March 2018 - District Superior's Letter
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
As perennial philosophy teaches, action follows being, and thus morality follows doctrine. Fighting to keep sound doctrine means wanting to keep morality in its integrity; and changing the doctrine leads to changing morality.
Today, we are the sad witnesses to an unprecedented attack on all aspects of marriage. Changes in the doctrine of marriage logically result in changes in morality. These changes can be traced to their origins in Rome itself.
For example, this past December 14th, at the prestigious Gregorian University in Rome, where Archbishop Lefebvre studied in the 1920s, Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, a new member of the Pontifical Academy for Life (by the expressed will of Pope Francis), gave a lecture. It was his third on the subject, of which the purpose was to revisit the encyclical Humanae Vitae of 1968 – the very one that condemned contraception as 'intrinsically perverse'; "in the context of a time of change" and "more complex" situations. In the last three minutes of his 45-minute lecture, he refuted the Church's teaching by talking about responsibility in generation:
(I)n situations where natural methods are impossible or unfeasible, other forms of responsibility need to be found. There are circumstances – I refer here to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 – that precisely for the sake of responsibility require contraception. (...) In (these) circumstances, then, an artificial method for the regulation of birth could be recognized as an act of responsibility...” (Faithful Insight, February 2018, pp. 27-28)
Our bishops in Canada had declared the same in September 1968, after the publication of Humanae Vitae in the infamous Winnipeg Declaration. In paragraph 26, it said, “they may be safely assured that, whoever honestly chooses that course (ie., artificial birth control) which seems right to him does so in good conscience." This notion endorses the primacy of conscience over the law of God.
Let us go back further, to the Council itself. The words of Fr. Chiodi are only the faithful echo of what a Cardinal, this time, pronounced quite clearly in the conciliar aula and which was well understood by all, liberals, conservatives and the media. It is no other than Cardinal Suenens, who is largely responsible for the expression ‘Pastoral Council’ (Vatican II, an unwritten story, R. de Mattei, p. 167-168).
This ecclesial thunderbolt took place on October 29, 1964, in the middle of the Third Session, when the schema Gaudium et Spes was discussed. In the first part of his long intervention, the Cardinal asked whether the Church had properly understood marriage so far, perhaps focusing too much on procreation and not enough on conjugal love. In the second part, he talked about scientific progress: "Let us follow the progress of science. Let us avoid a new 'Galileo Trial'."
The French daily Le Monde clearly understood the Cardinal's message:
The least that can be said is that the last two General Congregations of Vatican II (Oct. 27 and 29) have inaugurated a new era in the Roman Church. In fact, the interventions of (Patriarch) Maximos IV and Cardinals Léger, Suenens and Alfrink represent such a break with what is called the traditional doctrine on birth control that they mark a radical change of attitude.” (De Mattei, op.cit., pp.393-394)
This has now been inscribed in the new Code of Canon Law of 1983 in Canon 1055 which inverts the ends of marriage, putting procreation second, after mutual love between spouses.
As early as December 1966, a year after the end of the Council, Archbishop Lefebvre deplored the harmful fruits that were already appearing everywhere. In an answer to Cardinal Ottaviani, he wrote:
One can and unfortunately must affirm that, in an almost general way, when the Council innovated, it shook the certainty of truths taught by the authentic Magisterium of the Church as definitely belonging to the treasure of Tradition."
Whether it is the transmission of the jurisdiction of bishops (...), the purposes of marriage, religious freedom, the last ends, etc. (…) On these fundamental points, the traditional doctrine was clear and taught unanimously in Catholic universities. However, many texts of the Council on these truths now allow to doubt. The consequences were quickly drawn and applied in the life of the Church. (...)"
It is perhaps one of the most dreadful findings of our time to see to what moral decay most Catholic publications have reached. They speak without restraint of sexuality, of birth control by any means, of the legitimacy of divorce, of co-education, flirtation, dances as necessary means of Christian education, etc."
In 1984, in his Open Letter to Confused Catholics, the Archbishop recalled the drama of that Third Session he personally experienced:
It was Cardinal Suenens who proposed this change and I still remember Cardinal Brown, the Master General of the Dominicans, getting up to say, ‘Caveatis! Caveatis!--Beware! Beware!’ If we accept this definition we go against all the tradition of the Church and we pervert the meaning of marriage. We do not have the right to modify the Church's traditional definitions. (…) The Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, contains nevertheless an ambiguous passage, where emphasis is laid on procreation ‘without nevertheless minimizing the other aims of marriage’. The Latin verb, posthabere, permits the translation ‘without putting in second place the other aims of marriage’, which would mean ‘to place them all on the same level’. This is what is wanted today; all that is said about marriage comes back to the false idea expressed by Cardinal Suenens, that conjugal love – which was soon termed quite simply and much more crudely 'sexuality' – comes at the head of the purposes of marriage. Consequently, under the heading of sexuality, everything is permitted – contraception, family planning and finally, abortion. One bad definition, and we are plunged into total disorder.”
Archbishop Lefebvre had clearly seen it all long ago! Let us maintain the traditional doctrine so that we can at the same time maintain morality in its entirety.
A blessed Lent to all.
Fr. Daniel Couture
On February 2, Joseph McManus (ON) at the US seminary and Pierre Morin (QC) in Flavigny, France, received the cassock.