Dear Friends and Benefactors,
As this calendar year draws to its close, we are only the space of three years from the third Millennium after Christ. Now Christ does not change, but the times they are a-changing, dramatically. The 1990's are no longer the 1970's when the Society of St. Pius X began, still less are they the 1950's which, from before Vatican II, look to us today like another world. What then might the 2,000's be? Here are several certainties and a few guesses, in answer to questions coming mostly from readers:-
Q: Is the crisis in Church and world showing any signs of letting up?
A: No, on the contrary. And grave though the world crisis is, the Church crisis is incomparably worse because the Catholic Church is meant to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As that salt loses its savour, so it is trodden underfoot (Mt.V,13), and as the light grows weaker, so the world is plunged in darkness. Towards the end of Prof. Romano Amerio's careful and profound analysis in "Iota Unum", published in 1984, of the errors constituting this crisis of the Church, he wrote that if it is true that the nature of the Catholic Church is now being overthrown from within, "then we are headed for a formless darkness that will make analysis and forecast impossible, and in the face of which there will be no alternative but to keep silence".
Q: Do you agree with this dark judgment on our future?
A: Not entirely. The nature of the Church can be neither changed nor overthrown, nor can truth be at a loss to analyze error, nor will the truth be silenced. But the Professor is well expressing how without precedent the darkness is that is engulfing the Church.
Q: Can you give a few examples, at various levels of the Church?
A: From top to bottom:
- For instance, the Pope has recently re-enforced the key dogma of secular humanism by declaring that evolution is "more than just a hypothesis", or theory. He is wildly wrong. The theory of evolution is today discredited as unproven by more and more real scientists, i.e. scientists who respect reality.
- Next down, inside the Vatican "a very powerful group" of top-level churchmen celebrate Satanist rituals, according to the well-informed Malachi Martin. (For parallel horrors in the Old Testament, see Ezechiel VIII.)
- As for Catholic bishops, as an American exdiocesan priest told me who is speaking from hands-on experience, conservative bishops who are not modernist in their ideas run into head-on trouble if they try to confront the heresy, immorality, irreverence, etc., rampant in their dioceses, so to lead a quiet life they compromise, which eats away their character, making them finally into caricatures of bishops.
- As for young priests who are traditionally minded, according to a conservative American Catholic magazine one year ago, they hold onto the Faith as best they can, feeling as though they are "waiting for the cavalry to come", but then they find themselves stabbed in the back by, for instance, Rome's approval of altar-girls, all of which leaves them to conclude, "There ain't no cavalry".
- So the laity are being prepared by flyers from, for instance, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, for "Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest", SCAPs in English, ADAPs in French ("Assistance Domininicale en 1'Absence d'un Pretre), and thus the Catholic Church worldwide is being ruined (No Mass, no Church, bragged Luther).
Q: But how can God be allowing His own Church to fall to pieces like this?
A: Because He chooses so to leave to His churchmen their free-will that those who serve the Church well will greatly merit, while out of the evil wrought by the rest of them He has from eternity planned to bring forth a greater good. Out of the present purification of the Church, or end of her 5th Age, will come the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which looks like being the Catholic Church's last and greatest peaceful triumph (6th Age) before her final and most terrible persecution under the Antichrist (7th and last Age).
Q: So we are not today living in the days of the Antichrist?
A: No, but we are living in days very like them, because just as the long-drawn out 5th Age of Apostasy (from Luther to today) is now finally corrupting the long-drawn out 4th Age of Christendom (the 1,000 year Middle Ages), so the swift 7th Age of the Antichrist will corrupt the swift 6th Age of Mary's Triumph. Today we are living through "the end of times", in Greek "kairoi", not "chronoi", i.e. the end of 2,000 years of opportunities for Gentiles to enter the Catholic Church, but after this end of times (5th Age) there is still a way to go to the end of the world (7th Age). If you think this "end of times" is painful, pray not to have to live through the end of the world!
Q: But how much longer will this "end of times" drag on?
A: That is God's secret. Longer, I fear, than we might wish. Some Catholic prophecies speak of a virtual eclipse of the Church, but that seems not to have happened yet. Her structures are still, apparently, standing. The darkness should then be darker yet before dawn.
Q: But can one be sure that there will be a dawn?
A: Absolutely. Back in the 17th century the Sacred Heart told St. Margaret Mary that his enemies will be overthrown just as they think they are on the brink of triumphing. Certainly the Judeo-masons consider they are today very close to total world control. The astonishing thing is how much use Our Lord will make of mere men to overthrow them. It will be a wonder to watch: like St. Joan of Arc, only on a much grander scale. But we must pray more, for God to intervene.
Q: Meanwhile, do you not think the darkness is such as to have taken away our Popes? Is it not logical to think that recent Popes have been so bad that they cannot have been popes at all?
A: I think it is only logical if you exaggerate papal infallibility, as do both liberals and sedevacantists. Both say, popes are infallible and recent popes are liberal. The sedevacantists conclude, therefore these "popes" are not popes. Oscar Wilde said, sentimentality is the bank-holiday of cynicism (prolonged holiday today!). Similarly, sedevacantism is the reverse side of liberalism. Admittedly, this is the Church's worst crisis ever. Nevertheless, Church history indicates how far Our Lord can go in allowing his Vicars to err while he works around their errors to prevent them from destroying the Church. True, the pope leads the Church. But the Church is greater than the pope. Sedevacantists are like liberals in almost reducing the Church to the pope.
Q: But if the SSPX refuses sedevacantism and recognizes that these liberal popes are popes, how can it disobey their orders?
A: Because the Catholic Church is greater than the pope, and so when a pope by word or deed (1) disserves the Church (2) gravely, then for the sake of the Church, i.e. out of a higher obedience to God, Catholics may, and sometimes even must, "disobey" the Pope. But the disservice must be (1) real, i.e. to "disobey" we only have the right if we are right, and (2) it must be grave, i.e. Catholics should not even seem to break Catholic unity unless there is serious cause. Neo-modernism is serious cause.
Q: But if you "disobey" the Pope, how can you still recognize him as Pope?
A: Because the pope can make serious errors without ceasing to be pope. The liberals follow the pope when he is right and still follow him when he is gravely wrong. The sedevacantists refuse to follow him when he is wrong and refuse to follow him (do not recognize him) when he is right. Catholic common sense follows him when he is right and refuses to follow him when he is gravely wrong, but that need not mean not recognizing him as Pope.
Q: But how can the SSPX set itself up to pick and choose when it obeys or "disobeys"? How can mere Catholics sift words and deeds of popes?
A: Because mere Catholics have nearly 2,000 years of Catholic Tradition available to them by which to judge when any Catholic, from pope down to layman, is serving or gravely disserving the Church. The presumption is always in favour of authority, but if an angel from heaven brings me some new doctrine other than that which Catholics have always received, then I must anathematize or reject that angel, teaches St. Paul, word of God (Gal. I,8). And if I may and sometimes must reject an angel from heaven, all the more may I and sometimes must I reject a pope on earth. And how can I tell when I must do so, except by sifting his doctrine in comparison with what the Church has always taught? If I am right, I have the right.
Q: Well, might you believe in the "Jovite" solution, that there has been a secretly and divinely consecrated Pope?
A: No. The Catholic Church has to be visible (How could God oblige on pain of damnation men to adhere to a church they could not see?). The Church might consecrate bishops secretly, for special reasons, for instance of persecution, but in no way could the Pope be appointed secretly on whom the whole Church depends. His appointment must be visible, even if, in the near future, it may in some way need to be miraculous.
Q: Then what do you see concerning the next Conclave to elect a Pope? Malachi Martin is saying that, "short of a miracle", John-Paul II will die or be replaced within a year by someone who will co-operate with the New World Order and with their agenda of control of population and education.
