An Apologia for
Roman Catholic Traditionalism

Christopher Ferrara

Editor’s Note: The following article is so much more than merely part of our ongoing response to The Wanderer’s attack on The Remnant. This article is just what its title suggests it is: a justification and a defense of the entire Traditional Catholic platform. Still, for readers who have grown weary of reading anything more about The Wanderer’s attack, we have decided not to devote more regular column space to this defense. We are adding eight pages to this issue of The Remnant in order to accommodate our defense under the format of a Remnant Supplement. This, of course, causes our postage costs to skyrocket. But it also demonstrates just how important we believe this discussion is. In the last analysis and after reading Mr. Ferrara’s piece, we even felt inclined to offer our thanks to The Wanderer and Stephen Hand for having provided the catalyst for two very positive developments: 1) A prolonged discussion of “We Resist You to the Face,” which will serve the hoped-for end for which the Statement was written. 2) The total discrediting of the “conservative” position: The Wanderer’s attack, by all accounts, has been adequately diffused already, but it’s now time to expose the myriad “conservative” errors once and for all. Our thanks to Mr. Ferrara for his fine body of work, which serves both these ends. MJM


This installment is supposed to be a reply to Part 4 of The Wanderer’s tract (authored by Stephen Hand), but a systematic answer to what Mr. Hand says there is beyond my limited powers of analysis and synthesis. Part 4 is essentially a rambling reiteration of everything Hand has already said in the first three Parts. He flits from subject to subject without logical connection, making one bare assertion after another, so that if one were to reply to him in the order of his various assertions, the reply would be as disorganized as the assertions themselves. It is impossible to find a line of argument in Hand’s various remarks.

First, Hand denounces unidentified “integrists” for denying the very legitimacy of Vatican II as a council of the Church; then he accuses them of interpreting the Bible on their own, just like the Protestants; then he declares that “every heretic thinks the Pope is a heretic and every schismatic thinks the Pope has departed from the Deposit of Faith.” Are you keeping a tally?

Next, Hand offers the curious observation that he finds it difficult to conceive “that laymen sitting in front of the TV eating their pretzels and watching their games can feel confident in opposing the Successor of Peter without severe angst.” Now, I have heard of the argumentum ad hominem, but this is the first time I have seen the argumentum ad pretzelem. What do the snack food preferences of “integrists” have to do with the merits of their arguments—none of which Hand really addresses? Hand adds that he is astonished that “they” do not fear schism, and that “they” have “grotesquely inflated egos.” Who? You know—they.

From there Hand jumps to the claim that the ISOCC video and certain “traditionalist personalities and papers” declare “that the visible Church is no longer the Church” and that they are guilty of “heretical sedevacantism.” This charge Hand bases entirely on a false characterization of the ISOCC video, which says nothing of the kind. To address this mischaracterization, the video’s producers have published a statement in the Remnant of August 15th which should make it clear to anyone who is not comatose that the phrase “it is a new Church and a new religion” is used in the same relative sense that Hand’s own tract uses the phrase “the fact is, it simply didn’t seem like church anymore” to describe the unrecognizable travesty of a Mass he encountered when he returned to the Faith after a long absence. The ISOCC’s August 15 statement also affirms—precisely as they told me, and as I reported in my first installment—that the visible Church is still the Church, and that John Paul II is its head. Only the malicious will refuse to accept their affirmation. Enough, already, about the ISOCC video.

Hopping about like a frog on a series of lily pads, Hand next denounces both The Remnant and Catholic Family News for “attacks against the Indult Mass and the approved Traditional Catholic orders.” [Editor’s Note: For some reason, Mr. Hand has recently begun to pretend that he doesn’t understand the difference between us warning against what we have consistently called the “indult mentality” (i.e., the unspoken pact which some Traditionalists seem to make with their bishops, whereby they swap their silence against the revolution in exchange for permission for the Tridentine Mass) and attacking the Indult Mass itself which, as we have repeatedly pointed out, would be to denigrate the Tridentine Mass. We have said, again and again, that the word “indult” in front of the word “Mass” cannot possibly change the essence of the Mass. The “indult mentality,” on the other hand, is an entirely different matter and should be strongly warned against, as we continue to do.

This warning, however, is directed at ourselves—at Traditionalists—as the “mentality” is self-imposed. Why would Stephen Hand fail to make this distinction and instead accuse us of attacking the Mass itself? Readers will have to ask him that question, as I have no idea why he does anything he does. MJM] Not only does Hand cite no evidence for the charge—because he has none—but he deliberately suppresses key evidence that exonerates The Remnant and its editor: Though taking issue with certain recent FSSP tendencies towards unjust compromise, The Remnant has repeatedly affirmed its support of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, as recently as the August 15th issue; Michael Matt himself organized the American Chapter on the Pilgrimage to Chartres, France, each and every year for the past ten years, and this Pilgrimage has the priests of the FSSP as its official chaplains; and Michael Matt himself attends a diocesan-approved Indult Mass.

Hand next offers the rather abstruse accusation that The Remnant and Catholic Family News “deflect” what he claims is their obligation to “repudiate with great regret such audacity.” (Which audacity? I’ve lost track.) Hand laments that “this deflection is tragic in the extreme.”

Having lamented this extremely tragic deflection, Hand observes, quite irrelevantly, that the Church fathers who taught on licit resistance to the Pope under certain circumstances did not “believe that it was possible to attribute heresy or grave errors to the teaching Magisterium or that the Church could defect from the Faith and make void the promises of Christ.” By this remark Hand evidently means to suggest that somebody or other among the “integrists” believes that these things are possible, although he identifies no one who actually says so.

As Hand rambles on toward the end of Part 4, he offers the insight that piety does no good if “it is severed from Catholic dogmatic certainties”—you don’t say!—and that if “piety is used against the Church” then the bishops will be “more and more suspicious of us all as we are broad-brushed together.” Hand somehow fails to notice that it is he who is wielding the broad brush. However, I can certainly agree with Hand that Catholic piety makes bishops suspicious.

Next, Hand leapfrogs to the odd non sequitur that the traditional Latin Mass is “no guarantee of right theological thinking” because the modernists offered the traditional Mass at the turn of the century. From this brilliant insight one could just as easily deduce that the Catholic Church itself is no guarantee of right theological thinking, as the modernists all belonged to it before they defected from the Faith.

From there Hand jumps to the claim that traditionalists, like Protestants, “call one another heretics or dangerous, ad nauseam” and that this is what happens when “Peter the Rock is rejected.” Excuse me, but the only one who is accusing his fellow Catholics of heresy, a la the Protestants, is Stephen Hand. Traditionalists certainly have disputes among themselves, but I don’t recall any responsible traditionalist, such as Michael Matt, denominating any fellow traditionalist—or, for that matter, any “conservative”—a heretic.

As Part 4 finally sputters to a conclusion, Hand contends that canon law allows one to make “constructive criticism of ill-considered directions and poorly formulated teaching at the local levels”—why only “local levels”?—but never by way of “private judgment and rejecting the most basic truths of the Catechism.” Which “basic truths” of the Catechism does Hand claim traditionalists reject? Naturally, he doesn’t say.

Nowhere in this hopeless jumble does Hand provide a single quotation to demonstrate that anyone in particular holds any of the views he condemns. Nowhere does he attempt any analysis or refutation of the actual statements of real people. But then, his whole tract suffers from the same fatal deficiency. The whole thing is a kind of extended rhetorical wink at the “conservative” gallery: We know who they are, don’t we? And we know what they believe, don’t we?

In reviewing Hand’s haphazard and exceedingly slim presentation, I am reminded of Cardinal Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua, in which he gave this assessment of the infamous pamphlet written against him by his justly forgotten accuser, Charles Kingsley: “[T]he Pamphlet . . . is as slovenly and random and futile in its definite charges, as it is iniquitous in its method of argument.” Slovenly, random and futile are apt descriptions of Hand’s own pamphlet, in which he whirls about and fires off his blunderbuss at various ill-defined targets, none of which he manages to hit with even a single pellet of hard evidence. The word “iniquitous” also applies to Hand’s method of argument, as shown by his suppression of key evidence, noted above. (I will give other examples of Hand’s deliberate suppression of evidence further on.)

In short, I have nothing much to say about Part 4 of Hand’s “monograph,” except to make clear that I do not use my by-line to defend sedevacantists, or those who say that the Second Vatican Council was not a valid council of the Catholic Church, or those who accuse the conciliar Popes or the Council of teaching actual heresy, as that term is properly understood (the denial of an article of divine and Catholic faith), or those who affirm that the New Mass or the new rite of priestly ordination are invalid, meaning that we would now have no Masses and no priests in nearly the entire Catholic Church.

My friends Michael Matt and John Vennari have never held such views, nor, to my knowledge, have they ever been held by the other signers of We Resist You (henceforth the Statement). It is not my burden to defend nameless phantoms summoned by Hand from the periphery of the post-conciliar debacle, and I do not defend them here. Rather it is Hand’s burden to show that the particular people I defend—the ones he has accused by name—have advocated such things; and he has not shown this because there is no evidence of it. That is precisely why Hand’s entire tract is devoid of quotations from the written and oral statements of the accused. Hand offers us nothing but 63 pages of vaporous innuendo.

I hasten to add that those who have adopted such extreme positions are for the most part merely victims of the unprecedented state of confusion in the Church today. When the 1,500-year-old liturgy of the Roman Rite is tossed aside in favor of an entirely new rite of Mass concocted by a committee with the aid of six Protestant advisors, under the tutelage of a suspected Mason later sacked and sent off to Iran; or when the reigning Pope celebrates solemn liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica and many other places with pro-abortion laymen in bishop’s costumes; or when His Holiness says such things as “May Saint John the Baptist protect Islam . . .”—when strange, shocking, utterly unprecedented things like these happen again and again in the post-conciliar Church, it is hardly surprising that some shocked and rightfully scandalized people will come to the wrong conclusions, having simply failed to make the right distinctions.

As I said at the beginning of my reply to Hand, if one wishes to be honest, one must look to Rome for the ultimate cause of the post-conciliar crisis. The Pope is our father in the faith, and we must revere him as such, but we can no longer pretend that the state of the household of the Faith has nothing to do with the head of the household. Now, there is no question that it is a gravely difficult thing for a layman to undertake what he believes is due criticism of the Pope’s stewardship of the Church without undermining respect for the institution of the papacy itself. That the task is difficult, however, does not excuse us from undertaking it. Obsequious silence is not an option when we are confronted with what Paul VI himself described as the auto-demolition of the Church. If we say we love the Holy Father but do nothing to make known to him our concerns or to resist actions we believe are deeply injurious to the Church, we have ignored the voice of conscience and failed in our obligation in charity. For this reason Saint Thomas teaches that “the fraternal correction which is an act of charity is within the competency of everyone in respect of any person to whom one is bound by charity, provided there is something in that person which requires correction.”[i] Here the Angelic Doctor was speaking precisely of St. Paul’s public rebuke of the first Pope for his scandalous conduct in betraying his mission to the Gentiles.

I am writing, then, to defend nothing more or less than Roman Catholic traditionalism of the sort practiced by my friends Michael Matt and John Vennari, who have had the courage to exercise their duty as they see it, even if it involves criticism of the Roman Pontiff. Let Hand and The Wanderer prattle on about phantoms holding positions the accused and I do not defend. I could not care less.

Summary Judgment

In law there is a procedure called the motion for summary judgment. When a claimant manifestly has no real evidence for his claim, a trial is not necessary and the claim is dismissed upon the opposing party’s motion for summary judgment. It is time for summary judgment in the case of Stephen Hand and The Wanderer vs. Michael Matt, et al.

There is no reason to keep the reader in suspense any longer: Although this article nominally concerns Part 4 of Stephen Hand’s rant against the “integrists,” the entire tract has already been published by The Wanderer Press. Just as I predicted in the first part of my reply to the tract, Hand has failed to produce a single quotation from the oral or written statements of the accused to prove his original charge that “Modernists and Integrists are actually twins. Both thrive on opposition to the living Magisterium.”

What is more, the Magisterium deals not with vague notions or new ecclesial orientations, but with specific doctrinal teaching which Catholics are bound to accept. Hand has never specified in the first place which doctrines of this “living Magisterium” Michael Matt, John Vennari, et al. are alleged to oppose. Hand’s failure is easy to explain: the accused do not oppose any Catholic doctrines. If they did, Hand would have identified them. As I said at the beginning of my defense, Hand’s accusations have nothing to do with doctrine, but rather ecclesial attitudes of the accused, which he and Al Matt do not like. So much for the charge of opposing “the living Magisterium.” Let us enter summary judgment in favor of the accused. Claim dismissed.

As for the charge of schism, Hand has not lifted a pinky to demonstrate that the accused have committed any act which constitutes a breaking of communion with the Roman Pontiff. Oddly enough, while the Statement was identified in Alphonse Matt’s preface as Exhibit A in Hand’s case against the “integrists,” Hand fails to discuss it anywhere in his 63 pages of rambling observations and tendentious characterizations of what he claims other people believe. Further on I will demonstrate that the Statement is easily defensible as an expression of opinion within the due liberty of discussion in the Church, no matter how strenuously Hand and Al Matt may disagree with it. First, however, I will address some recent developments in this controversy, and further develop the broader case for the traditionalist position, as our Remnant defense has been attempting to do since this Wanderer attack was initiated.

Meanwhile, Out in the Hallway

Having failed to prove his case when he was in the courtroom, Hand keeps trying to continue the argument outside in the hallway. His increasingly frantic Website raves on, describing Michael Matt, John Vennari, Atila Sinke Guimarães and Marian Horvat as “the schismatic four” and myself as “the defender of the schismatic four.” Pretty compelling argumentation, eh? Hand has even added my photograph to his ever-growing rogue’s gallery of schismatics.

In a shockingly crass provocation, Hand recently published on his Website the commentary of a pro-abortion activist, who condemns me for having acted as lead defense counsel for a group of pro-lifers who were sued by Planned Parenthood and a gaggle of abortionists under the ridiculous theory that protest posters against named abortionists are “death threats” in violation of RICO. On Hand’s supposedly Catholic Website, this pro-abort recounted the joyous victory celebration she and the abortionists attended after the jury (having practically been ordered to do so by the jury instructions) found in favor of the abortionists, one of whom specializes in third trimester abortions. (The verdict is now on appeal in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, with arguments set for September 12. Even liberal commentators are saying that the verdict is a threat to the First Amendment. Please pray for me.) Hand tried to pass off this incredibly shabby trick as an effort to stimulate legitimate debate on the First Amendment limits of pro-life protest. But after someone objected that Hand was trying to get at me by climbing on the backs of aborted babies, he removed the pro-abort’s vile excrescences from his Website.

In his effort to continue the case he failed to prove in The Wanderer, Hand is now resorting to outright trickery. A piece on his Website proclaims the shocking news that the signers of the Statement “suggest conciliar Popes are heretics to be deposed.” To prove his latest accusation Hand relies upon a highly selective quotation from the Statement:

In our view, a possible future declaration of a sede vacante (papal chair empty) would take place automatically when the Church would become aware of the gravity of the present day errors and who is responsible for them.

Hand’s deception is revealed by the full context of the quote, which conveys precisely the opposite of what Hand suggests:

This resistance statement does not imply:

The desire to judge the Pope, but only to compare his teaching with the prior Magisterium of other popes and of the Church.

The desire to declare that the Apostolic See is vacant. In our view, a possible future declaration of a sede vacante (the period of time when the Apostolic See is empty, as a consequence of the heresy of the Pope) would take place automatically when the Church would become aware of the gravity of the present-day errors and of who is responsible for them. Should such a situation not become public and notorious, the declaration of the aforementioned judgment would fall to future pontiffs.

If anything, the full quotation makes it clear that the conciliar popes cannot be judged by anyone but future pontiffs because they have not engaged in the sort of public and notorious heresy which (according to accepted theological opinion) would make it manifest that a pope has defected from the faith and thereby lost his office. Hand not only conceals the context of the quote, he deliberately obscures the truth that the signers unquestionably recognize John Paul II as the validly reigning Roman Pontiff because the Statement is addressed to him precisely as the Pope and they appeal to his papal authority in the Statement’s conclusion.

As for the theoretical possibility that the See of Peter could become vacant due to papal heresy, Hand’s hysteria aside, this is a perfectly permissible theological speculation in the Church, even if present-day sedevacantists have failed to prove that the conciliar popes or the Council have taught heresy in the proper sense: that is, an obstinate denial of some article of divine and Catholic faith. (See Canon 751)

If Hand were not so busy blasting away with his blunderbuss, he might have found the time to do a little research on the sedevacantist hypothesis. As no less than Saint Robert Bellarmine observes:

A pope who is a manifest heretic automatically (per se) ceases to be pope and head, just as he ceases automatically to be a Christian and member of the Church. Wherefore he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the teaching of all the ancient Fathers who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction.[ii]

Had he done some reading on the topic from current Church sources, Hand would have discovered that even the commentary to the 1983 Code of Canon Law recognizes the long pedigree of theological opinion on the possibility of the See of Peter being vacant due to papal heresy:

Classical canonists discussed the question of whether a pope, in his private or personal opinions, could go into heresy . . . If he were to do so in a notoriously and widely publicized manner, he would break communion, and according to an accepted opinion, lose his office ipso facto . . . Since no one can judge the pope (c. 1404) or depose a pope for such crimes, the authors are divided as to how his loss of office would be declared in such a way that a vacancy could then be filled by a new election.[iii]

The problem is not that present-day sedevacantists have embraced a theologically inadmissible opinion—an opinion Hand seems to think is heretical in itself—but rather that they have failed to prove their claims of actual heresy in the teaching of the Council or the conciliar popes. Indeed, Bellarmine taught that we should piously presume that God would never allow a reigning Pope to become a formal heretic, even if the theoretical possibility exists. Since solid evidence has not been supplied to prove the contrary, Michael Matt and John Vennari so presume, as do the other traditionalists whom I would defend.

At any rate, we can see that on the one occasion when Hand does actually quote from a statement of the accused, he carefully crops the quotation to convey a false impression. To my mind, this is even worse than his enlistment of pro-aborts to provoke his targets. Tactics like these belie the professed nobility of Hand’s crusade. In candor I must observe that we are confronted with a juvenile and vindictive debater who has access to some very dangerous toys. And now he has found himself a new playmate: the self-styled Catholic apologist from San Diego, Karl Keating.

Keating and Hand: Perfect Together

I suppose it was only a matter of time before we heard from Karl Keating in this controversy. A little background on this gentleman is in order.

My relations with Mr. Keating date back to my defense of Gerry Matatics against Keating’s outrageous accusation, published in The Wanderer five years ago, that “Gerry Matatics is a sad example of how schism leads very quickly to heresy.”[iv] Gerry and I challenged Keating to prove his accusation, but as with Mr. Hand’s charges against Michael Matt, et al. the evidence was never forthcoming. Keating promised to provide “the testimony of several dozen people” and quotations from Gerry’s “own words, taken from his own talks and other writings,”[v] but neither the witnesses nor the quotations ever materialized. Keating also announced at a “Defending the Faith” conference that he was writing an entire book on “extreme traditionalists.” Like the witnesses and the quotations, however, the book has never seen the light of day.

Those who remember Keating’s gratuitous denunciation of Gerry Matatics in The Wanderer and elsewhere understand that Keating has arrogated to himself the role of grand inquisitor of the traditionalists. (This is perhaps because Keating needs something to do, given the general slowdown in the apologetics industry now that the “ecumenical venture” has made it unfashionable to “refute” the “errors” of Protestantism.) In explaining why he just had to denounce Gerry as a heretic and a schismatic to the whole Catholic world, Keating publicly professed great anguish over the task he had assigned himself: “This is not something I look forward to doing; it is something I prayed would pass me by.”[vi] Keating decided on his own initiative to issue false accusations against a fellow Catholic, and then tried to make his malicious behavior sound like the Agony in the Garden. No delusion of grandeur here.

Keating has been nibbling around the edges of this current controversy for some time now, as if waiting for the right moment to sink his teeth into it. He has been commenting about me and Gerry Matatics, the ISOCC video and the Statement in his “Catholic Answers” Q & A forum on the EWTN Website. (In his Q & A on the controversy, Keating simply invents the claim that I criticized the ISOCC video because it was “promoting schism,” which is something I never said or suggested in my critique.)

Keating has also been providing advice to Hand behind the scenes. It certainly appears that Hand has mastered Keating’s technique for bashing traditionalists: characterize what they believe, but never, no never, actually quote them. And if you must quote them, never provide the full context. Keating surely appreciates what a tricky business it is to quote such articulate traditionalists as Gerry Matatics, for what they say makes a great deal of sense when it is honestly presented in its full context. (This is exactly why Hand goes on for 63 pages in his tract without ever once quoting the views of the people he condemns.)

Now it seems it is my turn for the Keating Treatment. Hand has publicly posted on his Website what I thought was a private email from Keating to me, dated July 21, 2000. In this marvelously pompous communication Keating informs me as follows (my emphasis):

You and your friends must choose. You need to be honest with yourselves and with your public. You must make clear your entry into schism or you must reject schism not just in theory but in fact—and that means rejecting the video and the manifesto and the entire course you have been on for a long a time. Chris, it’s time to fish or cut bait.

It is difficult to believe that Keating could expect such statements to be greeted with anything but uproarious laughter. For one thing, even if I were a schismatic, what could be more ridiculous than asking me to “make clear” my “entry into schism”? The history of the Church is not exactly chock-a-block with schismatics who say: All right, you’ve got me, I’m a schismatic. What would Keating propose that I do? Perhaps he thinks I should accede to his demand by way of a reply email:

Dear Karl:

In reply to your email of July 21, 2000, this will confirm my entry into schism. Thank you for helping me clarify my canonical situation.

Formerly yours in Christ,

Chris Ferrara

How is it possible for anyone to take himself that seriously? Naturally, I was dismayed when Keating published such silliness on the Internet, especially when I had thought his email was for my eyes only—you know, private fraternal dialogue among Catholics, that sort of thing. In fact, when I replied to Keating I told him that I considered our correspondence confidential. How naive of me.

However, we must at least admit that Keating is quite the prose stylist: “Chris, it’s time to fish or cut bait” has that je ne sais quois which distinguishes merely adequate from truly elegant prose. Keating’s style rather reminds me of the great 16th century disputations of eminent Churchmen with the Protestants; those of Johann Eck or Edmund Campion come to mind. One can easily imagine the scene in the crowded and hushed aula of Pleissenburg Castle, as Eck rises to reply to Luther on the question of the papal primacy: “Martin, it’s time to fish or cut bait!” No wonder Keating thought his literary gem of an email needed to be published to the whole world.

Of course, Keating did not trouble himself to demonstrate from a single thing I have ever said or written that I have entered into “schism.” Since he concludes that the ISOCC video and the Statement are “schismatic”—a proposition he does not bother to prove—it follows as night follows day that anyone who defends the authors of these documents against the charge of schism is a schismatic by association. Like Hand’s tract, Keating’s email heaps conclusion upon conclusion without any evidentiary foundation, culminating in his demands that I must do this and I must do that in order to save my membership in the Holy Catholic Church.

Moreover, His Eminence is not satisfied that I have publicly critiqued what I believe to be the problems in the ISOCC video, and that its “schismatic” producers shipped a copy of my critique with each copy of the video. No, he demands more! And what would satisfy him? Clearly, nothing would satisfy him. For it is plain that Keating is not interested in my welfare or my membership in the Church, which I suspect he does not doubt for a moment. He is interested only in splashy denunciations of traditionalist Catholics before the general public, which makes his entrance into this most recent Wanderer controversy not surprising in the least.

To be perfectly fair to Keating, he did also suggest that I have entered into schism because of “the entire course you have been on for a long time.” As to what Keating means by “the entire course you have been on for a long time,” that is anybody’s guess. Perhaps Keating expects me to make a catalogue of my writings and speeches for him to review, so that he can produce of a list of the propositions I must recant in order to prove to him that I am still a member of the Church. Or perhaps he is expecting another email:

Dear Karl,

In reply to your email of July 21, 2000, this will confirm that I have rejected “the entire course [I] have been on for a long time.” Since you did not specify what you mean by “entire course” or “a long time,” I assume it will suffice if I reject, say, everything I have believed and said for the past ten years.

Since I have now rejected the entire course I have been on for a long time, I would appreciate it if you would approve my readmission into the Catholic Church at your earliest convenience.

Yours truly,

Chris Ferrara

There you have it: the Keating Treatment. Isn’t the man just precious? Over the years Keating seems to have slipped into the delusion that his title as President of Catholic Answers, which he conferred upon himself, lends a kind of self-proving quality to his mere ipse dixit. There is no need for him to prove his charges against traditionalists; it is sufficient that he has made them. Let lesser men stoop to the burden of proof. The wonder is that anybody takes Keating’s accusations seriously. In fact, when Keating made gratuitous accusations against Gerry Matatics to one of America’s foremost Churchmen, he learned that his imperious manner does not play well outside the little kingdom he has fashioned for himself:

Have you lost your grip on the larger world? You imply, astonishingly that because you and Mr. Matatics do not get along . . . that I should have assumed that he is wrong and you right when, even in the recent letter you wrote, you did not mention the subject of dispute, much less why Mr. Matatics is wrong. Grow up. Fight your battles and indeed win them if you can. But contain your disappointment that the whole world is not afloat in your teacup.

Sad to say, Keating still seems to think his teacup is a very big place. You just can’t put a dent in some people.

Keating/Hand on Schism

Keating’s email demonstrates that he (like Hand) has a manifestly shaky grasp on the whole concept of schism—a remarkable state of affairs, given the amount of time Keating spends talking about the schismatic status of “extreme traditionalists.” As Keating further informed me in his July 21 email:

By the way, there is no requirement under canon law that the refusal of submission be in all things; one is still a schismatic if one refuses submission in fewer than all things.

Keating really seems to believe that if one were to disobey the Pope in, say, two or three things, or even one thing, that would constitute schism. In short, for Keating disobedience = schism. Karl, Karl, Karl. Five years have passed since he denounced Gerry Matatics for schism and Keating still does not quite understand what the term denotes.

Contrary to what most “conservatives” assume, schism is not disobedience to certain papal commands, but rather a rejection of the Pope’s authority in itself. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

[N]ot every disobedience is schism; in order to possess this character it must include besides the transgression of the commands of superiors, denial of their divine right to command.[vii]

Thus, for example, there was no schism involved in the refusal of Polycrates of Ephesus and the synods of Asia Minor to obey the command of Pope Victor I that they abandon the quartodeciman Easter. Polycrates and his fellow bishops resisted—as in “we resist you”—on the grounds that they had adjudged— as in “private judgment”—that the Pope had no right to order them to abandon a custom they claimed was descended from St. John himself. The Catholic Encyclopedia makes the very distinction Keating/Hand recklessly ignore:

The resistance of the Asiatic bishops involved no denial of the supremacy of Rome. It indicates solely that the bishops believed St. Victor to be abusing his power in bidding them renounce a custom for which they had Apostolic authority.8

Likewise, there was no act of schism when, in 1331, certain French theologians and Cardinal Orsini denounced Pope John XXII as a heretic after he preached and developed in a series of sermons the thesis that there is no particular judgment immediately after death, but that the Beatific vision of the saved and the eternal punishment of the damned await the final judgment of God on the Last Day. Cardinal Orsini even called for a council to pronounce the Pope a heretic, yet Church history does not record that Orsini or those who agreed with him (including King Louis of Bavaria) were in schism, even though their motives were evidently more political than religious.8A On the contrary, history records that when he was resisted in his novel teaching, John XXII replied that he did not intend to bind the whole Church, and he impaneled a commission of theologians to consider the question. The commission informed the Pope that he was in error.

A well-known modern example of licit resistance even to papally approved doctrinal novelties is the public furor over the astoundingly defective definition of Holy Mass in Article 7 of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal, prepared by Bugnini for the promulgation of Pope Paul’s new rite of Mass:

The Lord's Supper or Mass is the sacred assembly or congregation of the people of God met together, with a priest presiding, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord. For this reason Christ's promise applies supremely to a local gathering together of the Church: ‘Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst.’ (Mt. 18:20)

Any Protestant would be quite pleased with this definition. It was only after publication of the Ottaviani Intervention, which exposed this outrage, that Paul VI was forced to rescind this quasi-heretical definition of the Mass and order it replaced with one which made some mention that the Mass is the unbloody Sacrifice of Our Lord on Calvary, made present on the altar by the priest acting in persona Christi. There were no “conservatives” like Mr. Hand around in those days to accuse Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci of schism for protesting this atrocious definition of the Mass, not to mention the whole theology of the new rite itself.

It is not surprising that Mr. Hand failed to acquaint himself with the precise nature of schism and the facts of Church history I have just cited, but it defies belief that Mr. Keating, who purports to give the world Catholic answers, is unaware of these things.

I won’t bore the reader with all the details of my reply to Keating’s email. I do note that I provided him with an additional vivid example to illustrate how the Church views the crucial canonical and theological difference between schism and simple disobedience: Hans Küng is very, very disobedient to the Pope; he has even condemned John Paul II as a despot who “rules in the spirit of the Spanish Inquisition.” Yet the Vatican does not consider Kung to be a schismatic. On the contrary, he remains a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Basle, and Cardinal Ratzinger has referred to him as “a great scholar.” Why is this? Because Küng does not deny the papal office itself, so he cannot be convicted of schism, which involves a positive breaking of communion with the See of Peter. Thus, while Küng is no longer allowed to call himself a Catholic theologian, he is allowed to remain a Catholic priest. I asked Keating by what right he condemns me and my friends as schismatics, when the Vatican regards the likes of Küng as being in communion with the Holy See. I suspect the answer will come no sooner than the several dozen witnesses, the Matatics quotations and the book on “extreme traditionalists.”

To assist Keating further in this area, I referred him to the above-quoted sections of the Catholic Encyclopedia. In a bit of supreme irony, the text I quote from the online Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on schism is found immediately adjacent to an advertisement for Keating’s book What Catholics Believe. Perhaps before the next edition is published, Keating will have acquainted himself with what Catholics believe about the nature of schism.

From all of this it follows that even if the signers of the Statement were wrong in their stated resistance to certain post-conciliar novelties, they would not for that reason be guilty of schism, because they have not denied the divine office of the papacy in itself. As I have just shown, the offense of schism does not arise merely because resistance to a particular papal act is not successful or especially well grounded. Rather, the offense depends upon on whether the Pope’s authority is generally denied by the resistor. Like the faithful Catholics who challenged teachings by John XXII and Paul VI, the signers of the Statement have not generally denied the Pope’s authority. Quite the contrary, they have appealed to it:

Most Holy Father, the Catholic laity who direct themselves to You in this declaration of resistance are among the most ardent supporters of the papacy. For us, the monarchical institution of the Church with the Pope at its apex is the perfect summation of the universe created by God . . . And the Pope is the natural link that joins the Glorious Christ with the Church, and the Church with heaven. We recognize, therefore, that there cannot be a more elevated position than that of the Supreme Pontiff, nor one more worthy of admiration. It is based on this premise that we direct this document to Your Holiness. We humbly beg the Incarnate Wisdom to illuminate your intelligence, and guide your will to do what should be done for the glory of God, the exaltation of Holy Mother Church, and the salvation of souls.

Schismatics do not beg the Pope to exercise his supreme authority; they do not recognize that authority in the first place. This passage from the Statement completely extinguishes Hand/ Keating/Matt’s frivolous charge of schism. Let us mark it dismissed—on summary judgment.

Watchdogs of the Revolution

At any rate, it occurs to me that Keating’s unsolicited advice—“You need to be honest with yourselves and with your public. You must make clear your entry into schism or you must reject schism”—would be very appropriately addressed to numerous bishops and priests in the desolated vineyard of what even The Wanderer contemptuously describes as Amchurch. But Keating is not about to antagonize the decaying ecclesial establishment on which the existence of his “conservative” apostolate depends. It is a safe bet that Keating has never informed any neo-modernist priest or bishop that he must be honest with his public and make clear his entry into schism, or else reject schism and “the entire course you have been on for a long time.” Like Hand, Keating typifies the “conservative” Catholic’s passivity in the face of what Paul VI described as the auto-demolition of the Church—a passivity punctuated only by occasional outbursts against traditionalists who oppose the demolition vocally enough to remind the “conservative” that he himself has done absolutely nothing to oppose it, and worse, that he has even profited from it.

As I have written elsewhere, prominent “conservatives” like Keating serve as the watchdogs of the post-conciliar revolution. They slumber peacefully while an army of burglars ransacks the household of the Faith, but can always be counted on to leap to their feet and run upstairs to yap at a few traditionalists huddled in the attic with their remaining possessions, including some “illicit” Latin Masses. Meanwhile, the burglars continue their work downstairs without interruption. In his book The Remaking of the Catholic Church, the arch-liberal Richard P. McBrien noted this very phenomenon: “Criticism of the extreme right by moderate conservatives is far more effective than by moderate progressives.”9 How right he is: The Church is infested with scandal and neo-modernist heresy, and heterodox literature denying or undermining dogmas and doctrines of the Faith abounds in Catholic seminaries and universities. But Keating and Hand leap to action over a video produced by a retired couple in Arizona and a Statement signed by four traditionalist Catholics, while Al Matt devotes seven issues of his newspaper to these items—yet manages to avoid any real discussion of their contents!

Woof! woof!, goes Mr. Hand. Arf! Arf!, goes Mr. Keating. Yip! Yip!, goes Alphonse Matt. Good boy!, says Richard P. McBrien.

As the present controversy demonstrates, the very existence of a large body of quiescent “conservatives” has allowed the post-conciliar revolution to advance so far into the structure of the Church. The basic function of the “conservative” Catholic in the dynamic of the revolution has been the marginalization of traditionalists, whom “conservative” leaders helpfully denounce for their simple refusal to cease being what “conservatives” themselves were only 35 years ago. With the traditionalists safely marginalized, the soft wood of the conservatives is the only resistance the termites have encountered. The results speak for themselves.

This is not to say that “conservatives” as a group are subjectively complicit in the advances of the post-conciliar revolution. Most “conservatives” have accepted all the changes in good faith, hewing to the false notion of holy obedience peddled by “conservatives” like Keating, who serve as de facto apologists for the revolution, which they find a hundred ways to minimize and explain away. With the pre-conciliar past now hazy at best, most “conservatives” do not recognize that in the Church’s long history we have seen time and again a principled resistance by loyal Catholics to sudden changes in the Church, even in relatively trivial matters. Just as it was licit for the Asian synods to refuse Pope Victor’s direct command to change the date on which they observed Easter, so also is it licit to resist the unprecedented and hugely destructive changes being imposed upon us in the post-conciliar period, and to work and pray for the ultimate reversal of these changes.

I believe Keating and his fellow “conservative” traditionalist-bashers know this in their heart of hearts. If I may be permitted to indulge in a bit of amateur psychology, I would venture that the strange preoccupation of certain “conservatives” with traditionalists—whom they denounce far more often and far more harshly than any true enemy of the Church—is but a reflection of their inner conviction that traditionalists legitimately oppose the ruinous post-conciliar changes they should have opposed, but did not. “Conservative” leaders understand, at least implicitly, that the very existence of a traditionalist movement within the Church demonstrates that they too could have resisted the changes without ceasing to be Catholics, yet history will record that they did absolutely nothing. It would be very convenient indeed if traditionalists could somehow be declared non-Catholics, so that the conservatives’ failure to act could thus be seen as exemplary “trust in the Church” and the only Catholic way to behave. (Traditionalists will be spared this treatment, however, if they meet two requirements: stay on the Indult reservation and keep quiet about the post-conciliar revolution. Keating, et al. condescendingly describe these people as “responsible” traditionalists. While I myself attend an Indult Mass, I am accused of “entry into schism” because I do not fulfill the second requirement.)

So, just as liberals in secular society employ epithets—“anti-Semite,” “homophobe,” “racist”—to marginalize and destroy people whose arguments they are unable to answer and do not wish to be heard, Keating and his fellows hurl the epithet “schism” to marginalize and destroy traditionalists. But worse than the secular liberals, these conservatives use this demagogic trick against their own brothers in the Faith.

I can think of no other answer to the mystery of why “conservatives” like Karl Keating, Stephen Hand and Alphonse Matt are so eager to accuse traditionalists of the crime of schism, yet so loath to make the same accusation against any of the neo-modernists who are dismantling the Church before their very eyes, often in direct disobedience to explicit papal commands to refrain from what they are doing. (Despite its endless criticism of Amchurch scandals, The Wanderer has never once, to my knowledge, called even the worst neo-modernist Church-wrecker a schismatic.) If there is another explanation for the mystery, I would like to hear it.

Well, Mr. Keating?

The Problem of Novelty

Our debate with the “conservatives” shows that the post-conciliar crisis can be summed up in one word: novelty. We have seen how the “conservative” Catholic tends to condemn the traditionalist Catholic for the latter’s instinctive opposition to novelty, failing to recognize that this instinct is as important to the health of the Church as the instinct of self-preservation is to the health of living creatures.

The Church’s perennial counsel against the embrace of novelties was recapitulated by Pope Saint Pius X in his monumental encyclical Pascendi:

But for Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the second Council of Nicea, where it condemns those ‘who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind...or endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church’ . . . . Wherefore the Roman Pontiffs, Pius IV and Pius IX, ordered the insertion in the profession of faith of the following declaration: ‘I most firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church.’

The “conservatives” have no answer to the claim that Saint Pius X would be more horrified than any traditionalist by the post-conciliar novelties. They have no answer because they know it is true. The sensus catholicus abhors innovation; and not just innovation in what “conservatives” misleadingly call the “substance” of the Faith—as if everything else could be changed with safety. The teaching of St. Pius X, echoed by all his predecessors, is that not only apostolic Tradition, but all the ecclesiastical traditions and customs which have been woven into the life of the Church over the centuries must be defended against unnecessary and dramatic change, lest the Church’s commonwealth be so disrupted that the faithful are thrown into a state of confusion and alienation which endangers the Faith itself.

It is indisputable that since 1960 the Church has been overtaken by a swarm of utterly unprecedented novelties: a new rite of Mass, a new liturgical calendar, new sacramental rituals, a new ecumenism, a new rapprochement with non-Christian religions, a new “dialogue with the world,” a new rule of life in seminaries, priestly orders and convents, a “new evangelization,” and even an entirely new vocabulary to replace what Hand belittles as “high metaphysical abstractions” in the Church’s pre-conciliar teaching.

As Cardinal Newman showed in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, the sudden emergence of some novelty in the Church which is not the natural and almost imperceptible outgrowth of everything that came before it would be a sign, not of life and growth, but of corruption—just as the sudden emergence of a tumor is a sign of corruption in the human body. It is manifest that every one of the suddenly emergent post-conciliar novelties has produced a corresponding corruption in the Church:

§ The new liturgy has produced a loss of Eucharistic faith and respect for the Blessed Sacrament.

§ The new liturgical calendar and cycle of readings have produced (as Msgr. Klaus Gamber noted) a loss of the sense of place and a diminished inculcation of Scriptural lessons, especially the “hard sayings” of Scripture, which have been largely eliminated or neutralized by tendentious translations that are really dishonest paraphrases.

§ The new ecumenism has produced a relative protestantization of the Catholic liturgy and faithful, accompanied by the confirmation of Protestants in their errors and the accelerated moral and doctrinal decomposition of Protestant sects over the course of the “ecumenical dialogues.” (Ironically enough, the evangelical sects which have shunned the ecumenical venture are those which remain closest to Catholic moral teaching.)

§ The new rapprochement with non-Christian religions has produced the near-extinction of the traditional missionary activity of the Church which aimed at saving souls whose false religions imprisoned them in darkness (as Pius XI described Islam, for example); and this development has been accompanied by the perception that good hope is to be entertained for the salvation of all non-Christians—precisely the proposition condemned in Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors.10

§ The new sacramental rituals have produced a loss of the understanding of what the sacraments mean, baptism in particular having become a mere initiation rite, with the subject of original sin never mentioned.

§ As Paul VI admitted, “the opening to the world has produced a veritable invasion of the Church by worldly thinking;” the world, on the other hand, has only hastened to descend toward utter barbarity, while Church authorities continue to insist upon “dialogue” rather than teaching with the authority of God, condemning error and warning the world that its sins merit eternal damnation.

§ The reform of the seminaries, the priestly orders and the convents has produced an emptying of all three, and a deeply neo-modernist formation in the few men and women who still enter. (Only a return to the traditional rule and formation in some places has produced new vocations in any great numbers.)

§ The “new evangelization” (in conjunction with the new ecumenism and the new liturgy) has produced a profound loss of conversions and vocations compared with the immediate pre-conciliar period, but also a great number of semi-autonomous “ecclesial movements” of bizarre character, which have sprouted like weeds in the devastated vineyard. These include a frenzied, pan-denominational, charismatic gnosticism, horrifying to behold, which replaces the sound piety and inward composure exemplified by the saints of the Church.

On the matter of the Church’s new vocabulary, the search for new way of “speaking to the world” has produced a mind-boggling collection of buzzwords lacking any of the classical precision of Catholic doctrine: “ecumenism,” “ecumenical venture,” “dialogue,” “ecumenical dialogue,” “interreligious dialogue,” “responsible parenthood,” “solidarity,” “collegiality,” “partial communion,” “imperfect communion,” “sister churches,” “reconciled diversity,” “what unites us is greater than what divides us” (divided unity in the Faith being impossible), “inculturation,” “Church of the new Advent,” “the new Springtime,” “the civilization of love,” and so on and so forth. Never in Church history has the thinking of Churchmen been so dominated by neologisms which have no precise meaning. And never has the Church’s message been so uncertain, as even the recent Synod of European bishops was forced to admit.

In sum, the historical record of the post-conciliar novelties is indisputably a record of corruption, failure and confusion in every area those novelties have touched. As Cardinal Ratzinger has candidly admitted:

“The results of the Council seem cruelly to have contradicted the expectations everybody had, beginning with John XXIII and Paul VI . . .[W]e have been confronted instead with a continuing process of decay that has gone on largely on the basis of appeals to the council, and thus has discredited the council in the eyes of many people.”11

Cardinal Ratzinger went on to say: “It is my opinion that the misfortunes the Church has met with in the last twenty years are not due to the true council itself, but to an unleashing within the council of latent, aggressive, polemical and centrifugal forces.” Some sixteen years after the Cardinal’s remarks, however, the evidence of an even deeper “process of decay” permits us to advance beyond the Cardinal’s opinion to say that the “true council” is indeed part of the problem. And the problem is novelty.

In Part 4 of his tract Hand claims that John Paul II has decreed definitively that the Council and all the innovations it engendered are perfectly in line with Tradition, and that no one may suggest or even think otherwise. To support this wildly extravagant claim he quotes, not an encyclical, a motu proprio or some other formal papal teaching addressed to the universal Church, but a single sentence from a speech by John Paul II to a symposium on the implementation of Vatican II: “To read the council assuming it supposes a rupture with the past, when in reality it is aligned with the everlasting faith, is clearly erroneous.”12

In the first place, Hand exhibits typical “conservative” confusion about the scope of the Magisterium when he asserts that a papal speech to a symposium means that “Rome has spoken” and that “the question is closed for any Catholic.” If papal speeches to particular groups could bind the universal Church, then it would be inevitable that the Pope would bind the Church to error. For example, every Catholic would now be required to believe, as the Pope declared in a sermon on January 27, 1999, that “the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil” and that the death penalty should be abolished as “cruel and unnecessary.”13 Clearly, no Catholic is obliged to believe that the death penalty may never be imposed or that it should be abolished as a moral evil. Such a teaching is manifestly contrary to all Tradition—as was the repeated sermonizing of John XXII on the particular judgment.

Moreover, to say that the Council is “aligned with the everlasting Faith” or that the Council as a whole does not “suppose a rupture with the past” is not quite the same thing as saying that every formulation in the conciliar texts is perfectly in line with Tradition. We recall that in the nota praevia to Lumen Gentium the council expressly disclaimed any intention to formulate binding doctrine unless it openly declared such intention. The Council wished to have the freedom to indulge in non-traditional “pastoral” formulations whose very novelty alarmed a number of the council fathers, leading to the nota praevia. On this point we have the posthumously revealed testimony of Bishop Thomas Morris, a council father:

I was relieved when we were told that this Council was not aiming at defining or giving final statements on doctrine, because a statement of doctrine has to be very carefully formulated and I would have regarded the Council documents as tentative and liable to be reformed.14

Once the Council was over, however, we were suddenly told that it had been a veritable Vesuvius of Catholic doctrine. This hardly seems fair to the council fathers who were assured otherwise by the Council’s theological commission.

Considering the Pope’s symposium statement further, it does not seem to me that the Holy Father was saying exactly what Hand claims he said. Here we find, once again, that Hand has carefully cropped a quotation to avoid certain words he wishes to conceal. In the immediately preceding sentence in the Zenit news account from which Hand quotes, the following appears:

“[I]t is necessary not to lose the genuine intention of the Council Fathers; on the contrary, it must be recovered, overcoming cautious and partial interpretations that impeded expressing to the maximum the novelty of the Council Magisterium.”

In other words, the Pope said that the Church has been too cautious in applying the novelty of conciliar teaching. Here John Paul echoes the sentiment of Paul VI, who declared that: “The important words of the Council are newness and updating ... the word newness has been given to us as an order, as a program.”15

And, when one consults the original text of the Pope’s symposium remarks, one finds the following sentence immediately after the one selected by Hand:

What has been believed by ‘everyone, always and everywhere’ is the authentic newness that enables every era to perceive the light that comes from the word of God’s Revelation in Jesus Christ.

Hand’s misuse of this text is shameful, but it serves as a good example of how “conservatives” try to conceal the full import of what the Pope says so often about Vatican II in order to maintain the fiction that it fits seamlessly into the line of all the other councils. It cannot be denied, however, that Vatican II is the first Council in the history of the Church whose strict continuity with Tradition is not self-evident. If it were self-evident, Cardinal Ratzinger would not be making comments like the following:

The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. . . . That which was previously considered most holy—the form in which the liturgy was handed down—suddenly appears as the most forbidden of all things, the one thing that can safely be prohibited. It is intolerable to criticize decisions which have been taken since the Council; on the other hand, if men make question of ancient rules, or even of the great truths of the faith . . . nobody complains or only does so with great moderation . . . .All of this leads a great number of people to ask themselves if the Church of today is really the same as the Church of yesterday, or if they have changed it for something else without telling people. The one way in which Vatican II can be made plausible is to present it as it is; one part of the unbroken, the unique tradition of the Church and of her faith.16

But why should the Council have to be “made plausible” if, as the “conservatives” would have it, the Council’s plausibility—that is, its complete harmony with Tradition—is already perfectly clear?

Some “conservative” commentators are a bit more honest than Mr. Hand. Taking the bull by the horns, they openly admit that John Paul II is an innovator who sees in Vatican II (as did Paul VI) a mandate for progressivist undertakings. Leading “conservative” George Sim Johnston, for example, refers to the “historically radical ecumenism of John Paul II,” and (speaking of a compendium of his fellow conservatives’ writings) admits that:

[B]y any historical measure, the ‘conservatives’ in this volume are progressive Catholics. Unlike the Sadducees on the Catholic left and the Pharisees on the truly Catholic right, the ‘conservatives’ in this volume understand the pontificate of John Paul II because they understand the Second Vatican Council. They understand that Christ founded a teaching Church whose doctrines are not subject to whim and manipulation. But they also realize that the Church, being human and organic, has to change.17

There we have it all: To follow the “historically radical ecumenism of John Paul II” and the teaching of the Second Vatican Council is to be a progressive, leaving behind forever the Pharisees who have refused to “change.” The Council, which only the progressives and John Paul II really understand, has become the new hermeneutical key to the practice of the Faith—because, you see, the Church just “has to change.” (At least Johnston has the decency to acknowledge that traditionalists comprise the “truly Catholic right.” Unlike Hand, Keating and Al Matt, Johnston does not stoop to the cheap trick of positing a false equivalence between heretics and loyal Catholics.)

Similar admissions come from “conservative” commentator John Beaumont in his review of George Weigel’s new biography of the Pope:

One possible cause for concern in relation to the phenomenon of Pope John Paul II is the sometimes breathtaking nature of his innovative teaching. It is natural for Catholics to be wary and wonder whether all of this can fit in with the tradition.18

Yes, it would be only natural for Catholics to be wary of breathtaking innovations in the teaching of a Pope on faith and morals! Beaumont lets this bomb drop without seeming to notice the explosion. He contents himself with the observation that since we have a “guaranteed Church” we should simply assume that breathtaking innovations are merely “developments” of settled doctrine.

Such explanations are simply not satisfactory. They offer no answer to the sedevacantists, who know a lame argument when they see one. There must be a more sensible explanation for the “phenomenon of John Paul II” and the post-conciliar developments as a whole than: “All these breathtaking innovations are traditional, don’t worry about it.”

Let me propose an explanation here.

Doctrine or Not?

When the Holy Father used the phrase “everyone, always and everywhere” in the address to the symposium on Vatican II, he was referring to the criterion by which the Church knows that a doctrine is Catholic: that everyone, everywhere in the Church, has always believed it. To use the formula of St. Vincent Lerins: quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est (what has been believed everywhere, always and by all). Even papal pronouncements respect this criterion, and in cases of the infallible definition of doctrine are aimed precisely at settling once and for all what the Church has always believed. John Paul II here proposes a resolution of the apparent oxymoron of novel tradition by suggesting that the Church has always believed in “authentic newness.” But if the Church has always believed in authentic newness, then why has the Church not always said so? And in what, exactly, does this authentic newness consist in terms of Catholic doctrine? Is there any real doctrinal content to the conciliar “program” of “newness” remarked by Paul VI?

That the Council and the conciliar popes have given us something utterly novel is admitted in the Pope’s inaugural encyclical, Redemptor Hominis. Referring in part to “the new ecumenical orientation” of the Church introduced by the Council and the conciliar popes, His Holiness declared:

Entrusting myself fully to the Spirit of truth, therefore, I am entering into the rich inheritance of the recent pontificates. This inheritance has struck deep roots in the awareness of the Church in an utterly new way, quite unknown previously, thanks to the Second Vatican Council, which John XXIII convened and opened and which was later successfully concluded and perseveringly put into effect by Paul VI . . .19

Before Vatican II, when has a pope ever proclaimed a whole “new orientation” of the Church, ecumenical or otherwise? And what other council in Church history disclosed anything “utterly new” and “quite unknown previously” in the realm of doctrine? How can a doctrine of the Church, if it is a doctrine, be at one and the same time always believed, yet something “quite unknown” before 1965? Are we now to understand that the Holy Spirit could have left the Church unaware of some important truth of the Faith for nearly 2,000 years?

Or is the Pope referring to Catholic doctrine at all when he speaks of such things as the “awareness of the Church” and her “new ecumenical orientation”? What is the import of such phrases, and all the other ones I have mentioned above, if they are not doctrines a Catholic must believe?

As the First Vatican Council solemnly declared, not even the Pope can give us new doctrines of the Faith:

For, the Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth.20

The Pope is divinely appointed to guard, explicate and pass on the content of Revelation descended from the Apostles, but he is incapable of discovering therein any new doctrines because they have not been revealed to us by God. No one denies that there has been legitimate development of doctrine over the centuries, and more explicit and binding statements of what has always been believed. But “breathtaking” doctrinal innovations in the space of a single pontificate, or “developments” of doctrine which are “utterly new” and “quite unknown previously,” have never been seen in Church history.

Therefore, it would appear to me to be impossible that the post-conciliar novelties in teaching (we are not here considering disciplinary measures or canon law which are subject to change) could be Catholic doctrines in the proper sense. Yet we have before us today a multitude of seemingly novel teachings on everything from “ecumenism,” to “dialogue” to relations with non-Catholic religions, to the death penalty. What, then, are we dealing with in the midst of this unparalleled profusion of ecclesial novelties? Is it doctrine which we must believe, or is it something less than that?

In my article “Viruses in the Body of Christ” (The Latin Mass, Fall 1998), I offered a layman’s view that in the post-conciliar period the Devil has unleashed his most brilliant stratagem against the Church: the introduction of purely notional teachings which convey particles of an idea but do not actually contain a coherent doctrine, just as viruses are particles of DNA or RNA but do not comprise a coherent living thing. Like viruses, these notional teachings contain just enough information to reproduce themselves and infect genuine concepts, which are the “cells” of the Church’s perennial teaching. By means of these verbal viruses (“ecumenism,” “dialogue,” etc.) the human element of the Church can be thrown into confusion and disarray without any pope or council having taught any explicit error against the Faith.

For example, where is the Catholic doctrine in the new notion of “ecumenism,” which seems to be nothing more or less than a new ecclesial attitude combined with an assortment of activities such as interfaith “dialogues,” common prayer with non-Catholics and joint liturgical services, in none of which we are required to engage ourselves. True, the Pope teaches that these activities are good, that they promote “Christian unity,” and that the Church is “irrevocably committed” to them, but the Pope’s factual appraisal of the success of the ecumenical venture and its future are not doctrines of the Catholic faith. Nor is what the Pope does in the name of ecumenism possessed of a doctrinal character.

I invite the reader to consider whether any of the post-conciliar novelties are reducible to a concrete statement of Catholic doctrine that would bind the universal Church to adhere, with a religious assent or the assent of faith, to a proposition Catholics had not always believed before Vatican II. I am convinced that no such discrete doctrinal propositions can be found anywhere in the teaching of the Council or the conciliar popes. Rather, it seems to me that the post-conciliar novelties all operate below the doctrinal level and are to be found entirely in the realm of the pastoral in various forms: activities, “orientations,” undertakings, initiatives, dialogues, exhortations, opinions, observations, predictions and statements of fact, and ambiguous new expressions, all of which lack the character of binding Catholic doctrine.

The Sedevacantist Question

As a matter of fact, the failure of the post-conciliar novelties to rise to the level of formal, binding doctrine, even though they are “teachings” of a kind, is precisely why the sedevacantists are wrong to accuse the Council and the conciliar popes of heresy and to declare the papal throne empty. As already noted, there can be no heresy without the obstinate denial of some article of divine and Catholic faith, and this cannot be found in any of the pronouncements of the conciliar popes; nor can their conduct, as such, constitute a formal heresy, for heresy is a propositional offense, not a form of physical misconduct.

This is not to say that one cannot find numerous apparent propositional contradictions between pre- and post-conciliar teaching on a number of lesser matters, and the “conservatives” are dreaming when they deny this. (I say apparent, because only the Church herself can finally resolve these matters, and this is one reason the authors have issued their Statement calling for “respectful discussion with Church authorities.”) But none of these contradictions involve the formal repudiation of any article of divine and Catholic faith, even if it can be shown that the new teachings tend materially to oppose Catholic tradition. It is no use ignoring such things as the following:

§ A line of pre-conciliar popes condemned any collaboration with communists or participation in communist movements because of danger to the faith of Catholics from any close cooperation with atheists, but Pope John XXIII taught the novel distinction that one could join a communist movement, so long as one did not become a communist, because the “good” social elements of a movement can be considered apart from its immoral founding principles—precisely the distinction rejected as a trap for the faithful by Pius XI in Divini Redemptoris.21

§ The pre-conciliar popes, especially Saint Pius V, uniformly condemned the notion of tampering with the received and approved rite of Mass, but Paul VI approved an entirely new rite which Cardinals Bacci and Ottaviani were constrained to protest was “a striking departure from the theology of the Mass” as taught by Trent.

§ The pre-concilar popes taught that the Latin liturgy must be preserved as a barrier against heresy, but Paul VI taught that it must be abandoned because “understanding of prayer is more important than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed . . .”22

§ The pre-concilar popes condemned the idea of an all-vernacular Mass in which the Roman Canon is said aloud, but Paul VI approved it and pronounced it good, as does his successor.23

§ The pre-conciliar popes forbade women altar servers, as did John Paul II himself, but he later reversed his own decision to defend the tradition, and now teaches that altar girls are good for the liturgy.24

§ The pre-conciliar popes and canon law condemned any common worship with Protestants as a danger to the Faith, but the council opened the door to it and John Paul II often engages in it and commends it.25

§ The pre-conciliar popes taught unanimously with Pius XI that “the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of those who are separated from it . . .”, yet this teaching has been abandoned in favor of an ecumenical “search for unity” with Protestant sects. Cardinal Ratzinger has made it clear that ecumenism does not seek the dissolution of non-Catholic “confessions” or the conversion of all the Protestants to Catholicism, which he describes as a “maximum demand” that offers “no real hope of unity.”26

§ The pre-conciliar popes taught that the schismatic Orthodox must return to the Catholic Church, but the Balamand Statement, whose teaching is commended by the Pope in Ut Unum Sint, 60, states that thanks to “radically altered perspectives and thus attitudes” engendered by Vatican II, the Catholic Church will train new priests “to pave the way for future relations between the two Churches, passing beyond the out-dated ecclesiology of return to the Catholic Church . . . .”27

§ The pre-conciliar popes taught that the Catholic Church and the Mystical Body of Christ are one and the same thing and that that the Catholic Church is the one true Church, but the Balamand Statement declares that “the Orthodox Churches recognize each other as sister Churches, responsible together for maintaining the Church of God in fidelity to the divine purpose...”27A What exactly is this Church of God? How can this Church of God be faithful to the divine purpose if it contains schismatic churches within itself?

§ The act of consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart promulgated by Pius XI only 35 years before Vatican II, prays for the deliverance of souls from “the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism,” but Vatican II teaches in Lumen Gentium, 16 that the Muslims “‘together with us adore the one merciful God.” It is difficult to see how the Muslims could be in spiritual darkness while adoring the same God together with us.

§ Although the Church has condemned and opposed the diabolical religion of Islam since it was first invented by a camel driver, John Paul II (citing Lumen Gentium, 16) recently declared that “the two religions (Catholicism and Islam) can be signs of hope, making the world more aware of the wisdom and mercy of God,” and he further declared in February of this year “May Saint John the Baptist protect Islam . . .”28

§ In Quanta Cura and the appended Syllabus of Errors, Pope Pius IX condemned the errors of liberalism on which modern political societies are based, including the principle that “liberty of conscience and of worship is the proper right of every man, and should be proclaimed and asserted by law in every correctly established society,” but in Dignitatis Humanae Vatican II taught that “religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right.” Cardinal Ratzinger openly admits that Dignitatis Humanae (together with Gaudium et spes) is “a countersyllabus, a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX” which corrects “the one-sidedness (!) of the position adopted by the Church under Pius IX and Pius X.”29

§ The pre-conciliar teaching (repeated even in the 1992 version of the Catechism, but since deleted) affirmed the right and duty of the state to impose the death penalty for sufficiently grave offenses, but John Paul II has recently taught that the death penalty is “cruel and unnecessary” and should never be imposed “even in the case of someone who done a great evil.”30 He thus contradicts the 1992 version of the Catechism he himself approved.

§ The pre-conciliar popes, following the teaching of Saint Paul, taught that the wife is subject to the authority of the husband and must obey him as the Church obeys Christ (assuming the husband’s commands are just and moral), but John Paul II has taught that St. Paul meant that this subjection is mutual and that he was merely speaking in a way suited to the culture of his time.31

These examples of apparent contradictions between pre and post-conciliar teaching could be multiplied. Added to these are utterly novel and often scandalous papal actions in line with these notions which we have been discussing throughout—actions which would have elicited screams of horror from any pope before 1960.

Now, for someone who is willing to overlook crucial distinctions and leap to unwarranted conclusions about the present crisis, it would be easy to say that all of this is “heresy” and that we have had no pope since John XXIII. But a careful examination of these novelties and apparent contradictions, one by one, shows that none of them involves the formal denial of an article of divine and Catholic faith, nor an attempt to impose upon the Church, as a matter to be believed by the faithful, any explicit theological error. Not even the statement “May Saint John the Baptist protect Islam” is heresy, properly speaking, since the pope’s public expression of a wish that a false religion receive divine protection, while scandalous, does not translate into a direct denial of any article of Faith.

The sedevacantists can point to innumerable facts which justify the conclusion that we are living through the worst crisis in Church history, but they cannot show that the conciliar popes have lost their offices through heresy, which judgment only the Church herself could make in any case. Yet in view of the mountain of empirical evidence of precipitous ecclesial decline immediately following the Council, can it be denied any longer that the swarm of novelties the council engendered—that program and order of “newness” remarked by Paul VI—have tended materially to oppose the pre-conciliar teaching of the Church? What else could account for the “process of decay” admitted by Cardinal Ratzinger?

As Paul VI himself rightly observed (without yet admitting the cause of it all): “It is almost as if the Church were attacking herself.”32 On another occasion he admitted that “the opening to the world has become a veritable invasion of worldly thinking. We have perhaps been too weak and imprudent.”33 History has demonstrated to anyone in possession of his senses that the word “perhaps” can be omitted from Paul’s admission.

Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, even in the Catholic Church. Our Lord’s promise of divine assistance to His Church did not mean that her human members would be unable to inflict upon her the gravest possible wounds, short of the fatal wound of a formal defection from the Faith. That everything which can go wrong seems to have gone wrong at once is no excuse for abandoning the Holy Father to the unproven theological theory of the empty papal chair, or for leaving him to the tender mercies of the “conservatives” who think that mindless applause for every papal word and deed is the way to show true loyalty to our father.

The sedevacantists and the conservatives are animated by the same error: that the Magisterium embraces whatever the Pope says or does that touches upon faith or morals.34 Proceeding from this error, they reach different but equally untenable conclusions: The former insists that we believe in the oxymoron of novel tradition or a “Magisterium” that contradicts itself, while the latter insists that we have had no Pope since John XXIII. Thank you, but no thank you. The traditionalists I defend have been in just the right place all along: the post-conciliar novelties are neither Magisterial nor heretical; they do not bind the Church to an act of belief in what is wrong. The Pope is still the Pope, and yet this is the worst crisis the Church has ever endured, precisely because the conciliar popes have tried to deny its existence and have persisted in the manifestly ruinous novelties which brought it about.

What are Catholics to do in the face of this terrible mystery? Shall we do nothing? Shall we applaud? Or shall we do what the authors of the Statement have done and declare our resistance to what is happening?

A Return to the Statement

Keeping in mind all of the considerations I have tried to present here, we can return to the Statement and confront its most controversial aspects in the proper perspective—the perspective of an ecclesial crisis almost beyond imagining. The authors declare:

In the face of the situation described in Items II, III and IV, the lay Catholics who direct this document to Your Holiness are obliged in conscience to declare themselves in a state of resistance relative to the teachings of Vatican Council II, Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, and your teachings and actions that are objectively contrary to the prior ordinary and extraordinary papal Magisterium.

In conjunction with this, the authors also declare a “suspension of obedience to the aforementioned progressivist teachings and the authorities who desire to impose them upon us.”

It would be easy, if one were malicious, to extract these statements from their total context—and from the entire historical context of the crisis itself—and use them to attempt to indict the authors for “objective schism” or some other trumped-up delict. As we have seen with Hand’s, Keating’s and Alphonse Matt’s attacks, this exercise involves deliberately overlooking the crucial point, made clear by the signers, that they are resisting only certain post-conciliar novelties and have not rejected papal authority in itself, but rather appeal to it for the undoing of the novelties. Isn’t it odd how the accusers pay less attention to the actual text in dealing with the Statement than the Vatican does in dealing with the writings of flaming heretics? Isn’t this reckless presumption of guilt all the more reprehensible when one considers that among the accusers is Michael Matt’s own cousin, Alphonse Matt?

Michael Matt and John Vennari have confirmed to me that their thinking in contributing to and signing the Statement accords with the case I have made here for a balanced approach to the crisis, one that accounts for, rather than ignoring, the empirical evidence: While the vast conciliar and post-conciliar program of innovation tends materially to oppose the perennial teaching of the Church in a number of areas, it does not involve any formal contradiction of an article of divine and Catholic faith. The post-conciliar novelties have not been imposed upon the universal Church as matters of Catholic doctrine and belief, so that the indefectibility of the Church has not been implicated in the new teachings and practices. The conciliar popes are valid popes.

As this entire discussion should make clear, moreover, the posited “suspension of obedience” largely operates only in the potential. If one thinks about it for a moment, one can see that there is no doctrinally binding papal command which the signers are actually disobeying at present. Let us suppose, however, that the Pope were to order everyone in the Church to attend joint liturgical services with pro-abortion Protestants, such as the Vespers service His Holiness conducted with Lutheran “Bishops” in St. Peter’s Basilica. Any reasonable Catholic could see why such a command would have to be resisted. The “resistance” involved is more a question prescinding from—not attaching oneself to—certain novelties which a Catholic is not bound to embrace as doctrine or as practice in the first place. (For example, no one is obliged to engage in “ecumenical activities” or to attend the new Mass as opposed to some other rite of the Church.) This form of resistance also involves presenting arguments against the novelties and petitioning for their rescission.

That the “suspension of obedience” does not relate to any concrete doctrine is the very reason Hand failed to answer my challenge that he identify in what respect exactly the accused are guilty of “opposition to the living Magisterium.” There is no question, however, that the phrase “suspension of obedience” serves to highlight the gravity of our situation and to act as the vehicle by which the signers intend to make known their resistance and their immediate desire for dialogue with ecclesial authority.

What is more, concerning the “progressivist teachings” from which the signers prescind—and we must remember that even the conservative George Sim Johnston calls the Pope a “progressive”—they are careful to note that the sheer volume of John Paul II’s pronouncements, in so many varied places and forms, makes it impossible to know for certain which are doctrines for the Church and which are the opinions of a private doctor, and that consequently “the clarity of the degree of obedience has been lost...” Let the Church, then, not Messrs. Hand, Keating and Matt, tell the signers (and us) what is the degree of obedience, if any, owed to each of the “breathtaking innovations” in an unprecedented corpus of papal pronouncements which occupies ten linear feet of shelf space, according to George Weigel.

Mr. Hand Refutes Himself

In finally disposing of Hand’s arguments (if one can call them that), I need only note that Hand is guilty of precisely what he condemns in the signers of the Statement. In Part 3 of his own tract, Hand declares as follows:

I myself consider the new rite of Mass inferior so far (we expect improvements to come) to the Traditional Latin Mass . . .

And on his own Internet site Hand further declares:

[O]ur real crisis today focuses on the liturgy and in the dangerous ambiguity of Conciliar texts and events.35

Thus, the same man who demands absolute obedience to “the living Magisterium” publicly declares that the Church is in crisis because the conciliar popes imposed an inferior rite of Mass upon the Church; he also dissents from the repeated and emphatic teaching of both popes that the new rite is not inferior to the old but a great boon to the Church, and he accuses an ecumenical Council of officially promulgating dangerously ambiguous texts which led to dangerously ambiguous events in the Church.

The unfortunate Mr. Hand fails to recognize that not only the signers of the Statement but he himself, and millions of other Catholics around the world, are more or less in a state of resistance, either explicit or implicit, to the conciliar and post-conciliar agenda. As Hand’s entire position extinguishes itself in this fatal self-contradiction, we may bid him goodbye. He has provided a useful provocation with his diffuse little tract, but we may now say of him what Newman said of Kingsley:

And now I am in a train of thought higher and more serene than any which slanders can disturb. Away with you, Mr. Kingsley, and fly into space. Your name shall occur again as little as I can help, in the course of these pages. I shall henceforth occupy myself not with you, but with your charges.

A Plea to the Father

Meanwhile, the evidence is overwhelming that this is the ultimate crisis foretold in Holy Scripture and by Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of La Salette. It was Pope Saint Pius X, arguably the greatest Pope in Church history, who declared in E Supremi his moral certainty (only 55 years before the Council) that the world had entered into the beginning of the last times foreseen in the Book of the Apocalypse. And was it not the present Roman Pontiff himself who, in his beautiful sermon at Fatima on May 13, 2000, warned the Church to avoid the dragon described in Chapter 12 of the Book of the Apocalypse; the dragon whose tail sweeps one third of the stars, the consecrated souls, from heaven? From deep within the failing vision of a perfectible world in which he has immured himself—the vision of Gaudium et spes which he helped to craft—our Pope cries out to his Church a warning, a warning which dispels the beguiling vision and reminds us that he is, after all, our father and that we must love him.

Our Pope is a man of mystery and contradiction. The same Pope who ended all further debate on women’s ordination also gave us the scandal of altar girls. The Pope who has condemned “the culture of death” and fixed upon the world a phrase that rebukes it in an unforgettable way, has also legitimated the very preachers of the culture of death by giving them places of honor beside himself in public liturgical ceremonies, without rebuking them at all. The Pope who has presided over great liturgical destruction and called it a renewal, has also given the banished traditional liturgy a precious and ever-widening foothold within the official structure of the Church. The Pope who will beatify Pius IX, the fierce opponent of “the modern world,” also wishes to beatify John XXIII, “the first modern pope.” He is our Pope, our father, this man of mystery and contradiction; and like any father he needs his children, just as his children need him.

Sometimes the children must resist the father as an act of charity. The Statement, whatever its deficiencies, ought to be seen as such an act. Those who condemn the signers so loudly have willfully blinded themselves to the ultimate cause of the great crisis of which the Statement is but a symptom. Four children cry out to their wandering father in his travels throughout a disbelieving world which will not even follow his teaching on the natural law—no matter how far he travels, no matter how many crowds there are to cheer him on. Come home, father, they cry, and put our house in order. But the accusers rebuke the children for crying out, and they defend the absence of the distant father.

History will render the final verdict on whether the children who cried out, or the children who remained silent, were the ones who served the father most truly. But I think we know already what that verdict will be. So, I suspect, do our accusers; and this is what accounts for their present discomfiture.


[1] Summa II, II Q. 33, Art. 4

2 De Romano Pontifice, II 30.

3 The Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary, Canon Law Society of America, c. 333.

4 The Wanderer, February 16, 1995.

5 This Rock “March” 1996, p. 22 (This issue actually appeared in June 1996)

6 Id. p. 22-23

7 The Catholic Encyclopedia (1911). See, http: //

8 Catholic Encylopedia (1911), p. 262, right-hand column.

8A John, Eric. The Popes: A Concise Biographical History. Roman Catholic Books; Original Edition, Burns and Oates, Publishers to the Holy See (1964), p. 253.

9 McBrien, Richard P. The Remaking of the Catholic Church. (1973), p. 146.

10 “We must have a least good hope concerning the eternal salvation of all those who in no wise are in the true Church of Christ.” Syllabus, n. 17. It should be noted that the doctrines of baptism of desire and invincible ignorance cannot allow one to say that there is “good hope” for the salvation of those who belong to non-Catholic religions, since Pius IX himself forbade any speculation to that effect in his allocution Singulari quaedem:

Not without sorrow we have learned that another error, no less destructive, has taken up its abode in the souls of many Catholics who think that one should have good hope of the eternal salvation of all those who have never lived in the true Church of Christ. Therefore, they are wont to ask very often what will be the lot and condition after death of those who have not submitted in any way to the Catholic faith . . .Far be it from Us, Venerable Brethren, to presume the limits of divine mercy which is infinite [His Holiness then expounds the doctrine of invincible ignorance] but as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this mortal mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is ‘one God, one faith, one baptism’ [Eph. 4:5]; it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry. DZ 1646-1648

11 L’Osservatore Romano, November 9, 1984, later to be known as The Ratzinger Report.

12 Zenit news report, February 27, 2000.

13 L’Osservatore Romano, weekly English edition, N. 5- 3, February 1999, p. 8.

14 Catholic World News, January 22, 1997. This testimony was confided to Catholic journalist Kieron Wood with the understanding that it would not be published until after Bishop Morriss’ death, which occurred recently.

15 L'Osservatore Romano, July 3, 1974, quoted in Iota Unum, by Amerio Romano, Sarto House [Kansas City, 1996], p. 112.

16 Statement to the Bishops of Chile, 1988.

17 Crisis, May 1996, p. 6.

18 “A Life for These Times,” CULTURE WARS, May 2000, pp. 46-47

19 Redemptor Hominis, n. 6

20 Denzinger, 1836.

21 From Divini redemptoris: “In the beginning, Communism showed itself for what it was in all its perversity, but very soon it realized that it was thus alienating people. It has therefore, changed its tactics and strives to entice the multitudes by trickery in various forms, hiding its real designs behind ideas that are in themselves good and attractive ... Under various names that do not suggest Communism ... [t]hey try perfidiously to worm their way even into professedly Catholic and religious organizations ... [t]hey invite Catholics to collaborate with them in the realm of so-called humanitarianism and charity; and at times make proposals that are in perfect harmony with the Christian spirit and the doctrine of the Church ... See to it, faithful brethren, that the Faithful do not allow themselves to be deceived.”

22 General Audience, November 26, 1969. Compare, Mediator Dei by Pius XII and even Veterum Sapientia by John XXIII, both enjoining preservation of the Latin liturgy. Both documents were swept aside soon after the Council.

23 Cfr. Auctorem Fidei, Pius VI, nn. 33, 66.

24 Angelus Address, September 3, 1995: “To a large extent, it is a question of making full use of the ample room for a lay and feminine presence recognized by the Church’s law. I am thinking, for example, of theological teaching, the forms of liturgical ministry permitted, including service at the altar . . . Who can imagine the great advantages to pastoral care and the new beauty that the Church’s face will assume, when the feminine genius is fully involved in the

various areas of her life?”

25 Compare the 1917 Code of Canon Law, forbidding any active participation by Catholics in worship with Protestants; Mortalium animos by Pius IX, and the 1949 Instruction of the Holy Office on the “ecumenical movement,” which forbade any form of common worship at discussion groups authorized by the local bishop, and which required that the Catholic doctrine on the return of the dissidents to the one true Church be presented.

26 Ratzinger, Cardinal Josef. Principles of Catholic Theology. Ignatius Press: San Francisco (1982), 197-198

27 Balamand Statement, nn. 13 and 30

27A Ibid.

28 General Audience Address, May 5, 1999; Prayer and Exhortation on March 21, 2000 in Wadi Al-Kharrar.

29 Ratzinger, op. cit., p. 381 Father Brian Harrison has argued with great power that the apparent contradiction between Dignitatis Humanae and prior teaching is not in the realm of doctrine but rather public ecclesiastical law, which can be reversed. In correspondence with him (which he has kindly indulged) I have focused on the Council’s teaching that there is a natural right to immunity from coercion even in the public activities of non-Catholic religions. I do not see how the existence of this natural right can be reconciled with the teaching of the pre-conciliar popes on the errors of modern liberty, since none of these popes mentioned such a right, but rather all of them spoke entirely in terms of a mere prudential tolerance of false religions by the State, and the notion of tolerance by definition excludes a right to do what is merely tolerated. Here, too, only the Church can finally resolve the problem.

30 Sermon at World Trans Dome, January 27, 1999 in L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly English Edition, N. 5-3, p. 8.

31 It is impossible to see how, in terms of authority within the family, there can be two subjects and no ruler. Compare the following:

Leo XIII On Christian Marriage, n 11: “The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties. For "the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the Church. . . Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things."[18] . . .”

John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, n. 24 : “The author of the Letter to the Ephesians sees no contradiction between an exhortation formulated in this way and the words: ‘Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife.” (5:22-23). The author knows that this way of speaking, so profoundly rooted in the customs and religious tradition of the time, is to be understood and carried out in a new way: as a ‘mutual subjection out of reverence for Christ’ (cf. Eph 5:21) . . . whereas in the relationship between Christ and the Church the subjection is only on the part of the Church, in the relationship between husband and wife the ‘subjection’ is not one-sided but mutual.”

32Speech of Dec. 8, 1968 to the Lombard College, quoted in Amerio, op cit. at p.6

33 Speech of 23 November 1973, quoted in Amerio, op. Cit.

34 This error is contrary even to the teaching of Vatican II itself in Lumen gentium 25, where the Council notes that a papal teaching is part of the ordinary Magisterium only according to the pope’s “manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.”

35 /ecumod.html.


[i].. Summa II, II Q. 33, Art. 4

[ii].. De Romano Pontifice, II 30.

[iii].. The Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary, Canon Law Society of America, c. 333.

[iv].. The Wanderer, February 16, 1995.

[v]..This Rock “March” 1996, p. 22 (This issue actually appeared in June 1996)

[vi].. Id. p. 22-23 . Catholic Encyclopedia (1911). See,