1. Schism shown by feelings and attitudes

THERE is a French proverb: “ If you tell me who your friends are, I will tell you who you are. ” One could add: “ And I will tell you whom you hate. ” In the case of the Pope, who is the Father, not of all men indiscriminately, but first and foremost of the Catholic faithful and of the rest only potentially, in the expectation of their conversion, one would imagine that his heart would be more open to the faithful than to unbelievers, to the members of the Church rather than to her enemies.

And as there have always been within the Church, both good wheat and cockles, those who uphold the Church's Tradition and the innovators, with opposition and fighting between the two sides, it would be expected that the Pope, though lending a ready ear to all his children without exception, would take care to show a just preference, a more marked favour towards the most orthodox and devoted and to signify his disapproval of, and his desire for the amendment of, the more extremist theologians, as well as revolutionaries or others who give scandal in any way.

As for you, ever since you committed yourself to the Reformation and indeed placed yourself at its head, with your Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, you have been so ardent in your fight against what was traditional in the Church, its “ routine and inertia ”, that you cannot disguise your ill-feeling towards the traditionalist side who continue to defend what you are seeking to destroy, and who refuse to accept what you are seeking to impose.

Admittedly, you did not excommunicate those traditionalists, who are for the most part scared and prepared to accept your directives, and capable of amazing efforts of will in order to combine in their hearts their loyalty to their convictions with that which they feel towards your Person. You could not very well excommunicate them, without any canonical indication (the affair of Action française is now a thing of the distant past !) and in any case you had made it clear that you had no intention of excommunicating anybody. But you have gone to the greatest lengths to avoid any direct, human contact with them. This is even worse than excommunication. It is the “ dialectical suppression ” of Hegel: to treat the enemy as simply non-existent.

We on the other hand continue to recognise your existence; we write to you and we go to see you. We pray for you, we tell you that we remain obedient in spite of our dismay – though we no longer understand much that is happening and are unable, in conscience, to accept many of the innovations – but we remain united to Your Holiness in loyalty of heart and will, and in our conduct.

But you have not a word to say to us, neither of praise nor of blame: you refuse to pass judgement upon us – good or bad. You reject us entirely, refusing all dialogue with this the most long-suffering part of your flock, who nevertheless are the most attached of all your children to Rome and to the Holy See. For we are not schismatics, as some of your courtiers try to claim or to forecast. We are not breaking any links. The “ breaking-off of relations ”, which signifies schism comes entirely from your side, and for no reason except sectarian fanaticism and a liking for novelty. It is you who are the schismatic !

My personal disappointments

I could write about my personal story, for that is what I know best. I have never broken away from you. I went to Rome in 1963, at the beginning of the troubles, and again in 1964. Much later, in 1967, I was bold enough to write you a long Open Letter on the Subject of Reform. But I never received so much as an acknowledgement. When my Bishop sought to accuse me of schism and heresy, it was to your Tribunal that I addressed my appeal. “ Caesarem appellasti ? Ad Caesarem ibis ”, Cardinal Lefebvre said to me, not for the moment realising that the quotation was from words spoken by Festus to St Paul ! But the justice meted out by Nero to the Apostle was better than Your Holiness's towards me. The formula of recantation and submission, which had been passed by you before it was given to me to sign, was so outrageous and inhuman that only a bootlicker without faith or honour could have signed it. I was treated by you like a slave. So I refused, but suggested an alternative formula, couched entirely in Catholic terms, respectful to your Authority and of the rights which you are empowered to exercise over my intelligence, my heart and my life, which must always safeguard in the first place the Rights of God, and respect the sacred rights of Truth and Charity. But you never responded to this suggestion which I made in all filial loyalty.

And it was with your consent that my name was dragged into the mud round the whole world as that of a rebel. Such injustice and slander prove that it is you who have rejected me. But I will not reject you and in thus writing to you I give you proof of my continuing filial affection.

The insults suffered by the faithful

Had it only been myself ! But they all fare the same, the Catholic faithful who will not follow sheep-like all the changes, all the whims and fancies of their priests and who one day take up their pen trembling and write to you, telling in a few awkwardly chosen words the drama of their conscience… If you only realised with what respect, love and confidence they write their letter. Oh well, if they receive any reply from Rome at all, then it reads as follows; it is always the same, so I know it by heart:

“ The Secretariat of State is sorry to have to tell Mr. X that the terms of his recent letter are not calculated to contribute in any way to that edification of the Church in faith and charity which he seems to desire. It exhorts him to follow the directives of the bishops of France who, in communion with the Sovereign Pontiff, have the sole responsibility for the pastoral administration of their respective dioceses. ” That is all !

If the letter or the petition has been published or has otherwise attracted special attention and is judged to be in any way dangerous to the Party, then it is communicated to the local bishop, so that the latter may launch a counter-attack. For this purpose he is supplied with a letter from Rome, reading something as follows:


“ Dear Monsignor,

Please find enclosed a copy of a letter (or petition, or telegram) recently received by the Holy Father... Perhaps you would inform the writer(s) in whatever manner seems to you appropriate that the Holy Father has noted their communication and invites them to follow the pastoral directives given by their Bishop in accordance with the instructions of the Holy See.

Yours, etc.

(Signed) J Cardinal Villot ”

So, instead of saying that we have no means of attracting your attention, it would be more correct to say that Your Holiness is not acting as the Arbiter between the two sides, but as one who has made it clear that he wishes to bring about – to use the ingenuous expression of Cardinal Garrone – “ the defeat of the other side ”. (An interview given on November 7, 1969, quoted in Documentations Catholiques, 69, 1093)

The Rome pilgrims

Everybody heard of your refusal to grant an audience, or to greet in any way, those thousands of traditionalist Catholics who had come to entreat you to safeguard their right to the Old Roman Rite of the Mass. And, was it the following day ? when you received the leaders of the anti-Portuguese rebellion, they were told that these were Christians and the Pope never refused to see anybody who had come to Rome for this purpose. This was such a flagrant lie that it was greeted with laughter. But the press the world over understood your refusal to grant the traditionalist pilgrims an audience as a mark of your august displeasure, and your warm reception of the West African terrorist leaders – responsible for massacres of women and children – as an encouragement of their anti-colonial aspirations.

When another group, from France, more blindly devoted to the Holy See, went to Rome to assure you of their loyalty, you did not, indeed, spurn them, because there is nothing to fear from that quarter, but you used the opportunity of their visit to admonish them:

“ We are aware that these pilgrims, who have come in such large numbers, are anxiously loyal to the Catholic Faith, to the Church, to the See of Peter. And so we are glad to invite them to join, together with their Catholic brothers and sisters, and in confident collaboration with their bishops, who have the responsibility for all pastoral matters, in the vast effort of Conciliar Renewal to which the whole Church is called. ”

I know some among those pilgrims whose eyes were opened as a result of this your declaration and who tore up their membership cards of Les Silencieux de l'Eglise then and there, and decided to join the Catholic Counter-Reformation instead. They had expected to find in you the Father of all, the Vicar of Christ, who would listen to them and pay heed to their lawful grievances. Instead, they found one who had firmly taken sides, and merely sent them back to the tender mercy of their Gallican despots.

Traditionalist movements made into a laughing stock !

I could give the example of the Catholic Traditionalist Movement in the USA, whose founder, the excellent Father Gommar de Pauw, sent you a most touching, pleading letter, dated August 15, 1967. There is no end to the saga of troubles with which he had to put up from that day onward. You did not vouchsafe him a reply, and it was in the knowledge of your backing that the US bishops have done nothing to spare such a reactionary Movement.

The Spanish Confraternity of Priests are brave fighters against subversion and we should have expected Your Holiness to welcome the news of their Congress for the Defence of the Mass and the Priesthood, held at Saragossa in September 1972, and to be pleased to send them your Apostolic Benediction. Instead, you wrecked their efforts in an entirely unworthy manner. When several Cardinals of the Curia, and a number of Archbishops and Bishops had already committed themselves to attending, and had even announced the theme of the talks they were to give, a last minute order coming from you stopped their attendance. None dared to risk your frown. And the progressive press the world over was delighted at the trick which you had played on these worthy and devout priests, who went on, in spite of everything, to express publicly their respect and obedience, their confident devotion to your Person. It really is enough to make one weep. On which side is the schism ? Who is it that shows a burning love and charity ? On which side lies the hatred ?

The seminary of Saint Pius X

Msgr. Marcel Lefebvre was one of the two or three among the “ minority ” at the Council whose head remained clear and whose courage did not fail On that account alone he would have deserved a Cardinal's hat at your hands, even had it been only to show your continuing paternal feelings towards all your children or as a sign of clemency to the vanquished. Instead, he has been the constant victim of your silent but attentive wrath. You were glad to see his downfall, and saw to it that he should leave Rome. You allowed him to be ostracised by the French Episcopate.

His seminary does not owe you anything, except that you were not able to inhibit its birth. But our bishops have all sworn never to accept any of its priests. For them this radiantly Catholic institution has become the “ wildcat Seminary ”. Once again, we ask where the hatred lies. On which side are discord and the intention of schism, which side has offended against its brother ? I know full well that, in agreement with Cardinal Villot and the French Episcopate, you are seeking to destroy this little seedbed of vocations, this refuge of true Christian freedom, this haven for priests after God's heart. Should you succeed in doing so, your schism will only become the more manifest.

Your relations with the world at large

I could go on listing examples of your sectarianism. If I were to mention all the cases where you have shown friendships that are entirely against nature, and enmities without reasonable cause, there would be no end to the list, for the relations of the New Rome with the various religious, ethnic or national groups of the world follow such a pattern. India, for instance, has risen in your affections and has for you become more “ peace-loving ” (Discourse given at Bombay, December 4, 1964), since she snatched Goa from Portugal. Spain has your sympathy only to the extent to which she moves in the direction of revolution. North Vietnam has all your sympathy against the South. I need not continue. The story is always the same. You are against the Catholics, and for their enemies. I shall have more to say later on about who are suffering persecution, and find that you are favouring their persecutors...

But why ? What causes this misplacement of your affections ? The answer is that it is the result of your aberrant way of thinking. A heretic, even if he is allowed to remain within the bosom of the Church, cannot bear to live in peace and brotherly communion with those who live by that Faith which he no longer has, and against which he is fighting. He is necessarily sectarian, to the extent to which he is no longer a man of God but a man of a particular philosophy. Sooner or later, he begins to develop feelings such as Cain had for his brother Abel, as we read in Holy Scripture, and we know that he ended up by killing him. Psychologically, you have reached a similar stage, as we are made aware when we hear those strange-sounding curses which you shower upon those – mostly simple souls who have lost the ground from under their feet – who will not follow in your footsteps: “ Woe to those who remain aloof, woe to those who are sad; to those who are indifferent and discontent, woe to those who lag behind ! ” (Spoken on September 14, 1966, Documentation Catholique 66, 1644)