In democratic politics, during the first thirty to ninety days of a new administration, the ground work is laid for what we can expect to be accomplished by these new leaders - what policies are to promoted, what reforms are to be undertaken, what promises will be kept, and so forth. An elected official's first three months in office are usually a good snapshot of what is to come in the following years.
This same principle of observation can be used as we follow the work of Benedict XVI. During the first ninety days following his election in the modern church, we can easily determine by what "spirit" he will follow, and how he will lead the many Roman Catholics who are still held sway by the "new evangelization" principles following Vatican II.
In general, the first month of the "new administration" was quite revealing: the status quo of the modern church has been maintained, and it even appears that the cause of Modernism will be advanced even further than we have seen under past "administrations." The next two months brought us more of the same.
Oh, there are some Catholics out there who have adopted a "wait and see" approach for these first ninety days. They have been bamboozled by the news media into thinking that a new "conservative" spirit has entered modern Rome. They have been caught up by the euphoria of the crowds who proclaim a new era of growth for the Church, even though they, themselves, have been indoctrinated by the Modernist propaganda for the almost forty years. At times is seems that they don't know exactly what the Catholic Church is anymore. These "wait and see" Catholics, hoping against hope that the era of the Modernists has come to an end, have donned something akin to rose-colored glasses to examine the "progress" since the election of Benedict XVI. If something "conservative" pops up, they are ready, in full force, to sound the trumpet and let everyone know that "all is well"; however, if the rumblings of Modernist teachings are heard or seen, well, then these must be the work of the people surrounding the "new pope". I guess it must be easier to be in a state of "denial" than to actually recognize error for what it is, and then act accordingly. The sad thing is that some traditional Catholics have also adopted this "wait and see" attitude, believing (I guess) that the events of the past few months don't provide enough grounds to prove that the "wait and see" period is over: Modernism is on the march.
Here are just a few of the public announcements made during the beginning of the first ninety days of the administration of Benedict XVI. The reader can verify all of them online at www.zenit.org:
On April 20, Benedict XVI explained his understanding of how to undertake ecumenical "unity" through "understanding" and the purification of "apology," and not by conversion: "Theological dialogue is necessary, in-depth knowledge of the historical reasons of choices made in the past is perhaps indispensable. But what is urgent in the main is that 'purification of the memory,' so many times recalled by John Paul II, which alone can dispose spirits to receive the full truth of Christ."
- On April 25, Benedict XVI announced that the spirit of false ecumenism (begun at Vatican II under his authorship) will continue under his leadership. It will not be turned around.: "Following in the footsteps of my predecessors, in particular Paul VI and John Paul II, I feel intensely the need to affirm again the irreversible commitment assumed by Vatican Council II." (Emphasis mine. FKV)
- On April 26, it was announced that "Benedict XVI will continue to guide 'with paternal affection' the ecclesial movements, associations and communities, which were nurtured by Pope John Paul II." These "ecclesial movements" include Renewal in the Spirit (a "Catholic charismatic" organization), Opus Dei (an erroneous ecumenical organization), and many others.
- Twenty-six Vatican delegates were sent to the May 9 - 16 Conference on World Mission and Evangelization, sponsored by the World Council of Churches. Of this meeting, the WCC said:"The main aim of the conference is to provide space for Christians and churches to exchange their experience and think together about priorities in mission and the future of Christian witness." What "mission priorities" do you think Catholics can share with the 347 non-Catholic member-religions of the World Council of Churches?
- On May 25, Benedict XVI greeted some 50 Jewish representatives of the International Judeo-Christian Symposium, organized by the Focolare Movement. The theme for the Symposium was Love of God, Love of Neighbor, in the Jewish and Christian Traditions. Such meetings are close to the heart and teaching of Benedict XVI, even though the love of God and the love of neighbor in the Christian revelation is far removed from that of the Jews in the Old Testament. For Catholics, love of God and of neighbor are based on the Gospel commands of Jesus Christ, a doctrine quite foreign to the Jewish people. Since the spirit of the "new evangelization" is not to convert the Jews to the Catholic Faith, we can only imagine what was discussed at these meetings.
Space does not allow me to given any more examples. I can assure you that similar (and even worse) instances abounded during June, July and August of this year. What is here is enough to demonstrate the vigorous efforts of Benedict XVI, and the modern Vatican, to not only maintain the spirit of false ecumenism, which has been a hallmark of the Modernists since Vatican II, but to extend the influence of this evil spirit in every way possible.
Why We Cannot "Wait and See"
A nearly crazed spirit of false ecumenism is the driving force behind most actions in the modern church. Day by day these events continue. The "wait and see" Catholics in our midst must acknowledge this fact: Benedict XVI plans to continue the "tradition" he started when he authored and promoted the Modernist errors at Vatican II. The faith of millions of Catholics has been perverted for nearly forty years - perverted primarily through the false teachings on Christian Unity. What is more, those teachings have been drummed into the heads of these poor people every time they attend the Novus Ordo (that the fruits of Christ's death are applied for "all men") and hear the various homilies on the glories of the Modernist gospel. How much longer shall we hold out, waiting for a "sign" that modern Rome is moving toward the necessary public restoration of true Catholic teaching and the abolition of Modernism? A month? Another year? Two maybe? How long should we continue to find excuses for the obviously erroneous teachings emanating from once Catholic churches, every day fooling ourselves by saying: "Someday it will change"? How much more compromising of our Faith will we allow before we say: "Enough! I will have no part of this Modernist spirit anymore!"? In the meantime, the Modernists wait, and wait, and wait. They've been at their destructive work for over 150 years. What's a few more? But during their period of waiting, the Faith of Catholics is gradually perverted to the point that more doctrinal and liturgical error is tolerated today than there was a year ago. Yes, there are Catholics who still complain about such things, but their voices are getting weaker because they are becoming more "tolerant" of evil and less knowledgeable of the Holy Faith.
One of the events on the "wait and see" horizon (we are told) will be a more welcome acceptance of the Latin Mass throughout the world. Somehow, as false ecumenism and heretical syncretism are promoted by modern Rome, the innovators will find their way to remove "restrictions" on the Latin Mass. "We are on the inside," we hear some of these "wait-and-seers" say. "We know it is coming. Have patience. When the Latin Mass is permitted to be said by all priests throughout the world, we will have won a great victory, and Modernism will fall." If this is true, then why would the modern innovators allow the Latin Mass in the first place? Will the presence of the Latin Mass in more churches suddenly turn the tide of all the erroneous teachings found in those same churches? For years, many traditional Catholics have learned to settle merely for the presence of a Latin Mass, even if it is found in the same building where the Novus Ordo Missae is also said. Petitions, trips to Rome, visits with cardinals, and so forth have all taken place under one heading: "All we ask for is the Latin Mass." In other words, the battle for these Catholics will appear to be over once the Latin Mass is allowed in more churches of the world. The sad thing is that most don't realize that the presence of the Latin Mass in all the churches of the world must be the end product of our war against Modernism, not merely its first step.
Enter The Latin Mass "Wars"
I was a young man when the "changes" hit the Church - by these I mean the systematic introduction of liturgical abuses that have led to the destruction of the liturgical life of far too many Roman Catholics. These abuses have changed the way Catholics must pray and worship Almighty God; they have altered the form of true worship that has been ours since the time of the Apostles.
Vatican II was barely over, and already the "normative mass" was introduced - the precursor of the Novus Ordo Missae of Paul VI. By Palm Sunday, 1969, the "new rite" became mandatory, and Catholics not only worshipped in the vernacular worldwide, but the very prayers of their worship were no longer Catholic. This "new liturgy" resembled the "masses" of Cranmer and of Luther, not the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of the Roman Rite. The most visible element in a Catholic's spiritual life was missing: the Roman (Tridentine) Latin Mass was abolished, "previous decrees not withstanding," we were told.
Elderly priests continued to offer the True Mass - some out of custom, the rest out of defiance. Large parish groups gave way to what appeared to be an international army of people who demanded of Rome the return of the Latin Mass and the removal of the Novus Ordo. Marches were organized - on diocesan centers, and even on Rome itself - crying for the return of the Latin Mass. The Modernists did what Modernists do: they said nothing, they made no concessions, and they waited - waited until the people got tired of fighting for the Latin Mass, and until they became accustomed to the Novus Ordo.
The Latin version of the Novus Ordo Missae started to pop up here and there, and this satisfied those people who only wanted to hear Latin in their churches again. The crowds demanding the return of the traditional Latin Mass, and the accompanied abolition of the Novus Ordo Missae, grew smaller and smaller, until only a few voices were heard in various parts of the world. These voices belonged to the "renegades," soon to be known as the traditionalists, and their clamor for the return of the Latin Mass was often looked upon by modern Rome as the actions of the "disobedient" and even the "schismatic." Curiously enough, as the cry for the return of the Latin Mass to our parish churches began to die out (as well as the demand for the abolition of the Novus Ordo Missae), concern for the "other changes" in the Church also waned, and doctrinal error gained a greater foothold among Catholics under the banner of following "the spirit of Vatican II." We'll return to this observation later.
For modern Rome, the problem of the "traditionalists" was not going away. Something had to be done to appease them, at least until all of the "old folks" died off. In 1984, John Paul II issued the indult Quattor abhinc annos to all the bishops of the world, authorizing them to reintroduce the Latin Mass - not the Novus Ordo Missae version, but the Mass according to the 1962 Missal of John XXIII. Ah, but there was a fly in the ointment. John Paul II's motu proprio allowed bishops to reintroduce the "old Mass" into their dioceses, but "without prejudice to" the new rites. In other words, the Novus Ordo Missae - the single-most effective tool in the arsenal of the Modernists - was not going away. Rather, the modernist liturgy was the new "tradition" in Catholic worship, and the "old tradition" would only be tolerated in certain places when the people requested it and when they made public acknowledgment, through their signature on a document, that they did not question the validity of the Novus Ordo Missae. Without such an acknowledgment, the modern bishops would not honor the request for a Latin Mass to be celebrated in their dioceses. The "Indult Mass" was born.
For those who were willing to engage in this comprise, the return of the Latin Mass was not happening fast enough. True, some bishops did allow the return of the Latin Mass under this Indult, but it was usually celebrated by an elderly priest, at an inconvenient time, in some obscure part of the diocese. And, when those who signed the document, taking advantage of the "Indult," went to these Masses, they often went in great numbers. This fact, however, didn't disturb the modern hierarchy too much, for they still had these people in their grasp. They hadn't gone over to the "traditionalists," be they the clergy who staffed the chapels of the Society of St. Pius X, or those of the "independent" clergy, or some "traditional" religious community.
Therefore, the modern dioceses still received their financial support through tithing at these Latin Masses, the pastors made sure that topics that aligned with the modernist gospel were still preached, and the people (in many cases) were subjected to small amounts of the liturgical "changes" at those Masses, including the use of "altar girls," and the distribution of "the eucharist" (found in some way-layed tabernacle) "consecrated" during the Novus Ordo Missae. Since all that mattered to these people was the presence of a Latin Mass, the modern hierarchy obliged. When these people were satisfied, the modern clergy was satisfied as well.
At that time, it was obvious that the "traditionalists" were not going along with the Indult. Priests offered the Tridentine Latin Mass (usually from a pre-1962 Missal) wherever it was most convenient and most reverent. Dismissed from their parish churches, these Men of God erected chapels in places where groups of the faithful were found who wanted the Latin Mass without compromise, and (usually) in opposition to the Novus Ordo Missae. Though small in number from the beginning, it became painfully obvious to the modern hierarchy that the "traditionalists" were serious about the "old Mass" and that their numbers were growing. However, a deeper breach was on the horizon - much deeper than just the preference of the "old Mass" over the new rites. It dealt with the ordination of priests and the consecration of bishops for the "traditionalists."
By 1985, the traditional Roman Catholic rites of priestly ordination had been conducted several times, and in defiance of modern Rome and the local modernist bishops. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was ordaining men in the seminaries of the Society of St. Pius X, and there were other traditional Roman Catholic bishops who were doing the same elsewhere. Apart from some questionable ordinations (and even consecrations of bishops), Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc was also ordaining priests and consecrating bishops according to the traditional, pre-conciliar rites. The actions of these men got the attention of modern Rome. Archbishop Lefebvre was suspended a divinis by Paul VI, and Archbishop Thuc was excommunicated - twice, the last time he was sentenced by Ratzinger himself. Archbishop Lefebvre was getting old, and he wanted to make sure that his work in preserving the True Mass and Sacraments would continue after him. After negotiations with modern Rome to regularize the Society of St. Pius X broke down, the Archbishop proceeded to consecrate four priests of the Society as bishops. This action won for him and those men a latae sententiae excommunication, a point that was made even in the secular news media throughout the world.
The battle lines were being drawn in the "Latin Mass wars," and John Paul II was prepared to turn an apparent defeat into a victory. He issued the motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, in which he "recognized the rightful aspirations" of the faithful who wished to attend the "old Mass," as long as they followed the guidelines on his 1984 Indult, and petitioned their local bishops for a Latin Mass. In this document he told the bishops he wanted a "wide and generous application" of the Indult. Once again, while some bishops welcomed these petitions, many more turned a deaf ear to them. So, in 1988, John Paul II established the Fraternity of St. Peter, made up largely from priests and seminarians from the SSPX who were not in favor of Archbishop Lefevbre's consecration of bishops without the approval of modern Rome. He also established the commission Ecclesia Dei to insure that the "right" of Catholics to attend the "old Mass" was "safeguarded," and from which priests could get permission to offer the "old Mass" separate from any permission of their local modern bishop.
In 1998, another "March on Rome" in favor of the Latin Mass took place, this time by several thousand Catholics who were observing the tenth anniversary of the document Ecclesia Dei. No doubt, many among this number thought that their efforts would yield a lifting of even more restrictions against the free use of the Latin Mass in the modern churches, but this didn't happen. At best, those in attendance heard a sympathetic address from John Paul II during which the modern bishops were "encouraged" to "respect and accommodate" the desires of the "traditionalists." To the modern cardinals, it seemed that the so-called "traditional movement" was failing, and that all they had to do was wait until it died, or, at least, until everyone came under the sway of the Fraternity of St. Peter and similar "approved" communities of priests.
This belief seemed to have changed some when, in 2000, on the occasion of John Paul II's "jubilee year", several thousand clerical and lay members and supporters of the Society of St. Pius X went to Rome. Shortly afterwards, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos met with the Society's four bishops in an attempt to open negotiations for the "reintegration" of that organization with modern Rome. Talks between Hoyos and Bishop Bernard Fellay (the Superior General of SSPX) and others continued throughout the year. In early 2001, Bishop Fellay requested two concessions of modern Rome before such a reintegration could take place: the "right" of all priests of the world to offer the Latin Mass, and that the excommunications of the SSPX bishops be declared null. While the latter seemed "OK," the former was a "non-starter" from the beginning due to opposition by the modern bishops of the world, both to the lifting of the excommunications, and the reintegration which would have made SSPX virtually autonomous from them. The negotiations broke down, partly because of the opposition of the modern bishops, and partly because of concerns among the SSPX members and sympathizers that the superiors were "giving away the farm" because little was said about expecting the reversal of the "changes" in doctrine and liturgy since Vatican II. A stalemate ensued, and this seems to be where matters are at present.
However, all was not lost in modern Rome. Victories small and large were marked by modern Rome in their efforts to take care of the "traditionalists issue." For instance, on January 18, 2002, in the Diocese of Campos, Brazil, the reintegration of Bishop Licinio Rangel, and twenty-seven of his priests, and nearly 28,000 of their laity, took place. These clerics formed the traditional Priestly Society of St. John Vianney, and were the successors in the work of the preservation of the traditional teachings and worship of the Roman Catholic Church of Bishop de Castro Mayer who died a few years earlier. The price of reintegration was high, for not only did these men repudiate a 1982 Profession of Faith in which they denounced the errors of Vatican II and the modern "mass," but it has been widely reported that Bishop Rangel has recently taken part in the concelebration of the modern liturgy - something he said he would never do. In the "traditionalists issue," Campos became a "model" for any other cleric or organizations among the "traditionalists" who were willing to take part in reintegration with the conciliar church.
Besides the events at Campos, from time to time, the "Tridentine Latin Mass" was being offered in public places and in large churches and cathedrals throughout the world, to demonstrate how sympathy toward the Latin Mass was growing. One example of this was the 2003 celebration of the "old Mass" by Cardinal Hoyos at St. Mary Majors in Rome. During that time, he delivered a sermon in which he insisted that the "traditionalists" can no longer be treated as "second class citizens." Even Cardinal Ratzinger was heard to be sympathetic to the cause of the "traditionalists," a report that keeps surfacing quite frequently today.
Benedict XVI And The Latin Mass
To bring the news of the "Latin Mass wars" up to date, the election of Benedict XVI is believed by many to be a signal to the "traditionalists" to hold out, and to "wait and see" because many think that he is sympathetic to the "old Mass." They draw this from a section of his 1997 book, Salt of the Earth:
I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all who desire it. It's impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden, and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent.
In the July, 1997, issue of The Catholic Voice, I reviewed several of Ratzinger's statements in an article entitled Ratzinger and the Reform. At that time, I called attention to the fact that, while Cardinal Ratzinger lamented the "ban of the old missal," he did nothing as "Prefect of the Faith" to safeguard the worship and daily practice of Catholics from doctrinal error. What was true then is still true today: Ratzinger regards the Latin Mass as a piece of nostalgic history that should not have been discarded like an old dish rag, nothing more. He said nothing then, and says nothing now, about the doctrinal errors of the Novus Ordo Missae and that it should be abolished, while the True Mass should be returned exclusively to all Catholics everywhere. If it appears that he, as Benedict XVI, is "sympathetic" to the "old Mass," it surely is not for any sound, doctrinal reasons. In fact, on the occasion of the "Eucharist Synod," non-Catholics from all over the world were invited to participate in this event (at the invitation of Benedict XVI). While there, all participants were purportedly "treated" to the celebration of a Latin Mass. Benedict XVI may "like" the "old Mass," but he enjoys doctrinal compromise much better.
That day is anticipated by the "neo-traditionalists," that is, those who attend an "approved" Latin Mass, that modern Rome will give wholesale approval to the celebration of the Latin Mass, thus satisfying the desires of the "traditionalists" after all these years. All they ask is that we "wait and see." I think we have seen all that we need to - why wait for more?
Is It Enough To Say: "It Is The Mass That Matters?"
The historical sketch of what I call the "Latin Mass wars" has as its purpose the opportunity to briefly review, not just the "battle" the "traditionalists" have engaged in to preserve the Latin Mass, but to indicate how far we have come in this "battle" from its original intent. You will recall that the earliest struggles against the Novus Ordo Missae were not merely to have the Latin Mass made available once again for all to attend, but it was to have the Novus Ordo Missae abolished from the Catholic churches of the world when there was a restoration of the "old Mass." Such a cry is hardly ever heard today. Instead, one hears the term It is the Mass that matters spoken by a majority of the "traditionalists", meaning that what they want most is a peaceful coexistence - a detente, if you will - of the Latin Mass, side-by-side with the Novus Ordo Missae, in all of the Catholic churches of the world. It is believed by the promoters of this cause that once modern Catholics see the beauty of the Latin Mass, and that it is more readily available in their churches because it is "approved," of itself this will cause a tremendous surge of Catholics coming back to "Tradition," and Modernism will suffer a crushing defeat. They even say that when there are more Latin Masses everywhere, then there will be more graces, and Catholics will "see" the effects of the modern errors that much more easily.
But I ask: Is it enough to merely have the Latin Mass said more publicly and in an "approved" manner? Should not our first concern be to combat the errors of the Modernists, helping Catholics see just how much they have been duped all these years? How can such Catholics tolerate the notion that the false worship of the Novus Ordo Missae in their churches will still exist side-by-side with the "approved" Latin Masses as if the one is equal in value and grace before God as the other? Should we say that Catholics can be content to see the Latin Mass "restored," and that will be good enough, and that its presence will influence more priests to say it - priests whose very fact of ordination are in doubt because of the ICEL rites of ordination? Should we say that it suffices for us to have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered in the same buildings where the heretical doctrines of the Modernists - most especially that of false ecumenism - are allowed to continue? No, a thousand times No! Catholics can never grow tolerant of the evils of Modernism in their midst lest they succumb to them themselves. Benedict XVI has clearly demonstrated that the "new traditions" of Vatican II will not go away under his regime. If this is the case, why do so many Catholics "wait and see" for his sympathetic approval of the "old Mass" in our midst, while he whole-heartedly promotes so many doctrinal errors that cancel out any potential for spiritual good that can come from the Latin Mass?
But how did we get to this point? What took us off track in the battle against the Novus Ordo Missae and for the Roman (Tridentine) Latin Mass? In part, this happened because we grew weary in the battle. What is more, it happened when a compromise with the Novus Ordo Missae was settled on because some "leaders" among the "traditionalists" (both clergy and lay) started looking upon this act of blasphemy and sacrilege as an "alternative" form of Catholic worship, sinful and evil though it is. Instead of seeing in the Novus Ordo Missae an act of false worship, and something that was already condemned centuries before, they chose the path of least resistance: "All we ask is the Latin Mass," they say, and you can keep your silly Novus Ordo. Such an attitude has brought a sinful compromise in its wake.
Catholics of old did not tolerate such things in the manner that we see "traditional" Catholics willing to do with the Modernists. Even though the Arians had a valid Mass, the faithful Catholics with St. Athanasius knew that the Mass is only the heart of our Faith - the very body and soul of it is found in those places where the true, apostolic Faith is taught and observed. Before the Anglican Orders became corrupted, along with Cranmer's false form of liturgical worship, faithful Catholics risked their very lives to assist only at those Masses where the entire body of the Roman Catholic Faith could be found preserved without compromise. During the French Revolution, Catholics stayed away from the valid Masses of the "constitutional clergy" because the doctrine of the Faith had been corrupted among them. In our day, even if the Latin Mass is "approved" by the Modernists to be said in the churches they have taken over, faithful Catholics should not go in to those churches, even if the Mass is valid, because the validity of the Mass is not enough - the staunch profession of our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Roman Faith surrounding the celebration of such Masses means everything to us . . . more than merely the celebration of the Latin Mass itself.