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Articles: John Paul II/Vatican II Errors

The Apostasy of John Paul II: A Catholic Response
Most Rev. Daniel L. Dolan

Text of a speech given in St-Maurice, Brittany (France) on August 13, 2000

it is my singular joy to come to France on this great feast day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the invitation of Father Guépin. The Assumption is the greatest of all the feasts of the Blessed Virgin, and it is in France that this splendid triumph of Our Lady is celebrated with the most solemnity. For as you know, your King, Louis XIII, made this day the national feast day of France, and called for an annual dedication of France to Our Blessed Lady. The piety and devotion of the French to the Blessed Virgin Mary is well known throughout the whole world.

But as you all know very well, our joy is tempered by the sadness which we must bear every day owing to the crisis in the Catholic Church. We have now borne this sadness for thirty-five years, and we ask, “Domine, usquequo?” “Lord, for how much longer?”

What adds immeasurably to our sadness during these times is the failure of faithful Catholics to mount a united and consistent front against the enemy. When we look around at the camp of Catholic resistance, how troubled we are to see its lack of unity. What is even more disquieting is that most of those who resist do not recognize the enemy as the enemy, but rather as the very authority of Christ. Thus perceiving the modernists as the true authority of Christ and of His Church, they have placed themselves under the obedience of the modernists, as in the case of the Fraternity of Saint Peter, or they desire to be in communion with the modernists, to be subject to them, and to work with them, as is the case of the Society of Saint Pius X.

      I therefore perceive that my mission as a bishop is the task of alerting Catholics to the truly Catholic response to the present crisis in the Church. I furthermore hope to ordain young men to the priesthood who have been formed in a thoroughly Catholic manner, and who do not respond to the apostasy of John Paul II by a spirit of schism.

      These are the two topics which I shall address today: first, the apostasy of John Paul II and its theological consequences; and second, the truly Catholic response to this apostasy.


The Apostasy of John Paul II

Notice that I have not chosen the word heresy, but rather apostasy. John Paul’s errors truly constitute an apostasy, and not merely a heresy.

      Heresy is to doubt or deny a particular truth of the faith, or perhaps some truths of the faith, e.g., the divinity of Christ, the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, the virgin birth, etc. You are probably familiar with some of the well-known heretics of history: Arius, Luther, Calvin.

      Apostasy, on the other hand, is to completely reject the Christian faith. For example, the emperor in the fourth century, Julian, utterly repudiated the faith and became an apostate, embracing the cult of the Roman gods of old. He is known as Julian the Apostate.

      So why do I use this strong word with John Paul II, who professes to be a Catholic, and who even from time to time says edifying and pious things?

      It is because he does not adhere to any of the articles of faith which he professes to believe. He does not adhere to them because for him these sacred truths do not exclude what is opposed to them. What contradicts these truths are not, for him, false.

      Why does he not hold them to be false? Because first and above all, John Paul II is an ecumenist, and not a Catholic. An ecumenist is someone who believes that all religions contain a certain measure of the truth, some more, some less, and that they all therefore have a certain value. All religions, for the ecumenist, are true religions. Some are merely better than others.

      The most that they give to the Catholic Church is that it has the “fullness of truth,” whereas the others have only “partial truth.” But when they talk about the Catholic Church, are they speaking about the Catholic Church which you and I know? No, they are referring to this reformed Catholicism, this new religion of Vatican II, an ugly fake of the true faith.

      They also distinguish between “The Church” and the “Catholic Church.” “The Church” for them is all humanity, since, as Vatican II said in Gaudium et Spes, Christ united himself in some way with every man because of His Incarnation:

Human nature, by the very fact that it was assumed, not absorbed, in him [Christ], has been raised in us to a dignity beyond compare. For, by his incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man. (Gaudium et Spes, no. 22)

John Paul repeated this in his first encyclical, and indeed has made it the central theme of his doctrine. Let us listen to some other texts of John Paul. He speaks about the pan-christian ecumenical day of Assisi (October 27, 1986) and says that:

Such a day seemed to express, in a visible manner, the hidden but radical unity which the Word has established among men and women of this world... the fact of having come together at Assisi is like a sign of the profound unity of those who seek spiritual values in religion... The Council has made a connection between the identity of the Church and the unity of the human race. (Lumen Gentium 1 and 9; Gaudium et Spes, 42)

Therefore every man, inasmuch as he is united to the Word by virtue of His Incarnation only, is a member of the Church of Christ. The Church of Christ is nothing else than the whole human race without any exception. In the same speech, he continues this theme by explaining that the divine order of things is the unity of all men who seek religious values. The differences of faith and morals which exist among the various religions are the effect of human beings who have corrupted the divine order. Thus the goal, for John Paul, is to make religious differences disappear, and make the divine order — that is the pantheistic order — prevail. Let us cite his speech:

Religious differences reveal themselves as pertaining to another order. If the order of unity is divine, the religious differences are a human doing and must be overcome in the process towards the realization of the grandiose design of unity which presides over creation. It is possible that men not be conscious of their radical unity of origin and of their insertion in the very same divine plan. But despite such divisions, they are included in the grand and single design of God in Jesus Christ, who united himself in a certain way with every man (Gaudium et Spes, 22) even if he is not conscious of it.

      From these words we perceive the apostasy of John Paul: all men belong to a pantheistic Christ who is united to each man, whether he knows it or not, by virtue of his Incarnation. Listen again to John Paul II:

To this catholic unity of the people of God all men are called, to this unity belong, in diverse forms, the catholic faithful and those who look with faith towards Christ and finally all men without exception.

      These words of John Paul give us the key to understanding the enigma of this man: on the one hand to profess the truths of the Catholic Faith, to recite the Catholic Credo, but on the other hand to profess at the same time a complete repudiation of the Faith by abominable acts against the First Commandment.

      John Paul II sees the value and utility of the Catholic Faith and of the Catholic Church as the instrument of uniting humanity, not indeed by leading them to the true Savior, but rather to this pantheistic Christ who embraces all men despite their religious differences. He has, in short, created a dogma-less Church which seeks to unite humanity under a dogma-less Christ. Because the Catholic Church is so useful toward this end, transformed as it is by Vatican II, John Paul II professes many Catholic doctrines. But does he adhere to these doctrines with the certitude and firmness of divine faith? By no means! For anyone who truly has the Catholic Faith could not:

·        kiss the Koran, the Mohammedan “Bible.”

·        say that all men are united to Christ solely by virtue of the Incarnation.[1]

·        say that all men are saved.[2]

·        say that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the Creed is present, in all its essential elements, in non-Catholic sects.[3]

·        say that the Catholic Church is in communion with non-Catholic sects.[4]

·        say that the Catholic Church is incapable of giving credibility to the Gospel, unless there is a “reunion of Christians.”[5]

·        say that the Catholic Church shares a common apostolic faith with the non-Catholic sects.[6]

·        say that non-Catholic sects have an apostolic mission.[7]

·        say that the Holy Ghost uses non-Catholic sects as a means of salvation.[8]

·        say that it is divinely revealed that men have a right to religious freedom and freedom of conscience.[9]

·        say that a properly ordered society is one in which all religions are given free rein to practice, proselytize and propagate.[10]

·        say that Our Lord’s descent into hell simply means that He was buried.[11]

·        participate in all forms of non-Catholic worship, including that of the Lutherans, the Jews, the Hindus, the American Indians, the Polynesians, to mention only some;

·        praise the voodoo religion;

·        permit the abomination of Assisi, in which a golden statue of Buddha was placed upon an altar an incensed by a Buddhist priest;

·        permit the ecumenical abominations contained in the Ecumenical Directory.

·        approve of sacrilege to the Blessed Sacrament by permitting non-Catholics to receive It.

