|Michael Davies, Pope Benedict and the Motu Proprio|
|A Tribute and the Road Ahead|
|REMNANT COLUMNIST, South Carolina|
“I have been profoundly touched by the news of the death of Michael Davies. I had the good fortune to meet him several times and I found him as a man of deep faith and ready to embrace suffering. Ever since the Council he put all his energy into the service of the Faith and left us important publications especially about the Sacred Liturgy. Even though he suffered from the Church in many ways in his time, he always truly remained a man of the Church. He knew that the Lord founded His Church on the rock of St Peter and that the Faith can find its fullness and maturity only in union with the successor of St Peter. Therefore we can be confident that the Lord opened wide for him the gates of heaven. We commend his soul to the Lord’s mercy.”
…Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,
9 November 2004
Interviewer's Note: Michael Davies holds a special and very personal place in my heart.
At every Mass I attend, I include the repose of his soul in my intentions. For without Michael Davies’ books and tapes I may not have found the Traditional Latin Mass and the movement for restoration of the Faith. Since his death in September 2004, the trek of Tradition within the body and soul of the Church has made great advances. The Traditional Latin Mass has never been abrogated, said Pope Benedict, thus officially affirming what Michael Davies had contended for decades prior to Summorum Pontificum on July 7, 2007.
Both Dr. John Rao of the Roman Forum, and past President of Una Voce America, and Michael Matt knew Michael Davies well. I met Michael Davies personally one time at a Roman Forum meeting in New York hosted by Dr. Rao. I vividly recall a hilarious side-splitting skit involving Dr. Rao, Michael Davies and Pio Nono (Bl. Pope Pius IX). On that occasion, I introduced myself to Michael Davies and thanked him profusely for all the books he had written and for showing me the path of true restoration in the Church—through the Traditional Latin Mass being offered on all the altars of the world on a daily basis and through the recognition of the Social Reign of Christ the King in all hearts, families, societies and governments throughout the world.
Leo Durroch, secretary of International Federation of Una Voce, interviewed shortly after the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum said, “What a wonderful day this is in the life of the Church and I am sad that my old friends such as Michael and Dr. Eric de Saventhem are not here physically to share it with us. I am sure they are celebrating in a better place.”
Davies, Lux aeterna luceat ei, Domine, cum sanctis tuis in
aeternum quia pius es. Requiescat in pace! And if you are
already in heaven, ora pro nobis!
Q: Please relate to us Michael Davies’ apparent trust and love for our current Holy Father.
John Rao: As far as I can remember, Michael’s trust and love for Cardinal Ratzinger grew with every encounter with him over the course of the years he was President of Una Voce International. It was based upon the Cardinal’s straightforwardness, advice and friendship.
Michael Davies (hat) and Michael Matt on
Pilgrimage to Chartres, France (1998)
Michael J. Matt: Michael’s position vis-ŕ-vis Cardinal Ratzinger was simple. He was convinced that the Cardinal would prove an invaluable friend of traditionalists. I don’t know if you call that ‘trust’ or ‘love’; it could have been both, but I can’t speak to that. All I know is that Michael consistently advised me to make every effort to let Cardinal Ratzinger be the friend to traditionalists he felt sure the Cardinal wished to be. Based upon personal interviews as well as the Cardinal’s own public statements, Michael remained convinced up until his death in September of 2004 that Ratzinger was in many ways a fellow traveler and a man from whom tradition-minded Catholics could expect good things.
Q: How did he think Traditional Catholics should look upon him?
JR: He thought we should treat this pope with great seriousness and respect. He saw the pope as a highly intelligent man who, although he came from a milieu which was definitely not ours, nevertheless had such an open mind and Catholic spirit that he had undergone changes in outlook, many of which were favorable to our positions and might become even more so.
MJM: Given the Cardinal’s acknowledgement of the “crisis” (the Cardinal’s own word) in the Church, the “Hawaii Six” situation (whereby in 1993 Ratzinger officially undermined those who’d contended that “formal adherence” to the SSPX constituted grounds for excommunication), Msgr. Gamber’s book which called for the total restoration of the old Mass as the ordinary form of the Roman Rite (the preface for which was written by Cardinal Ratzinger), and the fact that the Cardinal had himself offered the Traditional Mass on more than one occasion, Michael believed traditionalists needed to bide their time with him.
So, for example, when Dominus Jesus came out in 2000, which contained very good points as well as a number of points seemingly and sadly influenced by progressivist thinking, Michael encouraged his friends to stress the positives and overlook the negatives for the time being. He argued that since Cardinal Ratzinger had to weigh every word according to how it would be taken by the whole the Church (powerful liberal factions included), the document was remarkably strong and though not perfect, could be legitimately understood to be a far greater victory for traditionalists than for liberals. Michael’s contention, then? Spin away and claim the Cardinal as one of ours!
You must understand that the crisis in the Church, according to the Cardinal and according to Michael, was the result of liturgical disintegration. So it only stands to reason that the two men found common ground when it came to the question of restoring the traditional liturgy—even if, according to Ratzinger—that restoration could not and would not include an outright condemnation of the New Mass.
Consider Cardinal Ratzinger’s own words at the time: “I am convinced that the crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part on the collapse of the liturgy.” This carried great weight with Michael, who agreed with it wholeheartedly. Such an admission of the obvious may seem somewhat bland to hard-line traditionalists, but coming publicly from the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? Well, Michael regarded it as a bombshell and practically begged traditionalists on both sides of the Atlantic to open their eyes, close their mouths and wait for the Cardinal to act on these statements, which were by then rapidly becoming the bane of the liberal establishment.
Was this bad strategy? I thought so at the time. But consider this: In one of his last Remnant columns, Michael quoted something from Cardinal Ratzinger which most would agree became incredibly relevant on July 7:
It seems to me indispensable to continue to offer the opportunity to celebrate according to the old Missal, as a sign of the enduring identity of the Church. This is for me the basic reason: What was up to 1969 of the Church for all of us the most holy thing there was cannot become after 1969, with an incredible positivistic decision, the most unacceptable thing. If we want to be credible, we absolutely have to recognize what was fundamental before 1969 remains fundamental afterwards. The realm of the sacral remains the same, the liturgy is the same. There is no doubt on the one hand that a venerable rite in use up to 1969 is a rite of the Church; it belongs to the Church; it is one of the treasures of the Church and ought, therefore, to be preserved in the Church.
What is this other than the basic premise of Summorum Pontificum? In other words, the restoration of the old Mass at least as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite had been in the works for some time, and my opinion is that Cardinal Ratzinger gave some indication of this to Michael, which explains his dogged defense of the Cardinal in later years.
Would Michael have agreed that the old Mass should remain merely the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite? Of course not! For him it was to be the only form of the Roman Rite. But I’m convinced that coming from the pope, these odds were something Michael would have taken in a heartbeat.
Michael Davies leads a Remnant Tour in
London in 2001
Q: How did he think that those of us in Catholic media should treat him?
JR: In the same way as we would treat someone in other realms of life whom we knew to be good willed and eager to understand what our complaints were; that is, as a person whom we definitely wanted to cultivate and not alienate. However, this did not stop him from criticizing decisions he disliked, even though Cardinal Ratzinger sometimes complained to him about this. He did, on the other hand, dislike what he thought to be unnecessary Ratzinger-baiting.
MJM: Oh, I think there can be no question that Michael believed it was essential for us to present a united front with Cardinal Ratzinger where possible, especially where the media were concerned. The Cardinal had taken considerable political risks on behalf of traditionalists, and Michael, being British, believed it was only sporting for us take some risks as well in order to meet him halfway. Those risks in Michael’s case included the possibility that some of his own friends might accuse him of centrism. But Michael regarded the tradition-friendly statements of Ratzinger’s as a vehicle by which the entire traditionalist polemic could be taken out of hotel lobbies and basement chapels and into the highest echelons of the Church. And if as a result of Ratzinger’s statements the media came to believe that even high-ranking churchmen were siding with the Traditionalists, Michael would be the last to disabuse them of that notion.
