Skip to comments.Traditionalists, Tradition, And Private Judgement
Posted on 01/28/2003 11:27:58 AM PST by NYer
By Alphonse J. Matt, editor The Wanderer
Since the end of the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent 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 same 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 Lefebvre, 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 traditionalist 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 Family News.
We Resist You . . . is described by its 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 in 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 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 II'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.
Alphonse J. Matt Jr. Editor, The Wanderer
Preface by The Most Rev. Fabian Bruskewtiz,
Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska
Stephen Hand has done a distinct service by his fine monograph pointing out by means of careful research as well as by personal and anecdotal experience the reality of removing a cinder in one's eye when such is there, but keeping the eye intact and not removing the eye out of exasperation, because of the annoyance and sometimes serious pain the cinder can cause.
It has been an axiom for many years in historical theology that what oftentimes begins or is declared to be a "return to tradition," in other words, a reaction, ends as being an innovation, that is, a schism or a heresy. There are people who suffer from intense headaches, and find themselves utterly incapable of mastering the horrible pain that they frequently endure. In moments of frustration, such people will sometimes say, "I wish I could cut off my head to cure my headache." But they, and all who are rational and reflective in their presence, would always realize that the so-called cure would be far worse than the continuous enduring of even the most tragic pain. It takes a faith-filled and prayer-filled discerning Catholic life to distinguish liturgical abuses, doctrinal and moral aberrations, and grave disciplinary infractions occurring in the lives and practices of people within the Church, from the Church herself, which despite being composed of sinful members, remains the spotless Spouse and Bride of Christ, not a Church of Cathers or Albigensians, but a Church of those who carry within themselves the sad effects of original sin while at the same time bearing the grace of God, which is to say, the seeds of eternal happiness. St. Thomas Aquinas calls pride the queen and mother of all vices, and oftentimes those who perhaps rightly perceive grave faults and defects in people in the Church, even sometimes in people with positions of clerical authority, forget their own creatureliness and sinfulness, and the ability they themselves have to fall into serious error.
At the time of the Jansenist crisis, for instance, the archbishop of Paris, speaking of the Jansenist nuns at Port-Royal, said they were as pure as angels but as proud as devils. Down through the centuries there have been countless sects, denominations, cults, and churches which have broken off from the Catholic Church under the pretense of being "holier than thou." We are witnessing the same occurrence in our time. Ironically, these groups are most often unknowing and indeliberate allies of the bitterest enemies of Christ and His Church, in effect, denying the abiding Presence of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church and the promises that Christ bestowed on His Mystical Body from its inception.
In his masterful work, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, John Henry Newman points out how in the course of the Church's history she occasionally appears to fall into a deliquium, from which, under God's grace, she emerges victorious and stronger than ever. Many of those who defy the Church and even leave the Church in the name of "tradition," thus contradicting the very word by which they choose to define themselves, are ignorant in their despair regarding the Church's future or the realities of the Church's history through 2,000 years. This work of Stephen Hand undoubtedly will assist those who are loyal to Christ and to His Church, and to His Vicar on earth, the Bishop of Rome, to labor zealously within the boundaries of the Church herself for her growth in holiness, and willingly, even joyfully, do all possible to eliminate doctrinal, moral, liturgical, and disciplinary aberrations, but, at the same time, conceding nothing to those who wish not to remove a cinder from the eye, but to remove the eye itself and perhaps replace its empty socket with cinders and decayed matters.
The Venerable Servant of God, Abbot Joseph Columba Marmion, who is scheduled to be beatified on September 3, 2000, once reminded his readers that "God resists the proud," and he added: "Is it not terrible to be alienated from God? But how much more terrible it must be to be 'resisted' by God Himself."
May his rhetorical question echo in the minds and hearts of those who make use of this fine work of Stephen Hand.
The Most Rev.
Fabian W. Bruskewitz,
Bishop of Lincoln, Neb
+ + + Part 1 The Church And The Council
The Church And The Council
The most wonderful thing about being Catholic is that the Church's saving Tradition is a "given," something which we can only receive from the hands of Christ's ministers, who extend in time through the apostolic succession all the way back to the empty Tomb, and who first heard the stunning words:
"Receive the Holy Spirit
For those whose sins you forgive,
They are forgiven;
For those whose sins you retain They are retained" (John 20:22).
The Church is not some esoteric gnosis which men must try to discern, decipher, and then keep jealously under a bushel. Rather, she is, following the Incarnation itself, astonishingly visible, a "light to the world" and the "salt of the earth," the continuation through time of Him who was "made flesh and dwelt among us."
From that moment when earth's history was split into a "before" and an "after," no one has had to look or wait for another Messiah, another teaching or "Way." For He is "with us," "always," (Isaiah 9:6; Matt. 28:20) and is the God who comes, the God who seeks us out, and who offers forgiveness and reconciliation to a world which will never again have to grope to find Him. He is there, in His Church, where, until the very end of the world are heard the simple words of consecration which are the substance of the Mass. St. Paul tells us what that substance is:
"For this is what I received from the Lord, and in turn pass on to you: that on the night that He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and giving thanks He broke it, and He said, 'This is my Body, which is broken for you'. In the same manner He took the cup and said:
"This is the cup of the New Covenant in my Blood. Whenever you drink it, do this in memory of me" (1 Cor. 11: 23-27).
Should she deem it necessary or good, the Church could reduce her liturgy to these words and acts, the "substance" around which all the ritual "accidents," which change through time, adhere. For only she is given to participate in and dispense the divine authority the great and undemocratic "whatsoever" (Matt. 16:20) until the Bridegroom returns to receive His Bride at the end of time. It is left for us to only "Hear the Church" which changes only in her "accidents" through the ebbs and flows of time, the "substance" perduring to the consummation.
It is not easy to read such literature and not be affected in some degree. Especially if one at first does not know an epistle from an apostle. This is the problem with these "independent" chapels.
I really don't like getting into discussions with the SSPX crowd and unfortunately I let myself be dragged into one recently. I don't know enough of the history to be able to defend the Church's position, except to fall back on Jesus Christ that He left His Church with the Holy Spirit, and the Church has been standing for 2,000 years.
I was listening to Catholic radio, an audio of an ewtn program, and one of the commentators, I believe a priest, was talking about what Vatican II was and what it wasn't. it was a fascinating talk, and I realized that all the talk about the "Spirit of Vatican II" was just that -- talk -- no substance. They took the theme of evangelization and decided that they could do whatever they want.
I haven't read Vatican II, but I've been told by people who have read all the documents that none of the abuses seen in some parishes today are condoned or allowed in any way, shape or form by Vatican II.
Anyway, NYer, THANK YOU for your post. I appreciate it!
There are people who suffer from intense headaches, and find themselves utterly incapable of mastering the horrible pain that they frequently endure. In moments of frustration, such people will sometimes say, "I wish I could cut off my head to cure my headache."LOL!!! Bruskewitz rules.
Like you, I had not read much on Vatican II until recently. It was interesting to learn that they encouraged continuation of the liturgy in Latin, along with Gregorian chant. As you noted, the abuses we see today come from a select group of prelates who have "interpreted" certain aspects of the documents to suit their own purposes. All of the documents are availabe on the internet and well worth the read.
All of the documents are availabe on the internet and well worth the read.Link to Documents of the Second Vatican Council on the Vatican website.
A widely circulated video appeared (What We Have Lost, put out by the In the Spirit of Chartres Committee) in which my editor, the paper, and some well-known acquaintances appeared. The video declared that the Catholic Church was no longer the Catholic Church, but a "new" Church and a "new" religion. Here was a reckless and even schismatic langugage. I knew nothing about such plans. The dogmatic Rubicon was crossed here. In Rome, just prior to seeing this video, I had attended a beautiful papal Mass, celebrated with the greatest even awesome reverence, and prayed at the spot where St. Peter was crucified upside down. This was the Church I was born in and I had no intentions of leaving it.
This video questioned the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass and other sacramental rites of the Church and referred to the Church as though it were some sect. It had gone to the extreme, where my friends said they would never go. But there they all were, in it. The video selectively showed the very worst of the Novus Ordo abuses, as if that was all that existed and asked rhetorically: "Yet there are many who persist in asking 'isn't the Mass still the Mass and the Catholic Church still the Catholic Church?' Tragically the answer is No! It is a New Church, a new religion."
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By the divine plan, the Vicar of Christ is the only principle of unity in the Church. Thus when liberals and Integrists, each for their own reasons, join together in an unseemly union to attack him, only the culture of death can advance. And this is the great tragedy! Whether out of rebellion or lack of confidence, the end result will be the same. If we do not "hear the Church" as our Lord commanded, as she interprets her Tradition through the vicissitudes of time, we must sink into the depths of our own rebellions or fears through private judgment.
Paul VI's unambiguous Credo of the people of God (below), together with his courageous encyclical, Humanae Vitae, provide the hermeneutical key to interpreting the documents of Vatican II. The liberals have never forgiven him for issuing either, since both preemptively undermine their "spirit" of Vatican II in favor of the Council's actual texts, which presuppose all of Catholic Tradition with respect to both theology and morals, and most specifically, according to John XXIII's opening address at the Council, the teachings of the Council of Trent and Vatican I.
THE FAITH OF SAINT SOPHRONIUS
«The year was 634. For almost ten years a great pontiff, Honorius I, had reigned. A worthy emulator of Saint Gregory the Great, he successfully continued his administrative, disciplinary and missionary work. Unfortunately, however, a single act of weakness was soon to make his name the obloquy of the papacy. Here are the circumstances »
Our Father went on to describe the Christian Orient weakened by various heresies, the latest of which, Monophysism, along with its successor Monothelism, were still wreaking havoc at the beginning of the 7th century. At Constantinople, the Emperor Heraclius for his part was troubled by the divisions within his empire, which risked being broken up under the double pressure of the rival Persians and the Arabs from the South. Following the advice of the patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria, he undertook to rally the subjects of his immense empire around a formula of union which was sufficiently vague to satisfy all opposing parties, attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable, that is to say true doctrine with heresy. The vast majority of Catholics had already accepted this out of obedience to the Emperor and to their Patriarchs, when «a monk from Jerusalem called Sophronius rose up indignantly and pointed out the contradiction between the essentially political views of the Patriarchs Sergius and Cyrus and the imprescriptible requirements of the faith. Stirred by his courage, which dared defy the imperial supremacy, and disdaining the whimsical plans for reconciliation, the people of Jerusalem chose him for their Patriarch, and it was with this new authority that Sophronius solemnly denounced the offer of union as a veiled call to heresy, an execrable capitulation of the faith.»
THEOLOGIAN OF THE IMMACULATE
In a letter to Sergius of Constantinople, written at the close of the Synod of Jerusalem in 634, Saint Sophronius declared his faith in the mystery of the Incarnation, displaying an astonishingly advanced understanding of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and thus earning himself a place in the office of the feast composed by Pius IX in 1854:
«On the subject of the Incarnation, I believe that God the Word, the only Son of the Father, taking pity on our fallen nature, of His own free volition, through the will of God who begot him and with the divine agreement of the Spirit, humbled Himself to take on our lowly condition [...], and that, entering the radiant and virginally pure womb of Mary, the blessed, the glorious Virgin, full of divine wisdom and exempt from all stain of body, soul and spirit, He became incarnate, He who was incorporeal truly becoming man, He who is always with God wishing to become man in order to purify like through like, to save brother through brother [...]. That is why a holy Virgin was chosen; She was sanctified in Her soul and in Her body, and because She was pure, chaste and immaculate, She became the Cooperatrix in the Incarnation of the Creator.»
(Quoted by Martin Jugie, Saint Sophrone et lImmaculée Conception, Revue augustinienne, 1910, p. 573)
The Patriarch of Constantinople wrote to Pope Honorius asking him to bring this turbulent monk in Jerusalem to his senses, this arrogant rebel who, by his outbursts and resistance, was compromising the work of union already well on its way to success. And the Pope, alas! took the side of the Patriarch: he wrote a letter to Sophronius to which he added this surprisingly modern directive: «We must be careful not to rekindle ancient quarrels.»
What? The defence of the dogma of Chalcedon, defining the union of two natures in the unique and perfect Person of the Son of God become man, nothing more than an «ancient quarrel»? For a theologian of the calibre of Sophronius, such an argument was worthless.
Our Father writes: «Honorius chose the party of the Politicians against that of the Theologian, failing thus in his supreme duty as guardian of the Word of God.» Sophronius rose up and accused the Pope not only of favouring heresy through his compromises, but of being a heretic himself. The fact that he allowed error to be freely propagated meant that he no longer adhered to orthodoxy, to correct doctrine
The Pope, it seems, belatedly recovered a sense of his duties, but he died without repairing the immense damage he had caused the universal Church by his fluctuating opinions. Saint Sophronius, reduced to silence in Jerusalem which had fallen into the hands of the Arabs, died a short while later. For many years, the Emperor continued to impose his false «union» throughout the East. The persecution spread, in the name of the Pope, against the very best Christians, true Catholics, who were accused of rebellion, while, for their part, the fanatical Monophysites preferred to hand their cities over to the Arabs! With the help of the holy Abbot Maximus, Pope Martin I, who succeeded Pope Honorius, attempted to clear his predecessor of all responsibility and to interpret his writings in an orthodox manner. It was in vain. Exiled to Ukraine, they both died martyrs of the persecution.
A POPE DECLARED ANATHEMA
At last, Byzantium, weary of it useless schism and its sterile heresy, came to its senses, and it was immediately followed by the flock of Oriental bishops for whom the wishes of the Basileus were the supreme law. In 680, an ecumenical Council was held at Constantinople, under the pontificate of Pope Agathon, to proclaim the true faith, the faith of Saints Sophronius, Martin and Maximus, the faith of the martyrs and the Christian people. It anathematised those who, for various reasons, appeared to it responsible for the tragic interlude. It was only right that Honorius should be included in the condemnation, and he was. For almost a thousand years, in official Roman texts, popes had to prove their fidelity by renewing the anathema brought against their predecessor.
«A pope who favours heresy, a pope anathematised by an ecumenical council, the condemnation being recorded and approved by the sovereign pontificate, here indeed are historical facts which demand the fullest attention of theologians », opines the Dictionary of Catholic Theology. (art. Honorius, vol. 7, p. 94).
Our Father adds: « and also a serious reflection by the men constituted in dignity in the Church for the preservation of the faith. Let them ensure that they do not place their desire for unity above everything else, that they never rashly embrace the views of new political and social powers, that they give no ground to the demands of those from outside the Church and in the World, that they accept none of those murky agreements and spectacular rallyings which are proposed to them from all sides! Let them tremble lest, in a moment of weakness and error, they throw the Church and society as a whole into new convulsions and unending dissensions. Let them fear to see political powers seize upon their confused decrees in order to exterminate, in their Names, the only remaining true Catholics. And should such threats not suffice, should the fear of Gods judgements still mean so little to them, let them call to mind that far-off Vatican III, beyond a sea of misfortune, when, in the presence of a new Agathon, their definitive condemnation will be pronounced! Let them heed this threat inscribed in the principal texts of our faith, a text from the Sixth Ecumenical Council: We agree to banish from the Holy Church of God and to anathematise along with the other heretics Honorius, formerly pope of ancient Rome, for we have found in the letters which he sent to Sergius that he followed the opinion of the latter and that he sanctioned his wicked teachings. That was on 28 March 681. Despite some laudable efforts, no one had managed to exonerate him, and since then no one has dared to contest the sentence of the imperial edict posted at Saint Sophia, declaring him a confirmer of heresy. His letters were solemnly thrown on the fire along with the other writings of the heretics who had taken him as their reference.»
