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Thursday, October 1, 2015

The SSPX is Not in Schism: A Point by Point Rebuttal to CMTV's "Catholi-Schism" Video Featured

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Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre
Dear Readers,

I originally had no intention to offer a point by point rebuttal of Michael Voris’ hour-long “Catholi-Schism” video. The video is part of what Voris likes to call his “FBI” or Faith-Based Investigation” series. In reality a more proper acronym would have been “DOA” or “Dead on Arrival.” For the video does nothing more than make a systematic presentation of old arguments against the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) which have all been answered before.

In the days following the release of the video, however, I began to receive numerous requests to respond to it and issue a rebuttal. As it turns out there are many Catholics out there who are attracted to the Society as a potential option due to their spiritually barren Neo-Modernist dioceses, which are only getting worse under Francis. However, they are concerned due to things they hear about the Society from Neo-Catholic sources, such as Michael Voris and his Church Militant TV. As I received more of these requests, I began to realize that there are a large number of faithful Catholics out there who are just coming to the realization that there is a crisis in the Church. These Catholics are new to Tradition and are not very familiar with all of the previous arguments and apologetics hashed out over the years regarding the SSPX. They have very limited time and they are looking for one-stop-shopping to read up quickly on a very important issue for themselves and their families.

This may sound odd, but after watching this video I believe we must thank Mr. Voris for producing “Catholi-Schism.” For it has summed up in a nice package all of the misinformation about the SSPX through the years and gathered it in one place. As such, it provides a great opportunity to unravel each of these arguments in a detailed response. That said, this effort required to do this proved to be no small task. The sheer amount of material covered in an hour presentation is vast and the amount of writing and research that needs to be done in order to explain points is considerable.

Nevertheless, I decided to undertake this burden for the sake of those faithful Catholic families caught in the unenviable position of choosing between keeping their Faith and continuing to assist at the heart-rending travesties that pass for “Masses” at most “full communion” parishes across the country. If Voris’ video discouraged any of these Catholics from assisting at SSPX Chapels for the sake of their families’ souls, and to instead continue to endure the Faith-devouring Neo-Modernism at their local parish, I hope this rebuttal will open their eyes. For I firmly believe we will not come one step closer to defeating the Crisis in the Church by “actively participating” in our local abuse-laden parish. It is only by drawing people out of these parishes into Traditional parishes, whether they be SSPX, FSSP, ICK, or Motu parishes that we will help to defeat the enemy.

I am providing the following article as a reference document and resource for those interested in the SSPX and the issues surrounding them. Although it is quite long, I have tried to break the piece up under bite-sized topic headings and have provided several hyperlinks and videos in order to illustrate points. The videos of Michael Davies are taken from a debate he had with E. Michael Jones on the SSPX Schism in the mid-nineties. Interestingly, you almost have go back to the 90's to find Neo-Catholic apologists arguing this long since discredited position. I pulled the Davies’ clips from the longer debate video which can be found here.

In conclusion, I will pray for the intentions of those who read this article that God may give them the grace to make the correct decision. I know it is a trite saying, but if this article ends up assisting even one soul then it will have been worth all the effort.

Chris Jackson

Voris Refutes His Entire Video in the First Minute

The “Catholi-Schism” video begins with the words “Chapter 1: These are Dark Days.” Voris quotes Bishop Athanasius Schneider as saying “we currently live through a catastrophe rivaling that of the Arian crisis.” Voris then states, “There is a real crisis in the Church. A crisis that is shaking Her to Her core. Dissident priests and indifferent bishops allow the unchecked spread of uncatholic beliefs among the laity. The average Catholic is ignorant or couldn’t care less about his salvation.”

Thus, Voris begins an hour long hit piece on the SSPX by beautifully illustrating the very “state of necessity” the SSPX justifiably acts under. If the circumstances just described by Voris and echoed by Bp. Schneider do not constitute a canonical state of necessity in the Church, then nothing does. Therefore, Voris’ entire case against the SSPX is gutted within the first minute of his video. Other Neo-Catholic critics of the SSPX, around far longer than CMTV, have always based their position on the fact that there is no real crisis in the Church and thus no necessary reason for the Society to be taking the actions they are in order to save souls. These Neo-Catholics were wrong and deluded as to reality, but at least they knew what argument they needed to make to be consistent. But as we’ve seen, consistency and logic is not very high on CMTV’s priority list:: 

Word From the Vatican is Very Promising Regarding the SSPX, So Why The Video?

The video then confusingly says the “word from the Vatican is less than promising” regarding the SSPX. This in spite of the following unprecedented events that have happened within the last five months:

·         On April 12, 2015 Argentina recognized the SSPX due to authorization from the Pope’s successor as Archbishop of Buenos Aires:

…as a juridical person and has been added to the Register of the Institutes of Consecrated Life in which are listed the Catholic orders and religious congregations present in Argentina. This decision was made possible, among other formalities, by a letter from the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli, addressed to the Secretary of Religion as a part of the procedures undertaken by the Society’s authorities in 2011. This letter, in which the archbishop of Buenos Aires “asked that ‘the Society of the Apostles of Jesus and Mary’ (Society of St. Pius X) be considered as an association with diocesan rights, until a definitive juridical framework is granted to it in the universal Church,” is a necessary condition for all religious congregations in Argentina...The fact that Cardinal Poli is Cardinal Bergoglio’s successor to the archiepiscopal see of Buenos Aires is a legitimate reason to believe that this decision was not taken without consulting Pope Francis

·         In August, Bishop Athanasius Schneider said the SSPX should be “accepted as they are” after visiting two SSPX seminaries as requested by the Holy See:

I am keeping a good impression of my visits. I could observe a sound theological, spiritual and human reality in the two [seminaries]… To my knowledge there are no weighty reasons in order to deny the clergy and faithful of the SSPX the official canonical recognition, meanwhile they should be accepted as they are…When the SSPX believes, worship and conducts a moral [life] as it was demanded and recognized by the Supreme Magisterium and was observed universally in the Church during a centuries long period and when the SSPX recognizes the legitimacy of the Pope and the diocesan bishops and prays for them publicly and recognizes also the validity of the sacraments according to the editio typica of the new liturgical books, this should suffice for a canonical recognition of the SSPX on behalf of the Holy See. 

·         As recently as September 1st the Pope himself confirmed that SSPX priests validly and licitly hear confessions during the year of mercy:

A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime, motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.

Voris Twists Benedict’s 2009 Quote, Uses it as Erroneous Proof Text for Schism

Yet Voris says the “word from Rome” regarding the situation of the SSPX is “less than promising?” What, pray tell, would Mr. Voris base this erroneous opinion on? None other than an out of context quotation from a six year old letter that Benedict XVI wrote in 2009; a letter that the pope wrote right after he had just remitted the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops (yet another step bringing the SSPX closer to a regularized status in the Church). So what is this amazing “proof text” CMTV and other Neo-Catholics keep using to make outrageous claims about the Society being in schism and heresy? It is the following sentence that Voris quoted no less than FIVE times during his video:

In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

“To make this clear once again?” To make “what” clear exactly? Pope Benedict tells us earlier in the letter

The remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated in 1988 by Archbishop Lefebvre without a mandate of the Holy See has for many reasons caused, both within and beyond the Catholic Church, a discussion more heated than any we have seen for a long time. Many Bishops felt perplexed by an event which came about unexpectedly and was difficult to view positively in the light of the issues and tasks facing the Church today… Some groups…openly accused the Pope of wanting to turn back the clock to before the Council: as a result, an avalanche of protests was unleashed, whose bitterness laid bare wounds deeper than those of the present moment. I therefore feel obliged to offer you, dear Brothers, a word of clarification…the extent and limits of the provision of 21 January 2009 were not clearly and adequately explained at the moment of its publication.

As most people following Church affairs at the time can recall, the remitting of the excommunications was followed almost immediately by the release of a bombshell television interview where a now former bishop of the SSPX, questioned numbers and methods of Jewish deaths at the hands of the Germans during World War II. The Pope even references this explosive event in his letter. The media was on fire with this story at the time. Not letting a good crisis go to waste, liberal bishops and groups in the Church, as well as outside the Church, used the timing of these events to publicly lambast Pope Benedict for his remitting of the excommunications. As the Pope responds in his letter, they disingenuously accused him of wanting to turn back the clock and made a show of questioning his commitment to Vatican II.

In addition, as any informed Catholics can tell you who lived through these events, confusion reigned as to what the remitting of these excommunications meant. Did this mean the Pope had regularized the Society? Had reunion taken place without consultation of the bishops and curia? It was a time of complete chaos. It was in this context that Pope Benedict had to reassert his reasons for wanting to reconcile with the Society and clarify to the apoplectic and frenzied liberal bishops that the remitting of the excommunications did not mean the Society was completely regularized and did not mean the Pope accepted and agreed with all of their views on Vatican II.

In reality, these disingenuous liberal bishops knew full well the Society had not been regularized and also knew the Pope did not become Archbishop Lefebvre overnight. They were simply feigning outrage, as the left loves to do, in order to embarrass the “conservative” Pope as much as possible in the media, and spread fear and animosity towards him among the faithful. Perhaps they even saw a golden opportunity to get him to abdicate.

Similarly, the Neo-Cath apologists were equally disingenuous in cherry-picking their one sentence proof text from this letter, a tactic perhaps still ingrained in some of them from their Protestant past, and parading it around as if it were an infallible, de fide, stand-alone, ex cathedra definition the Pope had just issued in a Papal Bull. In their view, all that was missing was the “anathema sit.”

Instead, the Pope was merely clarifying what was painfully obvious to all rational Catholics at the time. That besides the remitting of the excommunications of the four bishops, nothing else had changed regarding the Society’s canonical status or state in the Church. It most certainly did not get any worse, as the Neo-Caths maintain. This would be ridiculous since the Pope had just remitted the excommunications, putting the Society’s bishops in a much better position than before.

“No Legitimate Ministry” is Old News

The words “no legitimate ministry” in the Neo-Cath’s proof text quote simply refers to liciety or licitness. This is proven in the letter itself where Benedict earlier states, “The discreet gesture of mercy towards four Bishops ordained validly but not legitimately…” , i.e. licitly. The Neo-Catholics act as if this were some revelation and repeat it ad nauseam. I’d like to ask them where any Traditionalist had stated that SSPX priests and bishops act licitly (with express permission from the authorities) according to the Vatican. Even the SSPX itself will be the first to tell you that no, Rome and the bishops do not give them, generally speaking, express permission to do what they do.

As Bishop Fellay said in March of 2009, shortly after the letter was released:

We know that our situation, before the law of the Church, is imperfect. This is not new, and is intimately linked with the crisis that is affecting the Church and the state of necessity that flows from it. Then, it is useless to invoke law to try to suffocate the life of our priestly society… Indeed, the kind act of the Holy See should not be interpreted as a determination to strangle the Society of Saint Pius X.

Thus, the SSPX’s actions are not justified due to express permission from the authorities, but due to the egregiously dire state of the Church; the crisis. A crisis Voris ironically explained to us in detail in the first minute of his hit piece.

In short, churchmen cannot create a crisis, the depths of which have never before been seen in the Church, and then forbid priests from attempting to reverse the crisis and save souls endangered because of it. The laws of the Church are given in order to build up the Church. They cannot be used to tear it down, or else the letter of the law goes against its very purpose for being.

