AGAINST THE SCHISMATIC DRIFT
1. The new “ Ordo Missæ ”: A battle on two fronts
“ DURING my years as a seminary teacher ”, explains Fr. de Nantes, “ I was principally engaged in studying and teaching dogmatic theology, the great mysteries of our faith : the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, the Redemption. This study captivated me and took up a large part of my life. Later on I studied the theology of the Church in sufficient depth to be able to foresee and denounce the subversion which unfolded during the Council and became victorious in this decisive domain. On the other hand, I had never been taught the theology of the sacraments correctly, the liturgy not at all, and I had not carried out an in-depth study of either of these subjects before the time of the great conciliar disputes. I confess, I let myself be taken by surprise.
“ I will always remember the complaint made by someone who was indignant at my hesitations over the New Mass : ‘ How is it that you theologians are incapable of clearly explaining to us what this Mass adds up to ? ’ Alas, no, I was not capable at that time, and I asked for a period of grace. But this reproach remained with me as a wound in the heart. Certain people considered, indeed settled, the matter much more quickly, and I know not whether this was because they possessed a greater knowledge ; but they were mistaken and they misled many others who heeded them ; although I confess that at the time I had a great respect for their authority.1 The ideal would have been for us to have had a complete knowledge of the subject. But the complexity of these liturgical matters is extreme, and the string of reforms never seemed to stop, affecting every domain. We (we ?) were unable to act on all fronts with the same universal competence.
“ For myself, I was absorbed by the doctrinal combat, by the denunciation of the grave falsifications of the faith which the Council and the Pope, followed by so many books, particularly the new catechisms, had introduced and spread throughout the Church with their authentic magisterium. I was forced to put off from one year to the next the in-depth study of the sacraments and their reform, which was being effected in stages, preventing one from seeing the full plan and its outcome.
“ Sensing that there would be almost insurmountable difficulties in this area, I decided that in the meantime I would remain totally faithful to the traditional liturgy. In any case, we were happy to remain as we were for another ten years or so… This position was in stark contrast with the furious itch for change everywhere riding roughshod over the wisest reforms and leading to total anarchy under the indifferent, conniving or approving gaze of the bishops ! Above all, we considered it our duty to denounce innovations that were clearly disastrous and godless, evident signs of disorder, whilst being careful not to jump on the bandwagon of a merely reactive criticism. ”
And Fr. de Nantes went on to point out (in these lines written in 1977, almost at the end of Paul VI’s pontificate) : “ The Magisterium, which is chiefly responsible all these things, has done nothing to clearly define, explain and justify its liturgical reform in the Church. It is now for the Pope and the bishops to recognise this fact, so that they may regain the trust of the Catholic people, who have been seriously shaken. This conciliar undertaking, of capital importance for the whole life of the Church, was proposed and prepared by scholars and specialists, it is true, but it was the propagandists, the demagogic schemers and the dreamers who took control of it. The experts had intended to implement wise reforms, perhaps ! But these were nothing more than a pretext and mud thrown in the eye to cover a veritable revolution, that of the cult of Man. The legislative reforms of 1789 served as the same kind of pretext for the French Revolution ! Despite the fact that they had been fooled, the scholars did not protest, and today the massacre of the law of prayer, like that of the law of the faith, has been consummated. ”2
Owing to his formation, our Father had therefore been badly prepared for these debates and these liturgical controversies. On certain specific points he will at first hesitate, but he will subsequently evolve answers to them during the 70’s. Nevertheless, as we proceed with our study, one thing will become very clear, namely that, from 1969 onwards, the theologian of the Catholic Counter-Reformation acted in this crisis with a remarkable boldness and an exceptional wisdom. To start with, he attempted to arouse, encourage and sustain a reaction from the hierarchy against the new ordo missae. Later on, whilst still combating the sectarianism of the bishops and Paul VI, he will criticise and refute the theories developed by a certain number of reactionaries.
DESPITE THE OPPOSITION ENCOUNTERED AT THE 1967 SYNOD,
Paul VI PROMULGATES A NEW ORDO MISSÆ
In accordance with the decision of Vatican II to revise the ritual of the Mass3, a new Mass, termed “ normative ” (intended to serve as a reference), was experimented with in Rome during the episcopal synod of 1967. Fr. Annibale Bugnini celebrated it in Italian on October 24 in the Sistine Chapel. The Synod members were not unanimous in their support for it. During the voting session on October 25, the bishops were asked to reply to the following question : “ Does the general structure of the so-called normative Mass, as described in the report and the response, meet with the agreement of the Fathers ? ” To this question there were 71 Placet’s, 43 Non placet’s and 62 Placet juxta modum’s. So a quarter of the Synod members refused to have anything to do with it.
The normative Mass, organised under the auspices of the Sovereign Pontiff, “ had no real newness other than that of savouring strongly of heresy. To opt for it, to choose it in preference to the former rite, to make exclusive use of it ”, as Fr. de Nantes will explain, “ is therefore to court, to revel in and to ensconce oneself in heresy. I declared at the time that the Mass of Bugnini was unacceptable and heretical. From the one who invented it to the one who gave it his final blessing, its supporters have all been working together to create a tool for protestantising the Church. ”4
Alas, neither Paul VI nor Fr. Bugnini were going to retreat despite the opposition encountered at the Synod. After the presentation of the normative Mass in 1967, the Consilium charged with implementing Vatican II’s Constitution on the Liturgy, continued their activities under the watchful eye of Paul VI. They elaborated a new ordo, which was officially promulgated on 6 April 1969 through a decree of the Congregation of Rites, from which we will quote the opening sentences :
“ The ordo missae, having been renewed in accordance with the decisions of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and having received the approbation of the Sovereign Pontiff through the Apostolic Constitution Missale romanum issued on April 3, 1969, this Sacred Congregation promulgates the said Ordo Missae through a special mandate of the Holy Father, decreeing that it begin to take effect on November 30 of this year 1969, the first Sunday of Advent. ” This same decree also spoke of the publication of the Institutio generalis Missalis romaniand set out the intentions of the legislator.
THE REACTION OF THE TRADITIONALISTS
Very rapidly the traditionalists, such as Fr. Dulac, rose up against this new ordo. They rejected it. Fr. de Nantes publicised their protests and criticisms, reproducing some of their writings in the Catholic Counter-Reformation for August 1969. Article 7 of the Institutio generalis Missalis romani5, presenting a definition of the Mass that was totally Lutheran or, worse still, modernist, was vigorously denounced in these articles. For example, in an article taken from the Italian periodical Lo Specchio for June 1, one might read the following :
A THEOLOGICAL SCANDAL. Article 7 contains this official description of the Mass : “ Cena dominica sive Missa est sacra synaxis seu congregatio populi in unum convenientis, sacerdote præside, ad memoriale Domini celebrandum, the Lord’s Supper or the Mass is the sacred assembly or gathering together of the people of God, under the presidency of a priest, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord ”. The Mass is thus simply likened to the Last Supper, a view which is repeated continually (nos 2, 48, 55-56). Furthermore, such a Last Supper is characterised by the congregation, under the presidency of the priest, and by the celebration of the memorial of the Lord, the repetition and reminder of what He Himself did on Holy Thursday. All of which makes as few demands as possible on anyone, dispensing as it does with the Real Presence, the sacramental character of the consecrating priest, and the intrinsic value of the Eucharistic sacrifice which is renewed independently of the presence of the congregation. It does not imply any of the essential dogmatic values of the Mass, and any protestant could subscribe to it wholeheartedly.
The second part of the same article aggravates the dramatic omissions and the grave equivocation. It is states in fact that Christ’s promise consequently applies to this assembly in a special manner : “ Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. ” (Mt 18.20). Now, as this promise exclusively concerns the spiritual presence of Jesus and His grace, the “ special manner ” of His presence in the congregation during Mass is placed on the same qualitative plane, the only difference being its greater intensity which is dependent on the special commemorative value of the Last Supper. This plane is radically different from the substantial and physical plane of the Eucharistic sacramental presence.
In article 2 and elsewhere there are passing references to the “ Eucharistic sacrifice ”. But such fleeting words are of themselves quite inadequate. In what does this sacrifice consist ? The text continues : this sacrifice is the “ memorial of his passion and resurrection ”. Here we have the reappearance of the particular term “ memorial ” that we saw in number 7. But of the true and unbloody renewal of His passion there is not the slightest indication. Furthermore, the effect of levelling the two events of the passion and the resurrection by placing them side by side in the same memorial would seem to exclude this truth. In reality, the sacramental and unbloody sacrifice is, on the contrary, the mystical renewal of the redemptive death alone. The resurrection is its fruit. By associating the passion and the resurrection like this – and the ascension should also have been included !– the memorial is defined, not as the sacrifice considered in its own right, but as the whole redemptive cycle viewed in all its successive phases as a source of merit. ”6
Fr. de Nantes had the prudence not to reproduce any passages from the article by Fr. Dulac, which appeared in the Courrier de Rome for June 25, 1969, claiming to prove that the new rite was heretical and, what is more, invalid. In the conclusion of his study, this priest formulated a firm Non possumus7. Nevertheless, his criticisms of the new ordo were of an unrivalled quality, as Fr. de Nantes will come to appreciate over the following months. But at the time, they disturbed him. We notice this change of perception if we read the CRC for October 1969 :
“ On November 30 next ”, he wrote, “ should God tolerate it and should the bishops go along with it, we will have a new postconciliar Mass, a reformed Last Supper, which will take its place, through this second Reformation, alongside the first, that of Luther, Zwingli and Calvin. The Courrier de Rome has demonstrated without a shadow of doubt, beyond any argument, that the suppressions, additions, modifications and liberties applied to the Eucharistic action and prayers, had one common aim : that of facilitating equivocation, ambiguity and an opening to heresy. In this way its authors seek to reduce the Catholic liturgy to the ecumenical level of a fraternal meal, without offertory, without sacrifice, without any genuine priestly function, and therefore without the Real Presence. ”8
The big question was “ whether the bishops would go along with it ”. For, in promulgating the new ordo missæ, the Pope had taken personal responsibility for it and had proposed it to the whole Church, but it was possible that the Church might still reject it. And should the hierarchical Church refuse to use it, Paul VI’s decision would have no force in law and would simply serve to bring his personal heresy to everyone’s attention.
THE PETITION OF CARDINALS OTTAVIANI AND BACCI
In September 1969, the Italian episcopal conference decided to postpone for at least two years the implementation of the new ordo. At the same time, the traditionalists had just started to distribute amongst key figures in Rome a study in Italian : “ Breve Esame Critico del Novus Ordo Missæ, A Short Critical Study of the New Ordo Missæ ”, principally written by Fr. Guérard des Lauriers. Subsequently Cardinal Ottaviani, under pressure from members of the association Una Voce, finally agreed to sign a petition to the Holy Father, dated September 3, requesting the abrogation of the constitution Missale Romanum or at least an exequatur between the old and the new Missals (that is, authorisation to use either one or the other). Fr. de Nantes very quickly received the text of this petition and he was informed by friends taking part in the Una Voce congress at Rome that only Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci had agreed to sign it. The bishops present at the synod, as well as all the cardinals who had been approached, such as Siri, Cicognani and Larraona, had refused to sign. Under these circumstances, although the lay supporters of this petition were advising all their journalist friends that they were extending the ban on publishing it until October 30, Fr. de Nantes prematurely threw it into the public arena, on October 15 ! If he disregarded this embargo, it was to forestall any retraction by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci and to prevent them from withdrawing their signatures when they realised that they were the only ones to support the petition.
The October edition of the Catholic Counter-Reformation had already been printed and was just about to be posted when the brothers added to it, as a supplementary page, the letter written by the cardinals, which was printed at the last minute in red ink on the Gestetner at Maison Saint Joseph. Let us quote this supplement in extenso. The petition to the Holy Father was presented in the following introductory note by Fr. de Nantes :
“ On September 3, the Feast of Saint Pius X, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, former Prefect of the Holy Office, sent the Holy Father a letter relating to the new form of the Mass as well as a critical study of the latter which had been drawn up by a group of Roman priests. No doubt because nothing was to be achieved by waiting, the Cardinal decided to publish both documents on October 15. It is a milestone in the history of the Counter-Reformation. ”
Cardinal Ottaviani’s petition to the Sovereign Pontiff
asking for the abrogation of the new Ordo Missæ.
Most Holy Father,
Having examined the Novus Ordo Missæ prepared by the experts of the Consilium ad Exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia, and after lengthy reflection and prayer, we feel it to be our duty in the sight of God and towards your Holiness to put forward the following considerations :
(1) The accompanying critical study is the work of a group of theologians, liturgists, and pastors of souls. Brief though it is, it sufficiently demonstrates that the Novus Ordo Missæ – considering the new elements, susceptible of widely differing evaluations, which appear to be implied or taken for granted – represents, as a whole and in detail, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Holy Mass as it was formulated in the twentieth session of the Council of Trent, which, by fixing definitively the “ canons ” of the rite, erected an insurmountable barrier against any heresy which might attack the integrity of the Mystery.
(2) The pastoral reasons adduced in support of such a grave break – even if they could stand up in the face of doctrinal reasons – do not appear sufficient. The innovations in the Novus Ordo Missæ, and on the other hand the things of eternal value relegated to an inferior or different place (if indeed they are still to be found at all), could well turn into a certainty the suspicion, already prevalent, alas, in many circles, that truths which have always been believed by Christians can be altered or silenced without infidelity to that sacred deposit of doctrine to which the Catholic faith is bound forever. Recent reforms have amply shown that fresh changes in the liturgy could not but lead to utter disagreement9 on the part of the faithful, who are already giving signs of restiveness and of an indubitable lessening of faith. Amongst the best of the clergy the practical result is an agonizing crisis of conscience of which numberless instances come to our notice daily.
(3) We are certain that these considerations, which spring from the living voice of shepherds and flock, cannot but find an echo in the paternal heart of Your Holiness, always so profoundly solicitous for the spiritual needs of the children of the Church. The subjects for whose benefit a law is passed have always had the right and – more than the right – the duty, if it should instead prove harmful, of asking the legislator with filial trust for its abrogation.
Therefore we most earnestly beseech Your Holiness not to deprive us – at a time when the purity of the Faith and the unity of the Church suffer such cruel lacerations and ever-increasing perils10 – of the possibility of continuing to have recourse to the fruitful integrity of that Missale Romanum of St Pius V, so highly praised by Your Holiness and so deeply venerated and loved by the whole Catholic world.
Please accept, Your Holiness, etc.
Alfredo Card. OTTAVIANI †
The circulation of twenty thousand copies of this petition immediately had a considerable effect ! Scarcely had it been published in the Catholic Counter-Reformation than Cardinal Ottaviani sent it himself to Pope Paul VI. And on October 22, the Pope wrote personally to the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, passing the Short critical study of the new “ ordo missæ “ on to them and asking them to give it a “ severe examination ”11.
During this crisis, the reformers, and Paul VI in the first place ! were very much determined to imposes their own projects and decisions, whereas the members of the hierarchy who were hostile to the new ordo, and particularly those in Rome, did not wish to be seen to be engaging in a vigorous campaign and openly opposing the Pope. Let us listen to the news sent by Jean Madiran to Fr. de Nantes on October 17, by which time the petition had already been published in the Catholic Counter-Reformation :
“ Other curial cardinals have privately declared their agreement [with Cardinal Ottaviani’s petition], but they have refused to give it their signature. I know through Dom Roy that several abbeys and several ‘ episcopates ’ (not including France) have asked for an adjournment of one or two years. It is possible that these postponements may largely be granted, in exchange for the non-publication of Ottaviani’s letter. The most widely shared position of those bishops and priests who are against the new ordo is to ask for a postponement that may be renewed ; they feel assured that this will be granted to them. They dare not say to the Pope’s face what Ottaviani said in his letter, very respectfully but firmly. ”12
Then, on October 24 : “ Yesterday evening, I had Cristina Campo (alias V Guerrini, one of the co-founders of the association Una Voce) on the telephone. Whence the following information which I rapidly retranscribe for you and which clarifies several previously obscure points : it was hoped to secure the signature of several cardinals, at least eight, who seemed to be in agreement. Ottaviani and Bacci were stupefied (and disconcerted) that they ended up as the only signatories. Several cardinals kept the text for ten or even fifteen days before giving their finally negative reply. Whence the delay in the expected timetable : the letter was only sent to Paul VI on October 20. It was very badly received and provoked a series of semi-canonical semi-investigative steps against those who were suspected of being its instigators. The Vatican camarilla has just discovered who dealt the blow, as they believed the initiative could not have come from the two signatories… The instigators are crestfallen, unsure of themselves and anxious. They expect a violent reaction from the Vatican and reprisals against the two signatories. The publication of the letter had never been envisaged by the signatories themselves. The instigators always thought that it would become known through a ‘ leak ’ (organised by themselves) and not through an ‘ authorised ’ publication. That being the case, I have strongly insisted that it immediately be published in Rome, since in any case there is no need to wait for authorisation to be obtained. But Dulac, who is on the spot, disagrees and advises delay, hoping thereby to avoid exposing the persons of the two signatories. Currently neither of the two can be contacted, the first being in a clinic for his eyes and the second away travelling. The fear is that the Pope will get them to withdraw or cancel their signatures. ”13
At the end of October, the members of the Comitato internazionale per la difesa della Civilta Cristiana14 widely distributed Cardinal Ottaviani’s petition in Rome, which then led to its being published in the Italian newspapers.
A LOST BATTLE
Paul VI will finally manage to emerge victorious from this crisis. His intransigence and his numerous ploys will disorientate and disarm those bishops opposed to the new ordo.
“ The Pope and his confederates ”, Fr. de Nantes will recount several weeks later, “ reacted in an unbalanced and contradictory way, since their only aim was to reach the fateful date of November 30 without their plans being wrecked. On that date the new rite would become a living reality for the sheep-like mass of the faithful, and this fact, they thought, would oblige even the most scrupulous bishops and theologians to recognise it in law. A tried and tested tactic of modernist subversion, that of the fait accompli.
“ So policies of appeasement and harshness were both pursued one after another, crushing the spirit and breaking down the moral resistance of the faithful. Falsehood reigned unashamedly at Rome for a month. For its part, the French episcopate precipitated the movement by making the New Mass obligatory on January 1. Straight away Paul VI announced that the Italian Episcopal Conference had changed its mind and decided to impose it as well, from November 30. But speaking off the record both the Pope and Bugnini continued to allay suspicion by saying that the new rite was optional !
In answer to the precise and well-reasoned accusation of a slide towards heresy, Cardinal Garrone, broke out into stupid laughter, played to order, on Radio Vatican : “ That would be preposterous ”. Then, amongst other villainous remarks, he came out with the following : “ This means the defeat of a party ! ” But Bugnini, at that very moment, was admitting the error and promising that he himself would correct the text of the Institution already promulgated. In its turn, the Consilium, hastily reconvened, hypocritically replied to “ certain difficulties ” : “ At any rate, in the definitive publication of the Roman Missal it will always be possible to touch up certain expressions of the Institutio to make the text clearer and more comprehensible” ! Which is going rather too far for a pontifical Act presented to us as perfect, but not nearly far enough for a text profoundly corrupted by heresy.
“ However, the plan to subvert the Mass has been discovered ; the universal Church is alarmed and shudders. The light is going to scatter the darkness…
“ Therefore the Pope launches upon the world his two allocutions of Wednesday 19 and 26 November in which, ceasing to play the role of Hamlet, he reveals himself to be exactly what his mother called him, ’un uometto di ferro’, a little man of iron. He imposes his Mass, the memorial of the Last Supper, all the while concealing its ‘ ecumenical ’ – or, as the Courrier de Rome says, ‘ polyvalent ’ – character. To crush his opponents, he does not hesitate to pronounce the most defamatory accusations against them, and against their irrefutable proofs the most bogus assertions. It is a tissue of unprecedented violence wrapped up in sentimental tear-jerking flights of oratory, all for the consumption of the people. In this way Paul VI pronounces – as though it were inspired by the Holy Spirit, decided upon by the Episcopal Body, and obligatory in conscience – the devastation of a liturgical and dogmatic Tradition that goes back two thousand years. ”15
In January 1970, Fr. de Nantes published a “ Roman dossier on the new ordo missæ ”16. Thus the Catholic Counter-Reformation in the twentieth century was the first periodical to publish a French translation of the “ Short critical study of the new ordo missæ ”. This dossier, of which 35,000 copies were printed, also contained three documents dealing with the reactions of the Roman authorities to the traditionalist protest : the texts of Paul VI’s allocutions on November 19 and 26, and the text of Cardinal Garrone’s Radio Vatican conversation on November 7.
As the weeks went by, it became more and more evident that the traditionalists ’ battle against the new ordo was in one sense lost.
Not one bishop in the world, it seems, had officially rejected the new ordo missæ.17 Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who had been one of the leaders of the traditionalist minority during the Council, had remained strangely silent, so much so that Jean Madiran wrote to him as follows on November 28 of that year :
“ I was very moved by your message of November 22 which in a few lines shares your thoughts with me and describes the current disaster. You tell me that numerous bishops throughout the world realise the situation. Very well, but where are they ? As at this moment, only one French priest, Fr. Georges de Nantes, and throughout the whole world only two cardinals have spoken openly. The long note written by ‘ a group of theologians ’ in the Pensée Catholique is certainly very useful, but it remains anonymous. ”18
Furthermore, the traditionalists intervened in this battle using highly questionable arguments. They were not sufficiently instructed in liturgical matters and did not know enough about the history of rites to develop a just and well-considered critique of the liturgical innovations. Certainly, the “ Short Critical Study ” takes stock of the modifications made to the ceremonial parts of the Mass, the prayers and secondary rites, and even the consecration. These changes revealed a determined intention to effect a protestant deformation, a secularisation and a humanist profanation of the Mass. The authors of the liturgical reform were therefore suspected, indeed accused, “ of wishing to undermine the dogma of Christ’s Real Presence effected through transubstantiation and of seeking to remove all the rites specifically relating to the Holy Sacrifice, a sacrifice repeated by the priest who personifies Christ, the priest and Victim of an unbloody immolation which is the Memorial of the Cross ”19.
But Cardinal Seper, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, saw fit to reply to Pope Paul VI on November 12, 1969 as follows : “ The ‘ Short Critical Study ’ opuscule contains many assertions that are superficial, exaggerated, inexact, emotive and false. ”20
In the domain of the liturgy, apodictic proofs, that is proofs that are beyond dispute, are always difficult to come by. The liturgy does not have the perfection of the divinely inspired Scriptures nor the unchangeable character of dogmatic definitions. Thus, of all the criticisms formulated against the new ordo by Fr. Guérard des Lauriers, none had either the value or the solidity of the dogmatic accusations brought by Fr. de Nantes against the doctrinal novelties of Vatican II. Recall the embarrassment of the consultors of the Holy Office during the investigatory stage of his trial in 1968. They could not identify a single error in the texts of the theologian of the Catholic Counter-Reformation21. Clearly because his writings did not contain any !
What Fr. de Nantes had foreseen in mid-October 69, took place during the winter. Cardinal Ottaviani retracted, or at least the press announced that he had been won over to the new ordo. Dom Lafond, a monk at Saint Wandrille and the founder of the “ Knights of Our Lady ”, had written and published a “ Doctrinal Note on the new ordo missæ ” in which he systematically interpreted the equivocations of the new rite in a Catholic sense. Without worrying unduly about the universal destruction of faith and prayer, he torpedoed the opposition of the traditionalists to the disastrous liturgical reform, a reform that was both corrupt and corrupting. Nevertheless, his analysis was not without value. This monk refuted a number of arguments advanced by the opponents of the new ordo, such as the argument developed by Fr. Dulac who, in order to justify his rejection of the new ordo, used the modifications made to the offertory prayers as a pretext for his claim that the offertory had effectively been suppressed.22 Dom Lafond went even further and directly attacked the “ Short Critical Study ” and even the petition of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci.
Subsequently, the press published a letter from Cardinal Ottaviani to Dom Lafond, dated February 17, 1970, in which the prelate complimented him for his “ Doctrinal Note ”. Here is this letter :
Most Reverend Father,
I have received your letter of January 23 and the Doctrinal Note of January 29. I congratulate you on your work which is remarkable for its objectivity and the dignity of its expression. Such has not always been the case, alas, in this controversy in which one has seen simple Christians, genuinely hurt by the novelties, involved with those who exploit the troubled state of souls to increase the confusion of minds.
For my part, I only regret that my name has been abused in a way that I did not desire, by the publication of a letter which I had addressed to the Holy Father without authorising anyone to publish it.
I rejoiced profoundly on reading the discourse by the Holy Father on the question of the New Ordo Missæ, and particularly at the doctrinal details contained in his discourses at the Public Audiences of November 19 and 26 : after which, I believe, no one can be genuinely scandalised any more. As for the rest, a prudent and intelligent catechetical work must be undertaken in order to remove a few legitimate perplexities which the text can give rise to. In this sense I wish your Doctrinal Note and the activity of the Militia Mariæ a widespread diffusion and success.
Please accept, Most Reverend Father, the expression of my very best regards, which comes with my blessing for all your collaborators and the members of the Militia.
A. card. OTTAVIANI23
At Rome, a few days after the publication of this letter, a spokesman for Cardinal Ottaviani declared to the correspondent from the France-Presse news agency that this document was authentic. The result of this was that in March 1970 the French dailies announced that Cardinal Ottaviani’s petition to the Holy Father had been exploited, during the preceding autumn, by the traditionalists and especially by Fr. de Nantes, against the wishes of its signatory.
So it was that at the beginning of the year 1970, on account of the inertia and cowardice of the conservative bishops and cardinals, the whole of the hierarchical Church seemed to have accepted and welcomed the new ordo missæ.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO PRIESTS AND THE FAITHFUL,
IMPRINTED WITH SUPERNATURAL WISDOM
During the autumn of 1969, Fr. de Nantes had therefore followed the liturgical debates with great attention. He had boldly attempted to strengthen and solidify the opposition of the few cardinals who were hostile to the new ordo missæ.
In parallel with this activity, he had intervened in controversies regarding the liturgical innovations to give his readers some recommendations of a practical order.
For several months he had remained in a state of uncertainty, in accordance with what he had told his friends and benefactors on May 17, 1969 : “ Regarding the new decisions in the matter of liturgy, I would ask, if you wish to question us about our own personal decisions, that you wait calmly until we are fully informed on the matter and have reflected maturely on it. ” Nevertheless, from the end of spring 1969, he was solicited by integrists who wanted to involve him in their rebellion. During the summer, when he was one day questioned by some very ardent reactionaries who wished to know what instructions he would give his readers, he remained silent, then he finally told them : “ I do not know. ”
Was it really necessary to recommend that priests should reject the new ordo missæ, whatever the consequences of such a rejection might be ? Was it necessary to prescribe that the faithful should flee celebrations of the New Mass and not take part in them under any circumstances ?
“ Definitely ! ” replied the most hardened integrists.
Fr. de Nantes was also questioned by Catholics who were disturbed and disorientated. On September 2, 1969, for example, the writer Michel de Saint-Pierre confided to him his great “ disarray ”. He told him that he read “ the Catholic Counter-Reformation with an attention that grew more and more passionate. And I am profoundly saddened – I would like you to know this – by the way you have been treated and by the condemnations that rain down on you, without anyone deigning to answer you on the essential issues. ” But here is what tormented this writer : “ It is a matter of knowing – and this is the object of my question to you – whether, on the hypothesis that the new Ordo missæ will now be applied from the end of November as we are told, the Mass to which we will be thenceforth invited will be valid or not – whether it will continue or not, in your opinion and in the opinion of the theologians whom you have been able to consult, to be the true Mass, the one Mass, that is to say the unbloody Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the altar, the true and substantial renewal of the sacrifice of the Cross. ”
At the beginning of September, it was still uncertain what the final decisions of the episcopates would be regarding the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Missale romanum. But in the course of the autumn, it gradually became clear that the bishops were docile to Paul VI and that the latter was very determined to impose his liturgical reform on the whole Church, whatever the cost. So, in the Catholic Counter-Reformation for October and November 1969, at the risk of offending a great number of his readers, but with the sole concern of curbing in advance any schismatic dissidence, Fr. de Nantes gave his remarkably prudent advice.
In the first part, he studied the question of the validity of the new ordo, in order to answer the question so often put to him by the faithful : “ Will Jesus truly be present, renewing the sacrifice of His Passion and distributing His graces through the power of the sacrament ? ”
“ Let us clearly understand ”, said Fr. de Nantes at first, “ that the validity of the Eucharistic action requires that the priest, having taken bread and wine, pronounce over these oblates the words of consecration with the intention of doing what the Church does. ” And he informed his readers that the new ordo did not appear to him to be stamped with invalidity, “ far from it ”24 ! Nevertheless, in that month of October 1969, he did envisage that, in a minority of cases, the New Mass might be “ invalid by reason of a lack of rectitude in the intention of the minister ”24. On this specific question of the intention of the priest necessary for the validity of the Mass, Fr. de Nantes will subsequently modify his judgement,25 and he will retract this statement.26
As for the liceity of the New Mass, he dealt with this in November in the second part of his study, where he makes recommendations and counsels to his brothers in the priesthood which are imprinted with a wholly supernatural charity and wisdom. Let us listen to this good shepherd : what level-headedness !
“ The deadline is at the end of the month. On November 30, a new Order of the Mass will be imposed on priests and the faithful.
“ This is the question put by priests : Let us suppose that the new rites do not necessarily alter the essence of the Holy Sacrifice, given that we wish to celebrate in accordance with the mind of the Church and in obedience to her, are we permitted in conscience to follow the new Order of Paul VI, or is this forbidden to us by the moral law ? Or, putting the question in another way, is it morally permissible to celebrate according to either one or the other rite, indifferently ?
“ To which the extremists will give us two contradictory answers, either : ‘ The new Order most certainly becomes obligatory as soon as it is decreed by your episcopal conference, in application of the Roman Constitution’, or else the opposite : ‘ No, absolutely not. It is a sin !’
“ To resolves this case of conscience in accordance with the rules, we should examine the very matter of what is being imposed, then in the second place the nature of the order given, and finally in the third place – for this also counts ! – the advantages and drawbacks, both supernatural and temporal, which will result from the decision, both for the priest and for those for whom he has pastoral responsibility. Since this rite is not materially invalid, as we have already established, we must here again treat of individual cases, according to the understanding and the degree of liberty of each priest. I will distinguish three cases, in accordance with three types or classes of priest.
“ (1) First of all there is that large group of priests (and bishops ?) of a firm and upright vocation who, for ten years now, have given up trying to understand this aggiornamento and all the wheeling and dealing in liturgy, morals, dogmatic theology and catechesis, that goes on beyond their heads. These priests, these bishops, recognise themselves, either publicly or in their heart of hearts, as being incapable, in the face of all these reforms, of discerning the true from the false, the good from the bad, the fruit of divine inspirations from the works of the Evil One. In order to preserve their faith, on the basis of which they have dedicated their life to God and to the Church, and to continue their ministry without hesitation or discouragement, they have made the decision to obey the supreme Head and to obey him blindly, unconditionally falling into line with the Holy Father’s wishes. It may be that God will hold this abstention, this intellectual laziness, against them. But no one may reproach them for this. One may simply observe that, short of some divine intervention (such as the sudden death of Paul VI or of his henchman Bugnini), short of a solemn reprimand and resistance manifested by a group of cardinals and bishops, the very great majority of of priests throughout the world will once again obey the absolute and implacable will of the Pope, holding him responsible before God on behalf of them all for the good or the evil that will issue from this Reform. If the result is good, it will be for his eternal salvation, as was the case with Saint Pius V ; if the result is bad, it will be for his eternal damnation, as was the case with Pope Honorius who was declared anathema.
“ To a number of priests whom I know and love well, I should have replied (should they have seen fit to consult me) : you, such as you are, my dear fellows, have only to follow. You cannot do anything else, at least while higher up the bishops and Roman cardinals refuse to budge. Here then is the solution for the majority of priests : Obedientia (imperfecta) et Pax, in servitio Dei et animarum, Obedience (imperfect) and Peace, in the service of God and souls.
“ (2) More numerous than one may think, we now come to that group of priests who are “ enlightened ” but who possess “ a doubtful conscience ”. They have read, they have sought out various advice, they have reflected and they have reached the conclusion that the new Ordo is equivocal, uncertain and suspect. They hesitate over a duty which, for them, is not clear. For example, the demonstrations by the Courrier de Rome concerning the quasi Lutheran suppression of the offertory disturbed them, and the articles by Nobili in L’Homme Nouveau did not entirely reassure them (article of September 7 in particular, clever !). As they are in some doubt, the sheer weight of the pontifical decision and the unanimous consent (as always !) of the French episcopate make them resolve the case through obedience, but not without misgivings on their part. And this decision is reinforced by the fact that obedience sits very well here with ambition, concern for material goods, a peaceful life and indolence. Whether acknowledged or not, these secondary advantages, these ignoble fears, give rise to a sense of shame and to a confused impression of surrender, as when a man gives himself good reasons to choose a bad path because of the advantages he finds therein.
“ I will not give all these priests the same answer, since their state of confusion must be taken into account.
“ For some, submission seems to me to be morally permissible, and this may even be the safest solution for them. Lacking certitude and therefore having no true freedom of choice, religious obedience must prevail over every other consideration. I am opposed to that other far greater disorder sought by the adventurers and ever present activists, who try to swell their numbers by pushing the hesitant into a disobedience that has all the appearance of an unjust and foolish revolt. May these also return peaceably to their ministry, in due submission (Dt 20).
“ To others, I say that they will not be free of their honourable doubts even though they carefully conceal them. The primary duty of a doubtful conscience is to clarify its religion so that it may have a perfect knowledge of the will of God and follow it entirely. These priests may adopt the Nova Missa on October 30, but they will be expected to express their disquiet to their normal superiors and to the Author of the law. They would sin if they renounced this debate in an attempt to justify their own practice. Their submission puts them in a very strong position to ask for and obtain full clarifications from the authorities to whom they are submitted. Having thus become “ valid negotiators ”, let them profit from this situation to demand a solution to our doubts ! And should one of these priests be rewarded for his obedience with the office of bishop or even of cardinal, let him then be mindful of his brothers who remain in the servitude of a blind obedience and deliver them by taking a courageous stand !
“ (3) Finally we have the small number of priests who are perfectly enlightened. Without doubt they are in a minority, but they represent the better part of the clergy. For those who place obedience above everything, above even faith, hope and charity, just as much as those who are filled with a passion for reform and innovation, cannot be held up as models of Roman Catholic priests.
“ Many capable priests of proven virtue have studied the new rites in relation to the former ones ; they have weighed the reasons, both official and unofficial, behind these changes ; they have calculated their consequences for themselves and for the flock entrusted to their care. They have also wished to learn of the criticisms formulated against these reforms and even the accusations made against the innovators. For My Lord God must be served first ! or, as Témoignage Chrétien says, “ Truth and Justice whatever the cost ! ” And they have concluded that once again, but this time from the inside and from on high, the aim was “ to destroy the papist Mass ”.
“ These priests (and bishops, and cardinals) have the absolute duty to oppose the institution of the Mass of Paul VI, to the extent that this is possible or appropriate for them.
“ Now, here again – and doubtless my moderation will astonish more than one reader –, I am obliged to distinguish two cases. To understand this supernatural prudence, one must be aware that today the Church is governed like a popular democracy, such as Czechoslovakia : any ideological opposition, any conscientious objection, any desire for independence or reaction, will lead the priest to ruin and literally to excommunication, to the lunatic asylum or to destitution. This is not one of the least hideous aspects of the current regime. To oppose a pontifical or collegial decree, bad for the Church and for souls, but imposed by the camarilla in accordance with the ideology of the reformist party, exposes the priest, however knowledgeable, apostolic or saintly he may be, to being denounced, put on file, pushed aside and finally dismissed by his bishop, all with the active complicity of Rome…
“ To certain of these priests, then, I would once again advise submission, despite their clear appreciation of the pernicious character of this reform. The reasons for this would be : to avoid their being relieved of office and immediately replaced by some progressivist ; to allow them to live out their last days in peace ; to a avoid the odious persecutions of their fellow priests ; or to keep them from falling into poverty and starving under the glacial eye of their ‘ Father-bishop’. Imprudent bravura could put in jeopardy the salvation of their soul and the welfare of their flock. If they are hesitant about disguising their true feelings in this way, I would remind them that it is morally acceptable to obey a bad law in the external forum, provided that such a law does not command an act that is intrinsically immoral. Thus the Muscovites were entitled to feign submission to Stalin in order to avoid being deported to Siberia. Likewise the unhappy parish priests of today may pretend to fall in with the plans of the supreme Soviet and its Bugnini to avoid being wrenched away from their parishioners and thrown on the rubbish heap, the diocesan homes for elderly priests, before their time. Should anyone find me too easy-going in this respect, it is because they have not experienced the tribulations and nervous breakdowns (let alone suicides) of priests who are persecuted by ‘ the Church of the poor’, the ‘ Church of Love’, the reforming Church of Paul VI and his episcopal conferences. It is ghastly !
“ Finally we come to the minority of the minority. These men will prefer to obey God rather than men, and they will follow the inviolable law of Saint Pius V rather than the fraudulent Montini-Bugnini shambles. Such men have no need of my counsels. They march towards their martyrdom, the worst that priests can conceive of and from which they cannot escape, martyrdom at the hands of those who are their own Fathers and brothers in the faith and the priesthood.
“ The Instruction of October 20 for the application of the constitution Missale Romanum already concludes like a Law of Suspects, because Robespierre and his cult of the Supreme Being will always need Fouquier-Tinville and his special courts. Read this. Article 19 : elderly priests who celebrate Mass in private will be able to hold on to the old rite, but only ‘ with the consent of the Ordinary’, this in order that they may be put on file and given a rough time, invariably being discharged from any ministry. Article 20 : ‘ Special cases involving priests who are sick, infirm or experiencing other difficulties (you have understood me well !) will be submitted to the Sacred Congregation’, that is to say to Bugnini, and through him to Benelli, Villot, and the other top-ranking Policemen. For the small-scale rebel episcopal retaliation will suffice ; but for serious adversaries there is Rome with its diplomatic staff, with its spiritual omnipotence, with its terror.
“ You will not escape with your life. But your martyrdom will prove their satanism. ”27
WE MUST REMAIN IN THE CATHOLIC COMMUNION
Fr. de Nantes, in his concern to defend the unity of the Church and his care for the good of souls, wished to dissuade traditionalists from rejecting the new ordo missæ in an excessive way, lest they stray from the visible, apostolic and hierarchic communion of the Church.
Having been invited as the principal speaker to a dinner-debate on January 30, 1970 organised by the Union des intellectuels independants, he was able to explain why he opposed “ the solution of falling back around the last ‘ faithful ’ priests ”. No, people should not systematically desert their parishes in order to attend, along with other traditionalists, Masses said according to the Roman rite of Saint Pius V. “ This solution is ruinous ”, he said. “ It is schismatic in this sense at least, that it irresistibly leads to the condemnation and rejection of everything that remains outside of the little chapel.
“ One cannot despair of the immense Catholic Church like this nor allow a whole people misled by their bad pastors to sink into infidelity. We must, inasmuch as it is superhumanly possible (and grace will never be lacking to us for this), remain in contact with our priests and with other members of the faithful, working together to preserve the faith, we with them and them with us. We have no right to effect a division, to draw the frontier between what is still Catholic, we others !, and what is no longer Catholic. It is to our honour and to our credit to remain like this in ‘ the Catholic communion’, and there is only one such communion, the one that lives and continues despite everything around the Pope and the bishops united to him. In certain cases, of course, it may be necessary to seek elsewhere for a Mass that is traditional or at least less bad. But this will always be a solution of an exceptional character, which can never authorise the decision to go our own separate way. If the parish priest throws you out, you are permitted to to and say Mass across the way, on the other side of the street, but your personal trial constitutes a sad and perilous situation that must not be erected into a general rule for ‘ faithful priests ’ and the ‘ last of the just’. ”28
A JOURNEY TO MADRID AND ROME
Fr. de Nantes had lived through an “ unhappy winter ” in 1969-1970, to use his own expression, because he had been struck by several of the claims made by the reactionaries, but was unsure of the exact value of their reasons and demonstrations. The crucial and dramatic question, to be resolved quickly and decisively, was that of the validity of the new rite of the Mass. For traditionalists were already claiming that it was invalid and proclaiming that it was better to abstain from making one’s Easter duties rather than to receive the sacraments from priests who celebrated the new Mass.
Providentially, in mid-March 1970, before the Feast of Easter, our Father was able to learn an important lesson from a trip he made to Spain and to Rome as well as from various information he received from Germany, Switzerland, Portugal and Australia.
But let us first mention some of the meetings that punctuated his travels in Spain and Italy.
Having arrived at Madrid on March 2, Fr. Georges de Nantes was welcomed by some Spanish correspondents for whom he was brining the first number of a monthly edition of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, in Castilian. Then he met some of the leaders of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Antonio-Maria Claret29, comprising six thousand Spanish priests.30 They had a real esteem for his theological works and for his doctrinal combat. The secretary of the Fraternity, Fr. José Mariné, had written to him on December 13, 1969 : “ Our association admires your work and desires to collaborate in it. In our opinion, your idea of an Spanish edition [of the Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 20th century] is excellent and we have offered our collaboration. ”31 These ecclesiastics had congratulated Cardinal Ottaviani on his petition, and they had themselves addressed their own petition to the Pope, expressing the same request32, although the Spanish Episcopal Conference had already made the new ordo mandatory. But, in March 1970, almost all the members of this priestly fraternity had adopted it. This was an important fact. “ This Church in Spain, where faith, piety and Eucharistic devotion have always been very strong ”, will recount Fr. de Nantes, “ uses the New Mass with its faith unchanged. Moreover, in its journals and its conferences it has no hesitation about criticising the new worship or denouncing the Protestantism and liberalism of a conciliar ‘ renovation ’ which it abhors. It appeared to me that Spain is in its heart of hearts counter-reformist. Progressivism has only arrived there as though imported on trucks from foreign lands, under the pressure of the Holy See and in the name of the Council. It is a dangerous subversion, which advances under cover of the Gospel and of obedience to the Pope, but which has already been unmasked and denounced by the best of the clergy as contrary to the whole of their tradition. ”33
On Tuesday March 3, Fr. de Nantes gave a press conference. Then he was received by the Minister of Justice of the Spanish government, M. Oriol, and he was able to tell him how greatly the crisis in the Church concerned him. “ But here in Spain ”, the minister replied, “ we monitor the clergy. There exists a concordat. Our relations with the Church are good. The situation and the evolution of the clergy do not alarm us. ” Fr. de Nantes tried to put him on guard against the subversive designs of Paul VI. “ The Pope wishes to tip the Church in Spain over into the camp of the Reform and of the Revolution. He is in the process of updating your episcopate by directly appointing auxiliary bishops and coadjutors who have the right of succession. ” Thus the Pope had managed to circumvent one of the clauses in the concordat, the one in fact which accorded the government the privilege of “ presenting ” residential bishops, and was choosing future bishops from amongst the progressivist members of the Spanish clergy. “ Paul VI is currently engaged in stabbing you in the back. ” The minister simply smiled ! As though he were in no way worried about the intrigues of liberal and progressivist Catholics, as though he were happy to contemplate the evolution of Spain towards democracy. At this point Fr. de Nantes was unable to resist the impression that this minister was perhaps betraying the Caudillo, its ideas and its programme.
Our Father left Madrid on March 4 and went directly to Rome. “ Was it an omen ? ” he will say. “ Our plane was struck by lightning just as it was arriving in Rome, and the persistent bad weather there made me ill. Yes, Paul VI had sown the wind and it was there that I saw the tempest awake. ”34
In the Eternal City, Fr. de Nantes met Giovanni Volpe, an excellent and very devoted friend. An editor by profession and someone who immensely admired our Father’s works of theological controversy, he wished to make these works known in Italy. He had already published, in Italian, an initial volume of Fr. de Nantes’ writings, including his letter to Cardinal Ottaviani of July 16, 1966 and his letter to Pope Paul VI of October 11, 1967. And he was currently preparing a second volume.
During his brief stay in Rome, Fr. de Nantes had a meeting with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre whose usual residence over the last few months had been in Fribourg. Two years earlier, in July 1968, the former leader of the conciliar minority had given him some advice, a directive even, which had turned out to be providential : the traditionalist bishop had told him that it was his duty to refuse to comply with what the Roman judges wanted to impose on him after his trial at the Holy Office : a general retraction along with an undertaking to give the Pope and the bishops his entire, unconditional and unlimited obedience. “ You cannot do this, you must not sign ”, the bishop had told him.35
This time, Fr. de Nantes wanted to meet Archbishop Lefebvre to ask him some precise questions regarding the liturgical reform and the validity of the new ordo missæ. Alas, the interview was very disappointing, even strange. Fr. de Nantes was unfortunately taken ill while he was with Archbishop Lefebvre and the latter did not offer him any hospitality. He seemed put out, very uncomfortable at receiving a visit from the theologian of the Catholic Counter-Reformation in the twentieth century.36 The upshot was that they did not have any real conversation.
Fr. de Nantes was grieved to see that in Rome traditionalism “ had few recruits and had come to a standstill. It suffered ostracism at the hands of the Pope and his administration ”37. What a picture of desolation ! Doctor Volpe was fully aware of its pitiable state. Scarcely had Fr. de Nantes returned to France than this friend would write to him : “ I do not know what your final impressions were after your visit to Rome, but they will not have been favourable. There are too many sordid quarrels, too many discussions about personalities and dubious ones at that, too many rivalries ”38…
The mental and moral collapse of the Roman ecclesiastical world was stupefying and horrifying. Whence the following remark in Fr. de Nantes’ account of his journey : “ A quarter of a century of Christian democracy has emptied Italy of its substance. And ten years of Montinism has rotted the Church of Rome, her universities (the Gregorian ! and the Lateran itself), her Curia under the negligence [play on words between Curie and incurie – translator] of the likes of Villot, Garrone and Benelli, and her generalate houses with their dissolute character as ‘ Roman holiday homes’.
“ In Spain there is a great store of energy that has only to be set in motion. In Rome there does not seem to be anything. “ But ” Nice cheered me up again. And on setting foot in France again, you rediscover a whole set of views expressed in newspapers, reviews and meetings where the Counter-Reformation is at work. This is for us an honour and a duty. ”39
THE LESSON OF THE CHURCHES
Shortly after he returned to France, Fr. de Nantes published, by way of a supplement to the Catholic Counter-Reformation for March, an article whose title, “ The Lesson of the Churches ”, indicated the new, essential and unassailable argument he was bringing to the debates over the validity and liceity of the new ordo missæ. Here are a few extracts :
“ Having defined in theoretical terms where we stand in the present crisis, I was glad to have occasion to go to Madrid and Rome and, after stopping at Nice, return here in time to receive a deputation of the Gruppe Maria from Switzerland and Germany. This gave me the opportunity of putting my theological analyses to the test against the actual practice of the local Churches and of the Church of Rome, Mother and Mistress of all the Churches. ‘ The Law of Prayer expresses the Law of Faith’ : the practice of prayer in the Church bears unfailing witness to the dogmas of her belief. Going abroad, meeting eminent members of the Church, clerical and lay, confronting one’s thoughts, feelings and decisions with those of other priests and other communities facing different situations… all this serves to bring one’s thoughts closer into line with those of the whole Mystical Body, letting one’s whole being be ruled by that Catholicity which is still – and always will be – guided by the Spirit of God.
“ What we must believe and how we are to live has always been taught us by the faith and the practice of all the Churches. If we find on crossing the frontiers that convictions are no longer in accord with local practice, or if our decisions clash with the opposing views of our brothers across the mountains or beyond the seas, that is because we have not been able to rise to the heights of Catholicity. And the clearest expression of this general consensus is to be found in Rome herself.
“ I went, ready to listen to this unanimous voice of the Church in her Head and in her members, a deep voice which can still be heard despite the discordant shouts of opinion and the tumult of passions. And I returned, glad to have visited friends who, in the face of similar difficulties to ours, are determined, in spite of and against everything, to remain in submission to the universal Church, to her Roman Head and to the communion of all her far flung members, outside of which there is, for us Catholics, no salvation.
“ Let us now move on to our discussions. Everywhere these turned on the state of the Church in that country and on the ways and means of furthering the Counter-Reformation, but they always came back to the same problem – vital for all of us and full of drama – the New Mass.
“R#8239;Everywhere there are ardent souls who will not accept compromises, fine distinctions, and solutions that involve patience and waiting, souls who imagine that it is possible to force the issue through words and save the Church through some bold manoeuvre. They will risk everything, at the cost of losing everything. My task was to recall then to the realities of the situation and the supernatural lesson to be learned from it.
“ For this is the central fact, in all its brutality : In Spain, in Italy and in France, and all over the world – and I have just received reliable information on this point from correspondents in Portugal40 and Australia –, the vast majority of priests and faithful have everywhere accepted the new Ordo Missæ.41 While a few Spanish priests who still celebrate according to the old rite do so openly without being censured by anybody, in Rome itself the Roman rite is only celebrated in secret, for fear of this being reported to the Vicar General, and Cardinal Dell’Acqua does not treat such indiscipline as a light matter !
“ But another fact, as universal as the first though not so easy to measure, also struck me wherever I went. This New Mass has been generally accepted for the sole reason that it was launched and suddenly imposed by the Supreme Authority, by Paul VI in person. That is to say, it does not satisfy anybody (except perhaps some Benedictine, devoted to the Pope for good or ill). The indifference or disdain shown towards this new Ordo by the progressivist clergy is striking. The absence of any sign of joy or gratitude among French Catholics, in fact the sudden and widespread disaffection now apparent among Sunday Mass goers, seem to me to be extremely grave signs. Our campaign against the New Mass has found extremely powerful support in this general apathy and distaste.
“ And now we find a similar lukewarmness or distaste across the Alps or the Pyrenees. It is well known that the Spaniards were pleased at the introduction of their beloved Castilian into the liturgy. It is equally well established that they suffer the New Mass in pain and that it has made them feel homeless, betrayed and cheated. The reaction in Italy is less violent, but the trend is similar. The people had accepted the vernacular and, even in Rome, the Saturday evening Mass and all the other simplifications, out of indifference. But the New Mass is putting them off going to church. It is an extremely mysterious fact, but whatever remains over there of the supernatural and the pure, which could in an instant rise to sublime heights, all the tender piety and the sensible devotion, is in danger of dying from this disaffection which the people feel for the new rite, so protestant and so unlike Rome.
“ This then is the reaction of the local Churches to the decision of an innovator Pope : a material obedience that cannot hide a spiritual rebellion. It is proof of the Pope’s authority over all the Churches, but it is also a sign of the hostility of all the Churches to the innovations of Paul VI. The people in Rome were able to tell me in plain language : here, we always do what the Pope wants and that is why we have accepted this monster fabricated by Bugnini. But we know that another Pope will undo what this one has done. We shall have it back again, the true Mass ; but in the meantime we have to make the best of this one !
“ These observations in the course of my travels brought home to me some useful lessons, well worth some fatigue and the danger from lightning over Rome !
“ I think that in the first place we must be honest with ourselves. I fail to understand people who persist in lying in order to give themselves courage. Let us accept the facts as they are, and it will be easier to avoid making errors of judgement. I can see two such errors immediately, both very close to us and at opposite extremes. The one extols the merits of the New Mass at the expense of the Old and even assures us of the good faith and pure intentions of our reformers. The other one, on the contrary, in order to strike the harder and stamp out heresy more quickly, declares that the New Mass is invalid, impious and sacrilegious, and absolutely forbids both priests and faithful to use it. If these minimalists and maximalists lack theological wisdom, good sense at least should guard them from such aberrations.
“ In the first place, how could we be so rash as to decide all by ourselves that this Mass is invalid when the whole Catholic Church the world over has accepted its daily celebration ? On the other hand, it would be an exaggeration to draw conclusions concerning the perfection of the new rite from the general adherence of priests and faithful who were never even advised or consulted. They were circumvented and had it forced upon them. As I have already pointed out, wherever one looks, their obedience demonstrates a complete lack of enthusiasm. But all the same, it does prove the validity of the rite. The entire Church could never have accepted, even out of obedience to the Pope, a mere simulacrum of the Sacrifice. It is because this new liturgy, however ambiguous, was still capable of expressing the true faith and bringing about the authentic Holy Sacrifice that the Churches have all accepted it. This argument is categorical : If today, all over the world, the mass of Catholic priests were celebrating an invalid liturgy, giving the faithful nothing but bread and wine to adore and consume in place of the adorable Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and if the whole Catholic community were taking part in the deception in a mistaken faith, then the promises of Christ to His Church would be void, the Gates of Hell would have prevailed against her and there would no longer exist a Church of God !
“ The situation today is not identical with that of the Anglican schism in the 16th century, which the maximalists often cite in support of their thesis. They are right in saying that our reformers are leading us along exactly the same paths of heresy. But at that time the change in the rites was accepted only by the Church in one country, without protest and in the clear understanding of being cut off from Rome by the violence of a political power. Certain martyrs bore witness to the true state of affairs with their blood. Today on the other hand, it is all the Churches which have accepted a change decided upon and imposed by the Sovereign Pontiff, and nowhere has there been any rupture in the Catholic community. The invalidity of the Anglican rites had been demonstrated by the scission from Rome and from the universal Church. On the other hand, it is impossible to declare a new Ordo Missæ invalid, when the entire Church has received it, without enthusiasm, but without hesitation, from Rome itself.
“ If this were not the case, the entire Church would have become deaf and blind in a matter upon which she gives us infallible guidance, and that is impossible. I would sooner think that I had become deaf and blind myself, rather than the entire Church.
“ But is this a reason for exalting the new rite, with the intention of helping the Church to get as quickly as possible over the crisis into which she has been thrown by the change ? Here again, you grow wise through travel. The general trend cannot be reversed by the learned and acrobatic discourses of some monk or the vehement affirmations of a well-known cardinal. You can prove it all in theory and on paper, but this will have little effect upon the movement of ideas and the practice of the Church. The intention of the reformers has everywhere been made apparent in the protestantisation of worship, and both this and the resulting desacralisation have been generally resented. This intention is inscribed in the texts, and even more indelibly in the desires of those who immediately exploited these texts and in the fears of those who accepted them, in the efforts of those who defend the changes and in the torments of the entire Church. Article 7 of the Institutio Generalis clearly has a heretical meaning in itself, but its intrinsic effect has been multiplied a hundredfold by those who have used it to impose their idea – which the text was intended to promote – that the Mass is an assembly and a meal, and no longer a Sacrifice.
“ Our position then must lie between that of the minimalists and the maximalists. The lesson learnt from the local Churches and from Rome itself bears out our theological analyses. This Mass is still valid, and that is why it has been accepted by all the Churches, in obedience to the supreme Authority which imposed it. But this Mass is “ hereticising ” and this is shown by the general allergy of all the Churches to its novelties. It conflicts with the piety of the faithful and the faith of the priests. It engenders doubts, boredom and a distaste for sacred things. It is a reflection of those who invented it, insipid, doubtful and degenerate.
“ We have taken this reforming Pope and these reforming bishops in union with him for are our lawful, although bad, pastors. And the same holds for their Mass. It is valid though bad, and, like its inventors, void of spiritual fruits. We must tolerate it, as we tolerate them. It will not outlast them. Flying over our ancient Catholic lands with all their ancestral stability, I came to the instinctive conclusion that the solid foundations of their sacramental life would persist, even if the times were bad, and that we must wait, remain faithful in the service of God, put up with evil and with wicked men and not risk a worse alternative, but strive nevertheless for what is better, in the knowledge that the Lord is always in the midst of those who are His, to suffer with them and rise again in glory.
“ ‘ Be angry and sin not ! ’ This exhortation of the psalmist is invaluable to us in these times of iconoclastic fury. We must show our anger against all that which is destroying the Church and drawing unfortunate souls into perdition. But we must not, in our indignation, go so far as to sin against the Church of God by an unjustifiable act of rebellion. The exaggerated reactions of certain integrists point to a sort of fear of seeing this evil indefinitely installed in the Church unless one wages an immediate victorious fight against it. But we must always count upon the Holy Spirit coming to the aid of the Church. That which is evil shall pass away. The inventions of the perverse have never held their own for long in the Church.
“ And, therefore, what God asks of us is to proceed in saintliness, in wisdom and in strength, anticipating the restoration of the Church which, in His own good time, and through the infallible apostolic hierarchy, He will bring about.
“ What can we do to hasten that great day ?
“ The idea of the petition is not very pleasing to our friends. It is in essence less than democratic, indeed anarchic. Those bare numbers that claim to be imposing have no real value in themselves and are hardly likely to move the competent authorities. It is the best that can be done by the least good, but the least that the best can hope to do. The petition of the 100,000 is pursuing its uncertain course in Rome. I will send on the packets of letters and lists of signatures which I have received, and let us see what comes of it. There are better things to do.
“ A mass demonstration can be well organised and well conducted by experienced leaders. It can set thousands of people on the move and that is no small matter. But as it only lasts for a brief moment, it has little more value and is no more effective than a petition… Yes, there are coach loads of people, all brandishing placards, listening to and applauding the speakers, some of them shouting and maybe even breaking a few windows. Tomorrow, perhaps, the papers and the radio will speak of it – as something in the past that has now blown over and disappeared. And if they do not speak of it, it might as well not have taken place. We need something more…
“ When the institutions and the faith of the Church are at stake, when the Mass that was instituted by Christ as His Sacrifice to be renewed until the end of the world is under threat, then our action must be inscribed within the action of the whole Church and must yield before the will of the Lord who guides her.
“ The means is simple, it is valiant and of itself effective : it is to practise one’s religion within the Church and to bring the others back to do the same. Whether we are in the minority or the majority, we cannot make it our programme to impose our views, our liturgy and our traditions upon our fathers and brothers in the faith through the use of force. But, in our certainty of having remained faithful to the true institutions and wishes of Christ, we have the noble ambition of holding on to them, of defending them steadfastly and of getting all the others to love them too, whilst we wait for God Himself to convert the hearts of our Pastors who have gone astray.
“ Our task in the first place then is to be good Catholics and to the best of our ability faithful to the practice of the whole of the Christian life. At this present moment then, we must unite ourselves to Christ in His Death and Resurrection by the reception of the Sacraments of Penance and of the Eucharist. That is how we shall employ ourselves during this Holy Week. We have not broken our contract with the Church and it does not really matter if she has disappointed us and irritated us with a thousand strange novelties, as long as she gives us access to Our Saviour through absolution from our sins and the sharing of His Sacrifice and the Life of His Resurrection. We still have a claim upon her sacred ministry and it is our duty to have recourse to it. We can look around for those priests who seem to be the most steadfast and virtuous, or else we can take them as they come, in the knowledge that God dispenses His graces without regard to the imperfections of His ministers. In either case, as long as there is no public heresy or declared schism, the Church makes up for the deficiencies of her priests. ”42
One cannot over-emphasise the importance of this article, “ the lesson of the Churches ”, published in the Catholic Counter-Reformation for March 1970. This truly vigorous stance by Fr. de Nantes saved the situation. For a while it would preserve French traditionalism from schism.
At the time our Father enjoyed a significant audience and an incontestable authority amongst reactionary Catholics. He was known to have taken a courageous stand in the fight for French Algeria and later to have been the first to have publicly opposed the conciliar reform and to forecast that its fruits would be dreadful. Furthermore, had not his writings undergone a trial by fire at the Holy Office during his trial in Rome ?
Now, in the dramatic circumstances of this spring of 1970, at a time when the most extremist integrists were in the process of cutting themselves off from the Church by claiming that the new rite of the Mass was invalid, this clear-sighted theologian stood up to expose and demonstrate their profound error. His “ lesson of the Churches ” was decisive.
Let us clearly understand the full force of his argument : the battle against the new Ordinary of the Mass, in which he himself had taken part alongside the reactionaries, had in a sense been lost, since the bishops and nearly all the priests and faithful had adopted it. By reason of the infallibility of the universal Church, the new Mass was certainly susceptible of a Catholic interpretation. It was not possible that the whole hierarchical Church could have accepted this new rite on account of its heresy, on the basis of an heretical interpretation. The divine assistance promised to the Church was effectively being called into question in this essential matter.43 To declare this new Mass intrinsically evil, invalid or null, was to have lost, immediately and ineluctably, one’s faith in the holy Roman Church, visible, hierarchical and apostolic.
The most hardened reactionaries rejected “ the lesson of the Churches ”. They did not seem to understand the demonstration of Fr. de Nantes when he explained to them that the intention of the Church in adopting this new ordo missæ could not be identified and confused with that of its fabricators and its promoter, Pope Paul VI. It is true, he told them, that these men must be held in suspicion of heresy, but the rite itself cannot be judged in the same way as its authors. For “ every rite promulgated by the sovereign Authority of the Church and accepted by the entirety of the Catholic hierarchy is, as a necessity of faith, theologically valid and canonically licit, even though, secondarily and indirectly, it may present grave equivocations and constitute a very real danger for souls ”44.
The extremist integrists then began to spread this story, this vile rumour : “ The theologian of the Counter-Reformation has sold out. He has become a democrat. ” To explain matters to his readers, Fr. de Nantes therefore published an account of his conversation with a friend from Rome who was troubled by these calumnies.
The friend : “ But suppose this new Mass were proved to be invalid, then your argument from numbers wouldn’t stand up. ”
Fr. de Nantes : “ First of all, my friend, don’t speak to me about arguing from numbers, for I have shown often enough that I have no time for it. It is solely the argument from quality and not from quantity that has decided me : the entire teaching Church, that is to say the Pope and all the bishops in communion with him, cannot be deceived in an affair as holy as the Sacrifice of the Mass, a sacrament of divine institution, to the extent of celebrating and making others, throughout the earth, celebrate a charade of the Mass involving unconsecrated bread and wine, all the while believing that they are offering God the Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
“ If Paul VI, Bugnini and their protestant advisers had substantially changed the essential part of the Mass, they would have made the battle too easy for us and, by directly calling into question the infallible assistance promised by Christ to His Church, they would have provoked the anger of God too blatantly for their plans to have been able to succeed. That approach would never have worked. The complementary proof to this, a proof by absurdity, is given us by these people who are losing their heads and saying that the worst has happened, that the New Mass is invalid and that, apart from them, the whole Church has quietly accepted a parody of the Mass. Well, these extremist friends have been forced to conclude that the infallible divine assistance has not worked, that the Church of Rome has lost the Spirit, and that you have to get out of her in order to carry on the fight against the Reform. But I have just one small objection : To fight for the Catholic faith outside of the Roman Church ? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms ? ”
The friend : “ But theologians have proved that this New Mass is invalid. ”
Fr. de Nantes : “ All that this shows is that their arguments are false, or at least that they have drawn exaggerated conclusions from them. And to persist in such private reasoning despite the lesson taught by the Church as a whole, in an essential matter that involves her infallibility, is to reject the Church and lose the faith. It is this which is so serious and which made me raise my voice against certain integrists who claim to be experts in these matters but whose theological incompetence becomes criminal when it leads the faithful into schism. ”
The friend : “ What do you propose then ? ”
Fr. de Nantes : “ We must first of all unite in professing the true Catholic faith, even if this means excluding those who persist in maintaining indefensible positions, people for instance who claim that the new Mass, celebrated throughout the world, is invalid, that those who celebrate it are heretics, that the bishops are no longer bishops and that the Pope is ipso facto deposed, and other such rubbish. Above all we must keep faith in the Church. With God’s help, she is quite capable, in her real self, of crushing this Reformation. ”45
A SUPERNATURAL WISDOM :
THE ALLEGORY OF THE JUDGEMENT OF SOLOMON
After reading the “ Lesson of the Churches ”, Jean Madiran’s reaction perfectly illustrated that of the unfortunate integrists, myopic to the extent of seeing nothing beyond their own liturgical squabbles and contestation. Over the coming years, as they develop and harden their opposition to the new ordo missæ, they will scatter the seeds of division and schismatic dissidence within the Church. Here is what Jean Madiran wrote to Fr. de Nantes on March 20, 1970 :
“ It seems to me that, unless you have recently begun to clarify your mind, you are sitting on the fence, holding a position that is theologically and practically untenable.
“ You no longer say anything about actively supporting, through prayer and action, those priests who, whatever their number, take on the task of keeping the Roman Missal of Saint Pius V alive, practising and cultivating it. Moreover, the fact that you no longer say anything about this leads one to observe that you never said much about it anyway. You remained systematically silent about the faculty given to priests, by statutory decision of the Holy See, to retain the Roman Missal until November 28, 1971, should they so wish. And now we have your Easter supplement which has the effect of discouraging or distracting people from making use of this permitted act of fidelity by putting the emphasis massively and exclusively on “ the practice of the Churches ”.
“ You were weak (for the first time I believe), or reticent, or inadequate in the public encouragement you gave to the continued use of the Roman Missal. That was, and remains, the capital point, the essential point, the key point, the decisive point, – which could have been accompanied with every conceivable caution against all the possible excesses, but which had first to be brought about conspicuously and enthusiastically, with a firm resolution taking precedence over everything else and communicating itself to other people. But now you no longer speak about this capital point, you no longer even mention it.
“ To practise one’s religion in the Church, that is your formula, but it should also be, and perhaps primarily, today, to practise the Roman Missal in the Church, and on this point you are uncertain, incomprehensible, elusive. ”46
And he wrote on April 7 : “ It appears to me essential, indispensable, of primary importance, to uphold in the Church, not only through a theoretical preference but also through a lived practice, the Catechism of the Council of Trent and the Roman Missal of St Pius V ; whatever the number of those who uphold them : provided that such support is genuine and not simply verbal. Everything else is of little importance, or at least of less importance, compared to this. But for this to happen, there is a price to pay ; many explanations and much encouragement is needed, because our friends, in the clergy and the laity, are often weak, hesitant, short on doctrine, uneducated in the liturgy, inevitably sensitive to sociological pressures, and, on top of all this, disconcerted by the implicit discord that they sense to a varying extent between those whom they term their ‘ leaders’. By which I refer principally to Jean Ousset and yourself, since both of you are in fact in agreement, although for different reasons, in your refusal to place the effective support of the St Pius V Mass in the first rank of your present activity. ”47
If Fr. de Nantes did in fact wish to direct his friends and readers away from the combat that Jean Madiran called “ essential, indispensable, of primary importance ”, it was in order to maintain them in a “ supernatural wisdom ”, in accordance with the very title of his editorial of April 1970, which should be read and meditated on if we are to understand the major preoccupation of the theologian of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. Yes, here we will discover his unique concern, and even better and more profoundly than this, the ardent love that determined his whole conduct and the standpoint he took in the liturgical debates.
By way of an epigraph to his editorial, – a deeply moving exhortation not to cut the living Church into two –, Fr. de Nantes quoted a German, Professor Lauth, who applied the parable of the Judgement of Solomon to the current situation of the Church :
“ When the two women appeared before King Solomon, fighting over the living child, the one who was not his mother asked for the child to be cut in half. In the same way the reformists wish to dismember the Church. But the one who was the true mother desired to save the life of her child, even at the cost of letting him be handed over to the other, trusting in God to take care of him. Let us remain within the Church and with the Church at this critical moment when her body is in a state of anguish. The King of kings will restore the child to his true mother. ”
Fr. de Nantes had rediscovered in the work of Professor Lauth his own constant thinking since the dramatic debates of Vatican II. He had already drawn a similar lesson from this parable, five years earlier, in his Letter to my friends no 195, dated January 25, 1965. Let us read this :
“ The Council resembles the court of King Solomon. Two women fought over a child before the supreme tribunal : ‘ Bring me a sword… Cut the living child into two and give half to each’. The Protestant Reformation had already rent the Western Church, and before that the Schism of the East had shattered her unity, and even earlier there had been Monophysitism and Arianism. Hearing these women shouting at one another is enough to make one tremble ; one fears for the child. The final sentence is delayed… Will the Church remain alive and intact in the hands of the traditionalists who have given her birth and reared her, or will she pass into the camp of the reformists who wish to emancipate her and marry her off to the World ? Or will she once again be cut into two, divided up by the senseless behaviour and sheer stupidity of men ? It is all about knowing who is the true Mother and who the stepmother. ”
Let us now quote this remarkable editorial of April 1970, which defines the wisdom that Fr. de Nantes desired to see triumphing amongst his friends :
“ Thrust aside by our Pope, our bishops and the many priests who follow their example or go beyond it, exasperated by the uninterrupted string of their heartbreaking and disastrous reforms, and alarmed at the prospect of our families being engulfed, crushed and carried away upon this sea of apostasy and immorality, we are ourselves tempted to crime and are provoked to join them in splitting the Church from top to bottom.
“ Humanly, reasonably speaking, we cannot see any other solution : You can keep your Mass, and I will have mine ; you can have your Communion in the hand, your married clergy, your revolution, your gimmicks and your jazz. You can keep the lot. We shall have our catechism, our Mass, our Gregorian plainchant, our processions, our faithful priests, our meetings and our little chapels. You asked for it, you couldn’t expect anything else. So here we go, let us split the Church in half, let us cut into her living flesh, we integrists on this side and you progressives on the other !
“ Subjected to the constraint of the adversary, our friends feel that they have been driven into breaking off relations. Since the appearance of the new (French) catechism and above all since the change in the Mass, they have come to regard this separation as inevitable. And our correspondents of the Counter-Reformation report that this schism of fury and disgust is spreading amongst Catholics across the Channel like a trail of gunpowder, particularly since the ecumenical visit of Cardinal Marty. The Reformers claim a monopoly over the Church, and their injustice provokes us into committing the same kind of usurpation and behaving as though there were nobody in the Church besides ourselves.
“ This is how the two women in the Book of Kings came to push each other towards the barbarous solution of dismembering the child so that neither should take it home alive. Only the wisdom that spoke to the heart of the true mother was able, through a heroic sacrifice, to save this young and innocent life and re-open the gates of hope.
“ This same wisdom must now prevail amongst our friends, giving them the courage to remain on the narrow path of Catholic fidelity. We must win a victory over ourselves, over our anxieties and the arguments of our reason ; we must submit our hearts, however outraged, to the mysterious Wisdom of God. This is the pledge of His grace, the forerunner of victory !
“ I do not claim any merit for having shown you the way. It was mapped out for me by article 28 of the Rule under which we live here and which is much older than our present problems : ‘ The Little Brothers of the Sacred Heart will love one another as members of one family, the Church. They will never set up their Order in rivalry or opposition to any other community of any sort. Only one community exists for them and that is the one that includes them all – the Catholic Church.’
“ Therefore, however close the ties that bind us together in our opposition, this coalition of ours must never be placed over and above the unity of the Church, since this is far greater than our own kinship of feeling. And by the Church I mean that immense visible, hierarchical society, continuous in space and time, one with the unity of God, holy in spite of the errors and transgressions of her human members, that consists of the entire Roman Catholic community. To preserve our unity in defiance of the modernists would be the signal to divide the Church. The question for us must be that of preserving Catholic unity, preserving it against everything that undermines it and splits off from it, whether to the right or to the left, whether for good reasons or bad. The communion of the Catholic Church comes above all else, because the Church alone belongs to Christ and we can only approach Him in so far as we remain true to her.
“ However just our claim to uphold the true catechism and insist on the return to this sole form of sound Catholic teaching, there is not and there must not be a party of the true catechism. Although I have not relaxed in any way my opposition to the Mass of Paul VI nor my wish to see it abrogated – despite the fact that Cardinal Ottaviani may have changed his mind, either he or his secretary –, although I only celebrate the Roman Mass now referred to as ‘ that of St Pius V ’48 because my conscience does not allow me to follow the other formula, yet I would not wish to see a party of the Mass of St Pius V claiming to be the true Church, the Church of the good priests, the Church of the just, any more than I would like to see the other party, that of the Reformation. A party cannot be the Church.
“ If by ill chance there should be formed a Party of the Catechism of St Pius X and a Party of the Mass of St Pius V, however perfect and holy these things are in themselves, yet in as much as they would no longer come through the Church but from outside her, they would become for us but a poisonous and deadly potion. We repudiate any integrist ‘ esprit de corps ’ just as we suffer agony and death as a result of the reformist alliance, which has enlisted against us the whole hierarchical chain of oppressors of the Church, from Cardonnel and Küng even to the Reformer John-Baptist Montini, who is also our Pope. How odious is this sectarian spirit ! The only sort of loyalty which is inspired by supernatural Wisdom is that which configures us to the Holy Spirit in His unique love for His Body, the Church : the Spirit of the Mystical Body, the only one that is holy.
“ One day it will be agreed that this was the best, the only course to follow. To demand that the living child be cut in half is but a cry of jealous passion, hate or despair. To cut into the living flesh is an act of murder. The child cut in half is lost to everyone.
“ But all such tactical considerations were far removed from the heart of that mother who allowed her child to be handed over to the hateful shrew who had laid unjust claim to him. It was love alone, and not any calculation, that inspired her to this heroic generosity.
“ Similarly, it is our love for the Church that inspires our conduct when we refuse to dissociate the Roman Mass from the new one – since any valid Mass is a true Mass – and to divide the clergy into faithful and unfaithful priests, and the People of God into parties. What I am going to say may sound foolish, but the parable of our friend is founded on Holy Scripture. However certain we are of our arguments, however invincibly attached to our tradition and loyal to the Roman Mass, to the immortal Latin tongue, to the incomparable Gregorian chant, to the catechism of all times, to all these divine and imperishable treasures of the Church, yet I would sooner leave the people in the hands of the Reformer Paul VI and of all those who urge him on or follow in his footsteps along his strange paths, rather than split this people into sects and help to lead them to their ruin. Progressivism will pass away with Paul VI ; the downfall of the one will lead to that of the other. But God will save the children of the Church, at the cost of our sacrifice. We will have refused to divide her into two.
“ Does this mean that we are to abandon the fight ? Far from it ! The true mother did not give up her child without a struggle. She protested, she brought her adversary before the supreme Judge, she pleaded her cause before Solomon, and the trial only came to an end with her victory.
“ This good mother had no foreknowledge of the judgment of Solomon, but she had an infinite love for her child and an absolute trust in her King. Similarly, in this hour of darkness, when the Pope and the bishops are united in ensnaring priests and faithful into a counterfeit catechism and a falsified Mass, we have no prophetic foreknowledge of the Judgments of God. But we do have an infinite love for the priests our brethren and for all Catholics of good faith, whom we do not wish to divide, injure and scandalise by our fights. And we have an absolute trust in Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, into whose hands we place our cause. It is He, through the prayers of His Blessed Mother, who will keep alive in the hearts of this deceived and enslaved people ‘ the faith of ancient days’. It is He who will at last return the child to his true mother, and we will certainly not desist for an instant from imploring Him by our prayers and tears, our cries ascending towards Him and towards His Vicar until, worn out by them, They will at last do us justice ! ”49
THE HERETICAL INTENTIONS OF THE REFORMERS UNMASKED
Following the publication of the petition by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci in October 1969 and the numerous accusations brought by the traditionalists against the artisans of the postconciliar liturgical reform, the latter established a definitive version of the new Roman missal, which was presented to the Pope on May 11 by Cardinal Gut, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. The Holy Father expressed his keen satisfaction with this work.50
It was clear that a wide-ranging and meticulous revision of the Ordo and the “ General Instruction ” had been undertaken to pacify those who had voiced their opposition. Nevertheless, if we are to believe Fr. Annibale Bugnini, the new versions in no way altered the sense of the original texts… which were beyond reproach ! So let us listen to the speech that Bugnini, the tool of Paul VI, gave in April 1970 :
“ A painstaking and detailed study has clearly shown that the principal objection – which sought to cast doubt upon the doctrinal purity of these liturgical documents, chiefly by measuring them against the tradition of the past – is wholly without foundation.
“ Article 7 of the Institutio Generalis, which has been particularly attacked, rests without any doubt upon sound and solid theological foundations, provided that it is understood, as it should be, in the light of its context. However, in order to make the text even clearer and to avoid all possibility of misunderstanding, the Institutio in the New Missal will be preceded by a foreword, or Proœmium, which will highlight even more effectively the continuity and legitimate development, the enrichment of doctrinal tradition that has taken place between the Council of Trent and Vatican II upon the subject of the Eucharist, the priesthood, the Sacrifice and the Real Presence, and also the criteria according to which it has been found desirable to give concrete expression to this continuity and doctrinal progress in the New Missal. ”51
The procedure, not to say artifice, of the reformers was immediately denounced by Fr. de Nantes. It was not the first time that the innovators had attempted to disarm the opposition without in any way admitting their errors or giving a single decisive proof of their horror of heresy : “ As it was with the famous Nota Prævia which was added at the last minute to the Constitution Lumen Gentium and supposed to neutralise the venom of Collegiality… As it was with the introduction added to the Declaration on Religious Liberty which so ably contradicted its dogmatic errors (which were still allowed to remain in it)… As it is on every occasion when Modernism wants to disarm criticism without withdrawing its poison, so here too we have a Proœmium added to the General Instruction which had already explained the New Mass ! It reaffirms the doctrine of the Holy Sacrifice which the texts that follow will continue to water down, to falsify or to omit without a qualm. And Bugnini claims triumphantly that, after weighing things up carefully, our criticisms of his brainchild were unfounded. No retraction or correction of any kind. No repudiation or condemnation of those who interpret and perform the New Mass in a protestant or modernist sense. We are being led up the garden path !
“ But apparently the size of the undertaking, the solemnity with which it has been launched and its pontifical approval, are all calculated to give the impression that this is an important Act of the Church’s Magisterium which is to apply for many centuries. The whole thing, coming as it does from the Sovereign Pontiff, has been deliberately played up. Just as the Second Vatican Council wanted to outstrip the Council of Trent, so just four hundred years later the Missal of Saint Pius V is set to disappear before that of Saint Paul VI. It has all been very cleverly arranged.
“ But this is merely a façade put out by Rome. The universal reality is one of rottenness. Our Mass is being corrupted. ”52
At the end of the first part of his detailed analysis of the foreword to the General Instruction, which affirmed “ what was denied or deliberately omitted from the original text, which they refused to retract or correct ”53, Fr. de Nantes concluded : “ All is well that ends well, if these dogmatic truths are going to wipe out the errors spread abroad in the Church over he last few months in the name of Paul VI and his new Ordo, if the bishops and the clergy are going to take account of this foreword in their catechesis as Cardinal Ottaviani piously hopes54, and if the denial or omission of these Catholic dogmas is going to be effectively suppressed by the hierarchy from now on. But, as we are quite certain of the contrary, it is clear to us that the sole aim of the Roman Reformer is to silence criticism by making illusory concessions. We rejoice all the same, however, at having forced him to place at the head of his reformed Missal a profession of the Catholic faith which he had so maliciously left out. Proof of how Holy Spirit assists His supreme and infallible Magisterium, at least in a negative manner. ”55
Nevertheless, in this same foreword, the reformers made no attempt to disguise the fact that their missal contained a number of outright novelties. They “ boast about this with confidence ”, noted Fr. de Nantes. “ The passage is worth quoting and needs no commentary. It assures us that the Spirit of Vatican II and the new faith of our Reformers do not hesitate to create rites and prayers in which they can express themselves freely, novelties that are imposed on us as the Roman liturgy, and too bad if this modern religion is not ours, we must submit to it all the same !
“ ‘ One section of the new Missal adapts the prayers of the Church more suitably to the needs of our own times ; this applies mainly to ritual Masses and Masses for various necessities, in which traditional and novel elements are happily combined. This also explains why – whereas many expressions dating from the Church’s most ancient tradition have remained intact and have been rendered more familiar with each edition of the same Roman missal – many others have been adapted to contemporary needs and circumstances. Yet others, such as the prayers for the Church, for the laity, for the sanctification of man’s labour, and for certain needs proper to our own times, have been composed entirely from scratch, borrowing ideas and often the very expressions themselves that are found in recent conciliar documents. ’ Dear, dear ,dear…
“ ‘ Likewise, conscious of the changing situation of the contemporary world, it did not seem to imply any attack on the venerable treasure of tradition to modify certain phrase and texts borrowed from the oldest tradition in order to bring their style into line with the language of modern theology and to relate them to the present-day discipline of the Church. That is why certain ways of speaking, concerning the use and appreciation of worldly goods, have been changed, as well as certain expression that emphasised a form of outward penance belonging to the Church of times past.’
“ Can you guess what this refers to ? To fasting, of course ! We understand perfectly. It will be Gaudium et Spes for the Church : Food, Love and Extravagance, with no end in sight… ”56
So, did Article 7 of the final version of the General Instruction present a definition of the Mass that was truly Catholic, conceding nothing to Lutheran heresy ? One might well be in some doubt over this, before even having read it, seeing that in this month of May 1970 Fr. Bugnini had stated that the “ first version ” was beyond reproach, “ clear in its context ”57. For months the reformers had been attempting to correct this article 7 without having to retract their heresy and contradict their first version, which gave the Eucharistic celebration no other significance than that of a Memorial of the Last Supper, a simple reminder of the fraternal meal that Jesus had taken with His Apostles.
To put people’s minds at rest, Paul VI had explained, in his allocution on November 19, 1969, that “ the Mass is and remains the memorial of the Last Supper of Christ, during which the Lord, changing the bread and the wine into His Body and Blood, instituted the sacrifice of the New Testament and willed that, through the virtue of His priesthood conferred on the Apostles, this sacrifice should be renewed in its identity, simply being offered in a different manner, that is a sacramental and unbloody manner, in perpetual memory of Him, until He comes again at the end of time (cf. de la Taille, Mysterium fidei, Elucid. IX). ”58
As Fr. de Nantes immediately observed, “ This form of words was intended to allay the concerns of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci and wrong foot them. However, it is still no more than a fudge between the Catholic faith and protestant heresy. Are we really to believe that the Last Supper was… bloody ? ”59 The Pope was pushing the heretical meaning, but he did so cleverly, carefully keeping within the limits of orthodoxy. Listen to the theologian of the Counter-Reformation explaining to Paul VI, in his Liber accusationis, the very real malice that lay behind his teaching : “ Your very words were : ‘ The Mass is and remains the memorial of the Last Supper of Christ. ’ This as it stands is definite heresy and it is this phrase which passed from your mouth into the hearts of thousands of priests, and corrupted their faith. But you had been careful to incorporate this definitive error into an obscure theory – little known and rather unusual – emanating from Fr. de la Taille60, according to which the Supper and the Cross form a single liturgical act, a single Sacrifice. Thus you safeguarded yourself and were able for all practical purposes to adopt a Protestant viewpoint without formally abandoning Catholic doctrine. You are very clever ! But so indeed are your priests, Most Holy Father, and they understand well enough that your intention in devising the New Ordo was to bring us closer to Protestantism, an example which they are not slow to follow. ”61
No, the reformers refused to retract. In no way were they going to renounce their heresy. To reveal their obstinacy, Fr. de Nantes published their two versions of Article 7.
Original text of 1969
“ The Lord’s Supper or the Mass is the sacred assembly or gathering together of the people of God, under the presidency of a priest, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord. That is why the promise of Christ : ‘ Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them ’ (Mt 18.20) applies in a special way to this local gathering of Holy Church. ”
Corrected text of May 197062
“ In the Mass or the Lord’s Supper, the people of God come together, under the presidency of a priest who represents Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord or Eucharistic sacrifice. That is why the promise of Christ : ‘ Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them ’ (Mt 18.20) applies in a special way to this local gathering of Holy Church. ” For in the celebration of the Mass, in which the sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated, Christ is really present in the very community which has gathered in His name, in the person of the minister, in His Word, and indeed substantially and continuously under the Eucharistic species.
In the new version, the affirmation of the truth had simply been juxtaposed to the error. “ For my part ”, commented Fr. de Nantes, “ I find this modification a sign of cunning rather than of orthodoxy. It is in any case not sincere. This refusal to admit to being in the wrong is not only due to personal sensitivity but to an attachment to error and to the desire that the error should remain. ”63
A COMBAT ON TWO FRONTS
Acting at one and the same time as a theologian anxious to defend the purity of the faith and also as a priest, a good pastor, attentive to the well-being of the flock, Fr. de Nantes found himself waging a fight on two fronts. On one side, against the integrists who were daring to question the liceity and even the validity of the new rites promulgated by the legitimate Roman authority. And on the other side, against the reformers, since their new Ordo conveyed the abominable heresy “ which denies the reality of the sacrifice, and from there goes on to destroy the meaning of the Real Presence in all its exactness and strength and to bring this sacrament into disrepute by carrying it out in a manner which is wholly human, like a secular feast, and by surrendering it during Communion to public sinners, heretics and infidels ”64.
The French bishops imposed the new Ordo with unbelievable moral violence on all the members of their clergy. They proscribed the old rite. Now it happened that, in forbidding the members of his diocese from attending the Mass still being celebrated at Nancy according to the rite of Saint Pius V by Fr. Mouraux, Msgr. Pirolley dragged Fr. de Nantes into “ this sordid business ”65. In his discussions with the traditionalists at Nancy, who were indefectibly attached to the old Roman rite, he had in fact invoked the theological authority of Fr. de Nantes and made out that the latter had advised people to accept the reform of the Mass. “ You should obey him ”, the bishop told them.
As soon as he caught wind of this, Fr. de Nantes replied to him immediately. He wrote him an open letter on May 13, 1970 and published it as the editorial of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. It is impossible to read it without emotion, so strongly does it reveal the heart of this good pastor.
“ … Yes, it is true that I have cautioned my readers and friends against the danger and the temptation of the ghetto, of the integrist schism, of secession from the Church. As they have the honour of being faithful and are almost alone in the integral practice of their faith, they must on no account take a single false step. You who speak so scornfully to them, who refuse to listen to them and shut the door in their face to the last Roman Mass in your diocese, you ought to realise what a temptation there is for them to give in to their disgust and flee from this horrible ‘ postconciliar Church ’ whose only charity and liberty is upon its lips and which holds out to them nothing but spitefulness, treachery, and brutality.
“ You have obviously read me carefully. You have realised that I am taking care not to push them over the brink, not to gain an adventurer’s success by encouraging them to reject the authority of the Pope and the bishops, by declaring the new Mass invalid and the priests who celebrate it heretics, and by finding them excuses and justifications for abandoning the Church in favour of sects and schisms old or new. On the contrary, I am holding them back and I have taken them to task. I appeal to their heroic virtue to endure your persecution without committing sin. I dissuade them from following the evil shepherds who are bound to turn up – the phenomenon is universal – and to try and lead them away from the Church and into their secret chapels, or else to get them to dream of the Church of the miracle !
“ But I have such confidence in their wisdom that I go even further still, anxious as I am not to see them falling into the trap you have set for them and taking part, along with you, in tearing to pieces the seamless tunic of the Church. They are but human, and we all have our moments of weakness, our impatience, our anger, our prejudices. They are too alone in their defence of the integral Catholic Truth for us to allow them to get caught up in partisan feelings, sectarian reactions or unreasonable and outdated attachments.
“ You ought to be marvelling at the fact that under such persecution they are still prepared to listen to reason from us ! I would not have one of them be lost and I can see that today God expects a truly superhuman perfection from those still faithful to Him. They have to acknowledge the legitimacy of Pope Paul VI, the same who has changed the Mass. They have to respect your authority as bishop and to obey those orders of yours that are just and good at the very moment when you are odiously persecuting them. They also have to recognise the validity of the other Mass and the right to exist of other liturgies (of varying degrees of vulgarity, but invariably mediocre), since these are practiced with Rome’s permission and under your watchful eye.
“ But the story does not stop there. Abandoned, hunted down, thrown back upon themselves as they are, – to the extent that it seems you are anxious to be rid of them as soon as possible –, they are bound to erupt from time to time. Occasionally they will become needlessly aggressive, unreasonably suspicious, full of bitterness against those priests who submit to every form of servitude and against those Catholics who wallow in all the immoral permissiveness of the new religion. If they become shut up in themselves, it is because the Church in your diocese marginalises them as though they were excommunicates.
“ I am very concerned, Excellency, about the spiritual health of these faithful whom you are thrusting aside, and about the future of the Church. We must rise above our worst disagreements and each one of us must bring our thoughts back to the Catholic community. We must apply our lips to the open wound made in the Heart of the Church by the spear thrust into it by the aggiornamento. We must find a modus vivendi between yourself and ourselves. You have read what I have written. You are aware that I am greatly concerned with achieving such a charitable understanding. And however little you have understood them, you have realised that the traditionalists in your diocese are prepared for every sacrifice in order to remain within the Catholic community and in submission to yourself.
“ Every sacrifice, except that of their faith ! ”66
In order to establish this modus vivendi, to fix its conditions and terms, Fr. de Nantes proposed that Msgr. Pirolley should join him in a public meeting at Nancy on June 19. Alas, the bishop declined the invitation. So there was no public debate, but on that day, at Nancy, Fr. de Nantes gave a long and closely argued conference talk, protesting against the sudden and implacable proscription of the Roman rite of St Pius V.
THE BANNING OF THE OLD ROMAN RITE
Before he went on to examine the reasons that led the bishops to ban the old rite, Fr. de Nantes quoted, as a prelude to his demonstration, an extract from Cardinal Tisserant’s speech in mid-December 1969, in which he presented the good wishes of the Sacred College to the Holy Father.
“ The cardinal referred to the reform of the Mass, or rather he was pleased to recall in great detail and with a truly inordinate interest how he had played a part in the restoration of ‘ thirteen pages, preserved through pure chance, of a complete missal, written shortly before or shortly after the year 700… which shows that even at that time people had seen fit to prepare books containing everything needed by an isolated priest, celebrating on his own for a few members of the faithful in a country church… Six pages present our common Preface and the text of the Canon up to the prayer Supra quae, of which they form the earliest existing example. ’ But what was the significance of this discovery ? ‘ A missal belonging to the year 700 therefore had the same arrangement as a modern missal, and this fact had remained hidden to us. ’ With a dreadful irony, the cardinal then calmly added : ‘ The conclusion is inescapable : we ought not to fear the changes, convinced as we are that in the long run they will be for the best. ’ ”67
This anecdote highlighted the essential reason why Fr. de Nantes had been opposed (and always would be) to the proscription of the old Roman rite : “ Over and above the Latin and the Gregorian, what we wish to safeguard is the Mass that our ancestors used to say ”67… It is true that, in his later studies, our Father envisaged the possibility of more felicitous liturgical reforms being carried out, either through the adoption of ancient Eastern anaphoras or even through the creation of new anaphoras, provided that this enrichment of the liturgy came within the framework of a movement to restore and defend the faith. But our Father would nevertheless continue to declare himself against the proscription of the Roman Canon and in favour of its integral preservation, because it is “ a sacred document, the law of prayer of the Roman Church for more than a thousand years ”.68
On June 19, 1970, Fr. de Nantes presented his audience with an analysis which drew heavily on the legislative texts relating to the new Ordo; it was based on the works and conclusions of Fr. Raymond Dulac. We need not mention these canonical arguments here, since Fr. de Nantes will subsequently abandon them. To draw attention to all the juridical irregularities in the mass of documents relating to the promulgation of the new missal will in fact come to seem to him “ fastidious and futile ”, since without any doubt it was Paul VI himself who had wanted and who had imposed this reform69.
The banning of the old rite revealed the perverse intention of the reformers, their desire to replace it with something fundamentally new and treacherous. The demonstration of Fr. de Nantes was made all the stronger and more convincing by the fact that he was not opposed in principle to a liturgical reform : “ It was certainly a possible thesis : the Old Mass was good but the New would be better, and so much so that it would be worth the effort to change over to it. This was the idea suggested to the conciliar Fathers by the ‘ experts ’. This was the optimistic thinking of Pope Paul VI for regarding his Ordo, which gave him confidence that it would be welcomed by everyone and put an end to the ‘ experiments ’ of the innovators as well as quickly consoling the ‘ nostalgics ’ of the Tridentine Counter-Reformation. It was also hoped that the Protestants would rally to the new rite. This ecumenical idea, always present but never expressed by the Pope, can be clearly seen in an article in the Osservatore Romano : ‘ The current ecumenical movement… rightly leads us to focus on and favour everything which can facilitate unity with our separated brethren and certainly not on that which might separate us further. All this without prejudice to the truth, for otherwise it would be a false ecumenism that would work against the intended result. ’70
“ And so the ‘ restoration ’ of the Mass proceeded, under the watchful eye of Msgr. Bugnini, aided by six Protestant ‘ observers ’. Great care was taken not to emphasise its newness too much, and to insinuate rather than state clearly the new definition and new spirit of what was henceforth to be known as ‘ the Eucharistic Supper ’.
“ An analogy, which I have frequently used in connection with other reformist manoeuvres, will help us to understand this stage which I would refer to as that of Paul VI’s liberalism. The Catholic train cleared an important set of switch points in 1517, deliberately closing the line that led to Lutheranism and its ‘ Holy Supper ’, and pursuing its way along the track of the Apostolic Tradition of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But now the current Reform, under various influences and for reasons either admitted or concealed, is making the train go backwards, taking it back to the other side of the famous switch points. They will even go and search for a new Canon, the Prex IIa, in the fourth century, a canon written by the antipope Hippolytus71 ! At this stage of its reversal, the train is still on the Catholic track, but it is also on the Lutheran track. It is, as Fr. Dulac expressed it so accurately, a ‘ polyvalent ’ situation. ”
Now, in banning the Roman rite of St Pius V, Msgr. Pirolley had in fact “ closed the Catholic line. He has placed a red light before it. By forbidding the celebration of the old Mass, he has revealed the significance of the conciliar Reform, making the intention of the reformers only too evident. If the train has been made to reverse, this was clearly so that it might switch to another track. The Catholic track has already been placed out of bounds. Nothing remains but to set the train in motion again, gently at first, upon the track of the ‘ permanent reform ’, yesterday Lutheran, today Modernist, tomorrow Teilhardian. And the experts and pioneers of the ‘ liturgical renewal ’ are already running a long way ahead !
“ We can no longer give them the benefit of the doubt. The train is now to be launched upon the track of Lutheranism. The persecution at Nancy, Rouen and elsewhere ( !) is proof that, through this enforced reform of the rites, the enemies of the Church intend to destroy the Catholic faith and throw the entire Church into schism and heresy.
“ The old Mass is a Sacrifice, whereas the new Mass, the modernist Mass, is but a Meal. The Mass of Paul VI is to serve as a transition between these two. Failing an incident comparable to the derailment at Nancy, the locomotive of the Reform will everywhere jump the points blocking the route to Lutheranism and tear along the track of heresy, as happened at the intercommunion in Vaugirard, or at the Mass of Exchange and Dialogue at Dijon the other day, or at the drinking of red wine in Charleroi. And so we see that this Reform had no proportionate reason or genuine interest other than to introduce, albeit imperceptibly, a liturgy which corresponds to the change already accomplished – according to the Modernists – in the religious experience that the people of God find in the Mass. The modifications in language, hymns, ornaments, rites and words have no other aim than to ensure this transition from an out-of-date and too rigidly Catholic conception of the Mass to one that is open, dynamic and humanist, one that corresponds to Protestantism and Modernism.
“ And while the Pope, in order to salvage his Missal, reintegrates the essential element of the Catholic faith into it and completes Article 7 by tacking a few afterthoughts on to it, the whole Church is insensibly substituting the new idea of a fraternal and joyous repast in the place of the certain dogma of the propitiatory Sacrifice.
“ And so we come to the end of our enquiry. Through the Mass of Paul VI which is polyvalent, the Catholic Church is in the process of passing from a worship of God at whose centre is the propitiatory Sacrifice of Calvary sacramentally renewed upon the altar, to a worship of Man at whose centre is the ‘ Lord’s Supper ’, a meeting and fraternal repast which celebrates human happiness. From the Sacrifice to the Meal. The New Mass, with all its pastoral options, is of course still the Sacrifice of Christ, the Memorial of His Passion. But, in addition to this, it is also the meal of a truly fraternal assembly. Around these two notions of sacrifice and meal, adjectives will fluctuate and adverbs give way to one another. As in the game of seesaw, one notion will rise while the other descends. Do not think that this movement can be arrested at the moment of their perfect equilibrium. The impulse provided by today’s Reformation, reinforced by the resentment of the other, the Lutheran, will precipitate the movement to its extreme, to the point where the meal abolishes the sacrifice. Already it has been said in the Dutch Catechism that this meal is in itself a sacrifice, and at the time the idea of reducing the Sacrifice to a fraternal communion had scandalised the Roman commission72. Things have moved fast since then : the Sacrifice is not wanted any more and that is why the Old Missal is forbidden.
“ The dissension was introduced by the Reformers and it began to harden into schism from the moment they made up their minds to abolish the Holy Roman Mass. And they want to do this because their fraternal meal does not have any necessary connection with the Sacrifice of Calvary. All they say of this meeting is that it is the ‘ the memorial of the Lord ’, the ‘ memorial of the Last Supper ’, where one remembers Christ, His life, His death and His resurrection. Everything about it has been directed to exclude the essential Mystery of Faith : the propitiatory Sacrifice and communion with God through the redemptive Body and Blood. ”73
Hence Fr. de Nantes’ opposition to the new Mass was above all motivated by the doctrinal content of the postconciliar liturgical innovations. Carried away by their desire for a reunion with the Protestant communities, the reformers, under the pretext of changing the forms of prayer, were actually obscuring and attacking Catholic dogma. In imposing their liturgical novelties, they were watering down, distorting and altering traditional doctrine to please heretics and schismatics. As Fr. de Nantes will write elsewhere, “ It is the grand plan of Ecumenism that is the real motive for replacing of the Mass of all ages, known as the Mass of St Pius V, with the Mass of Paul VI. . ”74
THE CONDITIONS AND CLAUSES OF A MODUS VIVENDI
In the concluding part of his conference on June 19, 1970, Fr. de Nantes formulated several complaints, insisting that faith and charity be restored within the Church. He took his inspiration from the adage of Saint Augustine : In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas. In matters of necessity let there be unity, in matters of doubt liberty, and in all things charity. Then he spelt out what he thought should be the legitimate demands of the bishop of Nancy as well as of the traditionalists in his diocese, in order that there might be established a modus vivendi acceptable to both parties. In this way he strove to open up a path of charity and peace, seeking to distance the traditionalists from any kind of schismatic attitude whilst at the same time asking the bishop to respect their rights.
“ I. In the first place, in those matters which are absolutely certain and necessary, we ask that the unity of faith and rites be restored, since without this there can no longer be a Church.
“ Our Pastors have the duty to condemn the widespread errors on the subject of the Real Presence, the Holy Sacrifice and sacramental Communion. And they also have the duty to banish from our sanctuaries, absolutely and without delay, every form of rite that is invalid, doubtful, anarchical, or expressly sacrilegious. It is intolerable to God and to the children of the Church that priests should be teaching a corrupt faith and celebrating a sacrilegious rite with the connivance of the Pope and the bishops. Should the latter persist in this culpable passivity, then the people of God would have the right to demand their deposition.
“ II. In matters which are not essential or open to doubt, freedom would present little inconvenience to the Church. It would permit a calm appraisal of the New Ordo.
“ If our pastors would allow us to celebrate in peace the Mass according to the venerable Roman rite instead of discriminating against it shamefully, if they would unmask and dismantle the modernist plot which, throughout this whole dispute, aims at nothing less than the abolition of the Holy Sacrifice and the triumph of heresy through a schism on an unprecedented scale, then we would all be in a better position to form a clear idea of the worth of the New Ordo of Paul VI and what good it contains. For myself, I would rather not have to form any opinion about it as long as it remains, in the hands of hypocrites, an instrument of division and subversion in the Church. Once it has been freed of its heretical undertones, we shall be able to judge its true value. Perhaps it may continue as one rite among the many other and more ancient rites which form the multi-coloured tunic of the Church ? Or perhaps, on the other hand, it will not withstand the test of freedom and will disappear as soon it is no longer imposed by the modernist plot or sustained by the infatuation of its authors and by the zest for novelty ?
“ III. From now on our wish is to live at peace within the Church, so that brotherly charity can flourish once more.
“ While we wait for the Vicar of Christ and the Successors of the Apostles to do their duty and banish all disorder and perversity from the Church, we wish to do our utmost to remain at peace within her, in obedience to our bishops and in the service of our brothers. It is in this spirit that there should be found, between Msgr. Pirolley and your Catholic Counter-Reformation circle here in Nancy75, a modus vivendithat is acceptable to both parties.
“ Your bishop could ask and even demand that none of you should contest through your own judgment and in a spirit of schism the validity of the new rite promulgated by the legitimate Pope and adopted by the entire hierarchical Church, which we regard as endowed with an infallible sense of faith, assisted as it is by the Holy Spirit and protected by Him from all formal error in essential matters, amongst which Eucharistic worship is in the very first rank. I am certain that, despite our suspicions concerning the intentions of the authors of this reform, our criticism of its ambiguities, its omissions and its undeniably mischievous nature, our opposition to the New Ordo will never go so far as to deny its validity once the Church’s legitimate hierarchy recognises it as its own. The CRC accepts this test of Catholic orthodoxy.
“ But you have the right to ask and even demand of your bishop that he should lift the prohibition, or rather that he should allow you both the theoretical freedom and the practical opportunity of following all the traditional rites of worship without setting difficulties in the way : the old Roman Ordo in Latin and Gregorian, Communion given kneeling and upon the tongue, etc., all matters which cannot but be approved and authorised by a bishop ! For, if they are matters of secondary importance, how can there possibly be such an urgent need to abandon them ? But, if they are matters touching upon the essential, how can he condemn them without also accusing the Apostolic Church which gave them to us to be practised ?
“ In this way there would cease this detestable, this dreadful, this scandalous division between loyal Catholics and their bishops around the very Altar of the Mass. ”76
It was truly a combat on two fronts that Fr. de Nantes was obliged to pursue. Shortly after he had given this conference to counter Msgr. Pirolley’s sectarianism, he learned that at Nancy Fr. Mouraux was publicly stating that the new Mass was invalid. Certainly this priest could not have found a more brutal argument to confound the faithful of Nancy and bring them into his own chapel. What a drama ! What folly ! It was by denying the validity of the New Ordo that the integrist priests exploited and sharpened the often legitimate exasperation of the traditionalists against the liturgical novelties, in order to steer them into their own places of worship.
BETWEEN FIXISM AND SPONTANEISM
During his interventions in these theological controversies, our Father always kept in mind the grievances that could be formulated against integrism. An example of this can be found in a personal note, dated December 1969, from which we will copy out the following remarks :
“ There is in the positions of many integrists and especially priests a certain incomprehension (which plays into the hands of their adversaries) of the life of the Church and of life ‘ full stop ’. The Church has needed reforms (and will always need then) in those matters that are subject to change (and the key to the cunning of the reformists lies in the surreptitious and progressive extension of ‘ what can change ’ to the detriment of that which is immutable.
“ There was a very sound movement of liturgical and ecclesial restoration to be taken forward. But it was deviated from, distorted and inverted by the power of the progressivists with the complicity of recent Popes. That is not a reason for claiming that all was well before and that we need only forget and erase everything to return ‘ the the religiosity ’ of 1900. One can admit that it was necessary to give greater prominence to the great truths of our faith and worship, without for all that turning the Mass into a quasi protestant service, abolishing Latin and imposing equivocal formulations. ”77
During the 70’s Fr. de Nantes will deepen his knowledge of liturgical matters, and he will gradually come to realise how incompetent the traditionalists generally were in this domain. The reactionaries tirelessly cited the bull Quo primum of Saint Pius V, but never stopped to think that the maledictions fulminated by the holy Pope against possible falsifiers (or reformers) of his missal might be intended for everyone with the exception of his successors78. In vain did the more submissive integrists remind them that Pope Saint Pius X had himself envisaged and foreseen a reform of the Mass :
“ In the Apostolic Constitution Divino afflatu in which he promulgated the new arrangement of the Psalter (November 1, 1911), Pope Saint Pius X stated that, in doing this, he had committed himself to the task of revising the Breviary and the Missal of Saint Pius V. Here are his exact words : ‘ Since the arrangement of the Psalter is intimately linked with the whole of the Divine Office and the Liturgy, no one can fail to see that, by this Our decree, We have taken the first steps towards the emendation of the Roman Breviary and the Missal. For this task, We will soon appoint a special Council, or, as it is termed, a Commission of scholars. ’ The reform was modest ; it is nevertheless significant that this great Pope was not of the opinion that the work of Saint Pius V was definitive and irreformable. Such was also the thinking of Pius XII, seeing that he profoundly modified not the entirety of the Mass, but that which forms the heart of the liturgical year, the celebration of the Paschal Mystery. ”79
As Fr. de Nantes will write, “ Liturgy proceeds in a manner quite different from that of dogma. The latter knows no middle way between truth and error, no historic evolution from one to the other. But the former ploughs a wide path between the extremes of fixism and mobilism, whilst always having the deepest respect for sacred doctrine and the apostolic tradition. ”80
At the end of 1975, in a study entitled the “ The reform of the Mass, fantasy or reality ”, Fr. de Nantes will retrace the history of the “ Liturgical Movement ” from its origins under the pontificates of Pius IX and Pius X to its disastrous postconciliar realisation. In making a final assessment of these reforms, he will at that time reveal his full thinking on the matter of the liturgy81.
WHOEVER DECLARES THE NEW “ ORDO MISSÆ ” ILLICIT
COMMITS THE SIN OF SCHISM
It was, as we recall, only after he had learned the “ Lesson of the Churches ” that Fr. de Nantes nuanced his estimation of the new rite. For, given that the entire hierarchy had adhered to it, the Catholic intention of the Church had clearly prevailed over the heretical intentions of those who manufactured the new Ordo. As our Father recounts, “ Instead of focusing exclusively on all the disturbing new features and denouncing the interpretation that their inventors wished to give them, I was led to remark on the unchanged essentials of the Mass and the possibility of interpreting even the most equivocal parts of it in a Catholic sense. There is no mystery or sleight of hand in this. The innovators had not proposed to the Church a Mass that was essentially other than the Mass of all time ; they had not introduced into it elements that were positively heretical. Humanly speaking, such a daring blow could never have succeeded. ”82
Let us pass on from the external proof of the validity of the new Ordo to the internal proof, namely its preservation of the rite of consecration.
In his study “ At the Heart of the Church, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ”, Fr. de Nantes will expound this internal proof in great detail. The extremist integrists were invalidists through tutiorism83, arguing from the necessity of an inner intention on the part of the minister of the sacrament. Fr. de Nantes replied to them that “ in order for there to be a true Mass, it has never been required that the priest think and believe what the Church believes and teaches ; nor that he should intend what the Church intends. Wherefore one sees that he is only there as an instrument whose thoughts, deepest wishes, virtues and personal intentions do not enter into the matter. He is simply required to perform the actions and say the words of the sacrament, seriously ; that is is whole office. The rest concerns Christ alone. If to the question : ‘ Are you going to say Mass ? ’ he answers : ‘ Yes ’, the requisite intention is sufficiently affirmed. Saint Thomas, and with him the whole Church, teaches that for a priest to pronounce the words over the bread and the wine is a sufficient indication of his intention. Today, every priest who says the New Mass, the Eucharistic celebration, has the intention of doing what the Church does and his celebration is valid, because the rite he uses comes to him from Christ’s only Church. This seems to contradict our impressions and our spontaneous feelings because we imagine that the priest, whom we can see, is the principal author of the Holy Sacrifice. Our impressions deceive us. He is only there as the secondary agent, the instrumental cause. The principal agent, as Saint Thomas explains, is ‘ Christ and the Church ’; and this agency operates when the priest, its servant, correctly carries out the actions and words prescribed for him…
“ As for the rest, were the priest to have every vice (and heresy, schism and apostasy come under this heading of moral depravation), were he even to have the express intention of making his Mass into something that it is not, for example if he were to intend it not to be a sacrifice at all or that it should only express a vague spiritual presence of the Lord, his intention would have no repercussion on the essence of the sacrament, indeed no effect at all, since the priest is not the master in this affair. The thought, the will and the formal intention of the principal Agent, invisible but sovereign, namely Christ and the Church, would prevail over his own ! From the moment that the priest wishes to confect the sacrament, to say the Mass, to celebrate the Eucharist, he brings into play a divine energy, a Power, that operates the Mystery of Faith, be it against him or without him. ”
Let us not go into more detail concerning this refutation of the arguments advanced by the integrists, but let us pass directly to the conclusion of this page : “ The words of consecration said over the bread and wine by a true priest constitute the precise and complete form of the Holy Sacrifice, and through them is perfectly expressed the intention of the Church who validly effects the sacrament by means of the priest’s hand and voice. The intention of the priest is sufficiently expressed through these words of consecration, removing all doubt about the efficacy of the sacrament. Now Paul VI has not dared to touch this essential part of the Mass, and, what is more, Almighty God would not have permitted him to do so and would have prevented him had he tried ! ”84
In this same study on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Fr. de Nantes returned to the question of the liceity of the new Ordo.
“ Licit the New Mass certainly is, because whatever is prescribed or permitted by the sovereign authority of the Church is by definition licit. Yesterday it was forbidden to eat meat on Fridays ; it was held to be a sacrilege for a layman to touch the Eucharist with his hands, etc. Today it is authorised by the Church. If the Church authorises something, then it is no longer a sin. For what authority on earth could declare illicit in the name of God, in other words forbidden, that which is permitted by the sovereign Authority of the Church, she who governs us all in the name of God ? None can declare illicit what the Pope and the bishops declare licit, for to do so one would have to arrogate to oneself an authority superior to theirs. And it is precisely in this that schism lies, this claim, by one who lacks the power, to legislate, ordain and forbid in matters of religion, as though one were the supreme authority, outside of, in place of or in opposition to the Pope and the bishops.
“ None of us is a Pope or a bishop. He who insists today on saying that to receive Communion in the hand is materially and objectively sacrilegious, and condemns the behaviour of others by deciding what is or is not permitted, arrogates to himself a supreme authority that rivals or even excludes that of the Pope and the bishops. He makes himself Pope ! The Church has her own discipline. If we bring into existence another discipline and claim that this is the true law of the Church, we automatically set ourselves up as a separate Church.
“ It is true that the authority of the Church, even the supreme authority, can be mistaken, can err or commit an abuse of power. In order to reach a decision about this, each of us can and must, in the last resort, consult his conscience, the immediate judge of good and bad by which we must always abide. Thus, the Church may well permit Communion in the hand and order priests to adopt the new rite of Paul VI, but I see in both of these decisions such great harm to the faith and to the well-being of the faithful, I discern in these novelties such frightful intentions and such evil results, that my conscience is formally opposed to them. I therefore refuse to adopt these practices even though they are permitted. Were they to be imposed on me by supreme authority, I would consider myself blameworthy if I yielded against my informed and certain conscience.
“ But, in making these judgments, my conscience has no authority except over me, and it cannot extend beyond this. I may be able to explain my reasons to my superiors, to my fellow priests and to all the faithful, but I will never have the right to transform the judgment of my conscience into an ecclesiastical law and condemn, nay excommunicate, those who obey the decisions of Authority. I will never have the right to impose on others the law of my conscience, my personal law, in defiance of the laws of the Authority of the Church.
“ To say that celebrating the Mass according to the new rite or attending this new Mass is a sin, is to talk too lightly without knowing what one is saying, or else it is an act of rebellion and schism. Since the Church has promulgated it, this Mass is licit. No one, whoever he is, is entitled to accuse anyone else of fault or sin for having said or heard this new rite, or for intending to say it or hear it in the future, unless of course he finds himself to blame and accuses himself personally. ”85
During the 70’s Fr. de Nantes will often resume his demonstrations and conclusions on the validity and liceity of the new Ordo, in an attempt to thwart the senseless campaigns of the integrists.
“ Today ”, he will write, “ we hold to the old holy Roman Mass and we are in full communion of heart and mind with those who defend it, who preserve it, who celebrate and who participate in it, paying dearly for their fidelity and their devotion. We are the sons and brothers of all those who are faithful to it… provided only that they do not break the unity of the Church and that they do not make of the sacrament of unity an occasion of scission and an instrument of schism.
“ For wherever Christ and the Church are, there we find unity, there we find the bond of charity maintained. If the Mass is invalid, Christ is no longer there and nothing remains but a simulacrum of the sacrament. If the Mass is schismatic, Christ is there but the Church is absent ; the Sacrifice is accomplished in Christ, but its fruits are retained for the Church and not for the schism. But if the Mass is of both Christ and the Church – even though the secondary words and rites, the dispositions and convictions of the celebrant, the behaviour and merit of the participants may be questionable and even simply bad – there one finds the Mystery of the Faith and the Sacrament of Unity which you can only reject if you are prepared to reject and despise Christ and the Church, cutting yourself off from the bond of charity. The truth of the matter is that, in this work of of Christ and the Church, each receives the fruits of the sacrament in accordance with his faith and his purity of conscience. But the grace of the sacrament is perfect and it is poured out over the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church and over its living members. ”86
THE NECESSITY OF APPEALING TO THE POPE
It is true that, since the new Ordo was promulgated, several integrists had declared that Paul VI had fallen from the sovereign pontificate. But these extremists were still few in number and they did not generally advertise their sedevacantist convictions in public. The majority of the opponents of the new Ordo did not call the Pope into question. They refused to attack him directly or publicly. Such for example was the position of the Italian traditionalists of the Comitato internazionale per la difesa della Civilta Cristiana. During the winter of 1970, the members of this association considered the various popular demonstrations that could be organised in Rome, and their president, Franco Antico, wrote to Fr. de Nantes on February 14, 1970 :
“ We think that in any case the demonstration need not have an antipapal character. We must focus on the facts and the actions which offend our Catholic faith ; the Pope need not be implicated. Of course we understand that sometimes this may be very difficult, because it is he who is the cause of the mayhem, the perplexities, and often the very measures to which we cannot and certainly do not wish to subscribe. The reality is that we are energetically opposed to the movement of subversion within the Church, but we do not attack the person of the Pope. Each of us must judge him according to our conscience in our heart of hearts. ”
Fr. Dulac had rejected the new Ordo and since June 1969 had formulated a “ Non possumus ” to it, although he unfortunately made use of some highly questionable liturgical arguments. Now, despite his opposition to the doctrine and decision of Paul VI, he maintained intact his cult of the Pope and his conviction of his intangibility. A Pope cannot be heretical nor deposed, he said, that cannot happen ! On the other hand, he imagined that Paul VI might be… drugged87 ! “ The drug hypothesis ”, Fr. de Nantes will observe, “ is an ingenious way out of the theological difficulty. It holds that the Pope is unconscious when he scandalises us, and is only conscious when he happens to fall in with our own convictions. ”88
The theologian of the Catholic Counter-Reformation in the twentieth century did not cease on the contrary from designating the Pope as the one sovereignly responsible for this liturgical reform : “ People may say that Paul VI does not want the new Mass, people may say anything, but it would only be dreaming or lying. To cast all the blame on the bishops or to claim that the Pope has been shut up, imprisoned and drugged, to the extent that he says and does the opposite of what he thinks and wishes… impossible ! As for the people they do accuse, it is he who raised them to their current positions. It absolutely certain that the Pope himself personally wanted this new Mass. It is he who rescued it at the critical moment by his discourses. ”89
The artisans of the liturgical reform have testified that “ Paul VI followed it in the greatest detail ”90. Msgr. A.-G. Martimort even reported that “ nothing was ever decided, let alone published, without Paul VI being kept up to date, receiving the drafts which he annotated in his own hand, and indicating his preferences and sometimes his demands or his rejections. On occasions his involvement was so intense that it provoked some genuine crises ”91.
It is noteworthy that, in taking up the battle against the new Ordo, Fr. de Nantes had primarily sought to hasten the day of Paul VI’s trial for heresy. Had he not, after publishing Cardinal Ottaviani’s appeal, given the editorial of the Catholic Counter-Reformation the heading : “ First warning to Pope Paul VI by the Roman clergy ” ? On that page he referred to the first Holy Communion rite of Zwingli, the third of the Reformers, on April 13, 1525, then he continued : “ Will we have to rank Pope Paul VI Montini as the fourth amongst the Reformers ? For those who have little knowledge of this period of history, which Mademoiselle Martin so well knows how to bring to life, one cannot be in doubt for long about this. An immense authoritarian upheaval – extraordinarily co-ordinated although hidden, gradual although astonishingly rapid – is adjusting the Roman Catholic Church to the Protestant Reformation and, beyond that, to the rationalist and romantic humanism that characterizes the modern mind. Sooner or later, before or after the cataclysm we are calling down on our heads, the trial of Paul VI will have to be opened in public, resulting in a decision without equal : either the Church will join him in severing the last links of her Apostolic Tradition, becoming but the plaything of John-Baptist Montini, or else – with him or without him, it matters little – she will abjure this false religion which he has been able to impose on her for a brief moment through cunning, seduction and deception, and continue to be the one unique Church of Jesus Christ. ”92
Fr. de Nantes was convinced that if one common action should be undertaken by all the traditionalists, it was this : “ To rebuke Him who is the master of the faith, the dispenser of the sacraments, the regulator of the rites, the legislator and censor of the faithful and priests, Pope Paul VI, the one currently responsible and in charge of all. ”93
“ We should ”, wrote the theologian of the Counter-Reformation, “ all find ourselves in agreement in going back to the cause of the evil and in crying out with one unanimous powerful voice to the Pope, the only legislator : It is intolerable ! The whole thing is your fault. It is urgent and imperative that you put an end to this crisis by restoring faith, law, order and liturgical unity throughout the Church, which is now in complete decadence. How ? That is for you to decide. But it must be done, and at once ! Already the reformists are detaching themselves from Rome and doing just what they please, whilst the traditionalists dream of saving their true Mass outside the Church. It is heartbreaking !
“ Perhaps I may recall to you the proposition of Charles V at the height of the wars of religion, that of an interim : everyone was to be left in peace, with his own opinions and the rite he was used to, until a General Council was convoked which would make sovereign decisions. I would hope that we will have the patience and the mutual charity to forbear excommunicating one another over the matter of our rite, and that we will join in a common appeal to the infallible Authority of the Pope and, along with him, of a future Council, so that the liturgy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass may be restored in all its truth and dignity at the heart of the Church. ”94
“ The solution, however, is not to deny what we still, by the grace of God, have in common : the Presence of Christ and the authority of the Church maintaining the validity and the liceity of our Catholic Masses. Rather it is to demand of this innovator Pope firstly that he justifies his own faith by proscribing Lutheran and Modernist heresy and excommunicating the heresiarchs, and then that he takes up the fight against the appalling liturgical disorder and insists on the noble discipline of the Church being respected. ”95
Whereas the refractory integrists continued to limit the field of their contestation to the domain of the liturgy alone, Fr. de Nantes would always maintain his defence of the old Roman Mass within the context of a doctrinal combat, a combat that was far greater in scope and of primordial importance. It was clear to him – and it is this that shows his immense superiority over the integrists – that the degradation and devastation of the liturgy, like all the other postconciliar acts of destruction and corruption, had a single universal cause : the Reform of the Church decreed by Vatican II. Thus his standpoint in the liturgical debates and his moving appeals that scandals be repressed and condemned were not given the same priority as the complaints and accusations of heresy he brought against Vatican II and Paul VI himself.
All references to the CRC journal relate to the original French edition.
1. Cf. infra, p. 39-40.
2. CRC no 120, August 1977, p. 3-4, extracts.
3. Constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos 50-58.
4. CRC no 82, July 1974, p. 11.
5. Regarding article 7 of the Institutio generalis Missalis romani, cf. infra, p. 77-79.
6. Litourgos, The surprise of the New Mass, extracts, quoted in CRC no 23, August 69, p. 9-10.
7. Cf. CRC no 22, July 1969, p. 13.
8. CRC no 25, October 1969, p. 13.
9. In the Italian text at this point we find the word disorientamento, the precise translation of which is : disorientation.
10. In publishing the translation of this letter, our Father here omitted the following words : “ which is daily and sorrowfully echoed in the voice of our common Father ”. This phrase seemed to express an adulation for the Pope which was excessive to say the least, but which was, alas, only too frequent among the Roman prelates.
11. Quoted by Annibale Bugnini, La Riforma liturgica (1948-1975) CLV – Edizioni Liturgiche, Rome, 1983, p. 285.
12. Letter from Jean Madiran on October 17, 1969.
13. Letter from Jean Madiran on October 24, 1969.
14. “ International committee for the defence of Christian civilisation ”.
15. CRC no 27, December 1969, p. 1.
16. CRC no 28, supplement, January 1970.
17. On the support of the bishops for the “ new ordo ”, cf. infra, p. 60.
18. Letter from Jean Madiran to Msgr. Lefebvre on November 28, 1969, extracts ; quoted in Itinerairesno 139, January 1970, p. 19-21.
19. CRC no 27, December 1969, p. 1.
20. Annibale Bugnini, op. cit., p. 285.
21. For the Church II, p. 352.
22. On this question of the suppression of the offertory prayers, cf. CRC no 101, January 1976, p. 11.
23. Doc. cath., 1970, p. 343.
24. CRC no 25, October 1969, p. 14-15.
25. To observe the evolution of our Father’s thinking on the “ intention of the priest required for a valid celebration of the Mass ”, refer to the following editions of the Catholic Counter-Reformation : no 25, October 1969, p. 15; no 37, October 1970, p. 3; no 38, November 1970, p. 12; no 58, July 1972, p. 12; no 82, July 1974, p. 10-11; no 84, September 1974, p. 13; no. 91, April 1975, p. 13-14.
26. To find out about our Father’s definitive thinking on this subject, cf. infra, p. 91 or the CRC no 91, April 1975, p. 13-14.
27. CRC no 26, November 1969, p. 14-15.
28. Quoted in CRC no 30, March 1970, p. 9.
29. Hermandad sacerdotal S. Antonio Maria Claret y Beato Juan de Avila.
30. In the autumn of 1969, Msgr. Lefebvre had informed those in charge of this Spanish fraternity of his desire “ to unite all the priestly associations of Europe in a federation that would elect an international president ” (letter of Fr. José Mariné to Fr. de Nantes dated December 13, 1969).
31. Letter of Fr. José Mariné, secretary of the Hermandad sacerdotal, to Fr. de Nantes, dated December 13, 1969 (personal correspondence).
32. Cf. CRC no 28, January 1970, p. 7.
33. CRC no 30, supplement, March 1970, p. 1-2, extracts.
34. CRC no 30, supplement, March 1970, p. 1-2.
35. For the Church, vol. II, p. 325.
36. Regarding the probable reason for this awkwardness, cf. infra, p. 380 ff.
37. CRC no 30, supplement, March 1970, p. 1-2.
38. Letter from G Volpe to Fr. de Nantes on March 9, 1970.
39. CRC no 30, supplement, p. 1-2.
40. An old priest from Coimbra had written to Fr. de Nantes telling him that, in his town, he was the only ecclesiastic to continue to celebrate the Mass according to the Roman rite of Saint Pius V.
41. Several months later Fr. de Nantes will learn that there was a diocesan bishop who had not adopted the new ordo. He was a Brazilian. On July 27, 1970, a priest from the diocese of Campos, Fr. Jean-Marie Barcelonne, wrote to our Father to advise him that his bishop, Msgr. Castro Mayer, and the majority of the priests in his diocese had signed a letter addressed to the Pope, asking him for permission to continue to say the Mass of St Pius V, which they continued to do while waiting for Paul VI to reply.
42. CRC no 30, supplement, March 1970, p. 1-2, extracts.
43. During the 70’s Fr. de Nantes will often remind his readers that “ the assistance of the Holy Spirit inviolably guarantees the preservation of the Seven Sacraments in the Church of Jesus Christ ”. CRC no 118, June 1977, p. 2-3. But let us point out that the allegiance of the whole episcopate to the Acts of Vatican II did not confer on them a guarantee of infallibility because this Council took no advantage of the positive assistance of the Holy Spirit in all or any of its decisions. Cf. ibid.; and For the Church, vol. II, p. 204-205; 214-215.
44. CRC no 82, July 1974, p. 12.
45. Extracts from the “ Conversation with a friend from Rome ”, quoted in the Catholic Counter-Reformationno 37, October 1970, p. 2-3.
46. Letter from Jean Madiran to Fr. de Nantes on March 20, 1970, extracts.
47. Letter from Jean Madiran to Fr. de Nantes on April 7, 1970.
48. We know that Fr. de Nantes has always celebrated Mass according to the Roman rite of Saint Pius V, right up to 1996, the year in which we write. However, he has never promised not to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice according to another rite one day.
49. CRC no 31, April 1970, p. 1-2, extracts.
50. Cf. CRC no 34, July 1970, p. 13.
51. Quoted in CRC no 32, May 1970, p. 12.
52. CRC no 32, May 1970, p. 12.
53. CRC no 34, July 1970, p. 13-14.
54. Cf. supra, p. 48.
55. CRC no 34, p. 13-14.
56. CRC no 34, July 1970, p. 13-14.
58. Quoted in CRC no 28, supplement. January 1970, p. 14.
59. CRC no 27, December 1969, p. 6.
60. Concerning Fr. de la Taille’s theory, cf. CRC no 116, April 1977, p. 12.
61. Georges de Nantes, Liber accusationis in Paulum sextum, p. 60.
62. In the text of May 25, 1970, the italics indicate the passages added to the text of the original version.
63. CRC no 34, July 1970, p. 14.
64. CRC no 120, August 1977, p. 10.
65. CRC no 32, May 1970, p. 1.
66. CRC no 32, May 1970, p. 1-2, extracts.
67. The ban cast on the Holy Roman Mass, CRC no 33, June 1970, p. 3-4.
68. The reform of the Mass, fantasy or reality ?CRC no 101, January 1976, p. 7-8.
69. Cf. CRC no 101, January 1976, p. 10.
70. S. Bianchi, Replies of a liturgist, Osservatore Romano, 20 March 1970.
71. Regarding Hippolytus of Rome, who had vainly attempted to substitute his own anaphora for the Roman canon already firmly established since circa 200AD, cf. infra, p. 456; CRC no 99, Nov 1975, p. 6-7; no 101, Jan 1976, p. 8.
72. Cf. CRC no 32, May 1970, p. 8.
73. CRC no 33, June 1970, p. 11-13, extracts.
74. Liber I, p. 61.
75. On the foundation of the Catholic Counter-Reformation circles, cf. infra, chapter 3.
76. CRC no 33, June 1970, p. 14, extracts.
77. Three-page unpublished text, Dec 1969, extracts.
78. Cf. CRC no 101, Jan 1976, p. 10; no 118, June 1977, p. 3.
79. Dom Oury, La messe de S. Pie V à Paul VI, Solesmes, 1975, p. 11.
80. CRC no 53, Feb 1972, p. 10.
81. Let us point out that after this study of 1975, Fr. de Nantes returned to his statements concerning the prayers of the offertory of the Roman rite of Saint Pius V. He presented an explanation and a luminous commentary on these in his retreat “ Mysterium fidei. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ”. S 124, September 1994. Fourteenth conference : “ The ultimate enigma, that of the offertory ”.
82. CRC no 82, July 1974, p. 12.
83. Tutiorism is a theological system of morals, which obliges one to choose the safer course when in doubt. Absolute tutiorism was condemned by Alexander VIII on December 7, 1690.
84. CRC no 82, July 1974, p. 12-13.
85. CRC no 82, July 1974, p. 13-14.
86. CRC no 60, September 1972, p. 2.
87. Cf. “ Le Courrier de Rome ”, September 30, 1970, quoted in CRC no 38, Nov 1970, p. 4.
88. CRC no 38, p. 4.
89. CRC no 30, p. 9.
90. Pierre-Marie Gy, Msgr. Bugnini et la réforme liturgique de Vatican II, revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques, April 1985, p. 315.
91. Quoted by Yves Chiron, Paul VI. Le Pape écartelé, published by Perrin, 1993, p. 254.
92. CRC no 26, November 1969, p. 1.
93. “ Fr. de Nantes replies to our questions on the conditions for the validity of the Mass ”, the weekly Rivarol, February 15, 1973.
94. CRC no 82, July 1974, p. 16.
95. CRC no 91, April 1975, p. 14.