What is a Schismatic?
by Louis Salleron
L'Aurore, 25 October 1979
On 12 May 1965—already fourteen years ago! Mgr. Pailler, the then Archbishop and coadjutor of Rouen, stated at a meeting of Catholic Action: "I do not think that I am being pessimistic when I say that by the end of this year, that is to say at the end of Vatican II, especially after the promulgation of the texts on Religious Liberty and the Schema XIII, there will be a grave risk of schism within the Church."
Schema XIII, it must be remembered, was the first 'seed' of what was to become the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes which dealt with the Church in the modern world.
This remark by Mgr. Pailler was hailed by the Progressives and the Modernists as indicating a condemnation of the Traditionalists. The majority of Catholics were no less astonished. The first shock was caused by the ambiguity of the remark, as Mgr. Pailler's pessimism seemed to welcome a complete extinction of the Traditionalists: they would be excommunicated proprio motu. On the other hand, it was difficult to understand how a Council which claimed to be pastoral and not doctrinal, a Council which proclaimed liberty for all and the end of condemnations, could cast out of the Church those Catholics who wished to remain faithful both to dogma and to Tradition.
In fact, the whole thing was perfectly logical. Father Congar had described Vatican II as "The October Revolution." By this he meant that the liberty granted by Vatican II was the liberty proclaimed by the Revolution which meant, in effect, "No liberty for the enemies of liberty." This was quickly to become evident. "The Conciliar Church" as it was called by those who were fashioning it, proved to be a thousand times more authoritarian, more sectarian than anything that had been previously seen in the traditional Church. We are still living in a climate of persecution and de facto excommunication.1
A Word from Sainte-Beuve
While reading the book entitled Letter to John Paul II, Pope of the Year 2,000 I was brought to a halt by a penetrating remark made by Sainte-Beuve and quoted by Father Bruckberger, author of the book. The remark referred to the Jansenists of Port Royal: "Many imputations and provocative accusations themselves create, in the long run, the very evils which they had supposed to exist." This is a subtle idea but completely true. It can happen that when a tendency, a perfectly legitimate religious opinion, is attacked fiercely by a powerful body within the Church, its supporters become so hardened in its defense, that they justify the accusations of schism and heresy levelled against them. This happened to the Jansenists. Today certain groups of traditionalists are on the brink of making the same error. It is precisely because of this that Father Bruckberger, himself a traditionalist, quotes Sainte-Beuve.
In fact, if one were to take at its face value what is said and what is written in some circles and in some publications, where John Paul II is almost denounced as the anti-Christ one could conclude that schism already exists.
But this is only the result of
irritation and will undoubtedly die down in time, and in any case, it
applies to only a limited number of people and should not be confused
with that vast number of Traditionalists, wounded in their Faith and the
practice of their Religion by the destructive violence of those who have
entrenched themselves within the Church in France, and whose power is
precisely more and more schismatic in view of their systematic opposition
both to Rome and to the Pope. It is this official or officious "
A New Pope: Hans Küng
If one may speak of a schismatic situation, this situation is not necessarily a full-blown schism in the strict sense of the word which implies a minimum of coherence and a structure with known leader. A spreading of schismatic ideas, a proliferation of various heresies, does not constitute a schism. A general weakening of the Faith cannot lead to a denial of belief which is the essential characteristic of a schism. It should be regarded more as a heretico-schism.
However, an aspirant to the leadership of this subversive organization is becoming even clearer. It is Hans Küng, the Swiss theologian who writes on many subjects, and who has long since abandoned the role of a controversialist for that of a magisterial teacher to whom everyone, beginning with the Pope, must defer with humility because the evidence for what he says is so overwhelming that it must convince us as totally as it has convinced him. As "an act of charity" he has just sent John Paul II a "fraternal reprimand" (sic) and he has no doubt that the Pope will receive it "without preconceived ideas" (Le Monde, 17 October).
The Pope of Rome, enlightened by
the pope of
We do not know whether French theologians will have been flattered or annoyed that their Swiss colleague chose the French language and a French newspaper to "reprimand" the Pope in a brotherly way, and to invite him to reconcile himself with progress, with Liberalism, and with modern civilization. In any case, most of them share his views. Like him, they want the destruction of the Priesthood, and the democratization of the Church by the people of God—Soviet style.
Such is the
1. I.e. traditionalists are treated as if they have been excommunicated without any formal act of excommunication.