THE CONFERENCE:WHAT CATHOLICS NEED TO KNOW
Edited transcription of a talk given by His Excellency, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Kansas City, Missouri, on November 10, 2004.
Let us review the current situation of the Society of Saint Pius X and its relations with Rome. Our status with Rome remains and will always be a very important question. When I refer to Rome, of course, I refer to the Holy Father Pope John Paul II and the hierarchy. Obviously, the Catholic Church is unthinkable without this hierarchy, without its head, the Pope, and so we are attached to it. We adhere to it an at the same time we protest energetically. Despite its adherence, the SSPX is considered a black sheep. All kinds of labels are our glory, like "excommunicated," "schismatic," etc.
The Wall Is Crumbling
We can see a certain development for the better. What I say we cannot take as a general law, that is, I cannot say that now everything is fine–that wouldn't be correct. But what we see is a certain lessening in the opposition which we are facing. Till about the year 2000, there was a huge wall. We were facing one thing, and that was a big, big "No" to Tradition. Since the year 2000 we see little by little certain things, certain bishops, certain persons in the hierarchy who are no longer so heavily against us. The wall is crumbling. I will not say that it means immediately that there is a big change in Rome towards Tradition, though certainly Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos has done some work in that direction (we will speak about that later on). But it is more a weakening of the modernists or the progressivist forces which we see, and this at various levels.
The Triple Bankruptcy
One level will be that, like the worm which has finished eating the apple and has nothing left to eat, they have demolished everything, they have changed everything. While they had something to eat, they had some strength; now that they have eaten everything, there is nothing left to demolish, so they start to show weakness. And this weakness is becoming more and more visible. We have seen this weakness and we have seen the disasters for years, but it is now much more apparent. Over the last year we have heard of Catholic dioceses going into bankruptcy [Portland, Oregon and Phoenix, Arizona–Ed]. This is something never heard of before. You would never have thought that a diocese would file for bankruptcy. Now, it's a reality, it has happened.
Joined to this physical or material bankruptcy, there is a bankruptcy at the level of persons. Dioceses are losing priests to old age, and there is nobody replacing them. Let me cite Ireland. It has always been known as one of those 200% Catholic countries where you had hundreds of priests every year. In the Diocese of Dublin, the entrants into the seminary last year were zero. When you see this even in the most thoroughly Catholic countries, it is not difficult to conclude there is something wrong somewhere.
I read through the Annuarium, the compendium of statistics in the Church. A few years ago, for Ireland, there were about 32,000 religious sisters. In the novitiate for all religious orders for all of Ireland, there were 152 novices. So these 152 are going to replace the 32,000 sisters?!... For the brothers, there were something like 10,000 religious brothers in Ireland, but today in all the novitiates for all religious orders in Ireland there are only four novices! That means the end.
Cardinal Ratzinger in 1985, if I remember correctly, was speaking about vocations in Canada. He said that since the Council the vocations had dropped by 98%, and what was remaining were late vocations. These are the figures, and that represents a much more serious bankruptcy than the financial one. In France, they have found a way to continue to say that each parish has a priest. How do they do that? Take the Archdiocese of Bourges, with 550 parishes; they only have 60 parish priests. So how do you do it? Very simple: you redraw the dioceses and you reduce it to 60 parishes so that every parish has a priest. Now, it does not change the number of bell towers and of churches, so they cheat themselves. They try to solve the problem, but it is absolutely not solving the problem. A diocese like the diocese of Bordeaux (the fourth or fifth largest city in France) presently has 43 diocesan priests, period. Another bishop, in Dijon, said to one of our priests, "Right now I still have 110 priests in my diocese; in four years, they will be reduced to 43 active priests." That is a reduction of almost two-thirds. It makes life impossible, of course, but these are the realities.
Till about the year 2000, there was a huge wall. We were facing one thing, and that was a big, big "No" to Tradition. Since the year 2000 we see little by little certain things, certain bishops, certain persons in the hierarchy who are no longer so heavily against us. The wall is crumbling.
This weakening in strength is linked also to the new generation. The generation of the Council is dying, if I may say so. The youngest experts who participated in the Council are Cardinals Medina and Ratzinger, born in 1927. They were not even bishops at the time, but Cardinal Medina is retired and Cardinal Ratzinger is over 75. In three more years, they will all be out of governing positions in the Curia. The Council is their baby, so to speak. It is very difficult to attack the Council in front of somebody who made it; he will by all means try to defend it. But the new generation is in itself much more open, especially the younger priests. We see this very clearly.
It is very interesting to see the different age levels: the hardest set against Tradition are the priests in their sixties and seventies. The youngest, in their thirties and forties, are much more open. Why is this? They know what they have and they are not happy with it. Many of them see that something is failing, that there is something which is not there which should be there. Maybe they will not say it, but they are aware of it. Some look for something else and go in all possible directions for satisfaction, but some others are open to looking to the past to see how the Church was before; how did it work, how was the Mass before? So we have this tendency, which is not yet generalized–it is very small still, but it does exist.
Clerics Are Favoring Us
What we see there is a development, there is an increase. It started with priests; now we have some bishops. I don't say that these bishops are totally in our favor or do agree on everything, but the movement is increasing, and we do certainly have bishops who tell us, "Please stay as you are. The Church needs you; we need you as you are. Don't change." These bishops exist, and usually they are younger bishops. The one who offered this encouragement, for instance, was a young French bishop. Up until five years ago, there was no chance of finding a French bishop who would have the slightest thought in favor of Tradition. So that is a very interesting development.
Another French bishop said to one of our priests, "I am very happy that you visit my priests. Please continue. They need that." These are new happenings. Once again, when I say so, I don't forget that the great majority are still pointing bullets, canons, and every possible weapon against us, but I see these things happening.
Interestingly enough, even in Rome, we have the same phenomenon. I cannot say that we can include a cardinal. I am almost sure that one or the other will think that we are right, but to say it is absolutely out of the question. But I can tell you the following happening. A cardinal in Rome has said to us, "If you repeat what I am going to tell you, I shall be obliged to deny it." So, should I say it?!...He said, "The Pope and myself are in your favor." Now, you are free to believe it or not, because having said it to you, he will deny it. But, there you have it.
We have an archbishop in Rome–well, now he is no longer in Rome, he has been kicked out–who says the Church is not going out of the crisis without going back to the Tridentine Mass. Another one, the Archbishop of Ravenna, said to his priests on the Feast of Corpus Christi: "If today we still consider the Mass a sacrifice, the Church owes that to Archbishop Lefebvre." These are words which, once again, some years ago, you would never have heard. We have heard that a bishop in the Veneto region of northern Italy has started a movement for all bishops to have at least one place in the diocese with the Tridentine Mass. This is a different idea than that of the Indult Mass; it is really the idea of reintroducing the Latin Mass.
A Dangerous Confusion
Of course, we are paying great attention to these things. There are many things happening in the Church and their nuances must be considered before making a judgment because they are going in all possible directions at the same time. The more involved things become, the more we enter into a confusing situation. You will have one bishop who will say something, and another who will say the contrary. You will have a cardinal who will say something, and another who will say the contrary. I'll give you a small example: the famous film of Mel Gibson, The Passion. You had bishops who stood up and said not to go, it's a bad film, and so on; and others who said to go, it's a very good film. In the United States, in France and in Germany, you had public, official statements from bishops which were in total contradiction. I admit that it's only about a film, but, nevertheless, it shows the opposition. Recall that the reasons given were not just opinions, but were based very clearly on doctrine. The film reminded us that there is a God and consequently, a Savior; then, that there was a passion by which the Savior paid the price of our salvation, and that this price had to be paid because of sin and sinners. The necessity of sacrifice to pay for sins is very present there, especially the link between this sacrifice and the Mass. All these ideas were presented. This film is very theological. The modernists understood that and that is why they attacked the film so strongly.
We are in a time of dissolution; everything is crumbling. This can cause a certain difficulty for us, in the sense of how we are going to react. We must be careful that our reaction fits the reality. If we automatically presume that everybody is against us, and take the bazooka and shoot at everybody, we may shoot friends, you see! We have to pay close attention and be realistic in our attitude, recognizing what is good and at the same time being careful not to think that everything is fine, because it is definitely not. On the other hand, you have those who say, "Look, Rome is opening its arms, Rome is saying, 'Come in; we'll give you an apostolic administration; we'll give you whatever you want,' so why are you so stand-offish?" I'll tell you why, which is one of the purposes of this conference. It is impressive.
The Lessons of Campos
I'll start with a crushing piece of recent news which illustrates so clearly what happens when you offer your finger...your hand...your arm to the present Rome. We have right in our faces a striking example of what happens to those who trust the present Rome. I speak of Campos.
When Campos was about to make the agreement with Rome, Bishop de Galarreta went to see Bishop Rangel and then I did, too. I told him, "Look at what they are doing to the Society of St. Peter." He replied, "Well, what Rome offers us is so big that we cannot help but trust them. Of course, it's a question of opinion; it's a matter of prudence. As the superior of the Society of Saint Pius X, you may have a different opinion, but that's the way we think." There was nothing more I could do. His thinking was that since Rome consented to grant them a bishop and their Tridentine life, Campos was being granted everything it wanted, so they wanted to sign an agreement.
Now, it is important to understand why Rome has suddenly come to the Society of Saint Pius X with a smile and friendly behavior. Not long ago, Rome was very much against us (and the majority in Rome still is). I think Rome's friendliness towards us is because of its ecumenical mentality. It is certainly not because Rome is now saying to us, "Of course, you are right; let's go." No, that is not the way Rome thinks about us. The idea they have is another one. The idea is an ecumenical one. It is the idea of pluricity, pluriformity.
To illustrate this ecclesiastical pluralism, I use the analogy of a zoo. Up until the time of the Second Vatican Council, there was only one species of member in the Catholic Church–genuine Catholics. If somebody did not want to be a Catholic, if someone wanted to teach something else than what the Church taught, he was excommunicated. However, if you read the theology books published since the Council, you can almost say and think anything you want and still be in good standing. At the Council itself there was a general will to broaden the limits–the borders–of the Church.
Cardinal Ratzinger has explained that the concept of the Church up until Pius XII was that it was the Mystical Body of Christ. He says that today, however, this concept does not fit with the reality. Why would he say this? Because for someone to either be a member of this Body or not be a member of this Body does not fit with reality as Cardinal Ratzinger perceives it. He and those who perceive the same reality as he does want to invent a gray zone. So, you may wonder, what is between a "member" and a "non-member"? Precisely to invent an answer to this question is why, after World War II, especially German theologians intensively researched the Holy Scriptures to find a new concept, and Cardinal Ratzinger said they found "the people of God." So that is why you find this label at the Council. "People of God" is a new concept which replaces the traditional concept of membership in the Church. It means broadening the borders, allowing more people in, or maybe even removing the walls so that you no longer know who is in or who is out. They destroy the borders, destroy what is clear: that is what they do.
Cardinal Ratzinger has repeated what Urs von Balthasar said: "The urgency of the moment is to raze the bastions of the Faith." A bastion is a fortress, a place of defense, so for Balthasar and Ratzinger, the "urgency of the moment" is to dismantle these protections, the defenses of the Faith. You see there this idea of broadening the Church, inviting other mentalities, other thinkers, I may even say other faiths, to come in and be members of the Church. This idea of broadening the Church's borders, of putting everybody in, allows Cardinal Kasper to say what he said in the Osservatore Romano: "The Orthodox, as they have all the means of salvation, do not need to convert." He says it black on white. You have others like Mother Teresa, who said that the important thing for a Buddhist is to be a good Buddhist. Okay, so be a good Buddhist, or a good Hindu, or a good Muslim, and everybody goes to heaven. Great. But if this is the new concept of the Church, then why not grant a little cage to the dinosaurs? If you already have all the birds and all kinds of animals, why not have a little place for the "fossils" which they think us to be? There is a condition, though: the dinosaurs have to stay in their cage. Imagine crocodiles or dinosaurs all over the zoo! Never! So the Tridentine Mass for everybody?–No! For the dinosaurs in their little cage?–Fine.
So when Rome comes to us with a big smile, that is their ulterior motive. That is, we grant you a place, but you must stay very quiet there and not move. So we come to them and we say, "Well, we are sorry, but there is no zoo." The Catholic Church is not a zoo. This comparison may show you how deep is the difference of vision. As long as things are at that level, it is just unthinkable that we should be able to reach a basic or fundamental agreement. It is impossible. And, once again, let us look at Campos.
The Conversion of Campos
Once again, let's look at Campos and the regression of Bishop Rifan, its head. Months before he was consecrated a bishop, Fr. Rifan participated in the local diocesan Corpus Christi procession. To traditional Catholics who opposed his participation, he replied, "If I do not go, I will jeopardize any agreement with Rome." Also, a few months before his consecration, he said in Rome to the Vicar General-who repeated it to Fr. Schmidberger, so we have it from a direct source: "I have no problem with celebrating the New Mass, but I don't do it because it would cause trouble to the faithful." So when Rome consecrated Fr. Rifan a bishop, they knew already that he had no objection to celebrating the New Mass. I think it is important to see that. These are the first steps. It shows you the direction.
The next step was the jubilee of the diocese of Campos. For that occasion, of course, the local bishop had a great ceremony, and Rome invited Bishop Rifan to go to that New Mass, to be there. And Bishop Rifan went. He did not participate in the sense of concelebrating the Mass, but he was there present vested in his ecclesiastical garb, with a surplice and so on. He was really there at this New Mass.
Some would say to me, "We have to make an agreement. If you don't do it we are going to lose something." Others would say, "By all means, no." There would be enormous division and a tremendous loss. Why is this? Because Rome is not at all convinced of the necessity of Tradition, of the necessity of coming back to Tradition to get out of this unbelievable crisis in which we have been since the Council, because they do not want to go to the roots of this crisis.
The next step was to be present at the Requiem Mass for the bishop who had evicted the priests of Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer, Bishop Alberto Navarro. At that Requiem Mass, you had Bishop Rifan there and also the Nuncio. The Nuncio invited Bishop Rifan to go to Communion, and Bishop Rifan received Communion at this New Mass.
The next step was the Mass of thanksgiving of the new Cardinal of Sao Paolo. This time, Bishop Rifan was there again present at that New Mass. He was in the sanctuary; he was not in his surplice; nevertheless, at the time of consecration, with the other priests and bishops celebrating, he raised his hands and said the words of consecration. A seminarian saw him.
And now, the 8th of September this year, we have photos and even a video of the Mass concelebrated by Bishop Rifan on the occasion of the centennial of the coronation of Our Lady of the Aparecida, the patroness of Brazil. He is concelebrating the New Mass, a new Mass where you have really scandalous happenings: ladies giving Communion in the hand, a ceremony of crowning Our Lady conducted by a woman in the presence of all the cardinals and bishops attending, and so on. Trying to defend himself, Bishop Rifan has said, "But I did not say the words of consecration." That makes it even worse, because it means he is cheating [called dissimulation, or, faking a sacrament–Ed.].
That's the evolution: he has been a bishop two years and he is already concelebrating the New Mass. You see, that is the natural development which was announced from the start by the officials in Rome, Georges Cottier, now Cardinal Cottier [the Holy Father's personal theologian–Ed.] and Msgr. Perl, Secretary for the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. At the time of the Campos-Vatican Accord, Fr. Cottier said: "...Little by little we must expect other steps: for example, that they also participate in concelebrations in the reformed rite [the Novus Ordo Mass–Ed.]. However, we must not be in a hurry. What is important is that in their hearts there no longer be rejection. Communion found again in the Church has an internal dynamism of its own that will mature." He prophesied this natural, psychological dynamic and we can see in Bishop Rifan a real, natural, clear demonstration of this.
Msgr. Perl said the next bishop for the Priestly Union of St. John Baptist Mary Vianney will be bi-ritual, that he would celebrate the new and the old Mass, and that he will have as his job to bring the faithful and the Latin Mass priests back to the diocese and to the New Mass. Already, what Bishop Rifan is doing is exactly that. And I may say, had the Society entered into this same agreement, we would be more or less doing the same thing, and if not agreed on all the same points as Campos, at least there would be enormous division among us. Some would say to me, "We have to make an agreement. If you don't do it we are going to lose something." Others would say, "By all means, no." There would be enormous division and a tremendous loss. Why is this? Because Rome is not at all convinced of the necessity of Tradition, of the necessity of coming back to Tradition to get out of this unbelievable crisis in which we have been since the Council, because they do not want to go to the roots of this crisis. The roots were clearly legalized, put into law, at the time of the Council, and these modern errors are what are killing the Church.
In 1999, I spoke with Augustin Cardinal Mayer [the first Cardinal Prefect of the Ecclesia Dei Commission (1988-91)–Ed.]. I reminded him how authority is exercised in the Church. I cited the Pope, the bishops, the parish priests. I said, "Look. At each level which requires the personal exercise of authority, you now have a committee or several committees. You no longer have the one properly vested with authority saying, 'I have decided.' It is always, 'The committee has decided,' or, 'This or that pastoral or advisory board has decided.' It makes authority anonymous, and it especially paralyzes the exercise of authority." This exercise of authority is given to the Catholic Church by God. God wants things to be this way. There is only one Pope; in each diocese, there is only one bishop who is in charge by divine right, by the will of God. I told Cardinal Mayer, "The origin of this collegiality is in the Council." And he said, "You are perfectly right."
So I thought I had made my point. But then, a little bit later on, he spoke about the cause of the crisis in the Church and he said, "The cause of the crisis is that the Council is not applied"! Thirty years of reforms in the name of the Council, and you have a Cardinal who tells you that the Council has not been applied?! Oh, great! So, how should it be applied? It shows you that they don't want to rectify the crisis. For them, the Council is really holy, untouchable. When you ask why it is so, its advocates will not give you any answer; they will just repeat, "Don't touch it."
It is true that in the Catholic Church we have in the papacy an absolutely tremendous authority. It is the highest authority among the creatures in the world. The Pope has the supreme authority, not as a man, but because he is the Vicar of Christ. He is the visible representative of Christ our Lord. That is what makes this authority so enormous. And we know, according to the promise of our Lord, that what he binds on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what he looses on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. It is a tremendous power, and we link this to the character of infallibility.
But here, too, many find an easy way out of the crisis: the Pope has spoken, so there is no need to reflect any more, just obey. When everything is normal, it is sufficient, and it is fine. But this does not change the reality of obedience.
Obedience is a virtue, a virtue which is exercised by a human being. When we refer to a human being we mean somebody who has reason and will. That means that this act shall be virtuous insofar as a human being makes use of his reason and will when he obeys. If we just switch them off when we obey, we are no better than a dog. You expect a dog to obey when you command it to stop or walk or bite or bark. You don't expect the dog to question your command. Even when we speak in the context of what is called "blind obedience" of the human being, it remains an act of virtue. If in order to obey, however, we have to demolish what is the highest faculty the good Lord has given us, that is, our reason, there is something wrong. Allow me to develop that.
Aristotle, who wasn't even a Christian, was able to give us a definition of virtue, that is, the thing through which we do good, and which makes the one who does it good. Virtue makes the one who has it good, and allows us to do good things. In fact, whenever we do something good, we do it out of virtue. But at the same time, whenever we do something bad, we never do it through a virtue. That is strictly impossible. We will never sin in an act of virtue. Impossible.
Let us apply this to the virtue of "obedience." Obedience is a moral virtue, and all the moral virtues are in fact a golden mean between two excesses. This is easy to understand with some other virtues, for example, that of justice. Justice means I have to give what is due to my neighbor. If I go to a shop and buy a loaf of bread, there is a price, the just price. If I give too much or too little, I am not just. There can be an excess on both sides. I will not have paid the just price if I give too much or too little. And this is true for all the moral virtues, including obedience.
When there is a defect in our obedience it is because we have not given enough obedience. We call this disobedience. But we rarely consider that there is a possibility of giving too much obedience. The phrase seems strange or odd, to speak of "too much obedience," but in fact, it does exist. A simple example: if somebody gives an order and you realize that if you follow the letter of the order you are doing something stupid–maybe you did not understand the order correctly–but nevertheless, realizing that it is stupid, you do it, well, I am sorry, but you are stupid. It is not obedience.
Let's say that Mom says to her daughter, "At 3 o'clock, go and feed the cow." Now she is just putting some milk on the stove, it is one minute to three, the milk is starting to boil. "Oh, it's 3. I have to go and take care of the cows." But the milk is going to boil over. "Ah, I have to obey." You see? Well, it is an example of an obedience which is not correct; it is too much obedience. Of course, you first take the pan off the burner in order to avoid the disaster with the milk before taking care of the cows. It is an example which shows that you can have circumstances in which a wrong understanding of obedience will get you into trouble.
So where is the point at which we must say no? It does happen. The point at which we say no is when this authority which has been granted by God to a human being is used against God. If God has given authority to human beings, it is so that through this authority these superiors will lead others to God. Every law and every force of the law is given to lead us to God, to glorify God, to do good.
Authority Is FROM God
It is easier to understand this when you look at God and the origin of obedience and law. We know and see that in any kind of organization, there is an authority, there is somebody commanding and giving orders. Not only that, but on certain levels, these orders can even be binding on our conscience. That means that if we refuse, we sin. That means that we offend not only this human authority, but we offend God. Why is that?–Because any authority which is exercised among human beings has been given by God. It is very important to understand that. It is the very principle of obedience. Why do we obey?-We obey because we see the authority and the commandment of that authority as coming from God. Persons having authority may have had it designated to them by human beings–George Bush has been elected by the Americans, but the authority that Bush has he has received from God. At the end of his life, he will stand in front of our Lord, and he will have to give an account of the way he has used this authority. The same holds for me, for the priests, for the fathers in their families, and so on at all levels. At all levels, any kind of authority is granted by God, and there you have the principle of obedience.
To obey God Himself is not too difficult; we recognize that God is wiser than we are, He is mightier than we, and we understand it is better not to object. But to submit ourselves to human beings whom we easily see as less wise, less perfect, and with many more defects than ourselves–a person commanding things which sometimes even seem to us not reasonable–that's difficult. What I have said is not in contradiction. Certain situations may appear to us less reasonable; nevertheless we still have to obey.
Obedience Is To God
So where is the point at which we must say no? It does happen. The point at which we say no is when this authority which has been granted by God to a human being is used against God. If God has given authority to human beings, it is so that through this authority these superiors will lead others to God. Every law and every force of the law is given to lead us to God, to glorify God, to do good.
That's the Ten Commandments. Why did God give us commandments? It was to help us in the good direction. What is this good direction? It is God Himself. It is to glorify Him, and any kind of order or law is true law in as much as it is a kind of echo or image of these laws from God. Amongst human beings it can happen, and it really does happen, that these persons invested with authority will, either by evil or most of the time by weakness, make a wrong use of this authority. They will make a wrong commandment. And at that time, this law, which should bring us back to God, instead harms us. It goes against the purpose of law. When this happens, we have to say no, because to say yes is no longer obedience; it goes against obedience, it goes against God, so we must say no.
It is like St. Peter in front of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was the highest religious authority, and when it said, "We forbid you to preach in the name of Jesus," St. Peter replied, "We have to obey God rather than man." That is a very basic principle in obedience. Usually, these types of things are rare and the normal behavior really is obedience. But it can happen that things are abnormal, and the situation in which we are now in the Church is such a situation. What is very interesting is that in the new Code of Canon Law (1983), the Church itself has emphasized this principle. It tells us that the highest law, the first law, is the salvation of souls. That means that the reason for the existence of the Church is to save souls. That is the aim, and all the laws in the Church are given to reach that purpose, to help souls to be saved.
Now, if you find in that organization a law against the salvation of souls or circumstances in which a law is being used against that purpose, of course you do not obey that law. It is no longer true obedience. In such a case, obedience would go against the purpose itself for which God has founded the Church. And then, of course, you say no. And when you say no, you are not disobedient; on the contrary, you are really obedient, because you look at the purpose and the will of God. You see that this is going against the will of God; I want to follow the will of God, so in that case I have to say no.
These are basics but they are very important. It is very important that you have the right understanding of obedience, because we are called "rebels" and other labels which you know by heart by now. It is just not true. It is like when Rome says to us, "Come back." We say, "We are sorry, but we can't." Why? Because we are already in; we have never been away, so where do you want us to come back from? We are already in.
Our Status In Rome
Where do we stand with Rome presently? On December 30, 2003, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos sent me a letter inviting us to accept a proposal Rome was offering us. The first problem with this proposal is there is nothing specific to which to agree. In April of last year, I met and spoke with Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos [current head of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei–Ed.], and he said, "I don't yet have a name for the thing that we want to propose to you." It is important, because sometimes they say, "Well, you have refused the offers from Rome." No, I have refused nothing, because nothing has been proposed. They say that it is something between an "apostolic administration" and a "personal prelature." They don't even know themselves.
I can say that they are not going to grant to us what they have granted to Campos. Why so?–Because they have already had so much trouble with Campos. At the start they promised the priests of Campos that their structure would extend to the whole of Brazil. But the Nuncio and several members of the permanent council of the bishops' conference went to Rome and protested, and so finally the territorial limit of this administration was shrunk to only the diocese of Campos. The Society, however, is too difficult to shrink because we are everywhere. The "dinosaurs" are everywhere! They will try to restrict us through other tricks, so to speak, and most probably they will pursue the idea that only "members" will have the right to the Latin Mass of the Society. For example, you have to be an Opus Dei member to enjoy what is reserved to the Opus Dei. So they may say, you must be an official, card-carrying member to get what is offered. But that makes a very exclusive club, and we don't want that.
A Letter to the Cardinal
I wrote a reply to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos of which I give you the main thoughts. This answer was ready by about the middle of January, but at the same time another letter went to the Cardinal and all the cardinals of the world; it was the letter on Ecumenism.1 I thought, "Well, he already has an answer with that one, so we'll wait a little with the other one." During the spring, we had a very interesting period, because the letter on ecumenism did not please them. Rome sent three experts to the press conference which I gave in Rome itself. They were mad, not because of the letter on ecumenism, but because the press conference was held 200 yards from the Vatican. In fact, I did not know it, but it was on the Via della Conciliazione facing Cardinal Walter Kasper's office.
Rome sent three experts on ecumenism to the press conference. One was a monsignor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent by Cardinal Ratzinger; another one was sent by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos. After the conference, this prelate went to see Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos and said to him, "Your Eminence, I am sorry, but he did not speak any heresy." So two letters were written to reply to the letter on ecumenism, one theological and one personal. On the theological level, as they could not say anything, they just said something like, "Well, you have forgotten to mention this or that document." The personal letter to me is harsh but affectionate. Now, I know these things even though I've never received these letters because they have been shown to others so they would tell me they exist. When I got that message, I also sent a message to Rome, saying that I also have prepared a letter. We stood there for two or three months brandishing our letters, but nobody sent one! It was a very curious situation.
After that, in May 2004, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos gave an interview to the Latin Mass magazine [see The Angelus, August 2004, pp. 2-4–Ed.]. There he said a lot of interesting things, for example, one should not consider the people who want the old Mass as second-class citizens. The most interesting thing for me, however, is when he explained that the agreement with Campos had been made possible because of the two conditions it had fulfilled: an act of humility and an act of contrition. When I read that, I thought that now was a good occasion to send my letter.
Pillars First, Then a Bridge
In this letter, I start by saying that from the very beginning, I had indicated to Rome that the only way to reach an agreement would be to go through certain steps. Why so?–Because you do not construct the span of a bridge before building the piers. If you try to throw the bridge at the start, then everything collapses. So I told him, that if we have spoken of two preambulas, two things to be done first, it is because we want these pillars to be built before the bridge. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos wants to build a bridge, to have an agreement. We say, fine, okay, great, but let's start at the start. So I repeat to him that the first thing is to allow the Latin Mass for everybody, and the second, to lift–not the excommunication because we don't recognize the excommunication–the decree of excommunication.
Let me help you understand what "the excommunications" mean to the Society. First, I am absolutely certain that these excommunications have been a great blessing and protection of God. Yes, with these excommunications we have been protected. Why?–Because Rome has built a wall between them and us in such a way that all the bullets they may want to shoot at us go straight into the wall and do not hit us.
One day this past spring the following incident occurred between a visiting prelate and Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos. The Cardinal became very dramatic before the prelate, storming and pounding his fist on the table. The poor prelate was shaken for more than a week after; every day he called me, and by his voice you could hear that he was shaken by the tremendous show of anger from the Cardinal. What had the Cardinal said to this prelate? "If Bishop Fellay does not make contact with me in the next two weeks, I am going to excommunicate him." You see, you laugh–that was my reaction also!
Why have we laughed at this threat of excommunication?–Because of that wall. Once we have been excommunicated, well, excommunicate us a thousand times if you want, it will not change the situation. This has made things so that, firstly, they can no longer put any pressure on us. After the excommunication, what kind of pressure can they exert? None. They cannot push us any more. What kind of threat can they make against us? There is no threat any more. In that sense, it has been a protection, you see. This is not the purpose of an excommunication, true, but that it has protected us is a fact. Secondly, we can have nothing more to lose since the excommunications. This gives us a tremendous freedom. We can speak to their faces without fearing any retaliation from them. This is surprising, but it is the fact, I tell you.
Because of his compromise, Bishop Rifan has to say, "We have to do this. We have to go on procession with them because otherwise it will jeopardize the agreement.'" Well, we will never say that. I will never say, "I have to do this procession because it is going to jeopardize the excommunication!" It does not work, you see. Once again, that was a smile from Divine Providence.
So, you may say then, if that's the way things are, why do you ask for the decree of excommunication to be lifted? My answer is the following: We do it for two reasons. First, while I speak of this protection, there is now such an increasing weakness in Rome that the threat of Rome's power pushing us in the wrong direction is diminishing more and more–as long as we don't make an agreement with them. The negative side of the wall between us is that we are cut off on both sides, that is, we have less influence on others because of the excommunication. It is easy now for the modernists to say, "Well, these people are excommunicated, they are outside." So whatever we say, some will not listen. They say, "Well, you are excommunicated." Many people, good people who would like to come to us, do not dare because of this threat. This is true. Taking it away would take away this fear from these people. They would say, "So, you are really normal," and it would help in changing their mentality and our image. For the time being we are perceived to be the devil or even worse than the devil. This image has to be changed because whatever good we do for the time being is labeled as devilish, diabolical, even if we do it well. This change of mentality is necessary in order to advance to the next step.
The next step will be to spread Tradition throughout the Church. Many, many souls are eager to receive it, but they will not have it as long as this excommunication is there. I have written to the Cardinal proposing retraction of the excommunications as a first step. I give him examples. I say:
You have been capable of taking away the excommunication of the Orthodox, and this while the Orthodox did not change anything in their behavior towards Rome. We do recognize Rome; the Orthodox don't, and nevertheless Rome was capable of lifting the excommunication against them. We are not schismatics, but we are excommunicated; they are schismatics, and they are not!
That is what I write; it's what we call an argument ad hominem. I'm trying to help Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos see that his actions are not consistent, and, therefore, his treatment of us is not coherent. I use a second argument. I say:
In quoting Canon Law, it is said that we are excommunicated because we have been made bishops without the permission of Rome, of the Pope. We have answered that the same 1983 Code of Canon Law says that somebody may act lawfully out of a subjective necessity to consecrate bishops.
To act out of necessity means I am compelled to do something, that is, I cannot do otherwise; my life is at stake. Subjective means that I do consider things that way, that is my way of seeing things; I may be wrong objectively, but subjectively that is the way I see things. The 1983 Code of Canon Law says that if somebody is acting under a subjective necessity, he cannot be punished with the maximum penalty. The maximum punishment for consecrating a bishop without the agreement of Rome is excommunication. Archbishop Lefebvre and we have always said that this was done out of necessity to relieve the emergency situation in the Church. For us, very clearly, it is not only a subjective necessity but also an objective one. In its Canon Law, even Rome is saying that if somebody believes subjectively he must act, though objectively he may be erroneous in his opinion, he cannot be punished by the highest penalty. So I say to Rome, If you don't agree with us that there is an objective necessity, at least recognize that we see it as being so.
These are arguments that don't go very deep, but they are useful. Then I continue by saying:
And you give us requirements; you want us to say that we recognize the New Mass and the Second Vatican Council. We are not going to sign that.
They may argue that the Archbishop signed that, but I say, "No, we are not going to." Why?–Because even if the phrases which we sign on to are correct, we are not going to say it or to sign it because it means cheating. We are cheating Rome, we are cheating our faithful, maybe we are cheating ourselves. And besides that, we don't want to do it because we know the thinking behind Rome's requesting it from us. You see, in the eyes of Rome, we are the bad guys, we have done something bad, we have gone away from the Church. When somebody goes away from the Church and wants to come back, then the Church requests from him what is called a "profession of faith," that is, a proof that the errant party is returning to the same Faith as that of Rome. Now, what kind of profession of faith is requested of us? They request that we profess that the New Mass and the Second Vatican Council are okay. That is a strange profession of faith, and, precisely, even if the phrasing is correct and acceptable, the result is not, because it is exactly the contrary of what we do.
And what do they say at the start of the Council? Open the windows to the world; let some fresh air come in. Well, they opened the doors to the storm, and now the carpet is wet and there's a lot of damage, and they say it is the storm's fault. I say, "Well, in my home it doesn't happen like that." We say, "You silly! You left the windows open! You should have closed them!" We don't say it's the storm's fault. It is the same thing here!
Let me give you a picture of Rome's strategy. Rome is saying to us, "Listen, the Council and the New Mass are a soup. You say it is a bad soup, but it is a soup! Just say it is a soup and all will be fine." And I say, "Well, we know that it is a soup, but it is a poisonous soup, so we don't care about the soup. What we care about is the poison. And because of the poison, we are not going to drink it. If we say soup today, tomorrow you will say, 'Drink your soup; you agreed it was a soup. Now you have to drink it!' And so I am not going to say it is a soup even if it is one because now it is a poison." You get the picture?
There are evil things in the Council, in the New Mass; they are really poisonous. They are taking souls away from God. It is cheating, it is hidden, it is not obvious, but it is there, and after a while you see it. It is becoming obvious. How and why is this crisis in the Church? The answer given by Rome and those who recognize there is a crisis in the Church is to say the world is to blame.
It makes me think of a picture: You have a summer storm coming. What do you do when you see a storm coming? You run to the house and close all the windows because you know the storm is coming, and if the storm comes and the windows are open everything inside will get sopping wet and damaged. Now, here you have a storm coming. They see it, they describe it, there is even a document, Gaudium et Spes, which describes this storm of the world. And what do they say at the start of the Council? Open the windows to the world; let some fresh air come in. Well, they opened the doors to the storm, and now the carpet is wet and there's a lot of damage, and they say it is the storm's fault. I say, "Well, in my home it doesn't happen like that." We say, "You silly! You left the windows open! You should have closed them!" We don't say it's the storm's fault. It is the same thing here!
It is true that the storm did the damage. The ideas of the world spoiled things, but it was the duty of the prelates to shut the doors and windows. It is too easy to say that it is the world's fault. I think these things are important. So what we try to say to Rome in all these things is, "Listen, we have to get to the root of the problems." We don't want to make an agreement just for the sake of an agreement. A prelate in the Vatican said to me, "Don't make a cosmetic agreement with Rome." And it is true, we don't want any kind of cosmetic agreement. Things are too serious. The Faith is at stake. We want to keep the Faith!
About Liberating the Latin Mass
So I continue with Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos: "Listen, you say that you want to grant us the Latin Mass because it would be our particular charism." Note that he makes of the Latin Mass something "particular." The Cardinal tells me the Pope has so much concern for those who have this particular desire for the old Mass that he wants to grant them their particular desire. "Okay, you are particular, so you get the old Mass." But, once again, that relegates us to the little corner of the zoo. I tell him, "No, we don't want any particular status. We are normal Catholics. What we adhere to is the common good of the Church." Yes, we want the Latin Mass for us, but not only for us; it is the good of all. So as long as Rome says to us, "This is your particular thing," we are marginalized, we are put aside, and we don't want that, because this good to which we stick is the common good of the whole Mystical Body. This Mass belongs to every Catholic; every Catholic has the right to have it.
You have to understand this. All the highest authorities–the Holy Father, Cardinals Ratzinger, Castrillon Hoyos, Medina, Sodano, etc.–recognize that the Tridentine Mass has never been abrogated. What does this mean? It means that the law which says that the Tridentine Mass is the Catholic Mass is still in vigor. If it is still in vigor, that means that every priest has the strict right to celebrate it, and whoever pretends that it is prohibited or the priest who celebrates it should be punished abuses his authority. That is the reality. He commits a tremendous injustice. So when we ask for the old Mass for everybody, we just ask that this injustice be removed and no more. It is very simple. We're not asking too much there.
Therefore, we do not agree when Rome says, "Okay, you have the right to say the old Mass." We say, "No, everybody has the right." The reason Rome does agree that everybody has this right is because it is fearful. What do they fear? They fear the reaction of the progressivists. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos said it to me this way: "If we were to grant this Mass for everybody, the situation would be out of control." That is the way they see things, you see; it's fear. They recognize that what we say is true, but they are not going to liberate the old Mass for everybody because of this fear. In the meantime, tremendous injustices are allowed to happen. The solution is very easy, but they avoid the obvious solution because of fear. It proves that Rome has no conviction regarding the necessity of returning to Tradition. It sees things going badly, but it will not take the right means because it doesn't want to fight.
The progressivists are always eager to jump to the barricades; they are ready to fight. But Rome does not want to fight, and so it just lets things go. It is terrible to say so, but that is my conclusion. That is why I insist to Rome, "You have to grant it. It is a right which has never been lost." I continue by saying, "We need a body in Rome which is going to defend the interests of Tradition in Rome. We don't need a delegate from Rome towards Tradition, as you are doing with Ecclesia Dei', we need a delegate of Tradition in Rome" which is the contrary, an entity in Rome which is composed of people from Tradition who are accredited in Rome and who will protect the faithful and priests against the attacks of the bishops and Rome. But this would be possible only on the condition that in Rome, the Pope and his collaborators were convinced of the absolute necessity of Tradition. As long as they are not, nothing will ever happen. Nevertheless, we have to say these things, and I continue to make my requests.
It's About the Faith Itself
I finish my letter to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos by reminding him that the rite of Baptism is a contract between the Catholic soul and the Church. The first question asked by the Church at the baptism is, "What do you ask of the Church of God?" The answer is "Faith." What does this mean? It means the Church makes a contract with the soul. You become a member of the Church and I grant you the Faith. It is a guarantee; there is a contract there. To the Cardinal I write:
That is what we request from Rome, that Rome confirm us in the Faith, the Faith of all time, the Faith which cannot change. We have the strict right to request this from the Roman authorities, and we do not think that we will really progress towards an agreement as long as Rome has not shown a concrete will to dissipate the smoke that has invaded the temple of God, darkened the Faith, and paralyzed the supernatural life of the Church under cover of the Council and its subsequent reforms. There will be no agreement before then.
I have received no answer to that letter. I have not even heard that there was an answer prepared and waiting for delivery. The only thing that Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos told me was that he was discouraged. I told him, "I'm not."
Who Is REALLY Defending the Faith?
There is one more event which I cite to show you what is going on. A little less than two months ago, five entities under the Ecclesia Dei Commission made a move towards Rome, towards Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, and put pressure on him to get Rome to excommunicate us. Of these five groups, I know four: the Priestly Union of St. John Baptist Mary Vianney [Campos], the Benedictine Monastery of St. Madeleine of Le Barroux [France], the Fraternity of St. Peter, and the Institute of Christ the King. They asked Rome to excommunicate us. I know already the answer from Rome, from the Pope, from his Secretary of State, and from Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos: All of them say, "No, it is not the time. We want to come to a peaceful situation, so we don't want to excommunicate the Society of Saint Pius X." It is very interesting to see that the Society of St. Peter wants us to be excommunicated. You may wonder why. I'll give you some examples.
In Wiegratzbad, their seminary in Germany, the professor of Dogma supports the Mass of the Chaldeans [of Adai and Mari] as valid though it is celebrated without any specific words of consecration and that the statement from Rome saying so is infallible. The future priests of St. Peter are taught that there is an infallible statement from Rome determining that a Mass is valid without words of Consecration. [This is a destruction of the Church's sacramental theology regarding matter, form, and intention.–Ed.]
In the same Fraternity seminary there is a priest teaching Liturgy, a former member of the Society. He left us to join the Syro-Malankar rite, an Oriental rite in India. He studied at the Oriental Institute in Rome under Fr. Taft, the priest who prepared the document in which Rome declared that this Mass of the Chaldeans is valid though without words of Consecration. The seminary professor, Fr. Mattheus, collaborated in the authorship of this text. I was told recently that a lady had an argument with Fr. Mattheus because he was celebrating this very Mass of Adai and Mari. She asked him whether he had said the words of consecration and he refused to answer directly. He said that he refused to use the words of Consecration, because the moderns no longer speak of "words of Consecration"; they speak of the "words of Institution." He continued, "Anyway, when I give communion, I say the words "Corpus Christi." You have to know that in the decree of Rome they say that the words of Consecration are disseminated in an ontological way in the whole Canon of the Mass.
This shows you that there is craziness within the Fraternity. It appears that the Fraternity of St. Peter is preparing to cover itself–I don't know how far along they are–by issuing a declaration in which they will say that this is just the opinion of Fr. Mattheus and not of the whole Fraternity. Nevertheless, he is their professor of Dogma.
There is a rumor circulating that Rome will be establishing in Europe and maybe in the United States something like what they erected in Campos. I asked Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos about it in the middle of October 2004 and the impression he gave me was that this was for the time being only an idea. There is nothing concrete, so I have no idea if it will ever happen. There is certainly a great desire among the Ecclesia Dei communities for such a situation and for a bishop for Tradition who would protect them against the local ordinaries, but I have the greatest doubts that the local bishops would ever allow such a thing to happen. If such a plan were implemented, it would mean that suddenly Rome would have understood something which they don't give the impression of having understood, that is, the necessity of fostering the development of the traditional Catholic life by means of, first, the Latin Mass, and then everything which goes together with it.
When you review the bishops who allow the Latin Mass, what do they do? They allow the Latin Mass but with a lot of restrictions. I remember that here, when the bishop of Kansas City (or maybe St. Louis) first allowed the Indult Mass, they said that it could not be celebrated less than two hours following the New Mass, that the celebrant had to preach about the goodness of the Vatican II, offer no other sacraments than Penance and Holy Eucharist, no burials, no baptisms, nor marriages with that Latin Mass. They placed restrictions on all sides. I heard recently that Cardinal Egan of New York City said it was the common understanding of the American bishops that no diocesan priests should be allowed to say the Tridentine Mass exclusively. They want to oblige every priest to say the New Mass.
That means the fight is still going on and will probably be going on for a good while longer. Though they would foster Tradition a little bit and we would not be involved directly, will any of these possible new creations be erected? I have my greatest doubts though I cannot say so for sure. There are certainly some who try in the Church to push in this direction, but I have the impression that at the head they are not ready for these things yet.
Rome Is The Seat Of Ecumenism
To help you understand why I say Rome is not convinced of the necessity of Tradition, I must explain things going much, much deeper than the matter of the Latin Mass. I would like to bring up Cardinal Walter Kasper, because he is the President of the Pontifical Commission for Promoting Christian Unity, and that means ecumenism. Ecumenism, says the Holy Father, is the key of his pontificate; it is the main theme, the thing that explains why he has done what he has done. Cardinal Kasper is the Pope's right-hand man on the most important aspect of his pontificate. He is really a key person, so I would like to show you how he understands ecumenism, what he means when he says ecumenism, that you may understand what is really happening in the Church.
A New Ecumenism
When we say "ecumenism," we have something in mind. We think of the movement of dialogue towards the other Christians, trying to bring them back to the Church. But if you think that is ecumenism, I am sorry, but you are totally out of the ballpark; you really are dinosaurs! This type of ecumenism was the understanding that may have existed under Pope Pius XII, but now Cardinal Kasper tells us, since the Council, things have changed. Ecumenism is no longer to convert people; it is "the common path towards unity in reconciled diversity."2 It appeared in L'Osservatore Romano (Feb. 4, 2004), so it is an official text. Though it was not in an official document of the Church, L'Osservatore Romano is the official newspaper from Rome. And he has said it so many times: no conversions. I think it is very interesting and very important to understand the background. And there are several thoughts that I would like to give you.
When you speak of "ecumenism," you speak of Christians. For Cardinal Kasper, what is the foundation of this unity? He says that with baptism every Christian enters into union with Christ, becomes a member of the Mystical Body of Christ. Which is true. He continues by saying, "This union with Christ is so strong that even sin cannot destroy it." He is saying that no sin can destroy this union with Christ. This statement is on one hand ambiguous, and on the other, false. It is ambiguous in the sense that in regard to the issue of belonging to the Church, it is true that certain mortal sins do not cut the Catholic from the Church. He remains a member, but a dead branch. The branch is still on the tree, but it is dead. That is the status of a member of the Mystical Body when he has sinned mortally. But what Kasper forgets to say is that there are certain sins which really do cut the branch from the tree. These are the sins of heresy and schism. These sins really cut the tree, so these sins, in whatever sense you understand the "union with Christ," really destroy the union with Christ. And that Kasper has forgotten.
But with this new idea of ecumenism, you have the kind of stable, unchanging situation that is common to all Christians. Every Christian has the same basis, this "union with Christ." Kasper advocates what I am describing here. It is in a conference he gave to Catholics in Moscow in February 2004. He says that the divisions between the churches "do not reach heaven, nor go to the roots." What does he mean when he says that it does not reach heaven? He means that God the Father Almighty from heaven looks down on the earth, sees that there are divisions, but these divisions do not reach Him; He continues to consider all as His children; we are still all the same family. They are fighting one another–God must not be very happy with that–but they are still of the same family. That is Kasper's picture.
Consequences of Ecumenism
We say absolutely not. We say that, of course, sins reach heaven! They break with heaven–especially these great sins of heresy and schism–but every sin breaks with heaven and demolishes the plan of God. So Kasper's whole picture is totally wrong. The conclusions are very interesting, though. Kasper says that these divisions are only something political and historical. Since it is only happening between human beings, it does not touch God. What does Kasper teach has to be done? We have to be unified so that we all might be one. But if we are all equal, we all have the same equality down and up: God the Father is the Father of all and, down below, Christ is united with everybody, so we are all equal. So if we have to look for unity, we have to do it as equals. That is the reason for the "common path towards unity," a unity which is not yet achieved. We have to build it together. But if we are equal, that means that we are also equal in the faults and errors which have provoked the division. Kasper goes so far as to say that in the Catholic Church there are "structures of sin." The expression occurs in this conference; it is in others, too, but in that one you have it.
But what Kasper forgets to say is that there are certain sins which really do cut the branch from the tree. These are the sins of heresy and schism. These sins really cut the tree, so these sins, in whatever sense you understand the "union with Christ," really destroy the union with Christ. And that Kasper has forgotten.
There is one more step: we are equal, we have to work together for unity, so in each one of these churches we have to look to ourselves and see what elements of division we have within ourselves, and if we want to build together a union, we have to take away these elements of division which are in ourselves. And ecumenism will do it.
You will find the first clear application of this theory in Bugnini's composition of the Novus Ordo Mass. In 1964, he had just been appointed the head of the commission that would make the New Mass, but he was already explaining what he was going to do. He said that prayer cannot be a scandal for the others; it cannot be an obstacle; prayer should be all together, and that is why we are going to remove from the Mass everything that might be even a shadow of an obstacle to our separated brethren. You see, the Mass is an obstacle, it is against union with the Protestants, so let's take away from the Mass all the elements which are provoking the division. And that is what they have done: they have taken away from the Mass everything that was typically Catholic and offensive to the Protestants. That is why now it has absolutely no savor, no taste; it is empty. And Kasper explains that they are going to use this same method at every level of the Church. In the whole Church they will consider every element of the Church which could be divisive, provocative, or an obstacle to the others, and they will just take it away. And that is what he has done. In his conference to the Anglicans last year on May 17, 2003, "A Vision of Christian Unity for the Next Generation," he explained how he is going to take away these elements. Amongst them is a reconsideration of the office of the papacy [see The Angelus, Feb.-Mar. 2004, pp. 22-29].
The Person Is "Dialogue"
I quote from another text of Cardinal Kasper, "The Nature and Purpose of Ecumenical Dialogue," in which he gives another idea of ecumenism.3 It is also very interesting and sheds light on what is being done. It is a philosophical explanation. He starts with the idea of the "person." What is a "person" ? According to the traditional teaching of philosophy, when I say "person," it is the I, it is the me, it is the one to whom an action is attributed.
You know the story of little Johnny who sees the jar of marmalade on the shelf. He climbs the ladder, grabs the jar, knocks it over, and makes a big mess. Mom comes: "Who did that?" And Johnny says, "It wasn't me; it was my hand!" Well, of course, you laugh, because you know Johnny really made the mess; the hand is only an instrument. Johnny is the one to whom the action is attributed, not the hand!
The "person" is the last principle of non-communicability. It is that which is really and truly mine and never yours. That is why we also attribute to the person the value of his actions, I do something good or bad. It is going to receive a merit, and that merit is going to be attributed to the person who did the "something." That is why, when we speak of rights, we speak of the rights of the person. It is a person that has these rights.
In defining "person," modern philosophy says almost the contrary! I have just told you what the Church has always taught, that is, the "person" is the last principle of non-communicability. Modern philosophy teaches that the "person" is relation. To quote Kasper:
Speaking on ecumenical dialogue and starting a dialogue on dialogue presupposes that we know first what dialogue is at all. Dialogue is one of the most fundamental concepts of twentieth-century philosophy, and it is related to today's personalist way of thinking. It may be enough to mention the names of Martin Buber, Franz Rosenweig, Ferdinand Ebner, Emmanuel Levinas and others. The young Polish professor Karol Wojtyla, with his philosophy of love and responsibility, was influenced too by this kind of personalistic thinking.
This new trend emerging in the 20th century characterized by dialogical philosophy marked the end of western monological thinking, and implied self-transcendence of the person towards the other. The starting-point and the fundamental principle of dialogical philosophy is: "I cannot be without thou."
You see, first we said that the I is the person. Now, the new concept is that a person cannot be a person without other persons, that is, "I cannot be without you!" I can no longer be me if you are not there. There is no I without you!...Let me continue reading from Rasper's talk:
..."We do not exist for ourselves," "We exist with and for each other," "We do not have only encounter, we are encounter; we are dialogue."
I am dialogue; I am communication! You see, it is exactly the contrary to how the Church has always defined what a person is. You may wonder, but where do we go with these crazy ideas? Well, you will see. Kasper continues:
The other is not the limit of myself; the other is a part and an enrichment of my own existence. So dialogue is an indispensable step along the path toward human self-realization. The identity of the person can be only an open and dialogical identity.
Now, don't ask me what an "open identity" is! Maybe I can show you what it might be like. Here, I pour water into this glass. [His Excellency begins a demonstration using the pitcher of water and an empty glass set on a table near him in case he became thirsty during his conference–Ed.] Now this water is limited by the glass and can't be anywhere else; it is non-communicable. Now, the "open identity" is when I break the glass. There is still water, but the water goes everywhere. That is "open identity." It is crazy. Where does Kasper go from here?
Such dialogue is not only essential and necessary for individuals. Dialogue concerns also nations, cultures, religions. Every nation, culture, religion has its riches and its gifts, but also its limits and its dangers. The nation, culture, or religion becomes narrow and evolves into ideology when it closes itself and when it absolutizes itself.
That means any religion, even the one which says I am the only one which is true. Do you see where this is leading? With this new idea of the person and personality, you have the destruction of the Catholic Church as being exclusive (because it is absolute). You have the destruction of the exclusivity of truth. And the truth is exclusive, every teacher knows that, and every student of mathematics knows that. If the pupils are asked to calculate how much are two plus two, they know that if they don't write four, they will get a zero. They can try all the possibilities, and the possibilities are really infinite, you really have an infinite possibility of error. You can go from zero to infinity, but there is only one answer which is true, and that is four. And this answer of four is really, absolutely exclusive of any other solution.
People understand that, not only in mathematics, but also in physics and in everyday life. In building cars, planes, in farming: everywhere they understand that. But for religion suddenly this would not be, says Kasper:
Then the other nation, culture and religion becomes the enemy. The "clash of civilizations," as Huntington calls it, will ensue. Dialogue is the only way to avoid such a disastrous clash. Thus, especially today, dialogue among cultures, religions and churches is a presupposition for peace in the world. It is necessary to pass from antagonism and conflict to a situation where each party recognizes and respects the other as a partner and does not try to impose its own interests and values.
But where is Christ in that story?! Is there only one God? Is Christ our Lord God, yes or no?! When you read this, you really have the impression that with these beautiful ideas of ecumenism, finally there is only one big, big problem, one big obstacle. Do you want to know his name? It is Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ Is "Dialogue"
We already had a tremendous example of this ecumenism put into practice. It was in Munich in 1993. You had the Kirchentage, the meeting of the Protestants every two years (the Catholics meet in alternate years). It meets in June, just at the time of the Feast of Corpus Christi. Oh, a gorgeous occasion to make a beautiful act of ecumenism between Protestants and Catholics, because on that day, the Catholics have a procession. So let's have a procession together. But there is a problem, because in that round, white figure the Protestants do not recognize our Lord. So they solved the problem: they made the procession together–gorgeous, isn't it, a procession together, Protestants and Catholics on the Feast of Corpus Christi. But how did they solve the problem? Easy. They left our Lord home; they had a Corpus Christi procession without Corpus Christi. You see, you just drop the Obstacle, and then you have union. The problem is that this Obstacle is the essential.
In Assisi, when they had the last meeting in Assisi of all religions, they did the same thing. They gathered all these religions in the same house, a Franciscan monastery. But there, too, they had to kick Somebody out. Who was it? The crucifix. They removed all the crucifixes. Then you can have everybody together. In order to have their union, the union of everybody here on earth, they kick out God.
It is impressive to see how far this can go in the name of ecumenism. As you can see, it has nothing to do with what we call ecumenism. This new ecumenism is the machinery by which everything that is Catholic in the Catholic Church will be demolished. What is in fact happening has already been announced. In 1920 or 1921, the leaders of what came to be called the New Age Movement, described it. In her book The Exteriorization of the Hierarchy, Alice Bailey stated that towards the end of the 20th century the Catholic Church will have adopted the principles of Masonry. But in order not to scare everybody off, it will keep a certain religious aspect. Here we have it, then; empty the thing and keep its structure so it can be used for something else. What is this something else? It is the Universal Church. It is the One World Church. As they want a One World government, they want a One World church. For this to be possible–because the structure of the Catholic Church is tremendous, a really remarkable hierarchy of command–only one thing is necessary: take away the exclusivity of the Catholic Church. Take away its claim to be the sole true Church, then you have it.
The Church Is "Dialogue"
You find little phrases in the texts of the Second Vatican Council which are very interesting. They say that the Church is the sacrament of the unity of mankind.
Since the Church, in Christ, is in the nature of sacrament–a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and the unity among all men-she here purposes, for the benifit of the faithful and of the whole world, to set forth, as clearly as possible,...her own nature and universal mission (Lumen Gentium, §1).
What does this mean? "Sacrament" means an outward sign which is effective, which produces a reality. What Vatican II is saying is that the Catholic Church is to have the effect of unifying mankind. It is very interesting. They give a new mission to the Church, which is no longer to bring souls to God, but to unite mankind: the One World. And that is what you see happening before your eyes. I do not say that all who are in the hierarchy want that, I just say that this is the mainstream. I don't say that that is what they all want, I just say that they collaborate with this mainstream thinking.
But this has nothing to do with the Catholic Church, period. It is not the Catholic Church; it is something else, but it is winning. That's the problem. It is like a cancer. Cancers are inside. You may say that a cancer is a tumor, that it is not you. True, but it is still inside. If you can, you cut it out, but after the cancer has spread all over, then the doctors quit. They don't try to remove it, because that would do more harm. I say that this is the situation in which we find the Church. There are foreign entities inside the Church, things which have nothing to do with the Church: they are inside, and they have spread all over in such a way that you cannot take a knife and say, "Let us take this part away," because you would have to cut everything. That is the tragedy of our situation.
Defense of the Faith Is Not Dialogue but Warfare
You can see that it goes far beyond the Mass alone. It is the whole religion which is at stake. It is an enormous fight, a fight which goes from top to bottom, in which every Catholic is involved. Nobody can say, Here, I am safe. We are all in this fight. Every Catholic has to say, "I stand for Jesus Christ," but this is true today in a more striking way than ever before. It is unbelievable that the Church could reach such a point. If you want an analogy, imagine a house filled with a poisonous gas. Whoever is responsible for letting the gas inside harms himself. Whoever in the house wants to stay alive must put on a gas mask. The enemy is hiding: that is the gas. Where is the enemy?! You know, if somebody comes at you with a knife, you can defend yourself, but how are you going to defend yourself against the gas? That is the situation of the Church today, and it is a very, very dangerous situation, because the errors are spread all around, they are everywhere, and the authorities who should be the protectors either don't do anything or else they push in the wrong direction. That is the situation in which we are, and those who try to resist are considered rebels, bandits, cult members, etc. It is a crazy situation.
