Polemics

Tradition In Action
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Polemic with Mr. Alphonse J. Matt, Jr. on the book
We Resist You to the Face


Brief Chronicle of Events

The reader can find the details of the origin of this polemic by visiting the item preceding this section that narrates the controversy with Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. This page will transcribe only the articles of Mr. Al Matt against We Resist You to the Face, along with the principal refutations made in response.

On June 22, 2000, The Wanderer published the article "In Perspective", by Mr. Alphonse Matt, Jr. The article launched the accusation of schism against the four authors of the Statement of Resistance. The actual words used by Mr. Matt in his accusation were these: "that its [the Statement’s] authors and supporters are on a schismatic trajectory that can only have tragic consequences."

On August 10, 2000, The Wanderer published the article "All Catholics Should be Traditionalists", by Mr. Alphonse Matt. In this article, the editor insisted once again on the accusation of schism against the authors of We Resist You to the Face.

On August 15, 2000, The Remnant published the article "Quicksand" by Mr. Atila Guimarăes, and the article "Two Sides at the Same Table" by Dr. Marian Horvat. Both pieces presented refutations to the articles of Mr. Al Matt. The same article "Quicksand" was also published in Catholic Family News (September 2000) reflecting the tacit support of Mr. John Vennari for this work of defense..

August 31, 2000 The Remnant published the article "The Campaign Against We Resist You to the Face" by its editor, Mr. Michael Matt, in which he responded to his cousin Mr. Al Matt, editor of The Wanderer.



Tradition in Action


Articles in the Polemic


burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes  "In Perspective" by Mr. Alphonse Matt, Jr.


burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes  "All Catholics Should be Traditionalists" by Mr. A. Matt, Jr.


burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes  "Quicksand" by Mr. Atila S. Guimarăes


burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes  "Two Sides at the Same Table" by Dr. Marian Horvat


burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes  "The Campaign Against We Resist You to the Face:
My Response to Alphonse Matt"

by Mr. Michael Matt


Tradition in Action



In Perspective


Alphonse J. Matt, Jr.
Published in The Wanderer, June 22, 2000
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Since the end of the Second Vatican Council and the subsequence promulgation by Pope Paul VI of the new rite of the Mass, there has been a growing division among those Catholics generally known as "orthodox" or "traditionalist."

The Wanderer itself suffered from the divisions and upheavals following the Council. In 1967 editor Walter Matt left the newspaper over a dispute about the meaning of Vatican II. He saw it not so much as a reform and a renewal of the Church but as a revolution that threatened to undermine the Church herself (in that year Walter Matt founded The Remnant). His brother, Alphonse J. Matt Sr. (the present writer’s father), took over the reins at The Wanderer and reminded its readers that the real intent of the council was a renewed evangelization of the world for Christ and a personal renewal of every individual Catholic.

For The Wanderer, the council was not a rejection or an abandonment of Tradition, but a development of that Tradition, safeguarded for 2,000 years by the Holy Spirit, to better enable the Church to bring the Gospel to all men.

Those "traditionalists" who view the council as a break with Tradition – who blame the council’s teaching itself, not the subversion of, and departure from that teaching, by modernists and progressivists – are becoming increasingly hostile to the See of Peter and its present occupant.

The late Archbishop Marcel Lefčbvre, who broke with the Holy See in 1988 over the issue of appointing bishop successors from his Society of St. Pius X, tends to be the hero of these traditionalists Catholics.

This past April, an angry, aggressive statement authored by Atila Sinke Guimarăes, a former member of the Brazil-based TFP (Tradition, Family, Property), titled We Resist You to the Face was published in The Remnant, Catholic Family News, and other traditionalist organs.

The statement was signed by Mr. Guimarăes and Marian Horvat, both members of Tradition in Action, Inc., Michael Matt, editor of The Remnant, and John Vennari, editor of Catholic Family News.

We Resist You … is described by the signatories as "a public Statement of Catholic Resistance" (in which) "lay Catholic journalists respectfully suspend obedience to the Pope and remain inside Holy Mother Church."

A brochure promoting the statement declares: "We Resist You to the Face analyzes the consequences of the adaptation of the Church to the modern world, and the consequences of ecumenism, as applied since the Council – including by the present Pontiff. The authors declare themselves is a state of resistance 'relative to the teachings of Vatican Council II, Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, and to your teachings [of John Paul II] that are objectively opposed to the prior ordinary and extraordinary Papal Magisterium'."

One can conclude after a careful reading of We Resist You… that its authors and supporters are on a schismatic trajectory that can only have tragic consequences.

We have asked Stephen Hand, no stranger to traditionalists, to examine We Resist You…, its premises and its conclusions in order to provide some guidance and counsel to those traditionalist Catholics who are troubled and confused by current developments within the Church and the kinds of analysis of such by the likes of We Resist You…

The result of his effort is: "Traditionalists," Tradition, and Private Judgment. Two important addenda are included: Pope Paul VI’s Credo of the People of God and Cardinal Ratzinger’s remarks in 1988 to the Bishops of Chile regarding the Lefebvre schism.

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln has graciously provided a preface to the work.

We recommend this commentary to every Catholic who seeks a better understanding of the controversies which continue to spread fear, doubt, and confusion within the Church. It will prove to be an effective instrument to strengthen one’s faith.

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All Catholics Should be Traditionalists


Alphonse Matt, Jr.
Published in The Wanderer, August 10, 2000
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The recent series by Stephen Hand "Traditionalists," Tradition, and Private Judgment (which concludes in this issue) has elicited a virtual firestorm of rhetoric on the part of the authors and supporters of We Resist You to the Face, the subject of Hand’s monograph. More on that shortly, but first, it may be well to reflect for a moment on how these "resisters" are arrogantly attempting to appropriate Catholic Tradition exclusively to their own interpretation and "safekeeping."

Any faithful, well informed Catholic knows that Tradition and Sacred Scripture "are bound closely together …. for both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing and more toward the same goal."

"Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God."

"The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the Bishops in communion with him." (All quotes above are from articles 80-100 in The Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

Despite this clear placement of Sacred Tradition, solely under the authority and guarantee of the Magisterium, the authors and signatories of We Resist You to the Face (and presumably its supporters) "respectfully suspend obedience to the Pope" and "declare themselves in a state of resistance relative to the teachings of Vatican Council II, Popes John XXIII and Paul VI, and to the teachings [of John Paul II] that are objectively opposed to the prior ordinary and extraordinary Papal Magisterium."

