It is always a tragedy when a priest leaves the Society of Saint Pius X, through which he has received the intellectual, moral, cultural and spiritual formation necessary for the priesthood. His fellow priests, with whom he shared his formation, who all look up to the Society as the vehicle of the graces of their priesthood, the means by which they have received the spirit of the Church, the source of their strength in their present day combat, are always profoundly pained by the experience. The faithful often ask the question how it can be that a priest could abandon the spiritual mother that engendered him in the priesthood, and why it is that a priest formerly strong in his convictions could suddenly accept a compromise with modernism. There is only one answer. It is that we are in the midst of a horrifying conflict with the powers of darkness. The priest is attacked in particular because of his triple power of sanctifying, teaching and governing the faithful. The breakdown of authority in the present crisis has created the confusion which is the devil’s choice playground.
You will probably have heard that the most recent defection from our ranks is that of Father Benedict Vanderputten, so well known to many of you by his outspoken and frank conferences, sermons and retreats. I feel that it is my duty to warn you that in leaving the Society of Saint Pius X, to which he had bound himself in perpetuity, he has taken it upon himself to attack the Superior General, for his refusal to accept the canonical arrangement proposed by Cardinal Castrillon, asserting furthermore that to refuse such propositions is a schismatic act. He himself has obtained a celebret from Cardinal Ratzinger, and now celebrates the Indult Mass, under the condition that he places himself under a diocesan bishop within six months.
It is our duty to pray for him, but it is also my duty to alert you as to the dangerous ideas that he is spreading around. The refusal of Cardinal Castrillon’s deal is in no way a refusal of Rome’s authority. The very fact of the negotiations is an acknowledgement of the authority that these modernists have usurped. The reason why the Superiors cannot possibly accept a "deal" at this present time is the exact same reason why Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre stated, after the episcopal consecrations of 1988, that no negotiations with Rome could succeed so long as the authorities refused to accept and acknowledge our right to stand up firmly against the liberal revolution of Vatican II. It is but common sense, for any deal not built upon the rock of strong conviction will be founded upon the sand of political compromise, and the less influential party will eventually succumb, as was the case with the Fraternity of Saint Peter.
Allow me to simply list a few examples of the positions of Cardinal Castrillon and the Ecclesia Dei Commission, which demonstrate that it would have been foolishness for the Society’s superiors to have given themselves up into their hands:
1. The firing of Father Bisig, Superior General of the Fraternity of Saint Peter, by Cardinal Castrillon, in July 2000, for the crime of having required his priests to take an oath that they would only (con)celebrate the New Mass on Holy Thursday, but not at any other time. The Cardinal maintained that this contradicted the "right" of every priest to say the New Mass.
2. The statement by Cardinal Castrillon in his October 27, 2000 letter to Michael Davies that the only condition of the Indult that the Ecclesia Dei Commission still considers as binding is that the priests and faithful "in no way share the positions of those who call in question the legitimacy and doctrinal exactitude" of the New Mass. He refuses to accept the very reason why we maintain our right to the Traditional Mass.
3. The statement by Cardinal Castrillon in the same letter that no priest who says the Traditional Indult Mass has the right to refuse Communion in the hand to those who request it. Furthermore, his only argument against altar girls at the Traditional Mass was that he did not think that it would be requested. What if it were?
4. The statement by Cardinal Castrillon in his May 17 letter to Bishop Richard Williamson, denying that there is a crisis of the Faith in the Catholic Church at this time:
"I desire to flee all controversy, but we must recognize that these times are different from those in which heresies denying the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ flourished, provoking such well known controversies in the Church, times which saw such noble princes of the Faith as Athanasius, who offered even his life to defend the Faith in the Incarnate Word, Son of God and Son of Mary. Thanks be to God that it was not subjects of this kind that, at one time, distanced Archbishop Lefebvre."
This is a radically false statement, since Archbishop Lefebvre always made it clear that it was to preserve the Faith of eternal Rome that he "always refused to follow the Rome of neo-modernist and neo-protestant tendencies" for, he continued, "all these reforms, indeed, have contributed and are still contributing to the destruction of the Church, to the ruin of the priesthood, to the abolition of the Sacrifice of the Mass and of the sacraments, to…a teaching derived from Liberalism and Protestantism, many times condemned by the Solemn Magisterium of the Church" (Declaration of November 21, 1974). It does not take a whole lot of perspicacity to see that Archbishop Lefebvre was convinced that we are living a crisis equal in its magnitude to that of Arianism. It is a question of plain common sense, the Catholic sense of the Church and the Faith.
The statement of Cardinal Castrillon in his May 17 letter to Bishop De Galarreta "that Archbishop Lefebvre did not have dogmatic differences with the Holy See, but a divergent understanding of the criteria for the Church’s holiness and perfection." Again, this is total ignorance of the Archbishop’s writings, or more likely a deliberate deformation. From the time of Vatican II until his death the Archbishop never ceased to publicly oppose the dogmatic errors of ecumenism, religious liberty, collegiality and the denial of the Social Kingship of Christ.
5. The Cardinal’s consistent refusal to grant the preliminary that all priests be allowed to celebrate the traditional Mass at any time without restriction, the only sure guarantee of a solid right for Tradition to exist, and a real assurance that no priest in the future could be forced into the Fraternity’s compromise. This he refused because it would have been tantamount to granting the right to disavow Paul VI and his New Mass, "for such a permission could create a confusion in the minds of many people who would understand it as depreciating the value of the Holy Mass as it is celebrated in today’s Church" (May 7 letter to Bishop Bernard Fellay). This is precisely the point that we insist must be accepted, namely that all priests have the right to celebrate the traditional Mass because the New Mass is not Catholic, but rather a compromise with modernism. It is when the right to disavow Paul VI’s Mass is officially acknowledged that the turning point in the crisis will begin.
6. The Cardinal’s refusal to accept our right to question the whole orientation of the post-conciliar Church. In fact, if he were logical with himself, by admitting that we have the right to question the individual errors of Vatican II, (for he does admit that its teachings are not infallible), he would also accept that we have the right to question all these errors together, which make up the spirit of Vatican II. However, he refused this, in the name of the Church’s indefectibility, when he wrote on May 7 that "neither the Church’s holiness nor the value of its pontifical Magisterium can be doubted", meaning thereby the novelties of the post-conciliar church as a whole. Our point has always been that, just as modernism was defined by Saint Pius X as the synthesis of all heresies, so also is the present crisis in the Church not just the question of one error or heresy. The crisis is the widespread failure of ecclesiastics and Church institutions to perform their essential duties in teaching, governing and sanctifying the faithful, thanks to the injection of the principles of liberalism by Vatican II, which failure is possible because of the human side of the Church, and in no way threatens its indefectibility. For the time being Rome refuses to accept our right to defend this position, and consequently to maintain that the only answer to the crisis is a wholesale return to Tradition.
It is manifestly obvious that Rome has no intention whatsoever of promoting the work of Tradition or even simply to allow traditional Catholics to defend the integrity of the Faith. Any deal at this time would necessarily mean the partial and progressive giving up of the defense of the Faith, and the eventual division that the Roman prelates desire to create in our midst. Let us then stand together and stand firm, and if we dialogue, then let it be uniquely on the doctrinal differences between the present representatives of the Holy See and the Church’s infallible Ordinary and Extraordinary Magisterium.
I would like to remind you of the strong words of our holy patron saint, Saint Pius X, on this day 91 years ago, in his Motu Proprio Sacrorum Antistitum, three years after Pascendi, on counteracting the danger of Modernism. The audacity and the efforts of the modernists being in no way diminished by Pascendi, he promulgated a whole list of practical means to stop them, for "the gravity of the evil is daily growing and must be checked at any cost. We are no longer dealing, as at the beginning, with opponents ‘in sheep’s clothing’, but with open and bare-faced enemies in our very household, who, having made a pact with the chief foes of the Church (i.e. Freemasons, Liberals, Protestants, Jews, Muslims etc.) are bent on overthrowing the Faith. These are men whose haughtiness in the face of Heavenly wisdom is daily renewed, claiming the right to correct it as if it were corrupted. They want to renovate it as if it were consumed by old age, increase it and adapt it to worldly tastes, progress and comforts, as if it were opposed not just to the frivolity of a few, but to the good of society.
"There will never be enough vigilance and firmness on the part of those entrusted with the faithful safe-keeping of the sacred deposit of evangelical doctrine and ecclesiastical tradition, in order to oppose these onslaughts against it."
I believe that you can see for yourselves how eminently it is the will of God for the Society of Saint Pius X to apply these principles of our patron saint to our own situation.
As we prepare for his great feast, let us not cease to beg of Saint Pius X, the grace of the fidelity to the Church, and to the sacred deposit of Tradition.
Yours faithfully in Christ Our Lord,
Father Peter R. Scott
Society of Saint Pius X