Georges de Nantes.
The Mystical Doctor of the Catholic Faith.
17. THE TRIAL WAS NEVER CONCLUDED
Fr. de Nantes’ trial opened in Rome on April 25, 1968. On the very same day, Paul VI gave a speech on the theme : “ Yes to Reformation, no to Revolution ! ” 1 This was precisely like General de Gaulle who, in Paris, tried to contain the student revolution with the same slogan : “ Yes to Reform, no to chaos. ” This was tantamount to admitting that in Rome and in Paris, both these movements were heading in the same direction, were aiming at the same objective, although in a different manner, violent or moderate. Fr. de Nantes pointed this out :
“ From Paul VI to Cardonnel, from General de Gaulle to Cohn-Bendit, the same declared will of Reformation is displayed […]. It is a fact that chaos comes in the wake of Reformation, both in the nation and in the Church. This is because chaos draws all its force, its legality and its false justification from Reformation. The post-conciliar storm is swelled by the conciliar wind. ” 2
Fr. de Nantes was going to be judged on his resolute and declared opposition to this baneful Reformation.
THE ORDEAL BY FIRE.
“ After having celebrated Holy Mass at the altar of St. Pius X in St. Peter’s, ” he related, “ on the stroke of 9 A.M. I entered the palace of the Holy Office, not without having knelt and kissed the ground in a sign of admiration, gratitude, and submission. ”
The sessions of the preliminary investigation that occupied these twelve days in Rome were extremely solaceful for our Father. He had the feeling that he was debating with true theologians. The consultors Gagnebet and Duroux, Dominicans, Dhanis, Jesuit, seemed to him to be “ learned, well-disposed theologians with no weakness. The trial was a veritable ordeal by fire for my faith and my works. ” 3
During the first session, Fr. de Nantes was holding in his hand the “ Common Fund ” of the new catechisms approved by the bishops of France, in order to warn these gentlemen, the consultors and assessors of the Holy Office, about what was brewing. He received this reply : “ For now, Father, we are examining you. Do not worry, Rome will never let a heretical catechism be published ! ” The future would show how much confidence could be placed in Roman vigilance… since the Council !
The substance of what was to be examined was precise : “ It was to question the idea of a ‘Catholic Counter Reformation in the twentieth century’. Since the hierarchy had proclaimed the Reformation of the Church, might one sustain doctrinally a traditionalism that was fiercely opposed to it and might one oppose practically its authoritative implementation ? The theorem that forms the substance of my letter ‘The Pride of the Reformers’ of October 11, 1967, addressed to Pope Paul VI, is as follows : the Catholic and apostolic tradition excludes the very principle of a general and permanent Reformation of the Church ; it contradicts it. That was my doctrine, and on this bore down all the efforts of the consultors.
“ Did I have the Catholic Faith ? It was soon evident that this was so. As the days went by, we were obliged to acknowledge the fundamental identity of our doctrines which were in no way ours but those of the Church of all times. I had the impression of sitting a master’s degree in theology, and of passing it. The traps were classical and easily overcome. The discussions had their high moments. […].
“ The decisive question was that of the development of dogma. Was I not claiming that the Church’s life and thinking stopped with Pius IX, Pius X or Pius XII ? It seemed that I had suspended the promise of Jesus Christ concerning the assistance of the Holy Spirit at a point just before the Council. Here again, however, I professed no other doctrine than that of my examiners : the doctrine of St. Vincent Lerins and of Cardinal Newman, but with anti-Modernist distinctions for the present situation. The doctrine that we recognise is a logical development of Tradition, proceeding from the implicit to the explicit, but we reject Blondel’s theory of a vital creative evolution entirely sustained and directed by an immanent experience of the divine in the infallible human conscience. ” 4
This first part of the trial therefore ended to the advantage of the defendant : none of his words or writings contained the slightest doctrinal error. He who has said the contrary has lied. In that case, what can be said of the Reformation ?
THE RUINS OF THE HOLY CITY.
It was then that the real trial began : “ From being the accused I became the accuser. My examiners were transformed into the counsel for the defence, or rather they became the defendants. By virtue of our exact and firm Catholic Faith, I rose up against the dogmatic presuppositions of a so-called pastoral Reformation. The consultors had not been able to catch me out, but now they sought to refute my criticisms of the new reformed religion […].
“ Thereupon ensued some rather confused discussions. On the meaning and significance of the conciliar and papal slogans we were far from agreement. Collegiality, the serving Church, religious liberty, opening to the world, ecumenism, peace, culture, etc. It was a war of words. At this point my examiners lost the clarity, the objectivity, and the security that the Catholicism of all times affords. Their calmness and self- composure gave way to impatience and aggressiveness. These learned gentlemen sank up to their boots into the sludge of the conciliar equivocations, ambiguities, and confusions that one could sense they had not yet left behind. In order to cope, they accused me of seeing the acts of the Council and the discourses of Paul VI only through the interpretations of others. They contrasted the promulgated texts with the whole apparatus of the discussions and commentaries that had prepared and followed them. They supported an unreal Council, in conflict with the para-Council and the post-Council. ” 5
One day, after a session of the Holy Office, our Father crossed St. Peter’s Square while conversing with Fr. Gagnebet. He questioned his judge : “ How can you justify Paul VI’s affirmation : ‘Peace is possible, because men are essentially good’ ? ”
The reply left him speechless :
“ Father, you are attaching too much importance to these words of Paul VI. They are only from a speech for January 1 on peace. It was only a speech. ”
This Roman theologian did not realise the consequences that such a speech could have coming from the Throne of St. Peter, of which he was the servant !
“ The sort of battlefield through which we were galloping was in their dazed eyes the site of a new and radiant human City in mid-construction. They wanted to believe in the mirage. For me, as far as the eye could see, it was the ruins of the Holy City, devastated by a cyclone. ”
I underscore the contact with the “ Third Secret ” of Fatima, unknown to Fr. de Nantes at the time, but known to Pope Paul VI.
“ Whenever we recalled such and such an act or discourse, they would have me taste its sugar and its tea ; they failed to notice the arsenic that made it into a poison. These servants of the papacy, these functionaries of the Curia, vested in their guileless probity and their white linen moved me to pity. The whole world was exploiting the novelty, in grand style, for the ruin of the Faith and morality ; but they clung on to the Pope’s discourse of January 12, 1966, which affirmed and imposed the traditional sense in which the Reformation of Vatican II was to be understood. The madness of the whole world was of little importance for them. They judged none but me, the only one insolent enough to have requested it, and they condemned my conservative opposition, even more criminal than the other, the revolutionary, which it reinforced, they said, causing the greatest damage to Rome’s authority.
“ I tried to take up some of my proofs. It was useless. One does not clarify in twenty hours what hundreds of cunning theologians have rendered inextricably confusing in five years of conciliar Byzantinism. Occasionally we came to a halt, completely lost in this tangle. I saw the president of the session overwhelmed, sweating, having run out of arguments, beneath the grand portrait of Paul VI, enigmatic and triumphant, which is hung up in all the Palace rooms […]. Tell us simply that you accept the Council and that you have trust in the Holy Father with a pure, straightforward, and unreserved allegiance, and no one will demand anything else from you !
“ I had to bring things to an end. I dictated to the Italian clerk of court :
“ ‘ Est, est. No, no.’
“ ‘ What do you mean by that ?’ the president asked me.
“ ‘ That means that what is, is and remains so, independently of my accusations.’
“ ‘ You persist, therefore, in your criticisms of the Pope and the Council ?’
“ ‘ Yes. ’ ” 6
At the end of the preliminary investigation of his trial, Fr. de Nantes was invited to read and countersign the record written by the ecclesiastical clerk of the court. This man, an Italian, had manifestly not understood anything. The judges and plaintiff agreed : this worthless document was inadmissible. What should be done ? Who, in three days, could write a precise, accurate, exhaustive and, most of all, impartial report concerning these long hours of subtle theological debate ? The judges, quite embarrassed, entrusted this task… to the plaintiff.
“ I thus wrote the record of my own trial. I was a good plaintiff. I avoided showing myself in too good a light, and I omitted some of my damning rejoinders, when their task of defending the Council and Paul VI’s heresy threw them into the most awkward of positions. On the appointed day, the judges read, approved and countersigned the minutes written by the plaintiff. This document was the only one by which the tribunal of the cardinals and the Pope himself learned of the matter later on. I believe that this fact is unique in the annals of Holy Office ! ” 7
Back home, our Father did not tell us anything since he was under seal of secrecy until the tribunal returned its verdict. We, however, often saw him plunged into deep meditation on St. Thomas More’s ‘Letters and Prayers from Prison’ and on his example.
On June 29, 1968, he was summoned once again to the Holy Office. It was the day before the end of the Year of the Faith, the day when Paul VI solemnly pronounced his Profession of Catholic Faith that replied point by point to all the heresies of the Dutch catechism. However, bound by “ the conciliar pact, ” Paul VI was very careful not to take any action against the fomenters of these heresies, like Schillebeeckx, Küng, Chenu, Illich, Rahner and Ratzinger.