·        hold and teach the blasphemous and heretical notion of the Church, that the Church of Christ is not exactly the same thing as the Catholic Church, but merely subsists in it. This heretical doctrine was taught by Vatican II in Lumen Gentium, and its heretical meaning has been upheld by John Paul many times, particularly in the Ecumenical Directory.

·        say that Moslems and Catholics worship the same God.[12]

·        Give public approval to the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which contains many explicit heresies, and utterly contradicts the solemn teaching of the Council of Trent concerning justification.

      These are merely some of the heresies of John Paul II. We must never forget that someone can manifest an adherence to heresy not only by word, but also by deed. Thus his many ecumenical acts which are an affront to the one, true God are manifestations of an interior adherence to heresy.

      All of these errors and heresies are held and taught by John Paul II in the name of ecumenism. It is this ecumenism which is John Paul II’s apostasy. Ecumenism is apostasy, because it reduces all of the dogmas of the Catholic Faith to relativity. In the ecumenical system, all religions are seen to have a certain part of the truth, and all religions are seen to therefore have a certain value. For this reason, John Paul II has frequently repeated the heresy of Vatican II: that the Holy Ghost has not hesitated to use non-Catholic religions as means of salvation.

      But to treat the dogmas of the Catholic Church in such a way, however, is to strip them of all their value. The ecumenist abandons all the dogmas of the Catholic Church, since he gives the assent of faith to none of them.

      Faith is an adherence to a dogma based on the authority of God revealing. Hence what we believe by the virtue of faith is absolute and unchanging. Martyrs profess their adherence to these unchanging dogmas by giving up their lives, sometimes after having borne atrocious torture. Hence the virtue of faith cannot tolerate ecumenism. Ecumenism is directly contrary to the assent of faith, and therefore is a serious violation of the First Commandment of God: I am the Lord thy God: thou shalt not have strange gods before me.

      The ecumenist, it must be remembered, is constructing the great ecumenical religion, a great ecumenical temple, in which all religions will be able to co-exist, no matter what their internal beliefs, as long as none of them holds that its beliefs are absolutely true, and exclusive of beliefs which are opposed to it.

      This fact explains why John Paul II occasionally speaks about Catholic doctrine: for him it is to speak about our internal affairs, our religious experience, our dogmas. But for him these dogmas are held and taught in the context of ecumenism, that is, where they are stripped of any absolute meaning.

      It could be compared to the local cuisine of the various regions of France: each region has its own dishes, its own wines, its own cheeses. They are all good in themselves, and the cuisine of one region does not exclude specialties of another region.

      John Paul sees religion in a similar light. All religions are the effect of God’s work in the soul; all religions have a certain truth. It is the mission of the Church to erase the divisions among the various religions, and bring all men into one great world religion, without, however, eliminating the legitimate diversity of dogmas.

      This is an apostasy. We know this not from our own judgement, but from the teaching of the Catholic Church. Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Mortalium Animos, referring to ecumenical congresses, said:

Clearly Catholics cannot approve of these undertakings in any way, since they are based on that false opinion of those who think that all religions are more or less good and praiseworthy, all of which, although not in the same way, equally manifest and attest to that innate sense which is implanted in us, by which we are drawn to God and to the devout recognition of His sovereignty. Those who hold this opinion not only err and are deceived, but also, since they repudiate the true religion by distorting the notion of it, gradually turn towards naturalism and atheism. For this reason it clearly follows that whosoever adheres to such things, or takes part in their undertakings, utterly abandons the religion revealed by God.


The Consequences of John Paul II’s Apostasy

It is obvious that apostasy, which is the worst sin against the faith, has terrible consequences in the Church, which is an organization founded on the faith.

      Our “ticket” to enter the Catholic Church is the profession of the true Faith. At baptism, before even entering the church building, the priest asks, “What dost thou ask of the Church of God?” The answer is “faith.” Without this profession of faith, the priest would not consent to admit us to the Church.

      So the loss of faith, either through heresy or apostasy, has the immediate and automatic consequence of separating us from the Catholic Church. In order for this to happen, however, our heresy or apostasy must be pertinacious. Our heresy or apostasy is pertinacious if we are knowingly and willingly opposing the teaching of the Catholic Church. The only factor which excuses the heretic from pertinacity is ignorance of the fact that the doctrine that he is professing is contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church.

       Can we excuse John Paul II on the grounds of ignorance? Of course not. It would be absurd to say that a man with so much education in the pre-Vatican II Faith could possibly be ignorant of the teaching of the Catholic Church. While we could conceive of ignorance in a simple lay person, it is impossible to conceive of ignorance in a former seminary professor like John Paul II, who has a doctorate from the Pontifical University of the Angelicum. If ignorance were possible in such a man, then who could possibly be guilty of heresy or apostasy?

      We are reassured of the pertinacity of John Paul II when we consider that during his occupation of the Vatican for over twenty years, there has been a reign of the destruction of the faith in all of the institutions of the Church. If he were not pertinacious, he would at least be horrified by this loss of faith, and would take steps against it. The only steps he has taken, however, are against the preservation of the traditional Faith, and these he has taken very vigorously, and with particular severity.


I.       Separation from the Church And Loss of Authority.

Thus the first consequence of John Paul’s apostasy is his separation from the Catholic Church.

      The obvious conclusion, which springs directly from the nature of the Catholic Faith and of the Catholic Church, is that John Paul II is not, indeed cannot be, a true Roman Pontiff. For it goes without saying that one cannot be the head of something of which he is not even a member.

      The problem we face is that his separation from the Catholic Church, and thus his non-papacy, has not been legally declared. If a general council or a conclave would declare his apostasy and its consequences, the crisis in the Church would suddenly cease. The confusion would be over. He would be in the same position as Martin Luther. But the agonizing problem which we face is that this legal declaration is lacking, and he therefore has the appearance of being a true pope, all the while adhering to and promulgating a false religion. There is nothing that goes more naturally with the papacy than the true Faith, and there is nothing that is more opposed to the papacy than the profession and promulgation of a false religion. The authority of the papacy was given by Christ to the Church in order to confirm us in the revealed truth. Thus there is no greater perversion of this authority than to confirm us in apostasy.


II.     Promulgation of Apostasy as The Rule of Faith and Discipline.

The second consequence of John Paul’s apostasy is even more important. We must point out that John Paul has not merely fallen into the personal sin of heresy and apostasy, but what is infinitely more pernicious, is promulgating this apostasy as the rule of belief and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church.

      John Paul, in a word, is requiring all Catholics to become ecumenical apostates with him.

      This is more important, for this attempt to alter the belief and discipline of the Catholic Church touches upon the indefectibility of the Church and her constant assistance by Christ throughout the ages. “I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”

      Thus Paul VI and his successors have promulgated the false doctrines of Vatican II, and its subsequent false liturgy and false disciplines.

      Can we say that these false doctrines, this false liturgy, and these false disciplines are given to us by the authority of Christ?

      Can we admit that the Catholic Church has authorized the universal promulgation and use of such things?

      Absolutely not. For if we associate all of this defection with the Catholic Church and consequently with the authority of Christ, then how can we say that the Church is indefectible? How is it assisted by Christ?

      Since we are bound by holy faith not to assert such blasphemies about Christ and His Church, we are bound to conclude that somehow the persons who have promulgated these things do not have the authority of Christ or of the Church. The conclusion is obvious: the faith which we have in the divine assistance to the Church compels us to say that it is impossible that Paul VI, John Paul I or John Paul II be true Catholic Popes.


The Catholic Response

In summary, therefore, the Catholic response to the apostasy of John Paul II is clear: he cannot be the true Pope. It is clear on two counts, and by two distinct arguments:

      (1) by his personal and public fall from the true faith, which places him outside the Church, and

      (2) by his promulgation of false doctrines, liturgy and disciplines, which proves that he lacks the assistance of Christ which is promised to the true authority of the Church.


non-Catholic responses

I.   The Fraternity of St. Peter and Followers of the Indult

The Fraternity of Saint Peter and those who follow the Indult accept the Novus Ordo hierarchy as the Catholic hierarchy, and accept Vatican II and all of the official reforms made in consequence of Vatican II. They have been granted the right by the modernists to retain the John XXIII Mass, and to operate a seminary and institute according to more or less pre-Vatican II lines. Their solution, then, is to adhere to tradition under the auspices of and in obedience to the Novus Ordo hierarchy. Their adherence to tradition, therefore, is not seen as a defense of the Faith against modernists, but rather as a preference, something like the High Church in the Anglican communion.

      From what we have said above, we see that this is not a solution at all. Since they have accepted the Novus Ordo as Catholic, they have reduced their adherence to tradition to a mere nostalgia. They have become a High Church within the ecumenical religion of John Paul II, a religion that even admits of Voodoo, the worship of Shiva, of the Great Thumb and of Buddha, of the praise of heresiarchs such as Martin Luther.

      But one thing must be said in favor of those who follow the Fraternity of Saint Peter, and that is that they are at least consistent and logical in their thinking, inasmuch as they see that one cannot accept John Paul II as pope and at the same time ignore his doctrine and disciplinary authority. But it is absolutely deplorable that these people could permit themselves to be so blind so as to be in communion, that is, to be co-religionists with the modernists, whom Saint Pius X said “ought to be beaten with fists”.


II.  The Society of St. Pius X and Others

The response of the Society of St. Pius X has been to oppose the apostasy of John Paul II with the spirit of schism. Many others follow a similar course.

      The Lefebvrist solution, simply stated, is this: to recognize the authority of John Paul II, but not to follow him in his errors. Archbishop Lefebvre was insistent that all within the Society of Saint Pius X regard John Paul II as pope, and purged from the Society everyone who publicly held that he was not. He always dealt with the Roman modernists as if they had authority, seeking from them approval for his Society. He saw as the solution for the modernist crisis a popular traditional movement which would, in every diocese of the world, clamor for traditional priests, and reject modernist ones. He surmised that the sedevacantist solution would wreck such a popular movement, since he thought that saying John Paul II was not the pope was too much for the average person to bear.

      To the obvious obedience problem which his position posed, Archbishop Lefebvre replied that no authority, including that of the pope, has the right to tell us to do something wrong. But the Novus Ordo is wrong. Therefore the pope cannot oblige us to accept the Novus Ordo. This reasoning led to the need to sift the Novus Ordo for Catholicism. Like the man panning for the grains of gold hidden in the mud, so the Catholic had to sift Paul VI’s and John Paul II’s magisterium and decrees for grains of the true faith. Whatever turned up traditional would be accepted, whatever modernist, rejected. And since Archbishop Lefebvre was the most prominent of those adhering to tradition, his word became the proximate norm of belief and obedience for hundreds of priests and tens of thousands of Catholics. Thus John Paul II’s supposed authority was not sufficient to move the minds and wills of Catholics faithful to tradition, but had to be augmented by Archbishop Lefebvre’s approval. This role of sifter which the Society acquired was jealously guarded, and anyone who dared to ignore it was considered a subversive and ultimately expelled.

      The Society often uses the analogy of a father of a family who tells his children to do something wrong. The children in such a case must disobey the father in order to be obedient to the higher law of God. But at the same time the father always remains the father. In a similar way, they argue, the Pope is our father and he is telling us to do something wrong, that is, Vatican II and its reforms. We must disobey, they argue, since these are contrary to divine law. But nonetheless John Paul II remains the Pope.

      Unfortunately this analogy cannot be applied. First of all, being someone’s natural father can never change because it is based on physical generation. But being someone’s spiritual father can change because it is based on a spiritual generation. Hence a pope could resign and no longer be the spiritual father of Catholics.

      But there is a more important reason why this argument is false. If a pope gave to a particular person a particular command which was evil (e.g., to desecrate a crucifix), the argument would apply. For in such a case the pope would not be engaging the whole practice of the Church, and therefore would not involve the indefectibility of the Church. But if he were to make a general law that all Catholics ought to desecrate crucifixes, then the very indefectibility of the Church would be at stake. For how could the Church of Christ make such a law? Would it then not be leading all souls to hell? The fact that John Paul II has made general laws which prescribe or even permit evil is a violation of the Church’s indefectibility.

      Hence the Society’s argument cannot be applied to the present crisis in the Church.

      If John Paul II is the pope, we must obey him. Even to admit the possibility that a pope can promulgate false doctrines and enact universal disciplines which are evil is itself a heresy against the teaching that the Catholic Church is infallible in these matters. It is inconceivable that, in following the universal teachings of the Church or her universal disciplines, you could be led astray and go to hell. If this were possible, one would have to conclude that the Roman Catholic Church is not the true Church, but a human institution like any other false church.

      Furthermore, to sift the teachings of the Church is to set yourself up as the pope, for your adherence to these teachings would not be based on the authority of the Church, but rather your own “sifting” of these teachings.

      One of their District Superiors wrote in a letter decrying the reforms of Vatican II: “That is why we insist on recognizing the Papacy and the hierarchy despite the fact that we do not at all feel ourselves one with them”. This sentence is most descriptive of their position, which combines two things which are intrinsically incompatible, i.e., to recognize John Paul II as pope, but not to be one with him.

      It is immediately evident that their position involves labyrinthine contradictions from the point of view of Catholic ecclesiology. In the first place, they somehow see Vatican II and its reforms as both Catholic and non-Catholic, and for this reason they “sift” the Novus Ordo teachings and disciplines in order to glean from the rotten mass whatever happens to be Catholic in it. They therefore associate the Novus Ordo with the Catholic Church. They consider the Novus Ordo hierarchy to be the Catholic hierarchy, as having the authority of Christ to teach, rule, and sanctify the faithful. Yet at the same time they are excommunicated by this very authority, since they act as though it does not exist, going so far as to consecrate bishops in defiance of a direct “papal” order.

      The Lefebvrist position is a completely inconsistent position, and it makes mincemeat of the indefectibility of the Catholic Church, since it identifies with the Catholic Church the doctrinal and disciplinary defection of Vatican II and its subsequent reforms. Our position is that Vatican II and its reforms are not Catholic, and that therefore those who have promulgated them cannot possibly be bearers of Catholic authority. If they were true Catholic authority, they would have the assistance of Christ, and would be incapable of promulgating defective doctrine and discipline for the Catholic Church.

      The Lefebvrists, however, are in the impossible position of resisting the authority of the Catholic Church in matters of doctrine, discipline, and worship, which are the effects of the three essential functions of the Catholic hierarchy, i.e., the function of teaching, ruling and sanctifying, and which are the basis of the threefold unity of the Catholic Church, the unity of faith, the unity of government, and the unity of communion. To resist the Catholic Church in these matters is a spiritual suicide, since adherence to the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation. If it is permissible to resist the Church in doctrine, discipline and worship, then in what is the Church to be obeyed? What is the authority of Saint Peter, if it can be ignored in these matters?

      In summary, therefore, the Society of Saint Pius X recognizes the authority of John Paul II, but at the same time rejects the prerogatives of his authority. In this last matter they are unfortunately likened to Gallicans, Jansenists, and other eastern rite sects who did exactly the same thing, i.e., who “filtered” the doctrines and decrees of the Roman Pontiffs according to their liking.

      According to these sects, the magisterium was not binding unless it was found to be in accordance with Tradition. The teachings and decrees of the Roman Pontiffs were therefore subject to review by these sects, that is, they “sifted” the acts of the Popes. The Jansenists in particular said that in order to determine whether a doctrine were traditional or not, a historical study had to be done. This is exactly what the Society says: that the acts of the magisterium have to be rejected, if historically Catholics never believed such things.

      But who is the arbiter of Tradition? Is it not the magisterium? Is it not the authority of Christ vested in the Pope? Of course it is. Hence the Jansenist doctrine of sifting was merely a poor disguise of Protestant private judgement. The only difference between the Protestants and the Jansenists was that the former applied their private judgement to Sacred Scripture, whereas the latter applied their private judgement to Tradition. The position of the Society of Saint Pius X concerning the magisterium and tradition does not differ in any way from that of the Jansenists. Whereas the Protestants uphold the free examination of the Scriptures, the Society upholds the free examination of the Denzinger.[13]

      Thus, the Society has opposed the apostasy of John Paul II not with a truly Catholic response, but with the response of private judgement, whereby the doctrines, decrees, and universal disciplines of what they perceive as the Church are subjected to their private scrutiny.

      How opposed private judgement is to the spirit of Catholicism! “He who hears you hears me,” Our Lord said. “Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth shall be loosed also in heaven,” He said to St. Peter. The authority of God confided to St. Peter by Our Lord Jesus Christ is what makes the Catholic Church to be what it is.

      The attitude of the Society of Saint Pius X reduces the apostolic mission of the Church, confided to Saint Peter, to something hardly more than accidental. But it is this very authority, and the legitimate possession and transmission thereof, which makes the Catholic Church Catholic. It is the form, the spirit, of the Catholic Church, i.e., that by which it is what it is. Nothing could be more substantial to the Catholic Church than this authority.

      It should be furthermore pointed out that to exercise one’s power of orders without the approval of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is a very grave mortal sin, and is schismatic when done in a systematic and permanent fashion. We justify our apostolate by citing the principle of epicheia. By this principle we presume that the authority of the Church, a true pope, if he were present, would desire that we say Mass and distribute the sacraments. We know that our presumption is reasonable, since the faithful would have no true Mass and sacraments otherwise. One may only lay claim to the principle of epicheia when the lawmaker is absent. To use this principle against a reigning pope, who possesses jurisdiction over the sacraments, makes a shambles of the whole Catholic Church. It is to sink into Protestantism, where each minister gets his power “directly from God.” Why have a hierarchy, why have jurisdiction, if everyone can decide that he has a right to exercise his orders on his own assumption that the Church supplies it directly to him? In such a case, the hierarchy would be purely accidental, and each individual priest, like Protestant ministers, could carry on his own apostolate.

      The spirit of schism in the Society of Saint Pius X is evident from their offering of the una cum Mass. For either John Paul II is the Pope or he is not. If John Paul is pope, then the Society’s una cum Mass is schismatic, since it is said outside of and against his authority. It is altar against altar, because their Masses are unauthorized by the Roman Pontiff. But if he is not the pope, then their una cum Mass is also schismatic, since it is offered outside the Church, in union with a false pope.

      In other words, either the altar of the traditional priest is the true altar of God, or John Paul II’s altar is the true altar of God. Because the traditional priest erects his altar and carries on his apostolate against the apostolate of Novus Ordo — which is that of John Paul II — it is obvious that both altars cannot be at the same time legitimate Catholic altars, and that both apostolates cannot be at the same time true Catholic apostolates. Christ could not authorize both the Novus Ordo altar and the traditional altar. One is legitimate and one is illegitimate.

      Because we say that our altar is legitimate, we are logically bound to say that the altar of the Novus Ordo, and therefore its priesthood and apostolate, are illegitimate.

      But if the priest unites himself to the illegitimate altar, priesthood, and apostolate of John Paul II and the Novus Ordo, he makes his own altar, priesthood, and apostolate illegitimate, and therefore schismatic.

      Thus, while I think that those who are involved in the Lefebvre group are of good will and desire wholeheartedly the good of the Church, they nevertheless are laboring under the spirit of schism. Their policy of sifting the magisterium is actually heretical.

