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)

  • 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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