As Archbishop Lefebvre described in 1986 this would be,“…what writers on administrative law call “misapplication of powers,” that is to say the employment of powers against the purpose for which they should be used.”

This principle applies even to the pope. Voris makes much ado about the pope’s authority, but the pope’s authority is not absolute and arbitrary. The pope is always obligated to rule justly:


Pope Benedict Admits Consecrating Bishops Without Permission Doesn’t Equal Schism

The biggest irony in the Neo-Catholics using a quotation from this letter, is that Pope Benedict recognizes in that very letter, the obvious fact that the SSPX is not in schism and, contrary to the words of John Paul II and in agreement with canon law, that consecrating bishops without papal mandate is not, in and of itself, a schismatic act. Pope Benedict stated:

An episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate raises the danger of a schism, since it jeopardizes the unity of the College of Bishops with the Pope.

Note: “raises the danger of a schism.” Yes, it does, but it does not equal schism, which is precisely what Voris is claiming (though saner Neo-Catholics have long since given up on this argument). If the Pope ever wanted to declare that Archbishop Lefebvre had created a schism through his consecrations, this was the place to do it. Instead, not only did the pope not do it, he reiterated what the SSPX has been saying all along. Namely that consecrating bishops without papal mandate does not in and of itself create a schism. Davies explains why below:


Pope Benedict Applies Definition of Schism to SSPX in 2009, Finds it Lacking

Further, the Pope explains why the Society is not in schism by applying the very definition of schism to the Society’s case and recognizing they do not meet it:

This gesture [remitting of excommunication] was possible once the interested parties had expressed their recognition in principle of the Pope and his authority as Pastor, albeit with some reservations in the area of obedience to his doctrinal authority and to the authority of the Council.

These words of the Pope are absolutely devastating to any Neo-Catholic claims of any type of schism, either formal or material. First, there has not been any official Vatican document declaring the SSPX to be in schism (as even Voris admits), thus no formal schism. Second, after this letter from Pope Benedict, one is no longer allowed to even hold the opinion that there is a “material schism.” For the Supreme Pontiff just applied the definition of schism to the Society right before our eyes and found the charge wanting. As the Society has been saying all along, in conjunction with previous Saints and canonists, in order to be schismatic, one must reject the authority of the pope in principle. Mere disobedience, even for a protracted period of time, does not make one schismatic. “Reservations in the area of obedience” do not equal schism.

As Rev. Fr. Heribert Jone, O.F.M. Cap. wrote in his Moral Theology, no. 432.1 (The Newman Bookshop, Westminster, MD, 1945): A schismatic is someone who, as a matter of principle, does not want to be subject to the pope..., but someone who simply refuses to obey the pope is not schismatic, even if it is for a long time.

Did Pope Benedict Lift All Suspensions From Society Priests in 2009?

Even more troubling for the Neo-Caths is that this letter could be read to imply that all suspensions a divinis have been lifted for Society priests! Read the Neo-Catholic proof text again, closely:

In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

Note: “its ministers.” What ministers? The Society’s ministers, i.e. all Society priests and bishops, “have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty.” What penalty? The Society priests were never excommunicated, therefore the only ecclesiastical penalty they were under was the automatic suspensions a divinis meted out in the 1970’s. Therefore, one could read this to mean that the Society priests have been freed of their suspensions. If so, the Society could be said to be in an even better state than before this letter as its priests would no longer be suspended.

Could this be behind the following story, the events of which took place shortly after the letter?

The third example His Excellency relayed was in connection with the ordinations scheduled to take place in Germany in March 2009.  As reported in The Remnant at the time, the bishops of Germany were capitalizing on the media’s attempt to sabotage the Holy Father’s lifting of the SSPX decree of excommunication and a then-recent interview of Bishop Williamson (“coincidentally” released on the eve of the announcement of the Holy Father’s historic decision). As previously reported in The Remnant, the Holy See contacted Bishop Fellay to request that the ordinations be moved to another location in order to ease tensions between the Holy See and the German bishops.  In his address to the Angelus conference, Bishop Fellay revealed further details of this extraordinary intervention.  

The Vatican asked Bishop Fellay to move the ordinations out of the jurisdiction of the German bishops.  If Bishop Fellay would do so, the Vatican Cardinal bargained, the Society “would be legally recognized until Easter.”  This was to cover the two-week period in which the ordinations would occur.  Bishop Fellay explained that he had asked the Cardinal why this was being requested since, according to a recent document of the Secretary of State, the SSPX does not “even exist legally.” The Cardinal replied that “the Pope does not believe that.”

As we know, Bishop Fellay did comply with the Vatican request to move the ordinations (demonstrating once again his willingness to obey the Pope).  There was a collective gasp in the room when His Excellency told this story. 

The discussions that evening including plenty of questions as to whether we had all misheard or misunderstood what His Excellency had said earlier that day: “Did he really mean the Vatican acknowledged the legal existence of the Society for two weeks last March?”  When I later spoke personally with His Excellency, I repeated his own words back to him from my notes and asked him if he had misspoken or if I had misheard him.  He said “That is what I said, you heard me correctly.”  I then asked:  “What does that mean, since there is no precedent for such a statement?  How can you be legal for two weeks and then illegal again?”  He shrugged his shoulders and said that this is what the Cardinal had said. 

On the flip side, what if Neo-Catholics argue, “No, no, no. The pope was referring to the excommunications only and thus “its ministers” only refers to the four bishops.” Then they have an even bigger problem, because the Pope says “its ministers” are the ones who “do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.” So if you limit “its ministers” to the four bishops, and exclude the Society priests, then the Pope is saying only the four Society bishops don’t exercise legitimate ministry in the Church. What about the priests? Is the Pope saying they DO exercise legitimate ministry in the Church? Quite the conundrum!

More Effective Tactics? SSPX or CMTV?

Voris then goes on to criticize the SSPX for their “tactics,” I must say that Voris’ condescending presentation, lecturing the Society that their “tactics” are not helpful and sabotage efforts to bring change in the Church, is more than a bit rich. Here is a guy who just recently discovered the entire traditional Catholic world and who has done next to nothing for Traditional Catholics, smugly lecturing a great Archbishop of the Church, explaining to us that his “tactics” were not helpful.

Excuse me, Mr. Voris? If it were not for the Archbishop’s tactics, you would be assisting at your local Novus Ordo Mass under your bishop who won’t even allow your enterprise to use the name “Catholic.” As we know, Archbishop Lefebvre’s “tactics” have resulted in two indults for the Latin Mass, the creation of the FSSP, followed by the freeing of the Mass for all priests along with an admission that the Mass was “never abrogated.” In contrast, what has Voris’ “tactics” of pretending that the Pope does not exist accomplished? Not much. So please spare us the lecture.

Voris Accuses Society of Going After NO “Missal Itself”; Just Like He did in 2010

Then, Voris hypocritically states that the Society criticizes not only abuses in the Novus Oro Mass, but that they “go after the Missal itself.” I suppose he means like he himself did in 2010, when he stated the following:

“…they [the faithful] appeal to the pope, they’re dismissed, and in the meantime a new mass is being engineered that almost totally downplays all Catholic worship in favor of the Protestant friendly approach…”

“We're not talking about the validity. What we're talking about is, is this authentic Catholic worship? Is this how Catholics worship God? Is this a break from the past that's so violent that you can't really say this is Catholic worship as we have understood it? Has the theology behind the Mass been so manipulated twisted and deformed that Catholics going to this Mass miss something of the theology compared to talking about the traditional Latin Mass, the Tridentine Mass.”

“…one thing is absolutely certain this one man [Bugnini] set out on a course to so alter the Catholic Mass that at the very least it would lose practically any dimension whatsoever of being authentic Catholic worship…”

“These are Protestants assessing the [New] Mass going ‘Hey, rock on Catholics! Took you 500 years but you caught up to us finally, good for you.”

Voris then gives a Sunday school presentation on the parable of the sower. How this is in any way applicable to the SSPX, he does not say. One parable that is beautifully applicable to the SSPX however, is the parable of the Good Samaritan. I’ll let the great Michael Davies explain. If you only watch one video in this article, watch this one:


Archbishop Lefebvre: A Modern Day St. Athanasius

Voris then goes into his own version of the Society’s history which is full of errors. In the interests of time, one can simply go to the SSPX’s USA District website to read a study on the Society’s legal existence by Rev. Thomas C.G. Glover, Doctor of Canon Law.

Voris then condescendingly preaches that Archbishop Lefebvre should have humbly submitted to the illegal suppression of his Society and gives examples of saints submitting to unjust penalties. This is quite the claim coming from a man who balked when his own archbishop commanded him to cease using the name Catholic in his media enterprise. Instead of humble submission, Voris responded by saying that the archbishop was not the “competent ecclesiastical authority.” He then humbly and submissively told a reporter, ““It’s the wrong person, and the wrong outfit asking the wrong person the wrong question.”

Voris then attempted to rewrite history regarding St. Athanasius and his obvious parallels to Archbishop Lefebvre, saying the two are not analogous. I’ll let Michael Davies respond:


Voris Rewrites SSPX History

Voris then states the Society had their case adjudicated by competent authority, appealed the decision, lost, and then claimed the authorities had no authority to hear their case in the first place. This embarrassing statement shows Voris’ ignorance of the Society’s history, which is easily accessible online. In reality, their case in the 1970’s was never adjudicated by any competent body in accord with canon law. This is proven by the fact that when the suppression was attempted to be enforced, Archbishop Lefebvre asked to see the documents whereby the Pope authorized the body who made the original decision against his seminary. These documents were never produced. Furthermore, the Society’s appeal was never heard. The Secretary of State blocked the case from being heard by the Apostolic Signatura. Therefore, the Society never had their appeal denied. Instead they were denied the right to appeal. As Archbishop Lefebvre himself recalls:

The juridical existence of the Commission itself has never been proved.  By what pontifical act was it instituted? On what date? What form did it take? Who was notified of it? The fact that the Roman authorities refuse to produce any such act permits us to doubt its existence.  If there is doubt about its validity a law is not binding,  says the Code of Canon Law.  Even less so when there is doubt about the competence or even the existence of the authority.

…I entered two successive appeals before the Apostolic Signatura, which is more or less the equivalent of a court of appeal in civil law.  The Cardinal Secretary of State, Mgr. Villot, forbade this supreme tribunal of the Church to entertain them, which amounts to an interference by the executive in the judiciary.

Voris makes much of the claim that no pope suspended or excommunicated the Archbishop but that his actions invoked the penalty automatically via canon law. But this only serves to put Archbishop Lefebvre in a better position. For then the matter becomes an objective question of whether the penalty truly applied to the facts under canon law. Many notable canonists not affiliated with the Society have looked at the facts and canon law and have found that both the Archbishop’s suspension and the excommunication were invalid. Remember, the Pope is not infallible regarding excommunications and must apply canon law as written at the time of the events that are in question. This is a basic rule of law upon which all learned canonists would agree. The Pope is a monarch but not a despot whose very whim is the rule of law:

Voris Misquotes Paul VI in Order to Condemn Archbishop Lefebvre

Voris then goes on to misquote Paul VI in a very important matter. He attempts to quote Paul VI from a letter he sent to Archbishop Lefebvre on 11 October 1976, at minute sixteen, stating:

“You want to convince the faithful that the proximate cause of the crisis is more than a wrong interpretation of the Council, and that it flows from the Church itself. Moreover, you act as if you have a particular role in this regard. But the mission of discerning and remedying the abuse is first of all Ours…”

(Voris slows down and emphasizes the words “Church itself” as if we are to be aghast.)

