Defend the Dogma, Defend the Holy Father!

Michael J. Matt

Update: Within three days of its posting, the International Declaration of Support for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI had already been signed by over 600 traditional Catholics.  On Tuesday, Feb. 19th, we delivered the Declaration to various offices inside the Vatican, the press, and the Holy Father himself.  In a cover letter, we noted that it was not a petition and that primarily persons of some influence had been invited to sign. The reason for this stipulation was that time was of the essence and we simply didn't have enough of it to organize a full-fledged petition drive capable of accurately reflecting the number of traditionalists around the world willing to defend the Holy Father.  Support from nearly 200 priests, professors, journalists, teachers, lawyers, editors, military commanders, etc., collected over a mere 72 hours did, we believe, present a more accurate indicator of overall support. The stream of requests to sign the Declaration did not let up, however, even after we'd sent it to the Holy Father.  Therefore we've decided to leave the Declaration active here on The Remnant's site with an eye on sending an updated list to our contacts in Rome in a week or so. (Please note that in the interest of easy access and quick reference, recent additions to the list of prominent signatories are being added at the bottom of the list, even though some of these are priests and other individuals of considerable influence. We are still collecting signatures from any and all Catholics to be appended as a separate list under the heading "Supporters of the International Declaration".) We will do everything we can to prevent this incident from achieving its obvious objective: the derailment of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.  Those interested in supporting this effort may do so through the links provided below. To register your support, simply add your name, position (if applicable), city and country to the email field provided (and then click ďSendĒ).  Many thanks to all those who responded so quickly to what is fast becoming a rather unprecedented display of unified Traditional Catholic support for the Holy Father during this ordeal. Please pray for the Pope! MJM

Initial Request

Attacks against the Holy Father this week have been coming primarily from two camps: Sedevacanists and secularist Jewish groups.  Both seem to have the same objective: the  derailment of the Holy Father's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Again and again since July 2007 we've seen the ADL and its partners lament the return of the Traditional Mass as a "disturbing" setback to Jewish/Catholic relations if not a dangerous harbinger of things to come.  For these critics, the "anti-Semitic" Good Friday Prayer for the Jews was the strongest card they could play in order to defeat the MP in the court of public opinion.  If the Mass and those attached to it could be painted as hateful and anti-Semitic, then their side wins, the MP comes up lame, and it's back to the business of running what ever is left of Catholic influence in the world over the cliffs of irrelevance.

Thankfully, not a few Jewish commentators, recognizing the injustice of the charges being leveled against the Holy Father, are speaking out. The New York Sun's contributing editor, Hillel Halkin, wrote the following in his February 12th column:

Frankly, I donít see how itís possible to be a believing Christian without hoping that the Jews will one day accept Jesus. If they donít need him for their salvation, why does anyone? Even those Christians (and there is a growing number of them today) who are aware of how Jewish the historical figure of Jesus was, and who have a genuine appreciation of Judaism and even a feeling of closeness to it, are convinced that in the end the Jewish people will recognize this figure as the Messiah they gave to the world. I know such Christians. Not only do they not have an anti-Jewish bone in their bodies, they think far more of the Jews than many Jews do...If anyone cares enough about my soul to pray for it, I might as well take it as a compliment.

Sedevacantists seem to be engaged in a game similar to that being played by the ADL. The revised Good Friday Prayer is just the thing to "prove" that any traditionalist who supports Summorum Pontificum is, in fact, a useful idiot for the other side.  They claim that this revision (which we agree was unnecessary from a theological point of view, given the 1962 Prayer is not in the least anti-Semitic) is the beginning of a slippery slope to the complete dismantling of the Tridentine Mass.  This, of course, is a canard. The Holy Father was attempting to remove the trumped up charge of anti-Semitism against the MP, the Traditional Mass, and Traditional Catholics.  Agree or disagree as you like whether the revision was necessary, it was not a case of Vatican tinkering for tinkering sake.

All of this aside, however, the reality is that the Church's infallible doctrine on salvation is being savaged in the world media.  The embodiment of that infallible dogma is at this moment the Holy Father himself, since his new prayer, critics charge, is unacceptable because of its inherent Catholicity and alleged offensiveness to Jewish people.  His most powerful critics are attempting to in effect turn the Holy Father upside down and shake an apology out of him for what the Church teaches. What will he do?  What will we do--stand by and watch?

On Monday, February 18, 2008, we will be sending by special courier the International Declaration of Support for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to several major media organs, Vatican offices, and the Holy Father himself.  A good number of influential individuals have already signed this Declaration, and we will be collecting more signatures this weekend.

Therefore, we're asking bishops, priests, journalists, lawyers, professors, editors, authors, Catholic spokesmen, homeschool co-op organizers, teachers, chapel coordinators or any other persons of influence (no matter how local) from any and all of the various traditional Catholic camps to please click here to add your name, position (if applicable), city and country to this Declaration.

This is no longer about defending or criticizing the initial idea of revising the Good Friday Prayer.  This is about defending the dogma of the Church and the right of the Pope to teach the truths of our Faith publicly in the modern world. Catholics are free to express concern about the wisdom of the prudential decision the Pope has made.  But given that the new prayer is orthodox, affirms the need for Jewish conversion, and has brought the world's opprobrium down on the Pope's head, we have an obligation to defend the Pope against his attackers. My friend John Vennari of Catholic Family News makes precisely that point in his thoughtful article on this controversy (much of which I agree with, some of which I respectfully do not). Traditional Catholics on both sides of this debate agree: it is absolutely essential that we present a strong, united front against those who would use media manipulation and force of law (hate crimes legislation) to first silence Peter and then silence anyone else who dares defend Christ in the public square.

Please, spread the word to your friends, family and neighbors--do what you can to defend Pope Benedictís right to  teach and govern his own Church at this absolutely critical hour.  More than anything else pray for the Holy Father! Our 81-year-old pontiff is standing alone against the world on thisóthe neo-Catholics have been deathly silent, the mainstream Catholic press has said nary a word on his behalf. Itís time for Traditional Catholics to stand up and be counted!  

Michael J. Matt

Editor, The Remnant