More Crypto-Lefebvrism from Rorate Caeli

New Catholic at Rorate Caeli claims to be taking the high road of honesty under the patronage of the Sol Iustitiae, even though he assiduously avoids permitting, even by way of links, anything that points out the errors made on the blog. A case in point is the grossly exaggerated figures concerning the departures from our Institute, which still have not been corrected. He has not even acknowledged that there might be a problem with his facts.

At least my superiors and Andrea Tornielli have the intestinal fortitude to put their real names on what they write and to correct their mistakes, rather than lurk in the darkness spouting lies and calumnies and then pretend they have no responsibility for what they say and do.

Regarding New Catholic’s claim that he cannot comprehend what I mean when I call Rorate Caeli “crypto-Lefebvrist”: anyone who has been associated with the traditionalist crowd knows very well that among many there is one narrative for the public and another for the initiated.  That stream of traditionalist thought beginning with Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira overtly recommends this practice, but it is not restricted to the TFP and those who venerate de Oliveira, like Roberto de Mattei.

The rationale is universally applicable one.  It is based on the sky-is-falling mentality and the perpetual persecution complex that comes into play whenever one is held accountable for what one actually believes and is trying to do.  Even if they don’t like to buck the traditional teachings of the Church concerning honesty, they liberally use mental reservations, convoluted theological gymnastics, and outright lies.

Am I saying this about all traditionalists?  No.  Am I generalizing?  No. But there is a problem among those who live in the liminal region of sympathy with the SSPX.

I and other members of my community have had numerous conversations with traditionalists who claim they never said what I know they did say—for example, that the new Mass is illicit, that the members of the SSPX are the real Catholics, that our Institute had no policy of preferring the Extraordinary Form.

Try this experiment:  The next time someone says to that the SSPX ought to just be regularized without making the Society formally agree to anything—and if you spend any amount of time around traditionalists, this is very likely to happen—question them on what they actually believe about the liceity of the new Mass and the authority of Vatican II.  I guarantee you that most who hold this position and are not already members of the SSPX will hop around like rabbits if you question them closely on what they actually believe.  There is a reason why a person sympathizes with the SSPX in this way but is not yet a member.

Recently, one of the commenters here implied that some members of my Institute have acquired the belief that the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is superior to the Ordinary Form because Universae Ecclesiae 19 legitimizes the idea that the Ordinary Form might be licit according to ecclesiastical law, but illicit according to divine law. This is basically the same thing as saying the novus ordo is licit but not pleasing to God.

I think that this use of UE 19 is bad theology, simply because UE 19 is not a theological source, but a means of determining, among those on the outer parameter of good standing, who may and who may not benefit from the provisions of Summorum Pontificum. To say that someone cannot be deprived of the benefits of the Church for standing on the line between what is and is not doctrinally acceptable is not an argument in favor of that position. But I think the commenter was right that there are friars in my Institute who believe this.

But seriously, how many religious superiors in good standing do you think would ever put their name behind such a belief, stated as it is above, when they know there is a danger of this getting back to the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated life? You might say it is a perfectly legitimate belief. But even were that the case, it still raises concerns when it is found, not in someone who is trying to come back to full ecclesial communion, but rather in someone who is attempting to mainstream the idea in an ordinary religious community.

This is why there is a distinction made between those societies previously in an irregular state who were regularized under the previsions of Ecclesia Dei (which is what is touched upon in UE 19) and those communities that adopt the use of the Extraordinary Form in Summorum Pontificum 3. The latter communities do not come under the purview of Ecclesia Dei, because Pope Benedict made clear that Summorum Pontificum and its application have nothing to do with calling into question the “authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions” concerned “the liturgical reform.” On the other hand, in the interests of ecclesial communion the Church has provided a narrow avenue for those who might otherwise remain as they were, namely, in an irregular state.

Throughout his dialogue with the Holy See, Bishop Fellay continually referred to the shift in thinking that was taking place in the Church and that the tide was in favor of “Tradition,” so that it was only a matter of time before the Council was merely a footnote about a bad time in modern Church history. Mainstream traditionalists talk all the time about how wonderful the SSPX is and that it is truly an injustice that they do not have canonical status. But if you even mention the possibility of “crypto-Levebvrism” suddenly everyone is confused and really has no idea what it is all about.

This puts into context the eloquence of New Catholic, who writes “Crypto-Lefebvrism

is nothing, it means nothing, it has no theological meaning, it is a handle that allows some to say “it means whatever I think it means,” and is as empty as the accusations of mental illness made by Soviet apparatchiks against those opposed to the regime. This unjustified heavy-handedness from above is the exact opposite of all that is in the documents of Vatican II, and can only be justified by what Marco Tosatti calls, “the cruelty that is typical of closed environments.” Tosatti is right, cruelty is all that is left of those who, under disguise of goodness, appealed to have the Traditional Mass banned, seminary closed, and superior general placed under confinement: “A goodly apple rotten at the heart: o, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!”

I am almost left speechless by the kettle calling the pot “a closed environment.” Having our seminarians removed from the insular world in which they lived to the Roman universities is anything but a closed environment. Our seminarians now will actually have contact with other religious and future diocesan priests. The Holy Father has made his mind on this matter abundantly clear, and in the Roman Catholic Church, among believing Catholics, especially religious, that really is sufficient reason to obey with confidence. And the really great thing about this is that our seminarians will learn what it means to be part of the universal Church instead of a crypto-Lefebvrist sect.

New Catholic knows that we who appealed to the Holy See did not ask to have the “Traditional Mass banned” nor have the “seminary closed,” nor did we ask to have the former superior general “placed under confinement.” And he knows that the Traditional Mass has not in reality been banned. But he also knows that the disciplines imposed on our Institute do in fact have to do with the crypto-Lefebvrism that he continues to promote all the while he pretends it does not exist.


38 thoughts on “More Crypto-Lefebvrism from Rorate Caeli

  1. Using a pseudonym will not protect you from any legal action that might result from your writing (Lies, defamation…).
    Using a pseudonym can be useful indeed (attempts at intimidation or worse…)
    Is someone trying to “annoy” … New Catholic – for example ?

    ´ I for myself ´ have ” been associated with the traditionalist crowd ” and “spend any amount of time around traditionalists”. .. and it´s quite bad now… quite bad… But I am a friend of the Truth and I consider that Father Angelo is closer to the Truth than you are, dear NC – Que la Paix soit avec toi ! Et vive la messe en latin ! (since you know french…)

    – Thank you, Father Angelo –

  2. New Catholic and those like him do not understand the virtue of total surrender to God’s Providence. They do not understand Psalm 131, or the scriptural words, “Be not afraid”, which appears many times in the Bible. New Catholic and those like him do not live in the freedom God intended all of us to have; not the freedom to do as we wish, but to do as God wishes. They fail to see that to do this is the formula for holiness; to be a true saint!
    If New Catholic and others standing along side him (Rorate et al) would live according to God’s Word, and not according to the words of ‘self proclaimed popes’, they would possess great joy. They would be fulfilling the mission God has planned for them from the beginning of time, rather than remain in their little bubble of fear!
    Those who place their complete trust in God fear nothing! If fear it is simply rooted in evil; pride, power, honor, and wealth.

  3. Didn’t New Catholic comment here saying that he doesn’t ever read your blog? Who else is talking about crypto-Lefebvrism? He couldn’t have heard about it from you. He hardly even knows you exist……

    Back when traddies were prematurely celebrating that the SSPX regularization was eminent, a superior in the FI sympathetic to Father Stefano (and a traddy himself) told my wife and I privately that there were “some” religious within the FI who agree with the positions of the SSPX. He didn’t say it but the impression left was that he was one of them. Publicly, mum is the word even when questioned. It’s always bothered me that traditionalists habitually behave in this manner, where they think that they are justified to perform intellectual gymnastics in order to hide what everyone knows what they really think. It’s annoying, cowardly and pathetic.

    • “It’s annoying, cowardly and pathetic”

      Steve…this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Look at the Book of Genesis: Satan causes Eve to doubt, ever so slightly, in God’s word, His love for her. Doubt creates fear, and in every case I can think of; fear that something will be lost. She turns to Adam, who from the first I instance shows himself to be a coward, (otherwise he would have sent Satan packing!).
      Fear turns into disobedience! And disobedience led Adam and Eve into hiding!!
      And wasn’t there a few words of blaming going on as well? [Its his fault. It’s her fault.] [It’s Vatican 2’s fault, it’s the post VII’s fault, its the modernists fault….]
      Tell me…..what has changed since the creation of the world? The Father of lies employs the same ‘military manueuvers’ now as he did with our first parents!

      Personally, I think asking God for the grace of courage is very wise. The early Christians had it unto martyrdom! Our Lady had it unto the Martyrdom of Her Heart!

      For those who hide behind alias’….lies, living in darkness. …who are you really serving?
      If you are truly living as God wishes then allow yourselves to be ‘stoned’, ‘eaten by the lions’, ‘martyred’! You’re not real Catholics if you don’t!!

  4. “And wasn’t there a few words of blaming going on as well? [Its his fault. It’s her fault.] [It’s Vatican 2’s fault, it’s the post VII’s fault, its the modernists fault….]”

    It occurred to me that I left out a valuable point/connection in the above statement:

    Adam not only casts blame for his bad behavior on Eve, but also includes God in that blame by adding “The woman YOU put here with me…”

    I almost missed this (it almost makes it under the radar screen)….but after giving this some reflective thought isn’t this also what the trads are doing? Blaming the sins of the world on popes (post VII), who are reprentatives of Christ? Same thing, isn’t it?

    Love conquers all things, especially cowardice!

    Happy Solenmity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

    (Jesus make our hearts like unto Thine!) Pax!

  5. Hi Father,

    Setting aside the war of electronic words between yourself and NC.

    What upset you so much that you skipped the chain of command (assumption on my part) and ‘appealed to Rome’?

    Were you given an order that was sinful and went against Divine Law?

    What caused such mental anguish that you felt yout only recourse was to “turn in” your superiors?

    I am going to assume that you are going to delete this message as it probably challenges some of your cultural assumptions. Just like the radtrads who think that the Second Vatican Council was not a Council of the Church, something prompted you to take this action.

    Knowing the answer would be helpful in understanding the underlying motivations.

    Also, while you did not ask for the TLM to be banned etc: What are your sentiments now that these actions have been taken as a result of your action?

    I hope that you will respond because only by taking this first step and not simply retaliating will understanding be possible.

    If you are unable or unwilling to do so publicly, feel free to email me.


    • Tradical,

      Don’t pretend to be cordial. Don’t insult me with your passive aggression.

      Assuming things is usually a bad idea, as you know. But I am not surprised you did it anyway. We did go to our superiors first, in writing and in person.

      And unlike some bloggers, like NC, I don’t prevent people from responding to what I write simply because they disagree with me. Another bad assumption. Again, not surprising.

      But I do admit that I have had about enough of you.

      Every Catholic, including a religious, has a right to appeal to higher superiors and submit for their consideration matters of conscience, even when it concerns things that don’t involve sin. In fact, such a right is explicitly mentioned in the Rule of St. Francis (c. 10), where it speaks not only of matters of conscience, but also of the inability to live according to the rule of law.

      You know that in the Church there is a rule of law. You also know that if the rule of law is not followed by local superiors, say a bishop who won’t apply the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, one has a right to appeal to higher superiors—in this case PECD.

      Now I am not going to assume anything. Do you mean to tell me that you would have a problem if someone appealed to the PECD because they thought their bishop was ignoring SP?

      Well in our case, the appellants were a group of friars, all who had been voting members of at least one general chapter; three had served on the general council; several had been are were general delegates of a large jurisdiction within the institute; several had been seminary professors and religious formators. They saw a problem within the Institute that involved a serious breach in the rule of law and first sought recourse with the major superiors and only after it was clear that there would be no relief did they go to the Holy See.

      I have given my reasons for the appeal in detail in the last several posts and their comments. I am not going to rehearse it all again here. It has to do fundamentally with a breakdown of the rule of law and the absence within the Institute of any mechanism to deal with that problem. We first begged for an extraordinary general chapter, and only appealed after that was flatly rejected on the grounds that there was no significant problem in the Institute.

      I am not a traditionalist. I have no sympathy for the SSPX. I love the old Mass, but don’t want it imposed on me and especially on those who don’t want so imposed. I don’t think like de Mattei or Gherardini. I find the things said on Rorate Caeli, The Catholic Family New and The Remnant offensive. And I am sorry, I won’t role over—not today, not tomorrow, not ever. And I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty for going to the Holy See. And why should I? Even the Holy Father himself believes our cause is just.

      I accept the decisions of the Holy See in our regard. I am a Roman Catholic religious. That is my job. We have been told that the provisions regarding the EF are provisional. I certainly would like to celebrate it again.

      You see, I don’t believe that RC and the like represent an ecclesial love for the Church’s liturgy. I think what they represent is sectarian. And I want no part of it. And I will have none of it.

      I don’t owe you this explanation. Don’t take it lightly.

  6. Fr. Angelo,
    “To say that someone cannot be deprived of the benefits of the Church for standing on the line between what is and is not doctrinally acceptable is not an argument in favor of that position.”

    Except I don’t think richardmalcolm1564 ever used it as an argument in favor of that position. His own position is quite different. He explicitly said: ” I make a considerable effort to privilege attending Mass celebrated according to the traditional Roman Rite (EF), not because I reject the N.O. as invalid or illicit (or “evil,” as a notable SSPX bishop has put it)… I also recognize that Christ is made fully present in the OF, and that graces really do flow through it, and that judgments should not be made of those Catholics who attend or celebrate it in good faith.”

    Someone who recognizes who does not consider the New Mass invalid, illicit, or “evil” cannot believe it is against divine law. Someone who believes that graces really do flow through it and judgments should not be made against those that attend it cannot believe it is displeasing to God.

    When he writes: “I think it inferior – theologically impoverished – to the EF in fully capturing Catholic doctrine, particularly in conveying its essence as propitiatory sacrifice, and the Four Last Things” this does not seem to be a denial that the Novus Ordo does in fact profess the entirety of the Catholic faith, but an opinion that it does sufficiently but not as well. He uses the word “impoverished” not “in error.” Impoverished means made poorer. Who can deny that the sacrificial theology contained in Eucharistic Prayer II is less clear and rich than the Eucharistic Theology contained in the Roman Canon? Yet the majority of the weekday Masses I attend utilize Eucharistic Prayer II. This does not make those Masses against divine law or displeasing to God, but it does remove some of the richer references to the sacrificial nature of the Mass. This is just an example.

    When he quotes Prot. 156/2009, this does not seem to be proffered as evidence of ecclesial support of his opinion, but as evidence of toleration of his opinion, that his opinion is “within the legitimate range of opinion”, where legitimate seems to be used as roughly equivalent to tolerated by the law. His reference to the FFI admits that it would be troubling if opinions not endorsed by the Holy See were enforced, but it would also be troubling if opinions tolerated by the Holy See were suppressed as if they were not tolerated.

    You reply that: . “the reply of the PCED is not a theological source or magisterial basis for arguing that the EF is superior to the OF,” but no one ever even implied that. The question never was not whether the Church supported this opinion officially (he admitted she didn’t) but whether the Church tolerated him holding his particular opinion. The fact that she tolerates opinions much more extreme than his was taken as evidence that his opinion was also within the realm of toleration.

    So, when you state that he “implied that some members of my Institute have acquired the belief that the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is superior to the Ordinary Form because Universae Ecclesiae 19 legitimizes the idea that the Ordinary Form might be licit according to ecclesiastical law, but illicit according to divine law,” I see no basis within his actual text for the conclusion that this is what he was saying. He use “legitimate” exactly once, and that was because you had written: “I certainly admit a legitimate range of opinion on the matter, as long as it is presented as purely non-authoritative opinion.” But this refers to opinions tolerated by the law, not opinions endorsed by the law.

    • Joseph Anthony,

      richardmalcolm1564 also says this:

      What it says is that this position, that the modern Roman Rite (OF) is “duly promulgated by appropriate procedures of ecclesiastical law” (a point I fully affirm) without needing to also affirm that it is in full accord with divine law (a possibility I remain open to, but remain not fully persuaded of), is an acceptable position for a Catholic in full communion with the Holy See, able to exercise rights granted by papal legislation in Summorum Pontificum and Ecclesia Dei. That’s all I was claiming in citing the dubium [emphasis mine].

      So it is really not clear that he accepts the full liceity of the NO. In fact, in this quote he favors the negative. Nor does he admit that UE 19 expresses merely toleration of an opinion, but the contrary.

      But I thank you for that clarification, for what it is worth. Nevertheless, I think he is right that this line of reasoning is used by some in my Institute, where the reasoning does in fact lead to the superiority of the VO.

      And again, the context of UE 19 makes it clear that the distinction is important in order to determine who may and may not benefit from SP among groups of people where questions of validity and liceity are openly debated, and where it is not uncommon to also find open hostility towards the Holy Father.

      If such an opinion was held by an individual, or individuals, within my community I have no reason to believe that it wouldn’t be tolerated. It certainly would not be a reason for the Holy See to become involved. But if within an ordinary religious Institute, and not a society under Ecclesia Dei, if the notion became operative in policies, government and formation, especially, if it was done without or contrary to the consent of the General Chapter, then you have something that any reasonable official of the Holy See would be seriously concerned about.

  7. +JMJ+

    Hi Father,

    Thank-you for the reply.

    1. You have made a number of assumptions about me which are unjustified

    2. You are correct that you do not owe me an explanation however, given that I only engaged with you once before (about a year ago) I am surprised that you have had enough of me.

    3. What you have failed to understand (both times I have engaged in discussion on your site) is that there are cultural norms that have been violated on both side of this particular conflict within the Church.

    That is the perspective from which I am making my observations. Yes I have other perspectives, but organizational culture is the one that I use to cast light on the reactions of people and it has been very useful.

    Your reactions (my assumption since I cannot read your body ) are consistent with a person whose cultural norms have been transgressed. To the point where some of your answers appear to be bounded by cognitive bias.

    For example you just wrote:

    ” … And unlike some bloggers, like NC, I don’t prevent people from responding to what I write simply because they disagree with me. Another bad assumption. Again, not surprising. …”

    When I engaged you last year – and I obviously disagree with you on some points – you performed the exact action that you accuse NC of doing.

    In any event you appear unable to tolerate the cultural assumptions of others if they are at variance with you own.

    That is something that you, as a priest, need to develop : Perspective and empathy.

    You believe you understand the motivations of others, but unfortunately you are (by appearances) simply trying to keep at bay the dissonance that you are experiencing by altering your perception of the people who because the dissonance.

    When you read this – you will probably experience feelings of frustration and discomfort – tempting you to just disregard this post as more Tradical “passive / aggressive ” behaviour.

    That would be a rash judgement.

    Thank you for your earlier response – it was enlightening.

    In Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,


    • Tradical,

      Thanks for the free amateur psychoanalyses. Worth every penny.

      Here is a good answer to your cognitive bias non-argument from C.S. Lewis:

      Suppose I think, after doing my accounts, that I have a large balance at the bank. And suppose you want to find out whether this belief of mine is “wishful thinking.” You can never come to any conclusion by examining my psychological condition. Your only chance of finding out is to sit down and work through the sum yourself. When you have checked my figures, then, and then only, will you know whether I have that balance or not. If you find my arithmetic correct, then no amount of vapouring about my psychological condition can be anything but a waste of time. … In other words, you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he came to be so silly.” (Lewis [1941], “Bulverism”, God in the Dock)

      And then there is the contention that you only commented once “about a year ago.” The truth is (as we both know), that you commented as recently as February of this year, multiple times, under the user name “canadian.tradical.” What you forget is that I have your email and your i.p. address. And then I had to shut you down as well.

      And here is your blog. You show yourself to be quite a defender of the SSPX. No crypto-Lefebvrism there.

      Anyway, for “best use of pseudonymity in ad hominem” you get officially banned from my blog.

      Have a nice day.

  8. I must say, as I drive into New Hampshire to pick up my youngest daughter from the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart camp (traditional Order) I am enjoying the ‘beheading’ being done on Father’s blog! Good detective work, Father! 🙂

    Need a good chuckle ftom time to time!
    Happy feast of the Immaculate Heart!!

  9. Before I comment, two disclaimers:

    First. I am not a Traditionalist. I am by inclination, education, and practice a Thomist who realizes the theological benefits of Latin ad orientem liturgy.

    Second, despite a couple of wonderful visits to Assisi–one with a tour of the monastery (incl the airport of St Joseph of Copertino), the other with a walk up to i carceri–and admiration for the genius sanctity of St Francis, I am not particularly interested in Franciscans. Although there is much to be said for Franciscan simplicity of life, it seems too affective–thus either too ascetic or too sentimental. And the theology can have, following Scotus, a univocal approach–which the SSPX seems also to favor.

    1. Francis Sullivan sj taught at the Greg for 35 years, and acc to him (I had friends who studied there) no Canonization is infallible. I understand that the SSPX objection to SS JXIII and JPII is based on the change in process. At best, it is a silly objection: Canonization is a matter of declaration by the pope, not approval by the Congregation of Saints.

    2. For four years I taught theology at the FSSP seminary in the US. Not once did I hear anyone mention the liceity of the Novus Ordo. I will say, however, that juridical liceity and moral liceity are not the same thing. The pope can juridically bull doze St Peter’s. Whether he can morally do it is another question. And we both know that Paul VI decided to circumvent the juridical status of Quo Primum. Instead, the EF was de facto suppressed, which perhaps created a bigger problem..

    3. I doubt that the dispute is EF vs OF. Rather it’s Latin ad orientem vs vernacular versus populum. My guess is those who say they prefer the OF would object to a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin ad orientem.

    4. After reading this blogs accounts of the FFI’s and the Congregation, I still think that Cardinal Braz de Aviz and the Secretary bungled this situation.

    • On your disclaimer, perhaps you need to actually study Franciscan theology before you comment. I go to the Angelicum, for which I am greatly thankful. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Dominicans and am learning a great deal. But their approach to Scotus seems to me to be fundamentally polemical. And Scotus is very difficult to understand if one does not also have a working knowledge of St. Bonaventure.

      The canonization game is not really about whether canonizations are infallible, but about whether we have to accept the canonization of someone we don’t think is a saint. It is not theoretical but practical. Likewise, when the traditionalists mouth virtually the same arguments about non-infallible teaching that the modernists do, it is not about theological inquiry, but about counterrevolution. The Holy Father has universal jurisdiction and supreme magisterial authority whether he speaks infallibly or not.

      My point about the FSSP was not to suggest that they have any particular opinion about liceity, but that the distinctions made have been made in view of those who for one reason or another were separated from the Church for reasons not unrelated to the New Mass. Summorum Pontificum 3 deals with an entirely different matter.

      Morally speaking in matters which pertain to the exercise of his office the Holy Father has no judge but God. On the other hand, it is precisely the competence of the Holy Father to rule on the juridical status of Quo Primum. He is not free to be arbitrary in such an important matter, but neither is anyone else. Nevertheless, the judgment is his to make, and no one really needs to care one way or another what you or I think about it.

      Again, I don’t believe anyone needs to care what you or I think about the work of the Holy See in regard to the FI’s.

      And again, you ought to look into things before you comment. In four out of five houses in the US, the Mass has been ad orientem for years and often in Latin. We have been celebrating in Latin, kneeling for communion, on the tongue, with Gregorian chant for more than twenty years.

    • Fr, do you think Quo Primum was abrogated? We know that the old Mass was not abrogated (and Benedict seems to question whether it could have been), but was Quo Primum abrogated, or merely “sidestepped,” as Robert Brown put it?

      • No, Joseph Anthony, I don’t think it was abrogated. I think the only time I have brought it up was in the context of hearing one of the friars say that Quo Primum makes the Mass of Paul VI illegal.

  10. One other point: The FSSP was not a group that was approved by the Ecclesiae Dei Commission. Rather the PCED created the FSSP.

  11. Ave Maria!
    This makes me so sad. I remember such a long time ago being told that if satan can’t stop a parade it will try and lead it. How so very sad that this beautiful order dedicated to Our Mother who is perfect love and such a perfect mother to us is being torn assunder by internal strife… and about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!! The Mass is our most powerful prayer, our most beautiful prayer… I don’t believe that it matters to God what language the Mass is prayed/served, I think what matters is the condition of the hearts of those serving and praying! Reverence doesn’t manifest itself in incense, or chant, it is birthed in the human heart. “When receiving the Eucharist each person must remember that he is falling into the arms of God like someone dying of hunger in the wilderness of this life.”Hans Urs von Balthasar I’m just happy to receive HIM. I don’t care in what language the priest Consecrates HIM. God bless you!

  12. Dear Fr.:

    You wrote; “Regarding New Catholic’s claim that he cannot comprehend what I mean when I call Rorate Caeli “crypto-Lefebvrist”: anyone who has been associated with the traditionalist crowd knows very well that among many there is one narrative for the public and another for the initiated. ”

    This is so true. I was a follower of the SSPX for over 20 years. Whether the topic is the Jewish conspiracy or the “evil” nature of the New Mass and Vatican II, followers of the SSPX have one set of scripted positions aimed at outsiders, and another set aimed at the initiated. I do not believe that the SSPX engages in willful brainwashing of its adherents, but the constant use of diametrically opposed talking points has a real psychological affect on SSPX followers reminiscent of those found among victims of cults.

    The point you made is very true, and often not known by conservative Catholics outside of “traditional” circles. The SSPX is more than just a group of Latin lovers who have been scandalized by one too many hippies at mass.

    J. Christopher Pryor

  13. Remember. 29 june 1999. ” Letter of the 16 Dissidents” (FSSP). Extracts :

    “So far as our Fraternity is concerned, this hard line in matters of liturgy seems nothing less than an open manifestation of a far more serious opposition to the visible Church, to its teaching and its present hierarchy, in spite of its (the Society’s) official declarations to the contrary.”

    “During the elections preparatory to the General Chapter of the Fraternité Saint Pierre scheduled for summer 1999, the totality of members elected formed a group firmly opposed to all adaptations of the rite of 1962 to the wishes of the Conciliar Fathers, including those accepted until then, and to all concrete liturgical sign of unity with the local bishop, preferring a strict preservation of a parallel and marginal ecclesial position.
    The reasons for this fundamental opposition to the ecclesiastical hierarchy
    (a) are not only liturgical;
    (b) they are not actually doctrinal, for lack of a thorough study of the matters considered litigious in 1988
    (c) they are rather psychological, indeed sociological, and thus uncontrollable, as shown by the increasing exacerbation of tensions.
    One finds, step by step, in this constant march towards a sense of separation, that imperceptible sliding which led, in 1988, the Fraternity of Saint Pius X to refuse the Roman propositions”

    “One has to fear a similar development in the Society of Saint Peter, which risks absorbing into this state of mind numerous families which, until then, would have been alien to such a mentality”

    “Moreover, it is surprising to note that many of those who had not known the so-called “traditionalist” movement and its history before 1988 are fascinated by the figure of Mgr. Lefebvre and want to make of the Fraternité Saint_Pierre an exact replica of the Fraternité Saint_Pie X, minus the episcopal consecrations but, in addition, with Pontifical right.”

    “This anxiety is currently generalised thus : a certain number of our colleagues do not hesitate to expose in public the internal difficulties of our Society and announce the approaching departure of elements within it who have liberal’ or ‘modernist’ tendencies.”

  14. Im havingcomputer problems and this is being done on a smartphone. I don’t know how well this will go

    1. I was in Lacrosse Wisconsin last year and spoke with your priests.Mass was very popular

    2. All my degrees are from the Angelicum. most of my favorite professors are now dead. but I do keep in touch with Robert Christian. & Augustine Thompson has been a friend for 35 years

    3. Why would you assume that I haven’t read Scotus? if memory serves, in my tesI I dealt with various aspects of his thoughts including his concept of grace an his approach to arguments for the incorruptibility of the human soul.

    4 first you complain that the SSPX objects to the infallibility of the two Papal canonizations. Then you say its not that important whether or not they’re infallible.

    • You said that you were not familiar with things Franciscan and wrote them off as too sentimental. I can’t imagine anything less sentimental than Scotus.

  15. Also:

    the point about Quo Primum was not whether or not the Pope had the authority to revoke it. Rather it was that Paul VI did not deal with it because he didn’t abrogate that mass.

    Basta. it’s a pain in the neck using a phone for this

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  17. I did not equate affective with sentimental. Affective refers both to the rational and sensible appetite–will and passions. that’s why I said either too ascetic or too sentimental.

    I don’t remember any professor at the angelicum mentioning Scotus, with 1 small exception. what I know of him comes from my own reading and conversation

  18. I sti ll haven’t fixed my computer so this will be brief. It has AC problems

    1. The origin of Franciscan Theology, and the foundation, is found in Alexander of Hales. Bonaventure is obviously very important, but administrative duties all but ended his intellectual output , e.g., there is no cosmology found in his work. Whether his approach excludes it or whether it was a matter of his change of duties is problematic.

    2. Scotus’ denial of the real distinction is well known, and there are consequences to it. There are also serious differences between him and St Thomas on sacramental theology and grace, et al

    • Robert, Jared Goff, who is certainly qualified to speak on matters Franciscan has sent me his unsolicited response:

      Dr. Brown, though your comment is no longer on topic, I must reply to your two points, as they are simply not true and manifest deep ignorance concerning the Franciscan intellectual and tradition. Fr. Angelo’s replies to your misrepresentations regarding Franciscan spirituality stand.

      (1a): Alexander was already an extremely well-known and successful magister prior to his entry into the Lesser Brothers. His theological vision was, naturally, established and to great degree independent of Francis and anything specifically Franciscan. His influence certainly extends into the later Franciscans master, including Bonaventure. However, it is Bonaventure who first and most firmly works out and establishes a Franciscan theology, flowing from his developing reflections on the meaning and importance of Francis himself.
      (1b): The assertion that Bonaventure’s intellectual output all but ended in 1257 is ridiculous: For your information I make note of: Breviloquium (1257); Itinerarium mentis in Deum (1259); Triple Way (1259); Collations on the Seven Gifts of the Spirit and Ten Commandments; Collations on the Six Days (1273); too many sermons and spiritual writings to list.
      (1c): No cosmology? Gratuitous assertion and grossly mistaken: At the very least you could take a look at: 2 Sentences; Breviloquium, part 2; Collations on the Six Days.

      (2a): Scotus didn’t deny the real distinction. You would make him both a fool and a heretic! Perhaps you take Scotus’ (and Bonaventure’s) positive notion of the FORMAL distinction for a negation of the real? They’re not logically related in the manner you seem to assume.
      (2a): Naturally Thomas and Scotus (and Bonaventure) would have “serious differences” on questions concerning sacraments and grace. They have different metaphysics. Is this an argument?

      You might want to follow Fr. Angelo’s advice and acquaint yourself a bit better with Franciscan philosophy and theology before you comment on matters Franciscan. I’m sure Fr. Angelo would have some bibliographical suggestions. I, too, would be happy to help in this matter.

      In Christ,

      Jared Goff

  19. Father,

    Do you think it is out of bounds to hold that the Extraordinary Form is extrinsically superior to the Ordinary Form (that is that the rubrics and liturgical laws can be improved, and as it stands the Extraordinary Form expresses a more authentic form of the Roman Rite)? The reason I ask is that this is the position of some of the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. But as I understand it, this is merely the opinion of some priests among many. They don’t force it upon others. Nor do they think we should look down upon those who attend or celebrate the Ordinary Form. For them, this is a academic question that needs to be addressed by the Magisterium.

    • It is a legitimate academic question as such. My problem is not the question, but the answers that are given in a manner that is harmful to ecclesiality and which only serve to confuse and divide the simple faithful.

  20. I would like to throw a question out to the commenters/bloggers who hide behind aliases in order to ‘protect themselves’, but in actuality lack any semblance of courage. (Gutless is the appropriate word.)
    Yesterday the self proclaimed caliph called upon Muslims to attack Rome….

    *Where the hell will you cowards be when the Pope needs defending??*

    It takes the heroic virtue of courage to lose one’s life for another…and that is borne of love, which you all seem to lack!

    Do you know how I can make this bold comment? Because when I hold the truth of God’s word up to your egregious behavior toward Fr. Angelo, the Vicar of Christ on earth, and the Church as it lives today I see hate for your brethren in your hearts!!!!
    1. “He who claims to love God but hates his brethren is a liar”!
    2. “They must be Christians see how they love one another”.
    3. “Where shall we go, Lord, you have the words of eternal life.”
    4. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you enter into various trials. ..” (St. Peter, Ch.1)

    Do you all really think the Catholics living in the Middle East suffering martyrdom for the Faith are doing so because of documents….OR BECAUSE THEY LOVE CHRIST?

    Get it together boys….!

    (Personally, you’re no better than the Pharisees, or the disciples who walked away from Christ after His teaching on receiving His Body and Blood. They weren’t thinking supernaturally then, as you aren’t thinking supernaturally now!)

    If I had to fight on the front lines against the enemy I would not want you by my side!!!

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  23. Fr Angelo,

    I must apologize for this late response. Generally, if I comment on a blog, I will check back in a few days and answer any response. The combination of my computer problems, becoming busy when they were finally rectified, and more than a bit of forgetfulness has caused me not to check back in on this thread until recently.

    Even now, I don’t know whether you will read this.


    1. I noticed in a comment I made above that the self correcting software on my Smart Phone changed a comment without me noticing.

    It says:

    1. I was in Lacrosse Wisconsin last year and spoke with your priests.Mass was very popular

    It should read:

    1. I was in Lacrosse Wisconsin last year and spoke with your priests. Mass was always in the vernacular.

    And I should add that a homily there from a priest who had been a Franciscan for 50+ years was one of the best I have ever heard.

    Below is my response to Jared Goff.

  24. Jared Goff,

    1 Of course, Alexander of Hales was an established theologian when he entered the Franciscans. That was my point. The foundation for Franciscan theology comes from outside the order, unlike Dominican theology, whose theology (esp St Thomas) comes from inside their order.

    I made that point because I have great devotion to Francis, visited Assisi twice (including i carceri) and LaVerna once (I still use a finger Rosary from there), yet still disagree with much of Franciscan theology. .

    2. I am well aware of Scotus’ distinctio formalis. Rather than arguing about whether if applied to the Real Distinction, it would result in agreement with St Thomas, perhaps it would be better to approach it a bit differently.

    3. I think you would agree that, whatever the differences among the great medieval thinkers, their thought had an inner consistency. I say that because we both know there is disagreement between St Thomas and Scotus over whether it can be demonstrated by reason alone that the rational soul is ontologically incorruptible. IMHO, it is fairly obvious that the foundation of St Thomas’ opinion on this is the Real Distinction between Essence and Existence.

    Scotus’ objection to St Thomas’ argument rests on the impossibility of this distinction. Consequently, when you say that Scotus didn’t deny the Real Distinction, you must not mean that Scotus predicates “ Real Distinction” in the same manner as St Thomas.

    4. I realize that Bonaventure’s works include something of Cosmology. My comment comes, if memory serves, from Maritain’s The Degrees of Knowledge. I adopt it as my own.

    For me, any comprehensive Cosmology must provide a platform for dialogue with post Einsteinian physics. IMHO, Bonaventure’s does not. Two quick examples:

    First, his understanding that light is a substance does not allow for any insight into particle physics. Of course, St Thomas, disagreeing with St Bonaventure, considered light to be an accident.

    Second, St. Bonaventure thought the possibility of the Eternity of the World could not rationally be held—it was impossible that it was created ab aeterno. On the other hand, St Thomas says that it cannot be known from reason alone that the world has not existed ab aeterno. Prescinding from the validity of one argument or the other, it is fairly obvious that St Bonaventure opinion conflicts with, say, Hawking, who insists that it cannot be shown that Time had a beginning.

    Maritain, IMHO, was being generous when he said that St Bonaventure’s duties as Master General meant a lack of developed Cosmology.

    Hope this helps.

    • Robert Brown,

      I shall reply to your comments using the numbering you provide. This will be my only reply.

      1) The point is that Alexander didn’t, as I’ve stated, give the Franciscan School its unique approach and character. That person was Bonaventure who sought to organize theology upon the basis of the life and experience of St. Francis.

      By your logic the Dominican approach to theology was from without: a) St. Dominic figures very little into theological speculation; b) Alexander himself influenced Thomas as well as b) Bonaventure, esp., in Thomas’ Sentences. I guess now the Dominicans have their theology from outside their order, too. Although, in any case, I fail to see how the resolution of this point has significant bearing on Franciscan vs. Dominican theology and spirituality.

      3) Okay. Your posts made it seem your claims about Scotus denying the real distinction were more global. However, two things should be noted: a) Thomas’ position on the real distinction was not the standard in Scotus’ day; b) the formal distinction (distinct formalis) denotes distinction between realities-quiddities which are prior to and independent of the mind’s activity. The realities, however, are not independent or really separable. Because, Scotus took independence and/or separation as the criteria for a real distinction (Giles of Rome), he denied there is a real distinction between essence and existence in a composite being. Thomas’ account of all this was more fuzzy, thus necessitating the greater clarity of the theologians post. Scotus was writing in a context that followed several decades of philosophical development and reflection upon the works of the earlier masters, as well as esp., Henry of Ghent and Giles of Rome.

      Also, Scotus didn’t deny there are good and convincing arguments for the immortality of the soul. He merely stated that he could not offer a demonstration of this that strictly adhered to Aristotelian canons. So, Scotus did not say that one couldn’t have reason/s apart from revelation to think that the soul is immortal. He rather notes that reason alone, following Aristotle’s conditions for scientific knowledge, couldn’t remove all doubt about this question and provide scientific knowledge and thus certitude.

      Attempts to extrapolate from Scotus’ position on the formal distinction in finite beings, to global instabilities and insufficiencies in Franciscan theology and spirituality will be a hard-fought battle amongst all but the most a-historical and orthodox thomists. The list of Franciscan saints who followed Bonaventure and Scotus proves the opposite.

      4) Maritain was not an expert in Bonaventure. Thus I am unconcerned with his opinions (or your own to the extent you follow M.) about Bonaventure’s cosmology.

      A platform for dialogue with post Einsteinian physics? Do you think Thomas’ physics is prefabricated for plug and play functionality with modern physics?

      Although Jaki, and before him Duhem, convincingly show that mediaeval physics greatly shaped and prepared the way for modern scientific method/s and thus discovery, this is the common patrimony of the great school, not the exclusive provenance of St. Thomas. Historically speaking, the Franciscans were the great natural philosophers. Moreover, from the perspective of modern physics, dialogue between medieval and modern physics takes a great deal of good faith and commitment on both sides. It’s not so easy to decide who’s in and who’s out; who’s got something to offer and who doesn’t.

      Your sweeping generalization raises more questions than I care to or can address. However, your comments about Bonaventure’s view of light is incorrect in both expression and implication and doesn’t touch directly upon the implications of particle physics. His speculation is embedded in his understanding of matter and plurality of forms in composites things (which was and remains quite traditional: cp., John of Damascus, for example). I copy from the Stanford encyclopedia:

      “Bonaventure discounts the possibility that light is a substance, because it is purely active and if it were a substance in its own right it would be God and not a creature. He does allow, however, that light is a substantial form and is the substantial form that is concomitant with the mass of matter in its primordial state.[26] In this originating condition, light gave the mass of matter its extension and visibility and the hierarchy of heavenly bodies corresponds to the hierarchy of things capable of partaking either more or less in the light that renders bodies active and extended. For Bonaventure, then, light is a substantial form, but only the partial perfection of any given physical substance, whether celestial or terrestrial. Since Bonaventure endorses, usually without any elaborate argumentation, the general claim that there is a plurality of substantial forms within any composite thing, his doctrine of light really means that light is the first form, endowing each thing with extension, and preparing the way for further perfections such as the forms of the elements or the forms of mixtures or compounds” (, emphasis added).

      With respect to Bonaventure’s position on demonstrating the present world’s non-eternity, a couple observations are in order:

      a) I understand Hawking is an atheist who believes that mathematical physics has completely overturned philosophy and traditional ontology. He thinks that mathematical physics is the only means for human knowledge and discovery. He also denies free will. In effect, he has mythologized the mathematical physicist, investing him with a quasi-sacerdotal authority, holding the keys to the mysteries of the cosmos. In reality Hawking is victim to atheistic assumptions received in the development of Kantian epistemology. For a Christian (or theist for that matter), I wonder if Hawking is a good guide in cosmology. In effect he transgresses the limits of science. Ad hominem I admit, but when an atheist with radical scientistic presuppositions purports to “prove” anything’s necessity or impossibility, I am skeptical. However, I must admit I’m not all that familiar with Hawking, and am responding to this point in order to avert/blunt a possible more general perception that “science” has somehow disproven Bonaventure’s position. Science’s own method cannot “prove” anything. Moreover, in any given field more than one conclusion is possible within a dominant paradigm and moreover there are a number of possible mathematical models that save the appearances in current physics, as Hawking himself admits in the The Grand Design. (For a resounding critique of Hawking’s scientistic philosophy see W. Smith, “Response to Stephen Hawking’s Physics-as-Philosopy, Sophia: Journal of Traditional Studies 16.2 [2011]: 5-48.)

      I presume Hawking’s analysis is based upon mathematics and current paradigms in physics. Applied mathematics (i.e., physics) is founded upon and derives from real things (natural philosophy: for the medievals ‘physics’) and must also take into account, that is be compatible with, sound metaphysics. Thus this is really a question moving into the realm of philosophy. Hawking can’t be and isn’t the last word.

      Of course it may be the case that the proper epistemic posture re science is non (or anti) realism as science moves from experimentation into extrapolation and speculation. This, as Duhem points out, was the position of the majority of medieval and early modern Catholic thinkers. Moreover, it seems to be the ‘safer’ stance given the discussion of many philosophers of science as well as the continually morphing paradigms of science (I’m thinking here esp., of Kuhn and Feyerabend).

      b) Bonaventure’s argument was based upon his observation and understanding of physics. Moreover, although Bonaventure thought it could be shown that time must have had a beginning, he did not hold that this was an unavoidable conclusion of reason. Rather, he conceded that in order to fully rationally grasp the truth of the finitude of the past, one must have the light of faith. It should be noted that Richard of Middleton later tightened up and greatly strengthened Bonaventure’s main point. Scotus, since we’re talking Franciscans, was unsure about the demonstrability of a finite past, but tended towards Thomas’ position on this.

      c) the Kalam argument is still quite current amongst many Christian philosophers and theologians of the highest caliber who do not find Hawking convincing.

      So, it seems to me that your sweeping statements about Bonaventure’s lack of cosmology/lack of cosmology amenable to modern physics and philosopy of time don’t hold up. Your comments have misrepresented Bonaventure, overstated the case or have been beside the point. One can’t infer the impossibility of compatibility from an absence of particular topics in a given figure or from the fact that no one’s actually attempted to bring Bonaventure into dialogue with modern physics (which I don’t grant: there are several scholarly articals touching upon Bonaventure’s relevance for discussions in modern physics). Moreover, even granting for the sake of argument that certain elements of Bonaventure’s cosmology is incompatible with modern physics–notwithstanding the thorny issue of making judgements about the epistemic burdens of modern physics vis-à-vis Bonaventure–it doesn’t follow that there’s a total absence of cosmology. Again, familiarity with the actual texts of the Franciscan School would be a pre-requisite for making such a judgement.

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