An unofficial SSPX newsletter, fighting a guerilla war for the soul of Tradition!
A Catechism of the Resistance OR
Some Common Objections Answered
Why is a Resistance necessary? What are you resisting? The same thing that Catholics have always had to resist these last 40 years and more: modernism.
But the SSPX resists modernism: that’s why it was founded. The SSPX used to resist modernism. But the SSPX has somehow ended up in the control of modernists and its doctrinal position has now been changed to one which involves compromises on things crucial to the Faith.
Look, had there been a deal with Rome then I’d be 100% with you fighting side by side. But there was no deal with Rome, and that’s what matters. Forget about a deal with Rome for the moment. What is more important to the integrity of the SSPX: its canonical standing or its doctrinal position? In 2012 lots of SSPX priests and faithful opposed a deal with Rome because it was the most obvious way that the SSPX could end up falling and officially compromising with modernism. That is why we all assumed that the deal with Rome was the biggest danger. But the SSPX in the meantime has nonetheless officially compromised with modernism, even without a deal! Imagine a householder who makes certain that his door is locked every night. If someone warns him that the thief has come in through a window, can he simply reply: ‘But look, the door is still locked and that’s what matters!’
How can you be so sure that the SSPX was taken over? Where’s your proof? Give me chapter and verse on exactly how this came about. There is a certain amount of interesting evidence out there which points to how it most likely happened (GREC, for example), but ultimately how it happened is not what matters. What matters is that it has happened and that it has happened is beyond doubt. One does not need to know how a man died in order to be sure that he is dead. The old, ‘no-compromise,’ doctrinally sound SSPX, the SSPX of Archbishop Lefebvre’s day, is dead and gone. That much is beyond serious dispute. The new SSPX is a very different creature indeed. The old SSPX would never have declared that Vatican II “enlightens and deepens” the Faith, that “the causes” of errors are in the Council, that the new Mass was “legitimately promulgated”, and so much more besides. Archbishop Lefebvre condemned the ‘oath of allegiance’ whereas Bishop Fellay says that he accepts it. The old SSPX raised up Bishop Williamson; the new SSPX marginalised him, slandered him publicly and then cast him out.
You refer above to the April 15th Doctrinal Declaration. But Bishop Fellay has said that he withdrew it, so that’s no longer an issue. You’re just trying to dredge up the past. What Bishop Fellay says when he thinks that no publicly available recording of his words is being made and what he officially ‘says’ to the world (Rome included) via DICI are not always the same, but we will let that pass. Even assuming that his ‘withdrawal’ is ‘official’, it is clear from his own words that what he is referring to is the document’s usefulness in reaching an agreement. What he is not referring to is the document’s contents, and it is precisely the contents that are a problem, not its usefulness (which had already been killed by Rome when they turned it down in June 2012, long before he ‘withdrew’ it the following August).
But you cannot be sure that Bishop Fellay still believes what he said in the April 15th Declaration. Or do you think you can read his mind!? Firstly, supposing that the April 15th Declaration no longer represents Bishop Fellay’s position, how much confidence can we repose in a Superior General who is capable of changing his doctrinal position with his dirty linen? Secondly, the very fact that Bishop Fellay has insisted so often that the document is in the past and no longer an issue whilst refusing to address its contents surely points to his continued belief in those contents. If he no longer believes what he said he believed in April 2012, why go to all the trouble of dodging questions and playing with words (“withdrew”, “renounced”) when a simple statement to that effect would quieten all opposition? Thirdly, a careful reading of his June 27th 2013 statement shows that the same ideas are still officially in force (E.g. Vatican II may ‘cause’ errors but it does it actually contain any errors? The New Mass isn’t as good as the old Mass, but it’s not actually evil or illegitimate per se; et al.) Finally, consider the fact that even if Bishop Fellay had genuinely seen the error of his ways and repented (both in word and action), and we believed him, the serious implications of his actions would remain. For example: how could a son of Archbishop Lefebvre ever have signed, let alone composed and kept subsequently secret, so scandalous a document? Serious questions deserve serious answers.
I don’t like the term ‘resistance’. The word isn’t as important as what it means. Call it the counter-revolution or conscientious objectors or the ‘real SSPX’ or ‘that portion of SSPX priests and faithful who have not gone along with the new orientation,’ or whatever you like, just as long as we all know what we’re talking about. But the thing itself is good and true and necessary; objecting to the most commonly used name is no grounds for objecting to the thing itself or for not supporting it.
