Dear Friends and Benefactors,
Some readers of this letter send in questions to which others would no doubt like to have answers. Here are a few, Q for questions and A for answers:
Q: Where is the true Church today? Is it with the official Catholic Church, as usual, or with the Protestants, as the Pope seems to say, or with the so-called Traditionalists, as they say?
A: The true Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ is One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic. Wherever you find those four marks, you find the true Church. Now Protestantism destroys oneness; produces little holiness; is not catholic, i.e. universal, in time or in space; and refuses apostolicity, i.e. submission to the Pope. As for the official Catholic Church, it becomes more Protestant in belief and practice day by day. But the so-called Traditionalists are remarkably united (one), producing good fruits (holy), in the faith of all time throughout the world (catholic), with complete respect for the Pope's authority (apostolic). Therefore it is in the direction of the so-called Traditionalists that you must today look for the true Church of Christ.
Q: Are you saying that the Society of St. Pius X is the Catholic Church, and that outside of the Society there is no salvation?
A: By no means. Wherever you find the four marks, there you find the Catholic Church. Please God, the four marks are to be found in the SSPX, but they are certainly not confined to it.
Q: But does the SSPX recognize John-Paul II as Pope?
A: Yes. Following Archbishop Lefebvre, the Society has always refused to say that the See of Rome is vacant, because that position is liable to raise more problems than it solves. The recent Popes may not be good Popes, but they are Popes.
Q: But if the SSPX recognizes John-Paul II as Pope, how can it disobey him?
A: Because Jesus Christ did not make his Popes as infallible as many Catholics wrongly think, and so to obey the Catholic Faith one must sometimes "disobey" the Pope, as Paul "disobeyed" Peter himself (Gal II, 11-14), as the great St. Athanasius had to "disobey" Pope Liberius. But such apparent "disobedience" is not real disobedience, because it is putting obedience to God first.
Q: But the heretic Luther also pretended he had to disobey the Pope.
A: Look at what Luther taught. It is not Catholic teaching. Look at what Archbishop Lefebvre taught. It is Catholic teaching. Look at what the Archbishop's adversaries in Rome teach against him. It is not Catholic teaching.
Q: That is what the SSPX claims, but many theologians say the opposite.
A: Then, as Our Lord told us to do, look at the fruits. Which teaching fills confessionals and seminaries, and which empties them?
Q: Then is John-Paul II the head of two different Churches?
A: There is only one Catholic Church, recognizable by the four marks recalled earlier. But to members of that Church until the day they die, Our Lord leaves their free will so that churchmen especially can — consciously or unconsciously betray that Church and tear masses of souls out of it. Such a process, often seen in history, is usually gradual, like in Reformation England, because souls need to be deceived little by little. That is what we are seeing in Rome today. On the one hand (as the SSPX believes) John-Paul II is head of the one true Church, and whenever he talks or acts as such by, for instance, condemning priestesses or by condemning divorce laws in Ireland, then the SSPX heeds him and the liberals in the Church disregard him. But — men can be walking contradictions — whenever he talks or acts as a liberal by, for instance, promoting false ecumenism or religious liberty, then the liberals look up to him as their head, but since the very Catholic Faith is endangered, Catholics cannot follow him. So John-Paul II is head of the Catholic Church, but whenever he misuses — consciously, or unconsciously — his papal office to promote liberalism, his misuse of it makes him head of the liberals.
Q; So when Archbishop Lefebvre said he never belonged to the church from which he was excommunicated for consecrating four bishops on June 30,1988, what he meant was not really the Church but the community of liberals.
Exactly. To speak of the “church” of the liberals is a way of speaking. Their "church" should be called the "Newchurch", to show that it is not the real Church but is deceitfully designed to resemble it.
Q: But then how could Archbishop Lefebvre go on calling John-Paul II Pope of the real Church?
A. Because men are contradictory creatures, and one and the same man is capable at different times of acting in contradictory ways. Talking and acting in a gravely liberal way need not disqualify a pope from being pope. Catholics must not exaggerate papal infallibility beyond what the Church teaches about it.
Q: But what entitled the Archbishop to say that his apparent excommunication of June `88 was not a real excommunication?
A Catholic excommunication must take place either positively by a solemn ceremony, or automatically by Church Law. Now Rome never performed any ceremony to excommunicate the Archbishop. It merely declared, he had automatically excommunicated himself by Church Law. This declaration. was false.
Q. How can that be? Is not Church Law what Rome says it is?
A: If Rome changes the law, then the law is (within limits) what Rome changes it to be. But until then, the law is what it is, and in the summer of `88 Church Law said, and it still says, like common sense, that if a man is driven by an emergency to break. the Law, he does not incur the penalty for breaking the Law. Now the Archbishop consecrated four bishops only because of the massive emergency created in the Church by the liberals. Therefore he did not incur any Catholic or real excommunication.
Q: Is there any evidence that the Pope did not have all the fits prior to the excommunication?
A: No. It was liberal thinking that naturally made him expel from the communion of liberals the arch-anti-liberal.
Q: Has any excommunication in Church history been later recognized as invalid?
A: Several. St. Athanasius and St. Joan of Arc were both "excommunicated", obviously invalidly. Above the Pope there is a God.
Q; What is the SSPX doing to get this "excommunication" lifted?
A: It is persevering in its witness to the Truth so that Rome will continue to have at least that means of recognizing its liberal error.
Q: But is the SSPX in dialogue with Rome?
A. Rumours are flying around to that effect, originated perhaps by enemies or false friends of the Society who would like to see its annoying witness brought to an end — the Society rains on the liberal parade - but the Society Superior General, Bishop Fellay, quashed all such rumours at the end of November this year when he said there were no contacts presently with Rome, and if there were he would disapprove of them.
Q. But did not Archbishop Lefebvre once say that five years after the Consecrations he expected contacts to re-open? How can Bishop Fellay be so haughty?
A: The Archbishop hoped and trusted that five more years might bring Rome to its Catholic senses. But neither by wishful thinking nor by imprudent contacts can Bishop Fellay or anybody else change the fact that Rome is persevering in its belief that liberalism will save the Church.
Q: But isn't this lack of contacts with Rome dangerous for a Catholic Society wanting to remain Catholic?
A: So long as Rome perseveres in its liberalism, distortion by distance is less of a danger for the Society than is contamination by contact, especially when so many of the liberals are "sincere" and "well-meaning,". We must want Rome to recover, and we must be looking for Rome to recover, but in the meantime, "Facts are stronger than the Lord Mayor”. Neo-modernism is a deadly disease.
Q: But is it not pride and insolence to take the position that unless Rome comes to us, we will have nothing to do with them?
A: To submit to the Truth is not pride, and to expect Rome to submit to the Truth is not insolence. The Truth is above us all.
Q: Well, if consecrating bishops without Rome's approval was such a wise action of Archbishop Lefebvre, why did he not approve of Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc doing the same thing?
Within the Society of St Pius X properly founded inside the Catholic Church in 1970, Archbishop Lefebvre knew that candidates for the bishopric were assured of a proper priestly formation in the past, experience in the present, and a measure of protection in the future. One or more of these things he could not be sure of for priestly candidates outside of the Society.
Q: If liberalism is the problem, why attack Protestants who are often decent men and might be our allies in the fight against liberalism?
A: Unfortunately modern liberalism is rooted in Protestantism. All credit to decent Protestants as being decent, but as being Protestant they carry within them the seeds of all indecency. Protestantism is heresy, and heresy matters.
Q: In any case, let the Society concentrate on the Faith, and leave politics alone!
A: If politics and politicians would leave the Catholic Faith alone, then men of God could happily leave politics alone. But in the modern world, politics crash into God's law on questions like abortion, and blow it sky-high with principles like religious liberty. Such politics become in fact a graven image, an idol, a substitute religion. If the Society of St Pius X left such politics alone, it would be practising liberalism, and it would be breaking the First Commandment.
Q: But one cannot help wondering if the Society has a hidden political agenda: anti-semitism, neo-nazism, antiamericanism, revisionism?
A: The Society's only agenda is that of Christ the King; but Christ the King in a real sense, not just as one more Sunday devotion at the end of October or November. If then a Jew or a neo-Nazi or an Americanist or a Revisionist is for the real kingship of Christ, he should have every Catholic and the Society of St Pius X for his friend. But if Jews want the Jewish race to be king, if neo-nazis want the State to be king, if Americanists want religious liberty to be king, then it is not a hidden political agenda to oppose them, but it is the agenda of Christ the King, which should be the agenda of every Catholic. Christ must reign!
End of questions and answers. Dear friends, I have to apologize for the Seminary this year running out of those Christmas cards that you can send to a friend with the promise that they will be included in a Novena of Masses on the Seminary's main altar at Christmas time. Tell your friends it is all the bishop's fault (he is growing old and getting holes in the head), but tell them also their intentions will be included in the Novena which will be said anyway for their intentions and for all our friends.
We thank you seriously for all your support through another calendar year, especially for greetings in the image of Benjamin Franklin and Ulysses Grant — little did the bishop dream these would become his favorite American statesmen, until he became American Seminary Rector!
May God bless you all with a holy Advent and happy Christmas time.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Richard Williamson