Your editorial remarks to my recent Letter-to-the-Editor entitled, The Remnant Endorsed the Reform of the Reform?, ended by saying, “If all this makes us suspect traditionalists then indeed I have no further use for a term that has so obviously lost any sense of its original meaning.” The proper definition of terms is the necessary foundation for true judgments and sound reasoning. There are many kinds of definitions but none better than an essential definition which gives the proximate genus and the specific difference. Let me begin by offering an essential definition for both Conservative and Traditional Catholics that will make any further discussion fruitful.
St. Thomas distinguishes two aspects to the virtue of Faith. The first is the interior submission of the mind and will to the revelation of God on the authority of God. The second is the exterior manifestation of this interior assent. Both are necessary to the virtue of Faith without which, “it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). For as St. Paul said, “For, with the heart, we believe unto justice; but, with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10). The “confession unto salvation,” the “exterior” aspect of Faith is manifested by acts of the virtue of Religion, which form the very heart of our Ecclesiastical Traditions.
Traditional Catholics and Conservative Catholics belong to the genus that believes in the internal forum all that God has revealed through His Son, Jesus Christ. They differ from one another in the external forum regarding exactly how that faith is visibly expressed. The Conservative Catholics hold that the Ecclesiastical Traditions by which the faith is visibly manifested in the external forum are purely accidental elements governed solely as matters of Church discipline and subject to the free and independent will of the legislator to which every Catholic is obliged to obey.
The Traditional Catholics reject this position and hold that the ecclesiastical traditions are an essential and integral component of our faith being wholly consonant with and the perfect outward expression of our internal belief which we are morally obliged to profess as our duty to God and thus they cannot be purely a matter of Church discipline. Further, Traditional Catholics recognize that for Obedience to be a virtue, it must be subject to and governed by the virtue of Religion which is the principle subsidiary virtue of the moral virtue of Justice. Traditional Catholics deny that any authority of whatever rank can validly be used against the virtue of Religion.
A brief illustration can be seen with communion in the hand. Rev. Guido Marini, Pope Benedict’s former Master of Ceremonies, recently said, “It is necessary not to forget that the distribution of Communion in the hand remains, even now, from the juridical standpoint, an indult from the universal law, conceded by the Holy See to those bishops conferences which requested it.” Immemorial custom, which is nothing more than the outward manifestation of received Tradition and itself is the primary source and interpreter of law, has been legally codified that Communion be received on the tongue. The Conservative Catholic believes that the pope possesses the power and authority to grant this indult. The Traditional Catholic concedes that the pope possesses the power, but denies he has the authority to do so because no one has the authority to grant a suspension in custom and law that injures the faith in the True Presence and leads to sacrilege.
You say that my calling Mr. Anthony Mazzone a “Conservative Catholic” is a “hasty mischaracterization.” The evidence that you offer is that he “was writing for The Remnant long before I knew him” in the early 1980s and that you met him recently “at a Traditional Mass he attends regularly” (emphasis yours). I was well aware that Mr. Mazzone had written for The Remnant in the early 1980s but that fact is immaterial to my referring to him as a “conservative Catholic.” As for the “traditional Mass he attends regularly,” it was either indult Mass or Mass granted by license of the local ordinary under the stipulations of Summorum Pontificum. The reason Mr. Mazzone did not attend the traditional Mass without the permission of his local ordinary is because he holds that the ecclesiastical traditions of our Church are matters of discipline and that the legitimate exercise of authority can outlaw their practice. Rather than violate these prohibitions, he chose to raise his family in the Armenian rite.
Mr. Mazzone is a very personable gentleman with many admirable qualities as a Catholic husband and father. He chose the best means in his judgment to keep his family in the Catholic faith and for that he is to be commended, but it would not be accurate to characterize these means as that of a Traditional Catholic. If all Traditional Catholics had followed the example of Mr. Mazzone the immemorial Roman rite would now be extinct. Furthermore, if a future pope should again “outlaw” the “extraordinary form of the Roman rite,” those who attend it by grant of indult or privilege would cease to do so. Would Mr. Mazzone then return to the Armenian rite?
