a ligno Deus
HOLY CROSS SEMINARY
FATHERS OF THE SOCIETY OF SAINT PIUS X
and benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,
Allow me first
of all to give you some news on what has been a very busy summer.
Since Christmas we have had three Ignatian retreats for 75 retreatants,
as well as a third order Carmelite retreat for 22 retreatants and
a 10 day boys’ camp. Allow me to give you the dates for the
very popular Ignatian retreats that will be preached here during
the school vacations this year. A five day men’s Ignatian
retreat will take place from Sunday June 15 – Friday June
20 and a five day women’s retreat from Monday September 22
– Saturday September 27.
During the month
of January the three teachers for the new Seminary arrived,
and started preparing their classes, and then just last week 15
boys arrived, the biggest delegations being from West Australia
and Victoria (5 each), but with representatives also from N.S.W.
(1), Queensland (1) and the U.S. (3) After a brief Ignatian retreat,
they plunged immediately into their classes. A skeleton crew of
seminarians, along with several volunteers, has kept the Seminary
going during this busy time.
two very successful working bees took place during the month of
January, one for men on January 11, finishing off the classrooms
for the Seminary and for women on January 20 & 21, cleaning
and repainting the kitchen. There will be a follow up working bee
for both men and women on Saturday March 29. It would be a great
sacrifice and act of charity for Lent. Please let us know if you
are able to make it.
I would like
to take the opportunity of thanking you for your increased generosity
at the time of the opening of the Seminary, and in support
of the increased number of foreign Seminarians attending Holy Cross.
Your sacrifices are very much appreciated, for without them we could
not possibly continue our part of the work of the Church, the formation
of future priests. For this month, I could not do better than to
pass on to you the text of our Superior General’s January
letter to the Society’s friends and benefactors worldwide,
clarifying our position in the present crisis, and giving a little
perspective on our missionary efforts.
of Tradition in far away Brazil might not seem that relevant to
us, and the separation of 25 Campos priests from Archbishop Lefebvre’s
combat, led by 450 Society priests and many other priest associates
and religious might not seem that significant. However, it is an
excellent illustration of principle. They have betrayed the founder
of their priestly association of St. John Vianney, Bishop De Castro
Mayer, by pretending that he changed after his obligatory resignation
in 1981. The same claims were made concerning Archbishop Lefebvre
after he stepped down as Superior General of the Holy Ghost Fathers.
Both claims are entirely false. By a strange legalism the Campos
priests have placed canonical status over and above the combat for
the Faith, contrary to what they were taught by Bishop De Castro
Mayer, who was such a support to Archbishop Lefebvre. The following
quote is simply an illustration of how profoundly Bishop De Castro
Mayer understood the post-conciliar crisis, and how he would have
disapproved of the ambiguous compromise with the forces of the revolution
in the Church accomplished by Bishop Rifan:
Second Vatican Council made itself into an anti-Church. A fundamental
dogma of the Catholic Church is that it is absolutely necessary
for salvation. Men do not have the freedom to choose their religion,
their church, according to their taste or personal feelings. Under
pain of eternal damnation they must enter into the Catholic and
roman Church. However, Vatican II, on this precise point, determines
that exactly the contrary is an incontestable doctrine: namely that
every man has in himself the freedom to adhere to the religion of
this antithesis is the foundation, opposing structures will necessarily
be built on it. It is for this reason that we say that Vatican II
reveals itself as the anti-Church. The consequence is that whoever
adheres to Vatican II without restriction, by this very fact separates
himself from the true Church of Christ” (published
in 1987). As the following letter demonstrates, this is precisely
the direction in which the Campos priests are now going.
May God grant
us the wisdom to see through all such compromises, and may the Blessed
Mother obtain for us the docility to always maintain a supernatural
response to such temptations.
Yours faithfully in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Father Peter R. Scott
To Friends And Benefactors # 63
RELATIONS WITH ROME
Once again our letter to Friends and Benefactors is reaching you
a little late. Once again we hesitated to write to you sooner for
fear of leaving out an important development in our relations with
Rome, especially after the Campos-Rome agreement. In the eyes of
Rome, obviously, what happened in Campos was merely meant to be
the prelude to our own "regularization" in the Society
of Saint Pius X, but in our eyes what is happening to our former
friends should rather serve as a lesson to us.
speaking, Rome means, all things being equal, to come to an agreement
with the Society of Saint Pius X. On all sides we hear that the
Pope would like to settle this matter before he dies. Alas, our
fears roused by the Campos agreement have proved to be well-founded,
and the evolution we observe of the Campos Apostolic Administration,
contrary to Roman expectations, leaves us distrustful.
Of course we are dealing with a volatile situation capable of sudden
and surprising changes, like in times of political instability.
And in such a situation, nobody can be certain of what turn it will
take. Also we do behold in the Vatican offices a certain questioning
of the way things have gone for the last few decades, and a desire
on the part of some officials to put an end to the downhill slide.
However, it is clear that the principle governing today's Rome is
still to put the Council into practice as has been done for the
last 40 years. Neither official documents nor general policy show
any fundamental re-thinking of this principle. On the contrary,
we are always being told that what the Council set in motion is
irreversible, which leads us to ask why there has been a change
of attitude with regard to ourselves. Various explanations are possible,
but it is primarily because of the pluralist and ecumenical vision
of things now prevailing in the Catholic world. According to this
vision, everybody is to mix together without anybody needing any
longer to convert, as Cardinal Kasper said in connection with the
Orthodox and even the Jews. From such a standpoint there will even
be a little room for Catholic Tradition, but for our part we cannot
accept this vision of variable truth any more than a mathematics
teacher can accept a variable multiplication table.
day will come, we are sure and certain, when Rome will come back
to Rome's own Tradition and restore it to its rightful place, and
we long with all our hearts for that blessed day. For the time being,
however, things are not yet at that point, and to foster illusions
would be deadly for the Society, as we can see, when we follow the
turn of events in Campos. For this purpose, let us emphasize two
points in the evolution of the Campos situation: firstly, how their
attitude to Rome has changed since the agreement and secondly, how
Campos is moving further and further away from ourselves, with all
the upset that that implies.
CHANGES IN CAMPOS
Campos, through its leader, Bishop Rifan, is crying out for all
to hear that nothing has changed, that the priests of the Apostolic
Administration are just as Traditional as before, which is the essence
of what they have been granted, and why they accepted Rome's offer:
because Rome approved of the traditional position.
For our part, let us begin by noting that we are well aware that
in any disagreement one tends to discredit one's adversary. For
instance in the case of our former friends in Campos, there are
certainly false rumours circulating to the effect that "Bishop
Rifan has concelebrated the New Mass", or, "Campos has
completely given up Tradition". However, that being said, here
is what we observe:
1. The Campos website
lays out the Campos position on the burning question of ecumenism:
they claim to follow the Magisterium of the Church, past and present.
There are quotes from Pius XI's encyclical letter Mortalium
Animos, next to quotes from John Paul II's Redemptoris Missio.
We cannot help observing that there has been a careful selection
process: Campos quotes John Paul II's traditional passages while
other passages introducing a quite new way of looking at the question
are passed over. We read, "Being Catholics, we have no particular
teaching of our own on the question. Our teaching is none other
than that of the Church's Magisterium. The extracts which we publish
here from certain documents old and new, bear especially on points
of Catholic doctrine which are in greater danger today".
2. The ambiguity implicit
here has become more or less normal in the new situation in which
they find themselves: they emphasize those points in the present
pontificate which seem favorable to Tradition, and tip-toe past
the rest. Say what we will: there took place in Campos on January
18, 2002, not only a one-sided recognition of Campos by Rome, as
some claim, but also, in exchange, an undertaking by Campos to keep
quiet, And how could it be otherwise? It is clear by now that Campos
has something to lose which they are afraid of losing, and so in
order not to lose it they have chosen the path of compromise: "We
Brazilians are men of peace, you Frenchmen are always fighting".
Which means that, in order to keep the peace with Rome, one must
stop fighting. They no longer see the situation of the Church as
a whole. They content themselves with Rome's gesture in favor of
a little group of two dozen priests and say that there is no longer
any emergency in the Church because the granting of a Traditional
bishop has created a new juridical situation...They are forgetting
the wood for a single tree.
3. Bishop Rifan, in the
course of a brief visit to Europe, went to see Dom Gerard at Le
Barroux Abbey in France to present his apologies for having so criticized
him back in 1988 when Dom Gerard condemned Archbishop Lefebvre's
consecrating of four bishops. In a lecture he gave to the monks,
Bishop Rifan pretended there were two phases in the life or Bishop
de Castro Mayer: up till 1981 he was supposedly a docile bishop
respecting the rest of the hierarchy, from 1981 onwards he was a
much harder churchman... "We choose to follow the pre-1981
Bishop de Castro Mayer", said Bishop Rifan to the monks,
some of whom were surprised at such words, and one of whom was so
scandalized that he left to come over to the Society.
4. Within this way of
thinking even the Novus Ordo Mass can be accommodated. Campos
forgets the 62 reasons for having nothing to do with it, Campos
now finds that if it is properly celebrated, it is valid (which
we have never denied, but that is not the point). Campos no longer
says that Catholics must stay away because the New Mass is bad,
and dangerous. Bishop Rifan says, by way of justifying his position
on the Mass: "So we reject all use of the Traditional Mass
as a battle-flag to insult and fight the lawfully constituted hierarchical
authority of the Church. We stay with the Traditional Mass, not
out of any spirit of contradiction, but as a clear and lawful expression
of our Catholic Faith (…)". We are reminded of the words
of a Cardinal a little while back: "Whereas the Society
of Saint Pius X is FOR the old Mass, the Fraternity of Saint Peter
is AGAINST the New Mass. It's not the same thing". That
was Rome's argument to justify taking action against Fr. Bisig of
the Fraternity of Saint Peter at about the same time that Rome was
cozying up to the Society of Saint Pius X. The Cardinal's curious
distinction is now being put into practice by Campos, as they pretend
to be for the old Mass but not against the new. Likewise for
Tradition, but not against today's Rome. "We maintain
that Vatican II cannot contradict Catholic Tradition",
said Bishop Rifan quite recently to a French magazine, Famille
Chrétienne. Yet a well-known Cardinal said that Vatican II was
the French Revolution inside the Church. Bishop de Castro Mayer
said the same thing....
So little by little the will to fight grows weaker and finally one
gets used to the situation. In Campos itself, everything positively
traditional is being maintained, for sure, so the people see nothing
different, except that the more perceptive amongst them notice the
priests' tendency to speak respectfully and more often of recent
statements and events coming out of Rome, while yesterday's warnings
and today's deviations are left out. The great danger here is that
in the end one gets used to the situation as it is, and no longer
tries to remedy it. For our part we have no intention of launching
out until we are certain that Rome means to maintain Tradition.
We need signs that they have converted.
LEAVING THE SOCIETY BEHIND
Besides this wholly foreseeable evolution of minds by which the
Campos priests have, whatever they say, given up the fight, we must
note another occurrence; the increasing hostility between us. Bishop
Rifan still says that he wants to be our friend, but some Campos
priests are already accusing us of being schismatic because we refuse
their agreement with Rome.
A little like one sees a boat pushing into mid-river, drifting down-stream
and leaving the bank behind, so we see, little by little, several
indications of the distance growing between ourselves and Campos.
We had warned them of the great danger, they chose not to listen.
Since they have no wish to row up-stream, then even while inside
the boat things carry on as before, which gives them the impression
that nothing has changed, nevertheless they are leaving us behind,
as they show themselves more and more attached to the Magisterium
of today, as opposed to the position they held until recently and
which we still hold, namely a sane criticism of the present in the
light of the past.
To sum up, we are bound to say that the Campos priests, despite
their claims to the contrary, are slowly being re-molded, following
the lead of their new bishop, in the spirit of the Council. That
is all Rome wants for the moment.
One may object that our arguments are weak and too subtle, and of
no weight as against Rome's offer to regularize our situation. We
reply that if one considers Rome's offer of an Apostolic Administration
just by itself, it is as splendid as the architect's plan of a beautiful
mansion. But the real problem is the practical problem of what foundations
the mansion will rest on. On the shifting sands of Vatican II, or
on the rock of Tradition going back to the first Apostle?
To guarantee our future, we must obtain from today's Rome clear
proof of its attachment to the Rome of yesterday. When the Roman
authorities have re-stated with actions speaking louder than words
that "There must be no innovations outside of Tradition",
then "we" shall no longer be a problem. And we beg God
to hasten that day when the whole Church will flourish again, having
re-discovered the secret of her past strength, freed from the modern
unthought of which Paul VI said that "It is anti-Catholic
in nature, Maybe it will prevail. It will never be the Church. There
will have to be a faithful remnant, however tiny".
LIFE INSIDE THE SOCIETY
Let us also tell you of life inside the Society, to give you a little
share in our apostolic joys and labors. And let us make use of this
letter to tell you a little of our activity in missionary countries.
It is true that today almost all countries, especially in our old
Europe, are again becoming missionary countries. Priests, in their
apostolic travels, visit over 65 countries, some of them still today
suffering direct persecution of the Faith. But as this letter is
already long, let us confine ourselves to two new areas of our apostolate.
We had been visiting them off and on for a number of years, but
just recently we think they are opening up in an astonishing way:
Lithuania and Kenya.
In order the better to organize our apostolate in Russia
and White Russia, we have established a bridgehead in Lithuania,
a country which suffered much under Russian Communist persecution
and where it took heroism to keep Catholicism going. Once the Iron
Curtain fell, the Eastern countries put their trust in the novelties
from the Vatican, being
persuaded that anything coming from the West had to be good… These
countries swiftly caught up on the state of disaster inflicted by
the reforms. Any reaction is rather passive than visible, so we
do not see them taking action. But once our priests got over the
language difficulty, they are discovering ground that promises to
be fertile for Tradition, more so than our first fruitless attempts
had given us to expect. Welcomed with a severe warning from the
local bishops to Catholics to stay away from us, our priests nevertheless
discovered numerous priests wishing to join us. These explained
their bishops' severity: it was out of fear that Catholics would
come to us in large numbers. For instance we have been approached
by a little congregation of Sisters, founded by Cardinal Vincentas
Sladkevicius, Archbishop Emeritus of Kaunas. Before he died on May
28, 2000, he left orders with the Sisters: "When the Society
of Saint Pius X comes, you must join them. They will restore the
Church in Lithuania".
May God with His grace enable us to live up to the Archbishop's
expectation! The main cities now have their little Mass center where
interest is slight for the moment, but becomes more pressing each
Kenya has been receiving
sporadic visits from Society priests for the last 25 years, but
we have only just discovered the existence of a group of 1,500 faithful
organizing their struggle for the Faith with their refusal of communion
in the hand and standing. Our first contacts with them show very
clearly that they are battling not only for the right way to receive
communion but also for a whole Traditional attitude. We are discovering
also a number of nuns who have left their different Congregations
or been chased out of them because they refused the Vatican II reforms.
Living in the world they remained faithful to their vows. Now 16
of them are coming over to us in the hope of being able once more
to live in community.
A young priest said to us, "If you set up a chapel here,
it will empty out the cathedral. When I visit the faithful they
say to me: 'Why have you changed our Church? Say Mass like it used
to be!' But I don't know the old Mass, I don't know how the Church
was before. When I ask older priests, they send me packing. Can
you teach me to say the old Mass? Can I visit you to learn?"
Another priest, also young, said in a tone of voice that spoke volumes.
"I will note down in my diary for this evening: my first
How can the Church authorities not heed the cry of these souls thirsting
for grace and the Catholic life? Beneath the ashes and ruins left
by Vatican II, there are still traditional Catholic embers glowing,
needing only to blaze up again. The Church does not die. God watches
over it. May He grant us to be His docile instruments to spread
the fire that His Heart burns to spread throughout the world!
But you in particular, dear faithful, are well aware that we cannot
manage to do all we would like to do; how we need priests! Pray,
pray the master of the harvest to send numerous workers into his
At the beginning of this new year, full of gratitude and warm thanks
for all your unfailing generosity, we entrust you with praying for
priests, for the sacrifice of the Mass. God bless you and all your
families with an abundance of all His graces.
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