My dear Catholic people,
During the month of December I traveled to England primarily to conduct the interview of a prospective seminarian from that country. I also managed, however, to give two conferences, one in London, and the other in the North, in the city of Durham.
My trip was not very successful. The prospective seminarian stood me up, even though he lived only twelve minutes away from where I was staying. In London, despite a good deal of internet publicity, I attracted only four people to the conference. Durham was a little better, with perhaps fifteen. I did manage to see some magnificent medieval cathedrals, those of Durham, York, and Lincoln. Although they are now pitifully in the hands of the Anglican heretics, they nevertheless continue to speak, by their grandeur and solemnity, the Catholicism which built them. From the point of view of sightseeing, my trip was very successful.
Why the poor showing in England? There are a number of reasons, I think. First, the Society of Saint Pius X has a very tight grip on the minds and lives of the traditional Catholics of England. It has thoroughly convinced them of the impossible formula that you must on the one hand recognize the Modernist “popes,” but at the same time resist them in practically all things, including those things in which the pope is the organ of the Church’s infallibility and indefectibility. The SSPX also has a grip on their lives inasmuch as it provides a full-service ecclesiastical life for them: Mass, priests, seminaries, schools, nuns, and many other activities. Families are so deeply involved with them that to step out of the SSPX is in many cases the equivalent of stepping out of the family. For this reason, they are afraid even to go and listen to what we are presenting, lest they be considered disloyal. This phenomenon is found not only in England, but nearly everywhere. In fact, it is only in the United States that the SSPX does not exercise such a heavy and exclusive influence.
The second reason for the low attendance is that most people are happy if they have a traditional Latin Mass. They really are not interested in anything beyond it. I will address this problem later.
The third reason is that it was a very bad day, particularly in London, inasmuch as it was the last Saturday before Christmas. Many were unable to come for reasons of Christmas preparations.
I am not daunted, however, by the setback. I remember saying Mass for very small groups back in 1975 and 1976 in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware. Perseverance is the key, and I am not about to step back from England. The English do need, however, to do some work on their side, in order to make it possible for one of our priests to serve them eventually.
Why do we insist on converting people to the sedevacantist position? Some may be inclined to say: Why travel to England to convert people away from the Society of Saint Pius X to the sedevacantist position, when they already have the traditional Latin Mass from the SSPX? There are four reasons why we do this.
THE FIRST REASON: IT IS THE TRUTH. The Catholic Church is God’s agency for the proposal of supernatural truth to the world. Catholic clergy can never remain indifferent when error concerning the faith, or what flows from the faith, is spreading among the faithful.
The sedevacantist position is the only Catholic position in response to the Modernist takeover of Catholic institutions. It squarely declares that Vatican II and its reforms are a substantial change of the Catholic religion. It is a whole new religion which has replaced the Catholic religion in all buildings which were once Catholic. In this the Novus Ordo is no different from the heresy of Anglicanism which invaded and took away from us the magnificent structures built for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament. Just like protestantism, Modernism has stripped from the minds of people the Catholic faith, replacing it with a rationalistic and relativistic dogma-less Christianity.
Sedevacantism boldly declares that Modernism will not pass, no, not ever, for Roman Catholicism. The SSPX, on the other hand, regards Vatican II’s Modernism and the reforms as a legitimate form of Roman Catholicism, since they have repeatedly expressed their desire and willingness to live in ecclesiastical communion and cooperation with the Modernists. Their insistence on regarding the Modernists as the legitimate hierarchy of the Catholic Church is an implicit admission that “Novus Ordo Catholicism” is indeed substantially Catholic. They have consistently sought to have a niche of tradition in the Novus Ordo cathedral, and they have not abandoned this idea to this day.
It must never be forgotten that when any true pope dies, every Catholic must be a sedevacantist, i.e., must say that the Roman See is vacant, in order to remain Catholic. If he were to regard some false pope as the true pope when the Roman See is vacant, he would place himself outside of the true Church by committing a sin of schism.
The truth, therefore concerning the non-papacy of the Vatican II “popes” is of extreme importance to Catholics.
THE SECOND REASON: THE IMMORALITY INVOLVED IN RECOGNIZING THE VATICAN II HIERARCHY AS HAVING THE POWER TO TEACH, RULE, AND SANCTIFY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. The sedevacantist position holds to this entirely Catholic principle: That those who promulgate to the Church false doctrines, non-Catholic liturgies, and evil disciplines cannot constitute the Roman Catholic hierarchy, since the true Roman Catholic hierarchy is protected by Christ from doing such things.
The SSPX position, evident through its actions, is this: That the Roman Catholic hierarchy has promulgated to the Catholic Church false doctrines, non-Catholic liturgies, and evil disciplines, but at the same time remains the legitimate Roman Catholic hierarchy.
The SSPX preaches this doctrine by its actions, because it has organized a worldwide apostolate in order to protect Catholics from the Novus Ordo religion, and to draw them away from it. They urge people to be disobedient to what they say is the Roman Catholic hierarchy, for the reason that this Roman Catholic hierarchy has promulgated false doctrines, non-Catholic liturgies, and evil disciplines.
The SSPX position, however, is immoral on numerous points. In the first place, it implicitly preaches the heresy that the Catholic Church is capable of defection from her God-given nature and purpose, which is the salvation of souls, which is accomplished by the teaching of true doctrine. I emphasize the word implicitly, that is, they preach it through their actions. However, they do not profess this heresy by any means.
They preach this heresy, nonetheless, by implicitly telling their people that the Novus Ordo religion is a defection from Catholicism, but is at the same time promulgated by the supreme authority of the Roman Catholic Church. They preach that it is a defection from Catholicism inasmuch as they establish an apostolate everywhere on the planet in an attempt to draw people away from the Novus Ordo religion. They have even taken the radical step of consecrating bishops without a mandate from pope in order, precisely, to protect the faithful from the false doctrines, the false liturgy, and the wicked disciplines of the Novus Ordo.
Second, the SSPX position is immoral on grounds that it establishes a spirit of disobedience among its people. They falsely invoke the true principle that you ought not to obey a superior who tells you to do something wrong. The reason why it is falsely invoked in this case is that in the promulgation of Catholic doctrine, Catholic liturgy, and Catholic discipline to the universal Church, the Catholic hierarchy cannot err. The Church’s infallibility and indefectibility consist in this very immunity from error in these matters. To disobey the Catholic hierarchy in these matters is a mortal sin, for it is a disobedience to Christ who preserves the hierarchy from error in teaching doctrine to the whole Church, in making universal liturgical laws, and in prescribing universal disciplines.
Third, because this disobedience is systematic, long-term, and universal, inasmuch as the SSPX adherents obey virtually nothing that the “pope” tells them to do, it becomes a spirit of schism. The SSPX acts as though there is no pope. They set up altar against altar, that is, they defiantly establish an apostolate of the Mass and sacraments against the purported pope and bishops. “Altar against altar” is St. Augustine’s term for schism. The Novus Ordo hierarchy considers them to be a schismatic sect, and the shoe fits if we admit that the Novus Ordo hierarchy is the true Roman Catholic hierarchy. But to be schismatic is to be in mortal sin. No schismatic will go to heaven.
Fourth, the SSPX position engenders a spirit of hypocrisy, for they say one thing, and do its opposite. They say that they are subject to the Roman Pontiff, whom they identify with “there-is-no-Catholic-God” Francis. They hang his picture in their chapels, and they offer the Mass with him by placing his name in the Canon. They pray for him at Benediction. They scorn and condemn sedevacantists as not being subject to the Holy Father.
Yet they are not subject to him. They ignore him. They act as if he does not exist. They vilify him. They carry on their apostolate as if there is no pope. They say: “we are with the pope.” But this is false, since the pope is not with them! It is impossible to be with someone unless that person is also with you. In other words, their supposed subjection to the Novus Ordo pope is a big lie.
Hypocrisy and lying are sins, and could be mortal sins in a grave matter, and certainly subjection to the Roman Pontiff is grave matter.
