Skip to comments.The Audience with Pope Paul VI
Posted on 06/23/2004 9:15:00 PM PDT by ultima ratio
So, the next day, Saturday, at quarter past ten, I went to Castelgandolfo, and there I really believe the Holy Angels had driven out the Vatican employees because I had come back there: there were two Swiss Guards at the entrance, and after that I encountered only Mgr X (not Mgr. Y: their names are very alike). Mgr. X, the Canadian, conducted me to the lift. Only the lift man was there, that is all, and I went up. The three of us went up to the first floor, and there, accompanied by Mgr. X, I went through all the rooms: there are at least seven or eight before you come to the Holy Father's office. Not a living soul! Usually - I have often been to private audience in the days of Pope Pius XI, Pope Pius XII, Pope John XXIII, and even Pope Paul VI - there is always at least one Swiss Guard, always a gendarme, always several people: a private chamberlain, a monseigneur who is present if only to keep an eye on things and prevent incidents. But the rooms were empty - nothing, absolutely nothing. So I went to the Holy Father's office, where I found the Holy Father with Mgr. Benelli at his side. I greeted the Holy Father and I greeted Mgr. Benelli. We seated ourselves at once, and the audience began.
The Holy Father was lively enough at the beginning - one could almost call it somewhat violent in a way: one could feel that he was deeply wounded and rather provoked by what we are doing. He said to me:
"You condemn me, you condemn me. I am a Modernist. I am a Protestant. It cannot be allowed, you are doing an evil work, you ought not to continue, you are causing scandal in the Church, etc..." with nervous irritability.
I kept quiet, you may be sure. After that he said to me:
"Well, speak now, speak. What have you to say?"
I said to him:
"Holy Father, I come here, but not as the head of the traditionalists. You have said I am head of the traditionalists. I deny flatly that I am head of the traditionalists. I am only a Catholic, a priest, a bishop, among millions of Catholics, thousands of priests and other bishops who are torn and pulled apart in conscience, in mind, in heart. On the one side we desire to submit to you entirely, to follow you in everything, to have no reserves about your person, and on the other side we are aware that the lines taken by the Holy See since the Council, and the whole new orientation, turn us away from your predecessors. What then are we to do? We find ourselves obliged either to attach ourselves to your predecessors or to attach ourselves to your person and separate ourselves from your predecessors. For Catholics to be torn like that is unheard of, unbelievable. And it is not I who have provoked that, it is not a movement made by me, it is a feeling that comes from the hearts of the faithful, millions of the faithful whom I do not know. I have no idea how many there are. They are all over the world, everywhere. Everybody is uneasy about this upset that has happened in the Church in the last ten years, about the ruins accumulating in the Church. Here are examples: there is a basic attitude in people, an interior attitude which makes them now unchangeable. They will not change because they have chosen: they have made their choice for Tradition and for those who maintain Tradition. There are examples like that of the religious Sisters I saw two days ago, good religious who wish to keep their religious life, who teach children as their parents want them to be taught - many parents bring their children to them because they will receive a Catholic education from these religious. So, here are religious keeping their religious habit; and just because they wish to preserve the old prayer and to keep the old catechism they are excommunicated. The Superior General has been dismissed. The bishop has been five times, requiring them to abandon their religious habit because they have been reduced to the lay state. People who see that do not understand. And, side by side with that, nuns who discard their habit, return to all the worldly vanities, no longer have a religious rule, no longer pray - they are officially approved by bishops, and no one says a word against them! The man in the street, the poor Christian, seeing these things cannot accept them. That is impossible. Then it is the same for priests. Good priests who say their Mass well, who pray, who are to be found in the confessional, who preach true doctrine, who visit the sick, who wear their soutane, who are true priests loved by their people because they keep the Old Mass, the Mass of their ordination, who keep the old catechism, are thrown on the street as worthless creatures, all but excommunicated. And then priests go into factories, never dress as priests so that there is no knowing what they are, preach revolution - and they are officially accepted, and nobody says anything to them. As for me, I am in the same case. I try to make priests, good priests as they were made formerly; there are many vocations, the young men are admired by the people who see them in trains, on the underground; they are greeted, admired, congratulated on their dress and bearing; and I am suspended a divinis! And the bishops who have no more seminarians, no young priests, nothing, and whose seminaries no longer make good priests - nothing is said to them! You understand; the poor average Christian sees it clearly. He has chosen and he will not budge. He has reached his limit. It is impossible."
"That is not true. You do not train good priests," he said to me, "because you make them take an oath against the Pope."
"What!" I answered. "An oath against the Pope? I who, on the contrary, try to give them respect for the Pope, respect for the successor of Peter! On the contrary, we pray for the Holy Father, and you will never be able to show me this oath which they take against the Pope. Can you give me a copy of it?"
And now, officially, the Vatican spokesmen have published in today's paper, where you can read it, the Vatican denial, saying that it is not true, that the Holy Father did not say that to me: the Holy Father did not say to me that I made my seminarians and young priests take an oath against the Pope. But how could I have invented that? How invent anything of the kind? It is unthinkable. But now they deny it: the Holy Father did not say it. It is incredible. And obviously I have no tape recording. I did not write out the whole conversation, so I cannot prove the contrary materially. But my very reaction! I cannot forget how I reacted to that assertion by the Holy Father. I can still see myself gesturing and saying: "But how, Holy Father, can you possibly say such a thing! Can you show me a copy of the oath?" And now they are saying it is not true. It is extraordinary!
Then the Holy Father said to me, further:
"It is true, is it not, that you condemn me?"
I had the strong impression that it all came back rather to his person, that he was personally hurt:
"You condemn me, so what ought I to do? Must I hand in my resignation and let you take my place?"
"Oh!" I put my head in my hands.
"Holy Father, do not say such things. No, no, no, no!" I then said:
"Holy Father, let me continue. You have the solution of the problem in your hands. You need say only one word to the bishops: receive fraternally, with understanding and charity all those groups of traditionalists, all those who wish to keep the prayer of former days, the sacraments as before, the catechism as before. Receive them, give them places of worship, settle with them so that they can pray and remain in relation with you, in intimate relation with their bishops. You need say only one word to the bishops and everything will return to order and at that moment we shall have no more problems. Things will return to order. As for the seminary, I myself shall have no difficulty in going to the bishops and asking them to implant my priests in their dioceses: things will be done normally. I myself am very willing to renew relations with a commission you could name from the Congregation of Religious to come to the seminary. But clearly we shall keep and wish to continue the practice of Tradition. We should be allowed to maintain that practice. But I want to return to normal and official relations with the Holy See and with the Congregations. Beyond that I want nothing.
He then said to me:
I must reflect, I must pray, I must consult the Consistory, I must consult the Curia. I cannot give you an answer. We shall see.
After that he said to me: "We will pray together."
I said: "Most willingly, Holy Father."
We then said the Pater Noster, Veni Creator, and an Ave Maria, and he then led me back very pleasantly, but with difficulty - his walk was painful, and he dragged his legs a little. In the room to the side he waited until Domenico came for me; and he had a small medal given to Don Domenico. We then left. Mgr. Benelli did not open his mouth; he did nothing but write all the time, like a secretary. He did not bother me at all. It was as though Mgr. Benelli were not present. I think it did not trouble the Holy Father, just as it did not trouble me, because he did not open his mouth, and gave no sign. I then said twice again that he had the solution of the problem in his hands. He then showed his satisfaction at having had this interview, this dialogue. I said I was always at his disposal. We then left.
Since then, they are now relating what they like in the newspapers, the most fantastic inventions - that I accepted everything, that I made a complete submission; then they said it was all to the contrary - that I had accepted nothing and conceded nothing. Now they are telling me, in effect, that I lied, that I am inventing things in the conversation I had with the Holy Father. My impression is that they are so furious that this audience took place unforeseen, without going through the usual channels, that they are trying in every way to discredit it, and to discredit me as well. Clearly they are afraid that this audience puts me back in favor with many people, who are saying: Now, if Monseigneur has seen the Holy Father, there are no more problems: he is back again with the Holy Father. In fact, we have never been against the Holy Father and have always wanted to be with the Holy Father.
Moreover, I have just written to him again because Cardinal Thiandoum was so insistent on that2 so that he could have a short note from me to take to the Holy Father. I said to him: "Good. I am ready to write a short letter to the Holy Father (though I am beginning to think that this correspondence is endless), 1 want to thank the Holy Father for granting me this audience." I did that, and thanked the Holy Father..
The Holy Father had said in the course of the conversation: "Well, at least we have a point in common: we both want to stop all these abuses that exist at present in the Church, so as to give back to the Church Her true countenance, etc...
I answered: "Yes, absolutely."
So I put in my letter that I was ready to collaborate with him, he having said in the course of the audience that at least we had a point in common, to give the Church back Her true countenance and to suppress all the abuses in the Church. In that, I was quite ready to collaborate, and indeed under his authority. I said nothing, I think, which would promise too much, as giving back Her true countenance to the Church is what we are doing.
When I also said to him that I was, in fact, basing myself on pluralism, I said:
But, after all, with the present pluralism how would it be to let those also who want to keep Tradition be on the same footing as the others? It is the least that could be granted us." I said: "1 do not know, Holy Father, if you know that there are twenty-three official eucharistic prayers in France.
He raised his arms to heaven and said: "Many more, Monseigneur, many more!"
So then I said to him:
But, if there are many more, if, even so, you add another, I do not see how that can harm the Church. Is it a mortal sin to keep up Tradition and do what the Church has always done?
You see, the Pope seems well-informed.
So now I think we must pray and hold firm. There may be some among you who were shocked at the suspension a divinis and, I should say, by my rejection of the suspension a divinis. Of course. I understand. But that rejection is part, and I say it should be seen as part, of our refusal to accept the judgment that came to us from Rome. All that is the same thing. It is part of the same context; it is all linked together. It that not so? So I do not see why I should accept this suspension since I did not accept the prohibition of ordaining, nor accept the closing of the seminary and the closing and destruction of the Fraternity. That would mean that I should have accepted from the moment of the first sentence, of the first condemnation: I should have said Yes, we are condemned, we close the seminary and end the Fraternity .Why did I not accept that? Because it was done illegally, because it is based on no proof and no judgment. I do not know if you have had occasion to read what Cardinal Garrone himself said in an interview : our meeting with Mgr. Lefebvre in Rome with the three Cardinals was not a tribunal. He said that openly. It is what I have always said myself. It was a conversation. I have never found myself before a tribunal. The Visitation was not a tribunal; it was an enquiry, not a judgment. So there was no tribunal, no judgment, nothing: I have been condemned like that without being able to defend myself, with no monition, nothing in writing, nothing. No! It is not possible. All the same, justice exists. So I rejected that condemnation, because it was illegal and because I was not able to make my appeal. The way that happened is absolutely inadmissible. We have been given no valid reasons for our condemnation. Once that sentence has been rejected, there is no valid reason for not rejecting the others, for the others always rest on that one. Why have I been forbidden to ordain? Because the Fraternity was "suppressed" and the seminary should have been closed. So I have no right to ordain. I reject that because it is based on a judgment that is false. Why am I suspended a divinis? Because I ordained when I had been forbidden to do so. But I do not accept that sentence about ordinations precisely because I do not accept the judgment that was pronounced. It is a chain. I do not accept the chain because I do not accept the first link on which the entire condemnation was built. I cannot accept it.
Moreover, the Holy Father himself did not speak to me of the suspension, he did not speak to me of the seminary , of anything. On that subject, nothing, nothing at all.
That is the situation as it is at present. I think that for you, clearly - and I understand - it is a drama, as it is for me; and I think we desire from our heart that normal relations will be resumed with the Holy See. But who was it who broke off normal relations? They were broken at the Council. It was at the Council that normal relations with the Church were broken, it was at the Council that the Church, separating Herself from Tradition, departing from Tradition, took up an abnormal attitude to Tradition. It is that which we cannot accept; we cannot accept a separation from Tradition.
As I said to the Holy Father: "In so far as you deviate from your predecessors, we can no longer follow you." That is plain. It is not we who deviate from his predecessors.
When I said to him: "But look again at the texts on religious liberty , two texts which formally contradict one another, word for word (important dogmatic texts, that of Gregory XVI and that of Pius IX, Quanta Cura, and then that on religious liberty, they contradict one another, word for word); which are we to choose?"
He answered: "Oh, leave those things. Let us not start discussions.
(Excerpt) Read more at sspxasia.com ...
Have SSPX bishops whom Rome has forbidden to ordain been ordaining priests?
If so, since when and how many? Are these ordinations invalid, or valid but illicit, or what?
Of course the bishops ordain--and the men they ordain are fine orthodox priests--straight and devout. They celebrate Mass all over the world and number now over 600--and growing. Their ordinations are valid--though technically illicit--though even this is doubtful since Rome's entire offensive against the SSPX has been based on lies and public slander primarily. That is why I am posting excerpts from the Apologia. Davies records a chain of fraudulent actions on the Vatican's part.
"Bishops can not go around ordaining other Bishop's without Rome's approval; or else we'd have 50 dozen Mahoney clones running around the Curia, and we'd be even worse off then we are now."
Perish the thought. However, disobeying evil for the sake of doing good is not morally equivalent to disobeying good for the sake of doing evil.
"The schism can thus become self-perpetuating, the worst possible outcome where Church divisions are concerned."
The complete suppression of the Tridentine seems like a pretty bad outcome.
"why didn't he accept the 1984 Indult?"
Because it was a fraud.
"Lefebvre said to the reporters afterwards "He didn't seem like a Pope to me; he had no character."
Wojtyla was a priest, bishop, and cardinal under vicious communist regimes for decades. They killed other priests. How come the communists didn't kill Wojtyla?
One of the reasons why the corrupt bureaucracy drew their knives on him, is because Lefebvre refused to perform their precious NO-mass. Yes they actually tried to force him, against his will to conduct one. They had an agenda, and he wouldn't play ball.
There are certain elements in society and the church that are for various reasons are hell bent on ruining Catholic tradition. In response to these certain elements, there are certain people who simply aren't going to let that happen regardless of any worldly consequences inflicted by worldly men. Period.
Legalistic machinations aside, Society ordinations are valid and the priests celebrate mass as has pleased our Lord for centuries. Much to the woe of their detractors, they will continue to do so, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
If you think the reason for the existence of the Society is "all about the liturgy" you're extremely misinformed.
"On the one side we desire to submit to you entirely, to follow you in everything, to have no reserves about your person, and on the other side we are aware that the lines taken by the Holy See since the Council, and the whole new orientation, turn us away from your predecessors. What then are we to do?"
I find myself (and my family) in the same dilemma today.
Most traditionalists do.
It is very true. It is exceptionally hard to obey, when the heart and the head both say "I don't like this one bit." Anyone can admire the Holy Father. But we are required to love him. And what is love? Obediance unto death. That does not mean following him into Hell, of course. But it does mean sacrificing personal beliefs. Sigh. I do firmly believe, that Vatican II is our test of love.
I thank the Lord for him, despite his human flaws. The little Society chapel that I found - nearly by accident - has completely changed my life and immensely deepened my faith, which would have been impossible in my NO-diocese. There is nothing wrong, sinful or even the slightest bit improper about it.
This is why it's amusing, albeit frustrating to watch some folks on this forum and elsewhere rail obsessively at us. Seemingly normal people reach a near state of mental illness at times over this, even though it's not their lives or souls which are affected. It's uncanny. I suspect this dynamic had something to do with what happened at the time the letter you posted above was written.
The only reason why the SSPX is not in full communion with Rome now, is because of evil and the agenda of worldly men. If such weren't the case, a robust element could be part of the body at large that would go a long way towards healing our ills.
I disagree that Loving the Pontiff requires "obedience unto death", where are you getting that from? Much of this has nothing at all to do with JPII.
Also, it goes way beyond just "sacrificing personal beliefs". This is about families and children and their relationship with God. Many Catholics only want what's best for their families, which includes a richer worhip and deeper reverence. They don't trust their children to the current modern liberal sisterhood and clergy, nor the quickly sinking Catholic schools.