It didn’t take any great genius to see those aspects of Dominus Jesus, for example, which rightly caused traditionalists to wince. Michael certainly recognized its shortcomings.
Similarly, it doesn’t now take profound insight to see those few points in the Pope’s motu proprio that do not line up with long-held traditionalist positions. We do not agree that the New Mass and the Old Mass are equal, for example. The New Mass is grossly inferior and has proven itself dangerous to the Faith. We’ve said it all along. And we’ll continue to say it.
Based upon over 30 years of his Letters from London, printed every two weeks in The Remnant, it’s no stretch to suggest that Michael would also have argued against it—but not publicly and not right away. The Pope is speaking to the Universal Church… not just to traditionalists. Some political nuance is required here and traditionalists must recognize this! If there’s ever been a time when we need to be wise as serpents and cooing as doves it’s right now! And this has nothing to do with unjust compromise.
Q: Did he perceive Cardinal Ratzinger as friend or foe?
JR: Without question as a friend, and this because of years of having had totally straightforward conversations with him.
MJM: Oh, no question, as a friend. You must remember that Michael defined traditionalism first and foremost as the fight for the restoration of the Old Mass. During his visit to India for the 1986 “All India Conference,” Michael noted:
We must make the preservation of the Tridentine Mass, the most venerable rite in Christendom, our first priority in our efforts to halt the decomposition of Catholicism. We must, in fact, do more. We must not be content with its preservation, we must fight for its restoration to the altars of all our churches as the only recognized Mass of the Roman Rite.
If he had a favorite motto or watchword, it would likely have been one of the two coined by that faithful remnant living in Elizabethan England: “Keep the Faith” and “It’s the Mass that matters.”
“Many members of that English remnant,” Michael said, “gave all that they had, including their lives, rather than abandon the Mass of St Pius V. If the Mass matters to us as much as it did to these heroic Catholics, there should be no sacrifice that we are not prepared to make to hand it down to future generations just as we have received it.”
Restoring the traditional Mass was the raison d’etre of Michael’s life’s work. Cardinal Ratzinger, with his desire to restore the so-called Tridentine Mass as an official rite of the Church, was as Michael saw it, a friend, even if the Cardinal could not publicly share Michael’s disdain for the New Mass.
And what explained that disdain? Let us let Michael answer, again from his 1986 talk to the “All India Congress”:
What is the action we should decide upon tonight in relation to the liturgy of the Mass? It may well be that many of us feel that we should do no more than seek to bring an end to the manifest abuses which prompted Pope John Paul II to offer his historic apology. They may believe that our wisest option is to seek to have the Mass of the 1969 Missal said strictly in accordance with that Missal. This is a position which I can understand and respect, but it is one with which I disagree totally. If the arguments I have put to you tonight are sound, and I believe they are, the liturgical reform which has followed the Council is something totally alien to the ethos of the Catholic faith. The composition and imposition of new liturgical rites upon the faithful is contrary to the entire Catholic tradition.
Welsh Pilgrim Davies,
Chartres Pilgrimage 1995
Q: What were his perceptions about the future and how he would have looked upon Cardinal Ratzinger eventually being in a position to help those attached to the Latin liturgical tradition?
JR: Michael always insisted that Cardinal Ratzinger was our friend, and would do everything that he could to help us. I am not certain that he ever believed he could become pope, or that such a step forward as the motu proprio would have been possible so soon.
MJM: At the last Remnant Forum Michael attended here in St. Paul in 2004, he delivered a speech (audio taped) in which he described the present situation in the Church as “well beyond crisis.” Humanly speaking, he argued, all is lost. He was convinced that direct intervention by the Holy Ghost through the papacy was the last hope of the Church.
