Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 3, Chapter VIII

IThe Ecumenical Heresy

9 November 1979

This is a slightly abbreviated version of the full text of address which I gave at the Remnant Forum III at Tarrytown, New York. It appeared in the 20 November and 30 November 1979 issues of The Remnant. It has been included here in spite of its length to assist in the purpose for which it was originally delivered, that is, to set the case of Archbishop Lefebvre within its correct historical context The alleged offenses of Archbishop Lefebvre, which have been documented in Volumes I and II, were only disciplinary, and they were prompted, as even his most implacable opponents would concede, by his resolve to uphold Tradition no matter what the consequences. But, as Cardinal Newsman insisted, if a Catholic is convinced that a command from a superior, including the Pope, is displeasing to God, then "he is bound not to obey",1 It will be evident, to those possessing even a modicum of theological knowledge, that the actions of prelates referred to in the address which follows undermine the Faith itself. This is a fact which must be borne in mind continually when reading the attacks made upon  Mgr. Lefebvre by such prelates as Archbishop May of St. Louise or Bishop Sullivan of Kansas City. These men not only ignore the scandalous actions of their fellow conciliar prelates, but wholeheartedly endorse them. Their attacks upon Archbishop Lefebvre cannot possibly be prompted by a love of the Faith, as they manifestly do not have the Faith. While their contemptible behavior quite naturally evokes a response of anger, upon reflection it is evident that they are pathetic creatures who should be pitied and who need our prayers. When one thinks back to the hierarchy of King Henry VIII, there can be no doubt that St. John Fisher was the one bishop who should not evoke feelings of pity .Our pity and contempt must be reserved for those who, as St. John Fisher remarked, betrayed the fort which they should have defended. In choosing death rather than compromise, St. John Fisher won a victory in the tradition of his Divine Master. His apostate colleagues, who saved their lives and their positions by compromise, were undoubtedly the vanquished


 The Ecumenical Heresy of Our Times

We hear a great deal about the ecumenical movement. Today I am going to speak to you about the ecumenical heresy. The theme of this forum is "Fidelity to the Catholic Tradition." Catholic tradition has been challenged in many ways since the Second Vatican Council, but no challenge has been more blatant, more widespread, and more dangerous than that of those who wish the Church to deny her very nature in the interests of a spurious ecumenism. Before examining false ecumenism, the ecumenical heresy, we must be clear about true Catholic ecumenism. Dietrich von Hildebrand tells us in The Devastated Vineyard that: "The attitude which goes with true ecumenism involves sympathetically emphasizing the elements of truth in other religions while clearly rejecting the errors they contain." "While clearly rejecting the errors they contain"-I would like you to keep this phrase in mind. It is fundamental to the thesis I shall put before you and I shall be returning to it again. 

And what is the aim of ecumenical dialogue pursued in the spirit proposed by von Hildebrand? The only acceptable aim for a Catholic ecumenist is that proposed by Pope Pius XI in Mortalium Animos; that is, to bring our separated brethren to realize that: "The unity of Christians cannot be otherwise obtained than by securing the return of the separated to the one true Church of Christ from which they unhappily withdrew. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, that stands forth before all and that, by the will of its Founder, will remain forever the same as when He Himself established it for the salvation of all mankind.” 

The late Cardinal Heenan warned: "It is dishonest to dissemble…The ultimate aim of ecumenism is the reunion of all Christians under the Vicar of Christ." 

Having established the nature and purpose of true Catholic ecumenism we shall proceed at once to examine the ecumenical heresy not in theory but in practice. On Friday, 14 September this year, a letter from Father Henry Haacke appeared in The Catholic Telegraph. I am surprised that The Catholic Telegraph printed his letter. You will be surprised when I read it to you. Here it is: 

I was startled at the news that the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Hartford, Connecticut, has been loaned to the Protestant Episcopal Church for the "consecration of a bishop.” In an effort – no doubt well intentioned – to be understanding to non-Catholics, has not the Archbishop of Hartford gone much too far? Why not invite the Chinese “bishop” recently elected by the people, and rebuked by the Vatican…or even Archbishop Lefebvre to the broad-minded Cathedral in Hartford? Subjective good faith does not ensure the validity of the Sacrament of Orders or the Eucharist. Should a Catholic cathedral be exposed to the possible “simulation” of these most sacred rites of our Holy Faith? This can only confuse and scandalize laity and clergy. Thomas More and John Fisher, have you died in vain?