I don’t like having to distinguish between one type of Traditional Catholic and another. Why can’t we just all be Traditional Catholics and leave it at that? Once again, whether you like it or not is hardly the point. Words must reflect the things they name or they are of no use. Where there is a qualitative difference there must also be a distinction in the word used to name it. It is an unfortunate necessity, that’s all. Just like the term ‘Traditional Catholic’ was invented to distinguish us from the conciliar ‘Catholics’ with whom we have precious little in common. Just like the very term ‘Catholic’ is necessary in order to distinguish us from those who mistakenly call themselves ‘Christian.’
So there is a debate going on inside the SSPX about the best way forward – so what? Aren’t you rather blowing things out of proportion? It is not a debate, it is a fight. Or rather it was a fight: it is more or less over now and the wrong side has won. And it wasn’t about ‘the best way forward’. It was about doctrine. One cannot overstate the importance of sound doctrine. Likewise, when the Faith is put in danger, one cannot overreact. We are morally obliged to do everything in our power to defend the Faith, no matter who is endangering it, even our superiors.
So the enemy won and the SSPX has changed its doctrine. What do you propose we do about it then? Stop supporting the SSPX which has veered off the course set by Archbishop Lefebvre and start exclusively supporting the continuation of what Archbishop Lefebvre began.
Every group that has split off from the SSPX has itself ended up splitting and in the end has destroyed itself. What makes you think the Resistance will be any different? The Resistance will go the same way and in another few years the SSPX will still be there, still the same only larger and stronger than ever and there will be no Resistance, and the people who supported it will end up regretting it or will have lapsed altogether. As it happens this is not true. Some groups who left the SSPX are still there (the FSSP for example). But that is beside the point. Why is it written in the stars that the Resistance will fail? Have you ever heard of the tactic beloved of the enemies of the Church known as a self-fulfilling prophecy? Surely any work stands or falls according to whether God blesses it or not. Therefore if there is a split, if there is a difference, we ought to look at the specific points of disagreement, at cause of the split, at the cause of the difference, whether between the SSPX and the Resistance, or any of the previous groups to leave the SSPX. Ask yourself why you think those groups were wrong to leave the SSPX. Was it not because the SSPX was holding the true course of opposing the conciliar religion and proclaiming true doctrine without compromise? Was it not the case that those groups that left the SSPX did so because they wanted something different from what the SSPX and Archbishop Lefebvre had always stood for? You ask what is different in this situation, to which I answer this. That this time it is the SSPX which has changed. The Resistance is doing and teaching nothing new from what the old SSPX taught.
You talk as if Archbishop Lefebvre were on your side, but you can’t know that for certain. I am firmly convinced that Archbishop Lefebvre is on or side from heaven, and that were he alive today he would be vocally supporting the Resistance. Fr. Faure, one of the original three priests chosen by Archbishop Lefebvre to receive episcopal consecration, thinks so too. And if you read what the Archbishop had to say while he was still alive, about the FSSP, for example, or about those who promoted an accommodation with modernist Rome (such as the late Jean Madiran), or about the conciliar Church, then you would see for yourself.
But both sides are able to quote Archbishop Lefebvre, so that doesn’t get us anywhere. The most one can conclude is that Archbishop Lefebvre must have been inconsistent. Both sides are not able equally to quote Archbishop Lefebvre, don’t be so easily fooled. Only one side is able to quote the Archbishop from the time of his big decision which saved the Faith, the Mass and the Priesthood (the 1988 consecrations) onwards. The other side is reduced to quoting him from certain select moments earlier on. And only one side is able really to quote him at any great length. Not uncommonly the quotes used by the new SSPX are very short and one often discovers that the whole quote contradicts what they had intended it to mean (try looking up the complete quote from the letter to the Bishops-elect, which was very partially quoted in the June27th 2013 declaration, for example. The missing parts speak volumes!) Remember that Archbishop Lefebvre died 21 years after founding the SSPX, but the situation in 1970 was not as clear as the situation in 1991. He was pioneering a movement, so to speak, dealing with a situation for which there was no precedent, and he did not have the benefit of our hindsight. That might help to explain some of the ‘inconsistency’, some of the less-hardline sounding quotes from the 1970s (asking Rome to ‘Let us do the experiment of Tradition’ for example). But with the benefit of experience and with the clarity which comes from the passage of time and events, have a look at what he had to say by the time of the consecrations and after. No inconsistency there. If you took the trouble to read and study him properly you would see that for yourself. And by the way, if you find it difficult to obtain ‘I Accuse the Council’ from Angelus Press, you may wish to reflect on why that might be.
