Polemic with Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz on
We Resist You to the Face
Brief chronicle of events
On June 22, 2000, the weekly The Wanderer published the first of seven articles by Mr. Stephen Hand. The series was supposed to be a refutation of the public statement We Resist You to the Face by Mr. Atila S. Guimar„es, Mr. Michael J. Matt, Mr. John Vennari and Dr. Marian T. Horvat. The statement by the four authors was published first in The Remnant (April 30, 2000), later in book form by TIA (May, 2000), and finally in the Catholic Family News (July, 2000). Mr. Handís first article was preceded by words from The Wanderer editor Mr. Alphonse J. Matt Jr., and a preface by His Excellency Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln.
A rumor that seems in keeping with the reality
The petite histoire of the whole affair has circulated mostly as "rumor." Except for the protagonists themselves, there are few who know for certain the genesis of the attack. The "rumor" about its origin, however, has in its favor a strong possibility of being true. For this reason, we take it here as a working hypothesis for our explanation of what happened and how it took place.
What are the presuppositions of the attack? The Statement of Resistance had a profound impact on the English-speaking Catholic world. The Catholic circle that is the most capable of damaging the progressivist advance in public opinion is the traditionalist milieu, because it comes closest to the most complete Catholic position. Thus, it has the potential to generate a counter-revolutionary restoration of the Church and Christian Civilization.
If this milieu would be strongly united, wisely organized, and intelligently directed, it could exercise a key influence over the more numerous conservative circles, which, in turn, could have a considerable influence over the right in the "decisive center." Therefore, the traditionalist milieu is the pole with the potential to catalyze public opinion and begin to draw victory to the Counter-Revolution. This milieu, however, normally is unaware of its role and its real importance on public opinion. Also, it has been kept fragmented by different maneuvers, which impede its free action. This is not the place to analyze these maneuvers.
Now then, the Statement of Resistance allowed the traditionalist milieu to become more conscious of its role and importance, and also provided certain elements to unite it. Therefore, it represented a real danger capable of inflicting great damage on the Progressivist Revolution. In other words, the bosses of this Revolution had to be gravely concerned about the Declaration of Resistance. The way to limit the damage would be to try to prevent the dissemination of its message.
Also, the Statement respectfully asked for a dialogue with the Pope or some representative to discuss the documents of Vatican II, considered to be the source of the present day crisis of the Catholic Church. However, up to this time there seems to be some inexplicable prohibition in effect that will permit no public polemic on Vatican II. Given this, the Statement and its authors threatened to become extremely embarrassing for the religious authority. Dissemination of the work needed to be stopped and a serious polemic on Vatican II avoided.
Therefore, someone would have to be chosen to make a public stand against the Statement of Resistance and put a halt to its advance.
This someone seems to have been the Bishop of Lincoln, Fabian Bruskewitz. In effect, the "rumor" that was running when the The Wanderer attack began was that Bishop Bruskewitz was the real instigator of the offensive to halt the growing tide of support and discussion generated by We Resist You to the Face.
According to the "rumor," things would have taken place in the following way:
- A highly situated person would try to stop the diffusion and warm acceptance of the Statement of Resistance. The person chosen for this was Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.
- His Excellency needed a pretext to act because it would not look good for him to open direct fire against the four lay authors of the document, who were not members of his Diocese. Mr. Hand was approached to write a series of article that would make the attack possible. In fact, in his article Mr. Alphonse Matt affirmed that he personally requested the series of Mr. Hand with the express intent of refuting We Resist You to the Face. This request would have been made at the inspiration of Bishop Bruskewitz.
- Mr. Hand, in his condition as recent ex-collaborator of The Remnant, presented advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages: He knew the general traditionalist milieu, and his testimony, if it had the appearance of impartiality, could garner support for his thesis. Some readers would still remember him kindly and, for these, his critiques could have some damaging effect.
Disadvantages: Mr. Hand passed very quickly from the condition of friend and columnist of The Remnant to that of enemy and detractor, a phenomenon which, in common language, is normally qualified as betrayal. It is well known that the former partisans of ideological movements who revolt against such movements and abandon them often take with them personal resentments that obliterate the objectivity of their testimonies. For this reason, sociologists, judges and public representatives take much greater caution with and attach much less importance to sources of this nature.
Balance: The disadvantages of the protean Mr. Hand entering the scene were clearly greater than the advantages.
Conclusion: The authorís deficiencies could be reduced by the heavy weight of the religious authority and the prestige of another movement or conservative newspaper.
- The ecclesiastical authority would be Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz who, according to our suppositions, was the ideological factor of the attack.
- The conservative newspaper would be The Wanderer. According to the "rumor," Bishop Bruskewitz had sought out Mr. Alphonse Matt Jr., owner and editor of the newspaper, and requested not only the future articles of Mr. Hand and their publication, but also Mr. A. Mattís two articles which would support Mr. Hand and launch the accusation of schismatic against the authors of the Statement of Resistance. If this accusation were to come only from the pen of Mr. Hand, it would not have sufficient credibility. In fact, Mr. Matt carried out his allotted tasks with alacrity.
- The assigned tasks were, then, the following:
This sequence of events, which circulated at the level of "rumor," would seem to have taken place as described above.
- To Mr. Alphonse Matt would fall the principal role of accuser and the one who would disseminate the articles of Mr. Hand. He printed them in The Wanderer in the proposed series, and afterward published them as a booklet. He also lent all the ideological support he could to the series: his first article was the introduction to the first article of Mr. Hand, and his second article came to light with the last installation of Mr. Hand. In the latter, Mr. Alphonse Matt also announced the edition of the book and recommended it to his readers.
- To Bishop Bruskewitz would fall the role of providing a strong, but more vague, support in order to preserve his valuable reputation as conservative.
- To Mr. Hand would fall the task of writing the articles and, afterward, to try to set fire on his Website to the accusation of schismatic against the authors of the Statement, a calumnious accusation that would not be opportune for the other two to insist upon any further.
Goals of the attack
The objectives of the plan were evident:
The arsenal of the attack
- To impede the spread of the Statement of Resistance as well as its acceptance in the conservative milieu;
- To keep the authors busy defending themselves against spurious accusations - schismatics, Protestants, Jansenists, Cathars, sede-vacantists, sensationalists, etc.;
- To prevent a public and serious discussion of Vatican II with the ecclesiastical authority.
The three major pieces of attack were printed June 22, 2000 in The Wanderer.