My first reaction to this letter is to say "God bless you, Father Haacke.” I have never met Father Haacke, I have never correspond with Father Haacke, I had never heard of Father Haacke, until a reader of The Remnant sent me a copy of his letter. This letter reveals that despite the devastation in the vineyard of the Lord which has followed the Second Vatican Council, Father Haacke has retained the sense of what it means to be a Catholic. He is a priest who has retained the ability to think with the Church, sentire cum Ecclesia. He has a ground grasp of theology and a profound love of the Church. He also has courage. I do not know if Father Haacke ever entertained any hope of advancement in the Church. I do not know if he hoped that one day he might be Monsignor Haacke, and need to purchase a cassock with red button-holes. If he has put any money aside for this purpose he need not hesitate about withdrawing it, because there is certainly no hope whatsoever of any advancement in the Conciliar Church, the American Church, the Ecumenical Church, for a priest who is still imbued with the Catholic ethos. Father Haacke has committed the sin against ecumenism for which there is no forgiveness – he has spoken the truth. He is a true disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who came into the world to bear witness to the truth. 

The first reaction of an ecumenical heretic to Father Haacke’s letter would be to say that it is uncharitable, but the correct reaction to his letter is to ask whether what it states is true. If it is true it cannot be uncharitable. There can be no conflict between veritas, truth, and caritas, charity. 

If Father Haacke’s criticisms are justified then it is Archbishop Whealon of Hartford, Connecticut, who is being uncharitable – for what is contrary to Christian truth is clearly contrary to Christian charity. If an act is contrary to Christian truth and charity it is an anti-Christian act. I submit to you that Archbishop Whealon has committed an anti-Christian act by allowing his cathedral to be used for the so-called consecration of a so-called bishop – to be used, as Father Haacke expressed it, for the “simulation” of the most sacred rites of our Holy Faith. Archbishop Whealon is acting contrary to the will of Our Lord Jesus Christ. 

When He offered Himself as a perfect Sacrifice upon the Cross, Our Lord atoned for the sins of all men and won sufficient grace to save all men – which does not mean that all men will be saved, as we have an obligation to cooperate with divine grace in order to achieve our salvation. Our Lord willed, I repeat, Our Lord willed that His Church should be the ordinary  means by which divine grace is mediated to men. The Catholic Church is His Mystical Body, an extension of the Incarnation throughout the nations and throughout the centuries. Our Lord willed that divine grace should ordinarily be mediated to men through His Church by means of the Seven Sacraments which He instituted. God is not bound by His Sacraments. Where necessary He will bestow grace directly upon individual men – but this is an extraordinary means of salvation. The ordinary means of salvation is His Mystical Body, which alone has a mandate to preach the Gospel, offer public worship, and administer the Sacraments. The power He bestowed upon His Church is indeed awe-inspiring, terrifying.

“He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him Who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).

Our Lord could scarcely have been more specific – to reject the authority of the Church which He founded is to reject Father, Son and Holy Ghost. This is not a personal opinion which I am expressing. I am quoting the words of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our Lord founded one Church and one Church only, which was to be the ordinary means of salvation for mankind and outside which there is no salvation. Writing in 1968, Bishop B.C. Butler, subsequently an ardent ecumenist, still had sufficient sense of being a Catholic to write: 

Ours is the one true Church; the only body in the world which has an unconditional mandate to preach the Gospel. Outside this Church there is no salvation. According to the primary divine intention there are, outside the full, visible Catholic communion, only individual human being (I exclude from consideration those who are not yet morally adult), of whom entry into the guaranteed sphere of salvation is by the unique door of personal adhesion to the one Catholic communion. Moreover, the only authorized form of public worship is that of the Catholic Church, performed under her own mandate. Her claims are not of her own making; they are an expression of immutable divine law. She cannot compromise.

