June 5 , 2001
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
A number of you may have been alarmed recently at news that negotiations to bring the Society of St. Plus X into line with the Conciliar Church are continuing. Do not worry. The news is false!
One must admit, the Romans are clever! The Society of St. Plus X makes a pious Jubilee Year pilgrimage to the Roman basilicas in August. The Church authorities seize upon the Society's Roman piety-which they made possible, let us not forget to re-open contacts with the SSPX that had been officially nullified since the episcopal consecrations of 1988. By mid-March of this year, for fundamentally the same reasons as in 1988, the Society announces that the contacts-not negotiations-are again nullified. In May, last month, Rome has the media pretend that the negotiations-not just contacts-are continuing! To reverse the famous comment of the French General on the charge of the Light Brigade: it is not magnificent but it is war.
Thus on May 11, Zenit.org reported on the Internet that Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos was engaging in talks with Bishop Fellay in Germany and/or Switzerland. On May 14 a normally reputable Catholic news agency based in Fribourg, Switzerland, APIC, likewise reported that on May 11 and 12 Cardinal Castrillon was in Germany and Switzerland to meet the leaders of the SSPX and the Fraternity of St. Peter. When APIC was told as from SSPX headquarters in Switzerland that there was no such meeting with SSPX leaders, it persisted in its story at first, but apologized a few days later to Menzingen - they had been so sure of their story. because it came from "a source in Rome". (Immediate moral of the story, dear readers: do not believe everything you read on the Internet. At least check out the SSPX HQ web-site at www.fsspx.org).
Of course it is remotely possible that the "Roman source" was in good faith when it told this tale to APIC, but it is rather more likely that the disinformation was deliberate, to maintain the illusion of ongoing negotiations. What for? To attempt to divide and de-stabilize the SSPX and its lay supporters, and to keep them in a state of agitation, as certainly happened for a number of our friends in Europe. "All is fair in love and war" goes the saying, which includes pretending that there is no war!
Yet we are at war, whether we like it or not. Today the war is total between the one true religion which can alone save souls for all eternity, and the universal anti-religion which has taken effective control in Rome, and which is putting and keeping millions and millions of souls on the road to eternal Hell-fire. In this war the little SSPX has played for the last 30 years an honorable part in helping to prevent the total success of the anti-religion, so last summer, to overcome the SSPX's resistance, Rome changed strategy. This change is very well presented in the May 31 issue of "The Remnant", valiant biweekly journal edited by Michael Matt (from 2539, Morrison Avenue, St. Paul MN 55117, USA), and known to many of our readers in the USA.
Starting out from the Internet's news report that SSPX-Rome negotiations were continuing, Mr. Matt presents four possible explanations. It is the third that I will here summarize and slightly adapt, as being the most likely to be true.
Let us assume, he says, that Rome is losing the Faith, and that the Revolution that has engulfed the world also succeeded with Vatican II in taking effective control of the Catholic Church in Rome. With all such Revolutions there comes a time to take out the last pockets of resistance which might otherwise evolve into fully-fledged enclaves, capable of taking down the Revolution itself. Mr. Matt interestingly quotes an example from history, how Napoleon Bonaparte at the height of his fame and power nevertheless went after and executed one little journalist in Belgium, because Napoleon knew how just one little journal could, given time, bring him down.
Now by its almost complete triumph at Vatican II, the Revolution succeeded in crippling soon afterwards every approved order of priests, so that none of them could effectively resist any longer the New Mass, the Council or the novel teachings of the new style popes. Only the SSPX, founded for that purpose in 1970 by Archbishop Lefebvre, managed the feat of resisting the New church while remaining inside the Catholic Church.
The Revolution had to put an end to that! They began with the stick: "dissolution" of the SSPX in 1975, and "suspension" of the Archbishop and his new priests in 1976. That did not work, so in 1988 they used the big stick of "excommunication", but that still did not work. It succeeded neither in bringing the SSPX to heel, nor - as Mr. Matt admirably recognizes - in driving it into schism. By maintaining not only its resistance to Vatican II and the New Mass, but also its allegiance to the Pope, the Society of St. Pius X, with its steadily increasing numbers of priests, nuns and layfolk, threw into the Revolution's works a serious monkey-wrench. The time had come to try the carrot.
The carrot is Rome's offer to the SSPX of "legitimacy" after so many years of “illegitimacy". Mr. Matt accurately imagines and eloquently describes the temptation for SSPX bishops and priests to become once more "real" bishops and "real" priests. Rome is here dealing not just in words but in emotions . Catholic hearts ache to be united with the Pope and with Rome: "Come back", Mr. Matt can hear Rome saying, "Keep your organization and keep your property! No more exile, no more excommunication, come back inside and help us, with everything you have! An end to the war!"
Of course hard-liners within the SSPX might resist any deal, but then Mr. Matt imagines how such hard-liners could be resented by all the Roman hearts within the SSPX beating high for Rome once more. Thus Rome's offer could split the SSPX from within, like Rome split the Fraternity of St. Peter from within. And as for any bishops or priests who might accept a deal, asks Mr. Matt, how could they then bite the hand that fed them by continuing thereafter to resist the Revolution?
Mr. Matt imagines how difficult it might be for himself as editor of "The Remnant" to resist a similar seduction if one came from Cardinal Ratzinger, and he can see how much more pressure might be now being brought to bear on the SSPX by the present flattery and kind words than ever was by any previous intimidation or threats. The routine is as old as the hills: carrot or stick, stick or carrot! Americans call it the "good cop, bad cop routine"!
Well done, Michael Matt!
Not that he agrees with everything that the SSPX does or says (any more than the SSPX may agree with everything that he does or says), and he goes on to mention what seem to him to be some failings of the SSPX. Regular readers of this Letter will understand me if I say I have no objection to his doing so, but for the sake of readers who can be puzzled by this apparent disloyalty to the SSPX, let me open a parenthesis.
God forbid that I should be guilty of real disloyalty to the Society. From the time that by His grace I arrived at Catholic Tradition, it is from the Society that I received everything. If I do not mind human failings being mentioned of the Society, which I am convinced has a divine mission, that is for at least three reasons:-Firstly, to highlight our human weakness may help to keep us humble. Humble we must never cease to be if we wish to continue serving God. He gives His grace to the humble. He resists the proud; it is with human nothings and nobodies that it pleases God to wreak His mighty works (I Cor. I, 25-29).
Secondly, the reminder of our human frailty may help to prepare us for an eventual possible worst, e.g. a betrayal by the Society, although I never say that such a worst will necessarily happen. In February I gave reasons why I thought it would not now happen. But, as Jeremiah says, woe to whoever puts his trust in man (Jer. XVII, 5). The Catholic Church has a divine guarantee of indefectibility, the SSPX has not. The difference needs to be remembered.
Thirdly and mainly, to evoke any failings of the SSPX is to recall that this cosmic spiritual war in which we are all engaged at this beginning of the 21st century, is NOT about the insignificant SSPX, it is about the one true religion fighting for survival against the greatest anti-religion that the world has ever seen. As Michael Matt says, he writes what he writes in his editorial "not as an apologist for the SSPX, but rather as someone who is interested in the big picture". Exactly. And that is why I for one do not mind Mr. Matt (or anyone else) criticizing failings of the SSPX, so long as God is served. End of parenthesis.
Meanwhile let us make sure to thank God for the Society, because, for reasons mentioned, it has been for 30 years now an immense gift to the Church. It has stayed on track. Despite false news items, it is not yet (not yet?-Jer. XVII,5) going off track. And let us also thank God for the prospect still of seven new priests being ordained here at Winona on Saturday, June 23 at 9 am, Vigil of the Feast of St. John the Baptist. Pray to Padre Pio for good weather so that, amongst other delights, the Seminary lawns will be full of your children playing. There are still places on the Men's Retreats here from July 16 to 21 and July 23 to 28. Sign up!
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus have mercy on us through his month of June.
Most sincerely yours in Christ,