffice here to cite two:
         1. - Marcel de Corte's pamphlet "Rome's blindness" published by Les Cahiers Charles Maurras in which we find this conclusion.  "In September, 1927 the French newspaper, La Croix published a letter by Parisian worker priests congratulating Pope Pius XI for his liberating action."  We now know that this "liberating action", the prototype of many others, in fact liberated within the Church and in the world a host of sinister forces bent upon achieving the Church's autodestruction."
         2. - Jean Madiran, "Complaint to the Holy Father", Chapter III: "The Fundamental Option."  The entire chapter is well worth reading and meditating.  Space only allows me to cite here a few lines:
         "The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris - "Father Marty", as he likes to be called, has given away the secret of what he calls the "post conciliar evolution."  This secret is a fundamental option . . . in the sense that it is the option of the Church in France since the censure of L'Action Française.  The ecclesiastical party which today holds the militant Church under the boot of an alien occupation, is the same party which was allowed to flourish after the censuring of L'Action Française.  It is a party of persecutors . . .  It should be remembered that the Catholics of L'Action Française were the very same Catholics of the Syllabus . . .  [Their censure] was the second rallying to the Republic and a successful one it was: a cultural revolution within the very heart of French Catholicism . . . therein lay the fundamental option with which the French Church was faced . . ."