THE THIRD REASON: THE EXTREME DANGER TO WHICH THE SSPX ADHERENTS ARE SUBJECTED. Every Catholic is naturally inclined to submission to the Roman Pontiff. The SSPX preaches to its faithful that “there-is-no-Catholic-God” Francis is the true Roman Pontiff. The SSPX consequently invites all their faithful to incorporate themselves into the Novus Ordo structure by regularizing their relationship with the Modernist hierarchy.
This is no empty accusation. The Society of Saint Pius X was born in the Novus Ordo in 1970, and was suppressed by the Novus Ordo in 1974. Ever since, it has repeatedly sought to be reconciled to the Novus Ordo, coming very, very close only two years ago under Ratzinger. They came so close, in fact, that one of their bishops has broken away and is now leading a resistance movement against the reconciliationists.
By recognizing Francis as the Roman Catholic pope, one is implicitly saying that the religion he believes and practices is the Roman Catholic religion, that his liturgy is Roman Catholic, that his disciplines are Roman Catholic, that Vatican II is in conformity with the Roman Catholic Faith.
The very act of trying to reconcile with the Novus Ordo hierarchy, and become recognized as a legitimate congregation working within the Novus Ordo, is an implicit admission that Vatican II and its reforms are in conformity with Roman Catholicism.
These implicit admissions put the Catholic in the extreme danger of apostasy inasmuch as they plant all of the logic in his mind of the necessity to join the Novus Ordo. They reduce the position of Catholic resistance to Modernism to one of being merely a preference for some liturgical traditions, and/or being the conservative wing of the Novus Ordo reformation. I say apostasy, since the Novus Ordo is not merely a heresy but an apostasy, since, through ecumenism, it denies all dogma by the very destruction of the notion and principle of dogma. We saw this spirit of apostasy in the immortal words of Francis: “There is no Catholic God.”
Sedevacantism, however, turns the faithful away from these apostates, and protects them. Sedevacantists have no inclination to be reconciled with persons whom they consider to be bogus clergy.
In addition, the SSPX faithful are subjected to the una cum Mass, which is to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in union with a hierarchy which has defected into heresy and apostasy. The una cum Mass equates “Pope Francis” with Our Lord Jesus Christ, inasmuch as it associates the apostate with the action of Jesus Christ as the Eternal High Priest. For we must never forget that Christ is the principal offerer of every Mass, and that the ordained priest is merely His minister and tool in the sacred action. To place the apostate’s name in the Canon is to assert that the apostate Bergoglio is legitimately empowered by Christ Himself to offer the pleasing sacrifice to God His Father, and to represent Him [Christ] at the altar of God.
No one has to be a theologian in order to understand that such an assertion, in the very center of the most sacred action of the Mass, is most displeasing to God.
Sedevacantism, however, keeps the heretics and apostates out of the Holy Mass, and does not declare the blasphemy that these destroyers of our holy religion are in fact our legitimate representatives at the altar of God, and cooperate with Jesus Christ in the offering of the Catholic Mass.
THE FOURTH REASON: SEDEVCANTISM IS BASED ON SOLID CATHOLIC PRINCIPLES, WHEREAS THE SSPX POSITION IS BASED ON PRINCIPLES CONDEMNED BY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
It is the universal teaching of Catholic theologians that a public heretic could not be a true pope. This doctrine is upheld by Pope Innocent III and Pope Paul IV, as well as by Saint Robert Bellarmine, who is a Doctor of the Church.
On the other hand, the system of the SSPX is based on principles which have been condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. The Council of Trent, for example, condemns the “disdain of the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church,” and furthermore condemns those who say that “the ceremonies of the Church are incentives to impiety rather than the services of piety.” But the SSPX falls under this condemnation by their refusal of the New Mass and reformed sacraments.
Furthermore Pope Pius IX condemned the very principle upon which the SSPX bases its operation, namely the principle of recognizing the pope but ignoring what he says. On Sept. 1, 1876, Pope Pius IX wrote these words to the clergy and faithful of the Chaldean rite:
“What good is it to proclaim aloud the dogma of the supremacy of Saint Peter and his successors? What good is it to repeat over and over the declarations of faith in the Catholic Church and of obedience to the Apostolic See when actions give the lie to these fine words? Moreover, is not rebellion rendered all the more inexcusable by the act that obedience is recognized as a duty?”
Such words fall incontestably upon the Society of Saint Pius X adherents, who are constantly waving the flag of submission to the pope, but who are at the same time giving the lie to these fine words, as Pope Pius IX said, by their actions.
Pope Pius IX also calls schismatic those who obstinately refuse to obey the Catholic hierarchy. On January 6, 1873, he wrote to the Armenians:
“For the Catholic Church has always considered schismatic all those who obstinately resist the authority of her legitimate prelates, and especially her Supreme Pastor, and any who refuse to execute their orders and even to recognize their authority. The members of the Armenian faction of Constantinople having followed this line of conduct, no one, under any pretext can believe them innocent of the sin of schism, even if they had not been denounced as schismatic by Apostolic authority.”
The same Roman Pontiff, in the same document, condemns the notion of claiming that an excommunication was unjust and therefore invalid, and that it may be therefore ignored:
“But since the neo-schismatics cannot reap any advantage from it [the recognition of the Roman Pontiff] they have applied to themselves to follow in the footsteps of modern heretics; they have excused themselves by saying that the sentence of excommunication pronounced against them in Our name by Our venerable Brother the Archbishop of Tyana, Apostolic delegate to Constantinople, was unjust and therefore null and void.”
Pope Clement XI condemned in 1703 the idea of the Jansenists that one is free to ignore an excommunication which one considers to be unjust. [Denz. 1441]. Yet the Society of Saint Pius X holds that they are free to ignore their excommunication, on the grounds that it is unjust.
It is the constant teaching of the Church, furthermore, that to carry on an apostolate which is not in union with the local bishop and the pope, is schismatic. Pope Pius IX addressed these words to all who refuse to submit to the authority of the pope: “‘He that gathereth not with me, scattered! (Luke XI: 23). He [the Pope] will say to all of them that he who is not united to the Pope cannot hope to reap: he is sowing the wind and will never harvest fruit, unless it be the fruit of iniquity.” (Allocution to the German pilgrims, May 13, 1875)
We can go to heaven without the Mass, but we cannot go to heaven without the faith. Catholics today think that it is sufficient to find a valid and traditional Latin Mass, and once found, their troubles are over. They are not interested in any issue beyond what is a valid and traditional Latin Mass. They ‘‘just want to go to Mass.”
This is known as Latin Mass-ism, and it is rampant. A valid and traditional Latin Mass, however, is merely one aspect of our faith. It is necessary, for example, that we condemn heresy, avoid heretics, be submitted to the Roman Pontiff, believe all the truths of the Faith, and act in a way that is in accordance with the Faith. In fact, even if we were cut off from the Mass through no fault of our own, we could still gain heaven by the profession of the true Faith and the practice of good morals. It is furthermore true that the celebrant of the Mass must be a truly Catholic priest. He is not a truly Catholic priest if he declares himself to be in communion with public heretics and apostates, and what is more, if he offers his Mass in union with these heretics and apostates.
I have pointed out that (1) the SSPX position is not an accurate assessment of the nature of the Modernist takeover of the Vatican, but a system fraught with error and inconsistency; (2) the SSPX position is an occasion of many sins: it engenders a spirit of disobedience and a spirit of schism in the minds of the faithful, as well as hypocrisy and disingenuousness concerning their stance on the pope; (3) the SSPX is logically committed by their position to rejoin the Novus Ordo one day, and has repeatedly tried to do so in the past, thereby creating an extreme danger for its adherents; (4) the SSPX position rests on principles that are already condemned by the Church.
It is for these reasons that we dedicate our lives to bring the faithful to a proper Catholic understanding of the Church’s current problem, and to a true and integrally Catholic reaction to it. For there is no pleasing God without adherence to the truth.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Donald J. Sanborn