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MARCH 3, 2005

Defending Catholic Tradition Without Compromise: An Interview with Three Traditional Catholic Priests

(A project of Catholic Family News and Christ or Chaos)

by Thomas A. Droleskey

This is a collection of interviews with four priests who celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass only. They are Father Lawrence Smith, Father Stephen Zigrang, Father Patrick Perez, and Father Paul Stretenovic.

Father Smith, Father Zigrang and Father Stretenovic were ordained in and for the Novus Ordo, but came to realize that they could not proclaim and protect the integrity of the Catholic Faith while offering a Mass that enshrines many of the errors of Modernity and Modernism. They have since embraced Catholic Tradition and the Traditional Mass without compromise, the most recent being the 31-year-old Father Paul Stretenovic who left the Novus Ordo structure in late December, 2004, and whose story appeared in The Remnant. The fourth, Father Perez, has celebrated only the Traditional Latin Mass since his ordination. Three of the four priests, in fact, are under 45 years of age.

In 1969, in his famous letter to Pope Paul VI accompanying the Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missae, Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani said the New Mass “represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session 22 of the Council of Trent.” The Critical Study inveighed against the Protestant nature of the new Mass, its grave omissions, and noted that “on many points” the New Mass “has much to gladden the heart of even the most modernist Protestant”.

The priests here interviewed follow in the footsteps of many good traditional priests who have understood the defects of the New Mass and have refused to have any part of it.

Presently, all but Father Zigrang live at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Garden Grove, California, run by Father J. Perez, which has become an oasis of the Faith in an area devastated by the likes of Roger Cardinal Mahony and Tod Brown, the Bishop of Orange.

This writer believes that it would be a good idea, especially for traditionally-minded priests who are still offering the Novus Ordo Missae, to contact and pose questions to these four priests. The March issue of Catholic Family News contains the interviews with Father Smith, Father Zigrang and Father Perez that are being published on this website. The April issue of Catholic Family will run the interview with Father Stretenovic, which will be posted also on this website. This writer’s questions are numbered and are printed in bold/italic type.

Father Lawrence C. Smith

Father Lawrence C. Smith left the Diocese of Davenport on September 8, 2003. A masterful statement containing his reasons for leaving the Novus Ordo was published in The Remnant shortly thereafter. Father Smith found his way by the grace of Our Lady to Our Lady Help of Christians in Garden Grove, California, in November of 2003. He offered his first Sunday Mass there on January 18, 2004. He also played a significant role in helping Father Stretenovic to break from the Novus Ordo and to embrace the fullness of Tradition without compromise.

1) Father Smith, what have you learned in the eighteen months since leaving the Novus Ordo?

God is good. This always bears repeating. At my First Mass almost eight years ago, I began the customary litany of thanks by saying, “Deo Gratias!” I meant it then and I mean it all the more now. Back then I said it after the Mass was completed. Now I have the exquisite burden and privilege of hearing it proclaimed as part of every Mass I celebrate. Mortal life is never long enough to learn how much God loves us, but it’s a good start.

2) Would you say that the exercise of your priesthood is different now from what it had been in the past? Has the Traditional Latin Mass and the praying of the Divine Office in Latin changed your own interior life?

There is a great deal more focus on sanctity and on those aspects of the Faith conducive to sanctity, both for myself and for the people whom I serve. There are two things I miss less than everything in the Novus Ordo Missae and its attendant parish life: Remote microphones and meetings. This is emblematic of the difference in focus. I am much more keenly aware in the Mass, at prayer, and in addressing the needs of the faithful that God is the point. My time in Mass is not spent fussing with things, gadgets, and gizmos that will make me the focus. My efforts among the people is not spent with activities forgetful of our ultimate goal, namely, Heaven.

It is a relief, a pleasure, and a joy to be able to insist on God as the heart of everything we are about at all times. Not that either I or anyone around me is perfectly successful at maintaining that focus, but there is no disagreement in principle that such focus is our desire.

3) Can you describe briefly how you learned to offer the Traditional Latin Mass from Father Patrick Perez? What do you think that he taught you that you might not have learned elsewhere?

Our learning regimen was a combination of daily practice and trial by fire. Very quickly Father asked me to visit the sick, to bless Holy Water, and to hear Confessions. Those pastoral duties accompanied by two solid months of reviewing texts and learning the rubrics were a great foundation for when I finally began my public celebrations of the Mass. Father Perez is a stickler for precision and purity in the rites. He is extraordinarily knowledgeable of the facts of the rites as they now stand and of the history behind them. He is a wonderful resource and a terrific coach. He has reminded me of the importance of removing the ego from the celebration of the Sacraments so as not to allow peculiarities of personality or aberrations of rubrics to infect the worship God deserves or the ability of the people to pray and to be sanctified according to their Catholic birthright.

Lastly, we both are sensitive to the thorough work of the revolutionaries. The 1969 Missal was merely the culmination of a planned process stretching back no less than three decades earlier. We endeavor to celebrate all of the Sacraments and especially the Mass without the accretions and deviations permitted or even required through the influence wielded by Father-then-Monsignor-then-Archbishop Bugnini--and scores of others--from the late forties onward. Oh, and one last thing: Father Perez’s Latin is tremendous. He has given me an excellent example and quite a standard to live up to. Given another eighty years or so, my Latin will be almost as good as his was ten years ago.

3) Recalling your first Sunday Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians on January 18, 2004, what are your thoughts on Father Paul Stretenovic’s embrace of Tradition without compromise?

It is my prayer for Father Stretenovic that he realize ever more deeply the love of Christ and His Priesthood that informs every authentic vocation. The ancient Mass is the life’s blood of the priestly vocation. As Father Stretenovic celebrates the Mass day after day, if he has an experience anything like mine, the words, “Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam”(“the God Who gives joy to my youth”), will take on a significance impossible to describe to anyone who has not gone up to the Altar of God.

4) You have announced that you are relocating to Athelstane, Wisconsin, to serve a group of home- schooling families who have been praying for twelve years to find a priest to offer them the Traditional Latin Mass. What prompted your choice of Athelstane?

Several things recommend the arrangement in Wisconsin.

First is the emphasis on the Faith that simply must be at the root of all of our decisions on how this life on earth is lived.

Second is the fact that the families are not “out-sourcing” their relationships. They are trying mightily to do as much at home as circumstances and human imperfections permit.

Third is the rural setting. As Father Vincent McNabb put it, “You can not live apart from Babylon if you are living off of Babylon!” Our cities are harmful to the body and lethal to the soul. It is my contention that the reestablishment of an authentically Catholic culture must seek an environment in which the Faith comes first, the family is not attacked, and the faithful and priests resist the allure of contributing to the very things that make this what Pope John Paul quite rightly calls “the Culture of Death”. Not everyone, alas, is able to effect the necessary changes to be as Catholic in their work life and domestic economy as they strive to be in the immemorial Mass, but some of us are beginning to arrange our lives in such a way that we can successfully bring God’s grace to bear on the natural environs wherein we work out our salvation.

And, yes, there is a bit of fear of trembling in doing so, but the aforementioned joy of youth had at the Altar of God more than compensates. Catholic families in quiet and beautiful surroundings are best equipped to receive these blessings that God really would have all of us experience.

5) Finally, Father, do you want to say anything to your brother priests, especially those you know, who continue to offer the Novus Ordo even though they know that the Traditional Latin Mass most fully gives God the honor and glory that are His due and most completely communicates the truths of the Catholic Faith?

Follow God’s will. Do not ask the absurd question, “Which do I like better, the Novus Ordo Missae or the immemorial Latin Rite?” The only thing that matters is discerning and obeying the will of God in all things. For the priest, the Mass is of supreme importance in effecting obedience to God and service to Holy Mother Church.

It is not possible that it is God’s will that the Novus Ordo Missae should be celebrated by all priests, that all priests must do so according to the interpretations promulgated by Vatican dicasteries every few months, received from chancery offices under the guidance of lay commissions on the liturgy, with the ecumenical sensitivity manifested at Fatima in May of 2004, and most fully embodied in papal celebrations with pagan shamans casting out evil spirits from the Pope, dancing girls, and spontaneous outbursts of “JPII, we love you!”

Rather, it is God’s will that we adhere to Spirit and truth as received from His Son, handed down through the Apostles, and preserved and enriched by countless saints under courageous Popes. This must guide our worship of Him, and necessitates that a Mass of greater antiquity than four decades is in order. My last piece of advice would be to suggest that they take a look at what our Lord says in the Book of the Apocalypse, chapter 3 verses 14 through 22.

Father Stephen P. Zigrang

Father Stephen P. Zigrang made headlines around the world when he offered the Immemorial Mass of Tradition at Saint Andrew’s Church in Channelview, Texas, on June 28-29, 2003. He told his parishioners at the time that he could no longer offer the Novus Ordo Missae and would from that point forward offer only the Traditional Latin Mass. His ordinary, the recently promoted Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, gave him a two month leave of absence, told him to get psychological counsel from Father Benedict Groeschel and to make a retreat. Father Zigrang went on the two month leave of absence. He did not seek counseling from Father Groeschel. However, he did go on retreat at Saint Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, deciding to live and to offer Mass at the Society of Saint Pius X’s priory, Queen of Angels, in Dickinson, Texas. A friend of longstanding, this writer asked Father Zigrang to offer a few reflections on the past nearly two years since he left the Novus Ordo.

1) It has been twenty months since you offered the Traditional Latin Mass publicly at Saint Andrew’s Church in Channelview, Texas, and started offering the Mass of the ages exclusively on a daily basis. Although you had been offering the Traditional Mass in a chapel in your rectory for some years before you left the Novus Ordo structure, can you say that the exercise of your priesthood has changed as a result of offering the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively? Could you elaborate a bit if the answer is in the affirmative?

Trying to say both the Traditional Mass and the New Mass for about 3 years was sure tough. I often said to people back then, “Well, now I have to go and say the Protestant Mass.” I can say now, after almost 2 years of exclusively saying the Traditional Mass that I feel more at ease and more like a priest should feel, looking forward to daily offering the Divine Sacrifice in reparation for my sins and the sins of the world. What a difference and what a thrill. Really, there is no comparison between the two Masses. They represent two different religions. And that’s no exaggeration.

2) You have stressed in your various statements and interviews in the past twenty months that you came to the conclusion in 2003 that you could no longer ignore the ways in which the Catholic Faith was being undermined and denied by the ethos of conciliarism. What are the principal ways in which you believe the Faith has been undermined and denied under the color of the official aegis of the Church?

Some time before I had to leave St. Andrew’s parish, I had made a very long list of why I could no longer accept the Novus Ordo as the true Catholic faith. I don’t know where that list is now, but I do remember some of the main reasons. When the American bishops wrote a document in 2002 to forbid kneeling to receive Holy Communion (remember this came at the height of the pedophile crisis), I remember telling my bishop: “You guys need to fire your PR man.” Another biggy was the new position on the Jews and their supposedly viable covenant. Then it was the new look at capital punishment; altar girls; the Niagara Falls of declarations of nullity on whatever grounds you wanted; the highjacking of the Mass by extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist; the new Mass itself could not be fixed; Communion in the Hand (I told the bishop that I would be willing to die just to be against that one! - come to think of it, what is there to die for in the Novus Ordo church?); I could not preach on hell without getting a complaint from the chancery; oh, well, I could go on, but what a relief not to have to fight every day to try and preach and be Catholic!

3) A pastor of a diocesan parish usually develops deep ties with his parishioners. Have any of your parishioners decided to embrace Tradition by assisting at Holy Mass at Queen of Angels in Dickinson and/or at Saint Michael’s in Spring, Texas?

Oh, yes. More than just a handful of parishioners of my former parish have actually signed up where I now say Mass (both in Spring and in Dickinson). And the interest continues by word of mouth and of course, by reading Catholic Family News, The Remnant and ChristorChaos.com!

4) What would you like to say to traditional- minded priests who are still in the structure of the Novus Ordo, especially those who are trying to use Canon Law to assert their right to refuse to offer the Novus Ordo as well as those priests who labor under the misapprehension that they need “permission” to offer the Traditional Latin Mass?

I am now in contact with a few priests who are trying to make a decision. They know that things are bad and are not going to change. They see things getting worse. Look how long it took me! With prayers and reading the doctrines of our Catholic faith, priests will come to the same conclusion I did. Religion, they will discover, is not about some man but about an unchangeable doctrine.

Of course it took me nearly 25 years to take a stand and then suffer the consequences. But even from the beginning of my priesthood, I noticed a problem but really could not put my finger on the cause. Then I did a lot of reading, and even went back to reading the Vatican II documents, comparing them with past magisterial teaching. There was the beginning of my answer. The unmistakable difference. Then rereading Pope St. Pius X’s documents against Modernism clinched it in my mind: the current authority was basking in the Modernist sunshine and forcing everyone else to do the same. I can’t explain how this happened but that it did is quite obvious, from the post-Conciliar teachings of the present Pope down to the parish liturgy committees and person in the pew. Everything was measured by tolerance, niceness to others and a complete lack of appreciation of God’s judgment, our sins and the corresponding punishment. It was as if sin had been clipped out of Catholic pulpits and vocabulary. Sin was something that plagued pastimes but not now. People worried about sin were plainly just hung up, even neurotic. So, what will it take for a Novus Ordo priest serious about his priesthood despite the temptation to please the people and the bishop? Everyone who attends a traditional chapel has a story of their breaking point. Priests have a breaking point too.

5) What role did Our Lady play in fortifying you to make the decision you did back in 2003.

Our Lady’s influence? She has done everything! As my dissatisfaction with the Novus Ordo increased, my devotion, dependence and love for Our Lady increased. So there was a definite influence, and if I did not admit it, I would have to answer to Her. I am so happy that She is my Mother. Our Lady takes special care of priests because they are intimate ministers and representatives of Her Son. No prayer to Her from a priest will go unheard and left unanswered. I guarantee it.

6) Is there anything you would like to add, Father?

Really, there is so much more to say, and I’m afraid I am not very good at saying it. I encourage all priests who are serious about their priesthood and who are growing more and more exasperated with what is going on in the modern church to turn to Our Lady for help. She won’t fail you. Any challenge will seem easy with her motherly intervention. And keep on reading. I recommend reading GIRM Warfare by Thomas Droleskey for a close examination of the new Mass compared to the old. Iota Unum by Romano Amerio is also a must. The Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre by Michael Davies in 3 volumes is enlightening, and especially considering that Archbishop Lefebvre was right in the middle of the controversy from the start. Look up the SSPX website and read the history of the Society. It is fascinating as it demonstrates the intolerance of the new church for anyone holding fast to the unchangeable Catholic dogma. Fr. Gruner has inspired me, especially his articles against Communion in the hand and his unswerving devotion to Our Lady of Fatima.

Many other persons, events and writings have assisted me and still do, but I will refrain from naming them all. I am very grateful to them and to Dr. Droleskey for his friendship and his bravery in the face of multiple threats from the new Church while he and his family have criss-crossed the USA in their mobile home speaking and living the message of our beautiful Catholic faith. He is a true inspiration and he is like an lay apostle of Our Lord.