    11 November 1970
    Feast of St. Martin of Tours

    Most Holy Father,
         This letter is addressed to you by those among your subjects who venerate in you the successor of Peter.  It is a letter written in utter humility and sorrow by those who wish to go on obeying you, but whose faith and common sense have been through such an ordeal and suffered such a series of attacks that they can no longer endure in silence.
         These are the reasons for their having asked me to write to you, asking on their behalf those questions to which answers are urgently needed if their faith, their intelligence and their ability to continue to obey you with an untroubled conscience, are not to be destroyed.  Without such answers they can only drift further into incomprehension.
         Holy Father, do there still exist today within the Church truth, dogma, untouchable faith?
         Your admirable statement of faith, your Credo, reassured us, but we cannot help wondering how it can be reconciled with all the new catechisms that omit all its basic statements, and call in doubt a great number of other dogmas it contains.  You are guardian and protector of our faith: how then can you allow the publication and distribution of these catechisms(1) which falsify the true concept of salvation as taught by the Gospels and Tradition?  How can contradictory dogmas be allowed to co-exist?
         Holy Father, explain to us how we can accept your Credo while in the liturgy, the Mass and the administration of the Sacraments, all the ascetical side of Christian life derived from the reality of original sin, is deliberately left out?  Again, this omission goes against what we are taught by the Gospels and Tradition.  What is the reason behind the contradiction between what you declare to be true in public, and what you put your signature to in the Vatican?  Have not such contradictions been singled out for condemnation by Our Lord Himself?
         Holy Father, can your creed be a true one if what your legate, Cardinal Willebrand, said at the Lutheran assemblies, particularly the one held at Evian, was approved by you?
         Could there really be a close link between the aims of Luther and those of the Second Vatican Council, as your legate declared, presumably with your consent since he was appointed by you?
         We beg you to enlighten us because we genuinely do not know what to think about all these events.
         Holy Father, must your creed always be believed by the Catholic faithful, upheld and defended to the death:
         - while you greet and receive in audience Communist executioners, whose hands are stained with the blood of thousands if not millions of martyred Catholics, faithful to your Credo and the Church of Rome whose Chief Shepherd you are?
         - while you deny anybody who dares raise his voice in the Church to ask that these slaughterers of our brethren should be condemned - as witness the 540 bishops attending the Council who asked for just such a condemnation?
         Please be good enough to explain these contradictions.
         Holy Father, we acclaimed your defence of conjugal morality in Humanae Vitae.  But entire hierarchies have acted clean counter to the teaching of this encyclical without your speaking a word in its defence.  What is more, some hierarchies have actively persecuted the clergy and faithful under their jurisdiction who attempted to put its teaching into practice and, you have allowed this, even encouraged such persecution, while at Rome such priests are treated as troublemakers.  What explanation can you offer for facts like these which are utterly beyond our understanding?
         Holy Father, all your priests who have remained faithful to the vows they took on receiving the sub-diaconate, welcomed with joy your encyclical, Sacerdotalis coelibatus, which re-affirmed that "the Church in the West cannot weaken its faithful adherence to the ancient tradition she upholds."  Many Christian households felt that they were once again receiving powerful aid and support in coping with the problems of conjugal fidelity, from priests who were themselves faithful to their own vow of celibacy.
         How can it be explained to such as these that you yourself, in a letter to your own Secretary of State, once again called in question the principle of priestly celibacy by envisaging the possible ordination of married men?
         How can husbands and wives who have been betrayed in their marriages have explained to them that the marriage bond cannot be dissolved, when you are so lenient in dispensing unfaithful priests from their sacred obligations?
         Holy Father, you speak out very strongly in praise of the Mass of St. Pius V, acknowledging that it incorporates elements dating back to apostolic times, while you order it to be replaced and, in addition, allow the replacement to be imposed improperly on the faithful by some local hierarchies, or impose it yourself on others?
         This new Mass which has replaced the old is, even if only because of its construction, innumerable different schemas, countless prefaces, at the mercy of each individual celebrant's fancy, and very soon provokes indifference or complete lapsing on the part of the faithful.