Here is the accurate quote from Paul VI:

You want to convince the faithful that the proximate cause of the crisis is more than a wrong interpretation of the Council, and that it flows from the Council itself. Moreover, you act as if you had a particular role in this regard. But the mission of discerning and remedying the abuses is first of all Ours ; it is the mission of all the bishops who work together with Us.”

Quite the difference!

As Michael Davies commented:

Pope Paul was correct in stating that Archbishop Lefebvre claims that the Council is the cause of the crisis but the Pope contradicted all the available evidence in claiming that neither the Council nor the official reforms could, in fact, be blamed for the erroneous, scandalous, and indeed, sacrilegious practices which exist. It must be clearly understood that in making such a statement the Pope was expressing his opinion on a question of fact-i.e.: Have or have not the official reforms helped to create the atmosphere which engendered the abuses? Pope Paul said "No"; Mgr. Lefebvre said "Yes.” In a dispute concerning a matter of fact we must base our decision upon the available evidence and not upon the status of the parties concerned… Pope Paul was quite correct in stating that the Pope and the Bishops have a mission to discern and remedy abuses -but having a mission is not the same as discharging it faithfully.

Voris again quotes Paul VI (this time accurately):

And so you claim not even to be affected by the orders of the Pope, or by the suspension a divinis, as you lament "subversion' in the Church.

Davies responds:

Is it not clear proof of the extent of the subversion in the Church during the Pontificate of Pope Paul VI that Her most courageous and orthodox bishop was suspended a divinis the crime of forming orthodox priests? As has already been made clear in this book on several occasions, the refusal of the Archbishop to accept any of the sanctions following his refusal to close his seminary is not more than the logical corollary of his contention that the order to do this was unjust.

Mind of ABL is Controlling Re: 1988 “Excommunications”

Next Voris moves on to the 1988 episcopal consecrations with the same erroneous treatment. First Voris confuses the principle of epikeia, or equity, with the clear canon law on states of necessity which the SSPX primarily uses in its defense. Thus, the Society does not even need to get to the principle of epikea regarding the 1988 consecrations, though epikeia does apply to the Archbishop’s case. If it did not, the law would be acting against its own purpose for being, which is the very situation where epikeia arises.

As for canon law, Voris only one time, around the 24 minute mark, even alludes to a particular canon that is devastating to his position that Archbishop Lefebvre was excommunicated:

The SSPX claims that Lefebvre’s consecrations were permissible, and he was not excommunicated due to canon law because deep down inside Lefebvre truly believed what he was doing was necessary.

What is Voris response to this argument? Nothing. Not a word. He simply states this and moves on. Perhaps he is trying to mock the idea or make it sound silly. Unfortunately for Voris, this notion is directly written into canon law itself. Indeed there is a canon which states that even if there had been NO state of necessity in 1988, and if Archbishop Lefebvre (note, NOT JPII) believed himself to be acting out of a state of necessity, then an automatic excommunication would not apply. Davies excellently explains this below, gutting Voris’ position of any remaining crediblity:


Voris Goes Crazy, Says Abp. Lefebvre Set Himself Up as Rival Pope

Then Voris makes such an incredible, and ridiculous claim, I had to play it again to make sure he really said it. Voris actually states:

By appointing bishops not only without, but against, apostolic mandate he [ABL] claimed papal prerogative regardless of what he said. By taking that power, through his actions, Lefebvre would be setting himself up as a rival pope in deed, whether or not he denied it in word.

This is quite humorous since Voris claims papal prerogative every time he declares the SSPX in schism or declares their marriages and confessions invalid. For only the pope can authoritatively determine these matters and the pope has not done so. Thus, Voris has set himself up as a rival pope according to his own logic.

What Voris is doing here is arguing that consecrating a bishop without papal mandate is, in and of itself, an intrinsically schismatic act. This argument is patently false and has been proven to be many times over.

Voris Ignorant of Church Law, Says the Dead Remain Excommunicated in Afterlife

Voris then states, as if it were fact, that Archbishop Lefebvre’s excommunication remains and has never been lifted. Later he says, “Marcel Lefebvre’s excommunication is in effect to this day.” This is patently false. First of all, excommunications are for the living, not the dead. So any supposed excommunication ceased upon the death of the Archbishop. As The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

As the baptized cease, at death, to belong to the Church Militant, the dead cannot be excommunicated. Of course, strictly speaking, after the demise of a Christian person, it may be officially declared that such person incurred excommunication during his lifetime. Quite in the same sense he may be absolved after his death; indeed, the Roman Ritual contains the rite for absolving an excommunicated person already dead.

Second, note that one who is excommunicated during his lifetime can still be absolved after his death. Now consider the following from Brian McCall at the Angelus Press Conference in 2010 demonstrating that, contrary to Voris’ ruling, the supposed excommunication on the Archbishop was lifted in 2009 by none other than Pope Benedict XVI:

At the Angelus conference, Bishop Fellay also drew our attention to a related indication found in the wording of the Vatican decree nullifying the decree of SSPX excommunication. The final paragraphs of this decree reads:

On the basis of the powers expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, by virtue of the present Decree I remit the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae incurred by Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, and declared by this Congregation on July 1988. At the same time I declare that, as of today's date, the Decree issued at that time no longer has juridical effect. (Emp. added)

Bishop Fellay pointed out what should have been obvious to us all.  Notwithstanding the fact that the first sentence mentions only four of the six bishops subject to the former decree, the final sentence clearly states that the former decree “no longer has juridical effect.”  That means the former decree ceases to legally exist. 

If the decree claiming Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer are excommunicated latae sententiae has no juridical effect, the declaration with respect to them has been withdrawn as well.  To avoid this obvious conclusion, the language needed merely to say “with respect to these four bishops only,” the former decree has no juridical effect; or “except as regards Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer” the former decree has no juridical effect. 

I must admit that I felt rather stupid for not having noticed at the time what was clearly but subtly accomplished by this clever wording. The declared excommunication latae sententiae against Archbishop Lefebvre and his trusted ally in 1988 was removed without mentioning either of them by name.  To do so would likely have elicited another episcopal rebellion.

Voris Usurps Authority of Pope; Declares SSPX Marriages and Confessions Invalid

Voris then pulls out the old “SSPX confessions and marriages are invalid” scarecrow argument as the mood in his video grows tense and foreboding. One can almost imagine the lights going out as Voris holds a flashlight up to his face saying the following words in a deep ghoulish voice:

The SSPX’s lack of canonical status brings with it some harrowing effects…the SSPX has no jurisdiction granted to it by the papacy. This means that the SSPX priests cannot grant absolution in the confessional. The SSPX also cannot perform the sacrament of marriage validly. People who have been married by the SSPX, in a word, aren’t...The SSPX offer sacraments under false pretenses; a heinous, heinous crime. If you have been married in the SSPX, you have, in fact, not been.

(Queue ear piercing shriek of horror.)

Of course, Voris has absolutely and positively no authority to make such a definitive claim for the Church and can point to precisely zero official public statements from Rome declaring this to be the case. Thus, if Voris is correct, the Vatican II popes since Paul VI have all been entirely mum about millions of invalid confessions and widespread Traditional concubinage for approximately 40+ years! Therefore, by taking this position, Voris condemns each and every Vatican II pope for very grievous sins of omission and complete and utter disregard for souls. What irony that Voris implies this horror and evil regarding the last five popes while refusing to criticize them. I don’t think any writer at the Remnant or Catholic Family News has ever charged the last five pontiffs with such an abominable sin as Voris implies in this video.

Luckily for us, Voris is dead wrong. One can read the following articles to see why:

Are the SSPX Confessions Valid? A Response to Father Z and Jeff Mirus

The Magisterium of Michael Voris

Validity of SSPX Confessions and Marriages

Voris Frets Over SSPX Annulments, Gives Pass to Francis for Instituting “Catholic Divorce”

Then the most ironic part of the entire video comes at 30 minutes in:

If you’ve had a decree of nullity [for marriage] issued by the SSPX, seek a priest or canon lawyer immediately…! The SSPX’s fraudulence is putting souls at risk.

Yes, Voris feels the need to warn souls of the damage done to marriage by traditional priests using strict traditional annulment criteria to determine whether a marriage was contracted, but yet he is deafeningly silent as our own pope guts marriage and turns annulments into “Catholic Divorce.” Even Cardinals in the Church are up in arms over this devastating move by Francis, but not a single peep out of the mouth of Michael Voris. Didn’t St. Thomas More once say that silence is consent?

In any case, for anyone who wishes to read about the Society’s approach to annulments they can click below:

The SSPX and annulments

Voris Decries State of Necessity While Proving it Every Day

Then comes the most hypocritical part of the video. Voris condemns the SSPX’s use of a state of necessity as a subjective and arbitrary disregarding of the Church’s laws. Meanwhile, Voris himself disregards all Church laws regarding who has the authority to definitively state there is a schism, or to definitively state as fact whether certain sacraments are valid. Voris has no such authority and yet he usurps it constantly and publicly.

As shown previously, it can be demonstrated that a severe crisis and state of necessity does exist in the Church and it is now even much worse than it was when the Archbishop was alive. As evidence, I point to the CMTV website itself. There you will see video after video and article after article documenting piece by piece the state of necessity in the Church. In conclusion, I again quote Michael Voris to make my case:

There is a real crisis in the Church. A crisis that is shaking Her to Her core. Dissident priests and indifferent bishops allow the unchecked spread of uncatholic beliefs among the laity. The average Catholic is ignorant or couldn’t care less about his salvation.

Voris then asks how we will know when the state of necessity will end? I suppose this state of necessity will end once CMTV decides they are finished trapping and exposing all lies and falsehoods in the Church. In fact, as soon as CMTV closes up shop and considers themselves no longer necessary, I’ll reconsider arguing there is a state of necessity in the Church.

It was the Society’s Idea to Have Doctrinal Discussions, Not the Pope’s

Voris then incredibly acts like it was Pope Benedict’s novel idea in 2009 to have doctrinal discussions with the SSPX. He acts as if Pope Benedict suddenly and miraculously discovered that the differences between SSPX and Rome are doctrinal in nature. This demonstrates perhaps more than anything else in the video, that Michael Voris has no idea of the history of the SSPX and Rome and is incompetent to be instructing others on the matter. In reality, the differences between Rome and Econe have always been doctrinal and related directly to the novel doctrines of the Second Vatican Council. Did Voris seriously think the SSPX and Rome had been kept apart purely by the issue of the Latin Mass for the last 40 years? Has he been living under a rock in the Vortex?

As any literate being with opposable thumbs could have easily discovered, Archbishop Lefebvre himself is the one who, after the 1988 talks fell through, insisted on future discussions being on the doctrinal level. In a 1988 interview with Fideliter magazine, Archbishop Lefebvre stated the following:

Archbishop Lefebvre: We do not have the same outlook on a reconciliation. Cardinal Ratzinger sees it as reducing us, bringing us back to Vatican II. We see it as a return of Rome to Tradition. We don’t agree; it is a dialogue of death. I can’t speak much of the future, mine is behind me, but if I live a little while, supposing that Rome calls for a renewed dialogue, then, I will put conditions. I shall not accept being in the position where I was put during the dialogue. No more.

I will place the discussion at the doctrinal level: “Do you agree with the great encyclicals of all the popes who preceded you? Do you agree with Quanta Cura of Pius IX, Immortale Dei and Libertas of Leo XIII, Pascendi Gregis of Pius X, Quas Primas of Pius XI, Humani Generis of Pius XII? Are you in full communion with these Popes and their teachings? Do you still accept the entire Anti-Modernist Oath? Are you in favor of the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ? If you do not accept the doctrine of your predecessors, it is useless to talk! As long as you do not accept the correction of the Council, in consideration of the doctrine of these Popes, your predecessors, no dialogue is possible. It is useless.”

Thus, the positions will be clear.

The stakes are not small. We are not content when they say to us, “You may say the traditional Mass, but you must accept the Council.” What opposes us is doctrine; it is clear.

This stance hardly makes the SSPX “heretical”, as Voris claims, and is entirely consistent with the Society believing what the Church has always believed. For it is precisely because the Society believes as Catholics have always believed that there are doctrinal differences with a self-described “Conciliar Rome”: The Rome of Assisi, religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality, in addition to the Novus Ordo Missae . A Novus Ordo Missae that Voris himself said, “almost totally downplays all Catholic worship in favor of a Protestant friendly approach.”

Furthermore, Superior General Bernard Fellay himself laid down the three pre-conditions to a reconciliation that Pope Benedict himself was following. Bishop Fellay requested the freeing of the Latin Mass for all priests to say, the lifting of the excommunications, and then doctrinal discussions before any agreement could be reached. Again, this is nothing new. Voris is reading Pope Benedict’s 2009 letter in a factual and historical vacuum and then using his own anti-SSPX bias to construct a meaning that was never intended. For he absurdly acts as if Pope Benedict somehow realized the SSPX was in heresy in 2009 and then demanded doctrinal discussions as if to put them before the Inquisition. This patently false reading of Pope Benedict’s 2009 letter as the entire basis for his case against the Society brings to mind Voris’ own words used against the Society: “false pretenses”, ”a heinous, heinous crime”, “fraudulence…putting souls at risk”, and “harrowing effects”.

Then Voris points out that the SSPX has no charism of infallibility, as if the SSPX ever claimed to, and as if any post-conciliar pope has ever even come close to using theirs.

Voris Lectures SSPX on Imprecise Language While Abusing the Word “Schism” Constantly

Then, Voris puts out an incredible whopper. He says:

The SSPX denies the indefectibility of the Church. The SSPX repeatedly states that the Novus Ordo Missal is inherently toxic to the Faith, not just the abuses that are carried out in far too many parishes. We’re not talking about those. But the actual Missal itself. The Mass. They go as far [as] to say attending it can be a sin and forbid those who go to their chapels to participate in it.

Voris then absurdly states that because the Society describes the New Mass as “the New Mass” and the old Mass as “The Old Mass” they are in heresy! Yes, folks, I could not make this up. Voris educates all of us by informing us there is only ONE Mass! Voris is either being dishonest here, or else he has even less knowledge of Catholicism than I gave him credit for. Obviously, Traditionalists are referring to the differing liturgical rites and not contradicting the fact that every Mass is a representation of the one sacrifice at Calvary.

He concedes this might be the case, but even if so that, “their language is ambiguous, imprecise, and reflects poor sacramental theology. “ Sort of like Voris freely throwing around the word “schism” in reference to the Society, not clarifying whether he’s talking about the non-existent formal schism or the non-existent “material schism.” Regardless, any Traditionalist knows exactly what someone is referring to when they say “the New Mass” and “the Old Mass” and are hardly confused. Yet Voris lectures them as if they had the theological knowledge of your average CMTV subscriber.

Neo-Caths Still Don’t Get Quo Primum

Voris then recycles the same old tired Neo-Cath arguments regarding Quo Primum as if he thought of them himself. He says citing Quo Primum as an argument against the Novus Ordo is the “height of hypocrisy.” He then cites Paul VI pointing out in a letter that the SSPX doesn’t even use the Missal of Pius V. Voris then recites the long since refuted argument that the Missal of Pius V has “changed” many times up to and including the pontificate of John XXIII. Thus Voris implies that creating a new rite of Mass out of thin air by committee is the same as non-essential “changes” such as adding new prefaces for newly canonized saints, etc. As Remnant writer Peter Crenshaw notes in response to Catholic Answers apologist, Tim Staples, making the same argument:

The response to this is simple. All one has to do is look at the revisions that were made to the Mass and the Breviary by popes after Pius V and up to Vatican II. From Staples argument, one would expect each of these change to be quite major, stripping large parts of prayers here, rewriting others, providing options, etc. along the lines of the Novus Ordo. In reality, one finds none of this. Instead one finds minor common sense modifications to the calendar providing for the addition of new feast days for newly canonized Saints and similar minor administrative revisions. Proof that Pope Pius V never intended his own Bull to ridiculously forbid such obvious logical revisions is that he himself added the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary to the missal following the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. How about the “revisions” of St. Pius X? He simply reformed the calendar. Pius XI? He added a preface for the feast of Christ the King. Pius XII? He revised rubrics and ceremonies for Holy Week. John XXIII? He added St. Joseph's name to the Roman Canon. What do all of these revisions have in common? None of them substantively change in any way the Mass of the Roman Rite of Pius V.

Michael Davies also responds to Paul VI’s point in detail:

… the Roman Mass had developed by gradual and natural process for over 1,000 years until it was finally codified by St. Pius V. I have provided its history in some detail in my pamphlet  The Tridentine Mass.5 Surely the Holy Father, or whoever wrote this letter for him, cannot expect any Catholic with a rudimentary knowledge of Church history to take seriously a comparison between the evolution of the traditional Mass and the concoction of a new Mass (something the Council did not order) within the space of a few years and with the cooperation of heretics. Leaving aside the fact that the New Mass has been constructed in such a fashion that it can be celebrated in a form containing hardly a reference to the sacrificial nature of the Mass, in which form it is entirely acceptance to some Protestants. The New Mass has also proved to be a disaster pastorally and aesthetically. No layman was better qualified to comment on the liturgy than Dietrich von Hildebrand. He wrote:

“The new liturgy was simply not formed by saints, homines religiosi, and artistically gifted men, but has been worked out by so-called experts, who are not at all aware that in our time there is a lack of talent for such things. Today is a time of incredible talent for technology and medical research, but not for the organic shaping of the expression of the religious world. We live in a world without poetry, and this means that one should approach the treasures handed in from more fortunate times with twice as much reverence, and not with the illusion that we can do it better ourselves.”

Then Voris states the following:

Is the SSPX interpretation of the document [Quo Primum] true? The answer is: absolutely not. Exceptions were built into the letter for liturgies older than 200 years. Furthermore, many Catholics belong to the twenty-two separate Rites in the Catholic Church, all of which have their own liturgy, just like the Roman Rite, or the Latin Rite. For something to be dogmatic it must be binding on all Catholics, in all places, and all times, universally. There was never a point where the entire Church was obligated to use the Pius V Missal. Quo Primum is not dogmatic…

Has Voris ever read Quo Primum? It states:

Let all everywhere adopt and observe what has been handed down by the Holy Roman Church, the Mother and Teacher of the other churches, and let Masses not be sung or read according to any other formula than that of this Missal published by Us. This ordinance applies henceforth, now, and forever, throughout all the provinces of the Christian world, to all patriarchs, cathedral churches, collegiate and parish churches, be they secular or religious, both of men and of women - even of military orders - and of churches or chapels without a specific congregation in which conventual Masses are sung aloud in choir or read privately in accord with the rites and customs of the Roman Church. This Missal is to be used by all churches, even by those which in their authorization are made exempt, whether by Apostolic indult, custom, or privilege, or even if by oath or official confirmation of the Holy See, or have their rights and faculties guaranteed to them by any other manner whatsoever.

That sounds pretty universal to me. In addition, a majority of theologians believe that since the Latin Rite makes up such a vast majority of the Church that any law mandated on the Latin Rite can be said to be a universal law. Yes, Quo Primum made exceptions for other rites used by particular churches, and granted them “permission” to use approved rites over 200 years old, but exceptions only prove the universal applicability of the rule in this case. In contrast, Paul VI, in promulgating his Novus Ordo Missae, was only interested in creating a “new rite” for the Latin Rite, which he only personally wished would be used exclusively.

Trent Protects “Received and Approved Rites”

This leaves us with the Novus Ordo as an approved liturgy of the Church which is bad news for the SSPX. In the twenty-second session of the Council of Trent, Canon seven states the following:

“If anyone sayeth that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs which the Catholic Church makes use of in the celebration of Masses are incentives to impiety rather than offices of piety let him be anathema.”

First, celebrations of exactly which rites of Mass was this canon referring to? Notice Voris only says the Novus Ordo is an “approved” rite of the Church and not “received and approved.” There is a reason for that. Voris conveniently fails to mention canon 13 of session seven of Trent which states:

"If anyone says that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, accustomed to be used in the administration of the sacraments, may be despised or omitted by the ministers without sin and at their pleasure, or may be changed by any pastor of the churches to other new ones, let him be anathema."

Note: “received and approved rites.” Received means passed down from antiquity; rites which developed organically through the centuries from the oldest rite of all at the Last Supper, i.e. the only kind of rites known in the Church before 1969. It was these “received and approved” rites, which Trent was referring to. Ironically, the Council of Trent absolutely forbid, under pain of anathema, any pastor whomsoever (including the pope – check the original latin term) from transforming these received and approved rites into “other new ones.”

Thus, if Paul VI created a “new rite” of Mass, that had never been “received” by the Church (and there is much evidence this is what he did), then his new creation would not be under the umbrella of Trent’s words regarding “incentives to impiety.” 

Novus Ordo Masses Protected by Indefectibility are Rare as Three Headed Unicorns

However, let’s assume Voris is correct and that we must apply canon seven of Trent to the Novus Ordo. In that case it would only apply to the Latin typical edition of the Missal promulgated by Paul VI and whatever this Missal mandates on all priests in regards to saying it. It would not cover translations and later optional practices which were only permitted as exceptions (and in many cases began as abuses).

As Michael Davies explains:

…only the Latin typical editions of sacramental rites come within the scope of the Church's indefectibility. Vernacular translations are, by their very nature, not imposed or authorized for the universal Church, and the possibility that they may contain erroneous or harmful elements cannot be excluded…It is true that all vernacular translations receive Papal approval, but this merely indicates that the Pope and the curial department concerned presume that a national hierarchy, or group of hierarchies linked on the basis of a common language, has ensured that translations into their languages are accurate.

…Concessions such as the permission for Communion in the hand, granted to specific countries, are also excluded from the scope of indefectibility. Where the reception of Holy Communion is concerned, the norm for the Roman Rite is still Communion on the tongue, even though in almost every country Communion in the hand has become the norm. But in every instance of the authorization of this practice the permission given has been from the norm of Communion on the tongue. It is perfectly legitimate to argue that by surrendering to the fait accompli of Communion in the hand in country after country the Holy See has contributed to the weakening of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. True as this may be, and I have not the least doubt that it is true, it does not compromise the doctrine of indefectibility as no blanket permission for Communion in the hand for the universal Church has ever been given.

And in a separate article he states:

Those who have read my books will be aware that I not only do not deny but affirm explicitly that the Faith can be harmed, and even completely undermined, by assisting at the New Mass in the vernacular, but this is the result of the deplorable ICEL translation, the irreverent manner in which the New Mass is often celebrated, the gimmicks incorporated into its celebration, and not to any intrinsic evil in the rite itself.

On Easter Sunday this year, the Easter Bunny distributed chocolate eggs during 'Mass' at St Patrick's Cathedral at Toowomba in Queensland. Easter Bunnies are certainly not featured in the rubrics of the 1970 Missal approved by Pope Paul VI. The same is true of balloons, banjos, dancing girls, extraordinary ministers, Communion in the hand, Mass facing the people, tables in place of altars, or altar girls.

Thus, if you can find a Novus Ordo Mass nearby, said in Latin, facing east, with no extraordinary ministers, no Communion in the hand, no tableform altar, and no altar girls, congratulations! You can be certain that your Mass is free of any “incentives to impiety.” And Voris wonders why the SSPX tells its faithful to stay away from the Novus Ordo.

Voris Anathematizes Himself by Violating Trent

In addition, if we were to take Voris seriously in his interpretation of Trent he would ironically anathematize himself with his own argument. For he had the following to say about the Novus Ordo “Missal itself,” separate and apart from any “abuses”:

“…they [the faithful] appeal to the pope their dismissed and in the meantime a new mass is being engineered that almost totally downplays all Catholic worship in favor of the Protestant friendly approach…” “We're not talking about the validity. What we're talking about is, is this authentic Catholic worship? Is this how Catholics worship God? Is this a break from the past that's so violent that you can't really say this is Catholic worship as we have understood it? Has the theology behind the Mass been so manipulated twisted and deformed that Catholics going to this Mass miss something of the theology compared to talking about the traditional Latin Mass, the Tridentine Mass.” “To make a point, you can receive a sacrament validly and in the process still have your Faith endangered. ..We’re talking about, is this authentic Catholic worship? Is what is going on behind the scenes a possible detriment to your Faith? That’s the question! That’s what Dietrich Von Hildebrand is asking. That’s what Alice Von Hildebrand is asking. That’s what Peter Stravinkskas is asking. That’s what all of these people who have written all of these books are asking! Is this a danger? What’s going on?

“According to the man who essentially developed the Novus Ordo, the New Mass, the Mass most of us attend each week in our parishes, it had to be stripped of anything Catholic that would be a problem for Protestants. In short, the prayer, the public worship of the New Mass,…is it more Protestant or more Catholic? That is a very, very key question.”

“In 1967 after a series of small incremental changes, Bugnini unveils his vision for the new mass to a senate of bishops in the Sistine Chapel right under Michelangelo's glorious frescoes…reports are that this Mass was so repulsive and so disturbing that more than half of the bishop simply got up and walked out of the Mass…Two years later in 1969 on April 3rd, Pope Paul VI officially promulgates this mass the Bugnini Mass, with little to no changes to the one presented in the Sistine Chapel.”

Wow! Sounds like Voris is saying “the Missal itself” is full of incentives to impiety. Who knew?

Voris: Vatican II is Ok Because it Was Attended By Eastern Rite Bishops

Later Voris continues to demonstrate that his hypocrisy truly knows no bounds. He sates:

The SSPX story [of Vatican II] has St. John XIII’s Council being hijacked by Modernists and Neo-Protestants. However, the SSPX’s version of history is incomplete and overstated. Unfortunately the hurricane of apostasy that swept through the Church in the late 60’s [No state of necessity, Michael?] makes this interpretation extremely plausible. Many Catholics hear this and say “Oh they must be right because look at the destruction.” The SSPX completely ignores the elemental and vital role of the Eastern Catholic Rites at the Council and since.

Seriously? The SSPX’s “incomplete and overstated” view of the hijacking of the Council (which Michael Voris shared as of 2010 and has never retracted, by the way) is proven false by the presence of some Eastern Rite bishops? Seriously? Quite the contrary, the progressives cherry picked certain Eastern Rite liturgical practices out of context and then used these to argue for imposing their own innovations on the Roman Rite. And Voris apparently bought this liberal pretext hook, line, and sinker. Also, if Voris is correct, one would expect the Eastern Rite Catholic churches in the US to be booming bastions of doctrinal and liturgical orthodoxy. Is this the case? Remember that Vatican II’s documents applied to all rites of the Church, causing doctrinal confusion in all of them. However, one thing is for certain. If Pope Paul VI tried to take away the Eastern liturgies and impose his Novus Ordo on the Eastern Rites in 1969 you would have seen a glorious example of resistance never before seen in the Church; a resistance that should have occurred in the Latin Rite.

Voris Misreads Ecclesia Dei, Gets Called Out Again by Karl Keating

Next, Voris goes back to the non-existent “schism” issue and, unfortunately, truly embarrasses himself. He states that John Paul II, in Ecclesia Dei, referred to the SSPX as a “separate Church.” He did no such thing. Voris simply misread it. None other than father of the Neo-Catholics, Karl Keating, even called him out on it:

…just after the 43 minute mark. Voris says:

“In the letter St. John Paul II wrote confirming Lefebvre’s excommunication, he referred to the SSPX as a ‘separate Church’: ‘With great affliction the Church has learned of the unlawful episcopal ordination conferred on 30 June last by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, which has frustrated all the efforts made during the previous years to ensure the full communion with the Church of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X founded by the same Mons. Lefebvre.’”

There is an ambiguity in the translation here. It seems to read as though referring to “the Church of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X.” If that were the proper reading, then certainly the Pope intended to indicate that the SSPX held itself out as a separate church, and that would mean that the SSPX would be in schism from the Catholic Church. But that isn’t really what the sentence means.

Read it again but substitute “by” for “of” to get the reading “by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X.” In that reading, the Pope isn’t referring to “the Church of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X” but to “the full communion” by the SSPX “with the Church.” In other words, we should read the word “Church” as part of the phrase “the full communion with the Church,” not as part of the phrase “the Church of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X."

Voris Sensationalizes the Archbishop’s Words

Voris, like the liberals before him, also chose to exploit and sensationalize the Archbishop’s choice of the word “bastard” in a famous sermon in the 1970’s by choosing to quote only the sentences using that word:

“The union desired by these Liberal Catholics, a union between the Church and the Revolution and subversion is, for the Church, an adulterous union, adulterous. And that adulterous union can produce only bastards. And who are those bastards? They are our rites: the rite of Mass is a bastard rite, the sacraments are bastard sacraments-we no longer know if they are sacraments which give grace or which do not give grace.”

Michael Davies responds:

The next passage to be cited evoked a great deal of unfavorable comment, principally because of the use of the word "bastard," particularly with reference to priests emerging from the reformed seminaries. Liberals were quick to seize upon this passage to imply that the Archbishop had intended to be personally offensive to these young priests. Nothing could be further from the truth. A careful reading of the controversial passage will show that the Archbishop was making a valid analogy and using the word with great precision. Unfortunately the word "bastard " sounds far more offensive in English than in French and for this reason I could wish that the Archbishop had found some other term for making his point.

As the text will make clear, he first takes up an image met with frequently in the Old Testament, and often phrased in terms far more blunt than those of the Archbishop, that the infidelities of the Jewish people constituted adultery. Israel was the spouse of Yahweh; when the Jews strayed to the "high places" to participate in pagan cults this constituted an adulterous liaison. The great temptation facing Catholics since the French Revolution has been to enter into an adulterous liaison with Liberalism, the pervading spirit of our times. Since Vatican II, large sections of the Church have succumbed to this temptation, none more evidently than the French hierarchy. Similarly, an attempt has been made to unite (in a clearly adulterous manner) Catholic and Protestant worship and doctrine. Thus many of the young priests emerging from our seminaries today (and I have personal experience of this) are a confused mixture of Liberalism and Protestantism, with possibly some vestigial Catholicism. Such is their confusion that they could not name their spiritual ancestry if asked, and to term them doctrinal bastards is blunt but accurate. Anyone who has attended a typical celebration of the New Mass will hardly need to be told that to call it a bastard rite is, if anything, an understatement.

Voris Copies and Pastes from Sedevacantist Website to Prove Abp. Lefebvre was a Schismatic?

Voris then moves on to claim that the Archbishop made numerous “schismatic” statements in his lifetime. He then rattles off two “quotes” supposedly from the Archbishop:

“This Council represents in our view and in the view of the Roman Authorities a new church which they call the Conciliar Church.”

“It is not we who are in schism, but the Conciliar Church.”

Homily preached at Lille, August 29th 1976 before a crowd of some 12,000. These words appear in the original uncorrected version of the sermon as recorded and reported in the press.

Here is the link to the Archbishop’s entire sermon at Lille on August 29, 1976. I challenge anyone to find either of the above quotations in it:

The only place I found both quotes on line was on a website run by sedevacantist priest, Fr. Cekada. He had posted an article by a sedevacantist layman, John Lane. It would seem Mr. Voris lifted both quotes verbatim from this website as he recited, word for word, the following odd citation which only appears as an original on that website:

“Homily preached at Lille, August 29th 1976 before a crowd of some 12,000. These words appear in the original uncorrected version of the sermon as recorded and reported in the press.”

Although Voris makes it appear as if both quotes are from the sermon at Lille, Lane cites the first quote as coming from “Le Figaro, August 4, 1976.” While someone has posted what they assert to be the text of an interview with Archbishop Lefebvre from August 2, 1976 in Le Figaro newspaper on a message board, I was not able to verify the legitimacy or accuracy of this interview transcript. As for the allegation of a supposed “original uncorrected version of the sermon”, the complete official version that is available does not include this quote. I was able to find a similar quote in a newspaper report on the event, but it was attributed to Msgr. Francois Ducaud-Bourget, not Archbishop Lefebvre.

The Phrase “Conciliar Church” is Rome’s Own Self-Description

Regardless of the authenticity of the quotes, Voris makes much over the term “Conciliar Church.” However, it is not the Society’s term, it is Rome’s own term. In a 25 June 1976 letter, Mgr. Giovanni Benelli, the substitute Secretary of State, wrote the following to Mgr. Lefebvre (emphasis added):

The Holy Father charges me this very day to confirm the measure of which you have been informed in his name, de mandata speciali: you are to abstain, now, from conferring any order. Do not use as a pretext the confused state of the seminarians who were to be ordained: this is just the opportunity to explain to them and to their families that you cannot ordain them to the service of the Church against the will of the supreme Pastor of the Church. There is nothing desperate in their case: if they have good will and are seriously prepared for a presbyteral ministry in genuine fidelity to the Conciliar Church.

On 12 July 1976 Archbishop Lefebvre responded to this novel concept of a “Conciliar Church”:

It thus appears impossible to approach the basic problem, which the agreement of the Conciliar Church, as H. E. Mgr. Benelli himself calls it in his last letter, and the Catholic Church.

Let there be no mistake. It is not a question of a difference between. Mgr. Lefebvre and Pope Paul VI. It is a question of the radical incompatibility between the Catholic Church and the Conciliar Church, the Mass of Paul VI being the symbol and the program of the Conciliar Church.

Archbishop Lefebvre on Schism; In his Own Words

It is also ironic that Voris earlier quotes an unauthenticated interview that supposedly took place on August 2, 1976, as proof that the Archbishop was schismatic, when there is a verifiable quote from Archbishop Lefebvre on the topic in an interview he gave on August 3, 1976 to the Nouvelliste of Sion, Valais, Switzerland, at Econe. This quote clearly explains his eminently reasonable position:

Journalist: Aren't you heading towards schism?

Mgr. Lefebvre: When someone says to me, "You are going to cause a schism," I answer that it is not I who am causing a schism; I am remaining in a completely traditional line. So I remain united to the Church of two thousand years, and I am doing nothing other than what has been done for two thousand years, than what I was congratulated for doing, for the same thing, I am condemned! It is as if I am expelled, I am almost excommunicated; finally I am suspended, whereas I am doing exactly the same thing as I did for thirty years of my life, during which time I was given every possible and imaginable honor.

No one will take from me my conviction that something has happened in the Church. A new direction was taken at the Council, under the direction of Liberal Cardinals who had contacts with Freemasonry, and who desired that openness to the world that is so pleasing to the Freemasons; an openness to the world that resulted in the Declaration on Religious Liberty which is practically, in fact, the equality of all religions. So no more Catholic State, no more affirmation that the Church alone possesses the truth, and so many other things that obviously oppose us to the Council. The whole problem is there, the whole "drama of Econe," if it can be called that, is there. Personally, therefore, I think that it is not I who am causing a schism. Let me be shown in what I am causing a schism, let me be tried. I asked to be tried before the Congregation of the Faith, if I am truly opposed to the Catholic faith, if I am truly against the discipline of the Church.

I claim that now, since the Council, the authority in the Church -I do not say the Pope, for I do not know what the influence of the Pope is on the orders that are given. But those who hold power, at least the Roman Congregations, are in the process of leading the Church into schism.

What is schism? It is a break, a break with the Church. But a break with the Church can also be a break with the Church of the past. If someone breaks with the Church of two thousand years, he is in schism. There has already been a council which was declared schismatic. Well, it is possible that one day, in twenty years, in thirty, in fifty years - I don't know- the Second Vatican Council could be declared schismatic, because it professed things which are opposed to the Tradition of the Church, and which have caused a break with the Church.

Cardinal Muller Says SSPX in Schism While Questioning Eucharist & Mary’s Perpetual Virginity?

Voris then begrudgingly admits that Cardinal Hoyos confirmed that the SSPX is not in formal schism as they do not formally reject the authority of the pope. Then Voris twists into a logical pretzel. First he repeats, for at least the fifth time, Pope Benedict’s quote regarding the SSPX not being in “full communion”, while disregarding the fact that Pope Benedict, in that same letter, spelled out the fact that the SSPX did not meet the definition of schism. He then dredges up Cardinal Muller’s off the cuff comment where he said:

The canonical excommunication of the bishops for their illegal ordinations was revoked, but a de facto sacramental excommunication remains for their schism…

Since this statement was given in the form of an interview response and was not issued in any official binding Church document in his role as head of the CDF, this odd position, contradicted by various officials in Rome ad nauseam over the last 20+ years, and contradicted by Pope Benedict himself in 2009, can be given the weight it deserves. None. For what did the SSPX do in order to become schismatic in the time period between Cardinal Hoyo’s repeated declarations the Society was not in schism and Cardinal Muller’s comment? Nothing.

Muller’s statement loses even more credibility when one considers the possibly heretical positions he has taken on both the perpetual virginity of Our Lady and Transubstantiation. The SSPX rightly called him out on both of these positions when Muller was appointed head of the CDF causing the Cardinal to get quite angry. It is thus, not a stretch to think the Cardinal’s off handed reference to schism was a little bit of payback. Does the Cardinal hold to heresy on both of these Catholic dogmas? Even if he technically does not, it is certainly a sign of the crisis we live in that such a man could even be seriously considered as the Church’s guardian of doctrine:

Voris Redefines Schism

Much later in the video, Voris will try to say that the Society uses a “fabricated” definition of schism which “has no base in canonical precedent and results from an extremely flawed notion of the Church’s laws regarding full communion.” He says, “this principle” speaking of the common definition of schism understood by the Church through the ages including men such as Aquinas and Cajetan:

“…has never been the understanding of the Church. In fact the law regarding schism, canon 751, doesn’t even mention formally rejecting the pope. In canon 751 schism is defined as, ‘the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff, or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him.’ The laws of the Church do not differentiate between full or partial withdrawal of submission. In other words, any degree of disunity is disunity and partial obedience is not somehow ok. Canon law isn’t interested so much in what you say, as how you behave. In the same way you cannot get away with partial disobedience to God, you cannot get away with partial disobedience to his vicar.”

Thus, Voris rejects the Church’s wise and traditional definition of schism in favor of his own ridiculously broad definition of schism. Voris’ definition means that anything other than blind and unwavering obedience sends someone immediately into a state of schism. Never mind that no Catholic theologian in history has taught that mere disobedience equals schism. In fact, the Vatican’s own Cardinals and esteemed canon lawyers, as I quoted in this piece explain that this notion is absolutely incorrect.

But instead of listening to the Church, which spells out for Voris what “withdrawal of submission” in canon law has traditionally been understood to mean, Voris privately interprets it for himself in the broadest possible sense in order to catch his white whale, the SSPX. Even worse he actually teaches this private and erroneous interpretation to his audience as “canon law.”

Voris also comically states that under the traditional Catholic definition of schism High Church Anglicans would be in “full communion.” This is absurd. Everyone knows the Anglicans do not accept the papacy in principle as defined by the Church. Furthermore, it’s the “Conciliar Church” today that for the most part resembles low Church Anglicanism (not high).

Michael Davies explains the correct understanding of schism below:


Voris Guts His Own Argument that the SSPX Denies the Indefectibility of Church

Voris then states, “are the pope’s disciplinary rulings infallible? Well, of course not and nobody says they are.”

Amazing. So let me get this straight. Voris argues that Quo Primum did not bind future popes because the Mass is just a matter of discipline, not dogma. And now Voris is saying the Pope’s disciplinary laws are not infallible. Plus, we know that Voris is ok with a Pope creating a rite of Mass out of thin air done by committee since it does not have to be a “received” rite of the Church. Therefore, Voris would have to admit that a pope could err in the creation of a “new Mass” since it is only a matter of discipline.

Thus, the same Voris who accuses the SSPX of denying the indefectibility of the Church for criticizing the “New Missal itself,” now admits freely that the Pope could issue a harmful and/or poisonous Missal, since it is not protected by infallibility? Applying Voris’ logic then, even if the Pope promulgates a completely evil rite of Mass, Catholics would be obligated to obey and submit to it or else become ipso facto schismatics! Thus, Voris illustrates beautifully the absurdity of where Neo-Catholic logic leads: humbly submitting to error somehow becomes Catholic, whereas resisting the error becomes schismatic. 

Voris: If You Aren’t In “Full Communion” With Cardinal Kasper, You’re in Schism?

Voris then moves on to the second part of the canonical definition of schism, “withdrawal of communion with the members of the Church subject to him [the Pope].” Voris says the SSPX “absolutely flunks” this part. Voris tries to support this by saying they {the SSPX] “forbid members, not only from attending the Novus Ordo, but the indult Tridentine Mass as well.”

First, the only “members” of the SSPX are its priests and bishops who have no need to “attend Mass” as they say Mass. And here I thought it was the Society that was using “imprecise” and “ambiguous” terms? Secondly, there is no longer any “indult Mass” since the indult has been done away with since Summorum Pontificum. Then Voris accuses the SSPX of “urging its members to defy the authority of their local bishop by telling those who attend their chapels to seek out their false annulment tribunals instead of the legitimate diocesan ones.”

First, since the only “members” of the SSPX are priests and bishops they won’t be needing annulments. After all, these aren’t Novus Ordo priests we’re talking about.

Second, the fact that Voris is saying the SSPX is schismatic for urging its members to defy the authority of their local bishop is priceless hypocrisy. Voris makes a living out of criticizing bishops and calling people to resist them.

Third, Voris should be thanking God Society priests would recommend their married faithful to their own priests for annulment advice. The SSPX will rarely recommend an annulment, as opposed to the local diocesan tribunal which can grant “Catholic divorce” as of December 8th regardless whether the couple has been married 60 years or have 20 children together.

Fourth, the SSPX faithful can’t possibly refuse communion with members of the Church subject to the Pope because they themselves are members of the Church subject to the Pope who choose to fulfill their Sunday obligation (per the PCED and Cardinal Oddi) at SSPX Chapels due to the danger to their Faith at their local “schismatic” diocesan parishes. You know, the parishes CMTV is always railing on?

The SSPX Faithful do not avoid Novus Ordo Catholics or other Traditionalists like the plague, as Voris seems to think. (I wonder how many SSPX faithful or priests he interviewed for this video?) Rather they assist at SSPX chapels for Mass in order to ensure they have the spiritual guidance of orthodox Catholic priests in a sea of chaos. They do this in order to save their souls. If their local parish offered a reverent Traditional Mass with sound orthodox homilies, chances are they would not be at an SSPX chapel in the first place. It’s not exactly something that makes one popular in today’s Church as Voris’ video makes clear.

The great irony is that it is the Neo-Catholics themselves who are the ones guilty of refusing communion with those Catholics who frequent SSPX chapels. Often they calumniate them as “schismatics” and avoid them like the plague when they aren’t busy lecturing, judging, and castigating them. This in spite of the fact that SSPX faithful are some of the most faithful, devout, and committed Catholics we have.

As for rejecting communion with those under the pope, how does Voris himself score in this category? Does he consider himself in communion with Bishop Dolan? Cardinal Mahoney? Nuns on the bus? Cardinal Marx? Cardinal Maradiaga? Is Voris going to happily attend the Mass of Fr. Kreigel over in Erie, PA if that’s his only choice on a given Sunday and soak in the “full Communion?”


Then Voris says this, “So what is the SSPX now, the Society? The answer depends solely on who you talk to.”

Huh!? So Voris and his minions condescendingly lectured us about the SSPX being “in schism!” in almost every article and Vortex episode for an entire week. Now, 50 ,minutes into the video, Voris tell us it depends on who you talk to! I wish Voris would have opened with this line. It would have saved me a lot of trouble as he (once again) just self-refuted his entire video. 

Does CMTV or the Society Lead to Sedevacantism?

The clergy of the Society don’t represent a single school of theological thought. Rather it is host to a spectrum of beliefs; from Catholics who are simply concerned about the state of the Church, to full blown sedevacantists (!)

Really? Is Voris ready to name which clergymen in the SSPX are “full blown sedevacantists?” Let’s think about what Voris is claiming here. He is claiming that there are SSPX priests who believe every Pope Archbishop Lefebvre and now Bishop Fellay took the time to negotiate with since the early 1970’s have all been anti-popes. Yet these sedevacantist priests stay in an organization that has a picture of the pope in every chapel and who pray for the pope at every Mass. Does this make sense? No. This is simply more evidence Voris doesn’t know his subject matter. Yet he is preaching to the public as if he were an authority. Even the hardline Resistance priests who left the Society over Bishop Fellay’s conciliatory approach towards Rome do not hold to sedevacantism.

