We need to take a moment of pause.


    And all those who love the Church must take a moment to reflect that in this moment of crisis, when the world is seemingly in lockdown, and the old verities are under attack, that all the men and minds in support of the truth which was revealed in Jesus Christ do not succumb to disappointment, and despair, and division.

    This is our Church, and we wish to keep our faith, as we received it, so as to also hand it on, and we wish to do so together.

    Indeed, it is appropriate that we all embrace prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

    You will see why I open with these remarks when you read the letters published below, and when you read about the conflict which emerged today (see below).


    Yesterday I published an appeal from traditional Catholics to Pope Francis, asking the Pope to reverse his July 16 decree Traditionis custodes(“Guardians of the tradition”), which aims over time to the general suppression of the old Mass.

    That prompted several letters to me from readers, which I felt I should share.

    Letter #1


    Interesting that you released the very telling Letter #103 when you did, now that current young people are flocking (so it seems) to the Mass of the Ages. Your connecting the “dots” of Benedict’s pronouncements are like time-released “capsules,” confirming the Good Medicine of the Mass, the “Ivermectin” restoring fresh Oxygen to a sickened Faithful. The required and requested “Aid to the Church in Need” seems to mount exponentially as our very Vicar of Christ seems(?) to hurtle Peter’s Barque towards the precipice of Niagara Falls!

    So much greater is the challenge to us of “prayer, fasting, and alms-giving”… if not in deeds then for sure in desire. “You are rewarded not according to your work or your time but according to the measure of your love.” — St. Catherine of Siena 

    Bob Sonstrop

    Letter #2


    I don’t understand your continuous advocacy against Traditionis Custodes. It seems to me that Pope Francis’ intention was not to suppress the pre Vat II liturgy, but rather to suppress a movement which denies the validity of Vatican II. Unfortunately you have been publishing commentary which questions the validity of some or all of the Vatican II decisions.  I do believe in voicing all opinions, but proper discernment is needed to put them in context. For those who need access to the pre-Vat II liturgy for itself, local bishops can make this judgement regarding the spiritual / cultural need and make all necessary allowance for the needs of God’s people. Is your understanding different?

    —Robert (Bob)

    [Note: I will try to answer the questions raised in this letter in future email letters.—RM]

    Letter #3


    Do they really expect the Pope to consider a letter written in that tone? I’d guess not.  It is written somewhat like a letter from the Pope, so maybe it’s intended to be a parallel “magisterium” of sorts? It’s probably a good thing that it’s not a major news item, not good to cause more confusion for the faithful.     This is an interesting time in the church, isn’t it? To hear the right wing of the American church sounding like Charlie Curran in 1968 is very strange, never thought I’d see it. I’m sure it will get weirder yet. I’ll keep praying for you and your ministry, please keep praying that I might be a better Christian.

    God bless,


    Letter #4

    I think liturgy is extremely important. I don’t think however though that the crisis in the Church is due to a disintegration of the liturgy per se. It is written: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” —2 Timothy‬ ‭3:1-4‬‭. The crisis in the Church is simply a turning from love of the Holy Trinity to love of self. The exultation of self and of the individual over the exultation of God is the primary problem. In fact is essentially the only problem.

    Jack Carter

    Letter #5

    So what does “Catholics around the world” mean? Where are they? How many are there? Are they mostly in the US, France (and even there a miniscule minority)? What percentage of Catholics in the Africa, the Philippines, etc, etc, give a darn about the Latin Mass when they are looking to pull themselves up from poverty?… Do you not realize, and I am saying this as if I came from Mars and was looking down, that Viganò, Burke et. al., are doing so much damage to the Church they say they love? And that history will look back and judge they it was they, and not Francis, who caused any schism, through their pride and funny funding? The thought that a very few well-off people in well-off countries can presume to tell the rest of the Catholic world what is right and what is wrong is fascinating to me. Do you not see this? Do you not see that the fact that your father loved the Mass in Latin also means that he lived in a certain period of history and may not feel the same way now? Do you understand and feel what a Catholic in a very poor area of the world feels and understands? … Why are you not writing about the homeless in the Shenandoah Valley? Has God granted the Valley an exemption from poor and suffering? Are your pilgrimages going through the rust belt or is this prayer and wine tasting? You can do much better, and I think your father would be proud if you did. At some point the academics and theology must jump off the page and physically touch the suffering, no? 

    Name withheld

    [Note: This letter touched me deeply. —RM]

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    These letters, and others, have prompted me to pause, and become silent.


    Still, today I am publishing another, different appeal, this one a communique by the leaders of several traditional Catholic groups, writing not to Pope Francis but to the Catholic bishops of France, asking the bishops to allow them to continue celebrating the old rite of the Mass. (full text below)

    This communique, in a roundabout way, sparked a sharp controversy which compels me all the more to call for a “time out.”

    A moment to pause, to reflect, and to deepen our faith, and our charity.


    The controversy involves the American Catholic writer Taylor Marshall, who produced one of his popular podcasts on the new communique, entitled “Did FSSP and ICKSP cave in to Francis? Latin Mass Orders respond to Pope’s restriction on TLM (Traditional Latin Mass).”

    In short, Marshall suggests that the traditional Catholic leaders, in this letter, are not acting bravely.    

    Here is a link to Marshall’s podcast, which currently lists 50,951 views; see also this link, where you may scroll down to the podcast and comments.

    And the controversy involves Joseph Shaw, a scholarly Catholic from England who also defends the traditional liturgy (he heads the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales), but who was disappointed by Marshall’s sharp criticism of the alleged “caving in” to Pope Francis by the traditional Catholic orders in their letter to Francis.

    Here below I publish the complete text of what Shaw writes today, to show how these recent events are fraying at the hearts and souls of very thoughtful, profound Catholic believers.

    The statement below was published today, September 9, on the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales website (Note: his text continues below the hash-mark to discuss Taylor Marshall):

    Thursday, September 09, 2021

    Statement of the Religious Superiors (and Taylor Marshall)

    By Joseph Shaw

    Cross-posted on Rorate Caeli.

    The Superiors General of the Fraternity of St Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the Institute of the Good Shepherd, and a number of other Superiors General of priestly institutes and religious communities attached to the Traditional Mass (including three communities of women), have issued a joint letter in response to Traditionis Custodes. Here it is, on the FSSP website. It is addressed to the Bishops of France, not, as some have assumed, to the Holy See.

    As befits such a document, it is carefully worded. In principle, Traditionis Custodes creates an impossible situation for the signatories. They are founded on the charism of the Traditional liturgy, and the Letter accompanying Traditionis Custodes tells us that it is the intention of the document that in the longer term this liturgy should entirely disappear. Furthermore, the justification for this given in the Letter is that the clergy and faithful (who are not distinguished) are detached in some sense from the unity of the Church.

    The argument which needs to be made to the Bishops of France at this point is thus a delicate one. Negatively, it should be obvious that to strike a defiant attitude, to threaten disobedience to Traditionis Custodes or the Bishops, or to suggest that they might go over to the Society of Pius X, would serve to confirm the purported justification of Traditionis Custodes. It would be directly counter-productive.

    On the other hand, to make a direct argument against Traditionis Custodes, to insist that it should be rescinded, is pointless, because the French Bishops do not have the power to do that. To make such an argument to the Holy See would be pointless in another way, because there is absolutely no chance that an important document such as this would be cancelled, or modified in a significant way, by the very Pope who promulgated it, so soon after its publication.

    Instead, the statement approaches the problem in two ways. First, it emphasises the key-hole of concession offered by Traditionis Custodes and the Letter, through which the Traditional Mass can continue to be celebrated: timeTraditionis Custodes gives the French Bishops (like all bishops) the right to permit the Traditional Mass now. It is now that it needs to be permitted if the spiritual life of the Traditional Institutes, and of Traditional laity, is to continue as before. No limit to this time is set by the documents. The first thing to secure, then, is that the Traditional Mass will continue.

    The second approach is to draw attention to a very serious problem created by Traditionis Custodes. In confirming the establishment of the Institutes and communities represented by this statement, the Holy See has over the years since 1988 allowed and encouraged men and women to commit themselves by vows to lives of a particular character: as do all priests and religious. A fundamental aspect of this character for these particular religious associations is the Traditional liturgy. If this liturgy is to be abolished, the vows and commitments made to these associations would become impossible to fulfill.

    The implications of this fact are not drawn out. It is for the French Bishops to ponder the problem as they apply Traditionis Custodes. They must implement the legislation with regard to the good of souls: as it is when they apply any aspect of the law of the Church. For those bishops inclined to be sympathetic, this consideration will be a powerful one.

    To summarise, what this statement does is to try to create a space in which the French Bishops may, without disobedience, make possible in practice the continuation of the life the of the Priestly Institutes and communities and of lay Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass. The Latin Mass Society did the same thing, in a some different way, when we issued our Canonical Guidance on Traditionis Custodes.


    Taylor Marshall, a man I usually ignore, has insulted the signatories of this statement, as lacking the “brave and bold” spirit which, he claims, animated the late Archbishop Lefebvre. He is, in a video far too tedious to link to, claiming that they are cowards.

    This is a contemptible accusation, which reveals Marshall to be, as I expressed it on Twitter, an ignorant fool. I stand by that judgement, and I call on Marshall to apologise to these good men and women, who have a fearful responsibility both to their professed members, and also, in most cases, to the lay faithful for whom they have pastoral care.

    Marshall appears to imagine that the Superiors General should react to their complex situation with the subtlety of some Hollywood action-hero: an attitude, in fact, completely at odds with the historical reality of Archbishop Lefebvre himself. What, Marshall seems to be asking, would Rambo do? What would be the reaction of some knuckle-headed character played by Mel Gibson? Well, if he wants to base his understanding of ecclesial politics on Braveheart, he should remember the advice given by the Duke of Argyle (in the 1995 film) to the young William Wallace: “First learn to use this” (pointing to his head), “and then I will teach you to use this” (lifting his sword).

    It is an interesting fact about social media that some people who witnessed Marshall’s insult of the Superiors General, and my own criticism of Marshall for making this insult, concluded that I was the one to be blamed for dividing Traditional Catholics. This is an attitude completely detached from reality. The restoration of the Church is carried out through the sacraments offered by Traditional priests, and through the lives of prayer and sacrifice represented by the Traditional Institutes and communities, not by monetised social-media clicks. We need to show solidarity, in this moment of crisis, with the Superiors General, not with the man who likes to remind his viewers “I’m just a dad with a webcam”.

    To the Superiors General, I say: genuine Traditional Catholics have your back. If this separates me from Taylor Marshall and his more deranged fans, so much the better.

    [End, post by Joseph Shaw]    

Inside the Vatican Pilgrimages

    Here is the full text of the newest communique, to the bishops of France:

    Communique of the Superiors-General of the “Ecclesia Dei” Communities

    Superior General Andrzej Komorowski, FSSP and the other heads of various “Ecclesia Dei” communities met this past week in Courtalain in France and wrote a communique directed to the Bishops of France — not to the Holy See or the Church at large. The statement is now widely circulating online, but we wished to republish it here with that slight clarification about its intended audience. –ed.

    Here is the full text of the newest communique, to the bishops of France:

    Communique of the Superiors-General of the “Ecclesia Dei” Communities

    Superior General Andrzej Komorowski, FSSP and the other heads of various “Ecclesia Dei” communities met this past week in Courtalain in France and wrote a communique directed to the Bishops of France — not to the Holy See or the Church at large. The statement is now widely circulating online, but we wished to republish it here with that slight clarification about its intended audience. –ed.

Communique of the Superiors-General of the “Ecclesia Dei” Communities
“The mercy of the Lord is upon all flesh.”
(Sirach 18, 13)

    The signatory Institutes want, above all, to reiterate their love for the Church and their fidelity to the Holy Father. This filial love is tinged with great suffering today. We feel suspected, marginalized, banished. However, we do not recognize ourselves in the description given in the accompanying letter of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes, of July 16, 2021.

    “If we say we have no sin …” (I John 1, 8)

    We do not see ourselves as the “true Church” in any way. On the contrary, we see in the Catholic Church our Mother in whom we find salvation and faith. We are loyally subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff and that of the diocesan bishops, as demonstrated by the good relations in the dioceses (and the functions of Presbyteral Councillor, Archivist, Chancellor, or Official which have been entrusted to our members), and the result of canonical or apostolic visits of recent years. We reaffirm our adherence to the magisterium (including that of Vatican II and what follows), according to the Catholic doctrine of the assent due to it (cf. in particular Lumen Gentium, no. 25, and Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 891 and 892), as evidenced by the numerous studies and doctoral theses carried out by several of us over the past 33 years.

