Objections and Replies |
Salvation of souls is the issue!
"Luther, the Old Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox - all this was about heresy, whereas the Lefebvre case is about sustaining the True Catholic Faith, with orthodox shepherds in the face of what, by all pre-Vatican II standards, is a total revolution in the Church. This is about fighting heresy, about keeping the Faith alive! Was Pope Liberius wrong when he excommunicated St. Athanasius? Yes! Was Pope Alexander VI wrong when he threatened to excommunicate his concubine for failing to return to her vomit? Yes!"
I am now continuing to answer objections that can be or have been brought up against my theses in installments 1-5, which exonerate Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishops Antonio de Castro Mayer, Richard Williamson, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galarreta, and Bernard Fellay from the charges of excommunication and schism due to the illicit episcopal consecrations of June 30, 1988. In installments 6-8, I answered 11 possible objections. This is where I'm picking up now.
Objection 12: We must abide by the Pope's personal decisions regarding governing the Church. As Catholics, we are bound to the Pope's opinion and to give it deference in matters of discipline and ruling the Church.
Answer: If an opinion can be shown to be wrong, it would be foolish and dishonest to agree with the opinion nevertheless. The Holy Father has the authority to rule the Church, no doubt, but that does not include the authority to tear her down, to weaken her, or to smash her. This is a very serious issue with important consequences, and therefore there is no compromising here. If one thinks that we traditionalists are perhaps walking a rather "fine line" here, then, yes, that may indeed be so. However, the gravity of the situation requires that we walk this fine line. The only "alternative" would be to abandon the Faith, even if only gradually, or at least in putting ourselves into the danger of losing the Faith, which is the most precious pearl we have.
Objection 13: The Pope is the supreme arbiter of Canon Law. He can change it if he wants to.
Answer: Yes, but he didn't. He never made a change to Canon Law because of or right after the 1988 consecrations of Archbishop Lefebvre. Besides, the Pope could not change Canon Law completely. For instance, he could not say that desecrating the Blessed Sacrament, which is an excommunicable offense, will henceforth be endowed with a plenary indulgence. Such an outrage would simply have no binding force.
Objection 14: The Pope is above Canon Law.
Answer: Oh, yes, but only in a limited way, and he is certainly not above justice and reason. For instance, an act that is not intrinsically schismatic cannot be made schismatic simply because the Pope wishes it so. Besides, John Paul II, as far as the illicit Lefebvre consecrations are concerned, always appealed to Canon Law in his condemnations and explanations in Ecclesia Dei and other pertinent documents. Not once did he say, "I mandate this, even though Canon Law doesn't." So, this objection really isn't applicable to the Lefebvre case.
Objection 15: Ecclesia Dei is the final judge on this. It is more authoritative than your personal, private opinion.
Answer: More authoritative, indeed, but still not correct. An authoritative error is worth less than a non-authoritative truth! Because truth always trumps error, and everyone should realize that, but especially those who adore Him Who is Truth.
Objection 16: I am unconvinced the opinions of one Archbishop and one religious order outweigh those of the Vicar of Christ.
Answer: This is a typical tactic SSPX opponents use. They fall back on authority first, as opposed to looking at the force of each side's arguments. The arguments the Pope brought forth for why Lefebvre incurred excommunication and created a schism are not any more forceful simply because he is the Pope - because the Pope cannot wish a schism into existence or wish a binding excommunication into existence. If someone does not agree with my analysis that I have presented here in these many installments, then refute the arguments.
Objection 17: Look at history! Luther, the Old Catholics, the Orthodox-they all thought they were right and Rome was wrong!
Answer: This is a falsification of the issue. Luther, the Old Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox - all this was about heresy, whereas the Lefebvre case is about sustaining the True Catholic Faith, with orthodox shepherds in the face of what, by all pre-Vatican II standards, is a total revolution in the Church. This is about fighting heresy, about keeping the Faith alive! Was Pope Liberius wrong when he excommunicated St. Athanasius? Yes! Was Pope Alexander VI wrong when he threatened to excommunicate his concubine for failing to return to her vomit? Yes!
Objection 18: You can say whatever you want, but schism is not the answer.
Answer: No kidding! We know that, and we agree. That's precisely why we're arguing so passionately that there is NO schism! We're not here saying, "Yes, we are in schism and it's justified," but rather, "There is no schism!" because we know very well that schism would accomplish nothing.
Objection 19: Ecclesia Dei is the authoritative, determining document.
Answer: Authoritative, yes, but no authority in the world can change reality. You must understand that Ecclesia Dei is a servant of reality, not reality the servant of Ecclesia Dei. In other words, Ecclesia Dei must conform to the facts. The facts do not change because of Ecclesia Dei - just like Pope Pius IX's dogmatic pronouncement did not make Mary to have been conceived immaculately, but rather, he was able to make the pronouncement because Mary had been conceived immaculately.
Objection 20: By publicly disobeying the Pope on this, you are committing scandal.
Answer: Oh, that's interesting. The Popes since Vatican II can basically trash the Faith and the Mass and the entire Church, and we are the ones creating scandal for refusing to go along? Amazing….
Objection 21: You are walking an extremely fine line here. Schism is mortal sin.
Answer: That's right, which is why I'm arguing that there is no schism. But you know what else is a mortal sin? Heresy, apostasy, sacrilege, accepting false words from Christ's mouth (as in almost all vernacular translations of the New Mass), etc.
Objection 22: Who has more authority even if they may be objectively wrong? You or the Roman Rota?
Answer: The Roman Rota, of course. But again, this is not about authority but about truth, about who's right. If someone sends me "authoritatively" to hell, that helps me nothing. Again, you are resorting to authority rather than truth. As soon as you cannot dispute the facts, you resort to, "Says who?" You should be interested primarily in what is true, not in who says it. By the way, truth, by its very nature, is authoritative, and error, by its nature, is not.
Objection 23: So basically, you think that "as long as there is a need," we can disobey the Pope.
Answer: Yes and no. If left unqualified, this statement could be misinterpreted. We must obey the Pope in all matters pertaining to the Church, the Faith, and morality, unless his commands are sinful or harmful to the Church (to the salvation of souls). Only those things, sin and harm to the Church (to souls), really constitute "need." So, if that is kept in mind, then, yes, as strange as it may sound, we must obey the Pope unless there is a need not to. In contradistinction, a "need" is not whatever I simply may wish to do or believe. So, for instance, there is no "need" (or permission!) to disobey a papal declaration, entirely consistent with perennial Church teaching, that condemns contraception. No one can argue that this "needs" to be disobeyed because this teaching (1) has always been prohibited by the Church and is a matter of faith and morals, (2) is not harmful to souls, and (3) is not sinful. I want to make sure everybody understand this, because oftentimes traditionalists are falsely accused of being liberal-dissenters-in-reverse, and that our own reasoning could be used to support liberal dissent as well. But that is not the case. The liberal/modernist always disobeys in order to uphold novelty and to disregard Tradition, whereas we always do the opposite, if need be, in face of a modernist hierarchy. To lump traditionalists together with modernists and Protestants is not only factually incorrect, it is also intellectually dishonest.
Objection 24: So, precisely what harmful or sinful thing did John Paul II command Archbishop Lefebvre to do? You can't tell me that not allowing him to consecrate bishops is harmful or sinful!
Answer: Looked at in the light of the entire discourse with Lefebvre and the past 40 years, it is indeed. Let me explain. Since the closing of Vatican II in 1965 and the imposition of the New Mass in 1969, Rome has not allowed any man to be ordained a bishop who was either at odds with Vatican II or opposed the New Mass. But one cannot agree with everything Vatican II say - specifically not religious liberty or that the Muslims adore the True God - and endorse or tolerate the New Mass and still be an orthodox Catholic, so it follows that since the mid to late 1960's, Rome has not permitted a single orthodox Catholic to become a bishop. This is outrageous! More than 30 years without a single good bishop, that is, without a single bishop who teaches nothing but sound doctrine and only allows traditional, orthodox liturgy! This means that we exclusively have shepherds who are not fit to be our shepherds! Now, certainly, some, perhaps many, Novus Ordo bishops are entirely sincere and have a great love for Christ, His Mother, and the Church, and sincerely wish to do the right thing. But sincerity is not at issue here. A bishop who sincerely teaches Vatican II is nevertheless very dangerous to souls. Being led to hell sincerely helps one not in the least. So, personally sincere or not, it doesn't matter. It remains an objective truth that the Novus Ordo bishops we now have are either deceivers or deceived. And that means we have a horrendous state of emergency in the Church. So, given this background, and given that in 1988, just after the first Assisi fiasco from 1986, there were no signs at all that this was going to change soon (and of course, as expected, it got a lot worse, as we now know), and so the Pope's command to Lefebvre not to ordain those four bishops really constituted a refusal of the Pope to allow the continuation and spread of the True Catholic Faith-and that is obviously sinful and harmful to the Faith and the salvation of countless souls, which is the Church's highest law. Let's remember that Rome's back-and-forth trickery had made it clear to Lefebvre that there was no interest on Rome's part to assure a successor to Lefebvre and the continuation of the SSPX and the True Catholic Faith, and so we cannot look at the papal prohibition to consecrate bishops on June 30, 1988, in isolation. It has to be viewed within the entire context of the debacle since Vatican II, and so viewed, it becomes clear that the survival of authentic Catholicism was at stake and thus the salvation of souls put in grave danger. Therefore, John Paul II's refusal to let Lefebvre consecrate on that specific day was both sinful and harmful to souls.
In my estimation, there will be one or two last installments with objections and replies, and then a conclusion. Stay tuned.
If you know of any more objections, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I am also ready and willing to debate Peter Vere or anyone else online on the issue of the 1988 consecrations of Archbishop Lefebvre. I'm sure The Daily Catholic would be happy to provide the forum for that.
Editor's Note: So many of the post-conciliar bishops today refer to those clinging to the true Roman Catholic traditions that were in vogue for 2000 years prior to the reforms of Vatican II as 'fossils,' 'dinosaurs,' 'old folks who will die off soon.' We beg to differ and offer as proof the youthful wisdom and enthusiasm of the younger generation in the Traditional Insights of Mario Derksen who exemplifies the thinking of many more young men and women today who realize the new thinking of the post-conciliar church does not add up to true Catholic teaching. Thus they long for those traditions so tried and true. His insight shows great promise, optimism and hope for the future of Holy Mother Church.
Note: [bold, brackets and italicized words used for emphasis]
For past columns by Mario Derksen, see Archives for www.DailyCatholic.org/2003mdi.htm
volume 14, no. 29
Mario Derksen's young and refreshing TRADITIONAL INSIGHTS