September 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, responding to a set of questions published by LifeSite’s journalist Stephen Kokx, sets the record straight with regard to the ongoing battle for the faith in the Church. That is to say: he makes it clear that one has to remain in the Catholic Church and that, instead, those who undermine the faith as it has been handed down to us from the apostles have to leave. He calls upon faithful Catholics to fight and to live a life of sanctifying grace.
This new statement is important, inasmuch as in recent days, both Father Thomas Weinandy, as well as Father Raymond de Souza, spread the suspicion that the Italian prelate might be “schismatic,” thus intending to leave the Catholic Church. This suspicion had arisen because of Viganò's critique of the Second Vatican Council and its detrimental effects on the life of the faith in the Church. For example, de Souza's article is entitled: “Is Archbishop Viganò’s Rejection of the Second Vatican Council Promoting Schism?” And Weinandy stated: “My concern is that, in his radical reading of the Council, the archbishop is spawning his own schism.”
In an August 22 article published by the traditional Catholic newspaper Catholic Family News, Kokx had asked Viganò a set of questions with regard to what faithful laity can do in the midst of this Church crisis that is going back to the Council.
Kokx suggested Viganò needs to give more advice to laity and priests on what to do next: “He’s certainly diagnosed the problem, but what are his solutions, if any? What, in other words, is it that he believes Catholics in the 21st century should do in response to the crisis?”
Archbishop Viganò's response as published on September 1 by Catholic Family News (see full text below) is clear: it is not the faithful Catholics who oppose the changing of the faith, but those who perpetrate these changes that ought to be questioned. He writes that we need to discuss “the position of those who, declaring themselves Catholic, embrace the heterodox doctrines that have spread over these decades, with the awareness that these represent a rupture with the preceding Magisterium. In this case it is licit to doubt their real adherence to the Catholic Church, in which however they hold official roles that confer authority on them.”
If people who hold heterodox views are in positions of authority in the Church, he continues, “It is an illicitly exercised authority, if its purpose is to force the faithful to accept the revolution imposed since the Council.”
Thus, Viganò continues, “it is not the traditional faithful – that is, true Catholics, in the words of Saint Pius X – that must abandon the Church in which they have the full right to remain and from which it would be unfortunate to separate; but rather the Modernists who usurp the Catholic name, precisely because it is only the bureaucratic element that permits them not to be considered on a par with any heretical sect.”
In addition and on a practical level, the Italian prelate gives us advice on how to live and grow in the faith, working on our sanctification and remaining in the state of “sanctifying grace.” But at the same time, we are to assist and “comfort” good priests and bishops, seeking out reverent Masses.
“Faithful laity have the right and the duty to find priests, communities, and institutes that are faithful to the perennial Magisterium,” Viganò explains. “And may they know how to accompany the laudable celebration of the liturgy in the Ancient Rite with adherence to sound doctrine and morals, without any subsidence on the front of the Council.”
Finally, Archbishop Viganò also praises the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), which has defended the traditional faith for decades now. They “deserve recognition” for their work of preserving the Catholic faith, he says, and adds that he considers Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of this Society, to be a “confessor of the Faith.”
Here we might remember that just recently, a cardinal stated that Lefebvre will one day be declared a “Doctor of the Church” and that he was “prophetic.”
Let us close with Viganò's last words of his response to Kokx’s questions:
“The cure for rebellion is obedience. The cure for heresy is faithfulness to the teaching of Tradition. The cure for schism is filial devotion for the Sacred Pastors. The cure for apostasy is love for God and His Most Holy Mother. The cure for vice is the humble practice of virtue. The cure for the corruption of morals is to live constantly in the presence of God. But obedience cannot be perverted into stolid servility; respect for authority cannot be perverted into the obeisance of the court. And let’s not forget that if it is the duty of the laity to obey their Pastors, it is even a more grave duty of the Pastors to obey God, usque ad effusionem sanguinis.”
Below is the full statement by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, reprinted with permission:
Disclaimer: The following positions adopted and advice offered by Archbishop Viganò do not necessarily represent the views of LifeSiteNews and are presented only for your information.
Dear Mr. Kokx,
I read with lively interest your article “Questions for Viganò: His Excellency is Right about Vatican II, But What Does He Think Catholic Should Do Now?” which was published by Catholic Family News on August 22 (here). I am happy to respond to your questions, which address matters that are very important for the faithful.
You ask: “What would ‘separating’ from the Conciliar Church look like in Archbishop Viganò’s opinion?” I respond to you with another question: “What does it mean to separate from the Catholic Church according to the supporters of the Council?” While it is clear that no admixture is possible with those who propose adulterated doctrines of the conciliar ideological manifesto, it should be noted that the simple fact of being baptized and of being living members of the Church of Christ does not imply adherence to the conciliar team; this is true above all for the simple faithful and also for secular and regular clerics who, for various reasons, sincerely consider themselves Catholics and recognize the Hierarchy.
Instead, what needs to be clarified is the position of those who, declaring themselves Catholic, embrace the heterodox doctrines that have spread over these decades, with the awareness that these represent a rupture with the preceding Magisterium. In this case it is licit to doubt their real adherence to the Catholic Church, in which however they hold official roles that confer authority on them. It is an illicitly exercised authority, if its purpose is to force the faithful to accept the revolution imposed since the Council.
Once this point has been clarified, it is evident that it is not the traditional faithful – that is, true Catholics, in the words of Saint Pius X – that must abandon the Church in which they have the full right to remain and from which it would be unfortunate to separate; but rather the Modernists who usurp the Catholic name, precisely because it is only the bureaucratic element that permits them not to be considered on a par with any heretical sect. This claim of theirs serves in fact to prevent them from ending up among the hundreds of heretical movements that over the course of the centuries have believed to be able to reform the Church at their own pleasure, placing their pride ahead of humbly guarding the teaching of Our Lord. But just as it is not possible to claim citizenship in a homeland in which one does not know its language, law, faith and tradition; so it is impossible that those who do not share the faith, morals, liturgy, and discipline of the Catholic Church can arrogate to themselves the right to remain within her and even to ascend the levels of the hierarchy.
Therefore let us not give in to the temptation to abandon – albeit with justified indignation – the Catholic Church, on the pretext that it has been invaded by heretics and fornicators: it is they who must be expelled from the sacred enclosure, in a work of purification and penance that must begin with each one of us.
It is also evident that there are widespread cases in which the faithful encounter serious problems in frequenting their parish church, just as there are ever fewer churches where the Holy Mass is celebrated in the Catholic Rite. The horrors that have been rampant for decades in many our parishes and shrines make it impossible even to assist at a “Eucharist” without being disturbed and putting one’s faith at risk, just as it is very difficult to ensure a Catholic education, Sacraments being worthily celebrated, and solid spiritual guidance for oneself and one’s children. In these cases faithful laity have the right and the duty to find priests, communities, and institutes that are faithful to the perennial Magisterium. And may they know how to accompany the laudable celebration of the liturgy in the Ancient Rite with adherence to sound doctrine and morals, without any subsidence on the front of the Council.
The situation is certainly more complex for clerics, who depend hierarchically on their bishop or religious superior, but who at the same time have the right to remain Catholic and be able to celebrate according to the Catholic Rite. On the one hand laity have more freedom of movement in choosing the community to which they turn for Mass, the Sacraments, and religious instruction, but less autonomy because of the fact that they still have to depend on a priest; on the other hand, clerics have less freedom of movement, since they are incardinated in a diocese or order and are subject to ecclesiastical authority, but they have more autonomy because of the fact that they can legitimately decide to celebrate the Mass and administer the Sacraments in the Tridentine Rite and to preach in conformity with sound doctrine. The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum reaffirmed that faithful and priests have the inalienable right – which cannot be denied – to avail themselves of the liturgy that more perfectly expresses their Catholic Faith. But this right must be used today not only and not so much to preserve the extraordinary form of the rite, but to testify to adherence to the depositum fidei that finds perfect correspondence only in the Ancient Rite.
I daily receive heartfelt letters from priests and religious who are marginalized or transferred or ostracized because of their fidelity to the Church: the temptation to find an ubi consistam [a place to stand] far from the clamor of the Innovators is strong, but we ought to take an example from the persecutions that many saints have undergone, including Saint Athanasius, who offers us a model of how to behave in the face of widespread heresy and persecuting fury. As my venerable brother Bishop Athanasius Schneider has many times recalled, the Arianism that afflicted the Church at the time of the Holy Doctor of Alexandria in Egypt was so widespread among the bishops that it leaves one almost to believe that Catholic orthodoxy had completely disappeared. But it was thanks to the fidelity and heroic testimony of the few bishops who remained faithful that the Church knew how to get back up again. Without this testimony, Arianism would not have been defeated; without our testimony today, Modernism and the globalist apostasy of this pontificate will not be defeated.
It is therefore not a question of working from within the Church or outside it: the winemakers are called to work in the Lord’s Vineyard, and it is there that they must remain even at the cost of their lives; the pastors are called to pastor the Lord’s Flock, to keep the ravenous wolves at bay and to drive away the mercenaries who are not concerned with the salvation of the sheep and lambs.
This hidden and often silent work has been carried out by the Society of Saint Pius X, which deserves recognition for not having allowed the flame of Tradition to be extinguished at a moment in which celebrating the ancient Mass was considered subversive and a reason for excommunication. Its priests have been a healthy thorn in the side for a hierarchy that has seen in them an unacceptable point of comparison for the faithful, a constant reproach for the betrayal committed against the people of God, an inadmissible alternative to the new conciliar path. And if their fidelity made disobedience to the pope inevitable with the episcopal consecrations, thanks to them the Society was able to protect herself from the furious attack of the Innovators and by its very existence it allowed the possibility of the liberalization of the Ancient Rite, which until then was prohibited. Its presence also allowed the contradictions and errors of the conciliar sect to emerge, always winking at heretics and idolaters but implacably rigid and intolerant towards Catholic Truth.
I consider Archbishop Lefebvre an exemplary confessor of the Faith, and I think that by now it is obvious that his denunciation of the Council and the modernist apostasy is more relevant than ever. It should not be forgotten that the persecution to which Archbishop Lefebvre was subjected by the Holy See and the world episcopate served above all as a deterrent for Catholics who were refractory toward the conciliar revolution.
I also agree with the observation of His Excellency Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais about the co-presence of two entities in Rome: the Church of Christ has been occupied and eclipsed by the modernist conciliar structure, which has established itself in the same hierarchy and uses the authority of its ministers to prevail over the Spouse of Christ and our Mother.
The Church of Christ – which not only subsists in the Catholic Church, but is exclusively the Catholic Church – is only obscured and eclipsed by a strange extravagant Church established in Rome, according to the vision of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. It coexists, like wheat with the tare, in the Roman Curia, in dioceses, in parishes. We cannot judge our pastors for their intentions, nor suppose that all of them are corrupt in faith and morals; on the contrary, we can hope that many of them, hitherto intimidated and silent, will understand, as confusion and apostasy continue to spread, the deception to which they have been subjected and will finally shake off their slumber. There are many laity who are raising their voice; others will necessarily follow, together with good priests, certainly present in every diocese. This awakening of the Church militant – I would dare to call it almost a resurrection – is necessary, urgent and inevitable: no son tolerates his mother being outraged by the servants, or his father being tyrannized by the administrators of his goods. The Lord offers us, in these painful situations, the possibility of being His allies in fighting this holy battle under His banner: the King Who is victorious over error and death permits us to share the honor of triumphal victory and the eternal reward that derives from it, after having endured and suffered with Him.
But in order to deserve the immortal glory of Heaven we are called to rediscover – in an emasculated age devoid of values such as honor, faithfulness to one’s word, and heroism – a fundamental aspect of the faith of every baptized person: the Christian life is a militia, and with the Sacrament of Confirmation we are called to be soldiers of Christ, under whose insignia we must fight. Of course, in most cases it is essentially a spiritual battle, but over the course of history we have seen how often, faced with the violation of the sovereign rights of God and the liberty of the Church, it was also necessary to take up arms: we are taught this by the strenuous resistance to repel the Islamic invasions in Lepanto and on the outskirts of Vienna, the persecution of the Cristeros in Mexico, of the Catholics in Spain, and even today by the cruel war against Christians throughout the world. Never as today can we understand the theological hatred coming from the enemies of God, inspired by Satan. The attack on everything that recalls the Cross of Christ – on Virtue, on the Good and the Beautiful, on purity – must spur us to get up, in a leap of pride, in order to claim our right not only not to be persecuted by our external enemies but also and above all to have strong and courageous pastors, holy and God-fearing, who will do exactly what their predecessors have done for centuries: preach the Gospel of Christ, convert individuals and nations, and expand the Kingdom of the living and true God throughout the world.
We are all called to make an act of Fortitude – a forgotten cardinal virtue, which not by chance in Greek recalls virile strength, ἀνδρεία – in knowing how to resist the Modernists: a resistance that is rooted in Charity and Truth, which are attributes of God.
If you only celebrate the Tridentine Mass and preach sound doctrine without ever mentioning the Council, what can they ever do to you? Throw you out of your churches, perhaps, and then what? No one can ever prevent you from renewing the Holy Sacrifice, even if it is on a makeshift altar in a cellar or an attic, as the refractory priests did during the French Revolution, or as happens still today in China. And if they try to distance you, resist: canon law serves to guarantee the government of the Church in the pursuit of its primary purposes, not to demolish it. Let’s stop fearing that the fault of the schism lies with those who denounce it, and not, instead, with those who carry it out: the ones who are schismatics and heretics are those who wound and crucify the Mystical Body of Christ, not those who defend it by denouncing the executioners!
The laity can expect their ministers to behave as such, preferring those who prove that they are not contaminated by present errors. If a Mass becomes an occasion of torture for the faithful, if they are forced to assist at sacrileges or to support heresies and ramblings unworthy of the House of the Lord, it is a thousand times preferable to go to a church where the priest celebrates the Holy Sacrifice worthily, in the rite given to us by Tradition, with preaching in conformity with sound doctrine. When parish priests and bishops realize that the Christian people demand the Bread of Faith, and not the stones and scorpions of the neo-church, they will lay aside their fears and comply with the legitimate requests of the faithful. The others, true mercenaries, will show themselves for what they are and will be able to gather around them only those who share their errors and perversions. They will be extinguished by themselves: the Lord dries up the swamp and makes the land on which brambles grow arid; he extinguishes vocations in corrupt seminaries and in convents rebellious to the Rule.
The lay faithful today have a sacred task: to comfort good priests and good bishops, gathering like sheep around their shepherds. Give them hospitality, help them, console them in their trials. Create community in which murmuring and division do not predominate, but rather fraternal charity in the bond of Faith. And since in the order established by God – κόσμος – subjects owe obedience to authority and cannot do otherwise than resist it when it abuses its power, no fault will be attributed to them for the infidelity of their leaders, on whom rests the very serious responsibility for the way in which they exercise the vicarious power which has been given to them. We must not rebel, but oppose; we must not be pleased with the errors of our pastors, but pray for them and admonish them respectfully; we must not question their authority but the way in which they use it.
I am certain, with a certainty that comes to me from Faith, that the Lord will not fail to reward our fidelity, after having punished us for the faults of the men of the Church, granting us holy priests, holy bishops, holy cardinals, and above all a holy Pope. But these saints will arise from our families, from our communities, from our churches: families, communities, and churches in which the grace of God must be cultivated with constant prayer, with the frequenting of Holy Mass and the Sacraments, with the offering of sacrifices and penances that the Communion of Saints permits us to offer to the Divine Majesty in order to expiate our sins and those of our brethren, including those who exercise authority. The laity have a fundamental role in this, guarding the Faith within their families, in such a way that our young people who are educated in love and in the fear of God may one day be responsible fathers and mothers, but also worthy ministers of the Lord, His heralds in the male and female religious orders, and His apostles in civil society.
The cure for rebellion is obedience. The cure for heresy is faithfulness to the teaching of Tradition. The cure for schism is filial devotion for the Sacred Pastors. The cure for apostasy is love for God and His Most Holy Mother. The cure for vice is the humble practice of virtue. The cure for the corruption of morals is to live constantly in the presence of God. But obedience cannot be perverted into stolid servility; respect for authority cannot be perverted into the obeisance of the court. And let’s not forget that if it is the duty of the laity to obey their Pastors, it is even a more grave duty of the Pastors to obey God, usque ad effusionem sanguinis.
+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop
September 1, 2020
Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino