No. 53 March 2008

Regnavit a ligno Deus

March 1, 2008

Dear friends & benefactors of Holy Cross Seminary,

It is done. The Seminary chapel has been entirely repainted - and the end result is quite striking. The team of 8, including three seminarians, was able to complete the patching, sanding and painting of the chapel from top to bottom, and from front to back in one hard week of work, so that we were not without it for even one Sunday. In addition, however, it took the seminarians and Brother Joseph another week or so to complete the wooden trim finish for the skirting boards, for the main entrance doors and door frame, for all the paint had to be stripped off to bring back the handsome wood finish, which matches the chapel, augments its beauty and declares the greater glory of Almighty God.

A part of the end result of last month’s painting of the Seminary chapel.
The wall behind the altar is now painted a burgundy color, to highlight the altar, center of the chapel.


Meanwhile, I would like to bring you up to date with some aspects of the crisis in the Church, everchanging in its modalities, but not in its essential reality, a crisis in Faith as to what really is the Church, what is its function for souls, and that there can be no salvation outside this mystical body established by Our Divine Saviour.

          Ecumenism has, alas, not ceased to be the great preoccupation of the Papacy of Benedict XVI, as it was of his predecessor. It was the theme of last November’s Consistory meeting with the Cardinals. It has been presented as an essential part of the Pauline year, due to start on June 29, 2008, to be celebrated especially at the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, at which the Pope has requested be celebrated a series of “ecumenical events”. It was consequently not surprising that on January 21 the Cardinal Archpriest of St. Paul Outside the Walls announced that for the Pauline year a new ecumenical chapel would be opened in the baptistery to offer “the possibility for non-Catholic Christian communities to come and pray at the basilica and to celebrate liturgy”.


The same ecumenism, this time with the Jews, was responsible for the new prayer for the Jews approved by Pope Benedict XVI and published on February 5, supposedly to be incorporated into the traditional Mass. This cleverly devised prayer was put together on account of the objections of various conservative Jewish organizations to last July’s Motu proprio declaring that the traditional Mass had never been abrogated. They took offense at the scriptural terms used in the prayer to refer to the Jews’ refusal to believe in the divinity of Christ, such as the veil over their heart responsible for their darkness and blindness of their unbelief. The new prayer removes, of course, all such expressions, substituting them simply with the prayer that “they may acknowledge Jesus Christ”. This is certainly to ask for much more than the prayer for the Jews in the New Mass ever did.

          However, if the removal of the traditional, precise terms to describe the Jews’ sin of refusing to believe in the divinity of Christ, is not compromise enough, it is the second half of the prayer that confirms its ecumenical intent. Quoting out of context a part of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans that refers to the end of the world, it simply prays for all Israel to be saved at the end of the world, not requiring that Jews now presently enter into the Church, as it does for the “fullness of the Gentiles”. It is clearly not a prayer for the conversion of the Jews, here and now to the Catholic Church, and consequently not a proselytism incompatible with ecumenism. Bishop Fellay has stated that the Society of Saint Pius X will retain the traditional prayer, now used for 1200 years. Nor does it deny the Pope’s authority by so doing, for this prayer is a part of the traditional rite guaranteed by Quo Primum and that the Pope himself stated has never been abrogated. The Society will simply retain the sure and tried, uncompromisingly Catholic, traditional liturgical prayers.

Mr. Rayner paints the chapel ceiling with a roller.


In fact, the Pope considers that Ecumenism and Dialogue are an obligation for Catholics, in order that the believers of other religions come to the same realization that the Catholic Church came to at the end of the Second Vatican Council, namely the assimiliation of the principles of the French Revolution as necessary for the “authenticity of religion. He has not changed his well publicized opinion that the Vatican II document ‘On the Church in the Modern World‘, Gaudium et spes, is an “anti-syllabus in the measure that it represents an attempt at the official reconciliation of the Church with the world such as it has become since 1789“, that is an embracing of the principles of the French Revolution condemned by the Syllabus of Pope Pius IX, as well as in many other Papal documents. Much more, he believes that it is now the mission of the Catholic Church, through Ecumenism and Dialogue, to instill the same principles into the other religions. This is, at any rate for Moslems, what he declared to the Cardinals after visiting the Blue Mosque, on December 22, 2006: “The Moslem world is today faced, with great urgency, with a task very similar to that which has been imposed upon Christians since the century of the Enlightenment, and to which Vatican II brought concrete solutions for the Catholic Church, at the end of a long and difficult search. It concerns the attitude that the community of the faithful must adopt towards the convictions and requirements that are affirmed in the philosophy of the Enlightenment….It is necessary to welcome the true conquests of the philosophy of the Enlightenment, the rights of man, and in particular liberty of  faith and of its exercice, recognizing there elements that are likewise essential for the authenticity of religion”.

          The philosophy of the Enlightenment was rationalist, denying divine revelation, the Trinity and every Catholic mystery of Faith. It was naturalist, denying the need for grace, prayer, the sacraments and the Church. It was Freemasonic, directed opposed to the Church, the Pope and to the clergy. It produced the French revolution, which directly attacked the Church, destroyed the Catholic order and brought about modern day secularism. Yet Pope Benedict XVI dares to affirm that it is the role of the Catholic Church to share the acquisition of these false, anti-God “rights” with other religions, as a pre-condition for them also to be an authentic religion. Islam, like any other religion, then becomes authentic once it acknowledges the rights of man and religious liberty. There is here no question of true or false. This is a confirmation of what Benedict XVI said at the Ecumenical Meeting in Cologne on August 19, 2005, pointing out that Ecumenism does not mean to bring about conversion, but, to the contrary, the acceptation of the rights of man and religious liberty: “this unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism of return, that is to deny and reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely not! It does not mean uniformity in all expression of theology and spirituality, in liturgical forms and indiscipline. Unity in multiplicity and multiplicity in unity…”  It is not just ecumenism, but authentic religion itself, that is founded on the false “unity” of revolutionary principles.

preparing and painting chapel
preparing and painting chapel

Workers prepare the surface of the wall behind the altar
with a special undercoat at the same time as Br. Joseph
works on the confessional doors.

One man paints the lattice work and the columns
in the sanctuary whilst others work on the wall
behind the altar to prepare it for painting.


The depth of the distortion involved in this vision of religion is furthermore apparent in the Pope’s second encyclical, Spe salvi, on Christian Hope, published on November 30, 2007, while not specifically treating of Ecumenism, follows the same way of thinking. This technical encyclical is largely a philosophical response to Marxist and materialist philosophy, and to a purely scientific notion of progress, identifying their illusions that allow for nothing to be hoped for beyond this earthly life. In this all religions agree, as also in such statements that “the true, the great hope of man…can only be God” (§27). All agree, for he remains on the purely natural level, presenting reason and liberty as the means to attain this hope: “Reason and liberty seem to guarantee by themselves, in virtue of their intrinsic goodness, a new perfect, human community“ (§18). Without denying the “enormous explosive force” (Ib.) of the French revolution, he nevertheless considers it as one of the two essential steps, “of great importance on the road to Christian hope”  (§19), for “the French revolution was more than anything else an attempt to bring about the domination of reason and of liberty” (Ib.). How radically false! It was the destruction of the true understanding, that comes from divine Faith, and true liberty, that comes from grace.

          The consequence is the development of a whole new concept of the Redemption, as is pointed out by Father De La Rocque in his commentary: “The Redemption, such as the encyclical presents it, is nothing other than the revelation of the unconditional love of God for man” . There is no question, in this encyclical, of sin, of satisfaction, of payment of the offense made to Almighty God so as to open the gates of heaven. Benedict XVI openly confesses that his inspiration comes from De Lubac (the modernist theologian condemned by the Holy Office in 1950, but made a Cardinal by John Paul II) (§14): “Sin is understood by the Fathers as the destruction of the unity of mankind, as fragmentation and division…Thus the ‘Redemption’ appears truly as the re-establishment of unity, by which we gather together again in a union that can be seen in the worldwide community of believers.”(Ib.) Or as he explains later on in the encyclical: “If this absolute love exists with an absolute certitude, then - and only then - man is ‘redeemed’, whatever happens to him in a particular case. This is what we mean when we say: Jesus Christ has redeemed us” (§26). This is phenomenally explicit, expressly including all believers in the unity of the redeemed, as well as being very similar to the Protestant notion of salvation through Faith alone, by simply believing that one is saved. Such a concept of the Redemption is clearly quite acceptable to other religions, who can accept that Jesus Christ is one of many manifestations of God’s love, provided that it is not necessary to profess Faith in His divinity, in the infinite satisfaction of Christ’s Passion, in the sacraments, and in the Catholic Church.


However, it is in the consideration of the last things that this new ecumenical hope is most clearly revealed. The Last Judgment exists, but the aspect of condemnation of the wicked is pushed away as lugubrious and menacing, for the Last Judgment is “above all and especially hope” (§43), and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus “does not speak of the final destiny after the Last Judgment” (§44). The responsibility for one’s own soul in the Judgment is undermined, for “As Christians, we ought never to ask ourselves only how am I to save myself”(§48). The very existence of the fire in Purgatory is questioned: “At the present time we can finally ask ourselves if ‘purgatory’ consists simply in being purified by fire in the meeting with the Lord, Judge and Savior” (Ib.), for “certain theologians are of the opinion that the fire that burns and at the same time saves is Christ himself” (§47).

          Worst of all, Hell is redefined, and this without any mention of the distinction between venial and mortal sin, nor any reminder that every soul who goes to Judgment with unforgiven mortal sin on his soul necessarily goes to Hell. “Some persons can exist who have totally destroyed in themselves the desire for the truth and disposition to love. These are persons in whom everything has become a lie, persons who lived for hatred and who trod love under foot…In such-like individuals there would be nothing remediable and the destruction of good would be irrevocable: this is what we mean by the word ‘Hell’(§45). Hell is consequently a rare case for somebody who has deliberately made himself evil, and rejected all love.

          This is not the case of mortal sin, in which a person loves, but in a disordered manner, and breaks, deliberately, God’s law, meriting eternal damnation. The Pope is very explicit about the fact that the bulk of mortal sinners do not go to Hell, for without using the term, he describes the reality: “In most men - as we can think - there remains in the deepest part of their being a final interior opening to the truth, to love, to God. Nevertheless, in the concrete choices of life, it is always being covered over by new compromises with evil - much filth covers over the purity, for which thirst remains…What happens to such individuals when they appear before the judge? becomes evident that the saving of men can have different forms…It is the meeting with Him [Christ] Who, burning us, transforms and frees us to become truly ourselves…But it is in the suffering of this meeting, in which the impur and unhealthy aspects of our being become evident to us, that salvation is found….It is at the moment of the Judgment that we feel and welcome that domination of his love over all evil in the world and in us” (§46, 47).

          What a radical re-interpretation of the Last Judgment! Who would need to fear death, Judgment, or even Hell, if all our moral filth were to be purified from us in this way on the day of Judgment? Why worry about the difficult practice of the Catholic religion, about confessing our mortal sins? According to the encyclical’s way of thinking, any religion that gives an opening to goodness and love, and encourages some sincere seeking for it, is sufficient for eternal salvation. Man has simply to be free to follow his conscience in seeking for love. This is the height of the canonization of the naturalist principles of the French revolution, purified of course from all pure materialism. Everybody who exercises his rights as a man and practices his religious liberty by some longing and desire for truth and love will meet up together in heaven!

          If I wanted to present to you the tragically revolutionary nature of this naturalist and ecumenical hope, it is to remind you of the gravity of the crisis in the Church, and that is not about to go away any time soon. The true hope, that gives us absolute certitude, is a supernatural one, that the Blessed Trinity will not abandon His Church, nor will He fail, through the merits of Christ and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to pour innumerable graces into the souls of those who trust in Him, for “hope does not disappoint, because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who has been given to us“ (Rm 5:5). Let us, consequently, maintain our desire to sanctify ourselves, to purify our souls here on this earth, with eternal life as our only goal. This is the grace that I will ask for you over this coming Passion week and Easter period, dear friends and benefactors, through the Blessed Passion and glorious Resurrection of our holy Redeemer.

Yours faithfully in Our Lady of Holy Hope,

Father Peter R. Scott

bricks on the apse of the chapel
bricks on the apse of the chapel

Mr. Tonkin completes the inner layer of bricks
on the apse of the cemetery chapel.

Another view of the same, but taken from the side.


Men’s 5 day: Monday June 16 - Saturday June 21, 2008
Monday December 29 - Saturday January 3, 2009
Monday January 12 - Saturday January 17
Women’s 5 day: Monday September 15 - Saturday September 20, 2008
Monday January 5 - Saturday January 10, 2009
Monday January 26 - Saturday January 31
Holy Cross Seminary, Goulburn, Australia