As for your justification of using Mr. Peter Vere in the defense of Fr. Alphonse de Valk, or as you said, you “would have done the same had the reporter been an atheist,” neither option was necessary. A simply Internet search of Fr. de Valk would have given you all the information you needed for the purpose of writing a thorough article on the problem he is facing with the Canadian judicial system.
St. Pius X in Pascendi says "every society needs a directing authority to guide its members toward the common end, to foster prudently the elements of cohesion, which in a religious society are doctrine and worship. Hence the triple authority in the Catholic Church, disciplinary, dogmatic and liturgical” (emphasis his). Note that the purpose of the "directing authority" (i.e. disciplinary, canon law) is to direct the Church "toward the common end" which are "doctrine" (dogmatic) and "worship" (liturgical). Mr. Vere, especially in his endorsement of his mentor, the former Rev. John Huels, and Huels’ canonical opinion undermining of the rights of immemorial tradition, is on record of having wholly corrupted canon law from its essential purpose and employed it as a weapon to attack Traditional Catholics. This corruption of canon law is again manifested in Mr. Vere’s arguments supporting the canonical validity of the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre and the bishops of the SSPX. Mr. Vere should not have been given any standing in any Catholic publication for even if he should ever express a correct canonical opinion it will not be for the right reason.
Your reference to Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission and implication that we “perhaps” hold that “independent chapels are portholes to eternal bliss” and “approved Mass centers are direct conduits to the deepest pits of Hell” is nothing more than calumny against myself, the members of our Mission and the many priests who have helped us over the years. You go a step further in the same paragraph quoting Abe George de Nantes saying that he would prefer “to remain in cold and shame on the threshold, rather than to take refuge in some synagogue of Satan of my own or of someone else’s devising.” Your implication that we are schismatics is clear and the insult is made without a shred of supporting evidence. This is the same libel that Conservative Catholics have leveled against Traditional Catholics for the last 40 years of which The Remnant and its readers have often been the targets. Our Mission purpose and statement of first principles as well as every letter from Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission to our local ordinary and to Rome are published on our web page (http://www.saintspeterandpaulrcm.com/). I challenge you to examine these documents and produce evidence in support of your accusations or publish a retraction. You have no grounds whatsoever for having made this charge even in a speculative form. “A good name is better than great riches” (Proverbs 22); slander is a far greater sin than theft.
Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission is canonically a pious association of lay Catholics who function in the manner of a confraternity to work for our own sanctification and salvation by helping to restore the ecclesiastical traditions of the Roman rite to our diocese. Our corporate purpose is fixed and very difficult to change. It is fundamentally very simple: As Catholics we have by virtue of our Baptism the infused character that empowers us to offer fitting worship to God who is holy and commands us as our first duty to offer holy worship. This duty imposed by God generates specific rights to each Catholic. The worship of God in the external forum must wholly comport with the doctrinal and moral truths of our Catholic Faith that we believe in the internal forum because they have been revealed by God “who can neither deceive nor be deceived.” This is the faith without which "it is impossible to please God." The ecclesiastical traditions of our Church, the most central of which is the immemorial Roman Rite of the Mass, are the perfect outward expression of this holy Faith and no one, of whatever human dignity, has the legitimate authority to deny any Catholic of these rights. Further, while recognizing that rights can be duly regulated, we hold that these rights can never be conditionally exercised in a manner prejudicial to the Catholic Faith and that they are not grounded in the grant of any indult or privilege granted by positive human law. This is our claim that has been submitted to our local ordinary and to Rome asking for their authoritative judgment.