    Have any mistakes been made? We are ready, as every Christian is, to ask forgiveness if some excess of language or mistrust of authority may have crept into any of our members. We are ready to convert if party spirit or pride has polluted our hearts.

    “Fulfill your vows unto the Most High” (Psalm 49:14)

    We beg for a humane, personal, trusting dialogue, far from ideologies or the coldness of administrative decrees. We would like to be able to meet a person who will be for us the face of the Motherhood of the Church. We would like to be able to tell him about the suffering, the tragedies, the sadness of so many lay faithful around the world, but also of priests, men and women religious who gave their lives trusting on the word of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

    They were promised that “all measures would be taken to guarantee the identity of their Institutes in the full communion of the Catholic Church”[1]. The first Institutes accepted with gratitude the canonical recognition offered by the Holy See in full attachment to the traditional pedagogies of the faith, particularly in the liturgical field (based on the Memorandum of Understanding of May 5, 1988, between Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop Lefebvre). This solemn commitment was expressed in the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei of July 2, 1988; then in a diversified manner for each Institute, in their decrees of erection and in their constitutions definitively approved. The men and women religious and priests involved in our Institutes have made vows or made commitments according to this specification.

    It is in this way that, trusting in the word of the Supreme Pontiff, they gave their lives to Christ to serve the Church. These priests and men and women religious served the Church with dedication and abnegation. Can we deprive them today of what they are committed to? Can we deprive them of what the Church had promised them through the mouth of the Popes?

    Have patience with me!” (Mt 18:29)

    Pope Francis, “encourage[s] the Church’s pastors to listen to them with sensitivity and serenity, with a sincere desire to understand their plight and their point of view, in order to help them live better lives and to recognize their proper place in the Church.”(Amoris Laetitia, 312). We are eager to entrust the tragedies we are living to a father’s heart. We need listening and goodwill, not condemnation without prior dialogue.

    The harsh judgment creates a feeling of injustice and produces resentment. Patience softens hearts. We need time.

    Today we hear of disciplinary apostolic visits to our Institutes. We ask for fraternal meetings where we can explain who we are and the reasons for our attachment to certain liturgical forms. Above all, we want a truly human and merciful dialogue: “Have patience with me!”

    Circumdata varietate” (Ps 44:10).

    On August 13, the Holy Father affirmed that in liturgical matters, “unity is not uniformity but the multifaceted harmony created by the Holy Spirit”[2]. We are eager to make our modest contribution to this harmonious and diverse unity, aware that, as Sacrosanctum Concilium teaches, “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows” (SC, n ° 10).

    With confidence, we turn first to the bishops of France so that a true dialogue be opened and that a mediator be appointed who will be for us the human face of this dialogue. We must, “avoid judgements which do not take into account the complexity of various situations … It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an ‘unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous’ mercy.” (Amoris Laetitia, no. 296-297).

    Done at Courtalain (France), August 31, 2021.

    Fr. Andrzej Komorowski, Superior-General of the Fraternity of Saint Peter

    Msgr. Gilles Wach, Prior General of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

    Fr. Luis Gabriel Barrero Zabaleta, Superior-General of the Institute of the Good Shepherd

    Fr. Louis-Marie de Blignières, Superior-General of the Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrer

    Fr. Gerald Goesche, General Provost of the Institute of Saint Philip Neri

    Fr. Antonius Maria Mamsery, Superior-General of the Missionaries of the Holy Cross

    Dom Louis-Marie de Geyer d’Orth, Father Abbot of the Abbey of Saint Magdalen of Le Barroux

    Fr. Emmanuel-Marie Le Fébure du Bus, Father Abbot of the Canons of the Abbey of Lagrasse

    Dom Marc Guillot, Father Abbot of the Abbey of Saint Mary of la Garde

    Mother Placide Devillers, Mother Abbess of the Abbey of Our Lady of the Annunciation of Le Barroux

    Mother Faustine Bouchard, Prioress of the Canonesses of Azille

    Mother Madeleine-Marie, Superior of the Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus Sovereign Priest


    [1] Informative Note of June 16, 1988, in Documentation Catholique, no. 1966, p. 739. 

    [2] Video Message of Pope Francis to the participants of the Congress on Religious Life.

    Translation from Rorate Caeli. Original French document: Notre-Dame de Chrétienté/ Paris-Chartres Pilgrimage.

    September 3, 2021


    Best wishes to all. —Robert

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