Featured Image

FRONT ROYAL, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) —In light of Saturday’s devastating news that Rome is further clamping down on the traditional Latin Mass and the traditional Sacraments, it might be timely to review a book on this topic.

Angelico Press has released a vitally important book for all Catholics who take seriously the traditional liturgy and faith of the Church: From Benedict’s Peace to Francis’s War: Catholics Respond to the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes on the Latin Mass.

Edited by liturgical scholar and traditionalist advocate Dr. Peter Kwasniewski (no stranger to LifeSiteNews readers), the anthology brings together a remarkable array of writers: 5 cardinals (Eminences Brandmüller, Burke, Müller, Sarah, and Zen), 5 bishops (Excellencies Aguer, Gullickson, Viganò, Mutsaerts, and Schneider), 8 priests (Fathers Barthe, Fiedrowicz, Grichting, Hunwicke, Pope, and Weishaupt), 2 religious (one of whom is the well-known liturgist Dom Alcuin Reid), and 27 laymen—among them Juan Manuel de Prada, Michael Brendan Dougherty, Ross Douthat, Edward Feser, Phil Lawler, Martin Mosebach, George Neumayr, Joseph Shaw, and Tim Stanley. The authors hail from 12 countries. It is, from this point of view, an impressive and substantial body of work representing the strength of conservative and traditionalist thought in the Church today.

The purpose of the anthology is explained clearly in the first pages: it is meant to place in one convenient book the best, most vigorous, most appreciated writings about the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes. The editor’s introduction is brutally honest: “This book is not, and makes no pretense of being, a presentation of ‘both sides of the argument.’ It offers a variety of critiques of this profoundly unwise and unpastoral decree, which suffers from incoherent doctrinal foundations, grave moral and juridical defects, and impossible ecclesiological implications.”

Dr. Kwasniewski himself, one of the most active “first-responders” to the catastrophe unleashed on July 16 and rumored soon to worsen, is represented in the book with 6 items: 4 essays, one interview, and one lecture.

Most of the writings were published online between July 16 and September 20, but their location on dozens of different sites, some behind paywalls, makes it useful to have them all neatly printed and chronologically arranged between the covers of a single paperback or hardcover. (Both formats and a Kindle version are available.) Typographical errors have been corrected, and some editorial notes and cross-references have been added.

Moreover, the book does contain several items that have never been published elsewhere and thus may only be accessed in this collection: Christophe Geffroy and Abbé Christian Gouyaud’s “After the Shock, the Analysis”; Jean-Pierre Maugendre’s “Francis: The Pope of Exclusion” and “Divide and Conquer?”; Juan Manuel de Prada’s “Substance and Form”; and two ambitious lectures by Dr. Joseph Shaw, “Is the Missal of Paul VI the Unum Necessarium?” and “We Will Persevere, and with God’s Help We Will Prevail.” It also has fresh, improved translations of Michel Onfray’s “Ite Missa Est” and Abbé Claude Barthe’s “The Council’s Last Stand?”

When the book first appeared at the end of October, a controversy immediately sprang up, caused by Cardinal Sarah’s statement that he had not been informed by the editor that Archbishop Viganò and other critics of the Second Vatican Council would be present in the same book—something Cardinal Sarahe says would have led to the instant cancellation of his own involvement. He said, moreover, that he had approved the inclusion of an “interview.”

I reached out to Dr. Kwasniewski for his opinion about this controversy. He replied:

In our request, His Eminence was told that the book would be an anthology of various authors, some of whom we listed—namely, the ones whose permission we had obtained at the time when we invited him. Nothing was said about … “the complete list.” Moreover, we specified that the article of his that we had in view was the one published by the National Catholic Register, translated from Le Figaro. It did not take the form of an interview. I deeply regret that Cardinal Sarah seems to consider certain fellow Catholics with whom he disagrees to be like lepers or pariahs who cannot even share the pages of a 400-page book of 47 authors representing a variety of opinions.

Regarding the severity of Cardinal Sarah’s reaction, Kwasniewski added:

My impression is that everyone is quite touchy at this time, and no wonder. The Vatican is attacking thousands of priests and millions of faithful, and so everyone’s nerves are on edge as we watch the barque of Peter swaying wildly this way and that, coming right up against the shoals—a vessel threatened in its fundamental integrity like never before. It seems to me that perhaps certain cardinals either do not realize the gravity of the situation, or politically pretend not to.

The title of From Benedict’s Peace to Francis’s War seems aptly chosen, even if some critical voices have complained that it is too belligerent in spirit. The reality is that a war over the traditional Roman Rite or usus antiquior has long been brewing under this pontificate, and it was only a matter of time before hostilities broke into the open. The entire “liturgical establishment” in Rome has been upset about Summorum Pontificum for 14 years—their own spokesmen like Andrea Grillo and Archbishop Roche admit it openly—and have plotted and planned their strategies for its overthrow.

Traditionis Custodes was an official declaration of war, a first step in what Stuart Chessman calls “that most difficult of martial undertakings, an aggressive war of total annihilation,” since—pace Cardinal Sarah—the motu proprio states that all Catholics must eventually “return” to a single way of worshiping, namely, according to the new liturgical books of Paul VI. (It has not yet been explained why the same strictures do not apply to adherents of the Anglican Ordinariate use, the Ambrosian Rite, or the Mozarabic Rite. Neither is it clear why it is still acceptable for Eastern-rite Catholics to worship differently from their Latin brethren. How can such great diversity be compatible with unity? That, of course, is a rhetorical question.)

The enemies of tradition, knowing their time is limited and their occupation of the high posts of power tenuous, are evidently gambling everything on one final assault to wipe out the remnants of “old Catholicism.” There is every reason to predict that they will fail dramatically, even as their predecessors failed in the initial attempt to wipe out the old Mass and the old Faith in the 1970s. Among other differences, there are many thousands more priests and millions of lay faithful who love the treasury of Catholic tradition and who are much less naïve about the ideological agendas and much less ultramontanist than past generations were. Will, for example, a young priest of the FSSP or the ICKSP who has known nothing all his life but the sacramental rites of the usus antiquior, who loves it dearly and lives by it devoutly, simply set it aside because a few ignorant, malicious, nostalgic flowerchildren in Rome tell him he must? Unlikely, to say the least.

However, two things will be necessary.

First, to prepare a strong defense and to fight with a clean conscience for the restoration of tradition, one must acquire the best possible understanding of the theological basis, the rationale, of the positions taken by traditional Catholics. That is the unique service rendered to the Church by From Benedict’s Peace to Francis’ War: it is a vital repository of positive arguments, refutations of opponents, and observations on the current state of affairs. Since we are, for now and perhaps for many years, in the era of Traditionis Custodes, the book’s content will long remain relevant; in fact, most of these essays will grow in relevance as the situation in the Vatican deteriorates and the war worsens.

Second, there must be a will to engage, to resist when it is appropriate, and to take whatever steps are necessary for the good of souls and the preservation of the Catholic Faith in its fullness. This will lead, in some dioceses, to clandestine Masses and sacraments. There will be canceled priests who nevertheless continue to offer sacrifice to God and sacraments to the people, as they were ordained to do. To assist consciences in the midst of this grueling and gritty guerrilla warfare, Dr. Kwasniewski has written a new book, True Obedience in the Church: A Guide to Discernment in Challenging Times, which will be released by Sophia Institute Press in February and may be pre-ordered either from the publisher or from Amazon. A proper review of that book will have to wait for a future article.

What I hope will come out of this final assault on Tradition – as can be seen in this weekend’s shocking news, as well as the planned visitations of the Ecclesia Dei communities in February of next year – is that members of the traditional movement will grow closer together. Let us lay aside the conflicts of the past and come together for the salvation of souls. Once we are all more or less canceled, traditional Catholics, the most important thing will be to strengthen each other in the Faith and in steadfastness, as well as to provide networks that provide the sacraments for all the traditional Catholics in our countries and throughout the world.

Could it be that, through God’s Providence, just when Pope Francis thinks he is hitting the hardest, he is actually being used by God as a tool to unite the traditional communities? Time will tell. In the meantime, let our thoughts be nourished and informed the great wealth of wisdom   contained in this new book.

From Benedict’s Peace to Francis’s War: Catholics Respond to the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes on the Latin Mass.Edited by Peter A. Kwasniewski. Brooklyn, NY: Angelico Press, 2021. 406 pp.  |  Paperback: $22.95  |  Hardcover: $32  | Kindle: $8.99. Available at Amazon and Tumblar House—or request it from your local bookseller.

Featured Image

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.