In a recent Eleison Comments1 bishop Williamson advised “Catholics who wish to save their souls “get real”, as Americans say, or adjust their minds to the reality of our situation.” And a little further he "replied with the immense need that all Catholics have today to grasp reality and to adapt to it". Since I am one of those Catholics who would like to save his soul, I will now present you my reality check in an attempt to help others likewise grasp reality and to adapt to it.
I will try to walk the fine balance between not saying enough and saying too much, but I have no doubt there will be enough volunteers to pontificate my failure in this, either by accusing me of saying too much, or of not saying enough, and probably both. So be it. It’ll further prove the point I’m am going to make.
I will start by giving three examples, and in doing so I have purposely left out some names wherever possible and wherever they are not relevant to the moral of the story.
Carmelite Sisters in Ireland
Let me start by giving you some background information, which necessarily contains more personal information than I would have liked feeding to the backbiters. But I consider it necessary now to do so in light of this much overdue reality check.
Since my eldest daughter was 13 years old she has felt a strong calling to become a Carmelite religious. We always encouraged her in following God’s will, whatever His will may be, but we also decided to make her wait at least until she was 18. The moment however she was old and mature enough we decided to let her go, and so she started writing to different Carmelite convents all over the world. We immediately crossed off the many sedevacantists, especially because of their bitter spirit. And we crossed off the Ecclesia Dei communities because of their various stages of compromise, and this unfortunately now also includes the SSPX. After that, there were no options left on the table and things did not look too good.
Then one day Providence seemed to open a door for us, when a very good Resistance priest – I will come back to him later – told us about a Traditional Catholic sister in Ireland who was trying her best to live as a Carmelite hermit. We started writing letters, making phone calls, contacting different people and asking many questions. We were pleased with what we found out. Still, we wanted to be extra cautious and waited, until at long last, another excellent Resistance priest gave us the go ahead as well.
At this stage I also sent an email to bishop Williamson to ask for his advice. In all my emails to him he has always asked me to keep his replies private, so I will respect that. But given the extreme importance of this whole issue at hand I consider myself justified in giving at least the gist of his advice. He told us that if we considered our daughter mature enough and capable of judging situations, then we might let her go. In other words, yes, but be cautious. When I politely asked him if there was something important that I needed to know, he assured me there was nothing serious, but that he had been advised by someone whose opinion he trusted to wait before making any public pronouncement. OK, fair enough.
With the explicit backing of two of the best Resistance priests, and the cautious approval of bishop Williamson, we decided to let our daughter go to Ireland to try her vocation with Sister Irene.
Barely a few weeks or so before my daughter was set to board the plane for Ireland, we received a letter from a certain Fr. C., a local SSPX priest. In this letter, Fr. C. gave us a whole laundry list of allegations against Sister Irene, ranging from the ridiculous (i.e. “no amenities like running water, electricity, proper heating, etc..”) to the outrageous (i.e. “psychotic”, “physically assaulting”, “money-making scam”). Obviously we were a little “surprised” to hear all this dirt coming a priest.
I immediately forwarded Fr. C.’s laundry letter to bishop Williamson asking for his advice. The reply came back only a few hours later, the gist of it being: I have never heard of these allegations, but they have the ring of truth, there can be no question now of letting your daughter go.
However, no matter how hard I tried listening for this “ring of truth”, all I could hear was the ring of “slander”.
In his “laundry letter”, Fr. C. had made many allegations, but he never gave any proof. He did try passing the buck though, by giving me the name of a certain Fr. B. who was supposed to have all the incriminating evidence. So I wrote to Fr. B., explaining the importance and the urgency of the situation and asking him for any evidence or any leads that might help me in making the right decision. When a week after my first email I still did not have a reply, I sent a second email. This time a certain Fr. K. replied on behalf of Fr. B. and assured me that Fr. B. was looking into gathering “further information” for me. That was a year and a half ago now, and I never heard of either of them since. What struck me was the fact that the “information gathering” happened after the verdict had been spread even to the other side of the world. I would have thought that a just man would gather the evidence first, and then based on the evidence try and reach a verdict. Obviously this is not the way the SSPX works these days.
As well as asking bishop Williamson for his advice and making inquiries with what seemed to be the source of this “ring of truth”, I decided to write to Sister Irene myself and at least give her a chance to defend herself. In all her replies she was always calm, open, humble and charitable, and not once did she lash out at her calumniators. And she certainly did not come across as a “psychotic, physically assaulting money scammer”. Far from it. It did not take me long to see the devil’s tail in all these wild allegations. Some of them are of quite a personal and humiliating nature and I leave these for the backbiters to speculate about, but here are a few examples that I can share in public.
Fr. C. was very concerned that my daughter “will be required to live in a garden shed by herself, with no amenities like running water, electricity, proper heating or, most importantly, no protection from burglars or roving gypsies etc..” Now this is the same priest who never gave any peep or sign of concern when we moved to Wanganui many years before, and when upon our arrival we discovered “there was no place in the inn” for a family with five young children, and the sixth one on the way. But thanks to the charity of a local protestant (!!) we received permission to squat in a derelict building that had no running water, no electricity, no sewerage system, no proper heating and plenty of possums and rats to keep us company. We lived in that cold, damp and miserable place for about three years, and we even had a home birth there. Those were the hardest three years of our life, but I would happily do it all over again, because it was worth it: we had just found Tradition!
The point here is that not once in all these years that we were with the SSPX did we see or hear Fr. C. or any other SSPX priest being concerned for our well being. And since we left the SSPX three years before this laundry letter arrived, we never saw or heard anything of Fr. C. either, no questions, no visits, nothing but dead silence. Obviously, I was not impressed with Fr. C.’s sudden newfound concern for our daughter’s physical well being. I believe it is to the sisters’ credit that they are content to live in poverty, unlike the local SSPX sisters who live in the flashest villa in the whole parish, with all the mod-cons money can buy!
Funny enough, towards the end of Fr. C.’s laundry list we were told that Sister Irene was probably running a money making scam by painting religious icons, insinuating of course that our daughter was being recruited as cheap labor in the icon painting sweatshops of Ireland. Do I really need to say more? At the time Mother Irene hadn’t painted an icon for three years, and certainly after Fr. C. had started off his laundry letter by pointing our Sister Irene’s poverty, such a sudden opposite accusation just defies belief.
And so we likewise went through all the other allegations and it wasn’t rocket science to prove them all based on Chinese whispers and even outright lies. In the end we decided to ignore the devil with his bag of tricks and we let our daughter go to Ireland as planned. She’s been there now for a year and a half and up until this day I still have not been able to hear the ring of truth in any of these wild allegations, on the contrary. I wholeheartedly encourage my daughter to remain firm in her loyalty and support for Sister (now Mother) Irene. As someone recently remarked, judging by the wild allegations against her, she’s either the devil incarnate or a saint in the making.
Many of you reading this will know Fr. MacDonald quite well, as he is probably the most traveled priests in the Resistance. Despite his health problems he is constantly on the move all over the world, bringing the Sacraments to whoever asks for them (including the Irish Carmelites!), teaching children their catechism and visiting the sick and imprisoned. He often spends days in transit to reach people all over the world, from the USA to Australia, from Ireland to New Zealand, from India and the Philippines to the UK. And all of this he does without complaining, without hesitating, without refusing anyone who asks for his help. If only the Resistance had a few more priests like him!!
So why do I mention this? Because just recently Fr. MacDonald has become a “persona non grata” within certain Resistance parlors, even to the point where his much needed Visa is being boycotted by the Resistance. I am not talking about the SSPX or the Pfeifferites, I’m talking about our very own clergy within the Resistance. Father will probably not like me saying this in public, but I believe the faithful have a right to know how their priests are being treated, because only if and when they know what is going on will they be inclined to defend, help and pray for their priests.
Fr. MacDonald has been rather silent about all this, but the truth has it’s own way of getting out. I admire Fr. MacDonald for his courage to battle on despite these silent persecutions, and especially for his Catholic take on the matter. As he told us recently: “I may not agree with everything they do, and they may not agree with everything I do, but we will have to learn to get on with each other, because that’s all we’ve got”. That’s the kind of Catholic spirit we need but which I notice is lacking in much of the Resistance.
But what could possibly motivate the Resistance to try and self destruct by boycotting one of their best priests? Just let this sink in a little, I will come back to it later.
Archbishop Lefebvre told us that it is the superiors who form the subjects. We have all seen how this works in the Conciliar Church, and more recently in the SSPX. We’ve seen how the rot often starts at the top and slowly spreads down through the ranks until it finally reaches the lower levels. And so I must thank Matthew McDevitt over at CathInfo for providing us with a very timely example of how the rot within the Resistance has already reached its lower ranks.
Over the last year and a half, several priests and laymen within the Resistance have tried to privately persuade bishop Williamson to give his public support to the Carmelite sisters in Ireland, but each time they have come away empty handed. So as a last resort, I decided to gather some public support for the sisters and raise public awareness of their urgent needs, by launching a petition on their behalf. I forwarded this petition to all the Resistance people I have in my address book, including those responsible for all the Resistance related websites I could think of. Not a single one of them supported the petition, they all went absolutely quiet about it. With the help of a French speaking priest I managed to post a translation on the French Resistance forum, but it was swiftly taken down by the Admin. And whereas before all these Resistance sites happily would link or republish translations or articles published on Tradidi, since a few weeks ago now that is no longer happening either. I believe I have the honor of joining the ranks of “persona non grata” in certain Resistance parlors. Deo Gratias!
This morning however I noticed Matthew McDevitt breaking the silence and enlightening us all on the unforgivable crime I have committed. Let me take this opportunity to comment on Matthew’s verdict.2
Matthew starts off by “publicly criticizing Tradidi (Samuel..) for his prideful stance towards bishop Williamson. He is trying to tell the bishop what to do: He is literally commanding (not asking, not suggesting) the good Bishop to donate millions of dollars to this particular Carmel.” You may wish to re-read these words a few times to let them sink in, and then try and think for yourself what could possibly be wrong with Matthew’s noble edict.
St. Ignatius teaches us that a Catholic is obliged to always put the most benign interpretation on a fellow Catholic’s words. I can understand that Matthew has a problem with that, but I cannot understand how he can read into the petition that I am “literally demanding the good bishop to donate millions of dollars”. The petition contains seven different sections, each with their own example and request, and each time the wording is literally “we ask you..”. How could Matthew then accuse me of “not asking” but rather of “demanding”?
Could it be that it is not my words which were “demanding”, but rather the force of the arguments? Could it be that the Archbishop gave us such clear examples of how he himself supported the Carmelites and of how a bishop ought to support his subjects that depend on his help, that it makes the Resistance look like.. hypocrites? If this is the case, then where does the problem lie, in the one pointing out what should be obvious to all (but isn’t) or in the one who has a bone to pick and an untouchable hero to defend at all costs?
When Dom Gerard started wavering, the Archbishop encouraged people to stand up to him and to demand his resignation, and the Resistance is quite happy to criticize the internal resisters in the SSPX for not speaking up against their superiors and their bishops. But when we merely ask our own bishop to give these sisters in Ireland a chance, to lead us by example in putting down the stones, and to base his decision on the reality of facts instead of the virtual reality of gossip, that is all of a sudden considered a “prideful stance”? What hypocrites this Resistance!
The other thing I find noteworthy, and I have seen the same happen on the French Resistance forum, is the fact that of all seven requests the petition mentions, and of all the different ways a bishop can show his support, Matthew picks out just one particular one to cast a shadow on the whole petition. I think Matthew ought to read John 12:6 in order to get a grip on his own reality check. At a time when his own forum is overrun by sedevacantists and Feeneyites, all Matthew can come up with is ‘click this checkbox to support CathInfo’ and posts about ‘Cryptocurrencies’. I think Matthew would make a fine bursar, but certainly not a very edifying shepherd of souls!
Thankfully, a few hours later Matthew was kind enough to show us by example how a real petition should look like3. Let’s hope that Matthew will not stop here but that he, after gathering a large amount of signatures himself, will send his own petition to the bishop. I for one wholeheartedly support Matthew's petition and I encourage everyone else to do likewise. The more people we can get behind the same good cause, the better!
As a bonus, Matthew finally showed us the real bone he’s trying to pick and started a third thread to enlighten his audience.4 A few weeks ago I defended the Resistance, but in doing so I committed the horrible crime of mildly criticizing Matthew’s forum. I rewrote that particular part several times so as not to cause more waves than necessary, but obviously even that was still too much for Matthew to swallow. For a man who constantly prides himself on being “tolerant”, even to the point of tolerating outright heresies, and who is in charge of a forum known for it’s gossip and slander, it is rather odd that a little reality check can be so hurtful.
In all this I don’t blame Matthew for his ignorance, but I do blame him for his tendency to judge people based on nothing more than assumptions, gossip and .. a serious lack of charity. And I am certainly not the only one that has noticed this. Maybe he just spent too much time on his own forum.
Faith and Charity
Which brings us to the real problem I see within the Resistance, I would even say, the Resistance’s very own “operation suicide”. Whereas we have good reasons to believe the SSPX has lost God’s blessing on account of their willingness to compromise against the Faith, I see the Resistance well on their way of losing God’s blessing on account of their lack of Charity.
Without Faith it is impossible to please God, but without Charity we have nothing. Two very different compromises leading to the same destination: death.
Is it charity that encourages people within the Resistance to speak like backbiters, or to let their itchy ears take in all the gossip? Is it charity that prompts our clergy to boycott one of it’s very best priests? Is it charity that caused Matthew to gratuitously accuse me of being disrespectful and even “hating” my bishop? Is it charity to depict a simple and honest petition as “manipulation, disrespect, guilt tripping, and cajoling” and see in it nothing more than a “money drive”? Is it charity that causes us to act like true hypocrites, criticizing one bishop and defending another as beyond reproach? Is it charity that caused the good bishop to hear the “ring of truth” without giving the accused a chance to defend herself?
Last week Fr. Trincado published a sermon on his Non Possumus website, and I posted a translation of it on Tradidi. Listen to these beautiful words: “Let us go and do in like manner, dear faithful. Let us act as children of God and not as children of Cain and the devil. When God asked him where Abel was, Cain answered: “I know not: am I my brother's keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). Christ came to teach us that, truly, we are all guardians, protectors and Samaritans, each of us for one another, and Christ for us all. The Church is that Samaritan with respect to all men, because we are all born half dead. And we traditionalists are that Samaritan with respect to all our brothers who have been deceived, robbed and wounded by those wolves in sheep's clothing who are modernist heretics.”5
Beautiful words indeed, but let us look at the actions that go with it and which I mentioned just before. Are we really the good Samaritans we claim we are? Do we really act “as children of God and not as children of Cain and the devil”? Or are these just beautiful words to make us feel good? I think Our Lord’s words in Matthew 23:1-3 are more applicable to the Resistance on a whole: “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, Saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not. For they say, and do not.”
I see a Resistance that “say, but do not”. They may have the true Faith, but they do not have Charity.
Contrary to Matthew’s divination of my intentions and personal opinions, I do not consider bishop Williamson himself a hypocrite. And contrary to the Pfeifferite propaganda, I do not consider the bishop a heretic either. Far from it! And I have repeatedly defended the bishop against these sowers of dissensions.
But I do believe the bishop is making a serious mistake and doing more harm than good by trying to be too cautious, by listening to bad advisers and by refusing to give the accused a fair hearing. There are at least four Resistance priests who support Sister Irene, probably more, and at least three of them have made the effort to visit Sister Irene and to go and see for themselves. All of them have come back with favorable reports. Even bishop Faure made the effort to go and visit the sisters, and he too was favorably impressed. But why not bishop Williamson?
Fr. MacDonald reminded me recently that based on the discernment of spirits, a fear of what might happen in the future always comes from the devil. Bishop Williamson has been advised that “some people feared an eventual failure” in Ireland, and he mistakes this advice as “prudence”. And as also Fr. Chazal recently pointed out when referring to Morgon: “fear is not prudence but imprudence”. Little did he know this applies to our own bishop as well. If sister Irene was able to withstand the many trials and disappointments for more than 20 years now, and if after all she has gone through she is still here with us, leading a moral and virtuous life, neither being a heretic nor a schismatic, then I would say that can only be because God has sustained her for that long with His Grace. And if God is with her, so should we. By not supporting Sister Irene, the bishop is persecuting her. And by persecuting her he is persecuting the One Who called her. I am sorry, but I have no other words for it. It is called “getting real”, as Americans say.
Looking at the greater picture, I know that the bishop does not want to lead the Resistance, but by his refusal to lead he IS leading us.. in the wrong direction. By his refusal to gather, he is scattering. And his example is being followed by many of the clergy who are more interested in petty politics than in the common good, and by the laity in their appetite for gossip and in their refusal to be good Samaritans for others, to put aside their differences and to work together for the common good, and not for or against this or that party pooper.
This “operation suicide” was first given the beautiful name of “loose associations”, but a rose by any other name is still a rose. Our Lord told us that “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.”6 The definition of an association is “a formal organization of people”, which is the gathering part, and the “loose” is the scattering part. They are two opposites, and it is impossible to do two opposites at the same time. Either we will end up gathering, or we will end up scattering. And ever since that bad policy was forced upon the Resistance, we have ended up scattering. Look how many priests are truly with the Resistance. Apart from the Dominicans in Avrille, who hardly leave their convent, I counted about a dozen priests worldwide. A dozen priests from how many that have left or been kicked out of the SSPX since 2012? Where have they all gone? Have they been gathered or have they been scattered?
What is the point of praying “O Lord grant us many holy priests, O Lord grant us many Holy religious vocations”, if we boycott them when Our Lord grants us what we asked for? We have a bishop who deserves our respect and support, but we also have priests and religious who deserve our respect and support. And if our bishop refuses to give his subjects the respect and support he is bound to give them, then the laity have a right and a duty to remind him of this duty.
It was my intention to send all this as a private letter to the bishop so as not to cause too many uncomfortable waves in this frail Resistance, but seeing how so many people have been deceived by the real “rabble rousers” among us, I think it is better this way. Some wounds heal better with a little light and fresh air!
On a practical note, despite the silent boycott, the petition has already managed to gain the support of 98 people, from 11 different countries. I will leave it up until the end of this month, in case there are still people who may not have been aware of this petition or of what prompted it in the first place and who may still want to support us. You can find the petition here.
There is much more which could be said, and I wonder how many more people that have needed our help have been shunned or boycotted by the Resistance, but I think this should be enough to get us started with "grasping reality". If my fellow “Resisters” now wish to chop off my head for saying the unspeakable, I would be forever grateful to them. I am more at peace now as a “persona non grata” than I was when I had the human respect of my former “friends”. And as bonus I have found more spare time to go fishing.
- 1. Eleison Comment #577, General Chapter II, August 4, 2018, https://stmarcelinitiative.com/general-chapter-ii/
- 2. https://www.cathinfo.com/sspx-resistance-news/resistance-carmelites-need-help-fast/msg622814
- 3. https://www.cathinfo.com/sspx-resistance-news/alternate-petition-for-the-carmelites-in-ireland/msg622812
- 4. https://www.cathinfo.com/sspx-resistance-news/public-rebuke-for-samuel-of-tradidi-com/msg622805
- 5. https://tradidi.com/fr-trincado-sermon-12th-sunday-after-pentecost
- 6. Matthew 12:30