Understanding the gravity of the event, we all accompanied our Father to Orly Airport while praying. Sick at heart, we left him. He had written to our friends : “ The gravest hour of my priestly life is approaching and I need your spiritual assistance even more than material aid, in order to know what God wants and to be able to accomplish it faithfully. For ‘now, you see me a prisoner in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider that life is not a thing to waste words on, provided that when I finish my course I may have carried out the mission that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.’ 8 These words of St. Paul to the elders of Ephesus come to mind with insistence […]. I am going to Rome sure of my Catholic Faith and with the sole intention of living and dying as a child of the Holy Roman Church. ” 9
On July 1, in the palace of the Holy Office, he was informed of the Holy Father’s demands. He was required purely and simply to retract his criticisms against the Pope, the Second Vatican Council and the French bishops, and to swear a complete, unconditional and unlimited obedience to all of them, according to a formula approved by the Pope himself, and even emended by him. Thus the preliminary investigation of the trial that had taken place two months earlier had not been taken into account. The doctrinal judgement that had been demanded with such resolve had not been rendered, yet Father de Nantes was being required to make an unlimited, ‘Muslim’ submission, accompanied by an overwhelming threat : his refusal of a general retraction would be penalised by an excommunication. Unbelievable ! And people accuse the pre-conciliar Church of arbitrariness and violation of conscience !
Everything was perfectly organised so as to plunge the ‘plaintiff’, who had four days to ponder, into the depth of perplexity :
“ Until the last moment I experienced the most dramatic alternative before God, my Master and my Judge. I would go to pray in the Roman basilicas and churches ; in them I received contradictory insights […]. Could not the Acts of the Council and of the present Pope, in their accepted form, or more precisely in the form that was almost unconsciously filtered, rectified and purified by the Curia’s theologians and staff be accepted by me in the same way ? They accept the new state of the Church without retaining almost any of it. Could I not submit likewise ? Should I not abide by the common law ? Then came into my mind the resolution to retract and thereby return to discipline. Yes, but ! The Acts of this Reformation, as they are understood and exploited without moderation everywhere in the world and even in Rome, these new ideas in their obvious meaning, their logic and their dynamic, remained unacceptable save disloyalty. From my place as a plaintiff, in the persecution that we traditionalists were undergoing, I could not submit to this Reform imposed from on high without at least appearing to have retracted and abandoned my brethren. So, in this contradiction between obedience and faith, in this opposition of discipline to charity, I once again decided to refuse the signature that they were expecting from my weakness. ”
That is how his exhausting soliloquy went. He wrote to us :
“ Half the time I am resolved to sign, the other half I clearly see that it is unreasonable, and the remainder of my strength goes to beseeching God to send me the enlightenment that I require. Who, who, who in the world would be able to decide ? ? ? If only you were here, your insights would enlighten me […]. I am going to attempt to see Archbishop Lefebvre. He was in Paris. Even he, however, having done as the others did, will advise me to do as they had all done […]. In brief, it is very overwhelming […]. I, however, keep sufficient courage. Do likewise. Your poor Father. ” 10
Nevertheless, the day before the decision had to be made, he related, “ I was determined to submit, blindly, entirely and definitively. I saw therein God’s will expressed through His Vicar on earth. It seemed supernatural to me to give up the fight, to renounce limitlessly, in an act of obedience that would go against even my most fully-justified certainties, leaving to other people and to God concern for doctrine and the care of the flock. This great act seemed pleasant and liberating to me, it attracted me by its very grandeur. ”
On that same day, however, he obtained an audience from Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Superior General of the Fathers of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit from whom he expected the surest of instructions : “ I informed my august interlocutor of my very firm resolution to sign. He interrupted me firmly : ‘You cannot do this. You do not have the right to do so.’ It was clear and formal, and it was immediately justified by most invincible reasons backed up by the authority and example of the person to whom I was listening : ‘We ourselves wrote to the Sovereign Pontiff in due course that the cause of all of the evil is in the Acts of the Council. Be firm in the truth.’
“ Upon leaving, while crossing St. Peter’s Square, I had the feeling that the burden I had rejected for one moment weighed once again on my shoulder, and also that I found myself again with those whom, in my glorious submission, I would have abandoned… ” 11
For a long while, we wondered why Archbishop Lefebvre had not taken his cane and hat and accompanied Fr. de Nantes to the Holy Office during the dramatic session of July 5, which was to be decisive. We wondered about this until the day that we learned that Archbishop Lefebvre had been prevented from doing so, since he himself had signed the Acts of the Council ! Nevertheless, our Father took his advice, preferring, in all occasions, to rely on others, following the example of saints.
“ NON VOBIS LICET, NON POSSUM ! ”
“ On the morning of Friday, July 5, 1968, with my soul at peace, I once again kissed the threshold of the Palace of the Holy Office. I was going there to be informed of my sentence from this Supreme Court of the Faith. Someone assured me that the Pope was praying for my intention and added that His Holiness had himself attenuated and approved the formula that was to be proposed to me. ”
We wonder in what way since it was a retraction, pure and simple. Here is its text :
1° I declare that I submit to all the doctrinal and disciplinary acts of H.H. Pope Paul VI and of the Second Vatican Council as their nature requires and taking into account the intention of the Sovereign Pontiff and of the Council (cf. Lumen Gentium, no. 25).
2° I retract the grave accusations which I have not feared to propagate against the acts of the Sovereign Pontiff and of the Council. I express my sincere regret for these imputations. I especially disavow the accusation of heresy brought against Pope Paul VI and the aberrant conclusion I have drawn therefrom concerning the advisability of his deposition by the Cardinals.
3° To my Bishop and to the Episcopate of my nation I promise obedience in accordance with canonical norms.
4° I undertake always to speak and write with respect concerning the acts and teachings of the Pope, the Council and the Bishops. 12
“ The chairman read these four articles, and then each one of the consultors recommended me to have faith in the Church and to be submissive to its Magisterium. I obtained one half-hour to pray in the adjacent chapel. Once there, my duty clearly appeared to me. Although no doctrinal judgement had been handed down concerning my writings, the cardinals [and Paul VI] led one to believe that that this was the case, by imposing on me as a sanction the retraction [of his accusations, not of alleged ‘errors’ as they later had it believed] and submission that should normally follow a condemnation. Consenting to such a parody of the Magisterium would be tantamount to making me an accomplice, against the Church, of the injustice of men.
“ The consultors were not free men of good will. Despite their misgivings, they incarnated the constraint of a superior Authority that demanded obedience and subjection beyond the sacred limits of its divine institution. I say : beyond. For, the demand was made without it having been established that the Acts of Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council which brought about the reform of the Church were invested with the infallibility of their Magisterium or guaranteed by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, for this is not so. Moreover, without anyone having been able to establish either its conformity with revealed Truth or its appropriateness to the Holiness of the Church, which would have been quite difficult to do, the Roman Authority, beside itself, required that I consider them to be infallibly true and holy, contrary to my reason, my conscience and my heart ! Without prison or stake, it was still the Inquisition, but in the service of injustice. ”
Our Father could only be adamantly opposed to this illegal ‘abuse of power’ : “ So I declared that in conscience I could not endorse the first three articles ; on the other hand, I could accept the fourth one which concerned respect towards persons and only had to do with the form, disputable, I admit, of my writings. ”
So he solemnly pronounced : “ Non vobis licet. Non possum. You are not allowed to demand this. I cannot accept it. ” Fr. Gagnebet, being somewhat deaf, had not heard correctly. “ Possum ? ” he asked. Fr. Dhanis leaned towards him : “ Non possum. ” Fr. Gagnebet looked dismayed.
“ I barely heard the lamentations that each one of them made about me, intermingled with veiled threats concerning my future in the Church and my eternal salvation. ” 13
Fr. de Nantes had but one concern at that dramatic hour : to safeguard the infallible Magisterium of the Church, within its due limits. Considering that his excommunication “ would have the effect of canonising this accursed Council as well as all words crossing the lips of the present Pope, with a kind of subsequent infallibility, thus making them an irrevocable necessity, ” he was wondering how, after this ruin, theologians and historians would be able to excuse and justify this failure of the infallible Roman Magisterium. ” 14 This question was quite a harrowing one, and one which is still has to be addressed.
Yet since the Church is divine, no excommunication was ever fulminated. Back home, he did not tell us anything since he was under seal of secrecy until the tribunal returned its verdict. He only commanded us to confirm an order for seven tons of paper. So we understood that the Catholic Counter-Reformation, which at that time had a circulation of twenty thousand, would continue.
“ THE ULTIMATUM. ”
While the French episcopate distributed and imposed the new catechisms inspired by the “ Fonds commun obligatoire, ” Fr. de Nantes, who had shown its scandalously heretical character that would lead straight to apostasy15, set off on a veritable National Crusade with Fr. Barbara, Fr. Rimaud, a country parish priest and other people. It was launched on February 28, 1969, with a meeting held in Paris in the Mutualité’s largest conference hall before a full-house audience, then soon carried throughout provincial France, winning the traditionalists over unanimously. The faithful had not always understood the discussion pertaining to religious freedom, but the catechism issue affected children and corresponded to their parents’ concern. This accounts for the mass mobilisation of French Catholics. So the bishops became alarmed and intervened for Rome to do something to put an end to this. Yet what could be done ? Could they condemn Fr. de Nantes who was its spearhead ? If they did, they would have to explain why !
On May 23, 1969, our Father was summoned to the bishopric of Troyes by Cardinal Joseph Lefebvre. He went there with Brother Gérard. In the presence of Bishop Fauchet of Troyes, and his chancellor, the cardinal enjoined Fr. de Nantes to sign the formula of retraction and unconditional submission to the Pope and the bishops that he had refused to sign the previous year in Rome.
Before answering, our Father asked the cardinal permission to pose two questions : did his Eminence recognise and condemn the heresy of the New French Catechism, as well as the ‘Pastoral Note’ of the episcopate regarding contraception, which took a view opposite to that of the encyclical Humanæ Vitæ ?
The cardinal answered with a vehement defence of the texts in question. Accordingly, Fr. de Nantes objected to his being his judge, and refused to carry on with the conversation and to discuss anything else. How could he claim to impose the obedience of faith when he himself was leading his people into the malice of a lax casuistry and the heresy of a Modernist catechism ? The decision was thus put once again into the hands of the Sovereign Pontiff.
On the following July 11, Fr. de Nantes received an ultimatum from Cardinal Seper, Cardinal Ottaviani’s successor, ordering him to sign within three days the text of retraction of his accusations – still the same one ! – and “ to adhere unequivocally to the authentic Magisterium of the Church by evincing to his Pastors the respect and obedience that are their due. ”
“ I did not feel that I had enough strength to reply, ” he related, “ the brothers encouraged me to do so and helped me with their prayers and advice. ” 16 We did not regret it, because this reply is crystal-clear and determines forever our doctrine of Catholic-Counter Reformation in the form of a ‘Profession of Faith.’
“ MY PROFESSION OF CATHOLIC FAITH. ”
Here is the response of our Father to Cardinal Seper, Cardinal Ottaviani’s successor, on July 16, 1969 :
“ It is my honour to answer your ultimatum of July 7, in the following terms :
“ 1°I declare my internal as well as my external adherence to all of the doctrinal acts of H.H. Paul VI, true and legitimate Pope, and of the Second Vatican Council, true and legitimate Ecumenical Council, as I do to all those of their predecessors, insofar as they are proposed by their authors and are received by the entirety of the faithful as the authentic expression, free from all innovation and alteration, of the Apostolic Tradition, infallibly conserved by the ordinary or solemn Magisterium of the Roman Church.
“ This cannot be the case, on the authors’ own admission and by general consent, concerning the many ‘pastoral’ nay ‘prophetic’ acts that I call in question for serious reasons, entirely or partially, absolutely or relatively, making my point both explicit and public in conformity with my right, and if I am not mistaken, my duty.
“ The formula of retraction that is imposed on me leaves no possibility, not even in theory, of casting doubt on such acts of the Magisterium, as though I and I alone were required to hold them as infallibly true and indisputable, a priori and a posteriori, Such a requirement, which would constrain me to a blind assent to every act of the Pope’s and the Council’s regardless of their official qualification, is exorbitant and patently contrary to the Doctrine of the Faith. It constitutes a repugnant abuse of power.
“ I beg you, therefore, to amend your formula in an orthodox sense.
“ 2°I declare that I submit to the disciplinary acts of the same legitimate authorities, for as much as their declared intention, real and recognised, is all to the honour of God and directed to the supernatural good of the Church and working for the sanctification of souls.
“ This is certainly not the case with the number of Acts conveying ‘the reformation of the Church,’ ‘opening to the world,’ ‘aggiornamento’ and such like that have no connection with Catholic Discipline. I have the right, and, if I am not mistaken, the duty to reject and to criticise such acts insofar as they manifest an intention that is unquestionably contrary or alien to the good of the Church and the salvation of souls.
“ The formula imposed on me leaves no possibility, not even in theory, of hesitation with regard to the submission owing to such innovations, as though every reformist decision of this Council or of Paul VI had to be held by me, and by me alone, as though it proceeded from one indefectible man or assembly, incapable of error or mistake in their government of the Church. Such a requirement demands of me a general and unconditional obedience to fallible men, which is exorbitant and contrary to Catholic morality. There are cases, at least in theory, when ‘one must obey God rather than men,’ even bishops, even a Pope.
“ I beg you, therefore, to amend your formula in a human and Catholic sense.
“ 3°I cannot in conscience retract the grave accusations that I have made in all lucidity and prudence against the reigning Pope and the Second Vatican Council for their so-called pastoral and reforming acts, because after profound study, they seem to me to be contrary to the Catholic Faith and in practice they are manifestly the cause of the Church’s general disorder and actual ruin. There have been no solid objections to my analyses and demonstrations. To consider my demonstrations as temerarious and calumnious imputations, a priori and without further proof or examination is a facile, ungracious expedient, but worthless.
“ The facts that are referred to in my writings are known to all and established beyond question. I am ready to withdraw any point that is found to have been invented or officially disavowed. The interpretation that I place on these facts is the interpretation that is constantly followed and generally declared by their authors and as received by public opinion. What others find praiseworthy precisely by virtue of its being a mutation of the Faith and revolutionary within the Church, I find blameworthy. It is not possible to forbid me, and me alone, to mention these facts and make note of their current interpretations, under the pretext that I deplore and reprobate them, whilst Modernists and Progressivists are everywhere free to claim these facts and interpretations and to shelter behind them in order to agitate the entire Church and to pervert souls.
“ The formula that is imposed on me is not based on any repudiation of these facts or of their accepted interpretations ; hence it represents a demand for total intellectual and moral resignation before the errors and faults of the Innovators.
“ 4°I cannot in conscience repudiate the accusation of heresy that I have formulated on several specific and public occasions against Pope Paul VI, nor, therefore, can I take back the conclusion that I drew from it, concerning the advisability of his deposition by the clergy of Rome should he persist in this heresy after due warning, because no serious argument has been opposed to me either with respect to the fact of heresy or to the steps that should be taken in such a case. I shall withdraw my accusations and make due amends if the strange ideas and expressed aims of the reigning Pope can be proved to me to be truthful and honest and in keeping with the sacred deposit of the Faith, something that no one has ventured to attempt, or if they were one day to form the subject of infallible definitions by the solemn Magisterium, something that is clearly impossible !
“ This formula imposed on me, forbids me in violation of Catholic doctrine, to conceive of any possibility even theoretical of any material or formal heresy on the part of the Pope either as a private or a public person. Furthermore it presents as aberrant the normal, prudent and inevitable conclusion taught by the Church’s best theologians : Papa hæreticus deponendus est. Contrary to all truth and justice, this formula considers that to oppose the Pope on account of heresy in any circumstances is always sacrilegious and punishable, whereas the Church recognises such action as legitimate and sometimes obligatory.
“ This a priori refusal even to examine the very matter of my accusation is in itself an indication of the difficulty encountered when wanting to refute by the authority of Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the Infallible Magisterium. The demand formulated for my unconditional submission is, under these conditions, abusive and profoundly immoral. The Sovereign Pontiff cannot make himself responsible for that without committing the worst form of prevarication. This man is not a god.
“ 5°I promised obedience to the Church in the person of the Sovereign Pontiff and of my Bishop, but not in that of my nation’s Episcopate, which is a collectivity of whose jurisdiction I know nothing, not being a Gallican. I have always borne respect for persons established in dignity, according to the justice that is their due. To such obedience and respect I intend to remain faithful. These virtues, however, remain subordinate to the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity and respect for persons could never provide the least obstacle or contradiction to the supreme rights of God and the service of one’s neighbour. For this reason I cannot obey prevaricators in their prevarication nor can I respect them in their crimes, for I would thereby become their accomplice. It is the misfortune of the present time that makes me proportion my obedience and respect to the actual dignity of the person and to the intrinsic morality of his actions.
“ By demanding unconditional obedience of me to my Bishop and the French Episcopate, who are collegially prevaricating, this formula would place me under the obligation of following their teaching, laws and precepts, thereby entering the paths of heresy and schism, luring others after me. To demand that I respect ecclesiastical authorities whoever they may be and whatever they may do, is to command me to show esteem and admiration for prevaricators in their prevarication, thereby making me an object of scandal.
“ Obedience is exercised within the setting of canonical norms, which today are trampled on at the Reformers’ pleasure. Such obedience presupposes on the part of superiors a fundamental submission to Catholic Faith and morality. Likewise, respect is given to leaders who first respect their own function. ‘He who hears you, hears Me ; he who despises you, despises Me.’ It happens that our bishops in claiming such respect for themselves do not grant the same respect to the Church of Christ, whose servants they are. I cannot enter, as I am asked, into the servitude of unworthy and ill-intentioned leaders whose first decision would be to rid themselves of me as an adversary. Let them first return to order !
“ On July 16, 1966, I requested of Cardinal Ottaviani, in his capacity as Pro Prefect of the Holy Office, a judgement on the conformity of my writings with Catholic dogma and morals and therefore with Divine Revelation. You answer me with an ultimatum, enjoining me to accept every thought and desire of the reigning Pontiff with blind, servile obedience, and every desire of the Bishops without limit or condition. From this I draw the conclusion that a scrupulous examination of my writings did not yield a single doctrinal deviation to your scrutiny. If therefore I am in the truth, apart from misunderstandings that would be easy for you to dispel, then those whom I criticise are in error. To use blackmail, threats and violence to have me side with their Reform is therefore immoral and to no avail. This ultimatum merely shows your incapacity to legitimate and justify the ‘doctrinal and disciplinary acts’ of the new reformers.
“ I have no illusions in asking Supreme Authority to amend this unacceptable formula, which has been imposed on me for my signature within three days. Just as I received your ultimatum I was reading the following announcement from the Holy Father : ‘We are going to have a period of greater freedom in the life of the Church and consequently for each one of her sons. This freedom will mean fewer legal obligations and fewer interior inhibitions. Formal discipline will be reduced and all arbitrariness will be abolished…’ With horror I saw in those words the supreme consecration of that galloping anarchy in which the Church is rushing to its abyss and destruction. When further on I read the words : ‘All intolerance and absolutism will likewise be abolished,’ I realised that this declaration of freedom sounded the death knell for all just and holy Catholic virtues, for the absolutism of our Faith, for the intolerance of our Divine morality and its Sacred Canons. This liberalisation, coming as it does in an atmosphere of unbridled licence, would necessarily have to pass through our condemnation first. Besides, did not the same Paul VI recently declare at Geneva, quoting Lacordaire : ‘Between the strong and the weak, it is freedom that oppresses and law that sets free.’ ?
“ We have everything to fear from this freedom, which the strong man has granted himself : it is a violence that oppresses. We miss the times past and we sigh for the time to come when benign Roman Authority, itself submissive to the Law of Faith, will, in setting us free, free us from all fear and from all unworthy servitude.
“ Since, therefore, you can no longer tolerate our legitimate opposition to your so-called pastoral innovations and to your Reformation of the Church, and since you have decided on our ruin, what you have to do, Eminence, do it quickly !
“ Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel,
“ July 16, 1969,
“ Georges de Nantes, priest. ”17
“ DISQUALIFIED ” !
The following month, Fr. de Nantes learned of the response of Rome in a simple press communiqué ! It was a notification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith :
“ Vatican City, August 10, AFP. Fr. de Nantes disavowed by the Pope.
“ At the request of Fr. de Nantes, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith having examined his writings and having heard him on two occasions, has judged it right to ask that he subscribe to a formula retracting his errors [sic!] and grave accusations of heresy against Paul VI and the Council […]. The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cannot but take note of this refusal of its legitimate authority by observing with extreme sadness, that in thus rebelling in this way against the Magisterium and the Catholic hierarchy, Fr. de Nantes disqualifies 18 the totality of his writings and activities whereby he claims to be serving the Church whilst giving an example of rebellion against the episcopate of his country and against the Roman Pontiff himself. ” 19
Is that all ?
That is all !
“ Disqualified, ” just as a bad football player would be. Not only that, since no referee could be found – and for good reason ! – to penalise a simple fault committed against the rules of the game, the player disqualified ‘himself’ ! Surreptitiously “ his [unascertainable] errors ” are fraudulently introduced.
“ At one time the terrible Holy Office used to define the errors of those whom it condemned if they avowed and stood by them. The faith of the people was thereby enlightened and souls remained in peace. The style is the man. I recognised Cardinal Lefebvre in the style. His thought is elusive, thus insinuating the exaggerated sentiment of my indignity. The aforesaid Reformed Congregation declares its victim disqualified and defames him before the whole world without quoting his errors. The slander is already strong and its proofs are too weak. ” 20
In spite of this spate of blatant lies, no Roman newspaper, no official review, no Catholic documentation in the world gave coverage to Fr. de Nantes’ protest by publishing his ‘Profession of Faith,’ a monument erected in the face of the Reformation of the Church decreed by the prevaricating Second Vatican Council. Now, in this month of August, on the same page of Le Monde, was published a diatribe of Hans Küng defying the Roman authority that did not even dare to condemn his glaring errors. This sign and many others allowed us to assess Rome’s capitulation before the combined forces of Germanic Modernism and Latin progressivism, and the final defeat of ‘the Year of the Faith.’
LIKE A SON AT HIS MOTHER’S BEDSIDE.
When he was no longer under the seal of secrecy to which he had sworn, he published all the documents of the trial21; it was his only weapon, a weapon of light. He had won this trial, adding a new proof in favour of the infallibility of the Roman Church, Mother and Mistress of all the Churches. “ Because after all, a ‘disqualification’ to reply to precise, reiterated, public and absolutely unsupportable accusations against the Pope and the Council, a ‘disqualification’ that is ‘notified’ to the press, but which is not a sentence of the Magisterium and that leaves the disqualified person in full possession of his priesthood and even of his celebret, what an admission ! What an admission of weakness, and even more, what an admission of guilt ! ” 22
In order to avoid recognising the cogency of Fr. de Nantes’ criticisms, the Holy Office did not pass judgement. Furthermore, proof that the Congregation was not proud of its conduct is provided by the fact that the Notification of August 9, 1969 does not appear in the collection of ‘Documents Published Since the End of the Second Vatican Council,’ published in 1985 by Cardinal Ratzinger ! 23 The true trial, which is not the trial of Fr. de Nantes but of the Reformation, is thus still open.
“ Like St. Joan of Arc in the throes of her judgement and her prisons, we keep the honour and the joy of remaining true sons of the Church, by the grace of God :
“ ‘Do you declare that you are subject to the Church Militant ?’
“ ‘Yes, I believe that I am subject to her, but God served first.’ ” 24
Both sides had thus put their case concerning heresy, when already another danger was looming : the desertion of the faithful, nay the schism of the best. On July 16, 1969, on the very day that he signed his ‘Profession of Faith,’ our Father firmly warned his friends :
“ In this spiritual drama, each one of you will have to follow his conscience, after you have had it duly informed by the best ecclesiastical sources, and purified of all natural inclination […]. Yet never will there be any question of our separating from the Church […]. Never shall we dream of forming any kind of sect, that is to say, of giving and receiving the sacraments outside all jurisdiction given by the Pope and the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. Whoever does so, cuts himself off, ipso facto, from Catholic unity and can no longer be considered our brother, having willingly and formally fallen into schism. It is one thing to follow one’s conscience and to protest against the heresies and schisms that have in practice been installed in the Church ; it is quite another to abandon the Church in order to constitute its simulacrum, which alone would be the Church. That is the Adversary’s plan to push out of the Church all those who keep the Faith so that those who have lost it can stay and rule within. Well, we are going to stay ! ” 25
Like loving sons at the bedside of their sick Mother :
“ It is not the memory of her past beauty, of her former goodness that keeps me close to her, defending her against her enemies, showing the door to charlatans, beseeching the true doctors, and giving encouragement to the last of her faithful children. Sometimes a ray of light passes over her face, a trace of the beloved smile, of the immense tenderness she had shown in former times. For a moment I think I have got Her back, and then the darkness returns and there is nothing but ugliness and horror, groans and curses. I fear sinking into all this myself. I know, however, that I will remain with her, venerating, loving and serving this Church in a state of disgusting rottenness and decomposition, because, today as well as yesterday and for all eternity, she is the Unique and Beloved Spouse of my Lord. I look at the Cross and I see You on it, similar to her now. How could I abandon her ? I am sure that deep within this putrefaction, beyond this delirium, her veiled Heart is the same, virginal and fervent, the Spirit remains Holy, the Life, divine life struggles invincibly against this terrible attack of Evil. Tomorrow, yes, tomorrow, recovery will occur.
“ It is for her today that we hear Your prophecy : ‘This sickness will not end in death, but it is for God’s glory so that through it the Son of God may be glorified’… The Church will recover ! Nothing will remain of this long nightmare but the stigmata of her glorious wounds resembling Yours, and in her expression a more penetrating ardour of unutterable tenderness for her Spouse Who will have saved her from death.
“ I believe that You, her Spouse, and we, her children, will cherish her even more after this calvary. It is in longing for this day that we remain close to her during the night. ” 26
(1) Quoted in For the Church, Vol. II, p. 312.
(2) CRC no. 8, May 1968, p. 2.
(3) CRC no. 24, September 1969, pp. 3-4.
(4) Ibid., p. 4.
(5) Ibid., p. 5.
(6) Ibid., p. 5.
(7) CRC no. 77, February 1974, p. 15.
(8) Ac 20 :22-24.
(9) Quoted in For the Church, Vol. II, p. 323.
(10) Letter to the Brothers, July 1968. Archives of the Community.
(11) CRC no. 24, September 1969, p. 6.
(12) Cf. CRC no. 23, August 1969, p. 2 B
(13) CRC no. 24, September 1969, p. 7.
(15) CRC nos. 7-9 et 12-14, from April to November 1968.
(16) CRC no. 110, October 1976, p. 8.
(17) Letter published in full in CRC no. 23, August 1969, p. 2 C to 2 E.
(18) Sports terminology unknown in Canon Law that has no legal value.
(19) Ibid., p. 2 A.
(20) CRC no. 24, September 1969, p. 8, published in English in CCR no. 78, September 1976, pp. 10-11.
(21) Liber Accusationis I, 1973, p. 32.
(22) CRC no. 110, October 1976, p. 8-9.
(23) CRC no. 223, June 1986, p. 2.
(24) CRC no. 24, September 1969, p. 9, published in English in CCR no. 78, September 1976, pp. 10-11.
(25) Confidential letter no. 12 of July 16, 1969, quoted in CRC no. 23, August 1969, p. 2 C to 2 E.
(26) Mystical Pages no. 12, “ This Sickness Will not End in Death. ” June 1969, p. 53-56.