Those who accept what I have said so far, that the Catholic Church is indeed the one true Church founded by Our Lord, have certain duties incumbent upon them. They have the duty of making a response which von Hildebrand describes as "purely positive and morally called for." He explains: "One cannot find the truth and grasp it clearly as such, without seeing through errors. Knowledge of truth is inseparably linked with the knowledge of error, with the unmasking of error. In other words, possession of truth is a privilege, it is a sacred trust which involves duties and these duties are not fulfilled simply by refraining from a formal denial of the truth, these duties demand that we do not behave in practice as if truth does not exist, as if there is no distinction between truth and error. This duty is demanded not simply by truth but by charity. Archbishop Lefebvre has pointed out frequently that those imbued with true charity towards our separated brethren will be concerned to bring them from the error of heresy to the truth of Catholicism.

Let us now examine the Episcopalian Church in the light of what I have established. The first point to make is that it is not a Church at all, there is only one Church and, as Bishop Butler stated with admirable clarity, outside the Church there are only individual human beings. The so-called Episcopalian Church is, therefore, no more than a sect, a group of individuals who have set themselves up in opposition to the Church of Christ, in opposition to the will of Christ. They have taken it upon themselves to preach their own gospel in opposition to the Gospel of Christ and to offer public worship in opposition to the Church of Christ. Unlike the Orthodox churches, Episcopalians do not have valid orders. They have no priesthood, no bishops, and no valid Eucharist – valid, that is, in the sense understood by the Catholic Church. The Bull Apostolicæ Curæ is as applicable today as it has been since Pope Leo XIII promulgated it in 1896:

Wherefore, strictly adhering, in this matter, to the decree of the Pontiffs, Our predecessors, and confirming them most fully, and, as it were, renewing them by Our authority, of Our own initiative and certain knowledge, We pronounce declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican Rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void.

In the light of all this, what should our reaction be to Archbishop Whealon's decision to loan his cathedral to the Episcopalians? I submit that unless it is a reaction of horror, scandal, and outrage, then we are in danger of losing the sense of what being a Catholic means. Von Hildebrand has warned us that such is the devastation in the vineyard of the Lord that we are losing our capacity to be scandalized:

We have to realize that our time is like the time of Arianism, and so we have to be extremely careful lest we be poisoned ourselves without noticing it! We must not underestimate the power of those ideas which fill the intellectual atmosphere of the time, nor the danger of being infected by them when we are daily breathing this atmosphere. Nor should we underestimate the danger of getting used to be evils of our times, and then becoming insensitive to them.

Unless we have become insensitive to the truth, we can criticize Father Haacke on only one count; he has put the case against Archbishop Whealon far too mildly. What the Archbishop’s conduct amounts to in practice is a denial of the true nature of the Catholic Church. I asked you to keep in mind a definition of true ecumenism made by von Hildebrand, which involved emphasizing the elements of the truth possessed by other religions while clearly rejecting the errors they contain. Archbishop Whealon is not simply failing to reject the errors of Episcopalianism, he is not simply remaining silent concerning them, he is, in practice, endorsing them. The ceremony for which he has loaned his cathedral amounts in practice to a public denial that Our Lord Jesus Christ has founded one true Church to which alone He has given a mandate to teach, to sanctify, and to offer public worship. Archbishop Whealon is not to be commended for an act of Christian charity – he is to be condemned for a denial of Christian truth. His action is an anti-Christian action. It constitutes his public acceptance of the existence of some amorphous entity called the Christian Church of which Catholicism and Episcopalianism are both branches. Episcopalians cannot possibly be blamed for taking this act as acceptance that they constitute a church, or at least constitute part of the Catholic Church. It would be an outrage to lend them a Catholic church for any form of service – but to lend it to them for what Father Haacke correctly describes as the simulation of the most sacred rites of our church is an act of sacrilege. The man who was to be consecrated is not even a priest, he is a layman, and after the ceremonies he will have remained a layman. Nothing will have happened. But, no doubt, Archbishop Whealon will have been among the first to come forward with an effusive ecumenical smile, to offer him a prolonged ecumenical handshake, and to congratulate him upon being made a bishop. Note well, I am not condemning the Episcopalians concerned. Charity demands that, without evidence to the contrary, we must presume that they are acting in good faith and are saved from sin by invincible ignorance. But no such excuse can be used to defend Archbishop Whealon who, presumably, was taught the true faith in the days before Vatican II and, as a bishop, has a duty to die for the faith if necessary.