         And what regard can we have for a reformed rite which is, in part, the work of six Protestant ministers whom you received when that work was done, allowing yourself to be photographed with them as a token of your gratitude for their labours?  Was it to make it apparent that heretics were now allowed to lay hands on the most precious treasure bequeathed the Church by Jesus Christ, nothing less than the perpetual renewal of His Sacred Passion on the altars of His Church?
         How can these things be explained to those who possess the true faith?  We implore you to provide such an explanation.
         Holy Father, you speak in praise of Latin and Gregorian Chant.  You entrusted the Benedictines specifically with the task of preserving these treasures for the Church.  And yet, just one month after saying this, you authorised the suppression of Latin and plainchant in the monasteries.
         Holy Father, you make a special point of requesting the bishops to retain the custom of giving Holy Communion on the tongue, spending considerable time explaining and defining your reasons and yet, in the very same instruction, you contradict yourself and authorise communion in the hand.  Tell us what it means.
         Holy Father, you lament the fact that your own authority is respected less and less in the Church, but tell us, for pity's sake, who took off the tiara that symbolises papal authority so that - to the stupefaction of the bishops who witnessed your uncrowning yourself - it could be put up for auction?
         Holy Father, you have deplored the intercommunion that has taken place in Holland, at Medellin and in Paris in the Rue de Vaugirard.  But who was it that allowed Barbara Olson, a convinced Presbyterian, and three heretical ministers attending the Bogota Eucharistic congress, to receive Holy Communion?
         How are we to explain your recognising, in practice, the episcopal status of Michael Ramsay, then leader of the Church of England, to whom you personally gave your own ring and whom you requested to give his blessing to the crowd, when according to Leo XIII's Bull, Apostolicae Curæ, a bull he confirmed as being irrevocable ("perpetuo ratam, firmam, irrevocabilem"), "ordinations conferred under the Anglican rite are totally null and invalid"?
         We truly no longer understand, and we beg you to give us an explanation of what appears to be outright scandal.
         Holy Father, you deplore the growth of atheism and irreligion generally, but who gave orders to take down all the crucifixes from the walls of the Vatican Secretariat of State, thus effectively laicising your own territory?
         Who went to make his obeisance in the Masonic cult room in New York, at the Assembly of the United Nations?
         Who places innumerable difficulties in the way of the few remaining Catholic governments, either by appointing bishops sympathetic to Marxism, or by showing public sympathy for and lending aid to revolutionaries, both lay and clerical?  And who at the same time is all cordiality towards Communist regimes and those sympathetic to them?
         Could all this be the result of the declaration on religious freedom made at the Second Vatican Council?  But if so, was that Council worth a great deal?
         Holy Father, you never cease telling us that the Church is going through a painful period of crisis, but who is it that numbers among his closest associates the principal begetters of this crisis?
         Who nominated Cardinal Lercaro and Cardinal Suenens as moderators at the Council?
         Who appointed those now surrounding you, who are busy playing the same game as the Church's enemies?
         Who sacked the real supporters of the Church from key posts in the Curia?
         Who requested the president of the most important among the episcopal assemblies to resign?
         Who has done all he can to prevent the only secretary at the Council who has not been made a cardinal, from being elected president of his national episcopal assembly, and failed in the attempt?
         Why is it that you complain endlessly about this crisis, and yet refuse to apply the remedy that lies in your own hands?
         There is a multitude of such mysteries for which we can find no solution.  We beg you to help us to find one.
         Holy Father, you declare your attachment to tradition and to the faith of the Church, but you destroy both when you embrace all these who have fought against the Church in the past, and who are still fighting her today: heretics, Communists, Freemasons.  And together with them, those within the Church who link themselves adulterously with these ideologies.  Yet the same embrace is steadfastly refused to the Church's faithful servants.
         Holy Father, it must be said, although saying it greatly distresses us: your behaviour reminds us of nothing so much as Solomon living off his inheritance from David, and using it to embroil himself with foreign women and with their alien gods and alien beliefs.  Like him, we cannot avoid seeing it: you are ruining the Kingdom of Israel, the Holy, Roman, Catholic, Church.
         We are disciples of Jesus.  Like Our Lord we prefer the truth of actions to that of words, and so we make bold to ask you: "Quid dicis de teipso?  Quis est tu?"  What say you of yourself?  How do you plead?
    Father Noël BARBARA


