Conclusion One – Truth and Obedience

  1. Conclusion: I am obliged to search for the truth and defend myself, my family and my neighbours against error. Accordingly, I must know enough to recogniseerror when I see it. I cannot choose ignorance and I cannot blindly follow the superiors of the Church (or the Society) in circumstances where my intellect informs me that their path is not the path of truth and salvation. I must strive to be faithful to the following words:

 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the Faith. As to the rest there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord, the Just Judge, will render me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming (II Tim. 4:7‑8).

1.1.     There are some who may respond to my concerns by suggesting that “the issue is one of obedience” and when pressed to explain they respond by saying that they wish to remain “obedient” or “loyal” to the Superior General of the Society and they may even go so far as to admonish those Bishops or Priests in the Society who have dared to question whether or not the Society should enter into an agreement with Rome.

1.2.     I find the “obedience excuse” particularly interesting because the same people who are prepared to be “disobedient” to the Conciliar Church are prepared to be obedient to those who propose to make them subject to and part of the same Conciliar Church!

1.3.     I am concerned that the reference to obedience is merely an excuse to avoid having to consider the issue or forming an opinion. How strange! How inconsistent! How lacking in reason! A traditional catholic presumably “follows” the Society because that person formed the view that the Conciliar Church was in error and that in order to maintain their faith they should “follow” the Society. However that same person is now not prepared to consider whether or not the Superiors of the Society could ever do something that would endanger their faith? There is no doubt that Superiors in the Church may make mistakes. As Archbishop Lefebvre said[1]:

In the Rogation-tide litanies the Church teaches us to say: “We beseech thee O Lord, maintain in Thy holy religion the Sovereign Pontiff and all the orders of ecclesiastical hierarchy.”  This means that such a disaster could very well happen.

1.4.     It is obvious that obedience must have some limits. If our parish Priest preaches error or gives direction that is wrong then we are prepared to complain to his superior and in fact we may be duty bound to complain. If our Superiors do something (or propose something) that appears wrong what should we do? For my part, I suggest that we should inform our Superiors that we believe them to be wrong and again I believe that we are duty bound to do so. I am convinced that a Catholic should not hide from the issue and refuse to exercise their reason –all under the convenient excuse of “obedience”. I am convinced that the worst thing that we can do is pretend that what the superior does is right when our reason and our conscience says it is wrong. I am convinced that to close our eyes is to participate in the wrong.

1.5.     Archbishop Lefebvre said[2]

In the Church there is no law or jurisdiction which can impose on a Christian a diminution of his faith. All the faithful can and should resist whatever interferes with their faith, supported by the catechism of their childhood. If they are faced with an order putting their faith in danger of corruption, there is an overriding duty to disobey.

It is because we judge that our faith is endangered by the post-conciliar reforms and tendencies, that we have the duty to disobey and keep the Tradition. Let us add this, that the greatest service we can render to the Church and to the successor of Peter is to reject the reformed and liberal Church. ……

Well,  I am not of that religion. I do not accept that new religion. It is a liberal, modernist religion which has its worship, its priests, its faith, its catechism, its ecumenical Bible translated jointly by Catholics, Jews, Protestants and Anglicans, all things to all men, pleasing everybody by frequently sacrificing the interpretation of the Magisterium. We do not accept this ecumenical Bible.  There is the Bible of God; it is His Word which we have not the right to mix with the words of men.

……..

Two religions confront each other; we are in a dramatic situation and it is impossible to avoid a choice, but the choice is not between obedience and disobedience.  What is suggested to us, what we are expressly invited to do, what we are persecuted for not doing, is to choose an appearance of obedience. But even the Holy Father cannot ask us to abandon our faith.

We therefore choose to keep it and we cannot be mistaken in clinging to what the Church has taught for two thousand years.  The crisis is profound, cleverly organized and directed, and by this token one can truly believe that the master mind is not a man but Satan himself.  For it is a master-stroke of Satan to get Catholics to disobey the whole of Tradition in the name of obedience.  …….

St. Thomas Aquinas, to whom we must always refer, goes so far in the Summa Theologica as to ask whether the “fraternal correction” prescribed by Our Lord can be exercised towards our superiors. After having made all the appropriate distinctions he replies: “One can exercise fraternal correction towards superiors when it is a matter of faith.”

If we were more resolute on this subject, we would avoid coming to the point of gradually absorbing heresies.  ……..

You will be tempted to say: “But what can we do about it? It is a bishop who says this or that. Look, this document comes from the Catechetical Commission or some other official commission.”

That way there is nothing left for you but to lose your faith. But you do not have the right to react in that way.  St. Paul has warned us: “Even if an angel from Heaven came to tell you anything other than what I have taught you, do not listen to him.”

Such is the secret of true obedience.

1.6.     In relation to the issue of obedience I quote the words of Bishop Fellay[3]:

AUTHENTIC OBEDIENCE

But here, too, many find an easy way out of the crisis: the Pope has spoken, so there is no need to reflect any more, just obey. When everything is normal, it is sufficient, and it is fine. But this does not change the reality of obedience.

Obedience is a virtue, a virtue which is exercised by a human being. When we refer to a human being we mean somebody who has reason and will. That means that this act shall be virtuous insofar as a human being makes use of his reason and will when he obeys. If we just switch them off when we obey, we are no better than a dog. You expect a dog to obey when you command it to stop or walk or bite or bark. You don’t expect the dog to question your command. Even when we speak in the context of what is called “blind obedience” of the human being, it remains an act of virtue. If in order to obey, however, we have to demolish what is the highest faculty the good Lord has given us, that is, our reason, there is something wrong.

When there is a defect in our obedience it is because we have not given enough obedience. We call this disobedience. But we rarely consider that there is a possibility of giving too much obedience. The phrase seems strange or odd, to speak of “too much obedience,” but in fact, it does exist. A simple example: if somebody gives an order and you realize that if you follow the letter of the order you are doing something stupid–maybe you did not understand the order correctly–but nevertheless, realizing that it is stupid, you do it, well, I am sorry, but you are stupid. It is not obedience.

So where is the point at which we must say no? It does happen. The point at which we say no is when this authority which has been granted by God to a human being is used against God. If God has given authority to human beings, it is so that through this authority these superiors will lead others to God. Every law and every force of the law is given to lead us to God, to glorify God, to do good.

Authority Is FROM God

It is easier to understand this when you look at God and the origin of obedience and law. We know and see that in any kind of organization, there is an authority, there is somebody commanding and giving orders. Not only that, but on certain levels, these orders can even be binding on our conscience. That means that if we refuse, we sin. That means that we offend not only this human authority, but we offend God. Why is that?–Because any authority which is exercised among human beings has been given by God. It is very important to understand that. It is the very principle of obedience. Why do we obey?-We obey because we see the authority and the commandment of that authority as coming from God. Persons having authority may have had it designated to them by human beings–George Bush has been elected by the Americans, but the authority that Bush has he has received from God. At the end of his life, he will stand in front of our Lord, and he will have to give an account of the way he has used this authority. The same holds for me, for the priests, for the fathers in their families, and so on at all levels. At all levels, any kind of authority is granted by God, and there you have the principle of obedience.

To obey God Himself is not too difficult; we recognize that God is wiser than we are, He is mightier than we, and we understand it is better not to object. But to submit ourselves to human beings whom we easily see as less wise, less perfect, and with many more defects than ourselves–a person commanding things which sometimes even seem to us not reasonable–that’s difficult. What I have said is not in contradiction. Certain situations may appear to us less reasonable; nevertheless we still have to obey.

Obedience Is To God

So where is the point at which we must say no? It does happen. The point at which we say no is when this authority which has been granted by God to a human being is used against God. If God has given authority to human beings, it is so that through this authority these superiors will lead others to God. Every law and every force of the law is given to lead us to God, to glorify God, to do good.