The principal was undoubtedly the article of Mr. Alphonse Matt entitled "In Perspective". In it Mr. A. Matt clearly accuses the authors and supporters of We Resist You to the Face of having started down "a schismatic trajectory that can only have tragic consequences." Face to Face analyzes this article and the second attack of Mr. A. Matt on another polemic page addressing Alphonse Matt and presenting the refutations that were made.
The most important support for this assault by Mr. A. Matt came from the Preface written by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. His piece did not directly attack the authors as "schismatic," but rather as arrogant and proud. However, by the fact that he wrote the preface to the articles that were promoted by The Wanderer, Bishop Bruskewitz gave an indirect support to the accusation of schism made by Mr. A. Matt.
On September 15, 2000, as part of its defense, The Remnant published the refutation of two of the authors of the Statementof Resistance to the Preface of His Excellency.
Mr. Atila Sinke Guimar„es made a strong response to Bishop Bruskewitz in an article entitled "Five Questions for Msgr. Bruskewitz". The same article was reprinted in the Catholic Family News (October 2000)by Mr. John Vennari, its editor and one of the co-authors of the Statement.
The Remnant also published the article "His Excellencyís Insinuations..." by Dr. Marian Horvat, a clever
analysis of the impropriety of the insinuations of the Prelate and the lack of courage in his attack.
Earlier, July 31, 2000, the newspaper also published the article entitled "Anecdotes, Trajectories, and Headaches: A Letter to Bishop Bruskewitz" by Jonathan Tuttle, which adroitly refuted the words and actions of Bishop Bruskewitz in this polemic.
The third and weakest piece in the attack was the seven-part series of articles by Mr. Hand published in The Wanderer and, afterward, in the booklet "Traditionalists," Tradition and Private Judgment. The two authors representing TIA - Mr. Atila Guimar„es and Dr. Marian Horvat - did not present refutations to this series since they considered it lacking intellectual value. Besides, in their opinion, these articles - which issued from a preconceived thesis tailored to fit Bruskewitz/A. Mattís purposes, and written with an obvious ill-will - only served as a pretext for the two other attacks to be made.
To employ a metaphor, the offensive against We Resist You to the Face would have been made by a mounted and armed knight. That knight would be Bishop Bruskewitz.
His horse would be The Wanderer, and the lance would be the articles of Mr. Alphonse Matt that contained the accusation of schism.
The articles of Mr. Hand would be nothing more than the saddle that the horse wore and that the knight sat on when he directed his attack.
In fact, no where in his booklet does Mr. Hand direct the accusation of schism against the four authors of The Statement of Resistance. He launches other empty accusations - that the writers were integrists, unbalanced, closet sede-vacantists, Protestants, etc. - but he avoids directly accusing the authors of the Statement of being schismatic.
It could appear that he was acting under strict orders to avoid this accusation, or that a severe editing was made of his first draft to take out that allegation. In order for this accusation to have some repercussion, it was left exclusively to Mr. A. Matt.
If analyzed from a psychological point of view, the whole work of Mr. Hand seems more concerned with presenting a self-justification for his abandonment of traditionalism and for his adhesion to Vatican II and its consequences rather than an attack against the four authors.
For these reasons the two members of TIA did not respond to Mr. Hand. That does not mean to say that Mr. Guimar„es and Dr. Horvat did not support and view with satisfaction the splendid defense of The Remnant. TIA especially recommends that readers of its pages take the time to view the three articles of defense on The Remnant Website written by the editor, Mr. Michael J. Matt.
One of them is transcribed in the item of Face to Face that reproduces the polemic with Mr. Alphonse Matt, editor of The Wanderer. Also recommended are the articles by other columnists and collaborators, in particular Mr. Christopher Ferrara and Dr. Thomas Woods, who came to the defense of the newspaper against the writings of Mr. Hand.
After having played the role assigned to him in the first general offensive against the Statement of Resistance, and after having received a due response in The Remnantís defense, Mr. Hand has had no other article on this subject published in The Wanderer. Nor has he received any other public support from Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. He finds himself reduced to writing continuous defamatory articles on his own Website against the co-authors of the Statement of Resistance. Showing much less restraint and prudence, he hurls pell-mell the false accusation of schismatic against them directly. Until the moment, the two members of Tradition In Action have not responded to these and other calumnies that Mr. Hand is spreading, given the organizationís policy of not responding to Internet critiques.
Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz has made no response to the refutations of his
Preface. He seems to have disappeared from the panorama and shut himself up in his ivory tower in the Diocese de Lincoln.
Articles in the Polemic
Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz
Five Questions for Msgr. Bruskewitz
Atila Sinke Guimar„es
His Excellency's Insinuations
Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.
Anecdotes, Trajectories & Headaches: A Letter to Bishop Bruskewitz
by Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz
to the booklet "Traditionalists", Tradition and Private JudgmentStephen Hand
published in The Wanderer, June 22, 2000.
Stephen Hand has done a distinct service by his fine monograph pointing out by means of careful research as well as by personal and anecdotal experience the reality of removing a cinder in oneís eye when such is there, but keeping the eye intact and not removing the eye out of exasperation, because of the annoyance and sometimes serious pain the cinder can cause.
It has been an axiom for many years in historical theology that what oftentimes begins or is declared to be a "return to tradition," in other words, a reaction, ends as being an innovation, that is a schism or a heresy. There are people who suffer from intense headaches, and find themselves utterly incapable of mastering the horrible pain that they frequently endure. In moments of frustration, such people will sometimes say, "I wish I could cut off my head to cure my headache." But they, and all who are rational and reflective in their presence, would always realize that the so-called cure would be far worse than the continuous enduring of even the most tragic pain. It takes a faith-filled and prayer-filled discerning Catholic life to distinguish liturgical abuses, doctrinal and moral aberrations, and grave disciplinary infractions occurring in the lives and practices of people within the Church, from the Church herself, which despite being composed of sinful members, remains the spotless Spouse and Bride of Christ, not a Church of Cathers or Albigensians, but a Church of those who carry within themselves the sad effects of original sin while at the same time bearing the grace of God, which is to say, the seeds of eternal happiness. St. Thomas Aquinas calls pride the queen and mother of all vices, and oftentimes those who perhaps rightly perceive grave faults and defects in people in the Church, even sometimes in people with positions of clerical authority, forget their own creatureliness and sinfulness, and the ability they themselves have to fall into serious error.
At the time of Jansenist crisis, for instance, the archbishop of Paris, speaking of Jansenist nuns at Port Royal, said they were as pure as angels but as proud as devils. Down through the centuries there have been countless sects, denominations, cults, and churches which have broken off from the Catholic Church under the pretense of being "holier than thou." We are witnessing the same occurrence in our time. Ironically, these groups are most often unknowing and indeliberate allies of the bitterest enemies of Christ and His Church, in effect, denying the abiding Presence of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church and promises that Christ bestowed on His Mystical Body from its inception.
In his masterful work, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, John Henry Newman points out how in the course of the Churchís history she occasionally appears to fall into deliquium, from which, under Godís grace, she emerges victorious and stronger than ever. Many of those who defy the Church and even leave the Church in the name of "tradition," thus contradicting the very word by which they choose to define themselves, are ignorant in their despair regarding the Churchís future or the realities of the Churchís history through 2,000 years. This work of Stephen Hand undoubtedly will assist those who are loyal to Christ and to His Church, and to His Vicar on earth, the Bishop of Rome, to labor zealously within the boundaries of the Church herself for her growth in holiness, and willingly, even joyfully, do all possible to eliminate doctrinal, moral, liturgical, and disciplinary aberrations, but, at the same time, conceding nothing to those who wish not to remove a cinder from the eye, but to remove the eye itself and perhaps replace its empty socket with cinders and decayed matters.
The Venerable Servant of God, Abbot Joseph Columba Marmion, who is scheduled to be beatified on September 3, 2000, once reminded his readers that "God resists the proud," and he added: "Is it not terrible to be alienated from God? But how much more terrible it must be to be 'resisted' by God Himself."
May his rhetorical question echo in the minds and hearts of those who make use of this fine work of Stephen Hand.
Articles in this Polemic | Polemics Page | Home | Books | CDs
Atila Sinke Guimar„es
|Five Questions for Msgr. Bruskewitz|
Published in The Remnant September 15, 2000 and in
Catholic Family News October 2000
In his introduction to the pamphlet Traditionalists, Tradition and Private Judgment, Msgr. Fabian W. Bruskewitz takes a curious position from a strategic point of view. He undoubtedly supports the pamphlet, although he avoids making a deep commitment to its contents. His affirmations of support are vague and leave the door open for a retreat, should the work reveal itself counterproductive to his interests.
Parallel to this, he makes general considerations and moral censures about the spiritual state of the authors of the document We Resist You to the Face and the danger their position would represent. However, concretely, he points out nothing worthy of reproach in the text of the resistance document. The censures are enveloped in rhetorical metaphors or stay in the realm of insinuations that avoid a direct confrontation. Whether he supports the pamphlet or whether he is against the Statement of Resistance, Msgr. Bruskewitz is evasive. One could believe that he is uncomfortably undertaking an order to support one party and combat another. One would hope for a more clear-cut position from a Prince of the Church, a Successor of the Apostles whose mission is to teach and sanctify.
With regard to the attacks, Msgr. Bruskewitz reveals himself less artful than in the care he took regarding his personal position. The metaphors he employs - "removing the eye because of a cinder" and "cutting off the head to cure a headache" - speak neither in favor of great objectivity nor extreme literary care. In effect, if one takes seriously the metaphor "to cut off the head," the signers of the document would be wanting to eliminate the Papacy. This is false.
In our Statement, we present a critique and request a dialogue that in no way supposes the elimination of the Papacy. On the contrary, in the section Final Words, we publicly manifest our love for the Papacy and the Pope. If the metaphor were objective, it would not characterize an act of schism, of which we have been accused, but of heresy. Thus, his metaphor "to cut off the head," beyond being banal and in bad taste, is inadequate by exaggeration. The same could be said about "removing the eye."
Notwithstanding, there is this indisputable fact: Msgr. Bruskewitz is the most important player to date in the campaign that is being made against the document We Resist You to the Face. Since it is not worthwhile to discuss the text of his introduction, which is fundamentally evasive, I will go on to consider his public display against us, the signers of the document, and the endorsement he gives to the accusations of the Editor of The Wanderer and the author of the pamphlet.
Based on these facts, I, speaking in my own name, ask five questions of Msgr. Bruskewitz, in the hope that he will not refuse a response to a devoted son of the Catholic Church at a time when the religious authority readily dialogues with her greatest enemies.
1. Is Msgr. Bruskewitz speaking only for himself or also for the Vatican?
It is interesting to consider that after we asked to begin a dialogue with His Holiness John Paul II or some representative on the matters raised in our document, the Bishop of Lincoln appears to publicly deal with our Statement.
It is commonly understood that Bishops have a feudal promise of obedience to the Pope that is equivalent to a vow. Thus, in principle, everything that a Bishop does comes from a direct or indirect order of the Supreme Pontiff. If we add to this todayís facility of communication, one sees that there could be nothing more simple that an order given by telephone or an instruction by fax. Thus, the Introduction penned by Msgr. Bruskewitz could very well have been made on an instruction from the Vatican. I am working with this possibility.
The tactic employed in the whole campaign against our document is the simple one of barraging us with accusations: Mr. Al Matt, editor of the The Wanderer, accused us of having started off "on a schismatic trajectory that can only have dangerous consequences." In a recent article, leaving aside the subtleties, he accused us more directly of being schismatics. Msgr. Bruskewitz accused us of being proud and compared us to the Jansenists, the Cathars or Albigenses. In the text of the pamphlet, the gratuitous accusations are even more numerous. This seems to indicate that we are facing a strategy of diverting attention away from the real matter at hand. It seems that there is the desire to put us on the defensive by making various unconnected accusations, with the aim of avoiding our suggestion to discuss the facts and general panorama we presented in We Resist You to the Face.
Therefore, it is important to know who is directing the campaign. For this reason, I ask the first question:
Msgr. Bruskewitz, would Your Excellency be so kind as to tell us if you are speaking on behalf of the Vatican? Would this then signify the first step of our requested dialogue?
2. Why didnít you apply the precept of charity to us?
In his Epistle to Titus (3:10), St. Paul establishes how one deals with heretics. One should speak to them two times in private, show them their error and admonish them. Only on the third time should he condemn them publicly. This precept was taken as a norm by the whole Church to deal either with heretics or those who fall into some error. It is a precept full of wisdom, known as a precept of charity. It is a precept of charity toward those who are in error but who have good will, because it gives them the opportunity to return to the way of truth. It is also a precept of justice. By adopting this procedure, the Church avoids an injustice, for after two private reprimands, those who still choose to remain in error reveal their contumacy.
Now, Msgr. Bruskewitz knows this norm perfectly and perhaps has applied it more than once in relation to progressivist subordinates. Even though, thank God, we are not heretics, the Bishop of Lincoln might think that we had fallen into some error. He has this right. In this case, why didnít he call us in private in order to instruct us about some alleged error rather than at the first instance publicly coming out against us with a clear desire to damage us, qualifying us as non-Catholic? Havenít we at least the same right as the heretics? Where is the sense of justice of His Excellency? Where is his sense of charity? By condemning us of insubordination, didnít he disobey a norm of the Church? Accusing us of pride, didnít he also cede to an analogous defect?
Msgr.Bruskewitz, would Your Excellency deign to make a response?
3. Is Msgr. Bruskewitz schismatic when he disobeys John Paul II?
The simplified concept of schism and schismatic lends itself to some curious developments. According to this concept, anyone who denies obedience to a Pope - any Pope and for any reason - would be schismatic. In function of this guideline, which is governing the attack against We Resist You to the Face, let me first establish some presuppositions for my next question.
A. The new Code of Canon Law promulgated by John Paul II in 1983 affirms in Can. 212, paragraphs 2 and 3:
"The Christian faithful are free to make known their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires to the Pastors of the Church .... In accord with the knowledge, competence and preeminence which they possess, they [the faithful] have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred Pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have the right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard for the integrity of Faith and Morals and reverence towards their Pastors and consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons."
In my opinion,this applies directly to our Statement. That is to say, the cited parts of the Code recognize that the signers, who are laymen and faithful Catholics, have the right and the duty to direct themselves to the Pope in order to make known our opinion for the good of the Church. This is what we did.
B. On a visit to Switzerland in 1984, John Paul II addressed the youth with these words:
"The Church is always a community made up of men who are weak and can err. I would like to add that this is, in fact, our lot. Because in a Church of perfect people, we would certainly have no place. God Himself wants a human Church. For this reason, one may criticize the Church so long as this criticism is loyal
and stems from a great love for the Church." (Allocution to the youth in Einsiedeln, June 15, 1984, Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, vol. 7/1, pp. 1823-4)
Therefore, John Paul II himself admits and even recommends that one may criticize the Church. Now, if one may criticize the Church for love of her, obviously for the same reason one can criticize papal conduct.
Based on these texts, I sustain that the position of the signers of We Resist You to the Face is guaranteed by the Code of Canon Law and follows the recommendation of John Paul II. Now, if by criticizing John Paul II we obey his own precept, those who deny our right to do this would seem to be disobeying him. From this the question naturally arises the third question I address to the Bishop:
Msgr. Bruskewitz, is Your Excellency in agreement or disagreement with the above aforecited texts of John Paul II? If you are in agreement, why do you accuse us of pride and schism when we are exercising our right and fulfilling our duty? If you are in disagreement, why would Your Excellency be denying obedience to the Pope? Would your Excellency then be schismatic?
4. Would the episcopates of the U.S. and other countries also be schismatic?
An increasingly common phenomenon in this post-conciliar period is that of entire Episcopates which contest the doctrines and orders of the Popes. I will cite some examples.
A. Instruction about homosexuality. In July of 1992, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith directed to the North American Bishops an Instruction about homosexual persons, which admitted that there should be some discrimination of such persons in schools, seminaries and armies (La Repubblica, 18.VII.1992; Avvenire, 24.VII.1992; Origins, 6.VIII.1992).
As soon as the document became public, then Archbishop of San Francisco John Quinn, Archbishop of Milwaukee Rembert Weakland, Archbishop of Seattle Thomas Murphy, and the Bishop of Houston spoke out against it (The Wanderer, July 30, 1992).
Even if the president of the North American Bishops Conference Msgr. Daniel Pilarczyk praised some points of the document, in a clear insinuation of disagreement he affirmed his belief that the American Bishops should continue their efforts to see that homosexuals do not suffer any unjust discrimination (Dispatch of the United States Catholic Conference, July 22, 1992). In effect, this disagreement was confirmed by an observer at the Bishops Conference when he stated that "the majority of the Bishops are going to ignore" the document of the Holy See (San Francisco Chronicle, July 25, 1992).
According to the concept of schism presupposed by Msgr. Bruskewitz, the majority of American Bishops would be schismatic for having taken this attitude.
B. Pastoral on women. In 1983 the North American Bishopsí Conference began work on a collective pastoral letter on
women (New York Times, November 17, 1992). The first draft, presented in 1988, requested that the minor orders of the deaconate be opened to women (New
York Times, November 19, 1992) and that they should be ordained as priests
(30 Dias, December 1992, p. 24). The second plan, presented in 1990, asked only for their ordination as deaconesses (New York Times, November 19, 1992). The third, with a more moderate tone, presented in 1992, spoke of the need for a study about the ministries in the Church in order to see where women could be introduced (ibid.). Finally, the fourth and definitive version, approved in 1992 by 137 votes to 110, accepted the traditional teaching of the Church (ibid.; 30 Dias, December 1992, p. 24).
It should be noted that between the first and second versions there was a meeting of the North American Bishops with the Pope in Rome (O Estado de S„o Paulo, March 8, 1989), which was interpreted as a confrontation over the moral themes (30 Dias, June 1989, p. 59). In the case of the pastoral on women, the Vatican managed to avoid the publication of the original draft (The Dallas Morning News, November 19, 1992), but received the open and declared opposition of 110 Bishops.
According to recent press reports and the growing wave favoring the role of women in the Church, one can conjecture that at least these 110 Bishops would have continued to speak out on their positions contrary to that of Rome. To judge by the criteria of Msgr. Bruskewitz, all of these would be schismatic.
C. Other moral themes. Similar considerations could be made with regard to divorce, birth control and pre-matrimonial relationships. That is to say, there are numerous American Bishops who have publicly ordered or admitted that in their Dioceses they permit actions contrary to what is being officially taught by John Paul II.
According to the concept of schism presupposed by Msgr. Bruskewitz, all of these would be schismatic.
D. Humanae vitae. The most notable case of direct insubordination and disobedience to papal teachings and orders on the part of entire Episcopates took place on the occasion of the publication of the Encyclical Humanae vitae of Paul VI (1968). The subject was the prohibition of artificial methods of birth control.
With regard to the doctrine of Humanae vitae, the Bishops Conferences of Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Scandinavia and Scotland directly denied obedience to Paul VI. These important bodies declared that the doctrine of the encyclical was not infallible, that it did not need to be put into practice, and that the faithful have the right to decide for themselves if they should or should not use artificial methods of birth control. In the United States, professors of the University of Washington wrote a public letter of protest that was signed by 645 theologians (Informations Catholiques Internationales, September 15, 1968, p. 22; 30 Giorni, July 1988, p. 50).
Once again, applying the same criteria that Msgr. Bruskewitz and his disciples applied to us, all of these would be schismatic.
E. Other papal documents. Something analogous, but less intense, was repeated on the occasion of Veritatis splendor of John Paul II, as well as in relation to other papal or Vatican documents, such as the Conciliar Catechism, the document on the power of teaching in Bishopsí Conferences, and the orientation given on the question of pedophilia on the part of clerics.
For Msgr. Bruskewitz, all of these acts of disobedience would characterize schismatic attitudes.
Given these various cases I have just described, the question I ask becomes unavoidable:
Msgr. Bruskewitz, does Your Excellency admit that, based on the same concept of schism that you presupposed to attack us, you would also have to qualify the various Episcopates that I mentioned, including the American Episcopate in which you are included, as schismatic? However, there is no report of such an attitude on your part. Why didnít Your Excellency attack your colleagues in the Episcopate who would be guilty of a similar crime?
5. Why have religious authorities prohibited discussion of Vatican II?
If they are schismatic, wouldnít this characterize a dramatic situation in the Holy Church? If Your Excellency admits that entire Episcopates have removed themselves from the ecclesiastical discipline, why did you qualify this situation as a "cinder in the eye" when you wrote your lines against us?
By diminishing the gravity of the situation, doesnít Your Excellency help to spread the illness in the Church? Or does Your Excellency not consider such episcopal disobedience to be schismatic? In that case, why would our suspension of obedience deserved to be qualified as schismatic while the effective disobedience of various Episcopates should be considered normal?
Could Your Excellency explain the coherence of the criteria you are using?
It is interesting to consider that after Vatican Council II, at the initiative of the Conciliar Popes, some truths of prior dogmatic declarations began to be relativized. To restrain myself to the pontificate of John Paul II and to the relativizations that have been made of Ecumenical Councils, I will give only two recent examples.
With the suggestion made by the present day Pontiff to re-study the way to exercise the "ministry of Peter" (Ut unum sint, 95), the dogmatic doctrines of Vatican Council I regarding the Primacy of the Jurisdiction of the Pope and his Papal Infallibility were put on the table for discussion. A similar affirmation could be made with respect to the doctrine of justification of the Council of Trent, relativized by the Catholic-Lutheran accord of Augsburg. Many other examples could be cited.
Now, such initiatives were born from the Pope or very high ecclesiastical authorities, which are his close advisers. Therefore, one could say that permission to discuss all theological questions, even those already sealed by infallibility, has been established.
However, the same authorities who permit this disputable liberty with regard to past dogmas, peremptorily deny that there be any public discussion of the teachings and the validity of Vatican Council II, which did not intend to be dogmatic.
Even the present assault against the signers of We Resist You to the Face seems to be an attempt to divert attention away from the topics that we suggest discussing, that is, Vatican II, its reforms and the actions of the Conciliar Popes.
For today, I place here my last question to Msgr. Bruskewitz:
Could Your Excellency explain to me why you refuse to analyze the text of our
Statement, especially in its critique of Vatican II and its reforms? What is this mysterious cloud surrounding the lastCouncil that does not permit it to be touched in a public discussion? Why not initiate the public dialogue that we are requesting?
Your Excellency can see that although the accusations launched against the signers of We Resist You to the Face are not objective, these imputations at least have a positive side. They raise the possibility of dealing with some fundamental issues that will perhaps bring some light to those who love the Church, and help them to see more clearly in the confusion of the present day crisis. This is what I am trying to do. It is one of the fruits of inter-communication. I take advantage of this opportunity to respectfully invite Your Excellency to an elevated and cordial dialogue. I am certain there would be many other questions to discuss and interesting themes to raise. However, in case Your Excellency refuses to dialogue and wants to continue with a polemic, to the measure that my modest capacities permit, I would also be at your disposition.
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Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.
|His Excellency's Insinuations|
Published in The Remnant, September 15, 2000
It is always difficult to answer the accusation of pride. One can argue, "No, Iím not proud", which is usually interpreted as a sure sign that you are. One can falsely agree, "Yes, youíre right", but this will not resolve anything, because it again vindicates the accuser. Moreover, this false humility is a proud position, because real humility is based on two principal attitudes, to be truthful and to be just. To pretend that one is humble and holy because one agrees with the accusation instead of rightfully defending the true and just position can be a sign of pride. Thus, the one accused of pride finds himself in a difficult position.
A person who rashly accuses others of being proud can also do this moved by pride, especially if he were to do so only to please his superiors, to guarantee his career or because he is afraid of what people are thinking and saying about him. That is to say, he might make the accusation to seek the esteem and honor of men, rather than the honor and glory of God. So said Our Lord Jesus Christin Scriptures: "How can ye believe in me, since ye seek to be honored of one another, and seek not the honor that is of God alone?" (John 5:44).
With a certain experience, a man could turn the tables on the accuser with the sameaccusation, as did Plato with Diogenes. Plato had invited various philosophers to dinner at his house and had prepared a lavish table and bedecked his house as befitted the dignity of the guests. Diogenes, upon entering, began to trample with his dirty feet the rich carpets that had been set out to receive the guests. "What are you doing?" asked Plato. Diogenes replied, "I am trampling on and bringing down the pomp and pride of Plato." Plato replied, "So you are, but with another pride", meaning that Diogenes was showing more pride in trampling on his carpets than himself in keeping such fine floor covering.
Insinuations and a grave accusation
However, the moment to philosophically parry would not be the present one. When lay men, who have respectfully and honestly laid out facts about the situation of the Catholic Church and humbly requested a dialogue with the religious authority, are being accused of pride by a Bishop, the matter is grave. I had the honor to be one of the four signers of the document We Resist You to the Face an open letter to Pope John Paul II respectfully expounding our doubts, asking for an explanation, and, until this comes, taking a position of resistance to the teachings and actions of His Holiness that are objectively contrary to the prior Catholic Magisterium. Far from putting ourselves above the teaching and judgment of the Church, we based our action on the perennial teaching of the Church itself, expressed by the words and examples of Saints, mainly of the Apostle St. Paul who resisted the first Pope, St. Peter, "to the face" (Gal. 2:11).
In the document we confessed our confusion about the new positions and attitudes assumed by religious authorities since Vatican II that conflict with the prior Magisterium. Ignoring this very serious presentation of the facts, the Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, Msgr. Fabian W. Bruskewitz launched against us, amid many insinuations, the accusation of pride. (Preface to "'Traditionalists,' Tradition, and Private Judgment", The Wanderer, June 22, 2000)
Pride springs from love of honors, Ven. Louis of Granada says in his Sinnerís Guide. However, certainly it was not a love for honors that motivated the signers of We Resist You to the Face, for we were well aware that from our action we could expect condemnations and unjust accusations rather than honors, awards, university positions, and much less invitations from the Vatican to be directors of international organizations. I believe that the same is true for those who have so nobly publicly defended, supported and circulated the Declaration of Resistance. They are not expecting to be invited to become Papal Knights or to hold places of honor in their local diocesan Catholic parishes and groups. Already, in their fights against liturgical abuses and dogmatic tendencies toward heresy, such Catholics have realized that they more easily could lose social standing, careers, friendships and even personal wealth than gain honors. But, I respectfully remind the Bishop from Nebraska, they are fighting the good fight to please Our Lord, not men.
Here, it seems opportune to comment on the common and mistaken belief that to question any religious authority is an indication of pride, a sign of placing oneself above the teachings of the Church. I know many ladies, including my mother, who were taught this. This is one reason they went along with innovations their instincts told them were wrong after Vatican II, when almost overnight the altars were turned around, popular devotions discontinued, lay councils set up, and the old hymns and Gregorian chant replaced by banal and vulgar music. After all, they were simple and humble lay women, raising families and organizing PTA groups and bake sales. How could they presume to know better than the authorities and learned theologians of the Church?
"A time to keep quiet and a time to speak"
However, different from this widespread erroneous notion, the Church affirms the words of Scriptures: "There is a time to keep quiet and time to speak." (Eccl. 3:7). Further, Our Lord warned us many times about false shepherds - supposedly ecclesiastics. In many passages of his works, St. Thomas Aquinas states the principle that the faithful can question and admonish Prelates. For example: "There being an imminent danger for the faith, Prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects." St. Augustine upholds this teaching, and adds that authorities, even the Pope, "should not reject a correction as unworthy even if it comes from their subjects." (We Resist You to the Face, book, Chap.V, 4, p. 56)
If Msgr. Bruskewitz had wanted to make a serious response to our Statement, he could have analyzed these and other examples of the teachings of the Saints and Doctors of the Church who recommend publicreprimands when authorities give scandal to the faithful. (Ibid. pp. 56-8; see also Atila Sinke Guimaraes, In the Murky
Waters of Vatican II, Intro., ß 6, f. 3) Following the logic of the Bishop of Lincoln, these Saints and Doctors also would have to be proud.
If he were seeking historical examples, he could refer to the two articles by Atila Sinke Guimaraes: "Resistance: Historical Precedents" and "Lessons from the Past."(ibid., pp. 157-167). Let me add the cases of St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Catherine of Sienna, two outstanding women who did not hesitate to resist and even reproach the Holy Father - in severe and no uncertain terms - to end the Avignon occupancy and put a close to the public scandal he was causing. Would they also be proud, according to criteria of His Excellency?
In our Declaration of Resistance we clearly stated that we did not imply the desire to judge the Pope, but only to courteously compare his teaching with the prior Magisterium of the other Popes and of the Church. (V. 3, p. 56) It seems thatit would have been fair for the Bishop to have paid us an analogous courtesy
and withheld judgment on us without first expounding his reasons. Instead he hastily made the venomous insinuations of pride.
One last observation. For those who might like to see more tar and feathers flying in this defense, I admit that, even though I am trying to be logical, some of the more feminine tactic of insinuation is present in this article. This is difficult for me to avoid, given my feminine nature that naturally tends toward this kind of defense. What is hard for me to understand is why His Excellency avoided using the manly direct approach with logical reasoning in his piece, but instead employed the same method of insinuations.
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|Anecdotes, Trajectories & Headaches: |
A Letter to Bishop Bruskewitz
Published in The Remnant July 31, 2000
"Most Holy Father Ö because He [Christ] has given you authority and because you have accepted it, you ought to use your virtue and power. If you do not wish to use it, it might be better for you to resign what you have accepted; it would give more honor to God and health to your soul. Ö If you do not do this, you will be censured by God. If I were you, I would fear that Divine Judgment might descend on me" (from a letter to Pope Gregory XI by a "holier-than-thou" traditionalist on a "trajectory toward schism," otherwise known as St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church).
"ÖShow yourself a man and begin to renew My Church which I have bought with My blood, so that it may be born again and return to its former state Ö But this you shall know of a surety, that if you do not obey My will, judgment will be passed upon you as upon a prelate who is degraded and deprived of his ecclesiastical vestments. Everything that has formerly been peace and honor to you shall then be damnation and shame. ÖAnd every devil in hell shall have a piece of your soul and fill it with everlasting damnation" (from a letter to Pope Gregory XI by an Integrist "prophet of doom," otherwise known as St. Bridget of Sweden, writing in the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary).
Cardinal Richelieu commented several hundred years ago that treason is only a matter of dates. That truth of history has been ignored recently by some of our "conservative" Catholic friends, who seem unaware that from the perspective of Church history what would seem "treasonous" criticism of the Pope was in fact necessary and even a Christian duty.
The recent attack on The Remnant by The Wanderer and Stephen Hand is a prime example of this historical blindness. St. Paul, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Athanasius, St. Bridget, not to mention countless others, have all taught that Prelates, including the Pope, may be questioned and even rebuked by their subjects for actions which cause scandal or harm to the common good of the Church. Stephen Hand and Al Matt apparently feel that criticism of the Pope, even on prudential matters, is not only no longer acceptable, but is "schismatic" behavior per se. Although Hand and Al Matt would no doubt count themselves among the admirers of the saints just mentioned, their recent comments would indicate that they know nothing of the teaching and example of these saints on the God-given right of subjects to object to the harmful conduct of their superiors.
I donít remember Michael Matt or Atila Guimar„es ever making the assertion that every devil in hell would have a piece of any Pope. Those are fighting words. The content of We Resist You to the Face was mild by any historical comparative standard. But, alas, our accusers would reply, the authors of We Resist You to the Face are not saints and doctors of the Church, like Catherine of Siena. Yes, but they are following St. Catherineís example. But that was a special case, our accusers would say. To this, I would reply with an open invitation to Stephen Hand and Al Matt: Please provide us wayward traditionalists with a canon of those saints whose example we should follow and those whose example we should disdain. You would be in the envious position of correcting canonized saints - which, by the way, your writings are already attempting to do.
Although Stephen Handís instantly infamous article "Traditionalists, Tradition, and Private Judgment" has already been addressed in part by Christ Ferrara and Dr. Thomas E. Woods, a competent Catholic psychiatrist should probably also do a thorough analysis, because Handís piece was evidently written by an admittedly troubled soul. Therein lies the question that conservatives must ask themselves at some point in this debate: why would Catholics in good standing, such as Al Matt and Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, hitch their respective wagons to a man who is admittedly experiencing the greatest spiritual turmoil of his life?
A paralegal by trade (Hand) publishes a pamphlet which purports to unmask The Remnant and its readers, and then rides into town charging three dollars and fifty cents so we can all read his indictment of thousands of Catholics on "anecdotal" evidence. Here is a self-proclaimed liturgical expert, who just a few months ago questioned whether it fulfilled your Sunday obligation to attend the Novus Ordo Mass. With six years of criticism of the machinations of Rome under his belt, after one trip to the Eternal City, Stephen Hand and his critiques folded like a cheap umbrella. Now, several months after Handís self-proclaimed epiphany, Bishop Bruskewitz endorses Hand with accolades heretofore reserved strictly for such conservative "luminaries" as Scott and Kimberly Hahn and Mary Beth Bonacci.
Although speculation as to what happened to Stephen Hand in Rome would be as fruitless as the ambiguous and confusing Council he begs us to "obey," one thing is clear: Bishop Bruskewitz may end up regretting his endorsement.
Preface to the masterwork
I have never been one to criticize rhetorical style and grammatical nuance, but Bishop Bruskewitzís preface to Handís piece is some of the most confusing language youíre liked to see outside an Ebonics symposium. What the preface lacks in loquacity, it makes up for in sheer disarray. Even though it is only six paragraphs in length, it is so full of mixed metaphors, dangling modifiers, and poor analogies that at times I didnít know whether the Bishop was praising traditionalists or condemning us. I have read the preface at least ten times, and I am still uncertain as to exactly where His Excellency stands. Perhaps something in the way of "traditional Catholics: bad; Stephen Hand: good" might not only have clarified his position, but would have been more powerfully written.
For instance, Bishop Bruskewitz writes of removing cinders from an eye and then cutting off your head if you have a headache, and then removing a cinder again, and then removing an eye and filling the eye-socket with cinders. He goes through all these gruesome antics without ever making a single distinct point. Further on, although Iím not sure, it seems as if Bishop Bruskewitz compares the New Mass to a headache.
However, as poor as the style is, the content is even more puzzling.
Who's holy now?
As confusing as the preface is, it may be possible to discern an argument. The Bishop apparently claims that traditionalists have left the Catholic Church, believing themselves "holier-than-thou." Yet he also says the following:
"It takes a faith-filled and prayer-filled discerning Catholic life to distinguish liturgical abuses, doctrinal and moral aberrations, and grave disciplinary infractions occurring in the lives and practices of people within the Church, from the Church itself, which despite being composed of sinful members, remains the Spotless Spouse and Bride of Christ, not a Church of
Cathers or Albigensians, but a Church of those who carry within themselves the sad effects of original sin while at the same time bearing the grace of God, which is to say, the seeds of eternal happiness."
Although the precise point of this ninety-two word sentence is far from clear, the Bishop seems to be saying that traditionalists do not have "faith-filled and prayer-filled" Catholic lives, like Stephen Hand does. In other words, Stephen Hand is holier than Michael Matt, Marian Horvat, Atila Guimar„es, John Vennari and innumerable other "integrists." For purposes of brevity, I will refer to the swelling ranks of the accused as "the usual suspects."
In Stephen Hand more "faith-filled and prayer-filled" than the usual suspects? Or more simply: Is he holier than they? Stephen Hand surely thinks so. On his Website, Hand takes off the gloves, no pun intended, in describing The Remnant and its journalists:
"There is no journalism among them, only schismatic propaganda. TCR, after all this, has therefore placed The Remnant and Tradition In Action on its non-Catholic schismatic list. They are clearly not Catholic anymore."
Hand has apparently come to regard his personal Website as a par-juridical arm of the Vatican, authoritatively guiding the unsuspecting Catholic through the minefield of integrism and schism by identifying those who have left the Church and whose views should no longer be considered. And who gave him this authority? Why, it seems he gave it to himself. No "private judgment" there!
Want to know whether you are Catholic or not? Talk to Hand.
Handís list reminds one of Victor McLaglenís role in The Quiet Man, the gruff and grumpy brother of Maureen OíHaraís character, who threatened to add anyone and everyone who crossed him to his little black book.
Handís service, in his words, is to "delineate the major objections I have expressed on many occasions since that time to the extreme traditionalist, i.e., integrist, positions, and then suggest a more Catholic approach to working for legitimate changes in perfect communion with the Holy Father."
Oh, Stephen, do show us the way!
So, while Bishop Bruskewitz complains that traditionalists think they are "holier-than-thou," Hand and Al Matt make is quite clear that they are all holier than traditionalists. Hand even provides a list - a list! - of those who are no longer included in the Mystical Body of Christ, and declares that he will outline the "more Catholic" approach to the crisis in the Church.
Clearly, Hand's tract needs a new title: Conservatives, Tradition and Private Judgment."
A question of pride
Bishop Bruskewitz regards this whole problem as being rooted in pride. Attempting to make his point, he paraphrases the Angelic Doctor:
"St. Thomas Aquinas calls pride the queen and mother of all vices, and oftentimes those who perhaps rightly perceive grave faults and defects in
people in the Church, even sometimes in people with positions of clerical authority, forget their own creatureliness and sinfulness, and the ability they themselves have to fall into serious error."
True, pride is the mother of all vices, yet how this pertains to the discussion is unclear. The argument that members of the laity must not question their Prelates because they themselves are sinners is neither logical nor Catholic. When I reprimand my three-year-old for throwing a temper tantrum, I donít begin the disciplinary process with an explanation to him of my "creatureliness." My creatureliness is hardly germane to the matter. The fact of our personal sins does not extinguish our right to protest what is wrong in the conduct of others which harms us or the Church.
More importantly, my "creatureliness" does not free me from the obligation to correct those in error, even Prelates. St. Thomas reminds us of this, teaching that laymen have a duty to correct Prelates when they are in error: "The fraternal correction which is an act of charity is within the competency of everyone in respect of any person to whom one is bound by charity, provided there is something in that person which requires correction." (Summa, Pt. II-II, Q. 33, Art. 4) St. Thomas goes on to cite the Scriptural example of St. Paul publicly rebuking the first Pope: "It must be observed, however, that if the Faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his Prelate, even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peterís subject, rebuked him in public on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning the Faith." Was there an imminent danger of scandal when the Pope declared that he would celebrate Vespers with pro-abortion Lutheran "bishops"? Was there scandal when he kissed the Koran, the "holy book" of the Muslims, who are at this moment slaughtering Catholics by the thousands? Surely, even our accusers can admit that there was.
