Say a Hail Mary first!
- Below is the text of an Angelqueen poster who has styled himself ‘William of Norwich.’ I make the following reply. His texts are in blue and later I use his name to clear up some other matters using the form of an interview ….
Dear William of Norwich,
I saw your post on Angelqueen after a priest friend emailed me a link to it. I am surprised that you have not written to us yourself in order to get the answers to your questions ‘from the horse’s mouth’ as they say. Now, over 1,700 people have read your post and talked about your rumours. Thank God there has been only one person who has written an email to us to ask your questions; another kindly sent your post to our blog.
I think that we are the only traditional Order that keeps two blogs and prints a newspaper. Therefore, it could perhaps be granted to our credit that we are generally prepared to share our news with those who are interested in knowing it. However the Holy Rule binds us to secrecy on many matters that concern the affairs of the Congregation. I should expect that this religious law would be respected by Catholics who want to defend the traditional religious life. Devoting 9 paragraphs to the subject of Secrecy, the Rule begins by saying:
“ 31. As Secrecy is the soul of all important business, and, so to say, the life of a well ordered Community, so the opposite vice spoils the success of the one, and disturbs the other. Those, therefore, who have to deal with the affairs of the Congregation, shall in all things set a high value on caution and secrecy. Everyone shall scrupulously observe secrecy, not merely when it has been promised or agreed upon, but also when, by its nature, the affair in hand tacitly obliges him to it, or because of the importance of the matter, or other circumstances, call for secrecy on the ground of honourable dealing, duty, or justice, even though it has neither been promised, nor expressly counselled or commanded.”
In my position I am forbidden from talking about matters until the proper time. Unfortunately the ‘proper time’ is sometimes forced upon us. I think that you have done that William and you will have to take the responsibility for setting off wild speculations for which you produce no solid sources.
- William wrote: I have been a regular reader of Angelqueen for about the last year or so, though I have never signed up before as I didn't ever think that I would like to comment on any given subject. I have done so now, however, because I have heard some very disquieting news from a number of high-ranking clerics and influential laymen in Tradition which I think needs to be aired publicly.
- This is therefore something based on words from a number of ‘high ranking clerics’…. Well, who William? How many Bishops or Cardinals do you know? Or… are you stirring up a story? If you want the clarity you claim why are you not naming your sources so that we can all work together on this?
- William continued: Some time ago, a number of your readers commented on a statement made by Cardinal Hoyos after some/the majority of the people associated with the traditionalist group, Oasis, in Spain rallied to Rome. Cardinal Hoyos said that he was also in negotiation with another traditionalist order which was seeking to "reconcile" itself with the Holy See. Some of your contributors said that they did not believe this, that Hoyos was lying in order to promote more fractures and doubts in Tradition. I say, now, that I am only paraphrasing this from memory, but I am sure the substance is correct. To be honest, I was in two minds as to whether or not this was true.
- William if you want clarity why not state the sources and get the facts right? Cardinal Hoyos could not be speaking about us since he said:
‘Here in Rome we have a community that has asked to return and we have already begun mediating their full return’. At least that is what Zenit said in its report given on 13 January 2008 (ZE08011305 - 2008-01-13 http://www.zenit.org/article-21481?l=english).
- Now as everybody knows we do not live in Rome. Why are you only paraphrasing from memory? Is just anything good enough for an international post on Angelqueen and to be read by hundreds of people?
- William continued: However, what I have heard in recent weeks has concerned me greatly. Clerics primarily, but also a number of laymen and women, have told me that there is an Order in negotiation with Rome. That Order is said to be the Redemptorists in Scotland. I want to emphasize the phrase "said to be" because at this stage it is a speculation.
- So William you are dealing with speculation, right? Gossip. You are making your story from a “said to be.”
- William continued: I have been told that Fr. Michael Mary has been in Rome talking to the head of the "official" Order's chief.
- Yes, you are right there! But that is old news. I spoke with the Redemptorist Father General Pfab who was in office in about 1984 which was also the first and last time that I was ever in Rome. See what happens?
- William continued: That the Redemptorist website carried a saccharine-sweet and unduly precipitous statement saying that they were humbly and submissively accepting the Holy Father's orders to change the Prayer for the Jews in the Good Friday Liturgy, a prayer that goes back at least 1,200 years, is very strange and very suspicious.
- So William, is it ‘saccharine-sweet’ for a Catholic to show a picture of the Pope on a statement that concerns the Pope’s Command? And if the Pope is traditionally dressed and seated on his throne it becomes ‘saccharine-sweet’?
- Is it precipitous to signify readiness to obey when the command is legitimate and the prayer is orthodox?
- William continued: The Redemptorists of Fr. Michael Mary have always had a reputation for being "hard-line". This being so, this public internet statement goes wholly against the grain. It may be the reed in the wind that provides the clue.
- More speculation because it could mean other things too.
- William continued: If……
- Speculation again.
- William continued: If this suggestion that they are going to rally to Rome is true, I will be most upset. My family has been a strong supporter of theirs since the earliest days.
- William if you are an SSPX supporter, and also one of our supporters, you will know that the goal of our work has been carried out with our eyes turned towards Rome, right? How many times has Bishop Fellay gone to Rome and talked with the Roman authorities? What is he aiming at? I imagine it is what you would say was in order “to rally to Rome.” That is the eventual destination of the SSPX. It is ours as well. That is why you support us. It is all a question of time; am I right? Because if I am wrong, and we are never supposed to come to the call of the colours, we are in grave error. We are Catholics. We belong in humble submission to the Pope. All who wish to be saved must submit to the Roman Pontiff; that’s De Fide, right? Your family should be very unhappy if, after years of support, this whole thing we call ‘tradition’ doesn’t end up in full and perfect union with the Roman Pontiff. That’s what I am working for. That is also what I hope and believe Bishop Fellay is working for; and it is all a question of time.
- William continued: All of our family have been enrolled in the Purgatorian Archconfraternity, and we have given generously within our means.
- Members of the Purgatorian Archconfraternity are promised that the Holy Mass is offered for them every day. For those who ask us if the Mass is “una cum” we always reply that it is; that the Pope’s name is mentioned in every Canon of the Mass. When there is the eventual “rally” that we all hope and pray for, the Pope’s name will continue to be mentioned in the Canon. What is the problem here? I think that there is no problem.
- The efficacy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the souls in purgatory is not going to be harmed by a reconciliation.
- William continued: I want this posting NOT to be the source of gossip, but of one action. That is, that people should write/phone/fax/email Fr. Michael Mary and ask him to confirm or deny that he is negotiations with Rome (said, I am told, to be at a mature stage) and to state publicly, clearly, unequivocally and without mental reservation that he is rallying or that he is not rallying. He does not need to write to everyone personally, he merely needs to post a declaration on their website of the utmost clarity and definition.
- Here is the paragraph that disappoints me. You stir up gossip based on no hard facts and many speculations, then claim that it is not your intention to promote gossip!
- Then you call for action.
- Dear William of Norwich why have you not written, phoned, faxed or emailed me yourself? Even once? Even just one email? And you have tried to set off an avalanche of emails, letters, faxes and phone bells. Well thanks be to God you even forgot to follow the sound of your own bugle.
- Next, why (with your slim guesses) do you want to infer that I am a rabbit to be smoked out? “Confirm/deny/unequivocal/without mental reservation/utmost clarity/ and definition”? You try to rally the people in the marketplace to ask the questions that you are not willing to ask me yourself, and you provide your crowd with all these structures for squeezing the truth out of me?
- And you are one of our supporters? I feel sorry for you: all anonymous that you are. Could you not have emailed me?
- William, I also feel sorry for me! If you are my supporter, William? And you need to call all in the marketplace to ask me your questions? And you call out to me from that marketplace? And others report it to me? And you need many, many structures to be assured that you have gotten all the truth squeezed out? And such action because of the rumours you have received!?
- Yes, William, whatever happens, and hopefully to the end of the world, the Holy Mass will be continued to be offered for you and your family. We will daily ask that God’s graces and blessings descend upon you and your! Kyrie eleison!
- William concluded: Given that he has had several million pounds donated to him for the project in Papa Stronsay by a wide range of traditionalists, I think that he has a strong moral obligation to state the Truth so that those who are disturbed by this suggestion can be enlightened one way or the other.
- With regard to Benefactors and their opinions or desires. Let me recall that an ambassador asked a favour of Pope Benedict XII but the Pope was unable to comply because of his conscience. He gave the answer to the ambassador saying that he should tell the king who sent him that if he had two souls he might be prepared to give one to the king and to keep just one for himself. But since he only had one soul he could not give that to the king for anything. This is the disposition of every man who wants to save his soul. It is especially the mindset of the religious who has a vow of poverty. He is following Christ and will never allow money to divert his course against his conscience; if he does he is corrupt and the benefactor would be the instrument of his corruption.
- Benefactors are wonderful people when they do what they do for the right motives: to give to Christ, to give alms without seeking to manipulate. Bad benefactors are eventually the agents of the devil: so we do not receive donations from secret societies.
