Catholic Apologetics

UPDATE 4/16: The author of the piece below has removed it from the Internet.  This rebuttal stands.

 

This short essay is a response to Two Conflicting Mindsets, which can be read here: 

http://traditionalcatholicremnant.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/two-conflicting-mindsets/ 

as well as to the "Resistance" position and movement in general.

Bishop Fellay certainly has no need whatsoever for my defense.  With no disrespect intended, I believe there is a reason that the "Resistance" movement is largely ignored.  Nevertheless, I have decided to put forth some effort here in a response, to combat the inaccuracies and calumny present in the statement I am responding to and in the "Resistance" movement in general. 

[I am a layman affiliated with the Society of St. Pius X only by Mass attendance.]

I will begin by responding to the specific topics addressed in this essay.

 

Judaism 

Here is presented a quote from Archbishop Lefebvre stating that Islam is "nearer" to Catholicism than is [Talmudic] Judaism, and then a quote condemning John Paul II for praying in a synagogue with Jews (quite rightly, of course).

With these quotes are juxtaposed two extremely brief quotes from Bishop Fellay: 

“Anti-semitism has no place in our ranks.” 

“The Jews are our elder brothers.” 

What damning evidence!  Clearly the saintly Archbishop and the current leader of his Society are "of two minds"!

It is almost surreal to have to explain that the Catholic Church has always condemned anti-semitism.  Anti-semitism (properly defined) refers to a hatred of people of Semitic descent - condemnation of people, as distinct from the theological errors of Talmudic Judaism.  

Perhaps the "Resistance" is not aware that Pope Pius XII saved the lives of perhaps hundreds of thousands of Jews due to his rejection of anti-semitism; perhaps they are not aware that Pope Gregory X explicitly forbade depriving Jews of property or rights (even of public worship) due to his rejection of anti-semitism.

http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Greg10/g10jprot.htm

Do note that we must indeed differentiate anti-semintism properly-defined from the definition implied by modern Zionists.  The latter is inherently anti-Catholic since it calls the dogmas of the Church Itself "anti-semetic"!  But, of course, those familiar with the body of Bishop Fellay's sermons and writings are quite aware that he does not subscribe to Zionism or Talmudic Judaism.

In a sense - the sense that Bishop Fellay meant it - it is a simple fact that Judaism is the "eldest" (and only) brother of Christianity.  Does anyone deny that the New Testament - which is the Catholic Faith - is prefigured in the Old Covenant?  Is Isaiah, who prophesied of Christ, an "elder brother"?  Is Moses, who gave us the Ten Commandments?  Of course they are - who would deny that?

Does anyone deny that Christ Himself was a practicing Jew - does not this simple fact alone make Judaism the "elder brother" of the Faith?

This is the reason that the Catholic Bible contains an Old as well as New Testament.

The "Resistance" asks "Do we see the difference here?  Only one of the two sets of quotes above is in line with Church teaching."  We see differences, yes - two sets of random quotes without context, in response to different topics, different questions, that naturally do not have the same answer.  As for the assertion that "anti-semistism" is "in line with Church teaching", that is really only in the mind of the anti-semites.

So, because a quote can be found from Archbishop Lefebvre harshly criticizing Talmudic Judaism, he is "not of the same mind" as Bishop Fellay?  And what of the latter's reference to modern Talmudic Jews as "enemies of the Church"?  

The reality is that Archbishop Lefebvre and the man he consecrated to the episcopate, Bishop Fellay, indeed are of the same mind regarding Judaism and the faith in general.  Both men condemn the serious theological error that is Talmudic Judaism while in no means holding any personal animosity to Jewish people, instead always hoping and praying for their conversion as the Church as always done (or at least as She did before the Council).

Archbishop Lefebvre's own father died in a Nazi concentration camp, which ought to lay to rest the deluded fantasies of Nazi sympathizers who would dare to count him among their ranks.

We see the mindset and the modus operandi of the "Resistance" quite clearly from the start: Logical errors and calumny.  The journey from A->B here - from the quotes given to the conclusion - is not just weak, but nonsensical.  And to draw negative, conclusive inferences about a man's subjective disposition and belief from a pair of quotes that in fact are entirely consistent with traditional Catholic teaching is also illogical, and calumnious. 

A further irony here is that the quote provided from the Archbishop - "Islam accepts Jesus as a prophet and has great respect for Mary..." - could quite easily, using no looser logic than that demonstrated by our author here, be used as evidence that the Society's founder was "pro-Islam".  Of course, that would be a preposterous contortion of his position.

 

Vatican II

In this section two quotes from the Archbishop strongly critical of the council are presented along with a pair of quotes from Bishop Fellay that are of a somewhat different character.  From this it is asserted that these two men had strongly divergent views regarding this topic, but, once again, this is a matter of an entirely unfounded conclusion fed by illogical exegesis.

The root problem here is the assumption that what are essentially random quotes can be put against each other as if context were identical.  In fact, while the Archbishop and Bishop Fellay have both made comments condemning the documents and the rotten fruit of Vatican II, they also both made comments that could be called "of a different sort".  As it is, it is not at all difficult to find quotes from the Archbishop of a tone different than those given in this extremely brief article.

In his well-known letter to Paul VI in December of 1976, for example, the Archbishop states that  "I accept everything that, in the Council and the reforms, is in full conformity with Tradition; and the Society I have founded is ample proof of that.  Our seminary is perfectly in accordance with the wishes expressed in the Council and in the Ratio fundamentalis of the Sacred Congregation for Education." - Archbishop Lefebvre, Letter to Pope Paul VI, December, 1976.

The sentiment expressed in this note is not any more mutually exclusive with the given statements of the Archbishop any more than those statements are mutually exclusive with Bishop Fellay's statements.

It should be immediately obvious to the reader that if a quote were produced from Bishop Fellay stating that Society seminaries are "in perfect accordance with the wishes expressed in the Council", he would be quite readily and thoroughly condemned by the "Resistance" for it.  And so on.  

As many authors have pointed out, much - perhaps most - of the conciliar documents are perfectly orthodox.  That is not surprising, given the goal of the Rhineland usurpers: Smuggle in a trojan horse under the cover of darkness.  The trojan horse was the infamous "time bombs" in the documents and the cover was the fact that they were buried amongst mostly-orthodox prose that raised no eyebrows (even if it was almost always "pastorally" imprecise).  

Archbishop Lefebvre described the conciliar documents as "things which now clearly admit all interpretations" (quoted in Davies, Pope John's Council, p81).  Likewise, Michael Davies states that "where and apparent ambiguity occurs we have a duty to interpret it, and insist that it is interpreted, in a sense consistent with the traditional teaching of the Church.  The so-called 'Spirt of Vatican II' is certainly based upon a misinterpretation of the documents in the sense that the Holy Ghost could not have intended a general council to promulgate unorthodox teaching."

Of course, the "Resistance" is not very interested in transmitting the many statements of Bishop Fellay that plainly express the Society's position, then and now, such as: "The Council is not in continuity with Tradition."

The assertion that Bishop Fellay does not have the very same essential view of Vatican Council II is completely without basis.  Only by cherry-picking quotes can the uninitiated or those with a rigid, existing position be convinced of the opposite.  The SSPX's position on the council is presented with completely clarity on its website, in interviews with its leadership, and in the sermons of its priests as clearly as it ever has been.

Sede vacantists and other more-trad-than-thou Traditionalists castigate the Archbishop himself for signing Dignitatis Humana and other supposed offenses.  Archbishop Lefebvre claimed neither infallibility nor impeccability; he made mistakes, and acknowledged them as such.  Without the need to admit any particular mistake on the part of his successor, the philosophy that if one should be found it undermines the authority of the Society is not defensible.

 

Vatican II Popes and Hierarchy

Next, we learn that statements such as "We have great expectations for the traditional apostolate, just as some important personages in Rome do, and the Holy Father himself" prove that Bishop Fellay and Archbishop Lefebvre are not of the same mind: "Again, Bishop Fellay doesn’t share the Archbishop’s position. The Archbishop did not hesitate to criticize the Vatican II hierarchy, whereas Bishop Fellay does not hesitate to praise them."

Regarding what, exactly?  The Archbishop did not live to see the reign of Pope Benedict XVI.  If he had, to suggest that he would not have expressed some sense of hope and gratitude regarding monumental events such as the [relative] freeing of the true Rite of Mass and lifting of the "excommunications" is, to be frank, preposterous. 

It would seem that the "Resistance" sees it as untoward or perhaps sinful to even hope for any good out of any body with regular canonical status.  Such an attitude belies sheer emotionalism or a sense of defeatism and pessimism that lacks proper sensus catholic.

Those who are actually familiar with the entire body of the Archbishop's writings know that at times he, too, expressed hope in the post-conciliar pontiffs and praised certain churchmen and their actions.  One should perhaps read his own words regarding that infamous meeting with Pope Paul VI to understand the respect and filial love he retained for the pontiff, despite the completely horrid treatment he received at the hands of the modernists swinging their wrecking ball.

Now, let's look at some other quotes from Bishop Fellay regarding the new pope, Francis, from October 2013:

"The situation of the Church is a real disaster, and the present Pope is making it 10,000 times worse.”

"When we see what is happening now we thank God, we thank God, we have been preserved from any kind of Agreement from last year. And we may say that one of the fruits of the Crusade we did is that we have been preserved from such a misfortune. Thank God. It is not that we don’t want to be Catholics, of course we want to be Catholics and we are Catholics, and we have a right to be recognized as Catholics. But we are not going to jeopardize our treasures for that. Of course not."

The reason for the hope, now dashed: "In the beginning of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, I said, ‘the crisis in the Church will continue, but the Pope is trying to put on the brakes.’ It’s as if to say, the Church will continue to fall, but with a parachute. And with the beginning of this [Pope Francis] pontificate, I say, ‘he cuts the strings, and he put a [downward] rocket’."

And, of course: "We have in front of us a genuine Modernist."

As with the previous topics, we see that there is really no difference at all in the attitudes of bishops Lefebvre and Fellay when it comes to the post-conciliar popes.  Both men clearly and forcefully called-out and condemned error when they saw it, for love of the Faith.  And yet both men retained their sense of Christian joy, of cautious optimism, and of love for their Holy Father regardless of how many times they were slapped on both cheeks.  

 

Negotiations with Modernist Rome

We are presented with a statement from the Archbishop condemning in the strongest terms the apostasy that has gripped the Holy See.  Then, we are led to believe that because he sought canonical status for the Society, Bishop Fellay somehow opposed this spirit.

Yet, after the Archbishop's [accurate] statement of 1976, he himself engaged in numerous "negotiations with modernist Rome":

- He met with Pope John Paul II in November of 1978.

- He met with Cardinal Ratzinger in Rome in March of 1982.

- In 1984 he met with Cardinal Gagnon (whom he also praised for his fidelity to the Faith).  

- He met with Cardinal Ratzinger again in 1984, 1986, and 1987.  (Gagnon, with a disposition in favor of the Society, being appointed Apostolic Visitor to the Society of St. Pius X in 1987 was one of the apparent fruits of these meetings.)

- In November 1987 Cardinal Gagnon and a Monsignor Perl visit Econe.  In December, Gagnon even assists at Archbishop Lefebvre's Mass welcoming new seminarians!

- There were multiple visitations by multiple negotiators in 1988 leading up to the episcopal consecrations.

These are readily-verifiable facts.  So, why did the saintly Archbishop continue to meet with the supreme pontiff and his representatives of this "schismatic church" with which he had "no desire to belong"?  Because, when the Archbishop referred to the "Conciliar Church", he meant the teachings and constructs particular to the "fruit" of the council, and not the complete, visible Catholic Church headed by the pope.  To assert anything else would necessarily imply that either the Church had, indeed, completely failed, in contradiction  to Her Founder's promise, or that the pontiff was actually an anti-pope.  But, of course, the Archbishop believed neither of those things.

[Though he did allow for the possibility that some future pope or council might condemn the post-conciliar popes, he recognized the pope as such since he was clearly the validly-elected Catholic pontiff.  The Archbishop always consistently rejected the sede vacantist position, which is that individuals can (and must) judge the canonically-elected man the Church calls pope to be no pope and no Catholic, apart from any judgement or action by the Church.]

Cardinal Ratzinger wrote after one meeting with the Archbishop that "The pope acknowledges the devotion of Archbishop Lefebvre and his fundamental attachment to the Holy See, expressed for instance by the exclusion of members who do not recognize the authority of the pope."

The Archbishop met with pontiffs and their representatives throughout his life because he wanted canonical regularity for his Society and the return of Rome to the true, full Faith.  Of course he did - to fail to even wish for regular canonical status would surely constitute schismatic spirit.  Unless one adopts the sede vacantist error, one acknowledges that the Roman Pontiff, though he may be a material modernist, is still the Vicar of Christ.  Resist him - yes, of course; that is the necessary purpose of the Society.  But to ignore him, or despise him, would not be Catholic.

Bishop Fellay asks, "Is Benedict XVI still the legitimate pope for you? If he is, can Jesus Christ still speak through his mouth?"  Can the "Resistance" movement answer these questions?  It appears not sensibly!  If he [now Francis] is, indeed, pope, who could possibly assert that we should refuse communion with him?  Since the beginning of the Society, it has never been a case of the Society rejecting communion with Rome, but, rather, Rome rejecting communion with the Society (as Dr. Georg May put it).  That is the way it must be, lest the Society adopt an orientation that is, indeed, "fatalistic", as well as schismatic.

Of course, since the negotiations, we have been forced to endure a return to the headlong race to oblivion that is the "Spirit of the Council".  Bishop Fellay has responded appropriately, as he did with the historic actions of the previous pontificate.

 

Conclusions

The article concludes his treatise with this statement, which is has come nowhere near proving: "It is clear from comparing the quotes that Bishop Fellay does not hold the same mindset that Archbishop Lefebvre did, and thus, he has abandoned the principles of the Society’s founder."  A more accurate assessment, I think, is "I hand-selected quotes from bishops Lefebvre and Fellay from different times and different circumstances that convince me that Bishop Fellay and Archbishop Lefebvre are not the same person".

Let's be serious: no conclusions can be drawn here regarding Bishop Fellay without descending well into the subjective, at the very least.  I would say actually that no conclusions can be drawn without descending into outright calumny.

It would appear that was is presented here is among the best evidence of the "Resistance", yet it is really nothing - nada.  It is nothing to those who are really familiar with the Archbishop's own writings and not blinded by adherence to some cult of personality.

To infer from a given set of quotes that happen to be "positive" that criticism of the same object therefore does not exist is blatantly illogical - it is an assertion of a negative proof.  Rather, it is possible that such criticism does exist, and, in fact, a study of all of Bishop Fellay's public statements regarding the the topics above demonstrates this quite easily.

The fact is that the hopes or fears or whatever they are of the "Resistance" should have been entirely laid to rest the day it was announced that there would be no agreement with Rome, whose demands remained impossible to accept.  Contra factum non argumentum est.

I have chosen this brief article to respond to because it seems to be representative of the "Resistance" position on the whole: On the whole, the position is based on rumor, poor deduction, subjective judgement, and calumny.  In actual fact, it is preposterous to claim that Bishop Fellay and the rest of the leadership of the Society have abandoned the spirit or principles of its founder in any way.  Their own words and actions make this clear for anyone who is properly objective and not bound-up in some cult of personality, fatalistic spirit, or simply led astray.