Written by Louis Salleron
Introduction by Michael J. Matt
Remnant columnist, Father Ladis Cizik, is being taken to task by a few Remnant critics for having preached a sermon last Sunday which was evidently too “rad trad” [see text in comment below]. The sermon drew a comparison between the terrorists who hijacked Flight 93 on 9/11 and the liturgical terrorists who hijacked the Catholic Church at Vatican II.
Father also points out that the brave passengers who finally downed that plane—rather than allowing it to crash into the White House—could be likened to traditional Catholics who’ve spent the last fifty years trying to frustrate the plans of the “terrorists” destroying the human element of Christ’s Church.
Though Father certainly needs no defense from me, I would say that Father’s sermon is very much in line with what pioneer traditionalists were saying decades ago—the Church has indeed been hijacked, and if you think otherwise you’ve been living under a rock somewhere. The problem seems to be with a few well-meaning “trads” who mistakenly believe our fight is merely for the restoration of the Mass we prefer, rather than an actual counterrevolution—a notion I myself excoriate on the front page of the latest print edition of The Remnant.
By way of substantiating my contention that Father’s sermon is a statement that is becoming increasingly obvious with the passing of each new day, we’re posting the following Remnant article that my father published forty years ago. It was written by the late, great Louis Salleron (1905 –1992), a French author, journalist and traditional Catholic theoretician. In 1956 Salleron and the late, great Jean Madiran founded the French journal Itinéraires, which later became a leading organ for criticism of the “reforms” after the Second Vatican Council. Louis Salleron died on 20 January 1992.
The article, under the title, “To Each His Problem”, first appeared in Itinéraires in April of 1976 (Number 202), and was then translated for publication in The Remnant by the late Robert Opelle (RIP) shortly thereafter.
So a mere a decade after the close of the Council men such as Salleron were lamenting Paul VI, the New Mass, the ecumenical heresy, etc., in exactly the same manner seen in these pages today—only they were predicting the outcome, whereas we have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.
Note, for example, how Salleron casually points out the obvious fact (which became a bombshell in 2007 when Pope Benedict XVI made it official) that the Old Mass had NEVER been abrogated. This article also makes it abundantly obvious that Francis is part of a continuum of revolution and revolutionaries in Rome itself.
Much food for thought here. Let’s say an Ave or two for these early traditional Catholic greats who took the stand for Tradition when it required more courage to do so than most of us can imagine. God bless them and all those, such as Father Cizik, who have the courage to follow in their footsteps. MJM
The Pope, for a Catholic, is the supreme recourse. But in the current crisis this recourse is of little use. If it were only a matter of following Paul VI in his teaching upon the great questions which touch on the faith, all would be simple. But one would be hard pressed to find the doctrine which he professes in the practice of his government. Under the banner of ecumenism, the Church is swinging around towards Protestantism. Faithfulness to tradition becomes a sin against the Spirit. Luther is preferred to Pius V. The national Churches are establishing themselves everywhere. The Pope no longer seems to preside except at the “auto-demolition” of the Church, which he deplores without anyone perceiving what he is trying to do to stem the tide.
For many, Paul VI is their problem. It is not mine. I have only too well observed the catastrophic character of the post-conciliar era, that I would not be overly alarmed if I saw there the deed of a man. That which alarms me, that which is my problem, is that the entire Church in the Occident appears to align itself perfectly with the present situation. If there is discord, it is only to the extent where the Roman orientations are judged too timid. Notably, the French episcopacy, strongly installed in Rome where its representatives occupy a number of key posts, to name only one that of Secretary of State, consider Paul VI as a major obstacle to the revolutions of which they dream. This is to say much about where we are now.
Nonetheless, it is not so much this general deterioration of the Church that strikes me, as it is the fact that no bishop’s voice denounces it. There is, one will say, Mgr. Lefebvre. But he is not a diocesan bishop. In France, and practically throughout the Occident, no bishop disassociates himself from the “collegiality” in order to affirm, in his diocese, his will to defend the faith, the exact text of Holy Scripture, the sacrificial character of the Mass, the priestly ministry, the Catholic catechism, etc. That would be so much the easier since there is an embarrassment of choices for supporting his stance by the texts of Paul VI and Vatican II. But no, it is the praxis of collegiality which makes the law. All the bishops submit to it.
Exactly there is my problem, because this situation is without precedent in the Church. It is even without precedent in any society. No profound change, no mutation, no revolution takes place without manifesting opposition. This time there is no opposition whatsoever in the Church (that is, in the official Church).
If one searches to understand this unanimity, one can find only two explanations. Either the bishops who within themselves are disturbed at all that has happened, say to themselves that before all else the unity of the Church must be assured and that a correction will arrive in due time, or indeed they think that the Holy Spirit is at work and will give to Christianity the new forms it intends to give. In either case, this absence of reaction would appear to me as tragic. Because it is true not only that God does not save Christians without themselves, He does not save His Church without herself. The surrender to evolution is a resignation. A Church at the prey of internal battles would be a sad spectacle; but it would be the spectacle of a living Church. The decomposition of the Church under the appearance of unity makes one fear for a moribund Church.
I know there are always the saints. There are innumerable martyrs in countries where Christianity is more cruelly persecuted than in the first centuries. There are the unknown martyrs in our country, priests, religious, lay people, who suffer and who die in silence not hearing any authority truly witnessed by the word, or having any possibility of it. There is the active charity of endless self-sacrifice, which is Christianity in action. I know all this. I have no doubt whatsoever of the Church of the Saints, but I question the institutional Church. That she thinks to guard herself against the formidable effects of proclaiming the Truth makes me tremble for her future.
In a recent article of “Le Monde”, André Fontaine raised, incidentally, a thought of Tocqueville following which religions are always menaced by two dangers: Schism and Indifference. He could as well have added Syncretism, which is in some sense their synthesis. Schism, this is the menace of the ages of faith. Indifference is the menace of the ages of a weakening of faith.
We are in an age of indifference. Dogmas no longer are important. Etienne Gilson had noted it when, in a translation of the Credo, “consubstantial” was changed to “of the same nature”. In a petition, signed by some of the greatest Catholic names, which demanded the return to “consubstantial”, Cardinal Lefèbvre gave a categorical refusal. In his refusal he gave two reasons. The first was, precisely, that the question “at the present time has lost its importance.” (It certainly had lost its importance because it had been decided some sixteen centuries previously. It takes up again an importance by the fact that it is put again into question.)
The second reason was that the petition constituted in his eyes an insolent proceeding upon the part of laymen with respect to the episcopacy: “In many eyes such a type of action makes it appear that a summons upon the episcopate to pronounce upon such a grave point of doctrine, as if one seems to doubt as already clearly having its accord.” Therefore, for Cardinal Lefèbvre, “Consubstantial” is at the same time a grave point of doctrine, which has indeed lost its importance. On the other hand, this point of doctrine has, by every hypothesis, much less importance than the attitude of silent submission which must be that of laymen in regard to the episcopate. It is impossible to manifest more indifference than this towards the Catholic Credo.
This indifference is today evident in every domain. But it has manifested itself to a degree which, in previous centuries, one would never even have thought possible, particularly with respect to the Mass.
Paul VI has, as one knows, approved a new Mass rite. In an age of faith, this new Mass would have elicited innumerable protests and contentions. As happened, it passed like a letter at the post office. Why? Because of indifference.
The Pope, one says, has the right to make a new rite, and one adds that that which was promulgated is quite superior to the former one. That’s possible, but it is here that indifference becomes obvious. Because the rite of Pius V was so ancient that the simple attachment to tradition—with all which represents that tradition in the Church—must have created a shock within a large part of the episcopate. But there was no shock. There was only indifference. One Mass chases another, and if the new one is more beautiful than the ancient one, of what is one complaining?
The scandal is all the greater by the fact that the new Mass had been made with the concurrence of Protestant theologians, that it had been set up to be acceptable to Protestants, and that its first “Presentation” (Institutio Generalis) had been made in terms so opposed to Catholic doctrine, that it had been necessary to redo it so that it was compatible with the teaching of the Council of Trent (confirmed itself by Vatican II.) The Presentation therefore changed, but the rite stayed unchanged. It is as a consequence that we have an equivocal Mass.
Much the better that the traditional rite was driven out. I do not say that it is forbidden, because there is no legal text which forbids it. But illegal texts do forbid it, and the bishops pretend that it is forbidden, persecuting those priests which have stayed faithful to it. All the official propaganda is aimed at convincing priests and faithful that it is forbidden. One has even seen a monk of Solesmes shamefully write a book in order to affirm that the new Mass was obligatory and the traditional Mass forbidden. O ghost of Dom Guéranger!
