No. 36  April 2006

Regnavit a ligno Deus

April 15, 2006

Holy Saturday

Dear friends and benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,


First of all, a little news update about the Seminary. The Major Seminarians returned on March 11. Only 11 of last year’s 21 Major Seminarians returned, four having been ordained, four having left, and two Redemptorists taking a year off studies. To these 11 were added one new first year seminarian (Mr. Gill, from England) and two new Redemptorist philosophy students from Papa Stronsay, giving us a total of 14 Major Seminarians. We also have three pre-Seminarians, one each from Malaysia, the Philippines and Kenya, this last one (Mr. Ngaruro) having just arrived, after a 1½ year preparation at our new priory in Nairobi. They began their seminary year with a six day retreat preached by the Rector.

The entire community seated at lunch in the Refectory,
whilst Reverend Christopher Curtis reads on the history of the Church.

With our 26 Seminarians and one Brother Postulant, this brings us to a total of 44 young men in formation this year. We have this year an extraordinary diversity of national origin, particularly in the Major Seminary, 12 nations being represented amongst the 17 students. All told, we now have 19 Australians, 8 from the U.S., three each from Malaysia and Canada, and one each from New Zealand, France, India, South Africa, Belgium, Singapore, England, the Philippines, Kenya, Indonesia and Ireland. The Major Seminarians had only had 3½ weeks of classes before the most welcome interruption of all the ceremonies of Holy Week. However, the Minors, having been studying for 2½  months already, are looking forward to a two week break after Easter.

Several projects have been our preoccupation in recent weeks. The wood boiler has been installed into the now completed boiler room, and the contractor is in the process of hooking up pipes to the classrooms and installing radiators there also. A leaking roof over the Lady chapel has been repaired, and structural weakness reinforced. Work continues on the remodeling of the second of our cottages, including replacing the entire bathroom, new electrical wiring throughout, new siding, insulation and new windows. The floor of the cemetery chapel has been poured, and adaptations to the metal structure made, that will enable the front wall to swing open as two doors.


I am sure that you have all heard of the latest echoes and rumors from Rome, with the manifest push to “regularize” the status of the Society of Saint Pius X . Most astonishing was the statement at the end of the annual meeting of the French  Episcopal Conference in Lourdes, expressing the bishops’ “willingness to receive Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s followers, once they are reconciled with the Holy See”. This is the same episcopal conference that, in 1972, refused to even allow the same Archbishop Lefebvre to attend and explain his new foundation – the Society of Saint Pius X – although as former bishop of Tulle he had a right to attend, and although he had, at the time, perfectly correct canonical status. This is the same episcopal conference that has most consistently opposed every effort to promote the traditional Mass and the Society for more than 30 years. What has changed?

It is certainly true that since Bishop Fellay’s meeting with Pope Benedict XVI last August, Rome has taken a special interest in the regularization of the Society’s status, in the person of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, with whom Bishop Fellay met last November. It is also true that these authorities in Rome admit that there is a grave crisis in the Church, and that they have become rather more cognizant of the injustice of the ban on the traditional Mass and of the so-called “excommunication”, as was the case when Cardinal Castrillon publicly declared that the Society of Saint Pius X is not formally schismatic, thereby contradicting what has so often been claimed. It is also true that our very existence is a reproach to their ecumenical policy of a sentimental unity – “that they may be one” – outside of all doctrinal considerations, at all costs. It is furthermore true that, as a consequence, there has been much discussion in Rome, for example at the plenary meeting of the Curia on February 13, and that of the Cardinals on March 23, on the lifting of the ban on the traditional Mass, of lifting the excommunications, and of a canonical structure for the Society.


A view of the wood boiler, newly installed in the boiler room,
with the plumbing and electrical connections visible.


Some have wrongly attacked our Superior General, Bishop Fellay, for his participation in such discussions, given that these same authorities continue to destroy the Church from within by their promotion of the errors of Vatican II and by their new naturalist theology and humanist liturgy. However, Bishop Fellay has had  no meeting with Rome since last November, when he met Cardinal Castrillon, and laid down once more the Society’s two preliminary requirements before any serious discussion, namely the lifting of the ban on the traditional Mass, and a withdrawal of the so-called excommunications. The developments that have taken place since then are entirely unilateral, on the side of Rome.

Some say that even this little contact with Rome is dangerous, since Rome is trying to divide the Society, its priests and its faithful, into those who hold to a more hard-line position and those who are willing to dialogue. This might very well be the intention of some in Rome, in formulating some kind of canonical structure, as they did for the priests of Campos. However, Bishop Fellay has repeatedly stated that our interest is not in a “regularization”, that we do not need, nor in the lifting of “excommunications” that were never incurred. Our interest is in presenting the experience of Tradition, the theological errors of Vatican II, and how they are all at the basis of the present crisis in the Church. Allow me to quote Bishop Fellay himself:

“The two preliminaries – freedom for the use of the Missal of Saint Pius V and the withdrawal of the decree of excommunication – aim beyond our traditional faithful for the good of the Church as a whole. Their purpose is to enable Tradition to discover once more its right of existence in the Church and to prove itself on the ground. It is in this way that we can help Rome to take in hand the crisis in the Church….In this experimental phase, that will have to last as long as it takes for a just appreciation of the results, nothing will be agreed to either by Rome or by the Society. But at the end Rome will be able to judge in practice the work undertaken by traditional priests.” (DICI interview; March 25, 2006)

In affirming this Bishop Fellay in no way denies the theological chasm that separates us from the authorities in Rome. The refusal of the Cardinals to even respond to the study he sent to all of them discrediting Ecumenism is proof enough of this. Allow me to quote him again:

“It is important here to clearly acknowledge that Rome and Ecône – to put it briefly – agree on one point, but differ on another. The Roman authorities are today aware of the dramatic situation in the Church. It was indeed the future Benedict XVI who said that the Church was like ‘a boat taking in water from all sides’. On this point we are in agreement. But we do not agree on what is the cause of the crisis. Rome only sees as the principal reason a secularized, pleasure seeking, consumer society that either ignores or fights against the Gospel message, whereas we affirm that it is the Second Vatican Council that, by opening up to the spirit of the modern world, enabled principles such as religious liberty or ecumenism, that are contrary to the message of the Gospel and responsible for the present situation, to enter into the Church’s bosom. We see something quite different from a super-progressive ‘false interpretation’ of the Council.” (Ib.)  

science room

A view of the science room, showing the new cabinets that Mr. Cadogan has been building,
for experiments and the storage of experimental equipment.


Our Superior General’s discussion with Rome is, consequently, in no way a compromise on principles, but rather an expression of our concern for the Church as a whole. It aims both at removing the stigma attached to Tradition, and at giving greater expression to the doctrinal truths that it is our duty to profess. Allow me to quote him once more:

“I believe that this dialogue ought to be both doctrinal and practical, with facts back up by theological arguments. Starting from the observation that Rome and ourselves both agree upon, namely the across the board evidence of a disastrous crisis – we must strive to overcome the difference of opinion by trying to get Rome to admit the true cause of this crisis. The doctrinal discussion has no other purpose than to obtain Rome’s recognition of this cause. However, given the modern principles with which the Roman authorities have been imbued since Vatican II, this discussion cannot take place without the help of a lesson given by the facts themselves. Still more precisely it cannot take place without the consideration of the concrete work that Tradition can accomplish in the bringing about of a solution to the crisis in vocations, in religious practice…” (Ib.)

“To our way of thinking, it is the effects of the traditional apostolate that will make them see, as from the opposing alternative, the cause of the crisis. This is why the practical preliminaries seems to me indispensable to the good effects of the doctrinal discussions. Freedom of action returned to Tradition will enable it to prove itself, and show by facts which is right of the two parties who cannot agree on he cause of the crisis. This lesson of the facts, that we ask Rome to be willing to accept, is founded above all else on our Faith in the traditional Mass. Of itself this Mass demands integrity of doctrine and the sacraments, and is the assurance of spiritual fruitfulness towards souls.” (Ib.)

Understood in this way, without any false hopes or unrealistic expectations, without showing any concern for canonical status, that could only come last of all, once doctrinal agreement has been reached, this dialogue represents no danger and can only bear positive fruit. This is indeed how Bishop Fellay sees it:

“This regularization of our canonical status will only be able to happen as a final step, as if to seal an agreement already accomplished, at least with respect to the essential, on the level of principles, thanks to the evidence of the facts seen by Rome.” (Ib.)

Of course, there will not be any lack of modernists wanting to jump on the band wagon and turn it to their own advantage. Such is clearly the tactic of the French episcopal conference. Although well informed (by Father De Caqueray, the Society’s District Superior for France) about the Society and our refusal to accept the New Mass and the errors of Vatican II, their declaration that they were not opposed to the regularization of the Society, and that they would accept forthcoming directives of Benedict XVI in virtue of the principle of unity – “that they be one” – was accompanied by the following threat: “Communion may be accompanied by questions, requests for precision or further reflection. It cannot tolerate a systematic rejection of the council, criticism of its teaching, or denigration of the liturgical reform decreed by the council” ( But even this is a perfect illustration of Bishop Fellay’s words. If they were to allow the experience of Tradition, they would little by little withdraw such an impossible condition, so opposed to the Truth.


A view of the chapel at the Epistle of a weekday Low Mass,
Major Seminarians inside the sanctuary, andotherss outside.


Let our support for our Superior General’s initiatives not be limited to words and prayers. The proof that he is seeking is in the pudding, and the pudding is the practice of a regular spiritual life, daily Rosary, meditation, attendance at Mass, doing an annual Ignatian retreat. The pudding is especially vocations, to the religious life, and to the Priesthood. It is those souls who long for the perfection of their Catholic life, who desire to take literally Our Lord’s words: “If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me”. (Mt 19:21).

Vocations are the great proof of Tradition. We are sometimes conceited in the comfort that we have vocations in greater numbers than the Novus Ordo church. After all, in Australia in the mid 50s the recruitment of seminarian vocations had increased 25% from the pre-war level to a peak of 6 per year per 100,000 Catholics, but by the mid 90s it had dropped to less than 10 % of that, a mere 0.45-0.6 per 100,000 Catholics, with priestly ordination rates dropping from 60 – 70 % of seminarians entering in the 1930s to around 25% in the 1990s, which makes from 0.15 to 0.25 ordained priests per year per 100,000 Catholics, depending on the state. According to such figures, taking into account the small number of traditional Catholics in this country we ought only to have one seminarian vocation from Australia once every century, and one ordained to the priesthood once every four centuries!

However, such a comparison is not serious, given the emptiness of the supernatural that characterizes the modern church, and the treasure of grace and supernatural happiness and joy that is the traditional priesthood. We ought to have young men flocking to our seminary doors, and yet we have only five Australians in our Major Seminary, and none at all in either first or second year. This is an indication of a serious spiritual flaw, that is going to greatly inhibit our Superior General’s desire to present Rome with the fruits of Tradition.

This lack of vocations is a serious hindrance to the Society’s work, and a sign of an ease, comfort, worldly spirit, lack of commitment to the interior life, a superficiality and materialism that in recent years has been creeping into our traditional families. Beware! If this phenomenon continues to increase, we will all feel the consequences. The crisis in the Church will continue unabated, for we will not be able to put any pressure on Rome and the bishops; we will not have enough priests to administer the sacraments; many of our youth will abandon the practice of the Faith and lose their souls. It is only the constant prayer and aspiration for the fullness and integrity of the Catholic life, for religious vocations, it is only the love of the Priesthood and the Holy Mass, that will engender vocations. Have mothers not thought of offering their Communion and prayers on the first Sunday of the month for vocations among their children, as did the mothers of Lu with such extraordinary effect? As we just heard so many times during the Holy Triduum: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum. We have received so much, but we give so little.

We appreciate the support given by you, our benefactors, in the little that we can do to promote this work of the Church, and especially the most important work of the formation of vocations. If anybody is interested, we are in need of a full time maintenance man and also of another teacher for our Seminarians. May this Easter season be a blessed time for all of you, may you not lose the newly found fervor of Passiontide, but rather having your hearts set upon “the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth… and your life hid with Christ in God, when Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with Him in glory”. (Col 3:2-4).

Yours faithfully in Christ Our Gloriously Risen Savior,   

            Father Peter R. Scott

Three priests sing the Passion

The singing of the Passion of St. Matthew by three deacons during the Palm Sunday ceremony.


candelbra for 15 candles

A view of the candelbra for 15 candles used for Tenebrae during the Holy Triduum,
with a seminarian extinguishing one candle after each Psalm.     



Men’s 5 day:             Monday July 10 – Saturday July 15
                                Monday January 1 – Saturday January 6, 2007
Women’s 5 day:       
Monday September 18 – Saturday September 23
                                Monday January 8 – Saturday January 13


Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia