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A conference given by Fr. Franz Schmidberger (then First Assistant to the SSPX's Superior General) at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Kansas City, Missouri, on February 22, 2001.

Part 1

Dear Reverend Fathers, dear friends, it is a profound joy for me to be once again among you here in Kansas City and to be able tonight to speak to you. I will talk specifically about four points. The first point will be to review a little bit the status of Rome itself. In the second point I will discuss the work of the Society and especially the work of particular communities linked to us in friendship. The third point will be to speak to you quite at length about the current relations between Rome and the Society of St. Pius X, and then, in a very short fourth point, I would like to give you some recommendations and counsels.

What’s happening in Rome?

Let us immediately go to the first point, the things happening in Rome itself. Let me just have a look back on the Jubilee Year and some very important events which took place.

The first event which is to be mentioned took place January 25th in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, where the pope opened the Holy Door. For the first time in the whole history of the Church, the Holy Father did not open the Holy Door alone. He invited the head of the Anglicans and the Orthodox Patriarch to participate with him in this opening of the Holy Door. Now, you understand that the Holy Door is a figure of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that to open this Door means to open the way of salvation. By this action, the pope wanted to give a demonstration of what the Second Vatican Council meant by saying that the other denominations are not without significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. This is why he desired the Anglicans and the Orthodox to participate in this opening of the Holy Door.

On the 12th of March, then, we heard the pope apologize for a lot of very glorious things the Church has done in her history of 2000 years. Every Catholic heart ought to be filled with pain and sorrow to see such blame charged to our beloved Mother, the Catholic Church.

On May 7th, the pope celebrated, together with representatives of other Christian denominations, the "common martyrs" of Christendom. Now, let me ask an important question: Can there be martyrs outside of the Catholic Church? —Well, we agree that people outside of the visible framework of the Catholic Church can be in the state of grace by baptism of desire. If they are in an invincible error, they do not know better; if they regret their sins and adore God as much as they can, giving praise, then they could be saved. But who knows about their interior disposition? Who knows if they are in an invincible error or not? —Only God, who sees the true state of their heart. We do not know. We only can judge according to the exterior appearance; and, according to the social exterior appearance, these people are not in the frame of the Church. And so it might be that they are saved, but we cannot celebrate them as martyrs; it is absolutely impossible! So, this is a new attack on the dogma, "Outside the Church there is no salvation," understood in the sense that the Church has always understood it.

In July, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, who had become the head in May 2000 of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, in charge of taking care of those traditional-minded Catholics who were not linked or are not linked with the Society of St. Pius X, addressed the General Chapter of the Fraternity of St. Peter soon after his appointment. It is true that at this time things in the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter were in a very bad state. There was complete division amongst its adherents and there seemed no hope of reconciliation between the different factions. As part of a solution, Cardinal Hoyos imposed, without an election, a new Superior General, Fr. Arnaud Devillers, then serving as District Superior of this Fraternity in the U.S. Two things, my dear friends, are very strange in the Cardinal’s letter making Fr. Devillers’ appointment official.

The first thing is that he strictly followed the advice of a priest [Fr. Denis le Pivain —Ed.] of this Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter who had fomented a whole revolution in the womb of this ecclesiastical community, a whole revolution. In May, just after Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos had taken over his office, this priest had written him a letter saying that things could not continue like this, that they have to make very important changes, that the General Chapter would be very important, and making him concrete proposals, for example, to install Fr. Devillers as Superior General. What is very strange is the fact that Cardinal Hoyos just followed absolutely all these counsels. The second thing, which astonishes us very much, is the fact that the Cardinal in his letter says that the New Mass is the true rule of the Church, and so that nobody, by any means or by any superior, can be forced not to say this New Mass, that it is open for everybody, because even if the Tridentine Mass is granted to this Fraternity of St. Peter, this is a special law; and you can never argue with a special law against the general law of the Church, he says. And so every priest of the Fraternity of St. Peter has the right to celebrate the New Mass, even if this would not be the common rule in the Fraternity of St. Peter.

Another very important event took place the 3rd of September when the Vatican declared "blessed" two Popes, Pius IX and John XXIII. Now, we agree very much with the elevation of Pius IX to the honor of the altar, the Pope of the Immaculate Conception, of the First Vatican Council, the Pope of the Syllabus of Errors, the pope who condemned religious liberty. We are filled with joy to see him lifted up to the honor of the altars. But we have very serious questions about the other one, John XXIII. Why? —Well, in the document about his beatification, the main virtues being considered are that he favored religious dialogue, that he favored ecumenism, and that he convened the Second Vatican Council. The impression is being given by Rome that his beatification is not meant so much to honor the person of John XXIII but to beatify the Second Vatican Council and its principles. If you ask proof of this, I can answer you. There is a proof. The feast of the new Blessed John XXIII is fixed on the 11th of October, a date which has nothing to do with his personal life, but which is the date of the convocation of the gathering of the Second Vatican Council in 1962. The Council opened on this date. The beatification of John XXIII is the beatification of the Council.

The good and bad of Dominus Jesus

Two days after the beatifications, a very important document of the Vatican was issued by Cardinal Ratzinger, the declaration Dominus JesusThe Lord Jesus. There is no doubt this declaration contains very good statements, statements which rejoice us. For example, the Cardinal tries to limit the damage done by religious relativism by stating that every Catholic has to believe that only the books of the Old and the New Testament are inspired books, and not other books found in other religions like, for example, the Koran, or the so-called Holy Books of the Hindus, or whatsoever. Unfortunately, he forgot to add that if the Koran is not inspired, you should not kiss it [which the Holy Father has done himself]. There are other important statements, where he says, for example, that there is an enormous difference between the personal conviction of those who follow religious sects and those of the Catholic Faith. He says the Catholic Faith is a grace, is a supernatural gift, whereas the other is a personal adherence by experience or convictions but which has nothing to do with faith as a supernatural virtue. There is an enormous difference. So far, so good. But..., and this "But" is very important: There are also weak points.

There are also weaknesses in this declaration, and especially three points of which I want to make note.

What’s in a word?

The first weak point in this declaration is that it claims that the Church of Christ "subsists" in the Catholic Church. Now, what about this little word, "subsistit"? This is a key word of the whole Second Vatican Council. A key notion. Until the arrival of the Second Vatican Council, it was always said that the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church. There is a full identification between these two notions. They are synonymous. The Church of Christ is the Catholic Church. You cannot explain it better or spell it out better.

Then, in the first draft of the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium of Vatican II, it was still put "the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church." But there came all these liberal spirits, who said, "Well, this statement, ‘The Church of Christ is the Catholic Church,’ is not very appropriate." Why not? —They answered with two reasons.

The first reason was, "Because there are also elements of sanctification and truth outside of the visible framework of the Catholic Church. For example, Baptism, if it is administered according to the right formula —‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’-—and if it is done with the intention really to baptize, then even outside of the visible Body of the Church there is a true valid baptism." Or, in the Orthodox Church, you find even a valid priesthood, valid Eucharist. So, they said, "Well, it is not so easy to just identify those boundaries or limits."

Second reason: "If we were to clearly identify the Catholic Church simpliciter —that is, just simply —with the Church of Christ, the whole ecumenical movement would burn out. The Protestants would be angered that the Catholic Church had defined that their churches were not the Church of Christ!"  And, so, the liberal spirits wanted to find another notion and another word to give the definition. They got the help they needed from a German Protestant, Pastor Schmidt, an observer invited by Cardinal Bea to take part in the Second Vatican Council. And he made the written proposal that in this definition, "The Church of Christ is the Catholic Church," the word "is" be replaced by "subsistit in." He handed this proposal to the then Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, who was at this time the Council expert [peritus] of Cardinal Frings from Cologne, Germany. Fr. Ratzinger in turn gave the proposal to Cardinal Frings who presented it before the Council, and the words "subsistit in" were incorporated into Lumen Gentium.  So it has its origin from the Protestants.  We were made aware of this fact by a priest from South Tyrol [old Austria, annexed to become today’s northern Italy —Ed.], who wrote last year saying that he knew this Protestant pastor, and that he was still living. We asked him to send us the address. So we wrote to this Protestant pastor, and he confirmed by a letter of August 3rd that he was the one who handed over this proposal to Fr. Ratzinger.  So we see that Fr. Ratzinger had taken a very active role to introduce the words "subsistit in" and rewrite a very important definition of the Catholic Church.

