Since the introduction of the New Rite of Mass into the Liturgy of the Catholic Church by Pope Paul VI, traditional Catholics who refuse to accept the legitimacy of the Novus Ordo have been subjected to ridicule, contempt and condemnation by ecclesiastical authorities and those who blindly follow their dictates. Traditionalists are said to be rebellious, insubordinate and blindly attached to obsolete forms of worship that have been replaced by new up-to-date forms instituted and mandated by the legitimate pastors of the Church.
Even now with the officially sanctioned Ecclesia Dei ‘indult Masses’ being celebrated far and wide, the division within the Church remains because traditional Catholics do not trust the hierarchy anymore. For some thirty years traditionalist Catholics have been labeled by the hierarchy as fanatics and schismatics — their adherence to the traditional “Order of the Liturgy received and approved by the Church” (Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei ) has been declared (in the infamous words of the late Cardinal Villot) to be “incompatible with authentic loyalty to the Church.”
The national hierarchies and the Roman Curia, in spite of their addiction to dialogue, have displayed utter intransigence in their intolerant refusal to enter into any dialogue with traditional Catholics who have objections of conscience against the New Order of Mass. Yet these objections are not only theologically well founded, but are firmly grounded in the most solemn doctrinal definitions of the Church’s extraordinary magisterium.
The Tridentine Profession of Faith of Pope Pius IV [Iniunctum Nobis] prescribes adherence to the “received and approved rites of the Catholic Church used in the solemn administration of the sacraments.” The ‘received and approved rites’ are the rites established by custom, and hence the Council of Trent refers to them as the “received and approved rites of the Catholic Church customarily used in the solemn administration of the sacraments.” [Sess. VII, can. XIII]. Adherence to the customary rites received and approved by the Church is an infallibly defined doctrine: The Council of Florence defined that “priests ... must confect the body of the Lord, each one according to the custom of his Church” [Decretum pro Graecis], and therefore the Council of Trent solemnly condemned as heresy the proposition that “the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church customarily used in the solemn administration of the sacraments may be changed into other new rites by any ecclesiastical pastor whosoever” [Sess. VII, can. XIII]. Resting on this solid doctrinal foundation, Pope Pius VI condemned the idea that “ ‘recalling it (the liturgy) to greater simplicity of rites, by expressing it in the vernacular language or by uttering it in a loud voice’ as if the present order of the liturgy received and approved by the Church, had emanated in some part from the forgetfulness of the principles by which it should be regulated” as “rash, offensive to pious ears, insulting to the Church, favourable to the charges of heretics”. — Auctorem Fidei .
Incredibly, it was precisely what the Council of Trent anathematised and Pius VI condemned that Paul VI did: he appointed a curial commission which restructured the venerable Roman Rite into what Paul VI himself admitted was a “new rite of Mass.” [Nov. 19, 1969] Since the liturgical reform instituted by Paul VI was said to be carried out according to the prescriptions of the Liturgy Constitution of Vatican II, the post-conciliar popes and hierarchy have steadfastly professed the reform to be legitimate. They have not yet grasped (because they refuse to open their minds to the problem) that the simplification and restructuring of the rites apparently prescribed by Vatican II violate not only the basic principles that that same Council set forth as guidelines for the liturgical revision, but they also violate the most solemn doctrinal pronouncements of the infallible Magisterium of the Church.
Unfortunately, the hierarchs of the post-conciliar Church adamantly refuse to consider the objections, or even acknowledge the possibility of valid doctrinal objections to the new Liturgy. To do that would be tantamount to an admission that their own position might be wrong ... or even worse — that the Second Vatican Council might be wrong. Thus they have brought about a bitter division in the body of the Church by their blind refusal to hear or consider the serious objections of the traditionalists.
The hierarchs of the Conciliar Church have placed themselves in the position of being both the accusers and the judges — they presume to sit in judgement over the traditionalists, whom they accuse of disobedience, disloyalty and even schism, while refusing to allow the accused a hearing. Displaying an incredible blindness and intolerance, the conciliar popes and hierarchy have responded to the doctrinal objections of the traditionalists with a total and impenetrable silence, while preferring to condemn the person of the traditionalist, and to publish intellectually dishonest attacks against the traditionalist position.*
One of the first, and certainly the most visible and articulate of the objectors against the Novus Ordo liturgy was the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. The Vatican’s refusal to allow him a hearing, (to which he was entitled according to ecclesiastical law) is typical of the permanent policy of the post-conciliar Church to block all avenues of recourse and appeal to anyone who refuses to accept the post-conciliar reforms.
Lefebvre was one of the first, and certainly not the last, to reject the post-conciliar reforms as contrary to the Catholic Faith. If his position was the theologically correct one, then it quite logically follows that not only was his course of action the morally correct one, but also, all those who refuse to accept the changes in the post-conciliar Church would likewise be morally justified in their rejection of the new Church and their strict adherence to Tradition.
In June of 1995, the Lefebvre case be came a major issue in the Archdiocese of Manila. The Society of St. Pius X was gaining followers, a development which alarmed the local hierarchy. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines reissued its November 1992 Admonition against the Society. In great haste I composed my Response to the Philippine Bishops, and later that year I wrote my treatise on the Mass, A Theological Vindication of Roman Catholic Traditionalism, which contained a slightly revised edition of my Response. Father Jaime Achacoso provided me with the further opportunity to theologically develop the basic argument of my Response when he published his extremely dishonest attack on my Response in September 1995. My response to Father Achacoso first appeared in mid-1996.
I have completed a thorough revision of my most important work, A Theological Vindication of Roman Catholic Traditionalism. In this work I theologically demonstrate from the documents of the Church’s infallible Magisterium that the Novus Ordo Mass is contrary to Divine Law and that the Second Vatican Council’s doctrines on Ecumenism and Religious Liberty are heretical. My Response to the CBCP Advisory of June 24, 1995, follows, slightly revised again with the new title, Response to CBCP Admonition of Nov. 18, 1992. Finally my reply to Father Achacoso, which first appeared under the title, Against the Errors of the Council, appears in the second chapter of the second book of this volume newly revised and abridged with the new title, Response to an Attack.
I have decided to publish all three under the one title, “The Suicide of Altering the Faith in the Liturgy” since the three works together complement each other theologically on the questions of Schism and Excommunication as they relate not only to Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society he founded, but to all traditional Catholics, and most important, on the problem of the New Mass vs. the traditional Roman Rite, as well as the heterodox theology of Vatican II and the post-conciliar Popes. Book I is A Theological Vindication of Roman Catholic Traditionalism; and Book II, which contains my responses to the Philippine Bishops Conference and to Father Achacoso, is entitled A Catholic Answer to the Conciliar Church, with the subtitle On the Status of the Society of St. Pius X. Finally, I have included the essay “The Ecumenical Church of the Third Millennium” by John Vennari, which illustrates in a concrete manner the points I make throughout the book.
It is my hope that this book might be of some help to bring about the long overdue dialogue with the hierarchs of the Conciliar Church, so that they in turn may examine their consciences and return to the traditions they have sworn to uphold.
Fr. Paul L. Kramer,
Terryville, Conn., USA, January 11, 1999.
* A splendid example of this sort of intellectual dishonesty appeared in the Nov. 9, 1996 issue of 30 Days. Giovanni Riccardi attempts to defend the orthodoxy of Karol Wojtyla’s theology by debunking a brief lecture of the German theologian, Fr. Johannes Dörmann. Riccardi focuses his attack entirely on the understandably scant material presented in Professor Dörmann’s brief lecture, while steadfastly neglecting the overwhelming and copious evidence that Dörmann has presented in his three volumes of systematic theological analysis of Pope John Paul II’s writings, Der theologische Weg Johannes Pauls II’s Zum Weltgebetstag der Religionen in Assisi (Pope John Paul II’s Theological Journey to the Prayer Meeting of Religions in Assisi).