Now whatever legitimate questions and concerns the "Resist You" crowd may have regarding Vatican II or about certain statements or actions of the recent Popes, they have foreclosed any discussion with the Magisterium by setting themselves up as the arbiter of the issues – in other words, they have become the counter magisterium.

In fact, among all the tons of newsprint spent by the "resisters" in their wailing and gnashing of teeth over Mr. Hand’s monograph, not an ounce has been spent to explain why their suspension of obedience to the Pope and their "state of resistance" to Vatican II do not constitute objective schism.

It is remarkable how the "Resist You" statement is similar to the attitude of Archbishop Lefebvre toward the Vatican when he retracted his agreement with the Holy See in June of 1988. Here is how Lefebvre’s explanation of retraction was described by Cardinal Ratzinger in an address to Bishops of Chile.

"It was conceded, in addition, that the Fraternity of St. Pius X [ed. Note: known in the U.S. as the Society of St. Pius X] would be able to present to the Holy See – which reserves to itself the sole right of decision – their particular difficulties in regard to interpretations of juridical and liturgical reforms. All of this shows plainly that in this difficult dialog Rome has united generosity, in all that was negotiable, with firmness in essentials. The explanation which Msgr. Lefebvre has given, for the retraction of his agreement, is revealing. He declared that he has finally understood that the agreement he signed aimed only at integrating his foundation into the ‘Conciliar Church.’ The Catholic Church in union with the Pope is, according to him, the ‘Conciliar Church,’ which has broken with its own past. It seems indeed that he is no longer able to see that we are dealing with the Catholic Church in the totality of its Tradition, and that Vatican II belongs to that."

It is our judgment that the "resisters" have nothing to say, or to offer to their fellow Catholics so long as they continue to "suspend" their obedience to the Pope and remain in a state of "resistance." We appeal to them carefully and prayerfully to consider the consequences of their action. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, in his preface to Mr. Hand’s monograph, recalled a chilling observation once proposed by Abbot Marmion: "God resists the proud. Is it not terrible to be alienated from God? But how much more terrible it must be to be ‘resisted’ by God Himself."

We should pray constantly that neither we nor any of our Catholic confreres may ever fall into such a state.

To conclude on a more encouraging and hopeful note, it might be well to consider the work of tens of thousands of faithful Catholics, most known only to God, who tirelessly work to maintain tradition within the Church, sometimes in the face of hostility from their fellow Catholics – including certain Prelates and clerics.

We refer to those who organize and participate in Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration; who promote and attend Forty Hours Devotion of the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross; who daily say the Rosary – alone or with others; who spread the teaching of the Church by catechizing children and adults – individually or in classes; who promote sacred art, music, architecture, literature; who promote, participate in, and encourage attendance at, the Traditional Latin Mass encouraged by the indult granted by Pope John Paul II; who regularly attend Mass celebrated in the new rite and who promote its celebration in a reverent and devout manner; who are building truly Catholic grade schools, high schools, and even Catholic colleges; and finally, and in this category the numbers are probably in the millions, those Catholics who have steadfastly joined Pope John Paul II in opposing the "culture of death" – abortion, contraception, the denigration of the family, sexual libertinism, the consumer mentality, etc. – and who vigorously support the "culture of life" – our life in Christ, which liberates us from sin and places us upon the path to salvation. The list is not exhaustive, but it does illustrate the extent to which Catholic reverence, promote and practice Church tradition. Those who truly love the Church should work to persuade every Catholic to appreciate, reverence and observe tradition.

In fact, we Catholics should all be traditionalists.

We would urge every reader who has not yet done so to order Stephen Hand’s "Traditionalists," Tradition, and Private Judgment. It will not only help clear up the confusion created by so-called traditionalist "resisters," but will help provide a better understanding of Tradition and how it is taught and protected by Magisterium.



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Quicksand


Atila Sinke Guimarăe
Published in The Remnant August 15, 2000 and in
Catholic Family News, September 2000
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Regarding the document We Resist You to the Face, which I had the honor to sign together with Marian Horvat, Michael Matt and John Vennari, we have received strong critiques in the pages of The Wanderer (June 22, 2000). They come from three persons: from Mr. Alphonse Matt, Jr., editor of the newspaper; from Msgr. Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln, and from Mr. Stephen Hand, chosen by the Alphonse Matt to refute our document. Mr. Alphonse Matt attacked me personally in his presentation of the series of articles. Asserting my right of legitimate defense, I will respond to his invectives. My defense is personal, and does not intend to represent the other signers of the document. The four signers will make a joint statement if we judge it to be opportune.

The three parts of the attack form a whole. I will respond today to Mr. Alphonse Matt, and in another article to Msgr. Bruskewitz. After reading the book of Mr. Hand, I will eventually respond to him also. For brevity’ sake, I will refer to Mr. Alphonse Matt only as Mr. A. M.


1. Induced Signatures

The first "accusation" of Mr. A.M. regards the authorship of the document. According to him, I would have been the only author of the statement: "an angry, aggressive statement authored by Atila Sinke Guimarăes..." The editor of The Wanderer tried to create the impression that the other three signatories did not have an important role in its elaboration and were induced by me to sign it without really wanting to. For the record, let me describe what happened to show that Mr. A.M. erred.

In view of the increasingly disconcerting measures that His Holiness Pope John Paul II has been taking with regard to the Papacy, Catholic doctrine and the tradition of the Holy Catholic Church, I felt a demand of conscience to write a document in the form of an open letter addressed to the Pope, as I did one year ago in the book Quo Vadis, Petre? When the rough draft was ready, Marian Horvat, Ph.D., with whom I work in close collaboration, accepted the invitation to sign it with me because she shared the same problem of conscience. All those who know Marian either personally or from her writings and tapes know that she has a resolute personality and a notable intellectual capacity. She is a lady who knows her mind quite well and would never agree to place her signature on something that she did not agree with. Her adhesion to the statement was not one of passive acceptance to all that I proposed. She introduced the changes she wanted into the document. We discussed each point and the final product can legitimately be considered a redaction of the two of us.

With this, we agreed to invite Michael Matt, the courageous editor of The Remnant, to sign with us. Michael read the document, agreed with the whole, also had the same desire to manifest his resistance, but wanted to make some modifications. Michael is a skillful polemicist, a well-known journalist, and an able administrator who has maintained The Remnant along its pathway of success for the past ten years. To say that he would sign a document because he was swayed by a person whom he has known for only one year would be infantile. A similar process took place with Michael as that which happened with Marian. There were innumerable points that he added or proposed suppressing.

After having agreed upon a new text under the responsibility of all three, we invited John Vennari, editor of the Catholic Family News, to join us. John is well known in the American and Canadian traditionalist movement. He is a man who practically single-handedly built up his newspaper, which has advanced unceasingly in the ambits of both influence and academics. A fearless critic, an adept politician, a natural speaker, a valorous intellectual, John would never sign something with which he did not agree in the most minute details. John responded as Marian and Michael had: he added new points, and cut others. In Phoenix (March 31, 2000), the four signers met in order to discuss the document and make the changes judged opportune.

One can see, then, that my three colleagues of the statement are persons of great character, representatives of the best that the leadership of the counter-revolutionary movement has in the United States. Even after Phoenix, the system of mutual consultations continued up to the day of publication. This explains what really took place. Therefore, the final product legitimately should be considered the responsibility of the four signers.

By attributing the authorship of the document only to me, Mr. A.M. tried to disparage the signatures of the others. With this, he seems to be unaware of – or to have forgotten – the value of a signature for an honorable person. At the moment when someone signs a document, be he the author or not, the document comes to be his as well, or even principally his. This fact has been admitted constantly in the Catholic milieu. For example, it is common knowledge that the Encyclical Pacendi Domici gregis of St. Pius X was penned by Cardinal Louis Billot, S.J. Notwithstanding, when St. Pius X signed it, it became a papal document. Analogously, the Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi by Pius XII was written by Fr. Sebastian Tromp, S.J. These are two among so many examples I could cite.

If this principle applies to important papal documents, with greater reason it applies to the simple documents of laymen. From this, one can conclude that even if the three other signatories had only signed without requesting any alteration in the text, the document would legitimately be that of the four signers. However, as shown above, the signers were truly co-authors. Therefore, the insinuation of Mr. A.M. is shown to be without foundation and is reduced to a malevolent attempt to indispose the three valorous journalists before public opinion, and me with them in our mutual relations.


2. An "angry and aggressive" document

The second accusation seems to reduce itself to a manifestation of bad-humor. The adjectives employed by Mr. A.M. and attributed to me (see the quote above, n.1) are not founded on any facts that support his opinion. In truth, anyone who has actually read the document would have to admit the exact opposite of what Mr. A.M. asserted: the style is polite and composed; the tone respectful and calm. Therefore, his assertion is gratuitous and hardly worthy of attention. Perhaps the cover of the book We Resist You to the Face, reproducing the statue of St. Paul that stands inside the Roman Basilica of that name, was what impressed Mr. A.M. Did he think that St. Paul was angry in this representation? Would St. Paul have had sufficient reason to be angered, when he saw St. Peter denying his mission? Was it aggressive of St. Paul to resist St. Peter "to the face" before many people? If Mr. A.M. would "condemn" St. Paul as well for being angry and aggressive, I would have no reason for concern. I prefer to have the good company of St. Paul rather than to be judged sweet and suave by Mr. A.M.


3. The "schismatic trajectory"

Finally, I reach the third and principal accusation of Mr. A.M.: the authors of the Declaration of Resistance (here Mr. A.M. admitted that there were four authors...) would be on a "schismatic trajectory." In his text, he said: "One can conclude after a careful reading of We Resist You to the Face that its authors and supporters are on a schismatic trajectory that can only have tragic consequences." I will analyze the question as a whole.

First response: All those who even superficially read the document entitled We Resist You to the Face, which is becoming known in a simplified form as the Statement of Resistance or Declaration of Resistance, can note that the authors present a broad exposition of motives for their act of resistance in the four first parts of the document. This exposition is principally a summary of the facts that have taken place since Vatican Council II, which have transformed the face of the Holy Catholic Church. Only after this serious exposition of motives do the authors declare themselves in the state of resistance. This is apparent to anyone, even one who has only quickly read the document in The Remnant (April), in the book We Resist You to the Face, published by Tradition in Action (May) or in the Catholic Family News (July). Now, Mr. A.M. has assured his readers that he made a "careful reading" before launching his accusation.

My question to him is this: If he has made the attentive reading he affirmed, why did he omit analyzing our exposition of motives? Indeed, if Pope John Paul II is really promoting what we have described in the first four parts of the document, it seems to become clear that the Pontiff is one of the principal abettors of the Conciliar Revolution, to apply the expression of Cardinals Leo Suenens and Yves Congar (cf. Notes 1 and 2 of our document). If this is the case, we would have a Pope that is trying to destroy the Church. (see We Resist You to The Face, pp. 57-8).

Therefore, if and when a Pope would promote such things, wouldn’t it be legitimate for Catholics to suspend obedience to him in the teachings and the actions that are objectively opposed to the prior Papal Magisterium? Why did Mr. A.M. avoid analyzing the nucleus of the matter and isolate only our suspension of obedience to the Pope to accuse us of entering into a "schismatic trajectory"?

With this omission, Mr. A.M. evaded making any judgment on the cause and hastened to qualify the effect. Doing this, he disregarded honest intellectual procedure. Or, to speak more clearly, he committed a fraudulent omission.

Second response: The presupposition of Mr. A.M.’s accusation that we are on a "schismatic trajectory" is that a Catholic can never suspend obedience to the Pope. Now, this is opposed to what St. Paul and many Saints and Doctors taught. We referred to St. Paul in the very title of the document, inspired by his phrase "I resisted him to the face" (Gal 2:11). Does Mr. A.M. think that St. Paul was on a "schismatic trajectory" when he resisted St. Peter? Why didn’t he analyze the attitude of the Apostle?

Shortly after we declare ourselves officially in the state of resistance, we present the doctrinal basis for our action. We transcribe excerpts of St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Robert Bellarmine and the famous theologians Fr. Francisco Vitória, O.P. and Fr. Francisco Suarez, S.J. These Doctors taught that a Catholic should suspend obedience to a bad Pope and should resist his orders. Why didn’t Mr. A.M. analyze the teachings of these Doctors? It would be interesting to know if he believes that such teachings are wrong and if they are stimulating the "schismatic trajectory" of which Mr. A.M. is accusing us of entering.

It seems clear that the omission of the editor of The Wanderer was intentional. If he would allude to such teachings, our attitude would become explicable and this would weaken his accusation. Therefore, with regard to the doctrinal basis (Part V.4) for the act of the declaration of resistance (Part V.1), which is situated one page after the act, Mr. A.M. adopted the same procedure he used with regard to our exposition of motives, which precedes the act: that is, he omitted it.

Doing this, Mr. A.M. hid the Catholic doctrine that is the basis for our attitude and once again did not show honest intellectual procedure. That is to say, he committed a second fraudulent omission.

Third response: Finally, in our document we clearly say that we do not intend to judge the Pope and we invite the religious authority to an elevated dialogue. This is equivalent to saying that we do not consider the question closed. We have presented our view of the situation. We await the presentation of someone to show us where we are wrong.

Mr. A.M. omitted telling his readers the opening we have for dialogue. Which is yet another fraudulent omission.

Conclusion

Therefore, the assertion that the signers of the document We Resist You to the Face would be in a "schismatic trajectory" has no foundation on what we have written. Quite to the contrary, an impartial reading of our document shows that we carefully stated our position to avoid any kind of doctrinal or disciplinary errors. In his effort to give some credibility to his judgment, Mr. A.M. has made three serious omissions, which falsifies the presuppositions of the attitude that we have taken. Mr. A.M. acted in an intellectually dishonest way to reach a false conclusion.

These are my considerations on the attack that Mr. A.M. directed at me, my-co-signers and our document.

Since the pages of The Wanderer are openly attacking our Declaration of Resistance, I believe it licit for me to make some commentaries of a political-strategical order about the consequences of such an aggression.

From what I am told, The Wanderer lives principally from its anti-liberal and anti-modernist past. Its subscribers think that they will find the same fearless and uncompromising position that characterized the newspaper in times past. Now, unfortunately, one can see that the paper is aligning itself more and more with the novelties of Vatican Council II. Mr. A.M. himself indisputably declared this in the same article that I analyzed above. Vatican II, the New Mass, and blind acceptance of what the concilar Popes have done constitute today the milestones on the road that The Wanderer has resolved to tread.

When an anti-progressivist leadership ceases to be authentic and compromises itself with the cause that it was combating, what normally happens? The progressivist commanders try to take advantage of the former more stalwart position of the leadership in order to anesthetize reactions against progressivism and to favor the acceptance of its ideas. For the false leadership, it is a delicate strategy, which demands care. To the measure that this leadership loses the credibility of its grassroots, it ceases to be useful for progressivism. For this reason, the false leadership must try to maintain the appearances of holding its former position, still making one or another secondary attacks against the old enemy. This will help to fool its grassroots and to promote the advance of progressivism. This process habitually takes years, until the authentic grassroots are completely deviated from the right path. After this, the leadership and grassroots disappear, swallowed in the abyss of progressivism.

However, if the false leadership commits the error of stating their adhesion to progressivism too early, the healthy grassroots will leave these leaders. To maintain this precarious equilibrium, the false leadership must move very slowly. This prudence is explicable, because since its position is fundamentally incoherent, it is better to walk with very slow steps in order not reveal the game and take the risk of losing everything. To use a metaphor, it would be like someone who is stuck in quicksand. Sooner or later, he will be swallowed by it, but in order to prolong his existence, he should move very carefully.

Something similar seems to be happening with The Wanderer. Fundamentally compromised with Vatican II, the New Mass and the conciliar Popes, the newspaper until now has survived by fooling its traditionalist and conservative readers, trying to make them accept its compromise, but still maintaining one or another secondary attacks against progressivism. The tactic of moving slowly and with care has been followed until recently. The exaggerated support that the newspaper is giving to the self-destructive initiatives of John Paul II on the occasion of the Millennium festivities was making the mask begin to fall. It seems to me that the present polemic around our We Resist You to the Face has dropped the mask completely. By attacking us, Mr. A.M. has officially raised the banner of Vatican II as the one that The Wanderer represents.

In my opinion, upon hoisting this banner, Mr. A.M. made a grave error. According to the demands of his strategy, he should have continued to move slowly and carefully. With declarations like the one he made, the healthy grassroots, traditionalists and conservatives will not follow the leadership of the paper. Did Mr. A.M. make the decision on his own to take such an attitude? Or would he have relied upon some bad counsel? I don’t know. The fact is that he is moving very brusquely for someone who is in quicksand. The result is not difficult to predict.


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Two Sides at the Same Table


Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.
Published in The Remnant August 15, 2000
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In a recent column, Fr. Richard P. McBrien, professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, takes to task those Catholics "who follow a 'party line' out there that the Vatican Council II is responsible for just about every major problem in the Catholic Church today" (The Tidings, Los Angeles, June 16). He admits that the Church has many pressing problems and lists these: a shortage of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, the decline of Mass attendance, the instability of marriage, the erosion of Catholic identity, doctrinal deviations and even the culture of death. But Fr. McBrien considers it unfair for traditionalists to attribute them to Vatican II.

"According to this [traditionalist] view," he reports "the solution lies in the effective repeal of the Council by indirect attacks, which assert that the conservative party (the ‘defeated minority’) actually won." He then laments the most woeful fact, in his opinion, that some seminarians and newly ordained hidebound priests are rejecting the liturgical reforms of Vatican II "and would prefer the good old days when Masses were in Latin, the priest had his back to the people, and the laity were left in quiet peace to say their own prayers, recite the Rosary, or follow along in their Missals."

Then, Fr. McBrien goes on to defend guitar and beach Masses as a liturgical consequence of a correct interpretation of the texts of Vatican II. To support such innovations, he makes citations from the conciliar Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: "It is, therefore, of capital importance, that the faithful easily understand the sacramental signs" (n. 59). It is only "through a proper appreciation of the rite and prayers" that the laity can "participate knowingly, devoutly and actively" (n. 48, n. 21). And since the cultures and spiritual needs of people differ, he triumphantly concludes, the Council allowed for adaptations in the celebration of the liturgy: "Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose uniformity in matters which do not involve the faith or the good of the whole community" (n. 37). Therefore, the guitar and beach Masses would be legitimate.

The openly progressivist Fr. McBrien, who indoctrinates Catholic youth with his brand of thinking at one of the most famous Catholic universities in the country, becomes indignant to think that some young priests and laymen would make "an attempted hijacking of Vatican II." To feel deprived of the reverence and sacrality of the Mass of the past, he notes, would be as ridiculous as feeling bad about being deprived of "Model-T Fords, static-filled radios, party-line phones and stifling summer heat without air conditioning." I will not even discuss the inappropriate and irreverent comparisons that defy all common sense. Instead, let me make several observations about Fr. McBrien’s sarcastic and indignant response to the traditional position:


Fr. McBrien’s Lamentations Represent A Sign of Hope

The first and most impressive fact is that Fr. McBrien’s diatribe against this traditionalist "network" of supposedly misguided Catholics who question the Council and long for the Latin Mass and traditional devotions is proof that our movement has more momentum that some might believe. We are a small group compared to the whole, true. But we are deeply committed to the Faith, making an active apostolate, and increasingly demanding our voice be heard. If we were not having an effect, Fr. McBrien and those of his persuasion would simply ignore the traditionalist movement and continue to aggressively pursue their plan of destruction. It seems they can no longer do this.

Second, there could be no better news than to hear of the growing traditionalism and burgeoning courage of some seminarians and newly ordained priests who are "more attracted ... to the liturgical tradition and to some of the devotions of the Church, rosaries, novenas and Eucharistic adoration," a situation bemoaned by Fr. McBrien. This healthy exertion of the influence proper to the priestly dignity swells the ranks and lifts the spirits of our counter-revolutionary columns. That this attitude of longing for the pre-Conciliar liturgy and traditions is being taken up by young priests and seminarians, the very generation who have no concrete memory of the pre-Conciliar Church, is a sign of great hope for a future restoration of the Church. So much, then, for the lamentations of Rev. Richard P. McBrien and the progressivsts who are disturbed to find their revolution off course.


The "Conservative" Side of the Table: A Defense of Vatican II

The conciliar revolution is one that breeds contradictions and ambiguities. For example, there are parties of different ideological persuasions who nonetheless adopt the same argument: each party demands that the documents of the Council be interpreted in "the correct way" for the proper reform to be carried out. The reader has just finished sampling some of the interpretations of Fr. McBrien.

Now, we can go to other side of the table and find Mr. Al Matt, Jr., editor of The Wanderer, making essentially the same defense of Vatican Council II and its documents as that of Fr. McBrien, albeit with different interpretations of the texts. And, like Fr. McBrien, the ones Al Matt recently took to task are those Catholics who question Vatican Council II, regardless of the problems of the conciliar Church, which I doubt he would deny. Let me repeat the list that Fr. McBrien outlined above: a shortage of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, the decline of Mass attendance, the instability of marriage, the erosion of Catholic identity, doctrinal deviations and even the culture of death. Apparently Mr. Matt, like Fr. McBrien, would consider it unfair to attribute such problems to Vatican II.

In a recent introduction to a series of articles entitled "'Traditionalists,' Tradition and Private Judgement," Mr. Al Matt, defending the Council, asserted that it "was not a rejection or an abandonment of Tradition, but a development of that Tradition." And similar to Fr. McBrien, he considers that the ones to be admonished are those "traditionalists" who "blame the Council's teaching itself." Thus, according to both Fr. McBrien and Mr. Matt, the problems in today's Church could be resolved by simply interpreting the documents of Vatican II correctly.


Ambiguity in the Language and Documents of Vatican I

In fact, this whole problem of "the correct interpretation of documents" in itself is showing that something is wrong in the documents. They lack clarity. Prior to Vatican II, the language of the Church was Thomistic: rigorous, precise, and categorical in its definitions, non-ambiguous in its meaning. Thus, as Atila Sinke Guimaraes states in In the Murky Waters of Vatican II (his work that examines the ambiguity of the documents of Vatican II): "Scholastic Theology and Philosophy gradually built over the centuries an invulnerable wall protecting Revelation and the Magisterium from the insidious attacks of adversaries." [1]

[1] In the Murky Waters of Vatican II (Maeta, 1997), Chap. III, § 2.

Opening a new and dangerous way, the language employed by Vatican II was different. It rejected that "tight and perfect cohesion between cause and effect," those "luminous definitions and distinctions," that "solidity in argumentation typical of Scholastic language." [2] Instead, it adopted texts that were "patched up," "worked over," "incoherent," "promiscuous," "more appropriate to a 'Babel' and its confusion of languages," to quote just a few expressions used by renowned theologians themselves. [3] In a word: ambiguous. With the documents of Vatican II, ambiguity in the expression of theological thinking entered the teachings of the Church.

[2] Sixtus V, Bull Triumphantis, 1588, in ibid.
[3] Guimarăes, In the Murky Waters, § 3.

Thus, the conciliar revolution has progressed, with the help of the protagonists for progressivism like Fr. McBrien, and, on the other side of the table, "traditionalists" or "conservatives" like Mr. Al Matt. Both sides at this same table always demand a proper interpretation of the texts of Vatican II. Is it no wonder then, and totally legitimate, that the counter-revolution should question the validity of the texts themselves instead of merely calling for more counter-interpretations?

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The Campaign Against
We Resist You to the Face:
My Response to Alphonse Matt


Michael J. Matt, editor
Published in The Remnant, August 31, 2000
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Readers will not have failed to notice that there is, at present, a smear campaign being waged against We Resist You to the Face. Our esteemed columnist, Atila Guimaraes, addressed this campaign in the last issue of The Remnant, but I will also weigh in alongside my colleague and co-signer in defending the Statement from my own perspective.

We Resist You to the Face (referred to henceforth as the Statement of Resistance), though having to my knowledge not a single intelligent argument put to the test against it by its critics thus far, is nonetheless portrayed as representing all sorts of ugly things which clearly it in no way does represent. Not surprisingly, few (if any) Remnant readers have misunderstood the Statement (that is, if the piles of mail supporting it are any indication). No, the only ones who seem to have a problem understanding the clear language of the Statement are our "conservative" adversaries, many of whom must have finally given the work a careful read and found it difficult to refute, which is why they have launched nothing more substantial against it than name-calling and caterwauling.

Far from examining the Statement and critiquing it on its stated intentions, our "conservative" friends (e.g., a The Wanderer columnist and even its editor, Alphonse Matt) seem much more interested in simply calling the Statement names, while condemning it solely on the basis that they don’t like the way it sounds and, for that matter, they don’t like its authors either. Here’s an example of how our cousin, Al Matt, presents his "evidence" against us in a recent editorial in The Wanderer:

"It is our judgment that the 'resisters' have nothing to say, or to offer to their fellow Catholics, so long as they continue to 'suspend' their obedience to the Pope and remain in a state of 'resistance.'"

Perhaps this is adequate "proof" of the Statement’s illegitimacy for the "conservatives," but the rest of the Catholic world would, I believe, be looking for a wee bit more in the way of substance than Al Matt’s private judgment that we "have nothing to say."The Wanderer editor has apparently taken a brief hiatus from Bishop-bashing, just long enough to pronounce judgment and condemnation on all Traditional Catholics from east coast to west. I guess a few of us are beginning to wonder just exactly who died and appointed Al Matt head of the Holy Office? Talk about private judgment! "It’s a schismatic statement," they shout at us, without bothering to consider our evidence or weigh the historical precedents of our defense. "You're in schism!" Why? Because we say so!

Again, The Wanderer editor:

"In fact, among all the tons of newsprint spent by the 'resisters' in their wailing and gnashing of teeth over Mr. Hand's monograph, not an ounce has been spent to explain why their suspension of obedience to the Pope and their 'state of resistance' to Vatican II do not constitute objective schism."

If The Wanderer editor had taken the time to actually make a case that sought to prove that we are in schism rather than running a seven-part series that dealt primarily with the reflections, confessions, accusations, musings and personal anecdotes of one of our former columnists, then perhaps we would have used the little Remnant's "tons of newsprint" to respond even more specifically to the charge. As it is, however, Traditionalists were accused of all sorts of horrible and mortally sinful things in our former columnist’s tract, which also—for the sake of justice and decency – had to be responded to. As for the case substantiating the reckless charge of schism against the authors of We Resist You to the Face: It was never delineated, and we still have nothing more than name-calling coming from The Wanderer headquarters (e.g., in addition to being Integrists and pope-haters, we are now arrogant wailers and teeth-gnashers).

Nevertheless, in lieu of any kind of factual, evidential case, Al Matt apparently wishes us to first do the work that his "prosecutor" failed to do, and then provide our own defense as well. Though we requested (by telephone) a copy of The Wanderer's monograph when the series first began, we were denied this little consideration and were told to wait until the pamphlet came off the press some weeks later. So, as Mr. Ferrara explained in his last article, we were forced to initiate our defense based on The Wanderer tract's opening blast of trumpets (and allegations), which, we soon discovered, "quickly faded into the doodling of a lone kazoo" where any real proof was concerned. Our defense was initially based on the assumption that their tract would eventually get around to claiming it could bring substantive, coherent and evidence-based proofs to support the charges. Instead, the rambling Wanderer tract turned out to be a good deal less than substantive, having never even bothered to define its myriad charges or build a coherent case. Instead we were subjected to a lot of name-calling (e.g., "midwives to sede-vacantism"), hyperbole (e.g., "dangerous trajectories toward schism") and inflammatory verbiage.

In any event, now Al Matt decries the fact that we have, to his way of thinking, failed to explain why our actions do not "constitute objective schism" (we are apparently off "the dangerous trajectory" now and have moved straight into objective schism). Okay, I’ll bite. Even though The Wanderer never actually put together a case against us and now behaves as though pointing fingers and making allegations will suffice to prove its point, I will nevertheless offer yet another explanation that will in no way stray from proving why the actions of the authors of We Resist You to the Face do not, in any way or by any reasonable consideration of the facts, "constitute objective schism."

We take the time to make this newest defense under the assumption that it will appear in the next issue of The Wanderer. After all, since Al Matt publicly criticized us for failing to offer an explanation for why we’re not schismatics, we are most confident that he will not deprive his readers of their right to read our explanation. Certainly he would not allow fellow Catholics (one of whom is a member of his own family) to be accused of schism in his paper without allowing them the opportunity to provide his readers with their defense against this charge. Anything less than publishing our explanation would seem to me to constitute simple detraction on Al Matt’s part (regardless of whether or not he believes our explanation ends the discussion of the matter), and we remain confident that he would not engage in detraction. We will, therefore, send this column to our cousin in time for the next issue of The Wanderer.


Our Defense

Let's start with The Wanderer's unfounded accusation that we’re schismatic. I don’t believe that anyone at The Wanderer truly believes we’re in schism. Their use of the term reminds us of the sodomites’ use of the silly label "homophobe" – it is an attempt to end the discussion of the issue before it ever begins by attempting to make the opponent appear beyond the pale. Still, we’ll take them at their word: They say we’re in schism. But I don’t believe that Cardinal Ratzinger would resort to such slander. Speaking to the Bishops of Chile in 1988, Cardinal Ratzinger provided us with what – as far as he’s concerned – are the only conditions that make schism possible. He said:

"One of the basic discoveries of the theology of ecumenism is that schisms can take place only when certain truths and certain values of the Christian faith are no longer lived and loved within the Church."

I would ask critics (and supporters, for that matter) to reread We Resist You to the Face and explain to us where we have advocated that anyone, least of all ourselves, should cease to love and live a single truth or value of the Christian Faith. Quite the contrary, the Statement is predicated upon a desire on the part of its authors to defend all the values and truths of the Christian Faith, without exception. We are, in fact, motivated to resist any and all novelties that we believe in conscience are compromising those Christian "values and truths" which we cherish as immutable parts of the Catholic Church. For example, who at this late date can seriously deny that the new liturgy has compromised "certain values of the Christian Faith," such that most Catholics no longer even believe in the Real Presence or understand what it is? Who can seriously deny that altar girls, forbidden for 2,000 years, have compromised the path to the priesthood for young boys who no longer wish to serve at the altar with a flock of girls?

As far as The Wanderer is concerned, to suspend compliance with any unjust or harmful novelty approved by the Pope always constitutes schism. But the essence of schism is denial of the divine institution of the Papacy itself, not licit disobedience to a particular command which the subject believes is harmful to the Church. Indeed, our Resistance Statement is an appeal to papal authority to undo the harm caused by the post-conciliar innovations, not a denial of that authority. So the charge of schism is simply ridiculous.

As the "conservatives" would have it, even if a Pope were, for the sake of "dialogue" among religions, to command that all of our children study and learn the tenets of the Hindu and Islamic religions, we would – if I am understanding the "conservative" position correctly – be on a "dangerous trajectory towards schism" if we suspended obedience to this papal command. Likewise, according to our accusers, we are schismatics in fact because we resist and oppose the scandalous ecumenical waltzes with heretics being staged almost weekly at the Vatican. Another example: the Pope recently called for outlawing the death penalty because it is cruel and unusual, and said that "the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil." (L’Osservatore Romano, weekly edition, February, 1999, p.8) What? Are we now schismatics if we hold fast to the constant teaching of the Church that the state has the right and even the duty to impose the death penalty for a sufficiently grave offense?

Besides the papal order to destroy our liturgical tradition, which even Cardinal Ratzinger now admits was a huge mistake, we could fill all the pages of The Remnant with examples of what appear to us to be novel papal pronouncements of various kinds (encyclicals addressed to the whole world and not binding the Church, audience addresses, youth rallies, Vatican gatherings, etc.), teachings by example, or dogmatic tolerance of error which deviates from the line of all of the pre-conciliar popes. Who can seriously deny that Saint Pius X would be horrified by the very things the "conservatives" tell us we must adhere to today or else be accused of "schism."

Since we have cited our historical precedents for suspension of obedience in the face of what we believe to be harmful novelties and pronouncements, and since we have provided the proof of the legitimate theological opinion (taught by Doctors of the Church and never condemned as error) that suspension of obedience to the Pope can be justified under the right conditions, on what grounds can we be called schismatic? If we are wrong, then show us where we are wrong. And if we are wrong, then we are mistaken, but being mistaken is not the same as being schismatic. And, again, we appeal to the Pope’s authority, so the charge of schism is baseless in the first place.

So, at the risk of boring readers by repeating what is crystal-clear in the Statement, let us again cite what we called the "Basis of this Act" in Chapter V of the Statement. Let us start with St. Robert Bellarmine, no stranger himself to a Church that was drastically in need of reform – nearly as badly as the Church is today:

"Just as it is licit to resist a Pontiff who aggresses the body, it is also licit to resist one who aggresses the souls or who disturbs civil order, or, above all, one who attempts to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and preventing his will from being executed. It is not licit, however, to judge, punish, or depose him, since these are acts proper to a superior."

And again, Fr. Francisco Suarez, S.J.:

"If [the Pope] gives an order contrary to good customs, he should not be obeyed; if he attempts to do something openly opposed to justice and the common good, it will be licit to resist him; if he attacks by force, by force he can be repelled, with a moderation appropriate to a just defense."

Fr. Francisco de Vitoria, O.P., states:

"A Pope must be resisted who publicly destroys the Church. What should be done when the Pope, because of his bad customs, destroys the Church? What should be done if the Pope wanted, without reason, to abrogate Positive Law?" His answer is: "He would certainly sin; he should neither be permitted to act in such fashion nor should he be obeyed in what was evil; but he should be resisted with a courteous reprehension. Consequently,... if he wanted to destroy the Church or the like [such as doing away with the Traditional Mass!], he should not be permitted to act in that fashion, but one would be obliged to resist him. The reason for this is that he does not have the power to destroy. Therefore, if there is evidence that he is doing so, it is licit to resist him. The result of all this is that if the Pope destroys the Church by his orders and actions, he can be resisted and the execution of his mandates prevented."

And, finally, in his Comments on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, St. Thomas teaches how respectfully correcting a Prelate who sins is a work of mercy:

"Eccl. 17:12 says that God 'imposed on each one duties toward his neighbor.' Now, a Prelate is our neighbor. Therefore, we must correct him when he sins.... Some say that fraternal correction does not extend to the Prelates, either because a man should not raise his voice against heaven, or because the Prelates are easily scandalized if corrected by their subjects. However, this does not happen, since when they sin, the Prelates do not represent heaven and, therefore, must be corrected. And those who correct them charitably do not raise their voices against them, but in their favor, since the admonishment is for their own sakes.... For this reason, the precept of fraternal correction extends also to the Prelates, so that they may be corrected by their subjects."

Having thus established that a "suspension of obedience" can, in fact, be a legitimate recourse for Catholics who seek to defend (not defect from) the Church, it was incumbent upon us (the co-authors of the Statement) to couch our decision to resort to this legitimate recourse in a sense of the gravity of the situation, in the proper terms, in the spirit of humility and in the knowledge of our place in the Church as laymen. This, without question, is something which we went to great pains to accomplish in the Statement. But, as even casual readers of the Statement will attest, we went one step further: we hasten to admit freely that we do not consider the matter closed; that we present our analysis of the facts, and that we now ask, rather plead with, the proper authority – the Holy Father (or his representatives) – to address our concerns, to engage in dialogue, and even to "debate the legitimacy and the licitness of the resistance that we are making." (Page 55)

In other words, the Statement of Resistance is by no means an attempt to make pronouncements of doctrine and usurp the role of the Pope. With perfect clarity, we stress that the Statement is a means to an end – that end being the initiation of a "respectful public discussion or eventually an elevated polemic with the Church authorities." (Page 55)

What legitimate objection can The Wanderer possibly raise against a statement which recognizes its own limitations, speaks respectfully to the legitimate ecclesiastical authorities, cites examples of novelties in the Church over which it takes issue, and then asks to be corrected if its authors have somehow erred in their presentation of the facts and their implications? We humbly ask to be shown where and how we have misunderstood or misread the character of the post-conciliar orientation – an orientation which begins at the Chair of Peter itself.

How can they condemn us for asking for clarifications and explanations such as these? They can’t! And so they mischaracterize our motivations, they sensationalize our Statement by taking one phrase – "suspension of obedience" – out of context and harping on only that, and they vilify our legitimate call for an elevated dialogue by making ad hominem attacks against the signers (e.g., calling us pope-bashers, Integrists, arrogant, schismatic, etc.) and thus trying to minimize our right to a fair hearing by legitimate authority. See can. 212 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law

It must be that the Statement is hitting too close to home, so its authors must be painted as schismatic, so that rational discussion can be prevented. Never mind that we revere the Papacy and recognize John Paul II as Vicar of Christ, the holder of the highest office on earth. Never mind that we clearly state our intention to remain in the Church, and that we deny not a single truth of our Faith. We are still called schismatic. There is no justice in this. This is the ultimate ad hominem attack.

Is our call for an elevated dialogue something that, in and of itself, can be characterized as schism? Please! Not by any standard, and certainly not by the Vatican’s standard. The Vatican itself has admitted that there may appear to the faithful to be contradictions between the old and new presentations of the Faith and between the reforms of liturgy and law and what came before. In addition to Cardinal Ratzinger’s startling admissions in this regard, it becomes ever clearer that the Vatican itself anticipated resistance such as ours, due to the nature of the unprecedented "renewal" which the post-conciliar Church has embraced.

Let us again read Cardinal Ratzinger’s words taken from his 1988 Remarks to the Bishops of Chile Regarding the Lefebvre Schism: "All this leads a great number of people to ask themselves if the Church of today is really the same as that of yesterday, or if they have changed it for something else without telling people." Of course, the Cardinal goes on to assert that the Church has not broken with the past, and that Vatican II can be made "plausible" by being reconciled as part of the totality of tradition. But why should this even be necessary in the first place, if the Council is so obviously in line with tradition in everything it said? No one – not even The Wanderer, I would hope – would deny that the Cardinal at least understands why "many people" would come to the conclusion that the Church of today is not the same as the Church of yesterday. This perception of the faithful arises from only one thing: the radical nature of the "reforms" of Vatican II, the likes of which have never been seen in the history of the Church.

But let us take this a step further. The Vatican itself allowed for the severity of the changes in the Church to be so great that Catholics would have a hard time reconciling these changes with the past teachings of the Church. In the Protocol of Agreement Between the Holy See and the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, which the Vatican asked Archbishop Lefebvre to sign in Rome on May 5, 1988, we find the following frank admission couched within a statement that they asked the Archbishop to accept:

"With regard to certain points taught by the Second Vatican Council or concerning later reforms of the liturgy and law, and which seem to us able to be reconciled with the Tradition only with difficulty, we [Lefebvre and company] commit ourselves to have a positive attitude of study and of communication with the Holy See, avoiding all polemics." (emp. ours)

The Vatican conceded this to Archbishop Lefebvre: Traditionalists would find some points taught by Vatican II and some later reforms of liturgy and law difficult to reconcile with Tradition. They’re admitting a substantial amount here about the nature of the reforms. Here we have permission from the Vatican to explore the difficulty in reconciling the new orientation of the Church with the perennial Church before the Council – which, wouldn’t you know it, is precisely our stated point and purpose in writing We Resist You to the Face.

The basis of our legitimate Statement of Resistance is the tremendous difficulty we are having in reconciling previous Church teachings with present Church teachings. We not only find many of these modern and novel teachings difficult to reconcile with Tradition, but to us many of them seem impossible to reconcile! Thus, the impasse. All the more serious is our predicament and all the more legitimate should be our course of action. Let the authorities of the Church, not Al Matt, judge our efforts.

So, we do not seek to start a new Church. We do not declare that the Pope is not the pope. We do not even declare that the new Mass is invalid. The author of The Wanderer’s tract and Al Matt know this, but pretend that they do not.

Rather we do as the Vatican suggested Archbishop Lefebvre should do: "Commit ourselves to have a positive attitude of study and of communication with the Holy See." In our Statement we call it a "respectful public discussion with the Church authorities." (Page 55) No one can argue that our tone is not respectful and that our attitude is not positive, else we would not express the positive hope that the Holy See would answer our concerns and hear our complaints.

No, my friends, the case we’ve made in our Statement cannot be dismissed on the grounds that it betrays some elusive and ill-defined "schismatic trajectory" on the part of its authors. It is a sound case, made by Catholics in good standing, with reverence, respect, humility and, yes, audacity. We are objecting! We are resisting! But the thought of deserting the Church is as repugnant to us as the Modernism that claws at her heart and bosom. And until we are made to see how the novel teaching of the Council (which John XXIII explicitly said would not have an infallible character) and of the present Pontiff can be reconciled with previous Magisterial teachings, we – for the sake of our own souls and the souls of the millions of confused Catholics all around us – are suspending obedience to any commands or teachings which, after mature study, appear not to be in accord with previous Church teaching.

For example, we respectfully decline to believe that the death penalty must be outlawed and that criminals may never be put to death, as the Pope recently declared in L'Osservatore Romano. For example, we respectfully decline to believe that altar girls are a good thing for the Church, as the Pope declared in his Letter to Women. For example, we respectfully decline to believe that the New Mass is "a great renewal" and that it is not inferior to the Old Mass, as the Pope declared in his address on the 25th anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium. For example, we respectfully decline to believe, as the Pope taught in Ut Unum Sint, that the ministers of Protestant sects which preach abortion are "disciples of Christ" – a novel teaching His Holiness has demonstrated again and again by conducting joint liturgical services with pro-abortion laymen pretending to be bishops. And, for example, we respectfully decline to believe that Islam is a religion deserving of divine protection, as the Pope taught when he declared "May Saint John Baptist protect Islam and all the people of Jordan." at Wadi Al-Kharrar, on March 21, 2000.

Yet we clearly state that we do not and cannot judge the Pope. We also state that the level of authority of his novel teachings is far from clear, and that this too is one of the major issues for which we beg clarification. But, until such clarification is forthcoming, only an ignorant person or someone with a prior prejudice would claim that Catholics must "obey" every novelty, initiative and experiment of the post-conciliar era, just because it meets with papal approval in some speech or letter or other pronouncement not clearly specified to bind the entire Church. Are these "teachings" in the general sense? Yes, but are they binding Catholic doctrine which we are obliged to believe?

The Magisterium cannot contradict previous magisterial teachings on faith and morals. In fact, Vatican I is perfectly clear on this: not only is it impossible for the Magisterium to do so, but the Magisterium is, in fact, powerless to ever issue any new doctrines. The onus, therefore, is on the present hierarchy of the Church to explain how their novel teachings (some of which are cited above) – never before seen in the history of the Church – could possibly be considered part of the binding Magisterial teachings of the Church. Certainly, doctrines can be developed, but this only means that doctrines can be further explained so that Catholics might have a better understanding of them…. Engaging in novelty and innovation can certainly not be equated with explaining doctrine. If, then, the novel teachings are just that, new, how could they be binding, especially since their inherent novelty automatically rules them out as being doctrinal in essence? So, what are these teachings? How do we categorize them?

Again, here is the root of our dilemma. Here is the basis of our call for dialogue with the proper authority – Pope John Paul II. The Wanderer may wish to maintain its carefully cultivated silence in the face of this grave situation in this darkest of all hours in the Church’s history, but we (the "resisters," as Al Matt calls us in his editorial) feel obliged in conscience to call for this eleventh-hour clarification.

Still, the matter is not closed, obviously, as We Resist You to the Face is only our "opening statement" in what we hope will be a fruitful discussion with legitimate Church authority. If, in the face of all the chaos that has visited itself upon the Church since the Council, The Wanderer and the rest of our "conservative" friends find such a loyal and fundamentally Catholic call for clarification to be somehow schismatic, then quite simply, they are trying not to understand what the Statement clearly is saying.

We seek answers from our Pope. We’re confused by the antics of our shepherds, which are so shocking in many cases that our children and siblings are leaving the Church in disgust. It would be nice if The Wanderer and the other conservative watchdogs of the Council would either show proof of how we are wrong, or else step out of the way of this perfectly legitimate course of action.

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