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Letter to Avery Cardinal Dulles appealing to redimension ideas – his & the Pope’s – about reconciling the Society of St. Pius X

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The following missive met and made its mark, as the reply from His Eminence indicated. The pen is mighty, swords notwithstanding, as St. Ignatius might have known.

April 17, 2007

His Eminence
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.
441 East Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458

Your Eminence,

With the motu proprio of His Holiness said to await publication, and the reaction of the French bishops to the liberalization of the old Mass containing similar assumptions expressed last year by Your Eminence, I beg to be permitted to revisit your reply of last June at the Anglican Use Conference to the question about the traditional movement. In particular, if I may, I wish to address your remarks about monarchy and the Church Fathers in re those Catholics commonly called ‘traditional’.

Quite aside from the question of whether traditional Catholics have anything to do with monarchism, the role of monarchy today is not so far fetched as Americans think. Even De Gaulle wished to unite France, as late as 1960, by restoring the Monarchy. It is not commonly known, but he wished to do what Franco had done in Spain to restore the Monarchy there. He didn’t because, unlike Franco who skipped over the wishy-washy father of Juan Carlos, he couldn’t unite the three families, Napoleonic, Bourbon and the Orleans. It was secret at the time, but now it is a known fact, that he was in correspondence with the Orleans. As it turned out Henri, Compte de Paris, was thought, finally, to be unsuitable.

Of course it would sound far-fetched at Forham University if someone were to insist on the restoration of the Hanovers, but even today, in Serbia there is a call to bring back the monarchy. Certainly Pavel of Serbia is not a traditionalist. Also in Afghanistan and Iraq the people favored restoring the monarchies, until George W. nixed the idea. At any rate, monarchy is not a monopoly of traditionalists. Now that the Russian Orthodox in Exile in America are reunited with the Patriarchate in Moscow, the movement to restore the monarchy in Russia is receiving yet more impetus.

The monks on Mount Athos still use the blank spaces in the liturgical books to commemorate the monarchy.

Until recently almost half the EU governments included monarchies.

Far-fetched or not, why exclude a large and growing (or small) movement from the Church anyway? Besides, if taken as a whole, to this day the vocations answered by royal or noble families and the so-called traditionalists produce the most solid communities, religious and secular, in all Europe. Is it not unjust to marginalize an entire sector of the Church? There is something terribly disturbing, e.g., that not one word was said in the mainstream Catholic press about the hundreds of young traditional Catholics, many from the States, who greeted the Pope at World Youth Day last year.

What is the reason for being so afraid of the old ways, anyway? Why the bald-faced discrimination – the invariably applied intolerance as Cardinal Ratzinger not long ago decried it – when it comes to the old rites and disciplines, and those legitimately attached to them? What kind of person, let alone a Bishop, objects (or, with all due respect, goes practically ‘ballistic’ as their Excellencies of late in France) over the way others wish to pray?

When not too long ago a young Dominican presented himself as an hermaphrodite, his superiors actually had to meet to discuss whether to dismiss him. It is a sad fact of recent history: when a religious shows the slightest inclination or attachment to the traditional rites or disciplines, they punish or expel him or her with a hook, or a crook, as they like. For instance, a few decades back the Dominican Provincial had no scruples of trumping up charges of concubinage against the traditional Nuns at Toulouse. The Bishop was crushed when he discovered afterwards that he was lied to. (God has a sense of humor: the pastor living near the Convent kept his own woman!) The Society has a “cock fund” for Jesuits who impregnate women. Yet they give traditional clerics the boot, at the drop of a hat.

What are we going to say to the Orthodox when we learn suddenly, in face to face dialogue, that they have the same liturgical and religious aspirations? Many Orthodox prelates are saying that the Catholics and Orthodox are now much more distant than before, after all the changes the Catholics have made since the Council. Fr. John Romanides, a peritus at the Council and the most renowned Orthodox theologian-historian of the past 40 years, said the same thing as Archbishop Lefebvre, including that liberal, masonic ideas were the talk of the Council Fathers.

It is recorded in numerous works, including Michael Davies’ Apologia Pro Marcel Lefevbre, that the Archbishop had nothing to do with right wing politics (or left for that matter) in France or elsewhere. Despite all the lies told and rumors which still manage to circulate about him, Archbishop Lefebvre had, for example, never met Charles Mauras, nor read any of his books, nor gave support of any sort to Action Francaise. The conference he gave on this (et al) is still available on audio cassette. Many tried to link the Society of St. Pius X to the monarchists of France or and with Jean Le Pen; but the Archbishop invariably responded (to the liberals’ accusations) that even though Action Francaise had been exonerated by Pope Pius XII, he still had nothing to do with it.

All the above notwithstanding, it is only the teaching of the Church that monarchy is the most perfect form of government.

Say what one will about the politics of the Society of St. Pius X, theirs is certainly preferable to fondling altar boys. The least we can do is to investigate why so many, including youth, are flocking to tradition. If one can read about Communion & Liberation and The Focoulare, surely one can read about traditional Catholics, and distinguish for himself between rumor and truth. I have, being also a convert from Anglicanism, and am not attached to the Society or any one of its chapels.

In any case, traditionalism is a heresy, and no matter what one might say about anyone who subscribes to Archbishop Lefebvre’s legacy, it is not that. In this department, too, the Orthodox have ‘got our number’: they are quite aware that, nowadays, ‘anything goes’ in the Catholic Church. But [O]rthodoxy is nothing more than what the Latin traditional Christians accept. It is the simple psychology of the thing: the more one fights someone, the more aggressive he’ll be in maintaining his legitimate aspirations. It is a mystery for the Orthodox why everyone in the Catholic world has right of citizenship, except the ‘traditionalists’ – and these are only people who wish to live the “rightful aspirations” recognized by Pope John Paul II. It’s not as if they were demanding a sex- change.

The Orthodox (perhaps not so much in America, where most are liberal) are watching attentively, and they can’t understand why this attitude of intolerance. Some of them are already trying to unite with the Pope (not doctrinally, yet). But they simply cannot understand the hysteria against traditional Catholics, with whom they most closely ‘identify’.

As for the need for us to go back to the Fathers, to see what is traditional, it is not enough to read them: one must live them – also like the Orthodox are doing. Pope Pius XII warned in Humane Generis that one must read the Fathers and study (them) with the Magisterium, to be of one mind with Church. Otherwise, the Fathers, who apparently contradict one another, can confuse any student – to distraction, if not insanity.

One of reasons Pope John Paul wanted Latins to get to know the Orthodox is to reintroduce tradition to the Latin Church. Of course, we (Americans) have to give up stereotypes. There are two ways to get to know Orthodox: either through Latin traditional communities, or through the Orthodox.

The more we deny the ‘traditionalists’ their due rights, the more they will struggle and clamor for them. A great many of them are French, you know: a tenacious lot: not to be confused with (some) women in India, who simply lie down when being raped, since it takes less time than resistance. They will hold out to the end, bitter as it may be – for some more than others. Cardinal Gagnon knew this only too well. When he addressed the Synod of Bishops at Rome before his visitation to the Seminary at Ecône, he warned of the need to pray for the success of his mission, for otherwise they would leave it to their Successors to come up with another ecumenism in a thousand years. Your Eminence knows also, of course, that the SSPX is finding serious sympathy in the Eastern Catholic Churches, in particular of late among Ukrainian Catholics, with the founding of the Society of St. Josaphat.

I do hope Your Eminence will forgive me for going on so. Only my love for the Church and Her sacred Pastors makes me so insistent. It’s long been time to re-think, to re-dimension ideas for resolving the ‘problem’ of the traditional Catholics. Now more than ever we need to come to the aid of Pope Benedict, who understands this only too well. Who better than his most courageous, discerning sons? There are no small number of histories of the correspondence et al between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X. I would be more than glad to give another one to Your Eminence, whose loyal service to holy Church as illustrious scholar and obedient son of St. Ignatius I pray may yet increase and shine brighter ad majoram Dei glariam et aedificationem Ecclesiae. The one to follow, under separate cover, is a good start.

Christus surrexit!

W. Z.

[name & postal address of NCCL collaborator withheld online]

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