VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2009 ( VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICES ) – The Holy See Press Office released the following communique late this morning:

“On Monday 26 October in the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio, headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, the study commission made up of experts from “Ecclesia Dei” and from the Society of St. Pius X held its first meeting, with the aim of examining the doctrinal differences still outstanding between the Society and the Apostolic See.

“In a cordial, respectful and constructive climate, the main doctrinal questions were identified. These will be studied in the course of discussions to be held over coming months, probably twice a month. In particular, the questions due to be examined concern the concept of Tradition, the Missal of Paul VI, the interpretation of Vatican Council II in continuity with Catholic doctrinal Tradition, the themes of the unity of the Church and the Catholic principles of ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and religious freedom. The meeting also served to specify the method and organisation of the work”.

OP/SOCIETY ST. PIUS X/…                                                        VIS 091026 (200)

Perfect Storm?

After a quiet summer, clouds gather over Rome…

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from America
A storm is about to be unleashed on the Pope, the Vatican, and, by extension, the Catholic Church.

The first drops of rain have just fallen, with public accusations that the Pope lied this winter in connection with the “Williamson affair.” (see below)


What is it about?

Whether this storm will “blow over,” or intensify into a “perfect storm,” only time will tell.

But whatever happens, there is this to keep in mind: many, inside and outside of the Church, would like the Church’s traditional liturgy, known as the Latin Mass — the old liturgy celebrated up until 1970, and two years ago designated by Pope Benedict XVI as the “extraordinary rite” of the Mass — to disappear.

And they are irritated that Benedict — against many and vociferous objections —  “restored” the old liturgy, which many thought had been buried definitively.
As strange as it may seem, this battle is in part about that — about the survival of the Church’s old liturgy — about her way of worshipping God.
But when I say this, I do not mean to downplay other, quite obvious concerns, for example, the tense situation in the Middle East, or in the world economy.
I mean to say that, on a fundamental level, it is not simply a political or economic battle, as important as political and economic factors are, but a spiritual battle.
Is Rome alone?
And at a time like this, when many forces in the West (the European Union, the new US administration)  seem to be aligning themselves in favor of a thoroughly secularized “new world order,” the ally most helpful to Rome may well be the ally who still celebrates a divine liturgy which has not been modernized: the Orthodox.
And the most numerous and powerful of the Orthodox are the Russians.
In this perspective, these attacks on the Pope and the Vatican may drive Rome to ally herself, after a thousand years of separation, with Contantinople, and with Moscow — reuniting the “three Romes”…

The allegation this morning is that Vatican officials (but not the Pope) lied when they said this winter that no one in the Vatican knew about Bishop Richard Williamson’s views about the Holocaust when the Pope decided to lift his excommication on January 24.

However, this allegation has been exploited by the Church’s current antagonist in Italy, Prime Minsiter Silvio Berlusconi, through his media empire, to suggest that the Pope, too, lied.

Here is the headline being run right now on Google news:

Swedish TV: Vatican knew about Holocaust-denier

Here is a link to the entire story:
Here are the first few few paragraphs to give you the gist of what is being said:

By KARL RITTER (AP) – 4 hours ago

STOCKHOLM — A Swedish TV program to be aired Wednesday (
Note: today) claims that top Vatican officials knew that an ultraconservative British bishop was a Holocaust-denier when his excommunication was lifted in January. The program, which was obtained by The Associated Press prior to broadcast, could add new fuel to the controversy over Bishop Richard Williamson.

Jews and Catholics worldwide were outraged after Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of Williamson, along with three other ultraconservative bishops, in an attempt to bring dissidents back into the mainstream church.

The order, dated Jan. 21, came as Sweden’s SVT aired an interview recorded two months earlier in which Williamson said he didn’t believe any Jews were killed in gas chambers during World War II.
Vatican officials have said they didn’t know about the interview at the time. Benedict later condemned Williamson’s remarks and spoke out against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Yet in a follow-up report, SVT says the Vatican had been informed of Williamson’s Holocaust-denial shortly after the interview was recorded in November. It doesn’t suggest, however, that the pope knew about the remarks.

The program singles out Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who had been leading efforts to heal the schism with the ultraconservative Society of St. Pius X. The Vatican announced in July that Castrillon Hoyos was stepping down after reaching the customary retirement age of 80.

The SVT program says Sweden’s Catholic diocese informed the apostolic nuncio — the Vatican envoy to Sweden — about Williamson’s remarks and that he in turn informed Vatican officials, including Castrillon Hoyos…

The Italian Front: “He Lied”


The second allegation is that the Pope himself knew.
This allegation made headlines today in Italy, where the Catholic Church and the Italian government of Prime Minister Berlusconi have been sparring for months over Berlusconi’s immiration policies and his alleged sexual impropriety. This morning, Berlusconi (or those close to him) took the gloves off.
(Here, in better times, Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi greets Pope Benedict XVI in Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia in this September 7, 2008,  photo — CNS photo/Reuters)
For the first time in the many months of acrimony, Berlusconi (or his associates) directly attacked the Pope. This escalates the battle.
Il Giornale, a newspaper owned by Berlusconi’s family, carried the exaggerated headline “He Lied” (“Ha mentito”), referring to the Pope and his handling of the “Williamson affair.”
(Below is a photo from three weeks ago of women reading Il Giornale. The Sept. 3 newspaper front page has a picture of Dino Boffo, editor of the Catholic newspaper Avvenire. Boffo resigned from Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, in a row that has strained relations between the Vatican and the Italian government — CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)
Here are a few lines from a British newspaper today explaining this story:
Silvio Berlusconi turns his guns on Pope Benedict XVI
The Italian newspaper Il Giornale, owned by the family of Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, carries a headline today dominated by the words “Ha mentito” – “he lied”, referring to Pope Benedict XVI. The paper is busy stirring up trouble over the claims by Swedish TV, due to be aired tonight, that the Vatican knew in advance about the Holocaust-denying background of Bishop Richard Williamson before his excommunication was lifted.That struggle, which is part of a left-right, secular-Catholic battle at the heart of Italian society and government, has already damaged relations between the gruesomely oversexed Berlusconi and the Holy Father…
One consideration is the Italian situation.
There isn’t space or time here to go into the entire sordid affair. Suffice it to say that a rift between the Vatican and the government of Silvio Berlusconi has now become a chasm.
Since the Vatican, humanly speaking, is a tiny state entirely surrounded by Italian territory, it is naturally always a hope of the Vatican to be on close and friendly terms with the Italian government.
Therefore, this deteriorating relationship with the Italian governement led by Berlusconi is a real concern.
Here is a link to an Associated Press article on the background to this story:

And here is a link to a Time magazine story on Berlusconi:,8599,1923076,00.html



The words “he lied” are admittedly taken from the programme. But it’s a malicious allegation: Benedict has told no lies whatsoever regarding this matter, even if Vatican officials working for him have a case to answer.

The background you need to know is that Il Giornale has been engaged in a furious battle with Vatican Radio and the Catholic newspaper Avvenire, whose editor Dino Boffo it forced to resign after claiming he was a homosexual with a police record. Avvenire

, not coincidentally, had consistently opposed Berlusconi, with the backing of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.
A second consideration is the relationship of the Vatican to the world Jewish community.
The re-emergence of the “Williamson affair” under these circumstances, with new allegations, shows that the “affair” was not settled in March, when the Pope on March 12 issued a dramatic letter of apology to the bishops of the Church.
Here are some key lines from that March 12 letter:
“An unforeseen mishap for me was the fact that the Williamson case came on top of the remission of the excommunication,” the Pope wrote.
“I have been told that consulting the information available on the internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on. I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news. I was saddened by the fact that even Catholics who, after all, might have had a better knowledge of the situation, thought they had to attack me with open hostility.
“Precisely for this reason I thank all the more our Jewish friends, who quickly helped to clear up the misunderstanding and to restore the atmosphere of friendship and trust which – as in the days of Pope John Paul II – has also existed throughout my pontificate and, thank God, continues to exist.”
Will the world Jewish community come to the Pope’s defense?
A third consideration is the relationship between traditional Catholics, now un-excommunicated, and those we may call “conciliar” Catholics.
Is this case only about Williamson and his views, or are the “conciliar” Catholics actually unwilling to accept the readmission of “traditionalist” Catholics into communion with Rome, and themselves?
In this regard, a question arrises: who is really behind the re-emergence of attacks on the Pope for his January 24 action in un-excommunicating the four Lefebvrist bishops?
It isn’t fully clear.
But it has been reported in the La Stampa of Milan, Italy, that the Catholic bishop of Stockholm, Anders Arborelius, is in a very cordial relationship with the Swedish TV — and that he is a firm opponent of the Society of St. Pius X (the SSPX).
Arborelius said Wednesday in a statement posted on his diocese’s website that he was aware of negationist remarks Williamson made to an investigative news program filmed by Swedish public television SVT in November 2008 and which aired on January 21, 2009.

Arborelius wrote: “The content of the interview with Richard Williamson … was sent to the Vatican in November 2008, forewarning that the program with the Holocaust denial would be broadcast on January 21, 2009.

“We, at the diocese office in Stockholm, as we always do in matters of the Church, had forwarded the information we had about SSPX and Richard Williamson, including what we knew about the content in the interview Uppdrag Granskning had with him, to the Vatican,” Arborelius said.

“I want to underline that forwarding information to the Vatican is pure routine, and not something exceptional for this case,” he added.

(Of course, it is evident that such information could possibly have been held up on one desk or another, and never reached the Pope or his top advisors.)

A fourth consideration is the relationship of the Roman Catholic Church to the world’s Orthodox Churches.

It became clear last week, during a very cordial visit to Rome by a representative of the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow, that relations between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, especially Russian Orthodoxy, at least on the surface, are much improved over the past few years.
Here are excerpts from an account of that visit I wrote for the Monday, September 21 edition of the Zenit news agency:
Recent Meeting Could Mark Turning Point
On September 18, inside Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer palace about 30 miles outside Rome, a Russian Orthodox Archbishop named Hilarion Alfeyev (photo), 43 (a scholar, theologian, expert on the liturgy, composer and lover of music), met with Benedict XVI, 82 (also a scholar, theologian, expert on the liturgy and lover of music), for almost two hours, according to informed sources.
(There are as yet no “official” sources about this meeting — the Holy See has still not released an official communiqué.)

The silence suggests that what transpired was important — perhaps so important that the Holy See thinks it isn’t yet prudent to reveal publicly what was discussed.

