Is the SSPX Assisi cartoon offensive?

Is the SSPX Assisi cartoon offensive?

Is the SSPX Assisi cartoon offensive?I received an email today from a long-time reader of Catholic Truth in England. Since I stumbled across the “same old, same old”, about the SSPX on various blogs only this week, allegations of “schism” and “cult” that I thought all informed Catholics knew were bogus, I thought it might be an idea to discuss (yet again, yawn, yawn) some of the key issues. To kick start the conversation, then, here’s an extract from the email received today from a gentleman south of the border…

“I went to (the SSPX Masses) about three times. I also went to confession (I later learned that they were invalid without ‘faculties’)

So what you may wonder is my change of heart? It is that they are not in the Catholic Church as founded by Christ our Lord. I originally thought they were just a sub-set of the Catholic Church with just minor legalities being the problem. But now I realise that they are a break away sect and not even schismatic. I did not like the anti-Papal cartoon on their website. This is not being loyal to the Pope. I notice that like all sects they are splitting into yet smaller groups. Striking the shepherd and scattering the flock comes to mind.

They were correctly formed at the start. But then Lefebvre in an act of disobedience ordained bishops. To disobey the Pope like this is to disobey Christ. What you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. What you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. These are the words of Our Saviour and must be listened to.

I have just read Mystici Corpus Christi (Pius XII ) There I found a most beautiful description of the Church. Christ is its head. The Pope is His representative on earth.

If I have to put up with career priests. poor humanistic sermons. poor protestantised liturgy. a weak episcopate in face of atheistic laws, I will do so in order to remain in the One Holy Catholic and Roman Church founded by Christ Our Lord. I will work within it to try and make things better.

There is a web site dealing with this. I think it is sspx.agenda.tripod It is by an ex supporter. It also contains an article on obedience/disobedience by a convert friend John Beaumont. He cites the disbandment of the Jesuits by the Pope in the 18th C as an example of obedience. It was hard on them but they obeyed.

(Editor) I hope you see the society through the eyes of the Church and come back to her. Just read Mystici Corpus Christi . You will love it and the Church even more.

[K]eep beating the traditional drum but please . . . within His Church.” END.


So, folks – do I really need to “come back to the Church”? Am I really not one of those “Catholics in good standing” …like those who write letters and articles in the Catholic press demanding women’s ordination, contraception, divorce & remarriage, etc? Really?  I must say, it’s something else to be told that I’m not even a schismatic! That’s a new one.

I have to say, too, that I got the distinct feeling reading the above email (and I could be wrong) that this reader is quoting a priest criticising the SSPX. It’s amazing how many priests are genuinely ignorant of the status of the Society, not to say ignorant of the distinction between true and false obedience.

In any event, the “anti-Papal” cartoon seems to have been the last straw. Click on the above image to reach the original.  Is it offensive – or is the REAL offence to Christ Our Lord, demoted at these shocking ecumenical and interfaith gatherings, including (but not exclusively) the papal inspired Assisi meetings?

Comments (83)

  • Miles Immaculatae

    Because of the crisis the Church finds herself in, I recently faced a crisis in my own faith. I just couldn’t take to neo-Catholicism. It’s not the religion I thought I was signing up to when was baptised four years ago. I had a very naive understanding of ‘contemporary’ Catholicism at the time. However, because I didn’t want to lose the faith (and risk eternal damnation) I resolved my torment by taking refuge in the society. Best of all, I didn’t compromise the faith in doing this one bit, because I found in the society the opportunity to be faithful to the true faith of Jesus Christ and of the Catholic Church. I have no scruples about the society’s alleged ‘schismatic’, ‘irregular’, ‘Protestant’, ‘break-away’, ‘disobedient’ etc. ad nauseam etc. status.

    If this option hadn’t been available to me (that is fulfilling my obligation at a society Mass), I don’t mean to scandalise anyone, but I think there is a chance I may have lost the faith by now. Everybody has the potential to apostatize.

    I can imagine what the rather smug neo-Catholic response to me would be to this shocking assertion: “Well if you abandoned the faith, then you obviously didn’t have the true Faith to begin with, since true faith perseveres in times of crisis etc..”

    Well I really don’t think that’s true. It doesn’t matter how much Faith one has, it doesn’t matter how strong and indefectible ones Faith might be, if ones reason is undermined, then their faith will be compromised inevitably.

    My reason told me their is a crisis in the Faith. Once you know something in your heart you can’t un-know it. I simply could not accept the new disorientated Catholicism. I knew it to be utterly, fundamentally erroneous. If my only choice was to accept the new disorientated Catholicism or not accept it, I would have chosen not to accept it. Because it goes against reason. I knew that 2+2 didn’t equal 5 (i.e. Assisi, future canonisation of JPII etc.)

    Those who are scrupulous about abandoning the neo-Catholic ‘in-good-standing’ position for fear of jeopardising their faith, actually put their faith at risk. In my opinion. Because although they may have heaps of earnest faith, our reason is limited. Their patience will run out and one day and they risk losing their faith altogether (like Jeremiah Banister, a former concservative Catholic internet personality who in desperation even became a sedevacantist before apostatising altogether. He is now an atheist. He started out as just a regular Catholic in ‘good standing’… Tragic). The Church is rearing the next generation of Jeremiah Banisters.

    The idea that you can fight the modernists by remaining in a via media of modernism and Catholicism (neo-Catholicism) is ludicrous. The FSSP can’t even operate in a diocese without the ordinary’s permission, for flips sake! They have to rely on modernist bishops for their priestly ordinations! And lets not forget the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

    I used to really struggle in figuring out how really faithful and intelligent laity and clergy I know remain hardened neo-Catholics and hold fast to false notions of obedience etc.. I realise now that they are indeed very faithful, and very intelligent, the issue is is that we have ‘different’ religions. (I hope that doesn’t sound offensive, but you know what I mean). I realise the reason they have no bother or problem about being neo-Catholics like I did is because they have accepted the ‘new’ disorientated religion as they have seen it…

    I can’t accept it. I want to be Catholic. The neo-Catholics tell us we can only be real Catholics if we be like them. Deo Gratias! that although I am most unworthy I have been shown the Truth. This might sound very proud, but false virtues are not from the Holy Ghost, especially not false humility.

    I sometimes wonder if I was born a Traditionalist, and that God made me one. Eight years before I became Catholic I attended my first Novus Ordo Mass at eleven years old. I remember walking out in disgust. I didn’t then have the vocabulary to articulate my pain to my confused mother (a non practising Anglican).

    Most unfortunately – and I am very sad that this happened – because I was ignorant of Catholic teaching, I improperly received Holy Communion. Because [probably] of films I had seen, I thought one was meant to receive on the tongue, which I did. For some mysterious reason I didn’t copy the others who received in the hand. Now listen to this, I remember being the only one who received on the tongue and among the few who did not receive the Precious Blood. And I wasn’t even Catholic! Is that insane or what?

    I truly believe that if Archbishop Lefebvre had not done what he did, then the gates of Hell would have prevailed. Because he is part of God’s solution. I’ll probably be accused of having a schismatic mentality for saying that, won’t I? That is a wicked accusation. Consider that until about a year ago I used to consider the best day of my life the time I saw Pope Benedict in Bellahouston Park. That’s how much I loved the Holy Father.

    Of course, in the strict sense I still do love him, I must. But all the passion has left me. I must seek the grace not to become bitter. That is the temptation God wants me to fight now.

    August 26, 2013 at 1:42 am
    • Laura

      Miles Immaculatae,

      As I was reading your post, I kept thinking what tremendous graces God has given you. When I reached the end, about your first reception of Holy Communion, I was convinced of it. Your comment is marvellously clear and I agree with every word.

      As for the cartoon, when I studied it I realised it was just reflecting the truth, the scandal of the Assisi interfaith debacles.

      It’s the way the Society in the US (and now the UK) expressed shock at the news of the canonisation of Pope John Paul II. I do not see how anyone who is also shocked at the Assisi scandals can object to the cartoon, unless they think popes are above all criticism which they are not.

      August 26, 2013 at 7:43 am
  • Eileenanne

    The idea of ANYONE let alone a Pope going to hell is just too serious to make jokes about, so yes, at best the cartoon is in very poor taste and at worst it is offensive.

    Pope John Paul II did not die unexpectedly. I assume he received the Last Rites of the Church which carry a plenary indulgence applicable at the moment of death. There is, therefore, good reason to be confident that he is in Heaven.

    August 26, 2013 at 11:36 am
    • Margaret Mary


      I definitely wouldn’t wish anybody in Hell but it’s one thing not to go to Hell and another to be in Heaven so quickly, after all the scandal he caused. When you read stories of people – even young people – in Purgatory for years and years, for quite minor things (in our eyes – I know God judges differently) then find that a pope can be a canonised saint when he has offended against the very First Commandment, is just too incredible for words.

      August 26, 2013 at 4:32 pm
    • apostatecatholics

      The solemn canonization of a Saint does NOT SIMPLY MEAN THEY ARE IN HEAVEN – ! All the theological manuals before, during, and after Vatican II clearly teach that: a) canonizations are infallible; and b) they irrevocably attest to the dogmatic fact that the person practiced the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity; as well as the moral virtues of justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude to an heroic degree…this CANNOT be applied to John Paul II. The conclusion is obvious: sedevacantism. [cf., also Doctrinal Commentary on ‘Ad Tuendam fidem’ (1998)]. If what you say were true, all Catholics who received the Last Rites would be matter for canonization – quod est adsurdum – !

      August 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm
      • Nicky

        “The conclusion is obvious: sedevacantism.”

        The conclusion is NOT obvious. Nobody on earth can judge a pope. So, if you are saying that if Pope Francis canonises John Paul II he is not the pope, you are wrong.

        Only apostate Catholics would go along with the error of sedevacantism. If I’ve misread your comment, I must apologise, but read St Robert Bellarmine to understand that nobody on the face of the earth can make a judgment about the reigning pope.

        August 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm
      • editor

        It’s really not up to any of us to judge the soul of any other person, so while we’d all hope and pray that this proposed canonisation does not go ahead, it’s a nonsense to say that if the Pope (Francis) canonises Pope John Paul II, he is not a real pope – if that is what you are saying.

        It makes much more sense to say that future theologians will look unfavourably on the canonisation due to the change in the process, which is absent the Devil’s Advocate etc.

        August 29, 2013 at 9:31 pm
  • gabriel syme

    I didn’t find the cartoon offensive, though I can understand why some people might object to it. However, I do not think it is anywhere near as potentially objectionable as the various malicious lies which are spread regarding the SSPX.

    The latest newsletter had great info in it, clarifying the SSPX status (quotes from Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos etc). I would suggest having a permanent page on the wbesite which deals with this, suitably referenced, so that any casual visitor can see the truth for themselves.

    A lot of lay people and clergy are exceptionally ignorant about the SSPX and traditional orders in general. There was a Cardinal who thought the SSPX were sedevacantists. I recently spoke to someone who seemed to think that even fully canonical traditional orders (FSSP etc) were illicit. This is why a permanent info page would be a great asset.

    Many people spread malicious lies about the SSPX, especially on the “Catholic Answers” forum (CAF). Often people appear there asking “What is the SSPX” – they are obviously impressed by the SSPX and are curious – and they then get fed a load of bunk about diobedient schismatics. Not long before I stopped using that forum, a poster even said that he hoped the SSPX were excommunicated again. That made me re-evaluate just how Christian that forum was (or at least, some of its users).

    (Another reason I left that forum was the manipulative begging letters they bombard members with, saying they will have to make people redundant, if you dont send them money at once. I found that repugnant – such emotional manipulation for financial gain is a very protestant thing to do. They are shameless at CAF.)

    Recently a US Bishop had to retract a statement he made claiming the SSPX were “not Catholic”. I think his diocese is the one in which the SSPX are building the biggest seminary in the USA, and he was worried about some of his flock going over to the SSPX, so he told vicious lies – but was forced to recant.

    The website mentioned in the article above is an example of a spreader of malicious lies. I saw the site recently, purely by chance. If its the same one as the author means, it claims the SSPX are schismatic – directly contradicting Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos.

    Anyone in their right mind would obviously accept the Cardinals view, (in his then-capacity as head of Ecclesia Dei), over that of some “internet bampot”.

    I expect that the SSPX could sue the owner of that webpage for libel, based on some of its content.

    Also, the author of the article above talks about disobeying the Pope / disobeying Christ etc. Yet Every Novus Ordo parish I have ever set foot in has publicly and flagrantly disobeyed the Pope(s), with regard to their issuing communion in the hand and the style of empoloyment of eucharistic ministers etc.

    As usual, it seems that if you want to make up the Catholic religion on the hoof, thats just fine, but if you want to be authentic and traditional then that is seen as disobedient and schismatic. How very odd.

    August 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm
  • Theresa Rose

    The gentleman who sent the email seems to be in some confusion. The SSPX cannot be outside the Church for defending the Traditional Catholic Faith. Remember, Saint Athanasius who defended Catholic Dogmas and Teaching against the Arian heresy in the fourth century, yet was excommunicated by Pope Liberius.

    Gabriel Syme,

    I agree with what you say.

    August 26, 2013 at 1:14 pm
  • crofterlady

    I don’t like any sort of slagging off but I suppose the SSPX were just trying to get their point across. As various posters have said, it is strange that the serious sin against the first commandant (Assisi) is overlooked and the society is criticised for adhering to tradition. Very odd.

    Thank you, Miles, for sharing your story. When I suggest to my children that they find Catholic friends at university, they reply “there are none”. When I express shock horror, they add “no real ones who always go to Mass and live moral lives”. Isn’t that shocking? Well I’m glad to know that you are one. Do you have the same experience as my children? Are there really no good Catholic youth out there? We cannot attend the SSPX as there is no supply around here.

    August 26, 2013 at 3:27 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    I don’t find the cartoon at all offensive especially since satire is an important way of putting the spotlight on problems. For me, having Pope John Paul II canonised when he started these disgraceful Assisi gatherings is a very big problem indeed. I hate to say it, but I can’t help thinking that it does go ahead, I think there will be more people joining the ranks of the sedevacantists.

    August 26, 2013 at 4:28 pm
  • Athanasius

    I have searched the SSPX US website archives and cannot find any trace of that cartoon. This leads to me to suspect that it is either a really old cartoon that has since been removed on orders from a more vigilant and sensible US District Superior, or it’s not from that website at all.

    The cartoon itself is, as Eileenanne points out, inappropriate given the office of the one it mocks and the very grave nature of the scandal it pretends to address. But it is also gravely sinful in that it declares, albeit satirically, that the soul of Pope John Paul II is in Hell. This latter forbidden judgment is sedevacantist propaganda that has no place in the SSPX. Those responsible for publishing such a disgraceful cartoon should be disciplined and/or expelled from the SSPX without delay and the offending item should be taken down immediately.

    This having been said, I think this person who wrote to editor declaring that the SSPX is outside the Church is just a very silly, superficial Catholic who has no conception of the depth of the subject he addresses or of the seriousness of the Modernist revolution in the Church.

    This statement says everything about the ignorance of the person in question: “…But now I realise that they are a break away sect and not even schismatic…”

    Oh really? Well, that may be what some of the more hateful liberal blogs are saying but it’s not something Rome has ever declared. Quite the contrary, in fact.

    But putting aside the ignorant and unjust nonsense this person wrote, one thing stood out above all that makes me think that we are not dealing with a genuinely concerned Catholic. It was his naming of “Lefebvre” without according the title ‘Archbishop’. This kind of disrespectful language when writing about a prelate of the Church tells us everything we need to know about the author’s true mindset.

    August 26, 2013 at 4:33 pm
    • Laura


      I really didn’t read that into the cartoon, that Pope John Paul II was in Hell. I only saw him being turned away from Heaven with a “beckoning” from the devils. I thought it was sort of ambiguous, just to make the point – it could be interpreted that he had longer to go in Purgatory, IMHO.

      Actually, looking at it again just now you could be right, also Eileenanne. I wouldn’t take it too seriously, anyway, because cartoons are really only meant to provoke us to think at the boundaries of issues.

      August 26, 2013 at 5:00 pm
    • Eileenanne

      Try clicking on the image above. That takes you to the source of the image.

      August 26, 2013 at 5:15 pm
  • Athanasius


    As is evident from the email editor mentions in the introductory thread article, there are some people who take these kinds of cartoons very seriously and it can lead them to wrong conclusions. But besides that, I really do not think it is appropriate for Catholics to treat of these very serious issues in the Church with levity. I still think that particular piece of misplaced fun masks a dangerous mindset in the cartoon’s author, not to mention its publisher.

    August 26, 2013 at 5:14 pm
    • Josephine


      According to the following letter from Bishop Williamson, the cartoon’s author was none other than Archbishop Lefebvre.

      Assisi Cartoon
      Dear Friends and Benefactors,

      There is a flyer enclosed with this letter which many of you may find shocking. It is the flyer on ecumenism with pictures firstly of the Pope refusing Our Lord entry to the Ecumenical Prayer meeting at Assisi at the end of this month, secondly of Our Lord in turn refusing the Pope entry to heaven. These pictures were conceived by Archbishop Lefebvre. A little explanation may not be out of place:

      You might in the first picture be shocked by the words being put in the Pope’s mouth: “No! No! There is no room for you here. You are not ecumenical”. You might think that this Pope would never actually say such a thing, that, on the contrary he would welcome Our Lord to the Meeting with open arms, merely asking Him to keep quiet His awkward claim to be the only true God. But how could Our Lord, who could- a Catholic who has the Catholic Faith ever issue such an invitation? Actions speak louder than words, and the very act of putting together such a meeting tells Our Lord to stay out. True, Pope John Paul II would put it in gentler terms, he would have words to clothe his act in sheep’s clothing, but the act of calling the Meeting remains, in reality, the act of a wolf who wants the sheep but does not want their Shepherd. Must you not agree that if the Pope’s words in the first picture do not correspond to his language, they at least correspond to his acts?

      But, you might reply, the Pope means well – how dare the Archbishop in the second picture damn him to hell? Firstly, the Archbishop is not judging intentions, which God alone can do – “Man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart” (I Sam. XVI 7). However, just after telling us not to judge (Mt. VII,), Our Lord Himself also tells us to beware of false prophets who come to us in sheep’s clothing, “but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mt. VII, 15), so obviously Our Lord was not telling us to abandon our critical faculties. In the sane and robust Middle Ages, the greatest Catholic poet of all time, Dante Alighieri, put plenty of bishops and popes in his inferno, or hell. The trouble is that since the Counter-Reformation, the good Lord has almost spoiled us with so many relatively good Popes that we have difficulty in re-adjusting to the fact of a bad Pope. These two pictures do not call in question this Pope’s intentions, nor damn his inner soul, but they do remind us that his present outer acts are damnable, and lead to hell. It is an unpleasant truth, but nonetheless true, that Catholicism was never designed to please the world and never has done so.

      Yes, you might reply, but even if the two pictures correspond to the reality of today’s situation, the Archbishop risks alienating a lot of his followers who will not find such an attack on the Pope acceptable. Reply: if millions of souls, Catholic and non-Catholic, are in danger of receiving mortal scandal from the ecumenical acts of this Pope, then such souls must be warned by whatever means will reach them (and many souls are reached today by pictures). And if many souls will be turned away by such an overdose of reality, the Archbishop may have judged that at this late stage those that have ears to hear should hear, even if many others take offence. Our Lord knew that when he told people to eat His flesh and drink His blood, the great majority (Jn. VI, 67, 68) would abandon Him as a crazy preacher of cannibalism – but He announced the Holy Eucharist all the same. The truth must be preached in season, out of season, says St. Paul. Is, or is not, today’s ecumenism a mortal danger? The Archbishop thinks that even some Traditional Catholics are growing to accept this viper into their bosom. No wonder he is resorting even to shock tactics! How else can he get through to this television generation?

      Nor are the pictures in themselves undignified. They caricature neither the person nor the stand-point of the Pope. I happen to know that the Archbishop has long ruminated on these two pictures. I am convinced that after maybe an initial shock, time and events will prove he was right to resort to this means to tell the essential truth – ecumenism as practiced today is damning, damnable and to be damned!

      August 26, 2013 at 5:19 pm
      • Athanasius


        Thanks for the link to the article from which these cartoons originate. I might have known that it was written by Bishop Williamson some time ago. I don’t believe a word he wrote about the Archbishop being the author. You’ll note he doesn’t offer a single piece of evidence, he just claims that Archbishop Lefebvre commissioned the cartoons. Anyway, His Excellency’s writings should not be available to read at SSPX websites. He’s been expelled and his writings should be expelled with him.

        August 26, 2013 at 8:16 pm
    • Eileenanne

      Offensiveness will always be subjective, but I hope that very few people here would see hell as a subject for levity.

      August 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm
      • Nicky


        Underneath the cartoon on the SSPX GB website, there is an explanation why the Archbishop thought it was acceptable to publish that cartoon. To our human minds, with our limited intellect, especially in these PC times, it does seem “offensive” but maybe if we stretch our minds to try to realise what Pope John Paul II did by introducing the Assisi meetings, it shouldn’t seem quite so offensive. Whether it’s PC or not to say it, he definitely put his own soul in danger by launching those scandalous meetings plus the souls of countless others could be lost as a result. I guess the Archbishop thought that whatever means were available to stress that fact, was fine to use. I quote from the explanation under the cartoon on the GB SSPX website:


        Archbishop Lefebvre did not seek to diminish the gravity of John Paul II’s errors. He even sought new and striking ways to make them known. Understanding that a picture is worth a thousand words, he asked a seminarian to draw this “cartoon” in 1986 as a warning to John Paul II about the true nature of his false ecumenism at the proposed October “Prayer for Peace” at Assisi. This ecumenism, far from being a “saintly” initiative, leading souls to Heaven and bringing peace upon the earth, is in fact an insult to God and His Church. It is, in all objectivity, a sin against the First Commandment, truly deserving of the eternal punishment of Hell.

        In his covering letter to the Pope the Archbishop wrote:

        — “Holy Father,

        “Be so good as to meditate on these two pictures, since you are deaf to the anguished appeals which we have filially addressed to you. Deign at least not to offend gravely and in public against God’s First Commandment: the salvation of your soul is at stake! Preach Jesus Christ, as did the Apostles, even at the cost of their lives. That is the fervent and filial wish of those who still remain Catholic.”

        The Rector, at the time, of the SSPX North American seminary, Father Richard Williamson, observed that, shocking as these images may seem :

        — ” if many souls will be turned away by such an overdose of reality, the Archbishop may have judged that at this late stage those that have ears to hear should hear, even if many others take offence.

        “These two pictures do not call in question this Pope’s intentions, nor damn his inner soul, but they remind us that his present outer acts are damnable, and lead to hell (…)

        “Nor are the pictures in themselves undignified. They caricature neither the person nor the stand-point of the Pope. I happen to know that the Archbishop has long ruminated on these two pictures. I am convinced that after maybe an initial shock, time and events will prove he was right to resort to this means to tell the essential truth – ecumenism as practiced today is damning, damnable and to be damned!” (Letter of the Rector, 1986) THIS IS THE END OF THE QUOTE ON SSPX GB WEBSITE.

        I think there is a difference between saying that what Pope John Paul II did was “damnable” and saying that he is “damned” – that’s what Archbishop Lefebvre said and I am inclined to agree with him.

        August 26, 2013 at 5:41 pm
      • Athanasius


        The letter you quote as that of Archbishop Lefebvre to Pope John Paul II doesn’t exist. I am aware of a letter written by the Archbishop to Pope John Paul in August 1985 on the subject of Assisi, but not the one you post with the words quoted as being those of His Grace.

        Here’s the link to the 1985 letter, which does not mention any cartoon.

        August 26, 2013 at 9:04 pm
  • 3littleshepherds

    Did Athanasius just try to get Archbishop Lefebvre thrown out of the Society? Oops! hehe.
    I remember quite alot of cartoons coming out during Bishop Williamson’s years. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t co-author of the above cartoon. It’s always his style to shock. But anyway the Archbishop probably wanted to try to shock the Pope. It was a horrible situation. We should never stop making reparation for the Assisi meetings! They’re bad, bad, bad!

    August 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm
  • 3littleshepherds

    If any Catholics don’t understand why ecumenism is wrong they should read Pope Pius X “Our Apostolic Mandate”.

    August 26, 2013 at 7:03 pm
  • Athanasius

    There is no way Archbishop Lefebvre commissioned those pictures or wrote to the Pope in the manner quoted in Nicky’s post. Anyone who knows the Archbishop’s spirit and who has read his letters to Pope John Paul II will know immediately that the aforementioned pictures and words to Pope John Paul II are just way to far out of character for the Archbishop to be their author. I suspect skullduggery here!

    August 26, 2013 at 8:11 pm
    • Nicky


      Are you being serious? You are saying that Bishop Williamson and now the District Superior are spreading a falsehood about Archbishop Lefebvre authoring the cartoon?

      I thought the explanation for the cartoon made sense and I didn’t see anything wrong with the letter to the Pope either. I find it easier to believe that these are authentic, than that there is “skulduggery” on such a scale in the Society.

      Do you have any proof?

      August 26, 2013 at 9:01 pm
  • Nicky

    I should have added that I am not a fan of the Bishop Williamson revolt, not at all, and if you can prove what you say, I will bow to the facts.

    August 26, 2013 at 9:02 pm
    • Athanasius


      Yes, I am saying precisely that there is something rotten in the State of Denmark and my proof is that they provide no proof that the Archbishop had anything to do with that cartoon. I’m afraid I do not accept their claims. If these particular people told me it was raining, I would go to the window to check!

      My understanding is that this work emanated from America and was distributed to other parts of the world from that country during Fr. Williamson’s tenure at St. Thomas Aquinas seminary. It is exactly the kind of shocking trash that +Williamson has since become known for.

      Besides that, I cannot find evidence of any 1986 letter sent by the Archbishop to Pope John Paul II as quoted earlier by you. I did find an August 1985 letter from the Archbishop to the Pope on the subject of Assisi, but it doesn’t refer to silly cartoons. That was not the Archbishop’s style at all. He was way too respectful of the Papacy to have sent that kind of thing to the Pope. Here’s the link to his 1985 letter. Perhaps you will direct me likewise to an archived copy of the 1986 letter you quoted, if it exists.

      August 26, 2013 at 9:18 pm
  • Nicky


    Bishop Tissier de Mallerais’ biography of Archbishop Lefebvre mentions the cartoon (I can check exactly page if you don’t have a copy yourself).

    He says that the Archbishop sent the cartoon pictures to the Pope prior to the Assisi meeting.

    August 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm
    • Athanasius


      If Bishop Tissier’s biography does state that, then I would be very interested to discover who informed His Excellency of the supposed fact. I would place huge amounts of cash on it being Bishop Williamson.

      August 26, 2013 at 11:07 pm
      • Nicky


        I checked the biography and it’s in the section The Sin of Scandal Against the Faith: Assisi page 536 forward. The cartoon is mentioned on page 537:


        “One month to the day before this meeting, Archbishop Lefebvre sent the Pope two small cartoons that were “a little catechism in pictures” (Fideliter No. 54, (Nov-Dec 1986) 17-20). One showed John Paul II refusing to let our Lord Jesus Christ and His most holy Mother into the meeting at Assisi: “You are not ecumenical”. The other showed our Lord refusing to let John Paul II into heaven, reminding him that He alone is the door of salvation.”

        I repeat, I think that is fair comment. Maybe seeing it in picture form shocks more, but I honestly cannot see anything offensive at all in it.

        August 26, 2013 at 11:16 pm
      • Athanasius


        The shocking part was the part with the devil claiming John Paul II for himself with some rather brusque American slang language. But even if the Archbishop did send this shocking cartoon to the Pope, which is only excusable to some degree by the great sense of betrayal John Paul’s syncretism represented and the anger it naturally generated when it first occurred, there is no excuse for re-publishing it today.

        The difference between then and now, as I stated earlier, is that Pope John Paul II has since gone to his judgment and so this cartoon presents an entirely different message to the Traditional faithful than it would have back in 1986.

        August 27, 2013 at 12:39 am
  • Leo

    “In a few days time we shall go to Assisi, representatives of the Catholic Church, of other orthodox Christian Churches and ecclesial communities, and of the great religions of the world. We shall go as believers in God…As you well know, the United Nations Organisation has declared 1986 the International Year of Peace. I took the opportunity to offer an invitation to make this year the occasion of a worldwide movement of prayer for peace. I issued this invitation to believers of all religions.” – Angelus Address, October 12, 1986

    “He who now sits upon the Throne of Peter mocks publicly the first article of the Creed and the first Commandment of the Decalogue. The scandal given to Catholic souls cannot be measured, The Church is shaken to its very foundations.” – Archbishop Lefebvre in a letter to eight Cardinals on 27 August 1986

    “Bear not the yoke with unbelievers for what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever? And what agreement hath the temple of God and idols?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-16

    There is no doubt that the absolutely unprecedented Assisi abomination (Mark I of III) played a major role in Archbishop Lefebvre’s eventual decision to consecrate four Bishops. The scandalous details of the day have been well documented in word, picture and film. Seeing the events unfold really brings home the horror show, which would have brought any pre-Conciliar Pope to incredulous apoplexy.

    Excuses were of course made subsequently. There were mutterings about “being together to pray, not praying together”. Well, it’s a point of view. In fact, that hardly rises to the level of a desperate, flimsy excuse.

    In the cold light of sober reflection after a reasonable interval, Pope John Paul expressed no misgivings whatsoever. In his end-of-the-year address to the Roman Curia, two months later on 22 December 1986, he spoke very strongly about how the Assisi day was all about the fundamental unity of the human race. He spoke of the relationship between the identity and mission of the Church and the unity of the human race, saying: “The differences are a less important element when confronted with the unity which is radical, fundamental and decisive.” The Pope also urged his Cardinals to “keep always alive the spirit of Assisi as a motive of hope for the future.” So much for the dogma of outside the Church there is no salvation.

    The “spirit of Assisi” links right back to the Vatican II novelties of Dignitatis Humanae. There can be no doubt Pope John Paul II saw it as a public manifestation of the Council’s teaching, not a misinterpretation. Anyone care to try a bit of hermeneutics of continuity?

    In the speech to the Curia, the Pope said: “The day of Assisi, showing the Catholic Church holding hands with our brothers of other religions, was a visible express of [the] statements of the Second Vatican Council.”

    “The event of Assisi” he said, “can thus be considered as a visible illustration, an exegesis of events, a catechesis intelligible to all, of what is presupposed and signified by the commitments to ecumenism and to the inter-religious dialogue which was recommended and promoted by the Second Vatican Council.”

    In case anyone sees the events at Assisi as some sort of naïve, over enthusiastic accident, what happened should be judged in light of what Pope John Paul said in his first Papal address on 17 October 1978:

    “Above all we must favour the development of Conciliar attitudes. First one must be in harmony with the Council. One must put into effect what was started in its documents; and what was started in its documents; and what was ‘implicit’ should be made explicit in the light of the experiments that followed and the light of new and emerging circumstances.”

    A rather unambiguous declaration of intent, I would say.

    Fostering the “spirit of Assisi” can be seen as one of the ways in which Pope John Paul II fulfilled his 1978 pledge to “favour the development of Conciliar attitudes” and to make what was “implicit” in Vatican II’s documents “explicit”.

    His Holiness obviously wasn’t too perturbed by the words of Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop de Castro Mayer a few weeks previously, who publicly protested:

    “Public sin against the unicity of God, the Word Incarnate, and His Church makes one shudder with horror: John Paul has encouraged false religions to pray to their false gods: it is an unprecedented and immeasurable scandal…an inconceivably impious and intolerable humiliation to those who remain Catholic, loyally professing the same Faith for twenty centuries.”

    August 26, 2013 at 10:50 pm
    • Athanasius


      I agree with everything you write in your post. It is exactly what Archbishop Lefebvre and every other Catholic worthy of the name has said.

      But it does not explain why that disgusting cartoon has appeared on the SSPX UK website all these years later with apparently false claims that Archbishop Lefebvre wrote to Pope John Paul II in 1986 enclosing a copy of the offending sketches.

      August 26, 2013 at 11:04 pm
  • Athanasius

    What interests me more right now, Nicky, is that, contrary to the assertion on the SSPX UK website, there appears to have been no correspondence at all between Archbishop Lefebvre and Pope John Paul II in 1986. The only Assisi-related letter to the Pope from the Archbishop I can find is that of August 1985, and it makes no mention of a cartoon.

    Perhaps the Archbishop, outraged as he was by the scandal of Assisi, permitted this cartoon to be circulated privately. I cannot imagine for one second, however, that His Grace would ever have sent such a degrading piece of work directly to the Pope, It just doesn’t fit with his frank but respectful comments to and about the Popes. If he did approve this, and it’s a gigantic IF, then all I can say is that he was human and was therefore liable to making mistakes. That cartoon would certainly count as his greatest mistake if he did commission it. It is an appalling piece of work!

    What’s more appalling, however, is that our schismatic, +Williamson friendly, infiltrators within the SSPX have chosen to publish that cartoon again today under completely different circumstances. Pope John Paul II was alive when it was originally sketched, so it wasn’t quite so provocative. To publish it now that he is dead gives it a whole new meaning. Besides, we have had 25 years or so to digest the scandal of Assisi, so none of us today can get away with claiming frustration as an excuse for re-publishing it. Imagine someone going to all the trouble of delving into the SSPX archives searching for the most shocking, controversial and potentially dangerous item they could find to re-publish to the detriment of the true spirit of the SSPX. It really is a disgrace.

    August 26, 2013 at 10:55 pm
  • Nicky


    I think the reason they’ve posted the cartoon is because of the likelihood of the canonisation of Pope John Paul II, not just to “re-publish it to the detriment of the true spirit of the SSPX”

    I don’t actually see the cartoon as “degrading” in the same way that you do, maybe that is the difference between us. I see it as fair comment on a Pope who did such a terrible thing as introduce these Assisi days.

    I hope you are wrong about the Bishop Williamson revolutionaries trying to stir up trouble for the Society. Like I say, I just thought the cartoon was fair comment but I respect your view and can understand your position, no problem.

    August 26, 2013 at 11:07 pm
  • Nicky


    I forgot to admit that I’ve never studied the writings of the Archbishop so can’t really compare his usual letter writing style with the letter quoted by Fr Williamson. I concede that you may be right about that, and about the Archbishop tolerating the circulation of the cartoons. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that was a “mistake” or that the cartoon is a “disgrace” because, like I say, I see it as “fair comment”.

    August 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm
    • Athanasius


      Thank you for your balanced comments. I am utterly convinced that there is more to this than just simply “fair comment” on the part of those who have re-published this ancient cartoon, not least because the alleged letter of Archbishop Lefebvre, which is quoted as having accompanied a copy of said cartoon to the Pope, was never written by the Archbishop.

      As I pointed out previously, there were no letters sent from Archbishop Lefebvre to the Pope in 1986. This raises the question of why someone is claiming the contrary in support of an unproven story that Archbishop Lefebvre commissioned a grossly disrespectful cartoon and then sent the offending satirical sketch to the Pope to make a point about Assisi. It really does not fit with the Archbishop’s great humility and way of doing things. I have read all of His Grace’ correspondence to the Pope and can assure you that this is completely out of character.

      Nor do I buy into the idea that the re-publishing of this disgraceful cartoon is a reasonable response of the SSPX to Rome’s deliberations over the possible canonisation of John Paul II. A measured, objective commentary by the District Superior would have sufficed to make the point. Instead, we get an old cartoon which is highly controversial linked with the name of the controversial Bishop Williamson who was expelled from the SSPX and should not therefore be quoted in any context. I think the dangerous mindset underlying such postings on the SSPX UK website is very evident!

      August 27, 2013 at 12:02 am
  • 3littleshepherds

    I really do think Archbishop Lefebvre sent the cartoons to the Pope to try to help him. I don’t know if the captions were in American slang nor why they would even be in English. At any rate it didn’t work! I’m sure Pope John Paul II knows now that it was Archbishop Lefebvre who loved him.

    August 26, 2013 at 11:12 pm
  • editor

    Well, folks, as the author of some pretty hard-hitting cartoons myself, and having had (another) one of those days, I think I need a good night’s sleep before commenting in any detail here.


    I think your observation is as good a place as any to stop for the night, for, whatever the truth about the cartoons, whether, in fact, the Archbishop (or anyone else) sent them to Pope John Paul II, they did not have the desired effect.

    And the rest, as they say, is history!

    August 26, 2013 at 11:25 pm
    • Petrus

      I think the first cartoon is very effective. That is exactly what happened at Assisi. Our Lord was pushed to periphery. The Pope, and every other Catholic who took part, broke the First Commandment.

      The second cartoon is an entirely different case. I can see the point of using it privately before Assisi as some sort of warning, but I agree that since Pope John Paul II is now dead, it is not justified for it to be republished.

      Regarding the nit wit who wrote to the editor, I’d like to ask him who he plans to “keep ye Traditional drum beating” from “within” (whatever that means). By and large, this doesn’t work.

      August 27, 2013 at 6:42 am
      • editor


        Spoken like a true peace-maker! I think the justification for re-publishing the cartoons is, as someone (Nicky, I think) has already pointed out, the proposed canonisation of Pope John Paul II, as a reminder of the gravity of his Assisi flings, no doubt because of the fact that canonisations are regarded as infallible acts, so how to keep the faithful alert to the seriousness of the current crisis in the Church? But, whatever, we’ve done the cartoons to death now and since I’ve encouraged the well-meaning, if ‘very confused about the SSPX’, gentleman who emailed me to check out this thread, as I didn’t have time to reply to his every criticism by email, I’d appreciate it if bloggers would move on to the general question of the status of the Society, only covered in passing so far. My fault, I know, for making the cartoons the focus of the thread but I thought we’d kill two topics with one thread, so to speak… I think I’ve succeeded in that we have truly, as I’ve said already, done the cartoons to death!

        I did send said gentleman an article entitled Are the SSPX Confessions Valid? since he specifically questioned the validity of SSPX Confessions, I suspect having consulted a modernist priest. I also pointed him to our current newsletter where the status of the Society is clarified in a number of places.

        Anything else bloggers can offer will be very helpful to him. He is well meaning, has been generous to the Society in the short time he has been attending their Masses and praised both the congregation and the clergy in his email to me. In the past, he’s also travelled up from England to attend one of our conferences (not the June conference, but previously) so please do not think badly of him. He’s very much a victim of the confusion reigning right now. Goodness, even certain priests (and I dare say bishops) do not understand the truth about the SSPX so let’s not be too hard on our Sassenach friend.

        August 27, 2013 at 8:18 am
      • Petrus

        You are correct in saying that a lot of people are being misled by Modernist priests. Confusion reigns! So I was probably too harsh calling him a “nit wit”.

        That’s the great thing about the Society priests. For most of the time you are left in no doubt what the church teaches.

        August 27, 2013 at 8:22 am
      • editor

        You’re absolved, Petrus! Just don’t be such a nit wit in future!

        August 27, 2013 at 8:24 am
      • Eileenanne


        Maybe this is a wee warning to all of us who publish opinions, online or in print, that once something is out there it can’t be taken back. I remember when Princess Diana died, there were some rather negative comments about her in the early editions of newspapers which were still, rather embarassingly, in the later editions that reported her death. Also, most of us will sometimes have wondered if the person being talked about at their funeral is actually the same person we knew in life.
        Maybe before we say anything about a person, we should ask ourselves if we would want to retract in the event of the person’s death. I am inclined to think that if something is wrong AFTER the person has died, it probably should not be said before he dies.

        August 27, 2013 at 9:17 am
      • editor

        “I remember when Princess Diana died there were some rather negative comments about her in the early editions of the newspapers which were still, rather embarrassingly in the later editions…”

        Let’s not go there. I’m saying exactly the same things about that mother of two and where she was going in the car at the time of her death as I said at the time of her death and I’ll say them in print, if need be, in the correct context. This is not that context, but I dislike the notion that once someone has died, we pretend they were perfect. I know that is not really what you are saying, but I wanted to make that point anyway. It’s Tuesday and I do daft things on Tuesdays. Also, I wish to make the point that others make all the time in the WRONG context, about human weakness (which doesn’t apply to dissenters attacking the faith). Even Petrus is human, believe it or not… We can all say things we regret at times (it’s bound to happen to me some day, as well.)

        Out of interest, Eileenanne, since you tend – more often than not – to actually NOT comment on the topic, while commenting if you know what I mean, but, out of interest, are you one of those who thinks Catholics may not fulfil their obligation by attending Sunday Mass in an SSPX chapel? Just curious.

        August 27, 2013 at 10:09 am
      • Eileenanne

        Editor, you said:
        “…I dislike the notion that once someone has died, we pretend they were perfect. I know that is not really what you are saying…

        It’s pretty much what I was saying. If the cartoon was wrong then it is wrong now. If it was OK then it is OK now.

        As to your final question… you’re not suggesting I go off topic, are you? 🙂

        August 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm
      • Eileenanne

        One of these days I WILL get the formatting right – promise.

        August 27, 2013 at 4:32 pm
      • Athanasius


        It was less wrong then than it is now because Pope John Paul II was alive when the cartoon was originally sketched and so people would have understood the context more readily then than now.

        August 27, 2013 at 11:48 pm
  • Athanasius

    Well, I have to say that I am rather shocked by the sanguine response of our regular bloggers to that cartoon. I shook me to the core when I saw it and I am extremely surprised that no one else can see the separatist mentality underlying its re-publication in the UK newsletter. That frivolous gentleman who abandoned the SSPX at least spotted the bad spirit that certainly prompted someone to go digging in the archives in search of something that would strengthen the cause of “The Resistance,” a piece that carries Bishop Williamson’s commentary from 1986, which effectively says ‘see how His Excellency is really the prelate after the Archbishop’s heart?’

    Well folks, I ain’t falling for that old ruse! I have forwarded the information to Menzingen in the certain hope that Bishop Fellay will share my view that this cartoon today is wholly inappropriate, as it was when it first appeared in 1986, although I can understand the initial anger that may have lead to its commissioning at that time.

    The fight for Tradition will not be accomplished by mocking satire, no matter how potent such mimicry may be. There is only one way to win this battle and that is by reasoned, objective presentation of the facts with charity and respect.

    This proposed canonisation is an outrage to the faithful, no doubt about it, as were the Assisi events themselves. We can prove this with commentary, quoting the popes and saints without having to resort to Rolf Harris-type sketches. The crisis in the Church is just too serious for this kind of crude and childish response.

    Imagine if this sort of communication caught on and we all stopped writing to each other on the blog, exchanging little sketches to convey our point instead. How ridiculous would that be, and how very awkward when it came to exchanging views on such subjects as homosexuality! No, there are some things better portrayed by words than by visual caricature. Let’s keep the funny sketches out of the classroom, restricted to playtime only.

    August 27, 2013 at 11:17 am
    • Margaret Mary


      I’m surprised to read your comments about satire and cartoons in general because the Catholic Truth Newsletter is full of satire and funny cartoons.

      August 27, 2013 at 1:21 pm
      • Athanasius

        Margaret Mary,

        Yes, indeed there are many cartoons in the Catholic Truth newsletter. It is one aspect of that otherwise excellent publication that I think cheapens it. I do profoundly believe these cartoons about prelates and priests of the Church to be disrespectful in the extreme and destructive to the cause of Tradition. Anyway, that’s my view and I’m sticking with it.

        August 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        I could not disagree more. I thought it was only Muslims who objected to cartoons about their religion. Cartoons have always been an accepted means of making a point and the cartoons in the Catholic Truth newsletter are not at all malicious. I am amazed at the word “cheapens” the newsletter, coming from someone I thought was part of that group.

        August 28, 2013 at 9:45 am
      • crofterlady

        Margaret Mary, I think that satire and cartoons can be very powerful in getting a message across. The Catholic Truth team do a great job in this area as, to my knowledge, no other organisation is doing anything like it. We should be thankful that some struggle against modernism is being waged.

        August 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm
      • editor

        CrofterLady, Margaret Mary & 3LittleShepherds,

        Thank you, each one, very much for your kind words about the Catholic Truth apostolate. I appreciate your support. I’m sad, of course, that, once again, acrimony has dominated this thread – I had no idea anyone could hold such strong anti-cartoon views! That’s a first! Certainly, our modernist/”liberal” enemies criticise the “tone and style” of our newsletter – they detest the satire – but I’ve never heard any of our supporters criticise us on that score. The modernists detest our satire because it shows up their anti-Catholic dissent for what it is – nonsense.

        I don’t intend, however, to launch into a defence of our use of satire – I’ve explained it too often in the newsletter for the sake of our modernist enemies. I’ll only make a few related points for the purpose of clarification: when we first launched the newsletter, and its founder – Charles J. Smith RIP – asked me to take on the role of editor, we discussed all sorts of things, including our genre: what would make Catholic Truth different from the other first class publications already on offer from orthodox Catholics, given that I was in full time employment and only had minimum spare time to devote to producing the newsletter. We decided that, if we don’t laugh at the nonsense going on around us we would cry, and thus we ought to make good use of humour, not least because – as C.S. Lewis wrote – “if there’s one thing the Devil can’t stand, it’s being mocked.”

        And therein lies the key misunderstanding at the root of the criticism that our cartoons are mocking prelates and popes. No. Our cartoons mock the Devil. We constantly point out that all that is going on in the Church today is part of the diabolical disorientation prophesied at Fatima. Our cartoons merely highlight the effects of that disorientation. Anyway, as I say, it’s a new one on me, finding someone who detests cartoons, since they are a well tried and tested – and, as CrofterLady points out, a powerful – way of getting a message across, in our case the message of the diabolical reality of modernism in the Church today. As GK Chesterton wrote in a book he gave to a child “Keep all your childishness: read all the pedants’ screed and scriptures, but don’t believe in anything that can’t be told in coloured pictures!”

        Satire/irony is our hallmark, and that is not going to change. Anyone, however, seeking a more serious approach, a publication with excellent articles, reasoned and logical etc. should consider subscribing to Christian Order – unlike Catholic Truth it’s not free but well worth the annual subscription. I read it and the editorials alone are well worth the money. The editor, Rod Pead, is a fearless proclaimer of all that is wrong in the Church today. His editorials and essays are terrific – and without a cartoon in sight!

        To finish on a, hopefully, light note, the satire in Catholic Truth is matched by the satire in the clip below, of Bishop Fellay (who tells us that he “likes pictures”) on the subject of the Assisi meetings. We have this permanently on our website, on “The Church” page. Enjoy!

        August 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm
    • Nicky


      You may be right about who is behind the cartoon but even if that is what happened, and the Superior General of the UK allowed the “resistance” to use his website I don’t really see how it helps them. It’s not about the Society but about the canonisation.

      How you can be so “shocked” at it surprises me. To me it just makes the point about something I already know – that Pope John Paul II endangered souls, including his own, by inviting all religions to Assisi to pray to their own gods. Pope Benedict went further and invited atheists, so you can see how the responsibility for what he started, lies on the shoulders of Pope John Paul II. Yes, you can reason and argue logically about it but most people I’ve talked to about Assisi just tell me to “lighten up” that other religions are good etc. Pictures are worth a thousand words, as the old saying goes and can get the same point across in a way that everyone can understand. I truly don’t see the problem. If you can actually say orally and in writing that Pope John Paul II’s soul is in danger due to what he did, that he risked Hell, then why is it so shocking to put that in cartoon form? I honestly don’t see that it’s a big deal or even an issue at all.


      I found this article about the SSPX not being in schism written by a priest-in-good-standing on his blog.

      I hope it helps your friend.

      August 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm
      • Athanasius


        You’re right when you say that pictures are worth a thousand words. That cartoon of Pope John Paul II being sentenced to Hell, which is the meaning that the greater majority of Catholics who see it will take from it, says much about the mindset of those who re-published it.

        It’s one of those images that may enlighten a few souls to the grave scandal of Assisi but ultimately cause hundreds of others to become convinced that the liberals are right to call the SSPX schismatic. The very best anyone could say about the cartoon is that it is an ill-advised, imprudent piece of work. I’ll say no more than that.

        August 27, 2013 at 2:19 pm
      • Nicky


        Pope John Paul II was not being “sentenced to Hell” – that’s ridiculous.

        Cartoons are a great way of spotlighting something – The Remnant uses them and that is one of “the” traditional publications in the States.

        August 27, 2013 at 6:13 pm
      • 3littleshepherds

        I wasn’t shocked by the cartoons because I’ve known of them for twenty five years.
        That said, I think everyone should know that they’re done in the style of illustrated catechisms not funny paper cartoons. I have several illustrated catechisms (American) printed in the 1940’s and 50’s, all with a very similar style. It’s a teaching tool.

        August 27, 2013 at 7:11 pm
      • Athanasius


        It’s not me you have to convince, it’s all those who have not the benefit of Fr. Williamson’s 1986 explanation that, despite appearances, Pope John Paul II is not being condemned to Hell in that satirical depiction.

        I think the following can just as easily be applied to satirical cartoons:

        Pope Leo XIII, in his letter Cum Multa of December 8, 1882, to the bishops of Spain gives important directives with regard to the method and spirit of Catholic writers. He says:

        “… it is most important that those who defend the interests of religion in the press, and particularly in the daily papers, should take up the same attitude…. The admonitions, therefore, which we have given to associations, We likewise give to writers; We exhort them to remove all dissensions by their gentleness and moderation, and to preserve concord amongst themselves and in the people, for the influence of writers is great on either side. But nothing can be more opposed to concord than biting words, rash judgments, or perfidious insinuations, and everything of this kind should be shunned with the greatest care and held in the utmost abhorrence. A discussion in which are concerned the sacred rights of the Church and the doctrines of the Catholic religion should not be acrimonious, but calm and temperate; it is weight of reasoning, and not violence and bitterness of language, which must win victory for the Catholic writer.” The Papal Encyclicals 1878-1903, p. 78.

        August 27, 2013 at 7:57 pm
      • 3littleshepherds

        Something is either virtuous or not. So I say the original intention of the drawing is virtuous because it was done to save souls and to try to prevent a horrendous sin against the First Commandment. If rebels and whatnot take the drawing and use it today to promote their own agenda then that’s on their head.
        I do think that any drawing that revealed the devil’s plans so openly would be unpopular for all sorts of subjective reasons, if you get what I’m saying. hehe.
        Hey, didn’t Editor tell us to stop talking about this?

        August 27, 2013 at 8:44 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        I didn’t need any explanation when I saw the cartoon both on this site and on the SSPX UK website. It says very clearly that it was re-published due to the coming canonisation of Pope John Paul II. Anyone of average intelligence can work it out.

        Also, I don’t see any “violence and bitterness of language” in the cartoon or in the Catholic Truth cartoons, so I don’t see how the extract from Pope Leo fits here.

        August 28, 2013 at 9:51 am
      • Athanasius

        Margaret Mary,

        I suppose it all comes down in the end to opinion. My opinion is that truth and respect for the Church’s authority are not best served by satirical sketches. If I want cartoon caricature I’ll buy the Beeno!

        August 28, 2013 at 10:41 am
  • catholicconvert1

    Miles Immaculatae

    I too think I was born a traditionalist. Once I have been confirmed I will do my utmost to attend the Extraordinary Form. The only thing about that is, this Church only does the EF for the Saturday Vigil. Can I attend only on the Vigil and not attend Sunday Mass in the Novus Ordo Parish where I live? I will be confirmed in this Parish Church, but I don’t want to offend my sponsor or the Priest.

    As for the cartoon being offensive, I would say yes and no. Yes because it is makig light of someone receiving eternal damnationm esp. a Pope, no because John Paul II probably brought it on himself by attending Assisi etc.

    If I was the Pope, and the Archlayman of Canterbury asked for an audience, I would ask him, ‘are you thinking of converting? If not, then, on yer bike’. I think I’d make a good Pope. Maybe Pius XIII.


    August 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm
    • crofterlady

      catholicconvert, the Church allows us to either attend the vigil or the Sunday Mass so I don’t see why you feel the need to go twice, especially as the second Mass is the NOM! Mind you, when the vigil was first introduced it was only for people who couldn’t get to Sunday Mass. Whereabouts is that Saturday Vigil in the EF?

      August 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm
      • catholicconvert1


        I assume your Scottish so I doubt that you are familiar with Yorkshire but the Novus Ordo is the one I attend on Sunday, and the one I will be confirmed in, as I can’t get to an SSPX Priest/ Traditionalist Novus Ordo for confirmation lessons due to travel/ cost/ family constraints as I’m a student. The NOM on Sundays is in Huddersfield and the EF is in Halifax.

        August 27, 2013 at 8:30 pm
      • catholicconvert1

        sorry the should be ‘you’re Scottish’. My bad.

        August 27, 2013 at 8:31 pm
  • Leo

    Editor has assured us of her correspondent’s good faith, so I think it is perfectly in order address some of the issues or questions raised about the Society. Who knows how many others are reading this blog who have similar questions, or indeed how many of us bloggers were reliant on others to help us overcome disinformation and other impediments on the way to finding the pearl of great price.

    I think many, many people are hindered by the finger wagging neo Catholic pharisees who set themselves up as some sort of parallel magisterium with the power to declare faithful Catholics anathema. A common canonical adage is that “against necessity, there is no law,” or “necessity knows no law.” In his constitution “Exiit qui seminat” of August 14, 1279, Pope Nicholas III confirmed this principle: “one is to be excused from every [positive] law on account of extreme necessity”. Many neo Catholics, not only in effect deny this principle, but actually pontificate that the opposite holds: “against law there is no necessity”

    The questions of true and false obedience, the fact that in canon law, the supreme law is the salvations of souls, and the fact that Catholics are under no obligation whatsoever to obey unjust commands, no matter who from, has been dealt with on other threads. Catholics theologians of the immense standing of Aquinas, Bellarmine, Suarez, and Vitoria have explained this very clearly and have been quoted on this blog.

    On matters of doctrine, Saint Paul, could not have been clearer.

    “But though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.” (Galatians 1:8).

    The old chestnut of excommunication is probably top of the list when it comes to disinformation about the Society. A great many of those Catholic who give the issue any amount of thought appear not to be aware that the priests of the Society and the laity to whom they minister were never excommunicated. Speaking as a very ordinary layman, I would also say that neither were Archbishop Lefebvre, Bishop Castro de Mayer, or any of the four bishops ever excommunicated. A very strong case can be made for that belief.

    The principle that an excommunication without proper cause is null and void is explained by Saint Thomas Aquinas. He writes:

    “An excommunication may be unjust for two reasons… Secondly, on the part of the excommunication, through there being no proper cause, or through the sentence being passed without the forms of law being observed. In this case, if the error, on the part of the sentence, be such as to render the sentence void, this has no effect, for there is no excommunication . . .” –Summa Theologica Supplement to Part 3, Q. 21, Art. 4

    Those who claim that the issue is cut and dried will point to canon 1382 which states that both the Bishop who, without a pontifical mandate, consecrates a person a Bishop, and the one who receives the consecration from him, incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

    Well they seem to ignore the fact that canon law comes to the defence of Archbishop Lefebvre and the other Bishops. Leaving aside the fact that before 1951, consecrating a bishop without papal mandate (canon 2370 1917 Code of Canon Law), canons 1323 and 1324 of the 1983 Code provide a very firm basis for saying that latae sententiae excommunications were not incurred on June 30 1988.

    Canon 1323 clearly states that those acting “out of necessity” are “not subject to penalties” i.e. not subject to any penalty, and canon 1324, #3 states that “one is not bound by an automatic (latae sententiae) penalty”…who erroneously yet culpably thought” (1324 #1,8) that he was acting out of the compulsion of grave fear, even if only relative, or by reason of necessity or grave inconvenience…” (1323,4)

    Canon 1324 #3 states that, “an accused is not bound by an automatic penalty (latae sententiae) in the presence of any of the circumstances enumerated in #1”. These include the violation of law or precept “by one erroneously yet culpably thought one of the circumstances in in canon 1323, nn. 4 and 5 was verified” (see immediately above).

    In short, canon law states that automatic penalty is not incurred when one even erroneously yet culpably considered himself to be acting out of necessity. Whether or not there was a grave necessity, whether or not the Archbishop was right in thinking there was a grave necessity, are not relevant. What is relevant as far as the issue of the excommunications being unjust and therefore void, is that the Archbishop sincerely believed that there was a grave necessity.

    Surely, anyone who is any position to express an opinion on this matter, cannot in good faith doubt the Archbishop’s mind on the crisis facing the Church after everything he had done and said, and written for years, and the lengths he had gone to find a proper and just solution to that crisis.

    Neither the Pope or anyone else in the Church has the power to simply make someone an excommunicate. If that’s the case, we are into the territory of Pope as capricious tyrant. Whether someone is excommunicated latae sententiae depends on whether they have committed an offense that incurs such an excommunication.

    How can it be reasonably doubted that canon law was very much in Archbishop Lefebvre’s favour, to say the least?

    August 27, 2013 at 3:39 pm
    • Athanasius


      Excellent post! You are absolutely correct in everything you write and quote. That’s why I am so disturbed by that cartoon, because it feeds the enemies of Tradition who know well how to re-interpret it to the detriment of the SSPX. And let’s face it, there will not always be SSPX around with long commentaries on how it should be interpreted.

      August 27, 2013 at 3:50 pm
    • Josephine


      Your explanations about the SSPX are the best I’ve ever read. You make the case for them very clearly and convincingly.

      Canon Law does seem to be “very much in Archbishop Lefebvre’s favour to say the least” – which makes it all the more puzzling why there are priests and faithful who still think they are in schism or not in full communion. I still meet people who think you can’t fulfil the Sunday Mass obligation by going to their Masses.

      August 27, 2013 at 5:09 pm
  • Leo

    The false accusation that the Society has been schismatic since 30 June 1988 appears very difficult to dispel, no matter how much evidence is produced. As far as I know, it has yet to be explained how Bishops and priests who are not excommunicated, are outside the Church. An article by Christopher Ferrara, published in the Remnant Newspaper, and which was posted on the old blog more than once is worth reading:

    Saint Augustine stated that against facts there is no argument. Well, those Catholics take it upon themselves to issue private “magisterial” statements and declare that the Society is schismatic have some rather awkward facts to deal with.

    . But the Code of Canon Law nowhere says that illicit consecration of bishops is a schismatic offense. In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, episcopal consecration without papal mandate is not found under the section of “Offences against Religions and the unity of the Church.”

    Since schism is defined by the same Code as “the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him” (Canon 751), Archbishop Lefebvre could only be accused of schism if he had by the consecrations sought to start his own church or attempted to give jurisdiction to the bishops he consecrated. That was manifestly not the case. Facing the end of his life, and after strenuous and long lasting efforts in the struggle for Tradition, the Archbishop wanted to provide the means to ensure that the Mass, the orthodox priesthood and the means of preserving and protecting Tradition would be passed on. His concern was for the salvation of souls.

    During his sermon at the episcopal consecrations, Archbishop Lefebvre made it very clear that there was no intention or spirit of schism involved:

    “We are not schismatics! . . .There is no question of us separating ourselves from Rome, nor of putting ourselves under a foreign government, nor of establishing a sort of parallel church as the Bishops of Palmar de Troya have done in Spain. . . . It is out of the question for us to do such things. Far from us be this miserable thought to separate ourselves from Rome!”

    It’s worth reading the magnificent sermon in full.


    If the Archbishop was schismatic and rejected the Pope’s authority to command or the primacy of the See of Rome, then why on earth would he have spent years in contact with Rome, and travelling there whenever requested? If he was schismatic and desirous to set up his own “church” the Archbishop wouldn’t have been one bit concerned with Rome and would no doubt have consecrated plenty of Bishops long before ill health and impending death closed in on him.

    It’s a statement of fact that the episcopal consecrations were against the will of the Pope. That in itself does not constitute schism. A lot more is required.

    “Schismatics properly so called are those who willfully and intentionally separate themselves from the unity of the Church.” – St Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 39, a.1
    Other Dominican theologians such as Pruemmer and Merkelbech further confirm that mere disobedience does not constitute schism.

    “Mere contempt of a precept or law of the Pope, no matter how grave or obstinate, is mere disobedience of a precept, and therefore not schismatic in its essence, and hence, does not separate one from the Church.” – Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, q.12, a. 1 ad 3

    That the consecration of bishops cannot be an intrinsically schismatic act is evident under canon law. Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the punishment for illicitly consecrating bishops was not excommunication but mere suspension (this was changed to excommunication in 1951). However, if consecrating bishops without papal mandate were an inherently schismatic offense, then the 1917 Code would have had to require excommunication for this offense, because the very same Code teaches, as the 1983 Code does, that schismatics incur latae sententiae excommunication (Canon 2314 in the 1917 Code; Canon 1382 in the 1983 Code). Therefore, consecrating bishops without papal mandate is not an inherently schismatic offense. To state otherwise lacks foundation.

    There is a very significant point that needs to be made in relation to the episcopal conscecrations on 30 Jun3 1988. When Archbishop Lefebvre was sent the canonical warning by Cardinal Gantin on June 17, 1988, the warning did not include mention of schism anywhere. Don’t anyone tell me that that was some accidental oversight and omission.

    The Pope, as supreme legislator, can add new canons to the Code. But he cannot make something schismatic that is not inherently so.

    Archbishop Lefebvre knew that when he acted, as a true Catholic Bishop, out of grave concern for the salvation of souls, and “handed on what I have received”.

    Canon 751 of the 1983 Code, as stated previously, defines schism as “the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him”. The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches this manifestly: “Not every disobedience is a schism; in order to possess this character it must include besides the transgression of the commands of superiors, denial of their Divine right to command” Neither Archbishop Lefebvre nor the Society has ever denied the Pope’s authority to command. I think the Archbishop’s attitude has been spelt out. If anyone thinks the Society’s position has changed one iota, they ought to read the Declaration of the Society’s General Chapter last year. It includes the following:

    “We reaffirm our faith in the Roman Catholic Church, the unique Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation nor possibility to find the means leading to salvation; our faith in its monarchical constitution, desired by Our Lord Himself, by which the supreme power of government over the universal Church belongs only to the Pope, Vicar of Christ on earth…”

    How many of those modernist Bishops and priests who declare the Society “schismatic” would put their names to that Declaration?

    August 27, 2013 at 5:21 pm
  • scottish priest

    I would have no issue putting my name to that.. The argument I heard on Catholic radio was that in some SSPX situations they may not be in Communion with the local bishop therefore not in communion with Rome. Not sure of the legalities of that its above the pay scale of a n ordinary priest. but I’m sure I’ll be enlightened.. not in gnostic manichaean way of couurde

    August 28, 2013 at 7:46 am
  • Athanasius

    Scottish Priest,

    I always remember the words of Canon Georg May, a professor of Canon Law at Guttenburg University in Mainz, Austria and a priest of 40 years good standing in the Church, who said that the SSPX does not refuse communion with the bishops but rather the bishops refuse communion with the SSPX. That is absolutely true and it casts a whole different light on the situation. The SSPX is cut off because the bishops dislike the old Faith it represents and refuses to compromise, it as simple as that.

    August 28, 2013 at 10:38 am
  • Leo

    Scottish Priest

    I am not a bit surprised that you agree with the words quoted from the Declaration of the Society’s General Chapter last year. I think it is fair to say, though that many priests and Bishops speak and act as though they don’t. The evidence is in constant supply. I don’t think any sane individual would bet money on certain organisations representing priests in Ireland and Austria signing such a Declaration. And these priests are in “good standing” or possessed of “canonically regular” status.

    You must agree that in the midst of five decades of diabolical disorientation, the dogma that there is no salvation outside the Church has been persistently undermined, from the highest echelons of the Church down. The same applies to the Church’s “monarchical constitution”. The Holy Father’s conduct in relation to the latter hardly needs to be spelt out.

    As for the Society and the issue of Communion, I think Christopher Ferrara’s article that I linked to in my previous post expresses things much more eloquently than I could. The reality is that many of those who are responsible for the salvation of souls or who are remunerated for expressing their opinions in the Catholic media are repeatedly guilty of ignorant, reckless, and calumnious statements about the Society. If people want to hurl anathemas about with words like “outside the Church” and “schismatic” they need to, in justice, make some meaningful effort to substantiate those charges instead of behaving like self-styled Popes. For some reason, such urges appear to be on the increase recently amongst the neo-Catholics.

    At Masses offered by the priest of the Society, we do of course pray for the Pope and the local ordinary, in the Canon. Hardly the mark of schismatics. Where I attend Mass, every Sunday we say a Hail Mary for the Holy Father, the local Bishop, and all the Bishops and priests of Ireland. Schismatics?

    The bottom line is that no Catholic can be put out of the Church for holding to the Catholic Faith, the Faith held “everywhere, always and by everyone” in the words of Saint Vincent of Lerins. The Society tends to the souls of those who believe and worship as every orthodox Catholic did in 1960. If they are wrong now, everyone was in error then. If their detractors are right now, every orthodox Catholic was wrong then.

    “In condemning us, you condemn the Church of all times. For what is there that She believed and taught that we also do not believe?”
    – Saint Edmund Campion, Martyr of the Anglican schism and heresy

    When very respectful requests for magisterial clarification of the continuity confusion have been made, along with demonstration of manifest examples of contradictions with pre Conciliar teaching, there is silence, or talk about “hermeneutics”, or the “real Council”, or living Tradition, and as a final resort, a plain and unsubtle argument from authority. The media have even been blamed for the confusion! Petrus’ exchanges with a priest, which was the subject of recent thread, is a perfect example of what is at issue.

    When exactly have delegates of the Pope engaged in doctrinal discussions for two to three years with any body that is outside the Church? Never. Reportedly in those discussions, the representatives of Rome managed on occasions to disagree amongst themselves.

    Nobody who is hostile to the Society or repeats the calumny of schism has ever been able to point out any Catholic dogmas that the Society denies. What it all comes back to is the issue of true and false obedience, and canonical status. I think it has been made abundantly clear that the Society would welcome “regularisation” on condition that no compromise is involved on saying the New Mass, or in criticising the Council.

    There are enough examples available to judge how regularisation at the price of silence works out. Ask many in the FSSP, or the Institute of the Good Shepherd. There are bloggers here who can speak with first-hand experience about the how regularisation has worked out for the Transalpine Redemptorists and the Catholics of the diocese of Aberdeen.

    I’ve said it before that many in the Church are quite happy to march in the victory parade when it comes to orthodoxy and the true Mass, while standing far off and letting the Society do the fighting.

    By the way, I like your statement, Scottish Priest, about being “enlightened…not in a gnostic manichaean way of course.” How have that bunch lasted so long? The father of lies, no doubt. They’ve being causing trouble for two millennia. I’d add in passing that I definitely won’t be babbling in strange tongues, either! One is quite enough for me to try and get right.

    August 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm
  • Lily


    “I’ve said it before that many in the Church are quite happy to march in the victory parade when it comes to orthodoxy and the true Mass, while standing far off and letting the Society do the fighting.”

    I think it’s the references to “true Mass” which makes a lot of people worry about and wary of the SSPX.

    To speak of the old Mass as the “true” Mass, implies that the new Mass is “false”.

    I have friends who insist that there is no difference in the prayers of the two Masses (if you put aside liturgical abuses, which they say happen also in the old rite Mass or certainly did prior to VII).

    I’m not knowledgeable enough to answer them, but I mention it because your posts are always so enlightening, but I wonder if you realise how that phrase “the true Mass” can put people off?

    August 31, 2013 at 11:16 pm
  • Miles Immaculatae

    “… there are many cartoons in the Catholic Truth newsletter. It is one aspect of that otherwise excellent publication that I think cheapens it.”


    That’s a bot snobbish I would have thought. Cartoons cheapen the Catholic Truth newsletter? Really?

    The Telegraph uses cartoons does it not? And the Times. And the Financial Times. The Guardian-Observer. The Independent. Pretty much every broadsheet.

    Glasgow is fortunate to boast the world’s largest collection of Renaissance Emblem Books, which are held by the University of Glasgow. If one studies the books one will notice that a great deal of embelms from the 16th and 17th centuries were printed by Jesuit propagandists.

    Yes, the Jesuits were different back then. In their golden era during the Counter-Reformation that they proliferated their own cartoons in their strife against the Protestant heretics. But these were not all merely to bash heretics, they even used the medium as a way to edify the Catholic faithful. It was a potent weapon in the crisis the Church faced in that period. I don’t think things have changed.

    I have never seen a disrespectful cartoon in CT.

    An example of a Jesuit Emblem book:

    September 1, 2013 at 1:00 pm
  • Augustine

    Part of me feels that there is something very wrong with the depiction of a Pope as damned. But then Dante felt no such compunction about depicting Pope Celestine V in his Inferno. Perhaps it is we who are at fault. What Pope John Paul II did was damnable – literally – and his terrible sin should not be obfuscated.

    Let’s face facts: we can argue with Catholics about what Pope John Paul II did at Togoville and Assisi (etc) until we are blue in the face. We can bring forth arguments from Scripture, the Fathers, the Scholastics, and the Perennial Magisterium that what the late Pope did was at the very least at odds with the Catholic Faith. But there seems a cloud on the minds of so many Catholics that words cannot pierce. He remains “John Paul the Great” regardless of the facts, including his refusal to listen the huge volume of accusations against his pet Fr Maciel.

    And if words cannot pierce this fog, what is left except a picture? So, while I am uncomfortable with the image of Pope John Paul II being consigned to eternal perdition, for as long as a blind spot to the many terrible violations of the First Commandment persists in the minds of Catholics, a visual representation of the consequences of these violations remains sadly necessary.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:42 pm
    • Petrus

      Excellent post, Augustine.

      September 1, 2013 at 9:18 pm
  • ignatius1970

    Good point Augustine.

    September 1, 2013 at 8:24 pm
  • Leo

    “It is clear that the Novus Ordo no longer intends to present the faith as taught by the Council of Trent. Yet the Catholic conscience is bound to that faith forever.” – The Ottaviani Intervention


    Thank you for your kind words. To be honest, I was more than half expecting that someone would come back on the use of the term “true Mass”. Apologies in advance about the length of the following. It’s not an attempt to bludgeon anyone into submission with long winded comments. Most of the second half is an add on collection of quotes.

    Like many here, I’ve used others, such as “Tridentine Mass”, “Mass of Tradition”, “Mass of All Time”, “Mass of the Martyrs”, “Traditional Latin Mass”. I think firstly that my use of word “true” was meant as a positive, very natural expression of veneration for the Holy Sacrifice canonised by Tradition and papal decree that sanctified and sustained countless saints and martyrs.

    The words of Father Adrian Fortescue in The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy (1912) offer eloquent testimony:
    “Our Mass goes back, without essential change, to the age when it first developed out of the oldest liturgy of all. It is still redolent of that liturgy, of the days when Caesar ruled the world and thought he could stamp out the faith of Christ, when our fathers met together before dawn and sang a hymn to Christ as to God. The final result of our enquiry is that, in spite of unsolved problems, in spite of later changes, there is not In Christendom another rite so venerable as ours. “(p. 213)

    The same cannot be said about a man-centred, desacralized, protestantised liturgy fabricated by a shadowy committee with revolutionary intentions, a liturgy characterised, almost line by line, by its being at variance with the traditional Mass’ unambiguous presentation of Catholic dogma. The fabricators knew exactly what they were doing. No one can creditably say that the alarming replication of the liturgical changes wrought by heretics in the sixteenth century which has engulfed unsuspecting Catholics since 1970 was due to some strange coincidence.

    How the Mass gives glory to God and sanctifies Catholics, and teaches and reinforces Catholic dogma is, I think, at issue when we discuss the “true Mass”. The Mass canonised by Pope Saint Pius V is unequivocal when it comes to Catholic doctrine on the Real Presence, the Mass as a propitiatory Sacrifice, and the unique, irreplaceable role of the consecrated priesthood. The novus ordo, the creation of a committee aided by six Protestants, and inspired by a well-documented spirit of false ecumenism, demonstrably fails to guard and protect the faith of Catholics. We have a virtually unlimited amount of evidence on that score.

    I do take your point, Lily about the implication of using the word “true”. I would be horrified if anything I said placed an obstacle in the way of anyone discovering their full Catholic inheritance, i.e. the faith and Mass of Tradition. That said, we are now way, way past time when Catholic have to start thinking and trying to inform themselves about what exactly has taken place in the Church in the last five decades. The most obvious manifestation of the revolution is of course the change in the way Catholics worship. Many loyal, faithful Catholics appear to be utterly and determinedly unaware of the part the liturgical changes have played in the ongoing devastation. Maybe provocative words such as “true Mass” will act as a bit of a nudge to get people to inform themselves.

    Numerous detailed analyses have been written which demonstrate how the faith of Catholics is undermined by the Novus Ordo Mass. Dan Graham’s article on the Mass tab on the homepage of this site is one many excellent critiques. Probably the first and best known red flag is the Ottaviani Intervention. This Critical Study dealt with the Novus Ordo Mass (“teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the integrity of the Catholic faith”), in Latin, and approved by Pope Paul VI. The books of the late Michael Davies are also invaluable, notably his lengthy works entitled, Cranmers Godly Order, and Pope Paul’s New Mass. The short pamphlet entitled “Liturgical Shipwreck” is a useful primer. It is very important to reiterate that these critiques are directed against the novus ordo as permitted, in its purest form, and offered by an orthodox priest, with no abuses.

    The Mass of Annibale Bugnini was a fabrication that was not in any way shape or form an organic development from the Mass handed down over two millennia. What Luther and his fellow revolutionaries failed to do in the sixteenth century, the post Conciliar reforms succeeded in bringing about. Don’t anyone take my word for it. Dr Smith, one of the Lutheran representatives on the commission which was responsible for fabricating the new liturgy publicly boasted that “we have finished the work that Martin Luther began”.

    How about another Lutheran, Peter L. Berger, a professor of Sociology who at the Harvard Club on May 11, 1978 spoke as follows: “If a thoroughly malicious sociologist, bent on injuring the Catholic Church as much as possible, had been an advisor to the Church, he could hardly have done a better job.”

    Professor von Hildebrand, described by Pope Pius XII a the Doctor of the Church in the twentieth century, wrote that “truly, if one of the devils in C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy, he could not have done it better.”- The Devastated Vineyard, p. 71

    Monsignor Klaus Gamber, who was not a traditionalist, wrote a book twenty years ago entitled The Reform of the Roman Liturgy (with an approving preface written by Cardinal Ratzinger), in which he described the new Mass as an unprecedented break with the Church’s entire liturgical tradition: “there has never actually been an actual break with Church tradition, as has happened now, and in such a frightening way, where almost everything the Church represents is being questioned.” (p. 109)

    He also wrote that “the real destruction of the traditional Mass, of the traditional Roman Rite with a history of more than one thousand years, is the wholesale destruction of the faith on which it was based, a faith that had been the source of our piety and our courage to bear witness to Christ and His Church, the inspiration of countless Catholics over many centuries. Will someone, some day, be able to say the same thing about the new Mass? Many Catholics agonize over the question: what can be done about the loss of our faith and of our liturgy?” (p. 102)

    A priest who said the Mass in 1570 could have been transported in time to 1962 and have no problem saying the Mass of that time. For many priests and laity, the Mass was barely recognisable eight years later. Leaving aside any issues of validity on grounds of form and intention, I find it hard to see how both the Tridentine Mass, and the Novus Ordo Mass which is practically defined by its differences to it, can share the adjective “true”.

    Also, I don’t buy the “abuses” defence for the New Mass. I posted the following 10 minute video comparison on August 26 on the last “Summorum Pontificum” thread. As far I could see, the novus ordo Mass shown was as free of abuse as nearly any offered in Catholic parishes these days.

    That “abuses” defence fails to take account of the fact that the 1969 General Instruction represented a sort of liturgical “Big Bang” whereby regulation was thrown out the window. Pre Vatican II, a uniform set of laws minutely regulated the Catholic liturgy. Priests were obliged to stick to the rubrics and had no opportunity for personal creativity. Very importantly, liturgy was inextricably linked with doctrine and discipline. And everyone knew it. Pope Pius XII addressed this subject in detail in his 1947 encyclical Mediator Dei.

    The very character of the 1969 General Instruction, in stark contrast to what was previously in place, leads to liturgical indiscipline, creativity and abuse. The fact is that following the General instruction, wild-man liturgists were unleashed on the unsuspecting and obedient flock throughout the Catholic world.

    In 1973, a Vatican directory created by the master of disaster himself, Annibale Bugnini and approved by Pope Paul VI allowed celebrants near-total creative freedom in the celebration of Mass for children with predictable and lamentable results.

    Pagan ritual and cultural practices were introduced into the New Mass in many non-western countries. In his memoirs, Bugnini was happy to list the litany of adaptations in Zambia, The Congo, and Zaire, including the liturgical dance in Africa and the celebration of Chinese New Year, which, as he noted, was condemned as superstitious by Pope Benedict XIV.

    I hope, Lily, that the above offers some sort of the explanation for my use of the term “true Mass” and also might prevent unease when I include it in future posts. I’ve probably stretched readers’ attention quite enough by now. Rather than try and weave some of the following into a post, I have included them as a sort of “appendix”. Those still reading can skim and dip in as they wish. Nearly all make substantially the same point.


    On November 26 1969, Pope Paul VI uttered some of the strangest words ever spoken by a reigning Pope, arguably on a par at least with the same Pontiff’s “smoke of satan” remarks:

    “We ask you to turn your minds once more to the liturgical innovation of the new Rite of Mass…a change in a venerable tradition that has gone on for centuries. This is something that affects our hereditary religious patrimony, which seemed to enjoy the privilege of being untouchable and settled…This change will affect the ceremonies of the Mass. We shall become aware, perhaps with some feeling of annoyance, that the ceremonies at the altar are no longer being carried out with the same words and gestures to which we were accustomed…We must prepare for this many-sided inconvenience. It is the kind of upset caused by every novelty that breaks in on our habits. We shall notice that pious persons are disturbed most, because they have their own respectable way of hearing Mass, and they will fell shaken out of their usual thoughts and obliged to follow those of others. Even priests may feel some annoyance in this respect… we must prepare ourselves. This novelty is no small thing. We should not let ourselves be surprised by the nature, or even the nuisance, of its exterior forms… We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant. We have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment.”


    “We must strip four our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is, for the Protestants.” – Annibale Bugnini, L’Osservatore Romano, March 19, 1965

    “The liturgical reform is a major conquest of the Catholic Church and has its ecumenical dimension, since the other churches and Christian denominations see in it not only something to be admired, but equally a sign of further progress to come.” Bugnini, Notitiaem no 92, April 1974, p. 126

    “It is not simply a question of restoring a valuable masterpiece, in some cases it will be necessary to provide new structures for entire rites…it will truly be a new creation.” – Annibale Bugnini, May 7 1967, La Documentation Catholique, no. 1493

    “Let them compare it with the Mass we now have. Not only the words, the melodies and some of the gestures are different. To tell the truth, it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity: the Roman Rite as we know it no longer exists. It has been destroyed. Some walls of the former edifice have changed their appearance, to the extent that it appears today either as a ruin or the partial substructure of a different building.” – Joseph Gelineau SJ, Demain La Liturgie, Paris, 1976, pp 9-10

    “An ecumenically-oriented sacramental theology for the celebration of the Mass emerged…it leads us…out of the dead end of the post-Tridentine theories of sacrifice, and corresponds to the agreements signalled by many of last’s year’s interfaith documents.” Fr. Lengeling, Consilium member

    Evidence of the intended doctrinal changes comes from an irrefutable witness- Bugnini’s assistant, Father Carlo Braga:

    “Revising the pre-existing text becomes more delicate when faced with a need to update content or language, and when all this affects not only form, but also doctrinal reality. This (revision) is called for in light of the new view of human values, considered in relation to and as a way to supernatural goods…In other cases, ecumenical requirements dictated appropriate revisions in language. Expressions recalling positions or struggles of the past are no longer in harmony with the Church’s new positions. An entirely new foundation of Eucharistic theology has superseded devotional points of view or a particular way of venerating and invoking the Saints. Retouching the text, moreover, was deemed necessary to bring to light new values and new perspectives.” – Bugnini’s assistant, Father Carlo Braga
    I counted the word “new” five times in that paragraph.

    Consilium actually considered abolishing Ash Wednesday but reluctantly retained it because “it would be difficult to take it away without encountering other inconveniences.”- Fr. Braga, Ephemerides Liturgicae 83 (1969).

    Fr. Braga admitted that the Novus Ordo had been given “an entirely new foundation of eucharistic theology” resulting from a revision affecting “not only form, but also doctrinal reality”, dictated by “ecumenical requirements…in harmony with the Church’s new positions.” – Fr. Carlo Braga, Il ‘Proprium de Sanctis’, Ephemerides Liturgicae 84 (1970), 419

    If anyone is inclined to dismiss the importance of the changes to the orations in the Mass and their effect, they need to read the words of Monsignor A.G. Martimort, another of Consilium’s experts:

    “The content of these prayers is the most important of the liturgical loci theologici ( theological sources). The reason is that they interpret the shared faith of the assembly.” (- The Church at Prayer, vol. 1)

    Compare the words of Father Braga when he said that the New Missal will indeed “have a transforming effect on catechesis” (Il Nuovo Messale Romano, Ephemerides Liturgicae 84 (1970) with those of Pope Pius XII who wrote in his encyclical, Mediator Dei, that the entire liturgy “bears public witness to the faith of the Church.”


    The liturgy has “outstripped the liturgy of Cranmer, in spite of the latter’s four hundred years’ start, in its modernity.” – Archdeacon Pawley, an Anglican observer at the Council, in Rome and Canterbury Through Four Centuries (RCFC) p. 349

    “For the revised Roman liturgy, so far from being a cause for dissension, now resembles the Anglican liturgy very closely.” – Pawley, RCFC p.348

    “If the decisive evolution of the Eucharistic Liturgy in substitution of the (traditional) Canon of the Mass, the removal of the idea that the Mass is a Sacrifice, and the possibility of receiving the Communion under the two species, are taken into account, then there is no longer any justification, for the reformed Church, to bar their members from attending the Eucharist in a Catholics Church.” – Roger Mehl, Protestant theologian, in an article in Le Monde of 10 September 1970.

    September 1, 2013 at 11:58 pm
    • editor

      Leo – your utterly fantastic post on the Mass comes just as I am in the middle of some email correspondence with a twenty-something young man who assures me that the two Masses are textually identical – he rubbished Dan Graham’s article on our website Mass page. I’m laid up with flu which I cannot shake off, but was trying to get up the energy to reply to his latest message at some point today – you just did it for me!

      The “abuses” defence of the new Mass is his key defence. You have demolished that. Thank you! A wee prayer for that young man – he is extremely well meaning and I believe will seriously reflect on your post when I send it to him. I suspect he reads the blog anyway but in case not, I’m going to make sure he reads your “true Mass” comment.

      Now to copy and paste!

      September 2, 2013 at 10:34 am
  • Leo


    It’s certainly true that defenders of the New Mass constantly say that we can’t pronounce judgement based on the more outrageous liturgical abuses that are brought to light on with depressing regularity. I suspect most neo-caths will stare at the floor if mention is made of the absolute outrage perpetrated against Our Lord at the papal Mass at World Fornication Day on Copacabana Beach recently, when Holy Communion was distributed to outstretched hands from plastic cups, of the regulation water cooler variety. No regular here is a stranger to discussion on the novus ordo indult on Communion in the hand.

    Let’s, purely and solely for argument’s sake, leave aside the very grave matter of sacrilege when discussing the New Mass. Let’s stretch our imaginations to pretend that it does not happen. Many bishops, priests and members of the paid Catholic commentariat still don’t appear to grasp the basic doctrinal problem with the Protestant inspired, modernist made, New Mass. And no, the secularism spiel isn’t going to explain away three generations of apostasy.

    Whether it’s blindness, ignorance, or a stubborn unwillingness to eat crow and admit that traditionalist were right from the start, or whether it’s the awe inspiring prospect of considering the enormity of the damage, who knows? Whatever, there is a marked reluctance to concede inheritance rights to faithful lay Catholics who are trying to save their souls.

    The undeniable truth is that, from the time Bugnini’s Mass was brought out from behind the curtain, the objections were doctrinal. The expression lex orandi, lex credendi (the law of prayer is the law of believing) was at the heart of the many critiques that followed. It wasn’t a novelty either. The doctrinal importance of the liturgy has been keenly felt by the Church and Her enemies since the time of Cranmer and Luther. Didn’t the latter say, “Destroy the Mass and you destroy the Church”?

    If anyone wants to understand the theology behind the new Mass, the best place to start is the General Instruction (GI) which accompanied Pope Paul’s New Missal in November 1969. The Instruction was meant to be the theological blueprint of the New Mass. On 30 August 1968, Bugnini had stated that “the General Instruction is a full theological, pastoral, catechetical, and rubrical exposition, that it is an introduction to the understanding and celebration of the (New) Mass.”

    Such was the uproar caused by doctrinal objections to the New Missal and General Instruction, notably those objections included in the Ottaviani Intervention, that publication of the Missal was delayed for five months. And we’re not talking about clown masses and tambourines here.

    To save the project, a bit of nifty needlework was required with the wording of the General Instruction. To allay fears and keep the quell disturbance in the ranks, an altered Instruction was produced with the intention of putting a “Tridentine” gloss on things.

    Hardly surprisingly, the language used in the revised General Instruction’s definition of the Mass glows with the ambiguity and double speak, the familiar stamp of the modernists. The Catholic terms Mass and Eucharistic Sacrifice are presented alongside the Protestant terms Lord’s Supper and memorial of the Lord respectively. Christ’s substantial, corporeal presence is equated with His presence in the congregation and in the Scripture readings. And just for good measure, it’s the “people of God” who celebrate, having been called together.

    The revised Instruction does not clearly state that the Mass is a sacrifice of propitiation, offered to God for the sins of the living and the dead. We know why, of course. Also, wherever the word sacrifice appears in the Instruction, the word meal is never far away. So Catholics are now left to choose to believe that the Mass is either:

    A propitiatory sacrifice, the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary, offered by an ordained priest, in which Our Lord is made present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity through transubstantiation.
    An assembly of the people, with a priest presider, celebrating the memorial of the Lord’s Supper, during which Our Lord is present in the congregation, and the readings, as well as in the bread and wine.

    Realistically, no amount of reform of the reform of the reform is going to protect Catholics from random spectacles of sacrilege. I’m not criticising those good priests with the very best of intentions, but does anyone believe that reverence at Mass and in Church will once more become the universal norm, anytime soon? Or indeed ever, as long as the Bugnini programme is in place? The novus ordo reforms are programmed to facilitate a laissez faire policy, precisely because of a lack of rubrics. We have that from the makers themselves. I dare say the vast majority of liturgical lunatics at large today are pretty much operating with impunity.

    Before children masses, clown masses, circus masses, balloon masses, puppet masses, beer tent masses, beech masses, world cup masses, country and western masses, jazz masses, rock masses, hindu masses, voodoo masses, masonic masses and sodomite masses were ever suspected by Catholics, the doctrinal threat to their faith was highlighted by those who refused to go along with the revolution. The evidence was available, written down for all to see, or least for those who cared to look. Problems with the novus ordo don’t begin with incense maidens and balloons. They begin with the General Instruction presented in 1969. If anyone disagrees, they can take it up with one of Bugnini’s band of helpers.

    In a 1975 statement, Father Emil Joseph Lengeling, a member of the Consilium’s Study Group 18, gave the following rather revealing commentary on the 1970 Instruction:

    “In the 1969 General Instruction for the (new) Missal, an ecumenically oriented sacramental theology of the celebration of Mass emerged – a theology already self-evident in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and in Pope Paul VI’s instruction on the Eucharist. Despite the new 1970 edition forced by reactionary attacks – but which voided the worst, thanks to the cleverness of the revisers – it takes us out of the dead end of the post-Tridentine theories of sacrifice and corresponds to the agreement marked out in many of last year’s interconfessional documents.” – (Tradition und Fortschritt in der Liturgie (1975), 218-219.

    The following words of Pope Leo XIII could have been written with the twentieth century destroyers of the true Catholic Mass in mind:

    “They knew only too well the intimate bond which unites faith with worship, ‘the law of belief with the law of prayer,’ and so, under the pretext of restoring it to its primitive form, they corrupted the order of the liturgy in many respects to adapt it to the errors of the Innovators.” – Apostolicae Curae, 13 September 1896

    On the question of liturgical abuses, there is no better way to finish than with the words of a Sainted shepherd, ever watchful for the salvation of souls. In Pascendi Dominici Gregis, his magnificently prescient 1907 condemnation of Modernism , “the synthesis if all heresies”, Pope Saint Pius X saw the danger of the liturgical revolutionaries. The great Pontiff prophetically stated the intention of the wolves regarding the Mass:

    “The chief stimulus of the evolution of worship consists in the need of accommodation to the manners and customs of peoples, as well as the need of availing itself of the value which certain acts have acquired by usage…”- paragraph 26

    September 2, 2013 at 10:14 pm
  • Nicky

    Well said, Leo. I have to answer “no” to this question of yours:

    “Realistically, no amount of reform of the reform of the reform is going to protect Catholics from random spectacles of sacrilege. I’m not criticising those good priests with the very best of intentions, but does anyone believe that reverence at Mass and in Church will once more become the universal norm, anytime soon?”

    Sadly, “no, definitely no” has to be my answer. I wish it was otherwise, but I can’t see reverence becoming the “universal norm” anytime soon.

    September 3, 2013 at 12:17 am

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