In the last issue, we attempted to make our readers aware of the importance of the laity in the propaganda war. Since then, the US District website has helpfully given us a prime example of this in the form of the most recent “Pastor's Corner” article on sspx.org, entitled:
“The 'Need to Know' vs. Peace of Soul”.
That's right; read that title again. Says it all really, doesn't it? The very fact that “need to know” is in inverted commas appears to imply that really there isn't any need to know anything. Not by you, the reader, at any rate. The article might equally have been entitled “Ignorance is Bliss”. Before even reading the article, we are already aware of what it will attempt to say. “We're right – they're wrong. We're the ones in authority! Who are they? Don't listen to them. Only listen to us.” This is an old, well-worn theme which will be familiar to many of our older readers who remember Vatican II and the introduction of the Novus Ordo some forty or more years ago.
In many ways, we ought all to be flattered at such a backhanded compliment. It tells us that (in the eyes of the US District website at least), the opposition to the SSPX sell-out is alive and well, and that our influence is very much feared. This latest, lamentable attempt of the SSPX pro-sellout camp to silence their critics and bolster the morale of those faitful who have stayed loyal to them, is but the latest attempt in a succession of several such.
Who remembers a series of video interviews entitled “Against the Rumours”? With would-be clever camera work and music which was uncannily similar to that with which the CNS Fellay interview began, this was a home made copy-cat version of that more professionally made (if no less cringe-worthy) offering from CNS. Although billed in advance as something we would not want to miss, every question will be answered, no issue avoided, no stone left unturned – it turned out to be half an hour of listening to Fr. Rostand being thrown softball questions by his own employee, and yet still managing to produce a great deal of waffle and hot air even at that!
Who remembers a certain article by Fr. Juan Carlos Iscara? Faced with churchmen who profess and preach heresy, we should be silent in order to reunite with the heretics in as inoffensive a way possible. That (allegedly) is what St. Basil tells us! Well, not many people were fooled and the article did no good to its author and publishers nor to the cause which it was supposed to be aiding, other than to provoke a stern, public rebuttal from Bp. Tissier de Mallerais. Within a few weeks, the article was gone.
Who remembers an interview given by Fr. Rostand to the Remnant? Lots of interesting, well-prepared questions from Michael Matt, and from Fr. Rostand nothing but an endless succession of “I cannot comment”, “Let's wait and see”, “We musn't speculate about that” etc. Had one of the contributors of The Recusant been given the task of composing a parody interview, we could hardly have done his reputation more damage than he did himself with that embarrassing non-interview.
Each of these attempts were so utterly ineffectual that one may be forgiven for wondering whether they ever really constituted a serious attempt to convince anyone at all, or whether their whole purpose from the beginning was never anything more than a public show of continuing, uncritical loyalty towards Menzingen on the part of Fr. Rostand. But “let's not speculate” - after all, this is undoubtedly one of those things which we “don't need to know”! Whatever the case may be, each of these failures was quietly removed from the website within a short time and never referred to again. Not surprisingly, many of us have even begun to forget about them. This is, in its own way, unfortunate,since we ought not to let their authors off the hook quite so easily. Realistically, however, we have every expectation that, like all those previous attempts, this latest article will soon be equally gone and forgotten. However, while it remains on public display we will make good use of this opportunity to point out some things of importance, and since it is often just as well to point out the obvious, here are a few obvious things needing to be pointed out.
Firstly, the very phrase “need to know” has interesting connotations. Apart from anything else, it implies (correctly, in this case), that there is indeed something to be known which we do not already know. Of course, the inverted commas imply that Bp. Fellay, Fr. Rostand and his allies believe we do not really need to know any more than they choose to tell us. Many of us beg to differ from this view. There is a reason why we all chose at one time or another to support the SSPX. We wish to save our souls and the souls of our families, and we do so by clinging to the whole, 100% pure, unadulterated Catholic Faith and Tradition. Anything which might affect or alter that Faith and Tradition, or weaken it, or dilute it in any way whatsoever is of vital importance to us because our foremost interest is concerned: the salvation of our soul. We therefore have a right and a serious duty before God to know anything which might reasonably be expected to have a bearing or impact on it. To do otherwise, much worse to seek to keep ourselves in ignorance of potential dangers to the Faith or to Tradition, would be a serious failing and negligence for which we would answer to Almighty God. It would be morally wrong for us not to wish to know, for example, what Bishop Fellay's intentions are, what Rome's intentions are, or what the outcome of the next months and years will bring for the SSPX and how that will affect us. If the SSPX effectively neuters itself and ceases to be what it was (whether it be in the wake of a deal with modern Rome, as would certainly be the case, or beforehand, in anticipation/preparation for such a deal, which is also a distinct possibility and has already begun to happen at least in part), then it seems clear that an SSPX-going layman has not only a right but a positive duty to take an interest in it, to inform himself and his fellow Catholics around him as far as is possible. It would be wrong to do otherwise. After all, we are not talking about the private life of some idiotic “celebrity” being “invaded” by the tabloid media. We are talking about the public discourses of churchmen who hold visible ecclesiastical office, and who have the future of millions of souls and whole societies in their hands. A Bishop has no right to ask people not to pry into what he believes about Vatican II, especially when the purpose of his becoming a bishop in the first place was precisely to continue opposition to that Council's uncatholic effects, and even more so when he has recently given, voluntarily and on his own initiative, an interview to a pro-Vatican II website, in which interview he appears to let that infamous Council off the hook!
