Author Archives: Steven C.

About Steven C.

A young traditional Catholic man fighting for Holy Mother Church!

A Picture worth a thousand words


The title of this post might sound rather cliche, but what if I told you that the above photo is of a graduating class of high school girls taken not even sixty years ago?  Yes, these young ladies make up part of the Class of 1958 at Upper Darby High School, located near Philadelphia, PA.

A brief reflection from the original poster:

“Wow, pause for a moment and reflect on this astounding glimpse into the past. Judging by appearances, these are mature women prepared for real life, not children prepared for another phase of extended childhood.

Some of these young women are very beautiful. They have movie star looks. But notice how the ones who have humbler looks are beautified and even ennobled by their dignified dress and charming modesty. Styles of today are, in contrast, especially unkind to women not endowed with great looks. By the way, Upper Darby was not a wealthy town. These are middle-class students. Thanks, feminism! Thanks all you pink-hatted gripe artists! Thanks for destroying the beauty, purpose and nobility of femininity!

Consider further that Upper Darby is not even a religious school, but a public one, and that probably not one of these girls is above 18 or 19 years of age.  Young ladies like these could scarcely be found at Catholic high schools twenty years later.  With the exception of the beautiful traditionally-minded schools, of which there are far too few, secondary education is now specifically designed (more or less) to form revolutionaries against the quickly fading Christian West.

What happened then?  Clearly even the 1950s was not the very best of times.  We were still afflicted in lesser degrees with the errors of the Revolution, dating back to Luther, and Freemasonry had gained some considerable ground.  However, once the Church was plunged into a crisis of the greatest magnitude, its influence was greatly diminished in the world.  The world cannot fend for itself; it depends necessarily on the Church for life.  As Vatican II was “liberating” the Church, the moral chaos of the sexual, “Woodstock” revolution was beginning to wreak havoc on the world.

We no longer enable young girls to grow into true mothers.  Instead, they are taught the errors of feminism and “what it means to be free”.  They are taught to degrade true men and hold themselves as the higher authority over all.  At the time the women of yesteryear are becoming mothers, they have already known for years how to use birth control methods and crave tattoos and piercings.  They will almost undoubtedly attend “university” to become a professional woman, which is simply an oxymoron.  A woman strictly committed to the modern workforce is no woman.  This is not to say that girls in this age cannot have university training at all, as even the teacher and nurse, among others, are unfortunately now required to have all of these supposedly necessary qualifications.  We are “enlightened” after all.  However, this should be viewed simply as an exception for our age.  Not even a man should have to endure such degradation when the exact opposite should be taking place.

As for the men, they likewise have been affected by feminism in surrendering so much of their masculinity to the women.  They are hardly men anymore.  It is absolutely a complete reversal of even the most basic common sense.  Behind every man is a good woman; God has designed it this way.  She is to strengthen and make the man.  As the women go, so do the men.  If only the women so hungry for power recognized what kind of power they have been given.  This does not mean that men may make excuses like Adam, but is a recognition of the reality of life. The women largely make the society.  Although the sanctuary is revered higher than the sacristy, the latter enables most everything to take place in the former.  The same goes for the world and home.  Without the “behind the scenes” preparations of the home, the stage of the world cannot go on normally.  Such is the case with the world today.  Let us restore the Christian woman and her Christian home!

~ Steven C.

The original sources for this post are the blog post linked to above, as well as Tradition in Action.  As with many of our sources, we do not necessarily guarantee complete agreement with all positions, but simply an endorsement of the subject matter featured.  


Traditional Catholic Representative stands strong against “homosexual agenda”, is scorned by “LGBTQ” movement and media

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Last November, we were delighted to write on the election of Mr. Francis Awerkamp to the State House of Representatives in Kansas.  For this was not simply the election of yet another so-called “conservative”, but a true sign of Hope.  Mr. Awerkamp has been a lifelong attendee of the Society of St. Pius X’s priory in St. Mary’s, Kansas and ran for office on a platform that was 100 percent faithful to the timeless teachings of the Catholic Church and even the Natural Law. He is also a devoted husband and father, having a wonderful, growing family of his own.

The election of such a candidate is definitely miraculous in our day and this one may be attributed in large part to the good fruits of the strong traditional Catholic community in St. Mary’s.  Located right in the heart of America, this pleasant, humble town holds a profound Catholic history dating especially back to the early 19th century.  It was the Jesuit missionaries who started this wonderful work, building an already devout Indian area into a great force for the Catholic Church and the entire world.  The large parish has always been there, but there have been different areas of focus for the mission from the famous boys school and college to the Jesuit seminary.  After the Second Vatican Council, the Jesuits ended their mission at St. Mary’s.  For a decade, St. Mary’s was mostly dormant and slowly deteriorating, but its greatest work was about to commence.  In 1978, Divine Providence allowed the Society to acquire the property.  Abp. Lefebvre then visited St. Mary’s and admired especially the former Immaculata Chapel  and saw it as “a symbol, raised up in the heart of America, and destined to favor the Catholic renaissance of our great country.”  The chapel was unfortunately later destroyed by fire, but the mission has thrived.  St. Mary’s is now home to 13 traditional priests, approximately 4,000 faithful, a complete elementary and high school with several hundred students, a Liberal Arts College, and much more than I could ever fit into this post.

The town of St. Mary’s itself may be the most Christian town in America. Having so many resident traditional Catholics does make quite a difference after all.  Thank God, it is even illegal to purchase a contraceptive here.  This is one of very few places in the world where traditional Catholics stand a reasonable chance at being elected to higher positions in government and having a say in making laws.  Of course, the cultural degradation in America and the deep political “establishment” have allowed for the most vile of protests against one who even seeks to uphold the most basic precepts of the Natural Law. We are now all of a sudden so “enlightened” and the previous generations archaic and stupid?  What has this modern world produced with its enlightenment?  A few technological advances and pure chaos. It is by no means “tolerant” for anyone to attack and denigrate Christianity, which has given everything to the world, and subsequently embrace all rights for Sodomites.  The true aim of this present-day movement is to subvert the Christian West, not to “love” everyone’s “choices” and backgrounds. Truths of the Faith and Natural Law do not change; they remain constant for eternity.

Mr. Awerkamp is one of very few in a political position who fully understands and accepts the Law of Almighty God and good common sense.  On Monday, he published a newsletter online detailing his positions in regard to certain major issues.  Many of them addressed topics concerning taxes and education.  Inside the newsletter was this paragraph to summarize issues surrounding the family:

Pro-Life/Pro-Family:  The Legislature passed and the Governor signed a Bill updating the Women’s Right to Know Act. This Bill gives women access to more information about her would-be abortionist on abortion consent forms.  This bill represents a small victory for the pro-life efforts in Kansas as it sheds much-needed light on some of the more troubling elements of the abortion industry; hopefully, this Bill will help a mother to chose life for her child. Governor Brownback consistently supports pro-life bills, signing more than any governor in Kansas history, and continues to preserve Kansas as one of the most pro-life states in our country.  Regarding Family issues, many attempts to undermine parental rights or advance the progressive agenda against the natural law were defeated this year.  The so-called “LGBTQ” movement surprised many legislators this year: Organizers brought students to the Capitol to promote the homosexual agenda.  After I explained my clear position that “a man is a man, a woman is a woman, and marriage is between a man and a woman, and this is a reality that we can not change,” the teachers, one of whom was a man wearing a skirt ‘identifying’ as a woman, quickly led the students away.  Re-establishing family values in our country will require effort, but a great first step is to stop using taxpayer dollars to teach, promote, and encourage the homosexual agenda.    

Again, this would have made sense to the vast majority only a few years ago, but in our age, the media has wasted little time in pouncing upon this paragraph.  Although they claim to present “neutral” stories, the tone is obviously a left-wing slant designed to undermine these stances. There are also attacks coming from “Equality Kansas”, an “LGBTQ” rights group.  Executive Director Tom Witt commented, “Awerkamp is letting stereotypes control his thinking, and his comments about the people that were there are nothing but disrespectful and demeaning.” Predictably, many left-wing, pro-death individuals have invaded the media with vitriolic remarks about Mr. Awerkamp and his Faith, to the honor of both.  It might never truer than in our age for groups and individuals to be shunned by the world for being faithful to God.

We ask our readers to consider taking a few moments to thank Mr. Awerkamp for his stance against this immoral legislation.  The thanks might not have to even come in writing, but perhaps through good prayers for himself, his family, and for those he represents.

To conclude, an excerpt from on this gender identity disorder:

“Until now, everyone has followed common sense that the sex makes the gender. The human person is male or female according to one’s biological constitution which, implying a certain kind of education, is the base of the specific psychology. It followed that homosexual behavior was considered as being against the order of nature, thus anti-natural. Now, in order to explain and justify homosexual behavior, modern ideologues affirm that the gender makes the sex. Thus masculine and feminine behavior would not correspond necessarily to the biological sex. For them, “the sex is a social category”, meaning that it corresponds to the desires of each in connection with the “construction” of the social models. Also, as being dependent on desire and education, but no longer on nature, the gender could be changed.

Yet such an approach is based on puerile argumentation. Social influence cannot affect the subject so greatly that the person’s gender is determined solely through social influence. “The sexual identity is inscribed on each cell of the body and can be determined by the ADN test. This is not subject to change.” Male and female identities rest on the being[3] of the person itself. “Agere sequitur esse” says the saying: one acts (or not, in the case of disorders) according to the physiological and psychological construction made by the Creator, although original sin and poor education may twist the plan of God and induce disordered tendencies.

The gender ideologues “denature” the sexual difference in order to achieve the equality between men and women more efficiently, to the point of rendering them similar, and of legitimizing any sexual orientations whatsoever. To be a man or a woman would be a mere question of personal and free preference.

This ideology is also used to draw anthropological conclusions which institute particular realities like homosexuality, but also to modify the sense of human sexuality. If the male and female identities are no longer rooted by God in the nature of beings by means of sexual differences and complementarity, but left to free choice, the use of sexuality itself happens to be disconnected from its objective and realistic goal: generation (i.e.,procreation).

Here, we are facing a dilemma between practice, as it is lived between men and women (men and women, because they are such, and not because they want to be such, thus having sexual intercourse in order to procreate), and a system of analysis, of conceptual representation codified by the gender theory which play with words pretending to free oneself from the reality of things.

Despite its flaws, this ideological current is inspiring political decisions in first world countries. In others, like Africa or Asia, it imposes the “new colonialism” of this modern Western thought, under the pressure of international institutions to the point of destabilizing society in a way similar to Marxism.

The Church calls us to respect all persons in their dignity but this does not mean that she agree with sexual practices which depart from the dignity of human sexuality nor that she admits marriage and adoption by same sex “couples.” It is an abuse of language to speak here of “couples” and of “family” since both always imply something only represented by sexual differences and the generative couple.

