Address to the Pope

MOST Holy Father,

Who am I to dare to speak out against Your Holiness and to ask him to pass judgement upon himself? I am nothing, and you are everything. Even the insignificant position that I had ten years ago – that of country parish priest – is mine no longer for, suspended by the Bishop of Troyes since August 25, 1966, I have been deprived of the right to celebrate Mass or to preach, in the diocese in which I live – while you occupy the highest place of honour on this earth and, in the Church, a position of such responsibility that no greater can be imagined and one, moreover, which enables you to receive help and guidance from the Holy Spirit in a way open to no other human being.

How, then, dare I rise up against you ?

Do I perhaps seek reassurance in the example of those who, by virtue of their sanctity, and without consideration of rank or position, are able to exalt the humble and put down the mighty, fill the poor with riches and take away the possessions of the proud ? Not even that, for not only am I a simple priest, lowest in the scale of the hierarchy, but also a sinner among the rest. In the course of history there have been great Saints who have risen up against Popes guilty of untruth, but I do not claim either personal merit or any mystical enlightenment to justify the reproach I bring against you. No, I tremble rather when I recall the words written about you by Cardinal Journet, describing you as “ a living saint to whom we must raise our eyes with love ” while myself he looks upon as lost beyond hope, unless, by the Grace of God, my eyes should be opened, before the end... (Quoted from a private letter to a religious, dated January 21, 1973)

There are, moreover, numerous supposed “ revelations ” current today which, claiming to come direct from Our Lord or His Blessed Mother, describe you as their child of predilection, the most beloved and worthy of Popes, who is undergoing a veritable martyrdom at the hands of the evil men around you, as well as through all those agents of disorder and instigators of heresy who are ravaging the Church in spite of you. If all this were indeed true, what comfort it would give us to think that, in spite of the appearances, we were suffering with Your Holiness rather than as a direct result of your acts !

If, in spite of all this, I am yet bold enough to rise up against you, before the entire Church, it is because I draw the right to do so in that very Faith, Hope and Charity which the Holy Spirit bestows upon all the Faithful provided they do not themselves place obstacles in the way through heresy, schism or apostasy. For 25 years I have been a priest, and given to the study of theology. But I claim no basis for my action other than the simple, elementary Faith of our Baptism which is common to all who belong to the Catholic and Roman Church. For, as you must be aware, my total and open opposition to the present Reformation of the Church, which I reiterated at the conclusion of my Process at the Holy Office, against the formally expressed wish of Your Holiness, did not result in the imposition upon me of any canonical penalty. I was declared to have “ disqualified ” myself by my own extreme statements, but this does not in any way affect my continued membership of the Church. I remain one of the children of him who is the Father of all – one of Your Holiness's subjects. And a child has the right to complain to his father – even about the evil ideas and hateful acts of this very father himself.

As an insignificant member of the Ecclesia credens, I have no authority to judge anybody nor to declare any proceeding null and void. Nor can I claim to provide, myself, the authentic interpretation of even the least article of Faith. But I do have both the right and the duty to remember and call to mind that teaching which I received as the doctrine of the Ecclesia docens – a doctrine that is constant and universal, irreformable and infallible. For this teaching is binding upon all the faithful, and upon Your Holiness as much as upon the simplest of us, on pain of spiritual death.

Over the past ten years it has become overwhelmingly evident to me who, by virtue of my faith, “ worship as a rational creature ” (Rom 12.1) that what we are taught today is totally opposed to what we were taught in the past. The Catholic Credo that was engraved upon my soul as upon a tablet of virgin wax has always remained there, clearly defined, and nothing that was superadded to it ever caused any blurring of the characters. The Church spoke always in the same language. But these past ten years, she has been speaking, through your own mouth, and that of the Council and the Bishops, in an entirely new language which, though it has not the authoritative ring of the past, and is itself neither constant nor consistent, is the language of novelty and change, tinged with heresy, schism and apostasy. Against this I felt constrained to protest inwardly, and for the sake of honesty, openly and publicly also, submitting my protest to examination by Authority, until today it is being taken to the very highest Tribunal of all, at which you, the Sovereign Pontiff, preside as Judge and as the one ultimately responsible for the interpretation and safeguarding of Divine Truth – while you bear at the same time the responsibility for this abominable Reformation. If I, the most unworthy of Christ's faithful, am so keenly conscious of the contradiction between the Catholic religion and the reformed religion of today, then surely this realisation ought in yourself, as the most eminent member of the faithful, attain an infallible clarity and prophetic certainty. Tell us therefore, we beseech you, where the Truth is, and where the heresy, the schism and the scandal; proclaim it solemnly and we will believe your word.

I say “ we ” because I am speaking, not only for myself, but as one of the many faithful who are today suffering under this conflict. When I present myself at the feet of the holy See, I go accompanied by ten religious and fifty lay people who are themselves the express delegates of some 3,000 Catholics making up this “ Roman Legion ” whose thoughts and feelings are united to ours and the list of whose names is being handed to you on this April 10, 1973 together with the present Liber. These people love you, Most Holy Father, and place in you their last hope against the invasion of Satan into the Church. But, trembling, they also join with us in accusing you of being the one responsible, through complicity or collaboration. Amidst prayers and tears they beseech you either to justify yourself or to recant, or else to lay down the charge of your Sovereign Pontificate in favour of someone else. They can no longer endure this terrible suspicion culminating in their inward certainty of your guilt. The disorder spreading from the very Head of the Church into her members has become unendurable for them.

These several thousand Catholics are not in any way a sect apart, or a body separated from the rest of the faithful. They are linked to the rest of the Church by numerous ties and, to varying degrees and despite some differences in interpretation, their complaints reflect those of certain members of the Hierarchy, even among those in the highest positions and close to the Throne of Your Holiness.

That is why I, who am nobody, feel in conscience bound to ask Your Holiness, in the name of the Church and of the Catholic people whom you have misled into believing that the present Reformation was necessary for the Church, by abusing your own authority over them, that you should bring yourself to justice on a charge of heresy, schism and scandal, publicly persevered in. In bringing this charge l am but making myself the miserable but truthful echo of the indefectible Church herself. And you alone, Most Holy Father, are able to clear yourself of this charge if you can do it, speaking with the authoritative and infallible voice of the Faith of this same Church; if, speaking in this manner, you can show that you are right and we are wrong. To us this would seem impossible – for it would mean that the sum total of this Reformation could be assimilated into the Body of Divine Truths which express the Deposit of our revealed Faith.... No, this cannot possibly be.

Never has there been a conflict comparable to the present. The Church cannot continue in such a state of contradiction. It is your duty, Most Holy Father, to take note of our accusation, and to study and pass judgement upon this affair. The peace of the Church and her fidelity to Christ are at stake. I should wish – we should all prefer – to be proved wrong so that your August Person might be right. But the honour of God, the welfare of the Church and the salvation of souls speak louder than our human sentiments, and they tell us that it is you who are wrong. We pray for your spiritual conversion and for your change of heart, in order that the Church may be delivered from the yoke of Satan which holds her enchained and restored to Christ so that she may bring forth once more her fruits of life and holiness.