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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Please, Michael, Save the Big Guns for the Real Bad Guys!

Ever since watching the Mic'd Up episode on "The (Un)Catholic Media," I've been shaking my head. Why, Michael, why? The first thirty minutes on the establishment media and dissent rags like America Magazine and National Catholic Reporter were totally on target. But then the Mic'd Up team turned their guns on the traditionalists. Perhaps it's because the folks at Church Militant TV are, for the most part, young; but they don't seem to have a sense of history and the crisis that led Archbishop Lefebvre to take the steps he did to protect the faith. Their attack, how can I call it anything else, on traditionalists grieved my heart. It began with a video clip by Simon Rafe on "reactionary Catholics." Into this group (specifically mentioned during the segment) were lumped the SSPX, The Remnant, Catholic Family News, Angelus Press, and the sedevacantists as if all these are equivalent. To do that was, in my opinion, a slander. Most traditional groups specifically reject the sedevacantist position.

Here's what Rafe said:
"Idolizing the Latin Mass and expressing nothing but disrespect and ridicule towards the current pontiff and his predecessors they [unspecific, presumably every group they mentioned in the segment] encourage vulnerable Catholics to leave for disobedient, schismatic groups." Peter O'Dwyer and Christine Niles both stated that SSPX is in schism, but what are their credentials to make such a determination? Michael Voris talked about unnamed cardinals in Rome saying the SSPX are in schism. So what? Does an individual like Cardinal Kaspar speak for the Church? Where is a dogmatic statement from the Vatican that the SSPX are schismatic? I will give them the fact that they were after the excommunication was imposed, but it has been lifted. Provide a document that declares unequivocally that the SSPX is in schism now. I don't think there is one.

In fact, according to John Salza, J.D. the Vatican Ecclesia Dei Commission obliquely confirmed that the SSPX is NOT in schism. Here's what he writes:
The commission declared that Catholics can fulfill their Sunday obligation by attending Masses offered by SSPX priests – and this was before the excommunications were lifted! (see letter from Monsignor Perl dated September 27, 2002) [This was a private letter to an individual. I haven't been able to find it but did find a follow up letter from Msgr. Perl clarifying what he wrote. He was essentially saying what Fr. John Hardon said which I describe below.] If the priests of the SSPX were in schism, the Ecclesia Dei commission would not allow Catholics to assist at their Masses, since in doing so they would be allowing Catholics to worship outside the Church (and thus permitting them to break the Third Commandment). This proves that SSPX bishops and priests are not in fact in schism (for example, Catholics could not fulfill their Sunday obligation by attending liturgies offered by the schismatic priests of the Eastern Orthodox sects). The same commission has said that, so long as Catholics attend SSPX chapels out of their devotion to the Traditional Latin Mass (and not because they want to separate themselves from the Roman Pontiff – of course they don’t!), such conduct is also not sinful.
I find this logic much more convincing than the ten minute Mic'd Up  commentary on reactionary Catholics. Read Salza's full article which makes a powerful argument despite the trivialization of anti-schism spokesmen by the Mic'd Up team.

Now a sidelight.

Last September I received an unsolicited email from Executive Producer Terry Carroll at Church Militant TV. It was addressing a blog post I did on the satanic Mass in Oklahoma City and the SSPX prayer vigil of atonement. After summarizing the irregular situation of the SSPX and their non-canonical status, he wrote:
​We have a pretty strong FBI in production right now on the SSPX, scheduled to air towards the end of November. [I can't find anything on the Church Militiant TV website to show this ever came to fruition.] We are inviting them to return to communion with the Church and, hopefully, discouraging anyone tempted to flee to their false "safe haven." In my response to the above email [from a supporter], I made an observation that was, to me, quite shocking, even though I thought of it! Please read my overall response and tell me what you think of the observation that priests suspended a divinis​ commit a mortal sin when they celebrate Mass in a non-emergency situation and that, therefore, what the SSPX did in Oklahoma City was a compounding of the evil of the Black Mass. 
 The Black Mass in Oklahoma City was, indeed, a serious act of sacrilege for which prayers of reparation were appropriate, but there's no way for that situation to be defined as an "emergency" such that suspended priests should be offering Masses of reparation. Unless, of course, you recognize that suspended priests offering Masses of reparation commit mortal sins when doing so and, therefore, what the SSPX clergy did in Oklahoma City was fully consistent with the activity that drew them to Oklahoma City. The devil was able to celebrate not only a Black Mass but that he was able to draw validly ordained but suspended Catholic priests to commit mortal sins when saying Masses "in reparation." I see this as a victory for the devil, not something to be celebrated..... 
I replied to Mr. Carroll's invitation to comment after considerable thought. Here's what I wrote. The comments in red were not in the original email:

Dear Mr. Carroll,

Please excuse the length of my response to your email, but you brought up a number of issues and I think they are all worth addressing. I’ve been thinking and praying about this and I also sent your email to a priest friend I respect. His response is at the end in blue. Here are my view on these issues from my own historical background. Keep in mind that I graduated from college in 1968 so my entire adult life has been in this period of mass confusion.

1) My first point relates to Fr. [John] Hardon’s assessment of the SSPX and the situation many in the homeschool movement were facing. I homeschooled my youngest for five years (early to mid 90s). During that time I attended many home school conventions and Fr. Hardon was generally a speaker. At least one, time possibly more, he was asked by concerned parents whether they could go to an SSPX parish because of the horrible situation in their local dioceses. This was a time when many bishops endorsed graphic classroom sex ed programs and overnight retreats for Confirmation using sacramental blackmail to force parents to accept their “progressive” agenda. The bishops were also trying to impose “home school guidelines.” The problem was that the very bishop who was meeting with NACHE (National Assoc. of Catholic Home School Educators - who wanted a seat at the bishops’ table), Cardinal William Keeler, had some of the worst programs in his diocese, programs that caused families to home school in the first place! (The cathedral school in Baltimore was using “anatomically correct” dolls in the Kindergarten – the dolls had pubic and underarm hair, the boy doll had a penis and a rectal opening, and a condom in his pocket – I presume they removed the condom before giving the doll to the children. The female doll had the correct external genitalia and breasts. We attended one bishops’ meeting and attempted to show the dolls to the bishops who would not look at them – too embarrassed! But they were okay for kindergarteners! Baltimore wasn’t the only place using them.) Notre Dame High School in Baltimore also had terrible things going on and attacked parents who objected. At any rate, NACHE playing footsie with Keeler caused a big rift in the home school movement with NACHE and TORCH on one side saying “trust your bishop” and banning Seton Home School from their conferences. One NACHE board member, a well known convert, had the gall to chide Fr. Hardon who was also on the board. He remained even though they stopped seeking his advice. When asked why he didn’t resign (I was present when he answered this question.) he responded it “wasn’t the Jesuit way.“ Seton et al on the other side of the debate stressed that, “Parents are the primary educators even before the bishops.” They started their own IHM conference that continues to this day and has pretty much passed NACHE by.

At any rate, back to Fr. Hardon who knew exactly the problems in the American Church and the challenges for parents. He answered the question about whether families could go to the SSPX parishes saying, “Yes.” They could if they had no reasonable alternative to a parish they considered a danger to the faith provided they did not give the impression that they rejected the authority of the pope. He said SSPX Masses were valid but illicit, but if a familiy’s faith was in jeopardy going to an SSPX Mass was a better alternative than the local heretical parish. I was a witness to this and heard him say it. (Fr. Hardon NEVER, however, gave any support to the SSPX decision to go their own way. He wrote this in 1998: "One of the problems today is that some Catholic families are being estranged from the Faith by their own priests. The cavalier way in which some priests deal with the liturgy, their indifference to the Church's doctrine on faith and morals, and even their open hostility to the Vicar of Christ have estranged many of the faithful. Not a few have taken refuge with the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre. It is imperative that these people be reunited with the Vicar of Christ. We must pray. But we should also put them into contact with priests who are loyal to our Catholic heritage. A practical recommendation: write to Father C. Frank Phillips, C.R., Pastor at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago. His address is 825 N. Carpenter Street, Chicago, IL 60622.") [Obviously, Fr. Hardon would never advise Catholic parents they could go to a schismatic service that did not fulfill their Sunday obligation, so he clearly did not believe they were in schism.]

I cannot be as hard on the SSPX as your email is. I lived through that awful time and could tell many heart-wrenching stories of parents trying to find friendly bishops and pastors who would let their children make first Communion and Confirmation outside the normal channel. Many parents had older children who still had not received the sacraments because of these wicked bishops! Parents were traveling to other states, in fact. It was that bad and, in some places, I’m sure parents still are facing these situations although, hopefully, to a lesser degree.

2) I also believe that, without Archbishop Lefebvre’s actions we would be in a much worse place today with regard to the liturgy. Can anyone really believe the TLM would be happening anywhere today without the SSPX? They kept it alive amidst the clown, polka, circus, and hootenanny masses. I blush to think of some of the Masses my husband and I participated in after Vatican II. I believe the archbishop saw a liturgical nightmare and had good reason to conclude it was an emergency situation in the Church that called for an unusual response. Think of the Aryan heresy and how Athanasius was exiled and persecuted and I think it’s easier to see how AB L could have believed it was an emergency. And in fact, were there any, even orthodox bishops [in the U.S.] promoting the Latin rite? I don’t recall any.

What about today? Well...the crisis is not behind us or there would be no need for Church Militant TV. You might believe that, okay, what AB L. did was, perhaps, necessary at the time, but not now. However, parishes were formed, priests were ordained and trained in the TLM, the flock became dependent on them. How can such a situation be resolved easily? In my opinion, which probably isn’t worth much, the best situation would be for Rome to make SSPX a prelature like Opus Dei or the Anglican practice Catholics. But the antagonism toward the SSPX seems pretty strong so I don’t know whether that will happen. However, my sympathies are with the SSPX and I say that as a Catholic who only rarely goes to the TLM. I have no ax to grind. I am afraid, in view of what happened with Pope Francis forbidding the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate from saying the TLM, which Pope Benedict said all priests have a right to say, well...that trust has been undermined. It certainly will not make reunion easier.

3) I was taken aback by your comparison of priests of the SSPX with Charlie Curran. I realize you were talking about their canonical situation and not their orthodoxy. Nevertheless, it was a disconcerting thought. I was actually at one of Charlie Curran’s rallies at CU back in the late 60s because I was attending Trinity College down the street. My roommate and I went down out of curiosity. Curran had the dissent ready and the New York Times attack ad prepared before the text of Humanae Vitae was even released. His malice and dissent was deep-seated. He rejected all the Church doctrine on marriage and sexuality. The SSPX, on the other hand, is faithful to Church doctrine and are concerned about the ambiguities in Vatican II and even some things they believe cannot be reconciled with long-standing doctrine. (At least that’s my understanding. I haven’t really made a study of the SSPX.) But it’s clear they hope for reunion with Rome or they would not meet with Vatican representatives. I see their situation more in line, as I wrote earlier, with the orthodox who are out of union with Rome, except that SSPX has not put a patriarch in the place of the pope. We have an SSPX parish in Annandale and I have friends who attend there. They pray for the pope at every Mass.

4) As for the Oklahoma situation, I have a different take. About 1000 members of SSPX parishes attended their Mass of reparation and the prayer vigil, some from relatively far distances. That seems to me to be a pilgrimage. Those people attending from far away had a right to be ministered to and that’s what the SSPX priests did. I realize they have no canonical status, but many of those people may come from places where there is in fact an “emergency” situation in the local church. Fr. Hardon said many times that the faith would disappear in entire dioceses. If you were in one of those dioceses and the bishop was still disallowing the TLM and Masses were filled with liturgical abuses and heresy, would you not attend an SSPX parish? I am blessed to be in a diocese where the majority of priests are good, the TLM is available in at least a few parishes, and the novus ordo is generally reverent. The bad parishes are well known and easy to avoid by the orthodox. They attract the Call to Action, Just Faith, and other dissenters. Many diocese don’t have the blessing of so many good priests.

I’d also point out that Fr. Z posted the SSPX video on his website.

In closing, I hope Church Militant TV will treat the SSPX situation gently. In many ways we owe AB. Lefebvre a debt of gratitude. I think we all want to see a reconciliation between Rome and the SSPX and encouraging prayer and sacrifice for that would be wonderful. It is interesting and sad to me that the hierarchy seems to go out of the way to dialogue with protestants, Hindus, Moslems, pagans (Remember the papal Mass where Pope John Paul II was incensed by a shaman?) and yet the SSPX are reviled. So sad. Some people disparagingly refer to the SSPX as “rad trads” who deserve no consideration or respect, but I consider them brothers and sisters seeking the truth at a very difficult time in Church history. Can they be obnoxious? Absolutely, but they are closer to Catholics like me and those who watch Church Militant TV than those in putative union with the Church turning the Mass into the Barney show or a sporting event or a celebration of the gay lifestyle with Fr. Showman up front.

Here’s what my priest friend wrote after reading your email:
St. John XXIII and Bl. Paul VI indicate that the Council was not to pronounce any refinement of Church dogma, but rather to promote the development of ministries that would help people to better and more deeply appreciate the truths of our Faith. With both popes clearly certifying that it was only a pastoral council, it was strange that several of its documents were called dogmatic constitutions. Sadly, through the ambiguous language of these documents and the widespread appeal to "the spirit of Vatican II,” we came to a point where even Bl. Paul VI noted on June 29, 1972 that the smoke of Satan [as opposed to the incense of pure worship] had entered the Temple of God. SSPX seems to be in a condition more accurately described as ongoing discernment rather than dissent. It notes that, just because Church leaders capitulated to some heterodox practice (as Moses capitulated to the hardness of heart that demanded access to divorce [note that Our Lord refers to the authoritative Chair of Moses, analogous to the Chair of Peter]), does not mean that such a capitulation becomes part of the magisterial Deposit of Faith. Likewise, just because some aberration or sacrilege became acceptable after Vatican II does not mean that such an aberration or sacrilege was authorized by that Council. That logical fallacy - post hoc, ergo propter hoc - is quite obvious. The "problem" that plagues SSPX is the conviction that the Catholic Faith must incarnate the eternal truths of God's love, truth, mercy and fidelity. Over the past half century, large numbers of Catholics have been seduced into believing that God's Word and Truth cannot be incarnate, but only indicated in our human condition. Thus we are not to appreciate His commandments as standards of conduct, but merely as guidelines and goals, to which we are to aspire as conditions permit. This is why we now rarely hear about objective virtues, but are drowning in subjective values and the dynamics of "values clarification".

A final point should be made here. Just because Church leaders can be cowered into capitulating to the demands of the Culture of Desecration and Death does not mean that the Holy Spirit is being unfaithful in leading the Church to all truth. What we need to learn is to foster those attitudes of
repentance and reverence, whereby we can become less stingy in our receptivity to God's mercy and truth. The hubris which heralded the opening of the Council needs to be purged by a humble repentance, whereby the wisdom of God can deliver us from false spiritualities of manipulation by drawing us into the transcendent and transformative mystery of His gracious love.
Thanks for persevering to the end of this long email. I pray for the success of Church Militant TV and all associated with it. 

Mary Ann Kreitzer

Well, that ended the email, but I have a final word. The last segment of Mic'd Up was an interview with John Allen of CruxNews. I think John Allen is an honest reporter, but Crux is filled with dissident Catholics. Why pick someone in the secular media who heads up an organization that employs many attack dogs going after Church doctrine? It just seemed strange to me. Surely there are Catholic reporters working for the secular press who are not enabling the Catholic bashers like Crux is. Wouldn't one of them have been a more appropriate interviewee?

Church Militant TV does many good things and I applaud them for that. But this Mic'd Up wasn't one of them. Here's a video reply from The Remnant. They deserve to be heard in response to this Mic'd Up. If you watched the Mik'd Up, please watch this response to their slander.