Elsewhere in the February 28th issue of The Remnant, Michael Davies weighed in with his opinion on the Campos Compromise. Readers will no doubt have noticed that his piece is a good deal more positive than was my own in the last issue. It is my hope, as editor of this journal of opinion, that readers will appreciate the fact that The Remnant makes every effort (short of breaching unjust compromise) to consider varying opinions on important and complex issues such as this one. As one of the most prominent lay Traditionalists in the English-speaking world (as well as a contributor to The Remnant for nearly thirty years), Michael Davies’ opinion surely is not to be dismissed out of hand, and I encourage my readers to carefully consider his point of view on this question, even though it is in contrast with my own.
Since the Campos Compromise calls to mind some of the internal struggles with which all Traditional Catholics wrestle on a daily basis—the struggle with resistance vs. loyalty, with preserving the old faith vs. obedience, with counterrevolution vs. mere liturgical restoration—it will no doubt continue to generate a great deal of subsequent discussion in The Remnant throughout the coming months. I trust readers will understand why, then, both Michael and I have decided to continue this discussion in this issue of The Remnant.
This notion of counterrevolution vs. mere liturgical restoration, by the way, constitutes a growing point of division inside Traditionalism. Some among us believe that Traditionalism is primarily about the restoration of the old Mass. These folks encourage us to accentuate what it is that we are for rather than what we are against, so that we do not further alienate our bishops, and thus discourage them from passing out more permission slips for use of the old Mass. I can understand this viewpoint, but I have long found it difficult to comprehend why the partial restoration of the old Mass would stop the “auto-demolition of the Church” when it did not do so forty years ago when it was the only Mass offered in the Latin rite.
In any event, others among us believe that Traditionalism is about more than the Mass — more than merely lobbying for the restoration of the liturgical books we prefer. They believe it is about overtly counteracting the worst revolution the Church has ever suffered…a revolution against Catholic theology, philosophy, customs and liturgy. Those who view the role of Traditionalism in this way also believe that what Traditionalists are against is paramount. To be Catholic is synonymous, in fact, with being at war with the world, the flesh and the devil.
I tend to come down on the side of those in the latter category. For me, too, Traditionalism is about more than the Mass. I am not typically moved to tears by the Latin language, nor am I overcome every Sunday by the Tridentine rubrics, as undeniably beautiful as they are. I am not reduced to hysterical weeping at the sight of a priest in his biretta or Roman vestments. As I see it, the Mass is worth dying for, not because I happen to like it, but because it is the touchstone of the old Faith, which must be preserved for generations long after ours has passed. As the most perfect expression of adoration to Almighty God, the old Mass represents how we are striving to believe...not how we want to feel on Sunday mornings. Simply put, the fight for the restoration of the old Mass for us encompasses a movement to drive out the bad in the liturgy, as well as restore the good; to see the Church eradicate Pope Paul’s bizarre innovation (and its even more bizarre results) for the good of the whole Church and for the salvation of souls—our own included.
The reason for this is simple: the new liturgy is the touchstone of a new theology that is rapidly transforming the Roman Catholic Church into something unrecognizable, from the standpoint of Catholic tradition. This is not just Traditionalist raving. The Holy Ghost, I believe, has seen to it that everything we say has also surfaced somewhere in the admissions of some supposed “moderate” theologian. Msgr. Klaus Gamber, in Reform of the Roman Liturgy, for example, declares:
“Liturgy and faith are interdependent. That is why a new rite was created, a rite that in many ways reflects the bias of the new (modernist) theology. The traditional liturgy simply could not be allowed to exist in its established form, because it was permeated with the truths of the traditional faith and its ancient forms of piety…. Instead of our religious life entering a period of new invigoration, as has happened in the past, what we now see is a form of Christianity that has turned towards the world.”
(pp. 100, 102)
How is it that when traditionalists say these things, they are denounced as “schismatic,” but when Gamber says them in a book to which Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the French preface, there is only silence from the neo-Catholic camp?This attempted transformation of the Church robs not just us, but the entire world, of the greatest defense against evil the world has ever known—the traditional teachings, practices and liturgies of the holy Faith. The new Mass has greatly helped to generate a kind of poisonous cloud (or “smoke” as Paul VI termed it) of confusion and lack of fervor for the Faith throughout the Catholic world, and that cloud can spread everywhere — even to our own doorsteps. And so, as we see it, even if “we get ours” — if the old Mass is given back to us in some restricted and temporary sense — we still have a sacred obligation as confirmed Catholics to do our part to actively oppose the new orientation of the Church (including the new liturgy), which is disfiguring the face of the Bride of Christ on earth and creating a perilous future for Catholics everywhere. I do not see how Catholics can remain silent in the face of the atrocity that is going on everywhere else in the Church today; I do not see how we can justify a quiet pacifism just so that we can get the Mass we “prefer”— because eventually that atrocity will take its toll on us and our children, just as it’s taking its terrible toll on our Catholic brothers throughout the whole world.
In his article, Michael Davies claims that it is possible to be a perfectly traditional Catholic priest without ever mentioning Vatican II or the New Mass. Well, I too expect to hear sermons about the Gospel when I go to Mass, but as was typical during wartime years in the past, when priests used their sermons to make frequent references to the conflict—the troops and their families and the need to pray for victory—so, too, can Traditional priests make reference to the spiritual warfare being waged everywhere against the venerable Roman Catholic Faith and its traditional liturgy, priesthood and catechisms.
I have attended Masses offered by the priests of the SSPX, for example, many times. Most often their sermons are about the Gospel, but there isn’t any doubt in anyone’s mind where these priests stand with respect to the revolution inside the Church. Through occasional sermons or letters in the bulletins, these priests never let their flocks forget that they are in the midst of a war—a most dangerous kind of war—whose progress from the devil’s perspective is determined by the number of souls that are lost.
Now, I certainly am not suggesting that our priests should stand up in their pulpits, shaking their fists and pulling their hair like so many Protestant preachers, and ranting against the revolution Sunday after Sunday. I readily admit that that approach would grow profoundly tiresome. But good priests have long known how to inspire saints to be crusaders and crusaders to be saints, without even raising their voices. The point is that the flock must be made to understand that both crusaders and saints are called to actively defend our Church under siege.
Roman Catholic Traditionalism, in addition to living the Faith, is also about defending it. It’s about standing up against regimes in the Church which have long sought first to outlaw the Mass of St. Pius V and then to “revamp” the old Faith which that Mass jealously safeguarded down through the centuries. It’s about vigorous opposition to the novelties and the failed policies of ecumenism, “interreligious dialogue” and liturgical “reform” that are undermining the faith of individuals and families, creating a spiritual wasteland in the Church.
In his article, Michael Davies also mentions Masonic conspiracies and paranoid Traditional Catholic fantasies. Well, when I see him in May, I’ll be sure to remind him that just because somebody’s paranoid doesn’t necessarily mean that people aren’t actually out to get him. And, as for Masonic conspiracies, I must confess that I’m a true believer in them, as were the great popes from the last two centuries, who wrote more encyclicals condemning them and their conspiracies against the Church than they did on any other single subject. Did all the Masons take a permanent vacation after 1960? Was not Vatican II a choice venue (or perhaps even a direct consequence) of the centuries-old anti-Catholic agenda of secret societies, whose fulfillment was predicted by Canon Roca, as we will shortly read in Bishop Graber’s Athanasius and the Church of Our Time—which Michael Davies himself has cited as a reliable source? Of course it was! Which is precisely why some of us are experiencing difficulty in trusting those churchmen today who still support that Council with all the enthusiasm in the world and then turn around and tell us that we can have “our Mass,” so long as we check our resistance at the door. As the “moderate” Gamber declared:
Great is the confusion! Who can still see clearly in this darkness? Where in our Church are the leaders who can show us the right path? Where are the bishops courageous enough to cut out the growth of modernist theology that has implanted itself and is festering within the celebration of even the most sacred mysteries? What we need today is a new Athanasius, a new Basil, bishops like those who courageously fought against Arianism when almost the whole of Christendom had succumbed to heresy. (p. 113)
Indeed! To our Traditionalist friends, then, who think we’re just way too “extreme” in all this, we might ask: Can’t you see what’s happening here? We are being systematically nudged and prodded—not in the direction Sts. Athanasius and Basil chose in a similar crisis—but rather toward centrism and quietism…all in exchange for the Mass we like. We’ll win the Vatican’s approval so long as we promise to be good little Traditionalists, who can be counted on to be compliant—always dutiful, faithfully passive, predictably “reasonable.” Are we now supposed to be more moderate than Gamber? Must we shush the new Basil…the new Athanasius…when he speaks out against this infernal revolution that is laying waste to our churches, sanctuaries, families and souls?They tell us we’re paranoid to question Cardinal Ratzinger’s dealings with Traditionalists. I don’t think we are at all. We’re just a little baffled by his fluctuating convictions where Catholic Tradition is concerned. For example, how should we react to the Cardinal when he writes the following:
Was the council a wrong road that we must now retrace if we are to save the church? The voices of those [Traditionalists] who say that it was are becoming louder and the followers more numerous. Among the more obvious phenomena of the last years must be counted the increasing number of integralist groups in which the desire for piety, for a sense of the mystery, is finding satisfaction. We must be on guard against minimizing these movements. Without a doubt, they represent a sectarian zealotry that is the antithesis of catholicity. We cannot resist them too firmly…. (my emphasis) (Principles of Catholic Theology, Page 389-390)
What form do you suppose that “resistance” against us has taken over the years? Could it possibly have had anything to do with a limited return of the Tridentine Mass in exchange for exacting a vow of silence from so many good Traditional priests where the Council is concerned? Who knows? But after reading the above statement by a man who is supposedly our “only friend” in the Vatican upper hierarchy—our only friend!—doesn’t it become more difficult to accuse us of being “out of touch with reality” for harboring misgivings where the Vatican’s “generosity” towards Campos is concerned? “Integralist groups” are apparently being resisted even at the highest levels of the Church, if we are to take Cardinal Ratzinger at his word. Or is this just another one of the Cardinal’s multitude of outrageous statements that “he didn’t really mean that way” or which “he wrote years ago and doesn’t reflect his current thinking.”In the Preface to the English Edition of his book I Accuse The Council (available from The Angelus Press, 2918 Tracy Ave, Kansas City, MO 64109), Archbishop Lefebvre made the following statement: “When soldiers have lost the ideal for which they fight, their weapons fall from their hands.”
This is just a small statement made in passing, no doubt, and yet in it there is to be found a profound insight that might shed some light on the Campos Compromise. Traditionalism has historically been all about Catholic opposition to conciliar novelty and liturgical “reform”; it has always been in some measure defined by what it is against. But if we are suddenly to switch gears and begin to concentrate only on the beauty of the old liturgical books and leave off specifying exactly what we oppose and why, then we would, I believe, be stripping ourselves (and certainly our children) of the “ideal” of the Traditional Catholic cause. Once that happens, the weapons long used to oppose neo-Modernism will fall from our hands, and we will become an army of POWs watching the auto-destruction of the Church from the safety of internment camps designated for our use by neo-Modernist bishops in exchange for our surrender and silence.
Remember the words of Father Georges Cottier (official theologian of the papal household) that were published in our last issue with reference to the Campos Compromise: “Many Lefebvrists maintain that ‘our’ Paul VI Mass is not valid. At least now this group [Campos] will not be able to think such a thing. Little by little we must expect other steps as well: For example, that they also participate in concelebrations in the reformed rite. However, we must not be in a hurry.”
Here we see clear evidence of a desire not only to remove the Traditionalists’ “ideal,” but also to force Traditionalists into gradual compliance with the revolution we have historically opposed. Are we really that paranoid? Please!
Next Tuesday: Part Two