Dear friends and benefactors,
This letter is coming to you
somewhat late. We did not wish it to reach you before we could give you news as
accurate as possible on the state of our relations with Rome. It seems to us
that the time has now come to assess the situation. Many rumors have been
circulating, a number of them false. Also we are aware of how much is at stake,
and how decisive it can be for our future. We will lay out here various aspects
of the question.
For our part, we have been marginalized by the authorities
in Rome, not to say rejected, because of our refusal of Vatican II and the
post-Conciliar reforms, for reasons of doctrine.
When we say that we refuse the Council, we do not thereby
mean that we totally reject the letter of all the Conciliar documents,
consisting as they do in large part of simple repetitions of what has already
been said in the past. What we are attacking is a new language, introduced in
the name of the "pastoral" Council. This new language, being vague and
much less precise, conveys a different philosophy and is the basis of a new
theology. It rejects any stable way of looking at the essence of things, to base
itself rather on the state of their existence at any given moment, which is
bound to be changing, varied, and more difficult to grasp according as it
varies. As change and movement are part of the life of all living things, so
change will come to the forefront and be considered a necessary part of the
Church, Dogmas previously untouchable then become liable to correction and
improvement...They are shut into the age in which they were pronounced as though
they ceased to be binding once that age was over... To insist on understanding
them in the same sense, and the same way they have always been understood,
becomes a thing of the past. The ensuing temptation to make an absolute out of
the particular, out of the human person, becomes great... finally that human
person, i.e., man, gets put in the center and God is pushed to one side.
A new religion is dawning.
The modernist is clever enough to
avoid direct confrontation between the new and the old. He presents the new as
though it were the enrichment of an under-nourished way of thinking now
surpassed by the new concepts, Almost all words such as "redemption," "grace,"
"revelation," "sacrament," "mystery," take on a new meaning.
In the Church’s life, this
process is particularly striking in the case of the new liturgy, which in its
physical movements centers on man, and is no longer hierarchically directed
through the priest towards God. Sacrifice is no longer mentioned, being replaced
by "Eucharist," a word that used to apply only to the consecrated host:
henceforth the emphasis is on the meal.
In these very changes we see the origin of today’s
collapse of what still remained of Christendom, and the cause of the present
crisis of the Catholic Church. Religious liberty is radically incapable of
standing up to the wave of secularisation swooping through the modern world, a
world in effect without God, making itself into God: for, the creature once
having cut off its dependence on its Creator in order to establish its autonomy
and liberty, it has no further basis for its intrinsic and absolute dependence
on its God. So to save the human person from the totalitarianism of the modern
state, the creature has sought to establish that the person and its liberty are
superior, at which point it can no longer reconcile this very real liberty with
the absolute dependence on God. Then, perforce, sin, as the misfortune of the
creature rebelling against its Creator, is no longer understood, the creature’s
responsibility becomes very vague, and the Redemption, God’s answer to that
misfortune, is turned inside out.
The whole life of man becomes much easier, God’s
commandments are consigned to oblivion; all discipline, strictness, austerity
and renunciation fade away. Once the human person’s greatness is affirmed in
this way, his relation with his God, which is his religion, will take on a
completely different look. This new look at the person and his acts seeks to be
so positive, and such an effort is made to discover "seeds of the
Word" in all directions, that the idea that everybody is saved is now
firmly implanted in numbers of Catholics’ minds, and all the ecumenical
celebrations and inter-religious declarations merely go to corroborating this
new vision of life. The effect, if not the intention, is a frightening spread of
the belief that it does not matter what religion one belongs to.
Hence, on our side, our firm attachment to everything that
the Church taught even recently, to everything that used to guide Christian life
but is now dismissed as being old-fashioned, out-of-date, antiquated,
narrow-minded. We do not deny that a certain amount of change is part of any
society’s life, which therefore includes the Church, but we state that the
apple-tree’s life will produce apples, and that it is absurd to expect the
changes bound up in the life of the appletree to suddenly produce coconuts.
The Christian life of the Society of St. Pius X is
producing undeniable fruits of salvation, as even Rome recognizes, That there is
a grave crisis in the Church, an appalling falling off in the preaching of
doctrine, a lack of interest on the part of the Christian people, Rome also
recognizes. That one of the motives of the Vatican’s approach to us may lie in
these two considerations, is not to be excluded; and if Rome calls upon us as
firemen to help put out the fire, we will not refuse our services, but before we
get involved in the blaze we do ask for the gasline which is the source of the
fire to be cut off!
However, deep down, the Romans
were coming to us for a different reason.
On Rome’s side, they are at
present concerned above all to establish unity. All their efforts are going in
that direction. One bold, shocking, scandalous act follows another in their
attempt to draw together Christians disunited and torn apart. The determination
to overcome doctrinal differences by liturgical acts in common very much
expresses this new ecumenical thrust. One cannot help thinking they wish to give
secondary importance to questions of truth in order to get on with living.
Howsoever that be, there is an explicit desire to overcome doctrinal differences
by joint action. Here is probably to be seen the motive for the Vatican’s
approach to us last autumn.
We are being offered a practical solution not to be held
up by points of dispute. Rome neither denies that there are points to be
disputed, nor does it refuse to deal later with such questions, but it is
inviting us to "re-enter the fold" without further delay. As a
sign of good-will, we are being offered a solution acceptable in itself, in fact
a solution which would suit us down to the ground from a purely practical point
Yet it is an offer we must
refuse, for the following reasons: the whole history of the Society of St.
Pius X shows how much we are a sign of contradiction, how much our existence can
raise violent reactions, even hateful reactions from Catholics, especially the
hierarchy. The attitude of many bishops who are open to all kinds of ecumenism
on the one hand, but treat ourselves on the other hand with a harshness that has
no name, is profoundly contradictory.
We suffer from this situation through the division to be
found in almost all our families. But this division cannot be healed by a merely
practical agreement. We embody the contradiction without meaning to do so, and a
practical agreement will not change this basic situation. The solution to the
problem is to be sought elsewhere. Deep down, Rome does not understand our
attitude towards the New Mass and the Conciliar reforms, Rome holds our attitude
to be the manifestation of a rigid narrow-mindedness.
And whenever we try to tackle the
deep-down problem, we find ourselves every time up against a brick wall: we are
not allowed to call in question the reforms of the Council; we might be allowed
a certain degree of criticism, but certainly not accusations so broad and grave
as we keep on raising.
In other words, if we accepted
Rome’s solution today, we would find ourselves up against exactly the same
For our part, we are and we mean
to remain Catholic. Our seeming separation from Rome is of minor importance
compared with the major problem shaking the Church to Her foundations, and of
which we are despite ourselves merely an outstanding sign. For Rome’s part, to
settle the question of the seeming separation is of primary importance, and
takes priority over all else; doctrinal questions will be talked about later.
Through this pursuit of unity, Rome has indeed changed its position towards us,
it is indeed seeking for a solution, but as far as we are concerned it is
missing the point. For sure, we wish to see this crisis come to an end. For
sure, we wish to cease being opposed to Rome. But that calls for a different
Rome’s failure to understand our position is such that
if today we accepted their agreement, tomorrow we would have to undergo exactly
the same treatment as
of St. Peter, which is muzzled, and being
led where it does not want to go, slowly but surely towards Vatican II and the
liturgical reform. Fraternity of St. Peter and the other Ecclesia Dei
[Commission] movements still manage to survive, as best they can, they will owe
it to the firmness of our stand.
Certainly we are grateful for
everything well-meaning in Rome’s approach, but it is our judgment that things
are not yet ripe for us to be able to go ahead. The reasons we were given for
their refusing to grant our pre-conditions for re-establishing trust, are highly
would raise too much opposition, it would mean giving up the whole work of the
There is always an immense amount
of work on our hands, which is why we would by no means refuse a true discussion
with Rome of the real questions, but we have not yet reached that point.
We too have a profound desire for the unity of the
Mystical Body. Our Lord’s prayer "that all be one" is our
prayer too, but while the practice of charity can greatly help to promote the
cause of unity, nevertheless it is only when minds are agreed on the truth that
wills can be united in seeking the common goal apprehended as such.
Our eyes raised to Heaven, we
often renew on behalf of all the clergy, Jesus Christ’s own entreaty. Father,
sanctify them. We rejoice in the thought that a very large number of faithful of
all classes, taking to heart their clergy’s good and the good of the Church,
join us in this prayer. It is no less agreeable to us to know that there are
also many generous souls not only inside convents and monasteries but also
living in the world who offer themselves unceasingly as holy victims to God for
May the Most High accept as a
sweet perfume their pure and sublime prayers, and may He not disdain our own
most humble entreaties may He in His mercy and providence come to our aid, we
beg Him, and may He pour out upon the clergy those treasures of grace, charity
and every virtue enclosed in the most pure Heart of his dearly beloved Son.
(St. Pius X, Haerent Animo)
We strongly recommend to your prayers what we have no
doubt you have already been greatly praying for, that the Church recover her
true visage, serene, eternal, shining with the holiness of God and setting the
earth on fire with the love of a God who so loved us, May Our Lady who presides
so clearly over the destiny of the Church at this beginning of a millennium
protect you and bless you with the Child Jesus, "cum prole pia."
as the Liturgy says.