But my SSPX chapel still looks the same. The priest still preaches doctrinally sound sermons, it is still the same Latin Mass. I can’t tell any difference from a few years ago. The most insidious changes are the ones which happen so gradually that one does not notice them. When someone stops saying something, for example, very often nobody notices because, well, he’s stopped saying it. Errors of omission are hard to detect. The exteriors, the things which are more easy to notice (the liturgy, the way people dress and behave, etc.) are all things which flow from doctrine. Doctrine comes first. If doctrine is changed, these things too will in time change. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you can’t see touch or smell it, it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters more than doctrine. If you just want a Latin Mass with incense, you can go to the Anglicans!
Well then I’ll wait and keep vigilant. But I’m staying put in my SSPX chapel until I notice the change. When they start having the Novus Ordo and dancing girls in there, then I’ll leave. Do not trust too much in your own abilities. By the time they start having the Novus Ordo in your SSPX chapel it will be long past far too late! And by that point if you haven’t already left long ago, it will only be because you have become numb to the changes and have yourself been changing without necessarily realising it. For the first twelve years of its existence the FSSP didn’t have one single Novus Ordo Mass. And yet what did Archbishop Lefebvre say about them? “They are betraying us!”
I know a priest/man/woman/family whom I respect, who appear very devout and they still support the SSPX and Bishop Fellay. What other people do is their concern. When you face the judgement seat of God you will answer for what you did. Do not imagine that the brave souls who helped to get the SSPX off the ground did not have to face similar experiences with people whom they respected staying in the Novus Ordo. Human Respect is as deadly now as ever it was.
Everyone knows that the Resistance is full of crazy people among the laity, ‘wierdos,’ losers, misfits, obsessives and people with no social skills. I don’t want to be associated with the likes of them. This is an unworthy argument, which may be why so few people are prepared to own up to thinking it. Personally I know some very fine Catholics who support the Resistance. But let us assume for argument’s sake that what you say is true. The same was surely said about the SSPX faithful in the 1970s: where would you be now had it not been for them? God uses the humble and lowly to accomplish his work. Impressive people are often proud and pride blinds. Finally, by using this argument are you not essentially admitting that your ‘image,’ your ‘brand’ if I may use the term, matters more to you than the truth? When you go to Mass, are you not going there in order to associate with God? During all these (however many) years that you’ve been attending the SSPX, were you really only ever there in order to ‘be associated’ with the other people in the chapel!?
The Resistance is full of larger than life personalities. It is all about egos. These people left because their egos are too big. Like the previous question, this way of thinking smacks of human respect by focusing on (alleged) personalities and not on principles. What matters is the doctrine and all that flows from it. Besides, are you really in a position to know why anyone else supports the Resistance? And even if you could know it, it would not change the fact that you are not answerable for them, you are only answerable to God for your own actions (or lack thereof!)
I’ve heard that: Fr. Pfeiffer is a real charlatan who steals everyone’s money and who probably murdered his own grandmother and who is unkind to cute fluffy kittens; / that Fr. Chazal is immature and is disorganised and is no good with money; / that Bishop Williamson and his friends are “Right Wing” (!!!) There’s no way I’m ever going to support a resistance which includes Fr. ________ (complete with the name of whichever priest you like least, or Bishop Williamson). This method of reasoning is not a little ironic given that those who point out the doctrinal problems of Bishop Fellay’s various utterances and position statements are usually accused of making “personal attacks” (we have even, at times, been accused of calumny and lies!) The battle is being fought over doctrine: do not allow the devil to distract you with this sort of personality-based squabbling. You have a duty to be as charitable as possible and to believe the best of people. Beyond that, if you don’t like a given person (even a priest), so what? The Resistance stands or falls on doctrine, the same as the SSPX always did. So you don’t like Fr. Pfeiffer, Bishop Williamson or whoever? What about all the other priests: what about Fr. Ringrose? Fr. Girouard? Dom Tomas Aquinas? Fr. Hewko, is he a charlatan too? Is Fr. Faure? More fool Archbishop Lefebvre for trusting him and promoting him for 20 plus years! Did the SSPX only ever include priests whom everyone thought were just wonderful? Was the only reason for your supporting the SSPX that you personally liked all the priests you’d happened to meet (and anyway, where would be the merit in that?)? I suspect you might have other reasons for not supporting the Resistance and are merely using this argument as a cover. But only you can know that for sure.
There are only a relatively small number of souls at my local Resistance Mass, where as there are ___(n.)__ at my local SSPX church. The Resistance is growing, whereas the SSPX as a whole is shrinking (did you realise that the number of priests in the SSPX actually shrank since last year, in spite of the new round of ordinations?). And for what it’s worth, I’m sure if you went to your local Cathedral at the right time, you could find a Novus Ordo Mass with even more souls present than your local SSPX church. Is truth a game of numbers? What would have happened had the recusant Catholic faithful at the time of the Protestant persecution (or indeed any persecution) reasoned this way? Truth does not respect numbers.
But we need to have a normal parish life which we can’t get if we’re just among 40 or so others in a rented hall! We need a Catholic social life, we need events to attend, we need societies and guilds to join, our children need other Catholic children to play with... Virtually all SSPX Mass centres began life in this modest way. Where would your impressive SSPX parish be now had not people been prepared to live the 40-souls-in-a-rented-hall experience thirty years ago? As for all the other trappings of a proper large parish, you may prefer them but God gives us what we need. If you act for Him in good faith, He will not let you down.
But there are still relatively few priests in the Resistance. I can’t get by without a minimum of Mass every Sunday. Once again, God will give you sufficient grace. Suppose, back in the days of the good old anti-modernist SSPX, you lived in an area where there was SSPX Mass less frequently than every Sunday, let’s say once a month. Would you go to the Novus Ordo in the meantime on the other Sundays? Would you even, for that matter, go to the indult? Would it not be better that you stuck to principle and went once a month and on the other Sundays made your holy hour without Mass?
But it is a mortal sin to miss Sunday Mass. There are occasions where it can be a mortal sin to attend it. St. Joan of Arc was asked to make one small compromise, to sign a false confession of guilt, in order to attend Mass. As long as she did not sign, she was forbidden to attend Mass. At one point she gave in and signed so as to be able to attend Mass. Soon after, thinking better of it, she withdrew her signature. Then the Virgin Mary appeared to her and told her that in singing the false confession she had signed her own damnation, and that had she allowed her signature to remain on the document she would have gone to hell.
If we stick with the SSPX we can ‘resist from within.’ “It is the superiors who form the subjects, not the subjects who form the superiors!” – Abp. Lefebvre
But I trust my priest. You can’t deny that there are still good priests inside the SSPX. Fr. Pfeiffer & co. don’t have a monopoly. True, there are still good priests inside the SSPX. In a similar way, one occasionally hears of ‘good,’ ‘hardline’ ‘anti-Vatican II’ priests in the FSSP, but one doesn’t go to their Masses because their private words and opinions count for nothing. They belong to an organisation that officially compromises on matters of the Faith, and by supporting that organisation, so do they. Since the old ‘no-compromise SSPX’ no longer exists, having been replaced by a new SSPX which is conciliar-friendly in its official documents, those ‘good’ SSPX priests are now good in spite of the (new) SSPX and not because of it. Furthermore, the tension of interiorly disagreeing with one's Society and one’s Superiors and exteriorly going along to get along is very unhealthy, is not a Catholic way of behaving (Catholics don't infiltrate) and cannot last. Human nature dictates that the tension will resolve itself in one direction or the other: either by such a priest leaving the SSPX, or by him steadily turning into a modernist without realising it. You must hope that those ‘good’ priests still in the SSPX join the Resistance. But whatever they choose to do, you cannot use their choice as an excuse for your own wrong decision.
What if there were still a chance that Bishop Fellay might be made to resign? The SSPX crisis is not a matter of personalities: despite what our enemies say, it is not that we merely don’t get along with Bp. Fellay! The problem is much more serious and goes much deeper. The doctrinal position has officially been changed, and many, many priests support this. Even if Bp. Fellay resigned tomorrow, the problem would remain. Unless all the complicit SSPX priests (a large number!) could be removed, and every single one of those scandalous documents and statements repealed and contradicted, the problem would still remain. And that is so unlikely as to be as good as impossible.
Fine, the ship may be sinking. It may even be, as you say, beyond repair and certain to sink. But the ocean outside is a stormy place. Let us remember that the doctrinal position has officially been changed. Therefore, I would rather say not that the ship is sinking: it has sunk! Which is the better place to be: clinging to a piece of debris, tossed in a stormy sea or still in your comfy cabin on board a ship which is already fifty fathoms under the waves and still plummeting towards the ocean floor?
In time God may give everyone the grace to see. Why can’t we just wait until everyone sees things? Or until a lot more people see things? He may, but let us not presume to count on it. Look at how few people (when compared to the whole Church) woke up and acted in the wake of Vatican II. I do not mean to depress you but who knows if anyone else in the SSPX will wake up and see clearly what has happened and act accordingly. For all we know, this is as good as it gets. I don’t actually think that that is so, but we ought to be prepared to face a horrible reality. In any event, waiting around is not an option: time is not on our side. Ever since the SSPX went into a nose dive, the SSPX and the Resistance have been on divergent courses. Like a crack in the ground which slowly widens into a chasm, the time where one can jump from one side to the other is coming to an end and any priest (or faithful) who finds himself on the wrong side beyond a certain point may well end up staying there, however ‘hard-line’ he initially was. Of course, God can give grace and extraordinary things can happen, but that is the ordinary way of things.
We cannot be ahead of Providence. Does ‘waiting for Providence’ mean waiting for God to do everything for us? Surely Providence works through human agents, at least as far as those human agents are willing to be used. How is Providence supposed to accomplish anything at all if we sit idly by, resolutely doing nothing?
But isn’t it more prudent to err on the side of caution? ‘Prudence’ is one of the most misused words, especially when it comes to the crisis in the Church. It does not simply mean ‘doing nothing’! There are times when the more cautious, more prudent thing to do is to act, and when to fail to act would be imprudent. In a serious situation, inaction is often fatal. There are even times when any decision is better than none, as long as it is made decisively.
Archbishop Lefebvre waited until 1988 before his decisive action. But he did not wait until 1988 to act. He set up the seminary as soon as he was asked, and having done so he persevered with it no matter what. And he certainly did not wait until 1988 to tell people to stop attending the Novus Ordo! Furthermore, he was in an unprecedented situation. To people in 1970, it must have seemed scarcely believable that the mighty fortress of the Vatican had been infiltrated top to bottom. We have no excuse, we have a very recent precedent, and this time it is only the puny SSPX which has been infiltrated and subverted.
I’ll act when the time is right. Once I have conclusive proof/more evidence/a line in the sand, then I’ll support the Resistance. You have had at least 18 months of serious heavy-duty evidence: 18 months of mounting scandals, 18 months of continuously liberal and heterodox declarations and interviews, 18 months of the good priests being punished while the bad and indifferent are rewarded. What more proof do you need?
Yes, but I still think we need to wait for a line in the sand. Wasn’t the General Chapter of 2012 a line in the sand? The expulsion of Bishop Williamson on trumped-up technical grounds? The publishing of the Doctrinal Declaration which Bishop Fellay secretly sent to Rome? What more do you want? If you are waiting for an angel from heaven to come down and tell you what you ought to do, it won’t happen. There will be no clearer ‘lines in the sand’ than the several which we have seen already. There may be a whole series of small lines in the sand, and each time the situation worsens and the SSPX sinks deeper.
But what if you are wrong? All the evidence says that we are not. If you doubt it, go over it again, re-read the six conditions of the 2012 General Chapter, re-read the June 2012 DICI interview, re-read the April 15th 2012 Doctrinal Declaration, watch to the May 2012 CNS interview, and all the rest. God sees the hearts of all men and if we have acted bravely in his cause and in good faith, we need not fear. But if you fail to help build up the Resistance and to ensure the future and continuation of Tradition, when you had the means to do so, if you continue to support the new SSPX and thus to support a doctrinal compromise with modernism, when you ought to have known better, then God will see that. And if you do it out of less than worthy motives (such as any of those listed above, or any others not included here) then He will see that too. Are you really invincibly ignorant? Are your own circumstances really so special compared to everyone else? Were I in your situation I would be a little concerned for my eternal welfare. You should be asking yourself “What if they are right?”!
23/08/2013 To be ammended and updated. Suggestions for other commonly used objections are welcome: email@example.com
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