Secondly, the article as a whole is one gigantic non sequitur. It spends a lot of time talking about “scapegoating complexes”, about how many people feel they have a “right to know everything”, and contains a gratuitous reference to Martin Luther whose relevance is unclear. “The mindset that I have a right to all knowledge regardless of duty of state or position in life,” we are helpfully informed, “originates in the liberal perspective” - which may well be true, but this hardly applies to the crisis in the SSPX. Those who oppose a deal with modern Rome do not seek to know “everything”, merely the things which affect us and of which we need to be assured (with real assurances, as opposed to platitudes – actions speak louder than words). In this case, that means principally those things regarding the position of the SSPX and the apparent desire on the part of certain clerics to subjugate us in an agreement with the modernist foe.
The author tells us that: “Non-SSPX members do not have a strict right to be kept informed about the internal affairs of the SSPX, which is a religious congregation”. So there we have it. Of course, there is a sense in which this can be true: it entirely depends on what information is being sought and what one regards as merely “internal affairs”. If a layman were demanding to know the age and date of birth of every entrant into an SSPX seminary, for example, or the colour of the curtains in every SSPX priory, or how often and by what means each priest gets his hair cut, he would surely have no right to know, since it is hard to see in what way those things concern him. But if a layman wishes to know the contents of the infamous Doctrinal Preamble (didn't Bp. Fellay promise us all over a year ago that he would not keep it secret for long and would reveal what it contained?) or what Bishop Fellay's true intentions are regarding Rome (a fair question at this stage, since he has not been altogether consistent of late!) or what he can reasonably expect from the SSPX in future, then that is surely a different matter altogether, since these are things which he can reasonably expect to affect him, his soul, and the souls of any family or dependants which he might have. Sadly, however, this is a distinction which the “Pastor” from his corner does not bother to make. He merely leaves us with the definite impression that if we wish to know anything about the SSPX which might conceivably be termed “internal”, anything of any real interest or import in other words, then we ought not to expect anything but a stern telling off. You are a layman. The SSPX is a religious order and you do not belong to it. Now be quiet and go away. Never mind that the SSPX has spent the last 40 years keeping the Faith alive while the rest of the Church slipped, by degrees, into apostasy. If Bp. Fellay and Fr. Pfluger now wish to make us unwilling bed-fellows of those same apostates, that is none of your business, dear reader. Mind your own business, you nosey parker! Stop worrying about things that don't concern you. The priest at your local chapel may at any time be replaced with someone far less offensive to the modern world, your children in SSPX school or attending SSPX camps may be taught the luminous mysteries of the rosary or may unaccountably develop a respect and affection for Benedict XVI (or if they do not, might be refused a place as undesirables!), the name of the local bishop may become increasingly familiar among parishioners at your SSPX mass-centre, sermons against religious liberty and ecumenism may become a thing of the past, with nobody any longer inclined to think, much less say, anything negative about the separation of Church and State, and any mention of Freemasonry the latest sign of being an extremist fanatic and the fastest route to harsh social treatment at the hands of your fellow parishioners... but what concern of yours is that? You need to realise is that those things, and many more horrors besides, do not concern you!
The rest of the article is sufficiently unoriginal as to require little comment from anyone: much of it really speaks for itself. Take this little gem for example:
“In the end, through the person’s ever-growing bitterness (which Archbishop Lefebvre specifically warned traditionalists about), the person develops an obsessive mind thereby losing his balance of temperance in the social life – but in the use of his time, devices and even creatures.”
Note the completely superfluous reference to Archbishop Lefebvre. Spare a thought for the poor man who wrote the article, whoever he may be. He had to try to get in a mention somewhere, but couldn't say a great deal about him or quote from him at length. Any quote from Archbishop Lefebvre would certainly contradict his whole article! Apparently we are all bitter. How can one argue with that?
Then there is this:
“In the daily exercise of Our pastoral office, it sometimes happens that We hear certain opinions which disturb Us—opinions expressed by people who, though fired with a commendable zeal for religion, are lacking in sufficient prudence and judgment in their evaluation of events. They can see nothing but calamity and disaster in the present state of the world. They say over and over that this modern age of ours, in comparison with past ages, is definitely deteriorating. One would think from their attitude that history, that great teacher of life, had taught them nothing. They seem to imagine that in the days of the earlier councils everything was as it should be so far as doctrine and morality and the Church's rightful liberty were concerned. We feel that We must disagree with these prophets of doom, who are always forecasting worse disasters, as though the end of the world were at hand.” [emphasis ours]
As we know, history records who was truly the more “prudent” and who best served the interests of Christ's Church.
Need any more be said? We do not recommend that readers look up the article in question or waste time in reading it – there is no danger of your being taken in by it, but it might possibly raise your blood pressure to see just how much your intelligence is being insulted by being offering anything of quite such poor quality. We have read it so that you don't have to, and our verdict is that one really would have to be something of a simpleton to fall for an article like this latest “Pastor's Corner”. The fact that the US District offers its readers such a poor diet of transparently specious nonsense may, however, be an unfortunate indication of how they view many of their faithful. If this is so, we sincerely hope that they are mistaken.
Finally, a little word about peace of soul. As I am sure you will have noticed, the “Pastor in the Corner” has an interesting idea of what constitutes “peace of soul” and of how it may be acquired, too. I speak only for myself, but collaborating in the greatest betrayal of recent times would contribute very little to my peace of soul. It is an interesting paradox that exterior turmoil and conflict (in the right cause, of course - and what cause is more worthy than this?) can work in inverse proportion to peace of soul. The Saints fought the hardest for Almighty God, and were often embroiled in all kinds of controversies in their day. Intellectual indolence and moral cowardice is not the way to happiness. Was Archbishop Lefebvre a man who spent his life avoiding conflicts or keeping quiet regarding controversies? In truth, like those Catholics of the early Church who rejoiced in their good fortune at being given an opportunity to become martyrs, we ought really to be extremely grateful to Almighty God for having presented us with so clear-cut an opportunity to show what we are really capable of doing in His service.
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"Viva Cristo Rey!"