They won't sacrifice their children or their faith while those who are supposed to be leading us do nothing about, or even partake in the precipitous devolution of the mother.church.
If it were just a matter of sucking it up and being scandalized from time to time at the local NO-mass by merely "sacrificing personal beliefs" things may be different. It goes much deeper than that however, many people in the SSPX are there because they were literally forced into it.
We are hardly all about liturgy. That's an over-simplification, though the liturgy is the point of contact with the faith for most Catholics. Any tampering with it, affects the whole of one's belief. It is not possible to attend the Novus Ordo, for instance, and not become ever more casual about the Holy Eucharist. Everything in the new Mass suggests a desacralized attitude. The entire focus of the Mass is away from the worship of God and towards a focus on the congregation, exactly as with Protestants. So the New Mass is the place where the stress-points regarding the faith are most felt by traditional Catholics.
The irony in all this, of course, is that the ones who are most deeply affected by this are those who take their faith most seriously. The average Catholic couldn't care less and seems hardly aware of the enormous theological issues at stake, especially when the Novus Ordo is said in Latin. But traditionalists do care--and this is why they are an important element in the Church, despite their relatively small numbers; they are the source of much energy and opposition--and even creativity. Mel Gibson's traditionalism would be emblematic of the movement. His perspective is intensely oppositional and deeply held. Rome understands this. It knows it cannot succeed in its revolution unless it manages somehow to eliminate the opposition of traditionalism. But it doesn't know how to capture the movement without compromising its own radical departures from Tradition.
The issue on Vatican II is indeed a theological dissent--but not of Lefebvre's theology vis a vis the Council's. It is the preconciliar Church itself which is opposed to liberalism and modernism. So it is altogether wrong to suggest Lefebvre simply "didn't like the theology or JPII". It was that the Council and JPII were and are in open contradiction to the preconciliar teachings of the Church.This is an enormous issue because it forces Catholics to choose between preconciliar warnings about Modernism as a heresy--and the modernists who now occupy the seats of power in the Vatican and who openly oppose perennial Church teachings.
Lefebvre predicted correctly, by the way, that both Dignitatis Humanae and Gaudium Spes would ultimately be interpreted in ways that would contradict the teachings of the Church--and he was right. The "religious freedom" issue at first glance seems to most American Catholics innocuous enough. Why not be tolerant of all religions, we ask. But the decree goes beyond mere tolerance. It denies the right of Catholic countries to remain Catholic and to exist under Christ's Kingship exclusively--and the result has been just as he had predicted. While Islam has remained Muslim and Israel remains exclusively Jewish, no Catholic country has remained Catholic.
As for the purported comment of Lefebvre about the election of Wojtyla, I never heard of it. Are you sure this is true and not more gossip? There is a lot of stuff like this that is untrue that is bruited around the Catholic press. The slander machine works overtime in trying to discourage Catholics from following the SSPX. What is your source?
Who says we are required to love him in the sense you say--obedience unto death? That is ridiculous. You happen to like this pope. So you place him on a pedestal to worship. But in fact the moment he commands a subject unjustly, he abuses his authority and his command loses its legitimacy. You need to recognize this. It is this which conservatives refuse to acknowledge--and this separates them from traditionalists and enables authority to get away with the outrages it perpetrates regarding the faith. They don't mind criticizing bishops who abuse power, but they have difficulty believing a pope may do so as well. But authority exists for a reason--it is not to be used at the whim of the man who has it--not even a pope. It is limited by the divine law itself, as well as by laws and precepts and the perennial teachings of the Church.
"It does keep him from teaching me anything that will prevent me from salvation"
Even this is untrue. He only teaches infallibly when speaking ex cathedra. But he has given many speeches in which he teaches errors. And his actions--praying with animists, kissing the Koran--continue to scandalize millions.
You are right to be nervous about JPII. He goes where no other pontiff has ever dared to go. He acts as if he is a law unto himself and is bound by no predecessor nor by any Church precepts. This is exceedingly dangerous.