Our job was to pray and hold on until the papal “cavalry” arrived. “My hope and my prayer,” he said in 2004, “in coming here tonight is that I can motivate you to become a people who have come to enkindle a fire upon the earth, and to persuade you to be inspired by the Western rebels to know that although you are not required to give your lives for the Mass, you will make what can be considered true sacrifices to preserve and spread its celebration.”
These were his last requests of American traditional Catholics. The restoration of the Mass was everything for him!
Q: Any stories you could relate?
JR: Not really. I do have one concerning me, however. My wife, Fr. Richard Munkelt and I had a long chat with the then Cardinal Ratzinger in front of a simple Roman trattoria one night 10 to 11 years ago.
He blessed my first son on that occasion. His willingness to engage in a conversation and his friendliness to a group of unknown Catholics made me psychologically an ally of Michael’s in his openness to the Cardinal.
MJM: Oh sure. Lots of them. But first and primarily, I’d like to address the mistaken notion that Michael Davies compromised unjustly when it came to Vatican-approved traditionalism.
His critics like to claim that he had no real problem with the New Mass and that as long as “he got his” he didn’t see any reason to oppose the Novus Ordo Missae itself. In a word, this is rubbish! In an upcoming issue of The Remnant I intend to reproduce Michael’s last Remnant address, which will, I hope, put this rot to rest. Here’s what he was really up to, and his strategy was head and shoulders above the self-serving popgunnery of some of his most outspoken critics. The date was January 31, 2004, and the venue was St. Paul, Minnesota:
I am not arguing in any way even when celebrated in English that the New Mass is invalid or heretical, providing that the matter and form specified in the 1970 missal is adhered to exactly. What I maintain is that the ethos of a typical parish celebration is so un-Catholic that those who assist at it are just as liable to have their Faith undermined as were the Elizabethan Catholics who assisted at Cranmer’s Communion service.
This followed a detailed explanation of how the Faith had been lost in the majority of English Catholics due to Cranmer’s liturgical “reform” which, according to Michael, was nearly identical to Bugnini’s. Michael was a persuader, not a pontificator. He exposed the New Mass for the folly it is in ways that were so much more subtle and effective than any bombastic proclamations of invalidity ever could have been. He understated his case, rather than overstating it, which is why tens of thousands stopped and actually listened to what he had to say.
Michael’s contention was that the more traditional Masses being offered throughout the world, the greater the realistic expectation could be that the New Mass would be overcome. And if enough traditional Masses were offered, the entire Revolution could by the grace of God and power of that Mass be undermined, which is why he vigorously supported all the legitimate traditional priestly orders—approved and unapproved.
Who are we to say he was wrong? History will determine that. But to claim that Michael Davies was absolutely off the mark at this point reveals, it seems to me, a lack of confidence in the spiritual solution to the crisis at hand, to say nothing of pooh-poohing the power of the Mass itself. For Michael it truly was the Mass that mattered since through its awesome power anything is possible.
Pretty Catholic stuff, wouldn’t you say?
Q: What you think Michael Davies would think if he were with us still today?
JR: He would feel justified in the faith he had placed in Ratzinger. Without a doubt. And perhaps even more regarding the release of the Congregation’s statement regarding Protestantism and its incompleteness.
MJM: I think Michael would regard recent developments as marching orders from God through the Chair of Peter. He would have been the last to run the white flag up the pole after July 7, 2007.
Pope Benedict’s motu proprio might even have struck him as the rough equivalent to Pope Pius V’s excommunication of Queen Elizabeth— great news that nevertheless signaled the beginning of big troubles for faithful Catholics. That historic excommunication reinforced the duty of Catholics to resist the legitimate authority; it signaled that in standing against apostate bishops and the Queen’s throne, they were in fact standing with Christ’s Church and Peter’s throne. But that hardly meant “let the good times roll” for Catholics who had to do the resisting. Just the opposite, in fact, since Tyburn was where many of them would end up.
Similarly, the Catholic Cause was largely vindicated by Pope Benedict’s motu proprio even though the battle is far from over. The worst persecution may lie ahead.
Michael was fond of quoting Pius V’s marching orders from those dark days in England: “If it’s a choice between the Church [of England] and the gallows, the gallows must be chosen.” For us then, if it’s a choice between modernist “Catholicism” and the gulag, the gulag must be chosen. The Pope’s motu proprio doesn’t change that.
Q: Would he nonetheless be ecstatic to see justice done for Latin-rite priests and the Catholic traditionalist faithful?
JR: Yes, but with the proviso that one realizes that the battle is not over, but has simply changed its character.
One of the greatest of the post-Conciliar problems, one that Michael continually lamented, has been what Hamish Fraser called the suspension of the Church’s authority over her own ministers. He would have said that it still remains to be seen what kind of negative pressure pastors and bishops will put on priests who are eager to take advantage of the motu proprio, and what response the Holy See will make to complaints regarding their unjust and uncharitable actions.
MJM: Oh, yes, certainly. Michael had a great many priest friends among the Novus Ordo clergy. In fact, I never knew a man who had more priest friends across all the usual lines—the SSPX, the FSSP, the ICK, indult and Novus Ordo. It was amazing!
He was keenly aware that many tradition-minded Novus Ordo priests (there are many more out there than some might think) were suffering as much if not more than their traditionalist counterparts, simply because they were even more isolated and often victims of poor priestly formation. But they had somehow managed to keep the Faith and were trying to hitch their wagons to Tradition in order to save the souls in their care.
If the traditional Catholic movement, especially in the early days, seemed to most people like the Mother of all lost causes, as Michael used to call it, then Tradition-minded priests in the Novus gulag were the ultimate underdogs. And if anyone had a penchant for the underdog, it was Michael Davies. He was a great friend to all tradition-mined priests of good will.
So, especially for those priests held hostage inside the Novus Ordo, the motu proprio is the answer to a thousand prayers. In a way, it could be said to answer their prayers more than ours since most traditionalists have already found their spiritual oases in this conciliar desert. It is likely that little will change for most of us. But for them? The sun just came up and the longest night ended.
Q: Do you think Michael might have interceded in heaven on behalf of us and this motu proprio?
JR: If he is already in heaven I cannot imagine what else he would be doing.
MJM: Yes. Sure. They all must have—Michael, Archbishop Lefebvre, Hamish Fraser, John Senior, Fr. Miceli, my Father—all the great pioneers of this movement must have raised a mighty “Hurrah!” on July 7, 2007, if for no other reason than that a Pope, out of justice and charity, finally made official what they’d always maintained: The old Mass had never been abrogated.
At that moment, their place as tradition-minded Catholic counterrevolutionaries was set in history, as they will be listed as champions of a noble cause that ultimately even the Pope himself recognized. No matter what happens with the motu proprio from here on out, this much can never change: traditionalist pioneers such as Michael Davies, who were traditional before being traditional was “cool,” have been vindicated in the history books.
Q: I am personally so thankful for all his writings or I may have never found Tradition. What impact do you think his books, articles and lectures had on the English-speaking Catholic world?
JR: They were essential to Tradition’s survival in one of the bleakest periods in Church History. I find it sad, however, that many young people with whom I come into contact already lack a knowledge of his tremendous contribution.
MJM: I think we will never know the full extent of that impact, at least not on this side of the grave. Thousands of laymen, hundreds of priests, even bishops from all over the world came to discover Catholic tradition because of Michael Davies. Second to Archbishop Lefebvre no one did more to awaken souls to the crisis at hand and the need to stay on the rock of Tradition in order to survive the conciliar storm. If Archbishop Lefebvre is the Bishop Fisher of our times, who but Michael Davies would be our Thomas More?
Q: Any other anecdotes or thoughts you’d like to add?
JR: Yes. Michael Davies was not a one-issue man. He knew that the problem of the Mass was rooted not simply in some post-Conciliar misinterpretations, but in the conscious hijacking of the Council to promote hideously wrongheaded anti-traditionalist goals out of motives both bad and good.
Moreover, he understood that the hijacking of the Council did not pop out of nowhere. It was rooted in a modern spirit which had been developing since the heretical, legalist and materialist movements of the High and Late Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment. Michael knew that winning the cause for the Traditional Mass was only the first step in winning the cause for Christendom. He thought this could not happen until Christ was made king of both individuals and societies.
The restoration of the Traditional Mass would mean that graces would be bestowed on a grand scale, thus opening men’s eyes to the discussion of deep issues concerning how we got into this mess in the first place and how we could prevent such a thing from ever happening again. Restoration of the Mass was one step toward Catholic counterrevolution in general. The fight for this more complete restoration will be even more difficult.
MJM: Just this… In the rapid-paced society in which we live, there’s often a tendency to sort of dismiss those who came before us and always be on the lookout for the next new thing. I would encourage young traditional Catholics not to let this happen where Michael Davies is concerned.
He lived through the turbulent history of the last four decades of revolution in the Church, and with his able pen he chronicled what really happened. He personally knew many of the main characters in the saga, those who were friends of Tradition and those who were not. His work, then, is an authoritative source on what transpired.
There are those who will try to twist and turn what he was all about for their own benefit, so it is already becoming important for us to go directly to the source and not let others interpret Michael Davies for us.
So for example, when it comes to Bugnini the “Freemason” or the “Six Protestant Ministers” who assisted with the construction of the New Mass, let’s not guess at what happened. Let’s go directly to Michael Davies.
The following is just one example of thousands available in Michael’s body of work, most of which is still available and some of which we intend to make available in the near future. Some years ago, Michael wrote:
One must add here that, incredible as it may appear, six Protestant heretics were asked to advise the Concilium which composed the New Rite of Mass, and they were involved very actively in the process. Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, chief architect of the liturgical reform denied that the Protestant Observers were actively involved. I contacted one of them directly, and he assured me that the Archbishop’s claim did not accord with the truth. I might also mention that in 1975, Pope Paul VI dismissed Archbishop Bugnini from his position as Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship because he had been given evidence which convinced him that Archbishop Bugnini was a Freemason. In his posthumous account of the liturgical reform, Archbishop Bugnini admitted that this was the reason for his dismissal; but, not surprisingly, he claimed that the Pope had been deceived and that he had never been a Mason. Be that as it may, the evidence was sufficiently convincing to prompt Pope Paul to take this drastic step. If his grounds for doing so were justified, then the implications for the Church are terrifying. The Masons are, as you must be aware, the worst enemies of the Church. It is significant that the reform of Archbishop Bugnini corresponds in truly frightening detail with the changes the Masons wished to have made in the Catholic liturgy, changes which can be studied in detail in an expose of their plans by one of the most orthodox of the diocesan bishops in Germany, Bishop Rudolf Graber of Regensburg, in his book Athanasius and the Church in our Time. Archbishop Bugnini was described by Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand as “the evil spirit of the liturgical reform.” Perhaps the most alarming comment of all came from Archbishop Bugnini: “The liturgical reform is a major conquest of the Catholic Church and has its ecumenical dimensions.”
“A major conquest of the Catholic Church” – nearly, but not quite. The Catholic Church can never be conquered. Our Lord has given as His solemn promise that the gates of Hell will never prevail against His Church: “et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus eam”. Let us recall once more the warning of Dom Gueranger on the tactic of the enemies of Christ to destroy His Church through liturgical change: “All they had to do was substitute new books and formulas, and their work was done.” But despite all the efforts of Archbishop Bugnini to replace the Roman Rite throughout the world with his new books and formulas he did not succeed. The Tridentine Mass refused to die and refuses to die.
Don’t these words of Michael’s give us clear indication of how pioneer Traditionalists would have reacted to Benedict’s motu proprio?
Q: Do you believe Michael Davies’s prophesy has come true?
JR: About Cardinal Ratzinger’s openness? Yes. But once again, I reiterate that he would have said that the battle has changed shape, not ended. He would not have wanted traditionalists to retreat into their parishes to do nothing other than go to Mass and allow the rest of the Catholic Faith and its impact on life to be ignored or ridiculed.
Michael would never have said that “All we want is the Mass.” That, for him, would have been a Roman version of High Anglicanism. He wanted Christ as King in the spirit of the Vendee and of Blessed Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors. Michael would not have wanted traditionalists to stop criticizing problems in the life of the Church and even the Pope himself just because of this wonderful motu proprio and its great act of justice to Catholics and the Catholic Faith.
He always followed Dietrich von Hildebrand’s motto: that it was necessary for us as good Catholics to obey the Church authorities, but to criticize them and demand redress of grievance whenever we felt called upon to do so. He would not have wanted the motu proprio to become the occasion for the creation of a new group of “conservatives” so happy about its admitted blessings that they felt obliged to keep their mouths shut about other problems in the life of the Church.
MJM: You mean that Cardinal Ratzinger would one day help the Cause? Oh, sure it has. Yes. But I can think of another one he made several months before he died on a cold evening here in St. Paul that will also come true. Fortunately, it too was recorded. I’ve paraphrased it in these columns several times since, but I don’t believe it was ever transcribed. I’d like to conclude this interview with it, if I may. Those who were present will recall the electric moment when Michael brought down the house with his observation that Archbishop Lefebvre—the “saint”—would emerge as the “prelate with more credit than any other prelate when the history of these troubled times is written.” Here are his exact words:
To complete the parallel, do we have an equivalent of Cardinal Allen whose missionary priests brought the Mass back to England from the seminaries he’d founded? Of course there is, and I hardly need give you his name. It is thanks to Archbishop Lefebvre more than any other individual that the Mass is now being celebrated throughout the world. Four hundred fifty priests in the SSPX alone. Without the Archbishop, there would be no Indult Masses, no Fraternity of St. Peter, no monastery at Le Barroux. One might hope that all those who now assist at the Tridentine Mass each Sunday outside the auspices of the SSPX would appreciate that they owe this inestimable privilege to Monsignor Lefebvre. In my opinion, the Archbishop is a saint and will emerge with more credit than any other prelate when the history of these troubled times is written.
I consider the fact that I had the honor of meeting him on many occasions to be one of the greatest privileges of my life. It is my opinion that it is almost the result of divine intervention that when Archbishop Lefebvre first came to the U.S., he was welcomed by no less a person than Walter Matt, who organized a banquet in his honor here in St. Paul on the 12th of May 1976. Astonishing as it may seem, Mr. Matt was the only public figure in the American Catholic Church who was willing to be associated with Monsignor Lefebvre…The animosity shown to Archbishop Lefebvre by bishops throughout the world was inspired by the same reason that inspired the animosity of English bishops towards St. John Fisher. Those who have betrayed the fort cannot possibly forgive the one man who has refused to abandon his post. Archbishop Lefebvre was a living reproach to the cowardly compromising prelates, who, like the Protestant hierarchy imposed by Elizabeth I, oversaw the destruction of anything recognizable as Catholicism.
This was 2004. Michael Davies was obviously a most able strategist, who despite contentions to the contrary by his bitter critics, never lost sight of the end game. We would do well to follow his lead which means to cling to the old Faith, reject the new religion and compromise only if and when it’s justifiable in the name of bringing more souls to the traditionalist port in the raging, conciliar storm through which the Church today is still passing.
The essence of statesmanship is compromise, which is immoral only when it’s false. Regarding Summorum Pontificum with cautious optimism is not false compromise, nor is it self-inflicted deception. Rather, it’s the Catholic thing to do, and it certainly is what Michael would have done. He would have advised we celebrate the moment... and then wait and see.
Let’s pray for the repose of the soul of Michael Davies, especially on the three-year anniversary of his death, which is on September 25.