There was indeed, one will say, the solemn protest of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci. This is true. This has saved the honor of the Church and puts out the anchor of salvation for the restoration to come. By the same token, there is the unshakable attachment of Mgr. Marcel Lefèbvre (which one must not confuse with his dead cousin the Cardinal) to the Catholic doctrine of the Mass and the Sacraments. But he is alone and, by this token, he is put into the dock of the French episcopacy and persecuted by the Vatican bureaucracy. Understandably, indifference to the Mass is accompanied by an equal indifference for all the rest. But, again one time, it is not the fact that there is, in “The Church of France”—it is of her which I think of in the first instance, being a Frenchman—a general current of abandon of all Catholic tradition, it is the fact that this current is unanimous—I mean by this: in the Episcopate. That there is not one single bishop in his diocese who defends Catholic truth, it chills me to the bone.
In what do they believe? Into what degree of indifference have they fallen? My own problem is this unanimity. Speaking on the 12th of February, 1976, at the cultural center of Saint-Louis in Rome, Mgr. Etchegaray declared: “When it comes to propagating the faith, unity passes before all else.” Proposition eminently ambiguous. Because unity only has meaning when it serves the truth, and today everything tends to place unity before the truth. It is no longer the Faith that is propagated, but unconditional obedience to the Episcopate—an episcopate which admits all liberties for those whom progressivism terms within the conciliar spirit, and which condemns with extreme rigor all those whose fidelity to tradition puts them in their eyes outside “the Church of the Council.”
One can see poised upon the horizon of the near French future a national Church which, seizing upon the first opportunity, will create batches of priests in ordinating married men whose mission will be to constitute, upon the ruin of the parishes, “groupings” of Christians formed according to their political and social affinities. What will become of Catholicism in such circumstances?
At the Roman summit there are parallel designs, the sketch of an Ecumenical Church which would be the realization of syncretism, fruit of the proliferation of schisms upon a base of indifference. The Pope would become the President of a Federation of Churches confessing different beliefs around a common Credo reduced to the bare minimum. In brief, the Catholic Church would marry the structure and spirit of Protestantism, all the while conserving its proper historical core by some very subtle juridical and theological combination.
Is it impossible? It is impossible for the moment. But tomorrow? The religious need of the greatest number of men can be reduced practically to some sort of feeling and liturgy. The exaltation of the feeling of love for neighbor and the struggle against injustices, conjugated with a variety of liturgies, corresponds perfectly to a diversified ecumenical religion, rather analogous to Anglicanism which admits in its bosom Christian confessions going all the way from a Credo quasi-Catholic to the most vague humanism.
Numerous Catholics, by this token, believe they see in the attitude of the Pope an encouragement to this evolution. Because if it is true that Paul VI recalls always the demands of the Catholic faith, the gestures he lavishes upon the Orthodox, the Protestants, and more generally upon the believers of all confessions, and even towards all the members of “the great human family”, are interpreted by many as an announcement of an ecumenical unity which could hardly be long in coming. (The most brief, the most simple and currently the most recent to date of such allocutions from Paul VI upon this subject is that which he pronounced at the Angelus of Sunday 25 January 1976—Documentation Catholique No. 1692 of February 15 1976.)
Alas, I am troubled. Because the unity today of the Catholic Hierarchy is rife with ruptures, of which the equivocal character will cause to explode one day or another. One day or another, in effect, the Church will of necessity be led to take a position, either upon the one side, or upon the other. Either she will attempt to re-establish again the Faith and the Law, and she throws herself against the progressivist clan which holds practically all the “apparatus”; or she is going to continue to build into place ecumenism and, at this moment, it is impossible that an important part of the bishops and priests, who have wanted above all to be “obedient” in waiting, would not react. In the two cases, the schism—the crack—will be revealed in all its breadth. I know well that the reality to come is always different from what one envisages; but the schema which I indicate will necessarily verify itself in one form or another. The tragedy will be all the greater if the episcopacy continues to comport itself, in its “surface” collegiality, as if all goes well presently and that the small fissures which one must deplore would end up disappearing in and of themselves. That is my problem: this silence of all the bishops, this abdication of all the bishops. The Church is no longer conceived by them other than a gathering of which they are the leaders from whom successive orders must be accepted, whatever they might be, if one is to stay Catholic. One thinks of communism, of which the militants must always consider as the absolute truth, the truth of the moment maintained in the Party line. The Est, est, Non, non, is replaced by a political evangelism, evolutive and polymorphic, which then becomes the common Credo.
These great waves of feeling, charismatic or revolutionary, have been seen often in history. But there was always opposition, always resistance. Today, at the level of the hierarchy, I search in vain for such opposition, for such resistance. It is this radical novelty which constitutes my problem.