Editor’s Note: In this new text, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò responds to a series of five articles published last fall by the University of Notre Dame’s Church Life Journal (available all together here), as well as to Dom Alcuin Reid’s response to the aforementioned series (here). Whereas the authors of the article series (Prof. John Cavadini, Prof. Mary Healy, and Fr. Thomas Weinandy) defend the legitimacy of Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium, the post-conciliar reforms, and recent restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass, Dom Reid critiques the premise upon which the aforementioned series seems to rest: the false notion that Vatican II constitutes a “super-dogma,” and thus, that all Catholics are required to “accept the legitimacy of the liturgical reform of Vatican II.”
Archbishop Viganò, for his part, agrees with Dom Reid’s critique of the false notion that Vatican II is a “super-dogma,” but His Grace takes issue with Reid’s apparent implication that a return to “Pope Benedict’s inclusive policies” (e.g., continued coexistence for the Traditional and New Mass) would be the most prudent option. In response to Reid’s position, Archbishop Viganò states:
And if the reformed liturgy expresses those doctrinal errors and that ecclesiological approach that Vatican II contained in nuce, errors whose authors intended to make manifest in their devastating scope only after their promulgation, no “pastoral” reason — as Dom Alcuin Reid would like to maintain — can ever justify any maintenance of that spurious, equivocal, favens hæresim rite, so utterly disastrous in its effects on God’s holy people. The Novus Ordo therefore does not deserve any amendment, any “reform of the reform,” but only suppression and abrogation, as a consequence of its irremediable heterogeneity with respect to the Catholic Liturgy, to the Roman Rite of which it would presumptuously claim to be the only expression, and to the immutable doctrine of the Church.
His Grace further notes that he is “greatly dismayed to read that the Apostolic Mass is considered by Dom Reid as the ‘expression of that legitimate plurality that is a part of the Church of Christ,’ because the plurality of voices is legitimately expressed in an overall symphonic unity, not in the simultaneous presence of harmony and screeching noise.”
He firmly maintains that “it is not a question of ‘dressing up’ the Montinian Mass like the ancient Mass, trying to use vestments and Gregorian chant to hide the pharisaical hypocrisy that conceived it; it is not a question of cutting out the Prex eucharistica II or celebrating ad orientem: the battle must be fought over the ontological difference between the theocentric vision of the Tridentine Mass and the anthropocentric vision of its conciliar counterfeit.”
See below for the full text of Archbishop Viganò’s response to Reid, Cavadini, Healy, and Weinandy.
“THE ONE THREAD BY WHICH
THE COUNCIL HANGS”
A Response to Reid, Cavadini, Healy, and Weinandy
Et brachia ex eo stabunt,
et polluent sanctuarium fortitudinis,
et auferent juge sacrificium:
et dabunt abominationem in desolationem.
And arms shall stand on his part,
and they shall defile the sanctuary of strength,
and they shall take away the continual sacrifice:
and they shall place there the abomination unto desolation.
I have followed with interest the ongoing debate about Traditionis Custodes and Father Reid’s comment (here) in which he refutes Cavadini, Healy, and Weinandy, without however reaching a solution to the problems identified. With this contribution, I would like to indicate a possible way out of the present crisis.
Vatican II, not being a dogmatic Council, did not intend to define any doctrinal truth, limiting itself to reaffirming indirectly — and in an often equivocal form — doctrines previously defined clearly and unequivocally by the infallible authority of the Magisterium. It was unduly and forcibly considered as “the” Council, the “superdogma” of the new “conciliar church,” to the point of defining the Church in relation to that event. In the conciliar texts there is no explicit mention of what was later done in the liturgical sphere, passing it off as the fulfillment of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium. On the other hand, there are many critical issues with the so-called “reform,” which represents a betrayal of the will of the Council Fathers and of the pre-conciliar liturgical heritage.
We should rather ask ourselves what value to give to an act that is not what it wants to seem: that is, if we can morally consider as “Council” an act that, beyond its official premises — that is, in the preparatory schemes formulated at length and in detail by the Holy Office — showed itself to be subversive in its unmentionable intentions and malicious in the means to be employed by those who, as it turned out, intended to use it for a purpose totally opposite to what the Church instituted the Ecumenical Councils for. This premise is indispensable in order to be able to evaluate objectively also the other events and acts of governance of the Church that derive from it or that refer to it.