But there are numerous “signs” that the meeting was remarkably harmonious…

In memory of the visit, Archbishop Hilarion gave the Pope a pectoral cross, made in workshops of Russian Orthodox Church…

It is especially significant, in this context, that Hilarion, Patriarch Kirill’s “Foreign Minister,” has some of the same deep interests as Benedict XVI: the liturgy, and music.

“As a 15-year-old boy I first entered the sanctuary of the Lord, the Holy of Holies of the Orthodox Church,” Hilarion once wrote about the Orthodox liturgy. “But it was only after my entrance into the altar that the ‘theourgia,’ the mystery, and ‘feast of faith’ began, which continues to this very day.

“After my ordination, I saw my destiny and main calling in serving the Divine Liturgy. Indeed, everything else, such as sermons, pastoral care and theological scholarship were centered around the main focal point of my life — the liturgy.”

These words seem to echo the feelings and experiences of Benedict XVI, who has written that the liturgies of Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday in Bavaria when he was a child were formative for his entire being, and that his writing on the liturgy (one of his books is entitled “Feast of Faith”) is the most important to him of all his scholarly endeavors.

“Orthodox divine services are a priceless treasure that we must carefully guard,” Hilarion has written. “I have had the opportunity to be present at both Protestant and Catholic services, which were, with rare exceptions, quite disappointing… Since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, services in some Catholic churches have become little different from Protestant ones.”

Again, these words of Hilarion seem to echo Benedict XVI’s own concerns. The Pope has made it clear that he wishes to reform the Catholic Church’s liturgy, and preserve what was contained in the old liturgy and now risks being lost.

Hilarion has cited the Orthodox St. John of Kronstadt approvingly. St. John of Kronstadt wrote: “The Church and its divine services are an embodiment and realization of everything in Christianity… It is the divine wisdom, accessible to simple, loving hearts.”

These words echo words written by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, who often said that the liturgy is a “school” for the simple Christian, imparting the deep truths of the faith even to the unlearned through its prayers, gestures and hymns.

Hilarion in recent years has become known for his musical compositions, especially for Christmas and for Good Friday, celebrating the birth and the Passion of Jesus Christ. These works have been performed in Moscow and in the West, in Rome in March 2007 and in Washington DC in December 2007.

Closer relations between Rome and Moscow, then, could have profound implications also for the cultural and liturgical life of the Church in the West. There could be a renewal of Christian art and culture, as well as of faith…

(Here is a link to the complete article:


As I said at the outset, the “Williamson affair,” and the effort to ascertain what the Vatican knew, and when, about Williamson’s views, may continue to dominate news headlines, or it may pass away into silence. Time will tell.

But the re-emergence of the issue reminds us that there is a larger battle occurring, a battle for the “deposit of the faith,” a battle for our tradition and the beliefs handed down to us from the Apostles, and it is that battle that we should be aware of and concerned about.
Last week, I had a wonderful and productive meeting in New Rochelle, New York, with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, 86, who has given me some documents which may help me to understand better the history of the Church in our time.
I will be returning to Rome soon, God willing, and reporting on these documents, and on other matters which I have left unfinished.
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.”Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, philosopher, physicist and writer, 1623-1662)


VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2009 ( VIS ) – The Holy See Press Office published the following communique at midday today:


  “In response to the frequent questions that have been raised over recent days concerning the priestly ordinations by the Fraternity of St. Pius X, scheduled to take place at the end of June, suffice it to refer to what the Holy Father wrote in his Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on 10 March this year: “As long as the Society (of St. Pius X) does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. … Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers … do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church”.


  In the same Letter, the Pope also announced his intention to change the status of the Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei’, making it part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There is reason to believe that the definition of this new status is imminent. This constitutes a premise for launching dialogue with the leaders of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, with a view to clarifying the doctrinal questions, and consequently the disciplinary questions, which remain unresolved”.




Letter of His Holiness concerning the lifting of the excommunications of the four SSPX Bishops



concerning the remission of the excommunication

of the four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre

Dear Brothers in the Episcopal Ministry!

The remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated in 1988 by Archbishop Lefebvre without a mandate of the Holy See has for many reasons caused, both within and beyond the Catholic Church, a discussion more heated than any we have seen for a long time. Many Bishops felt perplexed by an event which came about unexpectedly and was difficult to view positively in the light of the issues and tasks facing the Church today. Even though many Bishops and members of the faithful were disposed in principle to take a positive view of the Pope’s concern for reconciliation, the question remained whether such a gesture was fitting in view of the genuinely urgent demands of the life of faith in our time. Some groups, on the other hand, openly accused the Pope of wanting to turn back the clock to before the Council: as a result, an avalanche of protests was unleashed, whose bitterness laid bare wounds deeper than those of the present moment. I therefore feel obliged to offer you, dear Brothers, a word of clarification, which ought to help you understand the concerns which led me and the competent offices of the Holy See to take this step. In this way I hope to contribute to peace in the Church.

An unforeseen mishap for me was the fact that the Williamson case came on top of the remission of the excommunication. The discreet gesture of mercy towards four Bishops ordained validly but not legitimately suddenly appeared as something completely different: as the repudiation of reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and thus as the reversal of what the Council had laid down in this regard to guide the Church’s path. A gesture of reconciliation with an ecclesial group engaged in a process of separation thus turned into its very antithesis: an apparent step backwards with regard to all the steps of reconciliation between Christians and Jews taken since the Council – steps which my own work as a theologian had sought from the beginning to take part in and support. That this overlapping of two opposed processes took place and momentarily upset peace between Christians and Jews, as well as peace within the Church, is something which I can only deeply deplore. I have been told that consulting the information available on the internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early on. I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news. I was saddened by the fact that even Catholics who, after all, might have had a better knowledge of the situation, thought they had to attack me with open hostility. Precisely for this reason I thank all the more our Jewish friends, who quickly helped to clear up the misunderstanding and to restore the atmosphere of friendship and trust which – as in the days of Pope John Paul II – has also existed throughout my pontificate and, thank God, continues to exist.

Another mistake, which I deeply regret, is the fact that the extent and limits of the provision of 21 January 2009 were not clearly and adequately explained at the moment of its publication. The excommunication affects individuals, not institutions. An episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical mandate raises the danger of a schism, since it jeopardizes the unity of the College of Bishops with the Pope. Consequently the Church must react by employing her most severe punishment – excommunication – with the aim of calling those thus punished to repent and to return to unity. Twenty years after the ordinations, this goal has sadly not yet been attained. The remission of the excommunication has the same aim as that of the punishment: namely, to invite the four Bishops once more to return. This gesture was possible once the interested parties had expressed their recognition in principle of the Pope and his authority as Pastor, albeit with some reservations in the area of obedience to his doctrinal authority and to the authority of the Council. Here I return to the distinction between individuals and institutions. The remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the field of ecclesiastical discipline: the individuals were freed from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. This disciplinary level needs to be distinguished from the doctrinal level. The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. There needs to be a distinction, then, between the disciplinary level, which deals with individuals as such, and the doctrinal level, at which ministry and institution are involved. In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

In light of this situation, it is my intention henceforth to join the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” – the body which has been competent since 1988 for those communities and persons who, coming from the Society of Saint Pius X or from similar groups, wish to return to full communion with the Pope – to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This will make it clear that the problems now to be addressed are essentially doctrinal in nature and concern primarily the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes. The collegial bodies with which the Congregation studies questions which arise (especially the ordinary Wednesday meeting of Cardinals and the annual or biennial Plenary Session) ensure the involvement of the Prefects of the different Roman Congregations and representatives from the world’s Bishops in the process of decision-making. The Church’s teaching authority cannot be frozen in the year 1962 – this must be quite clear to the Society. But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

I hope, dear Brothers, that this serves to clarify the positive significance and also the limits of the provision of 21 January 2009. But the question still remains: Was this measure needed? Was it really a priority? Aren’t other things perhaps more important? Of course there are more important and urgent matters. I believe that I set forth clearly the priorities of my pontificate in the addresses which I gave at its beginning. Everything that I said then continues unchanged as my plan of action. The first priority for the Successor of Peter was laid down by the Lord in the Upper Room in the clearest of terms: “You… strengthen your brothers” (Lk 22:32). Peter himself formulated this priority anew in his first Letter: “Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15). In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses “to the end” (cf. Jn 13:1) – in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.

Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time. A logical consequence of this is that we must have at heart the unity of all believers. Their disunity, their disagreement among themselves, calls into question the credibility of their talk of God. Hence the effort to promote a common witness by Christians to their faith – ecumenism – is part of the supreme priority. Added to this is the need for all those who believe in God to join in seeking peace, to attempt to draw closer to one another, and to journey together, even with their differing images of God, towards the source of Light – this is interreligious dialogue. Whoever proclaims that God is Love “to the end” has to bear witness to love: in loving devotion to the suffering, in the rejection of hatred and enmity – this is the social dimension of the Christian faith, of which I spoke in the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est.

So if the arduous task of working for faith, hope and love in the world is presently (and, in various ways, always) the Church’s real priority, then part of this is also made up of acts of reconciliation, small and not so small. That the quiet gesture of extending a hand gave rise to a huge uproar, and thus became exactly the opposite of a gesture of reconciliation, is a fact which we must accept. But I ask now: Was it, and is it, truly wrong in this case to meet half-way the brother who “has something against you” (cf. Mt 5:23ff.) and to seek reconciliation? Should not civil society also try to forestall forms of extremism and to incorporate their eventual adherents – to the extent possible – in the great currents shaping social life, and thus avoid their being segregated, with all its consequences? Can it be completely mistaken to work to break down obstinacy and narrowness, and to make space for what is positive and retrievable for the whole? I myself saw, in the years after 1988, how the return of communities which had been separated from Rome changed their interior attitudes; I saw how returning to the bigger and broader Church enabled them to move beyond one-sided positions and broke down rigidity so that positive energies could emerge for the whole. Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church? I think for example of the 491 priests. We cannot know how mixed their motives may be. All the same, I do not think that they would have chosen the priesthood if, alongside various distorted and unhealthy elements, they did not have a love for Christ and a desire to proclaim him and, with him, the living God. Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them?

Certainly, for some time now, and once again on this specific occasion, we have heard from some representatives of that community many unpleasant things – arrogance and presumptuousness, an obsession with one-sided positions, etc. Yet to tell the truth, I must add that I have also received a number of touching testimonials of gratitude which clearly showed an openness of heart. But should not the great Church also allow herself to be generous in the knowledge of her great breadth, in the knowledge of the promise made to her? Should not we, as good educators, also be capable of overlooking various faults and making every effort to open up broader vistas? And should we not admit that some unpleasant things have also emerged in Church circles? At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.

Dear Brothers, during the days when I first had the idea of writing this letter, by chance, during a visit to the Roman Seminary, I had to interpret and comment on Galatians 5:13-15. I was surprised at the directness with which that passage speaks to us about the present moment: “Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another.” I am always tempted to see these words as another of the rhetorical excesses which we occasionally find in Saint Paul. To some extent that may also be the case. But sad to say, this “biting and devouring” also exists in the Church today, as expression of a poorly understood freedom. Should we be surprised that we too are no better than the Galatians? That at the very least we are threatened by the same temptations? That we must always learn anew the proper use of freedom? And that we must always learn anew the supreme priority, which is love? The day I spoke about this at the Major Seminary, the feast of Our Lady of Trust was being celebrated in Rome. And so it is: Mary teaches us trust. She leads us to her Son, in whom all of us can put our trust. He will be our guide – even in turbulent times. And so I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all the many Bishops who have lately offered me touching tokens of trust and affection, and above all assured me of their prayers. My thanks also go to all the faithful who in these days have given me testimony of their constant fidelity to the Successor of Saint Peter. May the Lord protect all of us and guide our steps along the way of peace. This is the prayer that rises up instinctively from my heart at the beginning of this Lent, a liturgical season particularly suited to interior purification, one which invites all of us to look with renewed hope to the light which awaits us at Easter.

With a special Apostolic Blessing, I remain

Yours in the Lord,


Interview with Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, SSPX

H.E. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais

The following interview was conducted by Catholic Family News Editor, John Vennari on February 11, 2009. It took place in Syracuse, New York at the time when Bishop Tissier de Mallerais visited Society of St. Pius X’s Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God Church to administer the sacrament of Confirmation and to give a Sunday evening speech. In this interview the Bishop speaks of Archbishop Lefebvre and the Social Kingship of Christ; the upcoming doctrinal discussions with Rome; the possible framework for “regularization”; and the SSPX’s position regarding the Second Vatican Council.

JV: Your speech in Syracuse on February 8 was entitled “Archbishop Lefebvre, the Priesthood and the Social Kingship of Christ”. What is the significance of this title?

BTM: I wanted to show that according to Father LeFloch, who was the teacher of Marcel Lefebvre in the French seminary in Rome, and according to Archbishop Lefebvre, the priesthood contains not only the sanctification of souls, but also the baptism of the nations. The integrity of the priesthood leads to the conversion of the nations so that civil society submits itself to Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the full aim of the priesthood.

JV: In this speech, you had mentioned that the seminarians trained in the French Seminary under Father Le Floch constructed a three-point outline of how a revolution proceeds. Could you enumerate them?

BTM: I followed what Father Fahey explained from the teachers of the French seminary. They describe the three progressive points of the revolution.

First step of the Revolution: The elimination in government of Christ the King through the laicization or secularization of the State. Through this laicization, the civil law will no longer be submitted to the Gospel; and the Catholic religion will no longer be acknowledged publicly by the State. According to this revolutionary principle, the State is unable to give a judgment of truth about religion.

Second step of the Revolution: the suppression of the Holy Mass. Freemasonry wanted to do this at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th Century with the separation of the Church and State. They hoped the Christian would lose the Faith and abandon the Church and the Holy Mass be no longer celebrated.

Third step of the Revolution: to make souls lose the Divine Life of Christ, so that souls do not live any more in the state of grace. To make pagan souls, to make laicized souls.

JV: How do you see the Second Vatican Council and its reforms in the light of this three-point outline?

BTM: With the Second Vatican Council, these three points were effectively accepted by the Church.

First, the destruction of the Catholic State by the Declaration on Religious Liberty; the separation of the Church from the State; the State is unable to give judgmentƒ of truth in matters of religion. That is what Cardinal Ratzinger explained to Archbishop Lefebvre in his interview of July 14, 1987; that the State is unable to know what the true religion is.

Second, the suppression of the Holy Mass. This happened after the Second Vatican Council with the New Mass. This New Mass does not express the sacrifice of propitiation. Rather, it expresses more an offering of the People of God, but not a sacrifice celebrated by the priest in order to atone for our sins. This second point was realized by the liturgical reform.

Third, the laicization of souls. This is practically the situation today because hardly anyone goes to confession. Most Catholics no longer go to confession. The sacrament of Penance has been practically suppressed with so-called general absolution. Now Rome wants a turning back to individual confessions, but I am sure that many bishops will not accept because many priests do not want to hear confessions.

JV: Yet there are a good number of priests out there who do want to hear confessions.

BTM: Yes, but in general, modern priests do not like hearing confessions, and do not encourage confession. Sin, Original Sin, the need for confession, and satisfaction for sin are no longer talked about. Statistically, there are few confessions in parishes. The result is the majority of Catholics who still may have the Faith cannot live in the state of grace. Let us be realistic, it is such a corrupt world, it is impossible to live in the state of grace without the Sacrament of Penance.

JV: You noted that Archbishop Lefebvre saw the answer to today’s crisis of Faith as consisting in a reversal of those three points. Can you elaborate?

BTM: Yes, take the revolution program but reversed.

First, to give the Holy Mass back to the faithful, so that they receive the graces coming from the Sacrifice of the Cross – through the true Mass. That is what we are doing with our faithful. We see the fruits of sanctification. We see many families with many children, and many vocations.

