The Insult of the Indult
Thomas A. Droleskey
Although the illicit and unjust conditions attached to the needles Papal "indults" for the "approved" offering of the Traditional Latin Mass in 1984 and 1988 served as the bridge by which many of us found our way back to the fullness of Tradition without compromise, anyone who "congratulates" the late Pope John Paul II for his "generosity" toward the Immemorial Mass of Tradition is playing fast and loose with the truth. While it is true that the late pontiff was more "open" to the authentic Mass of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church than was Pope Paul VI, the imposition of thoroughly illicit and unjust conditions on the offering of the Mass that is indeed the Mass of the Roman Rite (and thus is incapable of being suppressed) is not something to commend in any way, shape, or form. Pope Saint Pius V's Papal Bull Quo Primum merely stated in law the actual fact of the matter: that the Mass contained in the Missale Romanum he promulgated in 1570 is indeed the Mass of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church and that no priest needs any permission to offer it and no priest can be forced to offer Mass in any other way. To praise the late Pope John Paul II's nonexistent "generosity" towards the Traditional Latin Mass is to ignore entirely how the late Holy Father consigned Quo Primum, like so much else of the Church's perennial Tradition, down the Orwellian memory hole.
As noted above, the indult can and does continue to serve as a bridge to help people discover and/or rediscover the glories of the Mass that begins with a priest addressing God with the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and ends, in most cases during year, with a priest reading the Prologue to the Gospel of Saint John that stresses the importance of the Incarnation in our lives and that the Mass itself is incarnational. This being acknowledged as the fact that it is, though, does not undo the harm of the indult mentality upon the faithful, many of whom are convinced that a priest needs papal and/or episcopal "permission" to exercise his absolute right as a priest of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church and who term anyone who dares to point this fact out as being "schismatic" and "disloyal" and "disobedient." The indult mentality leads to a situation of paralysis in a time when both priests and the laity need to exercise courage to resist novelties that have eviscerated Our Lord's vineyard that is the Church. It is especially the case that the indult mentality leads to silencing both priests and the laity about the absolute inherent harm contained in the Novus Ordo Missae and how it must be avoided at all times and in all circumstances with no exceptions whatsoever. While it is laudable that thousands of people in the world have developed a devotion to Tradition as a result of the indult, it is not laudable that most of them are ignorant of the truth about the perpetually binding nature of Quo Primum and who believe that any criticism of the Novus Ordo Missae is a sign of disloyalty to the Church.
The late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the Priestly Fraternity of the Society of Saint Pius X, saw all of this very clearly when the Vatican laid down its traps in 1984 and 1988, saying that the indults were meant to snatch priests and laymen out of Tradition in the name of being in "full communion" with the local diocesan bishop and the Holy See. The indults were meant to impose a reign of terror upon priests and laymen so that they would fear opposing papal novelties and/or episcopal malfeasance out of fear of losing the "privilege" of "having" and "official" Traditional Latin Mass and remain therefore in "good standing" in the Church. And many in the Society of Saint Pius X and elsewhere in the "unapproved" circles of Tradition said repeatedly that the indults were meant to make formerly Traditional priests "bi-ritual," men who would be at least "open" to the "necessity" of offering the Novus Ordo Missae for "pastoral reasons" in various areas.
The Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Missae are incompatible one with the other. Many priests who have come over to Tradition without compromise have noted how painful it was for them to offer both Masses while they remained within the diocesan structures. We saw with our own eyes how painful it was for our good friend, Father Stephen P. Zigrang, to have to "face the people" back in 2001 when offering a Novus Ordo Missae, which we observed for a few moments from a vestibule after spending time in prayer in an adoration chapel, at Saint Andrew's Church in Channelview, Texas. He was saying the Traditional Latin Mass every day at 6:30 a.m. in his rectory. He was yet a little under two years away from the break he made from the harm of the Novus Ordo Missae on June 28-29, 2003. All men, especially priests, must have integrity to their lives. A priest who knows that the Novus Ordo Missae is offensive to God and thus harmful to souls has to stop offering the Novus Ordo and embrace Tradition fully without fear of any of the unjust canonical penalties that might be imposed upon as a result. This is what Father Lawrence C. Smith and Father Paul Sretenovic, among others, have done in recent years themselves.