A: Surely the next Conclave will significantly darken the Church. John-Paul II may have such faults as Pope as to at least partly excuse the distress reaction of sedevacantism, but just let sedevacantists see John-Paul's successor! Then they may think John-Paul II was an angel in comparison! They must admit that it is to John-Paul's credit that (as Malachi Martin tells us) the globalist churchmen want him out of the way, pushing him to resign if he will not die. Inadequate though he may have been as Pope, objectively speaking, things are set to be worse without him. It is possible to imagine the See of Rome becoming truly vacant.
Q: Why? Do you think the next conclave to elect a pope will not be valid?
A: Possibly. An invalid election has certainly been made easier by one of the recent changes in the rules for electing a pope. From 1179 until earlier this year a two- thirds majority of the Cardinals voting was required, but now a pope may be elected by a one-vote majority, making his election potentially as dubious as any one of the votes electing him. Did the liberals now in power in Rome make this change to facilitate the election of one of their own men? Or do they envisage undermining the one-man rule of the Church, instituted by Our Lord, because an individual man can always let himself be moved by God's grace to block their plans, whereas some more or less democratic substitute like a Cardinals' Committee will always be subject to control by themselves? Interesting speculation.
Q: But would not such a dissolution of the papacy be the end of the Church?
A: Such an eclipse of the Papacy would surely bring on the virtual eclipse of the Church mentioned earlier. But man proposes, God disposes. Just suppose a globalist pope is dubiously elected at the next conclave, thanks to the unwisely loosened rules. It is easy to imagine a parallel with the introduction of the Novus Ordo missal in 1969. Back then, a Catholic had to love the Mass to take the trouble of examining the legislation supposedly mandating the new missal, but if he did take the trouble, sure enough, he found the legislation was so flawed that the new missal is not in fact mandatory. Similarly tomorrow, it may take a Catholic who loves the papacy to question the new "pope" acclaimed by the vile media and accepted by nearly all "Catholics", but if, thanks to the new rules' looseness, the election will have been a fraud, God will have left enough evidence for souls of good will to see clearly that it was a fraud.
Q: But is that not all sheer speculation?
A: Indeed. However it is certain that the New Mass legislation put Catholics to the test back in 1969, and most were found wanting, and that is a pattern being repeated in this crisis of the Church. The liberals are masters of the appearances, and Catholics who content themselves with appearances are letting themselves be constantly deceived. The Lord God wants substance from us and not just appearances. Only those who really seek the truth will find it.
Q: Are you saying that the mass of Catholics today do not truly love God? How dare you?
A: Look at the fruits. How many "Catholics" today behave - actions speak louder than words - like Catholics behaved 50 years ago? On the contrary, how many "Catholics" today behave just like their Protestant or secular humanist neighbours? For instance, are not abortions statistically as common against Catholics as amongst non-Catholics?
Q: But if Catholics were so good 50 years ago, how are they so bad today?
A: Maybe they were not that good. Here is how an American Catholic wrote to me of Catholicism as she knew it before Vatican II: "In the 1940's and 1950's emotionalism, or devotion, was our religion. It filled our churches for Mass and Novena services. Our Church on Grand Avenue had seven or eight novena services every day and as one service emptied out, the line was backed up in the street to get in for the next service. Yet with all of that we were not practicing our religion. Protestants gave better example than we did, especially in the parking lot after Mass .... I understand now how saccharine all of this was".
Q: Do you think that that is a fair description of pre-Council Catholicism?
A: Judging by the fruits, I am afraid so, to a great extent. How else could the Church so have collapsed in the 1960's? Our Lord quotes "the great commandment in the Law" thus: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind" (Mt XXII, 37). Catholics cannot afford to be sentimental, like the post-Protestant culture all around them. If they are, the Devil will snatch their minds to mislead their souls.
Q: Do you see a danger of "Fiftiesism" amongst what are called "Traditional Catholics" today?
A: Yes, alas. The same causes produce the same effects. The same modern world that made so many Catholics of the 1950's give the appearances and their sentiments to God while they gave the substance with their minds to the Devil, is with us today, all around us, even more so. After all, ever since Protestantism, to give the appearances to God and the substance to the Devil has been the classic way of resolving the tension between them as they struggle for our souls. Hypocrisy is the hall-mark of the Age of Apostasy -"I know thy works, that thou hast the name of being alive: and thou art dead" (Apoc.III,1). In the 1900's it was modernism. In the 1950's it was Neo-modernism. In the 1990's and 2000's the Devil is sure to be finding new ways of our giving the appearances to "Tradition" while our minds and hearts go dancing with the world. He has no shortage of devices up his sleeve, where the Fraternity of St. Peter and the Indult Mass came from.
Q: Then nobody should attend the Indult Mass?
A: The Indult Mass, like the Fraternity of St. Peter, has the official Church's approval for one purpose only, to keep respectively Mass-goers and vocations away from the Society of St. Pius X, in order thereby to separate them eventually from their Catholic Faith. For a mouse to try nibbling the cheese off a mouse-trap without springing the trap is at best a risky affair.
Q: But what about souls on their way out of the Novus Ordo? May they not attend the Indult Mass?
A: You are right. What neo-modernist Rome designed as half-way houses into the Novus Ordo can serve as half-way houses out of it. Thus for someone in the mud at the bottom of a well, a niche in the wall half-way up is half-way to the sunlight, but for somebody out in the sunlight that same niche is half-way down to the mud. Anybody in the sunlight of the Tridentine Mass untrammelled by neo-modernist Rome needs his head examined if he climbs down to the niche of the Indult Mass, half-way down to the mud of the Novus Ordo.
Q: But does not Michael Davies say that attending the Novus Ordo Mass fulfills one's Sunday duty? And that Archbishop Lefebvre said the same thing?
A: When Michael Davies says it, it is because he claims that the officially promulgated Novus Ordo Mass cannot be intrinsically evil, otherwise the Catholic Church would be defectible. When Archbishop Lefebvre said it, he meant that the Novus Ordo Mass is objectively and intrinsically evil, but Catholics unaware of, or disbelieving in, that evil, because of the rite's official promulgation, may subjectively fulfill their Sunday duty by attending the new Mass. The third Commandment says, thou shalt keep the Sabbath holy, not, thou shalt attend a semi-Protestant Mass.
Q: Then how do you answer Michael Davies' argument that if the Pope had officially promulgated a sacramental rite intrinsically harmful to the Faith, then the Church would have defected, which is impossible, because the Church is indefectible?
A: That is a delicate question, but see nine answers back, concerning the legislation which "enforced" the new rite of Mass: it appeared mandatory but it was not. Now the doctrinal ambiguity and the disciplinary looseness (opening to wide alternatives) intrinsic to the new rite are bad enough to condemn it as intrinsically evil for a sacramental rite, but they are not bad enough to undermine the Church's indefectibility so long as they are not mandatorily imposed upon Catholics. (It is sometimes fortunate that at least in their theory liberals are not given to commanding!)
Q: But Michael Davies says the Society of St. Pius X has no competent theologians.
A: He is quite right that the Society priests (and bishops) have almost no doctorates or licentiates from the official Church in philosophy or theology or canon law. However, they do have, following Archbishop Lefebvre, a sense of the Catholic Faith whereby they grasp the gravity of this crisis in the Church requiring old rules to be applied in new ways beyond most books of theology or law from which those doctors studied whom Michael Davies appreciates. After all, had those doctors grasped the crisis, would it be here? Some of them to this day say there is no crisis! Learned men can be blind!
Q: But should not the Society of St. Pius X at least be in dialogue with Rome?
A: You cannot dialogue with persons who share none of your basic principles. Right up until the spring of 1988 Archbishop Lefebvre charitably assumed that the Roman churchmen wanted to defend the Catholic Faith of souls, and so he engaged for thirteen years in hand-to-hand discussions with them, but when in the summer of 1988 their actions made it clear beyond doubt That the unchanging Faith of souls was not their concern, then he gave up discussing, and took definitive action to guarantee the Faith's interim defense, God willing, until Rome comes to its Catholic senses. The disagreement had finally showed itself to be too basic for dialogue to be continued.
Q: So the Society of St. Pius X wants Rome to return to the old religion, so to speak. What does Rome want of the Society of St. Pius X?
A: Ask them. Our understanding is that they want us to blend into the new religion of the New World Order.
Q: Well, a conservative Catholic magazine here in the USA said that the Society of St. Pius X in ten years will not be so stoutly affirming papal primacy, and that the Society of St. Pius X will probably not then be intact.
A: Time will tell. If the Society of St. Pius X is faithful, the magazine will be wrong on both counts.
Q: The magazine also said that it would take only one of the Society of St. Pius X leaders to break ranks and join Rome for the SSPX-Rome division to come to an end.
A: How little the magazine understands! The division is not personal. The problem is not between leaders personally. In 1988 an outstanding Traditional leader, Dom Gerard of Barroux, went over to Rome. He made Archbishop Lefebvre weep, but the problem was unchanged. If the Pope and the Cardinals were to come back to the fullness of the true Faith tomorrow, the Judeo-masons would simply start all over again to capture the Vatican for globalism the day after. Conversely, if all half dozen or so present Society of St. Pius X leaders were to go over to Rome, like Dom Gerard, the best of the Society of St. Pius X priests and laity might weep but they would refuse to follow. And if all men were, extraordinarily, to abandon the Truth, then Our Lord says the stones in the street would cry out (Lk.XIX,40). The problem is neither leaders, nor politics, nor egos, nor canon law, nor personalities, nor diplomacy, nor misunderstandings, nor lack of dialogue, but the clash between, on the one side, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and on the other side the Father of lies, Satan. Men may shift in that clash from one side to the other, but the clash is eternal and it is not matter for any kind of conciliation.
Q: So be it. But then would not the Society of St. Pius X strengthen its position by gathering together all Traditional priests? Why can't we have unity? Why can't Traditional priests stop fighting one another?
A: Because Catholic unity requires not only the Faith but also authority. As Fr. Calmel said at the onset of the present crisis, any such association "which would profess to be OF the Church but would be neither diocese, nor archdiocese, nor parish nor a religious order .... would be artificial, man-made and foreign to the established and recognized groups within the Church. As with all groupings, it would be faced with the problem of leadership and authority and all the more acutely the larger it was. It wouldn't take long for it to be faced with the question of authority; being artificial (and thus not an association according to nature or grace) it would find the question of authority insoluble. Rival groups would soon arise .... Conflict would become inevitable and between these rival groups there would be no canonical means to put an end to this conflict nor even to conduct it". Traditional Catholics would be wise to be grateful for the remarkable degree of unity given to them world-wide by the Faith they share, and to cease complaining of the lack of unity caused by the lack of authority. Let them pray for the Pope and for the Church's hierarchy, and as for the rest, let them endure what they cannot cure.
Q: Then the situation is hopeless?
A: No, says Fr. Calmel, because we know Our Lord will be with his Church to the end of the world (Mt.XXVIII,20). So even if Church hierarchical authority is steadily being eroded, he says, still each of us at our own level, priest or nun or layman, should exercise what authority he has in order to form bastions of sanctity on however small a scale, which should stay in touch with one another to prepare for the Church's revival when it pleases Our Lord, but which should not seek to form world-wide organizations "which would find the problem of leadership insoluble".
Q: But our struggle is very lonely. Can we not then co-operate with good Protestants, for instance in the fight against abortion or against corruption in politics?
A: Be careful .... Abortion and today's corrupt politics are poisoned fruits but not the poisonous roots of the Great Apostasy, which began with Protestantism. So however good the best of Protestants appear on the surface, deep down they are part of the problem, which is why they are apt to turn to politics as a solution. Sin is the problem. Grace is the solution. The only grace is of Jesus Christ which comes to men essentially through the Catholic Church. No intelligent Catholic will today spend much effort on any action which does not more or less directly rebuild the Catholic Church: "bastions of sanctity (supernatural)", family, mission, chapel, school, parish, such as the Catholic Church has always built. The Church has also built Catholic States, but that supposes a sufficient number of enlightened Catholics, which we do not have today. Now to form such Catholics! That is action worth attempting! Order doctrinal audio or video-tapes from the Seminary to start study groups going. How can men demand action, or look for action, without having first thought out what action is really necessary? For instance to kill abortionists might be tempting as action to take, to remove grave enemies of the State when its competent authorities refuse to remove them. But the disorder of citizens taking the law into their own hands normally disrupts society more than the continued activity of such criminals. Catholic action needs to be well thought out.
Q: Do you mean a Catholic can never resort to force? Not even if the State violates his family, as wicked States are more and more threatening to do?
A: The Church has always taught that a man has the right (and maybe, but not necessarily, the duty) to use proportionate force to repel violence or the threat of violence against the person, honour, property of himself or those for whom he is responsible. If a modern State closes in on a man's family, it is that man's responsibility before God to judge whether his using that right is a lesser evil than not using it. In any case, force is not always wrong, especially not defensive force. Therefore there is nothing wrong in owning weapons to be able eventually to exercise such force.
Q: And supposing homosexuality or divorce break in on the family?
A: Each case is different and must be handled individually, especially today when the general break-down of morals means that people may not be subjectively aware of what they are objectively doing. However, God's law does not change and all men have a God-given conscience, and it is no kindness to souls to put cushions under their bad consciences. To be kind to divorce means being unkind to lawful marriage, which means being unkind, yes, to children, who are the ones who suffer from the breakdown of lawful marriage. Similarly to condone homosexuality, one of the four sins crying to Heaven for vengeance, is, objectively, to mock Heaven or to mock God, and it is to help to undermine society, the survival of which depends, obviously, on the normal exercise of the reproductive function.
Q: But why is society so important? Is it not the individual that matters?
A: Yes, but God made the human individual to live in society so that if society breaks down, all the individuals suffer. In fact the common good overrides the individual good, as men recognize when they sign up to fight and maybe die for their country. But liberalism makes the individual sacrosanct, which is why we have for instance all these absurd "rights" and law-suits turning society into dissociety all around us. There is a common good which I undermine by being kind to guilty divorcees or to unrepentant homosexuals. Catholics get "charity" all wrong if like everyone around them they ignore the common good.
Q: Then Professor Amerio was right after all let us relapse into silence?
A: It is true that our circumstances are very difficult, but God does not ask us to conquer, He asks us to give battle, and then He, as St. Joan of Arc says, gives the victory. If in His inscrutable wisdom He has given to Catholics of the 5th Age to fight a 500-year rearguard action, which may soon be over but is not over yet, then that is what it is appointed for us to do. Had Catholics not fought during that half-millennium, it would have been over much sooner, but they would not have gained Heaven. We need not keep silence until it is forced upon us. Truth carries. So each of us in his own station in life must give witness to that unchanging Truth of Our Lord Jesus Christ which we have received from the Church and which alone can save our souls for eternity. Martyr and witness are in Greek the same word. We should not be surprised if living our lives to give witness to the Truth seems equivalent to a martyrdom "Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake; Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you" (Mt.V, 11,12).
Dear friends and benefactors, take plenty of courage, and have a Happy Christmas and New Year. Remember the men's 5-day Exercises here at the Seminary from December 26 to 31, as usual, and remember the Seminary audio and video-tapes for Christmas presents, or presents at any time of year, to get the Church's Truth into circulation.
May God bless you, and Our Lady protect you.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Richard Williamson