It is fashionable today to praise the Church of the first four centuries, to extol primitive practice. How would the Church of the first four centuries have regarded Archbishop Whealon? Anyone who is remotely acquainted with Church history can give one answer and one answer only. Archbishop Whealon would have been regarded as an apostate; he would have been anathematized, and every true Catholic bishop would have broken off communion with him.

I believe that the Church of the first four centuries was right. I believe that Archbishop Whealon is at least a de facto apostate. It seems a harsh thing to say. It may make me appear harsh and intolerant – but nonetheless it is the truth. Cardinal Newman has a magnificent sermon upon this very point, "Tolerance of Religious Error." He castigates those whose concern is not to uphold truth but to avoid the appearance being intolerant. Once again I must repeat, those who possess the truth, those who love the truth, cannot tolerate error. In another fine sermon, "Many Called, Few Chosen," Newman warns that: "Those who serve God faithfully must ever look to be accounted, in their generation, singular, intemperate, and extreme."2 In his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, he characterized the Church of the first four centuries by its intolerance towards error, its exclusiveness, its ceaseless war with all other bodies called Christian, its naming them as heretics, warning them of coming woe, and calling them to forsake their errors and enter the one fold of Jesus Christ. 

Furthermore, I submit that Archbishop Whealon's conduct would have been considered incompatible with Catholicism not only by the Church of the first four centuries – it would have resulted in his immediate excommunication by every Roman Pontiff up to and including Pope John XXIII. I accept that what I am saying will make me appear singular, intemperate and extreme in the ecumenical climate of the Conciliar Church, but the view-point I am putting forward would have been accepted by 99% of Catholics up to Vatican II. Read the encyclical Mortalium Animos of Pope Pius XI, read the relevant encyclicals of Pope Pius XII. If Archbishop Whealon is right, then the Church has been wrong for 2,000 years.

I am sure that no one here today imagines that Archbishop Whealon represents an isolated act of infidelity to the teaching of Our Lord. He is simply reflecting the prevailing climate of the ecumenical heresy. In England we have shared churches – can you believe it? We have shared churches and shared tabernacles, and public campaigns of joint evangelization endorsed by our bishops. Can you imagine the reaction of St. Athanasius or any other Father of the Church to a proposal to share churches or engage in campaigns of joint evangelization with the Arians or any other heretical or schismatic sect? To ask this question is to answer it. Bishop Walter F. Sullivan of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, has established at least one joint parish. Can you believe that? It is called the Anglican-Roman Catholic Church of Tidewater. A Catholic priest and an Episcopalian minister are acting as joint pastors. This is not simply an outrage, it is lunacy. There is no Anglican-Roman Catholic Church. There is only one Church, the one, holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, and I submit that not only is the Anglican-Roman Catholic Church of Tidewater not a part of that Church but that Bishop Sullivan of Richmond can no longer be considered a member of it.

And what of the campaigns of joint evangelization I have mentioned as taking place in England? Evangelization means preaching the Gospel. Well, what gospel is being preached in these campaigns? It is certainly not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our Lord did not command His Apostles to cooperate with heretics in preaching an amorphous lowest common denominator message of philanthropy and good will to all, or to let those evangelized in this way make up their own minds whether to join His Church or one of the heretical sects with which it was cooperating. The idea is outrageous, it is lunacy, it is diabolic.

Worst of all, the Vatican now allows Protestants to receive Holy Communion in Catholic churches on certain occasions. Admittedly, strict conditions are imposed in theory, but in practice bishops have been given the discretion to ignore these conditions with impunity .The get-out clause, published in a letter from Cardinal Willebrands' Unity Secretariat in 1973, states:

Nevertheless, the bishops can in the various situations decide what are the needs that make exceptions applicable, that is to say, what constitutes a special case…

This gives the bishops carte blanche to allow Protestants to receive the Catholic Sacrament on any occasion. Thus  Father John Dietzen, in his question and answer column in The Catholic Telegraph on October 6, 1978, included the following in his reply to a questioner who was perturbed at the fact that Methodists has received Holy Communion at a wedding celebrated in a Catholic Church:

We must note…that the bishop of a diocese (or a national conference of bishops) may allow Communion by non-Catholics in certain other "urgent necessities." I know of instances in which bishops have, for example, allowed non-Catholic parents to receive Communion at the marriage of their Catholic son or daughter; non-Catholic spouses to receive at the funeral of their Catholic husbands or wives, non-Catholic graduates to receive with their classmates at a baccalaureate Mass, and so on. In all such cases, however, only the bishop has the right and responsibility to judge whether inter-communion should take place. Of course, the conditions concerning faith in the sacraments and proper disposition must always be present. You ask about Methodist parents receiving Communion at the marriage Mass of their son. From what I've already said, you can see that if the proper conditions were fulfilled, and if the permission of the bishops was obtained, neither the priest nor the couple did anything wrong.

Thus speaks the Conciliar Church.

Great scandal was caused in 1967 when the late Pope Paul VI authorized Barbara Olson, an American Presbyterian, to receive Holy Communion at her marriage to a Catholic. A lengthy correspondence followed in the London Tablet, with a very fine English theologian, Father Edward Carey, firmly maintaining that such an act could not be justified under any circumstances whatsoever, as it was contrary to the nature of the Eucharist. Despite the fact that the Vatican has since legalized the practice, Father Carey still upholds his original position – and he is right. Catholics rightly show great devotion to the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Our Lord, but have paid less attention to the ultimate signification of the act of Holy Communion – and this signification is the unity of the Mystical Body. St. Augustine pointed out that we become what we receive; therefore it can never be legitimate to give Holy Communion to anyone outside the unity of the Mystical Body.

This is, as Father Carey has maintained so courageously, contrary to the nature of the Eucharist. Remember, every non-Catholic has the option of receiving the Catholic Sacrament by becoming a Catholic. There is no injustice in refusing the Catholic Sacrament to those who refuse to enter into the unity of the Mystical Body.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Vatican authorization permitting Protestants to receive Holy Communion in Catholic churches is the greatest scandal of the Conciliar Church – and that is really saying something! It is now widespread. The Sydney Morning Herald of 3 May 1979, gave a whole catalogue of examples in a report of a tour of the South Pacific by Dr. Coggan, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury .It cites an occasion when, in the presence of a Catholic bishop, he gave Holy Communion to a combined congregation of Catholics and Anglicans, and also names areas in which, where the clergy of both communions are not regularly present, Catholic priests administer Communion to Anglicans and vice-versa. The French bishops have issued an open invitation to Anglicans visiting France to receive Communion in Catholic churches. I have had this confirmed by an official Anglican source.

Rather than list numerous cases of Catholic Holy Communion being given to Protestants, I will refer to just one more, one that should certainly shock anyone still capable of being shocked. The Rev. Lord George McLeod is a dignitary of the Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian body. A letter from him was published in Faith magazine in November 1976. It includes the following:

On the Friday in the Cathedral we gathered together for Holy Communion. A Protestant from Northern Ireland read from St. John's Gospel: Tom Smail, a Presbyterian, preached a mighty word. The Cardinal broke the bread and wine. In that service there was prophecy, tongues and interpretation, open and free prayer, singing in and with the Spirit, and we concluded by singing and dancing up and down the aisles – professors, priests, pastors and the Cardinal, hands joined and hearts united… The Cardinal was Cardinal Suenens.

There is much talk of the need for traditionalists to maintain a moderate approach. Who can be moderate in the face of such an outrage? The great danger at present is not that traditionalists will become immoderate, but they will succumb to the temptation against which I have already cited von Hildebrand's warning – that we can become so used to the evils of the day that we grow insensitive. I have always maintained that the entry of pentecostalism into the Catholic Church is the work of the devil. Can we describe the antics of Cardinal Suenens as anything but diabolic? And yet he is a prelate in good standing with the Vatican. This is a very serious matter. It is one about which we must think carefully and deeply. The situation in the Conciliar Church is as follows: Cardinal Suenens is free to desecrate his beautiful old cathedral in the manner I have just described and to remain in good standing with the Vatican, but under no circumstances whatsoever would permission be given for the very Mass for which that ancient cathedral was built to be celebrated in it.3 And for the crime of continuing to celebrate that Mass, Archbishop Lefebvre is the victim of sanctions and is not in good standing with the Vatican. I put it to you that this is also an outrage. Make no mistake about it, as I have shown clearly in my book, Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, this great prelate has been treated in the way he has been treated for remaining faithful to the Mass of his ordination and for no other reason. All the other excuses given for the campaign against him are simply a pretense. "Why not invite Lefebvre to the broadminded Cathedral in Hartford?” asked Father Haacke in the letter with which I began this talk. “That,” as popular song puts it,” will be the day!” Consecrations of Protestant bishops in catholic cathedrals, yes. Communion for Protestants and dancing in the aisles in Catholic cathedrals, yes. Archbishop Lefebvre and the Tridentine Mass – “No, no, no!” replies the Conciliar Church. When the Archbishop came to dedicate the foundation stone of the Immaculate Chapel at St. Mary’s Kansas, this year, the local bishop forbade any of the faithful to be present – but more than two thousand crammed themselves into the temporary chapel for the Mass of the Assumption. I was there myself. I am glad I was there. I was proud to be there, and I hope to be there again. Was I disobedient? I am sure not and I am comforted that I can now cite the authority of Dietrich von Hildebrand in support of this view. 

I submit to you that in the American Church today there is absolute pluralism in questions of theology – excluding only those who wish to uphold the Catholic Faith. I submit to you that, while Father Charles Curran, the high priest of pornology, holds a chair in the Catholic University, no American Catholic need have the least compunction about ignoring the directions of his bishops where these directions are intended to stamp out the last vestiges of the traditional faith among the remaining members of the faithful remnant.4 

Furthermore, I extend this claim to the Vatican itself. I have already mentioned the fact that Paul VI sanctioned the practice of Eucharistic hospitality for Protestants. I know that the immediate reactions of many conservative Catholics will be to say  that if a Pope authorized it it must be right. This is nonsense. In their confusion, in a no doubt sincere effort to be loyal to the Pope at all costs, they are committing intellectual suicide. If they justify Pope Paul VI they are condemning all his predecessors. Such a practice was regarded as unthinkable until the pontificate of Paul VI. Do we serve the papacy better by admitting that one Pope made a serious and culpable error of judgment or by insisting that every other Pope from St. Peter onwards has been in error.

I am firmly convinced that a future Pope will have the unwelcome task of condemning many of the acts of Pope Paul VI – remember that Pope Honorius was condemned by a successor. As the Pope who sanctioned the liturgical reforms, he must accept responsibility for them – and it is in the liturgical reforms that we see the ecumenical heresy at its most blatant.

All the liturgical changes which have modified or eliminated prayers making Catholic teaching on priesthood, sacrifice, and the Real Presence explicit, were made with the authority of Paul VI. This is a fact. It is an unpleasant fact and, like most unpleasant facts, it is not easy to face up to. Then we have the Agreed Statements on the Eucharist and Ministry produced by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. These Statements represent a straightforward betrayal of the Catholic Faith, though perhaps “straightforward” is not the right word. They are a very devious betrayal of the Catholic Faith – the Agreement on the priesthood in particular. In not one instance where an aspect of Catholic teaching is denied by Protestants is that teaching affirmed in this Statement. It is true that Pope Paul did not ratify these Agreements, but neither did he condemn them, nor did he take any action against the Catholic prelates who signed them. He received these men with smiles, warm embraces, and hearty congratulations. His condemnations were reserved for Archbishop Lefebvre.

Now that I am coming to the end of this talk I will refer once more to the magnificent letter by Father Haacke, which I quoted at the beginning. "Thomas More and John Fisher, have you died in vain?" he asked. Obviously, nothing done for the love of God is ever done in vain, but, if the ecumeniacs are correct, St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, and all other Welsh and English martyrs, certainly died unnecessarily. I will repeat once more that what is at stake here is a question of truth. If it is true that Our Lord founded one Church which alone was authorized to preach the Gospel, offer public worship, and administer the sacraments, then the martyrs were right to die rather than compromise this principle. Before St. Margaret Clitherow was martyred, Protestant ministers announced that they would pray for her. "I will not pray with you, nor shall you pray with me," she replied. "Neither will I say Amen to your prayers, nor shall you to mine." That is the voice of a true Catholic.

Listen now to the voice of Thomas Colton, a teen-aged boy who endured terrible suffering for his faith. He refused to reduce those sufferings by so much as setting foot inside a Protestant church:

If I should go to your church, I should sin against God and the peace and unity of the whole Catholic Church, exclude myself from all the holy Sacraments and be in danger to die in my sins like a heathen. But, although I am but a poor lad, I have a soul to save as well as any other Catholic.

Isn't that beautiful? Isn't that heartening? Doesn't it make you proud to be a Catholic? And what do Cardinal Suenens, Archbishop Whealon and Bishop Sullivan have in common with St. Margaret Clitherow and Thomas Colton? Nothing, absolutely nothing! St. Margaret Clitherow and Thomas Colton were Catholics. These three prelates and hundreds like them are not. It is as simple as that.

And what of the ecumenical movement, what should our attitude be? I believe that it has become so contaminated with the ecumenical heresy that the Catholic Church must withdraw from it completely and return to the pre-conciliar position of exclusiveness and insistence upon her position as the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ. However, I am advocating only what theologians term dogmatic intolerance – not personal intolerance towards our Protestant friends and relations. I am not advocating burning our Protestant neighbors at the stake – I would have no such scruples as regards a good number of Catholic bishops, but that's another matter. All that I am advocating is that, if we believe that the Catholic Church is the one true Church, if we accept her claims as the one true Church, then there can be no compromise with error. 

The only true Catholic attitude to ecumenism is that set out by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Mortalium Animos: 

Let these separated children return to the Apostolic See established in this city which the Princes of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, consecrated with their blood, to the See, "the root and matrix of the Catholic Church," not indeed with the idea or hope that "the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth" will abandon the integrity of the Faith and bear their errors, but to subject themselves to its teaching authority and rule.

That was the true voice of Catholic tradition. Let us remain faithful to it no matter who asks us to do otherwise.

* * * *

Addendum: The 17 October 1979 issue of The Advocate, a secular journal published in Stamford, Connecticut, provided an ironic footnote to this account of Archbishop Whealon’s action in loaning his cathedral for an Episcopalian “consecration.” The Advocate reported that the ceremony was to be boycotted by conservative Episcopalian clergy because the Eucharist was to be celebrated by an Episcopalian priestess. Any comment would be superfluous beyond adding that, of course, Archbishop Whealon was not suspended a divinis for allowing the profanation of his cathedral in such a manner.


1. Apologia, Vol. I, p. 408.

2. These sermons are included in Newman Against the Liberals, a collection of twenty-five sermons by Cardinal Newman, available from The Angelus Press.

3. This criticism has ceased to apply, Beo gratias, since the indult of October 1985 authorizing the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, but although the Tridentine Mass is now authorized by the Vatican, very few bishops in the English-speaking world would permit it in their cathedrals.

4. Father Curran no longer holds the chair, Deo gratias, thanks to the intervention of the Vatican in 1986.


Chapter 7

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