Our Mission could have become an Indult or have been regularized under the stipulations of Summorum Pontificum but the price would have required our silence when the local ordinary, for example, used the Catholic cathedral of our diocese for the installation ceremony of a Lutheran “bishop,” or when he attended a holocaust memorial service and told the Jewish audience that “there is no Catholic campaign to convert the Jews.” We would have been required to have the Novus Ordo offered in our chapel and to profess that it is the ordinary form of the one Roman rite expressing a single “lex orandi, lex credendi.” It would have required that our priest be spiritually formed in the Novus Ordo and certified to offer the “extraordinary form of the mass.” Before such a reliable priest was found for the Indult community in Harrisburg, the sermons at their chapel given by priests of Fraternity of St. Peter were recorded and vetted for ‘orthodoxy’ by the local ordinary. The Ecclesiastical Traditions of our Church, the visible profession of our faith, cannot be conditionally exercised at the price of our silence to sacrilege.
We are not blind to the benefits that have been derived from Summorum Pontificum.
In a letter to Bishop Kevin Rhoades in July 2007 we said:
It is our hope that this Motu Proprio will be a first step in arresting this precipitous decline for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, but ….This Motu Proprio does not recognize or guarantee the right of any Catholic to the ecclesiastical traditions of our Church and we cannot place a necessary element of our Catholic faith in jeopardy by submitting it to the arbitrary will of an authority that has abused its power time and again over the past forty years.
Again in a letter delivered to Bishop Rhoades in November 2007 we said:
It was nice to hear that Bishop Rhoades will establish a traditional community in Harrisburg. I am pleased, very pleased with this development. The location of the Indult communities throughout this country corresponds almost exactly with the location of previously established traditional chapels. The traditional sacraments, administered in an esthetically beautiful setting in a central location are being made available in Harrisburg because they are available in York. This however is not the final end for which Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission was constituted.
Nevertheless, we know full well that these benefits can be swept away overnight because they are not established upon the rights of immemorial tradition and they are not informed by the traditional Catholic faith.
I am glad, Mr. Matt, to hear you say that The Remnant is not in support of the “reform of the reform,” but I have not seen any evidence for it. Summorum Pontificum is about the reform of the reform. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 2003:
I believe, though, that in the long term the Roman Church must have again a single Roman rite. The existence of two official rites is for bishops and priests difficult to “manage” in practice. The Roman rite of the future should be a single rite, celebrated in Latin or in the vernacular, but standing completely in the tradition of the rite that has been handed down. It could take up some new elements which have proven themselves, like new feasts, some new prefaces in the Mass, an expanded lectionary - more choice than earlier, but not too much, - an “oratio fidelium”, i.e., a fixed litany of intercessions following the Oremus before the offertory where it had its place earlier.
Cardinal Ratzinger in a letter to Dr. Heinz-Lothar Barth, June 23, 2003
In Summorum Pontificum, by establishing the myth of the one Roman Rite in an “ordinary and extra-ordinary” form, the theological foundation is created for the liturgical “hermeneutic of continuity.” For the last 40 years those who invented, those who authorized, and those who implemented the Novus Ordo have all called it descriptively a “novus ordo.” Now, in the deconstructionalist newspeak, a liturgical revisionism has been created simply by changing the language. Now remains the problem for the “reform of the reform” to create something substantial to hang on this myth.
The document is not liberating but, in fact, restrictive and no traditional priest suffering unjust censorship was defended or relieved by its publication. It ignores the rights of immemorial tradition and treats the traditional Mass as purely a matter of discipline. After acknowledging that the 1962 Missal was never illegal it then imposes conditions upon its use that never existed. It permits the use of the vernacular in the “readings,” the use of the Novus Ordo calendar such as the recent translation of the feast of St. Joseph, and the Novus Ordo prefaces referred to in Summorum Pontificum and added to the Ignatius Press missal under the authority of PCED, and lastly the change in the Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews which The Remnant recommended that Traditional Catholics accept because in your judgment it ‘contained nothing harmful to the faith.’ The Motu Proprio has been in force for a little over one year! On the other side of the equation we are seeing a correction of the most egregious abuses on the Novus Ordo such as the correction of many mistranslations. You cannot support Summorum Pontificum and oppose the reform of the reform.
It is the faith that informs the liturgy and there is no evidence that Rome has abandoned its modernist convictions. Where is this reform of the reform leading? At the recent World Youth Day in Sydney in the crypt of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Pope Benedict declared to an ecumenical assembly that, “The road of ecumenism ultimately points towards a common celebration of the Eucharist… we can be sure that a common Eucharist one day would only strengthen our resolve to love and serve one another in imitation of our Lord.” The ecumenical movement has, the Pope observed, "reached a critical juncture. To move forward, we must continually ask God to renew our minds with the Holy Spirit, Who speaks to us through the scriptures and guides us into all truth. We must guard against any temptation to view doctrine as divisive and hence an impediment to the seemingly more pressing and immediate task of improving the world in which we live…. As ‘fellow citizens’ of the ‘household of God,’ Christians must work together to ensure that the edifice stands strong so that others will be attracted to enter and discover the treasures of grace within.”
So all schismatics and heretics are “fellow citizens of the household of God” that must have a “common celebration of the Eucharist,” indifferent to doctrine and dedicated to “improving the world in which we live.” As each new change is implemented in the “extra-ordinary” form of the one Roman rite, every traditional Catholic will undergo a crisis of conscience as to whether that particular change will constitute an unacceptable compromise of faith. Each change will produce a further fragmentation of traditional Catholics until we are disorganized and isolated as we were in the late 1960s and early 1970s when one of the few lights seen over a rather bleak horizon was The Remnant.
In 1599, about 40 years after the death of England’s Queen Mary, an odd deputation of Catholic secular clergy, wearied from their protracted defense of the faith, went to Rome, with the ‘blessing’ of Anglican authorities and the approval of the Elizabethan government, who sent along their own government spy, Dr. Cecil. The purpose of the mission was to seek from the Pope a mitigation of the Catholic policies in England that were then in conformity with the strict spirit and militancy of the Jesuit clergy who would not compromise with the secular clergy. The last religious edict of Queen Elizabeth published in 1602 made a radical distinction between Catholic secular clergy and Jesuit clergy. The latter were summarily executed while the former were given time to possibly negotiate more lenient treatment. Summorum Pontificum is asking for traditional Catholics to make, in many respects, an analogous compromise, a softening of our position. My opinion is that this compromise will eventually lead to a betrayal of the faith just as it did with the secular clergy in England who began in all good will but ended very poorly.
You said in an email exchange that you “want to fight the counterproductive generalizations on both sides and encourage an undeclared alliance of all trads against the outright enemies of Christ.” But that is not what you are doing. You are identifying Conservative Catholics as “trads” simply on the basis that they happen to attend an Indult mass while ignoring the distinctive difference that separates them from Traditionalists. This “alliance” between Traditional and Conservative Catholics can only be productive in a very limited sphere and is inherently very dangerous because the Conservative Catholics will be the preponderant members of any “alliance” and they, as they have demonstrated time and again over the past forty years, will be willing to make any accommodation of our Ecclesiastical Traditions to modernist demands. That is why your father separated himself from the Conservative Catholics at The Wanderer.
You further said, “The MP is a means to an end, therefore, it cannot possibly be the end itself. And our strategy is to try to use it despite that. Disagree with me, if you like (and I’m sure you do); scream that’s impossible, if you’ve a mind-- but don’t resort to cheap shots about our love affair with the reform of the reform.” Well, the means are not unrelated to the ends. You cannot board a plane for Chicago and complain about not arriving in New York. The means of the Motu Proprio require accepting presuppositions antithetical to traditional Catholicism, and traditional Catholics will have no say at all in the direction of any liturgical reform that will be implemented in an atmosphere of general apostasy within the Church. If support for Summorum Pontificum is done in an uncritical manner it presents a very great danger to traditional Catholics and will undermine our defense of the faith.
