At the end of July we sent a letter to 1237 priests in southern Africa, particularly, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The letter is now published herein. Why? What for?
A number of years ago, the Society in France began with this initiative. The aim was to try and enlighten priests on the crises in the Church and to help them back to the true Faith and the true Sacraments, particularly, the offering of the true Mass. They met with a relatively good success. Other districts followed this example. Here in South Africa, I must confess, I dragged my feet a little. With the publication of the Papal Bull giving full freedom to the Tridentine Mass, we saw an opening and decided to follow up.
How does one write such a letter? It must be said, it is no easy task. The aim is to encourage and enlighten, not to destroy or condemn. Yet, on the other hand, when one’s brother is being shot at, and is in great danger, does one just whisper sweet nothings in his ear? Then again, from which angle does one write such letter? Here in southern Africa, it seems to me, there are two distinct characteristics. The first is generally found among the European priests, particularly the older ones. It is an obsession with Vatican II, Liberation Theology and the like. The second is found among the African priests. Ironically enough, it seems to me that they do not adhere hook, line and sinker, to Vatican II and Liberation Theology, with the exception of those who were excessively indoctrinated and, so to speak, forced into these issues. Rather, their problem seems to centre more upon the priesthood, particularly an infidelity to chastity. The younger European priests, locally trained, certainly had no small dosage of homosexuality from their seminaries.
Perhaps a blanket problem, covering them all, is the obvious lack of a true and Thomistic formation. One modern seminarian told us that they were told that they were free to choose the line of philosophy they wished. When he opted for St. Thomas Aquinas, (whom 63 popes insisted upon), he became an outcast. Why do I say an “obvious lack ”? Not one single priest who answered my letter or with whom I spoke, seemed to have a clear mind on the crises. A principle, that is not only Thomistic, but even from common sense, is that contradictories cannot both be true. One cannot serve God and Mammon! If in the past, popes have taught yay and now they teach nay, then either the past was wrong or the present. Both cannot be right.
So I decided to write a tri-angular letter. I would mention the problem of the new Mass, I would pose the problem of Archbishop Lefebvre having been condemned because he offered a Mass that was “abolished” and now recognised not to be so, and finally, I would insist upon the holiness of the priesthood.
Following the letter, which we published in the next few pages, I added some excerpts of the many replies I received. Only two of the many replies, commented on the third point. Not a single reply commented on the second point. The great majority hopped on the first point. What conclusions can we draw from this? Since the large majority did not answer my letter, I can only base my answer on those who did. It would seem to me that the second and third points caused no small humiliation. So, it would be better to keep silent. The first point is of course on the public forum. Those who defend the new mass find their strongest argument in the Pope. What will these say when later, in the course of history the new mass will be outlawed? That day will come. Unfortunately, those who opt for the Tridentine Mass do so more from a certain artistic reason or even because this Mass radiates a mysterious mist about it. I say, “unfortunately”, because these are not the central reasons for its defence. Here is the letter: