Dear Friends and Benefactors,
Three months ago I wrote in this letter that I might come back to the question of sedevacantism. Since then one lady wrote to discourage me from doing so on the grounds that it raises unnecessary and hurtful questions in many people's minds. It would be more loyal to the Holy Father simply to ask for prayers for him, she said.
However, the problem set by the recent Popes is already very much there in many Catholics' minds, and so is the hurt – witness the variety of more or less wild explanations to which they are liable to have recourse: the drugged Pope, the prisoner Pope, or dummy Pope, the KGB Pope, the Freemason Pope, etc.. Notice that each of these explanations, seen from the correct angle, has a grain of truth; for instance, these Popes are like drugged with their utopian dreams, and they are impregnated with freemasonic ideals. Nevertheless, these explanations do not leave the Catholic mind at peace because they raise more problems than they solve.
There are then two reasons to lay out in a longer letter than usual what is surely the true solution: the main reason is to give in general an explanation as satisfying as possible of the mystery of these occupants of the See of Peter doing so much damage to the Church, and this explanation not out of disloyalty to the Holy Father, but on the contrary out of loyalty, namely in the hope of helping Catholic minds to ride out in peace the present storm and to stay by the Pope's side without falling into his errors; the accessory reason is to resolve in particular the main argument or objection of the sedevacantists.
Let us begin by recalling that argument: "The recent Popes say and do heretical things (such as would have earned instant excommunication had any Catholic bishop said or done them 50 years ago). Now heretics are outside the Church. Therefore these Popes are not even members of the Church, let alone true Popes". Recall also the solution very briefly given three months ago: a Catholic who says and does heretical things is a material heretic, or has in him all the material of a heretic, but that material does not form into a proper or formal heretic, such as is excluded from the Church, until he is "pertinacious" (Old Code, c. 1325 c2), i.e. fully aware that he is denying revealed Catholic dogma.
The question we want to go into here and now is how a number of these intelligent and capable Church leaders, apparently of good will and despite being trained before Vatican II, can still be unaware that they are flouting eternal Catholic truth. In one word, the answer is – Liberalism.
Proceeding from the craze for Liberty to the refusal of reality, Liberalism in its ultimate form is a mind-rot whereby a mind becomes capable of thinking and saying and doing totally contradictory things. Starting out from nominalism and protestantism, building up over centuries of intellectual corruption, this mind-rot achieved its greatest victory for Satan when it penetrated the Church 100 years ago in the form of modernism. Pope Pius X did his best to root it out, but it so grew back that now his successors are destroying the Church while convinced they are saving it! Let us look at the case of John Paul II.
Biographical data, as given for instance in "Peter Lovest Thou Me?", show that Karol Wojtyla, born in 1920, was one in a long line of Catholics seeking to come to an understanding or compromise with that world which, insofar as it is "seated in wickedness" (I Jn. V 19), is always opposed to the Church. Such Catholics are especially numerous in our own generation, because the Church has now for nigh on 500 years been fighting the Great Apostasy building up through Protestantism, Liberalism and Communism especially, and it has been a tiring fight, and apparently it has been a fight in vain, because the Apostasy just seems to go on winning. So when the Devil makes the world look reasonable and attractive, the temptation to make a deal with him and with it can become overpowering.
However, if one was, like the Polish Karol Wojtyla, born in a country and culture steeped in the benefits of Mother Church, there is no question of simply abandoning her. On the contrary, one believes in her, one even believes profoundly in the goodness of what she does. Hence what one believes in most profoundly of all is a mixture of the world and of the Church; a combination of everything admirable in the modern world with everything admirable in Mother Church, for one is profoundly convinced that since bath are so admirable, they cannot be irreconcilable; on the contrary, all that is needed is a new synthesis of the two, a synthesis that everyone is waiting for.
Alas, the last five centuries are littered with the wreckage of such syntheses, for the very simple reason that in our age the essence of what is modern, as modern, is independence from God, diametrically opposed to Catholicism's dependence upon God. Hence all such syntheses break down, as so many efforts to mix oil and water. Nevertheless, for as long as men will let themselves be mothered by the Church and seduced by the world, such efforts will continue. Thus from the time that the young intellectual Karol Wojtyla entered the clergy as a seminarian in his early 20's, he was attempting to put together a philosophy which would blend Catholic with modern thinking, Thomism with existentialism and personalism.
Here we must pause for a moment to explain what we mean by "philosophy" in men's minds. Generally speaking what passes for philosophy today is such arrant nonsense that philosophy is discredited as a whole, and people think that all philosophy is nonsense. But if one takes a man's philosophy to be the mental framework of his grasp of reality, then obviously every man does have some "philosophy", and that "philosophy" is central to his way of thinking and so of living.
Now the philosophy in this real sense (mental grip on reality), which is natural to all men, is to subordinate their minds to reality outside of them. If I see one tree outside the window, I do not pretend I see three. That is common sense, magnificently protected and developed in depth by Catholic thinkers, especially St. Thomas Aquinas from whom the Church's favorite philosophy, Thomism, takes its name. However, modern man likes no kind of subordination. With Protestantism he began by liberating himself from subordination to the Catholic Church, but even when he had gone on to liberate himself from Jesus Christ and from God, he still had to liberate his mind from the ultimate outside domination, from any outside reality imposing itself on his mind. From here arose modern philosophy whereby reality is no longer what is, but what I feel, what I like, or what I want. I thus make the ultimate declaration of independence: I declare myself henceforth independent of any reality I do not like. This is the ultimate Liberation philosophy, or Liberalism.
Now you may object that such detachment from reality is madness. You are right. Modern philosophy is ideologically insane. But not clinically – at least not straightaway! Whereas a clinically mad man has become involuntarily mad and can no longer choose what he takes for reality, your modern philosopher is voluntarily and selectively mad, that is to say, he readily admits that his cup of coffee is real coffee, because if he felt it was poison, he might become rather thirsty! So amongst all the realities around him, he readily admits to be real those that serve his purpose, but he carefully denies to be real anything that diminishes his own rights, independence, or dignity. Thus he has made himself the master of reality, reality is no longer the master of him. From which logically follows the lunacy, to each man his own reality, as it suits him.
It is not difficult to see how such a philosophy completely unhinges the Catholic Faith. By that Faith, a series of supernatural truths, in perfect synchronization with all natural truths, are presented to my mind, in just the same way that those natural truths are presented, from outside my mind. Now, I may refuse to submit my mind to Jesus Christ being God just like I may refuse to submit my mind to there being one tree and not three outside the window, but the Catholic knows that even if everyone (including himself!) denied it, Jesus would still be God, just as common sense knows that even if the emperor and all his men denied it, there would still be only one tree and not three outside the window. Things supernatural and natural are what they are, independently of our minds.
But imagine now these supernatural truths presenting themselves before the bar of the mind of a Liberal Catholic whose frame of thinking, or philosophy, is modern: "Eternal hell exists" – now, do I feel that? Definitely not! How could God be so cruel, etc? And so I plunge into heresy, for in Greek heresy means choosing, and with my modern philosophy of feeling truth, I am well into choosing what of the Catholic "Faith" is true for me and what is not. Moreover, "Jesus Christ is God" – now do I feel that? Yes? Then it is true. But do you not feel it? No? Then for you it is not true. From which logically follows the lunacy of ecumenism, to each man his own religion, as it suits him – any religion is good for any man who feels it.
The Catholic Faith is of course devastated in such a mind. However, the devastation goes much further than just the denial of certain dogmatic truths. When a Protestant refuses certain Catholic truths, he admits it, he is even proud of it, he puts himself outside the Catholic Church and if he attacks the Catholic Faith, he can only attack from outside. On the contrary your Liberal Catholic with a modern philosophy, or your modernist, logically does not admit there are Catholic Truths out there that he is refusing, so he does not admit that he is outside the Church, rather he is convinced he is an improved (up-dated) Catholic and that he has a mission, from inside the Church which he has not left, to "improve" the rest of the Church.
No wonder then that when Pope St. Pius X denounced modernism at the beginning of this century, he did so in the strongest possible terms – what could be more deadly for the Church than having within the gates such a deceptive and self-deceiving enemy as modernism?
Alas, that question has an answer: more deadly still is the renovated modernism, or neo-modernism, of the 1960's! For of course when the original modernists of the 1900's came under the Pope's hammer, consistently with their system, they did not "feel" the condemnation was true, so finding the condemnation had nevertheless made it difficult for them to "improve" the Church, they went underground to wait for better times, when the imperatives of being modern would have made enough Catholics sympathetic to having their Faith "improved".