      If they have fallen into these errors it is for want of good training. As seminarians they presented themselves to the Society and, knowing nothing else, became imbued with these errors during their years at the seminary. I am sure that if they had been trained correctly, they would not adhere to these errors. I am pointing out their errors, grave as they are, not in order to attack them personally, or to cast doubt upon their motives, but out of respect for the truth. I am sure that they love the truth as well, and it is my sincere hope that they will hear these criticisms in the spirit of charity in which they are given.



As a bishop, I am deeply concerned about the bad influence of the Society of Saint Pius X. Instead of mounting a Catholic response to the apostasy of John Paul II, they have sown the seeds of the spirit of schism in many, many souls. The young people raised in the Society will have an utterly warped idea of what Catholic authority, the authority of the Roman Pontiff, really is. They will perhaps never know the holy and profound reverence which Catholics have always had for this most august authority confided to men. It is our Catholic Faith in this authority which compels us to say that the authors of the Novus Ordo could not possibly have it.

      How wonderful it would be, as well, if Catholics could mount a united front against the modernists! If we would all say with one voice that the defection of Vatican II does not come from the authority of Christ! This would be a marvelous profession of faith among true Catholics. Instead, the bulk of Catholics have responded either like High Church Anglicans — the Fraternity of Saint Peter — or like the schismatic Gallicans and Jansenists — the Society of Saint Pius X. Indeed how the enemies of the Church must be amused, that after two thousand years of profession of faith, and after so many glorious martyrdoms, this is all that Catholics can muster in the face of the worst of all the enemies of the Catholic Church.

      I urge you, therefore, not to remain indifferent to these issues. The necessity of a Catholic response is very important. It is very important that we avoid replacing the apostasy of John Paul II with the spirit of schism, private judgement, and contempt for papal authority which is evident in the position of the Society of Saint Pius X.

      I also urge you to pray for the members of this Society, who, as I have already said, are of good will, and who desire to be good Catholics. They are misled by their fear that to say the truth about John Paul II will empty their churches. It is common knowledge that many of their priests are privately of our position. But they fear what will happen to them if they leave. But they should be encouraged to leave, and they should be told that their position is not in conformity with the Catholic Faith.

      Our experience in America is that the faithful are very supportive of priests who have taken a public position against the papacy of John Paul II. When they hear these explanations, like the ones I have given here, they see that they are in conformity with Catholic principles, and wholeheartedly embrace our position. But even if they did not, even if the priest were reduced to hardship, every priest must know that he must love Catholic truth more than himself.

      Before us is the wonderful example of Father Guépin, who in 1980 courageously upheld the principles which I have here expounded, and was, as a result, brusquely ejected from the Society. Although he had given his life to the priesthood, he was nonetheless summarily thrown out on the street. But he remained undaunted by this cross, and bore it generously, knowing by his strong faith and ardent love of God, that it would be better to die than to compromise the Catholic Faith. May other priests of the Society learn from his courageous example, and understand that God will bless the apostolate of the priest who loves His truth more than the comforts of his body.

      Let us also remember the soul of Archbishop Lefebvre in our prayers, who, despite the inconsistency of his positions, nonetheless did so much for the preservation of the true Mass.

      Finally let us not fail to pray to Our Blessed Lady, who alone crushes all heresies, as the sacred liturgy says, and to Saint Joseph, the patron of the universal Church.

(St. Gertrude the Great Newsletter 52, Supplement, Autumn 2000)


[1] Redemptor Hominis, 13.3

[2] Homily in Santa Maria in Trastevere, April 27, 1980

[3] Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion., (1992)

[4] ibid.

[5] Osservatore Romano, May 20, 1980

[6] ibid.

[7] Osservatore Romano, June 10, 1980

[8] Catechesi Tradendæ, October 16, 1979

[9] Redemptor Hominis, 12.2 and Dives in Misericordia, and his speech to the United Nations on October 2, 1979 and in many other places.

[10] Vatican II, Dignitatis Humanæ, a document which John Paul II says has a particular binding force.

[11] General Audience, January 11, 1989

[12] May 31, 1980 in a speech to the Moslems in Paris.

[13] The Denzinger is the book which contains the teachings of the popes and general councils.

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