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
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
Guimarães, 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
August 31, 2000 The Remnant published 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.
Articles in the Polemic
"In Perspective" by Mr. Alphonse Matt, Jr.
"All Catholics Should be Traditionalists"
by Mr. A. Matt, Jr.
"Quicksand" by Mr. Atila S. Guimarães
Sides at the Same Table" by Dr. Marian Horvat
Campaign Against We Resist You to the Face:
My Response to Alphonse Matt"
by Mr. Michael Matt
Alphonse J. Matt, Jr.
Published in The Wanderer, June 22, 2000
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
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 Lefèbvre, 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 Guimarães, 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. Guimarães and Marian Horvat, both members of Tradition
in Action, Inc., Michael Matt, editor of The
Remnant, and John Vennari, editor of Catholic
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
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.
Bruskewitz of Lincoln has graciously provided a preface to the work.
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
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
"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
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
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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Atila Sinke Guimarãe
Published in The Remnant August 15, 2000 and in
Catholic Family News, September 2000
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 Guimarães..." 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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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Two Sides at the Same Table
Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.
Published in The Remnant August 15, 2000
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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
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." 
 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." 
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. 
In a word: ambiguous. With the documents of Vatican II, ambiguity in the
expression of theological thinking entered the teachings of the Church.
 Sixtus V, Bull Triumphantis, 1588, in ibid.
 Guimarães, In the Murky Waters, § 3.
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
Polemic Articles | Polemics Main Page | TIA Home Page | Books |
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
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
"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
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.
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
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
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:
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."
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
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.
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
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
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.