Then Voris accuses Archbishop Lefebvre of making ambiguous comments favoring sedevacantism that “confused his followers.” Yes, Voris should know a thing or two about ambiguous statements, such as are found in Vatican II, which he fails to criticize. Voris again quotes the Archbishop, supposedly from an interview in Le Figaro from August 4, 1976, but most likely simply copied and pasted from Fr. Cekada’s website (where it is found word for word with the same citation), saying:

While we are certain that the faith the Church has taught for 20 centuries cannot contain error, we are much further from absolute certitude that the pope is truly pope.”

First, is it not ironic that a man who complains Traditionalists take pope Francis out of context and twist his words, gives an out of context quote regarding the Archbishop from a sedevacantist website and bases his case on it? Let’s dig deeper and put the first quote in context. I found the quote in context on a Cathoic message board. I cannot vouch for its authenticity, however it claims to be a verbatim copy of this interview where these exact words are used. Let’s assume it is:

"On the other hand, if it appears certain to us that the faith which was taught by the Church for twenty centuries cannot contain error, we have much less of an absolute certitude that the Pope be truly Pope. Heresy, schism, ipso facto excommunication, and invalid election are some causes which could make it happen that a Pope never was one or would cease to be one. In this obviously very exceptional case, the Church would be in a situation similar to that which occurs after the death of a sovereign pontiff. 

"Because in fact a serious problem is being posed to the conscience and to the faith of all the Catholics since the beginning of the pontificate of Paul VI. How is it that a Pope, the true successor of Peter, assured of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, could preside at the destruction of the Church, the most profound and the most widespread in history to occur in so little space of time, that which no heretic has ever succeeded in doing? 

"This question will have to be answered one day, but leaving this problem to the theologians and the historians, the reality forces us to a practical response, according to the counsel of Saint Vincent of Lerins: 'What should the Catholic Christian do if a part of the Church were to detach itself from communion with the universal law? What other side could he take but to prefer instead of the gangrenous and corrupted member, the body in its whole which is healthy? And if some new contagion would poison not only a small part of the Church but the entire Church all at the same time! Then again, his great concern would be to stay with the anti, which, of course, can no longer be seduced by any lying novelty!' 

"Therefore we have firmly decided to continue our work of restoring the Catholic priesthood no matter what happens, persuaded that we can render no greater service to the Church, to the Pope, to the bishops and to the faithful. May they let us to test or experience (as they say) Tradition."

Sounds a little different when put in context does it not? Far from inciting his followers to sedevacantism, the Archbishop is simply discussing the crisis in the Church caused by Paul VI’s actions and the proper course of action in response. If Voris would have taken the time to do some research for a balanced piece instead of a hit piece, he may have also come across the Archbishop’s following statement from November 8, 1979 where he repeated the assertions he apparently made to Le Figaro years earlier, but then went deeper into explaining his own position and that of his Society:

The visibility of the Church is too necessary to its existence for it to be possible that God would allow that visibility to disappear for decades. The reasoning of those who deny that we have a Pope puts the Church in an inextricable situation. Who will tell us who the future Pope is to be? How, as there are no Cardinals, is he to be chosen? This spirit is a schismatical one for at least the majority of those who attach themselves to certainly schismatical sects like Palmar de Troya, the Eglise Latine de Toulouse, and others.

Our Fraternity absolutely refuses to enter into such reasonings.

We wish to remain attached to Rome and to the Successor of Peter, while refusing his Liberalism through fidelity to his predecessors. We are not afraid to speak to him, respectfully but firmly, as did St. Paul with St. Peter.

And so, far from refusing to pray for the Pope, we redouble our prayers and supplications that the Holy Ghost will grant him light and strength in his affirmations and defense of the Faith.

Thus, I have never refused to go to Rome at his request or that of his representatives. The Truth must be affirmed at Rome above all other places. It is of God, and He will assure its ultimate triumph.

Consequently, the Society of St. Pius X, its priests, brothers, sisters, and oblates, cannot tolerate among its members those who refuse to pray for the Pope or affirm that the Novus Ordo Missae is per se invalid. Certainly, we suffer from this continual incoherence which consists in praising all the Liberal orientations of Vatican II and at the same time straining to mitigate its effects. But all of this must incite us to prayer and to the firm maintenance of Tradition rather than to the affirmation that the Pope is not the Pope....

Voris then apparently quotes Fr. Cekada’s website again since the the citation is (again) word for word the same:

“It is possible we may be obliged to believe this pope is not pope. For twenty years Mgr de Castro Mayer and I preferred to wait...” (Talk, March 30 and April 18, 1986, published in The Angelus, July 1986)

Archbishop Lefebvre is here referring to potential heretical acts that the Pope might perform in the future at the Assisi prayer meeting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this statement. Unlike Voris, who would follow Pope Francis headlong into heresy if he chose to lead the Church there, the Arcbishop was aware of the Catholic teaching that says if a pope becomes a manifest heretic he loses his office. The Archbishop, seeing how much scandal the pope was then spreading, raises this possibility if the pope continues to the end of the indifferentist path he was headed on.

As anyone can see, the Archbishop is thinking aloud in this interview, speculating, throwing out possibilities. The Assisi prayer meeting had not occurred yet at the times of these interviews. Although the Archbishop rightly ended up blasting Assisi after it happened, (even Cardinal Ratzinger had reservations about Assisi), obviously the Archbishop never thought John Paul II reached the point of becoming a public heretic at Assisi as he always recognized him as pope during his lifetime. The Archbishop always acted with prudence and patience in regards to such a serious question. Here is the quote in context:

…What conclusion must we draw in a few months if we are confronted by these repeated acts of partaking in false worship? I don't know. I wonder. But I think the Pope can do nothing worse than call together a meeting of all religions, when we know there is only one true religion and all other religions belong to the devil. So perhaps after this famous meeting of Assisi, perhaps we must say that the Pope is a heretic, is apostate. Now I don't wish yet to say it formally and solemnly, but it seems at first sight that it is impossible for a Pope to be publicly and formally heretical. Our Lord has promised to be with him, to keep his faith, to keep him in the Faith. How can he at the same time be a public heretic and virtually apostatize? So it is possible we may be obliged to believe this pope is not pope.

 For twenty years, Msgr. de Castro-Mayer and I preferred to wait; we said it was more prudent and more in conformity with Providence to wait because it is so important, so tragic, when it is not just a bishop, archbishop or cardinal, but the man in the chair of Peter. It is so important, so grave, so sad, that we prefer to wait until Providence gives us such evidence, that it is no longer possible to refuse to say that the Pope is a heretic…

Although the following thought would likely send Voris into a Neo-Catholic seizure, I think a lot of Catholics are willing to take the Archbishop’s apprehensive wait and see approach above to Francis right now, especially with the Synod coming up.

The funny thing about charging the Archbishop with leading Catholics into sedevacantism is that he instead provided an alternative to sedevacantism. If every Catholic had taken Voris’ advice and submitted to the Novus Ordo after 1969, Catholics would have been forced to choose between remaining in their looney-tunes Novus Ordo parishes, leaving the Faith, or becoming sedevacantist. Instead the Archbishop provided them an option to hold to the Traditions of the Church in worship and doctrine and also to remain in the Church, recognizing the pope. Thus, Voris’ charge is entirely misplaced.

Further, as I’ve pointed out previously, it is Voris of all people who is fine with making sedevacantists out of the faithful, as long as he can score rhetorical points against the Society in the process. Ironically, he is the one who acts as if we have no pope as he routinely ignores almost every scandalous and controversial thing he says or does. For example, after going after the SSPX for an entire week, Voris was completely mum regarding the Pope’s entire visit to the US where he missed opportunity after opportunity to condemn Planned Parenthood or the Supreme Court decision attacking marriage. Voris refuses to defend or pay attention to the pope’s scandalous acts, but yet Catholics see and hear them all the same. Then what are his readers to do? I suppose they make up their own mind on how to react to the Pope’s scandal. This, coupled with Voris’ rhetoric on privately judging whether Catholics are in schism using their own definition, can leads to privately judging whether the pope is a public heretic, which can lead to sedevacantism. As I stated previously:

The danger in Voris’ newfound argument, trying to get around the lack of a formal declaration of schism from the Church [in order to declare the Society is in “material schism” or “schism before God”], is that he makes the matter worse. Just as the Protestants did, Voris takes it upon himself, under the guise of some “objective moral question” to make a private judgment (just him and his Code of Canon Law) and then declare his judgment as fact to the public. The sedevacantists do the same thing with the pope. They treat the matter of whether we have a pope as one of private judgment (just me and my pre-Vatican II moral theology textbooks), call their subjective conclusion “objective” and “obvious” and expect other Catholics to accept it. The next thing you know, CMTV supporters will be declaring all sorts of bishops and priests “heretics before God.” And if they do that, what is to stop them from recognizing Pope Francis as one as well? Then, irony of all ironies, you will have Voris and CMTV, who have long railed against The Remnant, CFN, and the SSPX for criticizing the Pope, fearing it may lead readers to sedevacantism, unwittingly encouraging their own readers to sedevacantism by re-defining schism.  

(On a side-note, Voris then misrepresents that an SSPX priest, Fr. Laguerie was booted out of the Society due to an article he wrote calling for union with Rome. You can read more here, on that topic if interested.) 

Voris’ Ignoring the Pope Only Leads to Hypocrisy & Ineffectiveness

Voris then says the priests of the SSPX “recklessly attack the pope at every opportunity. Any perceived mistake or ambiguous statement is cited over and over again to justify its rebellion.” Seriously? Voris acts like we’re living in 1988. I’m not sure where Michael has been for the past eight years, but ever since Summorum Pontificum, there has been a much more conciliatory tone on the part of both the Society and Rome. In fact, the tone has been so conciliatory that many SSPX priests publicly criticized Bishop Fellay for it, resulting in their leaving the Society. Thus Voris creates an exaggerated straw man that has no basis in reality. In fact, Voris’ words above far better describe his own attacks against the bishops than the SSPX’s attacks on the Pope.

Then, in an attempt to rebuke the SSPX from scripture, (why not try scripture when canon law, Tradition, and Magisterium have failed) Voris then brings up the examples of Ham and Noah and David and Saul to try to show how the SSPX should act and not act towards the papacy. Curiously, however, Voris fails to mention a New Testament passage which provides a perfect example of what to do when a pope is causing scandal among the faithful:

But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

For before that some came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them who were of the circumcision. And to his dissimulation the rest of the Jews consented, so that Barnabas also was led by them into that dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly unto the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all: If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as the Jews do, how dost thou compel the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? (Galatians 2:11-14)

 Voris then says that the SSPX’s, “constructive criticism doesn’t really do that much besides damage the pope’s credibility.” I disagree. It is the pope’s own words and actions damage his credibility. The SSPX’s “constructive criticism” serves to try to de-scandalize the faithful by reiterating the Catholic teaching the pope’s words are militating against. Voris acts like everything in the Church would be rainbows and sunshine if only every Catholic kept their mouth shut about the pope. This idea is imbecilic as the pope is publicly causing scandal. If Catholics ignore the scandal, or worse try to justify it, it gives the impression that we Catholics approve and there is nothing wrong with it.

