general Letter # 60
Friends and Benefactors
of St. Pius V
Friends and Benefactors,
letter is coming to you somewhat late. We did not wish it to reach
you before we could give you news as accurate as possible on the
state of our relations with Rome. It seems to us that the time has
now come to assess the situation. Many rumours have been circulating,
a number of them false. Also we are aware of how much is at stake,
and how decisive it can be for our future. We will lay out here
various aspects of the question.
our part, we have been marginalized by the authorities in Rome,
not to say rejected, because of our refusal of Vatican II and the
post-conciliar reforms, for reasons of doctrine.
we say that we refuse the Council, we do not thereby mean that we
totally reject the letter of all the Conciliar documents, consisting
as they do in large part of simple repetitions of what has already
been said in the past. What we are attacking is a new language,
introduced in the name of the Pastoral Council. This new language,
being vague and much less precise, conveys a different philosophy
and it is the basis of a new theology. It rejects any stable way
of looking at the essence of things, to base itself rather on the
state of their existence at any given moment, which is bound to
be changing, varied, and more difficult to grasp according as it
varies. As change and movement are part of the life of all living
things, so change will come to the forefront and be considered a
necessary part of the Church. Dogmas previously untouchable then
become liable to correction and improvement... They are shut into
the age in which they were pronounced as though they ceased to be
binding once that age was over... To insist on understanding them
in the same sense and the same way they have always been understood
becomes a thing of the past. The ensuing temptation to make an absolute
out of the particular, out of the human person, becomes great...
finally that human person, i.e. man, gets put in the center and
God is pushed to one side. A new religion is dawning.
modernist is clever enough to avoid direct confrontation between
the new and the old. He presents the new as though it were the enrichment
of an under-nourished way of thinking now surpassed by the new concepts.
Almost all words - Redemption, Grace, Revelation, Sacrament, Mystery,
take on a new meaning.
the Church's life, this process is particularly striking in the
case of the new liturgy, which in its physical movements centers
on man, and is no longer hierarchically directed through the priest
towards God. Sacrifice is no longer mentioned, being replaced by
Eucharist, a word that used to apply only to the consecrated host:
henceforth the emphasis is on the meal.
these very changes we see the origin of today's collapse of what
still remained of Christendom, and the cause of the present crisis
of the Catholic Church. Religious liberty is radically incapable
of standing up to the wave of secularization sweeping through the
modern world, a world in effect without God, making itself into
God: for, the creature once having cut off its dependence on its
Creator in order to establish its autonomy and liberty, it has no
further basis for its intrinsic and absolute dependence on its God.
So to save the human person from the totalitarianism of the modern
state, the creature has sought to establish that the person and
its liberty are superior, at which point it can no longer reconcile
this very real liberty with the absolute dependence on God. Then,
perforce, sin, as the misfortune of the creature rebelling against
its Creator, is no longer understood, the creature's responsibility
becomes very vague, and the Redemption, God's answer to that misfortune,
is turned inside out.
whole life of man becomes much easier; God's commandments are consigned
to oblivion; all discipline, strictness, austerity and renunciation
fade away. Once the human person's greatness is affirmed in this
way, his relation with his God, which is his religion, will take
on a completely different look. This new look at the person and
his acts seeks to be so positive, and such an effort is made to
discover Seeds of the Word in all directions, that the idea that
everybody is saved is now firmly implanted in numbers of Catholics'
minds, and all the ecumenical celebrations and inter-religious declarations
merely go to corroborating this new vision of life. The effect,
if not the intention, is a frightening spread of the belief that
it does not matter what religion one belongs to.
on our side, our firm attachment to everything that the Church taught
even recently, to everything that used to guide Christian life but
is now dismissed as being old-fashioned, out-of-date, antiquated,
narrow-minded. We do not deny that a certain amount of change is
part of any society's life, which therefore includes the Church,
but we state that the apple-tree's life will produce apples, and
that it is absurd to expect the changes bound up in the life of
the apple-tree to suddenly produce coconuts.
Christian life of the Society of St. Pius X is producing undeniable
fruits of salvation, as even Rome recognizes. That there is a grave
crisis in the Church, an appalling falling off in the preaching
of doctrine, a lack of interest on the part of the Christian people,
Rome also recognizes. That one of the motives of the Vatican's approach
to us may lie in these two considerations, is not to be excluded;
and if Rome calls upon us as firemen to help put out the fire, we
will not refuse our services, but before we get involved in the
blaze we do ask for the gas-line which is the source of the fire
to be cut off!
deep down, the Romans were coming to us for a different reason.
Rome's side, they are at present concerned above all to establish
unity. All their efforts are going in that direction. One bold,
shocking, scandalous act follows another in their attempt to draw
together Christians disunited and torn apart. The determination
to overcome doctrinal differences by liturgical acts in common very
much expresses this new ecumenical thrust. One cannot help thinking
they wish to give secondary importance to questions of truth in
order to get on with living. Howsoever that be, there is an explicit
desire to overcome doctrinal differences by joint action. Here is
probably to be seen the motive for the Vatican's approach to us
are being offered a practical solution not to be held up by points
of dispute. Rome neither denies that there are points to be disputed,
nor does it refuse to deal later with such questions, but it is
inviting us to re-enter the fold without further delay. As a sign
of good-will, we are being offered a solution acceptable in itself,
in fact a solution which would suit us down to the ground from a
purely practical point of view.
it is an offer we must refuse, for the following reasons: the whole
history of the Society of St. Pius X shows how much we are a sign
of contradiction, how much our existence can raise violent reactions,
even hateful reactions from Catholics, especially the hierarchy.
The attitude of many bishops who are open to all kinds of ecumenism
on the one hand, but treat ourselves on the other hand with a harshness
that has no name, is profoundly contradictory.
suffer from this situation through the division to be found in almost
all our families. But this division cannot be healed by a merely
practical agreement. We embody the contradiction without meaning
to do so, and a practical agreement will not change this basic situation.
The solution to the problem is to be sought elsewhere. Deep down,
Rome does not understand our attitude towards the New mass and the
Conciliar reforms. Rome holds our attitude to be the manifestation
of a rigid narrow-mindedness.
whenever we try to tackle the deep-down problem, we find ourselves
every time up against a brick wall: we are not allowed to call in
question the reforms of the Council; we might be allowed a certain
degree of criticism, but certainly not accusations so broad and
grave as we keep on raising.
other words, if we accepted Rome's solution today, we would find
ourselves up against exactly the same problems tomorrow.
our part, we are and we mean to remain Catholic. Our seeming separation
from Rome is of minor importance compared with the major problem
shaking the Church to her foundations, and of which we are despite
ourselves merely an outstanding sing. For Rome's part, to settle
the question of the seeming separation is of primary importance,
and takes priority over all else; doctrinal questions will be talked
about later. Through this pursuit of unity, Rome has indeed changed
its position towards us, it is indeed seeking for a solution, but
as far as we are concerned it is missing the point. For sure, we
wish to see this crisis come to an end. For sure, we wish to cease
being opposed to Rome. But that calls for a different approach altogether.
failure to understand our position is such that if today we accepted
their agreement, tomorrow we would have to undergo exactly the same
treatment as St. Peter's Fraternity, which is muzzled, and being
led where it does not want to go, slowly but surely towards Vatican
II and the liturgical reform. If St. Peter's Fraternity and the
other Ecclesia Dei movements still manage to survive, as best they
can, they will owe it to the firmness of our stand.
we are grateful for everything well-meaning in Rome's approach,
but it is our judgment that things are not yet ripe for us to be
able to go ahead. The reasons we were given for their refusing to
grand our pre-conditions for re-establishing trust, are highly significant:
It would raise too much opposition, it would mean giving up the
whole work of the Council.
is always an immense amount of work on our hands, which is why we
would by no means refuse a true discussion with Rome of the real
questions, but we have not yet reached that point.
too have a profound desire for the Unity of the Mystical Body; Our
Lord's prayer "that all be one" is our prayer too, but
while the practice of charity can greatly help to promote the cause
of unity, nevertheless it is only when minds are agreed on the truth
that wills can be united in seeking the common goal apprehended
eyes raised to Heaven, we often renew on behalf of all the clergy,
Jesus Christ's own entreaty: "Father sanctify them." We
rejoice in the thought that a very large number of faithful of all
classes, taking to heart their clergy's good and the good of the
Church, join us in this prayer; it is no less agreeable to us to
know that there are also many generous souls not only inside convents
and monasteries but also living in the world who offer themselves
unceasingly as holy victims to God for this purpose.
the Most High accept as a sweet perfume their pure and sublime prayers,
and may He not disdain our own most humble entreaties; may He in
His mercy and providence come to our aid, we beg Him, and may He
pour out upon the clergy those treasures of grace, charity and every
virtue enclosed in the most pure Heart of his dearly beloved Son.
strongly recommend to your prayers what we have no doubt you have
already been greatly praying for, that the Church recover her true
visage, serene, eternal, shining with the holiness of God and setting
the earth on fire with the love of a God who so loved us. May Our
Lady who presides so clearly over the destiny of the Church at this
beginning of a millennium protect you and bless you with the Child
Jesus, cum prole pia, as the Liturgy says.
St. Pius X, Haerent