Admittedly, Honorius had not used his infallibility to propagate heresy, but «his error, explains our Father, was to have clung to this ambiguous language, which, without being totally erroneous, gave formidable support to error». He had failed to acquit himself of his duty as Sovereign Pontiff, supreme guardian of the faith, charged to confirm his brothers therein; he was therefore guilty, more so than all the rest, before God and before the Church.
One of his successors, Saint Leo II, would state this in explicit terms: «Honorius made no effort to make this apostolic Church illustrious through the teaching of the apostolic tradition, but, by an execrable betrayal, he allowed the spotless Church to be sullied. He did not, as befitted the apostolic authority, extinguish the nascent flames of heretical dogma, but by his negligence fanned them still higher.»
One single act of negligence therefore earned him expulsion from the Church. «What a prodigious mark of truth the Church of Rome thus gives by keeping one of her Pontiffs under anathema for heresy over the centuries, at the same time as serenely declaring herself infallible.» (French CRC no 69, p. 8) For heresy! Pope Hadrian II would write in 869: «It should be known that the reason for the anathema is this: Honorius had been accused of heresy, the only grounds on which it is licit for inferiors to resist their superiors and to reject their perverted opinions.» «We must meditate, he wrote in November 1964, on those truly dark hours of our Church, for once again we have been plunged into them.» For four centuries (4th-7th), the Church valiantly defended her faith in God made man. «Our era is drawing to a close on another great dispute: it is now a question of faith in man who makes himself God.» The means by which this ferment of apostasy has spread are identical:
«A powerful party within the Church demands peace through negotiation, reconciliation through dialogue. Leading individuals favour formulas of union on the basis of which it should be possible to reach a broad agreement with all humanists in the world, whether believers or unbelievers. All the Authority of the Church needs to do is to take a small step in this direction, and our enemies of yesterday will then see that our disarmament is sincere. Above all, those who refuse to make concessions on the faith at any price need to be reduced to total silence. Before such formidable pressure the body of bishops puts up a weak resistance, any courage it might display being totally dependent on that of the Popes
«Let us suppose that they had all surrendered the faith out of obedience and a desire for unity. Let us suppose that Sophronius had submitted out of respect for Honorius and humility, that he had obeyed by standing aside in silence. Would not the return of the peoples to unity be worth this act of renunciation? Absit! No! let no one ever sink to this kind of reasoning in the Church! And first of all because we are here dealing with the divine Absolute! Never will any authority or the wishes of billions of men avid for the goods of this world be able to prevail over our Faith! Should the Credo of a single poor woman come to trouble the order of the world, her voice would still make itself heard, courageous and pure, for the honour of God. Sophronius acted well! Sophronius dictates our duty!
Brother Thomas of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
"The Pope, it seems, belatedly recovered a sense of his duties, but he died without repairing the immense damage he had caused the universal Church by his fluctuating opinions. Saint Sophronius, reduced to silence in Jerusalem which had fallen into the hands of the Arabs, died a short while later... The persecution spread, in the name of the Pope, against the very best Christians, true Catholics, who were accused of rebellion".
Teaches that Mary pre-existed in Heaven - a heresy
Has charged every Pope since Pius XII with heresy ('cept John Paul I who had the good sense to die before the Abbe could slander him)
Teaches the Catholic Church is wrong in celebrating the Passion on the days it does because Spy Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday ect REALLY happened on some other days and we know this because some woman, Annie Jaubert, told him so and she, I guess, is more trustworthy than the Catholic Church
Teaches the catechism is heretical
Has been suspended a divinis since the 60's (I think it was the 60's...mebbe early 70's)
Is a constant critic and opponent of the Papacy which makes him a "reliable" and authoritatve source for those who oppose the Pope
Changed the words to the Hail Mary because he was "inspired" to do so
regularly attacks the Second Vatcian Council
Regularly attacks the Missa Normativa<>