- The Writing Down of the Secret
- The Spreading of Russia's Errors
- Disastrous Conditions of Humanity
- An Opening is Exploited
- Unprecedented Documents
- Our Lady Sacrificed to "Ecumenism"
- The Council Ends
- Paul VI Ignores the Warnings of Fatima
- The Smoke of Satan
- A Conciliar Disclaimer
- Change from Above
- The Debacle at a Glance
- The Emergence of Conservative Catholicism
- The Error of Papalotry
- A False "Middle Way"
- Self-Contradiction and Denial
- Selective Deference
- The Malice of Some
- Watchdogs of the Revolution
- The Conservative Idea
- The Pope Card
- A New Name for Conservatives
- The Civilization of Love
- The Affluent of Apostasy
- Return to Fatima
- The Third Secret Will be Revealed
This article was reprinted from the October 1997 issue of Catholic Family News — a Roman Catholic monthly published 12 times a year:
Editor's Note: This October 13th, 1999 marks the 82th anniversary of the great Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. Though eight decades have passed, the world has yet to receive Fatima's complete Message. Part of the Message, the Third Secret, remains suppressed despite Our Lady's Request that it be revealed "no later than 1960". Many Fatima experts, believe that the contents of the Third Secret refers to the great loss of Faith in the Church and in the world. In this three part series, Christopher Ferrara presents a historic overview of the events leading up to the crucial year of '1960', and a portrait of the chaos in the Church and world that immediately followed the repression of the Third Secret.
On October 11th, 1962, two days before the 45th anniversary of the final apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun, Pope John XXIII addressed the opening session of the Second Vatican Council. Pope John was pleased to announce to the assembled bishops that the calling of this Council "was completely unexpected, like a flash of heavenly light, shedding sweetness in eyes and hearts". 1
What is more, this unexpectedly-called Council would make no effort to condemn any of the errors threatening the Church and the world, including communism, because "Nowadays...the spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than the arms of severity.
She considers that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by issuing condemnations."2 Considering that Pius XII had issued scathing condemnations of communism and neo-modernism, along whit interdicts and automatic excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See, by "nowadays" Pope John presumably meant the four years which had elapsed since his predecessor's death.
The "flash of heavenly light" which impelled Pope John to call his Council had occurred during a stroll in the Vatican gardens at the end of 1958, when he experienced "the first sudden bringing up in our hearts and lips of the simple words: 'ecumenical council'". On January 25,1959, Pope John announced his sudden inspiration to the Sacred College of Cardinals. Their reaction was stunned silence.3
Eight months after he had committed himself and the Church to the Council, Pope John would read the Third Secret of Fatima---those 23 lines on a piece of notebook paper in the handwriting of Sister Lucia dos Santos, the last surviving seer of Our Lady's apparitions at the Cova da Iria in 1917. The first two "secrets" had already been disclosed to the world in 1942 in the form of Sister Lucy's memoirs, but Sister Lucy had entrusted the sealed text of the Third Secret to the bishop of Fatima-Leiria, who could have disclosed it at any time. By 1957, however, the sealed envelope had found its way to the Vatican where it was kept in a wooden safe in the papal apartments of Pius XII. It is generally supposed that Pius XII had not read The Third Secret before he died in 1958.
Sister Lucy had made the Bishop of Fatima-Leiria promise that the Secret would be read to the world at her death, but in no event later that 1960, "because Our Lady wishes it so." As Sister would alter explain to Cardinal Ottaviani and Canon Barthes (a renowned Fatima expert), Our Lady told her that the Secret must be disclosed by 1960 "because it will be clearer." In 1946, Cardinal Cerejeira, the Patriarch of Portugal, publicly promised that the Secret "will be opened in 1960." Rome voiced no objection. On the contrary, Cardinals Ottaviani and Tisserant publicly echoed the promise of Cardinal Cerejeira, as did numerous other Church authorities over the years.4 There was even an American television show entitled "Zero 1960", which took its theme from the universally expected disclosure of the Secret. Produced by the once-militant Blue Army, the show was so popular it received a "star" rating in the New York Times.5
And so, as 1959 drew to a close, Catholics around the world waited eagerly for the imminent completion of the Message of Fatima. The Marian devotion which had flourished during the reign of Pius XII reached new heights in anticipation. But it was not to be. On February 8, 1960, the faithful received the devastating news: Acting through the double blind of a Portuguese press agency, anonymous "Vatican sources" let it be known that the Third Secret would not be disclosed that year and " would probably remain, forever, under absolute seal."6
Obviously humiliated, Cardinal Cerejeira publicly declared: "I affirm categorically that I was not consulted." The Blue Army's spokesman at the time, John Haffert, would later express the mourning of the faithful:
"1960 came and went and the Pope---to whom the Secret had been entrusted ---did not make it public. He did not even make known the fact that he had opened it. The silence from Rome lay heavily on all of us. People began to murmur that Fatima must have been a fake, that there was no secret, that the 1960 secret was a "hoax"[By 1964] the effect of the long silence concerning the 1960 Secret still seemed to hang over us like a pall."7
The Secret carried to earth by the Blessed Virgin Mary had been buried by those whom it was entrusted. The Message of Fatima would remain incomplete. Two years after Pope John had read the Secret and placed it "under absolute seal", the Second Vatican Council convened. The liberal media of the day were abuzz with rumors of great changes about to occur in the Church. The Council, with its unprecedented non-Catholic "observers" and its strangely ambiguous documents, did not disappoint them. As for the Council's implementation, it would exceed their wildest dreams.
The Writing Down of the Secret
Bishop da Silva was greatly afraid that Sister Lucia dos Santos who had been ill for several months, would die at the convent in Tuy, Spain that October in 1943. In the days before antibiotics a case of pleurisy could easily become a terminal illness. If she died now, she would have left undone a task of immense importance.
In 1941 Sister Lucy had written her third and fourth memoirs, committing to writing the fist two parts of the great Secret of Fatima, which she had already conveyed in substance in a note to Pius XII. We know well the first two parts of the Secret Our Lady disclosed to the seers:
"You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish devotion to My Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved. The war [World War I] is going to end, but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one [World War II] will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI [who had not yet been elected]. When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given to you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father."
"To prevent this, I will come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart and Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If My requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she[Russia] will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated."
We know also that every prophecy contained in the first two parts of the Secret (except for the annihilation of nations) has been fulfilled. And that the predicted punishments are still being suffered by the Church and the world.
Of course, there would have been little reason to doubt that the prophecies were true, for Sister Lucy had been granted by Heaven a singular prophetic credential: No one in the history of the world, not even Moses, had ever correctly predicted the precise date and time of a public miracle---except for a little girl named Lucia dos Santos.
Some 70,000 people atheists included, had seen the Miracle of the Sun at the very time and place Our Lady had told Lucy it would occur. To suggest that God would waste this unprecedented credential on an unreliable witness would be little short of blasphemy.
Given the divine corroboration of Sister Lucy's testimony, there could be no question that the great Secret of Fatima would be assimilated into the life and patrimony of the Church. And so, to this day we practice the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays, and our Rosaries include the prayer Our Lady had dictated to Sister Lucy just after the second part of the Secret was concluded: "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, and save us from the fires of Hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need."
But what of the third part of the great Secret, the part which has come to be called "the Third Secret of Fatima"? In her third memoir Sister Lucy has made it clear that " the secret is made up of three parts, two which I am going to reveal." In her fourth memoir she restated the first two parts, leaving out once again "that part of the Secret which I am not permitted to reveal at present." Yet in the fourth memoir Sister Lucy did reveal one additional fragment of the Secret which had not appeared in the third memoir; Before the"O my Jesus", and after the end of the second part of the Secret, we find this curious sentence, obviously deprived of its context---
"Em Portugal se conservera sempre o doguema da fe."---"In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved."
The first two parts of the Secret say nothing about the loss of dogma anywhere in the world, so why this reference to the preservation of dogma in Portugal? Does this Third Secret warn us, then, of a loss of dogma throughout the rest of the world?
As Sister Lucy's ordinary, Bishop da Silva undoubtedly perceived his obligation to insure that she did not die without disclosing the remainder of that great Secret which already so greatly affected the life of the Church and the course of human history. This was no mere exercise in reminiscence; it was a grave duty to the Church and the world. What if she died?
In September of 1944, Bishop da Silva suggested that Sister Lucy write down the text of what we now refer to as the Third Secret, but she said that she could not take that responsibility on herself without a formal, written order. Even when the order was given a month later, the seer who had written freely of wars, famines, persecutions and the annihilation of nations, could not commit to paper a prophecy that was evidently far more disturbing to her than these events. She, who had lived a life of obedience to her superiors, literally could not make her hand move across the paper. She attributed this paralysis to a preternatural cause.8
Finally, on January , 1944, Sister Lucy was able to write down the text of the Secret in the chapel at the convent of Tuy. According to the account of Canon Martins dos Reis, she was able to proceed only "after Our Lady appeared to her to tell her to write the famous secret...in conformity with what had been asked of her." 9
On January 9, 1944, Sister Lucy wrote to Bishop da Silva to tell him that the Third Secret of Fatima had been written down and placed in a sealed envelope. On June 17, 1944, the envelope was delivered to Bishop da Silva, by Sister Lucy's bishop---confessor in Tuy. The five month delay had resulted from Sister Lucy's unwillingness to entrust the envelope to anyone but a bishop---not even a priest would do. Bishop da Silva offered to forward the envelope to the Holy Office. Rome rejected the offer. The burden of the Secret would remain on Bishop da Silva, who made the famous promise to Lucy that the envelope would be unsealed and the Secret revealed not later than 1960.
After an urgent interrogation of Sister Lucy by Cardinal Ottaviani in May 1955, the Holy Office rescinded its earlier rejection of the text of the Third Secret and requested it be delivered to Rome by the Nuncio in Lisbon. Just before the envelope was brought to the Nuncio, Bishop da Silva's auxiliary, Bishop Venancio, held it up to the light: He could clearly discern the 23 lines in Sister Lucy's handwriting which comprise one of the greatest mysteries in the history of the modern world. By the spring of 1957 the Third Secret of Fatima had been delivered to the Vatican.
The Spreading of Russia's Errors
The years between the writing of the Third Secret and its transmission to Rome were, of course, one long fulfillment of Our Lady's warning that Russia would "spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer..."
At Yalta, in February 1945, Roosevelt delivered the Catholic peoples of Albania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the Ukraine into the hands of the Bolsheviks, in return for Stalin's worthless promises of respect for religious freedom. Stalin then proceeded to butcher, torture, starve to death and imprison tens of millions of Catholics. The Greek Catholic Church was destroyed by its forcible transplantation into the KGB-controlled Orthodox Church, which simply appropriated to itself Catholic parishes and cathedrals after the Catholic clergy had been killed or imprisoned. The Orthodox hierarchy itself had been reduced from 50,000 priests and bishops to a mere 500 KGB spy-clerics.
At Potsdam, in July and August of 1945, after having ordered the bombing of Hiroshima and the Catholic city of Nagasaki, Truman gifted Stalin with Manchuria and North Korea down to the 38th parallel, opening the way for Mao Tse Tung and the Cultural Revolution, with its 30 million addition victims. Mao defeated Chiang Kai-shek with the abandoned Japanese weapons Stalin had obligingly stockpiled and left behind for his Red Chinese comrades.
While the Third Secret remained in its sealed envelope, the errors of Russia swiftly infected the whole world, But the beginning of the reign of John XXIII in 1958, one-third of mankind had been enslaved by communism, as the rest of the world dallied with socialism, its cousin, and began succumbing to the regime of contraception and abortion first spawned in Soviet Russia. Abortion alone, among Russia's errors, would claim the lives of 600 million innocent children around the world, and more than 38 million in America---casualties far vaster than those suffered by all the armies in all the wars in history; vaster than even the casualties of indigenous Russian and Chinese Communism combined.
In his encyclical Divini Redemptoris, Pius XI had denounced communism as "intrinsically perverse" and warned that "no one who would save Christian civilization and the social order may collaborate with it in any undertaking whatsoever." On June 13, 1949 Pius XII reaffirmed the Church's implacable opposition to communism by decreeing through the Holy Office that those who joined or aided communists in any way, or even read communist literature, would be denied the sacraments; and that those who profess the doctrine of the communists "incur, by the law itself, as apostates from the Catholic faith, excommunication especially reserved to the Holy See." With the whole world infected by communism, would these condemnations hold fast? Or was it possible that the errors of Russia would spread even into the human elements of the Church herself?
On December 4, 1957, Bishop da Silva died. On October 9, 1958, Pius XII dies, apparently without having read the Third Secret, which had remained locked away in a small wooden safe in his papal apartments. In 1960, Pope John read, and then suppressed the Secret, consigning it to a drawer in his writing desk. No sooner had the drawer closed, than the Church's opposition to the errors of Russia began to soften. And then things began to go terribly wrong within the Church Herself---wrong in ways which had never been seen in Her entire history.
The opening session of the Second Vatican Council was attended by two "observers" from the Russian Orthodox spy-church; Vitali Borovoy and Vladimir Kotlyarov. Their attendance had been secured at the cost of the Vatican's incredible promise that the Council would refrain from any condemnation of communism. The "Vatican-Moscow Agreement" had been reached in secret at Metz, France, after negotiations between the Russian orthodox Metropolitan, Nikodim, a KGB agent and Cardinal Tisserant.10
The Vatican-Moscow Agreement was the personal initiative of John XXIII, at the suggestion of Cardinal Montini, who would later become Pope Paul VI and preside of the remainder of Pope John's Council. When he was still a Monsignor, Montini was suddenly dismissed from his position as Pro-Secretary of State under Pius XII and sent off to be Archbishop of Milan. This sacking of Montini by promotion removal occurred after Pope Pius had been presented with documentary proof that Montini had undertaken clandestine diplomatic relations with the Soviets without the Pope's knowledge.11 The vans which contained Montini's possessions were searched by Vatican officials before they departed for Milan .12
The future Pope's sudden dismissal capped a career of secretive disobedience to papal directives. In the 1930's, for example had hoarded in his apartment and given out to trusted friend copies of Karl Adam's quasi-heretical book "The Spirit of Catholicism", which had been banned in Rome.13 His admiring biographer, Peter Hebblethwaite, notes that "when theologians were being condemned in the early 1950s, they would always get a friendly reception from [Montini} in the Vatican and a shrug of the shoulders at the latest Ottaviani incident."14 Ottaviani was then the Perfect of Pius XII's Holy Office. He is always cast as the great villain in the liberal's fable of the post-conciliar "renewal", and Montini as the great hero, who kept the fires of liberty burning during the Dark Age of pre-conciliar "persecutions."
In removing Montini to Milan, Pius XII had declined to make him a Cardinal, although Milan as traditionally a cardinalate See. Pius thereby kept Montini out of the line of Papal succession. But Montini would be the first Cardinal created by John XXIII, who upon his election joked that he was keeping the Chair of Peter warm for Montini.
Two months before his death in 1963, Pope John issued his encyclical Pacem in Terris, which undermined the entire teaching of his predecessors condemning any involvement of the faithful with communism. Drawing a novel distinction between evil ideologies and the historical movement they spawn, Pacem in terris suggested that one could licitly join the Communist movements in various countries without necessarily subscribing to communism's condemned principles:
"Who can deny that there are in those movements, in so far as they conform to the dictates of right reason and are interpreters of the lawful aspirations of the human person, contain elements that are positive and deserving of approval?"15 In other words, one could participate in a Communist movement so long as one did not become a Communist! But what of the teaching of Pope Pius XI in Divini Redemptoris? Pope John's predecessor had warned Catholics to shun precisely those Communist-influenced movements which have "elements that are positive":
"In the beginning, Communism showed itself for what it was in all its perversity, but very soon it realized that is was thus alienating people. It has therefore, changed its tactics and strives to entice the multitudes by trickery in various forms, hiding its real designs behind ideas that are in themselves good and attractive . . . Under various names that do not suggest Communism . . . they try perfidiously to worm their way even into professedly Catholic and religious organizations . . . they invite Catholics to collaborate with them in the realm of so-called humanitarianism and charity; and at times, make proposals that are in perfect harmony with the Christian spirit and the doctrine of the Church . . . See to it, faithful brethren, that the Faithful do not allow themselves to be deceived."
The warning of Pius XI was only one of a series of papal warning by Pius IX, Pius X, Pius XI, and Pius XII which, by some strange process of forgetfulness, the Popes after 1960 no long seemed to recall; warning against modernism, against Communism, against the false doctrine of "religious liberty" for all sects, against any Catholic participation in the "ecumenical movement", against tampering with the Sacred Liturgy.
Shortly before the promulgation of Pacem in terris, Pope John allowed himself to be photographed shaking the hand of Nikita Krushchev's son-in-law, Alexi Adjubel, in the Vatican. Before the meeting took place, Pope John had worried about its effect on Italian politics, but he proceeded anyway.16 In 1963, the Italian Communist Party gained a million votes and the Christian Democrats suffered a corresponding reversal.17
John XXIII and Paul VI would preside over a Council that would teach us that we must read "the signs of the times". But the Council itself would ignore the greatest sign of evil in the world which surrounded it, doing so under a secret agreement with t he very perpetrators of that evil. The Council would also ignore perhaps the greatest of the "signs of the times" in our century: the Message of Fatima, including that portion of it which has been suppressed by Pope John only two years before.
"Disastrous Conditions of Humanity"
From the perspective of Fatima what occurred during and after the Second Vatican Council should have been no surprise. Indeed, Pope Pius XII had predicted it with eerie prophetic accuracy, in light of the Message of Fatima:
"I am worried by the Blessed Virgin's message to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith and Her liturgy. A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God . . . In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalen, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask 'Where have they taken Him?'"18
Surely "the Virgin's Messages to Lucy of Fatima" had figured in Pius XII's decision not to proceed with his own plans for an ecumenical council. Instead, the Pope's own emissaries, including Cardinal Ottaviani, had interrogated Sister Lucy in 1955, before plans for a council were scrapped. Had she told them the Third Secret? Perhaps, too, His Holiness was mindful of the famous advice the great Cardinal Manning [quoting Cardinal Pallavicini] that "to convoke a General Council, except when absolutely necessary, is to tempt God" Pope Pius must also have pondered whether, at his advanced age, he would be able to control the very forces within the Church which his predecessor, Pope St. Pius X, has labored so mightily to contain. It was Pius XII himself who had canonized his great predecessor.
Following in Pius X's footsteps, he had condemned the neo-modernist in Humani generis. He knew, as Pius X knew, that modernist were still at work "almost in the very veins and heart of the Church", and that although a modernist might "bow his head for a moment" when rebuked, " it was soon uplifted more arrogantly than ever".19 Would not a Council inprovidently called by an aged Pope, therefore, be an invitation to precisely what Pius XII feared---"the suicide of the altering the Faith and Her liturgy"?
Even a cursory ready of the great encyclicals of the pre-conciliar age will notice that the alarm expressed by Pius XII was part of a veritable Magisterium of admonition developed in the pronouncements of the great 19th and 20th Century Popes, until John XXIII. Gregory XVI. Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, Pius XI and Pius XII were of one voice in warning that the world's embrace of the false principles of modernity was bringing civilization to its ruin, and that the Church herself was threatened as never before by what Pius X had described in Pascendi as the "partisans of error"
In his inaugural encyclical, E Supremi, issued fourteen years before the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, Pius X sounded perhaps the most dramatic warning of impending calamity for the Church and the world:
"We felt a sort of terror considering the disastrous condition of humanity at the present hours. Can we ignore such a profound and grave evil, which at this moment much more than in the past is working away at its very marrow and leading it to its ruin? . . .Truly whoever ponders these things must necessarily and firmly fear whether such a perversion of minds is not the sign of announcing, and the beginning of the last times . . . So great is the audacity with which religion is mocked everywhere, and the dogmas of the faith are fought against . . .[M]an, with unspeakable temerity, has usurped the place of the Creator, lifting himself above everything that bears the name of God"
Pius XII would echo this theme of an unprecedented deterioration in the state of the world in his letter of February 11, 1949: " We are overwhelmed with sadness and anguish, seeing that the wickedness of perverse men has reached a degree of impiety that is unbelievable and absolutely unknown in other times."20
John XXIII did not share the alarm of his predecessors. On the contrary, in a world vastly more depraved than the one observed by Pius X, Pope John was somehow hugely optimistic. Indeed, it is reported that upon reading the Third Secret with the aid of a Portuguese translator, he had declared: "This does not concern the years of my pontificate."21
In his opening address to the Council, Pope John expressed positive annoyance with those who say " that our era, in comparison with past eras, is getting worse...We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world was at hand." So much for Pope St. Pius X!
The Second Vatican Council would proceed, with Pope John euphorically exclaiming that "it rises in the Church like daybreak, a forerunner of a most splendid light. It is now only dawn" In the darkness of Pope John's desk drawer, the Third Secret of Fatima lay hidden from the world.
1. Council Daybook, National Catholic Welfare Conference, Washington D.C. Vol. 1,
2 Ibid. pg. 27
3 Davies, Michael. Pope John's Council Angelus Press, Cansas City, Missouri (1992), pg 2
4 Frere Michel de la Sante Trinite, The Third Secret, Immaculate Heart Publications, Buffalo, NY(1990), pg 528
5. A complete review of the overwhelming evidence that the Secret was to be disclosed not later than 1960 can be found in The Third Secret, the work cited above, at pp. 470-478.
6. Ibid. p.586
7 Ibid .
8. The Third Secret, p 45
9 Ibid. p 48.
10. Amerio Romano. Iota Unum. Sarto House, Kansas City, MO (1996) pp 75077. Amerio was a peritus at Vatican II, and was intimately familiar with its documents and the havoc they have caused in the Holy Catholic Church. He died in January of 1997.
11. The Third Secret, pp. 454-60.
12, Hebblethwaite, op cit.p
13. Hebblethwaite, Petere. In the Vatican, Oxford University Press, p35.
15 Pacem in terris, No. 159
16. Hebblethwaite, Peter, Paul VI, The First Modern Pope, Paulist Press, NY (1993) p317
17. Pope John's Council, P.144.
18 Devant I'histoire. p. 52-53, quoted in Inside the Vatican, January 1997, p.7
19 Pascendi, No. 3
20. Frere Michel, opcit. p269.
21 Ibid., p 557[quoting the account of Father Alonso].
Editors note: In the first installment of this five-part series, Mr. Ferrara surveyed the history of the Third Secret of Fatima, including its transfer to the Vatican in a sealed envelope in 1957 and its mysterious suppression by Pope John XXIII in 1960, the year it was to have been disclosed to the faithful. Mr. Ferrara also traced the progress of communism and the spread of Russia's errors throughout the world, as predicted by Our Lady of Fatima, in the years leading up to the Second Vatican Council. He also recounted the eerie prophecy of Pope Pius XII, who said that the Message of Fatima was "a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith and [the] liturgy." Pius, evidently fearing the worst, scrapped his own plans for an ecumenical council. The first installment ended with Pope John XXIII declaring to the opening session of the Second Vatican Council that "we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster..." Under the "Vatican-Moscow Agreement," negotiated in secret before the Council, the council fathers would be prevented from denouncing Communism. In this second installment, Mr. Ferrara sketches the subversion of Vatican II by liberal reformers, the apparent indifference of Pope Paul VI to the Third Secret, his refusal to speak with Sister Lucy, and the great debacle which followed the Council.
As Paul VI himself recognized, Cardinal Ottaviani and his fellow defenders of Tradition in the Roman Curia had expressed "astonishment and apprehension at the sudden summoning of the Council..."(1) The history of the past 35 years shows that their apprehension was more than justified. The members of the Curia could only have been apprehensive about the Council because they understood that the charism of infallibility does not attach to everything a council might say or do. Today's "conservative" Catholics [a group which did not exist before the Council] would not have shared the Curial apprehension. "Conservatives" generally make the extravagant claim that the Holy Spirit positively guided off of the Council's acts and proceedings, rather than providing what the charism of infallibility strictly entails---that is, a negative restraint against the solemn authoritative definition of explicit error as Catholic teaching, rather than a positive inspiration to produce perfect documents.
An Opening is Exploited
An Opening is Exploited
While the Third Secret of Fatima lay hidden from the world in the papal apartments, the conciliar liberals were preparing assiduously to take advantage of the opening presented by Pope John's sudden calling of an ecumenical council.
We know from Fr. Wiltgen's definitive account in The Rhine Flows Into The Tiber, and also from their own boasting, how the liberal bishops of the so-called "Rhine group" (so named because their home countries border the Rhine River) planned to junk the Council's carefully prepared agenda, seize control of the conciliar drafting apparatus and produce new conciliar documents more to their liking. The story has been told in great depth not only by Fr. Wiltgen, who is no "traditionalist", but also by Michael Davies, Cardinal Heenan and many others. A brief sketch suffices here.
The first initiative of the "Rhine group" was to insure that its members were elected to a controlling number of seats on each conciliar commission. This was accomplished after Cardinal Lienart blocked a vote on the Curia's slate of 168 candidates by seizing the microphone in a gross violation of the Council's own rules of procedure, demanding out of order that the Curial slate be discarded rather than voted upon, Lienart's "inspired" action was pronounced a triumph by the press. The Bishop of Lille declared that Lienart had "deflected the course of the Council and made history." The bishop was right. (2) The date was October 13th 1962---the 45th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.
Once the curial slate was discarded, Rhine group candidates were able to capture 49 percent of all elective seats on the commissions overall, 50 percent of the seats on the crucial Theological Commission, and 56 percent on the even more crucial Liturgical Commission. "After the election" writes Wiltgen, "it was not too hard to foresee which group was well enough organized to take over leadership of the Second Vatican Council. The Rhine had begun to flow into the Tiber." (3)
The next phase of the liberals' plan was to dispose of the Council's preparatory schemas, whose "rigid" and "sterile" formulations precluded the liberalizing outcome they had in mind for the Council. But to discard the schemas would require a 2/3 vote of the Council Fathers under the procedural rules promulgated by Pope John. Bowing to pressure from the liberals, Pope John agreed to change the rules in the middle of the game, allowing a bare majority of the Council Fathers to reject the schemas.
Through skillful lobbying and speeches full of applause lines aimed at the mass media, a majority of the Council Fathers was persuaded to discard all of the preparatory schemas, except one: the schema on sacred liturgy, which was a collection of liturgical land mines to be detonated after the Council by its principal draftsman, the infamous Annibale Bugnini.
Once the Council had been stripped of its entire carefully prepared agenda---in itself a wholly unprecedented even in Church history---the Council's new agenda, and all its documents, would be created abinitio by the conciliar commissions which were now effectively controlled by Rhine group members and their periti. As Michael Davies has noted, the liberals objected to the agenda being imposed upon them at the Council by way of the preparatory schemas, and then proceeded to impose an agenda of their own.
It is no surprise that after the liberals succeeded in striping the Council of its' agenda, they agitated for and obtained immediate consideration of the remaining preparatory schema: the schema on the liturgy. Cardinal Ottaviani had perceived the destructive potential of the Bugnini schema in the hands of liberals, and sounding the alarm: "Are we seeking to stir up wonder, or perhaps scandal, among the Christian People, by introducing changes in so venerable a rite, that has been approved for so many centuries and is now so familiar? The rite of Holy Mass should not be treated as if it were a piece of cloth to be refashioned according to the whim of each generation."(4) As we know today, Cardinal Ottaviani's warning was not heeded; the Bugnini schema quickly became the Council's Constitution on Sacred Liturgy, adopted on December 7th 1962, the day before the fist session of the Council ended.
Bugnini himself would implement the liturgy Constitution as Secretary of the Concilium established by Paul VI after the Council. As Klaus Gamber wrote in his Reform of the Roman Liturgy:
"The Council Fathers, when publishing the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy, simply did not expect to see the avalanche they had started, crushing under it all traditional forms of liturgical worship, including the new liturgy they themselves had created."(5)
With the blessing of Paul VI, who cited the Constitution of Sacred Liturgy as his authority(6), Bugnini's Concilium concocted a new rite of Mass which was imposed upon the Church in 1969, followed by new forms for all of the other sacraments. In short, the Pope himself had ignored what Pius XII described as Fatima's "divine warning against the suicide of altering the...liturgy."
Yet Paul VI has read the Third Secret almost immediately after his election to the papacy. Like John XXIII, he had relegated it to oblivion, dispatching Cardinal Ottaviani to offer excuses for its non-disclosure at a Mariological conference in Rome in 1967, two years before he gave permission for Bugnini's destruction of the Roman Rite.(7)
By the end of the fourth and final session of the Council, the Catholic Church had been presented with a set of sixteen conciliar documents containing a number of strangely ambiguous formulations, the likes of which have never been seen in the entire history of the Magisterium. The conciliar documents, especially Lumen Gentium (on the Church), Unitatis Redintegratio (on "ecumenism"), Dignitatis Humanae (on religious liberty), Gaudium et Spes (on the Church of the "modern world") and, of course, Sacrosanctum Concilium (on the liturgy), clearly reflect a tremendous struggle between the forces of neo-modernism unleashed by the suddenly convoked Council, who were trying to inject their ambiguous verbal "viruses" into the Mystical Body, and the Curial "immune system" which fought fiercely to restrain them. The result of that struggle was "consensus" documents in which ambiguous "viruses" are surrounded with traditional "antibodies" designed to counteract them. One can see the documents veer away from and then toward Tradition within the space of a few paragraphs, or even a few words.
In his definitive study The Battle for the American Church, Msgr. George Kelly, a "conservative" who can hardly be accused of "traditionalist" leanings, put it this way: "Gregory Baum, who was at the Council, once thought that Pope John smiled in two directions. Critics of Pope Paul suggest that he prayed the same way. The problems of the post-conciliar Church reflect this predicament. The documents of the Council contain enough basic ambiguities to make the post-conciliar difficulties understandable."(8) What Msgr. Kelly does not discuss is the incredible fact that an ecumenical council of the Holy Catholic Church had been induced to produce such ambiguous documents in the fist place. No wonder the members of the Curia were apprehensive about the sudden calling of the Council.
Only by the divine assistance of the Holy Spirit had certain of the most troublesome parts of the conciliar text been preserved from the catastrophe of defining outright error as truth. Corrections and footnotes inserted at the eleventh hour by the papal fiat of Paul VI prevented that from happening in certain passages. These interventions outraged the liberals, who complained that such acts of papal supremacy violated their new fangled notion of "collegiality." The spoke of a "Black Week" at the Council marked by several crucial papal interventions and the Pope's proclamation of Mary as the Mother of the Church which particularly enraged them.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of how the Holy Spirit operated in this way at the Council was the nota praevia which Paul VI ordered to be added to Lumen Gentium to clarify its highly ambiguous and confusing text on "collegiality"---a text which, among its other problems, seemed to equate the power of binding and loosing given by Christ to the Apostles with that conferred individually and specially upon Peter as His Vicar, and also to grant some sort of juridical status to the posited "college of bishops". Pope Paul made this intervention literally moments before the text was to be approved, after having wept over incontrovertible documentary proof that the liberals were planning to use the text to undermine the doctrine of papal primacy after the Council.(9)
As Romano Amerio, a peritus at the Council, observes in his masterwork Iota Unum: "[I]t seems inexplicable, after so many consultations, corrections and revisions, and the acceptance of so many amendments, that the council should issue a doctrinal document so imperfect as to require an explanatory note at the very moment of its promulgation."(10)
During the Council Paul VI met with Metropolitan Nikodim, Moscow's KGB negotiator of the Council's silence on communism. In private remarks, the Ukrainian Catholic Major Archbishop, Josef Slipyi, denounced Pope Paul for "clasping the blood-stained hands of the murderers of the Greek Catholic Church."(11) In 1978 Nikodim would drop dead while having coffee in the papal apartments of John Paul I. Ten days later John Paul I himself would die, on the thirty-third day of his reign.
Our Lady Sacrificed to "Ecumenism"
Our Lady Sacrificed to "Ecumenism"
Even worse than its failure to denounce Communism, Paul VI and the Council had eschewed a marvelous opportunity to effect the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the world's bishops in union with the Pope, as requested by Our Lady in the "second" part of the great Secret of Fatima.
In fact, it was all the defenders of Tradition could do to keep the reformers, led by Karl Rahner, from completely stripping Our Lady of Her perennial titles. The compromise adopted on the battlefield of the Council floor was yet another "consensus" formulation: Our Lady would be described simply as "Mediatrix" (of what?), and the key theological phrase "of all graces" dropped from her title. She would be stripped of Her traditional title of Co-Redemptrix. Even the redacted title "Mediatrix" would be consigned to the end of a list of other titles---"Advocate", "Helper", "Benefactress"---so as to make it less offensive to the delegation of non-Catholic "observers" attending the Council. (12)
Cardinal Bea, President of the newly created Secretariat for "Christian Unity," had objected even to the limited title "Mediatrix"; but Italian Archbishop Mingo condemned the foreshortened title, calling it part of a "radical mutilation" of the original text of the schema devoted to Mary, which was drastically reduced in scope and relegated to a segment of Lumen Gentium. Even the arch-liberal Cardinal Suenens, departed for once from the "Rhine group" line, object to the manner in which the truncated text minimized the importance of Mary, "a tendency which today constitutes a real danger."(13)
In a revoltingly obsequious address to the non-Catholic "observers" at Rome's Columbus Hotel on October 15, 1962, four days after the Council began, Cardinal Bea had begged his "dear brothers in Christ" to "tell us very frankly . . . everything that you dislike, to share with us your positive criticisms, your suggestions and your desires."(14) And so they had. The Church's veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary was no doubt high on their list to "everything that you dislike". Those "dear brothers in Christ", it must be said, represented "churches" which approved of contraception and divorce at the time of the Council, and have since approved of such "Christian" doctrines as the permissibility of abortion and the ordination of women as "priests".
Although Paul VI had proclaimed Mary as Mother of the Church during the Council, he would refrain throughout the remainder of his pontificate from referring to Her even as simply Mediatrix, thereby serving the new "ecumenical venture" inaugurated by Unitatis Redintegration and administered by Cardinal Bea. In the years which would follow Cardinal Bea's fawning speech at the Columbus Hotel, the "churches" of the "dear brothers in Christ" would not, of course, move one millimeter closer to an acceptance of the doctrines of the true Faith which they had impudently rejected long ago on their own authority. On the contrary, they would only move further away from the truth in the process of decomposing like corpses.
Yet the "ecumenical venture" launched by the Council would continue unabated, with the Vatican propping up these dead churches and giving them the appearance of life, like the deceased at an Irish wake. Some thirty four years after Cardinal Bea's little speech, the "ecumenical" Theological Commission of the Pontifical International Marian Academy, including an Anglican and two Lutherans, would unanimously advise Pope John Paul II not to proclaim infallibly the dogma that Mary is what She has always been called by the Church: Mediatrix of All Graces: Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls would add that is "crystal clear" that the dogma would not be defined by John Paul II because the Commission had deemed it "inopportune to abandon the path marked out by Vatican II."(15)
The "path marked out by Vatican II" has led the Church away from bestowing upon the Mother of God the full honors due to Her. Following that path, the Holy Catholic Church now consults heretics and schismatics for their opinion on the Marian dogmas, and even on what aspects of the papacy may be dispensed with for the sake of "Christian unity".(16) The same path has led the Church away from the heavenly Message Our Lady delivered to earth at Fatima.
The Council Ends
The Council Ends
In his address at the end of the Council's Fourth Session on December 7, 1965, Paul VI appealed to the secular humanist of the world to recognize that "we, also more than anyone else have the cult of man." The next day the Council would formally close.
According to Cardinal Casaroli, Vatican Secretary of State and Great Architect of the new policy of Ostpolitik which began with the Vatican-Moscow Agreement, it now appeared that the Soviet "aims of disarmament and easing of international tensions correspond with her[the Church's] own mission of peace."(17) Yet Our Lord told us that HE had not come to bring "peace" (especially the "world peace" of the Soviets), but the sword. Our Lord predicted that His teaching would cause division and bring down the hatred of the world upon the members of His Church, not amiable "dialogue" with her enemies. And He warned the world that "he who believes not shall be condemned."
Nevertheless, after the Council, the Church's implacable opposition to any collaboration whatsoever with Communists was officially abandoned. The era of an endless "dialogue with the world," including communists, had begun. The Church, seemingly out of embarrassment at her past "triumphalism," would cease describing her self as mater et magister---mother and teacher---and assume the role of merely one party to a "dialogue" with her partners in building the "civilization of love". The results of that "dialogue" are the continued persecution of the Church in Russia and Red China, 600 million abortions, and a civilization whose decent into barbarity has only accelerated since the "dialogue" commenced.
Paul VI Ignores the Warnings of Fatima
Paul VI Ignores the Warnings of Fatima
In May 1967 Paul VI made a brief pilgrimage to Fatima, giving an address which reduced the Message of Fatima to a call for prayer and penance stripped of its divine warnings. His Holiness made no mention of the errors of Russia, which were at the very moment devouring the world; nor did he mention the most unecumenical notion that Russia be converted through Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In a pathetic scene, Sister Lucy presented her little hand-made gift to the Pope, who allowed her to approach him on the proscenium where he had delivered the address. She then pleaded repeatedly to speak privately with the Vicar of Christ. Did she wish to speak to him about the Third Secret? "You see, it is not the time", he replied, "And then, if you wish to communicate something to me, tell your
bishop . . . Be very obedient to your bishop."(18) As the crowd gave its ovation to Sister Lucy, she stood beside the Pope, weeping disconsolately in full view of the television camera. The last surviving seer of Fatima; the bearer of the Third Secret; the prophet who had predicted the Miracle of the Sun---this chosen messenger of God had been reduced to a crowd-pleasing prop at a media spectacle.
In 1957, Sister Lucy had confided to Father Fuentes that "the Most Holy Virgin is very sad because no one has paid attention to Her Message, neither the good or the bad." (19) Ten years later, even though the Pope had come to Fatima, it was still the same. Hidden away in the Vatican, the Third Secret was still being kept from the faithful. But soon the euphoria of the Council would give way in the mind of Paul VI to the dread of an unprecedented disaster.
The Smoke of Satan
The Smoke of Satan
Nineteen months after he had refused to speak with Sister Lucy at Fatima, Pope Paul would declare in a speech to the Lombard College that "The Church is in a disturbed period of self-criticism, or what could be better called self-demolition. It is an acute and complicated upheaval which nobody would have expected after the Council. It is almost as if the Church were attacking herself." On June 30, 1972. Pope Paul would utter his frightening lament that "from somewhere or other the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God. . .
In the Church, too, this state of uncertainty reigns. It was believed that after the Council a sunny day would dawn, but instead there came a day of clouds, storms and darkness." (20)
Six years later Paul VI was dead. Shortly before his death he had wept over the establishment of an abortion mill in Rome. Three years before his death he had sacked Bugnini, mastermind of the destruction of the Roman rite, sending him to a useless titular post in Iran within hours of being presented with a dossier on Bugnini's Masonic affiliations, as Bugnini himself admitted in his autobiography. (21) By the time Paul VI had passed from this world in 1978, the Roman liturgy had been reduced to a shambles; priests and nuns were defecting by the tens of thousands; vocations waned; conversions had abruptly decreased from a pre-conciliar torrent to a post-conciliar trickle; Mass attendance was plummeting like a stone.
The greatest debacle in the history of the Holy Catholic Church was well underway.
Editor's Note: This October 13th, 1999 marks the 82th anniversary of the great Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. Though eight decades have passed, the world has yet to receive Fatima's complete Message. Part of the Message, the Third Secret, remains suppressed despite Our Lady's Request that it be revealed "no later than 1960". Many Fatima experts, believe that the contents of the Third Secret refers to the great loss of Faith in the Church and in the world. In this five-part series, Christopher Ferrara presents a historic overview of the events leading up to the crucial year of '1960', and a portrait of the chaos in the Church and world that immediately followed the repression of the Third Secret.
In his book Athanasius and the Church of Our Time, Council Father Bishop Rudolf Graber observed that "the great revolutions . . . are preceded by a subterranean phase, which is followed by a second, that of incubation, before the eruption then takes place." (1)
For nearly sixty years the neo-modernist revolution had been held in its incubation phase, prevented from erupting by the stern measures Pope St. Pius X had imposed with the full weight of the Petrine office. In his monumental encyclical Pascendi, Pius X had taught that the only way to deal with modernists is to expose them, root them out of the Church and suppress their works, because if left at liberty, "there is no part of Catholic truth which they leave untouched, not that they do not strive to corrupt."(2) In his decree Lamentabili the last canonized Pope declared that the world's bishops must "trample underfoot all fleshly imprudence all, heedless of the outcry of the wicked, proscribe and tear from the hands of the faithful all bad books and writings."--- language which even so-called "conservative" Catholics today find embarrassing.(3)
For the protection of the faithful, Pope St. Pius had ordered the erection of diocesan vigilance committees, that careful examination and censorship of all publications which contained modernist theses or even savored of modernism, the placing of modernist texts on the Index of Forbidden Books, and the removal of all modernist from religious orders, seminaries and university faculties. And, in his Motu proprio entitled Sacrorum antitistum, His Holiness commanded that every priest and theologian in the Catholic Church be required to sign the Oath against Modernism which he composed. Despite a storm of protest, to which Protestant theologians added their outrage, only two dozen priests throughout Europe refused to sign the Oath.(4) The revolution was routed for more than 50 years.
Then came Pope John XXIII. We have seen that in his opening address to the Council Pope John disparaged "those prophets of gloom" [including Pius XII], who are always forecasting disaster". Riding a wave of euphoria induced by the magnificent spectacle of the assembled bishops, Pope John described his Council as a "new Pentecost". On the final day of its First Session in 1962 His Holiness exclaimed that "the heavens are opened above our heads, and the splendor of the heavenly court shines down upon us."(5)
Six months later, Pope John was dead, but the Council went on. . . and on and on. Once the Council had finally ended in December of 1965, however, it did not take long to discover that the "prophets of gloom" had been right, and far from being a "new Pentecost," Vatican II was in truth a self-inflicted wound to the Body of Christ, through which neo-modernist agents of destruction had gleefully entered the bloodstream of the Church, declared victory and become to do precisely what Pope St. Pius X warned they would do if they were ever given liberty: spread their poison " in the very veins and heart of the Church".(6)
It is a fact of history that Vatican II was largely an exercise in tearing down the bulwark Pope St. Pius X had erected. To confirm this, one need look no further than the eyewitness testimony of Msgr. Rudolf G. Bandas, himself a Conciliar pertius. Only two years after the Council had ended Msgr. Bandas was constrained to ask: "How could our Church be so profoundly blighted in so short a time?"(7) Answering his own question, Msgr. Bandas cited progressivist Bishop Helder Camara's praise of Pope John for his "courage on the eve of the Council in naming as conciliar experts many of the greatest theologians of our day. Among those whom he appointed were many who emerged from the black lists of suspicion"---
that is, from the censures and condemnations of Pius XII and the Holy Office.
Two of those who emerged from the "black lists of suspicion" to take key roles at the Council were Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Kung. It was Schillebeeckx who wrote the crucial 480 page critique employed by the "Rhine group" bishops to coordinate their public relations campaign against the wholly orthodox preparatory schemas for the Council, which led to the abandonment of the Council's entire meticulous preparations.(8) Schillebeeckx was later placed under Vatican investigation for his outrageously heterodox views the historicity of the Virgin Birth, the institution of the Eucharist, the Resurrection, and the founding of the Church. He dared to argue that the words "This is my Body. . .This is my Blood" were never actually spoken by Our Lord and that Our Lord never planned to found a Church.(9) Despite his fulminating heresy, this leading peritus of Vatican II has never been subjected to any canonical penalty. Kung, of course, was finally condemned --- after an eleven year investigation --- and stripped of his license to teach theology in 1979. Yet he remains a priest in good standing who is still an academic.
Looking back on the Council, Monsignor Bandas was forced to conclude that the amnesty Pope John had naively extended to "great theologians" like Schillebeeckx and Kung was a catastrophic mistake:
"No doubt good Pope John thought that these suspect theologians would rectify their ideas and perform a genuine service to the Church. But exactly the opposite happened. Supported by certain 'Rhine' Council Fathers, and often acting in a matter positively boorish, they turned around and exclaimed: 'Behold, we are named experts, our ideas stand approved' . . . When I entered my tribunal at the Council, on the first day of the fourth session, the first announcement, emanating from the Secretary of State, was the following: 'No more periti will be appointed.' But it was too late. The great confusion was underway. It was already apparent that neither Trent nor Vatican I nor any encyclical would be permitted to impede its advance."(10)
In other words, Pope John had played with dynamite. The resulting explosion was uncontainable. Immediately after the Council, the Oath Against Modernism was abolished, along with the Index of Forbidden Books---a decision that Bishop Graber rightly describes as "incomprehensible". (11) Yesterday's heretics became today's executors of the Council.
A Conciliar Disclaimer
By Providence the Council had expressly disclaimed the note of infallibility. In an utterly unprecedented nota praevis (preliminary note), the conciliar Theological Commission described the Council as "pastoral", and assured the Council Fathers that they were not defining doctrine unless they openly professed to be doing so:
In view of the conciliar practice and pastoral purpose of the present
Council, the sacred Synod defines matters of faith and morals as binding on the Church only when the Synod itself openly declares so.(12)
Never in the history of the Catholic Church had a Council taken pains to declare that it was not teaching infallibly. In fact, nowhere in any of its documents did the Council "openly declare" that the faithful were bound to adhere to any of its ambiguous and confusing formulations, especially those relating to "ecumenism", "collegiality" and "dialogue"--- novel terms which elude any precise definition. Nor could the assent of faith, or even an assent of prudence, be demanded for the manifestly dubious sociological and geopolitical assertions of Gaudium et spes, which claims that mankind is experiencing "an advance toward maturity" and that there is a duty to establish a "universal public authority" with "effective power to safeguard, on the behalf of all, security, regard for justice and respect for rights."(13) No one in possession of his senses believes that mankind had advanced in maturity during the past century [the very notion of a maturing human race implicitly contradicts the doctrine of Original Sin and explicitly contradicts Sacred Scripture]. No is the Magisterium competent to prescribe world government as the solution to our temporal problems.
The nota praevia undoubtedly relieved the anxiety of many Council Fathers about what exactly they were propounding in some of the Council's verbose and ambiguous documents. This is borne out by the testimony of Bishop Thomas Morris, which at his request was not unsealed until after his death:
"I was relieved when we were told that this Council was not aiming at defining or giving final statements on doctrine because a statement
of doctrine has to be very carefully formulated and I would have regarded the Council documents as tentative and liable to be reformed."(14)
Bishop Morris also testified to the manner in which the liberal periti manipulated the sentiments of the Fathers toward acceptance of the novel texts they had drafted to replace the "rigid" and "sterile" schemas prepared by the Curial Fathers before the Council:
"A speech was written, perhaps of a Council Father(he was the only one who could speak), but all the periti were massed in the lobby or on the stairs to here this statement. They would applaud vigorously and the Presiding Chairman would say 'No applause in Church,' but that was all stage-managed."(15)
Change from Above
This is not to say that the post-conciliar debacle has been the work of a few neo-modernist conciliar periti let loose upon the Church. On the contrary, every one of the disastrous innovations which make up "the great confusion" now afflicting us --- from the new Mass, to communion in the hand, to altar girls, to interfaith prayer meetings--- has been approved by either Pope Paul VI or his successor in the name of the Council, and implemented by post-conciliar curial, commissions acting with papal authority. Indeed, it was Paul VI himself who declared in :'L'Osservatore Romano that a vast program of innovation was the very purpose of the Council:
"The important words of the Council are newness and updating . . . the word newness has been given to us as an order, as a program." (16)
Following this program of newness, Paul VI presided, first of all, over what Msgr. Klaus Gamber has rightly described in his Reform of the Roman Liturgy as "the real destruction of the traditional Mass, of the traditional Roman rite with a history of more than one thousand years."(17) It must be noted here that the French preface to Gamber's book was written by none other that Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, who called Gamber a "true prophet" with "the courage of a true witness. . ."
In his recent memoirs Cardinal Ratzinger agrees that the imposition of the new Mass was a "break in the history of the liturgy, the consequences of which could only be tragic. . . [S]uch a development had never been seen in the history of the
liturgy. . ."(18)
In his general audience address of November 26th, 1969, Pope Paul offered a public justification for his unprecedented act of destruction. His words are amazing and profoundly and disturbing, for no Pope in the history of the Church has ever dared to say such things.
The address begins with an almost incredible admission:
"A new rite of Mass; a change in the venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled. It seemed to bring the prayer of our forefathers and our saints to our lips and to give us the comfort of feeling faithful to our spiritual past, which we kept alive to pass it on to the generations ahead."
The Pope then explains that what seemed to be traditional, venerable, untouchable, a link with our past and part of our heritage as Catholics, is in reality quite dispensable --- and will now be dispensed with:
"This change will affect the ceremonies of the Mass. We shall become aware, perhaps with some feeling of annoyance, that the ceremonies at the altar are no longer being carried out with the same words and gestures to which we were
accustomed[!] . . . This change also touches the faithful. It is intended to interest each one of those present, to draw them out of their customary personal devotions or their usual torpor."
So the Mass would be changed to draw the faithful out of the "torpor" in which they had been languishing for centuries.
"We must prepare for this many-sided inconvenience. It is the kind of upset that is caused by every novelty that breaks in on our habits. Never in the entire history of the Catholic Church had the Roman Pontiff ever attempted to impose a "novelty that breaks in on our habits"-- that is , disrupts the settled form of divine worship in the Church.
"We shall notice that pious persons are disturbed most because they have their own respectable way of hearing Mass, and they will feel shaken out of their usual thoughts and obliged to follow those of others. Even priests may feel some annoyance in this respect"
A "novelty" that disturbs pious persons most, and annoys even priests! The Church must brace herself:
"So what is to be done on this special and historical[!] occasion? First, we must prepare ourselves. This novelty is no small thing. We should not let ourselves be surprised by the natures, even the nuisance, of it's exterior
forms. As intelligent persons and conscientious faithful, we should find out as much as we can about this innovation. . ."
But why must we have this nuisance, this innovation? Because of an unfounded claim that Our Lord Himself and the Holy Spirit are demanding a new right of Mass!!!
"It is Christ's will, it is the breath of the Holy Spirit, which calls the Church to make this change. A prophetic moment is occurring in the mystical body (sic) of Christ, which is the Church. This moment is shaking the Church,
rousing it, obliging it to renew the mysterious art of its prayer."
But that is not all. "Conservatives" never tire of claiming that Sacrosanctum Concilium, the conciliar decree on the liturgy, "mandates" the use of Latin in the Mass. In truth, Bugnini's craftily worded document actually opened the way to the complete vernacularization of the liturgy. (19) Thus, Pope Paul, dropping any conciliar pretense of preserving intact the Latin Mass, declared in his address that the "prophetic moment" now "shaking" the Church required that Latin be abandoned immediately as the language of divine worship:
"It is here that the greatest NEWNESS is going to be noticed, the newness of language. NO LONGER LATIN, but the spoken language will be the principal language of the Mass. The introduction of the vernacular will certainly be A GREAT SACRIFICE for those who know the beauty, the power, and the expressive sacrality of Latin. WE ARE PARTING WITH THE SPEECH OF THE CHRISTIAN CENTURIES; WE ARE BECOMING LIKE PROFANE INTRUDERS IN THE LITERARY PRESERVE OF SACRED UTTERANCE. We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant. WE HAVE REASON FOR REGRET, REASON ALMOST FOR BEWILDERMENT. WHAT CAN WE PUT IN THE PLACE OF THAT LANGUAGE OF THE ANGELS? WE ARE GIVING UP SOMETHING OF PRICELESS WORTH. WHY? WHAT IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN THESE LOFTIEST OF OUR CHURCH'S VALUES? Why indeed? Here is the Pope's answer:
"The answer will seem banal, almost prosaic. Yet it is a good answer because it is human, it is apostolic. Understanding of prayer is more
important than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed. Participation by the people is worth more --- particularly participation by modern people, so fond of plain language which is easily understood and converted into every day speech"
So we must have a new Mass for the "human" (yet "apostolic"!) reason that we did not understand the Mass that Holy Mother Church had already given us! The sacred liturgy of the Catholic Church was incomprehensible to her own members!
But was it really? As Cardinal Ottaviani had noted in his famous intervention protesting imposition of the new Mass, the people themselves "never, absolutely never, asked that the liturgy be changed or mutilated to make it easier to understand."(20) Indeed, had not Pope Paul himself admitted in the very same address that the people, especially the pious, would find the changes disturbing, annoying, inconvenient and even a nuisance? What is more, did not the Roman Missal already contain a faithful vernacular translation for those who could not follow in the Latin? What in heaven's name was motivating this sudden change, which the faithful themselves had never asked for?
Examining the text of Pope Paul's address today, one can scarcely believe that it was uttered by the Roman Pontiff, divinely appointed guardian of Tradition and the common good of the Church. (21) It defies comprehension that the Vicar of Christ could, in such ironic tones, exhorts us to behave "like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance;" to abandon "the language of the angels"; to reject something of "priceless worth;" the "loftiest of our Church's values;" and to accept instead a new rite of Mass concocted by an obscure Monsignor named Bugnini, with the aid of a liturgical committee assisted by six Protestant advisors! (22)
The mystery deepens even further when one considers that only a year before this address Pope Paul had lamented the "auto-demolition" of the Church in the aftermath of the Council. Did Pope Paul think that this process of auto-demolition would be arrested by what Gamber called "the real destruction of the traditional Mass"? Stranger still, three years after he had imposed the Bugnini rite upon the Church, Pope Paul would lament that, "From somewhere or other the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God." (23)
From somewhere or other.
The Debacle at a Glance
When viewed from the perspective of Fatima, the uncanny papal address of November 26, 1969 calls to mind several apparently unrelated events' the mysterious suppression of the Third Secret in 1960; Sister Lucy's repeated statements that Our Lady wished the Secret to be revealed not later than that year; and Pius XII's declaration shortly before his death in 1958 that the Message of Fatima is "a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith and [the] liturgy."(24) Did the Third Secret of Fatima predict the very act that Paul VI committed in 1969? Does it also predict the tidal wave of unprecedented reforms which has swept the Church since the Council?
We must remember that the post-conciliar debacle is certainly not limited to what Gamber called "the real destruction of the traditional Mass"---as if that were not enough. Although, as Cardinal Ratzinger observes in his memoirs, "the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part on the collapse of the liturgy"(25), this great debacle extends beyond that event to include what even "conservatives" admit was a series of changes in. . . official worship and practices which have scarcely left a single Catholic unaffected; and which, in many respects, have changed the external image of the Church. . ."(26)
Far abler commentators than this author have assessed the full extend of the debacle with unimpeachable documentation---for example, Michael Davies in his definitive trilogy on the Council and its reforms, and Romano Amerio in his master-work Iota Unum. For present purposes, a brief look at the empirical evidence, especially in the U.S., will suffice to demonstrate the utter catastrophe which has befallen us since that year when the Third Secret of Fatima was suddenly suppressed.
Beginning in 1960 every vital sign of the Church in American began to decline precipitously, and none of them have ever rebounded to pre-conciliar levels, or even near those levels. Consider the following data:
Weekly Mass attendance in the U.S. has declined from 71% of all Catholics in 1963 to only 25% in 1993 --- an astonishing 65% decline since the Council.
The situation in Europe is even more catastrophic, with Mass attendance having declined since the Council to single digits. (27)
In 1960 the number of converts made in the U.S. was 140,000. By 1965 the number had dropped to 120,000, despite the population increase in
the same period of time. By 1970, with the population continuing to grow, conversions in the U.S. continued to plummet; there were only 90,000 conversions that year. By 1975 conversions had plummeted still further, to only 80,000 per year. Despite a brief surge to 85,000 in 1985, by 1995 the number of annual conversions had plunged to an abysmal 75,000-80,000 in the entire nation---practically one half of the pre-conciliar level, even though the U.S. population has greatly increased since then. (28)
Despite the claim of some "conservatives" that the conversion of a number of American "evangelicals" signals the long awaited "renewal" of Vatican II, it is undeniable that overall the Church has been suffering hemorrhagic losses of Catholics by the millions to the evangelical sects, especially in Latin America. Furthermore, The Wanderer reports that American evangelicals are now "pouring into the Antioch Orthodox Church" because they are drawn to its traditional and majestic forms of worship and its ancient doctrine! Meanwhile, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, after 30 years of "ecumenical dialogue" with the Vatican, chides the Catholic Church for "shun[ning] the correct glory of God". (29) It is, ironically, the Bugnini "ecumenical" rite which poses the greatest obstacle to any possible reunion of the Orthodox churches with Rome, and which is now diverting evangelicals into Orthodoxy.
As we all know, the decline in conversions since 1960 has been accompanied by an unparalleled exodus from the priesthood, the seminaries, the monasteries, convents and Catholic schools. Here are some of the data:
In 1965 there were some 57,000 priests in America. By 1995, after 30 years of population growth, the number of priests had declined to only 49,000, leaving 8,000 fewer priests than there were 30 years ago. Many of the remaining priests are nearing retirement age. In fact, the number of priests per 10,000 Catholics has declined from 7.87 in 1965 to 5.46 in 1995, which means that there are 30% fewer priests available today than there were in 1965.
At the close of the Council there were approximately 180,000 sisters. By 1995 there were only 100,000. Some 4,200,000 students attended Catholic elementary schools in the Council's final year. By 1995, there were only 1,800,000.
The situation is equally disastrous in the world as a whole. By the end of 1995 there were actually 44,000 fewer priests in the world than there were 25 years ago---despite a doubling of the world's population in that time.[Source: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition August 13/21, 1997]
Defenders of the post-conciliar state of affairs claim, however, that ordinations in the Third World have recently produced a dramatic rise in the number of priests worldwide, and that this, at last, is the hoped for "renewal". Not so. Between 1989 and 1995 the number of priests in the entire world increased by a grand total of 289! Priestly defections worldwide all but negated the additional few thousand ordinations in all of Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
The proponents of the "great renewal" may say what they will, but the empirical data makes a mockery of their claim that the Council' has ushered in a new era of vitality for the Church. For the first time in her entire history, the Holy Catholic Church has ceased to grow and is undergoing a severe and prolonged contraction. [Even the loss of members during the Protestant revolt in the 16th Century was more than offset by the conversion of 7 million Mexicans through the miraculous intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe.] As the world's population increases, the Catholic Church decreases.
It is no wonder both Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger have spoken in recent interviews of a "qualitative renewal" in the Church since the Council. But this is a most peculiar way to explain such a great loss of sheep(not to mention shepherds) over the past 35 years. how does one determine the "quality" of the souls who have remained in the Church? And how could the "quality" of these souls make up for the loss of so many other souls?
In any case, it is none other than Cardinal Ratzinger who said on a different occasion:
"Certainly the results of[Vatican II] seem cruelly
opposed to the expectations of everyone. . . I am repeating here what I said ten years after the conclusion of the work: [It] is incontrovertible
that this period has definitely been unfavorable for the Church." (30)
Yet the defenders of the current state of affairs perversely claim there is no proof of any casual connection between the Council, the reforms it engendered and the subsequent decline in the vital signs of the Church. Post hoc, non ergo propter hoc, they say. Please! The debacle indicated by the statistics track, measure for measure, with the entire program of Conciliar aggiornamento:
The reform of the Mass was followed by an unprecedented and quite sudden decline in Mass attendance, and a loss of belief in the Real Presence by those Catholics who still bother to attend Mass.
The reforms of the priesthood, including seminary formation, were followed by the sudden defection of thousands of priests and the virtual elimination of new vocations, so that there are fewer priests today than before the Council,
The reform of the religious orders was followed by the sudden emptying of monasteries and convents.
The abolition of Pius X's Oath against Modernism and the index of Forbidden Books was followed by a vast profusion of heresy in the seminaries, Catholic academies and associations of laity and priests, who openly defy and undermine Magisterial teachings around the world.
The implementation of the new "ecumenism"--- which eschews any frank effort to convert non-Catholics---was followed by a drastic decline in conversions, the massive defection of Catholics into Protestant sects, and a widening of the doctrinal differences between Catholicism and multiform Protestantism. For example, after 30 years of "ecumenical dialogue" between Rome and the Anglicans, the Anglican "church" decided to "ordain" women, deny the torments of Hell, and approve illicit cohabitation between unmarried couples. No Protestant sect has changed any of its false doctrines even one iota in response to more than 30 years of "ecumenical dialogue". On the other hand the majority of Catholics who still occupy the pews in parish churches have become functional Protestants. Not only are they encouraged by their priests, and even the Vatican, to pray with Protestants and participate with them in joint liturgical services, they have adopted a wholly Protestant attitude toward the authority of the Magisterium, choosing to "disagree" with the Pope on birth control, divorce and re-marriage, gay rights, priestly celibacy and a host of other issues.
As Bishop Graber observed, since the Council the Catholic Church has undergone a "kind of Copernican revolution", a revolution which he demonstrates was predicted and labored for by the leaders of the Masonic societies condemned in dozens of papal pronouncements before the Council. (31) As that revolution unfolded its effects were joyously hailed by Communists and Masons around the world in their various publications. Perhaps the most striking example of how the enemies of the Church were delighted by the fruits of the Council is the gratuitous advice given to Pope Paul VI by Izvestia, the newspaper of the Soviet Communist Party, on how to deal with, of all people, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre:
"Be conscious of the danger that Lefebvre represents. And continue the magnificent movement of approach begun with the ecumenism of Vatican II."(32)
In view of this sort of praise of the post-conciliar Revolution by the Church's sworn enemies, Bishop Graber was constrained to observe that "If in the face of these unambiguous admissions anyone still holds the opinion that the events in the Church are marginal phenomena or transitional difficulties which will die down of their own accord in time, he is simply beyond hope. But all the greater is the responsibility of the leading men in the Church if they do not occupy themselves with these questions and imagine. . . that everything can be repaired by patching it up here and there. No, it is a question of the whole thing: it is the Church that is at stake...:"(33)
The post-conciliar debacle cannot be assessed without some discussion of its most remarkable epiphenomenon; the emergence of "conservative" Catholicism. Indeed, the appearance since the Council of the three distinct modes of Catholicism---"traditionalist", "conservative", and "liberal"---is a development never before seen in Church history. The very usage of these terms in modern Catholic parlance is empirical confirmation that there has been a rupture of external unity of cult in the Church during the post-conciliar period, at least in the Roman Rite.
Before the Council there was no need, of course for special terminology to differentiate strains of Catholicism, for there was only one strain: every Catholic in good standing was a "traditionalist". That is, every Catholic worshipped strictly in accordance with the untouchable ancient rites of the Church, regarding as unthinkable any compromise of ecclesiastical traditions for the sake of "unity" with non-Catholics, much less any form of worship in common, which the Church had always strictly forbidden as a grave danger to the Faith.
Regarding the liturgy, the preconciliar Catholic believed what the Popes had always taught him, up to an including Pope John XXXIII in Veterum Sapientiae; that the form of the Mass, including its ancient language, is a work of the Holy Ghost over the ages and is not the subject to innovations.
As for Christian unity, the preconciliar Catholic regarded his Church precisely as Catholics had always been taught to regard her: The one true Church to which the separated brethren must return, not merely the most perfect of many "Christian churches and ecclesial communities" moving toward "full communion" at some unknown terminus of the "ecumenical movement." Only 35 years before the bronze doors opened on Vatican II, Pope Pius XI forcefully restated the traditional teaching on true Christian unity in his encyclical MORTALIUM ANIMOS, which condemned the developing "ecumenical movement" as a threat to the very foundations of the Christian faith, and forbade any Catholic participation in it:
"So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subject to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics; for the union of Christians can ONLY be promoted by promoting the RETURN to the ONE TRUE CHURCH of those who are separated from it. . .Let them therefore RETURN to their common Father, who, forgetting the insults heaped upon the Apostolic See, will receive them in a most loving fashion. For if, as they continually state, they long to be united with Us and ours, WHY DO THEY NOT HASTEN TO ENTER THE CHURCH . . ."(1)
Then came the Council and what Paul VI described as its "command" and its "program" of "newness", including the new liturgy and the new ecumenism. It was especially the liturgical reforms which provoked the unparalleled division of Catholicism into the three modes we now see.
The liberal Catholics, unleashed upon the Church by the Council's abandonment of all condemnations and the Vatican's sudden rehabilitation of numerous suspect theologians, were naturally delighted with the reforms. They demanded, and usually got, Vatican approval for a seemingly endless series of additional changes in the liturgy, including the altar girls. The liberal Catholics of today correspond roughly to the old canonical category of EXCOMMUNICATI TOLERATI (those who remain within the Church despite a sentence of excommunication), except that today no sentence of excommunication is ever pronounced against them by Vatican authorities. Sine the Council only one local bishop, Fabian Bruskewitz of Nebraska, has issued a LATA SENTENTIAE sentence of excommunication against a few practitioners of the liberal mode of Catholicism within the jurisdiction of his diocese, but liberal Catholicism is otherwise universally tolerated in the Church today. It has come to subsist as mode of Catholic praxis and belief, at least in the external forum, where we must presume that the liberals remain members of the Church because they have not been excluded by any sentence of ecclesiastical authority.
As we know, traditional Catholics, who have come to be called "traditionalists", opposed the post-conciliar revolution from its inception. The "traditionalist" position regarding the liturgy in particular was expressed in 1969 by Cardinal Ottaviani and Bacci in their famous "intervention" against the New Mass: The reforms of Paul VI were a "striking departure" from the theology of the Mass codified by the Council of Trent; "an incalculable error" producing a "crisis of conscience" among those who could not simply abandon a liturgical tradition of more than 1,500 years standing. (2)
Rather than submitting with docility to the destruction of the Roman rite, the traditionalists have been guided by the axiom of moral theology stated in the Ottaviani Intervention: that subjects of a legislator, even subjects of the Pope, "have always had the right, nay, the duty, to ask the legislator to abrogate the law, should it prove to be harmful." The traditionalists have never ceased to exercise that right and duty, and to this day have never embraced the post-conciliar reforms---especially the reform of the liturgy, which they regard as an utterly unprecedented abuse of papal authority that no Pope prior to Paul VI would have dared to impose upon the Church.
Here it must be noted that in his monumental work Reform of the Roman Liturgy, Msgr. Klaus Gamber (with the approbation of Cardinal Ratzinger) devoted an entire chapter to defending the traditionalist position that the Pope's supreme legislative power in disciplinary matters is not an absolute power which would allow the Pope to destroy the liturgy of the Roman Rite. As Gamber notes, the popes prior to Paul VI "repeatedly observed that the [Roman] rite is founded on apostolic tradition." It follows that not even the Roman Pontiff has the authority from God to abolish the received and approved form of divine worship in the Catholic Church, although the act of abolition cannot be appealed to any human authority. (3)
Into the gap between the liberal and the traditionalists position emerged what is now called the "conservative" Catholicism. It is based in large measure upon confusion between the Pope's supreme and full power to rule the Church (plena et suprema potestas), on the one hand, and absolute power on the other, which not even the Vicar of Christ possesses. The "conservatives" wrongly deduce that since there is no appeal to any human authority from a decision of the Roman Pontiff, his authority must for all practical purposes be regarded as absolute, and the faithful must therefore not only docilely accept but embrace all of the papally-approved post-conciliar reforms. There could perhaps be a polite, private entreaty for reconsideration, but no resistance or opposition whatsoever.
The Error of Papalotry
The fundamental problem with this aspect of the "conservative" position is that it is simply not Catholic. It makes of the Pope precisely what the Protestants falsely claim he is: a despot, whose decrees must be carried out to the letter even if they harm the common good of the Church. Responding to this Protestant caricature of papal authority, Saint Robert Bellarmine, a doctor of the Church stated the truly Catholic position:
"Just as it is licit to RESIST the Pontiff who attacks the body, so also is it licit to RESIST him who attacks souls, or who disturbs the civil order, or above all, him who tries to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to RESIST him BY NOT DOING WHAT HE ORDERS AND BY IMPEDING THE EXECUTION OF HIS WILL; it is not licit, however to judge him, to punish him or depose him, for these are acts proper to a superior."(4)
Of course, the teaching of St. Bellarmine is nothing other than the teaching of Sacred Scripture itself: In St. Paul's epistle to the Galatians we read that when Cephas ---Peter--- refused to sit at table with the Gentiles, St. Paul rebuked the fist Pope for jeopardizing the mission of the Church by scandalously shunning the very souls they have been commissioned to convert: "But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." (Galatians 2:11) Some 1,300 years later French theologians would likewise rebuke Pope John XXII for teaching from the pulpit that the souls of the faithful departed do not see God until after the Last Judgment. Shortly before his death John XXII retracted his erroneous opinion, which by the protection of the Holy Ghost he had never pronounced EX CATHEDRA. (5)
For the "conservative" Catholic any attempt to rebuke, resist or impede the Pope in any matter whatever is unthinkable. The Pope is king, and that is that. One "conservative" Catholic leader, who shall in charity remain nameless, even attempted to demonstrate that the "Cephas" rebuked by Paul in Galatians was not Peter! Even Holy Scripture itself must yield to the exigencies of papolatry! The "conservative" becomes a modernist/revisionist exegete! (See "Resisting Wayward Prelates" on p.7 (CFN Jan 98))
For the "conservative" Catholic the principle of papal authority trumps everything, even the common good of the Church---although, as we shall see, the conservative's adherence to papal authority curiously weakens when it comes to the definitive anti-modernist pronouncements of any Pope before 1960. Michael Davies captured "conservative" Catholic attitude perfectly when discussing how "conservative" clergy, following the latest instructions from their superiors, embrace the very things they once condemned, and condemn what they once taught:
"The prevailing attitude among so many of the clergy is to accept a particular belief or attitude not because it has an inherent and enduring truth or value, but because it happens to be the current policy. Thus the very clergy who would have denounced (and rightly so) any layman
who attended a Protestant service before the Council will now denounce any layman who suggests that the faith would in anyway be compromised by attending such services . . .Thus a matter touching upon the very nature of the Church Christ founded is seen in itself as something neutral; all that matters is the current instruction. . ."(6)
As we have seen, Cardinal Ratzinger admitted in his recent memoirs that Paul VI's attempt to abolish the traditional Mass caused "grave damage" to the Church, damage whose "consequences could only be tragic". IF that is true --- and it manifestly is true --- then the Pope's subjects had not only the right but the duty to use all licit means, short of judging or deposing him, to minimize the damage that was about to be inflicted on the Church. For traditionalists licit resistance to the Pope meant simply refusing to abandon the traditional rite of Mass in favor of the new Mass, or to practice any of the other novelties which appeared in the Church during the 1960s. History has already demonstrated that they were right to do so, as Cardinal Ratzinger's recent statements will attest.
A False "Middle Way"
"Conservative" Catholicism is a far more complex phenomenon that this discussion might suggest. Within "conservative" Catholicism there is range of praxis and opinion, with some "conservatives" coming rather close to the traditionalist position, so that generalizations are difficult. But in all of its variations, "conservative" Catholicism attempts to forge a middle way between liberalism and traditionalism, presenting itself as the domain of sound orthodoxy lying between the two extremes of the post-conciliar era. It purports to see an equivalence between liberals and traditionalists---an equivalence which is quite false as Dietrich Von Hildebrand has noted, because even the most "extreme" traditionalist does not hold any view which contravenes an article of the faith. (7)
"Conservative" Catholicism claims to be motivated by "true" fidelity to Tradition and "true" obedience to the magisterium, even if that fidelity and obedience have required a series of humiliating about-faces which have undermined the very credibility of the Church. As Cardinal Ratzinger has stated regarding the suppression of the traditional Mass by Paul VI: " A community that suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden, and makes the longing for it seem downright indecent, calls its very self into question."(8) Yet the "conservative" Catholic is not disturbed by this. He simply follows the Pope no matter what; " I would rather be wrong with the Pope than right without him" is one of the more asinine "conservative" Catholic bromides.
It needs to be stressed, however, that it would be unjust to condemn "conservatives" EN BLOC because they have more or less accommodated themselves to the post-conciliar revolution. The question of opposition to papal acts is a matter of conscience in which no member of the faithful can claim infallibility. Indeed, the very emergence of neo-Catholicism reflects an unparalleled situation which has cause vast confusion about what to do in the current crisis: While there have always been would-be innovators in the Church and traditional Catholics to oppose them, never in the history of the Church have the innovators been the Popes themselves.
As Msgr. Gamber observed in Reform of the Roman Liturgy; "It is most certainly NOT the function of the Holy See to introduce Church reforms. The first duty of the pope is to act as primary bishop, to watch over the traditions of the Church---her dogmatic, moral and liturgical traditions."(9) But what happens when the popes, for the first time in Church History, demand reforms which destroy or suppress a number of those traditions? "Conservative" Catholicism seeks an answer to that question---we must presume in good faith---even if history is demonstrating that it is the wrong answer.
Self-Contradiction and Denial
Mindful of the grave duty to preserve the Church's patrimony, yet unwilling frankly to question papal acts, the "conservative" Catholic seeks to relieve the insupportable tension of his own position, thereby falling into self-contradiction. He will say, for example that a new rite of Mass in the vernacular is "not what the Council intended". But, as we have already seen (10), Paul VI declared that it was precisely the Council which provided the mandate for his revolutionary new vernacular rite of Mass; and it was Pope Paul himself that approved the Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, making it his own act as supreme legislator of the Church. Thus, while insisting that papal reform of the liturgy be accepted with utter docility, the conservative implicity accuses the Pope of gravely erring in the interpretation and implementation of his own document!
Another device which conservatives use to relieve the tension of their position is to assign all of the disastrous effects of the post-conciliar innovations and reversals to "abuses" committed by faceless "liberals", without ever acknowledging that the "abuses" are nearly all permitted under Vatican guidelines. The conservative often finds himself decrying what the Vatican itself approves or encourages, even as he insists that there be no public criticism of the Holy See.
For example, the neo-Catholic might well lament the current state of the liturgy in a general way. But he will not confront the fact that the spectacle of a charismatic guitar Mass with babbling parishioners, "slaying in the Spirit," people falling backwards onto the floor of the sanctuary, altar girls, female "lectors", communion in the hand, and readings by a Protestant minister, conducted in a church used jointly by a Catholic parish and a Protestant sect, is entirely "permissible" under guidelines approved by Paul VI and John Paul II, including the utterly astounding 1993 Directory on Ecumenism. (11)#BMg/secret4.htm - 10
To give another example, neo-Catholics can often be heard complaining about the scandal of "sex education" in Catholic schools. Yet they will never mention that for 30 years the Holy See has been well aware of the pornographic content of "Catholic" sex-ed curricula and has taken no action to remove them from Catholic schools, much less punish the bishops, priests and nuns who force these vile curricula upon innocent children.(12) On the contrary, despite the teaching of the pre-Vatican II Magisterium condemning any form of "sex education"(13), Cardinal Ratzinger declared that there was no problem from "the doctrinal point of view" with the obscene "New Creation" course, then passed it over to Cardinal Baum, who likewise approved it and sent it back to America, where it has been destroying the innocence of children ever since. (14) While the Vatican goes on allowing little children to be scandalized in Catholic classrooms around the world, the "conservatives" heap lavish praise on a toothless 1995 Vatican document, issued 30 years too late , which contains the laughable advice that "it is recommended that respect be given to the right of the child . . . to withdraw from any form of sexual instruction imparted outside the home."(15) Recommended? It is an intolerable outrage in the first place that a Catholic child should have to withdraw from a Catholic classroom in order to preserve his innocence!
The same refusal to place the blame where it belongs characterizes the "conservative" Catholic's approach to the post-conciliar Vatican program of "collaborating" with the very forces of secularism the preconciliar popes condemned. Thus, "conservative" Catholics will decry Ted Turner's gift of a billion dollars to the godless United Nations, as did Mother Angelica at one of the conservative's widely publicized "Call to Holiness" conferences. Yet they never mention that the Vatican, a permanent observer at the U.N., is one of that organization's staunchest supporters, despite measured "reservations" about particular U.N. policies or activities which it otherwise subscribes to. [For example, the Vatican is a signatory to the deplorable U.N. Convention on the "Rights of the Child".(16)] Neither will conservatives" mention that the Conciliar document GAUDIUM ET SPES called precisely for establishment of a world government(17), or that in the very midst of the Council Paul VI traveled to New York to pay tribute to the United Nations as "this lofty institution", and the "last great hope for concord and peace," declaring: "Let unanimous trust in this institution grow, LET ITS AUTHORITY INCREASE . . ." Nor will conservatives breath a word about the fact that Pope John Paul II, a major contributor to GAUDIUM ET SPES, expressed the same sentiments as his predecessor in his own address to the U.N. thirty years later. On that occasion the current Pope proclaimed the "esteem of the Apostolic See and of the Catholic Church for this institution" and pronounced the U.N. --- worldwide promoter of contraception, abortion and atheistic humanism --- "a great instrument for harmonizing and coordinating (!) international life."(18) God forbid.
There is still another device by which conservatives seek to resolve the tension between the continuity of ecclesial traditions and obedience to the current program of unprecedented innovation; Some of them pretend that there is no tension at all by simply declaring that anything whatever the Pope decrees is by definition traditional:"[W]hat the Church approves is, by definition compatible with Catholic Traditions; for the Church, especially the Holy See, is the arbiter and judge of Tradition. [The Pope, the Mass and the Council p.71-72] The problem with this argument is that it deprives Tradition of any objective content, reducing it essentially to whatever the Pope Desires. The result is pure nonsense: altar girls, for example become "traditional," even though they were forbidden for the entire 2,000 year history of the Church, and were even forbidden by Pope John Paul II until he abruptly reversed his own prior decree.
The abandonment of the traditional Mass in favor of a new vernacular Mass also becomes "traditional". In fact innovation itself becomes "traditional". The truth of the matter is that the pope is not the "arbiter" of Tradition, but its custodian, as Gamber observed with approbation of Cardinal Ratzinger. When Pius IX declared that "I am Tradition!" he meant that he represented Tradition, not that Tradition was his to determine. Tradition does not need an "arbiter" because Tradition is a manifest fact" the sum total of what Catholics have always believed and practiced in their faith and worship. None of that has changed in any material respect before 1965. To say, therefore, that the changes of the past 35 years are "compatible with Tradition" is to deny reality; it is even to deny what Paul VI himself said when introducing the new Mass on November 26th 1969: "We must prepare ourselves. This novelty is no small thing."
In order to maintain his position, therefore, the "conservative' Catholic must live in a constant state of denial about the ultimate source of the current crisis in the church. This assumes the conservative is willing to admit that there is a crisis to begin with. As already noted, many conservatives insist that we are in the midst of a "great renewal".
The "conservative" wants to believe---and wants us to believe --- that the liturgical revolution and the "ecumenical venture" imposed upon us by Rome are good in themselves, and that the problem, if any, lies with "abuses" in the application of these unexampled novelties at the pastoral level. HE stubbornly refuses to concede the possibility that the vast program of AGGIORNAMENTO directed from the Vatican over the past 35 years is flawed in principle, even though it has been accompanied by the manifest devastation of the entire landscape of the Church.
When we examine the "conservative" approach to the pre-Vatican II Magisterium, we find a further tendency to self-contradiction in the "conservative" position: Many of the same conservatives who council blind obedience to the reforms of Paul VI and John Paul II are curiously ambivalent when it comes to the definitive anti-modernist teaching of the great pre-conciliar popes, which does not square well with the Vatican's current non-infallible pastoral program.
A remarkable example of this is to be found in the writings of prominent "conservative" Alan Schreck, a professor of theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, which has acquired a reputation for uncompromising orthodoxy. In discussing the Syllabus of Errors of Pius IX, which non-liberal theologians regard as a probably infallible condemnation of the very principles of modern civilization, Schreck opines that:
"Unfortunately, the Syllabus condemned most of the new ideas of the day and gave the impression that the Catholic Church was against everything in the modern world . . .The Catholic Church looked like it was becoming a fortress Church, standing in opposition to the modern world and
rejecting all new ideas."(19)
But, of course, a fortress against the ideas of the world is precisely what the Catholic Church is meant to be by her divine Founder. The Church has no need of the world's "new ideas" (which are really old heresies with new faces) since she is the repository of every that has already been revealed to us by God. Schreck's slighting of the Syllabus, which appears in Denzinger as binding Catholic doctrine, is in stark contrast to the obsequious obedience conservatives display toward every non-infallible pastoral directive of the post-conciliar era.
Schreck's assessment of the definitive acts of Pius X against the modernists is even more revealing of this self-contradiction within the "conservative" idea:
"It is probably true that Pius X overreacted (!) against the threat of Modernism, which led to the stifling of creative (!) Catholic research, especially in the area of biblical and historical studies, over the next fifty years . .."(20)
So, then, Pope St. Pius X, perhaps the greatest Pope in Church history and the only Pope to be canonized in the past 500 years, is blithely accused of "overreacting" by professor Schreck of Stubenville! Yet "conservatives" like Schreck would never dream of accusing Paul VI of "overreacting" in his quest for "Christian unity" when he suddenly imposes on the entire Church a new rite of Mass, concocted with the aid of six Protestant advisors under the guidance of a suspected Mason who was later dismissed and packed off to Iran! (21)
Another striking example of this self-contradiction is to be found in THE POPE, THE MASS and THE COUNCIL, a celebrated book-length defense of the "conservative" view that we must embrace each and every one of the post-conciliar reforms, including the abominable ICEL translation of the Mass into English approved by Vatican bureaucrats. The authors concede that the Catechism of the Council of Trent clearly teaches that the words of Our Lord over the Cup of His Blood are to be translated PRO VOBIS ET PROMULTIS --- for you and for MANY --- because the Church has always taught that the fruits of the Sacrifice of the Mass benefit only the elect, not all men. (22) Yet ICEL mistranslates "for many" as "for all".
Faced with this undeniable conflict between a solemnly promulgated Catechism of the universal Church and a currently approved vernacular translation of the Mass, the authors give the Catechism the heave-ho: "[I]t [The Catechism] was not issued by the Council of Trent but was only prepared afterwards at the request of the Council. "(23)
But the authors fail to mention that the Catechism of the Council of Trent was solemnly promulgated by the authority of Pius V, a canonized saint! In further support of a mistranslation which alters the very theology of the Mass and contradicts Trent, and which Msgr. Gamber rightly calls "scandalous", the authors cite a liberal theologian who claimed in 1963 that "Christ had no intention of establishing a rigid formula.".(24) Thus, the "conservative" will even resort to the opinions of liberals to justify the unprecedented innovations of the current program.
For many "conservatives", then, absolute obeisance to papal pronouncements ends at the chasm marked by the year 1960. Beyond that chasm, their allegiance to the constant teaching of the Magisterium seems to wane' the preconciliar popes become for them hazy figures, whose encyclicals and solemnly promulgated catechisms may be minimized as the outdated artifacts of a bygone era to the extent that they conflict with post-conciliar novelties. Two thousand years of traditional teaching and praxis become a closed book, or at least a book which must be edited and revised in accordance with the new and separate book of Vatican II.
The Malice of Some
The elements of denial and self-contradiction in "conservative" Catholicism are not the only problem with this phenomenon. Some "conservatives", particularly a number of the more prominent ones, seem discontent to remain immured in the compromise of their own position while leaving others to their own approach to the crisis. For these conservatives there is an unfortunate tendency to denounce those who have refused to join them: namely, the traditionalists.
Thus we are treated to the spectacle of certain conservatives who timidly decline to name any of the liberals demolishing the Church before their very eyes, yet fearlessly name and publicly condemn traditionalists who only offense is to continue to practice the Faith precisely as it was always practiced before 1965.
A notable case in point is Karl Keating's ruthless persecution of Gerry Matatics, the renowned convert from Presbyterianism who was once a "conservative" but joined the traditionalist movement in 1992. Keating, a "conservative" Catholic apologist from San Diego, was not content merely to denounce Mr. Matatics in the Catholic press as "a sad example of how schism leads very quickly to heresy." (25) Pressing his attack even further, Keating spent the next two years systematically ruining the good name and apostolate of Mr. Matatics --- publishing article after article against him, contacting bishops and others who had endorsed his apostolate to urge them to withdraw their endorsements, and recommending that he not be permitted to speak at parishes and other "conservative" venues. Yet Mr. Matatics, the father of eight children has never ceased to be a Catholic in good standing, and is currently professor of Sacred Scripture at a traditional seminary in good standing with Rome.
Mr. Keating has never in his entire career as an apologist launched such an attack against any other member of the Church --- not even the arch liberals who are plundering her institutions while Keating, and other "conservatives" of his stripe, watch silently. And while Keating labored mightily to persuade bishops to withdraw endorsements of Mr. Matatics, it does not appear that this self-styled opponent of Protestant errors has ever urged any bishop to withdraw his endorsement of Billy Graham, for example, whose "Billy Graham Crusade" is promoted around the country even though Mr. Graham condones contraception, divorce and "hard case" abortions. (26)
This reveals another aspect of the malignity of certain conservatives toward traditionalists: traditionalists are easy targets, unlike Billy Graham or such liberal prelates as Cardinal Mahony, who endorses Keating's work. The conservative leaders who publicly denounces traditionalists can "defend the faith" without fear of reprisal or loss of support from his "middle way" apostolate. Indeed, Keating has not been sated by the persecution of one traditionalists with a wife and eight children. At a recent "Defending the Faith" conference at (where else?) Steubenville, Keating announced that he is writing an entire book about "dissenters on the right." The Church burns while Keating fiddles on about "extreme traditionalists", "illicit" Latin Masses, "rigorists" and "Feeneyites".
Watchdogs of the Revolution
As the Keating affair demonstrates, there is a kind of Soviet-style purge in store for traditionalists who disrupt the conservative's state of denial, and who suggest by their own repudiation of the post-conciliar debacle that the conservative is an accessory to it. The traditionalist victim of conservative repression is cast into outer darkness, declared a "schismatic"---the conservative Catholic's equivalent of the Soviet "non-person"---so that the conservative cohort can continue to accommodate itself to the debacle without further disturbance. In the case of Mr. Matatics, the purge has even extended to the clumsy deletion of his name from programs re-broadcast on EWTN concerning prominent evangelical converts to the Faith, and the announcement on EWTN radio that Mr. Matatics has left the Church. For the "conservative" establishment Mr. Matatics has ceased to exist; he has "gone over"; he has abandoned the "great renewal" to embrace instead the constant traditions of the Church which began to disappear so mysteriously in 1960, when the Third Secret of Fatima was locked away in a desk drawer by Pope John XXIII.
We can see, then, how "conservative" Catholicism has vastly complicated the current crisis. Unwitting watchdogs of the post-conciliar revolution, the conservatives slumber while an army of burglars ransack the household of the Faith, but now and then leap to their feet to run upstairs and yap at traditionalists who have taken refuge in the attic with their few remaining possessions, including some "illicit" Latin Masses. Meanwhile, the burglars continue their work without hindrance.
Thanks to the emergence of "conservative" Catholicism, for the fist time in Church history staunch Catholic traditionalism has become an epithet. The very existence of a false "conservative" middle ground between revolution and tradition has permitted the revolutionaries to emarginate traditionalists. As arch-liberal Richard P. McBrien put it in his book THE REMAKING OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH; "Criticism of the extreme right by moderate conservatives is far more effective that by moderate progressives." (27)
Indeed it is. The conservatives, however unwittingly have served the revolution well. Yet it was Pope St. Pius X, ten years before Our Lady appeared at Fatima, who warned the faithful of the growing potential for revolution in the Church , and who reminded us all that "the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries, nor innovators: they are TRADITIONALISTS."(28)
1. Mortalium animos, nn. 10-11
2. The Ottaviani Intervention, Tan: Rockford, Ill. (1992) pp. 28, 55
3. Reform of the Roman Liturgy, Una Voce Press; San Juan, Capistrano (1993), p. 34-35
4. St. Robert Bellarmine, De Romano Pontifice, Book II Chapter 29
5. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910 edition, pp. 432-33
6. Davies, Michael. Pope John's Council, Angelus Press: Kansas City (1977), p. 17-18
7. Von Holdebrand, Dietrich, the Devastated Vineyard, p. 17
8. The Salt of the Earth, Ignatius Press, San Francisco (1997
9. Gamber, op cit, p. 38
10. See part III of this series Catholic Family News December 1997, p. 13
11. See, Directory for Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, n. 138, which authorizes shared ownership of church premises if the Bishop deems it financially or otherwise appropriate, and there is "a good ecumenical relationship" with the Protestant co-owners---whatever that means. In such case, "consideration" should be give to removal of the Blessed Sacrament from the jointly owned sanctuary, in order to accommodate the "sensitivities" of "those who will be using the building" (n. 139) In his encyclical UT UNUM SINT pope John Paul II confirms that the Directory was "issued with my approval" as the basis for applying ecumenism in " the pastoral sphere" (UT UNUM SINT, n. 16)
12. The author is currently serving as legal counsel to Catholic parents whose ten year old daughter was expelled from a "Catholic" school in the Archdioceses of Miami because the parents refused to allow their little girl to study the details of sexual intercourse in the classroom---including explicit names of private parts and sexual actions.
13. See, for example, Pius XI's 1929 encyclical DIVINIS ILLIUS MAGISTRI, condemning all forms of classroom sexual instruction, and cautioning that if "some instruction" is to be given in private, that it not decent to details.
14. Catholic Family News, October 1997, p.3
15. The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, n. 123.3 (1995)
16 See "Children's Rights", Catholic Family News, April 1997, p. 1
17. Gaudium et spes, nn. 77 and 82
18. See, Pope Paul's Address to the United Nations (1965) and Pope John Paul II's address to the United Nations on October 5, 1995.
19. Schreck, Alan, The Compact History of the Catholic Church. Servant Books; Ann Arbor (1987), p. 95
20. Ibid., p. 105
21. See Michael Davies, Pope Paul's New Mass, Chapter 24
22. Catechism of the Council of Trent, Christian Book Club, Hawthorne, CA (1829) p. 220
23. Likoudis, James and Whitehead, Kenneth, D. The Pope, the Mass and the Council. Christopher Publishing House: Hanover, Mass(1982), p. 106
24. Ibid., p. 103
25. Wanderer, February 16, 1995 p. 7. It must be noted that, when presented with proof of Mr. Matatics' orthodoxy, The Wanderer justly and charitably restored access to its pages for the promotion of Mr. Matatics' apostolate.
26. Mr. Keating was invited to confirm or deny this report by an E-mail inquiry to which he never responded.
27. McBrien, Richard P. The Remarking of the Church (1973), p. 146
28. Letter of Pope Pius X on the Sillon Movement, August 25, 1910.
As our brief discussion of "conservative" Catholicism should make clear, the term is really a misnomer. A conservative is by definition on who conserves, with reverent devotion, and even with a certain fierceness, whatever he has received in the sound traditions of his community.
This is all the more so in the Holy Catholic Church, a community whose founder is God Himself, and whose traditions reflect as much as possible the perfect conservatism of this immutable God.
For century after century those traditions, especially the liturgy, nourished and instructed the faithful in an abode set apart from time and human "progress", where the eternal "I am" could be heard clearly in the silence and seen in the majesty of rituals by which man strove to give God not one iota less that what He is due.
St. Peter Canisius, Doctor of the Church expressed the essence of true Catholic conservatism in his Summae Doctrinae Christianae: "It behooves us UNANIMOUSLY AND INVIOLABLY to observe the ecclesiastical traditions, whether codified or simply retained by the CUSTOMARY PRACTICE of the Church." (1) The duty to preserve traditional praxis, whether or not it is strictly Apostolic, is so crucial to the common good of the Church that it was set forth in the profession of Faith promulgated by Pope Pius IV:
The apostolic AND ecclesiastical traditions, and all other OBSERVANCES and institutions of that same Church I most firmly admit and embrace. . . I also receive and admit THE RECEIVED AND APPROVED CEREMONIES OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH used in the solemn administration of all the aforesaid sacraments. (2)
Why is the preservation of ancient praxis so vital to the Church that it pertains to the very profession of the Faith? Because the practices of the Faith enshrine the supernatural realities of the Faith, visibly manifesting and affirming their power and truth. To change abruptly --- or worse, abolish --- practices which have grown up gradually around a doctrine or a sacrament as a work of the Holy Ghost over centuries, is to run the risk that the faithful will lose belief in the doctrine or the sacrament. To change or abolish not one or two, but many ancient customary practices in the church, is to run the risk of mass defection from the Faith.
We recall that it was Pope Pius XII who spoke prophetically of the suicide of altering the liturgy, predicting the day when sanctuary lamps would no longer be seen in many Catholic churches, and we would ask ourselves "Where have they taken Him?" His Holiness did not use the word suicide lightly. The fear of ecclesial suicide (in a relative sense, of course, since the Church cannot die) is precisely why the postconciliar innovations were utterly unthinkable to the preconciliar popes, including the very last of them. In VETERUM SAPIENTIA John XXIII called for a massive rededication to the Church's unbroken Latin tradition, and warned "Let no innovator DARE to write against the use of Latin in the sacred rites . . . nor let them in their folly attempt to minimize the will of the Apostolic See in this matter." (3)
[It is utterly astonishing that only months later this apostolic letter of a Supreme Pontiff was completely ignored --- trampled underfoot in the uncontrollable stampede of reform which Pope John himself had unleashed by calling the Council.]
We have already noted that even "conservative" Catholic are constrained to admit that after the Council "the Catholic Church embarked on a series of reforms and changes which have scarcely left a single Catholic unaffected; and which, in many respects, have changed the external image of the Church." (4) But when the "conservative" remarks this fact, he remarks it blandly --- as if it were not an outrage beyond words that those entrusted with preserving the common good of the Church would dare to alter the very image of the Bride of Christ, stripping her of her immemorial liturgy and a host of other precious traditions almost overnight. Surveying the vast effects of this incalculable disaster some thirty years later, the "conservative" Catholic professes to wonder what the traditionalists are fussing about.
We find a particularly egregious example of the "conservative" attitude in the recent remarks of prominent "conservative" Pat Madrid in the "conservative" organ New Oxford Review. (5) Madrid, on of the so-called "new breed" of Catholic apologists, writes condescendingly of the "stultifying anger," "smoldering resentment" and "anti-Vatican II agendas" of many traditionalists who attend "indult" Masses. And Madrid is referring here to his traditionalist friends! [It should come as no surprise that Madrid was until recently a close colleague of Karl Keating, the relentless inquisitor of Gerry Matatics and others he considers "extreme traditionalists".] (6)
In a typical display of the self-contradiction inherent in the "conservative" idea, Madrid admits that he has abandoned the Novus Ordo for the Eastern Rite to escape liturgical abuses. He even admits that in the Novus Ordo "the fire of the Faith is sputtering in the hearts of the people in the pews." Yet, although Madrid recognizes that the Roman rite is now a disaster area, he does nothing but run from the scene --- hile hurling insults over his shoulder at those who have remained behind in an effort to repair some of the damage by restoring the traditional liturgy at "indult" parishes. Madrid surrenders without protest his entire heritage as a member of the Roman Rite, and then has the amazing temerity to belittle in public his own supposed friends because they refuse to join him in surrender. And, in a kind of perverse loyalty to the revolution, Madrid declines to reclaim some small part of his heritage even when it is offered to him by way of an "indult" Mass. He cannot bear to worship with those unpleasant traditionalists, who have the bad taste to display righteous anger over the destruction of the Roman Rite! One would dearly like to ask Mr. Madrid if Our Lord was guilty of "stultifying anger" when He drove the profaners of the Temple into the streets with a whip.
Madrid's flight into the Eastern Rite is not the path chosen by most "conservatives", who have simply accommodated themselves to the debacle. We have already noted that some "conservatives" actually see the postconciliar reforms as nothing less that cause for rejoicing. "Conservative" Peter Schreck, a great proponent of the "charismatic renewal", opines in his Compact History of the Catholic Church that the postconciliar years are "a new Pentecost" marked by thousands of Catholics being "baptized in the Holy Spirit".
In regards to the sudden eruption of "Catholic ecumenicism" at Vatican II, Schreck offers the following remarkable observation: "The document [Vatican II's Decree on Ecumenism, UNITATIS EDINTEGRATIO] truly began a new era in the relationship of the Catholic Church with other Christians. Throwing off all triumphalism of the past, the Catholic Church openly acknowledged its (sic) share
of the blame for the division of Christianity. (7)
It does not seem to occur to "conservatives" like Schreck that this kind of talk destroys belief in the Church. For if the Church was wrong to be "triumphal" throughout the centuries and must now "throw off" her imposture; and if her ancient untouchable liturgy has gone wrong after 1,965 years and needed suddenly to be "thrown off" as well, then perhaps the Church, being wrong in her triumphalism and in her liturgy, is wrong about other things as well. And if that is the case, then perhaps the Church is not the divinely founded institution she had always claimed --- triumphally -- to be. At least that is what many of the once faithful Catholics in the pews (or gone from the pews in ever-increasing droves) were led to believe by the bewildering series of reversals which began almost immediately after the Third Secret of Fatima was consigned to oblivion in the papal apartments of John XXIII.
The Conservative Idea
We must remember that generalizations about "conservatives" at the subjective level of the individual are perilous. Many Catholics are "conservatives" only because the Novus Ordo is all they have ever known, or because it is all they have access to in their dioceses. These "conservatives" have never consciously rejected their heritage as members of the Roman Rite --- on the contrary, many of them may long for a return to integral Tradition. Nor is it possible for anyone but God Almighty to judge the personal holiness of anyone, "conservative" or traditionalists.
The focus of this discussion is the idea of "conservative" Catholicism as a system of novel practices and attitudes which began to appear in the Church during the 1960s. The "conservative" idea is exemplified by such "conservative" leaders as Schreck, Keating and Madrid, who embrace it in spite of the ample historical evidence it has caused, incalculable damage to the Church. Based on the objective words and deeds of some of the more prominent "conservatives", we can safely generalize about the "conservative" idea. Particular applications aside, it is the idea that with the advent of the Second Vatican Council a new mode of orthodoxy suddenly arose in the Church --- an orthodoxy stripped of any vital like to ecclesial traditions (especially the Roman liturgy) once considered an untouchable sacred trust. It is the idea that by virtue of Vatican II the Church has some manner, never clearly defined, progressed beyond what she was before the Council to a new mode of existence, and that this progression requires an assent on the part of the faithful which is somehow different from the assent required to the constant teaching of all the previous councils.
When conservatives like Madrid say that traditionalists are "anti-Vatican II", they are saying more than they seem to realize. They are saying that Our Faith has come to be defined by a particular Council and the revolutionary reforms and new attitudes it engendered. What this means is that the "conservative" idea is nothing more or less than a form of progressive or liberal Catholicism --- whether a given "conservative" knows it or not, or is, subjectively speaking, a liberal by intent. For the distinctive legacy of Vatican II which the "conservative" celebrates and demands that we "embrace does not consist in doctrine, but in liberalizing reforms and attitudes many of which were explicitly condemned before the Council.
If this verdict on "conservative" Catholicism seems harsh and uncharitable, let the verdict be confirmed by a leading "conservative" himself. In a recent article in Crisis magazine, entitled "Sensibly Center-Right", "conservative" luminary George Sim Johnston praises the book Being Right; Conservative Catholics in American a compendium of the view s of a host of Johnston's fellow "conservative" Catholic leaders, lumped together with pieces written by doctrinaire liberals. In the process of praising the book, Johnston lays bare the whole truth about the "conservative" idea:
"The featured players [James Hitchcock, Helen Hull Hitchcock, George Weigel and James Sullivan, formerly of Catholics United of the Faith] do not locate themselves on the theological 'right'. They embrace Vatican II, don't pine for the Tridentine liturgy, and support the historically radical
ecumenism of John Paul II. By any historical measure, the 'conservatives' in this volume are progressive Catholics.
Unlike the Sadducees on the Catholic left and the Pharisees on the truly Catholic right, the 'conservatives' in this volume understand the pontificate of John Paul II because they understand the Second Vatican Council. They understand that Christ founded a teaching Church whose doctrines are not subject to whim and manipulation. But they also realize that the Church, being human and organic, has to change." (8)
There we have it all: The destroyed Roman Rite is a mere Tridentine artifact not worth "pining" over. Liberals are Sadducees, traditionalists are Pharisees, while the progressive "conservatives" are "sensibly "center-right. The Church just has to change, you see. Johnston even refers to his own kind as "neo-conservatives Catholics", who "are not looking for a nostalgia driven restoration" --- as if the ancient ecclesial traditions of the Holy Catholic Church were mere nostalgia pieces to be discarded like the detritus of popular culture.
According to Johnston, the "conservatives" and the "historically radical" ecumenist, John Paul II, understand each other because they all "understand" Vatican II. The Council has become kind of secret hermeneutic key to the practice of the Faith. Johnston even claims that the Pope is serving as "a populist phenomenon . . . unfolding outside the official Catholic apparatus." (This "populist phenomenon" does not include any traditionalist or Tridentine Masses, of course.) So the Pope and his sensibly center-right commandos ---the only people in the Church who really "understand" Vatican II --- are going to "renew" the Church out side of her own "official apparatus"! What sort of gnostic-progressivist nonsense is this? It is the "conservative" idea in full flight, cut loose from the ecclesiastical traditions and institutions which were overthrown by the postconciliar revolution. Notice also yet another example of the 'conservative" Catholic's inevitable tendency to self-contradiction: While "conservatives" like Johnston readily condemn traditionalists for working outside the "official apparatus" of the Church, Johnston sees nothing wrong with a "populist" movement of his fellow "conservatives" which does precisely the same thing, but with no intention of restoring lost traditions which the "conservatives", in their Vatican II gnosis, consider mere nostalgia.
The Pope Card
Now, the doctrinaire "conservative" has a ready reply to this verdict on his way of thinking; an argument from authority the mere recitation of which he seems to think must end the case in his favor; IF I AM A LIBERAL, the "conservative" will declare with a flout, THEN SO IS POPE JOHN PAUL II! But in playing the Pope card, all the "conservative" does is to expose precisely why there has been a postconciliar debacle in the first place. For it is undeniable that "by any historical measures" ---to use Johnston's own phrase ---John Paul II's pontificate has been quite liberal in certain matters of discipline, prudential judgment and private opinion. Even Johnston admits that the Pope's wholly unprecedented ecumenism is "historically radical".
Indeed, Johnston's very point is that the Pope, like the "conservatives", is a progressive by preconciliar standards. That progressivism is evident in the Pope's ecumenism, his interfaith prayer meetings, his approval of altar girls, his call for greater "inculturation" of an already fragmented liturgy, his attendance at rock concerts, and his views on matters such as evolution and the application of the death penalty, which do not pertain to the charism of papal infallibility. (9)
It is impossible to mount a serious argument that papal acts such as the World Day of Prayer of Assisi or the permission for altar girls are the marks of a conservative papacy. Nor is it conceivable that Pius XII, Pius X or any other preconciliar pope could have written an encyclical like UT UNUM SINT, which calls for the establishment of a commission (since formed) to examine which aspects of the papacy can be done away with for the sake of "Christian unity". Indeed, the altar girl fiasco showed many "conservatives" that the Pope is actually more liberal than they are in certain matters. The mere sight of girls assisting at the altar of God for the first time in Church history was enough to drive a number of "conservatives" into the traditionalist movement. [Most conservatives, however, followed the characteristic syndrome of denial, suddenly deciding that altar girls were not that important an issue after all, even though only months before they had condemned the demand for altar girls as the worst sort of modernism.]
It must be stressed that although John Paul II has followed a largely liberal program in the realm of prudential decisions and non-infallible pronouncements and opinions, no member of the Faithful has the right to judge his person. Nor should any Catholic, despairing over the current condition of the Church, allow himself to wander into the fever swamp of SEDEVACANTISM, where the devil ensnares good Catholics in the terrible delusion that they can decide who is the lawful occupant of the See of Peter.
The fact remains that John Paul II is our Pope, and that whenever it was necessary to make a definite pronouncement to prevent an actual defection from the deposit of the Faith (on woman's ordination, for example), he held the line. Nevertheless, honesty compels us to admit the evidence of our senses: The overall drift of this pontificate, and that of Paul VI, is simply not in line with the course charted by every Pope before 1960. It is ultimately this fact which explains why the Roman Rite has become such a spiritual disaster area that even "conservatives" like Madrid feel compelled to flee from it.
A New Name for Conservatives
We have shown that the failure of the "conservative" idea is that it has largely reduced the practice of the Faith to a false middle ground lying between two supposed extremes, when the duty of Catholics is precisely to be extreme, refusing to sacrifice even one iota of the sacred patrimony of the Church to the demands of modernity. If one is to apply political terminology to the practice of the Faith, as Johnston does, then the duty of Catholics is not to be "sensibly center-right", but radically "right-wing", yielding absolutely nothing to the radical Left. For if we (or even the Pope) should yield ground to those who would destroy us, we are lost. No less than Pope Pius XI, who condemned the "ecumenical movement" and established the Feast of Christ the King, expressed the matter in these very terms:
"The crisis we are experiencing is unique in history . . . IT IS NO LONGER PERMITTED TO BE MEDIOCRE. Everyone has the imperative duty to remember that he has a mission to fulfill . . . each within the limits of his activity, to bring the world back to Christ. Only by being radicals of the right will Catholics have the dynamism to withstand the radicals of the left and to conquer the world for Christ." (10)
Because it is largely a compromise with the forces of revolution in the Church, "conservative" Catholicism necessarily lacks the dynamism Pius XI expected of the faithful. Though it contains no heresies, and many of its practitioners may be pious individuals, "conservative" Catholicism was, and remains woefully short of a radical response to the revolutionaries who swarmed out of that Trojan Horse in the City of God known as the Second Vatican Council.
"Conservative" Catholicism is mediocre. It splits the difference between Tradition and revolution --- settling for, and even praising, a hopelessly ruined liturgy, while offering an enfeebled evangelization which shrinks from declaring that this very salvation of souls depends upon their conversion to the one true religion. The "conservative's" version of militancy is limited to complaining about some of the wildest excesses of the revolution, but without daring to suggest that there be a counter-revolution to restore the Church to her perennial state before the Council.
What is more, on a whole range of matters pertaining to the Faith "conservative" Catholicism has given ground to the neo-modernism: on the liturgy; on sacred music; on the anti-modernism of the preconciliar popes; on the preconciliar papal warnings regarding Masonic conspiracies against the Church (which many "conservatives" find faintly amusing); on the constant condemnation of worship in common with non-Catholics; on the duty of the State, as well as the individual, to profess the Catholic Faith; on the consecration and conversion of Russia; on the literal truth of the Bible as history, especially the first three chapters of Genesis; on evolution; on classroom sex education, and even on the virtue of modesty itself[ This last item is amply demonstrated by a recent "Life on the Rock" call-in show on EWTN, hosted by "conservative" Jeff Cavins. The "teen" callers were allowed to ask explicit questions about sexual sins on the air, during a show on whose ostensible theme was modesty and purity! Matters best left to the confessional were broadcast to the world on live television as topics for casual conversation.]
"Conservative" Catholicism lacks the fighting spirit of the Church militant as exemplified by the people of Vendee, who shed their blood and gave their substance in battle to defend Tradition against the French revolutionaries. Confronted by what Cardinal Suenens himself admitted was the French Revolution in the Church, the "conservative" Catholic offered no resistance to the disastrous changes, even though he could have licitly resisted with complete safety to his membership in the Church, as the growing traditionalist movement demonstrates.
In sum, the "conservative" Catholic is richly deserving of a new name; for in truth he has conserved nothing but what the revolution has allowed him to keep. He does not seem terribly interested in conserving even what little the revolution might be willing to return to him from his stolen patrimony. He is just as likely to sniff at it with disdain, as Madrid does. The "conservative" has largely buried his own past, seeming no longer to remember that traditionalists are nothing other that what he himself once was, not so long ago.
The "conservatives" should be described, therefore, by a name which reflects what they really are and what "conservatives" like Johnston demonstrate they are: They should be called neo-Catholics, who practice neo-Catholicism. When the counter-revolution is won, when unity of cult is restored to the Roman Rite, when the word Catholic has recovered the same meaning and the same sense for every member of the Faithful, there will no longer be any need for such terms. But for now, there is a need. The neo-Catholics cannot in justice be allowed to continue claiming for themselves the mantle of sound orthodoxy. Nor should they be permitted any longer to portray traditionalists as extremists for worshipping as Catholics have always worshipped and believing as Catholics have always believed.
The Civilization of Love
Eighty years after Our Lady appeared at Fatima, the Faithful who will remember the Church as she appeared only 35 years ago now survey an alien landscape they could never have envisioned before the Council. The liturgy of the Roman Rite has collapsed, as Cardinal Ratzinger admits, shattered into hundreds of ever-mutating vernacular fragments in the various nations. The high altar has been replaced by a table; the marble tabernacle on the altar by a wooden box in a side room. The altar boys have given way to altar girls, and the majesty of Gregorian chant to the bathos of a strumming guitar or a tinkling piano.
For many years now the Vatican, like the new liturgy has ceased speaking to us about the Four Last Things: death, judgment, Heaven and Hell. Yet it was the loss of Heaven and the torments of Hell which Our Lady was sent to earth to show the seers of Fatima, at the dawn of this century of rebellion against God. It seems that the more the world rebels, the less the Vatican speaks of the eternal hellfire which is the punishment for that rebellion.
As the Four Last Things recede from the pronouncements of the Holy See, the Social Kingship of Christ is being replaced by something called "the civilization of love" ---a phrase coined by Paul VI which has become a kind of Vatican advertising slogan. (11) A reading of various Vatican statements over the years reveals that this "civilization of love" is a largely U.N.-administered project of building a new world of tolerance and respect for human dignity out of more or less equal parts of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and assorted pagan mystery religions.
The signal event of the new program was the infamous "World Day of Prayer for Peace" at Assisi in October 1986, a Vatican initiative underwritten by the globalist National Wildlife Foundation. According to L'Osservatore Romano, the Pope had summoned practitioners of "the world's great religions" to assemble in Assisi in order to celebrate the "harmony of spirits in the pluriformity of choices". (12) Cardinal Arinze, head of the Vatican Secretariat for Non-Christian Religions, declared that "for building world peace, we need the United Nations", and he praised the pope's unprecedented step" in calling "leaders of all world religions, Christian and otherwise, to Assisi to pray for peace in the world." (13)
Citing Vatican II's teaching on religious liberty, Cardinal Arinze exclaimed that "it is a beautiful thing that Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, African Traditional Religionists, Shintoists, Confucianists, Sikhs and OTHER BELIEVERS can come together to express a common concern for peace in the world." (14) The Pope himself declared that "for the first time in history we have come together from everywhere, Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and World Religions in this sacred place dedicated to St. Francis, to witness before the world, each according to his own conviction, about the transcendent quality of peace." (15 ) But what sort of peace could come from a bizarre gathering of false religions in a sacred Catholic place --- a gesture any preconciliar pope would have regarded as unspeakably scandalous? What sort of peace has the world enjoyed since the World Day of Prayer for Peace at Assisi? Certainly not the peace of Christ --- nor even a worldly peace.
The Vatican produced an official book of the event, setting forth in alphabetical order the prayers that were uttered by representatives of the "world's great religions" in the plaza outside the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi: from the Buddhist Prayer for Peace to the Zoroastrian Prayer for peace. Oddly enough, the book does not include a Catholic Prayer for Peace, but only a generalized Christian intercession. (16) is the Holy Catholic Church now a mere denomination of the larger Christian religion?
The Faithful were assured that despite all appearances, this even was not a scandal, because while the "world's great religions" had come together to pray, they had not actually prayed together, but rather one at a time --- a distinction that would make a Jesuit blush. And so yet, another novelty has taken its place in the life of the postconciliar Church: the "Spirit of Assisi". In 1996 Cardinal Etchegaray, president of the Pontifical Commission for Peace and Justice, issued a statement celebrating the phrase, which the Pope himself coined. The statement concludes with the strange and disturbing invocation: "Spirit of Assisi come upon us all!" (17)
At Assisi in 1986 Cardinal Etchegaray declared in the presence of the Pope that "Each of the religions we profess has inner peace and peace among individuals and nations as one of its aims. Each one pursues this aim in its own distinctive and IRREPLACEABLE way." (18 ) Is the "Spirit of Assisi" a spirit which leads Cardinals to believe that the false religions of the world are irreplaceable in the pursuit of inner peace and world peace? Is not every false religion which darkens the soul of man completely and instantly replaceable by the true religion founded by Jesus Christ, the very Prince of Peace?
The Affluent of Apostasy
In 1910 Pope St. Pius X was confronted with the Sillon Movement, a group of utopian Catholics in France advancing a thesis remarkably similar to this "Spirit of Assisi". The movement's leader, Marc Sangier, was teaching that Catholics must build a new civilization through the cooperation of all "men of good will", regardless of their creed. Piercing this movement's apparently benign facade, Pius X condemned it as "a miserable affluent or apostasy being organized in every country for the establishment of a One-World Church." (19) His Holiness called instead for a return to Christendom, to the Catholic confessional state of pre-Revolutionary Europe, as the only sound foundation for a just civilization:
"[T]he City cannot be built otherwise that as God has built it; society cannot be built up UNLESS THE CHURCH LAYS THE FOUNDATION AND SUPERVISES THE WORK; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City." (20)
Pius X condemned the Sillon movement precisely because it exhibited the "Spirit of Assisi,." As His Holiness observed with just contempt, the Sillon proposed to leave "to each one his own religion or his philosophy", and had abandoned the principle that "Democracy will be Catholic" in favor of "Democracy will not be anti-Catholic, any more that it will be anti-Jewish or anti-Buddhist . . ." The movement, he noted further, brashly "appealed to the workers of all religions and sects . . . to share the same social ideal, to respect all creeds, and to bring with them a certain supply of moral force."
This great sainted pope called the Sillon "a miserable affluent of apostasy" because he knew, with all the wisdom of the Church's perennial teaching, that "there is no true civilization without moral civilization, and no true moral civilization without the true religion." (21)
He knew, as his successor Pius XI had proclaimed in QUAS PRIMAS that "When once men recognize that CHRIST is KING, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony." 21) And he knew as Pope Leo XIII taught us in ANNUM SACRUM, that the Kingship of Christ "includes NOT ONLY CATHOLIC NATIONS. NOT ONLY BAPTIZED PERSONS . . .BUT ALSO ALL THOSE WHO ARE OUTSIDE THE CHRISTIAN FAITH; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ." (22) Is this not what Our Lady came to tell us at Fatima?
Today the Vatican no longer speaks to the world of the social Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ over all men and all nations. It speaks of a pluralistic civilization of love. What is more, Cardinal Ratzinger freely admits that the Vatican has abandoned the traditional teaching for all practical purposes, and will now be content to promote a non-Catholic civilization based on common "human" values:
"I think the tendency to identify a certain society with Christianity will fade . . . We hope and will do all we can to ensure that at least the fundamental tenets are retained, the values which underpin human existence, the things that lead to true humanism." (23)
Cardinal Ratzinger did not mention on this occasion that Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors condemned the opinion that "in the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of other forms of religion." (24) In a theology text he authored, however, Cardinal Ratzinger observed that this documents of Vatican II, especially GAUDIUM ET SPES, comprised a "counter syllabus" designed to "correct (!)...the one-sidedness of the position adopted by the Church under Pius IX and Pius X", and are an "attempt at an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789." (25) That is, the documents of Vatican II are an attempt to overrule the definitive pronouncements of two great Popes and embrace the principles of the French Revolution: liberty for all religions, true or false; equality for all men, regardless of merit; fraternity of all me, whether or not they recognize Christ the King.
Before 1960 the popes understood that God's grace can make possible, even in the "modern world" attainment of the Catholic City praised by St. Pius X as the only truly just society. Yet to day the Vatican surrenders the Catholic ideal because it no longer sees it as practical, settling for a human compromise with the increasingly rebellious rabble of modern societies.
As the Kingship of Christ is abandoned in favor of an "true humanism", the evangelism of old, which produced a growing stream of converts until 1960, has given way to a kind of vast ecclesial public relations campaign. The Vatican calendar is full of media events which promote peace, justice and solidarity, but never mentions the ultimate salvation or damnation of souls for all eternity: World Youth Days with human chains and rock music; a Year 2000 Jubilee with a contest for the best logo; a Eucharistic Congress in Bologna featuring Bob Dylan in concert (for which the Faithful paid $350,000); and, almost monthly it seems, another motorcade to a stadium full of papal fans, who wave, cheer, go home and generally ignore what ever teaching of the Magisterium crimps their global village lifestyles.
In the 13 years which have passed since the last failed attempt to consecrate Russia to the immaculate Heart of Mary as Our Lady requested at Fatima, 600 million children have been murdered in the womb, with no end of the laughter in sight. Legalized mercy-killing has already arrived and will soon become a new holocaust. Russia has passed a law discriminating AGAINST the Catholic Church and in favor of Islam, Judaism and Hinduism. China has driven the Church underground. All of Europe is being merged into a commonwealth of abortion, contraception, divorce and homosexual rights. The United Nations, to which the Popes now pay tribute, busily coordinates emergences of the one-world government called for by GAUDIUM ET SPES (#81).
As we observe the astounding wreckage of the Church we once knew; as the nations of the world are inexorable integrated into a new world order applauded by the Vatican itself, we recognize a truth with sums up the social and religious trends of the past two hundred years which a long line of preconciliar popes heroically resisted: The civilization of love and the culture of death are one and the same thing --- despite all efforts of the current Pope to pry them apart. They are one and the same thing because they are inseparably conjoined in what Pius X contemptuously described as the Sillonist utopia of : "a Democracy which will be neither Catholic nor Protestant nor Jewish. It will be a religion . . . more universal that the Catholic Church, uniting all men as brothers and comrades at last in 'the Kingdom of God'." (26)
It is indeed the civilization of love --- but only human love, and only for those deemed worthy of that love.
And in this brave new civilization, when the people disagree on whether children in the womb, or the old or the infirm, should be loved or killed, or whether men may marry each other, or whether any imaginable evil under the sun may be enshrined in the law, they do not place the matter before the Church for her judgment. They place instead upon the altar of their own volition. And then they confect the Great Sacrament of this new religion "more universal then the Catholic Church"--- they cast their votes upon the altar, sacrificing the newest victim of their sovereign will.
Looking upon the visible ruin of our once majestic Church, and the consequent ruin of the world, one can hardly disagree with Dietrich von Hildebrand's observation in 1973 that "the poison of our epoch is slowly seeping into the Church herself, and many have failed to see the apocalyptic decline of our time." (27) Pope Paul VI himself said as much in that same year, when he admitted that the Council's "opening to the world because a veritable invasion of worldly thinking." (28)
St. Francis of Assisi began his great apostolate by rebuilding with his bare hands a fallen-down church in Assisi. He went on to seek the conversion of the Saracen infidels from Islam to the one true religion. Nearly 800 years later, at the invitation of the Pope, a Muslim cleric intoned alien prayers outside the Basilica of St. Francis --- along with assorted Indians, Buddhists, Hindus, Shintoists and Animists. Eleven years to the day after Cardinal Arinze's announcement of the event was published, earthquakes rock the Basilica, causing it's altar to be crushed. (29) Yet the lower basilica in which the body of St. Francis is found miraculously escaped damage, as did the frescos depicting his likeness. In Assisi another church has fallen down and must be rebuilt. Will another St. Francis come soon to rebuild it?
Return to Fatima
Only a few years before the Second Vatican Council began, Pope Pius XII uttered the prophecy with which we began:
"Suppose, dear friend, that Communism was only the most visible of the instruments of subversion to be used against the Church and the traditions of Divine Revelation . . . I am worried by the Blessed Virgin's messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace
the Church is a divine warning against the suicide of altering the Faith and her liturgy. A day will come when the Church will doubt as Peter Doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red sanctuary lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask: 'where have they taken Him?" '
What did Pius XII see in the Message of Fatima which led him to say these extraordinary things? As we have seen, the first two parts of the Great Secret of Fatima, already revealed say nothing of the "suicide of altering the Faith and her liturgy." Nor is there any reference in the first two parts to the striking detail of the missing sanctuary lamp, so typical of the postconciliar parish church. But what of the third part of the Message? What of the Third Secret of Fatima?
As we witness the fulfillment of Pius XII's prophecy, our minds return against and again to the sealed envelope dispatched by Sister Lucy to the Vatican in 1957; the envelope that was meant to be opened, for us, in 1960. In 1960 it would be clearer, Sister Lucy said. By 1960, Pope Pius XII was dead and the Second Vatican Council had been convoked. Was it, then the Third Secret of Fatima which so alarmed the suffering Pope whose earthly life ended at the edge of that great spiritual chasm marked by the year 1960? Was it there that the details of his remarkable prophecy were suggested to him, or even stated explicitly, by the Queen of Heaven?
For 37 years the Vatican has offered ever-shifting explanations for the suppression of the Third Secret. With each new explanation the mystery deepens. The original explanation, in that anonymous ANI press release of February 8, 1960, claimed that nameless "Vatican sources" had decided that "the Church . . . does not pledge herself to guarantee the veracity of the words which three little shepherds claim to have heard from Our Lady"--- an absurd claim, given that the Church had already approved as worthy of belief the first two parts of the Fatima Message, which had been confirmed by a public miracle of a kind never before seen in the history of the world. It is even more absurd when one considers that all the faithful, including the Pope himself, were praying in their Rosaries the very prayer dictated by Our Lady to Sister Lucy, and practicing the First Saturday devotions Our Lady had prescribed at Fatima.
In November 1984 Cardinal Ratzinger, ignoring the laughable disclaimer of 1960, stated in an interview published to millions in Italy, that the Secret speaks of "THE DANGERS THREATENING THE FAITH and the life of the Christian, and therefore the world, and also the importance of THE LAST TIMES." (30) But in a subsequent publication of the same interview in the famous Ratzinger Report this language was mysteriously deleted.
In the same November 1984 interview, the Cardinal said that the Third Secret had been suppressed "to avoid confusing religious prophecy with sensationalism." But in a press conference twelve years later the Cardinal declared that the Secret contains "nothing new . . .nothing apocalyptic, and nothing essential for the faith." (31) If that is so, then why has this non-essential, non-apocalyptic secret been suppressed, when Marian apparitions of decidedly apocalyptic content have been freely disseminated with the approval of the Vatican? In an era when the Index of Forbidden Books has been abolished, when any sort of Marian apparition, true or false may be freely circulate, only one writing in all the world is censored by the Vatican: the Third Secret of Our Lady of Fatima, Why?
In March of 1990, Cardinal Oddi confirmed the belief of many that the Third Secret "the Blessed Virgin was alerting us to the apostasy in the Church," and that the date for its revelation, 1960, indicates that "the Secret had something to do with the convocation of Vatican II." (32) But in October 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger continued the theme that the Third Secret contained nothing of any great moment: "The secret, in fact has nothing to do with the history of the world, informing about something that could one day happen to us . . ." (33) Yes, but what about something that has already happened to us? He added: "It is not a teaching about the future, but a help and an education in faith." So, for 37 years the Third Secret of Fatima has been kept from the Faithful because it would help and educate us!
The Mystery of this non-essential, non-apocalyptic, helpful and educational secret, which contains nothing new yet cannot be revealed, continues to deepen with each attempt to explain it away. In November of 1997 an article appeared in Inside the Vatican recounting the belief of Vittorio Messori and Rene Laurentin that the phrase in Lucy's fourth memoir, "In Portugal the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved," suggests a loss of dogma throughout the Church, and that Pope John XXIII, seeing that the Secret contradicted his "optimism at all costs, decided to consign it to the Vatican archives." (34 ) Messori concludes that Pope Paul VI and John Paul II are "prisoners of John's decision. In fact, how can they admit that, not heeding even divine warnings, Roncalli did not take prudent measures to head off the predicted crisis in the Church?" (35)
When told of Messori's conclusion, Pope John's personal secretary, Archbishop Loris Capovilla, now 82, did not contradict Messori, but gave an entirely new and startling hint about the contents of the Secret, which he has read The Secret "does not concern the Church only, " but also predicts "an absolutely exceptional event, a manifestation of the supernatural". Asked for his view, Cardinal Ratzinger dismissed the Messori/Laurentin comments as "all fantasies" (without actually saying they were false), but most significantly did not deny the new revelation of Archbishop Capovilla, which must now be added to the growing body of facts which suggest the probable content of the Third Secret.
Thirty-seven years of shifting explanations have only increased the number of the Faithful who share the view of Cardinal Oddi and Vitoriuo Messori that the Third Secret of Fatima must point with embarrassing precision to the events which have transpired since its suppression by Pope John. What else could explain the Vatican's otherwise inexplicable refusal to disclose a secret which Cardinal Ratzinger says is not apocalyptic, not essential, nothing new and not a prediction of the future, but rather an education and help in the Faith?
The conviction grows, therefore, that the Third Secret of Fatima mentions the Pope, a Council and a loss of faith and discipline throughout the Church beginning around 1960---in short, a great apostasy. If this is true, then we are entitled to know it for our own spiritual safety; and those whose acts and omissions the Secret may mention are obliged in justice to unseal the heavenly indictment, if that is what it is. On the other hand, if the Secret makes no mention of the Council and the debacle which followed, what better way to defend the conciliar aggiornamento than to reveal that Our Lady had nothing negative to say about it at Fatima? But that question in itself suggests why the Third Secret has remained a secret.
No matter what the Secret says, it is manifest that Our Lady did not come to Fatima to deliver a private communiqué to a few Vatican bureaucrats, or even the Pope. She came to speak to the world at large, to warn all mankind of looming perils in this century of matchless insanity. If it were not so, then why did She call down the Miracle of the Sun for the whole world to see? Was it to authenticate a Message we were NOT to be given?
Our Lady's message at Fatima had three parts, two of which the world had long since received. What of the third part? It seems increasingly likely that the Third Secret is a light to guide us out of the great and terrible darkness of the postconciliar debacle. Are we not entitled to see this light which our Mother came to give us? We must never cease entreating Rome to tell us, in full, exactly what our Mother wanted us to know.
The Third Secret Will be Revealed
When Annibale Bugnini had finished destroying the Roman Rite, he turned his attention to devotion of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Having "renewed" the Mass, he offered his modest proposal for "renewal" of the Rosary: The Rosary was to be shortened and rearranged, with the Our Father recited only once at the beginning, and the Hail Mary edited to include only "the biblical portion of the prayer"--- what ever that means. The "Holy Mary Mother of God" would be said "only at the end of each tenth Hail Mary." There would also be a new "public" version of the Rosary, consisting of readings, songs, homilies and "a series of Hail Marys, but limited to one decade."
Paul VI responded to this preposterous proposal through the Vatican Secretary of State:
". . . the Faithful would conclude that 'the Pope has changed the rosary' and the psychological effect would be disastrous
. . . Any change in it cannot but lessen the confidence of the simple and the poor."
So, the rite of Holy Mass dating back to the time of St. Gregory could be hacked to pieces on a few weeks notice to the Faithful, but the Rosary would not be touched! That was going too far. It was as if Our Lord, having suffered the disfigurement of the Mass at the hands of "profane intruders", would not permit the slightest damage to be done to the traditional form of devotion to His Mother, out of tender solicitude for Her.
Only the willfully blind cannot see that we are living by Our Lord's fiat in a Marian age, the age of Fatima: "God wishes to establish devotion to My Immaculate Heart in the world . . . If people do what I ask, many souls will be saved and there will be peace." So Our Lady said at Fatima; so it will be. "In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, which will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world." Some would say these words are a mere relic of triumphal Catholicism, which has passed away in favor of the civilization of Love. Yet the Faithful know that heavenly promises never pass away, but are always fulfilled in the end.
Perhaps we will live to see the inevitable triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the miraculous reversal of the greatest debacle in the history of the Church---and through the miracle the restoration of Christendom. Perhaps before these things have come to pass we will learn, from those who no longer have anything to hide, the mystery of the Third Secret of Fatima.
And once we learn this precious Secret, will we not understand that we had known it all along? For the passing of time uncovers all secrets, exposing the misdeeds that men have labored so diligently to conceal.
Our Lady of Fatima! Pray for us!
Christopher Ferrara, Esq is founder and president of America-Catholic Lawyers Association, 10 Audrey Place, Fairfield, NJ. 07004
1. Quoted in "The Present Legal Status of the Traditional Latin Mass", Fr. Paul Leonard, B.Ph., S.T.B., M.Div.
2. Denzinger, 995-996
3. Veterum Sapientia, par 32
4. The Pope, the Mass and the Council, p. 11
5. Quoted in Latin Mass Magazine, winter 1997, p.67. The accompanying comment by editor Thomas E. Woods, Jr. notes that "today's top Catholic apologists" are almost unanimously hostile toward traditionalists.
6. Keating's public and private persecution of traditionalist Gerry Matatics was discussed in part IV of this piece. For a complete discussion of the Keating Matatics affair, see this author's article on the Una Voce America website at http://net2.netacc.net/~bbasile/news.htm.
7. Schreck, op.cit, p. 123.
8. Crisis, May 1996 p.6.
9. In typical "conservative" fashion, leading "conservatives" attempted once again to distance the Pope from his own words and actions, claiming that his statement of October 22, 1996, that the theory of evolution is "more than a hypothesis" should have been translated from the French (plus qu'une hypothese) as "more than on hypothesis" the proposed translation was nonsensical in context. as the English edition of L'Osservatore Romano Later noted in a correction providing the proper translation.[See Catholic World Report, February 1997, p.4]. The official Italian language translation in L'Osservatore Romano was correct from the beginning; The pope said more than a mere hypothesis" (piu che una mera ipotesi). In any case, the Pope has given a long series of statements favoring the theory of evolution. As just one of many examples, on April 26, 1985, the pope addressed a symposium entitled "Christian Faith and the Theory of Evolution", praising the assembled evolutionists for their wok, and declaring: [B]elief in evolution and the properly understood teaching of creation do not stand in one another's way. Creation represents itself in the light of evolution as an event extending through time...Therefore I welcome this ymposium..."L'Osservatore Romano, April 27, 1985, p. 5 Italian edition ("...la Creazione si pone alla luce dell'evoluzione come un avvenimento che estende nel tempo...")
10. Letter to Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, quoted in Latin Mass Magazine, Winter 1998, p.63.
11. See, for example, L'Osservatore Romano, May 14, 1997, p. 4, reporting remarks of John Paul II, citing GAUDIUM ET SPES; Declaration at World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, March 12, 1995; "The Family, the Heart of the Civilization of Love", address by Cardinal Trujillo, December, 1994; Pope John Paul II's address on Reconciliation in Croatia, January 31, 1997; Discourse to Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture by Pope John Paul II, January 15, 1985.
12. L'Osservatore Romano, September 17, 1996.
13. Assisi: World Day of Prayer for Peace, published by Pontifical Commission, Justita et Pax (1987), p. 39, 49.
17. The entire statement is available from the Vatican archives at http://www.vatican.va/jubilee_2000/magazine/ju_mag_june-sept-1996_et chegaray-assisi
18. Assisi: World Day of Prayer for Peace.
19. Letter on the Sillon Movement.
22 Quas Primas, n. 19
23 Annum Sacrum. n. 3
24. "How a Cardinal Ratifies Our Views", Fr. Charles Flore, The Wanderer, July 24, 1997
25. Syllabus of Errors, Condemned Proposition n. 77
26. Ratzinger, Josef Cardinal. Principles of Catholic Theology, Ignatius: San Francisco (1987), pp. 381-82.
27. Letter to the Sillon Movement.
28. Von Hildebrand, Dietrich, Devastated Vineyard. Chicago;1973, p. 35
29. Iota Unum, pp. 9-10, quoted papal address of November 23, 1973.
30. New York Times, September 28, 1997.
31. Jesus magazine "Ecco Perche La Fede E In Crisi" (Here Is Why The Faith Is In Crisis), November 1984, p.75.
32 CRC, No. 289 Oct 1996, p.6
33. The Fatima Crusader Magazine Issue 33 P. 14; reprinting an interview in II Sabato of March 17, 1990.
34. Catholic World News report, October 1996, available under keyword "Fatima" at News section of EWTN Web site.
35. Inside the Vatican, November 1997 "focus" section.