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District Superior's
Letter to Friends & Benefactors

April 2001

Last Sunday we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the passing to eternity of our holy founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. On the 25th of this month we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of that of Bishop Antonio De Castro Mayer, the courageous companion of Archbishop Lefebvre in his defense of Tradition. If we were to ask ourselves what brought them together, what united them in the combat against modernism, and what heritage they bequeathed to us, we have only to answer, the love of the Tridentine Mass, the true Mass, as the legitimate and perfect expression of our entire Catholic Faith.

Already in September 1969, Bishop De Castro Mayer took a stand against the New Mass, writing to Pope Paul VI that it does not express "the theology of the Holy Sacrifice as established by the Council of Trent in its XXII session". He explained what he meant, by pointing out with incredible perspicacity that it would not only be a pastoral failure, that it "not only fails to inspire fervor", but that the even more profound problem was its failure to express the most basic Catholic doctrine concerning the Mass. He continued to explain that it "diminishes the Faith in central truths of the Catholic life, such as the Real Presence of Jesus in the most Holy Sacrament, the reality of the propitiatory sacrifice, the hierarchical priesthood". The accompanying study established that the idea of a propitiatory sacrifice for man’s sins offered to the Most Holy Trinity was removed from the definition, purpose and essence of the Mass, henceforth considered as the gathering of the people for a commemorative meal. We must admire how he saw through the still traditional exterior to what really was happening underneath. It is so much easier for us now that we see all the consequences of this 30 year old perversion of the notion of what the Mass is.

Archbishop Lefebvre’s same position became apparent in the crucial role that he played in 1967 in the composition of the Ottaviani Intervention.  He repeated his refusal in his Declaration of 1974, in which he explained how the New Mass is the tip of the frigid iceberg of modernism, and the most clear manifestation of its attempt to destroy not just devotion, but even the Faith itself:

To the Novus Ordo Missae correspond a new catechism, a new priesthood, new seminaries, a charismatic Pentecostal church - all things opposed to orthodoxy and the perennial teaching of the Church… The only attitude of faithfulness to the Church and Catholic doctrine, in view of our salvation, is a categorical refusal to accept this reform.

Again, he stated the same thing in his famous sermon of June 29, 1976, when threatened with suspension, and after being told that everything he did would be approved by Rome if he were to celebrate just one New Mass, he made the following statement:

It is evident that it is on the problem of the Mass that the whole drama between Econe and Rome depends…We have the precise conviction that this new rite of Mass expresses a new faith, a faith which is not ours, a faith which is not the Catholic Faith. This New Mass is a symbol, is an expression, is an image of a new faith, of a Modernist faith. For if the most holy Church has wished to guard throughout the centuries this precious treasure which She has given us of the rite of Holy Mass which was canonized by Saint Pius V, it has not been without purpose. It is because this Mass contains our whole faith, the whole Catholic Faith; faith in the Most Holy Trinity, faith in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, faith in the Redemption of Our Lord Jesus Christ, faith in the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ which flowed for the redemption of our sins, faith in supernatural grace, which comes to us from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which comes to us from the Cross which comes to us through all the Sacraments.

The extraordinary heritage of these two great bishops is not just that they were attached to the Mass of all time, but the reason why. This is what those who have placed themselves under the Ecclesia Dei Commission and who attend the Indult Mass have all failed to see, accepting as they must the legitimacy and orthodoxy of the New Mass. For these two bishops, however, the true Mass was as inseparable from the identity of the priest as from the life of the Church. This is why they were able to leave behind permanent, lasting works for priestly formation and sanctification, for they understood and communicated that above everything else a priest is appointed to offer a sacrifice of propitiation, "for every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for me in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins" (Heb 5:1). This is the priestly identity that they handed on to us, and which is so antipathetic to the Novus Ordo.

Some people have blamed the Society’s superiors, in recent dealings with Rome, from being too inflexible, and not being willing to take advantage of the opportunity that was offered to become acceptable in the eyes of the modern church. For did not Cardinal Castrillon come up with practical privileges, including the approval of all the Society’s bishops and sacraments and complete independence and immunity from the Novus Ordo bishops? Who is the Society, to be placing a condition to such a "generous" offer?

Yet the Society’s superiors and bishops, together with Bishop Rangel’s representative, did decide on a condition, one which expresses perfectly the inheritance that we all received from Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop De Castro Mayer. It was that an official statement be made informing all the bishops and priests of the world of their right to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass. For like these two great bishops, our concern is for the Church as a whole. We cannot accept that the traditional rite is the privilege of a few. It is the right of every Catholic, in order to preserve and live his Faith. The very least that our superiors could require, to see if the Roman authorities really had the intention of turning the tide against modernism, and of actually promoting Catholic Tradition, rather than using every kind of maneuvering to stifle it, as they did with the Fraternity of St. Peter, was the general approval of the traditional Mass for every priest.

As you know, the response was the refusal to make any public statement on the traditional Mass. The basis of any kind of agreement is consequently absent. To accept an offer, no matter how generous, would be to accept a privilege and to deny a right, the right of all Catholics, priests and laity, to the rite that adequately expresses the Catholic Faith. We could not expect all priests and faithful to immediately go back to the traditional Mass. There is a whole work of education to be accomplished before that would be possible. However, we must and will insist on the recognition of all Catholics’ right to the traditional Mass, which recognition will be the basis of a true and exclusive return to Tradition.

In the meantime, let us pray our Mass, the true Mass, as the lifeline to spiritual survival that it truly is. During the silence of the Canon we kneel at the foot of the crucifix, praying that the Precious Blood, "shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins" might be applied to many souls, that the infinite merits of the intense sufferings of God made man might be a worthy reparation "for mine own countless sin, transgressions and failings; for all here present and for all faithful Christians, living and dead; that it may avail both me and them unto salvation in everlasting life", gazing with longing at the elevated host promising us "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself" (Jn 12:32), confident that we also shall hear from our Crucified God those consoling words placing us in Mary’s hands: "Behold they mother" (Jn 19:27).

Yours faithfully in Christ Our Crucified Savior,

Fr. Peter R. Scott

 
 

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