Second, through the traditional Mass and sacraments, to have souls living in the state of grace. That is the situation of our faithful. I think that most of them are living in the state of grace. They come regularly to confession in order to increase sanctifying grace or to recover it if they have the unhappiness to lose it. They are living in the state of grace. Children are living in the state of grace. Children are taught to fight against the occasions of sin.

Third, with this group of Catholics living in the state of grace, to make actions in order to “recrown” Our Lord Jesus Christ in society, to give Him back His crown. They do this in their homes, in our Catholic institutions, little-by-little in their jobs, in their professions, to make their professions run according to the law of Jesus Christ; to be a good example at work among fellow workers; all this ultimately for the re-Christianization of civil society.

JV: In your talk, you spoke of the modern notion of “personalism” as the philosophical error of the Second Vatican Council that has corrupted the doctrine of the Church.

BTM: This error corrupted the so-called Declaration on Religious Liberty, saying that everyone has the right not to be prevented from worshipping the Divinity according to his own mind. This comes directly from personalism.

The true definition of the human person was given by Boethius: an individual substance of a rational nature. The Thomist insists on “the rational nature”, because man has an intellect that is made to discover, to grasp, the truth; and to hold the truth. Thus the perfection of the intellect is to know the truth, because the truth is the object of the intellect. Thus the perfection of the human person consists in possessing the truth.

But now, the new “personalists” take the same definition of the human person, but stress rather the “individual substance”. The person consists of being an “individual”, so they must have rights according to their individuality. That is to say, to have liberty without consideration of the truth. By stressing the “individual substance”, the human person has the right of an “individual”, his own principles, his own choices, without consideration of the truth. The possession of the truth is not essential in the new definition.

This was the teaching of Jacques Maritain in France, who was a Thomistic philosopher, but converted to “personalism”. He had great influence on Pope Paul VI and on the Second Vatican Council.

Personalism insists that the individual must be free, must be independent, must choose by himself. In this consists “human dignity”. And this was condemned by Pope St. Pius X Letter to the French Bishops against Sillonism.

JV: Can you comment on what you said in your talk: the Church cannot keep the truth without fighting error?

BTM: The whole history of the Church demonstrates this principle. From the first centuries, the Church Fathers spent their time fighting heresies and condemning heretics. The Council of Nicea, the Council of Ephesus, are demonstrations of this truth. The Council of Trent was a splendid Council because it condemned Protestantism. Never does the Church put in clearer light her own principles than when fighting against heresies. Thus today the Church ought to condemn false principles in order to put into light her own principles, revealed principles. It is a necessity. The Church cannot teach the truth without fighting errors. It is the providential way that the good Lord established for the magisterium of the Church.

JV: Would you say that the new orientation of “dialogue” is a false substitute for condemning error?

BTM: Yes, under the pretext of “charity”. Saint Augustine says let us love the errants but fight the errors. But now it is also, let us love the errors, let us respect all these errors. Because error is always professed by persons, so if we respect the persons, we ought to respect their errors. It is subjectivism.

JV: In light of teaching the truth and resisting errors, what can you tell us about the upcoming doctrinal discussions between the SSPX and Rome ?

BTM: According to the January 21 decree of Pope Benedict XVI, he declared he is open to these discussions, and I think they will be set up quickly.

JV: The SSPX, are formed in perennial Catholic magisterium of the centuries; formed according to the Syllabus of Blessed Pope Pius IX and the Syllabus against Modernism of Pope St. Pius X. The modern churchmen with whom you will have these doctrinal discussion are men who for the most part have been formed in the counter-syllabus of Vatican II; and in the new anti-anti-Modernism of the Council. Can we speculate how there will be a meeting of minds in the upcoming discussions?

BTM: Our intention is to put them in front of the contradiction between their doctrines and the traditional doctrines. We want to show them there is a real contradiction.

JV: How will these discussions proceed?

BTM: We intend to engage in a written discussion. We will put in writing our objections and they will respond. Perhaps toward the end there could also be face-to-face discussions.

JV: In these discussions, do you see language as a potential problem? For example, words such as “continuity” and “Tradition” are defined differently by the traditional Catholic and by present-day leaders in the Vatican.

BTM: It is difficult to discuss with people who have the same language but not the same meaning of the same words. So we will try to understand their philosophy and speak to them in terms of their own false philosophy. When we speak of “Tradition” we speak with them with an understanding of how they understand it; not to accept their new definition of it, but in order to understand their understanding of it.

JV: In 1988, the following was supposed to be on the original protocol between Rome and the SSPX: 1) that the SSPX get its own bishop; 2) that it has a majority in the Vatican ‘s Ecclesia Dei commission; 3) that the SSPX has autonomy from diocesan bishops. Will the SSPX still insist upon these when the time comes to talk about a juridical structure for the SSPX?

BTM: Yes, and it is what Rome is disposed to give. Cardinal Castrillon has already made some such plan, though the SSPX having a majority in Ecclesia Dei is not likely. As far as independence from the diocesan bishops, it appears Rome is ready to give us a structure that gives us a certain independence from the bishops, which is possible under Canon Law. I should note that we cannot rapidly seek out regularization. The doctrinal discussions will last a long time.

JV: One of the reasons I ask about autonomy from diocesan bishops is due to a recent statement from the Bishop Müller of Regensberg, Germany. Bishop Müller said that if the SSPX is regularized, they must also “accept that the seminary of Zaitzkofen falls under the supervision of the Diocese of Regensburg . The seminary should be closed and the students should go to seminaries in their home countries – if they are suitable for this purpose.”

