“In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men… All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics. Oh! if I might ask the Divine Redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit: What are those wounds in the midst of Thy hands? The answer would not be doubtful: With these was I wounded in the house of them that loved Me. I was wounded by My friends, who did nothing to defend Me, and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of My adversaries. And this reproach can be levelled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries.”
Pope St. Pius X, Discourse on the Beatification of Joan of Arc, December 13, 1908
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Over 100 years ago, Pope St Pius X noted that St Joan of Arc suffered as a result of the ‘cowardice and weakness of good men’.
We too are living in the times when “good men”, either through cowardice or weakness, speak through both sides of their mouths. For example, one year ago, Bishop Fellay was ready to sign a practical agreement with Rome, while today he thanks God for having protected the SSPX from making such an agreement. Even more, today he is highly critical of the Pope, while at the same time, he continues to persecute priests who speak out against the rebranded position of the SSPX.
Persecution is nothing new to the Catholic Church. Roughly nine years after the saintly Pius X made his sad commentary, many souls were about to be persecuted by ‘the cowardice and weakness of good men’. The appearance of Our Lady of Fatima to the three shepherd children was not unanimously met with enthusiasm. While the common people, especially the poor, were naturally drawn to Our Lady, well-placed individuals and priests in particular were not so favourably disposed. One priest, who became a defender of the children and of the Fatima apparition, was Dr Formigao, the Canon of Lisboa and professor at the Seminary of Santarem. “… He had seen the miracle of the sun. He went away believing also in the apparition: and from then on, he was a defender of the children, even in the face of a persistent persecution, all the more difficult to understand when the prime movers in it happened to be not Carbonari or Masons, but fellow Catholics, fellow priests” (page 152).
The three children went on to suffer public scorn, and priests like Dr. Formigao who supported the children in the early days of the investigations faced harshness and opposition from other priests, especially from high ranking ones. For example: “… Cardinal Mendes Belo, Patriarch of Lisboa, threatened to excommunicate any priest who spoke in favour of the apparitions. A strong and able man, he was inclined to think in terms of power, public opinion, or prudent expediency. He may have felt that when relations between Church and State were improving, it would be unwise to allow a new and untested devotion to disturb them” (page 173). Excommunication was a high price to pay for being a faithful Catholic!
Similarly today, priests who prefer to fight from within the SSPX prudently wish to avoid expulsion (excommunication?) and end up by compromising with the new position of the SSPX. While a year ago priests were not allowed to speak against Rome, it is now fashionable to take a shot at Pope Francis, but only because Bishop Fellay recognizes that he is losing support within the SSPX and thus permits this policy change. For a time…
Even some of the more prudent lay people are saying that we should fight from within the SSPX so as not to destroy Archbishop Lefebvre’s work. Do they not realize that even if Bishop Fellay were expelled, even if his henchmen were removed, the past ten+ years have dumbed down the typical SSPX attendee to the point that he will not think, talk, or evaluate? How can he fight from within?
Have the prudent Novus Ordo conservatives been able to restore the Church from within?
History repeats itself: All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics (no doubt working from within).
Sadly, Bishop Fellay continues to expel outspoken priests, and the SSPX continues to head towards double speak, modernism, and the inevitable deal with Rome.
The citations are taken from pages 152 and 173 from W.T. Walsh’s Our Lady of Fatima, 1990 Edition.
For those who think that we can and should work from within, please (re)read Thomas Walsh’s St. Theresa of Avila. She did not think that she could work from within!