    (1)  The Dutch Catechism has since been translated into Italian and distributed even in the diocese of Rome.

    *     *     *

    Archbishopric of Algiers                           30 November 1970

    My dear Father,
         It is not because I have forgotten you that I avoided burdening you with too many letters.  I cherish the warmest memories of you and I remember your family with great affection in my prayers.
         The reason for my writing to you now is your open letter to His Holiness Pope Paul VI, which reached me only yesterday.  It caused me the utmost distress.  This abuse of the Pope, who defends the faith of holy mother Church with such courage, seems to be totally alien to you as I remember you.
         Precisely because I do feel a genuine regard and fondness for you I am writing to ask you to write an apology to Cardinal Villot, and to stop attacking the hierarchy: priests should be a help to their bishops not seek bring them into disrepute by unwarranted attacks of this kind.
         I send you my very best wishes for Christmas, your birthday's falling on Christmas Day makes it a very special feast for you, and a happy new year.
         With warmest regards and a special blessing,
         + Leo Etienne Duval
         Cardinal Archbishop of Algiers

    *     *     *


    5 December 1970

    Your Eminence,
         It was a great pleasure to receive your letter of November 30 this morning.  I was particularly touched by your assuring me your prayers for me and my family.  Please accept my sincere thanks, and the assurance in return of my own prayers for your Eminence.
         Nevertheless, I must say (since your letter gives me leave to speak completely frankly) that its purpose amazed me.
         I am sure you will understand when I say that I scarcely need to stress, that publication of my letter to the Holy Father was not undertaken lightly.
         God has given me the grace of faith and the fear of Him, and it was in the awareness that all our actions are known to Him and that He will one day be my judge, that I made the decision to write to the Pope and to make my letter public.  I can assure you that I thought about it and prayed about it for a whole year, besides taking pains to seek the advice of theologians and bishops whose orthodoxy seemed beyond question.
         I agree wholeheartedly with your Eminence that "priests should be a help to their bishops", but you will, I am sure, agree that such cannot be the case when those selfsame bishops seem bent on destroying the Church and changing our very faith.
         And isn't this what we see going on all around us?  Your Eminence can hardly fail to be aware that there is not a dogma of the Church which has not been called in doubt, not a moral tenet that has not been challenged.  And by whom?  By those very bishops.
         Your Eminence, because you have had the charity to write to me I shall make no attempt to disguise my innermost feelings.  You are a bishop: I a priest.  On Christmas Day, later this month, I shall be sixty.  For thirty-two years of my life I have offered the Holy Sacrifice at the altar.
         As God is my witness, I have never once regretted having dedicated my life to God and to serving His Church.  In spite of many trials and setbacks, I would, were I to have to begin my life over again knowing what I know today, not hesitate for a second in following Christ.  Without the slightest conceit I can say with the Apostle: "Scio qui credidi, et certus sum . . ."
         With the help of God's grace I try, despite considerable hardship, to live my faith, and my love for the Church is inseparable from my love of God.  I am Catholic and Roman to the very core of my being.
         But ever since the promulgation of the new Ordo Missæ I have lost all confidence in Paul VI, and I cannot pretend that I hold anybody but him primarily responsible for the self-destruction of the Church.
         I am fully aware of the gravity of admitting to a thought of this kind, and of the even greater gravity of making it known to others.  But I thank God for having enabled me to emerge from an ordeal which has purified my faith, and I firmly believe that I should be aiding and abetting the furtherance of evil if I persisted in denying the evidence.
         Until the new mass appeared I had tried to convince myself that the Church's self-destruction was the consequence of disobedience on the part of theologians, bishops and even various hierarchies (do not forget the way some of them reacted to Humanae Vitae when it was published), and that the Pope was in no way responsible.
         But since the appearance of the new Ordo Missæ this position is no longer tenable.
         It is Pope Paul VI who has played a leading, and from certain points of view, an exclusive role in the self-destruction of the Church.
         The Missa Normativa was rejected by a large majority of your fellow bishops when it was submitted to the first Synod.  Who then did advocate the new mass?  Nobody.  It is entirely the work of Pope Paul VI.
         The new mass is in itself ambiguous; it favours heresy and abounds in sacrileges - anybody would have to be totally blind not to see this clearly.  And, if you will forgive my bluntness, what scandalises and astonishes me most of all, is that you bishops failed to give any sign of acknowledging these facts.
         Our forefathers in the faith died rather than give up their statues and holy pictures, and yet we today accept that the Mass should be changed, and that we should be forced to accept a new rite which increases the number of occasions of sacrilege and invalid celebrations under the pretext of greater pastoral efficacy.
         Your Eminence will almost certainly have seen a copy of the Christmas number of Paris-Match which appeared a few years ago.  It carried an illustrated report by Robert Serrou on the eucharistic experiments that were being tried out in Holland: masses celebrated in the vernacular with no vestments, no altar stone, in private houses on dining tables covered with the same cloth that was used every day, with ordinary household loaves and bottles of rough red wine, with household glasses instead of chalices, baskets instead of ciboria, and communion given in the hand to everybody present, whether Catholic or not, sometimes even handed out by girls in mini-skirts, etc.  I am sure that you, like every other genuine Christian, must have been outraged by these irreverent, exaggerated and sacrilegious performances.  And, your Eminence, please do not forget that the indignation of the faithful was reported by the world press, before the L'Osservatore Romano got round to publishing an official protest against the Dutch innovations.
         I must admit that I was naive enough to believe that this protest from Rome was genuine.  It was not until the new Ordo Missæ was promulgated that I really accepted that we had been systematically deceived from the very start.
         Your Eminence, let me put it to you in the form of a straight question: why didn't the Vatican intervene sooner to put a stop to the sacrilegious experiments in Holland?  Is anybody going to believe that Rome knew nothing about them until the article appeared in Paris-Match?  Hardly!
         And was Paul VI aware of what was going on?  Obviously he was, and if he allowed these experiments to develop and spread throughout the Church it was because he wanted them to.  And like it or not, we cannot ignore the fact that the same practices which scandalised us then have now been forced on all Catholics by Paul VI himself.
         So it was that I was led inescapably - bearing in mind all the innovations that were destroying the Church from within - to the conclusion that they would never have been possible without, at the very least, the consent of the Pope.
         A Pope who is openly a heretic cannot do the Church a great deal of damage.  There would be an outcry from the faithful which would lead to his being deposed.  But Paul VI, a Pope who proclaims the faith while always taking care to leave a tiny area of uncertainty even when he is pronouncing the truth, is in practical terms destroying the Church, or allowing what he teaches to be destroyed - a pope of this kind can only be a master of double-dealing.
         What can be the explanation behind such an abomination?
         I cannot answer for sure, but perhaps it is not too far-fetched to see in the blindness of the Church's supreme authority a divine response to the blasphemous address to the United Nations Assembly on 4 October 1965: "It is as an expert on humanity that we bring to this Assembly the support of our immediate predecessors, of the entire episcopate of the Catholic Church and our own, convinced as we are that THIS ORGANISATION (UNO) EMBODIES THE INEVITABLE PATH OF MODERN CIVILISATION AND WORLD PEACE . . .  We make our voice the voice of the poor, the deprived, the unfortunate, those who yearn for justice, for human dignity, for freedom, for a better life, for progress.  The peoples of the world turn to the United Nations as THE LAST HOPE for peace and harmony: WE MAKE BOLD to bring here their and our own tribute of honour and of HOPE."
         Your Eminence, the hypothesis of a heretical or schismatic pope is discussed in every manual of Catholic theology, even in the most recent one by Cardinal Journet.
         Because the possibility is admitted to exist, there can be nothing damaging to the papacy in seeing if there is not amongst the present confusion some evidence that it has in fact occurred, in conjunction with the particular characteristic of the modernist heresy which is never to show its hand openly.
         My letter had no aim other than that of forcing Paul VI to rise to the responsibilities of his office by confirming our faith and condemning the heresy-mongers.  What harm can there be in that?
         Moreover, publication of my letter has brought me daily letters of support from many priests and theologians.
         If the facts as indicated by me are a misrepesentation, why is there such a delay in pointing out how wrong I am?  If the facts are true, is it not a Christian duty to place the blame for them where it is due?
         After all, it is not Paul VI's personal honour that is at stake, but the honour of God and Holy Mother Church.
         Your Eminence, your rank allows you direct access to the Pope.  May I in my turn plead with you and beg you to make the Holy Father aware of the way I feel, and to assure him that these feelings are shared by an immense number of priests and faithful.
         If Cardinal Villot has kept my letter from him, please could you hand it to him yourself.
         Tell him that we pray for him constantly and that we beg him to return to the true faith.  He should not see anything offensive in this express wish of his children, but rather an overwhelming charity which urges them to recall to him the words of Our Lord (Luke 22, 32), charging Simon with his task as Peter, the rock.  Show him that in actual fact it is Montini, and the outlook of Montini, which leads him to contradict his predecessors and prevent him from confirming his brethren.
         Your Eminence, the special intention of my prayers at present is that God may grant you his help in taking the steps I have begged of you.
         May I also take this opportunity of wishing you a Holy and a Happy Christmas.
         Asking a blessing, I am Your Eminence's most humble and obedient child.

    Fr. Noël BARBARA
    37150 Bléré - France
    signed 11 November 1970
    Feast of St. Martin of Tours

    Fr. Noël Barbara

         Crisis in the Church:
              The role of Paul VI
              There is a plot against the Church
              Resisting the occupying power
              Opposition:  its justification in traditional theology

    Dr. Franco Antico
         The "Lefebvre Affair"

    Fr. Noël Barbara's
         Letter to Pope Paul VI
         Cardinal Duval's letter to me and my reply

    NOTE: The addresses shown above are no longer valid
    and are shown merely for documentary purposes