Sure enough, this time came , in the 1960's. Pope John XXIII launched the Second Vatican Council, determined to "up-date" the Church, and Paul VI, profound believer in the modern world, enabled the neo-modernists, 1960's version, to gain virtually complete control of the Church. However, there was this crucial difference with the modernists of the 1900's; whereas the modernists of 1907 had had the Pope absolutely against them, the neo-modernists now had the Pope largely with them, as well as the whole modern world inside and outside the Church. So whereas a modernist after Pius X's condemnation could not have, at least in public, a good conscience, your neo-modernist after Vatican II could only in private have a bad conscience! The collective folly of the Church now bolstered him in his errors. (Of course the Lord God would not let Truth be silenced, but how could two old bishops be taken seriously against two thousand?).
Thus by the time Karol Wojtyla emerges from the Second Conclave of 1978 as the Conclave's elected choice and is acclaimed as Pope by the Universal Church, he finds neo-modernism firmly established in the upper ranks of the Church. And so what can he know "Catholicism" to be but this "improved" version which he himself strove with conviction to promote at Vatican II; which was shared with him by all the choice and master spirits of the Council; which duly prevailed in the Council and in its aftermath, and which he now finds accepted by virtually all Catholics except a numerically insignificant minority (that's us)?
In which case from 1978 on, whom does he find that can get through to him that his "Catholicism" is way off track? Nobody above him who could do it with authority, because he now is the supreme (albeit tiara-less) authority. Nor is there anybody alongside him or beneath him to protest that his thinking is heretical, because his predecessor Paul VI has deliberately cowed or crushed within the Church all opposition to the "improved" Catholicism. Then who or what remains to tell him his thinking is not Catholic? Only a scattered handful of universally discredited "followers of Lefebvre" (that's us). While a mass of "conservative" Catholics by their support, and a mass of radicals by their revolt, give him to think that his stand is not Liberal but altogether Catholic!
In which case how can he still know for instance that his ecumenism is flouting Catholic dogma? It takes mind-rot to believe all he teaches and to believe it is Catholic, but that mind-rot is in him and all round him, so one may well believe he is basically unaware of how he is wholly undermining Catholic dogma. But just as a man who unawares tells an untruth is not properly a liar, so a man who unawares flouts Catholic dogma is not properly (formally) a heretic. So John Paul Il may well be destroying the church with his ecumenism, but until he wakes out of his Liberal dream and becomes aware of the fact, he is not by formal heresy out of the Church (and one may well think that if he did become aware of what he is doing, he would change course). Hence the main sedevacantist argument falls to the ground .
But Mother Church's crucifying problem remains – assuming that mind-rot has so engulfed the Catholic hierarchy ("Satan reaching to the very summits of the church"), what is the way out? How can it all end?
Humanly, the situation is irredeemable. Man has dug himself into a pit he can no longer get himself out of. When he will admit as much, and beg for God's saving help, God will step in and save him from his folly. As for the Catholic Church, no question but that salvation will come through the Pope. "Satan hath desired to have you (plural – Apostles) that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee (singular – Peter), that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm they brethren "(Lk XXII, 31,32).
When Peter ran away in the Garden of Gethsemane and then thrice denied his Master, his faith failed massively but not totally; he converted, and built his Master's Church. John Paul II's faith, one may argue, has massively but not totally failed; he (or his successor) will convert, and at that moment the Pope will need a support system to re-build the Church in the true Faith. At that moment when he converts, a totally new rainbow coalition of until then scattered sheep, many Traditionalists, some Fatimists, some anti-abortionists, some sedevacantists, some Novus Ordo Catholics, some Papists, etc., will rally around him (and many that are last will be first and first will be last), but the kernel of this support system must be the Traditionalists who, with all their faults, have never betrayed the true Mass and the true priesthood which are the uranium in the reactor of the Church, and to which the Church cannot not come back. Therefore our function in the Mystical Body of Christ is to not let go one jot or title of Catholic Tradition until the rest of the Church sweeps back to reclaim it, and to fulfill this sacred function we must, as Our Lord said to Peter in the same Garden, in the same hour of Satan and power of darkness, watch and pray. "Every day pray the Rosary for bishops and priests", especially the Bishop of Rome. Lady, you are right: readers, pray for our poor Pope.
And those of you with children of school age, think hard of sending them to St. Mary's Academy in Kansas – flyer enclosed. The new Rector sent away many children last year, and no doubt each child sent away was an unfortunate case, but with each child sent away there could be more clearly seen the emerging outline of a proper Catholic school capable of attracting the parents worth attracting.
Take courage. The storm is still rising, but it will make some first-class sailors for Heaven!
With all good wishes and blessings, Sincerely yours in Our Lord Jesus Christ,
Bishop Richard Williamson