The gender ideology’s main aim is to give equal rights to all persons. The pretension to spread marriage to persons of the same sex in the name of equality is both nonsensical and an anthropological transgression since only a male and a female make an alliance which supposes complementarity and therefore sexual differences, whereas certain people make believe that marriage could be contracted on the mere basis of sexual orientation.

In line with this, the gender ideology intends to re-invent and solve the relations of authority between men and women and the prescription of their mutual roles. But injustice and mistreatment cannot be solved by emancipating women from the social role of spouse and mother, by marking their autonomy and independence from man and by liberating themselves from the “unjust constraints” of maternity. The promotion of contraception and abortion by means of the modern notion of reproductive health will bring neither peace to women nor more respect and responsibility to men, let alone peace between men and women.

Only the will of the Creator, with the help of grace, can bring peace and joy by instilling justice and charity. That is the good news that the angels sang on Christmas Eve by announcing the coming of Emmanuel, the Savior.”

~ Steven C.



Mr. Awerkamp’s newsletter:


Post from last November on Mr. Awerkamp’s election:



Archbishop Lefebvre’s Romanitas

It is true that in this current crisis, the human side of Rome has never seemed more human than at present.  As a result, the possession of a true Roman spirit may be more difficult to fully obtain and understand. All of today’s prominent errors from Modernism to Sedevacantism only impede the development of this Romanitas.  This is an immense tragedy, for no Catholic can ever be fully sustained without it.

Bp. Tissier de Mallerais properly defines the term Romanitas and tells of how Archbishop Lefebvre instilled in his spiritual sons this genuine Catholic spirit.  Thanks be to God, the priests and bishops of Tradition continue to pass down Romanitas to the next generation of religious and faithful.       


Dyed-in-the- Wool Roman!(originally published in the February 2015 issue of The Angelus)


An interview with Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais

The Angelus: Your Excellency, how do you understand the term Romanitas?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: The word conveys the idea of Christian Rome while not excluding pagan Rome, which established the unity of the future Christendom through the Latin language and the organization of Imperial Rome; after all, the first Christian princes were Roman emperors. That’s why we don’t neglect pagan Rome or even pagan Latin authors in our studies. It is true that Providence willed that pagan Rome become Christian, and this is the transformation that we celebrate with the Feast of St. Peter on the 29th of June. It’s what Pope Leo I expressed in this beautiful passage in which he praises the conversion of Rome: “From a master of error, thou hast become a disciple of truth.”

The Angelus: You are suggesting first a pagan Rome and then…?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: Then Rome became the Rome of the Popes. Once the emperors relocated to Byzantium, Rome became entirely the Rome of the Popes, together with the Papal States. It was Rome, through the popes, that was to illumine Christendom and organize it against its enemies.

The Angelus: What were the circumstances that led Marcel Lefebvre to discover Rome?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: Young Marcel was sent to Rome by his father, Mr. Lefebvre, since his brother René was already attending the French Seminary, then under the direction of Father Le Floch, whom he held in high regard. His father obliged his son to go there: “You are going to Rome, no discussion. There’s no way you are going to stay in the diocese of Lille, where there are already liberal, modernist influences. At Rome you’ll be under the direction of Father Le Floch,” whom he saw as a director who would hand on the doctrine of the popes.

The Angelus: What did Romanitas mean for the young seminarian?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: For him it meant continuity of papal doctrine. So, for instance, during meals at the seminary, by order of Father Le Floch, the papal encyclicals on the important topics of Christian politics were read aloud. And Father Le Floch himself was to give lectures on the papal encyclicals of the last two centuries, beginning with those of the popes who condemned Freemasonry up to the French Revolution. The two popes Pius VI and Pius VII were its victims. Pius VI was to condemn the principles of the French Revolution. Pius VII was to cosign the Concordat with Napoleon so as to revive the Church in France. There was also the encyclical letter of Pius VII to the Bishop of Troyes lamenting that Louis XVIII recognized the Catholic religion, not as the religion of the kingdom, but only as that of the majority of the French. It was already the apostasy of a head of a Catholic State. Then came the great encyclicals of Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, and Pius XI, all of which, in an admirable continuity, condemned liberal errors in politics and taught the doctrine of the social and political kingship of Christ the King.

The Angelus: Would it be correct to say that Archbishop Lefebvre would not have been the traditionalist bishop we knew had he not attended the French Seminary at Rome?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: Quite right, even if the expression “traditionalist bishop” was not his language. He told us seminarians: “My life was completely changed by my stay at Rome. If I had not gone to the seminary at Rome, I would have become an ordinary diocesan priest without the heritage of St. Pius X that I received at Rome from Father Le Floch, Father Voegtli, Father Le Rohellec, Father Frey and Father Haegy.” These five teachers transmitted to him the spirit of St. Pius X. When he first arrived at Rome, the odor of sanctity, the virtues and the doctrine of St. Pius X were still in the air, for he had died just nine years before. Archbishop Lefebvre’s life was completely changed thanks to the grace of going to Rome.

The Angelus: Was this grace an illumination? a conviction? the idyllic vision of the Church in its essence?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: The Archbishop told us that during his schooldays he had been rather liberal. They thought that the separation of Church and State was a good thing—not in his family, though! Nonetheless, at school he had not learned the principles of the Catholic City. It was at Rome that he learned that the State ought to publicly profess the Catholic religion and defend it. So by going to the seminary, he underwent an intellectual conversion that he often spoke to us about. He would say: “I was very glad to be made aware that I was mistaken when I used to think that the separation of Church and State is a good thing. I was a liberal!” When we heard that from his own lips, we laughed and clapped. Though it was a bit troubling, for they say that “once a liberal, always a liberal”—maybe the Archbishop had kept some vestiges of liberalism. But we did not think so.

The Angelus: How did Archbishop Lefebvre intend to instill an attachment to Rome, this Roman spirit, in his seminarians?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: Once the Society had been founded, first at Fribourg and then Ecône, the first thing he wanted to do was inaugurate a year of spirituality, which he had not received at Rome but later experienced in the novitiate of the Holy Ghost Fathers at Orly. Among the planned curriculum was a special course entitled “The Acts of the Magisterium.” It entailed reflection and engagement in the battle against modern errors. The goal was to enlist the seminarians, so to speak, in the fray of the popes against liberalism and modernism.

But some of his colleagues did not really grasp the purpose of the course. For them, it was a matter of discussion, intellectual jousting and defeating of liberalism and modernism. But that was not the Archbishop’s idea. For him it was a matter of comprehending the spirit with which the popes had condemned error. Now, this spirit is the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. He always connected the intellectual combat against error with the supernatural combat at the level of grace, and therefore with Christ the King. It was for the reign of Christ the King that all of these popes had condemned modernism. So, it did not simply involve a course on modern errors, but a commentary on the very text of the encyclicals of the Roman popes on these magnificent subjects. For, despite some weakness in their politics, their doctrine was absolutely splendid and in perfect continuity with the Church’s constant teaching.

The Angelus: Rome is the see of the successor of St. Peter. When the supreme teaching authority pronounces something seriously as in these encyclicals…

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: In principle, it is the truth! Even if all these pontifical writings are not infallible, nevertheless the teaching of the pope was obeyed, received with piety and devotion, with obedience. But let us be careful! For Archbishop Lefebvre, Romanitas is not merely: “The Pope has spoken in an encyclical, and one must follow it and obey.” Romanitas is a tradition. A rupture would be the end of Romanitas. In that sense, the Second Vatican Council was the death of Romanitas. Thus the early death of two excellent Roman priests and theologians: Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, who had fought for years and years against the modernist theologians in the fifties in the American Ecclesiastical Review and had written his explosive manuscript diary of the four years of the Council; and Fr. Alain Berto, a classmate of the Archbishop at the French Seminary in Rome, who had been the secretary of the “Coetus” during the Council. Both of them could not bear the death of Romanitas.

The Angelus: The Society has a house at Albano, near Rome. How did this come about?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: The Archbishop bought the property at Albano, which was waiting for him and fell into his hands thanks to an unexpected donation. The evening of his first visit to Albano he was lamenting that he didn’t have enough money for the purchase. His chauffeur, Rémy Borgeat, said to him: “Monseigneur, go ahead and buy it! Write the check and St. Joseph will sign it.” And lo and behold! a benefactor invited him to dinner, and he had the million and a half he needed to buy the property.

The Angelus: What did he intend the Albano property to be used for?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: What did he want to do with it? He wanted the SSPX to have a presence in Rome, in the same way that the Congregation of the Holy Ghost did. He wanted to have a Roman year for all his priests. The priests, after their ordination, would come to Albano to soak up the Roman spirit. They would have classes about Rome, the Roman spirit, the archaeology and history of Rome. And they would visit the monuments, the churches, the relics, and the popes at Rome.

The Angelus: So, then, the priests of the SSPX are not anti-pope or sedevacantist?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: Far from it! It’s just the opposite. Archbishop Lefebvre had a great devotion toward the popes, even for Pius XI, who had condemned Action Française. Even for Paul VI, the pope of the New Mass, who suspended Archbishop Lefebvre, the Archbishop had a great respect.

The Angelus: What in fact became of Albano?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: The priests’ year only existed a few months. In 1976, a small group of priests, in which I did not have the good fortune to participate, spent six months and then were launched into the ministry. And finally the priests’ year did not last. In its place, we had a month at Rome. The theology seminarians would spend a whole month at Albano and each day would visit Rome.

The Angelus: There was also a seminary that was established there for a while, wasn’t there?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: Oh, yes! I forgot! Between 1978 and 1982, under the direction of Father Bonneterre, there were two years of philosophy at Rome between the year of spirituality and theology at Ecône. For them, it was very rewarding.

The Angelus: Was the Roman month beneficial?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: I did it myself just before the pontificate of Benedict XVI, and I have very good memories of it. We lodged at Albano and we got up every morning, but not too early. (The Germans, more energetic, got up an hour before us.) We Frenchmen took things a little easier, and went by train to the Termini station, then went to visit the great Roman basilicas. We visited many practically unknown churches with Father Boivin for the French and Father Klaus Wodsack for the Germans. Obviously, we did not follow the same itineraries since we did not have the same interests. For Father Wodsack, the object was to show the influence of the Holy Roman emperors, and for Father Boivin, it was to show the role of the kings of France.

The Angelus: Did the seminarians derive any benefit?

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais: Yes, indeed. Now our young priests are able to lead our faithful in pilgrimage to Rome and hand on to them something of the Roman spirit—Romanitas.


~ Steven C.



Cardinal Joachim Meisner, one of the four Dubia signatories, dies aged 83

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Report from Crux:

Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the former Archbishop of Cologne and president of the German bishops’ conference, has died at the age of 83.

Meisner, considered a leader of the conservative wing of the German episcopate, was one of the four cardinals who presented the “dubia” to Pope Francis, seeking clarifications on the document Amoris Laetitia.

The Cologne archdiocese said Meisner died Wednesday while on holiday in Bad Fuessing, near the Austrian border, where he had been living since his retirement.

Born Christmas Day in 1933 in the eastern German city of Breslau, which is today the Polish city of Wroclaw, Meisner’s family fled to the state of Thuringia in 1945 ahead of the advancing Red Army at the end of World War II.

He studied theology in the city of Erfurt, and was ordained in 1962.

After advancing up the Catholic hierarchy, Meisner was made Bishop of Berlin in 1980 and named a cardinal three years later. He became the Archbishop of Cologne in 1989 and served in that role until 2014, staying five years past the retirement age of 75 at the request of Pope Benedict XVI. Francis accepted his resignation in 2014.

During his time in office, he was a strong voice for the pro-life movement, and denounced the government for trying to remove crucifixes from the classroom.

He also caused controversy by opposing plans to build a large mosque in Cologne, and once urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to apologize for criticizing the Vatican’s handling of the case of a Holocaust-denying bishop.

In 2005, he welcomed the newly-elected Benedict to Cologne for World Youth Day, his first trip as pope.

He expressed his shock when Benedict announced his retirement in 2013, stating “marriage and being pope are until death.” He later agreed with the decision, remarking upon Benedict’s frailty.

Last year, he and three other cardinals – American Raymond Burke, Italian Carlo Caffarra, and fellow German Walter Brandmüller – sent five “dubia” [yes-or-no questions] asking clarification on Amoris Laetitia, particularly on the matter of divorced-and-remarried persons receiving Communion, to Francis and the then-head of the Vatican’s doctrine office, Cardinal Gerhard Müller.

Subsequently, the four cardinals attempted to gain an audience with the pope to discuss the issue, but were refused.

“He was not afraid of death, he has always proclaimed it,” said Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Meisner’s successor in Cologne, in his first remarks after hearing the news.

“For him, God was the center; nothing else mattered to him,” he told Domradio, Germany’s Catholic radio service.

Woelki said Meisner looked at his entire world – in thought, action, and political and social views – through the lens of Christ.

“For him, death was just as he said it, the transition from one hand of God into the other hand of God,” Woelki said.

Woelki said his predecessor also stood up for truth, and “fought for the protection of life from the beginning to the end, and raised his voice wherever the dignity of the person was challenged.”

The cardinal also acknowledged the prominent role Meisner played in shaping both the German state and the German Church after the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of the country in 1989.

Requiesecat in Pace. Amen.

Although Cdl. Meisner cannot be considered a traditionalist(he approved the morning-after pill in Catholic hospitals, for one: ), he will be most remembered for his efforts concerning the letter and dubia addressed to Pope Francis.  His death may be considered particularly tragic in that he was one of far too few clergy who publicly opposed the incredibly modernist reforms of this pontificate.  Perhaps God’s graces will finally allow others to see clearly this terrible state in which the Church finds herself.  Death alone certainly has a way of moving others.

We must pray that these efforts continue and grow stronger amongst the “official” clergy. Although Abp. Lefebvre and his beloved Society of St. Pius X are the greatest and most beautiful of miracles in Church history, it is not good that they be essentially the only ones fighting.  Just observe the state of the Church, of the whole world!  Complete and utter chaos! How appalling that such a small number in the Church are raising any serious objections.  And how they are treated by their fellow clergy!  No, the four Cardinals had an absolute duty to raise these objections.  Just read the corresponding parts of Amoris Laetitia.  Considering that so many are accepting a most progressive interpretation of this document, Pope Francis has not given the Dubia the attention it deserves.  He even appears to side at times with this more liberal interpretation, the allowing of sacrileges!

Our Lady of Fatima certainly could not have been more correct on this “diabolical disorientation” and the conflicts between the clergy.  God has given us THE remedy for this disastrous situation, through the intercession of Our Lady.  Will the Pope and Bishops finally be open to performing the Consecration?  For this, we must pray and do much penance and good works.  Be faithful to the Rosary!

~ Steven C.

For the 29th Anniversary of the Econe Consecrations

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Today marks 29 years since Abp. Lefebvre invested Frs. Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galaretta, and Richard Williamson with the office of the episcopate.  This event has always been regarded as a great blessing by those who have truly held firm to Tradition and it will always be remembered as such.  I would even go so far to say that it is one of the greatest days in Church history.  As the Modernists gained almost complete control of the “official” Church structures, Holy Mass, the Sacraments, and Doctrine were diminished in favor of “ecumenism” and ambiguity.  By consecrating these bishops, the Archbishops guaranteed the continuation of Tradition and, subsequently, the Catholic Church itself.

As over a generation has passed since the Consecrations, it would be wise to remind ourselves why the Archbishop was obliged to consecrate these bishops.  Surely we must keep strong in this fight and instill in the younger generations the Truth so they may grow in Love for God and His Holy Church.

The Archbishop had attempted for several years to guide the SSPX into the status of an official Personal Prelature, if possible.  Discussions apparently proceeded fairly well, although there was no doubt of some animosity from Rome over the SSPX’s positions on Vatican II and the New mass.  As the official status drew nearer, the Archbishop began to uneasily observe negative signs from Rome, signs that would indicate a great risk of a trap if he went much further.  One particular area of concern is the fact that Rome was being evasive on the date that the Archbishop would consecrate a successor.  The Pope and many Bishops were also starting to take part in even graver actions, such as the Assisi gathering.  The Archbishop saw then what he was obliged to do: Consecrate bishops without the Papal mandate for the preservation of Catholic Tradition.

Why are bishops needed for the preservation of Tradition?  The answer is twofold.  The first and primary reason is for reliable traditional ordinations and confirmations.  At the time, there was no bishop in the world except for Abps. Lefebvre and de Castro Mayer that appeared open to ordaining priests that rejected the errors of Vatican II and the New mass.  Bishops should not just be open to doing this, they must ordain only these candidates for the priesthood.  The same is still probably true today.  Even a prelate like Cardinal Burke still endorses Vatican II and the New mass(if said more conservatively). This is not to diminish the good actions of anyone. However, distinctions must be made.

Sometimes, modernist bishops will ordain with such great abuses introduced (and with the already problematic rite of Pope Paul VI), that oftentimes we must question whether such ordinations are even valid.  The same holds true for confirmations.  Catholics have every rite to receive the true, Traditional sacraments under clergy who truly oppose error and have been ordained without question.  Archbishop Lefebvre certainly realized his duty to keep the Traditional Mass and Sacraments surviving:

“You well know, my dear brethren, that there can be no priests without bishops. When God calls me – no doubt this will be before long – from whom would these seminarians receive the Sacrament of Orders? From conciliar bishops, who, due to their doubtful intentions, confer doubtful sacraments? This is not possible. Who are the bishops who have truly kept Tradition and the Sacraments such as the Church has conferred them for twenty centuries until Vatican II? They are Bishop de Castro Mayer and myself. I cannot change that. That is how it is. Hence, many seminarians have entrusted themselves to us, they sensed that here was the continuity of the Church, the continuity of’ Tradition. And they came to our seminaries, despite all the difficulties that they have encountered, in order to receive a true ordination to the Priesthood, to say the true Sacrifice of Calvary, the true Sacrifice of the Mass, and to give you the true Sacraments, true doctrine, the true catechism. This is the goal of these seminaries.”

The secondary reason these consecrations were done was for the preaching of the Faith. Although having a bishop for this role is clearly not required, as any parish priest can preach the Faith, it certainly provides a greater influence for the spreading of the Faith. The Episcopacy is an institution of great influence and grace.  Even lukewarm Catholic faithful are often very eager “to hear what the Bishop said”.  The Bishop simply holds a position of great leadership and importance, one of greater authority than the priests. His preaching is essential for the spreading of the Faith.

“As for us, we just handed it down, through these dear priests here present and through all those who have chosen to resist this wave of apostasy in the Church, by keeping the Eternal Faith and giving it to the faithful. We are just carriers of this Good News, of this Gospel which Our Lord Jesus Christ gave to us, as well as of the means of sanctification: the Holy Mass, the true Holy Mass, the true Sacraments which truly give the spiritual life.”

I am pleased to provide below the declaration of the SSPX bishops for the 25th anniversary of the Consecrations.  Praise God, they recognize the nature of this crisis and declare their fidelity and love for the Church.  May they be forever rewarded for their phenomenal work and faithfulness.


Declaration of the SSPX’s bishops on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the episcopal consecrations (June 1988–June 2013)


1. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the episcopal consecrations, the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X would like to express solemnly their gratitude to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayerfor the heroic step they courageously took on June 30, 1988. Most especially they would like to express their filial gratitude towards their venerable founder who, after so many years spent serving the Church and the Sovereign Pontiff, so as to safeguard the Faith and the Catholic priesthood, did not hesitate to suffer the unjust accusation of disobedience.

2. In his letter addressed to us before the consecrations, he wrote:

I beseech you to remain attached to the See of Peter, to the Roman Church, Mother and Mistress of all churches, in the integral Catholic Faith, as expressed in the Professions of Faith, in the catechism of the Council of Trent, in conformity with that which you have been taught in the seminary. Remain faithful to the transmission of this Faith so that the reign of Our Lord may come.”

It is indeed this phrase which expresses the profound reason for the act which he was going to undertake “so that the reign of Our Lord might come,” adveniat regnum tuum!

3. Following Archbishop Lefebvre, we affirm that the cause of the grave errors which are in the process of demolishing the Church does not reside in a bad interpretation  of the conciliar texts—a “hermeneutic of rupture” which would be opposed to a “hermeneutic of reform in continuity”—but truly in the texts themselves, by virtue of the unheard of choice made by Vatican II. This choice is manifest in its documents and in its spirit; faced with “secular and profane humanism,” faced with the “religion (as indeed it is) of man who makes himself God,” the Church as unique custodian of Revelation “of God who became man” has wanted to make known its “new humanism” by saying to the modern world, “we too, we more than any other, have the cult of man.” (Paul VI, Closing Speech, December 7, 1965). But this coexistence of the cult of God and the cult of man is radically opposed to the Catholic Faith which teaches us to render the supreme cult and to give the primacy exclusively to the one true God and to only His Son, Jesus Christ, in whom “dwelleth all the fullness of the Divinity corporeally” (Col. 2:9).

4. We are truly obliged to observe that this Council without comparison, which wanted to be merely pastoral and not dogmatic, inaugurated a new type of magisterium, hitherto unheard of in the Church, without roots in Tradition; a magisterium resolved to reconcile Catholic doctrine with liberal ideas; a magisterium imbued with the modernist ideas of subjectivism, of immanentism and of perpetual evolution according to the false concept of a living tradition, vitiating the nature, the content, the role and the exercise of ecclesiastical magisterium.

5. Henceforth the reign of Christ is no longer the preoccupation of the ecclesiastical authorities, despite the fact that Christ’s words, “all power is given to me on earth and in heaven,” (Mt 28:18) remain an absolute truth and an absolute reality. To deny them in action is tantamount to no longer recognizing in practice the divinity of Our Lord. Hence because of the Council, the sovereignty of Christ over human societies is simply ignored, and even combatted, and the Church is imbued with this liberal spirit which manifests itself especially in religious liberty, ecumenism, collegiality and the New Mass.

6. Religious Liberty, as expressed by Dignitatis humanae and its practical application these last 50 years, logically leads to demanding God-made-Man to renounce His reign over man-who-makes-himself-God, which is equivalent to dissolving Christ. In the place of a conduct which is inspired by a solid faith in the real power of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we see the Church being shamefully guided by human prudence and with such self-doubt that she asks nothing other from the State than that which the Masonic Lodges wish to concede to her: the common law in the midst of, and on the same level as, other religions which she no longer dares call false.

7. In the name of a ubiquitous ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio) and of a vain inter-religious dialogue (Nostra Aetate), the truth about the one true Church is silenced; also, as a large part of the clergy and the faithful no longer see in Our Lord and the Catholic Church the unique way of salvation, they have renounced to convert the adepts of false religions, leaving them rather in ignorance of the unique Truth. This ecumenism has thus literally killed the missionary spirit through seeking a false unity, too often reducing the mission of the Church to that of delivering a message of a purely terrestrial peace and of a humanitarian role of lessening want in the world, placing it thereby in the wake of international organizations.

8. The weakening of faith in Our Lord’s divinity favors a dissolution of the unity of authority in the Church, by introducing a collegial, egalitarian and democratic spirit, (see Lumen Gentium). Christ is no longer the head from which everything flows, in particular the exercise of authority. The Sovereign Pontiff who no longer exercises effectively the fullness of his authority, and the bishops who—contrary to the teaching of Vatican I—esteem that they can collegially and habitually share the fullness of the supreme power, commit themselves thereby, with the priests, to listen to and to follow “the people of God,” the new sovereign. This represents the destruction of authority and in consequence the ruin of Christian institutions: families, seminaries, religious institutes.

9. The New Mass, promulgated in 1969, diminishes the affirmation of the reign of Christ by the Cross (“regnavit a ligno Deus”). Indeed, the rite itself curtails and obscures the sacrificial and propitiatory nature of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Underpinning this new rite is the new and false theology of the paschal mystery. Both one and the other destroy Catholic spirituality as founded upon the sacrifice of Our Lord on Calvary. This Mass is penetrated with an ecumenical and Protestant spirit, democratic and humanist, which empties out the sacrifice of the Cross. It illustrates the new concept of “the common priesthood of the baptized” which undermines the sacramental priesthood of the priest.

10. Fifty years on, the causes persist and still engender the same effects. Hence today the consecrations retain their full justification. It was love of the Church which guided Archbishop Lefebvre and which guides his sons. It is the same desire to “pass on the Catholic priesthood in all its doctrinal purity and its missionary charity” (Archbishop LefebvreSpiritual Journey) which animates the Society of St. Pius X at the service of the Church, when it asks with insistence for the Roman authorities to regain the treasure of doctrinal, moral and liturgical Tradition.

11. This love of the Church explains the rule that Archbishop Lefebvre always observed: to follow Providence in all circumstances, without ever allowing oneself to anticipate it. We mean to do the same: either when Rome returns to Tradition and to the Faith of all time—which would re-establish order in the Church; or when she explicitly acknowledges our right to profess integrally the Faith and to reject the errors which oppose it, with the right and the duty for us to oppose publicly the errors and the proponents of these errors, whoever they may be—which would allow the beginning of a re-establishing of order. Meanwhile, faced with this crisis which continues its ravages in the Church, we persevere in the defense of Catholic Tradition and our hope remains entire, as we know by the certitude of Faith that “the gates of hell will not prevail against her.” (Mt. 16:18)

12. We mean to follow well the injunction of our dear and venerable Father in the episcopacy: “Dear friends, be my consolation in Christ, remain strong in the Faith, faithful to the true sacrifice of the Mass, to the true and holy Priesthood of Our Lord, for the triumph and the glory of Jesus in heaven and on earth” (Letter to the Bishops). May the Holy Trinity, by the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, grant us the grace of fidelity to the episcopacy which we have received and which we want to exercise for the honor of God, the triumph of the Church and the salvation of souls.

Econe, June 27, 2013, on the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Bishop Bernard Fellay
Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais
Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta

(source: DICI)


~ Steven C.


Mass Unplugged

Image result for Traditional Mass

Dear Catholics, it becomes more apparent every day that we are living in a very artificial and “adapting” world, with most of this adapting unfortunately based on materialistic and Modernistic principles.  While the use of today’s conveniences is often not sinful and sometimes even required for our age, it may threaten to diminish a sense of the supernatural in us.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass directly contrasts the modern world in that it is a timeless atmosphere, with everything surrounding the sacrifice coming from God.  As we better understand this eternal, supernatural character of the Mass, we will better appreciate the great and wonderful Mystery that surrounds the Sacrifice and everything involved with it.  Fr. Jordie Stephens, SSPX, explains in his April 2017 letter to Third Order members:

Dear Postulants and Professed members,

In my younger days I remember pop and rock bands doing sessions before a live audience that were called ‘unplugged’. Amplifiers were abandoned, synthesizers were softened, and a more relaxed atmosphere prevailed. Among other things, it was an opportunity for groups to convince their fans that behind the hundreds of electrical cords and dials there did in fact lurk real people with real musical skills.

The artificial and synthetic surrounds us, from our phones to our freezers. It is becoming increasingly novel to breathe un-air-conditioned air, to eat food from the garden instead of the packet, to see pictures without pixels and hear music without microphones. But both in body and soul we ourselves are far from synthetic: we are God-made, not man-made. We are designed by a mind dwelling not in time, but eternity. There is thus always a certain refreshment and invigoration when we encounter objects similarly God-made.

What has this got to do with Holy Mass? Well, if ever it were necessary to get away from the artificial and part with the plastic, to get ‘unplugged’ from the synthetic, it is certainly at Holy Mass.

To approach the tabernacle is to come into the presence of God in a unique way, since both His divine and human nature meet us. Now God dwells not in time but eternity. He is above, beyond and behind time. He is thus no more bound and conditioned by it than was Tolkien by the time scale and history of his Middle Earth. God lives in the perfect ‘all-at-once’ world of eternity, whereas we live in the imperfect ‘one-thing-after-another’ world where everything is still ‘on the way’ to its goal.

To enter a Catholic church, and especially to step into the Catholic sanctuary, is to approach at close quarters this timeless and eternal world of God. Everything in it and approaching should therefore taste of the timeless. Until the 1960’s, every traditional Catholic church and its liturgy savoured of this timeless and eternal atmosphere.

Just think of the timelessness of church objects. Flowers and floral designs; beeswax candles; marble, stone and wood; gold and silver; flowing robes; plant-based linen for altar cloths; sermons on timeless topics; timeless and ancient Latin. All these are ‘unplugged’ from any specific time or culture and are meant to help transport us into eternity.

This not to deny that all these natural objects are touched up and refined artificially. The flowers are arranged artificially, the stone, marble and wood are carved and cut elaborately and sometimes exquisitely. But these artistic modifications enhance and elevate the merely natural, redeeming it. True art always imitates nature, ensuring that the human touch should follow the contours and colours indicated by nature herself. Although nature is not the good God, she is a good guide.

Before electricity, the church and sanctuary were also quite literally ‘unplugged’. Until the 20th century Mass (excluding Midnight Masses of course) was celebrated only in the morning. Without electric lights to compensate one can imagine the semi-darkness that pervaded Mass for twenty centuries. This may be seen in the many artistic depictions of Mass, full of shadows and subtle plays of light. The morning sun is weak much of the year, even without taking into account any overcast days. One can thus understand how the two candles stipulated for Low Mass was more than just for decorative and symbolic purposes. They helped the priest to see.

Is there not a tendency sometimes to overuse electric lights in our churches? Granted, flipping a switch is easier than lighting a host of candles, which is both time-consuming and messy. We moderns want efficiency, and instantaneous light without labour is one more welcome time-saver. We are also compulsive consumers, with switchflipping and packet-scrunching a significant part of our day. We like turning things ‘on’. It makes us feel in control.

Our ancestors, however, saw a candle-lit church as mysterious and wonderful. We moderns are perhaps more likely to see the semi-darkness as somehow deficient, as needing ‘fixing’. So we turn on all the lights to remove all shadow. It is a symptom. We are far less mystical. We are accustomed to snow-white bathrooms and perhaps hypnotized by the sterile and lifeless light emitted by LED’s.

But Holy Mass is precisely a place of mystery. Banishing all shadow and obscurity is just what the New Mass and all its paraphernalia is about. Latin was removed precisely for its ‘obscurity’. The blaring lights of modern English were better, apparently. The revolutionaries applied this principle to every aspect of the liturgy as well as the church itself. As we know, all this removing of obscurity resulted paradoxically in the total obscurity and even eclipse of the Faith itself. This desire to see and understand everything at Mass is a novelty, unknown to Catholics who went before us. To conceal is to reveal. Less is more.

The availability of electric light coincided with the availability of the missal for the faithful at the end of the 1800’s. To read demands light, and naturally artificial light comes to the rescue. But our ancestors came to Mass often bringing nothing but themselves. Even after printing was invented in the 1400’s, a missal would have been useless for most, since only the minority could read. Many of us, however, feel uncomfortable and perhaps even guilty coming to Mass missal-less. We should not be. Yes, it may help us or our children concentrate and not fidget. As I have noted before, Mass is not primarily an instruction but a sacrifice. Neither Latin nor English can clarify the infinite mystery of Mass. Just like those standing at Calvary, the essential thing to know is that ‘My God is suffering and dying for me, a sinner’. We should often remind ourselves that the vast majority of Catholics attending Mass throughout history were armed with little more than this.

Attending Mass or making a visit is to enter an ‘unplugged’ world, the threshold of God’s timeless eternity. As much as possible let us leave the latest fashions and technologies at the door. Our clothes and gestures should likewise be affected by this breaking free of time. A buzzing mobile phone or a t-shirt with an offensive logo are inappropriate in church not just because of the irreverence: rather, they simply have nothing of the timeless.

This sacred space and sacred time into which we step is designedly opaque and shadowy, from its Latin to its lighting. It all ignites our sense of wonder and humility in the presence of eternal realities far, far beyond us and our particular time. May we love and treasure this sacred semi-darkness and dimmed divinity. It is eminently dignum et justum est, ‘meet and just’, that in God’s presence we are unplugged from the profane and plugged into the perpetual.

In the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

Fr Jordie Stephens

Spiritual Director of the Third Order of SSPX for Australia


~ Steven C.

Official SSPX Responses to Rome’s letter on marriages and Cardinal Muller’s EWTN Interview

There have been as usual numerous rumors circulating regarding the discussions between the Society of St. Pius X and Rome.  Two issues in particular have been focused on in recent weeks.  The first is the Society’s plan of action in response to Rome’s letter concerning their marriages.  The second is a particular interview given by Cardinal Muller on EWTN.

I am overjoyed to say that the Society has responded to both concerns and it has done so excellently, exactly in line with the principles of Archbishop Lefebvre and the mind of the Church.

Regarding the Cardinal Muller interview:  The Cardinal answered questions on “several sensitive subjects in the life of the Church”, particularly on Amoris Laetitia and its implementation.  There were many good statements made in the interview and a recognition that not everything is right inside the Church.  However, many of the responses given indicate clearly an attempt to reconcile much of the present confusion and novelties with orthodoxy.  Even if traditional doctrine is noted and esteemed, the basic law of non-contradiction is being abandoned.  Such an approach can never work, no matter the intention.

During the interview, the Cardinal was asked about the possibility of an official canonical status for the SSPX.  He responded:  “It needs time. What we need is a deeper reconciliation, not only signing of a document” (sic).  He also laments the fact that “some [members of the Society] are thinking we are the ‘right’ Catholics”.  In addition, he believes the Society needs to “accept the Catholic creed and the Councils.”

The Society’s response(choice of bolded statements is my own):  “As far as the superiors of the Society are concerned, they remain faithful to the analysis of their founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and consider that for the time being it is not possible to do so absolutely and without the necessary distinctions. They have never had any problem with recognizing the hierarchy of the Church founded on Peter, the profession of Faith contained in the Creed, and the authority of the popes and the councils. The problem comes from Vatican II, an atypical and singular council, that introduced into the Church new doctrines that had already been condemned by the previous Magisterium (religious liberty, false ecumenism, doctrinal and moral relativism that comes from the exaltation of human rights, and a personalist view of the individual conscience and life in society, etc.). The same problem is presented by the reforms resulting from the Council (the new Mass, the new catechism, the new canon law, the new relations with the secularized world, etc.), that are the cause —and the popes themselves admitted it— of the “self-destruction of the Church” and the “silent apostasy” that has spread throughout all the societies that were once Christian.”

As long as Cardinal Muller speaks in such a tone while holding this position, a workable official canonical status might be very difficult, if not impossible.  There is still so much contradiction coming from Rome on this issue.  At any rate, the SSPX and those affiliated with her only seek to follow the Will of God.  We must trust that our Heavenly Father will indicate the best path with truly proper, Catholic discernment.  It is a great grace that Tradition is starting to gain an unprecedented influence in the post-Vatican II official Church structures.  The patience and perseverance of those who remained firm against error and did not hesitate to take these stances to Rome when called are bearing good fruits.

In addition, the Society has now released a thorough response to the letter from Rome conceding some privileges regarding the celebration of Matrimony.  It is necessarily longer, but a very fine analysis and highly recommended.  This response should ease the conscious of those who expressed concern of a change of direction in the Society. Attention should primarily be given to the part that addresses the fear of diocesan priests freely coming in to SSPX chapels to witness marriages.

For ease in reading, I have bolded parts of the response that I believe are most important.

~ Steven C.

The Origin of the “Ordinary Form” of Marriage

Canon Raoul Naz writes in Traité de droit canonique (Letouzey et Ané, 1954), III, §417: “The Council of Trent intended to react against the abuse of clandestine marriages in demanding by its famous Decree Tametsi that matrimonial vows be given in the presence of the pastor or of the Ordinary of the parties, or of a priest delegated by them….The Decree Ne temere of the Congregation of the Council, dated August 2, 1907, required for the entire Latin Church from Easter Sunday 1908 on, that in order for a marriage to be valid, the presence of the Ordinary or the pastor of the place where it is contracted, or else of a priest delegated by them….With a few slight modifications or additions, the part of the Decree Ne temere concerning marriage is reproduced in its entirety [in the 1917 Code of Canon Law],” as it is also in the 1983 Code.

Therefore marriages, apart from well-defined exceptions, must be contracted “in the presence of the pastor or local Ordinary, or of a priest delegated by one of them” (canon 1094 of the Code of 1917), not by virtue of the 1983 Code, or even of the 1917 Code, but directly by virtue of the Council of Trent and of a subsequent act by St. Pius X.

This juridical provision, which affects validity, has absolutely nothing to do with any definition of marriage whatsoever (whether traditional or modernist), nor with the other conditions for validity and liceity, nor with the way in which canonical tribunals proceed in judging causes of nullity of marriage, much less with other considerations on the current situation of the Church: religious liberty, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, the disastrous state of the liturgy, etc. It regulates exclusively and precisely the way in which the vows of the future spouses must be expressed, and it does this to assure the certainty that a real marriage has been contracted.

Delegation to Celebrate a Wedding

According to canon law, only a cleric who has jurisdiction over a territory is by nature a “canonical witness”: this means the Ordinary (in other words, the diocesan bishop throughout his diocese) or the pastor in his parish. All other priests, even the parochial vicar (assistant priest) in his own parish, need delegation in order to receive the vows of the future spouses.

Therefore, by law that is quite ordinary, quite universal, and quite certain, a priest who is not the local pastor and intends to celebrate a wedding is obliged to ask for delegation, either from the bishop of the diocese where the marriage is to take place, or from the pastor in whose parish this wedding will be celebrated. This is a perfectly normal situation in the Church: a requirement of canon law that applies to all priests who are not the local pastor.

This delegation does not give “jurisdiction” in the proper sense: this is why, as we will see, the bishop or the pastor can delegate even a priest who is affected by canonical penalties. It would be better to call it a “power” or a “faculty”. In fact, this delegation allows the delegated priest to substitute for the pastor or the bishop, to take his place as “canonical witness” for that particular marriage. As Canon Pierre Fourneret writes in Le mariage chrétien (Beauchesne, 1919), 145-146: “The pastor and the Ordinary always have the right to let a delegate take their place in this function, provided that he is a priest….The delegated priest is content with representing the pastor or the Ordinary.”

On the other hand, every priest who has received delegation is a “canonical witness” and can therefore celebrate a wedding in a way that is certainly valid. In this case, indeed, Canon Fourneret emphasizes: “The validity of the marriage cannot be attacked because of the priest’s lack of competence” (ibid., 147).

The “Extraordinary Form” and its Legitimacy

Does this mean, however, that this “ordinary juridical form”, as Naz calls it, when used by the Ordinary, by the local pastor, or by a priest who has received delegation, is absolutely the only possible juridical form for a valid marriage? No. Canon law explicitly provides an “extraordinary juridical form” in the case where “the pastor or Ordinary or delegated priest who assists at marriage…cannot be had or cannot be present without grave inconvenience” (canon 1098 of the 1917 Code).

The impossibility of having or finding a “canonical witness” may be either physical or moral (cf. F. X. Wernz and P. Vidal, Ius Canonicum [Rome, 1946], V, no. 544; D. Lazzarato, Iurisprudentia Pontificia [Rome: Typis Poliglottis Vaticanis, 1956], no. 926, §§5-6). Any serious spiritual or temporal inconvenience is sufficient (cf. B. H. Merkelbach, Summa Theologiae Moralis [Paris, 1942], III, no. 849). This serious inconvenience may affect the priest, one or both of the parties to the marriage, a third party, or the common good (cf. M. Conte a Coronata, Compendium Iuris Canonici [Marietti, 1950], III, no. 1048).

Naz emphasizes that “this idea of physical or moral impossibility of reaching the priest was understood more and more extensively….The jurisprudence developed along a line that increasingly favored the application of canon 1098” (Traité de droit canonique, III, §426).

Marriage by virtue of canon 1098, or marriage according to the “extraordinary form”, is therefore by no means a false marriage, an appearance of marriage, or a second-rate marriage. On the contrary, it is explicitly foreseen by canon law and protected by it. For example, in mission lands where the priest can visit only now and then, many marriages are celebrated according to the “extraordinary form”. Provided that the objective conditions for using the “extraordinary form” are satisfied, a marriage celebrated in this manner is undoubtedly valid.

Marriages in the Society of St. Pius X

Between 1970 and 1975, the priests of the Society of St. Pius X who had to celebrate a wedding ordinarily asked for and received the necessary delegation from the local pastor. From 1975 on, after the alleged “suppression” of the Society of St. Pius X, this delegation was usually denied the priests of the Society of St. Pius X (except by a few priest friends) under the false pretense that their status in the Church was irregular.

Meanwhile, the crisis in the Church was manifesting its lethal fruits and made it more and more difficult for the faithful who were devoted to Tradition to be able to marry in a fully Catholic manner. The proposed liturgy was the Protestantized liturgy resulting from Vatican II. The instruction of the fiancés was very often marred by serious moral errors, especially concerning marriage. In particular, following Vatican II, the two ends of marriage, one of which by its very nature is subordinate to the other, were said to be equivalent, or else (according to the spirit of the 1983 Code of Canon Law), quite simply reversed.

The natural right to marriage, as well as the supernatural right to preserve one’s Catholic faith, were therefore very widely trampled upon.

In these conditions, the Society of St. Pius X made a well-founded determination that in the Church today there is a real and serious “state of necessity”, especially in matters concerning marriage, a “state of necessity” that involves a moral impediment to recourse to the “canonical witness”, since he would propose an adulterated liturgy and a deviant morality. Because of this, it becomes legitimate to resort to the “extraordinary form” according to canon 1098, and therefore to marry with the traditional liturgy in the presence of a priest attached to Tradition, who nevertheless is neither the local Ordinary nor the pastor nor a priest delegated by one of them (cf. for example Fr. Grégoire Celier, Les mariages dans la Tradition sont-ils valides? [“Are Traditional marriages valid?”], a leaflet unconcerned with the present-day controversies, since it was published by Clovis in 1999).

In this case, the priest of the Society of St. Pius X is not, strictly speaking, the “canonical witness”, because he possesses neither proper jurisdiction (he is neither the Ordinary nor the local pastor) nor a delegation (since no one has delegated him). “The priest in no way claims a jurisdiction that he does not possess. Rather, according to the terms of canon 1098, he is present because ‘if another priest can be present, he shall be called and together with the witnesses must assist at marriage.’ He receives the vows, because this is what the liturgical rites calls for, but neither in this case nor in the case of the canonical form is the priest the minister (rather, the spouses themselves are the ministers): he is content with being the witness. He celebrates the Mass, because that is the legitimate desire of the couple and the Church’s wish. He fills out the registers, not as the canonical witness, but in order to keep an official record of a marriage celebrated according to canon 1098. All cases of marriages celebrated ‘in Tradition’ (that is, without the canonical form) were and will be in terms of canon 1098, thus before witnesses, the priest being a naturally reliable witness—but not the ‘canonical witness’ of the ‘canonical form’.” (Les mariages dans la Tradition sont-ils valides? [Clovis, 1999], 25-26.)

The “Extraordinary Form” Remains…Extraordinary

It is quite clear that the assertion of a “state of necessity” in matters concerning marriage, which justifies recourse to the “extraordinary form”, is and remains perfectly valid, inasmuch as the crisis in the Church is very far from being resolved; on the contrary, in fact, especially as far as Christian marriage is concerned, as the two Synods on the Family and the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia have just demonstrated. Therefore a marriage celebrated according to the “extraordinary form”, by reason of the state of necessity, is and remains valid in itself.

Nevertheless, as its name indicates, the “extraordinary form” is outside of the ordinary; it can not become ordinary. It can exist only in the case where the “ordinary form” is not possible. Canon 1094, which deals with the “ordinary form”, is an “absolute” canon, which begins quite clearly: “Only those marriages are valid….” Canon 1098, about the “extraordinary form”, is only a “conditional” canon, which starts: “If…cannot,” and includes still more restrictions, such as “provided it is prudently foreseen….” The absolute and unconditional norm of marriage is therefore the “ordinary form”, whereas the “extraordinary form” is only exceptional, relative, and occasional.

This does not mean that the future spouses attached to Tradition must, in all cases, first seek to obtain the “ordinary form” and then resort to the “extraordinary form” only when they despair of finding a suitable “canonical witness”. After all, the state of necessity is currently an actual, universal fact, which in itself authorizes recourse directly to the “extraordinary form”, especially because of the many previous unfortunate experiences.

On the other hand, if a serious possibility arises of celebrating in a certain number of cases marriages that are entirely in conformity with Tradition, but according to the “ordinary form”, it would certainly be contrary to prudence, to canon law, and to the spirit of the Church not to examine this possibility carefully and not to use it if it is acceptable.

From this perspective and in this spirit it is advisable to study the Letter from Cardinal Müller dated March 27, 2017, to determine whether the arrangements that it proposes would make it possible in a certain number of cases to celebrate marriages according to the “ordinary form” but perfectly in conformity with Tradition, or whether, on the contrary, these provisions would be a trap for Tradition.

The Provisions of the Letter

It must be noted, first of all, that this Letter is logically addressed to the bishops. In the case of confessions (Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera dated November 20, 2016, §12), the Pope, acting as Supreme Pastor, had conferred directly on the priests of the Society of St. Pius X the faculty to confess validly and licitly, without asking anything in return. Here, given the intrinsically “social” dimension of the Sacrament of Matrimony, and the public character that the Decree of the Council of Trent meant to assure for it, the Apostolic See addresses the Ordinaries, who are the source of the jurisdiction of the pastor and, at least indirectly, of the priest delegated by him to witness a marriage.

To these bishops, Cardinal Müller’s Letter concedes the authority “to grant faculties…”: indeed, several signs show rather clearly that the Pope’s intention is to encourage the bishops to give to the priests of the Society of St. Pius X authorization concerning marriages, as broadly as possible. It seems that every time, for example, a priest of the Society of St. Pius X requests permission for the celebration of a marriage in a parish church (requests that the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are led to make at least from time to time, either by themselves or through the future spouses), the Pope’s wish is that this permission be granted. In this spirit he said on the airplane on May 13, 2017: “Last year, I granted authorization to all [the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X] for confession, and also a form of jurisdiction for marriages.” The letter from the nuncio in Argentina to the bishops of that country, directly inspired by the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, is clearly along these lines.

The Letter from Cardinal Müller in fact envisages four situations. The first situation is a marriage celebrated in a parish church, with the vows of the spouses received by an “official” priest (a priori, the pastor of the church in which the marriage takes place). The second situation is a marriage celebrated in a parish church with the vows of the spouses received by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X who has obtained delegation. The third situation is a marriage celebrated in a place of worship belonging to the Society of St. Pius X with the vows of the spouses received by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X who has obtained delegation. The fourth situation is a marriage celebrated in a place of worship belonging to the Society of St. Pius X with the vows of the spouses received by an “official” priest.

The first solution (vows received by the pastor in his church) is rather common when the marriage takes place in a parish church. The second solution (vows received by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X in a church) already exists in rare cases, when a courageous pastor gives delegation. Its expansion would be a great benefit for all marriages celebrated in a parish church. The third solution (vows received by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X in his chapel) would be the most consistent, the best, and the wisest: the general orientation of things, since the publication of Cardinal Müller’s Letter, seems clearly to lean toward it (three bishops in France, for example, have already decided along these lines). The fourth solution (vows received by an “official” priest in a chapel of the Society of St. Pius X) is, by far, the most problematic, and could possibly be acceptable only with very strict conditions so as to preserve the fully Catholic and traditional character of the marriage being celebrated.

It is necessary to note, however, that in all cases the intervention of an “official” priest is limited by the Letter itself to the exchange of vows, which must be done, obviously, in the traditional rite, unless we are to think that the Letter is totally incoherent. This Letter explicitly says that celebrating the Mass (and consequently the accompanying ceremonies: the sermon, the consecration to the Blessed Virgin, etc.) is the responsibility of the priest of the Society of St. Pius X and his alone. Note in passing, even though this is not our subject, that this is the first time that a Roman document envisages that a priest of the Society of St. Pius X can celebrate Mass in a parish church without any preliminary condition, canonical, theological, or otherwise.

After the celebration of the marriage, the registers of the ecclesiastical state that attest to it juridically must be signed. If an “official” priest received the vows in a parish church, this marriage will logically be recorded in the parish registers, according to ordinary law. If a priest of the Society of St. Pius X has received delegation and celebrates a marriage in a parish church, this one too will quite logically be recorded in the registers of that parish. Incidentally this is already the most common practice when a marriage is celebrated in a parish church.

If, as is desirable and is starting to happen in various places, a priest of the Society of St. Pius X has received delegation to celebrate the marriage in a place of worship belonging to the Society of St. Pius X, the marriage will be recorded in the registers of the Society of St. Pius X, and the priest will only be obliged to notify the diocesan bishop a posteriori [afterwards]. This transmission of information to the diocesan Curia will cause few practical difficulties since, in keeping with canon law, the priests of the Society of St. Pius X already have the habit of “notifying” all the marriages that they celebrate, so that they may be recorded in the registers of the ecclesiastical state of the parish where each of the spouses was baptized.

Practical Details

The new situation created by Cardinal Müller’s Letter involves practical details that it is advisable to examine.

The first is that it will be necessary to take a step to obtain either the intervention of the “official” priest or the delegation for the priest of the Society of St. Pius X. But the Letter’s explicit purpose is precisely to facilitate this step, as shown moreover by the arrangements made by the first bishops who have reacted to this Letter. Every priest of the Society of St. Pius X who has participated directly or remotely in organizing a marriage in a parish church knows how complex and uncertain the negotiations have been until now: the Letter will simplify matters. In a certain number of cases, the delegation will be given to the priests of the Society of St. Pius X automatically (cf. the recent decrees to this effect by Bishop Alain Planet, Bishop of Carcassonne and Narbonne, Bishop Dominique Rey, Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, and by Archbishop Luc Ravel, Archbishop of Strasbourg); in the other cases, the priests of the Society of St. Pius X will follow the guidelines and the instructions of the District Superior, but a priori, a telephone call, an e-mail, or a letter should suffice to broach the question.

Moreover, as we already said, this need for a priest who is not the pastor to ask for delegation is normal in the Church: this is by no means an obligation that is added just because the priests who ask are attached to Tradition; on the contrary, it is a requirement that applies to all priests who are not the local pastor. The priests of the Society of St. Pius X are at the moment dispensed from it because of their recourse to the “extraordinary form”. That being the case, the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are bound to respect an obligation like this, by the very fact that they must submit the marriage dossier for review by the District before the wedding is celebrated.

Another point is that the future spouses will not necessarily and definitely be able to obtain permission that a priest of the Society of St. Pius X of their choice will receive their vows, as is often the case when there is a tie of kinship or friendship with said priest (“The vows of the spouses will be received by Father So-and-so, uncle of the bride”). It is possible that the bishop or the pastor might not give delegation to that priest who is acquainted with the spouses but rather, for example, to the prior of the local priory of the Society of St. Pius X. But this too is in keeping with canon law: the bishop or the pastor delegate if they want and to whom they want. A pastor has every right to celebrate, exclusively, all the marriages that take place in his parish, without ever giving delegation, even to his own vicar [assistant priest]. The future spouses do not have a “right” to have their consent received by a priest who happens to be their friend, whereas they do have a definitive right to be married in the traditional liturgy and with fully Catholic theological and moral instruction.

Nevertheless, the excess workload under which diocesan priests currently labor makes it unlikely, in most cases, that they would not let another priest celebrate a wedding in their place: especially after the Letter by Cardinal Müller and his encouragement to give delegation to the priests of the Society of St. Pius X. On the contrary, pastors will probably be glad to be relieved of an additional ministry, especially on a Saturday (the customary day for celebrating marriage), when there are even greater demands on their time. If not, the priest friend of the spouses will still be able to celebrate the wedding Mass, or to preach at the Mass celebrated by another priest of the Society of St. Pius X.

The Main Objections to the Letter

Nevertheless, some objections have been made against allowing the implementation of the arrangements of the Letter; it is advisable to examine now the main ones.

First Objection

The first objection says that in consenting to make use of Cardinal Müller’s Letter, one would by that very fact accept the whole new erroneous doctrine on marriage that resulted from the Second Vatican Council. But it is not clear how this objection would be true. The need for the presence of a “canonical witness” very broadly goes back before the 1983 Code, the Second Vatican Council, the crisis in the Church, and even before the 1917 Code. This presence has no specific tie to any teaching whatsoever about Christian marriage, whether true or false. The sole purpose spelled out by the Council of Trent, which established this rule, is to combat clandestine marriages: it is simply a matter of knowing who is married and who is not. Therefore, striving to marry according to the “ordinary form”, as the Church wishes—provided that one can do so while keeping the Catholic Faith in its entirety, which is accomplished by the fact that marriage preparation and the wedding take place in a perfectly traditional setting—strictly speaking has no connection with the false teaching on marriage that resulted from Vatican II and was incorporated into the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which the Society of St. Pius X rightly criticizes.

Second Objection

The second objection claims that making use of Cardinal Müller’s Letter would signify that ipso facto one accepts the deviant practices regarding marriage in the “conciliar” Church, especially the declarations of nullity for false reasons. But, in truth, there is no connection between the fact of marrying according to the “ordinary form” and the scandalous declarations of nullity that are common nowadays. All the priests of the Society of St. Pius X accept as parishioners some Catholic faithful who were married before an “official” priest, often in the new liturgical rite, after suspicious marriage preparation, and with dubious preaching. These priests of the Society of St. Pius X do not conclude that in doing so they by that very fact accept the deviant practices regarding marriage and the false declarations of nullity. A fortiori, how could a marriage with preparation, preaching, the exchange of vows, and a Mass that are entirely and exclusively according to Tradition mean that one accepts ipso facto the deviant practices regarding marriage and the false declarations of nullity, simply because the priest who receives the consents possesses the delegation foreseen by the Council of Trent and St. Pius X?

Third Objection

The third objection states that agreeing to make use of Cardinal Müller’s letter would by that very fact signify recognition of the nullity of the marriages celebrated according to the “extraordinary form”, whether previously or from now on. But, in itself, the possibility offered, in some cases, by Cardinal Müller’s Letter, to marry according to the “ordinary form” involves strictly speaking no implication as to the validity of marriages celebrated in the past or in the future according to the “extraordinary form”. Since the objective conditions are satisfied, a marriage according to the “extraordinary form” is perfectly valid; now, the current “state of necessity” is an objective condition for resorting to the “extraordinary form”. The fact that, in some cases, it will be possible from now on to marry according to the “ordinary form” does not mean at all that, in some other cases, it will not still be necessary and valid to marry according to the “extraordinary form”.

Moreover, Cardinal Müller’s Letter itself carefully and certainly deliberately avoids declaring invalid the marriages celebrated until now (or ever from now on) in the framework of the “extraordinary form”. It simply talks about “allay[ing] any concerns on the part of the faithful”, and alleviating “any uneasiness of conscience” and “uncertainty regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage”. The document therefore speaks only about doubts and qualms of conscience, and only for some of the faithful; it is not certain, all things considered, that this is specifically about the faithful of the Society of St. Pius X (who generally have no doubt about the validity of these marriages): it seems to suggest instead the non-traditional families of spouses who are faithful to Tradition, or other similar cases. Nevertheless, the most common doctrine of official tribunals (in some countries, and particularly in France) and even of the Roman Rota is that the marriages celebrated in the setting of the Society of Saint Pius X are invalid per se, for lack of canonical form. In the District of France, practically every other month a marriage is annulled for this reason alone. Now Cardinal Müller’s Letter does not correct this statement about the nullity of marriages in the Society of St. Pius X, and it refrains from broaching this question, even though some of those who prepared this Letter admit this doctrine. It is therefore false to say that accepting the provisions of Cardinal Müller’s Letter would amount to supporting these scandalous declarations of nullity, or to admitting ipso facto that the marriages celebrated in Tradition according to the “extraordinary form” would be invalid.

In reality, Cardinal Müller’s Letter does not deal at all with marriage according to the “extraordinary form”, but only proposes rules allowing the bishops to make marriage according to the “ordinary form” easier for the faithful of the Society of St. Pius X.

Likewise, Cardinal Müller’s Letter says nothing about the canonical authorities within the Society of St. Pius X (“Canonical Commission”), which are still meaningful and necessary by reason of the crisis in the Church, and especially the rather widespread corruption of the teaching of the official tribunals, as well as the errors in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

Fourth Objection

The fourth objection insists that agreeing to make use of Cardinal Müller’s Letter would ipso facto be tantamount to putting marriages according to the traditional rite into the hands of the bishops and of the Roman Curia (fierce enemies of Tradition), since these marriages would henceforth depend on the permission that they would grant…or not. This objection would be pertinent only if the Society of St. Pius X absolutely and definitively renounced the usage of the “extraordinary form”. But there are no plans whatsoever to do that. The grave state of necessity created by the crisis in the Church remains more valid than ever, and without any possible doubt it authorizes recourse, if necessary, to the “extraordinary form”. What Cardinal Müller’s letter accomplishes therefore is not a restriction of the possibilities, but rather the addition of the possibility of the “ordinary form”. And since in some cases the use of this “ordinary form” will prove to be difficult or impossible, recourse to the “extraordinary form” will remain perfectly justified. The bishops therefore will not be able to “blackmail” the Society of St. Pius X with regard to its marriages, inasmuch as an unjustified refusal of a delegation, in addition to other objective circumstances, would altogether authorize the use of the “extraordinary form”, as has been so until now.

A variant of this objection stresses that if a priest of the Society of St. Pius X asks a bishop for a delegation to celebrate a marriage according to the “ordinary form” but finds that the latter refuses to grant it, it would then be very difficult for him to celebrate the marriage according to the “extraordinary form” inasmuch as the Ordinary or the pastor has, by virtue of canon law, the freedom to grant or not to grant a delegation. The mere fact of not obtaining delegation could no longer be a sufficient reason for resorting to the “extraordinary form”. This objection is false inasmuch as it supposes that the possibility of celebrating a marriage according to the “extraordinary form” resulted from the refusal of the delegation. But that is not the case: this possibility results from the grave and objective state of necessity in which those who want to be married in a perfectly Catholic way find themselves because of the crisis in the Church. These persons have an objective right to be married according to the “ordinary form”, and if this right is denied them for the sole reason that they want to remain faithful to Tradition, then they can validly and licitly resort to the “extraordinary form”. Therefore if the bishop refuses the delegation because he does not want to give it to priests (celebrants) and/or for the faithful (future spouses) affiliated with the Society of St. Pius X, this refusal cannot and must not be considered well-founded: the right to marriage according to the “extraordinary form” will be then fully supported. Only in the extremely improbable case where an “official” bishop could prove, in terms of traditional canon law, that this plan for marriage is unacceptable in the Church because of an objective impediment, would his refusal to grant delegation possibly have to result in a reexamination by the authorities of the Society of St. Pius X of this disputed marriage file: but, once again, in the present situation, such a hypothesis is rather fanciful.

Fifth Objection

The fifth objection emphasizes that this Letter from Cardinal Müller is in fact a step in the process designed to “bring the Society of St. Pius X into full communion”, in other words, is part of a plan to win it over to the errors resulting from the Second Vatican Council, which is utterly unacceptable. The response to this objection is rather simple: There is no doubt whatsoever that this Letter is viewed in part, by the Roman authorities, as a step toward “full institutional regularization”, since Cardinal Müller says so explicitly, with the expressions just cited. But this Letter has, first of all, the specific purpose of settling a precise point: easier access to the “ordinary form” for spouses wishing to be married in the traditional rite and according to truly Catholic doctrine. This point exists and has its own reality, whatever the intentions and aims of the Roman authorities may be.

Next, since the Society of St. Pius X stays in contact with the Roman authorities, it necessarily enters into relations with persons who are more or less imbued with the errors of Vatican II and who are persuaded that the choices made during that Council were the right ones. But it is clear that the purpose of the authorities of the Society of St. Pius X, during these contacts, is to convince their Roman interlocutors of the harmful character of these conciliar errors and of the necessity of renouncing them. In other words, exchanges between Rome and the Society of St. Pius X necessarily imply that each of the protagonists wants to lead the other to his own positions: the only way to avoid that would be to refuse all relations, which would be neither reasonable nor Catholic. As Archbishop Lefebvre proclaimed in 1975: “If a bishop breaks with Rome, it will not be me!”

This Letter from Cardinal Müller is not in itself an element of an eventual Personal Prelature, nor a step in a process of “winning over” the Society of St. Pius X; it merely offers the possibility of some improvement in an unjust situation, by facilitated access to the “ordinary form”, without anything demanded in return of the Society of St. Pius X, and with the possibility of resorting, whenever necessary, to the “extraordinary form”, which is perfectly justified by the state of necessity.

Sixth objection

The “official” priests, the “official” bishops, the “Ecclesia Dei” priests, the sixth objection says, are persons who fight against Tradition every day, despise it, slander it, work to marginalize it, and to make it disappear. It would therefore be improper, inconsistent, and scandalous to ask for anything at all from these enemies of the Faith, especially delegation to marry. As for allowing a conciliar priest into a chapel of the Society of St. Pius X in order to receive marriage vows, that would be downright intolerable for the future spouses, for the priests of the Society of St. Pius X and generally for the parish community of that place. Moreover, in this crisis in the Church, the faithful of the Society of St. Pius X have the right to get married in the presence of a priest whom they know, whom they respect, and in whom they have confidence on the doctrinal and pastoral level.

This objection seems to be the strongest one: it touches the depths of the soul; it is related to deep, essential commitments to faith and Tradition; it refers to difficult battles for the survival of the Church in view of a skillfully managed “self-destruction”. This is why it is advisable to examine it without getting carried away by emotions, but using reason enlightened by faith.

First of all, for the priests of the Society of St. Pius X, asking certain things of the “official” Church is altogether commonplace even now. When a priest of the Society of St. Pius X prepares a marriage dossier, he already enters into contact with parishes and diocesan chanceries to request baptismal and confirmation certificates, and then to notify the marriage. When future spouses who are devoted to Tradition wish to marry in a parish church, the priest of the Society of St. Pius X gets in touch with the pastor of the parish, and possibly with the diocesan bishop, in order to sort out the situation as well as possible. When a priest of the Society of St. Pius X organizes a pilgrimage to a shrine, he gets in contact with the rector of the shrine to obtain from him authorization to make use of the premises, etc. In this respect Cardinal Müller’s Letter entails no particular innovation: the priest of the Society of St. Pius X designated for this purpose by the District Superior will get in contact with the local bishop so as to obtain (possibly) the delegation to marry according to the “ordinary form”.

Obviously, receiving in a chapel of the Society of St. Pius X an “official” priest for the marriage vows is much more problematic. Note, however, two things to start with: this is not the solution that the Society of St. Pius X asks for and desires; it is not the solution adopted by the first episcopal decrees on this subject. The best solution, the solution that is starting to be adopted, is to give delegation directly to the priests of the Society of St. Pius X themselves. The implementation of this best solution is what the Society of St. Pius X will strive for in the months to come. Besides, the very terms used in Cardinal Müller’s Letter, “insofar as possible…”, “where the above is not possible…”, do seem to anticipate the difficulty or even impossibility of implementing this option of an “official” priest coming to a place of worship belonging to the Society of St. Pius X. Further, the invincible reluctance of the future spouses to exchange their vows in the presence of a priest who is not purely traditional will without any doubt be one of these impossibilities envisaged by the Letter.

The Society of St. Pius X should therefore set aside this solution, except for derogation that would logically be granted only by the District Superior. Therefore, if in some rare cases the Society of St. Pius X foresaw the possibility that an “official” priest might come to receive the vows, this could occur only if drastic conditions were fulfilled concerning this priest, his personality, his individual career, so that his coming would be in no way a source of uneasiness or confusion for the future spouses, for the priests of the Society of St. Pius X, or for the parish community. A priori, only some priests who are particularly friendly toward the Society of St. Pius X, or at least who have always remained perfectly fair and respectful towards it, could perhaps be admitted.

Nevertheless, it must be repeated: this is by no means the solution sought by the Society of St. Pius X, which desires that, in simple justice, its priests should purely and simply be able to receive delegation for the marriages of their faithful. All the more so since a priori this seems to correspond to the desire of the Pope himself, and to what is being sketched out through the first decrees issued by some diocesan bishops.

In all cases, however, we must remember that the presence of the “canonical witness” who receives the vows is an essentially juridical institution, not a theological or a moral one. It is necessary that this “canonical witness” be present and receive the vows; it is not at all necessary for him to be a “good priest”. As Naz recalls, the Decree of the Council of Trent admitted the “passivity” of this “canonical witness”, the only necessary point being that the exchange of vows be made in the presence of this canonical witness. And until the 1907 Decree, “this passivity was even imposed in some regions, in the case of mixed marriage concluded with dispensation; it was obligatory in the case of mixed marriage concluded without dispensation, wherever the presence of the priest was tolerated” (Traité de droit canonique, III, §417, note 3). Moreover, Naz again emphasizes, a priest affected by canonical penalties can validly be delegated for a marriage (ibid., §423), which again shows that the “canonical witness” is not present because of his spiritual and moral qualities, but solely for juridical reasons. The fact that an “official” priest is present for the exchange of consents (performed in the traditional rite), and exclusively for that purpose, according to a rule of the Church established by the Council of Trent, then by St. Pius X, would therefore not mar the perfectly traditional character of the marriage being celebrated. In the same vein, if there were no general crisis in the Church (and therefore no state of necessity), and if the pastor of the future spouses was, for example, notoriously cohabiting, these future spouses would even so be compelled to turn to him for their exchange of vows, since canon law makes his presence as “canonical witness” obligatory: this nevertheless would not mar the holiness of their marriage, since the pastor was there for a purely juridical reason, and not because of his moral qualities.

Seventh Objection

The seventh objection assumes that agreeing to marry according to the “ordinary form” while requesting delegation would be a failure to profess the Faith publicly and to criticize the errors of Vatican II. In effect, the state of separation, contradiction, and conflict between Tradition and the “conciliar” Church, manifested by the canonical sanctions and the refusal of the official authorities of the Church to grant to the Society of St. Pius X what would be just and normal (for example jurisdiction, delegation for marriages, etc.), is like a “catechism in pictures” of the crisis in the Church. Upright souls who are seeking the truth, upon observing that the Society of St. Pius X is persecuted while adhering to what the Catholic Church has always taught and done, are led to think correctly that the official authorities of the Church are in error. By marrying according to the “ordinary form” thanks to a delegation received from an “official” bishop, the Society of St. Pius X would weaken in its battle against the errors of Vatican II.

This objection confuses the reality of the radical opposition between the Catholic Faith and the errors of conciliar liberalism with certain concrete situations that may accidentally manifest it. In the 1970’s, Tradition had taken refuge in makeshift shelters; then, in most localities, they bought or built a church: is anyone going to say that the battle for the Faith grew lukewarm as a result? When a priest of the Society of St. Pius X requests the use of a shrine for a pilgrimage, is anyone going to say that the battle for the Faith is diminished if he obtains permission, as compared with a refusal to grant it? When Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges that the old rite was never abolished, is anyone going to say that the defense of the traditional liturgy by the Society of St. Pius X and the heroic resistance of Archbishop Lefebvre to preserve it are discredited as a result? And so on.

The opposition between the traditional Mass and the new Mass of Paul VI is absolutely clear, whether it is celebrated in a makeshift shelter or in a beautiful traditional church. The opposition between the doctrine of Christ the King and the alleged “values resulting from the French Revolution but having their origins in the Gospel” is total, whether the Society of St. Pius X is recognized canonically (before 1975) or not. The opposition between the traditional Catholic doctrine of marriage and the new doctrine resulting from Vatican II is unambiguous, even if, in order to conform to the Council of Trent and insofar as no concession is made, a perfectly traditional marriage is celebrated according to the “ordinary form” by virtue of a delegation foreseen by the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

Even if, in some cases, traditional marriages may from now on be celebrated according to the “ordinary form”, being truly Catholic marriages, they will nonetheless remain an effective protest against the moral laxism and the errors in the matrimonial doctrine of the “official” Church. In a similar way, the celebration of the traditional Mass in the “official” shrine on a pilgrimage is an effective sermon against the new rite of the Mass.

Eighth objection

An eighth objection says that recording a marriage in the “official” registers and not in the registers of the Society of St. Pius X would help open a Pandora’s box, inasmuch as such marriages would then be subject to the 1983 Code of Canon Law and not to the fully traditional canon law alone, as are marriages recorded in the registers of the Society of St. Pius X.

This objection does not take reality into account at all. When a Catholic presents a marriage case to diocesan tribunals, they examine (in keeping with the 1983 Code) both the marriages recorded in the registers of official parishes and those recorded in the registers of the Society of St. Pius X. When a matter is presented by one of the faithful to the Canonical Commission of the Society of Saint Pius X, it examines (in keeping with traditional canon law) both the marriages recorded in the registers of the Society of St. Pius X and those that are recorded in the registers of the official parishes.

The registers of the ecclesiastical state, indeed, are only the juridical proof of the celebration of a liturgical act (a baptism, a confirmation, a marriage, a funeral, etc.). They in no way prejudge its validity, which must be examined by an ecclesiastical tribunal if there is a well-founded doubt. Nor do they prejudge the law that will be followed during that examination. For example, if persons who married in the 1960’s, when the 1917 Code was still in force, were to introduce annulment proceedings in a diocesan tribunal today, they would be judged according to the 1983 Code: however the register of the ecclesiastical state underwent no modification since the time of their marriage.

The place where the juridical record of an ecclesiastical act (for example a marriage) is preserved has, in truth, no theological or moral importance. When a priest prepares a marriage, he often observes that the future spouses were baptized in one context (in the “official” Church or in the Society of St. Pius X), were confirmed in an entirely different context, etc. The important thing is to gain access to proof of these ecclesiastical acts, and experience shows that this access is reasonably easy to obtain effectively.

Moreover, the priests of the Society of St. Pius X regularly “notify” the sacraments (confirmations, marriages, ordinations, etc.) to the dioceses, for inscription in the registers of the ecclesiastical state of the parish where the person was baptized: will anyone say that in doing so they by that very fact expose the faithful to the errors of conciliar canon law?

The Advantages of the Situation Created by the Letter

Finally, it is appropriate to conclude by considering the advantages made possible in the new situation created by Cardinal Müller’s Letter: they are not negligible.

The first and chief advantage would be to “secure” at least some of the marriages celebrated within the framework of the Society of St. Pius X, as far as the form of celebration is concerned. Everyone should know, as was mentioned, that the almost universal doctrine of official tribunals is that these marriages are invalid in themselves because of a lack of form, since they recognize neither the grave state of necessity nor the crisis in the Church. In other words, it is enough for one of the spouses married according to the “extraordinary form” within the framework of the Society of St. Pius X to file a request for nullity of marriage, and automatically, certainly, and without any other reason, his marriage will be declared null and he will be able to remarry in the Church. Now, unfortunately, this occurs regularly: for example, a ruling of nullity for this reason is handed down in France roughly every other month. And this involves, in some cases, persons who at the time of their marriage were serious, well-instructed faithful of the Society of St. Pius X. But the difficulties of married life, the temptation of the easy way out, and an alteration of their moral sense led them to lose sight of the seriousness of their commitment, so that they resorted to this convenient (albeit unjust) method of freeing themselves from their matrimonial obligations.

On the contrary, every time it is morally possible, by virtue of Cardinal Müller’s Letter, to resort to the “ordinary form”, this will rule out the possibility of a request for an annulment for lack of canonical form. Even if this does not prevent a request for an annulment for other (possibly bad) reasons, it will at least do away with the scandal of these baseless declarations of nullity solely on account of a lack of canonical form, and it will also prevent the bigamy of the petitioner and the injustice done to the innocent spouse.

Inasmuch as this “securing” of marriages could exist without in any way altering the truly Catholic and traditional character of the marriage (in other words, when people could obtain delegation to marry according to the “ordinary form” without imperiling any good), it would seem imprudent and even contrary to the common good to reject it: indeed, every priest not only must make sure of the validity of the marriages that he celebrates (and there is no doubt about this point in the case of the marriages celebrated by the Society of St. Pius X), but also, as far as he is able, must acknowledge this validity publicly, because of the good of the spouses, the children, and of society that is involved in every marriage.

The second advantage would be to help to act with special charity toward the spouse or toward the families who were not (entirely) the faithful of the Society of St. Pius X. We must not forget that a marriage is not only a personal act of two future spouses, but is also a far-reaching familial and social reality. Every marriage necessarily involves the spouses, but also their families and their whole circle of relations. The reality of the crisis in the Church obliges the priests and the faithful of the Society of St. Pius X to not always observe some precepts of canon law. Unfortunately, the families of the future spouses as well as their friends do not necessarily agree with the analysis of the Society of St. Pius X about the situation in the Church. Consequently, marriage according to the “extraordinary form”, which in itself is perfectly valid, may seem to them marred by canonical irregularity. This leads in many cases to familiar tensions, to divisions between friends, or even to a refusal to attend the wedding. In some instances this proves to be tragic. Of course, it is not a question of taking into account whether this might dissuade the future spouses from contracting marriage according to the traditional rite and the true Catholic doctrine. But if it is possible for a marriage that is fully in conformity with Tradition to benefit from the “ordinary form”, without making any harmful concessions, it is without any doubt an act of charity to reassure thereby the fearful consciences of the parents or friends of the future spouses.

The third advantage would be to subject the marriages celebrated by the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X, whenever possible, to the letter of the Church’s law, as it has been expressed in turn by the Council of Trent, St. Pius X, and the 1917 Code of Canon Law. In itself, a marriage should be celebrated according to the “ordinary form”, since recourse to the “extraordinary form” is by its nature exceptional (even though, in the case of the Society of St. Pius X, and for well-founded reasons, it is currently a recurrent need). By reducing the frequency of recourse to the “extraordinary form”, whenever possible without making harmful concessions, we certainly come closer to what the Church wants.

The fourth advantage, finally, would be the ability to celebrate marriages more widely in the traditional rite, thus removing an obstacle for more timid Catholics. Some future spouses who know that the theological and moral doctrine of the priests of the Society of St. Pius X is rigorously orthodox, that the rite that they use is the most dignified and the most sanctifying, are unfortunately dissuaded from relying on their ministry, for fear that there might be canonical doubts about the validity of their marriage. The fact that the basis for this fear is false (marriages celebrated by the priests of the Society of St. Pius X according to the “extraordinary form” are valid in themselves) does not prevent this fear from existing, because of all that people say, because of the statements by the ecclesiastical authorities, because of the ignorance of the faithful and because of what they consider to be the “subtleties” of canon law, etc. Now, if these Catholics, through the use of the “ordinary form” without making any harmful concessions, could benefit from marriage perfectly in conformity with Tradition, celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X, it certainly would be a great good for themselves, for their new home, for their families and friends, and for the whole Church.