- I am as poor as when I began. Donations are never received in our own names but in the name of the Order.
- A possible interview with William
- William, that is the end of your letter. I think that I have covered all the points. Now here are the questions I could imagine you may want to ask me. There is a time and a place for everything. This is not the time nor the place. But because I am looking you in the whites of your eyes I will make an exception and give you an update of my thoughts on the matter at hand.
- William: Well, is there anything going on between the Redemptorists and Rome?
- Our little monastery is separate from the SSPX. As one SSPX priest told us when we were having a penniless moment: “We are united in Faith and separated in finances.”
- I liked the quip! It shows that the two organisations are separate. And it follows that if the SSPX is able to speak with Rome there should be no reason why we would not be able to do so either.
- A few months ago I actually wrote two letters to the Ecclesia Dei Commission to clarify who we were and to make some necessary points about our foundation in New Zealand. They were my first two letters. I never received a reply because they were letters of fact that required no response.
- I have not needed to write to them since.
- However, since I was quite open and spoke about having written to them, (William are you listening?), I was soon approached by someone from the SSPX who wanted to know if it was true that I had written to the Ecclesia Dei Commission and that I had visited the Bishop of Christchurch when I was in New Zealand. The atmosphere could have been though of as checking up on me and wondering if I was ‘going over to Rome’.
- William: What is the basis of having relations with Rome?
- It is because we believe that Benedict XVI is the Pope, of course. He is the head of the Church. We are set upon working towards reunion. If we remain in an 'imperfect communion' we will eventually become a separate organisation altogether.
- When I recall the day of the Consecrations in 1988 there were numbers of young children playing on the grass around the canvas cathedral. Do you know, now 20 years later, most of those girls and boys will be married. The 3rd generation of 1988 Tradis is on its way: that is, a generation that does not know normal Catholic life, that has no real contact with their juridical bishops, parishes and clergy. Already there are possibly 2 generations of people who are isolated from the Catholic ‘wheat and chaff’ that makes up a diocese. This is a serious situation unless we want to become a separate Church fitted out with our own bishops, parishes and clergy. We need a reconciliation asap.
- William: And do you want a reconciliation with the Holy See?
- Yes I do, asap.
- Into this situation, Pope Benedict XVI issued the Motu proprio of 7 July last year. The old Mass is vindicated; it was never abrogated. The Pope calls us to reconciliation.
- Does the Pope want it? Yes he does, asap!
- Pope Benedict is the Vicar of Christ. Christ is God. So God wants it too: he has told us through his Vicar on earth. Does this sound Catholic?
- William: But you should hold out longer. It’s too ‘precipitous.’
- Here is where we could be turning ourselves into industrial trade unionists. Is it Catholic to be ‘holding out’ against the Pope when he has clearly shown that he is doing everything possible to reach out to us? If Tradis become industrial trade unionists ‘holding out’ and raising the stakes we may well find that we have gone too far and are resisting the call of God Himself.
- You can go to hell in a lot of different ways William. You can go as a heretic. You can go with full Catholic orthodoxy. You will burn both ways. It doesn’t matter which way you do your ‘non serviam’, the choice is yours. Resist God long enough, (He is the Judge of how long he will put up with it.) and you will be a son of the devil whether you are orthodox catholic or heretic.
- So the idea of ‘holding out for more from the Pope’ is not an idea that any of us should think is very appealing; only it does sound clever. As the old French saying says so well: “Qui mange du pape meurt du pape –he who eats the Pope dies of the Pope.” In this case we would be considering eternal death and none of us knows how long he has got.
- So my frank assessment of trade unionist policies and practises is not high when the Pope himself is calling for reconciliation and fixing things up.
- William: So you won’t be a trade unionist?
- No, I won’t be a trade unionist against the will of the Pope. Up until now we have not been trade unionists. We have been men of conscience ostracised by our own fellow Catholics and higher superiors because we clung to the ‘Faith of Our Fathers’ and the Holy Mass ‘in spite of dungeon fire and sword.’
- In confused times we continued and happily we paid the price for it. But now Peter has spoken. He has spoken to all and he has spoken to us. The Vicar of Christ wants it known that the old Mass has never been abrogated. He demands that we be permitted to celebrate it freely. He says to us: ‘Our heart is open to you...’
- William: So you want to go to him?
- Yes I want to go to him and to speak with him in his representatives. He is the Chief Pastor. He is the Chief Shepherd. He is our Common Father we are his children. I will be pleased to hear what he has to say and so should we all be pleased to hear what he has to say.
- Bishop Fellay has listened. I am sure he felt it his duty to listen to the Holy Father. He was even invited to sit with him and talk face to face. That was not a betrayal, it was Catholic.
- William: Then why not leave it to Bishop Fellay? And you keep out of it!
- That’s a point of view that could be shared by a number of people. The reason why I would be prepared to speak to a representative of the Holy See is because our situation is very different from Bishop Fellay’s.
- Bishop Fellay is superior of a large organisation that has a broad spectrum of ideas. Some of his priests would like a reconciliation very soon, while others would be still highly suspicious of Benedict XVI; some perhaps even wondering if he was the Pope at all.
- Bishop Fellay has to preside over all these, often unspoken, opinions.
- While he wants reconciliation with Rome, he has a whole armada of ships to bring in to port. It is true that all the ships are flying the one flag of the SSPX but they are on different compass bearings and do not seem to move as one moral body.
- Look at the Good Friday prayer. Some of the SSPX might like to say it out of obedience and submission to the Roman Pontiff. Perhaps an even larger group do not want to say it for a whole variety of personal/theological/historical/liturgical/political reasons. There is not a lot the Superior General can do except, in my opinion, …. preside, pray and hope for the best.
- The SSPX have said that they think it will be a long time before they are able to have a reconciliation; yet already for some years Bishop Fellay has been on direct talking terms with the Holy See and the SSPX have their own ‘nuncio’ stationed in Rome at Albano. They have done this because they look forward to a reconciliation even though, at the present, they are no ready for it.
- William: Are you any different from the SSPX?
- Yes, I think so. The Redemptorist situation may well be different. We are not a fleet of cruisers but only a couple of fishing boats in comparison. We have a fairly small crew. Our boats are easier to manage. Perhaps we can bring our vessels to port with less difficulty.
- We have as yet only the name of a person through whom we could have contact with the Holy See. We have not yet exchanged a word, not a word yet, so there is no need for rumours.
- When I have something to make known I will be only too willing to tell you.
- William: Is this imprudence?
- Imprudence is a dangerous thing, so we must be careful and pray for light about what we must do.
- But remember that servile fear is also to be shunned. Our Lord tells us not to fear: ‘Fear not little flock’.
- Dear, anonymous, William of Norwich, I thank God that I am not afraid of what you or any other people may think of us for following our convictions.
- Personally, I do not suffer too much from ‘human respect’ since the day when, as a child, my graciously proud but humble mother scolded me for my fears about what other children would say when they saw me wearing gumboots to school; a minor cash flow snag.
- You see, William, someone has to move. We can’t all sit making out there is still a war raging around us, or that the emperor has new clothes.
- The fact is that we have the Mass vindicated by the Pope; he is trying to change other things quickly; and he is calling us back to himself.
- Yes there are still problems about ecumenism and collegiality, but problems are not new to the Church we can battle through them if we have the Mass.
- Sooner or later we must all heed the Pope’s call or become something different from Catholic.
- Some people will fear and will be a long time learning to trust the Pope again; God is merciful and God may wait. Some are nearly ready to accept the Pope. A lot are edified with what he is trying to do.
- William: So where is this going to leave you with the SSPX?
- For the answer to that we will have to wait and see.
- The SSPX is not excommunicated from the Church. I don’t think that we will be excommunicated from the SSPX for speaking with Rome the way Bishop Fellay has done for many years.
- I think that speaking with a representative of the Holy See is by now a tolerare potest (it can be tolerated) situation.
- In any case, we for our part continue to look well on the Society and place confidence in them.
- On Tuesday we will be sending our three seminarians to Holy Cross Seminary in Australia where I am confident they will be well received again by Fr. Scott. I could be mistaken but let us not take such a mistake into our considerations.
- Fear not little flock, God’s Providence is never lacking to those who trust in Him. I think that the situation in 2008 has changed from the early days of 20 years ago when Dom Gerard was harshly judged as a traitor to tradition. They were narrow regrettable days that could have been different. I remember hearing that a layman sent Dom Gerard, OSB an unredeemable cheque for 30 pieces of silver! Amazing. Perhaps it could be my lot too; I would certainly pray for the donors; Holy Week and Spy Wednesday are approaching…… who knows?
- But even if we thought that events would to turn very badly against us, we should not configure our consciences to avoid pains and the judgments of others. Rather we must set our compass by what God demands of us and having taken that bearing we must stay on course no matter how the storms may rage: Our Lord sleeps in the boat, it will not sink, and when He is ready He will awaken and say to the seas: Be still.
Fr. Michael Mary, C.SS.R.
Passion Sunday, 9 March 2008