Take, for example, the legendary Father Harry Marchosky, one of the founders of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. Father Marchosky, who was born of Jewish parents in Panama on December 8, 1923, and converted to the Faith and was ordained to the priesthood in Canada in 1952, decided that he could no longer stay at the college he helped to found when the then Archbishop of Los Angeles, Timothy Cardinal Manning, mandated the use of the Novus Ordo Missae there in 1976. Father Marchosky had never offered the Novus Ordo Missae up to that point. He had not even offered the Ordo Missae of 1965 (which, among other things, eliminated the Judica me and the Last Gospel and the Prayers after Low Mass) that Archbishop Lefebvre had offered between 1965 and 1974. He left the college that he helped to found, wandering in the wilderness while continuing to offer the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively on a private basis (and maintaining his canonical standing all the while, it should be noted). Father Marchosky, who now resides in the parish of Saint Thomas a Becket in Veneta, Oregon, knew full well that one bit of compromise with the Novus Ordo Missae would be death to his priestly integrity and to his ability to teach the fullness of the Faith without any taint of the errors and novelties of the past forty years. I asked Father Marchosky a few weeks ago if I was correct in terming the Novus Ordo Missae offensive to God. "Absolutely," he told me most emphatically, stressing that that was the principal reason he had never offered it and would never offer it before he died.
Compromising the integrity of priests who offer the Traditional Latin Mass has been one of the chief goals of Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, as was seen in the dispute involving sixteen French priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in 1999 desirous of offering the Novus Ordo Missae that resulted in the suspension of the fraternity's General Chapter that year and the appointment of a Superior General, Father Arnaud Devillers, who was deemed at the time by many in the fraternity to be a supporter of liberal liturgical trends and who would not oppose the desire of the "sixteen" to say the new Mass. And compromising the integrity of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest (which has at least a few priests, reports from around the world indicate, who offer the Novus Ordo Missae in diocesan parishes when asked to do so by diocesan bishops) and of the Society of Saint John Mary Vianney in Campos, Brazil, which I documented last year in a series of articles in The Remnant and Catholic Family News, has been a continuing theme of the regime that has run Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei since the retirement of its first President, His Eminence Paul Augustin Cardinal Mayer, O.S.B.
It is with all of this in mind that the following report from the diocesan newspaper of Anchorage, Alaska, The Catholic Anchor, must be understood as nothing other than a development that warms the heart of those in the Vatican who remain hostile to the Mass of all ages despite persistent reports that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI desires to "liberate" the Traditional Latin Mass from the unjust and illicit conditions attached to its offering by his immediate predecessor, Pope John Paul II. For it is not at all clear that a universal indult for the offering of the Traditional Latin Mass would indemnify those diocesan priests who want to offer it exclusively and thus refuse to offer the Novus Ordo ever again. Those hostile to the Traditional Latin Mass will take great delight in the victory of the Modernists in the case of a priest from the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter:
Archbishop Roger Schwietz has assigned Father Andrew Szymakowski to Eagle River’s St. Andrew Parish, where he will serve as parochial vicar. The one-year appointment began Aug. 1.
The priest, a 32-year-old German who has been living in the United States for 10 years, is specially trained to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, the Latin liturgy that was used throughout the church before Vatican II. But in his current assignment he is authorized, for now at least, to celebrate only the "Novus Ordo" Mass that local Catholics experience each weekend.
Father Szymakowski is a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an institute of apostolic life dedicated to preserving the Latin Mass in a way approved by the Vatican.
Apostolic life institutes are not religious orders like the Jesuits or Dominicans, although member priests take vows of obedience and chastity, according to Father Szymakowski.
For the past nine months, Father Szymakowski has been living at the House of Discernment, a residence at St. Patrick Parish in Anchorage for men considering the priesthood.
From there he has worked in a variety of ministries, trying to discern whether God is calling him to serve here, he said. He has been filling in for pastors at parishes in Anchorage and the Matanuska Valley, assisting as a chaplain at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, and celebrating Mass at the Blessed Sacrament Monastery in Anchorage.
Father Szymakowski said he and Archbishop Schwietz have been discussing the possibility of establishing a regular Tridentine Mass here. They both see the need for the traditional liturgy, especially in light of the fact that a schismatic group offers an unauthorized Latin Mass in Anchorage on a regular basis, Father Szymakowski said.
Offering an approved Latin Mass would provide an opportunity to "bring the schismatic people back into communion with the church," he said.
The priest studied the Tridentine liturgy at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., and served as a transitional deacon at a parish in Post Falls, Idaho, where both the Latin and "Novus Ordo" rites are celebrated.
"The variety of rites show the richness of the church’s liturgy and spirituality throughout the ages, and we shouldn’t lose that," he said.
During his year in Post Falls, Father Szymakowski met Michael and Stacie Lyden and their family. The Lydens attended St. George Parish there and came to appreciate the Latin Mass. When the Lydens moved to Wasilla, they stayed in touch with Father Szymakowski and encouraged him to seek an assignment here after he was ordained a priest in May 2004.
He did, and Archbishop Schwietz invited him up for a trial period that began in December.
Father Szymakowski was born in Poland but fled with his family during the turmoil of the early 1980s, when the communist government was struggling to suppress the Solidarity movement. He lived with his brother, mother and father, a nuclear physicist, for a year in Florida before the family moved to Germany.
There he served the obligatory year in the army and observed the country’s reunification in 1989 firsthand.
The "moral laxity" he observed as a German soldier and the political tensions he had witnessed growing up were factors in his decision to become a priest, he said. It was an army chaplain, a Catholic priest, who suggested he explore the priesthood.
Father Szymakowski started theological studies in Austria and completed a bachelor’s in philosophy at Wadhams Hall Seminary-College in Ogdensburg, N.Y. From there he enrolled at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, which specializes in training priests in the Tridentine rite.
Michael Lyden of Wasilla said Father Szymakowski is an outgoing, straightforward priest. He knows what he believes and isn’t afraid to preach about such controversial topics as contraception and masturbation, Lyden said.
And, although the young priest "loves the Latin Mass," he is comfortable with both rites, unlike some traditionalists who bad-mouth the "Novus Ordo," Lyden said.
Apart from the many misstatements in this ideologically laden article, there is Father Szymakowski's gratuitous assertion that the Society of Saint Pius X, though unnamed in the article, is in "schism" and the assertion by Mr. Lyden that criticism of the Novus Ordo Missae is merely an exercise in "bad-mouthing" that has no foundation in fact whatsoever. Even the current Holy Father, writing as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, was an occasional and intermittent critic of the Novus Ordo Missae, saying in the French foreword to the late Monsignor Klaus Gamber's The Reform of the Roman Liturgy that the new Mass was a "banal, on-the-spot" product that had not produced good results. Was the then Cardinal Ratzinger, who has also given indications that injustices were done to Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of Saint Pius X, merely "bad-mouthing" the Novus Ordo Missae, Mr. Lyden?
Furthermore, it must be mentioned that while there are some very fine priests in the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter who see the situation in the Church clearly but who are hamstrung by the conditions under which their institute of apostolic life exists to say anything about it publicly, Father Paul Sretenovic reminded me after reading a draft of this article that not one priest within the ranks of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter told him to stop offering the Novus Ordo Missae when he was discovering the glories of the Traditional Latin Mass and that the immutable Social Teaching of the Church was being undermined by the praxis of the conciliarist ethos. Not one priest told him that he should stop offering the Novus Ordo Missae. Not one. That says quite a bit about how the insult of the indult has compromised the Ecclesia Dei communities and the entirety of the indult situation.
The Society of Saint Pius X has been the strongest organized force in the Church to resist the novelties and the errors of the conciliarist era. We must pray for its Superior General, the Most Reverend Bernard Fellay, as he approaches his meeting with the Holy Father in but nine days. Any improvement in the situation of the Traditional Latin Mass and of all of Our Lord's perennial teachings expressed so beautifully therein must recognize the absolute harm and the injustice of the 1984 and 1988 indults, neither of which would have been "granted" had it not been for the Society's efforts to preserve the Mass of all ages and to oppose such errors as ecumenism and religious liberty. Any improvement in the situation of the Traditional Latin Mass must be founded in the fullness of truth without compromise. We pray that the Holy Father, who is even now demonstrating an "openness" to reaffirming Protestants and Jews in their false religions, will be open to accepting Bishop Fellay's concerns about the situation of the Church and will once and for all remove the Mass that produced Christendom and all of its glories from any and all semblance of "disloyalty" and "schism."
The insult of the indult must end once and for all.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.
Pope Saint Pius X, pray for us.
Pope Saint Pius V, pray for us.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, pray for us.