Allow me to explain. We know that a law is promulgated on the basis of a mens, that is, of a very precise purpose, which cannot be separated from the entire legal system in which it is born. These at least are the foundations of that Law which the wisdom of the Church acquired from the Roman Empire. The legislator promulgates a law with a purpose and formulates it in such a way that it is applicable only for that specific purpose; he will therefore avoid any element that could make the law equivocal with respect to its addressee, its purpose, or its result. The convocation of an Ecumenical Council has as its purpose the solemn convocation of the Bishops of the Church, under the authority of the Roman Pontiff, to define particular aspects of doctrine, morals, liturgy or ecclesiastical discipline. But what each Council defines must in any case fall within the scope of Tradition and cannot in any way contradict the immutable Magisterium, because if it did so it would go against the purpose that legitimizes authority in the Church. The same applies to the Pope, who has full, immediate and direct power over the whole Church only within the confines of his mandate: to strengthen his brothers and sisters in the Faith, to feed the lambs and sheep of the flock that the Lord has entrusted to him.
In the history of the Church, until Vatican II, it has never happened that a Council could de facto cancel the Councils that preceded it, nor that a “pastoral” Council — a ἅπαξ [hapax] of Vatican II — could have more authority than twenty dogmatic Councils. Yet it happened, amidst the silence of the majority of the Episcopate and with the approval of five Roman Pontiffs, from John XXIII to Benedict XVI. In these fifty years of permanent revolution, no Pope has ever questioned the “magisterium” of Vatican II, nor has he dared to condemn its heretical theses or clarify its equivocal ones. On the contrary, all the Popes since Paul VI have made Vatican II and its implementation the programmatic fulcrum of their Pontificate, subordinating and binding their apostolic authority to the conciliar diktats. They have distinguished themselves through a clear distancing from their predecessors and a marked self-referentiality from Roncalli to Bergoglio: their “magisterium” begins with Vatican II and ends there, and the Successors proclaim their immediate Predecessors as saints for the sole fact of having convoked, concluded, or applied the Council. Theological language has also adapted to the ambiguity of the conciliar texts, going so far as to adopt as defined doctrines things that before the Council were considered heretical: we may think of the secularism of the State, today taken for granted and praiseworthy; the irenic ecumenism of Assisi and Astana; or the parliamentarism of the Commissions, the Synod of Bishops, and the “synodal path” of the German Church.
All this stems from a postulate that almost everyone takes for granted: that Vatican II can claim the authority of an Ecumenical Council, before which the faithful are supposed to suspend all judgment and humbly bow their heads to the will of Christ, infallibly expressed by the Sacred Pastors, even if in a “pastoral” and not dogmatic form. But this is not the case, because the Sacred Pastors may be being deceived by a colossal conspiracy that has as its purpose the subversive use of a Council.
What happened on the global level with Vatican II took place locally with the Synod of Pistoia, in 1786, where the authority of Bishop Scipione de’ Ricci — which he was able to legitimately exercise by convoking a diocesan Synod — was declared null and void by Pius VI for having used it in fraudem legis, that is, against the ratio which presides over and directs every law of the Church: because authority in the Church belongs to Our Lord, Who is its Head, Who grants it in vicarious form to Peter and his legitimate Successors only within the framework of Sacred Tradition. It is therefore not an impudent hypothesis to suppose that a gathering of heretics could have organized a real coup d’état in the ecclesial body, in order to impose that revolution that with similar methods was organized by Freemasonry, in 1789, against the Monarchy of France, and that the modernist Cardinal Suenens praised as having been realized at the Council. Nor is this in conflict with the certainty of Christ’s divine assistance to His Church: non prævalebunt [Matt. 16:18] does not promise us the absence of conflicts, persecutions, apostasies; it assures us that in the furious battle of the gates of hell against the Bride of the Lamb, they will not succeed in destroying the Church of Christ. The Church will not be defeated as long as she remains as her Eternal Pontiff commanded her to be. Moreover, the special assistance of the Holy Spirit upon papal infallibility is not in question when the Pope has no intention of using it, as in the case of the approval of the acts of a pastoral Council. From a theoretical point of view, therefore, the subversive and malicious use of a Council is possible; also because the pseudochristi and pseudoprophetæ of which Sacred Scripture speaks (Mk 13:22) could deceive even the elect themselves, including most of the Council Fathers, and with them a multitude of clerics and faithful.
If, therefore, Vatican II was, as is evident, an instrument whose authority and authoritativeness was fraudulently used to impose heterodox doctrines and Protestantized rites, we can hope that sooner or later the return to the Throne of a holy and orthodox Pontiff will cure this situation by declaring it illegitimate, invalid, and null, like the Conciliabolo of Pistoia. And if the reformed liturgy expresses those doctrinal errors and that ecclesiological approach that Vatican II contained in nuce, errors whose authors intended to make manifest in their devastating scope only after their promulgation, no “pastoral” reason — as Dom Alcuin Reid would like to maintain — can ever justify any maintenance of that spurious, equivocal, favens hæresim rite, so utterly disastrous in its effects on God’s holy people. The Novus Ordo therefore does not deserve any amendment, any “reform of the reform,” but only suppression and abrogation, as a consequence of its irremediable heterogeneity with respect to the Catholic Liturgy, to the Roman Rite of which it would presumptuously claim to be the only expression, and to the immutable doctrine of the Church. “The lie must be refuted, as Saint Paul insists, but those who are entangled in its traps must be saved, not lost,” writes Dom Alcuin: but not to the detriment of revealed Truth and of the honor due to the Most Holy Trinity in the supreme act of worship; because in giving excessive weight to pastorality we end up putting man at the center of sacred action, when he should instead place God there and prostrate himself before Him in adoring silence.
And even if this may arouse astonishment in the proponents of the hermeneutic of continuity conceived by Benedict XVI, I believe that Bergoglio is for once perfectly right to consider the Tridentine Mass as an intolerable threat to Vatican II, since that Mass is so Catholic as to disavow any attempt at peaceful coexistence between the two forms of the same Roman Rite. Indeed, it is an absurdity to be able to conceive of an ordinary Montinian form and an extraordinary Tridentine form for a Rite that, as such, must represent the only voice of the Roman Church — una voce dicentes — with the very limited exception of the venerable rites of antiquity such as the Ambrosian Rite, the Lyonese Rite, the Mozarabic Rite, and the minimal variations of the Dominican Rite and similar rites. I repeat: the author of Traditionis Custodes knows very well that the Novus Ordo is the cultic expression of another religion — that of the “conciliar church” — with respect to the religion of the Catholic Church of which the Mass of Saint Pius V is a perfect prayerful translation. In Bergoglio there is no desire to settle the disagreement between the lineage of Tradition and the lineage of Vatican II. On the contrary, the idea of provoking a rupture is functional to the exclusion of traditional Catholics, whether clerics or laity, from the “conciliar church” that has replaced the Catholic Church and that barely (and reluctantly) keeps its name. The schism desired by Santa Marta is not that of the heretical synodal path of the German Dioceses, but that of traditional Catholics exasperated by Bergoglian provocations, by the scandals of her Court, by her intemperate and divisive declarations (here and here). To obtain this, Bergoglio will not hesitate to carry to their extreme consequences the principles laid down by Vatican II, to which he unconditionally adheres: to consider the Novus Ordo as the only form of the post-conciliar Roman Rite, and to consistently abrogate any celebration in the ancient Roman Rite as completely alien to the dogmatic structure of the Council.
And it is very true, beyond any possible refutation, that there is no possibility of reconciliation between two heterogeneous, indeed opposed, ecclesiological visions. Either one survives and the other succumbs, or one succumbs and the other survives. The chimera of a coexistence between the Vetus and Novus Ordo is impossible, artificial, and deceitful: because what the celebrant does perfectly in the Apostolic Mass leads him naturally and infallibly to do what the Church wants; while what the president of the assembly does in the Reformed Mass is almost always affected by the variations authorized by the rite itself, even if in it the Holy Sacrifice is validly realized. And it is precisely in this that the conciliar matrix of the new Mass consists: its fluidity, its ability to adapt to the needs of the most disparate “assemblies,” to be celebrated both by a priest who believes in transubstantiation and manifests it with the prescribed genuflections and by one who believes only in transignification and gives Communion to the faithful in their hands.
I would not be surprised, therefore, if, in the very near future, those who are abusing apostolic authority in order to demolish the Holy Church and provoke the mass exodus of “pre-conciliar” Catholics do not hesitate not only to limit the celebration of the ancient Mass, but also to prohibit it altogether, because in that prohibition the sectarian hatred against the True, the Good, and the Beautiful is summarized, which animated the conspiracy of the Modernists since the first session of their idol, Vatican II. Let us not forget that, consistent with this fanatical and tyrannical approach, the Tridentine Mass was casually abrogated with the promulgation of the Missale Romanum of Paul VI, and that those who continued to celebrate it were literally persecuted, ostracized, made to die with broken hearts, and buried with funerals in the new rite, as if to seal a miserable victory over a past to be definitively forgotten. And in those days no one was interested in the pastoral motivations to derogate from the harshness of canon law, just as today no one is concerned with the pastoral motivations that could induce many Bishops to grant that celebration in the ancient rite to which clerics and faithful show particular attachment.
Benedict XVI’s conciliatory attempt, praiseworthy in its temporary effects of liberalization of the Usus Antiquior, was destined to fail precisely because it arose from the illusion of being able to apply the synthesis of Summorum Pontificum to the Tridentine thesis and the antithesis of Bugnini: that philosophical vision influenced by Hegelian thought could not be successful because of the very nature of the Church (and of the Mass), which is either Catholic or not. And which cannot be at the same time firmly anchored to Tradition and also jolted by the waves of the secularized mentality.
For this reason, I am greatly dismayed to read that the Apostolic Mass is considered by Dom Reid as the “expression of that legitimate plurality that is a part of the Church of Christ,” because the plurality of voices is legitimately expressed in an overall symphonic unity, not in the simultaneous presence of harmony and screeching noise. There is a misunderstanding here that must be clarified as soon as possible, and which in all probability will be healed not so much by the timid and composed dissent of those who ask for tolerance for themselves while giving the same tolerance to those who hold diametrically opposed principles, but rather by the intolerant and vexatious action of those who believe they can impose their own will in opposition to the will of Christ the Head of the Church, presuming to be able to govern the Mystical Body like a multinational corporation, as Cardinal Müller correctly pointed out in his recent speech.
And yet, on closer inspection, what is happening today and what will happen in the near future is nothing other than the logical consequence of the premises established in the past, the next step in a long series of more or less slow steps, each of which many have been silent about and have been blackmailed into accepting. Because those who celebrate the Tridentine Mass habitually but continue to celebrate the Novus Ordo from time to time — and I am not talking about priests subject to blackmail but those who were able to decide for themselves or had the freedom to choose — have already yielded in their principles, accepting to be able to equally celebrate either one, as if they were both equivalent, as if — precisely — one was the extraordinary form and the other the ordinary form of the same Rite. And is not this what has transpired, with similar methods, in the civil sphere, with the imposition of restrictions and the violation of fundamental rights, accepted in silence by the majority of the population, terrorized by the threat of a pandemic? Also in those circumstances, with different motivations but with similar purposes, citizens have been blackmailed: “Either get vaccinated or you cannot work, travel, or go to restaurants.” And how many, although knowing that this was an abuse of authority, have obeyed? Do you think that the systems of manipulation of consensus are very different, when those who adopt them come from the same enemy ranks and are led by the same Serpent? Do you think that the Great Reset plan devised by Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum has different purposes than those set by the Bergoglian sect? The blackmail will not be about health, but rather doctrinal: one will be asked to accept only Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Missæ in order to be able to have rights in the conciliar church; the traditionalists will be branded as fanatics just like those who are called “no-vax.”
If Rome were to proscribe the celebration of the ancient Mass in all the churches of the world, those who believed that they could serve two masters — the Church of Christ and the conciliar church — will discover that they have been deceived, just as happened to the conciliar Fathers before them. At that point they will have to make the choice that they deluded themselves into believing that they could avoid: a choice which will force them either to disobey an illicit order in order to obey the Lord, or else to bow their head to the will of the tyrant while failing in their duties as ministers of God. Let them reflect, in their examination of conscience, about how many have avoided supporting the few, very few, of their brother priests who have been faithful to their own Priesthood even though they have been singled out as disobedient or inflexible simply because they foresaw the deception and the blackmail.
Here it is not a question of “dressing up” the Montinian Mass like the ancient Mass, trying to use vestments and Gregorian chant to hide the pharisaical hypocrisy that conceived it; it is not a question of cutting out the Prex eucharistica II or celebrating ad orientem: the battle must be fought over the ontological difference between the theocentric vision of the Tridentine Mass and the anthropocentric vision of its conciliar counterfeit.
This is nothing other than the battle between Christ and Satan. A battle for the Mass, which is the heart of our Faith, the throne onto which the Divine Eucharistic King descends, the Calvary on which the immolation of the Immaculate Lamb is renewed in an unbloody form. It is not a supper, not a concert, not a show to display eccentricities or a pulpit for heresiarchs, and it not a podium for holding rallies.
It is a battle that will be strengthened spiritually in the clandestinity of priests who are faithful to Christ, who are considered to be excommunicated and schismatics, while inside the churches, along with the reformed rite, infidelity, error, and hypocrisy will triumph. And also the absence: the absence of God, the absence of holy priests, the absence of good faithful souls. The absence — as I said in my homily for the Chair of Saint Peter in Rome (here) — of the unity between the Chair (Cathedra) and the Altar, between the sacred authority of the Shepherds and their very reason for being, following the model of Christ, ready to be the first themselves to ascend Golgotha, to sacrifice themselves for the flock. Whoever rejects this mystical vision of his own Priesthood ends up by exercising his authority without the ratification that comes only from the Altar, the Sacrifice, and the Cross: from Christ Himself, Who reigns from that Cross over both spiritual and temporal sovereigns as King and High Priest.
If this is what Bergoglio wants in order to assert his overwhelming power amidst the clamorous silence of the Sacred College and the Episcopate, may he know that he will face firm and decisive opposition from many good souls who are willing to fight for love of the Lord and for the salvation of their own souls, who, at a moment that is so dreadful for the fate of the Church and the world, are determined not to give in to those who wish to cancel the perennial Sacrifice, as if to facilitate the rise of the Antichrist to the leadership of the New World Order. We will soon understand the meaning of the terrible words of the Gospel (Mt 24:15), in which the Lord speaks of the abomination of desolation in the temple: the abominable horror of seeing the treasure of the Mass proscribed, our altars stripped, our churches closed, and our liturgical ceremonies forced into clandestinity. This is the abomination of desolation: the end of the Apostolic Mass.
When the 13-year-old Agnes was led to her Martyrdom on January 21, 304, many among the faithful and priests had apostatized the Faith under the persecution of Diocletian. Should we fear the ostracism of the conciliar sect, when a girl has given us such an example of fidelity and fortitude before the executioner? Her heroic fidelity was praised by Saint Ambrose and Saint Damasus. Let us ensure that we, unworthy though we may be, will be able to merit the future praise of the Church while we prepare ourselves for those trials in which we testify that we belong to Christ.
+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop
21 January 2023
Sanctæ Agnetis Virginis et Martyris
 Three years before the French Revolution, the Synod of Pistoia formulated some heretical doctrines significantly anticipating the errors of Modernism that we find at the Second Vatican Council: aversion to pious devotions; the insinuation that the doctrine of grace and predestination should return to the purity of antiquity after centuries of misrepresentation; the adoption of the vernacular in the Liturgy and of many prayers said out loud; the suppression of the side altars, the use of reliquaries and flowers on the altars, images of the Saints not present in the Scriptures; insinuations about the lawfulness of a Mass at which the faithful do not receive Communion; the use of improper terms in the definition of Consecration. Pius VI responds to these errors: “May it never be the case that Peter’s voice remains silent in his Chair in which he lives and presides forever, offering the truth of the faith to those who seek it” (Saint Chrysologus, Letter to Eutyches).