No. 48 September 2007

Regnavit a ligno Deus

September 8, 2007

Dear friends & benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,

          Three important events have dotted the Seminary life since the last newsletter. The first was a sad one indeed. It was the passing to eternity of Father Patrick Fox, C.M., who had been a member of our community in 2003 & 2004, and who was called to his reward on July 24, 2007. He received a Solemn High Requiem Mass the following Saturday at Child Jesus and St. Joseph church in Rockdale, and was buried here at Holy Cross Seminary. At the age of 91, after 67½ years of priesthood, he was an exemplary model of simplicity and obedience to the seminarians and priests alike, as well as a great inspiration for traditional Catholics throughout Australia, for he had never celebrated the New Mass, and had always publicly stood firm for Tradition, Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of Saint Pius X.

          The mid-year examinations for the seminarians followed soon thereafter, and were completed on Friday August 10, feast of St. Lawrence. This was followed up by a three day mini-retreat, preached by Father Pfluger, leading up to the ceremony of the taking of the cassock on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our five first year seminarians all received the cassock, two from the Philippines, and one each from New Zealand, Kenya & India.

The first year seminarians
  five first year seminarians singing the Gregorian Chant

The first year seminarians in their new cassocks after the ceremony, together with the sacred ministers and altar servers.

   Our five first year seminarians singing the Gregorian Chant during the Mass of the Assumption on August 15,
after having just received the cassock


          This month, I would like to bring to your attention a recent document from Rome that contains some important statements concerning the very nature of the Church, known as the new Ecclesiology. Ratified by Pope Benedict XVI on June 29, it was published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on July 10. It is entitled "Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine on the Church". The very existence of this document is an admission of the need for a justification of the new teachings on the Church since Vatican II. The document itself poses the problem:“the novelty of many of the themes involved continue(s) to provoke theological reflection” . If it were true that, as the first response states, “the Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change…Catholic doctrine on the Church”  the entire document and its explanations would have been entirely superfluous. To the contrary, as the rest of the document in fact admits, there is something radically new and different about the teaching of the Vatican II document on the Church, Lumen gentium, which has to this very day frustrated every effort to reconciled it with Catholic doctrine.

          Let me quote at some length the relevant passage from L.G. §8:

          "The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic...constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines. Since these are gifts belong to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity."

          The essential part of this passage is the term "subsists in", namely that the Church of Christ is not identical to the Roman Catholic Church, as always taught in the past, but instead subsists in it. The only possible explanation of this is to teach that in some inexplicable way the Church of Christ exists outside the hierarchical Catholic Church, namely that there is no ecclesial emptiness outside the Catholic Church but that the "many elements of sanctification and truth...found outside its visible confines" indicate that there are other churches that are in some way related to the Church of Christ. This is the explanation given by the official document of the French episcopal conference: "In order to understand this text, we must remember that a first version of §8 of the Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council said that the Catholic Church 'is' the Church founded by Jesus Christ, which could have induced people to believe that outside of it there is nothing. Following on the debates, in which it was pointed out that the Catholic Church recognizes the baptism of other christians and that we can see the action of the Spirit in them and in the communities to which they belong, it was decided to replace the verb 'to be' by the verb 'to subsist'".


Replacing rotten windows
  Electricians insert new conduit

Replacing rotten windows
in the bishop’s room.

   Electricians insert new conduit for electrical wiring
to the new sub-boards in the accounting room.


          This leads in turn to the problem of reconciling this with the unicity and necessity of belonging to the visible Catholic Church instituted by Christ, so clearly and repeatedly declared by the Church's Magisterium. This document is an attempt to explain away this contradiction. In its own commentary on this document, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has this to say:

   "At first sight Catholic ecumenism can be seen in a rather paradoxical manner. With the expression 'subsistit in', Vatican II wished to harmonize two doctrinal affirmations: on the one hand that the Church of Christ, despite the divisions amongst Christians, continues to exist in an integral manner in the Catholic Church alone; on the other hand that the existence of numerous elements of sanctification and truth outside of its organization, namely in the Churches and ecclesial communities that are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church". (in DICI No. 159).

          Hence the second of the responses, that attempts a definition of the term "to subsist in" that is sufficiently ambiguous and imprecise as to allow both statements to be true, namely that the Church of Christ exists in other churches and ecclesial communities, but that it is only in the Catholic Church that it can be said to subsist. Here is the text:

"In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium 'subsistence' means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church, in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth. It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them. Nevertheless, the word 'subsists' can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith..."

          This distinction between "subsistence" and "existence" is very cleverly invented, the former being with permanence, the latter without it. The only problem is that it is an invention, and corresponds neither with the real meaning of the words nor with the reality. For ‘to subsist’ means ‘to have existence in’, that is in something else, usually as in an underlying reality that continues. To say, therefore, that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church is nothing other than to say that it exists in it as the underlying reality. But this is precisely what is said of other churches and ecclesial communities. Furthermore, schismatic churches and heretical sects cannot be said to lack historical permanence, having existed for several, if not many centuries. Even if they lack apostolic origin, such sects are a historical fact that has existed for as long as the Church has existed and will continue to exist until the end of time. Consequently, if it is true that they do not contain all the elements instituted by Christ, as soon as it is affirmed that the Church of Christ exists in them as operative within them, it is with equal right that it should be said to subsist within them.

          The contradiction is obvious. Either Church of Christ is operative within the false churches and ecclesial communities, and consequently it exists and subsists within them, just as in the Catholic Church, or it is not at all operative within them. There can be no middle term. If "the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation" (Vat II Decree on Ecumenism, §3), then it is a sheer contradiction to say that the Church of Christ does not exist and subsist within them. Archbishop Lefebvre was very outspoken about this contradiction with the Church‘s constant teaching, and had this to say:

"The Council took pleasure in exalting the salvific values, or the value - period - of the other religions. Speaking of the non-Catholic Christian religions, Vatican II teaches that 'although we believe them to be victims of deficiencies, they are not in any way devoid of meaning and of value in the mystery of salvation' (U.R. 3). This is a heresy! The only means of salvation is the Catholic Church. Insofar as they are separated from the unity of the true faith, the Protestant communions cannot be used by the Holy Ghost. He can only act directly on the souls or make use of the means (for example, baptism) which, in themselves, do not bear any indication of separation. One can be saved IN Protestantism, but not BY Protestantism! In heaven there are no Protestants, there are only Catholics!" (They Have Uncrowned Him, p. 176)


          The final two responses are devoted to explaining why it is that the term "Church" can be applied to the Eastern Orthodox, but not to the Protestants. Given the validity of their sacraments, and especially of the Holy Eucharist, the Eastern Orthodox are considered to "merit the title of 'particular or local Churches'", although separated from the Pope. Protestants do not have this right because they "do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders". What is radically different here is the affirmation that any body separated from the unity of the Roman Catholic Church, the only true Church, could truly be considered to merit the title of "Church" or even of “ecclesial“ community for Protestants. This in turn is governed by the invention of the notion of partial communion with the Catholic Church by the Vatican II decree on Ecumenism (U.R. §3), which is what allows such communities "not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church" to be considered as particular churches or ecclesial communities, rather than the religious sects that they truly are.

          This new ecclesiology, so ambiguous and so contradictory, is essential to the new conception of the Church that governs the modern day preoccupation with ecumenism, engendered necessarily and as an obligation by the feeling that the Church of Christ does in fact exists in these false communities. It really is absolutely fundamental to the present crisis of identity in the Church. This is what the then Cardinal Ratzinger had to say in 2000: "The Council distanced itself from Pius XII (Mystici Corporis), who had said: The Catholic Church 'is' the unique mystical Body of Christ. It is in the difference between the 'subsists' and the 'is' of Pius XII that the whole ecumenical problem lies" (O.R. 4/3/2000). Or again, "Therefore the Fathers of the Council wanted to say that the Church's being, as such, is something greater than the Roman Catholic Church" (O.R. 8/10/2000, in Doc. Révolution No. 7, 2006)

          Let us, then, stand firm in our defense of the traditional doctrine on the Church of Christ, which is nothing if it is not one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic, which is entirely identical to the Roman Catholic Church, as every traaditional Catechism teaches: "The Church IS the congregation of all baptized persons united in the same true faith, the same sacrifice, and the same sacraments, under the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff and the bishops in communion with him". This unchanging truth we will defend, even when betrayed by the Sovereign Pontiff and bishops whose very authority we defend.

          This month we are enclosing the annual cards for the list of your faithful departed friends and relatives. Please return these by the end of October, and we will place them on the Seminary altar for the whole month of November, and likewise, to be included in the intention for the monthly Sung Requiem Mass for the repose of the souls of the Seminary’s deceased friends & benefactors. I would also like to mention that the Seminary is looking for a teacher capable of teaching humanities subjects at the high school level.

          On this feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin and centennial anniversary of the publication of St. Pius X' great encyclical condemning Modernism, let me finish with these encouraging words of our patron saint:

"The persecution of Christ and the most holy religion He founded is raging bitterly and fiercely. At this present time, therefore, there is a serious danger that many will be deceived by the increasing number of errors and ultimately abandon the Faith...Let us all humbly beg God through the intercession of the Mother of God that those who have fallen from the path of truth may repent. Experience has taught us that such prayers, when motivated by charity and supplemented by the intercession of the Holy Virgin, have never been in vain." (Ad diem illum, § 20).

Yours faithfully in Her triumphant and Immaculate Heart,

Father Peter R. Scott


Father Fox lying in his coffin
  Father Fox lying in his coffin during the all night prayer vigil
at Child Jesus and St. Joseph church in Rockdale.

congregation of traditional Catholics
  absolution over the casket

View of the congregation of traditional Catholics present
for Father Fox’s funeral Mass at Child Jesus & St. Joseph.

Father Delsorte, together with Father Scott and Father Ortiz, during the absolution over the casket that followed the Requiem Mass.

Holy Cross Seminary cemetery
  Father Scott gives the final blessing before the deposition of Father Fox’s body
at the Holy Cross Seminary cemetery, in the company of priests, seminarians and brothers.


Men’s 5 day:             Monday December 3, 20071 – Saturday January 5, 2008
                                Monday January 14 - Saturday January 19
Women’s 5 day:        Monday September 17 – Saturday Sept. 22, 2007
                                Monday September 24 – Saturday Sept. 29
                                Monday January 7 – Saturday January 12, 2008
                                Monday January 28 - Saturday February 2

Father Fox wearing his beloved biretta
  Father Fox wearing his beloved biretta during a recent visit to the Seminary.
Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia