2001 May/Bishop Williamson Letter

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

At the risk of, as they say in French. drowning the fish, let me come back once more to the recent contacts between the churchmen in Rome and the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), to give one major news-item but, more importantly, to present the Society’s depth-charging of the New Mass.

Amidst a flurry of misinformation and disinformation coming out of Rome, we know for sure what Cardinal Castrillón told the Society’s District Superior in Italy a few days ago: at a March 22 meeting in the Vatican of important heads of Church government departments (called Congregations or Dicasteries), with Pope John-Paul II present, the liberation of the Tridentine Mass was again blocked, so Rome-SSPX “negotiations” are, for now, off.

At an inter-dicastery meeting of this kind, it appears that one of the Cardinals or churchmen present lays out a problem of his dicastery. Then each of the churchmen gives his judgment. Finally the Pope decides what he will or will not do. On March 22 Cardinal Castrillón presented the problem of the “re-integration” of the SSPX into the “mainstream church” (inverted commas, because of course the SSPX has never ceased to belong to the true Catholic Church, as recognized by its four distinguishing marks of being one, holy, catholic and apostolic).
The “problem”, as we all know by now, is that in February the SSPX made clear to Rome that before the SSPX will even sit down at a negotiating-table to begin negotiating its “re-integration”, Rome must both undeclare the “excommunication” of the SSPX bishops declared upon their consecration in July of 1988, and it must liberate the Tridentine Mass from all restrictions at present making Catholic priests think they may not say it.

Apparently the “excommunication” seemed to the heads of Dicasteries on March 22 to present no great problem-by means of discussions it could at any time be talked out of the way. But the release of the Tridentine rite of Mass so that any priest would be free to celebrate it whenever he liked, seemed altogether more difficult. Cardinal Castrillón told our Superior in Italy that a strong majority of the Cardinals present was opposed, including Cardinal Ratzinger. To prove his point, the latter brandished in his hand on this or a similar occasion a copy of the new book that the SSPX has just brought out, which depth-charges Pope Paul’s new Mass of 1969.

This book, called “The Problem of the Liturgical Reform, the Mass of Vatican II and Paul VI”, was written by SSPX priests, and 17,000 copies have been sent out to priests all over France, where it is being heavily discussed. Clearly and briefly it lays out a mass of quotations from the fabricators of the New Mass themselves to show how coherent and un-catholic are the principles behind the New Mass’ fabrication. No wonder Cardinal Ratzinger referred to the book to persuade his fellow Cardinals that the SSPX’s insistence on the Tridentine Mass is no slight affair, and it seems that they agreed.

However, by the time the March 22 meeting came to an end, the decision whether or not to release the Tridentine Mass lay with the Pope. Can he, dare he, has he the strength to override a strong majority of his own cardinals? We are told that he himself strongly wishes to get the SSPX “back into the Church”. Is he being moved by grace? Is he afraid, as he approaches death, of coming before the judgment seat of God with the 12-year condemnation of Archbishop Lefebvre and of Catholic Tradition weighing upon his soul? Or is he merely continuing to promote that all-round ecumenism to which the 12-year “excommunication” constitutes such a disconcerting exception? We may never know.

Howsoever that be, it does seem sure that to bring the SSPX “back into the Church”, about one year ago he gave a personal mandate and wide-ranging powers to Cardinal Castrillón. And of course for many decent Romans and decent Catholics throughout the world, such a “reconciliation” between Catholic Tradition and the Church authorities is a consummation devoutly to be wished. But as the proverb from England says, “A fact is stronger than the Lord Mayor”. What the SSPX’s new book does is merely to recall that fact which many “decent” people would prefer to forget, namely that what is going on today inside the Church is a war between two religions, which it will take much more than mere “decency”? or a bit of negotiating to bring to an end.

The fact of its being a war between religions that is going on inside the Church is also the reason why the SSPX is right to have said that even if the Romans do undeclare the “excommunication” and release the Tridentine Mass, still that will only mean that the SSPX will sit down to begin negotiating. For indeed those two gestures would prove serious good will on Rome’s part, but they could only be a beginning of the dismantling of the false religion presently occupying the Church.

Now those who would like to see Rome-SSPX negotiations taking place are apt to raise the objection that in Church history many crises of the Faith have only been solved gradually, so the SSPX is being unrealistic if it demands today that all cardinals tomorrow suddenly declare that Archbishop Lefebvre was right. But the SSPX is only demanding that the cardinals begin to realize what a problem they have on their hands. When Mother Church has a mega-problem, what truly loving son proposes mini-solutions? The false new Mass is the major symptom of an entire false new religion. Sooner or later both must go.

That is the clear implication of “The Problem of the Liturgical Reform”. The book is in three parts: it shows firstly that the New Mass is a liturgical break, or breakdown; secondly, that that break proceeds from a new theology of basics such as sin and Redemption; thirdly, that this new theology is condemned by Catholic doctrine.

The first part proving that the 1969 reform of the Mass represents not a harmonious development of the Catholic liturgy but a liturgical break with the Church’s whole past subdivides again into three chapters: in place of the “Mass” offering satisfaction and propitiation for sin, the 1969 reform gave us mainly a “Eucharist” or thanksgiving for nice things; Chapter Two, whereas Christ in the old missal is sacrificer (through his priest ordained for sacrifice) and sacrificial victim (through transsubstantiation), in the new missal he is mainly the talking Lord of the meeting; finally whereas the old missal was structured as a sacrifice, the new missal is structured as a memorial meal.

To these obvious changes from the old to the new missal corresponds in the second part of the book a likewise threefold presentation of the coherent and in-depth new theology behind these changes. Clearly, the Cardinal Ratzingers of this world have thought out their new religion, and as we saw on March 22, they are not about to let go of it!

Firstly, upon a new concept of sin follows a new concept of Redemption. Instead of sin primarily offending God and requiring satisfaction to be made to Him, modern people pretend sin cannot offend God that much, so it primarily hurts ourselves and requires our own restoration. Accordingly the Redemption is no longer primarily the Cross satisfying God’s justice, it becomes the “PASCHAL MYSTERY” revealing God’s unbreakable love for us, especially in the Resurrection (hence of course the risen-Christ crucifixes). Secondly, Mass then ceases to be a true and proper sacrifice renewing the Cross, becoming instead the “Eucharist”, or thanksgiving, commemorating the Paschal Mystery from Passion to Resurrection. Thirdly, the Holy Sacrament ceases to be the “ex opere operato” producer of grace objectively sanctifying the soul, instead it becomes the revealing experience of mystery, subjectively feeding faith. Correspondingly the priesthood of Christ’s minister offering Christ in the Real Presence to the Father, makes way for the priesthood of the people offering themselves with faith in Christ.

The third part of “The Problem of the Liturgical Reform” measures against Church doctrine this gigantic and coherent shift in the way of conceiving the Church’s central act of worship, and it judges that the shift is dogmatically condemned! Firstly, that the Mass propitiates God and satisfies His justice is dogma of the Council of Trent (and of Vatican I, had the latter been able to conclude). Secondly, Trent also defined the Mass to be a true and proper sacrifice, not just some memorial, however objective, as commemorated by the new missal (e.g. words of Consecration printed in narrative form). Lastly to extend the word “sacrament” from the seven objective producers of grace to any sign or symbol apt to arouse a subjective experience of things divine is virtual modernism, as condemned by Pius X.

Of course such a brief summary cannot do justice to the documented and close-knit argumentation of the book, so readers can only be urged to read it for themselves as soon as the Angelus Press will publish it in English out of Kansas City (1-800-966-7337).

Meanwhile the recent series of Rome-SSPX negotiations have at least shown so far that the SSPX in insisting on the Mass is looking out firstly for the interests of the Universal Church, that the SSPX is far from having a schismatic mentality, and that Rome is not yet ready to let go of its new religion. We can also be grateful for the measure of protection of the Truth that Rome has unintentionally given us by the “excommunication” sealing us off for 12 years so far from much of the Newchurch’s contamination.

Patience. With, if necessary without, the dear SSPX, the Truth will prevail. Only the timing and mechanics of its prevailing are uncertain.