BTM: We must have a juridical structure that protects us against such an enterprise of destruction from the bishops.

JV: If the SSPX is regularized, who would perform the ordinations and the confirmations?

BTM: Our own bishops. It would be contained in the final documents. But I must stress that this final juridical solution will not occur if Rome does not make a real conversion, because it would be impossible to obtain such a thing if Rome does not convert. It would not be possible to live such regularization without the conversion of Rome . I said this in an interview in La Stampa in Rome , and it was considered a scandal. Some said, “This bishop is ridiculous! What pretension! To convert Rome!” But that is our intention. It is clear. When we discuss with these people, it is to convert them.

JV: Since you’ve opened that topic, I’ll ask: Do you think the representatives in Rome also approach these discussions with the same intention: to convert the SSPX to a more councilor position? To make you “see the light”, or at least “feel the heat”?

BTM: Yes, that’s true.

JV: What about the fact that Archbishop Lefebvre signed all the documents of Vatican II, which means, some believe, that he saw no problems with the entire Council?

BTM: I have demonstrated in my biography of Archbishop Lefebvre – in the chapters on the Council – that the Archbishop felt at the time he could not refuse a decision of a general Council without separating himself from the Church. The great majority of the bishops signed the documents of Vatican II. Bishop de Castro Meyer signed all the documents of the Council. It was a collegial decision, and in a collegial decision, even if you do not agree with the decision, you have to sign it. For example, in the decree of nullity of marriage, there may be three or five judges deciding. If one judge does not agree, he will sign the decree anyway because the decision is taken as from the majority. Same thing with a general Council. It does not mean that Archbishop Lefebvre accepted all the decisions of the Council. For example, he voted to the very end against the document on Religious Liberty, and continued to publicly oppose Religious Liberty until his death in 1991.

Rather than read Vatican II in light of Tradition, we really should read and interpret Vatican II in light of the new philosophy. We must read and understand the Council in its real meaning, that is to say, according to the new philosophy. Because all these theologians who produced the texts of Vatican II were imbued with the new philosophy. We must read it this way, not to accept it, but to understand it as the modern theologians who drafted the documents understand it. To read Vatican II in light of Tradition is not to read it correctly. It means to bend, to twist the texts. I do not want to twist the texts.

JV: You had been with Archbishop Lefebvre from the beginning in 1969. You were with Archbishop Lefebvre in the three great landmarks of the SSPX in its dealing with Rome: the withdrawal of the permission for the seminary in Econe in 1975; the suspension in 1976; and the impasse with the Vatican that led to the Episcopal consecration in 1988. How does the present situation in 2009 compare/contrast with these earlier landmarks?

BTM: I think that from them nothing is changed. Ultimately, they want to take us back to the Second Vatican Council. To make us accept the decisions of the Second Vatican Council. The lifting of the excommunications did not affect this deep problem of the Faith. It did change something for those Catholics who do not understand our fight, who now see that we are not excommunicated, so this is a certain amount of good for the Church.

Appeal for Novena for the Pope Feb. 14 – 22


papa-roman-chasuble2Many of the faithful are aware of the opposition which the Holy Father has faced in his efforts to reconcile the Society of Pius X. The current pressure from the media and others seems to not only threaten Pope Benedict’s work with SSPX. It also seems as though some would like to see it work as a means to undermine his very teaching and governing authority for his pontificate.

Given these oppositions which the Holy Father faces; given the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter’s particular role in working as a bridge for those who have grown apart from the Church in the last forty years; finally, given that we hold St. Peter as our patron and have a particular attachment to his successor, the Fraterniy of St. Peter has asked all of its the members to offer increased prayers at this time for strength for Pope Benedict XVI.

A good number of priests and seminarians have contacted the General House to ask if the Fraternity could have particular prayers offered for this intention. All the members of the Fraternity are being asked to offer the following novena beginning on February 14 and concluding on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter. All the faithful in the Apostolates are encouraged to join in these prayers and that the Masses on that Sunday (Quinquagesima) would be offered for this intention as well.


Pater Noster, 3 Ave Maria, Gloria Patri


Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory be.

V. Orémus pro Pontífice nostro Benedícto.R. Dóminus consérvet eum, et vivíficet eum, et beátum fáciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in ánimam inimicórum eius..V. Tu es Petrus.R. Et super hanc petram ædificábo Ecclésiam meam.


V: Let us pray for our Pope Benedict.R: May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.V. Thou art Peter,R. And upon this Rock, I will build My Church.



Orémus.Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, miserére fámulo tuo Pontífici nostro Benedícto : et dírige eum secúndum tuam cleméntiam in viam salútis ætérnæ : ut, te donánte, tibi plácita cúpiat, et tota virtúte perfíciat. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. R. Amen. 

Mater Ecclésiæ, ora pro nobis.

Sancte Petre, ora pro nobis.


Let us Pray,Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon your servant, Benedict, our Sovereign Pontiff, and guide him in your goodness on the way of eternal salvation; so that, with the prompting of your grace,  he may desire what pleases you and accomplish it with all his strength. Through
Christ Our Lord.

V. Mother of the Church. R. Pray for us

V. St. Peter. R. Pray for us  





Petition for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

Click on the Holy Father's image for the on-line petition

Click on the Holy Father's image for the on-line petition

Things have heated up in countries throughout the world.  The media, our congress and even some so called catholic media, have been very hostile to His Holiness’ decision concerning the excommunication of four bishops of the SSPX.  A petition against the decree is even circulating.

Please take the time to show support and say thank you to the Holy Father.  Simply click on the photo of the Holy Father above and you’ll be taken to the on-line petition.  Thanks for supporting His Holiness!

Matt Abbott’s Column on Women Priests and the Excommunication Controversy

Matt C. Abbott column
The excommunication controversy

Matt C. Abbott
by  Matt C. Abbott
February 2, 2009
Some “WomenPriests” aren’t too happy that Pope Benedict XVI hasn’t lifted their excommunications like he has for the four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X.

The Boston Globe’s Michael Paulson reports that a group known as “Roman Catholic WomenPriests” has released a statement asserting (in part):

    ‘No priest pedophiles have been excommunicated. No bishops who were responsible for their continued placement in parishes after their pedophile history was known have been excommunicated. Theologians who teach and support Vatican II teachings and who support women’s ordination are silenced and/or excommunicated. Women ordained as priests are excommunicated. Priests and laity who support women priests are excommunicated. But, priests who reject Vatican II and who deny the holocaust and who openly deny the full equality of women are ‘rehabilitated’ after earlier excommunication?’

Not only are these women theologically-challenged — click on this link for an essay on why women cannot, theologically speaking, be ordained as priests — they are canonically-challenged as well.

Pete Vere, a canon lawyer and co-author of Surprised by Canon Law: 150 Questions Laypeople Ask About Canon Law and Surprised by Canon Law, Volume 2: More Questions Catholics Ask About Canon Law, had the following response to the above portion of the “WomenPriests” statement:

    ‘The priest-pedophile argument is a red herring, at the very least a misunderstanding of the purpose of excommunication. As a censure, excommunication is considered a medicinal penalty. That is, it’s not designed to be permanent, but to bring about repentance so that another penalty can be substituted. Most of the priests guilty of pedophilia were sorry for their actions, so the proper response is to strip them of their priesthood. Of course, if they refused this punishment and continued to act as priests, the Church could excommunicate them. However, the vast majority of these priests have accepted the consequences of their actions.’The reason the excommunications cannot be lifted against these so-called WomenPriests is that they are still misrepresenting themselves publicly as Catholic priests. They haven’t accepted that they have done something wrong and that their attempt at ordination was invalid. So long as this is the case and they refuse to repent of their actions which brought about the excommunications, the excommunications must stand. Should they repent of their actions and stop presenting themselves as priests, they too would have the right to have the excommunications against them lifted.’

Mr. Vere had a featured article published in This Rock magazine on the subject of excommunication and canon law; read it by clicking on this link.

On a related note, Catholic attorney Christopher A. Ferrara, a strong supporter of the SSPX, repudiates the opinions of Bishop Richard Williamson in regard to the Holocaust. See Mr. Ferrara’s column by clicking on this link.

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He has worked in the right-to-life movement and is a published writer focused on Catholic and social issues. He can be reached at

© Copyright 2009 by Matt C. Abbott

Benedict XVI: Remission of excommunication an act of mercy

Translated Version:

Decree Lifting Traditionalist Bishops’ Excommunication

Decree Lifting Traditionalist Bishops’ Excommunication

“A Sign for the Promotion of Unity in Charity”


VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2009 ( Here is a translation of the decree released Saturday by the Congregation for Bishops, advising of the lifting of excommunication of the four bishops ordained without papal permission by Marcel Lefebvre in 1988.

* * *

With a letter of Dec. 15, 2008, sent to His Eminence Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Monsignor Bernard Fellay, in his name and in that of the other bishops consecrated June 30, 1988, again requested the lifting of the excommunication latae sententiae formally declared by decree of the prefect of this Congregation for Bishops on July 1, 1988.

In the mentioned letter, Monsignor Fellay affirms, among other things:

“We are always fervently determined in the will to be and to remain Catholics and to place all of our strength at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept all of her teachings with a filial spirit. We firmly believe in the primacy of Peter and in his prerogatives and because of this, the present situation makes us suffer so much.”

His Holiness Benedict XVI, paternally sensitive to the spiritual unrest manifested by the interested parties because of the sanction of excommunication, and trusting in the commitment expressed by them in the cited letter to spare no effort in going deeper in the necessary conversations with the authorities of the Holy See in matters still unresolved, and to be able to thus arrive quickly to a full and satisfactory solution of the problem existing from the beginning, has decided to reconsider the canonical situation of the bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, which arose with their episcopal consecration.

With this act it is desired to consolidate the mutual relations of trust, [and] to intensify and make more stable the relationship of the Fraternity of St. Pius X with the Apostolic See. This gift of peace, at the end of the celebrations of Christmas, also aims to be a sign for the promotion of unity in charity of the universal Church, and with this means, come to remove the scandal of division.

It is desired that this step be followed by the solicitous fulfillment of full communion with the Church of the Society of St. Pius X, thereby witnessing to authentic fidelity and a true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the Pope, with the proof of visible unity.

In virtue of the faculties that have been expressly conceded to me by the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present decree, I lift from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of excommunication latae sententiae declared by this congregation on July 1, 1988, and declare void of juridical effects beginning today the decree published then.

Rome, Congregation for the Bishops,

Jan. 21, 2009
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishop