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Traditional Latin Mass at the seminary of the Institute of Christ the King, Italy.ICKSP/ YouTube screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, in a new small booklet entitled True Obedience in the Church (published by Sophia Press), presents the basis and limits of obedience to Church authorities and makes it clear that the Church has no right to cancel the traditional Catholic Mass and its associated liturgical books. The Church authorities may not suspend or punish a priest simply for adhering to the traditional Mass. This liturgy scholar and philosopher goes so far as to say that such penalties would be “null and void” and that, therefore, such priests “may continue administering the sacraments as before.”

In the first part of his small book, Dr. Kwasniewski points out the foundations for the importance of obedience to both the Church and the state – as both authorities are given to us by God and inasmuch as obedience to them serves the common good. When we obey our authorities, we ultimately obey God. The object of that obedience is clear. “This is the birth of authority: it is born to serve and promote the shared good of many,” the author writes. But at the same time, the very concept of common good also limits this authority. The authority’s power to bind people “resides in the common good, so if the authority deploys its office overtly against the common good, then that command inherently lacks moral binding power.”

This principle is of course laid down even in the catechism for children. We all teach our children that they have to obey us, their parents, unless we tell them to go to the neighbor’s home and steal something. Our orders are null and void if we order our children to sin and go against the common good.

What is then the common good within the Church? It is, as Kwasniewski expounds, “the life of Jesus Christ, her sovereign Head – the superabundant grace of His divinized soul, shared with His members through the illumination of the intellect by revelation and the inflaming of the heart by the supernatural charity of His Heart – and the divinization of souls by the sacramental life and prayer.” The latter part, prayer, is chiefly “the solemn, formal, public worship we call the sacred liturgy.”

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PETITION to Pope Francis: Reinstate Puerto Rico Bishop, Daniel Fernández Torres
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By all accounts, Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres' diocese of Arecibo in Puerto Rico is flourishing because of his adherence to the perennial teachings of the Church.

But, without any formal proceedings, Bishop Fernández Torres has been summarily 'relieved' of his episcopal duties allegedly because he championed conscience rights in the face of a Church vaccine mandate in Puerto Rico.

Please SIGN this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres now.

To be clear, COVID-19 is a serious disease, oftentimes with debilitating consequences, or worse, for those who contract it.

However, all coronavirus vaccines currently authorized for use in the U.S. and Puerto Rico have been tested on or produced with cell lines of aborted babies. And, the vaccines have been linked to serious side effects, while none has yet completed long-term testing.

Given the complexity of this issue, the Church has determined that getting vaccinated is a matter of personal discernment which each individual must make after informing his or her conscience.

As such, the Church teaches that there is no moral obligation to be vaccinated. Indeed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Church's teaching authority where faith and moral are concerned, issued a statement to that effect in December, 2020.

Specifically, the CDF's, “Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines,” of December 17, 2020, n. 5 states: “At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”

Therefore, it would appear that for simply restating the current teaching of the CDF and for opposing his brother bishops in Puerto Rico on this seminal matter of conscientious objection, Rome is now attempting to "cancel" Bishop Fernández Torres.

This is wrong, unfair and discriminatory!

And, Bishop Fernández Torres is hardly the first bishop to defend Church teaching on conscientious objection on the issue of mandatory vaccination. Both the Colorado and South Dakota bishops' conferences released similar statements, and like Bishop Fernández Torres, they also offered to validate religious exemptions for member of their flock who asked to be exempted from vaccination.

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres.

For his part, Bishop Fernández Torres, 57, a staunch defender of life and family, protested his removal as "totally unjust" in a statement released Wednesday (3/9/2022).

The bishop, who led his diocese for nearly 12 years, noted that Pope Francis’ apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico verbally requested that he resign, but said that he refused to do so, as he "did not want to become an accomplice of a totally unjust action."

"No process has been made against me," Bishop Fernández Torres wrote, "nor have I been formally accused of anything, and simply one day the apostolic delegate verbally communicated to me that Rome was asking me to resign."

“A successor of the apostles is now being replaced without even undertaking what would be a due canonical process to remove a parish priest,” the bishop added.

“I was informed that I had committed no crime but that I supposedly ‘had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico,’” he said. “It was suggested to me that if I resigned from the diocese I would remain at the service of the Church in case at some time I was needed in some other position; an offer that in fact proves my innocence.”

Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres. Thank you!


'Pope Francis abruptly removes faithful bishop who opposed COVID vaccine mandates' -

'Puerto Rico bishop supports conscience objections to COVID vaccines, allows priests to sign exemptions' -

**Photo Credit: Diocese of Arecibo

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And it is this latter point that we wish further to discuss because Dr. Kwasniewski’s book is clearly written in response to the papal document Traditionis Custodes of last July which aims at extinguishing the traditional form of the liturgy for good and for all. Pope Francis then stated that the liturgical books of the Novus Ordo, or new order of the Mass, “are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite,” thereby declaring the traditional rite that has developed over centuries obsolete.

For Dr. Kwasniewski, it is clear that this attitude as expressed in this document is “a profoundly uncatholic, indeed anti-Catholic, point of view.” He goes on to say:

Since the liturgy truly is the ‘font and apex of the Christian life,’ the home of divine revelation and the primary agent of our transformation in Christ, it follows that to abolish or prohibit or in any way work against the venerable Roman Rite that was humbly received, gratefully loved, and lavishly praised for century after century of uninterrupted growth is the most notorious and damaging attack on the common good possible or imaginable.

And here we return to the question of obedience. Since this attack on the traditional rite goes against the common good of the Church, it should not be obeyed. Here, Dr. Kwasniewski quotes the Society of St. Pius X who reiterates that the traditional Mass “belongs to the most intimate part of the common good in the Church.” To restrict it, continues the statement, “can have no legitimacy.”

“This law, is not a law of the Church, because, as St. Thomas says, a law against the common good is no valid law.”

Based on numerous authoritative statements of theologians and churchmen, Dr. Kwasniewski illuminates the duty of any Roman pontiff to preserve the liturgy of the Church and not to drastically alter it. For example, Francisco Suárez, S.J., told us that “if the Pope lays down an order contrary to right customs, one does not have to obey him,” adding that “it would be licit to resist him,” should the Pope order something that goes against justice or the common good. Dr. Kwasniewski goes even further by saying that “we are obliged to refuse [unjust orders] out of the love we bear for Our Lord Himself.”

And it is here that Dr. Kwasniewski insists that those priests who are suspended – or even excommunicated or laicized – for refusing to abandon the traditional rite may continue with their ministry. He writes that “any penalty or punishment meted out for ‘disobedience’ to the revolutionaries would be illicit. If a penalty is given on false theological or canonical premises, it is null and void, just as the canonical trial and excommunication of Joan of Arc were recognized as illegitimate” later. “The priest may continue administering the sacraments as before; his faculties remain unimpaired,” the author asserts. Here, Dr. Kwasniewski insists that we live in extraordinary times, in a state of emergency, “when ecclesiastical authority, by its assault on liturgical and theological tradition, has turned against the common good of the Church.” The author also points out that Bishop Athanasius, though excommunicated at some point, “did not hesitate to carry on with his works nonetheless.”

These few examples of the work’s arguments and quotations might give our readers enough of a sense of its worth. This little book is a treasure for Catholic traditionalists. It gives us all the arguments needed to have a well-formed conscience in these matters of moment, for the sake of the salvation of souls.

Let us also remember that this line of argument as presented in this book may be applied – and was applied – in the case of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Back when the Mass of All Ages was effectively canceled (ask Catholics who lived through that time), Lefebvre resisted in order to preserve that great treasury of the Church, ultimately for all of us who now, in growing numbers, can enjoy this most beautiful liturgy that leads us to God and to His adoration.

It might also be worthwhile to remind our readers of LifeSite’s October 2021 interview with the well-known German author and defender of the traditional Mass, Martin Mosebach, who argued along the lines of Dr. Kwasniewski. He posited that those who love the Old Rite might very well have to live for a short period of time in the state of “legitimate illegality.”

Bishop Athanasius Schneider has endorsed Dr. Kwasniewski’s new book, saying that it “offers a valuable and timely theological clarification on the authentic meaning of obedience.” He added that this publication “will bring peace of conscience to many perplexed souls and confirm their fidelity to the perennial doctrinal and liturgical tradition of Holy Mother Church.”

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski’s book True Obedience in the Church: A Guide to Discernment in Challenging Times has just come out and is available on Amazon and can be purchased in paperback or e-book form. On this website, priests may order a free copy, thanks to a generous benefactor.

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.