It is well to recall the words of St. Pius X regarding the standing of our Ecclesiastical Traditions:
They (the modernists) exercise all their ingenuity in an effort to weaken the force and falsify the character of Tradition, so as to rob it of all its weight and authority. But for Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the Second Council of Nicea, where it condemns those `who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind.... or endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church'; nor that of the declaration of the Fourth Council of Constantinople: `We therefore profess to preserve and guard the rules bequeathed to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, by the Holy and most illustrious Apostles, by the orthodox Councils, both general and local, and by every one of those divine interpreters, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. Wherefore the Roman Pontiffs, Pius IV and Pius IX ordered the insertion in the profession of faith of the following declaration: “I most firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church.”
Pascendi Dominid Gregis
Finally, Mr. Matt, your implication of schism, that the members of Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission, rather than “start their own church or elect their own pope,” should follow the example of Jesus Christ in His obedience to the “corrupt authority of his day even unto death,” is grounded in an utterly false analogy. Jesus Christ never violated the virtue of religion by obedience to a corrupted authority. Your argument would require the man born blind to deny Christ in obedience to the “corrupt authority of his day” rather than suffer the expulsion from the Temple.
Only by the militant defense of our Ecclesiastical Traditions without compromise, which are not nor could ever be a simple matter of pure discipline, will we in the end be able to defend the faith. So I end where I started. You said with regard to the term ‘traditional Catholic’, “…I have no further use for a term that has so obviously lost any sense of its original meaning.” I do not think that it has lost any of its “original meaning,” but what began as an imprecise sense of something being terribly wrong has undergone a refinement in clarity and comprehension. If this “refinement” finds The Remnant no longer standing with Traditional Catholics then it no longer has a reason for publication.
Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission
Published in The Remnant, September 2008
Dear Mr. Matt,
The final Mass at WYD is nothing more than the “reform of the reform” from the other direction. This is the position that the Remnant has endorsed editorially and now you can do nothing more than lobby for a version of the new and improved Roman rite that meets your personal tastes.
Mr. Anthony Mazzone, who I have known since 1985, is not and has never been a traditional Catholic. He is conservative Catholic. He and his wife Janice raised their family in the Armenian rite and none of their children attended the traditional Latin Mass even though they lived only 15 minutes from St. Jude in Philadelphia. Anthony is writing for the Remnant because the Remnant has abandoned the defense of the traditional liturgy and now endorses the “reform of the reform.”
In the last issue of the Remnant you featured an article by Mr. Peter Vere. Mr. Vere has distinguished himself over the past several years as one with a particular interest in trying to recruit neo-Catholics from traditional Catholic circles. He is particularly famous for his fulsome endorsement of Rev. John Huels and his canonical opinion that the codification of the immemorial Roman rite by Quo Primum destroyed any claim to the use of the rite independent of any grant of indult. Shortly after this publication, Rev. Huels was exposed as a homosexual priest-predator and was laicized. He is currently being rehabilitated as a canonical expert and is back on the lecture circuit.
You are known by the company you keep, and the company you are keeping are not traditional Catholics.
The liturgy is determined by the faith and nothing has been done to correct the heresies that have given us the Novus Ordo. Msgr. Gamber's said, "Liturgy and faith are interdependent. That is why a new rite was created, a rite that in many ways reflects the bias of the new (modernist) theology”. Now you are endorsing the “reform of the reform,” a recasting of the traditional Mass during a time of general apostasy. The consequences of this will be a complete fragmentation of the traditional movement and a recasting of the liturgy in a conservative manner that will be acceptable to neo-Catholic and modernist alike.
I would think that Cardinal Hoyos was more pleased to have his picture taken with you than you were with him.
Thank you, Mr. Drew,
I’m afraid I must disagree with your mischaracterization of Anthony Mazzone, who, by the way, was writing for The Remnant long before you knew him. The hastiness of your judgment against him is evidenced by a quick glance at editions of The Remnant from as far back as the early 1980s. Mr. Mazzone’s byline is not difficult to find. The November 30, 1981 issues, for example, features a front page article by Anthony Mazzone called “An Advent Meditation.” He was, in fact, introduced to my father by Michael Davies and had been working for The Remnant long before I came on the scene. So much for the conspiracy theory!
A year or so ago while visiting friends near Havertown, PA, I ran into Mr. Mazzone at the Traditional Mass he attends regularly. So, I’m really not sure what you’re getting at there, either.
As for Mr. Vere, again my reply is by necessity a statement of the obvious. In his Remnant article, Mr. Vere was perfectly forthcoming with the details of his longstanding dispute with traditional Catholics in general and The Remnant in particular. He made no claim to be a traditionalist. He was simply trying to garner support for an elderly priest facing jail in Canada for preaching the Gospel. Remnant readers certainly don’t require an explanation from me as to why it would be incumbent on any Catholic editor at a time like this to help spread the word about the plight of Fr. De Valk. I would have done the same had the reporter been an atheist.
Perhaps there’s something else at issue here. By supporting Summorum Pontificum, are we now perceived as enemies of your independent chapel (Sts. Peter & Paul)? Perhaps you’d like The Remnant to declare that, while all independent chapels are portholes to eternal bliss, approved Masses centers are directed conduits to the deepest pits of Hell. That approach has never been our, and from its founding The Remnant has always counted itself among the ‘loyal opposition’, even when serious disagreements with Church leaders left us out in the cold. “It is my deliberate determination,” wrote the Abbe George de Nantes in an article in The Remnant in 1985, “to have the last place in the House of the Lord, even, should I be thrown out, to remain in cold and shame on the threshold, rather than to take refuge in some synagogue of Satan of my own or of someone else’s devising.” Indeed!
We have consistently encouraged our readers to guard against the temptation to abandon the only true Church founded by Our Lord in favor of a mythical “true Church” in some traditionalist enclave with precious little regard for the hierarchical structure of the Church Christ founded.
As for The Remnant’s alleged “change of heart” and endorsement of the so-called “reform of the reform”, again, Remnant readers know this to be absolute rubbish! I have never endorsed the “reform of the reform” and nor did my father when he was among the first traditional Catholics to support Pope John Paul’s motu proprio, Quattuor adhinc annnos. That MP was issued in 1984 - the very year my father successfully lobbied Archbishop John R. Roach here in St. Paul to allow a Traditional Mass on a weekly basis, one of the first in the country.
In a January 31, 1985 editorial, my father, Walter L. Matt, wrote: “In our opinion, we must all work and pray very hard that the groundwork for such an ardently longed-for outcome will be laid in Rome… We must, moreover, work and pray very hard for Pipe John Paul II, as well as His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and also the Most Rev. Augustin Mayer, extending your wholehearted support and encouragement in their present endeavor to restore the church to sanity and sanctity.”
“…. If Pope John Paul II, by issuing the Indult,” wrote my father, “did indeed drive the first nail, as Fr. Crane puts it, into the coffin of progressivist hopes for building up a man-made, man-centered ‘new Church’ manipulated by themselves, then for his courageous Indult the Pope ‘deserves our thanks and our unceasing prayers.’ We hope and pray that the bishops, too, will have learned by now how important the papal Indult really was and is, and then proceed to support it accordingly!”
This sort of lay support for a tradition-leaning papal initiative – what some would call a “table scrap” – is absolutely in line with the long established traditional Catholic strategy carved out by the pioneers of this movement - Archbishop Lefebvre, Michael Davies, Walter Matt, etc. It was in this same tradition that Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X organized a drive to have one million rosaries prayed in thanksgiving for Summorum Pontificum. He disagrees with the Pope on some important matters, yes, but he is also subject to him and thus eager to prove his loyalty wherever he can, precisely as a loyal son of the Church should! This is the Catholic thing to do!
The Remnant has not changed. The Remnant will never change, so long as I’m its editor. We fight for Tradition wherever and whenever we can, but we will never start our own Church or elect our own Pope for “all the right reasons”. Christ was obedient to the corrupt authority of His day even unto death – and He was God. Who are we, then, to take the law into our own hands when He didn’t? If all this makes us suspect traditionalists then indeed I have no further use for a term that has so obviously lost any sense of its original meaning.
I appreciate your letter but beg you to prayerfully reconsider your position.
Michael J. Matt