John Paul II's thinking on the meeting of Assisi

November 3, 1999

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

There is some good news from the Seminary, some not good news from Rome and some more good news from the Headquarters of the Society of St. Plus X in Menzingen, Switzerland.

The good news from the seminary is that we have had 15 young men enter as candidates for the priesthood this autumn, and there may even be a sixteenth. True, the launching in September of an extra Preliminary Year may account for half of these candidates, but in a world where each vocation amounts to a miracle, as Archbishop Lefebvre used to say, 15 vocations amount to 15 miracles. Your prayers for vocations are bearing fruit, as are the Society’s Mass Centres, Missions and Churches, from which come almost all of these vocations.

More good news from the Seminary is that this Preliminary Year is working well. It is designed to enable under-educated candidates to catch up on some studies within the Seminary surroundings before they enter the Seminary proper. The studies include mainly catechism, Latin and English, with a little History, Music and Literature. For some years now the generally falling standards of education have called for such an initiative, but only this year did Providence provide a suitable priest to handle the bulk of the extra teaching. Readers of this Letter may recognize in this Preliminary Year something like the "concentration camp" described two and a half years ago to help distracted young men to concentrate. Indeed there is a connection, but the original wide open dream has given way to a precisely seminary-oriented program. Needs must. A seminary must do a seminary's work, which is tightly directed towards the priesthood.

The bad news from Rome is the repeat in Rome itself one week ago of the 1986 Prayer meeting of World Religions in Assisi, and then the signature fast week-end of the Joint Catholic-Lutheran Declaration on Justification in Augsburg, Germany. What is going on in these churchmen's heads? What are they thinking of? What do they believe in? I can remember how back in 1986 Archbishop Lefebvre was disappointed at how few even "Traditional" Catholics were scandalized by the first Assisi meeting. What is the essential difference between the mind of the Archbishop and the mind of John Paul II, for whom that meeting was a high point, if not the high point, of his pontificate up till then?

Certainly, John Paul II has in this respect the modern world on his side. The way of thinking of the mass of people all around us, caused and reflected by the truthless media, is that all men must come together, all divisions between men are bad, and all ideas that divide men must give way to the unity of mankind. And this way of thinking has got into many Catholics' heads.

On the contrary Our Divine Lord, telling the truth (Jn XIV, 6) that his Father commanded him to tell (Jn VIII, 28) and that he came into the world to tell (Jn XVIII, 37), was willing to divide the people (Jn VII, 43) and even to lose all his apostles (Jn VI, 68) if that had to be the result of his telling the truth. Obviously Our Lord wanted to lose neither his apostles (Jn XVII, 11) nor the people (Jn III; 16), but there could be no question of his Father's interests (and commands) not coming first (Jn XII, 49; XIV, 31, etc., etc.).

In brief, Archbishop Lefebvre and all other faithful followers of Jesus Christ put God, and the First Commandment, first. On the contrary the modern world and all those who follow it, put men, and the unity of men, first. But how can leading Catholic churchmen, in theory followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ, come to follow the world in practice?

Through any one or all of several causes working together. Let us name a few. Firstly, lack of true prayer which keeps a soul in the truth and wanting or loving the truth. Secondly, pride which makes men want to take the place of God, and which is at the heart of, thirdly, modern philosophy which so corrupts men's minds as to confuse and dissolve altogether their grasp on any objective truth, even if they mean well, as John Paul II gives many signs of doing.

The good news from Menzingen is the letter written to the Pope by our Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, on the occasion of this repeat of Assisi. As Our Lord said, if his disciples were silenced, the stones of the street would rise up to tell the truth (Lk. XIX, 4L1).

Patience, dear readers. The Lord God will not be silenced. Pray through November for the Holy Souls who can also cry out for us.

Most sincerely yours in Our Lord,