Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham, in his “Retrospect” writes of the 1930 Lambeth Conference: “The truth is that, under the description of the “Anglican Communion” there are gathered two mutually contradictory conceptions of Christianity. How long the divergence of first principles can be concealed remains to be seen.”
Sadly, it must be admitted that the same has for some time been true of the Roman Communion. In fact within her, the overwhelmingly dominant conception, triumphally instituted and blithely overseen by the post-Conciliar pontiffs (saints to a man, but for Benedict XVI, we are told!), represents a virtually absolute rupture with the Catholic past. Its doctrine and praxis is profoundly un-Catholic (not merely indifferent towards the True Faith, but often overtly hostile) and, in many ways, hardly recognisable as Christian at all.
The New Order is nothing less than a new religion.
This novel Man-centred cult represents, by orders of magnitude, a more profound theological and ecclesiological break with Catholic continuity than the comparatively mild disruption of the English Reformation. For the Conciliar Church, there is no honest, no tenable hermeneutic of continuity possible. All efforts to devise one have been in vain. There is only rupture, and only now are men of goodwill beginning to recognise the disaster.
The worst excesses of the English deviation were attenuated in time, and while Catholic truth was certainly long obscured, it was never totally extinguished. Moreover, the perversions were imposed from without, by the ungodly intrusion of an avaricious and overreaching State, in a time of profound political transformation and turmoil. In stark contrast, the suicide of the Catholic Church has arisen from within, from the obstinate “Non serviam” of the Bishops of Rome themselves, in a time of unprecedented peace and security, at the onset of what ought to have been a new golden age.
Roman controversialists have told us for centuries, culminating in a.D. 1896, that the English church was irretrievably damaged by the events of the Reformation, their highly-technical arguments being wholly dismissive of the (admittedly impaired) Catholic reality of the Church of England. “Anglican orders” were declared to be utterly null and void, the sacramental life of the church determined essentially dead. To Rome alone could we turn for that Life which had long since become extinct.
What is good for the goose, must now certainly be so for the gander, if intellectual honesty is to be maintained.
Either the churlish arguments of Apostolicæ curæ (which in view of the present crisis now seem as precious hair-splitting) should be re-evaluated and repudiated, or they and their consequences should be brought to bear — in all of their certainty and violence — against this New Church, gravely and thoroughly defective in both form and intent.
Either way, the realities of the disaster which has befallen the Holy Roman Church, Mother and Mistress, require us to find new paradigms and methodologies to understand the the nature of Christ’s Church Militant here in earth.
[T]he public washing and usually also kissing of the feet of women on the part of a man, in our case, of a priest or a bishop, is considered by every person of common sense in all cultures as being improper and even indecent. Thanks be to God no priest or bishop is obliged to wash publicly the feet of women on Holy Thursday, for there is no binding norm for it, and the foot washing itself is only facultative.
Furthermore it can be said without any exaggeration whatsoever, that the majority of Masses celebrated without altar stones, with common vessels, leavened bread, with the introduction of profane words into the very body of the Canon, etc., are sacrilegious, and they prevent faith by diminishing it. The desacralization is such that these Masses can come to lose their supernatural character, “the mystery of faith,” and become no more than acts of natural religion.
Your perplexity takes perhaps the following form: may I assist at a sacrilegious Mass which is nevertheless valid, in the absence of any other, in order to satisfy my Sunday obligation? The answer is simple: these Masses cannot be the object of an obligation; we must moreover apply to them the rules of moral theology and canon law as regards the participation or the attendance at an action which endangers the faith or may be sacrilegious.
The New Mass, even when said with piety and respect for the liturgical rules, is subject to the same reservations since it is impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism. It bears within it a poison harmful to the faith.
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, An Open Letter to Confused Catholics.
Today, division and schism are officially acknowledged to exist not only outside of but within the Church. Her unity is not only threatened but already tragically compromised. Errors against the Faith are not so much insinuated but rather an inevitable consequence of liturgical abuses and aberrations which have been given equal recognition.
To abandon a liturgical tradition which for four centuries was both the sign and the pledge of unity of worship (and to replace it with another which cannot but be a sign of division by virtue of the countless liberties implicitly authorized, and which teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the integrity of the Catholic religion) is, we feel in conscience bound to proclaim, an incalculable error. Short Critical Study on the New Order of Mass.
Sed licet nos aut angelus de cælo evangelizet vobis præterquam quod evangelizavimus vobis, anathema sit. Gal. i. 8.
Two religions confront each other; we are in a dramatic situation and it is impossible to avoid a choice, but the choice is not between obedience and disobedience. What is suggested to us, what we are expressly invited to do, what we are persecuted for not doing, is to choose an appearance of obedience. But even the Holy Father cannot ask us to abandon our faith.
We therefore choose to keep it and we cannot be mistaken in clinging to what the Church has taught for two thousand years. The crisis is profound, cleverly organized and directed, and by this token one can truly believe that the mastermind is not a man but Satan himself. For it is a master-stroke of Satan to get Catholics to disobey the whole of Tradition in the name of obedience. A typical example is furnished by the “aggiornamento” of the religious societies. By obedience, monks and nuns are made to disobey the laws and constitutions of their founders, which they swore to observe when they made their profession. Obedience in this case should have been a categorical refusal. Even legitimate authority cannot command a reprehensible and evil act. Nobody can oblige anyone to change his monastic vows into simple promises, just as nobody can make us become Protestants or modernists. St. Thomas Aquinas, to whom we must always refer, goes so far in the Summa Theologica as to ask whether the “fraternal correction” prescribed by Our Lord can be exercised towards our superiors. After having made all the appropriate distinctions he replies: “One can exercise fraternal correction towards superiors when it is a matter of faith.”
If we were more resolute on this subject, we would avoid coming to the point of gradually absorbing heresies. At the beginning of the sixteenth century the English underwent an experience of the kind we are living through, but with the difference that it began with a schism. In all other respects the similarities are astonishing and should give us cause to ponder. The new religion which was to take the name “Anglicanism” started with an attack on the Mass, personal confession and priestly celibacy. Henry VIII, although he had taken the enormous responsibility of separating his people from Rome, rejected the suggestions that were put to him, but a year after his death a statute authorized the use of English for the celebration of the Mass. Processions were forbidden and a new order of service was imposed, the “Communion Service” in which there was no longer an Offertory. To reassure Christians another statute forbade all sorts of changes, whereas a third allowed priests to get rid of the statues of the saints and of the Blessed Virgin in the churches. Venerable works of art were sold to traders, just as today they go to antique dealers and flea markets.
Only a few bishops pointed out that the Communion Service infringed the dogma of the Real Presence by saying that Our Lord gives us His Body and Blood spiritually. The Confiteor, translated into the vernacular, was recited at the same time by the celebrant and the faithful and served as an absolution. The Mass was transformed into a meal or Communion. But even clear-headed bishops eventually accepted the new Prayer Book in order to maintain peace and unity. It is for exactly the same reasons that the post-Conciliar Church wants to impose on us the Novus Ordo. The English bishops in the Sixteenth Century affirmed that the Mass was a “memorial!” A sustained propaganda introduced Lutheran views into the minds of the faithful. Preachers had to be approved by the Government.
During the same period the Pope was only referred to as the “Bishop of Rome.” He was no longer the father but the brother of the other bishops and in this instance, the brother of the King of England who had made himself head of the national church. Cranmer’s Prayer Book was composed by mixing parts of the Greek liturgy with parts of Luther’s liturgy. How can we not be reminded of Mgr. Bugnini drawing up the so-called Mass of Paul VI, with the collaboration of six Protestant “observers” attached as experts to the Consilium for the reform of the liturgy? The Prayer Book begins with these words, “The Supper and Holy Communion, commonly called Mass…,” which foreshadows the notorious Article 7 of the Institutio Generalis of the New Missal, revived by the Lourdes Eucharistic Congress in 1981: “The Supper of the Lord, otherwise called the Mass.” The destruction of the sacred, to which I have already referred, also formed part of the Anglican reform. The words of the Canon were required to be spoken in a loud voice, as happens in the “Eucharists” of the present day.
The Prayer Book was also approved by the bishops “to preserve the internal unity of the Kingdom.” Priests who continued to say the “Old Mass” incurred penalties ranging from loss of income to removal pure and simple, with life imprisonment for further offences. We have to be grateful that these days they do not put traditionalist priests in prison.
Tudor England, led by its pastors, slid into heresy without realizing it, by accepting change under the pretext of adapting to the historical circumstances of the time. Today the whole of Christendom is in danger of taking the same road. Have you thought that even if we who are of a certain age run a smaller risk, children and younger seminarians brought up in new catechisms, experimental psychology and sociology, without a trace of dogmatic or moral theology, canon law or Church history, are educated in a faith which is not the true one and take for granted the new Protestant notions with which they are indoctrinated? What will tomorrow’s religion be if we do not resist?
You will be tempted to say: “But what can we do about it? It is a bishop who says this or that. Look, this document comes from the Catechetical Commission or some other official commission.”
That way there is nothing left for you but to lose your faith. But you do not have the right to react in that way. St. Paul has warned us: “Even if an angel from Heaven came to tell you anything other than what I have taught you, do not listen to him.”
Such is the secret of true obedience.
— Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre’s An Open Letter to Confused Catholics.
And we have the precise conviction that this new rite of Mass expresses a new faith, a faith which is not ours, a faith which is not the Catholic Faith. This New Mass is a symbol, is an expression, is an image of a new faith, of a Modernist faith. For if the most holy Church has wished to guard throughout the centuries this precious treasure which She has given us of the rite of Holy Mass which was canonised by Saint Pius V, it has not been without purpose. It is because this Mass contains our whole faith, the whole Catholic Faith: faith in the Most Holy Trinity, faith in the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, faith in the Redemption of Our Lord Jesus Christ, faith in the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ which flowed for the redemption of our sins, faith in supernatural grace, which comes to us from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which comes to us from the Cross, which comes to us through all the Sacraments. Sermon of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre for the Ordination Mass on the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul, Ecône, Switzerland, 29 June 1976.
From a recent comment by Fr. Phillips of Our Lady of the Atonement on Rorate Cæli:
When our parish was established a little over twenty-nine years ago, it was the first of the “Anglican Use” parishes. Although we would like to be part of the Ordinariate in this country, we will be waiting until it is more closely conformed to Pope Benedict’s vision. Speaking for myself, I’m not interested in returning to a form of Episcopalianism, even if it is in communion with the Holy See.
This is exactly what I said at the inauguration of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The Ordinariate, as it is evolving, is not, according to the letter or its spirit, a faithful reflection of the Holy Father’s express will in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum cœtibus. I am not happy to have been the first to make the observation that the purpose of this Ordinariate seemed to be to recreate The Episcopal Church circa 1990, simply without women — or (at least openly) homosexual — bishops. The Ordinary seems a thorough Modernist and is an avowed enemy of Catholic Tradition. While the Rorate Cæli post suggests that Cardinal Wuerl is pulling the strings, I am certain that the Ordinary need not have been unduly pressured to adopt the same positions. After all, it should not be forgotten that Monsignor Steenson is on record as saying that it was only possible for him to become Catholic because of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council!
With respect to the law, the Ordinariate has adopted positions that not only contradict Anglicanorum cœtibus but also the Holy Father’s 2007 Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum liberating the traditional form of the Roman Rite. The Mass of the Saints is banned from the venues of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Monsignor Steenson’s priests are using the Novus Ordo Missæ, as opposed to even the Book of Divine Worship, but the TLM has been eliminated.
Just a few short years ago, Monsignor Steenson was a bishop in an Episcopal House of Bishops with supposed women bishops, in a “church” that had canonised contraception and abortion, and all manner of perversion. Certainly it was right that he resign his Anglican orders and convert to the Catholic Church — if only to remain a Christian — but his meteoric rise to power in his new ecclesial home is proving (for the faithful) to have been an unwise decision on the part of the cabal of American bishops with a vested interest in the Ordinariate and who groomed him for the role as Ordinary.
And where pray tell is the Anglican Patrimony in all of this?
It is tempting to ask the question of whether or not the Ordinariate is a failure. From the hopeful perspective of the many thousands of faithful Anglican Catholics who looked to Anglicanorum cœtibus to preserve and propagate the riches of the Anglican Patrimony, yes, the Ordinariate is an abject failure. But something leads me to believe that there was a different, opposing, agenda from the very beginning, and judging the Ordinariate by this purpose and standard, perhaps the whole project is actually a resounding success!