A reader writes to us:
I am sending you a photocopy of the article, "The
Schism of the Brazilians Has Been Wiped Clean"
(Il Giornale, Jan. 15, 2002). May we
hope that it will be "wiped clean" everywhere
else, and not only in Brazil?
We have such a great need to rediscover tradition. We need
"dignity" in our parish liturgies: we need
the Lord, and not the priest to be central: we need
music that is appropriate to the place and the worship,
and not a noisy racket. There is so much that needs
to be restored in all areas, even the knowledge of
the Ten Commandments. Can we hope for this?
In answer, not only can we hope, but we must
hope, with firm certitude, that this long and stormy
night which the Church is currently experiencing will pass.
To doubt this would be to doubt the almighty power and
promises of Our Lord Jesus Christ who, even if He seems
to be asleep, will not allow the bark of Peter, which is
His Church, to flounder.
However, what we hope for cannot come about by means of
the type of accord signed between Rome and the Priestly
Union of St. John Baptist Mary Vianney "which does
not envisage any doctrinal recantations, but is basically
practical and pragmatic" (Il Giornale, op.cit),
because the question is first and foremost a question of
doctrine and of the Faith.
Our Lord Jesus Christ did not found the Church on a "practical
and pragmatic type of accord," but on an accord that
is essentially doctrinal, namely, on unity of faith.
But He, indeed, Who made this one Church, also gave it
unity, that is, He made such that all who are to belong
to it must be united by the closest bonds, so as to form
one society, one kingdom, one body-"one body and
one spirit as you are called in one hope of your calling"
(Eph. 4:4). Jesus Christ, when His death was nigh at hand,
declared His will in this matter, and solemnly offered
it up, thus addressing His Father: "Not for them
only do I pray, but for them also who through their word
shall believe in Me...that they also may be one in Us...
that they may be made perfect in one" Qn. 17:20,21).
Yea, He commanded that this unity should be so closely
knit and so perfect amongst His followers that it might,
in some measure, shadow forth the union between Himself
and His Father: "I pray that they all may be one
as Thou Father in Me and I in Thee" (ibid. 21).
Agreement and union
of minds is the necessary foundation of this perfect concord
amongst men, from which concurrence of wills and similarity
of action are the natural results. Wherefore, in His divine
wisdom, He ordained in His Church Unity of Faith; a
virtue which is the first of those bonds which unite man
to God, and whence we receive the name of the faithful-"one
Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4:5). That
is, as there is one Lord and one baptism, so should all
Christians, without exception, have but one faith. (Leo
XIII, Satis Cognitum)
First we have unity of faith, and then, on that basis,
we have unity in charity, in communion. This is Christ's
wish. This is the constant teaching of the Church.
Pope Pius X taught that charity without faith-i.e.,
a union in "charity," a "communion"
independent of unity in faith-is a pernicious invention
of the Modernists who, following a false philosophy, deny
that truth (even revealed truth) is one and unchangeable.
"They pervert the eternal notion of truth" (Pope
Pius X, Pascendi Gregis, §13).
So the problem must be posed and then solved in a very
different way. It must first of all be posed at the doctrinal
level, and then solved in the light of divine and apostolic
Tradition, in which there is no ambiguity. In fact the conscience
of every Catholic, and pre-eminently the members of the
hierarchy, is bound to this Tradition under pain of everlasting
damnation (Mt. 16:17). Any other "practical and pragmatic"
kind of accord is perfectly useless and fleeting, quite
apart from the fact that it is a trap for both parties.
In the case of Campos, the day after it was signed with
Rome, the accord's inconsistency was shown by the Dominican
"theologian of the papal household," Fr. Georges
Cottier, in his interview by Avvenire (Jan. 19, 2002).
He was delighted with this "step forward" for
the Second Vatican Council. He admitted, "There is
much more [than the rite of Mass of St. Pius V-Ed.]behind
Lefebvre's schism: There is a rejection of the Council,
of ecumenism, of the principle of religious liberty-__"
Here the "pope's theologian" has grasped the
critical point of the entire question.
Consequently, Fr. Cottier goes on:
Since the rupture
[in 1988] until today, other followers of [Lefebvre] have
already returned to full communion with the Catholic Church.
However, the principal condition has always been the full
recognition of the authority of Vatican Council II. And
this is what the principal group, the one of Ecône, has
According to Fr. Cottier, this is what the Brazilians have accepted, and
it swells the heart of the "pope's theologian"
with hope. The Campos priests have accepted the Council,
which is far more than a particular rite: "Little by
little we must expect other steps: for example, that they
also participate in the reformed right. However, we must
not be in a hurry."
Therefore, the accord signed with the Brazilian priests
of Campos is only superficially
"practical and pragmatic." For the Vatican, at least, it is essentially
"practical and pragmatic," because it implies,
along with the "full recognition of the Council,"
the acceptance of ecumenism, all the heretical and schismatic
sects, and false religions. It also implies the acceptance
of the false "religious liberty"-in reality, "liberty
of religion"-which consequently involves the abandonment
of the Church's perennial teaching on true religious liberty.
This is not all. This "practical and pragmatic"
accord envisages future doctrinal concessions which include
"concelebration," opposed by the entire tradition
of the Church because it diminishes the number of Masses
celebrated (cf. Joseph de Sainte Marie, O.C.D., Eucharistie
et salut du monde). It envisages the future acceptance
by the Brazilian priests of Pope Paul VI's "reformed"
(or rather, "protestantized") rite. But there
is no need to be "in a hurry." Says Fr. Cottier.
Things will "mature" of themselves (Avvenire,
op. cit). Fr. Cottier knows from experience that they
have "matured," in a manner of speaking, to the
Vatican's favor. Too many former companions-in-arms of the
sons of Archbishop Lefebvre have concluded their own versions
of a "practical and pragmatic type of accord,"
putting aside questions of doctrine and thinking that they
will be able to carry on the good fight for the faith under
better conditions. "But let your speech be yea, yea:
no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil"
(Mt. 5:37), as the Lord taught us.
There is the sad conversion of the monastery of Le Barroux
which today defends the false religious liberty it attacked
yesterday; the story of the Fraternity of St. Peter, many
of whose members are today fighting to celebrate according
to the rite of Paul VI while yesterday they fought against
it. These instances go to show that genuine unity is founded
solely on truth, and any other accord that is not
founded on truth "is of evil."
Perhaps the Campos priests believed themselves safe when
they declared acceptance of Vatican II "in the light
of Tradition." Are they not aware that the conciliar
Church imagines a new concept of "Tradition?"
That is to say, it believes in an ambiguous "living
Tradition" which gives rights of citizenship in the
Church even to things that are manifestly opposed to the
Church's traditional doctrine. On the basis of this new
concept of "Tradition," the plague of religious
indifferentism (a.k.a. "religious liberty") and
all of ecumenism's ecclesiological heresies are presented
as normal doctrinal "developments" in perfect
continuity with sacred Tradition even if they affirm the
opposite of what the documents of the Magisterium taught up to the time of Vatican
II. It is legitimate for us, therefore, to ask what is the
point of an "accord" in which the two give different
meanings to the same terms, and in which one of the parties
must accept "in the light of
Tradition" what the other party thinks it must, in
conscience, reject "in the
(same) light of Tradition?" Indeed, as far as Fr. Georges
Cottier is concerned, the explicit reservation of the Campos
priests regarding the Council has no value. They have accepted
the Council. One point gains all. Fundamental doctrinal
problems arise here; specifically, the Catholic notions
of "Tradition" and "doctrinal development"
already defined by the Councils of Trent and Vatican I.
Upon these there should be an authentic
accord making any other "practical and pragmatic"
accord entirely superfluous.
It is to be understood that people become weary of combat,
and that to be marginalized, even if undeserved, is humiliating.
Most of all, it is painful and even traumatizing for some
to have to oppose an Authority which they love and would
wish to be able to obey. All the same, if we remember that
we are not defending our personal opinions but, on the contrary,
our duty to remain faithful to the Church's eternal teaching
and to transmit the Faith as we have received it, we can
raise our eyes to our invisible Head, Jesus Christ, whom
his Vicar must represent on earth, and with St. Hilary say:
A soldier defends his king even at the risk of his life....A
dog barks at the least sound and rushes out at the first
suspicion. But you, on the contrary, when you hear someone
say that Christ, the true Son of God, is not God, you
keep silence, and your silence implies consent to this
blasphemy! What can I say? You protest against those who
protest, you add your voice to those who want to stifle
Not only do we hear people denying the divinity of Our
Lord Jesus Christ on the basis of the "new theology"
(cf. the book, Jesus the Christ, by Walter Cardinal
Kasper of Germany), but we hear denials, on the basis of
ecumenism, of many other truths of Faith which it is our
duty to profess at the cost of martyrdom. We hear being
said that "salvation can be found even outside the
Church" (Cardinal Kasper); that the heretical and schismatic
sects are no longer heretical and schismatic sects but "true
particular churches" (DominusJesus),and that
the true Church of Christ no longer "is" the Catholic
Church but only "subsists" in it (UnitatisRedintegratio).It
is said that unity of the Faith is no longer the necessary
foundation for the Church's unity, but, on the contrary,
we must work for "unity in diversity" (Joseph
Cardinal Ratzinger), where "diversity" pre-supposes
inclusion of the heresies and schisms previously condemned
by Holy Mother Church. It is said that the Catholic Church
must re-examine the way papal primacy is exercised and this
be done together with the heretics and schismatics, who
are the traditional enemies of papal primacy, etc....
The Church, however, is Christ himself. The Church is Christ
"extended and communicated." She is Christ who
"in His Church lives, teaches, governs, and communicates
holiness" (Pius XII, Mystici Corporis).
We know, and history confirms it, that "faith in Jesus
will not remain pure and intact unless it is upheld and
defended by faith in the Church, the pillar and foundation
of truth" (Pius XI, Mit brennender Sorge); so
we cannot adhere to ecumenism's heretical ecclesiological
aberrations because it is a matter of our faith, and we
cannot keep silent either, because it concerns the faith
of our neighbor. Silence, in this case, would be to support
error. As always, then, in extreme cases "the only
way open to the believer is the path of generous heroism"
(Pius XI, ibid.).
We must not allow ourselves to be upset by the fact that
those involved are churchmen and members of the hierarchy
to whom Christ Himself has given authority in the Church.
It is true, alas, that they are churchmen. But churchmen
are given authority for building up the Church, not
for pulling it down. They are given all their authority
in favor of the truth and none for against it: "For
we can do nothing against the truth; but for the truth"
(II Cor. 13:8). Therefore, when, in the Church, churchmen
raise a platform of personal views against the doctrine
of the one Teacher of Truth that has resounded for 2000
years, the duty of the faithful is to resist it, because
there is only one Master, and "we must obey God rather
than men" (St. Peter).
Nor must we be disheartened to find ourselves unjustly
labelled as separated from the pope, the Vicar of Jesus
Christ, with whom it is necessary to be in "communion."
It is true, we have the duty of being in communion with
the pope, but the pope, in his turn, has the duty of being
in communion with his predecessors, with Our Lord Jesus
Christ, and the Apostles. There is no doubt about this in
the ex cathedra declarations of the pope and in the
ordinary infallible pontifical magisterium. But this security
is lacking when the pope imposes simply his personal opinions
or Utopian ideas.
"Communion" in the Catholic Church is always
based on unity in the Faith. That is why, in the history
of the Church, we see not only popes, but also bishops,
priests, and simple faithful refusing to be in "communion"
with those who no longer have, or are suspected of no longer
having, the Catholic Faith transmitted by the Apostles.
When a simple lector, St. Basil publicly broke "communion"
with his bishop who had compromised with the Arians (Ep.
51). St. Jerome was an ordinary priest-monk when he refused
to be in communion with John, Bishop of Jerusalem, until
he had clarified his position on Origenism. The African
bishops suspended their communion with Pope Vigilius when
he, by approving the "Three Chapters," seemed
to be rejecting the dogmatic Council of Chalcedon. St Bernard,
the defender of the Roman primacy, who had once said, "He
who resists this power resists the command of God,"
did not hesitate to write to Pope Innocent II:
It is for you, the
successor of Peter, to judge whether those who attack
the faith of Peter have a right to asylum in Peter's see.
Remind yourself of the duties of your office....You must
seize the foxes which sow ruin in the Lord's vineyard
while they are still small. (Epist. 189)
Indeed, the pope has "the fullness of power over all
the churches" (Epist. 131), but this is for confirming
and defending the "faith of Peter," not for altering
it or encouraging those who would alter it. This is the
limit, set from on high, to the power of Peter's successors;
otherwise, it would be purely arbitrary. Pope Innocent III,
who was one of those who implemented the Roman "centralization,"
regarded himself as a "prisoner" of the divine
These examples, which could be multiplied, show that "communion,"
even with the pope, has an indispensable condition, namely,
unity in the Catholic faith transmitted by the Apostles.
They show that when scandal is given to the Faith, subjects
are not only obliged to reject the erroneous teaching, but
they are obliged to resist their superiors, even publicly,
as St. Paul resisted St. Peter, " in facie Ecclesiae
(St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologically Q.33,
Art.4, ad 2).
Pope Pius XII reminds us, the faithful have the authentic
right to receive intact from their pastors, and most of
all from the Successor of Peter, the Truth taught by Jesus
Christ and infallibly transmitted by the Church. This right
arises from our duty to believe in order to be saved (Mt.
16:17). Hence our duty and right to refuse the sophisms
which are corrupting the Faith today and which are the result
of a false philosophy and a false theology, against which
Pope Pius XII puts us on our guard in Humani Generis.
Consequently, while it is true that the pope has only God
above him, it is also true that when the pope's actions
threaten the Faith or even gravely threaten the good of
the Church, it is permitted for his subjects-even as their
duty-to show disapproval and resist his directives.
For example, this is what the bishops, cardinals, canon
lawyers, and polemical writers did when, without denying
his papacy, they showed their disapproval of Pope Pascal
II (1099-1118), who had just subordinated the Holy See to
the German Emperor. By their resistance, they saved the
work of Church reform undertaken by Pope Gregory VII (1073-85)
from destruction. This meritorious resistance is admired
by all authorized Church historians: "It is imperative
to resist a pope who is openly destroying the Church"
(Cajetan).2 Our duty does not change, so it does not matter to us
whether this destructive action arises from the "ecumenical"
daydream or any other cause.
It may be objected that we are few and isolated.
We are not "few." But even if we were, what would
that matter? Truth doesn't depend on numbers and the Faith
even less so. Pope St. Liberius (352-66), before his resistance
weakened, replied to the Emperor Constans, the promoter
of the Arian heresy who jeered at him for being one man
against the whole world: "It does not matter that I
am on my own. The Faith loses nothing by it. In ancient
times only three men [i.e., the young men of the
fiery furnace-Ed.] were found to resist."3
Our being "isolated" is more apparent than real.
Much of it has been artificially created by unjust labelling.
Many are with us because they think as we do, even if they
do not have the courage to join with us openly. In any case,
Catholics who resist publicly for the sake of the Faith
of All Time are a reference point-both positive and
negative-foreveryone. This is very important.
We agree with what our letter-writer said: it is necessary
for everyone to return to Tradition, without which there
is no orthodoxy. We need "dignity" in the liturgy;
we need a restoration in all fields, including morality,
which inevitably sinks along with faith. But such restoration
is bound up with the preservation of the Catholic Faith
of All Time. It will not come about through imprudent "practical
and pragmatic" accords such as the one signed between
Rome and the Priestly Union of St. John Baptist Mary Vianney.
If everyone were
to keep quiet (and keeping quiet in such a grave matter
constitutes very serious complicity); if there were no
one to remind the "innovators" in the hierarchy
that their "dogmatic developments" are really
dogmatic corruptions (because they contradict the constant
faith of the Church), then, indeed, we might fear for the
Catholic Church's future. But this will not happen. As Pope
Paul VI himself remarked (to Jean Guitton, Paul VI secret),
there will always be a "small remnant" which will
confess the Church's eternal Faith. That is why we do not
put our hope in our numbers, nor in numbers of "accords,"
nor yet in our diplomatic efforts, but in the goodness of
the cause in which we are resisting because it is the cause
of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. In spite of "labels,"
our duty is to remain faithful and to help our brothers
to remain faithful, too. In any case, it is up to God to
show us the first glimmers of the dawn of the Church's rebirth,
and the Immaculate One to speed this hour of mercy.
Translated from Courrier de Rome-SiSiNoNo, No. 245,
May, 2002 by Mr. Graham Harrison. Edited for readability
by Fr. Kenneth Novak.
Fragm.Histor. X, 2-4, cit. in Fliche & Martin,
L'Histoire de I'Eglise.
De comparatae auctoritate Papae et Concilia.
Theodoret, Hist. Eccl. II, XVI (cf. L'Histoire de I'Eglise,
Courtesy of the Angelus
Press, Kansas City, MO 64109
translated from the Italian
Fr. Du Chalard
Via Madonna degli Angeli, 14
Italia 00049 Velletri (Roma)
2002 Volume XXV, Number 9