Now, you see the difference immediately. If the Church of Christ is not the Catholic Church but only subsists in the Catholic Church, it subsists perhaps today, but tomorrow it could be otherwise. It could subsist in another denomination, for example, with the Orthodox, or it could be shared among many. That was, for example, the position of Cardinal Newman when he was still an Anglican. He thought that the true Church of Christ was composed of three branches—the Roman Church, the Orthodox, and the Anglican. He gave up this error and he became Catholic. But you see that, if there is no longer any real identification between the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church, the door is open to religious relativism. In his declaration Dominus Jesus, Cardinal Ratzinger has cut down the cockle but left the roots in the earth. Instead of pulling out the roots or using poison to kill the roots, he left them in the earth. And so everything will come forth once again. That’s one point.

The whole truth about "partial churches"

A second point in this declaration which it is important to note is that Cardinal Ratzinger says the Churches which have a true Eucharist, a valid Eucharist, and an apostolic succession (and he is thinking especially of the Orthodox here) are "true partial Churches." Now, what is a partial Church? —A partial Church is the localized Catholic Church in a diocese, with its bishop, its clergy, and its flock of faithful. So we have the Catholic Church in Chicago, or in Kansas City; or we have the Catholic Church in Milan, Italy, or the Church in Cologne. These are local Churches. But you cannot compare those local Churches with the Orthodox Church; you cannot compare the Orthodox Church as if it were a true partial Church. That’s absurd, because the Orthodox, even if they have a valid Eucharist and a valid priesthood and apostolic succession, they have this apostolic succession only materially, not formally, because they are not linked to the pope. Moreover, they do not recognize quite a lot of dogmas. For example, their position concerning Purgatory is unclear and confused; they do not accept the procession of the Holy Ghost from both the Father and the Son, nor the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then, especially, they do not recognize the primacy of the pope. They are schismatics and even, to a certain point, heretics. How can they then be a "partial Church"? To say that they are is absolutely irrational.

More ways than one?

The worst of the three points in Dominus Jesus is a statement taken directly from the Second Vatican Council teaching that the Holy Ghost has deigned these other denominations to be "ways of salvation." Now, once again, we do not deny the fact that there is baptism of desire. We do not deny that people in other denominations can be saved. But what we deny with all vigor and strength is that they are saved —if they are saved —by these other religions. We say they are not saved by these other religions, but they are saved in spite of these other religions. That is what has always been said.

This makes things very clear, because nobody can be saved without our Lord Jesus Christ and the Church He has instituted, the means He has instituted and wanted for our salvation. How can you argue against God, who has given us these means, saying "Well, I will choose my own means"? Cardinal Ratzinger quotes the decree about Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council in Dominus Jesus, which is very bad and absolutely false!

Once again, we received this declaration Dominus Jesus with mixed feelings. There are good things in it —very Catholic things —but any good is absolutely undermined by the bad in it.

Cardinals and more cardinals

Recently, the Holy Father appointed 37 cardinals. Yesterday [Feb. 21, 2000], he named seven more for a total of 44. Among them there are some very valuable theologians and people, for example, the German, Fr. Leo Scheffczyk, or Archbishop Janis Pujats of Riga, Latvia. But there are also very dangerous people among the new cardinals. I just wanted to tell about two of them: the new Cardinals Karl Lehmann and Walter Kasper. They’re both German. The first one is the head of the German Bishops’ Conference who has resisted with all his force the guidelines set by the Vatican, from the pope himself. Despite reprimands from Rome, he insisted on cooperating in the national plan of the German government to sponsor so-called "counseling offices" for pregnant women. A certificate is issued as proof of a woman’s reception of counsel regarding her pregnancy, and with this certificate she is made eligible to receive an abortion. German bishops, in effect, were in a position to deliver these certificates with which the woman can go and have an abortion. The pope and especially also Cardinal Ratzinger did not agree at all with the collaboration of the German bishops in this crime, and so they asked them to opt out of this whole system of counseling pregnant women. Cardinal Lehmann resisted strongly and publicly. He finally gave in, but only after being forced to do so. In addition, his faith in the resurrection of our Lord is not strong. He denies the historical resurrection of our Lord, as does the new Cardinal Kasper, his colleague, who himself denies the miracles of our Lord, questions the divinity of our Lord, His physical resurrection, and who says there are no definite truths. These are very basic things. These men are modernists in the worst sense you can imagine.

We are very much offended that those people now are promoted to be the most highly ranked ecclesiastical authorities in the Holy Catholic Church. But, in making a little investigation into how such appointments came to be made, we were told that there were threats, threats from Germany especially, that if there were not some cardinals appointed from Germany, then the whole Church in Germany would probably go into open schism.

The Society of St. Pius X and its friends

Let me speak, in this second point, about the work of our Society and also about the work of those communities which are affiliated with us. The work of the Society of St. Pius X, my dear friends, is developing every day under the blessing of God in His infinite mercy. We have now a little bit more than 400 priests. We have at this moment more than 70 schools. We are very glad that we have this school here in Kansas City, and I was just at St. Mary’s [Kansas]. It is wonderful to see these schools, these children trained. If tomorrow we want to have Catholic fathers and Catholic mothers, Catholic teachers, professors, doctors, lawyers, statesmen, journalists, businessmen, and farmers, we must prepare them today. We must protect our children against this general corruption in the government schools. This corruption is primarily on the level of the intellectual matters. The whole history of mankind is completely falsified and the humanities are made despicable. The government schools are only training in technical regards, in mathematics, in the natural sciences, and so the whole development of souls does not take place any longer. Secondly, these schools foster moral corruption, a corruption of which you are very well aware. Finally, the public school is a place of religious corruption. They either speak no longer about any religious matter in the schools, or if they speak, they immediately put all the other religions on the same level together with the Catholic one; it’s absolutely common. It is important to protect your children.

Then, we have our priories and our parishes. And it is a true blessing to see ourselves established in more than 30 countries with our priories, with our retreat houses. There is no doubt that this is a modest but real contribution to build up a new Christianity.

If you think about the first thousand years of the Church, one nation after another was won to the Faith. Their leaders, the kings, were baptized together with their people, and then the constitution and the morals all changed according to the law of our Lord Jesus Christ, and He was really the king of these societies, of these countries. Certainly, they had human defects, but they are always present because we all are children of Adam and Eve. Nevertheless, it was a Catholic society.

Today there is no longer any country in the whole world which in its constitution and its laws officially proclaims the Catholic Faith. In the first thousand years a progressive conversion, one country after another, and then, with the Lutheran reform, began the great apostasy. One nation after another left the Faith, gave up, changed public life, changed the constitutions, changed the laws, especially after the French Revolution. And so, our whole society became pagan, neo-pagan, became completely de-Christianized.

One day, I asked Archbishop Lefebvre, "What can we do to make these countries once again Catholic?" He said, "In my eyes, there are only two means:  the schools for the children, and the retreats for the adults."—The schools for the children in order to prepare a Catholic future, a Christian future, and the retreats to maintain fervor among the Catholic flock and to push them towards Christian perfection —sanctity —so as to not be happy with a state of mediocrity, of routine, but prepared to strive for what our religion instituted: to know God, to love Him, to serve Him.

A network of Tradition

There are not only the communities of our Society which are maturing, but there are also other communities linked with us that are gathering momentum. We are very thankful for this and made very happy.

Think about the Redemptorists of Fr. Simm, who now have their monastery in Northern Scotland on Papa Stronsay Island. They are preaching parish missions especially in the English-speaking countries. They have preached parish missions here in the US. Just recently they preached them in Australia and New Zealand. Everywhere I went in these places, I only heard praise about these wonderful exercises. It is absolutely splendid!

Think about the Benedictine Fathers of Santa Cruz in Brazil and of Silver City, New Mexico, in the US. Just a year and a half ago, the Benedictines made a new foundation in France [Notre Dame de Bellaigue, Virlet, France —Ed.] and they were able to buy an old abbey—wonderful old buildings, a whole monastery.

You have the Sisters of the Oasis. This community of Sisters was founded by Fr. Muńoz, a Spanish priest. They are contemplatives, dedicating themselves to prayer, sacrifice, and silence. Last year they made a new foundation in France, and they are planning to make a foundation in the U.S. next year in Oregon.

Looking to the East

But I wanted to especially speak about another community, not of the Western Church, but of the Eastern Church. In order to do so, I have to give you some historical introduction.

You know that in the year 1054, there was the Great Schism of the East, that is to say, the Greeks separated from the Roman Church. They no longer recognized the pope in Rome and established their own Orthodox Church. Now, afterwards, there were always attempts to heal this schism, to overcome it, but nothing really lasted. In 1438-39 the Council of Ferrara-Florence, in Italy, was gathered to address this issue, to bring unity once again between the East and the West, to try to bring back those people, those Christians living separated from the Western Church. Isidore, the patriarch from Kiev, which is today the capital of Ukraine, who lived in Moscow, took part in this Council. Two delegations, one from Kiev and one from Moscow, were present. When the union was reached, on paper, with the Ukrainian and Russian peoples, Isidore travelled immediately to the Ukraine to announce the union, making the people very happy there. Then he went to Moscow. But, in the meantime, following upon the agreement, the delegation of Moscow had propagandized the people there according to their vision of things, and Isidore was ultimately faced with an absolute rejection in Moscow of the union with Rome by the Great Prince and the clergy. From the year 1054 to this moment, the Russian Church functioned in a certain state of ambiguity. It was not clear whether it had been in schism together with the Greeks, or if, in fact, they held to the See of Peter in Rome. But from the moment the Council of Ferrara-Florence was repudiated, we must say that the Russian Church became schismatic. Sometime later they established their own patriarchate in Moscow. The Great Prince of Moscow put the Patriarch Isidore in prison and persecuted all those who were in favor of the union with Rome. In the Ukraine, without Isidore, nobody was able to provide or enforce the guidelines regarding the practicalities of this union, so it was not ever really realized.

About 150 years later, in 1596, there was finally an agreement between a very qualified minority of the Ukrainian people and Rome. This was the agreement of Brest-Litovsk, a very famous and very important agreement. In this agreement it was decided that the Ukrainians would return to the unity of the Holy See, that they could maintain their own Eastern Rite, that is, the Rite of the Greek Church (the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom), and that they could maintain their own laws, even the law concerning celibacy, which states that married men can be ordained priests, but a priest cannot marry. (That is to say, if somebody who is celibate is ordained a priest, afterwards he can no longer marry. Or if the wife of a married priest dies, the priest cannot re-marry. The upper clergy, the upper ranks, are always to be chosen from the clergy living in celibacy: the abbots and bishops and so on. And, there are no married bishops.) All these were left to them and so the union was fulfilled. From this moment on, you have three communities in the Ukraine: You have, first of all, the Orthodox, who are the majority. You have, secondly, those who are now called the Greek Catholics; Greek because they are holding to the Rite of the East, Catholic because they are united with the Holy See. Sometimes we call them the Uniates, or the Ukrainians, but the word "Uniates" is not very appropriate. It is especially used by the Orthodox and is used in a very pejorative sense. So, we should call them the Greek Catholics. The third community we will speak of momentarily.

There were people, priests, and bishops, who worked for the union, among them especially a Polish-born bishop named Josaphat (1580-1623), who was then assassinated by the schismatics. He shed his blood for the union with Rome. He was canonized in 1867; his feast is celebrated on the 14th of November. He was the first martyr of the Greek Catholic Church. His body rests on the right side of St. Peter’s in Rome.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, western Ukraine was specially influenced by the West since this area belonged for a good time to the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The whole cultural and social influence came from Western Europe. These people were very much influenced in their religion by Polish missionaries going into these countries who brought devotions normally unknown in the Church of the East, especially the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, devotion to the Sacred Heart, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. This influence extended especially throughout five dioceses in west Ukraine.

The third community in the Ukraine is the Roman Catholics, those who hold to the Roman Rite. They are especially the Poles, or descendants from the Poles. They are a very small minority, but they are a still a community there.

This tripartate situation was the state of things when Communism took over power in Russia and also in the Ukraine. The Communists began to persecute the Church. They persecuted all religious belief but with different intensity. It was especially under Stalin, in 1946-47, that the Greek Catholic Church was completely suppressed, or, to say more exactly, it was annexed by force to the Orthodox Church. The bishops were all put in jail and later all assassinated. One exception was Cardinal Slipye, who after years in jail came out, and finally went to Rome, where he died in 1984. All the others were assassinated. Most priests were assassinated. The buildings of the churches were handed over to the Orthodox. There was no longer any legal existence of the Greek Catholic Church in the Ukraine.

The Greek Catholics had three options. Either they could accept Stalin’s prescription to join the Orthodox, which would have meant being unfaithful to the Church, or they could join the Latin Rite, which was much less persecuted because it was considered a very small minority left largely alone by Stalin on account of the foreigners living in the Ukraine; this gave the impression that there was religious liberty. So Stalin did not persecute Roman Catholics in the same way he did the Greek Catholics. For example, the Church of St. Louis in Moscow, which was built by the French in the 19th century, stayed open during all the years of the Communist domination. There were always services. Nevertheless people who would go there were observed; there were cameras all around the church, and everybody who would go there was registered. The facade was just to give a favorable impression.

So, the first option of this people was to separate themselves from the Church, be unfaithful to the Church. The second option was to be unfaithful to their own rite, to their own customs, to go over to the Latin Rite, which they did not want to do at all. It has another mentality. The third option was to go underground, and this they did. The Greek Church stayed underground for many years, and finally in 1989-90 when the Iron Curtain fell, these people came out from the underground. The first thing they asked for was that their churches be given back to them, and in fact, they recovered about a thousand churches in west Ukraine, half the total number, but were refused the other half. This was a further cause for even more deeply-seated animosity between the Orthodox and the Greek Catholics.

These Greek Catholics have looked for support; these people who had suffered for the Church, for the See of Peter, who had suffered for their faithfulness. There are martyrs among them, and they looked for support from Rome, from the bishops, from the West. They were terribly deceived because, in the meantime, a new wind was blowing through the Church, the wind of ecumenism and dialogue with the Orthodox. And because of it, the Greek Catholics were more or less considered to be unwelcome children, disturbers of this dialogue, and obstacles to Rome’s ecumenical union with the Orthodox. What a disappointment this was for these people! We cannot imagine the disappointment they must have felt so see these things!

Some of the Greek Catholic bishops in the Ukraine said, "Since it is now the new orientation, well, let us go along with it." In order not to disturb the dialogue with the Orthodox, they suppressed the Rosary in their churches. They suppressed the Stations of the Cross. They no longer promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart or to the Eucharist. People, however, became very worried about what was going on, and said, "But these are the devotions that helped us to overcome the persecution. This was our help. These were the means by which we could keep the Faith in the underground." What did they do in the underground? They said the Rosary! They said the Stations of the Cross! The people said, "We do not like this. We want to keep these devotions. We cannot abandon these. These are identical with our Faith."

These compromising bishops then did another thing: they began to introduce the vernacular language. Up until the 1990’s, the liturgy was always celebrated in the Old Slavonic language in the Greek Rite. Now, these bishops wanted to introduce the Ukrainian language, the vernacular language. People did not want this either. So, certain people began to look for where the liturgy was still celebrated in the old Slavonic language, and so began the very same process that we knew 25 or 30 years ago here in the West when we looked to preserve the Latin language of the Roman Rite.

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