Brief chronicle of events
On June 22, 2000, the weekly The Wanderer published the first of seven articles by Mr. Stephen Hand. The series was supposed to be a refutation of the public statement We Resist You to the Face by Mr. Atila S. Guimarães, Mr. Michael J. Matt, Mr. John Vennari and Dr. Marian T. Horvat. The statement by the four authors was published first in The Remnant (April 30, 2000), later in book form by TIA (May, 2000), and finally in the Catholic Family News (July, 2000). Mr. Hand’s first article was preceded by words from The Wanderer editor Mr. Alphonse J. Matt Jr., and a preface by His Excellency Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln.
A rumor that seems in keeping with the reality
The petite histoire of the whole affair has circulated mostly as "rumor." Except for the protagonists themselves, there are few who know for certain the genesis of the attack. The "rumor" about its origin, however, has in its favor a strong possibility of being true. For this reason, we take it here as a working hypothesis for our explanation of what happened and how it took place.
What are the presuppositions of the attack? The Statement of Resistance had a profound impact on the English-speaking Catholic world. The Catholic circle that is the most capable of damaging the progressivist advance in public opinion is the traditionalist milieu, because it comes closest to the most complete Catholic position. Thus, it has the potential to generate a counter-revolutionary restoration of the Church and Christian Civilization.
If this milieu would be strongly united, wisely organized, and intelligently directed, it could exercise a key influence over the more numerous conservative circles, which, in turn, could have a considerable influence over the right in the "decisive center." Therefore, the traditionalist milieu is the pole with the potential to catalyze public opinion and begin to draw victory to the Counter-Revolution. This milieu, however, normally is unaware of its role and its real importance on public opinion. Also, it has been kept fragmented by different maneuvers, which impede its free action. This is not the place to analyze these maneuvers.
Now then, the Statement of Resistance allowed the traditionalist milieu to become more conscious of its role and importance, and also provided certain elements to unite it. Therefore, it represented a real danger capable of inflicting great damage on the Progressivist Revolution. In other words, the bosses of this Revolution had to be gravely concerned about the Declaration of Resistance. The way to limit the damage would be to try to prevent the dissemination of its message.
Also, the Statement respectfully asked for a dialogue with the Pope or some representative to discuss the documents of Vatican II, considered to be the source of the present day crisis of the Catholic Church. However, up to this time there seems to be some inexplicable prohibition in effect that will permit no public polemic on Vatican II. Given this, the Statement and its authors threatened to become extremely embarrassing for the religious authority. Dissemination of the work needed to be stopped and a serious polemic on Vatican II avoided.
Therefore, someone would have to be chosen to make a public stand against the Statement of Resistance and put a halt to its advance.
This someone seems to have been the Bishop of Lincoln, Fabian Bruskewitz. In effect, the "rumor" that was running when the The Wanderer attack began was that Bishop Bruskewitz was the real instigator of the offensive to halt the growing tide of support and discussion generated by We Resist You to the Face.
According to the "rumor," things would have taken place in the following way:
- A highly situated person would try to stop the diffusion and warm acceptance of the Statement of Resistance. The person chosen for this was Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.
- His Excellency needed a pretext to act because it would not look good for him to open direct fire against the four lay authors of the document, who were not members of his Diocese. Mr. Hand was approached to write a series of article that would make the attack possible. In fact, in his article Mr. Alphonse Matt affirmed that he personally requested the series of Mr. Hand with the express intent of refuting We Resist You to the Face. This request would have been made at the inspiration of Bishop Bruskewitz.
- Mr. Hand, in his condition as recent ex-collaborator of The Remnant, presented advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages: He knew the general traditionalist milieu, and his testimony, if it had the appearance of impartiality, could garner support for his thesis. Some readers would still remember him kindly and, for these, his critiques could have some damaging effect.
Disadvantages: Mr. Hand passed very quickly from the condition of friend and columnist of The Remnant to that of enemy and detractor, a phenomenon which, in common language, is normally qualified as betrayal. It is well known that the former partisans of ideological movements who revolt against such movements and abandon them often take with them personal resentments that obliterate the objectivity of their testimonies. For this reason, sociologists, judges and public representatives take much greater caution with and attach much less importance to sources of this nature.
Balance: The disadvantages of the protean Mr. Hand entering the scene were clearly greater than the advantages.
Conclusion: The author’s deficiencies could be reduced by the heavy weight of the religious authority and the prestige of another movement or conservative newspaper.
- The ecclesiastical authority would be Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz who, according to our suppositions, was the ideological factor of the attack.
- The conservative newspaper would be The Wanderer. According to the "rumor," Bishop Bruskewitz had sought out Mr. Alphonse Matt Jr., owner and editor of the newspaper, and requested not only the future articles of Mr. Hand and their publication, but also Mr. A. Matt’s two articles which would support Mr. Hand and launch the accusation of schismatic against the authors of the Statement of Resistance. If this accusation were to come only from the pen of Mr. Hand, it would not have sufficient credibility. In fact, Mr. Matt carried out his allotted tasks with alacrity.
- The assigned tasks were, then, the following:
This sequence of events, which circulated at the level of "rumor," would seem to have taken place as described above.
- To Mr. Alphonse Matt would fall the principal role of accuser and the one who would disseminate the articles of Mr. Hand. He printed them in The Wanderer in the proposed series, and afterward published them as a booklet. He also lent all the ideological support he could to the series: his first article was the introduction to the first article of Mr. Hand, and his second article came to light with the last installation of Mr. Hand. In the latter, Mr. Alphonse Matt also announced the edition of the book and recommended it to his readers.
- To Bishop Bruskewitz would fall the role of providing a strong, but more vague, support in order to preserve his valuable reputation as conservative.
- To Mr. Hand would fall the task of writing the articles and, afterward, to try to set fire on his Website to the accusation of schismatic against the authors of the Statement, a calumnious accusation that would not be opportune for the other two to insist upon any further.
Goals of the attack
The objectives of the plan were evident:
The arsenal of the attack
- To impede the spread of the Statement of Resistance as well as its acceptance in the conservative milieu;
- To keep the authors busy defending themselves against spurious accusations - schismatics, Protestants, Jansenists, Cathars, sede-vacantists, sensationalists, etc.;
- To prevent a public and serious discussion of Vatican II with the ecclesiastical authority.
The three major pieces of attack were printed June 22, 2000 in The Wanderer.
The principal was undoubtedly the article of Mr. Alphonse Matt entitled "In Perspective". In it Mr. A. Matt clearly accuses the authors and supporters of We Resist You to the Face of having started down "a schismatic trajectory that can only have tragic consequences." Face to Face analyzes this article and the second attack of Mr. A. Matt on another polemic page addressing Alphonse Matt and presenting the refutations that were made.
The most important support for this assault by Mr. A. Matt came from the Preface written by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. His piece did not directly attack the authors as "schismatic," but rather as arrogant and proud. However, by the fact that he wrote the preface to the articles that were promoted by The Wanderer, Bishop Bruskewitz gave an indirect support to the accusation of schism made by Mr. A. Matt.
On September 15, 2000, as part of its defense, The Remnant published the refutation of two of the authors of the Statementof Resistance to the Preface of His Excellency.
Mr. Atila Sinke Guimarães made a strong response to Bishop Bruskewitz in an article entitled "Five Questions for Msgr. Bruskewitz". The same article was reprinted in the Catholic Family News (October 2000)by Mr. John Vennari, its editor and one of the co-authors of the Statement.
The Remnant also published the article "His Excellency’s Insinuations..." by Dr. Marian Horvat, a clever
analysis of the impropriety of the insinuations of the Prelate and the lack of courage in his attack.
Earlier, July 31, 2000, the newspaper also published the article entitled "Anecdotes, Trajectories, and Headaches: A Letter to Bishop Bruskewitz" by Jonathan Tuttle, which adroitly refuted the words and actions of Bishop Bruskewitz in this polemic.
The third and weakest piece in the attack was the seven-part series of articles by Mr. Hand published in The Wanderer and, afterward, in the booklet "Traditionalists," Tradition and Private Judgment. The two authors representing TIA - Mr. Atila Guimarães and Dr. Marian Horvat - did not present refutations to this series since they considered it lacking intellectual value. Besides, in their opinion, these articles - which issued from a preconceived thesis tailored to fit Bruskewitz/A. Matt’s purposes, and written with an obvious ill-will - only served as a pretext for the two other attacks to be made.
To employ a metaphor, the offensive against We Resist You to the Face would have been made by a mounted and armed knight. That knight would be Bishop Bruskewitz.
His horse would be The Wanderer, and the lance would be the articles of Mr. Alphonse Matt that contained the accusation of schism.
The articles of Mr. Hand would be nothing more than the saddle that the horse wore and that the knight sat on when he directed his attack.
In fact, no where in his booklet does Mr. Hand direct the accusation of schism against the four authors of The Statement of Resistance. He launches other empty accusations - that the writers were integrists, unbalanced, closet sede-vacantists, Protestants, etc. - but he avoids directly accusing the authors of the Statement of being schismatic.
It could appear that he was acting under strict orders to avoid this accusation, or that a severe editing was made of his first draft to take out that allegation. In order for this accusation to have some repercussion, it was left exclusively to Mr. A. Matt.
If analyzed from a psychological point of view, the whole work of Mr. Hand seems more concerned with presenting a self-justification for his abandonment of traditionalism and for his adhesion to Vatican II and its consequences rather than an attack against the four authors.
For these reasons the two members of TIA did not respond to Mr. Hand. That does not mean to say that Mr. Guimarães and Dr. Horvat did not support and view with satisfaction the splendid defense of The Remnant. TIA especially recommends that readers of its pages take the time to view the three articles of defense on The Remnant Website written by the editor, Mr. Michael J. Matt.
One of them is transcribed in the item of Face to Face that reproduces the polemic with Mr. Alphonse Matt, editor of The Wanderer. Also recommended are the articles by other columnists and collaborators, in particular Mr. Christopher Ferrara and Dr. Thomas Woods, who came to the defense of the newspaper against the writings of Mr. Hand.
After having played the role assigned to him in the first general offensive against the Statement of Resistance, and after having received a due response in The Remnant’s defense, Mr. Hand has had no other article on this subject published in The Wanderer. Nor has he received any other public support from Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. He finds himself reduced to writing continuous defamatory articles on his own Website against the co-authors of the Statement of Resistance. Showing much less restraint and prudence, he hurls pell-mell the false accusation of schismatic against them directly. Until the moment, the two members of Tradition In Action have not responded to these and other calumnies that Mr. Hand is spreading, given the organization’s policy of not responding to Internet critiques.
Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz has made no response to the refutations of his
Preface. He seems to have disappeared from the panorama and shut himself up in his ivory tower in the Diocese de Lincoln.
Articles in the Polemic
The Bishop's Preface
Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz
Anecdotes, Trajectories & Headaches: A Letter to Bishop Bruskewitz
Five Questions for Msgr. Bruskewitz
Atila Sinke Guimarães
His Excellency's Insinuations
Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.
An Apology to Atila Guimarães and
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