That’s the Ten Commandments. Why did God give us commandments? It was to help us in the good direction. What is this good direction? It is God Himself. It is to glorify Him, and any kind of order or law is true law in as much as it is a kind of echo or image of these laws from God. Amongst human beings it can happen, and it really does happen, that these persons invested with authority will, either by evil or most of the time by weakness, make a wrong use of this authority. They will make a wrong commandment. And at that time, this law, which should bring us back to God, instead harms us. It goes against the purpose of law. When this happens, we have to say no, because to say yes is no longer obedience; it goes against obedience, it goes against God, so we must say no.

……

Now, if you find in that organization a law against the salvation of souls or circumstances in which a law is being used against that purpose, of course you do not obey that law. It is no longer true obedience. In such a case, obedience would go against the purpose itself for which God has founded the Church. And then, of course, you say no. And when you say no, you are not disobedient; on the contrary, you are really obedient, because you look at the purpose and the will of God. You see that this is going against the will of God; I want to follow the will of God, so in that case I have to say no.

These are basics but they are very important. It is very important that you have the right understanding of obedience, because we are called “rebels” and other labels which you know by heart by now. It is just not true. It is like when Rome says to us, “Come back.” We say, “We are sorry, but we can’t.” Why? Because we are already in; we have never been away, so where do you want us to come back from? We are already in.

1.7.     I conclude that Bishop Fellay’s position (as least in 2004) was that obedience to Rome would be obedience that he described as follows “…obedience would go against the purpose itself for which God has founded the Church. And then, of course, you say no. And when you say no, you are not disobedient; on the contrary, you are really obedient, because you look at the purpose and the will of God….”. If in fact the evidence shows that Rome today is not sufficiently different to Rome in 2004 then it would seem that obedience to Rome today would in fact be disobedience to God.

1.8.     I anticipate that “the other side” may suggest that, in the event of an agreement, the “obedience” to Rome will be subject to the “conditions” and the “guarantees that will ensure that the Society stays ‘as it is'”. Such a position ignores reality. The evidence shows that Rome is faithful to its Conciliar doctrines, the evidence shows that Rome’s purpose “is to bring the Society to Rome’s liberalism”[4].

1.9.     The evidence shows that the Society’s conditions (even the right to criticise modernism) is similar to the “conditions” that other once traditional (but now modernist) groups were granted by Rome. Archbishop Lefebvre described Rome in the following terms (in 1990):

…….but THEY ARE BETRAYING US —betraying us! They are shaking hands with the Church’s destroyers. They are shaking hands with people holding modernist and liberal ideas condemned by the Church.  So they are doing the devil’s work. They are now saying: “So long as they grant us the old Mass, we can shake hands with Rome, no problem.”  But we are seeing how it works out. They are in an impossible situation. Impossible. One cannot both shake hands with modernists and keep following Tradition. Not possible. Not possible. (Archbishop Lefebvre’s address to his priests given in Econe, Switzerland on 6 September 1990) [5]


[1] An Open Letter to Confused Catholics by His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Archbishop-Lefebvre/OpenLetterToConfusedCatholics/index.htm

[2] An Open Letter to Confused Catholics by His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Archbishop-Lefebvre/OpenLetterToConfusedCatholics/index.htm

 [3] Conference given by Bishop Bernard Fellay on November 10, 2004 at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Kansas City, MO  http://www.angelusonline.org/index.php?section=articles&subsection=show_article&article_id=2351

[4] This was the conclusion of the president of the Society’s commission for the theological discussions with Rome, Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta when he said:

 It is essential to the current issue to bear in mind the unmistakable conclusion that we just made on this occasion: they are not ready to give up the Vatican II Council, nor the liberal doctrines of it, and their intention, their obvious desire, is to bring us back to it.  At most, Rome would accept a rebalancing and a better wording (formulation), again as part of the “hermeneutic of renewal in continuity”…..

[5] http://www.sspx.org/archbishop_lefebvre/two_years_after_the_consecrations.htm

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