As St. Thomas reminds us, there was a time when correcting Prelates who cause scandal was regarded as a spiritual work of mercy, not a schismatic act. But perhaps His Excellency did not have room for the teaching of St. Thomas in his discussion of cinders, headaches and eye-sockets.
The primrose trajectory
While Al Matt simply claims that traditionalists are on a "trajectory toward schism," Bishop Bruskewitz apparently believes that traditionalists are no longer merely on a trajectory, but in full-blown schism, comparing traditionalists to Jansenists.In comparing traditionalists to Jansenists, the Bishop is either making a very poor analogy or is intentionally saying that traditionalists are not only schismatic, but heretical. Although his preface is short, schism is a theme that Bishop Bruskewitz repeats:
"In his masterful work, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, John Henry Newman points out how in the course of the Churchís history she occasionally appears to fall into a deliquium, from which, under Godís grace, she emerges victorious and stronger than ever. Many of those who defy the Church and even leave the Church in the name of "tradition," thus contradicting the very word by which they choose to define themselves, are ignorant in their despair regarding the Churchís future or the realities of the Churchís history through 2,000 years."
Bishop Bruskewitzís entire preface is an attack on a straw man. He accuses the usual suspects of schism at least five times in his piece, yet provides not a shred of evidence that anyone associated with The Remnant has ever been guilt of schism. When we question the Holy Father for having interfaith meetings, such as the pantheon of Assisi, we provide a stack of evidence a mile high that his act is incompatible with tradition. (Incidentally, I have never suggested publicly or even privately that the Holy Father ever sinned in this act or any other. I cannot read his heart. I seek merely to judge objective actions, which is perfectly permissible - and, by the way, charitable.) We quote Councils, encyclicals, the Scripture, the Commandments and writings of the Saints and apply them to specific actions of the Holy Father, which are without precedent in the History of the Papacy, as the Pope himself has declared. But our accusers dismiss the evidence out of hand. In fact, they will not even discuss it. I havenít witnessed a flagrant
disregard of evidence this bad since the O.J. Simpson trial.
By the way, it is interesting that the Bishop quotes Cardinal Newman in this debate, since Newman was a foremost opponent of the First Vatican Councilís decision to
define Papal infallibility, deeming that it was imprudent to do so at that time. Yet somehow Cardinal Newman managed to stay in the Church. I wonder why Cardinal Newmanís comments didnít launch him on a trajectory toward schism?
Or, perhaps in the eyes of Al Matt, it did.
Bishop Bruskewitz also accuses the usual suspects of ignorance of Church history and of despair. Thus, he casually accuses those associated with The Remnant of schism, despair and culpable ignorance of the Churchís history. We are living in an age in which conservatives casually accuse traditionalists of many things: most recently, schism and despair. When you accuse a Catholic of the sin of schism, that is no less weighty than accusing him of rape. When you accuse a Catholic of despair, you are accusing him of a sin by which infanticide pales in comparison.
However, if I accused Stephen Hand of being an infanticidal rapist on the same evidence by which I am indicted, not only would there be an outcry among all those involved, it would be an offense to God as a supreme act of injustice against the Eighth Commandment. What the conservatives seem unable to fathom is that when they accuse us of schism (and despair), they accuse us not of making an unimportant legal blunder, they accuse us of meriting eternal damnation for crimes committed against the Mystical Body of Christ.
It is amazing to me that Al Matt, Stephen Hand and Bishop Bruskewitz casually accuse groups of people that they have never spoken with in their lives of spiritual infanticidal rape en masse, without ever stopping to consider the gravity of the crimes of which they accuse us, or the consequences of the accusations.
A letter to His Excellency
I admire your pro-life stance at a time when it is not politically correct among your peers. You have also taken a brave stance against groups that oppose the Magisterium,as that term is properly understood. They usual suspects accept the Magisterium, the teaching office of John Paul II, just as we accept the Magisterium of the Pontiffs who preceded him, who cannot possibly contradict each other. However, we do not believe that the Magisterium includes kissing the Koran, apologizing to the world for the Crusades, "the marginalization of women" and other "sins" against liberalism, conducting interfaith prayer meetings with animists and snake-worshipers, or celebrating Vespers with heretics who condone murder in the womb. We do not believe that the Holy Father exists in a state of perpetual blamelessness like the twice-born Christian, and frankly, we donít believe that you do him any favors by refusing to admit that he has caused scandal and confusion with his many innovations.
Friends don't let friends kiss the Koran.
Also, why do you believe that Stephen Hand (whose main qualification is that he has written extensively for a publication he now denounces as "schismatic") possesses the singular ability to "labor zealously within the boundaries of the Church herself for her growth in holiness, and willingly, even joyfully, do all possible to eliminate doctrinal, moral, liturgical, and disciplinary aberrations." How is it that Hand possesses the competence to identify and eliminate aberrations in the Church without falling into schism, whereas we do not? Are you bestowing a unique ecclesial privilege on Mr. Hand?
Your endorsement of Hand also raises an important issue of ecclesial communion. Hand admits to being one of the "extreme traditionalists" for a number of years, until his recent change of heart. When he was a member of this "schismatic" group, had he ceased to be Catholic? He can hardly claim that "extreme traditionalists" are outside the Church, whereas he remained within the Church when he was one of them. Therefore, has Hand been formally re-admitted to the Church since his abandonment of the alleged "schism"? Of course not. And that is because he never left the Church in the first place. And neither have we.
Although this discussion will no doubt rage for the next several months, I will attempt to refrain from reentering the fray. In the final analysis, this is not my problem; it is your problem, your Excellency. You have the unhappy job of looking into the bloodshot eyes of a mother who spent the night crying because her last Catholic child decided to leave the church, marry his Jewish girlfriend and see how much Judaism has, in the Councilís words, a "share in the truth." You have the job of telling your parishioners who have just returned from Hawaii that the hula mass they attended while on vacation was not a liturgical abuse at all, but was actually approved by the Vatican. You have the job of defending the papal kissing of the Koran, that "holy book" (to use the Holy Fatherís own words) which compares the Eucharist to excrement. Admittedly, you are in a more difficult position that I am. As a layman, I refuse to defend the indefensible; as a Prelate, your defense of the indefensible is almost a full-time job. Your Excellency, I close by simply pointing out that Stephen Hand is your problem now. You have lent your name to his writings, now and forever. He has gone from conservative to traditionalist and back to conservative. Whenever he goes next, your name goes with him. Six months is a long time.
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