Another example which shows the same thing: against attacks upon the Faith, the Church has weapons to defend herself. There are a lot of measures it can take. What is happening now is that the only body against which the Church makes use of these weapons is us. She no longer uses the protections which she used to use against the true enemies of the Church, against those who refused the Faith or propagated error and so on–all these measures are no longer used against the Protestants, the "separated brethren." (Now they say we cannot say "separated.") Yet, churchmen declare they will have nothing to do with us. It is very interesting. Why?–Because we oblige them to be Catholics but in reverse towards us. They have dropped all these weapons, but when it comes to us, they still remember that these things exist. Instead of using them against the enemies, they shoot within. It is terrible, but it shows you how deep matters are. This is the situation in which we are now.
We have all this in mind when we go to Rome to discuss with them. We don't go there in order to get a cosmetic agreement. We go there to try to have them reflect on what they do and to remind them of their duties. I am sure some still have a conscience; some others, I am just wondering. When I see a Kasper, well, I conclude that he does not have the Catholic Faith. From what he says and the way he describes things, I have come to this conclusion. About others, I say they probably have the Faith, so why do they act as they do? "The heart has reasons that the reason does not know," said Paschal, and that's life. Many times you find this type of incoherent behavior. It does exist, and it exists within the Church.
I have given you some ideas for why I say we cannot have an agreement at this time or say that everything is fine. Everything is not fine. And when we bring these things up in Rome, they say to us, precisely, that these things are the things which it will discuss with the Society of Saint Pius X once it has signed an agreement. I say, "Wait, wait, wait. Look at the way you've treated the Fraternity of St. Peter, and so on." Events and experience have proven that once you have signed on, Rome says, "Shut up."
For example, we proposed to Rome a discussion about ecumenism. Our proposal came at the time we sent the letter about ecumenism to all the cardinals. Soon after its arrival, a small discussion group began in Paris involving the Nuncio and some other people. News of this group reached Rome and a priest, not one of ours, asked Cardinals Ratzinger and Castrillon Hoyos whether they would agree to such discussions. Their answer was, "Oh, then it would be a discussion between equals." See! When it comes to discussing with us, they don't like dialogue. Isn't that interesting? They say everywhere, "Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue." They say, "Dialogue is free discussion with everybody on the same level." Now, we come and ask, "Couldn't we discuss this?" and they say, "You want to treat us as an equal?!" We oblige them to behave as Catholics, but most of the time they do so only in their behavior toward us!
So, things are absolutely not ripe for an agreement. We must first help correct Rome's thinking to show them that what they do is wrong. On the Society's part regarding ecumenism, it seems Cardinal Ratzinger has said to somebody, "But how do you want us to attack Bishop Fellay? He only quotes the Councils!" For all our defense we rely on what the Church has always taught, so we are unbeatable on that level, because it is not we, it is the Church. What we say and what we present in Rome is only what the Church has always taught! It is reminiscent of what Archbishop Lefebvre said to Pope Paul VI: "We have a big problem. All the popes before you, all the popes of the last century–in Quas Primas, Quanta Cura–have said there is no religious liberty or have taught it only in a very specific way, which is the liberty of the only true religion. Now you are saying the contrary. So whom are we to obey?" And Pope Paul VI answered, "It is not time for theological discussion now." So he did not give an answer.
It shows you how things were and still are. We must avoid getting into emotional arguments. The fight is enormously broad and deep. I am persuaded that this is the greatest crisis the Church has ever had. I don't say it is the end, maybe it is, but probably not, not yet. I have the impression that when the Antichrist comes, it will be worse, but it looks like a rehearsal.
Be Hopeful; Be Marian
In all this, we must not be discouraged. There is danger of a crippling discouragement when we see such evils everywhere. We wonder what we can do. Can we do something? Of course we can. The proof is that you are here'. We can do something, but not alone. God never asks us to fight alone. On the contrary, He asks us to join Him. He has such consoling words for His apostles when He speaks of the time when they would have to give accounts in front of their accusers. He says, "Don't even reflect on what you are going to answer, because the Holy Ghost is going to speak through your mouth." He is there, He is with us. And He is not just a helpful adviser; He is God, God Himself.
Something which we often forget is that this almighty God is and always will be in control of everything. Absolutely no happening among creatures escapes His hand. If God does allow evil things to happen, He Himself fixes the degree of this evil; He fixes the limit of this harm. Things cannot get worse than He allows, period. Like when our Lord was sleeping in the boat. There were waves and water coming into the boat. We don't realize enough that whatever quantity of water came in, it was exactly the quantity which our Lord allowed; not one drop more. The waves had a certain height: exactly the height our Lord did fix. The winds had a certain strength: exactly the strength He did give to that wind. Yes, and He was the One who was sleeping in the boat.
It is the same today. We see a storm; and it is a storm! We see harm, we see evil around us; it is true harm, it is true evil. Nevertheless, we must never forget that all this is still in the control of the Almighty, All-wise God, our Lord, who is with us, who allows this. Whenever He allows an evil to happen
It is the same today. We see a storm; and it is a storm! We see harm, we see evil around us; it is true harm, it is true evil. Nevertheless, we must never forget that all this is still in the control of the Almighty, All-wise God, our Lord, who is with us, who allows this. Whenever He allows an evil to happen He does so for the greater good. We may not understand it now, but it will be seen clearly by us someday, maybe here on earth, maybe in heaven. It will happen because God is God.
He does so for the greater good. We may not understand it now, but it will be seen clearly by us someday, maybe here on earth, maybe in heaven. It will happen because God is God. He is above all these things. And to think that even in this storm He is so close to us, it is so easy to be with God. This storm, all these things, don't matter; on the contrary, all these things are given there, prepared by this all-bountiful God, to draw us closer to Him. Everything cooperates for the good of those who love God. We must always have this in mind. It is very important. It is not a dream. It is the reality. To forget it means to live a nightmare. We can only truly understand what is happening if we look to God and His Divine Providence.
Even if all this is happening, we still can do something to save our souls and the souls of those around us. There is a kind of lack of hope which is very dangerous and which is not Catholic, and we must really kick it out. We must keep hope. It is very important. We never have the right to say, "I can do nothing." We can do nothing, I agree, when we are apart from God. He says, "Without Me, you can do nothing." But with Him we can do much. We can go to heaven and help others to go to heaven. So we can do something.
More than we "can," we have to. Thinking how in 50 years the Communists changed the world from scratch, it is a shame for us Catholics–who have much more, much mightier means–to be in a state of hopelessness, of despair. We don't have the right. If men have been capable of doing what the Communists have done, we should say we are going to do the same. They said, "We want a Communist world," and almost got it. We say, "We want a Catholic world." We want this world to belong to God, and if everybody did his job in his place, we'll get it. Even if things may be bad today, let us hope there will be better weather tomorrow.
God has given us a special means–it is a person–for these times. It is His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is there for all time, the Mediatrix of all graces. But she took the care at the beginning of the 20th century to come on earth to deliver this message from heaven: "Hard times are coming to humanity, but I am there. I am your mother. Just do as I say. Do what my Son says." But she is there; she is there for us.
May our hearts and our behavior be moved towards a relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is our mother in heaven; she is the Mother of God. We are her children, and she wants to protect and defend us in this battle. So let us be really, deeply Marian, if I may ask. It is not just a nice side effect; no, it is very important. It is clear that God wants to give these times to His mother. He wants us to recognize that and give this tremendous place to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of heaven and of earth.
Transcription of a talk given by His Excellency Bernard Fellay at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Kansas City, Missouri (Nov. 10, 2004). Edited by Fr. Kenneth Novak, maintaining its conversational tone. Audio recordings of this conference are available from Aquinas Tapes, P.O. Box 9265, Shawnee Mission, KS 66201. 816-531-2448. Available on CD (2 CDs $15.00) Cassette (2 tapes $10.00) Video (1 tape $20.00) plus $5.00 airmail postage per order.
1. See the Feb.March issue of The Angelus, pp. 4-5.