Father Patrick J. Perez

Finally, a few questions were posed to Father Patrick Perez, the pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Garden Grove. Father Perez offers the Immemorial Mass of Tradition with exquisite perfection. He knows more about the authentic development of the Traditional Latin Mass than even the late Michael Davies. Exercising his rights under Quo Primum, (see page 2 of this issue) Father Perez is continuing on in southern California the work begun by the late Father Frederick Schell, providing a veritable oasis in a theological and liturgical cesspool. Father Perez’s comments really summarize the urgency of this moment and the necessity of his brother priests to make the break from the Novus Ordo once and for all - and as soon as possible.

1) Why is it absolutely necessary for priests to break from the Novus Ordo once and for all?

A priest, that is, one who became a priest for the right reasons and actually has an inkling of what the priesthood is supposed to be, needs to break away from the Novus Ordo once and for all for just two reasons: 1) to save his own soul, and 2) to be an instrument of others saving theirs.

I’m sure some will object to my implying that a priest who is traditional-minded has less chance of saving his soul or anyone else’s in the Novus Ordo, but this is why I believe this is so: Every Novus Ordo priest who knows what the priesthood should be (read Marmion’s Christ the Ideal of a Priest and that will give you a rough idea if you don’t) must know that this priesthood is not achievable in a Novus Ordo setting, and never will be. In other words, he is living a lie ... in fact, a series of lies. For example: “I can’t leave; I’m doing some good here. If I leave, these people will have no one”. Novus Ordo conservative faithful, desperately seeking some signs of sanity in a Church gone mad, will flock to any priest who exhibits the least indication of having the Faith or a spiritual life … Fr. So-and-so who occasionally wears a cassock or who doesn’t like to give Communion in the hand (but he will do it under “obedience”), or who has a Roman chasuble in his closet and that he will wear, he assures them, when he can get away with it, etc. Whatever “good” he is doing is delusional and transitory. Limited tenure has seen to that. He will be moved elsewhere and that will be that. He will start over again playing “real Catholic priest” in his new assignment; the conservative element there will form their cadre, then he will be moved again. Net result: lots of false starts; no net gain for the Faith. Or this: “This Pope is waiting for the right moment to restore the Church ... He is moving all his men quietly into position ... He can’t act too fast or there will be an American schism” or “The next Pope will be better. We just have to hold out a little longer”. Wrong. I think it’s safe to say that this Pope will not be restoring the Church any time soon, and that the next Pope, given the election of even the most “conservative” of the papabili, will not be any better. These priests are waiting for a Godot in a triple tiara.

A priest whose living-out of his priesthood in a mixture of delusions and self- deceit has squandered the most precious gift God can give to any man, and before God he will be accountable. He will never (read my lips) NEVER have a priesthood the way he knows it should be in the Novus Ordo system, and consequently the faithful he serves will NEVER have the priest they need to guide them, pray for them, and offer sacrifice for them as the Church intends.

2) To what do you ascribe the willingness of priests like Fathers Smith and Stretenovic to break from the Novus Ordo and to embrace the fullness of Tradition without com- promise no matter the cost to them in terms of alleged canonical penal- ties and human respect?

I ascribe what Fathers Smith and Stretenovic have done to a few things: Grace, intelligence, and courage. Grace is obvious, and I believe that same grace is pounding on the door of many priests, yet so few respond. Intelligence and courage are part of the character of the person which grace builds upon. Fathers Smith and Stretenovic are brave men, fearless in their pursuit of Truth. They arrived at the point where they knew what the priesthood was supposed to be and that they were called to this ideal: holiness and perfection through living a life in imitation of Christ, the High and Eternal Priest. They also realized it was not possible in the Novus Ordo, so they went to where it was possible and did what they knew God wanted them to do; what their consciences told them they HAD to do. I admire and respect both of them, and I believe they are role-models for all priests who find themselves in their former positions.

As for the canonical penalties and human respect, I think of what Archbishop Lefebvre said in an interview after the consecrations of the bishops in 1988. The reporter asked: “Archbishop Lefebvre, what do you say to the charge that you are excommunicated?” Lefebvre responded “Excommunicated! From what and by whom?” Likewise, I would say to those fearing suspension “Suspension from what and by whom?”

Is there any rational reason for fearing “suspension” from the exercise of a novus ordo priesthood imposed by a bishop who continues to teach, practice, and uphold that which the Church has consistently condemned (until Vatican II, that is)? I should think that this suspension would come as somewhat of a relief. (“Wow! Your Excellency is actually forbidding me to celebrate the Novus Ordo that I don’t want to celebrate anyway?!”) Keep in mind also that these clearly unjust suspensions have absolutely no effect on the exercise of a traditional priesthood as under the 1983 Code of Canon Law it is virtually impossible for a priest, even a suspended one, not to have faculties, jurisdiction being supplied by the law itself whenever needed and for whatever reason. (See Canon 1335, for example.)

3) How many people now assist at Holy Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians on Sundays? How have they come to learn of the parish.

At last count we had about 700 parishioners here at Our Lady Help of Christians. People hear about us in different ways, mostly word-of-mouth. People who left the Novus Ordo for our little oasis of Faith and sanity will happen across a former Novus Ordo co-parishioner and just put it to them: “Tired of Sister Daisy concelebrating with Fr. Bob, rock-and-roll music in church, and eucharistic ministers galore all dressed like they’re going to the beach or a barn-raising? Well, I know this place ...”. Most who visit come away with the feeling that they have found their home. Some are scared off by being told that we are not “under the bishop” or that we are “schismatic”, but very few fall for that. If they ask me, I tell them straight out “No, we most certainly are not ‘under the bishop’ or he would have closed us down a long time ago and sold our property to help pay for his lawsuits, and all of these people would have no place to receive the sacraments the way the Church says they should.” As for the charge of “schismatic”, I think the accusation is mostly bandied about by those who know neither its definition nor its implications.

In light of this, perhaps it would be a good idea to devote a few lines to the subject of schism, what it is as well as what it is not. Canon 751 defines schism as “the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him”. Notice that exactly what constitutes “withdrawal of submission” is not defined. Is a priest who will not, on moral grounds, do or teach all those novel things which a particular pope or bishop does or teaches withdrawing submission in this sense? Now, this is an absurd example, but if the pope or your bishop orders you to jump off the Golden Gate or Brooklyn Bridge and you refuse, are you thereby committing an act of schism? Why not? You are withdrawing submission, aren’t you?! Viewed in light of the constant teaching of the Church before Vatican II, requiring a priest to celebrate the Novus Ordo in any of its forms, or the new forms of the other sacraments, or to teach false ecumenism or the innate goodness of the new world order as required by that Council, is ordering them to spiritually jump off a bridge.

By the way, my emphasis of “in any of its forms” is directed at those who believe that there is an acceptable way to say the Novus Ordo. Remember that when Cardinal Ottaviani stated in 1969 that the Novus Ordo missae “represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass...” or when he declared that it was “a liturgy which teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the integrity of the Catholic Faith”, he was speaking of the Novus Ordo celebrated in Latin ad orientem, not of that liturgy in one of its current permutations! Neither I nor Fathers Smith and Stretenovic have withdrawn our submission to the Supreme Pontiff or to the bishops, except insofar as what they would like us to do is immoral and dangerous to the spiritual well-being of the Faithful. In the unlikely event that the local bishop becomes a traditional Catholic with all that implies, we will be amongst the first ones knocking at his door to report for duty. In fact, we may be the only ones. Until then...

Am I a real priest? I was ordained by a Cardinal Bishop, so I think so. Do I believe that the Pope is the Pope? Yes, until an ecumenical council or a future Pope tells me differently, but I also believe he is either the first or second worst Pope in the history of the Church, Paul VI being the contender for the other position. (Both of these Popes have revolutionized the Church in a modernist direction with catastrophic results.) Furthermore, I do not believe anything the Church has not always believed, I do not teach anything that the Church has not always taught, and I do not do anything the Church has not always done. I may be an irritant to the local bishop, and I assure you that is reciprocal, but that hardly makes me and my flock schismatic. Au contraire.

4) What would you like to say to those traditional-minded priests who keep waiting for Rome to create an Apostolic Administration that Cardinal Hoyos has said once again will not be erected?

I’m tempted to say to them “You just hold your breath until that happens, okay?” If Cardinal Hoyos, the head of the very Commission this administration would come from, has already said, “it ain’t gonna happen”, then where, pray tell, are they looking for it to come from? Do they really believe that any post-Vatican II Pope who buys into collegiality is going to create an Apostolic Administration which would enable traditionalists to stomp into any diocese on the planet without the consent of the local ordinary and set up shop doing the one thing he probably hates the most in the whole world? The bishops will never allow it, and neither this Pope nor the next, I fear, will go against them.

Look what happened to the mystical “celebret” for the Tridentine Mass. When it all began in 1988, Cardinal Meyer was issuing them directly to any priest that wrote to him (issuing, that is, letters that gave permission to say a Mass no priest needs permission to say in the first place!) Then the bishops caught on and OH BOY! They set the Pope straight on that one and His Holiness fell into line. How dare the Bishop of Rome try to tell the Bishop of Timbuktu what can and can’t be done in his own diocese. ... It’s downright uncollegial! After that, if you wanted a celebret you had to go through your own bishop who set the conditions for its use (usually ridiculous or impossible). That’s why I say, don’t hold your breath!

5) Monsignor Michael Schmitz of the Institute of Christ the King has said that the Institute does not oppose the changes in the life of the Church that occurred in Vatican II and thereafter. Why is it necessary in your view to oppose these changes? Is the Institute of Christ the King complicit in the harm done to the Faith by not opposing these changes?

Now, there you’ve stirred up the real hornet’s nest. Off the bat you’d have to ask “If the Institute of Christ the King (or Fraternity of St. Peter or whatever Ecclesia Dei organelle whose name you might wish to insert here) does not oppose the changes in the life of the Church that occurred in Vatican II and thereafter, then why on earth do they exist? Do they just like to wear birettas and lace? This statement by Msgr. Schmitz is meant to assure the Novus Ordo priests and bishops (especially the bishops) that the Institute (Fraternity, etc.) poses no threat to the well-being of the Novus Ordo institution. “I’m okay, you’re okay. We like Latin and incense and stuff like that, and you don’t, but we’ll just quietly and unobtrusively do our thing and you do yours and we’ll all be one big happy family.”

This reveals the sad position that these organizations who “come under Rome” find themselves in. The Institute of Christ the King, the Fraternity of St. Peter, and all the others like them at present rely for their very existence on currying favor with those whom I would without hesitation call the enemies of the Faith. In order for them to continue to exist, they must keep silent on the very matters they should be decrying from the rooftops. These groups are absolutely and categorically forbidden to express any objective, rational, intellectual reason(s) for preferring the traditional ways over those of the Novus Ordo because that would, in essence, be telling the hierarchy “We believe what you are doing is wrong, and in fact, harmful to the Church, detrimental to the Faith and the faithful, and therefore evil. Your practices and beliefs are not Catholic according to the well-defined and immemorial teaching and practice of the Church, and neither are you. As Catholic Faith, belief, and practice are necessary means of salvation, you and those who follow you are headed toward perdition. You must return to the Tradition or perish”.

Now anyone can see that their membership in the “Ecclesia Dei Club” would probably be reconsidered once these views became public. For that very reason, at least in the case of the Fraternity of St. Peter (I know because I was there), they will neither accept nor ordain anyone who expresses the fact that he even has real, clear, and intellectually objective reasons for preferring the traditional ways over those of the Novus Ordo. If you apply to be a priest there with the idea that “we are right and the Novus Ordo is wrong” you will not be admitted. If you are already one of their priests and you express such sentiment publicly and it gets back to the bishop or Rome, you will be censured and the superior will have to apologize for your statement (“which in NO WAY reflects the position of our order, Your Excellency ...). This is what is underlying Msgr. Schmitz’s ridiculous comment.

Need I point out the problems of this position? The main one, besides what I already mentioned, is that if you do not oppose the changes of Vatican II, then if follows logically that you either agree with them or are, at best, neutral. You cannot be a traditional priest and NOT oppose these changes. You can’t fight a war if one of the ground rules is that you may not fire any bullets! To fail to oppose the evil of the Novus Ordo is complicity in the wrongdoing. I personally know of cases where priests of indult groups were accepted into dioceses to offer a once-weekly Mass only under the conditions that they were forbidden to preach ever, or to teach catechism, and they accepted those conditions!

Another point: When a priest who cannot state that the Novus Ordo is wrong is asked to celebrate, or, more frequently, concelebrate it, on what grounds does he refuse? The answer is that, most times, he doesn’t refuse. Msgr. Wach, Dom Gerard Calvet, Fr. Bissig, and many other priests of the Institute and Fraternity have celebrated, and do celebrate or concelebrate the Novus Ordo, sometimes gratuitously and regularly, just to “keep the peace” and as a “sign of unity”. This is clearly wrong. Their lack of clear public opposition to the evils of the Novus Ordo is a grave scandal. What traditional-minded Novus Ordo priest would even be tempted to join an organization whose local superior said that they did “not oppose the changes in the life of the Church in Vatican II and thereafter”? They would have to ask “Why bother?”

6) Is there anything you would like to add, especially to priests in the Novus Ordo who may not know that much about Tradition but who might understand in some inchoate way that something is amiss? How can these priests get in contact with you to learn more about the Traditional Latin Mass?

To priests who understand that “something is wrong” I say, first of all, pray, then START READING so you know exactly what is wrong. Contact the Remnant Press, Angelus Press and Sarto House, Tradition in Action, St. Bonaventure Publications, TAN Books, Loreto Publications ... all of the traditional book publishers ... and get their catalogs, buy their books and read. Essential reading includes Michael Davies’ 3-volume work The Liturgical Revolution, The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber, G.I.R.M. Warfare, The Great Façade, We Resist You to the Face, The Problems with the New Mass, The Problems with the Orations of the New Mass, and Iota Unum, but most anything put out by the above publishers is good and worth reading. Then get out of the Novus Ordo! There are a number of options available to you. If you are not a priest and feel that you might have a vocation, then really the only choice as far as I can tell is the Society of Saint Pius X. The contact information is: Father John Fullerton, SSPX, Regina Coeli House, 2918 Tracy Avenue, Kansas City, MO, 64109. Phone: 816-753-0073; e-mail: info@sspx.org

My dear brother priests, trust in our Lady’s graces and Divine Providence. Do what you know is the right thing to do. You will be instructed in the ways of Tradition and taken care of. I will also help any priest interested in pursuing the traditional priesthood in any way that I can. I may be contacted at the following: Rev. Fr. Patrick J. Perez, 113 Sequoia Way, Santa Ana, CA 92703, (714) 547-9944 email: pp918@pacbell.net

Tu es sacerdos in aeternum! Oremus pro invicem!

Final note from Thomas A. Droleskey, the compiler of this interview: Please circulate these answers as widely as possible, especially with all of the priests you know. It is my personal privilege to know each of these priests and to count them among my friends (indeed, some of the very few friends we have at present!). Each has enriched our lives by teaching us much about how to embrace Tradition without compromise for love of Our Lord and trusting completely in Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.

Father Paul Stretenovic’s interview will be published next month. Also, Father Stretenovic will be interviewed on Long Island Radio WLIE on Sunday, March 13 at 8:00 P.M. EST (The Voice of Catholic Tradition Radio Program). Those not in the Long Island area can listen to the program as it airs on www.wlie.com


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