In the end, I think this refusal of Catholics to be quiet and submit to scandal is where Voris’ animosity towards the Society truly comes from. The Society and other Traditionalists like the Remnant and Catholic Family News will simply not keep silent about the almost daily scandal in the Church brought about by the pope’s words. If Voris could put a giant muzzle on all of us, he would. Unfortunately for him, he can’t.

To Voris, no papal action, no matter how egregious could ever justify saying a single word of criticism or fraternal correction towards our Holy Father. What an astounding lack of charity there is in that position! One of the spiritual works of mercy is to admonish the sinner. St. Thomas Aquinas has said that if the error is public and it is a matter of Faith a subordinate has the right to correct the superior, even publicly. But beyond this, Pope Francis himself has said he welcomes criticism! Thus, by refusing to criticize him, Voris ironically disobeys the will of the pope.

Voris’ odd stance is against the teachings of Aquinas, Bellarmine, and St. Paul to name a few. In fact, if the Catholic laity, priests, and bishops had taken Voris’ uncatholic approach, they would have sat idly by while John XXII officially canonized heresy in the 1300’s. It was only due to “recognize and resisters” who Voris denigrates, that the Church was rescued from a potentially heretical act of this pope. (Read more here.)

Voris then makes the incredible claim that Summorum Pontificum and Ecclesia Dei priests have made the SSPX irrelevant now. Yes, that is correct. Every single reader now has access to a perfectly licit Catholic parish with Traditional Latin Masses said frequently, orthodox priests to confess to, Traditional Catholic schools, and retreats, etc. If you would believe Voris, the very crisis he constantly bemoans has suddenly disappeared, but just as applied to the SSPX. In reality most dioceses today are spiritual wastelands with SSPX chapels being some of the few places of Catholic sanity nearby. Again, until there is no longer a need for CMTV’s constant carping against the state of the Church, there will be a need for the Society.

Who Has Done More for the Church, the SSPX or CMTV?

Voris then offensively states that the Church Militant “needs Catholics on the front lines and not sequestered away in local illicit chapels with their false sacraments.” This is nothing more than public calumny of the Society and its faithful. Rome fully recognizes the validity of the Society’s Masses, ordinations, last rites, baptisms, and confirmations and has not yet taken an official stance on their marriages or confessions.

Yet he goes on:

They [the SSPX & their faithful] need to be in the trenches fighting the Modernists in every diocese at point blank range. If we don’t take the fight to the enemy, how can we ever expect victory? Adopting a “wait and see” approach while hunkered down in your own insular congregations is a defeatist attitude. The SSPX likes to style itself as a champion for the Church. In reality instead of fighting it teaches desertion. It is cowardly to turn and flee the battle to take refuge in these “safe havens” when there is much work to be done to restore the Church.

Wouldn’t the true cowardly position be to ignore the voluminous scandalous acts and words of the pope so as not to make yourself a target for the Neo-Caths? Is it not cowardly to then attack those good and faithful Catholics who do point out and condemn the scandal this pope has caused? For there is absolutely no courage needed to attack the Society or Traditionalists. You will only be praised by the world, Neo-Catholics, and liberals. True courage is instead required to speak the truth publicly about scandalous acts and words coming from our pope and those in authority and be willing to suffer the attacks, calumnies, and even unjust ecclesiastical punishments from the authorities for doing so.

In addition, how is fighting the Modernists in the trenches working out for Voris and CMTV? What have they accomplished? Next to nothing, in my opinion, except selling subscriptions, calling Traditional publications “spiritual pornographers,” and losing readers due to non-stop blasting of Catholics who would otherwise be in their corner.

In contrast, what has the SSPX accomplished? Hundreds of holy priests, schools, chapels to offer the Traditional Mass to those in liturgical desolation, the offering of all the other Traditional sacraments, sermons and retreats untainted by the Neo-Modernism around us. The Society has saved the Catholic Faith of untold numbers who would have otherwise left the Church. They have also prevented a large number of dissatisfied Catholics from becoming sedevacantists. They have often been the lone voice crying in the wilderness against papal disasters such as the Assisi gatherings. They have spoken out against countless conciliar novelties, liturgical and otherwise, whereas Voris and company hypocritically accept the very practices they once condemned once the pope gives his approval.

The Society is fostering far more vocations per capita than the “Novus Ordo Church.” They were almost single handedly responsible for the freeing of the Traditional Mass and they had the excommunications lifted without making any change to their positions. They alone (not the FSSP, etc.) were granted doctrinal discussions with Rome about Vatican II, and just recently Rome granted full recognition of their confessions as part of a papal year of mercy. Ironically, it is the Society itself we must thank for the granting of a canonical status to the FSSP and other Traditional Catholic orders. Again, what has Michael Voris accomplished in comparison to the Archbishop, who even Pope Benedict called a “great man of the universal Church?”

Another point worth mentioning is that the SSPX never “left the Church.” Maybe Voris has not realized this, but any time Catholic priests put themselves on the “front lines” or get “in the trenches” fighting Modernism, they either get sent to outer Mongolia, disciplined, persecuted, suspended, expelled, or excommunicated. Voris makes it sounds as if SSPX priests packed up, left the Church, and are content to hide out in “illicit chapels.” In reality, anyone with a modicum of sense knows they were booted out and did not choose to leave. This is yet another sign of the crisis. For if any Catholic priest points out that there is a crisis in the Church and they are actually honest about the causes (Vatican II, New Mass, Religious Liberty, Ecumenism, Collegiality) and that the post-Conciliar popes have contributed to the destruction, out they go. Thus true Catholics, alarmed at the crisis and trying to fight it, often find themselves on the outs with their parish as well as their Neo-Catholic friends, priests, and bishops just for standing up for the Faith. Does Voris truly believe that complaining about bishops is going to solve this crisis? Does he know who appointed those horrible bishops and who has the power to discipline each and every one of them? 

Assisting at Sacrilegious Masses Does not Help Fight the Crisis

Voris then makes a plea for all SSPX faithful to leave their chapels and “become a light” out in the dioceses to their fellow Catholics. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. In many cases sacrilegious Masses, unsound teaching, immodest congregants, rock music are all par for the course at diocesan parish Masses. Do we really think that an SSPX family assisting at their local abuse-laden Mass is going to change the parish? No. Most likely it will instead change the family. They will be exposed to varying degrees of irreverence, blasphemy, sacrilege, immorality, and heresy. In fact, in many cases it would be a sin to expose ones children to the things that pass for “Mass” at many “Catholic parishes.” SSPX families would not be setting forth a good example by attending these Masses. The best example they could set would be to refuse to go to them. For their very attendance at these Masses signals approval to the rest of the congregation and confirms them in their presence there. Instead they should be convincing the parishioners in many of these parishes to find Tradition.

As an example, does anyone else think that SSPX faithful, or any Catholic, “sufferring” along with Voris at a Mass like the one below is the key to ending the crisis? How does this help us? On the other hand, what if all faithful Catholics refused to assist at this Mass, and walked out of his parish?


Furthermore, the reason these good Catholics are in their chapels is that their local priest and bishop are in the habit of giving stones for bread. It is precisely because of the nonsense they allow and the unwillingness of anyone (priest, bishop, or pope) to listen to the pleas of the these scandalized faithful that they felt morally obligated for the sake of their Faith and family to take advantage of one of those “safe havens” the Archbishop made possible.

Voris then quotes Pius X saying not to attack the hierarchy, oblivious that Voris himself is condemned by the quote since he condemns the bishops at every opportunity. Although Voris thinks it is cute, we all know that Pius X was condemning modernists who were claiming to love the Church while destroying the Faith and disobeying their true Catholic Bishops and Pope. If Pius X were alive today, would he demand obedience to Cardinal Marx and Fr. Kriegel and have us turn off our air conditioners and mourn extinct species because Francis said so? Hardly. Yet Voris asks us to live in a fantasyland where Pius X would call for obedience to men who are destroying everything he stood for. In contrast, Pius X would be the first one leading the resistance against these men. The same type of men he condemned repeatedly during his pontificate.

The SSPX is in “Material Full Communion”, not “Material Schism”

In the end, the real irony of Voris’ imaginary “material schism” position is that the reality is just the opposite. Objectively, it appears the Society is really in “material full communion” even if Rome is not admitting it formally. As Brian McCall stated after attending a conference by Bishop Fellay back in 2010:

The policy of the Vatican seems to be a contradictory policy which vacillates between “condemnation and admiration,” His Excellency noted.  He seems convinced that where the personal sentiments of Benedict XVI himself are concerned, admiration for the SSPX is the word.  He explained that in his first meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, His Holiness twice referred to Archbishop Lefebvre—first as the “venerated Archbishop Lefebvre” and, later in the conversation, as “Archbishop Lefebvre, this great man of the universal Church.” 

So are we to believe that the Pope believes a schismatic excommunicant is venerable and a great man of the universal Church? This would be nonsensical.  The only logical explanation is that the Pope recognizes the Archbishop for the loyal son of the Church that he is.  His Excellency also contends that Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos expressed this same attitude when in reference to the work of the Society, His Eminence said that “the fruits are good hence the Holy Ghost is there.” 

Now we know that Our Lord gave us this of who is in the Church and who is not— “judge them by their fruits.”  The Holy Ghost cannot be outside the Church; hence if He is with the Society, the Society is in the Church.  The logic is irrefutable. 

How can it be that the Pope and the Vatican can have this policy of saying one thing but doing another? How can they allow clerics to claim confessions heard by Society priests are invalid and then make it clear by their own actions that the SSPX confessions are “all good and licit?”  How can the Society be legally recognized for two weeks and then cease to be thus recognized after that time?  Does this not manifest a Vatican dismissal of the seriousness of the issue of the SSPX’s “legal” recognition?

The answer His Excellency led us to see is that for political reasons, Benedict XVI feels that, given the situation in the Church today and the “wolves” within, that he cannot recognize the Society de jure.  Yet, since he knows they are “inside the Church” and “bearing good fruit” he will recognize their legitimacy de facto as much as possible.  As Father Scott Gardener remarked in his conference earlier in the day, the error of collegiality has prevented the correction of the errors and abuses produced by the Council. Father Gardner reported that a high ranking Cardinal had admitted to him that Collegiality has effectively made the Church “ungovernable.” 

… Clearly the Pope has concluded that the costs of provoking disobedience and rebellion from the world’s bishops are not worth giving de jure recognition to the Society.  The only solution is to grant recognition de facto, while the Vatican/SSPX talks continue.

…The faithful can do one more thing.  Pray for this Pope.  Pray he has the fortitude not to run for fear of the wolves as he begged us to do in his first words as Pope.  He is already under intense attack for his de facto recognition of the Society.  Clearly, he needs prayers more than ever if he is ever to do so de jure.


In conclusion, I hope that this response to the video helped at least some of you to get the other side of the story regarding the SSPX. As for the great Archbishop Lefebvre, a man Pope Benedict XVI called the “venerated Archbishop Lefebvre” and “this great man of the universal Church.” if you took the hour to watch Voris’ FBI piece then, in the interest of fairness I would urge you to watch the following documentary on his life. Let us always remember that Joan of Arc was excommunicated and burned at the stake by legitimate Church authority before eventually being canonized. In the words of the great Cardinal Ottaviai, “You will see, you will see, all will be adjusted for poor Mgr. Lefebvre!" Indeed, Cardinal. Indeed.


Merci, Marcel!

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